Friday, August 27, 2004


I started this out as a comment, but it was too good to pass up. For those who don't know already, one of the best writers I have ever read is a kid in Iraq with an infantry unit. He amazed everyone with his ability to relate what he is going through with passion and skill but his blog has been taken down, possibly for operational security reasons. Some of my online friends have been looking to see if there is anyone else out there like that, a talented writer relating life from the sharp end. We found the exact opposite. Here is the comment that got it started:

vrangel said...
On the other hand here is a lame milblogger with nothing to worry about.

He posted today that his highers told him they love his stuff and he should continue.


HERE is my reply:
Thanks Vrangel. I checked it out.

He's a knob-polisher for sure.

I looked at his bio - he actually wrote about himself in the third person.

What an ass.

"TWD, slightly upset at himself for not taking Vrangel's word for it that the guy was 10 up and 2 down, chuckles as he imagines how much of a ass one would have to be to write an autobiography in the third person."

Seriously folks, the guy even ends his bio with:

"In the midst of his term, his unit, the 319th Signal Battalion was called to service by the President to support the war effort in Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is here where the greatest changes to his life are yet to come..."

Good God. Did you hear the theme music?

Check out his pic on the site too - he is staring bravely off in the distance, rifle in hand... hoping some rifleman doesn't come by and make fun of him for looking like a dork. He's signal corps for crap's sake. Jeez.

I didn't add the ellipses (the ...) - that was him. Can you believe it?

God how I miss being an infantryman sometimes. Guys like this twerp were SOOOOO fun to find and fuck with. They always read Soldier of Fortune, always had more than one class A uniform (usually had dress blues when they were SPCs) and rarely, if ever, got dirty. I read SOF to laugh at the ads in the back and how wrong the articles often are, had a class A uniform I wore when they made me, and made it through over a decade of infantry life, including being enlisted, a sergeant, and an officer, without ever wearing a dress blue cap. I HATE guys like this guy.

Look at this blog and try to picture chucklehead on a patrol. No f'ing way. Now imagine him telling a war story to a civilian. Oh, yeah, I can see that.

He writes about the combat soldier whose blog was just taken down:

"Of course, we have taken a much different approach in our writing and the subject matter we cover, primarily because of our different roles in Operation Iraqi Freedom. His personal recitations of battles and encounters with terrorists are gripping and fascinating to read. As you all know, my approach tends to focus much more on the feelings soldiers go through as well as the peripheral political issues that surround America’s War on Terrorism, and in this, I rarely reveal anything that has to do with my security situation or the intricacies of my MOS in communications. I am no front line soldier, but rather, in my support MOS I open a window into the thoughts of soldiers and the issues we deal with."

NO you aren't a front-line soldier. But did you hear any respect for the infantry in that paragraph, or did you detect an attitude of condescension?

He's a tool that can't write very well. A power tool. And his sucking up to his chain of command is just icky. The combat guy wrote about meeting his Battalion Commander and how impressive a warrior he was, and there was no element of suck-up in it. None. Every time this guy writes about his leaders you just know he's hoping they read it and give him a pat on the head.

Here is another great quote:

"I believe America's fighting men and women are the fists of American power, while the families and folks back home who provide so much support truly are the backbone of American strength."

Isn't there some kind of contest for writing like this?

Others should check out the blog. Make sure you read his bio. Vets will find it fucking hilarious. I mean it - he's a riot. He has no idea how sucky he is. He actually believes he's pretty cool. Man.

He makes me feel better about my writing. I suck but I would have to work really hard to be that bad.


ALa said...

In his defense, I think he held some sort of political office before he was deployed...he can't possibly be as 'real' as CB when those words could come back to haunt him later...
There is no military blog like CBs and no sense in looking for one. Justrose used to read Levi's but that got shut down too.

Some Soldier's Mom said...

So tell us what you really think... on the other hand, it's guys like missick who make sure you can post your blog and call home and call for backup... At least he doesn't pretend he's one of the testosterone boys and isn't claiming to be taking fire. No one's asking you to read his stuff or agree with him and I'm perplexed by your need to publicly trash him. His more cerebral style might not be to your (or vrangel's) taste or politics, but he stepped up and put on the uniform. He just views his mission and position differently. And let's not forget that CB's CoC also told him they loved his stuff...

leftyjones said...

