Friday, December 30, 2005

Supporting the Troops in Style!

A huge Hat-tip to MaryAnn of Soldier's Angels Germany for finding and posting this story. It's so good I have to post the whole thing. I just wish I had pictures to go with it!

From the Philadelphia Daily News, a story by Ronnie Polaneczky called "Here's a Yule story that ought to be a movie":

AND NOW, in time for the holidays, I bring you the best Christmas story you never heard.

It started last Christmas, when Bennett and Vivian Levin were overwhelmed by sadness while listening to radio reports of injured American troops.

"We have to let them know we care," Vivian told Bennett.

So they organized a trip to bring soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital to the annual Army-Navy football game in Philly, on Dec. 3.

The cool part is, they created their own train line to do it.

Yes, there are people in this country who actually own real trains. Bennett Levin - native Philly guy, self-made millionaire and irascible former L&I commish - is one of them.

He has three luxury rail cars. Think mahogany paneling, plush seating and white-linen dining areas. He also has two locomotives, which he stores at his Juniata Park train yard.

One car, the elegant Pennsylvania, carried John F. Kennedy to the Army-Navy game in 1961 and '62. Later, it carried his brother Bobby's body to D.C. for burial.

"That's a lot of history for one car," says Bennett.

He and Vivian wanted to revive a tradition that endured from 1936 to 1975, during which trains carried Army-Navy spectators from around the country directly to the stadium where the annual game is played.

The Levins could think of no better passengers to reinstate the ceremonial ride than the wounded men and women recovering at Walter Reed in D.C. and Bethesda, in Maryland.

"We wanted to give them a first-class experience," says Bennett. "Gourmet meals on board, private transportation from the train to the stadium, perfect seats - real hero treatment."

Through the Army War College Foundation, of which he is a trustee, Bennett met with Walter Reed's commanding general, who loved the idea.

But Bennett had some ground rules first, all designed to keep the focus on the troops alone:

No press on the trip, lest the soldiers' day of pampering devolve into a media circus.

No politicians either, because, says Bennett, "I didn't want some idiot making this trip into a campaign photo op."

And no Pentagon suits on board, otherwise the soldiers would be too busy saluting superiors to relax.

The general agreed to the conditions, and Bennett realized he had a problem on his hands.

"I had to actually make this thing happen," he laughs.

Over the next months, he recruited owners of 15 other sumptuous rail cars from around the country - these people tend to know each other - into lending their vehicles for the day. The name of their temporary train?

The Liberty Limited.

Amtrak volunteered to transport the cars to D.C. - where they'd be coupled together for the round-trip ride to Philly - then back to their owners later.

Conrail offered to service the Liberty while it was in Philly. And SEPTA drivers would bus the disabled soldiers 200 yards from the train to Lincoln Financial Field, for the game.

A benefactor from the War College ponied up 100 seats to the game - on the 50-yard line - and lunch in a hospitality suite.

And corporate donors filled, for free and without asking for publicity, goodie bags for attendees:

From Woolrich, stadium blankets. From Wal-Mart, digital cameras. From Nikon, field glasses. From GEAR, down jackets.

There was booty not just for the soldiers, but for their guests, too, since each was allowed to bring a friend or family member.

The Marines, though, declined the offer. "They voted not to take guests with them, so they could take more Marines," says Levin, choking up at the memory.

Bennett's an emotional guy, so he was worried about how he'd react to meeting the 88 troops and guests at D.C.'s Union Station, where the trip originated. Some GIs were missing limbs. Others were wheelchair-bound or accompanied by medical personnel for the day.

"They made it easy to be with them," he says. "They were all smiles on the ride to Philly. Not an ounce of self-pity from any of them. They're so full of life and determination."

At the stadium, the troops reveled in the game, recalls Bennett. Not even Army's lopsided loss to Navy could deflate the group's rollicking mood.

