Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Some Thoughts from Iraq

This comes from a father of a friend in Iraq. I think you will find it interesting. Iraq is being portrayed as a disaster by the main stream media. Is there credibility to their reports?

I wonder. Please read on, though it does come from a Marine:

September 23 1779 - Captain John Paul Jones in Continental Navy frigate Bonhomme Richard captures HMS Serapis.
1931 - LT Alfred Pride pilots Navy's first rotary wing aircraft, XOP-1 autogiro, in landings and takeoffs on board USS Langley while underway.
1944 - Naval Task Group lands Army troops on Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands
1944 - USS West Virginia (BB-48) reaches Pearl Harbor and rejoins the Pacific Fleet, marking the end of the salvage and reconstruction of 18ships damaged at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.
1947 - James Forrestal, former SECNAV, takes office as first Secretary of Defense 1990 - Two Hospital ships (USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort) steam together for first time in Arabian Gulf
2004 A thought from Iraq - "Doom & Gloom about Iraq's future....I don't see it from where I'm sitting."

[For those of you who haven't gotten my "Thoughts" before, I'm a Major inthe USMC on the Multi-National Corps staff in Baghdad. The analysts and pundits who don't see what I see on a daily basis, in my opinion, have very little credibility to talk about the situation - especially if they have yet to set foot in Iraq. Everything Americans believe about Iraq is simply perception filtered through one's latent prejudices until you are face-to-face with reality. If you haven't seen, or don't remember, the JohnWayne movie, The Green Berets, you should watch it this weekend. Pay specialattention to the character of the reporter, Mr. Beckwith. His experience isdirectly related to the situation here. You'll have a different perspectiveon Iraq after the movie is over.]

The US media is abuzz today with the news of an intelligence report that is very negative about the prospects for Iraq's future. CNN's website says,"[The] National Intelligence Estimate was sent to the White House in July with a classified warning predicting the best case for Iraq was 'tenuous stability' and the worst case was civil war." That report, along with the car bombings and kidnappings in Baghdad in the past couple days are being portrayed in the media as more proof of absolute chaos and the intransigence of the insurgency.

From where I sit, at the Operational Headquarters in Baghdad, that just isn't the case. Let's lay out some background, first about the "National Intelligence Estimate." The most glaring issue with its relevance is thefact that it was delivered to the White House in July. That means that the information that was used to derive the intelligence was gathered in the Spring - in the immediate aftermath of the April battle for Fallujah, and other events. The report doesn't cover what has happened in July or August,let alone September.

The naysayers will point to the recent battles in Najaf and draw parallels between that and what happened in Fallujah in April. They aren't even close. The bad guys did us a HUGE favor by gathering together in oneplace and trying to make a stand. It allowed us to focus on them and defeat them. Make no mistake, Al Sadr's troops were thoroughly smashed. The estimated enemy killed in action is huge. Before the battles, the residents of the city were afraid to walk the streets. Al Sadr's enforcers would seize people and bring them to his Islamic court where sentence was passed for religious or other violations. Long before the battles people were looking for their lost loved ones who had been taken to "court" and never seen again. Now Najafians can and do walk their streets in safety. Commerce has returned and the city is being rebuilt. Iraqi security forces and US troops are welcomed and smiled upon. That city was liberated again. It was not likeFallujah - the bad guys lost and are in hiding or dead.

You may not have even heard about the city of Samarra. Two weeks ago, that Sunni Triangle city was a "No-go" area for US troops. But guess what? The locals got sick of living in fear from the insurgents and foreign fightersthat were there and let them know they weren't welcome. They stopped hosting them in their houses and the mayor of the town brokered a deal with the US commander to return Iraqi government sovereignty to the city without a fight. The people saw what was on the horizon and decided they didn't wanttheir city looking like Fallujah in April or Najaf in August.

Boom, boom, just like that two major "hot spots" cool down in rapid succession. Does that mean that those towns are completely pacified? No.What it does mean is that we are learning how to do this the right way. TheUS commander in Samarra saw an opportunity and took it - probably the biggest victory of his military career and nary a shot was fired in anger. Things will still happen in those cities, and you can be sure that the bad guys really want to take them back. Those achievements, more than anything else in my opinion, account for the surge in violence in recent days -especially the violence directed at Iraqis by the insurgents. Both in Najaf and Samarra ordinary people stepped out and took sides with the Iraqi government against the insurgents, and the bad guys are hopping mad. They are trying to instill fear once again. The worst thing we could do now ispull back and let that scum back into people's homes and lives.