Dear Noahsmom,

Are we to assume that your son, Noah, is the AUTHOR of that masterful writing? There seems to be almost no other reason I can think of that anyone would defend it so faithfully.
My suggestion would be that you tell your son that he truly has a gift and shouldn't just give away writing like his for free here on the blogs. He should save it all and then bring it home when he's done and take it directly to a publisher. I'm sure he'll get a huge advance, probably millions, and then after receiving his money and the fame that naturally will come along with it, he'll once again be able to share with his public those powerful words he once spoke: " It is here where the greatest changes to his life are yet to come..."

artbyruth said...

TWD- You don't cut and paste, remember?

I don't think it is very noble of you to trash him on your blog. Makes you look petty and I think you are above that, are you not?

He is a good writer. I have followed his blog for awhile now and I like it. He is serving his country during wartime and I thought that mattered so much to you??

I also read which is by a Marine Major fighting in Fallujah. His blog is made up of letters home to his dad. They are truly inspiring at times and frightening at times. They ooze with honesty (and no "f" words either, which I enjoy...) and intelligence. He has nothing but praise for the men serving with him and under him.

I will miss CBFTW's blog, though. I hope he writes a book! I hope he gets to go home soon, too. I have been praying for that.

So, maybe you should write more so we can see how you do as a writer.

this we'll defend said...

Thanks Lefty.

Noahsmom: You write "At least he doesn't pretend he's one of the testosterone boys." That's my point. yes he does. And when he is "outed" for not being one of them he will let you know he was "smart" enough to go Signal (LOL) and that he handles all kinds of "intricate" and sophisticated electronics that are way too complicated for ordinary soldiers. I know the type and so does 91ghost. Sure, support troops deserve respect - but not the same respect. Not the kind of respect the guys under fire deserve.

And most support troops have no problem with that - they give respect to front-line guys. They like being support and don't want to be infantry. I've been in rear area chow halls and the support troops let the riflemen cut in line with a "go ahead man, you've earned it." They cheer the grunts on. They make you feel like they are in the stands supporting the team. and they take their role of supporting the trigger-pullers very seriously, as they should. They make it a point to give the grunts the best of the best, and treat themselves last. They aren't playing soldier - they are soldiers, support soldiers, and they take pride in what they do. I love them for that.

But this guy wants the respect combat arms guys get but without earning it. He's a poser. A wannabee. And from my experience guys like this usually have a great excuse for why commo is down.

Plus he's a kiss-ass that writes like crap.

vrangel said...

Well done TWD, ROFLMAO


this we'll defend said...

ArtbyRuth, sorry to disappoint you. No, I'm sometimes petty as hell.

I'll take a stab at writing, though:

"TWD strode bravely forward to the kitchen, letting no obstacles prevent him from his mission of getting a beer. He had only seconds before the commercial break ended but that didn't deter him, he knew he could do it. His steely gaze penetrated the ranks of foodstuffs on the refrigerator shelves. The beer was, naturally, in the very back. As the "belly" of "American Strength" he knew he must get that beer..."

Nah, I'm probably just the rear-end of American power. You know - an ass. Missick is right there with me, brave and noble warrior that he is. "Cover me, the LAN is down!" "Got you covered, but we've got an MS XP patch coming in right now!" "Oh my God, that might crash the entire system!" Typing furiously, Missick backs up the server [cue stirring and patriotic music].


this we'll defend said...

Chairborne ranger, chairborne ranger where have you been?
"To the gut-truck and back again!"
Chairborne ranger, chairborne ranger how did you go?
"I walked on down there, nice and slow!"
Chairborne ranger, chairborne ranger what did you do?
"I bought me some coffee and a donut too!"
Chairborne ranger, chairborne ranger how'd you get it back?
"I carried it back in a paper sack!"

vrangel said...

