Thursday, January 29, 2009

Off topic: Diving on Florida's wrecks

USCG Duane

Underwater photos by Mike M.
For more underwater photos see La Florida.


The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Duane was built in 1936 at the U.S. Naval Yard in Philadelphia. She was a 327-foot long Treasury Class Cutter, one of seven such vessels, and was named for William J. Duane, Secretary of the Treasury under Andrew Jackson. She had various assignments before being sent to the Atlantic in 1941, where she eventually served with the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Her service included an impressive wartime and peacetime record. On April 17, 1943, she and her sister ship, the Spencer, sank the German U-Boat U-77. She participated in four rescues at sea, picking up a total of 346 survivors. In 1980 she was an escort vessel for thousands of Cuban refugees coming to the United States. Her last assignments included Search and Rescue work and Drug Enforcement.

The Duane lies upright on a sandy bottom in 120 feet of water one mile south of Molasses Reef off Key Largo. After being decommissioned on August l, 1985 as the oldest active U.S. military vessel, the Duane was donated to the Keys Association of Dive Operators for use as an artificial reef. On November 27, 1987 she was towed to Molasses Reef, her hatches opened, her holds pumped full of water, and down she went to begin her final assignment.

--from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Off topic: Diving on Florida's wrecks

Photo by Sergio Garcia

USS Spiegel Grove
Underwater photos by Mike M.

Intentionally sunk in 1998 to create an artificial reef off Key Largo, Florida. For a history of the vessel, click here.

For more underwater photos, see La Florida.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday: News and notes

The caption contest over at La Florida is still underway. We've had some very funny entries.

We are anticipating some good news out of Ft. Bragg shortly. But not wanting to jinx it, I will be keeping it under wraps until it's official. Stand by.

My oldest son Mike was diving on some wrecks in Key Largo over the weekend. I will be posting some pictures here and at La Florida for the next few days. Here's a sample:

On the deck of the USS Spiegel Grove

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday: News and notes

My main computer was dispatched to the computer emergency room yesterday afternoon. It's vital signs were weak but we are hoping for a full recovery. Most of the data was backed up and the most important information - my photographs - were kept on a separate drive. It was infected with some nasty spyware two weeks ago and has never quite recovered.

There is a caption contest under way over at La Florida today. It's one bird talking to another. Click on the image for best viewing.

News from Ft. Bragg has been quiet...just the way we like it. No Joe rumors as we wind down our Army careers. Mark may be home for a long weekend in February. Meanwhile, the flags fly when the weather permits.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

In memoriam

From ABC news:


Air Force SrA Omar J. McKnight, 22, of Marrero, La.

Army SSG Joshua R. Townsend, 30, of Solvang , Calif.

Army SSG Roberto Andrade Jr, 26, of Chicago, Ill.

Army PFC Ricky L. Turner, 20, of Athens, Ala.

Army SSG Carlo M. Robinson, 33, of Lawton, Okla.

Army SPC Ezra Dawson, 31, of Las Vegas, Nev.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Full honors

The U.S. government has changed its policies regarding burials at Arlington National Cemetery. There is no longer a rank differential for military who die in combat for burials with standard honors and full honors. The Washington Post has the story of the first Army soldier under the rank of E-9 who received a full honors burial. Click here.

Dealing with out -of-shape recruits

This is from NBC Nightly News.

Click here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

News and notes

More snow pics from Fayetteville. Note the feet. A true Floridian doesn't wear shoes even in the snow.

Gayle and I had a few friends over yesterday to watch the inauguration. It was quite the spectacle. It's a true testament to our country, but more particularly to military and their families, that the transition of power can be done so effortlessly and so peacefully....especially when the men taking and leaving office are so completely different. Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, yesterday was a historic day.

President Obama had some very gracious things to say about the military and their families at last night's Commander In Chief's Ball. Here they are:


I want to start by thanking tonights co hosts; the senior enlisted advisors of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces.

I want to acknowledge the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are here with us as well. Thank you, gentlemen.

I also want to recognize some very special guests. Three hundred wounded warriors who are joining us from (inaudible). I want to thank all of you for your service. I wish you quick and healthy recoveries. I know that you are more than ready to get home to your families. I know they are more than ready to have you back.