So, you may hear analysts and prognosticators on CNN, ABC and the like in the next few days talking about how bleak the situation is here in Iraq, but from where I sit, it's looking significantly better now than when I got here. The momentum is moving in our favor, and all Americans need to know that, so please, please, pass this on to those who care and will pass it onto others. It is very demoralizing for us here in uniform to read & hear such negativity in our press. It is fodder for our enemies to use against us and against the vast majority of Iraqis who want their new government to succeed. It causes the American public to start thinking about the acceptability of "cutting our losses" and pulling out, which would be devastating for Iraq for generations to come, and Muslim militants would claim a huge victory, causing us to have to continue to fight them elsewhere (remember, in war "Away" games are always preferable to "Home" games). Reports like that also cause Iraqis begin to fear that we will pull outbefore we finish the job, and thus less willing to openly support theirinterim government and US/Coalition activities. We are realizing significant progress here - not propaganda progress, but real strides are being made. It's terrible to see our national morale, and support for what we're doing here, jeopardized by sensationalized stories hyped by media giants whose #1priority is advertising income followed closely by their political agenda;getting the story straight falls much further down on their priority scale, as Dan Rather and CBS News have so aptly demonstrated in the last week. Thanks for listening.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

A Good Quote To Remember

"...you may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life- but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman Legions did, by putting your young men into the mud."

T.R. Fehrenbach

He was writing about Korea, but the same things are true today. Something to think about.

Friday, September 24, 2004

A pretty good explanation

This may be long. But worth reading to the end.
Don't close your blinds...a great explanation. I thought this was worth reading, it would be hard for me to explain it that way, but I believe it. SImply put we cannot afford to fail, it would be far worse than abandoning Somalia if we do.

Also on a good note the Navy Department refused to open an investigation on Sen Kerry's medals saying that 35 years ago is too long to conduct an fair evaluation of why these medals were awarded and noted that all proper procedures had been followed when they were awarded. Hooray for the Navy in trying to stay out of the political fray. Nothing good could come from such an investigation.


Read this story about: "Don't Close Your Blinds!"

The other day, my nine year old son wanted to know why we were at war. My husband looked at our son and then looked at me. My husband and I were in the Army during the Gulf War and we would be honored to serve and defend our Country again today. I knew that my husband would give him a good explanation. My husband thought for a few minutes and then told my son to go stand in our front living room window.

He told him: "Son, stand there and tell me what you see?"
"I see trees and cars and our neighbor's houses." he replied.
"OK, now I want you to pretend that our house and our yard is the United States of America and you are President Bush."
Our son giggled and said "OK."
"Now son, I want you to look out the window and pretend that every house and yard on this block is a different country" my husband said.
"OK Dad, I'm pretending."
"Now I want you to stand there and look out the window and see that man come out of his house with his wife and he has her by the hair and is hitting her. You see her bleeding and crying. He hits her in the face, he throws her on the ground, then he starts to kick her to death. Their children run out and are afraid to stop him, they are crying, they are watching this but do nothing because they are kids and afraid of their father. You see all of this son.... what do you do?"
"What do you do son?"
"I call the police, Dad."
"OK. Pretend that the police are the United Nations and they take your call, listen to what you know and saw but they refuse to help. What do you do then son?"
"Dad, but the police are supposed to help!" My son starts to whine.
"They don't want to son, because they say that it is not their place or your place to get involved ! and that you should stay out of it," my husband says.
"But Dad...he killed her!!" my son exclaims.
"I know he did...but the police tell you to stay out of it. Now I want you to look out that window and pretend you see our neighbor who you're pretending is Saddam turn around and do the same thing to his children."
"Daddy...he kills them?"
"Yes son, he does. What do you do?"
"Well, if the police don't want to help, I will go and ask my next door neighbor to help me stop him." our son says.
"Son, our next door neighbor sees what is happening and refuses to get involved as well. He refuses to open the door and help you stop him," my husband says.
"But Dad, I NEED help!!! I can't stop him by myself!!"
"WHAT DO YOU DO SON?" Our son starts to cry.
"OK, no one wants to help you, the man across the street saw you ask for help and saw that no one would help you stop him. He stands taller and puffs out his chest. Guess what he does next son?"
"What Daddy?" "He walks across the street to the old ladies house and breaks down her door and drags her out, steals all her stuff and sets her house on fire and then...he kills her. He turns around and sees you standing in he window and laughs at you. WHAT DO YOU DO?"
Our son is crying and he looks down and he whispers, "I close the blinds, Daddy."
My husband looks at our son with tears in his eyes and asks him... "Why?"
"Because Daddy.....the police are supposed to help...people who needs it....and they won't help....You always say that neighbors are supposed to HELP neighbors, but they won't help either...they won't help me stop him...I'm afraid....I can't do it by myself ...Daddy.....I can't look out my window and just watch him do all these terrible things and...and.....do nothing...so....I'm just going to close the blinds....so I can't see what he's doing........and I'm going to pretend that it is not happening."
I start to cry. My husband looks at our nine year old son standing in the window, looking pitiful and ashamed at his answers to my husbands questions and he tells him...."Son"
"Yes, Daddy."
"Open the blinds because that man.... he's at your front door...WHAT DO YOU DO?"
My son looks at his father, anger and defiance in his eyes. He balls up his tiny fists and looks his father square in the eyes, without hesitation he says: "I DEFEND MY FAMILY DAD!! I'M NOT GONNA LET HIM HURT MOMMY OR MY SISTER, DAD!!! I'M GONNA FIGHT HIM, DAD, I'M GONNA FIGHT HIM!!!!!"
I see a tear roll down my husband's cheek and he grabs my son to his chest and hugs him tight, and cries..."It's too late to fight him, he's too strong and he's already at YOUR front door son.....you should have stopped him BEFORE he killed his wife. You have to do what's right, even if you have to do it alone, before......it's too late." my husband whispers.

