29 March 2006

SFC Paul Ray Smith - Medal of Honor Recipient

To date, there has been only one Medal of Honor recipient in the Iraq War - Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith.

Ralph Kinney Bennett tells the story in today's Opinion Journal.

We join our Hero in the middle of a firefight near the Saddam Hussein International Airport in April of 2003:

Under intense fire, Sgt. Smith's men heroically extracted all three wounded crewmen from the APC. Sgt. Smith then entered the vehicle, ordering Spc. Michael Seaman to join him as driver and "keep me loaded" with ammo belts. Sgt. Smith popped up out of the turret hatch and grabbed the grips of the .50-caliber machine gun mounted on top.

The Iraqis were practically on top of him. Coolly grasping the situation, Sgt. Smith ordered Spc. Seaman to back the APC south into the compound to a position half way down the eastern wall. There he could arc the big machine gun back and forth, from the gate entrance to the north, all along the western wall of the triangle, to the Iraqi occupied tower in the southwest corner to his left.

To fire the machine gun, Sgt. Smith had to stand in the APC's main hatch, his body exposed from the waist up to a withering fire coming at him from three directions. On the ground through the blur of combat, Sgt. Matthew Keller saw Sgt. Smith grimly firing measured bursts from atop the APC even as a hail of bullets hit around him.

As Spc. Seaman, crouching in the adjoining hatch, fed him ammunition belts, Sgt. Smith directed an expert and murderous fire with the long-barreled M2, hitting Iraqis who tried to enter the compound through the gate or over the wall. He tried also to suppress renewed fire coming from the Iraqis in the guard tower to his left.

Finally, one of his fellow sappers, First Sgt. Timothy Campbell, led a small fire team which stole up to the tower and killed all Iraqis inside. But by this time, Sgt. Smith's machine gun had fallen silent. The attack had been broken. Nearly 50 Iraqi dead lay all over the area. Others were in retreat.

Sgt. Smith's machine gun had fallen silent because he had been hit by one of the last bullets fired from that tower.

Sgt. Paul Ray Smith was killed in action on April 4, 2003, almost 3 years ago.

His wife and children received his Medal of Honor, our nations's highest decoration for bravery, from President Bush at the White House on April 4, 2005.

28 March 2006

Blog Carnival on German-American Relations

I'm late on this, but wanted to make sure you checked out the second edition of the Blog Carnival on German-American Relations.

There were over 40 submissions from German and American bloggers, and the three blog carnival hosts have presented selections in their carnival coverage.

Jorg of Atlantic Review presents his selections in English from a German perspective.

Marc Schulman of American Future in English from an American perspective.

And Statler from Statler & Waldorf in German from a German perspective.

There are some great pieces from blogs/bloggers like GM Roper, Winds of Change, TCS Daily, Erik Svane of ¡No Pasarán!, and David's Medienkritik featured in the carnival, so don't miss it!

Support the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act

This just in from our friend Ingrid. She and her fiance Tony, who returned from a deployment in Iraq last year, are Patriot Guard Riders.
You have an opportunity to participate in the process and support legislation by signing this on-line petition.

The petition and comments from citizens will be presented to the House Veterans Affairs Committee at an April 6th hearing in Washington by Sen. Mike Rogers of Michigan, who will be introducing federal legislation to prohibit demonstrations at funeral services of fallen service members.

I encourage you to go to www.mikerogers.house.gov/fallenheroes.aspx and help...

Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act

Rogers: On-Line Petition Supports Ban on Funeral Protests

Thursday, March 23, 2006 – Americans who believe that U.S. soldiers killed in combat deserve a dignified funeral and a time for family and friends to mourn in peace, can help make that possible.

“America honors and respects our soldiers, and none more than those who die defending freedom and our nation,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, MI-08, who is introducing federal legislation banning protestors from military funerals. “We are asking citizens to help protect the funerals of those soldiers and their mourners from the disrespect of protestors who disrupt funeral and burial services and add to the pain of losing a loved one.”

Rogers’ legislation, the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act, would ban demonstrations at funerals in national cemeteries. It also urges all 50 states to adopt similar laws for all military funerals.
( ... )

Rogers drafted the legislation after attending the funeral of a Michigan soldier who died of combat wounds suffered in Iraq. Protestors attempted to disrupt the funeral by shouting vile and harassing slogans at the family and other mourners.

“No family burying a son or daughter, a husband or wife, a brother or sister, should be faced with the insults, verbal attacks, and intimidation that these protestors were screaming or displaying on signs,” said Rogers, a former soldier and brother of an active duty soldier. “At first it made me very angry, but then I quickly realized that we must do something to stop it, and that is what this legislation will do, it will make it illegal to show disrespect, or harass the funeral of a soldier and his or her family and friends.”

Sign the petition here.

C-17 Globemaster Fleet Passes One Millionth Flying Hour Mark

Congratulations and thank you to the aircrew and aeromedical evacuation team on this historic flight. You represent one million hours of the dedication and professionalism demonstrated by all of our evac teams.

Photo by Master Sgt. John E. Lasky

MILLION MILESTONE: 791st EAES sees C-17 surpass millionth flying hour

Members of the 791st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron on a routine air evacuation mission from Iraq helped see the C-17 Globemaster fleet past the one millionth flying hour mark on their return to Ramstein Monday.

The C-17, from the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 172nd Airlift Wing, arrived here after a more than 14-hour mission that started late on Sunday.

The aircraft first delivered 43,000 pounds of cargo to Al Asad, Iraq. Then it flew to Balad to pick up 16 patients, including some critically wounded. The turnaround at Balad went like clockwork, said Col. William Hill, 172nd AW commander.

“We were in and out of Balad quickly,” he said. “Everything went real well.”

