April 02, 2007
USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109)
The Department of Navy announced March 23 that the Navy's newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will be USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), honoring the late Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, the first Marine awarded the Medal of Honor for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Donald C. Winter, made the announcement in Dunham’s hometown of Scio, N.Y.
"Jason Dunham, the friendly, kind-hearted, gifted athlete who followed his star in the United States Marine Corps went on to become one of the most courageous, heroic, and admired Marines this great country has ever known," said Winter. "His name will be forever associated with DDG 109. May those who serve in her always be inspired by the heroic deeds of Jason Dunham, and may all of us strive to be worthy of his sacrifice."
In May of 2004 Cassandra posted a touching article from the Wall Street Journal about the self sacrafice of Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham here.
The WSJ article was written by Michael M. Phillips from the book, The Gift of Valor which gives a unique perspective on who Cpl. Dunham was.
I can't add anything to what has been written about Cpl. Dunham that would be any better than what has already been written by others. I'm not expressive enough, or eloquont enough. But I can say that I'm grateful for his sacrifice and the sacrifices of all members of our Military.
I'm grateful that they are willing to give up much, and in some cases, like Cpl. Dunham, to give up all, to do a nasty job that must be done.
That the U.S. Navy would name a new warship after a Marine speaks volumes of the regard they hold him in.
It's the highest Honor the Navy can bestow.
Jan. 16, 2007 - Inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes
- Joatmoaf -
February 24, 2007
The Final Inspection
The Marine stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, Marine,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand.
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the Marine waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, you Marine,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."
Amy brings us Part II, and a little clarification.
The poem was written by Sgt. Joshua Helterbran of the 224th Engineer Battalion. After he found it circulating around he wrote a part II which he did sign :
I'm very saddened by America today,
when they take credit for what others say.
I wrote a poem because of problems in my past,
how was I to know that it was going to last.
It has been read by all and loved the same,
but indeed at the end there is no name.
The name is simple for those who know,
it's not Kilmer, Longfellow, Service, or Poe.
It's a soldier who has fought for his country so true,
He's proud of the ole Red, White and Blue.
You now know the poem the one and the same,
The Final Inspection is the name.
I wrote it because of the trials so true,
and of my buddies who died for country and you.
So take this poem, take it as you trod,
because in Heaven I'll see my God.
He will look at me and say don't be sad,
others read your poem and you made them glad.
Now step forward my son and look your best,
and come inside with all the rest.
by: Sgt Joshua Helterbran
- Joatmoaf -
November 17, 2006
This should have been posted on the 15th. It would have made it a more appropriate memorial, but I've been playing a lot of catch up lately and missed it.
Sorry about that but here it is anyway.
It Came Down to One Marine
On Nov. 15, 2003, an 85-year-old retired Marine Corps colonel died of congestive heart failure at his home in La Quinta, Calif., southeast of Palm Springs.
He was a combat veteran of World War II. Reason enough to honor him. But this Marine was a little different. This Marine was Mitchell Paige.
It's hard today to envision -- or, for the dwindling few, to remember -- what the world looked like on October 26, 1942.
The U. S. Navy was not the most powerful fighting force in the Pacific. Not by a long shot. So the Navy basically dumped a few thousand lonely American Marines on the beach on Guadalcanal and high-tailed it out of there.
You Navy guys can hold those letters. Of course Nimitz, Fletcher and Halsey had to ration what few ships they had. I've written separately about the way Bull Halsey rolled the dice on the night of Nov. 13, 1942, violating the stern War College edict against committing capital ships in restricted waters and instead dispatching into the Slot his last two remaining fast battleships, the South Dakota and the Washington, escorted by the only four destroyers with enough fuel in their bunkers to get them there and back.
Those American destroyer captains need not have worried about carrying enough fuel to get home. By 11 p. m., outnumbered better than three- to-one by a massive Japanese task force driving down from the northwest,every one of those four American destroyers had been shot up, sunk, or set aflame. And while the South Dakota -- known throughout the fleet as a jinx ship -- had damaged some lesser Japanese vessels, she continued to be plagued with electrical and fire control problems.
"Washington was now the only intact ship left in the force," writes naval historian David Lippman. "In fact, at that moment Washington was the entire U. S. Pacific Fleet. She was the only barrier between (Admiral) Kondo's ships and Guadalcanal. If this one ship did not stop 14 Japanese ships right then and there, America might lose the war. .."