THAT scenario I just gave you is WHY we are at war with Iraq. When good men stand by and let evil happen is the greatest EVIL of all. Our President is doing what is right. We, as a free nation, must understand that this war is a war of humanity. WE must remove evil men from power so that we can continue to live in a free world where we are not afraid to look out our window. So that my nine year old son won't grow up in a world where he feels that if he just "closes" that blinds the atrocities in the world won't affect him.


"One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes...and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Hate is not enough

OK, just a little burned out here today...just got off the I-95 thunder run from New Jersey to North Carolina--- and I do hate that drive now, even though I used to like it. One word--tolls, hate the damn things. Everything north of DC is toll city, and I hate it.

Also did an experiment driving North on 95 on Friday and back down today. Tried to make a game of spotting and counting Bush or Kerry bumper sticker and/or other items of political sport. Quickly tired of it though because all I saw was Bush/Cheney 04 or GW stickers. Not a single Kerry sticker to be found. Northbound or Southbound, and I was looking. I did finally find one, in my Mother's retirement village. It was on the bumper of a car next to faded Dean sticker. I also saw a Kerry button on one older lady having lunch in New Jersey. I didn't even see any of the normal campaign ads or signs in the democratic stronghold of New Jersey. This is one of the places you can get keyed if you have a Bush sticker on your car. It made me think of the poll done that Ala71 referenced about strong supporters for both campaigns.

Now bumper stickers are not a scientific method of determining political support, but at least one person in a family has to be dedicated enough to stick one of the things on your car (have you ever tried to get one off?). What I saw was a lot of people who felt pretty strongly about Bush, but not one who felt the same about Kerry. Interesting. Also saw a lot of yellow ribbon and red/white and blue ribbon Support your troops magnets and POW magnets which made me feel good. In and around Fort Bragg we are fairly conservative-- GW signs are up in my community (but not in my yard, nor do I have a GW sticker on my truck- not a big fan of the whole polarization thing and some of my Soldiers might think that I am telling them how to vote) and no Kerry ones. Still I expected a lot more strong supporters as I wandered up North into the democratic bastions. Maybe the luv Guv (McGreevey) has eroded some support up there. I don't know, but I was surprised. I have even seen a Nader sticker down here that some poor bastard put on his riceburner. But Kerry, not so much.

It made me think that the ABB crowd has mobilized their base as simply hatred for Bush and not in support of their Candidate. Hate then, is not enough to win a campaign. A good lesson you would think, that the republicans learned in 1996.

I think the democrats will learn it in 2004. It will still be a close race, but many of these democrats might not get up off the couch to vote because they might not like their candidate enough to go out and vote for him. John Kerry or a block of wood and the vote would go about 49-51%.

Again, just something my observers eye picked out and found interesting.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

Interesting, but which are you?