On board, the aircrew and aeromedical evacuation team focused on the patients. The team was a mixture of active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen. There was even a flight lieutenant from the Royal Air Force on board. For them, the mission did not end until the patients were safely aboard ambulances bound for Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, about six miles away.

“It was a good flight. There were no emergencies in flight. Even the one critical care patient did well,” said Capt. David Strickland, nurse and guardsman from the Mississippi Guard’s 183rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. “The C-17 is made for this kind of mission − it’s the best plane for the job. It’s very ‘air evac’ friendly.”

From Aero-News Network:

Earlier this week, Boeing and the Air Force announced the fleet of C-17 Globemaster III airlifters currently in service reached one million flying hours -- the equivalent of one of the cargo jets flying continuously for more than 114 years. The million-mile mark was achieved on a mission Monday evacuating injured US troops from Iraq, and transporting them to Germany for medical treatment.

The Air Force selected this C-17 and its crew -- comprised of active duty US Air Force (USAF), Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and Royal Air Force members -- to represent the entire fleet.

26 March 2006

Soldiers' Angels Mourns SSG Brock Beery

From Cathy of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen SA hero, Brock Beery.

Staff Sgt. Brock A. Beery, 30, of White House, Tenn., died in Habbaniyah, Iraq on March 23, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his LMTV followed by enemy small arms fire during combat operations.

Beery was assigned to the Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 123rd Armor Regiment, Bowling Green, Ky.

He is survived by his wife, Sara and daughter, Elissa (age 7).

Thank you for supporting the families and Angels of our fallen heroes.


Army Staff Sgt. Brock A. Beery tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

23 March 2006

This Week in the Information War

Pour It On , from Daniel Henninger at the Opinion Journal:

For those of us who've complained for more than two years that this White House was ill-serving the troops in Iraq by not making the public case for Iraq, that changed this week in Wheeling, W.Va.
( ... )
By noontime, Mr. Bush was in Wheeling delivering the third in a series of public speeches to defend the Iraq war.
( ... )
Holding a hand microphone, Mr. Bush walked around a stage before a few thousand people giving a largely extemporaneous talk on Iraq and his presidency. It was mesmerizing.

The appearance included this military couple asking the President why media coverage on Iraq was so negative, generating loud applause. The incident was followed up by this article in which ABC was forced to admit that the vast majority of viewer messages received agreed that the media were biased.

Over the last 24 hours, ABC News has been reading hundreds of messages sent in by viewers in response to President Bush's claim that the media are undermining support for war in Iraq.

Viewer opinions ran the gamut, but the vast majority believed the media were biased in their Iraq coverage.

Piling On

Tim Graham of the NRO notes that the third anniversary of the war for a free Iraq occasioned a wrong turn for the media.

On Tuesday, NBC’s Today planned to discuss media coverage of the war — certainly an underexplored angle — with Laura Ingraham and James Carville. NBC’s question: "Is American getting a fair picture of what’s actually happening in Iraq?" Ingraham came out of the blocks with fire, doing something no conservative does who wants to be invited on TV ever again. She went straight at her hosts:

The Today Show spends all this money to send people to the Olympics, which is great, it was great programming. All this money for "Where In The World Is Matt Lauer?" Bring The Today Show to Iraq. Bring The Today Show to Tal Afar. Do the show from the 4th ID at Camp Victory and then when you talk to those soldiers on the ground, when you go out with the Iraqi military, when you talk to the villagers, when you see the children, then I want [challenge] NBC to report on only the IEDs, only the killings, only the reprisals.

Conservatives at home heard the "Hallelujah Chorus" in their heads. One of the TV networks finally allowed someone to say they were unfair, unbalanced, and even lazy. Ingraham lectured:

To do a show from Iraq means to talk to the Iraqi military to go out with the Iraqi military, to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off.

( ... )
But the interview caused a wave of reaction. Bill O’Reilly gave Ingraham another chance to push her message.

And Hugh Hewitt appeared not once but twice this week on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, the second time with Michael Yon. Transcript here, and video here.

By the way, one of the other reporters on Cooper's panel was Michael Ware. This is what military historian and author Victor David Hanson had to say about Ware's appearance on CNN during Hugh Hewitt's radio show last night (from Radio Blogger):

HH: Now Victor Davis Hanson, how do you respond to that?

VDH: Is that man a journalist?

HH: Well, he's the Time Magazine Baghdad bureau chief.

VDH: That's just a mockery of what we would call sober and judicious reporting.

Over on this side of the pond, don't forget Eric Staal's appearance on the German talk-show Berliner Runde, which he summed up in a subsequent TCSDaily article:

While it would be unrealistic to expect that European officials charged with managing relations to the United States defend policies they do not support, it should not be too much to ask for them to avoid indulging in anti-American propaganda.


Meanwhile, back at ABC, Matt Drudge has an exclusive on a 2004 email from one ABC exec to another:

A top producer at ABC NEWS declared "Bush makes me sick" in an email obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT.

John Green, currently executive producer of the weekend edition of GOOD MORNING AMERICA, unloaded on the president in an ABC company email obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT.

"If he uses the 'mixed messages' line one more time, I'm going to puke," Green complained.

Then there was this revealing confession from another media executive that Christopher Hitchens told Hugh Hewitt about the other day:

This is not a guy who's in any way a conservative, and said you know, we've known each other for a bit. He said you know, I'm beginning to think you must be right, because it really worries me what we're doing, when we are giving the other side the impression that all they need to do is hang on until the end of this administration.

Perception or Reality?

Tim Graham offers some data to back up these widespread observations:

Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center laid out the general negative pattern of Iraq coverage in studying the first nine months of evening news coverage in 2005.

He found 61 percent of the stories were dominated by a negative focus or pessimistic analysis, compared to only 14 percent that featured achievements or optimistic assessments.

Two out of every five stories featured car bombings, assassinations, or other terrorist attacks.

