September 26, 2006
The Irrational Tenth Part 2
I welcome all comments to either post.
May 15, 2006
Hey! What's all this moping around?
Well Loyal Readers, I've been on vacation with Mrs. Chester for a week or so. Didn't pay too much attention to the news while gone.
You can imagine my surprise upon returning and plugging back in to see there's all this talk of Conservative Fatigue Syndrome.
If some of you out there need a little inspiration, I offer you Corporal Jeremiah Workman, USMC:
The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to
CORPORAL JEREMIAH W. WORKMAN
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following
For extraordinary heroism while serving as Squad Leader, Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, 3d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, 1st Marine Division, US Marine Corps Forces, Central Command in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 23 December 2004. During clearing operations in Al Fallujah, Iraq, Corporal Workman displayed exceptional situational awareness while organizing his squad to enter a building to retrieve isolated Marines inside. Despite heavy resistance from enemy automatic weapon fire, and a barrage of grenades, Corporal Workman fearlessly exposed himself and laid down a base of fire that allowed the isolated Marines to escape. Outside the house, he rallied the rescued Marines and directed fire onto insurgent positions as he aided wounded Marines in a neighboring yard. After seeing these Marines to safety, he led another assault force into the building to eliminate insurgents and extract more Marines. Corporal Workman again exposed himself to enemy fire while providing cover fire for the team when an enemy grenade exploded directly in front of him causing shrapnel wounds to his arms and legs. Corporal Workman continued to provide intense fire long enough to recover additional wounded Marines and extract them from the besieged building. Although injured, he led a third assault into the building, rallying his team one last time to extract isolated Marines before M1A1 tanks arrived to support the battle. Throughout this fight, Corporal Workman's heroic actions contributed to the elimination of 24 insurgents. By his bold leadership, wise judgment and complete dedication to duty, Corporal Workman reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
For the President,
Secretary of the Navy
Semper Fi, now-Sergeant Workman! I'm glad you're on our side.
[Thanks to Sgt. Workman's mother-in-law for forwarding the citation to me!]
April 28, 2006
Mrs. Chester and I just returned from viewing United 93. It was . . . enraging, gut-wrenching, and very emotional.
I usually don't find myself getting worked up too much in movies, but at the end I realized that waves of adrenaline and anger had been coming over me for nearly the entire film. From time to time I found my pulse absolutely racing. I also realized when it was over that I had broken out in, quite literally, a cold sweat. Perhaps there's just something visceral about that day that is burned into many of us.
From time to time there were the briefest of moments when I would remember -- not just mentally, but in my bones -- what a September 10th mentality felt like. You know -- how things were just . . . different.
The film was outstanding and I highly recommend it. It bested my expectations on nearly every level: the acting was good, the story stuck to the facts, and it was apolitical as far as I could tell. Kudos to the director and producer for pulling that off. It was also refreshing not to see any big-name actors in the film. It's supposed to be about regular folks after all, right?
Mrs. Chester reports that she had an emotional response as well. She also liked that the passengers were not portrayed in some sort of gung-ho heroic super-patriotic light, but rather that they just realized that they had to try to do something to save themselves.
I wonder if it will be shown in Europe?
The theater was about 75% full. When the film ended there was a moderate level of applause.
And that's it. Go see it for yourself.
UPDATE: United 93 is apolitical as I mentioned above. But I wonder if it might have some political effects, particularly with regard to Tipping Point politics. I'll make a confession: as I reflect on my thoughts and feelings during the film, I can't help but admitting that when seeing images of the younger hijackers -- not Ziad Jarrah, the pilot, but the muscle -- I am overcome with absolute revulsion. It makes one wonder if our entire enterprise of reforming the Middle East is a fool's errand.
I don't usually think this way. In fact I rarely do (see the link in the above paragraph). Yet this is how I found myself thinking during the movie, and I don't think it was because that was the filmmakers' intended effect. I'll bet I'm not the only one who feels this way after watching. It was a fleeting thought, but there nonetheless.
