Friday, December 29, 2006

Goodbye Saddam

Your victims have been waiting for you.

Jet Man

A very interesting device, being flown by the Jet Man. I was intrigued with it and wondered what kind of military applications, that the device may have. Click on the photo for video and more information on Yves Rossy, the Jet Man.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Eve at the Gaylord Texan

I went with extended family and friends to the ICE exhibit at the Gaylord Texan and took these pictures that I thought I would share.


Monday, December 25, 2006

To Our Sheepdogs

It’s so easy to forget them there,
As we warm beside the fire,
Those spread so far out everywhere,
Those sent to man the wire.
Patrolling on the front line,
As peacefully here we bask,
Protecting what is yours and mine,
That’s their hard, dreary task.
Like sheep we are protected,
From the far off wolves of war,
And our Sheepdogs as expected,
Never waver from their chore.
In peace we sheep ignore their kind,
Wary of their violent trends;
But when the wolves attack we find,
These Sheepdogs are our friends.
Forever this has been the way,
Since time for us began,
Sheep fearing that the Sheepdogs may
Disrupt our placid plan.
Yet time again Dogs surely prove,
When comes a wolfine danger,
The Sheepdogs will most swiftly move
To guard the lambs, the manger.
So here’s to Sheepdogs everywhere
At this Christmas time of year;
Just know the flock is with you there,
And we wish you Christmas cheer.
We wish we could advance the clock,
Cause truth is, Dogs, we miss you,
To the day that you’ll rejoin the flock,
When we’ll sheepishly then kiss you.
Russ Vaughn

For clarification on the Sheepdogs reference, link here.

Friday, December 22, 2006

NORAD Tracks Santa

I thought that this was a cool website for kids.

NORAD Tracks Santa

On Dec. 24, 1955, a call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. However, this call was not from the President or a general, it was from a girl in Colorado Springs who was following the directions in an advertisement printed in the local paper – she wanted to know the whereabouts of Santa Claus.
The ad said “Hey, Kiddies! Call me direct and be sure and dial the correct number.” However, the number was printed incorrectly in the advertisement and rang into the CONAD operations center.

On duty that night was Col. Harry Shoup, who has come to be known as the “Santa Colonel.” Col. Shoup received numerous calls that night and rather than hanging up, he had his operators find the location of Santa Claus and reported it to every child who phoned in that night.
Thus began a tradition that rolled over to the North American Aerospace Defense Command when it was formed in 1957. Today through satellite systems, high-powered radars and jet fighters - Canadians and Americans track Santa Claus as he makes his Yuletide journey around the world.

More than 350 volunteers man telephone hotlines and computers to answer calls and e-mails from children (and adults) from around the world every Christmas Eve. Live updates are provided via the NORAD Tracks Santa Web Site (in six languages) to keep curious children and their families informed about where Santa really is and if it’s time to get to bed.

In November and December 2005, the NORAD Tracks Santa Web Site clocked nearly 1 billion web hits from 204 countries and territories around the world. About 563,000 people called the Tracks Santa hotline, and volunteers received nearly 7,000 e-mails from children around the globe.

NORAD Tracks Santa has become a truly, magical and global phenomenon, delighting generations of families everywhere.
Please visit


I tried to tell people, that a vote for the Democrats was a vote for terrorism. I remember, all too well, how the North Vietnamese felt that they could win their war in our country. But, would anybody listen to my warnings? Nooooooooo. You get what you deserve. From the Drudge Report, comes this link:

Al Qaeda Sends a Message to Democrats
December 22, 2006 2:28 PM
Brian Ross and Hoda Osman Report:

Al Qaeda has sent a message to leaders of the Democratic party that credit for the defeat of congressional Republicans belongs to the terrorists.

In a portion of the tape from al Qaeda No. 2 man, Ayman al Zawahri, made available only today, Zawahri says he has two messages for American Democrats.

"The first is that you aren't the ones who won the midterm elections, nor are the Republicans the ones who lost. Rather, the Mujahideen -- the Muslim Ummah's vanguard in Afghanistan and Iraq -- are the ones who won, and the American forces and their Crusader allies are the ones who lost," Zawahri said, according to a full transcript obtained by ABC News.

Zawahri calls on the Democrats to negotiate with him and Osama bin Laden, not others in the Islamic world who Zawahri says cannot help.

"And if you don't refrain from the foolish American policy of backing Israel, occupying the lands of Islam and stealing the treasures of the Muslims, then await the same fate," he said.