On Washington's bridge, Lieutenant Ray Hunter had the conn. He had just seen the destroyers Walke and Preston "blown sky high." Dead ahead lay their burning wreckage. Hundreds of men were swimming in the water and the Japanese ships racing in.
"Hunter had to do something. The course he took now could decide the war," Lippman writes. "'Come left,' he said. ... Washington's rudder change put the burning destroyers between her and the enemy, preventing her from being silhouetted by their fires.
"The move made the Japanese momentarily cease fire. Lacking radar, they could not spot Washington behind the fires. ..." Washington raced through burning seas. Dozens of destroyer men were in the water clinging to floating wreckage. "Get after them, Washington!" one shouted.
Sacrificing their ships by maneuvering into the path of torpedoes intended for the Washington, the captains of the American destroyers had given China Lee one final chance.
Blinded by the smoke and flames, the Japanese battleship Kirishima turned on her searchlights, illuminating the helpless South Dakota, and opened fire. Finally, as her own muzzle blasts illuminated her in the darkness,Admiral Lee and Captain Glenn Davis could positively identify an enemy target.
The Washington's main batteries opened fire at 12 midnight precisely. Her radar fire control system functioned perfectly. During the first seven minutes of Nov. 14, 1942, the "last ship in the U. S. Pacific Fleet" fired 75 of her 16-inch shells at the battleship Kirishima. Aboard Kirishima, it rained steel. At 3:25 a. m., her burning hulk officially became the first enemy sunk by an American battleship since the Spanish-American War. Stunned, the Japanese withdrew. Within days, Japanese commander Isoroku Yamamoto recommended the unthinkable to the emperor -- withdrawal from Guadalcanal.
But that was still weeks in the future. We were still with Mitchell Paige back on the god-forsaken malarial jungle island of Guadalcanal, placed like a speed bump at the end of the long blue-water slot between New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago ... the very route the Japanese Navy would have to take to reach Australia.
On Guadalcanal the Marines struggled to complete an airfield. Yamamoto knew what that meant. No effort would be spared to dislodge these upstart Yanks from a position that could endanger his ships. Before long,relentless Japanese counterattacks had driven supporting U. S. Navy from inshore waters. The Marines were on their own.
As Platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige and his 33 riflemen set about carefully emplacing their four water-cooled 30-caliber Brownings, manning their section of the thin khaki line which was expected to defend Henderson Field against the assault of the night of Oct. 25, 1942, it's unlikely anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to that most desperate of questions: How many able-bodied U. S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against 2,000 desperate and motivated attackers?
Nor did the commanders of the mighty Japanese Army, who had swept all before them for decades, expect their advance to be halted on some God- forsaken jungle ridge manned by one thin line of Yanks in khaki in October of 1942.
But by the time the night was over, "The 29th (Japanese) Infantry Regiment has lost 553 killed or missing and 479 wounded among its 2,554 men," historian Lippman reports. "The 16th (Japanese) Regiment's losses are uncounted, but the 164th's burial parties handled 975 Japanese bodies. ... The American estimate of 2,200 Japanese dead is probably too low."
You've already figured out where the Japanese focused their attack,haven't you? Among the 90 American dead and seriously wounded that night were all the men in Mitchell Paige's platoon. Every one. As the night of endless attacks wore on, Paige moved up and down his line, pulling his dead and wounded comrades back into their foxholes and firing a few bursts from each of the four Brownings in turn, convincing the Japanese forces down the hill that the positions were still manned.
The citation for Paige's Congressional Medal of Honor picks up the tale: "When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, P/Sgt. Paige, commanding a machinegun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he fought with his gun and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire."
In the end, Sgt. Paige picked up the last of the 40-pound, belt-fed Brownings -- the same design which John Moses Browning famously fired for a continuous 25 minutes until it ran out of ammunition, glowing cherry red, at its first U. S. Army trial -- and did something for which the weapon was never designed. Sgt. Paige walked down the hill toward the place where he could hear the last Japanese survivors rallying to move around his flank, the belt-fed gun cradled under his arm, firing as he went.
And the weapon did not fail.
Coming up at dawn, battalion executive officer Major Odell M. Conoley was first to discover the answer to our question: How many able-bodied Marines does it take to hold a hill against two regiments of motivated, combat-hardened infantrymen who have never known defeat?
On a hill where the bodies were piled like cordwood, Mitchell Paige alone sat upright behind his 30-caliber Browning, waiting to see what the dawn would bring.
One hill: one Marine.
