Something Different #3 and #4

One Marine E-7, one Sailor E-2…
Same battle, two different perspectives…

The President of the United States

Takes Pleasure in Presenting

The Navy Cross

To Justin D. Lehew
Gunnery Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
For Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For extraordinary heroism as Amphibious Assault Platoon Sergeant, Company A, 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, Task Force Tarawa, I Marine Expeditionary Force in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 23 and 24 March 2003. As Regimental Combat Team 2 attacked north towards An Nasiriyah, Iraq, lead elements of the Battalion came under heavy enemy fire. When the beleaguered United States Army 507th Maintenance Company convoy was spotted in the distance, Gunnery Sergeant Lehew and his crew were dispatched to rescue the soldiers. Under constant enemy fire, he led the rescue team to the soldiers. With total disregard for his own welfare, he assisted the evacuation effort of four soldiers, two of whom were critically wounded. While still receiving enemy fire, he climbed back into his vehicle and immediately began suppressing enemy infantry. During the subsequent company attack on the eastern bridge over the Euphrates River, Gunnery Sergeant Lehew continuously exposed himself to withering enemy fire during the three-hour urban firefight. His courageous battlefield presence inspired his Marines to fight a determined foe and allowed him to position his platoon’s heavy machine guns to repel numerous waves of attackers. In the midst of the battle, an Amphibious Assault Vehicle was destroyed, killing or wounding all its occupants. Gunnery Sergeant Lehew immediately moved to recover the nine Marines. He again exposed himself to a barrage of fire as he worked for nearly an hour recovering casualties from the wreckage. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Lehew reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

The President of the United States
Takes Pleasure in Presenting
The Navy Cross To
Louis E. Fonseca
Hospitalman Apprentice, United States Navy
For Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Corpsman, Amphibious Assault Vehicle Platoon, Company C., First Battalion, Second Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2 on 23 March 2003. During Company C’s assault and seizure of the Saddam Canal Bridge, an amphibious assault vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade inflicting five casualties. Without concern for his own safety, Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca braved small arms, machine gun, and intense rocket propelled grenade fire to evacuate the wounded Marines from the burning amphibious assault vehicle and tend to their wounds. He established a casualty collection point inside the unit’s medical evacuation amphibious assault vehicle, calmly and methodically stabilizing two casualties with lower limb amputations by applying tourniquets and administering morphine. He continued to treat and care for the wounded awaiting evacuation until his vehicle was rendered immobile by enemy direct and indirect fire. Under a wall of enemy machine gun fire, he directed the movement of four casualties from the damaged vehicle by organizing litter teams from available Marines. He personally carried one critically wounded Marine over open ground to another vehicle. Following a deadly artillery barrage, Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca again exposed himself to enemy fire to treat Marines wounded along the perimeter. Returning to the casualty evacuation amphibious assault vehicle, he accompanied his casualties South through the city to a Battalion Aid Station. After briefing medical personnel on the status of his patients, Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca returned North through the city to Company C’s lines and to his fellow Marines that had been wounded in his absence. His timely and effective care undoubtedly saved the lives of numerous casualties. Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca’s actions reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions to the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

Somthing Different #2…

Continuing the posting of Navy Cross citations from the Global War on Terror to recognize those Navy and Marine Corps personnel who went above and beyond in the performance of thier duties.



The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Britt Slabinski, Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL), U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism as Sniper Element Leader in Sea-Air-Land Team EIGHT (SEAL-8), for a joint special operations unit conducting combat operations against enemy forces during Operation ANACONDA, Sahi-Kot Valley, Afghanistan on 3 and 4 March 2002, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Citation: On the evening of 3 March, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski led his seven-man reconnaissance team onto the snow-covered, 10,000 foot mountaintop known as Takur Ghar, to establish a combat overwatch position in support of U.S. Army forces advancing against the enemy on the valley floor. As their helicopter hovered over the mountain it was met by unrelenting rocket propelled grenade (RPG) and small arms fire by entrenched enemy forces. As a result of several RPG hits, a member of Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski’s team was ejected from the helicopter into the midst of the fortified enemy positions. The badly damaged helicopter conducted a controlled crash, at which time Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski immediately took charge and established security on the crash location until the crew and his team were recovered to a support base. At this point, Senior Chief Slabinski fully aware of the overwhelming, fixed, enemy forces over the mountain, but also knowing the desperate situation of his missing teammate, now reportedly fighting for his life, without hesitation made the selfless decision to lead his team on an immediate, bold rescue mission. He heroically led the remainder of his SEAL element back onto the snow-covered, remote, mountaintop into the midst of the numerically superior enemy forces in a daring and valiant attempt to rescue one of their own. After a treacherous helicopter insertion onto the mountaintop, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski led his close quarter firefight. He skillfully maneuvered his team and bravely engaged multiple enemy positions, personally clearing one bunker and killing several enemy within. His unit became caught in a withering crossfire from other bunkers and the closing enemy forces. Despite mounting casualties, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski maintained his composure and continued to engage the enemy until his position became untenable. Faced with no choice but a tactical withdrawal, he coolly directed fire from airborne assets to cover his team. He then led an arduous movement through the mountainous terrain, constantly under fire, covering over one kilometer in waist-deep snow, while carrying a seriously wounded teammate. Arriving at a defensible position, he organized his team’s security posture and stabilized his casualties. For over fourteen hours, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski directed the defense of his position through countless engagements, personally engaging the enemy and directing close air support onto the enemy positions until the enemy was ultimately defeated. During this entire sustained engagement, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski exhibited classic grace under fire in steadfastly leading the intrepid rescue operation, saving the lives of his wounded men and setting the conditions for the ultimate vanquishing of the enemy and the seizing of Takur Ghar. By his heroic display of decisive and tenacious leadership, unyielding courage in the face of constant enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

Something Different…

In email and on some blogs, some folks are coming out with GOOD things our troops are doing… I made a comment on one blog about the number of Navy Crosses that have been given out during the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

I got a response that there could not have been 22 given out, we would have heard…

Yeah, right… Unless you are plugged into the DOD or military nets, you didn’t know.

