USS Midway VA-25's Toilet Bomb

In October 1965, CDR Clarence J. Stoddard, Executive Officer of VA-25 "Fist of the Fleet", flying an A-1H Skyraider, NE/572 "Paper Tiger II" from Carrier Air Wing Two aboard USS Midway carried a special bomb to the North Vietnamese in commemoration of the 6-millionth pound of ordnance dropped. This bomb was unique because of the type... it was a toilet!

The following is an account of this event, courtesy of Clint Johnson, Captain, USNR Ret. Captain Johnson was one of the two VA-25 A-1 Skyraider pilots credited with shooting down a MiG-17 on June 20, 1965.

I was a pilot in VA-25 on the 1965 Vietnam cruise. 572 was flown by CDR C. W. "Bill" Stoddard. His wingman in 577 (which was my assigned airplane) was LCDR Robin Bacon, who had a wing station mounted movie camera (the only one remaining in the fleet from WWII).

The flight was a Dixie Station strike (South Vietnam) going to the Delta.  When they arrived in the target area and CDR Stoddard was reading the ordnance list to the FAC, he ended with "and one code name Sani-flush".

The  FAC couldn't believe it and joined up to see it. It was dropped in a dive with LCDR Bacon flying tight wing position to film the drop. When it came off, it turned hole to the wind and almost struck his airplane.

It made a great ready room movie. The FAC said that it whistled all the way down.

The toilet was a damaged toilet, which was going to be thrown overboard. One of our plane captains rescued it and the ordnance crew made a rack, tailfins and nose fuse for it.  Our checkers maintained a position to block the view of the Air Boss and the Captain while the aircraft was taxiing forward to the catapult.

Just as it was being shot off we got a 1MC message from the bridge, "Wh! at th e hell was that on 572's right wing?"

 There were a lot of jokes with air intelligence about germ warfare.  I wish I had saved the movie film."

This enemy is just not fighting fair!!


Another funny


No Punches Pulled Here
By J. D. Pendry, CSM Ret.

J. D.  is a retired Army Command Sergeant Major who writes for Random House. Although a bit reticent, J. D. finally gets around to what he wants to say.

Jimmy Carter, you're the father of the Islamic Nazi movement. You threw the Shah under the bus, welcomed the Ayatollah home and then lacked the spine to confront the terrorists when they took our embassy and our people hostage. You're the runner-in-chief.

Bill Clinton, you played ring around the Lewinsky while the terrorists were at war with us. You got us into a fight with them in Somalia, and then you ran from it. Your weak-willed responses emboldened the killers. Each time you failed to respond adequately they grew bolder, until 9/11.

John Kerry, dishonesty is your most prominent attribute. You lied about American Soldiers in Vietnam. Your military service, like your life, is more fiction than fact. You've accused our Soldiers of terrorizing women and children in Iraq. You called Iraq the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, the same words you used to describe Vietnam. You're a fake. You want to run from Iraq and abandon the Iraqis to murderers just as you did the Vietnamese. Iraq, like Vietnam is another war that you were for, before you were against it.

John Murtha, you said our military was broken. You said we cant win militarily in Iraq. You accused United States Marines of cold-blooded murder without proof. And said we should redeploy to Okinawa. Okinawa John? And the Democrats call you their military expert. Are you sure you didn't suffer a traumatic brain injury while you were off building your war hero resume?

You're a sad, pitiable, corrupt and washed up politician. You're not a Marine sir. You wouldn't amount to a pimple on a real Marines butt. You're a phony and a disgrace. Run away John.

Dick Durbin, you accused our Soldiers at Guantanamo of being Nazis, tenders of Soviet style gulags and as bad as the regime of Pol Pot who murdered two million of his own people after your party abandoned South East Asia to the Communists. Now you want to abandon the Iraqis to the same fate. History was not a good teacher for you, was it? See Dick run.

Ted Kennedy, for days on end you held poster sized pictures from Abu Grhaib in front of any available television camera. Al Jazeera quoted you saying that Iraqs torture chambers were open under new management. Did you see the news this week Teddy? The Islamic Nazis demonstrated real torture for you again. If you truly supported our troops, you'd show the world poster-sized pictures of that atrocity and demand the annihilation of the perpetrators of it. Your legislation stripping support from the South Vietnamese led to a communist victory there. You're a bloated fool bent on repeating the same historical blunder that turned freedom-seeking people over to homicidal, genocidal maniacs. To paraphrase John Murtha, all while sitting on your wide, gin-soaked rear-end in Washington.

Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Carl Levine, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Russ Feingold, Hillary Clinton, Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer et al ad nauseam. Every time you stand in front of television cameras and broadcast to the Islamic Nazis that we went to war because our President lied. That the war is wrong and our Soldiers are torturers. That we should leave Iraq, you give the Islamic butchers the same ones that tortured and mutilated American Soldiers - cause to think that well run away again and all they have to do is hang on a little longer.

American news media, the New York Times particularly. Each time you publish stories about national defense secrets and our intelligence gathering methods, you become one with the sub-human pieces of camel dung that torture and mutilate the bodies of American Soldiers.. You cant strike up the courage to publish cartoons, but you can help Al Qaeda destroy my country.

Actually, you are more dangerous to us than Al Qaeda is. Think about that each time you face Mecca to admire your Pulitzer.

You are Americas axis of idiots. Your Collective Stupidity will destroy us.

Self-serving politics and terrorist abetting news scoops are more important to you than our national security or the lives of innocent civilians and Soldiers. It bothers you that defending ourselves gets in the way of your elitist sport of politics and your ignorant editorializing. There is as much blood on your hands as is on the hands of murdering terrorists. Don't ever doubt that. Your frolics will only serve to extend this war as they extended Vietnam. If you want our Soldiers home, as you claim, knock off the crap and try supporting your country ahead of supporting your silly political aims and aiding our enemies. Yes, I'm questioning your patriotism. Your loyalty ends with self. I'm also questioning why you're stealing air that decent Americans could be breathing. You don't deserve the protection of our men and women in uniform. You need to run away from this war this country Leave the war to the people who have the will to see it through and the country to people who are willing to defend it.