But "In the early morning light, the enemy could be seen a few yards off, and vapor from the barrels of their machine guns was clearly visible," reports historian Lippman. "It was decided to try to rush the position."
For the task, Major Conoley gathered together "three enlisted communication personnel, several riflemen, a few company runners who were at the point, together with a cook and a few messmen who had brought food to the position the evening before."
Joined by Paige, this ad hoc force of 17 Marines counterattacked at 5:40 a.m., discovering that "the extremely short range allowed the optimum use of grenades." They cleared the ridge.
And that's where the unstoppable wave of Japanese conquest finally crested, broke, and began to recede. On an unnamed jungle ridge on an insignificant island no one had ever heard of, called Guadalcanal.
But who remembers, today, how close-run a thing it was -- the ridge held by a single Marine, in the autumn of 1942?
When the Hasbro Toy Co. called some years back, asking permission to put the retired colonel's face on some kid's doll, Mitchell Paige thought they must be joking.
But they weren't. That's his mug, on the little Marine they call "G.I. Joe."
And now you know.
October 26, 2005
- Joatmoaf -
June 04, 2006
On This Day
June 4, 1942
The United States Navy defeated the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Battle Of Midway effectively halting any further Japanese expansion.
On the morning of June 4, Admiral Nagumo launched his first strike with 108 aircraft, and did significant damage to U.S. installations at Midway. The Americans struck back time and again at Japanese ships, but accomplished little real damage, losing 65 of their own aircraft in their initial attempts. But Nagumo underestimated the tenacity of both Admiral Chester Nimitz and Admiral Raymond Spruance, commanders of the American forces. He also miscalculated tactically by ordering a second wave of bombers to finish off what he thought was only a remnant of American resistance (the U.S. forces had been able to conceal their position because of reconnaissance that anticipated the Midway strike) before his first wave had sufficient opportunity to rearm.
A fifth major engagement by 55 U.S. dive-bombers took full advantage of Nagumo's confused strategy, and sunk three of the four Japanese carriers, all cluttered with aircraft and fuel trying to launch another attack against what they now realized-too late--was a much larger American naval force than expected. A fourth Japanese carrier, the Hiryu was crippled, but not before its aircraft finished off the noble American Yorktown.
The attack on Midway was an unmitigated disaster for the Japanese, resulting in the loss of 322 aircraft and 3,500 men. They were forced to withdraw from the area before attempting even a landing on the island they sought to conquer.
- Joatmoaf -
May 29, 2006
We Support U
I know what I said on my last post but what better way to say "Thank you" than to say We Support U
I know it's old but it's just so...right.
- Joatmoaf -
I'm going to post one more thing today that pertains to Memorial Day.
It's an e-mail that a Senior Manager of Raytheon recieved from a friend. It's in the first person.
Last week, while traveling to Chicago on business, I noticed a Marine sergeant in Dress Blues traveling with a folded flag, but I did not put two and two together. After we'd boarded our flight, I turned to the sergeant, who'd been invited to sit in First Class (and was seated across the aisle from me), and inquired if he was heading home.
"No sir," he responded.
"Heading out?" I asked.
"No. I'm escorting a Marine home."
"Going to pick him up?"
"No. He is with me right now. He was killed in Iraq. I am taking him home to his family."
The realization of what he had been asked to do hit me like a punch to the gut. It was an honor for him. He told me that, although he didn't know the soldier, he had delivered the news of his passing to the soldier's family, and felt as if he did know them after so many conversations in so few days. I turned back to him, extended my hand, and said, "Thank you. Thank you for doing what you do so my family and I can do what we do."
Upon landing in Chicago, the pilot stopped short of the gate, and made the following announcement over the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to note that we have had the honor of having Sergeant Steeley of the United States Marine Corps join us on this flight. He is escorting a fallen comrade back home to his family. I ask that you please remain in your seats when we open the forward door, so as to allow Sergeant Steeley to de-plane and receive his fellow soldier. We will then turn off the seat belt sign."
Without a sound, all went as requested. I noticed the sergeant saluting the casket as it was brought off the plane, and his action made me realize two things: I am proud to be an American, and I will continue to fly on American Airlines, because it respects what our soldiers do every day. So here's a public thank-you to our military for doing what they do, so we can live the way we do.
Again, I want to thank the men and women in our Military for doing what they do.
May God Bless you, every one.
- Joatmoaf -
A Moment Of Silence
- Joatmoaf -
May 12, 2006
Best Shot In Iraq
Is a one shot kill fom 1250 meters with a .308 caliber M24 Rifle a good shot or what?