Just eight stories recounted episodes of heroism by U.S. troops, and another nine featured soldiers helping the Iraqi people.

But 79 stories focused on allegations of combat mistakes or egregious misconduct by U.S. military personnel.


Christopher Hitchens and ABC on the MSM's Iraq Coverage
Take the German MSM - Please!

US, British Troops Rescue Hostages (Updated)

According to Reuters, US led forces today rescued three Christian peace activists who have been held hostage in Iraq since November. The body of one of the original 4 hostages, American Tom Fox, was found two weeks ago. He had been tortured before being murdered.

Rescued were Canadians Jim Loney, 41, and Harmeet Sooden, 32, and Britian Norman Kember, 74, from the group Christian Peacemaker Teams.

In a statement on the CPT website, the hostages are referred to as having been "safely released", with no mention of the rescue operation.

Well, if the freed hostages and the CPT won't do it, then we will: Thank you to the US and British troops who risked their lives to help others. Well done and congratulations on a successful operation.

But we're not surprised. We know you guys and what you're made of, we meet you all the time.

h/t Michelle Malkin

Update: From the Multi-National Force – Iraq release.

Sgt. Daniel Feria of the 101 st Airborne Division provides security while his team completes an area engagement south of Baghdad during operation Glory Light on Wednesday. An operation today released three people being held hostage by terrorists.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Karl Johnson, 363 MPAD)

“We detained two suspects this morning, the detainees gave us intelligence that led us to the rescue of the three hostages,” Lynch said during an afternoon press conference. The hostages were rescued only three hours after Coalition Forces received the intelligence, Lynch said.

In that time, the troops determined the intelligence was credible then planned and executed the mission, he added.

Lynch would not go into great detail because he did want to reveal any information that might jeopardize future rescues.

Update 2: A belated thank you on the CPT.org site, from Leaning Straight Up:

23 March 2006, 9 p.m. ET

We have been so overwhelmed and overjoyed to have Jim, Harmeet and Norman freed, that we have not adequately thanked the people involved with freeing them, nor remembered those still in captivity. So we offer these paragraphs as the first of several addenda:

We are grateful to the soldiers who risked their lives to free Jim, Norman and Harmeet. As peacemakers who hold firm to our commitment to nonviolence, we are also deeply grateful that they fired no shots to free our colleagues. We are thankful to all the people who gave of themselves sacrificially to free Jim, Norman, Harmeet and Tom over the last four months, and those supporters who prayed and wept for our brothers in captivity, for their loved ones and for us, their co-workers.

We will continue to lift Jill Carroll up in our prayers for her safe return. In addition, we will continue to advocate for the human rights of Iraqi detainees and assert their right to due process in a just legal system.

I guess a belated thank you mixed with comments about their commitment to nonviolence (if the rescuing soldiers had needed to fire shots, would they still be thankful?) and the human rights of Iraqi detainees is better than none.

And don't miss the report at Freedom Folks on the moonbatty CPT celebration of the hostages' "release".

22 March 2006

Take the German MSM - Please

While we often despair at the biased coverage of the American MSM, it may be time to look at the bright side.

What is the bright side, you ask?

Well, the bright side is it could be worse. Much worse.

Take - please! - the German MSM, for example.

Today Jorg of the Atlantic Review asks Why is Abu Ghraib a cover story again, but not Darfur? (h/t David's Medienkritik).

But WAIT! Don't click on that link yet. Before you do, a warning about what you will also see on that page. There is a graphic from David's Medienkritik with a collage of covers from Der Spiegel, one of Germany's leading weekly news magazines.

If you're not used to seeing this stuff, it can be shocking.

An endless series of covers with headlines such as, "Blood for Oil: What it's really about in Iraq", "The Iraq Trap: Bush's Vietnam", "The Afghanistan Trap: America's Bombing War and the Ghost of Vietnam", "US Soldiers in Iraq: The Torturers of Baghdad", "The Helpless Global Power" (with photo of the WTC in flames and the second plane about to hit), "Operation Rambo: The US Secret Special Forces", "The Little Sheriff" with caricature of President Bush as a cowboy complete with a revolver in each hand, "USA Against Iran: The Next War?" with photo of President Bush smiling and giving the thumbs-up sign.

I mean, seriously, folks. When was the last time the name Rambo even entered your consciousness? And as to the cowboy caricature, well, that's another 80's thing. European reaction to Ronald Reagan ring a bell? You know, the guy that brought down the Iron Curtain?

And layer that on top of the old, worn out Vietnam analogy so loved by the American left. Are you feeling sorry for us conservatives (German and American) in Germany yet?

Anyway, you get the idea. Actually, that would be enough to digest for one post, but we're just getting started here.

Back to Jörg's article:

Why is the German media reporting again about the horrible Abu Ghraib pictures taken by dishonorable US soldiers, but not about the even more horrible Darfur pictures taken by an honorable former U.S. Marine?

Brian Steidle, a former U.S. Marine captain, was a member of the African Union team monitoring the conflict in Darfur, where he took hundreds of photographs documenting atrocities. The U.S. Holocaust Museum (sic!) published many of his pictures and his Wash Post Op-ed. Some photos serve to shock nearly as well as the Abu Ghraib photos. He is currently on tour in the US increasing awareness for Darfur.

Although Darfur is much closer to Europe than the US, the mass murder, expulsions and rapes in Darfur (some call it "genocide") seem to be covered more extensively in the US than in the German media. American NGOs devoted to Darfur are more vocal than German NGOs.
( ... )
Fabrice Weissman, head of Doctors Without Borders in West Darfur, writes:

"In these towns controlled by government forces—like garrison outposts—the living conditions, although improved, remain prison-like. The people living in these open-air jails still cannot—and do not want to—return home because of the continuing insecurity outside these sites."

