Lest we forget–Memorial Day 2017

Guest contribution by our very own poet laureate, Captain George S. Harris:

 

LEST WE FORGET-MEMORIAL DAY 2017

It is just a few days past the day our own Civil War ended on May 9,1865-151 years ago.  On that day, two great armies and two great leaders met at Appomattox, Virginia to begin the process of bringing our nation back together again. They were there to salve the wounds that four years of war had inflicted on its participants.  Some 640,000 men, 2% of our population, were lost; the worst war we have ever been engaged in.  A war that saw fathers against sons and brothers against brothers in a fight to the death.  It was the hope of these two great leaders, General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee, that at last we would once again seek the path to the “perfect union” our founders sought some seventy-eight years earlier during several muggy weeks in the spring and fall of 1787 in Phildelphia.

Some who read this may remember when Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day.  It is a day set aside to decorate the graves of those military folks who lost their lives in service to our Nation.  “Decoration Day or, if you prefer, Memorial Day, began shortly after our Civil War. There are several claims as to just when it began but decorating the graves of warriors has been around for many decades or perhaps centuries.

More than a million Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice and almost all of them in two wars-our own Civil War and World War II.  While we are now engaged in the longest war we have ever known, there are fewer deaths but many more have sustained what are often euphemistically referred to as “life alternating injuries”.  These injuries run from simple wounds to multiple limb loss, paralysis, traumatic brain injury and what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This latter disorder has had many names in the past but it ultimately means the terrible impact war has on the minds and souls of our military personnel.

No one goes to war who doesn’t come back changed.  It is not always easily recognized but for me and others who read these words, we know because we live with it every day of our lives.  This is not some made up psycho-babble, it is a real, palpable thing.  Most of us continue to live and work and carry out normal lives but others do not even to the point of destroying themselves by suicide.

We have to ask ourselves, “Will the day ever come when we will no longer have any new graves to decorate on Memorial Day?  When will we have peace?” In a speech at American University on June 10, 1963, only a few months before his death by assassination, President John F. Kennedy said this about peace.

“I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women–not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”

This Memorial Day, more than 1,000 soldiers will place flags at more than 300,000 graves in the annual “Flags In” ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.  Lest we forget, this is the price of freedom for our great Nation.

 

God bless all those who have gone before and God bless the Untied States of America on this Memorial Day.

“Hymn to the Fallen” by John Williams featured.

Col. Morris Davis: John McCain’s Meddling in the Bergdahl Trial

The following op-ed appeared in the New York Times.  Colonel Morris Davis discusses the repercussions of Senator John McCain’s meddling in military justice.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is to appear this month at the next hearing in his court-martial at Fort Bragg, N.C. After Sergeant Bergdahl walked off his Army outpost in Afghanistan in 2009, he was abducted and tortured by the Taliban, who subjected him to nearly five years of harsh captivity.Sergeant Bergdahl faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, yet two senior military officers conducting separate, impartial investigations into his case have recommended no imprisonment. That outcome would be consistent with hundreds of other post-Sept. 11 desertion cases.

But that does not sit well with certain politicians who have treated Sergeant Bergdahl’s case as if it were a political piñata. Foremost among them is Senator John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In March 2015, the Army warned the committee that holding any congressional hearing on Sergeant Bergdahl could undermine military justice. Two months later, after a senior McCain staff member raised the prospect of the senator’s doing just that, an Army official repeated the warning against holding such a hearing. “To do so,” he added, “would be unprecedented and deviate from defense oversight committees’ longstanding practice of deference to allow ongoing military justice matters to proceed to completion without direct congressional involvement.”

Yet, in October, just after the second investigator made his recommendation of no imprisonment, Mr. McCain said, “If it comes out that he has no punishment, we’re going to have to have a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee.”

Mr. McCain also declared that Sergeant Bergdahl was “clearly a deserter.” Such prejudgment of Sergeant Bergdahl’s case is only slightly less alarming than the statements of the Republican presidential nominee (and potential commander in chief) Donald J. Trump. He has said repeatedly that Sergeant Bergdahl is “a no-good traitor” who would have been executed 30 years ago.

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All combat jobs opened to women: GI Jane approved for real

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Washingtonpost.com:

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Thursday that he is opening all jobs in combat units to women, a landmark decision that would for the first time allow female service members to join the country’s most elite military forces.

Women will now be eligible to join the Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces and other Special Operations Units. It also opens the Marine Corps infantry, a battle-hardened force that many service officials had openly advocated keeping closed to female service members.

“There will be no exceptions,” Carter said. “This means that, as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before.”