Afterward, it was back to the train and yet another gourmet meal - heroes get hungry, says Levin - before returning to Walter Reed and Bethesda.

"The day was spectacular," says Levin. "It was all about these kids. It was awesome to be part of it."

The most poignant moment for the Levins was when 11 Marines hugged them goodbye, then sang them the Marine Hymn on the platform at Union Station.

"One of the guys was blind, but he said, 'I can't see you, but man, you must be f---ing beautiful!' " says Bennett. "I got a lump so big in my throat, I couldn't even answer him."

It's been three weeks, but the Levins and their guests are still feeling the day's love.

"My Christmas came early," says Levin, who is Jewish and who loves the Christmas season. "I can't describe the feeling in the air."

Maybe it was hope.

As one guest wrote in a thank-you note to Bennett and Vivian, "The fond memories generated last Saturday will sustain us all - whatever the future may bring."

God bless the Levins.

And bless the troops, every one.

sniff - I just love stories like this! I remember talking to some of the guys at Malogne House about going to the game and they said they were taking the train to Philly. I had no clue what a special trip awaited them. Hat's off to Bennett and Vivian Levin!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

In Memory of MAJ Ahmed Jamil

If you get all your "war news" from CNN, NBC, NYT, WaPo, or some other lettered outfit, you'd never hear about any individual Iraqis who are putting their lives on the line to free their country from the grip of terrorists. You'd never know how these courageous people have opened their hearts to the U.S. Troops along side whom they are fighting, building, learning and planning for the future.

If you are reading this, then you probably also read milblogs and are well aware that our warriors have often created friendships with their Iraqi brethren that are far deeper than simply for working purposes. One such bond was shared between SSG K and Maj. Ahmed Jamil.

I found out hours ago that Major Jamil was killed by an IED a few miles north of here. As you will recall from my e-mails to you all, during the big operation in Sarai in September (Operation Restoring Rights), Jamil and I became very close and bonded, as though we knew each other for a lifetime.

I very much admired, respected, and treasured this warrior's company and for the love he had for his country, Kurdistan.

He told me during one of our many conversations over dinner that he and his men came to fight in Tall'afar so the insurgents would never enter his homeland. He wanted to see his son grow up without violence, killings, or ever seeing a gun.

His son was four months old when I met Jamil in September, I only hope and pray that his son will come to know one day what a great sacrifice his father made as well as what a great leader he was - brave, courageous and beloved and respected by the men he led.

Please read the rest of this wonderful tribute at Soldiers' Angels Germany.

History Lesson from CivilWarrior

It's open classroom at Way Down in Kosovo and Professor CivilWarrior is giving another in his series on the History of Warfare.

WARNING! There are a couple of pop quizzes sprinkled throughout the lecture and wrong answers may result in severe penalties:
Hint: if you answer United States of America, go out and play in the traffic right now. If you answer "The Empire", please leave your name and address, and after I get done with this deployment I will come to your house and beat you silly with your own "Code Pink" protest sign, then mock your sad lack of secondary sexual development in front of teenagers.
I'm sure most of you will have no problem getting the correct answers, so don't be afraid to participate!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

ADD Tuesday

Everyone in my family now knows about this blog so I have decided that I can make use of this embarrassing fact to put out little "news" items. If you don't want to know about such mundane family matters, skip down to The Usual Cranky Stuff.

Holly is much better. Her appetite is back and she's not drinking gallons of water like last week. She's got about 80% of her balance back and only falls over when she gets excited or forgets that her hind legs don't always work. I think it's safe to assume that she'll make it to 105 next month. Hooray!

The Usual Cranky Stuff

Congressional committee members who claim they "didn't know" about some recently exposed program/event/scandal for which their committee has oversight should be impaled. Anyone who blames Bush for the problem should be shot by firing squad, then impaled.

Why isn't the Senate Intelligence Committee holding hearings into the leak of the NSA intercept program to the NYT, rather than holding hearings into why Bush had to go that route?