So why not focus on these prisons as much as on the Abu Ghraib prison?

Why not indeed? Jorg has his theory.

And speaking of prisons, Eric Staal, press secretary of Republicans Abroad Germany, recently subjected himself to a discussion on the nationally televised German talk-show Berliner Runde (we owe you a beer, Eric).

The subject was - surprise! - Guantanamo Bay.

From his article, Gitmo Better Blues, about the experience in today's TCSDaily:

[Karsten] Voigt [the German government's coordinator for German-American relations] accused the U.S. government of violating international law by detaining members of al Qaida in Guantanamo Bay. The other guests on the program went even further. Roger Willemson, who recently published interviews with a mere five of the detainees released from Guantanamo, repeated his broadly publicized claims that as a policy the United States systematically commits acts of torture in Guantanamo.
( ... )
To his credit, Voigt eventually acknowledged that European governments consider it sufficient to prosecute the Guantanamo detainees under domestic criminal law, whereas it is U.S. policy to apply the law of war, i.e. the Geneva Conventions.

The merits of each approach are debatable - not least the consequences that Voigt is willing to see hundreds of terrorists in Guantanamo be set free. Sadly for the viewers of the Berliner Runde, after refuting all the outlandish accusations and lectures about European moral superiority, there was little time to engage in a serious exchange about what is really at stake.

And as so often when listening to the American MSM, many US politicans, and almost all Hollywood stars, you are left wondering if America needs enemies when blessed with such "friends".

Eric makes a similar conclusion about our European friends:

While it would be unrealistic to expect that European officials charged with managing relations to the United States defend policies they do not support, it should not be too much to ask for them to avoid indulging in anti-American propaganda.

No, it's not too much to ask.

Operation Beef Jerky: House of Jerky to raise $10,000 for the Soldier’s Angels Foundation


Operation Beef Jerky has been enacted by the House of Jerky to raise $10,000 for the Soldier’s Angels Foundation

Janie Honeycutt
House of Jerky
Phone: 812 624-0186
Email: janie@houseofjerky.net


Evansville, Indiana March 15, 2006 (IMMEDIATE RELEASE) - Operation Beef Jerky has been enacted by the House of Jerky to raise $10,000 for the Soldier’s Angels Foundation. For every pound of jerky purchased through the House of Jerky/SA fund site, House of Jerky will donate $10 to help the Soldiers’ Angels Foundation continue to provide the love and support our armed forces desperately need.

Soldiers’ Angels Foundation is a not for profit organization that is dedicated to ensuring that our military know they are loved and supported during and after their deployment into harms way. With the donations by House of Jerky, Soldiers’ Angels will be able to continue to provide aid and support not only to our military heroes, but also their families. Projects like “Blankets of Hope” that provides homemade blankets given with love to wounded heroes and “Armor Up” which provides Kevlar blankets for under-supplied troops are examples of the many beneficial Soldiers’ Angels projects.

Join Operation Beef Jerky and help House of Jerky support our troops, purchase jerky for yourself, or purchase jerky for any soldier with free shipping to APO addresses. House of Jerky, “the best jerky in any house”, is one of our troops most requested items.

Go to the House of Jerky/SA fund site today or call (812) 624-0186.

To learn more about the Soldiers’ Angels Foundation and how you can support our armed forces by adopting them or donating time or money, go to www.soldiersangels.org today
or call (615) 676-0239.

Many thanks to Janie and our good friends at the House of Jerky!

Update: Tom reminds us in the comments section that House of Jerky also provides free shipping and gives a 15% discount on military orders (which they have always done, being the great company they are). See also Angels' Favorite Online Shopping Sites.

21 March 2006

Happy 79th, Hans-Dietrich Genscher!

Today Hans-Dietrich Genscher, German Foreign Minister from 1974 - 1992 and one of the greatest statesmen of post-WWII Germany, celebrates his 79th birthday.

Genscher started his political career as a Liberal party member in the former East Germany. He left East Germany in 1952 and joined the Free Democrats (FDP) party in West Germany. After being elected to Parliament in 1965, and becoming the FDP's chairman in 1974, he led it into a coalition government with the Social Democrats (SPD) and became Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister.

Genscher split with the SPD in 1982, which brought down the coalition government. Despite the controversy surrounding the split, Genscher remained one of the most popular politicians in Germany. He engineered a new governing coalition between Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the FDP, and continued to hold his posts as Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister.

From the German Embassy's website:

Genscher will always be remembered as the "Foreign Minister of Unification," a fitting tribute for a man who left his hometown of Reideburg near Halle in the German Democratic Republic in 1952 for the freedoms and opportunities of the West, but who never abandoned the hope that his homeland could be unified peacefully.
In his memoirs, Genscher describes the day in 1989 when he announced to East German refugees camped out in the Federal Republic of Germany's Embassy in Prague that they would be allowed to travel to West Germany as the most moving time of his life. The words Genscher spoke from the balcony of the Embassy on September 30 to the more than 4,000 refugees crowded on the grounds were heard round the world:

"Dear Fellow Citizens, I have come to you today to inform you that your journey into the Federal Republic of Germany is now imminent!"

For Genscher the announcement was the culmination of tense days of negotiations to allow the refugees, including others at the Embassy in Warsaw, to travel directly to West Germany.


Negotiating Table: Foreign Minister Genscher, left, Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev, center, and Chancellor Kohl during negotiations in the Caucasus in July 1990.

Genscher is credited by many with being the driving force behind the success of the months-long and now-historic reunification negotiations with the Soviet Union, illustrated by his presence in this photo. As a sign of recognition, Mikhail Gorbachev personally insisted that Genscher take a seat at the "stump" before the photo was taken.

On September 12, 1990, the "Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany" was signed by the two German states and the four allied powers, the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union.