I also want to take a moment to honor the families of the fallen, who are here with us tonight. You have given so much to this country. Know that your loved ones sacrifice has been your sacrifice as well. Please know that you in our thoughts and prayers. Today, everyday, forever.

And finally, I want to thank all of the enlisted men and women and junior officers here tonight. It is wonderful to be surround by some of the very best and bravest Americans. Your courage, grace, and your patriotism inspire us all. To you, and to all those watching around the world, know that as President, I will have no greater honor or responsibility than serving as your commander in chief.

Right now, as we gather here in Washington, we are sobered by the knowledge that we have troops in all corners of the world, many of them in harms way. We are fighting two wars. We face dangerous threats to our security. We depend on the men and women of our armed services to keep us safe.

We also know that service and sacrifice aren't limited to those who wear the uniform. Because every time a serviceman redeploys, there is an empty seat at the table back home, and a family that has to bear an extra burden. That's why Michelle has spent so much time these last few months working with our military families.

And that's why tonight we don't just salute our troops, we salute the military families who have earned the respect of a grateful nation.

Understand, tonight isn't simply about the inauguration of an American President. Its a celebration of our military and our military families, so going forward you will have our support and our respect.

You will have a great Secretary of Defense in Bob Gates. You will have a great Secretary of Veterans affairs in General Erik Shinseki.

And every single day that I am in the White house, I will try to serve you as well as you are serving the United States of America.

As I said earlier today, while the tests we face are new, and the ways in which we meet them may be new, the values on which our success depends are old. Those values like hard work and honesty, courage and tolerance, loyalty and patriotism, those are values that are embodied in our armed forces. What's required is for all of us to return to those values, what's required is all of us to embrace a new era of responsibility where we expect and demand not only more of our leaders, but more of ourselves.

So tonight, we celebrate, but tomorrow the work begins. And I look forward to joining you in that effort. Together I am confident that we will write the next great chapter in Americas story.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ft. Bragg has snow day

Who would have thought the Army would take a snow day? I wonder if the 10th Mountain Division in upstate NY takes snow days? Apparently the civilians on post don't do well with snowy roads, particularly in the South.

We had a half an inch of snow in Jacksonville 16 years ago and it shut down the city for four days.

At least our soldier will be able to see the inauguration.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tiger Woods pays tribute to the military and their families

From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

By Tiger Woods

I grew up in a military family - and my role models in life were my Mom and Dad, Lt. Colonel Earl Woods.

My dad was a Special Forces operator and many nights friends would visit our home. They represented every branch of the service, and every rank. In my dad, and in those guests, I saw first hand the dedication and commitment of those who serve. They come from every walk of life. From every part of our country. Time and again, across generations, they have defended our safety in the dark of night and far from home.

Each day - and particularly on this historic day - we honor the men and women in uniform who serve our country and protect our freedom. They travel to the dangerous corners of the world, and we must remember that for every person who is uniform, there are families who wait for them to come home safely.

I am honored that the military is such an important part, not just of my personal life, but of my professional one as well. The golf tournament we do each year here in Washington is a testament to those unsung heroes. I am the son of a man who dedicated his life to his country, family and the military, and I am a better person for it.

In the summer of 1864, Abraham Lincoln, the man at whose memorial we stand, spoke to the 164th Ohio Regiment and said:

"I am greatly obliged to you, and to all who have come forward at the call of their country."

Just as they have stood tall for our country - we must always stand by and support the men and women in uniform and their families.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In memoriam

This is from ABC's This Week.

The wars continue. Our prayers are with the families.


Army PFC Christopher W. Lotter, 20, of Chester Heights, Pa.

Marine LCpl Alberto Francesconi, 21, of Bronx, N.Y.

Army SSG Anthony D. Davis, 29, of Daytona Beach, Fla.

Marine LCpl Jessie A. Cassada, 19, of Hendersonville, N.C.

Army PVT Sean P. McCune, 20, of Euless, Texas

Marine LCpl Daniel R. Bennett, 23, of Clifton, Va.