Gazing through the telescopic sight of his M24 rifle, Staff Sgt Jim Gilliland, leader of Shadow sniper team, fixed his eye on the Iraqi insurgent who had just killed an American soldier.
His quarry stood nonchalantly in the fourth-floor bay window of a hospital in battle-torn Ramadi, still clasping a long-barrelled Kalashnikov. Instinctively allowing for wind speed and bullet drop, Shadow's commander aimed 12 feet high.
A single shot hit the Iraqi in the chest and killed him instantly. It had been fired from a range of 1,250 metres, well beyond the capacity of the powerful Leupold sight, accurate to 1,000 metres.
"I believe it is the longest confirmed kill in Iraq with a 7.62mm rifle," said Staff Sgt Gilliland, 28, who hunted squirrels in Double Springs, Alabama from the age of five before progressing to deer - and then people.
"He was visible only from the waist up. It was a one in a million shot. I could probably shoot a whole box of ammunition and never hit him again."
Later that day, Staff Sgt Gilliland found out that the dead soldier was Staff Sgt Jason Benford, 30, a good friend.
I would say that it was an excellent shot. Especially considering the circumstances.
How does Sgt. Gilliand feel about his targets?
"Hunters give their animals respect," he said, spitting out a mouthful of chewing tobacco. "If you have no respect for what you do you're not going to be very good or you're going to make a mistake. We try to give the benefit of the doubt.
"You've got to live with it. It's on your conscience. It's something you've got to carry away with you. And if you shoot somebody just walking down the street, then that's probably going to haunt you."
Although killing with a single shot carries an enormous cachet within the sniper world, their most successful engagements have involved the shooting a up to 10 members of a single IED team.
"The one-shot-one-kill thing is one of beauty but killing all the bad dudes is even more attractive," said Staff Sgt Gilliland, whose motto is "Move fast, shoot straight and leave the rest to the counsellors in 10 years" and signs off his e-mails with "silent souls make.308 holes".
The man, the weapon, the building and an idea of the shot, all in one photo. Click to enlarge.
My hat is off to Staff Sgt. Gilliland and all the Shadow teams for doing a nasty job that has to be done.
From: The Telegraph
- Joatmoaf -
March 17, 2006
CENTCOM's 2006 Posture Statement
"General John P. Abizaid, commander, United States Central Command, puts out an annual statement on the posture of the United States Central Command. This is the 2006 posture statement that discusses various topics on the Global War on Terrorism. Some of the topics include “Nature of the Enemy”, “Situation Overview in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa”, “Other Regional Partnerships” and “Iran and Syria.”
That's part of an e-mail I recieved along with a link. So I click the link and Lo and Behold it's all there.
Situation Overviews and the Strategic Focus in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa just to name 2.
Here are just a few questions that are answered.
What are our goals and accomplishments?
How are we working to achieve them?
Who is helping and how?
What about the enemy? Who are they and how do they operate?
What about potential future problems in the region?
How does Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria or Iran fit into the picture?
If you've got questions about the war this report has answers.
It's longer than a Bill Whittle post and written in such a way that only an Official Document to the U.S. Senate can be. A Masterpiece of Bureaucratic Prose, chock full of important information.
Don't bother reading it if you don't have much spare time, but if you really want to know the skinny on the entire war effort from CENTCOM's perspective (the only perspective that really matters) here's the link.
- Joatmoaf -
October 07, 2005
All Things CENTCOM
CENTCOM has a nice little website with the most detailed information on pertainant military issues you`ll find anywhere, and I`ve added them to the Blogroll.
Here`s the type of articles you`ll find there:
Close quarters combat training preps Afghans
Story and photos by Pfc. Vincent C. Fusco TF Bayonet Public Affairs, 20th Public Affairs Detachment
KANDAHAR CITY, Afghanistan – An Afghan National Army soldier takes off shuffling across the dirt, brandishing his AK-47 ready to engage whatever steps in front of him. “Stop!” The instructor calls out. “Let’s work on getting in place first.”
This ANA soldier and his comrades of the Kandahar City Provincial Reaction Force are learning the fundamentals of close quarters combat and room clearing. Though eager to learn, some of the soldiers need time to learn the abbreviated training.
“We kind of skipped the crawl-walk-run technique and went right into the room clearing technique,” said Army 1st Lt. Christian Stone, the officer in charge of the PRF from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Every day but Friday, Stone and Army 1st Sgt. Charles Scott Werley, noncommissioned officer in charge of the PRF from HHC, 173rd, work with the force to teach basic soldiering skills.