Patriot Guard Riders Commendation Resolution Introduced into House of Representatives

Linda D., Soldiers' Angel and Patriot Guard Rider sends along the following news:

Thought you would like to see this. There were just a little over 1100 members countrywide when I signed up middle of Nov 05 and today there are 19,229 members countrywide.

See also the excellent coverage of this wonderful group from Good Morning America at the ABC News website.

Thank you Linda and all of the Patriot Guard Riders for honoring the memories of our fallen Heroes!

Click image to visit the Patriot Guard Riders website.



2d Session

H. RES. 731

Commending the Patriot Guard Riders for shielding mourning military families from protesters and preserving the memory of fallen service members at funerals.


March 16, 2006
Mr. MORAN of Kansas (for himself, Mr. BURGESS, Mr. SULLIVAN, Mr. BURTON of Indiana, Ms. BORDALLO, Mr. EVANS, Mr. MOORE of Kansas, Mr. MCCOTTER, Mr. TANNER, Mr. TIAHRT, Mr. BOOZMAN, Mr. KING of Iowa, Mr. LEWIS of Kentucky, Mr. LUCAS, Mr. TERRY, Mr. OSBORNE, Mr. HULSHOF, Mr. SHIMKUS, Mrs. BLACKBURN, Mrs. KELLY, and Mr. RYUN of Kansas) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services



Commending the Patriot Guard Riders for shielding mourning military families from protesters and preserving the memory of fallen service members at funerals.

Whereas in 2005, a small group of American Legion Riders in Kansas calling themselves the `Patriot Guard' began a movement to shield the families and friends of fallen service members from interruptions by protesters appearing at military funerals;

Whereas individuals from Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas later brought together diverse groups of motorcycle organizations across the country who rode to honor fallen service members, forming a nationwide organization known as the `Patriot Guard Riders';

Whereas the Patriot Guard Riders have since grown into a national network of tens of thousands of members, including both veterans and nonveterans and riders and nonriders, and is open to anyone who shares a respect for service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the Nation;

Whereas Patriot Guard Riders attend military funerals to show respect for fallen service members and to shield mourning family members and friends of the deceased from protestors who interrupt, or threaten to interrupt, the dignity of the event;

Whereas the Patriot Guard Riders perform their mission of respect for, and shielding of, mourning family members and friends at military funerals by waving American flags, revving motorcycle engines, and otherwise peaceably acting to serve as a buffer;

Whereas across the Nation, Patriot Guard Riders volunteer their time to come to the aid of military families in need, taking lawful actions at funerals to drown out the insults and hateful signs of protesters, so to allow the memories of the deceased service member to be remembered with honor and dignity;

Whereas regardless of one's opinion of the Nation's military commitments, the families, friends, and communities of the Nation's fallen soldiers deserve a peaceful time of mourning and should not be harassed and caused further suffering at a funeral;

Whereas Patriot Guard Riders appear at a funeral only at the invitation of the fallen soldier's family and participate in a nonviolent, legal manner; and

Whereas the members of the Nation's Armed Forces willingly risk their lives to protect the American way of life and the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, including the right to freedom of speech: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives expresses its deepest appreciation to the Patriot Guard Riders who--

(1) attend military funerals across the country to show respect for fallen members of the Armed Forces and, when needed, shield mourning family members and friends of the deceased from protestors who interrupt, or threaten to interrupt, the dignity of a funeral; and

(2) in so doing and standing tall in the face of ugliness, help to preserve the memory and dignity of the Nation's fallen heroes.

20 March 2006

Christopher Hitchens and ABC on the MSM's Iraq War Coverage

Following up on yesterday's post on the German MSM, two other items caught our attention today.

First, again from David's Medienkritik:

This is not on German media, but it is relevant to German media. ABC News just ran a video report questioning whether media coverage of Iraq is too negative. This is LONG overdue.

Unless the mainstream media catches on to this conversation soon, it will continue to lose viewers and readers in droves because far too many people realize they are getting a negatively biased picture of events. WATCH THE VIDEO. (Note the loud standing ovation after the woman's initial question.)

Make sure to read the rest of Ray's post, which ends with, "Turn off, Tune out, Log In." Good advice!

The other item is Hugh Hewitt's interview with Christopher Hitchens, transcript at Radio Blogger.

Hugh asks Hitchens if he thinks the media is doing a good job covering Iraq:

CH: Not really, I don't. I mean, I can think of some outstanding reporters who've done their very best to cover it.
( ... )
It's just that I've been doing this business for a long time. I've been a journalist for most of my life, and it must be nearly 40 years now, and I know a press herd mentality when I see one. I really do.

And sometimes, I approve. I mean, I remember when I was in Bosnia, all of the press was hostile to Milosevic in one way or another, and as it happened, I thought that was the right bias to have. But I did realize it was a bias.

And when I've been in the company of people covering Iraq, I notice this... another herd mentality, and it's been there since before the war, and it's placed a bet on quagmire at best. ( ... ) And defeat at worst. And in some ways, it doesn't want its prediction to be falsified.

(emphasis added)

Later, they discuss whether the media realize the implications of their reporting:

I'll just tell you something a very senior person at a well-known network. ( ... ) He called me the other day.

This is not a guy who's in any way a conservative, and said you know, we've known each other for a bit. He said you know, I'm beginning to think you must be right, because it really worries me what we're doing, when we are giving the other side the impression that all they need to do is hang on until the end of this administration.

Do people know what they're doing when they're doing this? One doesn't have to make any allegation of disloyalty, but just... if it worries him, as it really does, I think it should worry other people, too, and it certainly worries me.

(emphasis added)

Now just try to imagine how our soldiers and their families must feel. To know that their sacrifices are so cheap, and so meaningless that they are not even taken into account in the crusade of many reporters to serve their own vested bias. In the rush to prove themselves right about the war, because they don't want their "prediction to be falsified".