Sooo… I am going to put up all the citations in honor of not only those who have received the Navy Cross, but all those who have served and died for our country.


The President of the United StatesTakes Pleasure in PresentingThe Navy CrossTo
(Unidentified Navy SEAL)Chief Petty Officer, United States NavyFor Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For extraordinary heroism while serving with the British Special Boat Service during combat operations in Northern Afghanistan on 25 and 26 November 2001. Chief Petty Officer **** deployed to the area as a member of a Joint American and British Special Forces Rescue Team to locate and recover two missing American citizens, one presumed to be seriously injured or dead, after hard-line Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners at the Quala-I-Jangi fortress in Mazar-e-Sharif over powered them and gained access to large quantities of arms and ammunition stored at the fortress. Once inside, Chief Petty Officer **** was engaged continuously by direct small arms fire, indirect mortar fire and rocket propelled grenade fire. He was forced to walk through an active anti-personnel minefield in order to gain entry to the fortress. After establishing the possible location of both American citizens, under heavy fire and without concern for his own personal safety, he made two attempts to rescue the uninjured citizen by crawling toward the fortress interior to reach him. Forced to withdraw due to large volumes of fire falling on his position, he was undeterred. After reporting his efforts to the remaining members of the rescue team, they left and attempted to locate the missing citizen on the outside of the fortress. As darkness began to fall, no attempt was going to be made to locate the other injured American citizen. Chief Petty Officer **** then took matters into his own hands. Without regard for his own personal safety, he moved forward another 300-400 meters into the heart of the fortress by himself under constant enemy fire in an attempt to locate the injured citizen. Running low on ammunition, he utilized weapons from deceased Afghans to continue his rescue attempt. Upon verifying the condition and location of the American citizen, he withdrew from the fortress. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Chief Petty Officer **** reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

Another one bites the dust…

I believe the Mayor is the one on the right in the picture… Dead deer walking…
Kwame Kilpatrick and a former aide were charged Monday with perjury and obstruction of justice after prosecutors said sexually explicit text messages between the two contradicted their sworn court testimony. They were indicted on 12 counts…

The mayor responded, “This has been a very flawed process from the beginning,” Kilpatrick said at a press conference Monday. “I look forward to complete exoneration.”

Yeah, it was flawed cause it caught your ass…

Interestingly, none of the MSM identified Kilpatrick as a Democrat… Now if he had been a Republican… Hoo boy… probably in 72 pt type REPUBLICAN mayor…

Oh by the way, Spitzer was never identified as a Democrat either! But they sure as hell blamed a ‘Republican” henchman for ratting on him (as quoted in the NY Post 3/23/08).

The more I hear, the more I wonder why I even read the paper or listen to the news.

Oh yeah, another interesting little piece of news on the Billary, B Hussain front- Now BOTH of them are being accused of inflating their records within Congress! She’s being hit for NAFTA, FMLA, CHIPS and others.

It appears pretty boy got in front of the cameras and added his name to the list of Congresscritters who had, “Worked long and hard on this bill.” When in fact he merely walked up and joined the photo op!

The lying and hypocrisy are just amazing…

Both are now saying they will pull out of Iraq first, ignoring military advisers and the JCS…

He is some ‘background’ on B Hussien- Start with national security, Obama talked about invading Pakistan, a nation armed with nuclear weapons; meeting without preconditions with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who vows to destroy Israel and create another Holocaust; and Kim Jong II, who is murdering and starving his people, but emphasized that the nuclear option was off the table against terrorists – something no president has ever taken off the table since we created nuclear weapons in the 1940s.

Typical Liberal mantra- We will just talk to them and they will understand and agree to what we want… NOT!!!!

Next, consider economic policy. For all its faults, our health care system is the strongest in the world. And free trade agreements,created by Bill Clinton as well as President Bush, have made more goods more affordable so that even people of modest means can live a life that no one imagined a generation ago. Yet Obama promises to raise taxes on “the rich.” How to fix Social Security? Raise taxes. How to fix Medicare? Raise taxes. Prescription drugs? Raise taxes. Free college? Raise taxes. Socialized medicine? Raise taxes.

Uh… What happened to reducing spending? Balancing the budget- Oh I guess that is the tax raises… sigh…

Why is no one pointing this stuff out???

If my little ol’ dumb ass can read enough to find out, why can’t the MSM with all their reporters?

Voices from the past, and the rest of the story…

The following story was written by John Larson, one of the VP-4 pilots during our 1975 deployment. Even 30 years after the fact, it’s nice to know these folks made it and I ‘guess’ this counts as a atta boy…

I was not able to attend, so did not get the chance to meet the folks we saved. This was one of two groups of refugees we saved on that deployment, in addition to being off Saigon April 15th, and participating in the Mayaguez rescue from locating it off Koh Tang Island, to the morning of the Marines hit the beach. We were pretty busy for those six months…

On August 6, 2005, the VP-4 (Patrol Squadron Four) Association Reunion at Portsmouth VA hosted a very special event, the unification of former Vietnamese boat-people refugees and members of VP-4 Crew Two who found them in the South China Sea over thirty years ago on May 23, 1975.

Three months ago, one of the Vietnamese survivors posted a web site notice asking for assistance in locating the crew of an unknown U.S. Navy P-3 Orion aircraft that discovered him and twenty nine other Vietnamese refugees precariously afloat in a small boat, 200 miles off the South Vietnam coast.

The VP-4 Association PAO (Public Affairs Officer), John Larson, determined that the flight crew that located the refugees was attached to VP-4, then forward deployed from NAS Barbers Point HI to NAS Cubi Point in the Philippines. The Japanese merchant ship Alps Maru, which was located and vectored to them by VP-4 Crew Two flying a P3 Orion, subsequently rescued all of the refugees and took them to Kobe Japan. All thirty of the refugees immigrated to the United States, and have successfully established themselves and their families within both the Vietnamese and American communities.