Troop Talk radio

I heard about Troop Talk radio on a local talk radio show and thought that they were doing a wonderful thing, in giving the troops music downloads that are made available through donations. Troop Talk accepts as little as a one dollar donation towards the gift of music (it is Christmas.)

About Troop Talk

Troop Talk radio brings the soldier’s story front and center.Through engaging live interviews with military members who have served and continue to serve, hosts Captain Trip Bellard and Leah Lett, give listeners an opportunity to find out what’s really going on in the U.S. military. No where else can the American public talk live on the air to soldiers presently fighting the War on Terror. These Real Life American Heroes now have a way to share their stories as they happen. No sound bytes, no bits, no spins - just the Truth.

"Troop Talk's format is one of the most innovativeideas for a radio show. Trip Bellard succeeds intalking about important issues as well as creating avehicle for the voices of our men and women in uniformto be heard and appreciated."
- Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12)

How it all began..."Gentlemen, be proud of what you have accomplished and be proud to tell people your story! People want to know your story!"-LTC Kyle McClelland, FA, CDR 1-7 FA, gave this advice to every TF 1-7 soldier that went on R&R from FOB Summerall, Iraq from Feb 2004 to Feb 2005.
Captain Trip, a past subordinate of LTC McClelland, is an adamant supporter of our nation and our military and he took to heart what his commander had to say. He is committed to telling his story and providing Americans with his perspective on the Global War on Terror. He has spoken to numerous organizations, domestically and overseas, to include Veteran’s organizations, business associations, and civic organizations.
Troop Talk the radio show was developed after Captain Trip received an invitation and appeared on The David Allen Show sharing his first-hand experiences of the war in Iraq. That single interview received such overwhelming response, it soon blossomed into a stand alone show with a loyal audience that continues to grow. Troop Talk is now "marching across the country" in national syndication.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

How Marines Say Goodbye.....

Click on the photo to see a very moving tribute
to fallen warriors.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC,
USN 30th Naval Construction Regiment OIC,
Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Monday, December 18, 2006

Good Enough to Die For!

I received this in an e-mail from Russ Vaughan and thought it was worth posting here. Russ has not wasted his talent for writing, as perhaps I have.
Good Enough to Die For

I have just read a mea culpa by Vietnam War protestor, novelist and poet, Pat Conroy,, who possesses the literary skills to express what I am willing to bet many other older American males, his former brothers at the barricades, also feel, but lack the skills and the honesty to articulate. It is left to men like the politically born again David Horowitz and novelist Conroy to speak for these old troupers of the Left’s long-haired legions, to reveal their long hidden recognition that they were possibly misguided in their protesting but more often than most will ever admit, motivated more by fear of serving in combat than by any sense of moral/political rectitude.

For that reason this is an issue that reverberates only within the ranks of male protestors of that era. For the braless, hygiene and make-up challenged young women of the movement, there existed no threat of death or disfigurement in combat, so the purity of their motives is questionable only in the intellectual, not the moral sense. They may have been naïve fools but they weren’t hiding a blushing personal cowardice behind the skirts of world socialism. This then, is an issue of character only for these now old, greying men who, like Conroy, must eventually face the moral consequences of their actions in those turbulent days.

As someone who, like most of us, has experienced events in my life where I now wish that I had shown more moral and physical courage, more honesty, and most importantly, more unquestioning love and understanding of family, I know how those failures live with you long after the memories of trying to do so many things right have dimmed. Many of my lapses involved nothing more than minor events where I failed to speak up, or stand up and be counted, or even stand up and be knocked down; but regardless of their minor nature, it is these life events that forever remain active in my psyche. In my mid-sixties now, I have learned all too well that it's not the fights you won or even the fights you lost that keep niggling away at the edges of your conscience: it's the fights you failed to fight when you knew damned well that you should.

Deceased author John D. MacDonald, who wrote the wonderful Travis McGee mystery series, once explained through his fictional hero, McGee, the way to make correct moral decisions and it is a simple wisdom that has stayed in my brain, but not always exemplified by my behavior, through the remainder of my life. It is nothing more than this: do the hard thing. When faced with tough choices, look to that course of action which is the one you want least to follow because it appears to be the most difficult for you; it may hurt personally, but almost always, it is the right course for you to follow for the good of others.