I can think of few things more shabby and repugnant.

Hitchens is brilliant, as always. Make sure to read the whole thing.

Update: Brian at Iowa Voice notices the same thing.

Update 2: Via Mudville Gazette, this from American Citizen Soldier:

But soldiers don’t watch the news, we make it. That is why the MSM refuse to tell our story, that is why they continue to poison the well back home, and that is why soldiers have taken it upon ourselves to “tell it like it is” on the internet.

Buck Sargeant has created a wonderful video for this post with lots of images the MSM won't show you either.

19 March 2006

View From The Front: "The difference between now and two years ago is incredible."

Some timely perspective for this day, the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Letter received by Soldiers' Angel Lisa from a CO on progress in Iraq, media coverage of the war, and thanks for support.

As commander of Apache Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th United States Cavalry Regiment, I would like to personally thank you on behalf of all of my troops for your exceptional generosity. As many of you know from the evening news and other sources, the days are often long and dangerous here in Iraq and it means a great deal to my soldiers and I that folks like you are back home supporting us. As we move into the fourth month of deployment for the Troop, we continue to work hard both to protect the local population, build strength and capabilities of the local Army and police forces, and eliminate the terrorists in the area. The missions are challenging, but the thoughtful things from folks like you are a real boost to morale for all of the soldiers and I.

For those of you that follow the news, you are probably seeing coverage of Iraq and a lot of speculation about the impending civil war between the different factions that make up the population of this nation. While there are issues here for sure, I can tell you that the Iraqi Army and Police are doing an admirable job of providing security to the population and showing that they really can take the fight to the enemy and keep the people safe. We are making progress here, and though it is slow at times, the difference between now and two years ago when I was last here are incredible. There is continued danger here for both US and Iraqi forces, but I can say that we now fight along side of each other, something I would never have done just two years ago. We often hear that the support for the war is waning in the US, and I can tell you that we must continue this mission, not only because of the responsibility we have as a nation to rebuilt this once great country but also because quitting now would trivialize the deaths of many great soldiers who gave their lives for this cause. I am confident that there is a positive end to this, and that in the coming few years we will see dramatic improvement in the country and will be able to leave this place in a secure state in not too long. Please keep us in your thoughts as we continue this difficult mission. We know you are with us as soldiers, and that means a great deal.

Hope that you are doing well. Apache Troopers continue the fine tradition of this unit, started nearly 200 years ago on the frontiers of America and carried on through every major conflict this nation has faced. We are proud of what we do, proud to protect you and the USA, and proud to be able to help Iraq return to a proud, democratic, and prosperous nation.

Thanks again for your generosity. All the best from us here in Al Hillah, Iraq!

Apaches on the Warpath!


Thank you Apache Troop for your courage, honor and sacrifice. We support you and are proud to stand with you!

17 March 2006

Long-Overdue WR Update - The Fun and Games Continue

Photo courtesy of Gunn Nutt.

I may have been remiss in updating you on the Friday night activities at Walter Reed since Victory against the Pinkos was declared, but the fun and games go on!

Gunn Nutt, Landry Fan (get well soon, LF!), DC FReepers, Protest Warriors, and others continue to fight the good fight. The Pinkos are still there, of course, but waaaay down the block since they let their permit expire for one of the corners in front of WR.

Here's a couple of highlights from Gunn Nutt's post:

The springtime warmth brought out lots of patriots to welcome and cheer our beloved Troops. We had crowds on ALL FOUR CORNERS out in front of Walter Reed for the eighth week. Of course the nice weather brought some extra commie 'tards out from beneath the rocks as well. They were in for quite a surprise...

First, CJ of A Soldier's Perspective arrived ready to take on the half-wits.
( ... )
[Then] BlackRepublican was approached by one Pinko who demanded that he leave the area because even the far side of the street was Code Pink's. BR asked to see the permit. The Pinko couldn't produce the permit but volunteered that "the cops will make you move."

Ah yes, "Help! Police! Make the bad people leave us alone!" Head Pinko Gael Murphy even walked waaaaay up the block to scream at Kristinn for the intrusion. The hard-core commies were losing their composure and no doubt feared their new recruits were beginning to have doubts about this kind of protest.

They love to spread propaganda about the military missing recruiting goals, but their own retention rate is abysmal! So when the newbies are exposed to a real Iraqi and real American heroes who tell them that protesting in front of a hospital is not the kind of support they want, Pink Hat and the other "committee members" get real nervous.

This time their attempt to get us in trouble back-fired!

Some of D.C.'s finest showed up at the Pinko's request. They asked to see our permits. Concretebob and tglsTakoma promptly retrieved the documents and presented them for inspection. All good!

The cops then went waaaaay down the block and asked to see the Pinko's permits. Not so good. I didn't hear the conversation, but I imagine it went something like this:

Pink Hat: Perry, do you have the permit?

Perry: I don't have it. Gael, do you have the permit?

Gael: That wasn't one of my 'action items'. Why didn't anyone get the permit? Wasn't that your job, Bruce?

Bruce: ...


Bruce: I couldn't help it! They have pizza and pretzles and I was sooooo hungry and ... and, I ...

Gael: You ate the permit!?

Having failed to produce the required document, the commies were ordered to disperse.

YES! Foiled again by those rotten stinking flag-waving neocon warmongers! The Pinkos show once again why commies are 'tards.

Funny how commies look alike all over the world, regardless of age. Compare the photos of "Pink Hat", et al with this one of a Pinko who showed up near Landstuhl, Germany last weekend.

Photo - Raymond T. Conway / S&S

Moving on, as GN mentions, CJ of A Soldier's Perspective joined the group last Friday. He engaged several Pinkos, bless his heart.