Marine Sgt Marquis R. Porter, 28, of Brighton, Mass.

Army SSG Justin L. Bauer, 24, of Loveland, Colo.

Army SGT Joshua L. Rath, 22, of Decatur, Ala.

Army SPC Spc Keith E. Essary, 20, of Dyersburg, Tenn.

Army MAJ Brian M. Mescall, 33, of Hopkinton, Mass.

Army SPC Joseph M. Hernandez, 24, of Hammond, Ind.

Army SGT Jason R. Parsons, 24, of Lenoir, N.C.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Red Devils to represent active military at inauguration

From the Fayetteville Observer:

Battalion to march in inauguration

By Henry Cuningham
Military editor

The magnitude of what you are doing, the command sergeant major told the young paratroopers, will probably sink in when you make the last left turn before the reviewing stand.

On Tuesday, about 90 Fort Bragg paratroopers will represent the active-duty Army in Barack Obama’s inauguration as president of the United States.

Many of the soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division are Iraq veterans. Others are teenagers who have not yet deployed.

On Thursday, they rehearsed on Devil Field on Ardennes Street on Fort Bragg under chilly blue skies for their march in the inaugural parade. Most will travel to Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

They will march about a mile and a half in formation — nine soldiers across, nine deep. The Army Field Band, West Point cadets, guardsmen and reservists also will be in the parade from the Army.

One of the marchers will be Pfc. Lacy Browning, 19, of Lumberton. He is a 2007 graduate of Lumberton High School and the son of Cynthia Browning of Lumberton.

“I believe it’s a great honor,” Browning said. “It’s the first time we’ve ever had a black president. I believe it’s a great honor to see the way the nation is changing as well as the world.”

Friday, January 16, 2009


Old laptop is up and running so we are about 60 percent functional. Main computer is still struggling. Almost a week now. Maybe it's time to surrender.

Vista anybody?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Computer glitch

A permanent one I'm afraid. Trusty no. 1 computer went down this a.m., so I may be offline for a day or two. Most of everything is backed up, however, a couple of recent photographs may be at risk.

I have a five-year old laptop that may be called into service in the interim. I am hopeful to have this resolved quickly because most of my business records are on that computer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From the Fayetteville Observer: 3rd BCT casualty

SSG Bauer

Fort Bragg paratrooper killed in Iraq

By Drew Brooks
Staff writer

The wife of a Fort Bragg soldier who was killed in Baghdad said her husband had planned to start a family once he was done serving his country.

Staff Sgt. Justin Bauer, 24, of Berthoud, Colo., was killed by an explosion near his patrol Saturday, the Defense Department said.

Bauer was a section sergeant with the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

“He was a model husband, loving and compassionate, and a son who never gave his family any problems when he was growing up,” said his wife, Kari Bauer, in a statement issued by her and Bauer’s parents.

Bauer joined the Army in October 2004. He completed Infantry One Station Unit Training and the Basic Airborne Course in March 2005 at Fort Benning, Ga., the military said.

He reported to the 82nd Airborne Division in August 2005 and was assigned as an assistant gunner.

“Staff Sgt. Bauer was an exceptional leader, twice tested in combat deployments with the battalion over the last two years,” said Lt. Col. Louis Zeisman, commander of the battalion.

“While this loss will be long and deeply felt by all of us, his legacy will remain; measured by the high caliber of the soldiers he led and the tremendous respect he had earned from his peers and superiors alike,” Zeisman said in a statement.

A 2002 graduate of Berthoud High School north of Denver, Bauer planned to move back to Colorado to be with his family when he got out of the Army, his family said.

Bauer was a standout lineman while playing for the school’s football team and also wrestled.

Kari Bauer said her husband wanted to start a family and rejoin the local fire department.

She said her husband would be remembered for his humor, among other qualities.

“He always made people laugh and kept us all entertained,” she said. “Everyone enjoyed being around him.”

In addition to his wife and parents, Gregory Bauer, of LaSalle, Colo., and Connie Haddock, of Loveland, Colo., Bauer is survived by two younger brothers.

His unit will hold a memorial service in Iraq on Friday. A funeral will be held in Colorado at a later date.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

23 years ago

I've been cleaning old boxes at the storage unit and came across this slide (not a very good scan).