No Commander in Chief, you don't get off the hook either. Our country has two enemies.. Those who want to destroy us from the outside and those who attempt it from within. Your Soldiers are dealing with the outside force. Its your obligation to support them by confronting the axis of idiots.

America must hear it from you that these people are harming our country, abetting the enemy and endangering our safety. Well up a little anger please, and channel it toward the appropriate target You must prosecute those who leak national security secrets to the media. You must prosecute those in the media who knowingly publish those secrets. Our Soldiers need you to confront the enemy that they cannot.

They need you to do it now.
Copyright J.D. Pendry 2006

This was sent to me in an e-mail and I was unable to determine where it was originally published, or posted. Therefore, I was unable to provide a link to the article and instead printed the piece in it's entirety here. I hope Mr. Pendry doesn't mind - Webmaster


A History Lesson
By Raymond S. Kraft

The threat is great, the battle is hard, therefore we should do nothing.
We might lose!

The gangs are running wild in L.A. Somebody might get hurt.
Get rid of the police!

The following is a reprint from an article Raymond S. Kraft wrote in Oct 2004. I believe it is still revel ant today, and a must read for every American and free people across the globe. If you do not believe that our way of life is threatened by radical Islam, or even if you do believe, you must read this:

Sixty-three years ago, Nazi Germany had overrun almost all of Europe and hammered England to the verge of bankruptcy and defeat, and had sunk more than four hundred British ships in their convoys between England and America for food and war materials.

At that time the U.S. was in an isolationist, pacifist mood, and most Americans wanted nothing to do with the European or the Asian war.

Then along came Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and in outrage Congress unanimously declared war on Japan, and the following day on Germany, which had not yet attacked us. It was a dicey thing. We had few allies.

France was not an ally, as the Vichy government of France quickly aligned itself with its German occupiers. Germany was certainly not an ally, as Hitler was intent on setting up a Thousand Year Reich in Europe. Japan was not an ally, as it was well on its way to owning and controlling all of Asia. Together, Japan and Germany had long-range plans of invading Canada and Mexico, as launching pads to get into the United States over our northern and southern borders, after they finished gaining control of Asia and Europe. America's only allies then were England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Russia. That was about it. All of Europe, from Norway to Italy,
except Russia in the east, was already under the Nazi heel.

America was certainly not prepared for war. America had drastically downgraded most of its military forces after WWI and throughout the depression, so that at the outbreak of WW2, army units were training with broomsticks because they didn't have guns, and cars with "tank" painted on the doors because they didn't have real tanks. And a huge chunk of our navy had just been sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor.

Britain had already gone bankrupt, saved only by the donation of $600 million in gold bullion in the Bank of England, that was actually the property of Belgium, given by Belgium to England to carry on the war when Belgium was overrun by Hitler (a little known fact). Actually, Belgium surrendered on one day, because it was unable to oppose the German invasion, and the Germans bombed Brussels into rubble the next day just to prove they could. Britain had already been holding out for two years in the face of staggering shipping loses and the near-decimation of its air force in the Battle of Britain, and was saved from being overrun by Germany only because Hitler made the mistake of thinking the Brits were a relatively minor threat that could be dealt with later, and first turning his attention to Russia, at a time when England was on the verge of collapse, in the late summer of 1940.

Ironically, Russia saved America's butt by putting up a desperate fight for two years, until the U.S. got geared up to begin hammering away at Germany.

Russia lost something like 24 million people in the sieges of Stalingrad and Moscow alone... 90% of them from cold and starvation, mostly civilians, but also more than a MILLION soldiers.

Had Russia surrendered, Hitler would have been able to focus his entire war effort against the Brits, then America. And the Nazis could possibly have won the war.

All of this is to illustrate that turning points in history are often dicey things. And now, we find ourselves at another one of those key moments in history.

There is a very dangerous minority in Islam that either has, or wants and may soon have, the ability to deliver small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, almost anywhere in the world.

The Jihadis, the militant Muslims, are basically Nazis in Kaffiyahs -- they believe that Islam, a radically conservative form of Wahhabi Islam, should own and control the Middle East first, then Europe, then the world. And that all who do not bow to their will of thinking should be killed, enslaved, or subjugated. They want to finish the Holocaust, destroy Israel, and purge the world of Jews. This is their mantra.

There is also a civil war raging in the Middle East --for the most part not a hot war, but a war of ideas. Islam is having its Inquisition and its Reformation, but it is not known yet which will win -- the Inquisitors, or the Reformationists.

If the Inquisition wins, then the Wahhabis, the Jihadis, will control the Middle East, the OPEC oil, and the US, European, and Asian economies. The techno-industrial economies will be at the mercy of OPEC -- not an OPEC dominated by the educated, rational Saudis of today, but an OPEC dominated by the Jihadis.

You want gas in your car? You want heating oil next winter? You want the dollar to be worth anything? You better hope the Jihad, the Muslim Inquisition, loses, and the Islamic Reformation wins.

If the Reformation movement wins, that is, the moderate Muslims who believe that Islam can respect and tolerate other religions, and live in peace with the rest of the world, and move out of the 10th century into the 21st, then the troubles in the Middle East will eventually fade away, and a moderate and prosperous Middle East will emerge.

We have to help the Reformation win, and to do that we have to fight the Inquisition, i.e., the Wahhabi movement, the Jihad, Al Qaeda and the Islamic terrorist movements. We have to do it somewhere. And we can't do it everywhere at once. We have created a focal point for the battle at a time and place of our Iraq. Not in New York, not in London, or Paris or Berlin, but in Iraq, where we are doing two important things.

(1) We deposed Saddam Hussein. Whether Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11 or not, it is undisputed that Saddam has been actively supporting the terrorist movement for decades. Saddam is a terrorist.