11 of the original 30 Vietnamese survivors were in attendance at the reunion and six of the twelve Navy crew-members were also present: Plane Commander Claude Timmerman, Co-pilot Ben Francisco, Tactical Coordinator John Kennedy, Navigator Carl Stocks, 2nd Flight Engineer Webster Hayden and In-flight Technician Dale Poklington. Also in attendance were Commander Bill Broadwell and Commander Ted Rogers. Commander Broadwell was the commanding officer of VP-4 and, additionally, Commander Task Group (CTG) 72.3 at the time of the rescue. Rogers was squadron executive officer.

The survivors presented an overview of their escape and rescue with the following highlights. Right after the fall of Saigon April 1975, those South Vietnamese citizens who were associated with the government or the military, or had ‘helped’ the U.S. government or military in any way, were sent to “re-educations camps”. Also, there were economic retributions, private property was confiscated, and people were sent to re-settlement camps.

The new Vietnamese government had to approve any religion and whether former South Vietnamese citizens could attend higher education institutions. From 1975-1990, roughly 2 million former South Vietnamese citizens fled the country and many of them didn’t make it to freedom.

Of the group of 30 refugee boat people located by VP-4 Crew Two, three members had been imprisoned for being in the military or working for the former South Vietnamese government. Several families got together and sold whatever valuables they had at the time to acquire an old 30-foot wooden river cargo boat. They had no plan except to be rescued after they had reached international waters and the South China Sea shipping channel. No one had any seamanship skills; only one person had any mechanical skills. To avoid being recognized by the communist authorities, several families traveled by a family bus from Saigon to Go Cong, a coastal town about 70 miles away. Along the way, they picked up the others that joined them in their escape. There were seven families and a total of 30 people on board. They could not take sufficient amounts of supplies and food because this would raise the suspicions of the communist police and military. They used as an excuse ‘an across town wedding event’ as their cover to disguise their movements.

To further avoid suspicion, they used a sampan, a small passenger boat resembling a very large kayak, commonly used in the Mekong Delta, and met the larger escape boat which was anchored in the middle the river, a few miles upstream from its mouth. There was no covering for the group’s passengers on the sampan except for the small top over the amid-ship engine. On the second day of their escape, as they were leaving the coastline, they were detected by a communist coast guard boat that chased them for 20 minutes before turning back toward land. Later that evening, they encountered a severe tropical storm and the boat began taking on massive amounts of seawater. In order to save the boat from sinking, they detached and pushed away their spare outboard motor. The only navigation aids that were available to them, a Boy Scout type compass and a map from World Atlas, were washed overboard that night. The bad weather worsened and large waves completely covered their boat several times. It was just shear luck that the boat remained afloat because no one aboard had any seamanship experience. The boat’s self-taught pilot was washed over-board and managed to cling on the aft rail of the boat and climb back on board. The children aboard were inside the cabin that housed the engine and the adults were hunkering down in the exposed cargo compartment of the boat.

Although the boat was badly beaten up by the storm with the bow cracked and with water leaking in, they fortunately survived that perilous night. The next afternoon they spotted a fishing boat and steered toward it. It was a communist government owned fishing boat, but they were in a desperate situation, so the adults asked for help to save the children onboard. After intense negotiation, the adults agreed to give up all of their valuables (jewelry, watches, etc.) that they had brought along. The families were transferred to this fishing boat and stayed there for 3 days. The leader of the escapees was told that he should return with the fishing boat to Vietnam, but that would have certainly meant going to prison. So they had a choice to return or keep going and decided to continue their journey in their little riverboat. On day eight, they saw a big white merchant ship that slowed down for them. Everybody was excited that they might at last be rescued. They had pulled along side within 30-40 feet of the merchant ship and when one of them noticed the yellow hammer and sickle on the red background painted on the smokestack and realized they were approaching a Soviet ship. They turned around and speed away as fast as they could in the opposite direction.

This was the only time that any ship was willing to stop for them until the intervention of the P-3 Orion. They were now about 200 miles off the coast of Vietnam. Day 9 came with little more than five gallons of diesel fuel left and no food for a couple of days. Someone found a small bag of rice submerged in the water inside the engine compartment and they decided to use part of the wooden boat for fuel to cook this rice. Just as the rice was done, someone saw a small dot in the sky. They were all happy because they thought they saw a bird and that meant they were close to land. As the dot grew larger and larger the shape of a P3 Orion aircraft started appearing. The plane flew just a couple of a hundred feet over the boat and slightly dipped its wings on the first pass. Seasick and without food, the desperate crew was filled with joy when they realized that this aircraft was there to save them. On the second pass the, P-3 dropped a set of smoke markers. The aircraft then departed and about one hour later a Japanese merchant ship the “Alps Maru” arrived from the northeast.

The refugees were rescued and traveled aboard the Alps Maru to its homeport, Kobe Japan. They stayed there in an old monastery church as guests of an American Baptist minister for 5 months and then immigrated to the United States settling with sponsors in Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, and Louisiana. They learned a new language, lived in rental apartments and found jobs. The children grew up and went to many well known colleges/universities. They became teachers, doctor, dentists, engineers, a Naval submarine officer, computer scientists, and other professions.

They worked for the Navy, Army, the government, private industry, and for government contract companies. Some own their own businesses. The children, who were 3 to 14 years old at the time of the rescue, now have families of their own.

At the VP4 Reunion, the eleven Vietnamese survivors presented plaques to the VP-4 Commanding and Executive Officers and the Crew Two members present for saving their lives and giving them all a new start in the United States. They also presented a plaque to the current Public Affairs Officer of VP-4, LTJG Robert Ward, who was present for the reunion.

The VP-4 Association presented the survivors with VP-4 coffee mugs, VP-4 baseball caps, and made them honorary members of the VP-4 Association. It was an extremely moving event for all present as these former Vietnamese refugees finally met the navy aircrew who facilitated their rescue. Coming thirty years after the fall of Saigon, this meeting is symbolic of the joining of tens of thousands of the South Vietnamese boat-people that escaped the communist takeover of their country with the many U. S. Navy maritime patrol crews that searched for and located such refugees during Operation Frequent Wind during the mid-1970s.