Perhaps this is just me. I have rather emotional reactions when it comes to the defense of the United States. Many things I can argue or debate with cool distance and even-headed dispassion. Not so with defending America. Politics might be a messy, relativistic labyrinth in general, but one thing I know: this country is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and all who wish it harm be damned.
For better or worse, I predict Tipping Point effects from this film . . .
April 18, 2006
FLASH: Marine Sgt to receive Navy Cross
A Loyal Reader emails:
You were one of the first blogs I read as the invasion of Fallujah unfolded. You really made it feel like I was there.I'll hold on releasing the name until I hear more details.
I am writing to inform you that my son-in-law [name withheld] will be receiving the Navy Cross in a ceremony at Parris Island . . .
He earned the award for action on 12/23/04 while clearing houses of weapons and people. His 20 man squad suffered 11 wounded and 3 KIA that day.
To my knowledge, this will be the second award of the Navy Cross during the War on Terror. The first went to my Basic School classmate, Captain Brian Chontosh.
You heard it here first . . . developing . . .
April 15, 2006
Corporal Brett Lundstrom, USMC
Wow. This slideshow of the wake for Corporal Brett Lundstrom, killed by small arms fire in Fallujah on January 7th, is incredible.
Cpl Lundstrom was Oglala Sioux.
Fair winds and following seas, Devildog.
February 24, 2006
"Solidarity with Denmark, death to fascism."
Ian Schwartz has a 2 mintue and 27 second video available of Christopher Hitchens' speech at the Danish Embassy in DC today, where Hitchens organized a pro-Denmark rally. [Hat-tip: Instapundit]. I've put together a little transcript of Hitchens' remarks:
"Brothers and sisters, I [inaudible] . . . a speech.I imagine that Hitchens and I might disagree on many points. He's more or less a socialist after all. But he's pretty much won my admiration for all time with his spirited defense of the war in Iraq. The piece he wrote in the Weekly Standard back in September alone is absolutely outstanding [see A War to Be Proud Of], and when I see things like Fukuyama backpedaling, I look back on that piece and feel comforted.
It misses the point . . . [inaudible] [laughter]
[Crowd: "Speech! Speech!"]
Brothers and sisters, I just thought I would thank everyone for coming and say how touching it is that people will take a minute from a working day to do something that our government won't do for us, which is quite simply to say that we know who our friends and our allies are, and they should know that we know it. And that we take a stand of democracy against dictatorship. And when the embassies of democracies are burned in the capital cities of dictatorships, we think the State Department should denounce that, and not denounce the cartoons.
[Cheers of support and applause]
And that we're fed up with the invertebrate nature of our State Department.
[Laughter, cheers, applause]
If we had more time, brothers and sisters, I think that we should have gone from here to the embassy of Iraq, to express our support for another country that is facing a campaign of lies and hatred and violence. And we would -- if we did that we would say that we knew blasphemy when we saw it, we knew sacrilege when we saw it: it is sacrilegious to blow up beautiful houses of worship in Samarra. That would be worth filling the streets of the world to protest about.
[Cheers and applause]
We are not for profanity nor for disrespect, though we are, and without any conditions, or any ifs or any buts, for free expression in all times and in all places
and our solidarity . . . [inaudible]
So, we said we would, I told the Danish embassy that we would disperse at one o'clock. I hope and believe we've made our point, I hope and believe that today's tv will have some more agreeable features, such as your own, to show, instead of the faces of violence and hatred, and fascism, and I think I can just close by saying, solidarity with Denmark, death to fascism.
[Applause as Hitchens steps away]
Today only increases my favor for Hitchens. Three cheers for Denmark!
April 23, 2005
Sgt. Willie L. Copeland - The Navy Cross
(h-t: Mudville Gazette)
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
When his platoon was ambushed in an attack by insurgents in Iraq last year, Marine Sgt. Willie L. Copeland III took charge.Read the whole account.