Saddam is, or was, a weapon of mass destruction, who is responsible for the deaths of probably more than a million Iraqis and two million Iranians.

(2) We created a battle, a confrontation, a flash point, with Islamic terrorism in Iraq. We have focused the battle. We are killing bad people, and the ones we get there we won't have to get here. We also have a good shot at creating a democratic, peaceful Iraq, which will be a catalyst for democratic change in the rest of the Middle East, and an outpost for a stabilizing American military presence in the Middle East for as long as it is needed.

World War II, the war with the German and Japanese Nazis, really began with a whimper" in 1928. It did not begin with the invasion of Pearl Harbor.

It began with the Japanese invasion of China. It was a war for fourteen years before America joined it. It officially ended in 1945 -- a 17 year war -- and was followed by another decade of U.S. occupation in Germany and Japan to get those countries reconstructed and running on their own again ... a 27 year war.

World War II cost the United States an amount equal to approximately a full year's GDP -- adjusted for inflation, equal to about $12 trillion dollars. WWII cost America more than 400,000 killed in action, and nearly 100,000 still missing in action.

The Iraq war has, so far, cost the US about $160 billion, which is roughly what 9/11 cost New York. It has also cost about 2,200 American lives, which is roughly 2/3 of the 3,000 lives that the Jihad snuffed on 9/11. But the cost of not fighting and winning WWII would have been unimaginably greater -- a world dominated by German and Japanese Nazism.

Americans have a short attention span, conditioned by 30 second sound bites, 60 minute TV shows, and 2 hour movies in which everything comes out okay.

The real world is not like that. It is messy, uncertain,and sometimes bloody and ugly. Always has been, and probably always will be.

The bottom line is that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorism until we defeat it, whenever that is. It will not go away if we ignore it.

If the U.S. can create a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq, then we have an "England" in the Middle East, a platform, from which we can work to help modernize and moderate the Middle East. The history of the world is the clash between the forces of relative civility and civilization, and the barbarians clamoring at the gates. The Iraq war is merely another battle in this ancient and never-ending war. And now, for the first time ever, the barbarians are about to get nuclear weapons. Unless somebody prevents them.

We have four options:

1. We can defeat the Jihad now, before it gets nuclear weapons.

2. We can fight the Jihad later, after it gets nuclear weapons (which may be as early as next year, if Iran's progress on nuclear weapons is what Iran claims it is).

3. We can surrender to the Jihad and accept its dominance in the Middle East, now, in Europe in the next few years or decades, and ultimately in America.

4. Or, we can stand down now, and pick up the fight later when the Jihad is more widespread and better armed, perhaps after the Jihad has dominated France and Germany and maybe most of the rest of Europe. It will, of course, be more dangerous, more expensive, and much bloodier.

If you oppose this war, I hope you like the idea that your children, or grandchildren, may live in an Islamic America under the Mullahs and the Sharia, an America that resembles Iran today.

The history of the world is the history of civilizational clashes, cultural clashes. All wars are about ideas, ideas about what society and civilization should be like, and the most determined always win.

Those who are willing to be the most ruthless always win. The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them.

Remember, perspective is history for perspective to be clear, especially in the young American mind.

The Cold war lasted from about 1947 at least until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Forty-two years. Europe spent the first half of the 19th century fighting Napoleon, and from 1870 to 1945 fighting Germany.

World War II began in 1928, lasted 17 years, plus a ten year occupation, and the U.S. still has troops in Germany and Japan. World War II resulted in the death of more than 50 million people, maybe more than 100 million people, depending on which estimates you accept.

The U.S. has taken more than 2,000 KIA in Iraq. The U.S. took more than 4,000 killed in action on the morning of June 6, 1944, the first day of the Normandy Invasion to rid Europe of Nazi Imperialism. In WWII the US averaged 2,000 KIA a week -- for four years. Most of the individual battles of WWII lost more Americans than the entire Iraq war has done so far.

But the stakes are at least as high ... A world dominated by representative governments with civil rights, human rights, and personal freedoms ... or a world dominated by a radical Islamic Wahhabi movement, by the Jihad, under the Mullahs and the Sharia (Islamic law).

It's difficult to understand why the American left does not grasp this. They favor human rights, civil
rights, liberty and freedom, but evidently not for Iraqis.

"Peace Activists" always seem to demonstrate here in America, where it's safe.

Why don't we see Peace Activist demonstrating in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, in the places that really need peace activism the most?

The liberal mentality is supposed to favor human rights, civil rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc., but if the Jihad wins, wherever the Jihad wins, it is the end of civil rights, human rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc. Americans who oppose the liberation of Iraq are coming down on the side of their own worst enemy. If the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism. Everywhere the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism.

And American Liberals just don't get it.

Raymond S. Kraft is a writer and lawyer living in Northern California.

A Letter To The New York Times

Lt. Tom Cotton submitted the following open letter to the New York Times

Congratulations on disclosing our government's highly classified anti-terrorist-financing program (June 23). I apologize for not writing sooner. But I am a lieutenant in the United States Army and I spent the last four days patrolling one of the more dangerous areas in Iraq. (Alas, operational security and common sense prevent me from even revealing this unclassified location in a private medium like email.)

Unfortunately, as I supervised my soldiers late one night, I heard a booming explosion several miles away. I learned a few hours later that a powerful roadside bomb killed one soldier and severely injured another from my 130-man company. I deeply hope that we can find and kill or capture the terrorists responsible for that bomb. But, of course, these terrorists do not spring from the soil like Plato's guardians. No, they require financing to obtain mortars and artillery shells, priming explosives, wiring and circuitry, not to mention for training and payments to locals willing to emplace bombs in exchange for a few months' salary. As your story states, the program was legal, briefed to Congress, supported in the government and financial industry, and very successful.

Not anymore. You may think you have done a public service, but you have gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here. Next time I hear that familiar explosion -- or next time I feel it -- I will wonder whether we could have stopped that bomb had you not instructed terrorists how to evade our financial surveillance.