By LTC(RET) Dave Grossman, RANGER, Ph.D.,author of "On Killing."

Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy thingsthat deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always,even death itself.

The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? - William J. Bennett - ina lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997 One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:"Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens isconsiderably less than two million. Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: Wemay well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is stillremarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people whoare not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep. I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators. "Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial."Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy foryour fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness,into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed. Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves,and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids'schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officerin their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial. The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours. Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that thereare wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where togo, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports incamouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog. The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door. Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard onthe door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differentlyabout their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember howmany times you heard the word hero? Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones. Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens inAmerica said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs,the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population. There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out ofthe herd that is least able to protect itself. Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs. Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man onFlight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, businesspeople and parents. -- from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought thewolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke.

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision. If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door. For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones. I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break,one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked whyhe felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot,and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard itwould be to live with yourself after that?"Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for"heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids'school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them. Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have and idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up. Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when youare not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth. Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book,which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling. "Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in smallprint, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level. And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of hislife, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, andyou walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this toyourself..."Baa."

This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. Itis not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.-----

Good words and remember...which one are you? I am a sheep dog.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Another perspective on the medal dilemma

Troubling what this retired admiral has to say....Of all of the statements I have read on this subject, this one rings closer
to the truth than many others. I just want to forget about the medals and talk about Kerry's record in the Senate or his anti-war activities after Vietnam, but these things make it impossible....

Subject: An Admiral on Kerry

Here is a statement by the first hand, credible, witness to his
fraudulently claimed "Purple Heart Number One":
Purple Heart News
William Schachte speaks.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A new voice has been added to the debate over the
circumstances surrounding Sen. John Kerry's first Purple Heart.
William Schachte, who was a lieutenant in the Navy during Kerry's Vietnam tour - and who later rose to the rank of Rear Admiral - has released a statement describing the events of December 2-3, 1968, when Kerry received a minor shrapnel wound for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. What follows is Schachte's statement, in full.
Byron York
> > > ---------------------------
Statement of RADM William L. Schachte, Jr. USN (Ret.)
August 27, 2004

As was true of all "Swiftees," I volunteered to serve in Vietnam and
was assigned to Coastal Division 14 for a normal tour of duty. I was a Lieutenant serving as Operations Officer and second in command at Coastal Division 14 when Lieutenant (junior grade) John Kerry reported to us in mid-November, 1968. Lt. (jg) Kerry was an Officer-in-Charge (O-in-C) under training in preparing to be assigned as one of our Swift Boat O-in-C's.
At some point following President Johnson's announcement of the
suspension of bombing in North Vietnam in March 1968, we were directed to become more aggressive in seeking to find and destroy or disrupt the enemy in our operating area. As part of this effort, I conceived a new operation that became known as "Skimmer OPS." The concept was simple. A 15-foot Boston Whaler was sent into an area where, based on coordinated intelligence, North Vietnamese cadre and Viet Cong were expected to be meeting or where, for example, concentrations of enemy forces might be involved in the movement of arms or munitions. We were to draw fire and quickly get out of the area. This would allow more concentrated firepower to be brought against the enemy forces we had been able to identify.

These operations were carried out only in "hot" areas, and well away
from any villages or populated areas. A Swift Boat would tow the skimmer to the general area of operations, and the ambush team would then board the skimmer and proceed to the designated area of operations. The Swift Boat would be riding "shotgun" and standing off, occasionally out of sight, to provide fire support and long-range communications. The Skimmer was powered by an outboard motor, and we carried an FM radio, handheld flares, an M-60 machine gun with a bipod mount, and an M-16 mounted with a starlight scope. If the night was heavily overcast, we brought an M-14 mounted with an infrared scope. We also carried an M-79 single-shot grenade launcher. In addition to our combat gear and flak jackets, we
often carried .38-caliber pistols.

The operation consisted of allowing the skimmer to drift silently
along shorelines or riverbanks to look or listen for sounds of enemy
activity. If activity was identified, we would open fire with our automatic weapons, and if we received fire, we would depart the area as quickly as possible, leaving it to air support or mortar fire from a Swift Boat standing off at a distance to carry out an attack.

I commanded each of these Skimmer operations up to and including the
one on the night in question involving Lt. (jg) Kerry. On each of these operations, I was in the skimmer manning the M-60 machine gun. I took with me one other officer, and an enlisted man to operate the outboard motor. I wanted another officer because officers, when not on patrol, were briefed daily on the latest intelligence concerning our sector of operations and were therefore more familiar with the current intelligence. Additionally, at these daily briefings, officers debriefed on their patrol areas after returning to port.