Today's best quote - from Fire and Ice
These Marines stood toe to toe trading punches with the insurgency while standing eyeball to eyeball with the Iraqi man in the street. The insurgents were mostly foreign and, at this writing, mostly dead after squaring off with the Marines.
This is a really cool Artist-in-residence Marine's blog with lots of his original artwork and, of course, his own written observations of the war in Iraq. Why don't I have WO-1 M. Fay blogrolled? 'Cause I'm lazy and I forgot!

Those who didn't forget include and The Mudville Gazette. These are the best milblog reference sites. If you haven't done so already, go register on and vote/choose your favorites for the First Annual Milbloggies Award, and be sure to vote for Dr. Phat Tony. Then vote for me! Voting ends at midnight, Dec. 31st.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Eve of Christmas Eve at WR

We had an amazingly high turnout this week. It was wonderful to see so many show up to carry signs, wave flags, and say "Thank You" to the Troops as they entered and exited the hospital. Someone told me they had counted 41 on our side, while the most I counted across the street was 13 commie Pinkos.

The young folks from the Leadership Institute were back, as well as an entire family who were in town on vacation. "Big John" Miska brought wounded warrior Kevin D. out to visit us. According to John's business card "He is large, loud, opinionated & fuzzy around the edges." He's also a Vietnam Vet who loves the troops and uses his considerable energy and "loudness" to provide all kinds of support to our heroes.

"Big John" had taken Kevin on his rounds thru the wards while he "did his schtick" for the wounded, and then they went DVD shopping. Kevin told me he liked old movies and started pulling some of his purchases out of a backpack. Now despite the fact that I think Ted Turner is a complete 'tard, I love Turner Classic Movies and consider most of the programming on that channel to be "old". B&W, silent movies and the like. Well, when I saw that the oldest movie in Kevin's selection was "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" I suddenly felt the need to find a walker.

Kevin wasn't amused at all by the Pinkos "vigil" outside his temporary home. He'd like them to take their anti-war protest somewhere else and used some rather "colorful" language to describe his feelings.

I learned something else this week: don't assume the camera batteries will last. I forgot to charge them after last week's FReep and wouldn't cha know it, they ran outta juice half way thru the
evening. So, I was left with a smaller than usual collection fromwhich to choose for this post.

The D.C. Cops were out again but were just patrolling their beat. We didn't get the kind of close scrutiny we were under last week. No one found out what that was all about.

A physician from the hospital joined us briefly. He had walked among the commies listening to their talk and getting a close look
at their signs. When he crossed the street to our side and received multiple thanks for his work, he made an observation we hadn't heard before. The Doc said that the biggest difference between the two sides was that while we were happy and enjoying ourselves, the Pinkos were dour and unhappy. Makes sense. No one but a miserable wretch would think that aiding and abetting the terrorist scum that put the patients in the hospital, then protesting the war in front of the hospital is a great way to show
support to the Troops. Morons!

Chanting at the Pinkos.

We have small repertoire of chants that we use when the mood strikes. One of the most popular is:

"Shame on Code Pink.
Leave the Wounded Alone!"

In honor of the approaching holiday we changed it a bit:

"Shame on Code Pink
It's Christmas, you bastards - GO HOME!"

The commies didn't take our advice.

Santa's "Naughty" list.

Gael Murphy (left) and pals singing worn out 60's hippy songs. Santa will no doubt leave them some nice reindeer turds.

"Weasel" taking picture of me taking picture of him.

Matthew attempts to find his "pink balls" when he loses his temper. The Pinkos are coached to ignore us and our taunts, but some of them have a hard time towing the line.

Matthew often finds himself a target since he called one of our Marine FReepers a "murderer". When presented with the opportunity to clarify his remarks to two Marines, poor Matty vainly searched for his elusive manhood.

"Princess" chose his attire carefully. He must have known the skirt would be provocative. We made sure he wasn't disappointed.