He led five Marines out of the heaviest fire, found cover and killed 10 of the enemy in close combat. When his commanding officer fell wounded, Copeland used his body to shield the officer as he administered first aid.
For his leadership and dedication to duty, the 26-year-old from Utah on Thursday received the Navy Cross, the Navy's second-highest honor. Seven Marines have received the Navy Cross for Operation Iraqi Freedom through Jan. 10, according to the latest figures from the Marine Corps Awards Branch.
February 2, 2005
Sergeant First Class Paul Smith -- The Congressional Medal of Honor
From the St. Petersburg, FL Times,Iraq hero joins hallowed group:
Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, who spent his boyhood in Tampa, became a man in the Army and died outside Baghdad defending his outnumbered soldiers from an Iraqi attack, will receive America's highest award for bravery.The Times has a multi-media tribute to SFC Smith, here. SFC Smith's heroism has been circulating in the blogosphere for some time. Winds of Change.NET offers the story of this warrior:
President Bush will present the Medal of Honor to Smith's wife, Birgit, and their children Jessica, 18, and David, 10, at a ceremony at the White House, possibly in March.
The official announcement will come soon, but the Pentagon called Mrs. Smith with the news Tuesday afternoon.
On the morning of April 4, the Task Force was inside of the airport and several enemy soldiers had been captured, so a containment pen had be to quickly built. There was a wall 10 ft tall paralleling the north side of the highway, on the battalion's flank just behind the front lines. Smith (whose callsign was 'Sapper 7') decided to punch a hole in it, so that the inside walls would form two sides of a triangular enclosure and the open third side could be closed off with rolls of concertina wire.Here is another online memorial to SFC Smith (also via Winds of Change):
Smith used an armored combat earthmover to punch through the wall and, while wire was being laid across the corner, one of the squad's two M113s moved toward a gate on the far side of the courtyard. The driver pushed open the gate to open a field of fire, revealing between 50 and 100 enemy soldiers massed to attack. The only way out was the hole the engineers had put in the wall and the gate where the hardcore Iraqis were firing.
What happened next was equal to Audie Murphy's legendary World War II heroism. Iraqi soldiers perched in trees and a nearby tower let loose with a barrage of RPGs and there were snipers on the roof. A mortar round hit the engineers' M-113, seriously wounding three soldiers inside. Smith helped evacuate them to an aid station, which was threatened by the attack as well.
Smith promptly organized the engineers' defense, since the only thing that stood between the Iraqis and the Task Force's headquarters were about 15 to 20 engineers, mortarmen and medics. A second M113 was hit by an RPG, but was still operational. Dozens of Iraqi soldiers were charging from the gate or scaling a section of the wall, jumping into the courtyard.
Smith took over the second APC's .50-caliber machine gun and got the vehicle into a position where he could stop the Iraqis. First Sergeant Tim Campbell realized that they had to knock out the Iraqi position in the tower and after consulting with Smith, led two soldiers to take the tower. Armed only with a light machine-gun, a rifle and a pistol with one magazine, the trio advanced behind the smoke of tall grass that had caught fire from exploding ammunition.
Smith yelled for more ammunition three times during the fight, going through 400 rounds before he was hit in the head. Shortly before taking the tower and gunning down the Iraqis inside, Campbell noticed that the sound of Smith's .50-caliber had also stopped. Campbell figured Smith was just reloading again.
The medics worked on SFC Smith for 30 minutes, but he was dead.
According to the citation, his actions killed 20 to 50 Iraqis, allowing the American wounded to be evacuated, saving the aid station and headquarters (as well as possibly 100 American lives). Fellow soldiers credit Smith with thwarting the advance of well-trained, well-equipped soldiers from the Special Republican Guard, which was headed straight for the 2-7 Task Force's headquarters (Tactical Operations Center), less than a half-mile away. The battle captains, commanders and journalists huddled at the operations center were trying to protect themselves against tank fire and snipers in the nearby woods They had no idea about the possible onslaught of Republican Guard from the nearby complex.
May he rest in peace.