And, by the way, having graduated from Harvard Law and practiced with a federal appellate judge and two Washington law firms before becoming an infantry officer, I am well-versed in the espionage laws relevant to this story and others -- laws you have plainly violated. I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.

Very truly yours,

Tom Cotton
Baghdad, Iraq

President Bush said, "There can be no excuse for anyone entrusted with vital intelligence to leak it -- and no excuse for any newspaper to print it."

* * * * * *

But It's Not The First Time?

Giving aid and comfort to terrorists by printing security leaks seems to be a habit with reporters at the New York Times.

Deroy Murdock, writing for National Review Online, gives several examples of these serial leaks of information:

"Judith Miller (of le affaire Plame fame) called the Holy Land Foundation in fall 2001, soon after 9/11, to seek 'comment' on an anticipated federal freeze on their bank accounts. Such 'government action was imminent,' federal prosecutors say Miller told the charity's leaders. The FBI searched the allegedly terror-tied foundation's offices the day after the Times ran Miller's article. Learning that the heat was on, who knows what evidence terror suspects spent hours destroying?"

"A few weeks later, Times correspondent Philip Shenon rang the Global Relief Foundation. According to federal officials, Shenon informed the charity's leaders that the FBI soon would raid its facility. Indeed, the next day, December 14, 2001, G-Men entered the GRF's offices because, Treasury said, the Islamic charity 'received funding from individuals associated with al Qaida.' GRF officials have had extensive contacts with a close associate of Usama Bin Ladin, who has been convicted in a U.S. court for his role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania."

"While it seemingly involved no classified information, the Times again displayed its contempt for public safety in a recent article on the summer homes of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Both men are obvious terror targets. Nevertheless, this story provided driving directions to these two men's vacation getaways in rural Maryland. The Times identified the relevant highways, streets, and even turning instructions to these properties. Also named were several stores where Mrs. Rumsfeld shops. The article includes a photo of the Rumsfelds' home and, shockingly, pinpoints a well-concealed security camera on the premises."

Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) summed up the Times' actions best saying; "If you are Al Qaeda, the appropriate response to this publication is, 'Thank you.' "

If the preceding examples are any indication of what is to come, it should be apparent that the Times will NOT be acting more responsibly in the immediate future.

And if the New York Times and the leakers of this anti-terrorist program are NOT held to account, leaks and the printing of classified programs will continue -- business as usual!

It's time to draw a line in the sand -- TODAY!

The Soldier's Burden

Fort Carson Conference

I received this story second-hand from an old Navy Buddy. The story is what was reported by a Rear Admiral attending the conference.

Subject: GO/Flag Officers Conference on Iraq at Fort Carson

Earlier this week I attended a retired general and flag officer conference at Fort Carson, hosted by MGen Bob Mixon, the 7th Infantry Division Commander which calls the Fort its home.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ft. Carson, it is a huge installation located to the south of Colorado Springs; it's in the process of becoming one of the larger Army installations in the country (26,000 soldiers); and it is the test location for the new "modular brigade" concept that will reflect the Army of tomorrow by 2008.  It is also the home post of the largest number of troopers who have served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and, regrettably, the largest number of troopers who have died in combat there over the past three years.  There are Ft. Carson units going to and returning from the combat area virtually on a monthly basis.

The conference was primarily organized to explain the modular brigade concept, and it featured a panel of officers who had either very recently returned from commands in the combat zone or were about to deploy there in the next two months.  Three of the recent returnees were Colonel H.R. McMaster, Colonel Rick S., and Captain Walter Szpak.

McMaster is the commander of the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, the unit that, through very innovative and population-friendly tactics, rid the city of Tal Afar of insurgents.  The mayor of Tal Afar came back to Carson two weeks ago to thank the troopers and their families personally for "freeing his people".  (You say you didn't hear about that in the mainstream media?) McMaster is considered the foremost U.S. expert on modern insurgent warfare, has written a book on the subject which is widely circulated at the war colleges and staff colleges, and he was asked to testify before Congress when he returned from the 3rd ACR combat deployment.  He is obviously one of the great combat leaders that has emerged from the war and is highly respected (some would say revered) by his troopers and his superiors alike.

Colonel S. is assigned to the 10th Special Forces Brigade and he headed up all of the 31 Special Forces A-teams that are integrated with the populace and the Iraqi Army and national police throughout the country.  Many of these are the guys that you see occasionally on the news that have beards, dress in native regalia, usually speak Arabic and don't like to have their identities revealed for fear of retribution on their families (thus the Colonel S.)  Captain Szpak was the head of all the Army explosive ordnance teams in Iraq.  He and his troops had the job of disarming all the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive formed projectiles (EFPs) that were discovered before they were detonated.  They also traveled around the country training the combat forces in recognizing and avoiding these devices in time to prevent death and injury.  IEDs and EFPs are responsible for the vast majority of casualties experienced by our forces.

Despite the objective of the conference (i.e., the modular brigade concept), it quickly devolved into a 3½ hour question and answer period between the panel and the 54 retired generals and admirals who attended.  I wish I had a video of the whole session to share with you because the insights were especially eye opening and encouraging.  I'll try to summarize the high points as best I can.

1)  All returnees agreed that "we are clearly winning the fight against the insurgents but we are losing the public relations battle both in the war zone and in the States". (I'll go into more detail on each topic below.)

2)  All agreed that it will be necessary for us to have forces in Iraq for at least ten more years, though by no means in the numbers that are there now.

3) They opined that 80% to 90% of the Iraqi people want to have us there and do not want us to leave before "the job is done".

4)  The morale and combat capability of the troops is the highest that the senior officers have ever seen in the 20-30 years that each has served.

5)  The Iraqi armed forces and police are probably better trained right now than they were under Saddam, but our standards are much higher and they lack officer leadership.

6)  They don't need more troops in the combat zone but they need considerably more Arab linguists and civil affairs experts.

7)  The IEDs and EFPs continue to be the principal problem that they face and they are becoming more sophisticated as time passes.