On a real man, its a kilt; on a commie 'tard, its a skirt.

"Squeegie" showed up late. We gave him a rousing welcome when he finally arrived.

Three lonely Pinkos on NW corner.

"Kamp Kommie"

There was no bus from Fran O'Brien's this night. Happily many (if not most) of the ambulatory wounded are enjoying the holiday at home with their families. I have it on good authority that Santa arrived in a sleigh overflowing with gifts and love from supporters all over the country to make a bright Christmas for those who couldn't travel.

I hope all of you had a great Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Present from Iraq

This photo from I Froze My Toes at WR. We all signed the "card" at center and mailed it to Iraq.

From Capt B.
His Marines posing with stogies and the special Birthday card from some FreeRepublic supporters. Definitely the coolest Christmas present ever!

Semper Gratus Capt B. & God Bless the USMC!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

We are the Knights Who Say "Quiz"

Finally. A Monty Python Quiz.

Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who!

What Monty Python Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

*Sniff* I'm so happy! I love John Cleese.

Hat tip: SC Eagle at A Storm In Afghanistan

Time out

This week I learned that in a crisis "I fall to pieces".

My brain simply ceases to function.

Things are somewhat better now, so I'll try to put something interesting out here later on.

In the meantime -


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Got Freedom? Kiss a Vet!

The weather was quite cooperative this week. The low only got near freezing. Practically a heat wave!

Illiterate hippies playing
60's protest songs in front
of their "Quite Zone" sign.

The pleasant evening was made even better by some terrific guest appearances. We were joined by a group from the Leadership Institute who were honing their leadership skills by enthusiastically supporting the wounded troops.

I've written about the terrific D.C. cops in prior posts and I'm not bashing them tonight, but we were under their close scrutiny all evening and never figured out exactly why.

They claimed to be "just monitoring the goings on", but in all 9 months that the FReepers have been opposing the commie Pinkos, no such monitoring has ever occurred. It may have been an intimidation ploy by the Pink 'tards: call the cops ahead of time claiming that they are being threatened by us and ask for "protection". Wouldn't put it past the hippy pansies.

This nice lady in pink is no way shape or form a "pinko". She's Cindy McGrew from Operation Second Chance. This is a terrific organization that helps the wounded men and women in all sorts of ways from doing shopping, taking the soldiers and Marines on trips, organizing fundraisers, etc. Check out her site and see how you can participate.

Pinkos with truck passing by.

Street scenes.

Tom, The Redhunter, shows
the way.

Crazy commie shows he's clueless.

We can never say it enough...

 these guys.

Spc. Daniel Cunningham and
Spc. Joseph Barksdoll - stopped by
to see what was up.

Santa says thanks.

One of my favorite signs.

SW corner.

NE corner

Pinkos packing up.

SE corner.

The bus loaded with wounded warriors returning from Fran O'Brien's. Marty O'Brien and Hal Koster are true supporters who show their appreciation every day to the vets. You'd never know it from their web site, but the warriors know where they're always welcome and their money's no good.

Landry Fan's report is up here. Tom the RedHunter has a great post about one of our FReepers who's on his way "home" to Iraq for a while.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Date Which Will Live in History

Hooray for Iraq! Another sucessful election in which a huge percentage of the population showed up to exercise their God given right to determine their own future.

From the front, another report from NO SHIT NEWS

Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces helped pave the way for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens in Al Anbar Province to vote in today’s National Parliamentary Elections.

Voter turnout was robust throughout the province, with preliminary reports indicating that a far higher percentage of the predominantly Sunni population participated in today’s elections than did in October’s Constitutional Referendum. Overall, there were few security incidents reported in the Province, and the murder and intimidation campaign that kept many people from the polls during previous votes never materialized.

