Open thread: BlueNC Veterans Day Edition

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Good morning everyone.

As many of you know, we have a boatload of Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine veterans who are regulars here at BlueNC. Today we've invited any and all of them to tell their stories or share their ideas. I'll be around all day to front-page them and add our handy-dandy seal to their posts. We'll keep other business going as usual, which means the front page is wide open for whatever comes along, not just veteran posts.

Thank you to all our veterans for their service, and for honoring us with their presence here at BlueNC.

Comments

Here's to them

I'm not a veteran but I'd like to give a salute to my grandfather and father who flew combat missions over Japan and Vietnam respectively. They're no longer with us, but I think about them and others who have served every day.

As it pleased me to no end to piss my dad off, I'm happily posting this salute on a Blue web site. I can hear the curses ringing down from heaven.

I'll post my story later

But my dad would be spewing curses from heaven too. My whole evangelical family (if they were alive) would be out of their heads about me becoming a dirty commie pinko hippy liberal.

I Hate War

I hate war, I hate talking about war, and I hate writing about it almost as much. I was raised in an Army family but believe me that for me made me hate it even more. My Grandfather and father were both in WWII, my Grandfather as a sergeant and my Dad as a lieutenant. When the war was over, Granddad returned to the railroad and Dad decided to stay in as a regular Army officer because he believed that the US would honor its promise of equality.

Neither of them ever talked about their war days and any references were usually about people or places, but never the war itself. Interestingly enough, they were in both North Africa and Sicily at the same time but didn’t know it. Letters were censored and my Grandmother didn’t even know where they were. Such was the way things were in the 1940s.

For us kids, it was a good life living all over the US and the world. I had lived in Japan, France and Liberia and by the time I started college, more of my time had been spent out of the US than in. I had lived in seven states and attended nine schools in my 12 years, including three high schools. We thought that was normal.

I took ROTC in college because I figured that if I had to serve, being an officer was better than not. I always felt that I was held to a higher standard than others in the program because by that time my dad was one of the highest ranking black officers in the Army. Naturally, my entire cadre was aware of who I was related to.

My first assignment was the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. After my infantry training, airborne school, Ranger training and Jungle Expert School, I spent the remainder of my first year learning my job with real soldiers. At the end of that first year, it was off to Vietnam.

Before going to RVN, I asked my combat infantryman dad who had seen combat in both WWII and Korea what advice he could give me about war. His response is as clear today as it was 38 years ago: nobody’s war is ever the same as someone else’s. War is a personal experience and don’t try to make it something it isn’t. He then asked me if I knew my job, had the confidence to do it, and respected soldiers as America’s treasures. I replied yes to all and he said good, do the right thing and never surrender your honor or integrity.

I then asked my infantry captain brother who had returned from RVN the prior year if he had talked to Dad about war before he left. Turned out that he got the same answer and indicated that he found it to be the truth; your war is your war and it’s still not the same war even for those you served with.

I joined a brigade of the 82d Airborne in Vietnam, took command of my unit one morning, and was on patrol three hours later. As the days passed, I came to know a group of guys in a very special way. Fifty-five percent of my guys were volunteers and the others were draftees. We continued to receive jump pay even though we never jumped and that tended to make us special. Being “elite” makes people act a certain way and my guys lived it for all it’s worth; they were paratroopers and proud of it.

We were from all over, all races, and had a range of education. I had high school dropouts and a radio operator who had a Ph.D. in English literature from UMass. He was called “Prof.” instead of “Doc” because doc was the medic, a west Texas kid who took every medical case as a personal test. Our “Prof” would tell anybody willing to listen that he got drafted because he jilted the daughter of a draft board member from home. When you get a story like that, someone else has to top it, so in short order, it’s impossible to separate the “why I’m here” BS from reality. But our reality was that we had each other and that’s who you depended on.

What I also came to understand was that my war was about my people, not the politicians, not the politics behind why we were there, nor the anti-war movement back at home; it was simply about us at that time and in our place. It is true that it was not about fighting for flag or country, it was about fighting for each other, and for me as leader, getting every man home. We, to the surprise of most civilians, spent time training and practicing our skills. As a result, we who came as individuals thrown together into the same unit forged the bonds necessary to ensure our success. In no time at all, you come to share this experience as a team and know the joys and heartaches each man carries. And we didn’t see ourselves as heroes, just people doing what it took.

When John Stuart Mill says, “War is ugly, but not the ugliest of things” he is right. War in a sad way brought people together who would have probably hated each other anywhere else. War caused them to come together and give their all. The worst day for all of us was when we lost someone, and especially if it was because of a mistake that they made instead of the skill of the enemy. That’s what hurts and you take it personally because it is a sign of your failure, or least that’s what you believe at the time.

William Tecumseh Sherman is often quoted as saying, "Some of you young men think that war is all glamour and glory, but let me tell you, boys, it is all hell!" He’s right, it’s hell! It smells, it’s loud, it’s so sad, and it hurts. But in a perverse way, men for centuries have seen it as a test of their manhood and the gut check on their ability to do what others can’t. As an officer, I found that I indeed wanted to know if I could do what I was trained to do, do it right and bring my guys back home.

Once you learn your answer, it’s still hell, it still stinks, it’s still loud, it’s still so sad, and it still hurts. And when my captain son on his way to Iraq the first time asked me what I had asked all those years before, I gave him the answer that I had received. My now-major son just went back again and didn’t bother to ask anything this time; he knew war was hell.

War is still ugly, but it still isn’t the ugliest of things.

fhblack

I was talking with an old friend the other day

her husband is one of the men training the men and women who are out on the 11-man patrols in Baghdad. He's been in Iraq three times, I think she said.