Public Affairs:  We are losing the public affairs battle for a variety of reasons.  First, in Iraq, the terrorists provide Al Jazeera with footage of their more spectacular attacks and they are on TV to the whole Arab world within minutes of the event.  By contrast it takes four to six days for a story generated by Army Public Affairs to gain clearance by Combined Forces Command, two or three more days to get Pentagon clearance, and after all that, the public media may or may not run the story.

Second, the U.S. mainstream media (MSM) who send reporters to the combat zone do not like to have their people embedded with our troops. They claim that the reporters get "less objective" when they live with the soldiers and marines - they come to see the world through the eyes of the troops.  As a consequence, a majority of the reporters stay in hotels in the "Green Zone" and send out native stringers to call in stories to them by cell phone which they later write up and file.  No effort is made to verify any of these stories or the credibility of the stringers.  The recent serious injuries to Bob Woodruff of ABC and Kimberly Dozier of CBS make the likelihood of the use of local stringers even higher.

Third, the stories that are filed by reporters in the field very seldom reach the American public as written.  An anecdote from Col. McMaster illustrates this dramatically.  TIME magazine recently sent a reporter to spend six weeks with the 3rd ACR as they were in the battle of Tal Afar.  When the battle was over, the reporter filed his story and also included close to 100 pictures that the accompanying photographer took.  TIME published a cover story on the battle a week later, allegedly using the story sent in by their reporter.  When the issue came out, the guts had been edited out of their reporter's story and none of the pictures he submitted were used.  Instead they showed a weeping child on the cover, taken from stock photos.  When the reporter questioned why his story was eviscerated, his editors in New York responded that the story and pictures were "too heroic".  McMaster had read both and told me that the editors had completely changed the thrust and context of the material their reporter had submitted.

As a sidebar on the public affairs situation, Colonel Bob McRee, who was also on the panel and is bringing a Military Police Battalion to Iraq next month, invited the Colorado Springs Gazette to send a reporter with the battalion for six weeks to two months.  He assured the Gazette, in writing one month ago, that he would provide full time bodyguards for the reporter, taking the manpower out of his own hide. The Gazette has yet to respond to his offer.

Ten More Years:  The idea that we will have troops in Iraq for ten more years sounds rather grim, even though by contrast, President Clinton sent troops to Bosnia and Kosovo nearly ten years ago.  And they're still there with no end in sight.  While Iraq is clearly a different situation right now, the panelists believe that within a few years at the most, it will become very much the same - a peace keeping, nation building function among factions that have hated one another for centuries.  There is factionalism and there was bitter fighting in the Balkans before NATO intervened and with peace keepers, the panelists believe that Iraq will be a parallel situation. This, by the way, is why they all believe that linguists and civil affairs military personnel are so necessary for the future.

Colonel S. went out on a limb by suggesting that if most of the troops in Iraq were deployed home "tomorrow" he could have the entire country"pacified" and the terrorist situation brought under control with just one brigade of Special Forces.  Since these guys are linguists, civil affairs experts, among many other skills and talents, he may not be too far wrong.

Iraqi Attitudes:  The panelists agreed that the public affairs problem manifests itself most significantly in the American public belief that the people of Iraq want us out of their country which we are occupying. They have served in different parts of the country but each agreed that we are wanted and needed there.  I refer you to the anecdote from Col. McMaster and the thousands of pictures available on the internet of the U.S. forces shown in very cordial relations with the locals.  Of course, our media's obsession with Abu Graib and, if the initial reports regarding the small group of Marines at Haditha prove to be true, then those attitudes will change somewhat.  But as one of the panelists pointed out, the atrocities suffered under Saddam were much worse and much more common.

Morale and Capabilities:  Two weeks ago, the local TV channels showed a 3rd ACR re-enlistment ceremony held at Ft. Carson and officiated by Colonel McMaster.  Mind you, this unit has just returned from a one-year combat tour of hard and bloody fighting in Iraq and will likely return there again in eight to ten months.  Of the 670 soldiers eligible for re-enlistment, 654 of them held up their right hands and signed on for another four years.  Incredible!

The Army goal for re-enlistments for fiscal year 2006 was for 40,000 soldiers to extend their active duty commitments.  With four months remaining in the fiscal year, they have already exceeded their goal of 40,000 and may have to go back to Congress for authorization to exceed their force structure manning limitations.  Since Congress has been pontificating for the past couple of years that the Army is woefully under strength, that should not pose any difficulty.

Iraqi Forces:  Every one of the returning commanders had experience in joint operations with the Iraqi soldiers - and in the case of some of them, with the local and national police.  They all are supportive of the quality of the forces, but culturally, they believe that we may be expecting too much from them as a pre-condition for handing over greater responsibility for area control.  McMaster said that he worked with the army and the police at Tal Afar and was not the least bit reluctant to assign major responsibilities to them in the operations that were conducted.

Col. S.'s Green Berets, on the other hand, caught a national police lieutenant who was directing the emplacement of an IED by cell phone in order to disrupt a convoy - immediately after the lieutenant had been briefed on the convoy's route.  The good news in this situation was that they were able to reroute the convoy, safely, and track the lieutenant's entire network through the use of the speed dial on his phone.  Having terrorist infiltrators in both the army and the police force remains a problem.  But by no means does that detract from the courage and determination of those who are loyal to the new Iraq.

Explosive Devices:  The combined command in Iraq is becoming increasingly effective in countering the significant threat posed by the IEDs and EFPs. The frequency of attacks has decreased in large part through training to recognize the threat, the new technology (UAVs - unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, for example) which help to discover where the devices are emplaced, the infiltration of some of the terrorist cells, etc.  However, the technology being used by the terrorists is also improving measurably.  In the past six weeks, two bomb making sites were found, raided and the bad guys arrested.  In both cases, the head bomb makers were master's degree graduates (one in chemistry and one in physics) from American universities. That's a lot of brain power to bring into the fight, but we also have some pretty talented people in the military, industry and academia who are doing
their best to even the odds.