I’m glad we were able to save those we did; thousands of others died trying to escape. From my point of view, there was no where else I would have rather been- Out on the pointy edge, getting things done and making a difference. The VP Navy has done a number of rather impressive things in both wartime and peacetime, but many of those exploits will never see the light of day due to security issues. I don’t regret a day of my service, nor the long hours and multiple separations…

I like to think in our small way, we made a difference in the world; and thankfully NEVER had to do our primary mission, which was to sink Soviet submarines.

Need a laugh?

Go visit Sniper for his view on the war protesters that marched in DC yesterday…

It’s a beverage alert also!!!


As we get closer and closer to the Democrat implosion er… convention, I am becoming more and more mystified by both candidates- Billary has finally released her infamous schedule; which so far is proving she in fact didn’t have a lot of impact on FMLA and other claimed ‘items’ she sheparded through the congresscritters while Billy boy was otherwise occupied with a cigar…

Obama… Well I really and truly do not know what to say- caught between a rock and a hard place, he manages to sleaze out of it (at least to the MSM with the greatest speach since Kennedy), but it stuck me more like ol‘ Billy boy’s what is the definition of “it” speech. Well delivered, but serverely lacking in content. His numbers are taking a dive, but no MSM want’s to attribute it to the preacher…

Come on folks- OPEN YOUR FRIGGIN EYES!!!!! Geez….

Even better are the issues with Michigan and Florida… Billary is desperate, especially for Michigan to get counted so she finally gets a lead. Mark my words, Billary is going to try to steal the supers, and when she does, it’s gonna be interesting.

My prediction, this will be the first Democrat convention since ’68 that will be worth watching, even better than Comedy Central since it will be real!!!



In other news, SCOTUS heard Heller vs. DC Tuesday, for a “low interest” case per the MSM, people lined up for hours to get three minutes inside the Court, CSPAN was so overloaded with hits, it refused to allow more sign-ins, and the SCOTUS weblog dropped at least two or three times.



My peon brain interpretation (I’m not now, nor have I ever been, or played one on TV, a lawyer) is the Justices are pretty much going to come down on the side of 2a that is friendly to gun owners. I think the biggest question will be how narrow or broad their interpretation will be. I thought Judge Kennedy was especially interesting in the questions he asked. Can’t wait till Jun!



Of course, the DC pukes said they won, but I’m guessin‘ DC, New Yawk, and Chicago among others are crapping little green apples…

Helicopter hijinks…

Now this has gotta be just plain fun!!!!

Red Bull helicopter acro

I saw this guy doing some of this in Perth in Nov. at the Red Bull Air Races…

He actually flies the course with a camera man just prior to the start and that is shown on the big screens so the audience can get an idea of what the pilots see. Obviously he is not as fast and doesn’t pull 10g’s; but it’s still a hellva show if you know anything about helicopter aerodynamics!

I’ve also seen Kiowas, Cobras, SH-60s and Longbows doing some stuff that is definitely NOT in the flight manual, but sadly most of those are not on video or at least video that is releasable… Bottom line, our guys and girls flying for the military today could probably give this guy a run for his money… 🙂

Here is a video of the Red Bull Air Race series.

Wounded Warriors…

This is NOT the post I originally planned… I was going to raise hell about New Yawkers after spending five hours sitting next to an out and out asshole from Manhatten, who was an ass to everyone around him and the flight attendants… But I’m gonna leave that one alone.

This is a speech given by BGen Robert E. Milstead, Jr., Director, Marine Corps Public Affairs on 19 February, 2008 in Charlotte, NC, to the Wounded Warrior Foundation.

Thank you and good evening. Thanks for that introduction…but too introduce me as the mouthpiece of the Marine Corps is an exaggeration to say the least. Regardless, it’s an honor to be here this evening and to support such a worthwhile cause as the Wounded Warrior Foundation. Today is a very special date in the history of our Corps. Sixty-three years ago today, at 0859, the first assault waves of the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions landed on the beaches of Iwo Jima. Before that battle was over, the Marines would suffer 26,000 casualties – 6,000 Marines were killed taking that island. Twenty-two Marines were awarded Medals of Honor – the most ever awarded for a single engagement. On an island only 7 square miles in size, almost 100,000 men were locked in mortal combat. 21,000 Japanese died in place.. It is said that for every piece of terrain the size of a football field, one Marine was killed and five were wounded. But before I continue, I’d like to acknowledge Admiral Spiro, he’s sitting over here. He was on a Destroyer off the coast of Iwo Jima that morning providing fire support to the Marines. Admiral, thank you for your service, especially during World War II. (Applause)

Why do I begin my remarks speaking of Iwo Jima? Because it is the benchmark we Marines use to judge all other battles. Also because it speaks to valor and determination – two key characteristics we see in the young men and women serving today in this global war on terror. This is a generational conflict, and we are closer to the beginning than we are the end.In my current assignment, I am often asked by the media and others about the health of our Corps. How do I reply? Tonight I will tell you what I tell them. We are indeed in good health. Our Corps is in the best shape I have seen during my 33 years of service. The young men and women serving today are our nation’s next greatest generation. They are taking the baton from the likes of Admiral Spiro. I have been in combat with them twice, and can say they are a national treasure, they are our future leaders and we are in good hands.

Speaking specifically about our Corps. We are the youngest of all the services. The average age is 24. Approximately 65% of the Corps is under the age of 25. Almost a quarter populates that beloved rank of Lance Corporal. We have almost 26,000 teenagers. Last year we recruited over 38,000 young men and women, 95% of them high school graduates, and every one of them joined knowing full well they will likely move toward the sound of cannons. This year we are well on our way to recruiting another 40,000. This is a generation that understands the meaning of service. As long as we continue recruiting men and women like this, our Corps will remain healthy.