“The ANA are used to having commanding officers training them,” said Werley. “I have 19 years experience, so [Stone and I] became that part of the equation.”
They worked to establish an NCO corps, assign squad leaders and teach the ANA sergeants how to inspect their soldiers for water and ammunition.
The force was primed for room clearing training by learning basic and close-quarters marksmanship in an urban environment.
“We had to go through some stress trying to teach them to take single shots rather than laying lead down,” said Stone. “They love to fire on automatic.”
“The training is based on the fundamentals of infantry tactics,” said Werley, whose previous mission experience includes Operation Just Cause in Panama with the 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
Stone’s biggest concern over the close-quarters fight is that “it’s fast-moving and very unforgiving. Not only is the enemy a significant threat to you, but so are your buddies.”
The area of Kandahar City is a combination of rural and urban environments, said Stone. The training gives the soldiers a chance to become more familiar with how to move and fight while being aware of the things around them.
“It’s difficult for them to learn sometimes because we’ll give them a sit-down period to do the basics,” said Stone. “Some don’t pay attention and they’re lost in the training. So we give a briefing, go out and do it, then cover a review. The part they get most out of is actually doing it.”
Stone and Werley found themselves adapting their American methods of training to fit an Afghan mold. They discovered that even a safety switch on the AK-47 markedly different from the M16 can change they way they teach the class.
“The M16 has a switch you can select with your thumb,” said Werley. “But with the AK-47, you have to take your hand off the grip a bit to switch it.”
“Do things go as smoothly as you want? No,” said Werley. “It’s something you smooth out when you do international training. Even with American troops, different units do different things.”
The time and effort put into teaching the force is paying off: it paid off during visits to the polling sites before Sept. 18.
“We didn’t have to say anything and they fell straight into things,” said Werley.
The visits gave the force a chance to practice their security skills, said Stone. At each stop, the soldiers dismounted from the truck, established a security perimeter around each site and watched for suspicious people.
“They were on it,” said Werley. “It was good initiative, and they were doing it right. That’s what training’s for.”
Despite problems in translation, Stone and Werley are dedicated to teaching the force how to become better, faster soldiers in their own right.
“These guys are a dedicated response team in Kandahar Province,” said Werley. “They need to learn to constantly train to be an effective fighting force.”
The only time you`ll find something like that in the MSN is when it slips past The Editors radar under the guise of a "Human Interest" story.
Or how about this from the What Extremists Are Saying link:
[Translated from Arabic]
October 04, 2005
CENTCOM: A recent posting to the UK-based Islamic Renewal Organization website assigned the “al-Qa'ida Organization in America led by Abu-Azzam al-Amriki” the task of blowing up a US nuclear reactor in the near future. This fantasy threat will go unfulfilled as the terrorists realize that any type of mass destruction attack would harm everyone. It would not only mean the end of al-Qa’ida and similar gangster-type organizations which routinely kill innocent women and children, but will ultimately hurt the communities of the terrorists and their supporters. The right side of the law is not that which disrupts civilization and creates mayhem in the land or interferes with commerce, education, and the rights of men to raise their children safely. The terrorists have sent the message that their own families and neighbors are worth nothing and they are running out of places to hide. World history has proven that such brigands soon exceed their abilities and are justly punished.
“Terrorism: Participant Says al-Qa'ida in US Set to Attack Nuclear Reactor, Outlines Geographic Divisions"
On 3 October, "Ayaf" posted a message to the Islamic Renewal Organization's forum in which he stated that "orders to destroy a nuclear reactor in the US " have been assigned to the al-Qa'ida division in the US , which is led by Abu Azzam al-Amriki. The message also included the geographic area of responsibility for the al-Qa'ida leadership. "Ayaf" stated that he came about this information via a conversation with "brother Abu-Jandal," who he said is "close to al-Qa'ida leadership." "Ayaf" signs all his postings to the forum as "Al-Zarqawi's aide," and includes his email addresses: "firstname.lastname@example.org m and email@example.com." The poster also included a photo of an individual in his signature. The individual sits before a background of Mecca . It is unclear whether this photo is of the author himself or someone else. Jihadist forum participants frequently include photos of "mujahidin martyrs" in their postings.
With everything you need to get the real story on what`s happening in the war on terror, CENTCOM is the place to be.
Go check 'em out.
- Joatmoaf -