One of the things we talked about was that the career path in the military is now broken. She said that the forced retentions / forced re-enlistments were preventing some promotions. I don't know how that works and it may not be true for all ranks, but she gave a specific example and I wish I'd written it down. My fear is that this will further weaken the military b/c those who have chosen it as a career will become disillusioned by their lack of advancement. That's the impression I got from her as we were talking.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

It's really simple, TSD

The promotion system works like this:

*This is a simplified example. All numbers are examples for the purpose of this scenario. The math and process remains the same*

The way it should work...

Congress allows 20 Colonels.
The Marine Corps has 15 Colonels.
There's space for 5 additional Colonels, so 5 Majors are promoted. That makes space for 5 Majors, so 5 Captains get promoted. That makes space for 5 Captains, so 5 Lieutenants get promoted.

The way it's (not)-working now...

Congress allows 20 Colonels.
The Marine Corps has 15 Colonels.
The Marine Corps involuntarily retains 15 Colonels.
No Majors get promoted to Colonels. No Captains get promoted to Major. No Lieutenants get promoted to Captain.

It works the same way on the enlisted side.

Thomas S. Brock
www.brocknet.net
http://blogs.brocknet.net/brocklog/

Thomas

What have YOU done today to make the world a better place?

That sounds like what she was telling me

only she was using numbers for ranks and it didn't translate.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

Don't you mean...

That in the first case there are 20 Colonels, 5 retire, so they have room for 5 to move up.

But, now the 5 that want to leave or retire are being involuntarily retained, so the number stays at 20?

One man with courage makes a majority.
- Andrew Jackson

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Pretty much

I just didn't detail the reason for the difference between the Congressional End Strength and the actual on-hand.

Thomas S. Brock
www.brocknet.net
http://blogs.brocknet.net/brocklog/

Thomas

What have YOU done today to make the world a better place?

To my Dad...

who didn't have the money to get of Vietnam, had no interest in going, and once he was there figured he'd never make it home.

I'm glad he did.

One man with courage makes a majority.
- Andrew Jackson

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

War is a fact of life. It does not have to be a way of life.

Anglico said

“But my dad would be spewing curses from heaven too. My whole evangelical family (if they were alive) would be out of their heads about me becoming a dirty commie pinko hippy liberal”.

Sorry my friend, but I have read your stuff. You do not qualify as a dirty commie pinko hippie liberal.

I joined the United States Marine Corps when I was 16 years old (yea, I kinda lied about my age). I stayed in the Marines for 22 years. My first duty station was Danang Vietnam. I have two sons who have shared real battleground with me in Iraq, I go to church and I look a little bit like a nerd, …but…

I remember Janice Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Iron Butterfly and Woodstock. I remember the protest. I cherish the memories. I remember Kent State. As a youg boy I watched Watts burning in West LA.

I have read your stuff here, and have concluded that you are not any of those things you want us to think you are……Okay you are a liberal. We both get to take that home.

From my perspective, you are, and I am sorry to hurt your feelings, a good American who loves his country.

In all probability you are a pretty good dad and those close to you admire you. I’m just guessing here.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03

And boy do I agree with that...

"A good American who loves his country"
If A is a raving pinko commie socialist lunatic...I'm Alexander the Great.

SE NC Dems

Stan Bozarth

Oh NO!

Sorry my friend, but I have read your stuff. You do not qualify as a dirty commie pinko hippie liberal.

This will crush, A. He's right proud of his dirty commie pinko hippie liberal bona fides.

Don't worry, A. I still think you are a dirty commie pinko hippie liberal. :) :) :)

Well, maybe not the dirty part.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

And I say

If A is a dirty commie pinko hippie liberal, Thank God that we have dirty commie pinko hippie liberals in the United States fighting the good fight. Otherwise, those fine upstanding (or Parasites out standing in their fields) Americans would have turned this into a Fascist government about 6 years ago! Thank You A and everyone for their time in service and for doing their duty, whether they wanted to or not.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

If you want to know how deeply Bush has f*cked up the military

read this article.

“There are very likely clear limits on the size of an all-volunteer ground force the Army and Marine Corps can achieve without dramatically increasing the pay and bonuses of soldiers and Marines,” Krepinevich said. The average cost of supporting a soldier has more than doubled over the last five years, he said, in part because of big bonus increases, but “there are worrisome indicators that the quality of the force has declined, perhaps significantly.”

Like Korb, Krepinevich mentioned a military draft as a possibility. Another suggestion from Krepinevich was to “welcome” foreigners to serve in the U.S. military in exchange for citizenship

Let "foreigners" fight for America? That ought to throw the right-wing frat boys into a tail spin.

Thanks to all the veterans who have joined

the conversation today . . . and if you haven't chimed in yet, please do. I know we didn't hear from at least a couple of our women veterans, so I'm crossing my fingers that they'll post something later tonight. I have to be out for a few hours, but before I go, let me say how proud I am to be in such a wonderfully supportive and inspiring community.

Semper fi . . . and all that other stuff.

:)

Come on now, Mr. Krepinevich -

What about all those wounded soldiers who you insist return their bonuses?

Surely those 'rebates' count for something?

Thanks so much

For all the contributions of the veterans. I am a fairly macho guy and every story has brought tears to my eyes. Frankly, I feel very unworthy right now... You guys rock. At the risk of RobertP calling me a Hannity worshipper, I'll you say you all are Great Americans.

Hannity worshiper.

Whatever that means.

One man with courage makes a majority.
- Andrew Jackson

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

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