“Today’s vote exceeded all expectations,” said Assistant Division Commander, Brig. Gen. James L. Williams. “What we saw today was the result of months of hard work by the Iraqi government, the US Ambassador and his staff, the international community, particularly the IECI and Iraqi and Coalition Forces. Most of all, it clearly demonstrates the resolve of the local Iraqi people to take their rightful place in the democratic process.”

In the provincial capital of Ramadi, where only several thousand citizens took part in the Referendum, tens of thousands of voters lined the streets to vote today. Residents were observed dancing, singing and waving the Iraqi flag in a rare display of national pride. Members of both the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police provided security throughout the city while Coalition Forces remained largely on the outskirts in the event they were needed for an emergency. It is still too early to tell what percentage of voters in the city actually voted, but the numbers are expected to be much higher than they were during the Referendum.

In Fallujah, where an estimated 90% of voters participated in October’s Referendum, voter turnout in today’s elections was similarly high. As in Ramadi, Coalition Forces turned over much of the responsibilities for securing the vote to Iraqi Security Forces. In Karmah, on the outskirts of Fallujah, a polling site that was bombed by insurgents yesterday was quickly repaired and operational by the time the polls opened today. There were no casualties reported in the incident.

Elsewhere in the province, in cities like Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi, voter turnout was steady throughout the day. Until a few weeks ago, this area near the Syrian border was largely under the influence of al Qaeda in Iraq-led insurgents. Recent Iraqi and Coalition operations such as Steel Curtain and Iron Fist were instrumental in clearing these cities of insurgent fighters. The permanent security presence left behind in this region is seen as a crucial step towards preventing insurgents from establishing a stronghold in the area again.

“No one can look at what happened in Al Anbar today and still deny progress is being made,” said Williams. “Overall, attacks against local citizens and Iraqi and Coalition Forces are down, voter turnout is much higher than before and the people are finally beginning to see the fruitlessness of supporting the insurgency. Credit has to also be given to the bravery of Governor Ma’moun, Governor of Al-Anbar Province, to encourage his Sunni population to vote through their tribal leaders’ encouragement. While we still have a long way to go, we have made remarkable strides since last January’s elections, and now have the potential to establish a real measure of order and security in the Province.” Capt. B

Now that's the kind of news you're not getting from the "lettered" outfits. There's lots more news on DefenseLink with lots more pics!

More from the front (emphasis mine):

The elections went very well. Very very few incidents at all. A couple Iraqi police died but all attempted attacks were stopped. The Iraqi police and Iraqi Army did an excellent job today maintaining security. Coalition did not have to step in once. In one incident a car drove up and tried to drive into a polling site to do damage, but it was stopped, the man detained, the crowds ran away, then after the police ran the guy down, the crowds all came back right away.

Some 75% of the registered voters voted. Our country would NEVER meet that %, and we dont have to face possible suicide vehicle bombers every other day! These people want this more than we want it for them. Even if the parties do have particular agendas, dont all parties?

Anyway, it was a good day.

Alison L. Ball

What a day! But wait! - there's more:

Today is election day. Iraqis are voting. A mortar just went off in the distance. So what? The insurgents are going to lose and Iraqis are going to exercise free will by voting. Today is a great day and even though I am nervous and wary, I am honored to be participating in this process. History is being made in this nation today, and it will ripple outward from Baghdad across the Middle East and further.

Tsunamis wipe out everything in their path. It is my hope that by being here, I have played a small role in creating a tsunami that will scour Iraq, cleansing it of head choppers, bombers and dictators. When I’m an old man sitting on my porch in North Georgia drinking chai tea with my wife and watching the sunset, I hope an Iraqi will be waking up in Baghdad free to pursue his dream of building a business, writing a book or inventing something new he dreamed about while I was wide awake and living free back home. Sgt. Trevor Snyder

I'm so proud of all our Troops for making this day come true. Well Done!!! Let us never forget the cost of Freedom and remember with honor and pride the ones who paid so dearly to bring Freedom to others.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Election Day!