TWD , write more , cut and paste less.
Your stuff is pretty good, LOL


vrangel said...

At the moment the only milblog from Iraq worth reading is this one:

Right now she is on R&R in US so you can start reading from the beginning.
It's a stream of consciousness kind of writing but there is plenty of good stuff to be found.

She has seen action in Kut in spring when few of them were surrounded for quite some time fighting for their lives.
Other than that she drives around on daily patrols in humvee (CB shudders at the thought of that).
Her observations are sometimes interesting, and if you start from the beginning you will see that iraqi experience is slowly changing her.

Have fun.

alix said...

oh! i wath jutht abthoolutely *riveted* during the part when he had to reach into the back of the fridge...and THEN, oh! then he just burtht out into wath FAB-U-LUTH!!!

OH, and did you thee him in that HAT???!!! :::thwoon::: he'th tho CUUUUUUTE!

well...there went *my* 15 minutes of fame.
laughed my ass off TWD...i don't know diddly 'bout Dutes Dastardly, but your spoof tickled me funny bone!

spaceCADETzoom said...

Honestly, TWD, I don't think you were giving him a fair shot. YOu don't like what he's writing about? fine. Don't like how he writes it? Fine. BUt I don't think you thorougly read much if you came to the conclusion he ever called himself some hispeed 11B like you or CB or even some celluloid Rambo...

In fact he openly questioned his role once a few weeks ago. He felt a feeling of being somehow "less" than you infantry guys.

"I realize I am a small part of this war with my duties in the Signal Corps, and I touched on how I felt about all this in the last few weeks. It truly is amazing to me when I think about the scale of this war, and how many soldiers are involved, and all the different experiences we are having. I realize that I am at one end of the spectrum here, a soldier with a technical skill, assigned to a fairly safe location where I spend most days troubleshooting any problems with the phone and internet services."

He has peppered his posts emphasizing he *isn't* some Ranger or anything.

As for the bio. THe above posters were wrong...he has not held public office (he is roughly my age). He is from my fine state of California...he just graduated with a BA in Gov from Sacramento State. He has spent time working as an intern and other such things both in the state capitol and the Republican party (BOOOO! HISSSS!). The bio was written up as part of a literature packet or somesuch thing related to his position in politics (i'm not sure if it was written by himself specfically, but the prior intention was a "where I've been/ where I'm going" intro).

Melodramatic? sure. Is his illusion of political gain off-puting? sure. He doesn't write like your buddy CB? Well, of course not. He's a different person. But has he ever said he was some one-man rambo doing *ANYTHING* but being a good signal soldier? No, he hasn't.

He's not as entertaining to you as CB was. Fine. It's too bad he's much too idealistic for the oh-so-cool cynical, jaded world we all live in. Anybody who says he joined the Guard to serve the country, the President, and has nutty notions like that must be some brownnoser. He's not gritty and "real" like CB.

He can't be a "real" soldier, he didn't join up for college money or to escape his environment. He's just some silly upper/middle class kid who volunteered for the California National Guard after Sept11 who wants the spotlight, right? A real tool. Some overeducated guy who thought enlisting was a noble, right act, but is an ass for thinking such things online...

BEcause everyone knows a lot of rich college grads went out there and enlisted on Septembber 12 (when everone else was waving flags)...

Follow Me, says the infantry. I just hope the infantryman we ought to follow doesn't think everyone else is a "wannabe". That goes beyond pride for your MOS/branch/etc...

~Jen~ said...

I'm giggling, but I feel dirty.


this we'll defend said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
this we'll defend said...

Wow, SpaceCadetZoom, you make some really good points. I guess I jumped the gun and - nope, he's a tool. :)

"He felt a feeling of being somehow "less" than you infantry guys." Somehow? Newsflash: he's right to think that. He should accept it. It's true. In a warrior culture those carrying spears are "more" than those that don't. Is that unfair? No. Does that mean everybody who is a soldier that isn't 11B deserves ridicule? NO, they deserve respect.