On the night of December 2-3, we conducted one of these operations,
and Lt. (jg) Kerry accompanied me. Our call sign for that operation was "Batman". I have no independent recollection of the identity of the enlisted man, who was operating the outboard motor. Sometime during the early morning hours, I thought I detected some movement inland. At the time we were so close to land that we could hear water lapping on the shoreline. I fired a hand-held flare, and upon it bursting and illuminating the surrounding area, I thought I saw movement. I immediately opened fire with my M-60. It jammed after a brief burst. Lt. (jg) Kerry also opened fire with his M-16 on automatic, firing in the direction of my tracers. His weapon also jammed. As I was trying to clear my weapon, I heard the distinctive sound of the M-79 being fired and turned to see Lt. (jg) Kerry holding the M-79 from which he had just launched a round. We received no return fire of any kind nor were there any muzzle flashes from the beach. I directed the outboard motor operator to clear the area.

Upon returning to base, I informed my commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr.
Grant Hibbard, of the events, informing him of the details of the operation and that we had received no enemy fire. I did not file an "after action" report, as one was only required when there was hostile fire. Soon thereafter, Lt. (jg) Kerry requested that he be put in for a Purple Heart as a result of a small piece of shrapnel removed from his arm that he attributed to the just-completed mission. I advised Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard that I could not support the request because there was no hostile fire.

The shrapnel must have been a fragment from the M-79 that struck Lt.
(jg) Kerry, because he had fired the M-79 too close to our boat. Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard denied Lt. (jg) Kerry's request.

Lt. (jg) Kerry detached our division a few days later to be reassigned to another division. I departed Vietnam approximately three weeks later, and Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard followed shortly thereafter. It was not until years later that I was surprised to learn that Lt. (jg) Kerry had been awarded a Purple Heart for this night.

I did not see Lt. (jg) Kerry in person again for almost 20 years.
Sometime in 1988, while I was on Capitol Hill, I ran into him in the
basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. I was at that time a
Rear Admiral and in uniform. He was about 20 paces away, waiting to catch the underground subway. In a fairly loud voice I called out to him, "Hey, John." He turned, looked at me, came over and said, "Batman!" We exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes, agreed to have lunch sometime in the future, and parted ways. We have not been together since that day.

In March of this year, I was contacted by one of my former swift boat
colleagues concerning Douglas Brinkley's book about Senator Kerry,
"Tour of Duty." I told him that I had not read it. He faxed me a copy of the pages relating to the action on the night of December 2-3, 1968. I was astonished by Senator Kerry's rendition of the facts of that night. Notably, Lt. (jg) Kerry had himself in charge of the operation, and I was not mentioned at all. He also claimed that he was wounded by hostile fire. None of this is accurate. I know, because I was not only in the boat, but I was in command of the mission. He was never more than several feet away from me at any time during the operation that night. It is inconceivable
that any commanding officer would put an officer in training, who had
been in country only a couple of weeks, in charge of such an ambush
operation. Had there been enemy action that night, there would have
been an after action report filed, which I would have been responsible for filing.

I have avoided talking to media about this issue for months. But,
because of the recent media attention, I felt I had to step up to recount my personal experiences concerning this incident.

The term that seems to apply will have to wait until after the DOD investigation, but here it is.... a medal hunter. I have seen them before, in combat and in garrison.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Words Women Use

For a laugh when one is dearly needed :)


This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.


If she is getting dressed, this is half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given 5 more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.


This is the calm before the storm. This means "something," and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with 'Nothing' usually end in "Fine"


This is a dare, not permission. Don't do it


This is not actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A "Loud Sigh" means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over "Nothing"


This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can make to a man. "That's Okay" means that she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.


A woman is thanking you. Do not question it or faint. Just say you're welcome.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Good News, but not in the media

A friend of my father in law sent this...

This happened to me this weekend. I would like to share it.

On Saturday, August 7th, I flew to Ohio for my 40th high school reunion. Due to an error in boarding passes, I ended up in First Class, Seat 2B from Atlanta to Dayton, Ohio. As people were boarding, a soldier came on. I said to him that I appreciated him serving. He said thanks and continued to coach. When the door of the plane closed, there was clapping and applause from the back. The soldier was brought to First Class and sat next to me in 2A.