Carter’s announcement caps three years of experimentation at the Pentagon and breakthroughs for women in the armed services. Earlier this year, two female soldiers became the first women to ever graduate from the Army’s grueling Ranger School. But the Pentagon’s project also set off a bitter debate about how women should be integrated.

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Shooting up the military

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I am not going to refer to any specific article.  Something needs to be done to arm our military personnel.  Right now, they are doing their job in uniform which apparently is the same thing as drawing an X on their backs and saying “shoot me!” Why must military personnel go around unarmed?  How many times have innocent troops been the target of terrorists and crazies?  What’s even more disturbing is the fact that the local police has to come to the rescue of the military.  This happens time and time again–Chattanooga, Navy Yard, Fort Hood, the list goes on.

Somewhere along the way, the military needs to change its policy.  Those wearing the uniform are going to have to be armed and well-prepared to use the weapon in the face of danger.

I don’t know much about military regulations but many of you all do.  Please enlighten us as to why the military isn’t armed.  They, like every other person, as a right to defend themselves.

NCSI investigation: another affair, another reassignment, an unexplained death?

NCSI investigates an unexplained death at Gitmo. The naval commander at Gitmo has been exposed for an affair with the dead man’s wife and has been reassigned to a base in Florida. Commander Nettleton has not been charged with anything specific but adultery is a crime under  the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Does Gitmo need any more negative attention than it has already received?

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Pat Robertson blames Mikey (one little Jewish radical)!

rawstory.com:

The Air Force announced on Thursday that the words “so help me God” were an optional part of the oath after an atheist airman crossed out the words on his reenlistment paperwork. Military officials had initially refused to accept the paperwork, but Department of Defense General Counsel eventually ruled that the words could be omitted.

Although the American Humanist Association had represented the airman, Robertson on Thursday blamed Military Religious Freedom Foundation President Mikey Weinstein for the movement against religion in the armed services.

“There’s a left-wing radical named Mikey Weinstein who has got a group about people against religion or whatever he calls it, and he has just terrorized the armed forces,” Robertson opined. “You think you’re supposed to be tough, you’re supposed to defend us, and you got one little Jewish radical who is scaring the pants off of you.”
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Morris Davis: The Military’s Sexual Assault Problem: Avoiding Déjà Vu Again, Again

Moe Davis

Disclaimer: All guest posts are the opinion of the poster and do not necessarily represent the views of moonhowlings.net administration.

M-H

Guest Post:  Colonel Morris Davis, (retired)

At a White House press conference on May 7, President Barack Obama said members of the U.S. military who commit sexual assaults will be “prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged.  Period.”  Clearly the president intended to send a laudable message that sexual assaults are a serious problem and perpetrators will face serious consequences, but good intentions can have unintended consequences.

On June 13, Military Judge Marcus Fulton found that the president’s remarks constituted unlawful command influence in two on-going courts-martial.  As a result, two service members accused of sexual assaults will not be subject to punitive discharge from the service if they are found guilty.  Judge Fulton’s decision was clearly intended to send a message that no one, not even the commander-in-chief, can put a finger on the scales of military justice.

 

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Colonel Morris Davis to the Prez: Man UP!

Moe Davis was interviewed this week by Christiane Amanpour to discuss  the prisoners still in Gitmo.  Contrast the professional discussion with Christiane Amanpour and the rude way he was treated by Chris Matthews.  What we can learn from Moe Davis, according to CNN.com:

 

Hearing Colonel Morris Davis speak, it’s easy to forget that he used to be the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay.

“We used to be the land of the free and the home of the brave; we’ve been the constrained and the cowardly,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

President Obama promised to close the Guantanamo detention facility when he took office in 2009; four years later, it’s still open.

A majority of the detainees, over 100, have been on hunger strike for more than three months to protest their detention; the military has resorted to force feeding them.

Eighty six of the detainees, Davis said, have never been charged with a crime. Many of those who were convicted of crimes were sent back to their home countries, and many are now free.

“It’s a bizarre, perverted system of justice,” he said, “where being convicted of a war crime is your ticket home, and if you’re never charged, much less convicted, you spend the rest of your life sitting at Guantanamo.”

A scant six years ago, as chief prosecutor at Guantanamo under President Bush, Colonel Davis sounded like a true believer.

On Friday the Gitmo hunger strike will be 100 days old.

 

3 Marines shot and killed at OCS at Quantico

Washingtonpost.com:

Two Marines were shot and killed Thursday at the Officer Candidate School at the Marincs Corps Base Quantico and the suspected shooter fatally shot himself at the base, Marine Corps officials said.

The shootings happened at the school located on the Marines Corps base in Quantico at about 11 p.m., said 1st Lt. Agustin Solivan, a spokesman for the base.