Conclusion:  This is more than I had intended to write on the subject – so what's new a lot of you might say - but it is a subject that doesn't get the proper balance from other sources, in my judgment at least.  I trust the information that we received far more than anything that I have heard or seen in our usual news sources.  The most disturbing thing that I heard was that our MSM is changing the stories filed by their own people on the scene because they sound "too heroic".

The over riding opinion that I came away from the conference with is that we have incredibly talented and professional leaders who are facing up to the challenges and are making inexorable progress toward the goals of our nation.  We're fortunate to have courageous and valorous people on the combat front, even though there seems to be a serious dearth of these same types of people in Congress and the mainstream media.

Caribbean All-Inclusive Sale

A Visit With The President
By Norm Conant, Retired USMC Pilot

This is from a former fighter pilot who was an Instructor Pilot to George W. Bush.

Date: 4/24/2006

Here are my first thoughts after returning to VLD from the DC trip to visit with the President at the White House.  Use them as you see fit.

It was an incredible two days.  The occasion was the reunion of former Air Force student pilots in UPT Class 70-04 here at Moody AFB.  President George W. Bush was one of those students, and I was their T-38 Flight Commander for the six months they were in that phase of training.  They were gracious enough to invite myself and a few of their other instructors and training supervisors to share their reminiscences of days gone by.

Tuesday morning, April 4, 2006,  Bud Kendrick, who drove up to DC from Gainesville, FL, picked me up at  the Metro in Bethesda, and we drove out to Andrews AFB for a tour of Air Force One.  After going through security to make certain we were who we said we were, they led us into one of the largest hangars I've ever seen.  It can hold both of the Air Force One 747's and their smaller Air Force One Boeing 757, and still have room for a few more aircraft of some what smaller dimensions.  One of the 74's was in Wichita getting mods, so we only saw one of the 747's and the 757, which we didn't board.

Colonel Tillman, who is the President's pilot, had some of his co-pilots standing by as well as many of the other crew members who man the various sections of AF One, and maintain it on the ground.

Off came our shoes for the walk through.   Everything is absolutely spotless.  They showed us the entire aircraft and explained how each section works while in flight.  The tour took over two  hours.  When asked how often they are requested  to go through this exercise, Col. Tillman said only about once a year, so we felt very, very privileged.

Yes, I sat in the Presidents office chair, AND, in the pilot's seat. After so many years of "round gauges" this panel looked more like a video game.

Tuesday evening we arrived at the White House gate at 1815.   After going through security we were met by the President and Mrs. Bush at the front door---Awestruck Event #1.  # 2 was when the President took my hand and said, "It's great to see you again, Norm,"  (it's nice to be remembered by the powerful).

After drinks, chat, etc., it was to their private dining room for dinner. Since there  were 33 of us, including the President and Mrs. Bush, they had set three tables.  GW was at #1, Laura was at #2, and #3 was "hosted" by Bud.  I was seated directly across the table from Laura; what an honor. She is a real beauty, relaxed and as easy to talk with as any of your closest friends;  both of them are.

The menu was delicious, and the conversation beyond description.  I'd certainly like to own their wine cellar, too.

After dinner the President and Laura gave us a tour through their private quarters, giving us a lot of history behind architectural features, portraits, furniture, various rooms, etc.

Then GW asked,  "You guys like to see the Oval Office?"

When he opened the door and I walked into THE ROOM--- Awestruck Event #3! Folks, this just wasn't really registering with me by that point.  I felt as though I was floating above it all and observing this take place outside of my body.  Maybe the fact that I'd had no sleep since early Monday morning didn't help the situation, either.  NO, I did NOT sit in THE CHAIR. After all, some things are sacred.   However, I did walk behind it and place both hands on the back of it.  The thought occurred to me that there had been many a high level butt chewing issued from this exalted side of the desk.  Oh, to have been a fly on the wall.  (No, I would  have had to pass on a few of those infamous moments during the previous administration.)

For me this, in many respects, was the high point of the evening.  For an hour or so we had a one-on-one discussion and cabinet level policy and situation briefing by the President of the United States in the Oval Office.  We asked questions, got answers, made various personal observations, got replies, and , in short, got a better insight into the President's strategic thinking, policies, hopes and ambitions, than you could get from any other source available today---thanks to our liberal media.  He replied to personal points of view and our specific opinions. He was  relaxed and candid with his remarks, and displayed the intelligence, grasp, and self-assurance that we all hope that our President possesses.  He also told of Condi's great talent for international affairs.  One such incident he mentioned was her very firm encounter with the leader of one of a foreign nation with whom we were having a problem concerning their internal injustices.  In short, she laid down the law to him.

The President is reverent, dynamic, articulate, passionate, and very emphatic about his concern for the safety of our nation, the rest of the world, and his hope that all oppressed people will be able to gain the liberties that are their God given right.  He also believes that it is our national destiny to help them achieve this.   He made observations and specific comments I would not care to discuss in a public forum, as the media would cut and splice to their agenda.

President Bush has a lot of frustration toward the media.  He told us how our forces had been able to eliminate much of the terrorist's top leadership, and how close we had been to nailing bin Laden.  We have the technical ability to track the bad guys electronically.  If they as much as picked up a phone to make a call,  ordinance  was immediately directed to the site placing the call.  It was just a matter of time before bin Laden was the one to collect the inbound.

When the media leaked the methods we were using, the terrorists immediately stopped using electronic communications and started using runners.  In spite of this, the President promised  that we will get bin Laden, and we will cross any national border to do so.  Another concern he has is the growing desire among some people in this nation to revert to a policy of  isolationism.  My own personal view point on this has always been:  If you aren't a member of the "club", you can't do anything to help solve the "club's" problems.   Isolationism is not the answer, as tempting as it might seem at times.