Hooray! The Iraqis are going to the polls - AGAIN. I'm looking forward to millions of purple fingers and happy, free citizens in what amounts to a brand new country.

We've got a lot of voting going on here in the blogododechahedron as well. I haven't mentioned it so far 'cause I've been voting for a lot of really good blogs and haven't wanted to leave any out. I figure that since its a truly historic day, I may as well do some campaigning.

For the Weblog Awards (which end Thursday):

Best Milblog - One Marine's View (Capt. B rules!)

Best Media/Journalist Blog - Michael Yon (did you know he's talked w/Capt. B about a writing a book?)

Best of the Top 1751 - 2500 Blogs
- Cam Edwards (NRA Radio Host)

Best of the Top 2501 - 3500 Blogs - Radioactive Liberty (our man FIAR)

Best of the Top 3501 - 5000 - Insolublog (jeenyus)

Best Canadian Blog - North American Patriot

Best Blog - Mudville Gazette

Milbloggies - Vote for all of them! No, don't do that... I get carried away. If you haven't been over there yet, makes you register (easy - won't spam you, either) and then you add blogs to your "favorites". Only one vote per user per blog, no voting over and over every 24 hours.

Vote for Dr. Phat Tony for Best Veteran Milblog. There, I pimped his site again.

Oh yeah, you can vote for me, too. I'm in the "Civilian" category.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Me me me meme!

Soon-to-be Detective Earp has tagged me! This is a most horrible meme to boot. As far as I can determine, the "tagged" must describe 5 weird/annoying/psychotic things about themselves. From nose-picking (Peakah), to loogie hocking in food (AirForceWife), to attractive dust fields (TylerD) and packing it all in (Fmragtops), I'm in really good company!

Where to start...

1. It takes me forever to do anything. I am a world class procrastinator. I can't do A until I've finished B. I don't want to do B so neither A nor B ever get done. Its not that A can't be done independently of B, I just get it in my head that B must be done first because I don't want to do it.

I had to go read all of the other posts before I started on mine, not because I couldn't come up with anything to write, but because writing is haaarrrrddd. Oh waaahhh!

I spend so much time reading other people's blogs that I completely missed the fact that I was tagged 3 days ago! It doesn't help that Wyatt posts an average of 25 times a day. By the time I get to his blog, everything over 1.5 days old has been archived.

2. I'm a complete slob. I never make the bed, vacuum, or dust. Every surface in the house has a mountain of "stuff" covering it. It doesn't help matters that TweetiePie is a packrat of Biblical proportions. His dream is to retire and open a junk yard - and never sell anything. I've determined that we will require a minimum of 100 acres for our combined "stuff".

(skuze me a minute. Lcpl Pete, USMC is calling from HI. Gotta talk...)

3. Now where was I? ... Oh, yeah! I get distracted real easy. That's not a habit, though is it?

I have a habit of breaking watches. Ever since I was a wee one, watches never lasted more than a few weeks before they stopped working. I'd wear them during the day, take them off at night and put them somewhere safe. Then they'd suddenly stop working. OK, so maybe taking them apart had something to do with it. They're just sooo damn cool to play with!

4. I have a habit of assuming that everyone is smarter than me. I'm pretty sure I'm right about that one. Except for the obviously stoopid hippies, commies, and moonbats.

5. I have trouble writing about myself. I can't think of a fifth 'thing'. I have a habit of being boring? Introverted? Peevish?

Now on to the next victims er, contestants:

either orr
PCS to LikedInUSAF
Prof. RightWingNation
Landry's Life
and CivilWarrior

Dr. Phat Tony Linky Love

He's such a whore, but ya gotta love him.

DPT's got a great bunch of France jokes today (OK, now its yesterday). This isn't going to qualify me for any swag, since I'm not linking to any Phat History lessons, like History of Thanksgiving, or History of Discovery of America, or the perennial favorite How to Join the Canadian Army. I just love French jokes.