I was a damn good infantryman, but I wasn't Delta because those guys are better than me. Doesn't make me less - it makes them more. I couldn't be Delta however hard I tried. It doesn't bug me. That is equivalent to feeling bad that you are "only" a major league baseball player and not a hall-of-famer. Jeez, how many guys make it to the big leagues? I wasn't Delta because Delta takes men better than me. Which is why they deserve so much respect, because I'm pretty fucking good - in fact, I'm fucking awesome. This guys wonders about it. He should stop wondering and stop with the overdramatic flowery language.

He also writes "we would be entertaining a special visit from the higher echelons of our chain of command, including my Battalion Commander and Brigadier General Dacier.... these two great leaders shared with me" STOP. "two great leaders?" No, he's not a kissass at all. I certainly apologize.

You say "It's too bad he's much too idealistic for the..." I don't care if he's idealistic. I'm idealistic. I don't like kissass. I also can't stand posers. He doesn't say he is a Ranger because he isn't. Fine. But the title of his Blog is "line in the sand" and the subtitle on his old blog was "A View From the War, of the War." His picture is of him with his weapon, staring dramatically at something in the distance, with a flag in the background. He FIXES COMPUTERS. His prose is of sacrifice and service and loyalty and duty and he should BITE ME. Talking about sacrifice and service and duty while he runs the LAN. Dulce et decorum est. If you don't understand that reference google it.

War isn't glorious. It is evil and ugly and at worst you see people you love in pain and dying, and at best you kill other human beings who were once cute little 3-year olds whose parents loved them too. War is the infliction of suffering until one side says "enough." You can't take the suffering out of it for that is what war is - suffering.

It isn't parades and nobility - its being under fire and having to take a dump. You never see that in the movies - some guy having to take a dump.

It's being so filthy that the bugs just stop biting.

It's seeing Panamanians so happy and excited that they run into the street to give you water and thank you for kicking out Noriega - and some PDF assholes shoot down the street and a mother drops dead in front of her little kids, and they scream in horror and run out there too, and there is nothing you can do except burn in rage and hatred for such evil.

It's being on a casaulty notification team and seeing a mother and father turn dead inside, aging before your very eyes, watching a man sink to his knees and a mother just stand there and say in a monotone "when will he... his body... come home?" And then seeing the news identify him as a Marine instead of a soldier and none of the civilians around you understand why you care.

And then some asshole says years later "you ever kill anybody?" or "I'd wouldn't serve because I wouldn't want to kill anybody" or WORST OF ALL "I love the military. You guys are great. I didn't serve because I had opportunities, but I always wanted to..."

Sure I'm glad Noriega is gone, so are the Panamanians. Perhaps we were right to go in - we didn't have to stay long and we turned the country over to the Panamanians quickly. And Noriega had been begging for it for some time. But the family of SPC Philip Lear, B 2/75, would gladly re-install Noreiga if it meant Butch could come home to them. He died at Rio Hato and nobody knows where that is. Maybe it was worthwhile to the nation, especially to those who don't have to pay the price. I think it was the right thing to do. But it isn't something to be happy about.

How come Fox news doesn't have their "roll of honor" anymore?

Save the theme music and liberation talk for somebody else Sgt. Doright. War fucking sucks. It is actually sometimes exciting, even fun - but it sucks. It is sometimes the lesser of two evils, but it is always evil and never something to get excited about. Seeing dead kids sucks.

And then 15 years later you attend law school with people who ask you if you "ever saw any action?" Who say "we invaded Panama?" Who say "did you see Blackhawk Down? Cool, huh?"

Service isn't just about war either. There was a military before 9/11, even if doofus just discovered it.

Being in the military before 9/11 is having nobody know about Somalia and bloody October and then "Blackhawk Down" comes out and everybody knows about it (and seemingly half of the "vets" you meet were there) and everybody talks about it all the time, but nobody knows about El Salvador, or Honduras, or Columbia (still going on now) or the guys hurt or killed in training. Because nothing ever happened and nobody ever got hurt before Somalia and then later on 9/11.