Wednesday AM we were at the helicopter pad on the White House lawn to see him off to CN where he was to give a speech.   He called out to us to behave ourselves and that he'd had a great time the night before.  This was followed by a tour of the rest of the White House we had not seen the night before, guided by Mr. Oliver Hensley, a member of his White House staff.  This fellow should teach history in a university when he retires from his government position; he's a store house of White House history and detail.

Wednesday evening we had a dinner at the Army Navy Club followed by a panel concerning GW's AF and  Guard experiences.  This was organized and led by the staff of Ghost Wings Magazine, Adam and Brian Makos.  A few of us had worked with them earlier when they commissioned a painting commemorating the President's pilot training days at Moody AFB.  Their magazine is a beauty and should be well received by all who are interested in aviation history and the heroes who helped shape it.

The President and Laura Bush are easy to talk with.  He is articulate, passionate , and absolutely convinced that we are doing the right thing regarding terrorism.  As I mentioned to him, there is no quick solution as it may very likely take at least three generations to change the radical Islamic  mind set.  He agreed, and stated that he is willing to take all the time necessary.  As he put it, we are still in Korea after fifty year, helping those people guard their freedom.  It is very noticeable  that he does not bash his opponents in either public or private conversation---a point that is mighty refreshing in today's American political environment.

When asked of his personal reaction when he was first told of the attack on Twin Towers,  he said his first thought was, "---What kind of an idiot pilot gets so fouled up he hits a building by mistake."  But when the next one hit, he knew we were at war.

At that time AF One didn't have the capability for the instant communications he needed to speak with his Washington staff, so they landed at Barksdale AFB where he had access to the military nets.  AF One now has the equipment required to do anything while in flight that can be done on the ground.  Also, he was worried about the possible dangers to his family back in DC.  He also told of his conversations with the national leaders of some of the Islamic  nations. He told them, to pick sides in the fight against terrorism, RIGHT NOW!.  If they weren't with us, they were against us, and they would suffer the consequences.---A very decisive stand!

Rest assured, we have the right man in the Oval Office!

To be able to sit around and talk as we did years ago in a completely different situation was really wonderful, and a privilege.  The President and his classmates all seemed as full of the camaraderie as they had shared over a third of a century earlier.  It was a great sight to see this interchange, and to know that you had been, in a small part, a participant in their road to success.  (It seems that I've had a hand in the initial training of darn near half of this nation's cadre of airline pilots.)

It was a jammed packed couple of days, and I'm certain I will think of many  other little things said and done as time goes by.


All-Star Shame
By Oliver North
Published April 23, 2006 - Washington Times

HANOI, Vietnam.

Here in this former enemy capital, the government of The Socialist Republic of Vietnam operates a museum full of mementos from the only war America ever fought in which U.S. troops won every battle but still lost the war.

Among displays of captured U.S. military equipment, parts of shot-down aircraft and expended munitions are exhibits devoted to the American antiwar movement. The carping coterie of retired generals now blasting the war effort in Iraq and demanding Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's head should spend a few hours here before firing another salvo. It might make the tarnished brass hats think twice about whether their words aid and abet America's adversaries in the Global War on Terror.

"We went to war with a flawed plan that didn't account for the hard work to build the peace after we took down the regime. We also served under a secretary of defense who didn't understand leadership, who was abusive, who was arrogant, who didn't build a strong team," said retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste. His sentiments are echoed by two other retired Army two-stars, Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, and Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack.

"My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results," said retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, perhaps forgetting the defense secretary served as a Navy fighter pilot.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs accused the White House and Pentagon of seeking military advice only "when it satisfies their agenda." Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former chief of U.S. Central Command said, "Poor military judgment has been used throughout this mission."

Set aside for a moment that these are all men who helped plan various aspects of the war they now say was poorly planned. Except for Gen. Zinni, CENTCOM commander during the Clinton administration, they all accepted promotions to "serve" under Commander in Chief George W. Bush and helped carry out a plan they now claim is irreparably flawed. If the jawing generals felt then as they say they do now why didn't they just quit before their promotions and pay raises?

It has been done before. On 21 April 1980, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance tendered his resignation and privately confided to President Jimmy Carter, "I know how deeply you have pondered your decision on Iran. I wish I could support you in it. But for the reasons we have discussed I cannot." The secretary of state was referring to the mission three days later -- to rescue American hostages -- an operation he had steadfastly opposed. Unlike the "six-pack" of generals now castigating the war they helped plan and execute, Mr. Vance had the integrity to make his views known during planning for the Iran operation -- and the courage to quit when Mr. Carter decided to proceed over his objections.

That archaic combination of honor and fortitude is apparently absent from the current crop of retired generals shouting "Dump Don" into any available microphone. They should be grateful that the Bush-phobic mainstream media is either ignorant of the ethical tradition exemplified by Cyrus Vance -- or too lazy to research the inconsistencies in the generals' past and present positions on the war.

Gen. Zinni, making the round of talk shows to hawk his latest book, should be the most thankful of the bunch. The retired four-star now says, "There was no solid proof, that I ever saw, that Saddam had WMD [weapons of mass destruction]." But in 2000, he testified before Congress, "Iraq remains the most significant near-term threat to U.S. interests in the Arabian Gulf region." He went on to say "Iraq probably is continuing clandestine nuclear research, [and] retains stocks of chemical and biological munitions. ... Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains scientific, technical, and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months."

Which Gen. Zinni are we to believe?

Perhaps it's unfair to expect equal measures of courage and character from senior officers in this age of political opportunism. After all, the modern "gold standard" for flag officer fidelity was set back in 1992 by Adm. William J. Crowe. Appointed commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Command by Ronald Reagan in 1983, Adm. Crowe was subsequently named chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 1985 -- a position he continued to hold under President George H.W. Bush -- a fellow Naval officer and World War II hero. On retirement however, the admiral demonstrated his appreciation by endorsing and campaigning for William Jefferson Blythe Clinton. Mr. Clinton, showing far more gratitude than the admiral had for George H.W. Bush, appointed Adm. Crowe to be U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James in 1994.