Several months ago I had the privilege of being the reviewing officer for a graduation parade at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. Standing out on that parade deck were six platoons, 571 young men lean and mean after the rigors of boot camp. I asked the battalion commander who was the honor graduate. He told me it was a Lance Corporal Sanchez, from Baytown, Texas. I asked if his parents were there. Yes sir, he answered, they are in the reviewing stand behind you. I want to meet them, I said. Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez were indeed proud parents. Taking her hand in mine, I thanked Mrs. Sanchez for giving us her son and told her that although I couldn’t guarantee his safety, I would guarantee he’d be taken care of. With tears in her eyes, she explained this was not her first. You see, both LCpl Sanchez’s older brother and sister were already Marines, and another sister was a Navy corpsman. I will tell you that as long as we have American families like the Sanchez family, our Corps will remain healthy.

I’ll then tell of the wounded Marines I met while visiting Brooke Army Medical Center and the Army Burn Center in San Antonio. I’ll tell of the young Lance Corporal who was burned when his vehicle was hit by an IED. His face is not bad at all, he looks if he merely has some road rash.. But his hands are pretty badly burned and his therapy is painful. Mustering some courage, I asked him if he felt it was worth it. His reply was as you’d expect from a Marine, and I’ll clean it up some, “F-ing A sir, no regrets. I’d do it again in a second.” So I’ll tell you that as long as we have young men like him, our Corps will remain healthy.

I’ll also talk about the Corporal I met down there at the burn center. Now he was burned much worse. He still wears a protective cap and gloves and has had 37 surgeries. He tells of the time, when he could finally go out in town, of coming out of a restaurant, and a small child, as honest and straight-forth as only a child can be, said in a voice that he could hear, “look mommy, it’s a monster.” That child’s mother, instead of whisking her son away in embarrassment, got down on a knee, and looking her son in the eyes said, “No honey, that’s not a monster, that’s a very brave man who was badly hurt protecting you and me. You need to go over and thank him.” And with trepidation as you can imagine, the young child walked over, and reached out his hand taking the corporal’s gloved hand in his, and said “thank-you.” The corporal will tell you that as long as there are people like that, he can endure another 37 operations. I will tell you that as long as there are mothers like that child’s, our Corps will remain healthy.

As I close, I will offer you a couple of figures…There are about 1.5 million of us in the active forces that wear a uniform. If you add all the reserves and the National Guard, the total is somewhere close to 3 million. That is only 1% of our nation’s population. We are a military at war, not a nation at war. Unfortunately, many Americans just don’t get it. But you get it. Oh yeah, you get it. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here tonight. So I’ll end by saying that as long as we have folks like you, our Corps will remain healthy.

Thank you for being here tonight, thank you for your support of our brave servicemen and women, and especially thank you for your support of our wounded warriors. God bless you. I pledge your Marine Corps will remain healthy, and Semper Fidelis.

If you are interested and would like to help, please visit the Wounded Warrior web site here

My Mother always told me if I couldn’t say anything nice, not to say anything; so I guess I’ll just not say anything else about that NY asshole…

Revisionist History or just not reporting it all…

The Enola Gay from the second level of the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum.
Well, I’ve been on the road again, still… But I had the chance to visit a couple of little out of the way Navy facilities that have been around since WWII. Hearing the history of these places was interesting and it was almost as interesting to hear the current users try to ‘interpret’ the past to fit within the PC structure today…

I got back home and received two different emails that were also in the same vein, one from a friend who had a chance to climb into both a B-17 and B-25 during fuel stops at a small country airport and his impressions of the birds, and another from an old Marine aviator that included an interview with Col Paul Tibbits sometime in 2002 with Studs Turkel.

I was lucky enough to get to meet Col Tibbits at the military opening of the Udvar-Hazy portion of the Air and Space Museum at Dulles a couple of years ago. Col Tibbits was in a wheel chair, but very sharp mentally.

There were about 4000 tickets given to current and ex-military aviators around the country for the by invitation opening prior to the ‘official’ opening. A bunch of us went, from the DC area, along with literally a couple of thousand from everywhere else. There were at least 8 guys that flew in from LA on the red-eye, were attending the ceremonies and flying back to LA on the evening flight…

Most of us were wearing either flight jackets, squadron or crew hats, and some were in their old uniforms… It was obvious this was pretty special to a lot of folks from the WWII generation.

General Steele was the guest speaker and I remember him cutting his speach short when the beer and food was rolled out…

Anyway… Back to Col Tibbits…

We were walking around after the munchies and were standing in front of the Enola Gay when Col Tibbits rolled up with a couple of other folks. We all spoke to each other, he took a minute or two to just look at the Enola Gay and said, “Looks good, that sumbitch was never that shiny when we flew her.”

One of our group asked him what he thought of the display, and he replied, “Better than the last go round; we were doing our jobs, by order of the President. We were just trying to end the war as soon as possible.”

Here is the interview with Studs Terkel (which I have not seen in any histories):

Studs Terkel: We’re seated here, two old gaffers. Me and Paul Tibbets, 89 years old, brigadier-general retired, in his home town of Columbus, Ohio, where he has lived for many years.

Paul Tibbets: Hey, you’ve got to correct that. I’m only 87. You said 89.

Studs Terkel: I know. See, I’m 90. So I got you beat by three years. Now we’ve had a nice lunch, you and I and your companion. I noticed as we sat in that restaurant, people passed by. They didn’t know who you were. But once upon a time, you flew a plane called the Enola Gay over the city of Hiroshima, in Japan, on a Sunday morning – August 6 1945 – and a bomb fell. It was the atomic bomb, the first ever. And that particular moment changed the whole world around. You were the pilot of that plane.

Paul Tibbets: Yes, I was the pilot.

Studs Terkel: And the Enola Gay was named after…

Paul Tibbets: My mother. She was Enola Gay Haggard before she married my dad, and my dad never supported me with the flying – he hated airplanes and motorcycles. When I told them I was going to leave college and go fly planes in the army air corps, my dad said, “Well, I’ve sent you through school, bought you automobiles, given you money to run around with the girls, but from here on, you’re on your own. If you want to go kill yourself, go ahead, I don’t give a damn” Then Mom just quietly said, “Paul, if you want to go fly airplanes, you’re going to be all right.” And that was that.
Studs Terkel: Where was that?
Paul Tibbets: Well, that was Miami, Florida. My dad had been in the real estate business down there for years, and at that time he was retired. And I was going to school at Gainesville, Florida, but I had to leave after two years and go to Cincinnati because Florida had no medical school.