We began talking and he told me he had been traveling for three days from Baghdad. His wife and twin two year old daughters would be waiting for him in Dayton. He was going to be home for two weeks and then back to Iraq for 6 months. This 23 year old man had been in the Army five years. This was his fourth deployment. He has made up his mind to leave the Army and go with the CIA so he can be with his family more while still serving his country. He is a Sergeant in intelligence. Loves the Army, but because of the draw downs of troops, there are not enough soldiers to do the job. If he stays in, he knows he will deploy again in the near future. I asked him several questions and was surprised at some of his answers.

My obvious first question was would we really ever get the job done in Iraq. No question about it, he said. Since the Iraqi's have taken over, things are getting done. Thev US troops are now more of a support role for the Iraq Army (National Guard). There are now 40,000 troops in their Army and 60,000 more being trained plus police and local militia. His opinion is we would be starting the withdrawal by January 2006. The Iraqi's are very upset that the insurgents and non Iraqi's are the ones causing problems. He told me the Iraqi people in large liked the US but wanted the radicals out of their country. Schools are open, power is on, commerce is going, etc.

When an Iraqi unit tries to find a suspect, that always "get their man" because their tactics are a bit harsher then ours.Without getting into politics, I asked him how the troops felt about President Bush. He commented that they totally trusted him because he felt Bush was honest with them. Bush had made mistakes, but admits it.He was at the Thanksgiving dinner when Bush was there. Nobody knew the President was coming. The sergeant had to 'reluctantly' drive 60 miles to get there and was expecting a rah rah speech from a Senator or Congressman. When Bush came out, it made him proud to be in the Army. His reaction was one he really could not explain. Every soldier there without exception has relived that moment many times. Proud to be an American because they knew Bush had risked his life to be there even for a shorttime.

Another subject was the WMD's. His only comment was they obviously had them or had them at one time because they had been used in the past. He also commented regardless of whether they had them, if we had not gone in now, we would have eventually because Iraq had the potential to make and use them and probably would again. He saw many prisoners of the old regime that had been maimed and had seen several mass graves. No question we should be there.

I asked him if they were all getting in their absentee votes. The answer was a definite yes and they were all being done correctly. It appears the military was not happy after the last election when an attempt was made for many of the votes to not count because of "technicalities." He said that would not happen again.

One of my final questions was how he felt about the Spanish pulling out. He jumped right back and said "they are all cowards." He was with them in April when their compound was attacked. They all ran and hid. The 50 US troops were able to drive back the Iraq's with no Spanish help. It took 12 hours. He had been told earlier that the Spanish were going to be asked to go home anyway.

He had been in many fire fights and commented that the only medal he received was a Purple Heart when a mortar round went off in his compound while he was off duty and he was wounded in the leg. He said medals were hard to come by and very few had been awarded in his unit. But he said nobody he knew was there to get a medal. This was a volunteer Army and they were doing their job.

He also commented that the value of life there is far different than in the US. Iraqi soldiers/non soldiers would attack tanks with rocks. Some of them are fanatical. That used to bother him, but he said when it's you or them, there is no choice. That also try and recruit small children because they know the US troops will not fire at a child. If a child comes at you with a grenade, fire away. No remorse. However, much has changed since the Iraqi's have taken over their own government.

My last question was whether he had seen Michael Moore's movie. I was surprised when he said yes. It was treated as a comedy by all who watched it because it was 100% propaganda. His unit wants Michael Moore to come over on a USO Tour so they can "hog tie" him. Had a big smile on his face. I can only imagine what he meant.

While we were flying, he commented he had not had a shower in a week. He looked out at the green countryside and said it was 118 degrees when he left Baghdad. He did have a beer, his first in 8 months.

I know I am not a good writer and have left out some important things, but I was very proud to have spent 90 minutes with this brave individual and wanted to share it. He commented he loved his country and what he was now doing was what he wanted. He reached into his pack and gave me some Saddam dinars (money) as souvenirs.I said that some national media should talk with him. He commented 'fat chance' because all they like is negative stuff and he would only tell positive things. This is being written late on the night of August 8th so I don't forget any details. You may question it and, yes, it is second hand, but I know what I heard. When we got off the plane, I walked by his family because twin two-year-old girls stand out. I said to them he was right behind me. They were so excited. They asked me how he was. I told them 'great." Besides his wife, his Mother was there with tears in her eyes. I had a few myself. What a flight!

Rob Schantz