Tough duty. With a role model like this, Don Rumsfeld has to wonder why more of his "all stars" haven't piled on. Meanwhile, the al Qaeda clipping service is assembling material for a war museum like the one here in Hanoi. Jane Fonda, call the Pentagon.


Dispatch from Iraq: A Tiny Bit of Comfort
By Aric Catron

A soldier sees and feels a wider variety of sights and emotions in a year than most people will experience in a lifetime. ...

In my short time in the military I have experienced more suffering than I could have imagined before joining up. I have held the hand of a dying Marine who had only one last wish: that someone would be with him and hold his hand as he passed on. So I sat there with a strange man, holding his hand, not saying a word, until he died.....

I have watched grown men cry, and cried with them, as we stood in front of the traditional memorial of a rifle thrust bayonet-first into the ground with the fallen soldier's helmet and dog tags draped on the weapon. His empty boots stand at attention in the fore of this tableau.

My heart broke when I gazed upon a little girl, no older than my own 5-year-old, crying and begging in broken English for food and water. I have awoken from sleep in shock as it finally dawned on me how close I came to death on a recent patrol. I have lived in fear that I would never see my family again, or that my daughter would grow up without her daddy.....

On one of those days in Iraq where I wasn't sure if I'd see my daughter again, I was working at a checkpoint near a small camp in the desert. ... The locals would gather around our checkpoints to try to sell us things, beg for food or water, or just hang around the soldiers.

On this particular day one of the locals had his little girl with him. She was shyly watching me from behind his legs. When I smiled and waved at her, she brazenly ran up to me with a big smile and held out her arms, expecting to be picked up. At first I was shocked at her sudden bravery, and it took me a second to reach down and pick her up. When I did, she immediately kissed me on my cheek and then nestled in as if she meant to stay a while.

I looked toward her father and he immediately began talking rapidly in Arabic and gesturing at me. Our translator quickly explained that he, the father, had been locked in a prison for most of the child's life. He had been sentenced to death for being a Shiite dissident traitor. The man went on to say that soldiers wearing the same patch on the shoulder as I was (the 101st Airborne Division) had freed him shortly after we began the liberation of Iraq. His daughter from then on believed that the famous Screaming Eagle patch of the 101st meant that we were angels sent to protect her family.

I sat in a little folding chair with that girl in my arms for well over 30 minutes. She trusted me so completely that she had fallen asleep with her head on my shoulder. All of my fears and worries faded as I held that little miracle. It had been so long since I had held my own daughter that this episode was even more healing for me than it was for her.

I have often wondered if, on that day when I missed my family so much, it wasn't a coincidence that she found me, of all soldiers. Maybe it was that innocent girl, and not me, that was the angel sent by God.

Aric Catron, 25, a National Guardsman from Onalaska in Lewis County, wrote this letter from Baghdad, Iraq. Nadine Gulit of Operation Support Our Troops in Issaquah submitted Catron's letter to the Seattle P-I with his permission. Catron is serving his second tour in Iraq.


Please Pray For This Brave Mom!

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (March 2, 2006) --  Karla Comfort received a lot of looks and even some salutes from people when she drove from Benton, Ark., to Camp Pendleton, Calif., in her newly-painted, custom Hummer H3 March 2. The vehicle is adorned with the likeness of her son, 20-year-old Lance Cpl. John M. Holmason, and nine other Marines with F Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division who where all killed by the same improvised explosive device blast in Fallujah, Iraq, in December.

For Comfort, having the vehicle air brushed with the image of the 10 Marines was a way to pay homage to her hero and his fellow comrades who fell on Iraq's urban battlefield. "I wanted to let people know (Marines) are doing their jobs honorably, and some of them die," said the 39-year-old from Portland, Ore. "I don't want people to forget the sacrifices that my son and the other Marines made."

Leading up to her son's death, Comfort had received several letters from him prior to his return. He had been deployed for five months, and Comfort worried everyday he was gone until she got the letters and found out the date he was coming home," she said.

Marines knocked on the front door of her home in Farmington, Mich., at 3 a.m. with the dreadful news. "I let my guard down when I found out he was coming home," she said. "There are times that I still cannot believe it happened. It's very hard to deal with."

Comfort came up with the idea for the rolling memorial when she and her two other sons attended John's funeral in Portland, Ore. "I saw a Vietnam (War) memorial on a car, and I said to my son Josh, 'we should do something like that for John,' she recalled. "He loved Hummers."

She purchased the vehicle in January and immediately took it to Airbrush Guy & Co. in Benton, Ark., where artist Robert Powell went to work on changing the plain, black vehicle into a decorative, mobile, art piece.

"I only had the vehicle for two days before we took it in," she joked. Two hundred and fifty man-hours later, Powell had completed the vehicle. The custom job would have cost $25,000. Out of respect for Comfort's loss and the sacrifices the Marines made, Airbrush Guy & Co. did it for free.

Comfort only had to purchase the paint, which cost $3,000.

"I love it," she said. "I'm really impressed with it, and I think John would be happy with the vehicle. He would have a big smile on his face because he loved Hummers." Comfort gave Powell basic instructions on what to include in the paint job. But in addition to the image of her son in Dress Blues and the faces of the nine other Marines, there were several surprises.  "He put a lot more on than I expected," she said. "I think my favorite part is the heaven scene."

On the left side of the vehicle, a detail of Marines are depicted carrying their fallen comrades through the clouds to their final resting place. The American flag drapes across the hood, the words, "Semper Fi" crown the front windshield and the spare tire cover carries the same Eagle Globe and Anchor design that her son had tattooed on his back. "All the support I have been getting is wonderful," she said.

Comfort decided to move back to her hometown of Portland, and making the cross-country trip from Arkansas was a way for her to share her son's story. It's also her way of coping with the loss. "Along the way I got nothing but positive feedback from people," she said. "What got to me was when people would salute the guys (Marines). It's hard to look at his picture. I still cry and try to get used to the idea, but it's hard to grasp the idea that he's really gone."