Studs Terkel: You were thinking of being a doctor?

Paul Tibbets: I didn’t think that, my father thought it. He said, “You’re going to be a doctor,” and I just nodded my head and that was it. And I started out that way; but about a year before I was able to get into an airplane, fly it – I soloed – and I knew then that I had to go fly airplanes.

Studs Terkel: Now by 1944 you were a pilot – a test pilot on the program to develop the B-29 bomber. When did you get word that you had a special assignment?

Paul Tibbets: One day [in September 1944] I’m running a test on a B-29, I land, a man meets me. He says he just got a call from General Uzal Ent [commander of the second air force] at Colorado Springs, he wants me in his office the next morning at nine o’clock. He said, “Bring your clothing – your B4 bag – because you’re not coming back. ” Well, I didn’t know what it was and didn’t pay any attention to it – it was just another assignment. I got to Colorado Springs the next morning perfectly on time. A man named Lansdale met me, walked me to General Ent’s office and closed the door behind me. With him was a man wearing a blue suit, a US Navy captain – that was William Parsons, who flew with me to Hiroshima- and Dr Norman Ramsey, Columbia University professor in nuclear physics. And Norman said: “OK, we’ve got what we call the Manhattan Project. What we’re doing is trying to develop an atomic bomb. We’ve gotten to the point now where we can’t go much further till we have airplanes to work with.” He gave me an explanation which probably lasted 45, 50 minutes, and they left. General Ent looked at me and said, “The other day, General Arnold [commander general of the army air corps] offered me three names. “Both of the others were full colonels ; I was a lieutenant-colonel. He said that when General Arnold asked which of them could do this atomic weapons deal, he replied without hesitation, “Paul Tibbets is the man to do it.” I said, “Well, thank you , sir.” Then he laid out what was going on and it was up to me now to put together an organization and train them to drop atomic weapons on both Europe and the Pacific – Tokyo.

Studs Terkel: Interesting that they would have dropped it on Europe as well. We didn’t know that.

Paul Tibbets: My edict was as clear as could be. Drop simultaneously in Europe and the Pacific because of the secrecy problem – you couldn’t drop it in one part of the world without dropping it in the other. And so he said, “I don’t know what to tell you, but I know you happen to have B-29’s to start with. I’ve got a squadron in training in Nebraska – they have the best record so far of anybody we’ve got. I want you to go visit them, look at them, talk to them, do whatever you want. If they don’t suit you, we’ll get you some more.” He said: “There’s nobody could tell you what you have to do because nobody knows. If we can do anything to help you, ask me.” I said thank you very much. He said, “Paul, be careful how you treat this responsibility, because if you’re successful you’ll probably be called a hero. And if you’re unsuccessful, you might wind up in prison.”

Studs Terkel: Did you know the power of an atomic bomb? Were you told about that?

Paul Tibbets: No, I didn’t know anything at that time. But I knew how to put an organization together. He said, “Go take a look at the bases, and call me back and tell me which one you want.” I wanted to get back to Grand Island, Nebraska; that’s where my wife and two kids were, where my laundry was done, and all that stuff. But I thought, “Well, I’ll go to Wendover [army airfield, in Utah] first and see what they’ve got.” As I came in over the hills I saw it was a beautiful spot. It had been a final staging plac e for units that were going through combat crew training, and the guys ahead of me were the last P-47 fighter outfit. This lieutenant-colonel in charge said, “We’ve just been advised to stop here and I don’t know what you want to do…but if it has anything to do with this base, it’s the most perfect base I’ve ever been on. You’ve got full machine shops, everybody’s qualified, they know what they want to do. It’s a good place.”

Studs Terkel: And now you chose your own crew.

Paul Tibbets: Well, I had mentally done it before that. I knew right away I was going to get Tom Ferebee [the Enola Gay’s bombardier] and Theodore “Dutch” van Kirk [navigator] and Wyatt Duzenbury [flight engineer].

Studs Terkel: Guys you had flown with in Europe?

Paul Tibbets: Yeah. Studs Terkel: And now you’re training. And you’re also talking to physicists like Robert Oppenheimer [senior scientist on the Manhattan project].

Paul Tibbets: I think I went to Los Alamos [the Manhattan project HQ] three times, and each time I got to see Dr Oppenheimer working in his own environment. Later, thinking about it, here’s a young man, a brilliant person. And he’s a chain smoker and he drinks cocktails. And he hates fat men. And General Leslie Groves [the general in charge of the Manhattan project], he’s a fat man, and he hates people who smoke and drink. The two of them are the first, original odd couple.

Studs Terkel: They had a feud, Groves and Oppenheimer?

Paul Tibbets: Yeah, but neither one of them showed it. Each one of them had a job to do.

Studs Terkel: Did Oppenheimer tell you about the destructive nature of the bomb?

Paul Tibbets: No.

Studs Terkel: How did you know about that?

Paul Tibbets: From Dr Ramsey. He said the only thing we can tell you about it is, it’s going to explode with the force of 20,000 tons of TNT. I’d never seen 1 lb of TNT blow up. I’d never heard of anybody who’d seen 100 lb s of TNT blow up. All I felt was that this was gonna be one hell of a big bang.
Studs Terkel: Twenty thousand tons – that’s equivalent to how many planes full of bombs?
Paul Tibbets: Well, I think the two bombs that we used [at Hiroshima and Nagasaki] had more power than all the bombs the air force had used during the war in Europe.

Studs Terkel: So Ramsey told you about the possibilities.

Paul Tibbets: Even though it was still theory, whatever those guys told me, that’s what happened. So I was ready to say I wanted to go to war, but I wanted to ask Oppenheimer how to get away from the bomb after we dropped it. I told him that when we had dropped bombs in Europe and North Africa, we’d flown straight ahead after dropping them – which is also the trajectory of the bomb. But what should we do this time? He said, “You can’t fly straight ahead because you’d be right over the top when it blows up and nobody would ever know you were there.” He said I had to turn tangent to the expanding shock wave. I said, “Well, I’ve had some trigonometry, some physics. What is tangency in this case?” He said it was 159 degrees in either direction. “Turn 159 degrees as fast as you can and you’ll be able to put yourself the greatest distance from where the bomb exploded.”

