Sunday, June 29, 2008

Danger zone

What does an arm load of South Carolina fireworks, a case of Landshark, a bottle of rum, and the Fourth of July mean?

Block leave!


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cindy McCain as a One Percenter

This is from the current issue of Newsweek, in which the cover story is a profile of Cindy McCain, wife of presumptive Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain. The story is by Holly Bailey.

"When [her Marine son] Jimmy was in Iraq during the primary season, Cindy, like every mother whose son is at war, lived to hear his voice. She kept her BlackBerry in her hands at all times so she wouldn't miss his call. When she went on stage, she would hand the phone to a campaign aide who would stand with it in her line of sight. "She slept with that BlackBerry in her hand," says [her friend Sharon] Harper. Earlier this year Cindy approached the senator backstage at a campaign event. She was on the brink of tears. "He called," she told McCain. "I missed it." It was a rare moment of emotion for a woman who had vowed that, this time around, she would keep her tears in check whenever callous reporters were near."

I can sympathize. When Mark was on his last tour in Iraq, our day literally didn't begin until he called. It was devastating to miss one.

Regardless of politics, a Mom with a son at war is still a Mom with a son at war.

Friday, June 27, 2008

More Lara Logan/CBS controversy

I didn't realize it at the time I posted it Iraq orphanage story, but a large controversy over at CBS was forming over the future of the network's war coverage, or lack there of. CBS war correspondent Lara Logan's appearance on Jon Stewart
has started a right vs. left blog war over her coverage. You can read about it here.

My point in bringing all this up was threefold:

One - She covered a story a year ago in which the 82nd showed up and saved the lives of two dozen Iraqi mentally disabled orphan boys in Baghdad. It was a horrific situation with it a happy ending. It was fairly reported and created a brief stir over there. It was not your normal TV war story. CBS lead with the story and gave it an unprecedented five minutes. But the media here yawned. After some persuasion to an old friend at the Associated Press, it was picked up. It was days after the incident and didn't make many, if any, papers.

Two - CBS ramping down in Iraq is a big deal. If producers don't think war is news, we are in deep trouble. Logan told The New York Times that "she begged for months to be embedded with a group of Navy Seals, and when she came back with the story, a CBS producer said to her, 'One guy in uniform looks like any other guy in a uniform.' " The producer is no longer at CBS.

But think about it: “One guy in uniform looks like any other guy in a uniform.” No, not really. That one guy in uniform is someone's brother, spouse, son, cousin, uncle or nephew.

Three - I was leading up to an amusing anecdote that involved Logan showing up in a downtown Baghdad Army post in the midst of 115 battle weary soldiers and their reactions to not only a talented but, in their view, extremely attractive reporter who "smelled good." But it's all moot now.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

CBS closes down Baghdad bureau

This is from Wednesday's New York Times:

"Lara Logan, the CBS News chief foreign correspondent who deplored the lack of media coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan last week, will no longer be based overseas, the network said on Wednesday.

Ms. Logan, who has covered both wars extensively for CBS, will be based in Washington, with a new title: chief foreign affairs correspondent. The position will probably give Ms. Logan, considered a rising star within CBS News, with more airtime on the “CBS Evening News” and “60 Minutes.”

“She will still travel all over the world, but she will based in Washington instead of London,” said Sean McManus, the president of CBS News. “She will still periodically cover the war in Iraq, and she will still cover international stories.”

Ms. Logan’s guest appearance on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” on June 17 caught some viewers — and also some CBS staffers — off guard. Speaking to the host, Jon Stewart, she used colorful language to complain about how little airtime the broadcast networks devote to war reporting. CBS News recently stopped assigning a full-time correspondent to Iraq, becoming the first American network to do so. . ." (my bold face)

The complete story can be found here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Completely off topic

I was in Titusville Monday on business and happened on this house fire as I was heading back. Don't think anyone was hurt and it may have been started by a lightning strike from a very nasty storm. A little excitement on the home front. You need to click on the photo to really see it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Who is paying attention?

From Frank Rich in today's NY Times:

"THE Iraq war’s defenders like to bash the press for pushing the bad news and ignoring the good. Maybe they’ll be happy to hear that the bad news doesn’t rate anymore. When a bomb killed at least 51 Iraqis at a Baghdad market on Tuesday, ending an extended run of relative calm, only one of the three network newscasts (NBC’s) even bothered to mention it.

The only problem is that no news from Iraq isn’t good news — it’s no news. The night of the Baghdad bombing the CBS war correspondent Lara Logan appeared as Jon Stewart’s guest on “The Daily Show” to lament the vanishing television coverage and the even steeper falloff in viewer interest in it."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dad's don't talk

About a year ago, midway through Mark's surge deployment, I started looking for blogs written by military dads. I found some great blogs but almost all were written by spouses or moms.