Marines from the Provost Marshal’s office and officers from the Prince Williams Police Department responded and found two active-duty Marines dead at the scene. Officials declined to identify the victims until next of kin could be notified.

Military officials put the base on lockdown shortly after the initial reports and urged base personnel to remain indoors behind locked doors for nearly four hours.

Authorities said the suspected gunman had been barricaded inside a building on the base for several hours.

By 2:45 a.m. Friday, investigators had entered the building and found the shooter, also an active-duty Marine, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The incident has been described as isolated.  This one is a little too close to home.  Details are very sketchy.

Amy Wolfe honors son’s life and sacrifice with ballet entitled “Colin”

WJLA.com:

A Manassas mother is honoring her son’s memory the best way she knows how – through dance.

After 9/11, Colin Wolfe of Manassas decided to trade in ballet to serve our country. But after less than two months in Afghanistan, he was killed by a roadside bomb in 2006.

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New National Parks proposed

Three new national parks are being proposed and might just inch their way through Congress in the near future.  The three projected parks would be sites of former nuclear testing:  Hanford, Washington, Oak Ridge Tennessee, and Los Alamos, New Mexico, according to the Washington Post.

The Hanford site produced plutonium. The Oak Ridge site enriched uranium. And workers in Los Alamos used those materials to assemble the Little Boy and Fat Man bombs dropped on Japan, forcing the Japanese surrender and ending the war. About 200,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki perished.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation called the creation and use of the atomic bomb “the single most significant event of the 20th century’’ in advocating the preservation of buildings once scheduled for demolition.

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The Invisible War: Opens Friday, June 22

Last year the Defense Department confirmed that there were more than 19,000 incidences of sexual assault in the U.S. military.  The assaults were on both men and women  in equal numbers, according to the film makers.  The men were less likely to report and much less inclined to be interviewed.

Leon Panetta has instituted new rules which is a place to start.  Part of the problem has been that victims reported within the chain of command.  Chain of command has led to more and more people simply not reporting crimes against them because of the reaction of some of the superior officers.  Some trrops have even lost rank, suffered ridicule, or even more degrading responses.

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Tim McGraw gives back

Tim McGraw plans on giving back…to our veterans who are returning home from war.  He just announced that he will  give away 25 mortgage fromm homes to vets at each of his concerts this summer.  Wow!  That is really putting your money where your mouth is!

Tasteofcountry.com stated:

Tim McGraw is giving back to wounded warriors and service members by launching the nationwide HomeFront initiative, a goodwill effort that will award 25 deserving families with a mortgage-free home at each of his summer concert stops.

“My sister’s a veteran of the first Gulf War. My uncle was a Vietnam veteran and my grandfather was a World War II veteran. I’ve always felt a deep sense of respect and obligation to our troops,” says McGraw, speaking on his incentive to give houses to those in need (quote via Green Room PR). “Being able to reward them for their dedicated work with a new home will be even more rewarding for us. It feels so good to give back to them, and to have the opportunity to entertain them on Memorial Day is something I’m honored to do.”

McGraw has partnered was Chase Bank and Operations HomeFront to launch the new program. ACM Lifting Lives — the charitable arm of the Academy of Country Music — and the Premier Group (on behalf of the North Carolina Furniture Manufacturers) have also made substantial contributions to support the program throughout McGraw’s string of summer concert dates.

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U.S. soldier goes on shooting rampage in Afghanistan

A U.S. soldier walked off base in the Kandahar Province  of Afghanistan and went on a shooting rampage, killing 16 people.  It is unknown what pushed this soldier over the edge.  U.S. officials vow to get to the bottom of the incident.

Is an act like this terrorism, even though it is in a war zone?  Perhaps.  I don’t know what else to call the killing of unarmed civilians.  

According to the Washington Post:

President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta called Karzai on Sunday to discuss the incident. Obama expressed “shock and sadness” and vowed to “hold fully accountable anyone responsible” for the killings, the White House said in a statement.

“This incident is tragic and shocking and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan,” Obama said.

U.S. officials shed no light on the motive or state of mind of the alleged shooter. The Associated Press reported Sunday that the suspect was from Fort Lewis, in Washington state. He was taken into custody shortly after the shooting rampage.

“It appears he walked off post and later returned and turned himself in,” said Lt. Cmdr. James Williams, a military spokesman.

What causes this kind of fugue from reality?  American troops will be on high alert across the region following the incident.  Things were just calming down from the Koran burning incidents where locals rioted and fired on US troops for days.  This rogue soldier’s behavior has endangered all of our troops.