In this picture are an opera singer, a paratrooper, a Marine helicopter pilot and a biologist.


(If you click on the image, you can see it better.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Welcome home, Matt

CPT Matt Tavares returned home safely this week from a 15-month deployment in Iraq. Matt is the son of Joe and Madeleine, who is the driving force behind our military family support group.

Welcome home, Matt.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oops: From the Fayetteville Observer

Army regrets letters' error

By Henry Cuningham
Military editor

The Army’s top general is personally signing letters of apology to 7,000 families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, after they accidentally received correspondence addressed to “Dear John Doe.”

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, is expressing regret for the printing error on the letters that should have contained personalized greetings.

“He feels very strongly about that,” said Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. Casey lost his own father in the Vietnam War.

The addresses were printed correctly on the envelopes, but an automated program failed to personalize the inside letter for recipients — spouses, parents, children or siblings of soldiers killed in action.

“It does not reflect the high-quality personal communication that we strive for when we send the letters out to the families,” Boyce said. “We should have caught it.”

The letter was printed by a contractor and mailed in late December, informing families about private groups offering help to those who lost loved ones in combat, the Army said Wednesday.

“It’s definitely not the contractor’s fault,” Boyce said. “It’s our fault. Ultimately we had to quality-control it.”

The letter was sent from the U.S. Army Human Resources Command’s Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Center in Alexandria, Va., which subsequently issued a formal apology on Wednesday.

“There are no words to adequately apologize for this mistake or for the hurt it may have caused,” Brig. Gen. Reuben D. Jones, the Army adjutant general, said in a statement Tuesday. “It is important the original intent of the letter is not lost. The organizations mentioned are dedicated to honoring loved ones and recognizing their sacrifice and commitment.”

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What we've always known: Good news is no news

From this week's Time Magazine:

Baghdad - Networks Scale Back in Iraq

AS violence increases in Afghanistan, not only are troops being redirected there, but so are journalists - at the expense of news coverage in Iraq. A New York Times report noted that the three major U.S. networks - ABC, CBS and NBC - have quietly stopped sending full-time correspondents to Iraq despite the fact that about 130,000 U.S. service members are still there. While the networks declined to discuss specific staffing changes, representatives said the switch reflects a change in the nature of the Iraq mission from pacification to reconstruction.

My thoughts:

Reconstruction = good news = no news.

Tell that to the family members and friends who still loved ones deployed to Iraq.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

From the NY Times

Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 37 Near Shrine

Published: January 4, 2009

BAGHDAD — A woman wearing an explosive belt blew herself up near the entrance of a revered Shiite shrine Sunday morning in Baghdad, killing at least 37 people, many of them Shiite pilgrims, according to the Ministry of the Interior. As many as 53 others were wounded in the attack, which occurred during a Shiite holy month.

The suicide bombing outside the Imam Moussa Al-kadhim shrine in the Kadhimiyah neighborhood came nine days after a Dec. 26 car bomb killed 24 people and wounded 46 others after it had exploded on a busy road near the same shrine.

The timing and location of each bombing appeared to be intended to reignite sectarian violence, from which Iraq had shown signs of emerging in recent months.

Sunday’s attack, which occurred at about 11:30 a.m., came during Muharram, among the holiest months for all Muslims but particularly for Shiites, who prepare to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Imam Hussein was killed during a battle against the forces of a Sunni caliph in 680.

The entire story can be found here.

This was Mark's AO (area of operations) for 10 months during the "surge." It was a very, very tough neighborhood when Bravo Co. arrived. But during the last year, it has been very quiet there. It would be tragic to seen the gains made lost in an attempt to reignite the sectarian strife.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

I, for one, am glad to see 2008 go away. There were many memorable, historic, and very personal moments. The collapse of the economy dealt us a tough blow. At any rate, it's over, everyone is healthy and we look forward to a good 2009.

Over at La Florida, there is a wonderful collection of photographs from SGT Mark and his trip to Cumberland Island, Ga. Given all the chaos around the world, there are still quiet places to go to contemplate.

Happy New Year.