There were plenty of male war bloggers out there but they were all full of testosterone and politics. I wasn't interested in the surge-is-or-isn't-working conversations. I was looking for someone who got up every morning, looked at his watch and wondered what his son had done the night before.

I only found one written by Infantry Dad.

That was it. One.

We have followed each other's sons through very long deployments and thankfully both are home safe. It was nice to have someone to talk to.

This spring I found another blog written by Abnpoppa.

His son is also in the 82nd and in the same brigade as my son.

My question: Why aren't more dads writing?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Random thoughts

As I write, Gayle is flying in a perfectly good airplane back to Jacksonville from Manchester, New Hampshire. At the same time, our son is jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at Ft. Bragg. And it's a full moon. Hmmmm. The jumping-out-of-an-airplane part of my son's military career is something I have yet to fathom. I don't even like flying.

For those of you who are stopping by from Jan Wesner's Standing By, the blog post she references is down below. It is titled "Faces of our loved ones."

More attention is being paid to war deaths resulting from what the Department of Defense labels " injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident." My son had told me about one incident in which a first sergeant had committed suicide in front of his men last year. It took place in Admiyah, a Sunni neighborhood not far from where our son's battalion patrolled. The story went like this: A number of soldiers in the first sergeant's company had been killed and he had taken it very badly. On a patrol with media in tow, he jumped out of his Humvee and shot himself. His team members took positions as if a sniper had attacked. It turns out that most of the story was true except for the media. The Army Times and the Fort Worth Star Telegram have written extensively about the incident. The Army Times story can be found here.

As of May 3, there have been 123 suicides in the Iraq and Afghanistan combat zones.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Updates and news from around the blogosphere

SPC Mark has been on an 18-day training cycle that has kept him quite busy lately. He has had no Internet access through this cycle, which is why he hasn't been writing. Despite the deadly heat wave in North Carolina, he is doing well.

Jan Wesner over at Standing By is working on a book based on her blog. Jan is a gifted writer and I have high hopes that her book will be published. I will be the first in line to buy it.

Infantry Dad has summed up what it's like to be parent with a son at war. The last paragraph of his latest post basically says it all.

The folks from Westboro Baptist Church will be in Jacksonville today to demonstrate during the funeral of SPC Quincy Green who died in Iraq from sniper fire. The Patriot Guard has promised to turn out in force to create a buffer for the family. SPC Green arrived at Jax NAS earlier in the week. We offer prayers for SPC Green and his family.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Iraqi orphanage

About a year ago, while on patrol, Mark's unit found an Iraqi orphanage in which two dozen mentally disabled boys were being systematically starved to death. The troops rescued the children and moved them to a secure and safe facility where they recovered.

Lara Logan from CBS did a five-minute segment on the CBS Evening News June 18. Mark later said the situation was so horrific that he may never be able to talk about it. And he hasn't since.

He did say that he had the privilege of retrieving Logan's hat that she left behind and that the entire company was quite enamored with her.

I've attached a link to the story here. Please note that the pictures and video are very graphic.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Good news

Infantry Dad's son, SPC Matt Rider, arrived at Ft. Lewis, Washington in the wee hours Saturday. His Stryker battalion had been in Iraq for 15 months.

His dad and I have become Internet friends as we watched and waited for sons to come home.

Boots on the ground.

The happiest words for parents.

You can see more here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


There have been a number of stories recently about soldiers who are suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. Some have had very tragic endings. The stories point to the sign that the military is beginning to understand the depth and complexity of the issue.

A story in yesterday's Washington D.C. suggest that the Army still has a way to go.

At Fort Benning, the Army built new barracks to house the Warrior Transition Battalion for soldiers who are receiving medical treatment. About 10 to 15 percent of the battalion housed there have PTSD. By all accounts, the barracks are well built and have nice amenities including flat screen TVs and free Internet service.

The only problem? The barracks are across the street from a live firing range which wreaks havoc on those suffering from PTSD. You can read about here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Faces of our loved ones

Midway through Mark's second deployment, we were contacted by an old friend whose son, a Marine, was heading for Iraq. It seemed that a local church, Christ Episcopal Church of Ponte Vedra Beach, was forming a military support network for families who had sons and daughters in the military. The Sunday before Memorial Day, Madeliene Tavares , a talented writer who has written op-ed pieces for USA Today, invited us to a service at the church. The group had posted photographs of all our soldiers and Marines , 18 in all, in honor of Memorial Day. Some of our sons are home, some are in theater, some are training to go back. Eighteen, from our tiny community. It's hard to imagine.

We would have never made it through our last deployment without this group.