Studs Terkel: How many seconds did you have to make that turn?

Paul Tibbets: I had dropped enough practice bombs to realize that the charges would blow around 1,500 ft in the air, so I would have 40 to 42 seconds to turn 159 degrees. I went back to Wendover as quick as I could and took the airplane up. I got myself to 25,000 ft and I practiced turning, steeper, steeper, steeper and I got it where I could pull it round in 40 seconds. The tail was shaking dramatically and I was afraid of it breaking off, but I didn’t quit. That was my goal. And I practiced and practiced until, without even thinking about it, I could do it in between 40 and 42, all the time. So, when th at day came….

Studs Terkel: You got the go-ahead on August 5.

Paul Tibbets: Yeah. We were in Tinian [the US island base in the Pacific] at the time we got the OK. They had sent this Norwegian to the weather station out on Guam [the US’s westernmost territory] and I had a copy of his report. We said that, based on his forecast, the sixth day of August would be the best day that we could get over Honshu [the island on which Hiroshima stands]. So we did everything that had to be done to get the crews ready to go: airplane loaded, crews briefed, all of the things checked that you have to check before you can fly over enemy territory. General Groves had a brigadier-general who was connected back to Washington DC by a special teletype machine. He stayed close to that thing all the time, notifying people back there, all by code, that we were preparing these airplanes to go any time me after midnight on the sixth. And that’s the way it worked out. We were ready to go at a bout four o’clock in the afternoon on the fifth and we got word from the president that we were free to go: “Use me as you wish.” They give you a time you’re supposed to drop your bomb on target and that was 9:15 in the morning , but that was Tinian time, one hour later than Japanese time. I told Dutch, “You figure it out what time we have to start after midnight to be over the target at 9 a.m.”

Studs Terkel: That’d be Sunday morning.

Paul Tibbets: Well, we got going down the runway at right about 2:15 a.m. and we took off, we met our rendezvous guys, we made our flight up to what we call the initial point, that would be a geographic position that you could not mistake. Well, of course we had the best one in the world with the rivers and bridges and that big shrine. There was no mistaking what it was.

Studs Terkel: So you had to have the right navigator to get it on the button.

Paul Tibbets: The airplane has a bomb sight connected to the autopilot an d the bombardier puts figures in there for where he wants to be when he drops the weapon, and that’s transmitted to the airplane. We always took into account what would happen if we had a failure and the bomb bay doors didn’t open; we had a manual release put in each airplane so it was right down by the bombardier and he could pull on that. And the guys in the airplanes that followed us to drop the instruments needed to know when it was going to go. We were told not to use the radio, but, hell, I had to. I told them I would say, “One minute out,” “Thirty seconds out,” “Twenty seconds” and “Ten” and then I’d count, “Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four seconds”, which would give them a time to drop their cargo. They knew what was going on because they knew where we were. And that’s exactly the way it worked; it was absolutely perfect. After we got the airplanes in formation I crawled into the tunnel and went back to tell the men, I said, “You know what we’re doing today?” They said, “Well, yeah, we’re going on a bombing mission.” I said, “Yeah, we’re going on a bombing mission, but it’s a little bit special.” My tail gunner, Bob Caron, was pretty alert. He said, “Colonel, we wouldn’t be playing with atoms today, would we?” I said, “Bob, you’ve got it just exactly right.” So I went back up in the front end and I told the navigator, bombardier, flight engineer, in turn. I said, “OK, this is an atom bomb we’re dropping.” They listened intently but I didn’t see any change in their faces or anything else. Those guys were no idiots. We’d been fiddling round with the most peculiar-shaped things we’d ever seen. So we’re coming down. We get to that point where I say “one second” and by the time I’d got that second out of my mouth the airplane had lurched, because 10,000 lbs had come out of the front. I’m in this turn now, tight as I can get it, that helps me hold my altitude and helps me hold my airspeed and everything else all the way round. When I level out, the nose is a little bit high and as I look up there the whole sky is lit up in the prettiest blues and pinks I’ve ever seen in my life. It was just great. I tell people I tasted it. “Well,” they say, “what do you mean?” When I was a child, if you had a cavity in your tooth the dentist put some mixture of some cotton or whatever it was and lead into your teeth and pounded them in with a hammer. I learned that if I had a spoon of ice-cream and touched one of those teeth I got this electrolysis and I got the taste of lead out of it. And I knew right away what it was. OK, we’re all going. We had been briefed to stay off the radios: “Don’t say a damn word, what we do is we make this turn, we’re going to get out of here as fast as we can.” I want to get out over the sea of Japan because I know they can’t find me over there. With that done we’re home free. Then Tom Ferebee has to fill out his bombardier’s report and Dutch, the navigator, has to fill out a log. Tom is working on his log and says, “Dutch, what time were we over the target?” And Dutch says, “Nine-fifteen plus 15 seconds.” Ferebee says: “What lousy navigating. Fifteen seconds off!”

Studs Terkel: Did you hear an explosion?

Paul Tibbets: Oh yeah. The shockwave was coming up at us after we turned. And the tail gunner said, “Here it comes.” About the time he said that, we got this kick in the ass. I had accelerometers installed in all airplanes to record the magnitude of the bomb. It hit us with two and a half G. Next day, when we got figures from the scientists on what they had learned from all the things, they said, “When that bomb exploded, your airplane was 10 and half miles away from it.”

Studs Terkel: Did you see that mushroom cloud?

Paul Tibbets: You see all kinds of mushroom clouds, but they were made with different types of bombs. The Hiroshima bomb did not make a mushroom. It was what I call a stringer. It just came up. It was black as hell and it had light and colors and white in it and grey color in it and the top was like a folded-up Christmas tree.

Studs Terkel: Do you have any idea what happened down below?