My belief is that a lot of Vietnam War protestors were rightfully fearful of the physical perils of combat, as were all those of us who chose to serve there; but where we tamped down those fears and continued the mission, they wrongfully used a contrived moral outrage against the war as convenient cover to conceal their cowardice. To buttress that theory one simply has to look at how the huge, angry protests diminished, and ultimately disappeared in a remarkably short time once Congress ended the military draft. As young, draft-age men, all those angry protestors were able at the time to righteously rationalize away their true motivation until Congress stole their alibi, and only now, with the awareness and self-accounting that comes with age, are they, like Pat Conroy, facing the truth of their personal cowardice. Sadly, too late, they have come to realize the truth of Conroy's most perceptive quote:

"America is good enough to die for even when she is wrong."

I believe those are words worthy of being carved into every war memorial in America. And I am thankful that I and all my brothers and sisters at arms who served then, and those who serve now, possessed then and now, but even in our callow youth, the intrinsic wisdom to recognize that truth. All Americans must die, but those who understand this fundamental reality about this very unique nation will die with their chins held just a few degrees higher than those who didn’t realize it when they should have, but now do, like Conroy and his legions, and sadly, those young people of today who still do not.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Barney Cam, 2006

(click on photo for Barney cam)

Barney and Miss Beazley sit on the Grand Staircase at the White House, Thursday, Nov, 30, 2006, deciding whether to begin touring the Christmas decorations upstairs or downstairs. White House photo by Kimberlee Hewitt

Forget your political affiliation and check out the First Dog's 2006 Holiday Extravaganza. The White House has done these Barney cam Holiday films for six year now. It's cute and fun for kids.

Here's the link to Barney's home page:

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is credited with saying, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." The quote has become one of the most famous quotes from World War II. The quote was abbreviated in the film Pearl Harbor (2001), where it merely read, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant." However, no one has been able to verify that Yamamoto ever actually said (or wrote) those words.
Remembering Pearl Harbor
On Sunday, December 7th, 1941 the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the U.S. Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. By planning his attack on a Sunday, the Japanese commander Admiral Nagumo, hoped to catch the entire fleet in port. As luck would have it, the Aircraft Carriers and one of the Battleships were not in port. (The USS Enterprise was returning from Wake Island , where it had just delivered some aircraft. (The USS Lexington was ferrying aircraft to Midway, and the USS Saratoga and USS Colorado were undergoing repairs in the United States.)
In spite of the latest intelligence reports about the missing aircraft carriers (his most important targets), Admiral Nagumo decided to continue the attack with his force of six carriers and 423 aircraft. At a range of 230 miles north of Oahu, he launched the first wave of a two-wave attack. Beginning at 0600 hours his first wave consisted of 183 fighters and torpedo bombers which struck at the fleet in Pearl Harbor and the airfields in Hickam, Kaneohe and Ewa.
The second strike, launched at 0715 hours, consisted of 167 aircraft, which again struck at the same targets. At 0753 hours the first wave consisting of 40 Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" torpedo bombers, 51 Aichi D3A1 "Val" dive bombers, 50 high altitude bombers and 43 Zeros struck airfields and Pearl Harbor. Within the next hour, the second wave arrived and continued the attack.
When it was over, the U.S. losses were:
USA: 218 KIA, 364 WIA
USN: 2,008 KIA, 710 WIA.
USMC: 109 KIA, 69 WIA.
Civilians: 68 KIA, 35 WIA.
TOTAL: 2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA.
USS Arizona (BB-39) - total loss when a bomb hit her magazine.
USS Oklahoma (BB-37) - Total loss when she capsized and sank in the harbor.
USS California (BB-44) - Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS West Virginia (BB-48) - Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS Nevada - (BB-36) Beached to prevent sinking. Later repaired.
USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) - Light damage.
USS Maryland (BB-46) - Light damage.
USS Tennessee (BB-43) Light damage.
USS Utah (AG-16) - (former battleship used as a target) - Sunk.
USS New Orleans (CA-32) - Light Damage.
USS San Francisco (CA38) - Light Damage.
USS Detroit (CL-8) - Light Damage.
USS Raleigh (CL-7) - Heavily damaged but repaired.
USS Helena (CL-50) - Light Damage.
USS Honolulu (CL-48) - Light Damage.
Destroyers USS Downes (DD-375) - Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Cassin - (DD-372) Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Shaw (DD-373) - Very heavy damage.
USS Helm (DD-388) - Light Damage.
USS Ogala (CM-4) - Sunk but later raised and repaired.
Seaplane Tender
USS Curtiss (AV-4) - Severely damaged but later repaired.
188 Aircraft destroyed (92 USN and 92 U.S. Army Air Corps.)

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