I went to Walter Reed tonight to watch the protests that happen every Friday night. I was able to meet many people that I’ve known for quite some time and some I never knew existed. I interviewed the opposition and the supporters. I actually interviewed the opposition first because I really wanted to know what was in their heads.
( ... )
I absolutely agreed. I told them that every war COULD indeed be prevented…until we are attacked. The people that could have prevented war CHOSE not to. Al Qaeda attacked us. They could have prevented this entire thing. Saddam paid to have Bush 41 assassinated. He could have prevented war. He killed innumerous civilians in his own country. People we’re still finding the bones of to this day. He invaded Kuwait, a defenseless country. He chose to kick out the weapon’s inspectors and chose a non-peaceful solution. He subsidized the suicide bombing trade in Palestine and Israel, resulting in dead Americans. Yes, war CAN be prevented.

Make sure to check out both GN's and CJ's posts - chock full of photos and interesting encounters.

15 March 2006

Welcome Home, 29th Support Group!!

The 29th Support Group, 21st TSC returned home this week to Kaiserslautern, Germany from a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan.

Among the 70 returning soldiers is Master Sgt. Curtis Clinton, hubby of our own Tammi Clinton from MTD at Kleber barracks.

WOOHOO, Tammi! Welcome Home and THANK YOU, Curtis!!

Master Sgt. Curtis Clinton holds his 2-year-old daughter, Ramyrah. - Steve Mraz / S&S

They were welcomed in a brief ceremony by Brig. Gen. Scott G. West, commander of the 21st Theater Support Command.

During its deployment, the 29th Support Group headed the Joint Logistics Command, which was composed of 1,200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines working logistics throughout Afghanistan.

For example, the unit supported provincial reconstruction teams in western Afghanistan, the closure of Karshi-Kanabad Air Base in Uzbekistan, flood relief in Afghanistan and earthquake relief in Pakistan, said Col. Walter Sawyer, commander of the 29th Support Group and former commander of the Joint Logistics Command.

“When their nation called, they were there,” Sawyer said of his soldiers. “History has been made, and now it’s time to finish the final chapter in this deployment.”

Shortly thereafter, the soldiers broke formation and were greeted with open arms by their loved ones.

Well done and welcome home!

Read the whole Stars & Stripes article by Steve Mraz with more photos here.

14 March 2006

Cindy's Flop

The Death Watch.
The writing on the crosses says "To the Victims of War".

Our fearless leader Stefan, with son Roman.
Much better looking than Cindy.

Finally getting my post up on the Cindy Flop in Germany, due to travel and one of the worst cases of flu I've had in years.

As expected, Cindy did not show up, using her "brutalization" by the NYPD the week before as an excuse. Being out on bail probably didn't help her chances for international travel much, either.

Guess the trip to Germany to "support our wounded soldiers" was not as important as making a spectacle of herself in New York.

The visit to Landstuhl hospital, the march from the hospital to Ramstein AB, the address to the European parliament, all did not materialize. Neither did the up to 500 protestors expected to attend.

Our group was small, too. A group of about 20 Germans and Americans braved 4 hours of cold, wind and rain (vs. their approx. 1 hour "vigil") to support our troops and the German-American partnership. Our messages were much more positive, as seen here.

"Deutschland 1945, Iraq 2003", "America: You Are Not Alone", "Thanks, George W"

At one point I heard a raised voice insistently screeching something about mass murder and whatnot. Two gentlemen from the other side had come over to talk with us. Funny how aggressive these "peace people" often are. Not being a masochist, I declined to engage but others did. As an example of their knowledge of actual historical facts, the gentleman was categorically stating that Saddam had nothing to do with terrorism as another reason the war is "illegal". Astonishingly, he had never heard that Abu Nidal was found in Baghdad in 2003. To his credit, he made a note of it.

Pot of coffee from supporters at a nearby gas station.

All in all, it was a great day spent with great people like Stefan Prystawik - thank you Stefan for the organization! - Mrs. G of the Mudville Gazette - make sure to read her excellent wrapup here - Eric Staal of the Republicans Abroad / GOP Europe, and many others.

Also make sure to read Steve Mraz's report in Stars & Stripes here.

10 March 2006

Snow 'n Stuff

Here's the snow.

And here's the stuff :-)

The snow started early Friday morning. Road conditions on post went from Amber, to Red, and finally to Black. Luckily I had arrived in Kaiserslautern the night before.

When conditions are Black, all non-essential personnel are sent home and the buses from Kleber to the hospital and the PXs stop running.

I was able to keep busy with all that stuff, but it was pretty boring for the outpatients at Kleber. The barracks are being renovated so there was only one TV room open and they guys watched one movie after another. (The video game room with it's 24/7 Halo Fest is also open, thank goodness.) But by Saturday night it was so bad we actually watched Revenge of the Nerds Part 4 ;-)

Between the snow, the limited weekend weekend meal times at Kleber, and the snack bar also being shut down due to the renovations, everybody was getting hungry by evening. So I decided to venture out in the snow to a nearby supermarket and pick up some Leberkäse and rolls. Leberkäse is like hot dog meat in a big loaf shape which can be cut into slices.

The new arrivals from Iraq and Afghanistan really appreciated the snack after their long journey, as did the rest of the outpatients. It also provided a little action. So we made the best of the situation and all in all it was a pretty cozy evening at Kleber.

Our shipments during this visit included 16 filled backpacks and over 1000 pair fleece gloves from Soldiers' Angels Foundation in the US and purchased with cash donations.

There were also many Blankets of Hope for the First Response backpacks. I wish I could have taken pictures of them all because they are not only beautiful but clearly made by all of you with so much love. We are very grateful to all of you for sending our recovering heroes these wonderful blankets.

Blankets of Hope, made "with love and hope for your recovery... "

As always, THANK YOU Angels and Friends for your support. We couldn't do any of this without you!