Paul Tibbets: Pandemonium! I think it’s best stated by one of the historians, who said: “In one micro-second, the city of Hiroshimadidn’t exist.”

Studs Terkel: You came back and you visited President Truman.

Paul Tibbets: We’re talking 1948 now. I’m back in the Pentagon and I get notice from the chief of staff, Carl Spaatz, the first chief of staff of the air force. When we got to General Spaatz’s office, General Doolittle was there and a colonel named Dave Shillen. Spaatz said, “Gentlemen, I just got word from the president he wants us to go over to his office immediately.” On the way over, Doolittle and Spaatz were doing some talking; I wasn’t saying very much. When we got out of the car we were escorted right quick to the Oval Office. There was a black man there who always took care of Truman’s needs and h e said, “General Spaatz, will you please be facing the desk?” And now, facing the desk, Spaatz is on the right, Doolittle and Shillen. Of course, militarily speaking, that’s the correct order, because Spaatz is senior, Doolittle has to sit to his left. Then I was taken by this man and put in the chair that was right beside the president’s desk, beside his left hand. Anyway, we got a cup of coffee and we got most of it consumed when Truman walked in and everybody stood on their feet. He said, “Sit down, please,” and he had a big smile on his face and he said, “General Spaatz, I want to congratulate you on being first chief of the Air Force,” because it was no longer the air corps. Spaatz said, “Thank you, sir, it’s a great honor and I appreciate it.” And he said to Doolittle: “That was a magnificent thing you pulled flying off of that carrier,” and Doolittle said, “All in a day’s work, Mr. President.” And he looked at Dave Shillen and said, “Colonel Shillen, I want to congratulate y ou on having the foresight to recognize the potential in aerial refueling. We’re gonna need it bad some day.” And he said, “Thank you very much.” Then he looked at me for 10 seconds and he didn’t say anything. And when he finally did, he said, “What do you think?” I said, “Mr. President, I think I did what I was told.” He slapped his hand on the table and said: “You’re damn right you did, and I’m the guy who sent you. If anybody gives you a hard time about it, refer them to me.”

Studs Terkel: Anybody ever give you a hard time?

Paul Tibbets: Nobody gave me a hard time.

Studs Terkel: Do you ever have any second thoughts about the bomb?

Paul Tibbets: Second thoughts? No. Studs, look. Number one, I got into the air corps to defend the United States to the best of my ability. That’s what I believe in and that’s what I work for. Number two, I’d had so much experience with airplanes. I’d had jobs where there was no particular direction about how you do it a nd then of course I put this thing together with my own thoughts on how it should be because when I got the directive I was to be self-supporting at all times. On the way to the target I was thinking: I can’t think of any mistakes I’ve made. Maybe I did make a mistake: maybe I was too damned assured. At 29 years of age I was so shot in the ass with confidence I didn’t think there was anything I couldn’t do. Of course, that applied to airplanes and people. So, no, I had no problem with it. I knew we did the right thing because when I knew we’d be doing that I thought, yes, we’re going to kill a lot of people, but by God we’re going to save a lot of lives. We won’t have to invade [Japan].

Studs Terkel: Why did they drop the second one, the Bockscar [bomb] on Nagasaki?

Paul Tibbets: Unknown to anybody else – I knew it, but nobody else knew – there was a third one. See, the first bomb went off and they didn’t hear anything out of the Japanese for two or three days. The second bomb was dropped and again they were silent for another couple of days. Then I got a phone call from General Curtis LeMay [chief of staff of the strategic air forces in the Pacific]. He said, “You got another one of those damn things?” I said, “Yes sir.” He said, “Where is it?” I said, “Over in Utah.” He said, “Get it out here. You and your crew are going to fly it.” I said, “Yes sir.” I sent word back and the crew loaded it on an airplane and we headed back to bring it right on out to Tinian and when they got it to California debarkation point, the war was over.

Studs Terkel: What did General LeMay have in mind with the third one?

Paul Tibbets: Nobody knows.

Studs Terkel: One big question. Since September 11, what are your thoughts? People talk about nukes, the hydrogen bomb.

Paul Tibbets: Let’s put it this way. I don’t know any more about these terrorists than you do; I know nothing. When they bombed the Trade Centre I couldn’t believe what was going on. We’ve fought many enemies at different times. But we knew who they were and where they were. These people, we don’t know who they are or where they are. That’s the point that bothers me. Because they’re gonna strike again, I’ll put money on it. And it’s going to be damned dramatic. But they’re gonna do it in their own sweet time. We’ve got to get into a position where we can kill the bastards. None of this business of taking them to court, the hell with that. I wouldn’t waste five seconds on them.

Studs Terkel: What about the bomb? Einstein said the world has changed since the atom was split.

Paul Tibbets: That’s right. It has changed.

Studs Terkel: And Oppenheimer knew that.

Paul Tibbets: Oppenheimer is dead. He did something for the world and people don’t understand. And it is a free world.

Studs Terkel: One last thing, when you hear people say, “Let’s nuke ’em,” “Let’s nuke these people,” what do you think?

Paul Tibbe ts: Oh, I wouldn’t hesitate if I had the choice. I’d wipe ’em out. You’re gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but we’ve never fought a damn war anywhere in the world where they didn’t kill innocent people. If the newspapers would just cut out the shit: “You’ve killed so many civilians.” That’s their tough luck for being there.

Studs Terkel: By the way, I forgot to say Enola Gay was originally called “Number 82.” How did your mother feel about having her name on it?

Paul Tibbets: Well, I can only tell you what my dad said. My mother never changed her expression very much about anything, whether it was serious or light, but when she’d get tickled, her stomach would jiggle. My dad said to me that when the telephone in Miami rang, my mother was quiet first. Then, when it was announced on the radio, he said: “You should have seen the old gal’s belly jiggle on that one.”
Col Tibbits died in Nov 2007, but his honor and integrity live on through the men and women currently serving in the Armed Forces worldwide today.

The Lockheed P-3 Orion

This is where I spent many a day and night… 7700 hours over 19 years. Brings back a lot of memories, good friends, different locations and DEFINITELY not a 9-5 job. Bravo Zulu!