09 March 2006

A Couple of Notes

Ronald Reagan once noted that "“Some people wonder all their lives if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem.”

Along the same lines, David at The Thunder Run has written a great piece today called What Drives Your Life?

Gives you something to think about.

* * *

And Michelle Malkin has an update on Joshua Sparling, who has told Sean Hannity in a recent interview that his leg will have to be amputated after all. It will be a below the knee amputation so he's still hoping to return to the 82nd Airborne after his recovery.

* * *

Now flash back to May 6th, 1945. An American tanker, Bob Persinger, is leading a patrol in Austria when villagers tell him of a "work camp" down the road.

60 years later Persinger is reunited with the survivors of the Ebensee concentration camp which he liberated.

Blackfive tells this incredibly moving story.

There are about 120,000 Holocaust survivors who live in the U.S. As they get older, like the men who fought in WWII and liberated them, their numbers are dwindling. Several Holocaust survivors have set out to find their liberators, soldiers that they never had the opportunity to thank for saving their lives. The survivors of the Ebensee concentration camp in Austria found the commander of "The Lucky Lady", the tank that crashed the gates and saved them...

Never forget.

Never forget the victims of evil dictatorships and the everyday heroes of the US military, past and present.

06 March 2006

Support Our Troops in Ramstein March 11

We're on!

Here's the information for the Support the Troops event countering Cindy's anti-military, anti-victory, anti-German/American partnership protest in Germany:

Saturday, March 11, 2006
12:00 - 16:00
Ramstein Airbase, West Gate (at the roundabout)

Please send an email here to let us know you're coming and to receive further updates.

Complete information for the Support the Troops in Ramstein event at organizer Stefan Prystawik's site here.
More to follow.

Update: From our friend Ray at David's Medienkritik in Germany:

Cindy Sheehan will be in Germany this upcoming weekend to spread her message of retreat and defeat as she marches from a church in Landstuhl (a town where wounded American soldiers are treated) to a location outside Ramstein Airbase where she plans to set up another "Camp Casey."

But not everyone is planning to sit around and silently watch the German media fawn and drool over Ms. Sheehan. Several groups are organizing a peaceful counter demonstration to support American and Coalition soldiers and victory in Iraq. We strongly encourage all of our readers in Germany and surrounding areas to converge on Ramstein this Saturday to take part!

Update 2: Endorsement from the Republicans Abroad / GOP Europe:

Republicans Abroad encourages the demonstration of support for building democracy in Iraq and for all of the troops serving there.

Cindy Sheehan's visit to Germany is not only intended to undermine the sacrifice that U.S. troops are making to fight the terrorists in Iraq, but is meant to undermine German-American relations.

Cindy's call for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq is terribly irresponsible: withdrawal would leave the fate of millions of Iraqis up to a few thousand terrorists and withdrawal of German support for our troops would make their job much more difficult to achieve.

Rather than lobby the world against American troops, Cindy Sheehan should honor the loss of her son by lobbying for more international support for fighting the real terrorists in Iraq.

Eric R. Staal
RA Germany Pressesprecher

Update 3: Cindy, Revisted from SMASH:

FOR THE SECOND TIME in less than a week, Cindy Sheehan graced us with her presence here in San Diego. On Friday evening she was the headline speaker in an anti-war forum sponsored by the UC San Diego College Democrats. And once again, I suffered through her stump speech to bring you this report.

Why, you might be asking yourself, is this blogger, who rarely even mentioned Cindy when she was at the height of her fame, posting on her twice in one week? There must be a new angle, a twist...

Read the whole thing to find out why.

h/t Welcome to Andi's World

01 March 2006

Of Course She's Still Coming Here

It's as we thought. The plan has not changed since the original announcement. Just no "flowers and baked goods" "as a group". Of course she's still going to protest here.

Elsa Rassbach, one of the oranizers of this event, responds to this article:

I am writing in response to Cindy Sheehan's comment today about 'Camp Casey in Germany.' I am one of the organizers of this event, and I also was involved in writing the resolution that will be considered by the European Parliament delegates when Cindy speaks there on March 14th.

First, there is no plan to put a 'camp' in front of or anywhere near the Landstuhl hospital, nor has there ever been such a plan. (I imagine that Cindy's comment was in response to criticism by someone telling her that we are planning such a camp, and that is just not true.) There is also no plan to demonstrate in Landstuhl or to go as a group anywhere near the hospital facilities.
( ... )
On Saturday, March 11th, there will be a discussion with Cindy and other European Parliament witnesses inside the church in Landstuhl, and then we will walk together from the church three kilometers to the parking lot not far from the entrance of Ramstein air base and hold a vigil, led by spiritual leaders from many different faiths, as was often done in Crawford, Texas.
( ... )
We also have received special permission from the local German authorities to set up crosses and half moons (representing the Iraqi dead) along the road leading towards Ramstein air base when we go there on Saturday, and this will be somewhat reminiscent of Camp One in Crawford. We also have permission to set up three tents to symbolize Camp Casey, even though no one will actually sleep in them.
( ... )
So our only 'camp' will be outside Ramstein, which is the air base from which soldiers, weapons, and supplies are sent to Iraq. Ramstein also has nuclear weapons. It is most certainly part of the 'war machine.' There have been larger demonstrations there led by Physicians Against Atomic War.

Given the emotions understandably surrounding Landstuhl, we are considering renaming this event as simply 'Camp Casey Ramstein.'
( ... )

In peace,
Elsa Rassbach
Member of American Voices Abroad in Germany

(emphasis mine)

We can only hope the military will use an alternate route for the buses that bring the injured and ill soldiers from Ramstein to and from Landstuhl hospital so they won't need to see this. But they will, of course, be aware of the protest either way. That's why we will also be there.