Nobody knows about the 19-year old fuel handler, not an infantryman, who couldn't stop talking about his baby boy who was "on the way" and "my wife's ready to pop" and "my baby is going to be a genius." Then he's taking a steep desert grade and his wheels start to slide on loose rocks and his fueler slides, slides, and then rolls down the hill, rolling over and over and over and you watch the cab get crushed smaller and smaller and you know what it will look like inside before you get there. But you rush anyway, you can't help it. And his wife has to clear housing in 90 days because she isn't married to a soldier anymore. And it was on a peacetime exercise anyway.

It's being in Korea and having a driver working on an M1 turret when some dumbass powers it up and swivels, and you have to have somebody hold the guy, the body, while it swivels back in order to free what's left of his head.

It's having privates who think you are a dick for chewing their ass for not following ground guide procedures, or for punishing them when they walk between moving vehicles in the motor pool, and you not giving a damn because even if they don't like you they damn sure aren't going to get killed for something stupid while you are in charge.

Serving before 9/11 is chewing the ass of an E-5 buck sergeant who dismounted his vehicle and ran up a hill chasing after a map during an exercise, while tanks and brads swarmed about at high speed, and realizing he thinks you are mad because he almost lost his stupid map. So you say "to hell with the god damned MAP dumbass, we can always get another one of those. How the hell do I get another one of YOU!? Call your parents and order another just like you and wait 25 years!?" And seeing him change as he realizes you are so mad and losing your officer "cool" because you were scared shitless he was going to die. And having him, after you finish telling him he should have his ass kicked for being a stupid fuck, say and mean it "thank you sir. I really respect you for that. I wasn't thinking." And it isn't kissass when he says it.

Serving is nothing like what Doofus writes about. He lives in a different world where the president calls his unit to serve, instead of some harried and overworked personnel officer who needs some guys with a specific MOS and sends out an order to find some, and somebody does. And the president has no idea what his MOS is or does, much less that his unit was called up.

Serving post 9/11 is the same as serving pre-9/11. We have always lived in a dangerous world. We just have more dead now, and that's not a good thing. It might be unavoidable, but damn if I'm not 100% sure we did all we could to avoid some of it. Afghanistan I feel deserved twice or three times as much attention as it got, but I wonder if we tried as hard as we should have to avoid invading Iraq. Of course, to the right that makes me a pussy. An appeaser. They much prefer the "line in the sand" brave signal corps blogger and his talk of service and brave, brave Bush. I have friends that are absolutely convinced that we were right to invade Iraq - but they still aren't happy about it. They've seen the dead kids too.

As for your contention that "he didn't join up for college money or to escape his environment" - well, nobody joins the infantry for those reasons, contrary to most people's perception. Nobody thinks infantry is easier, so those seeking an advantage from the military don't go infantry. There is not an economic draft. too bad CB took his blog down because we already did this debate.

"He's just some silly upper/middle class kid who volunteered for the California National Guard after Sept11 who wants the spotlight, right? A real tool. Some overeducated guy who thought enlisting was a noble, right act, but is an ass for thinking such things online..." I think it is great if he wants to serve. Why his class or education matters is beyond me unless you think that he is serving out of some sense of noblesse oblige. And serving is a noble act. And he wants the spotlight and he's a real tool.

"BEcause everyone knows a lot of rich college grads went out there and enlisted on Septembber 12 (when everone else was waving flags)..." excuse me, but this guy is still waving a flag. Fine, I love the flag. But everytime this guy writes about the war he says "America's War on Terror." You can almost see the trademark and copyright symbols next to that, as if to question whether Iraq should have been part of the war on terror is to question America. How do you make war on a method, anyway? Is War on Ambush next? Shouldn't it have been "war on al queda?" or "war on terrorists?" Are we going after the IRA too? ETA? FARC?

As far as "rich college grads" - what's your point? Is he somehow more noble than a poor kid who enlists? Why are you wrapped around economic or educational status? I'm unhappy with him because he writes like a tool and is a kissass, not because he is rich or poor or educated or not. I knew poor kids that were kissass. Didn't like them either. How do you know he's rich anyway? Because he is so Republican? CB might be a republican too, I don't care. I still think he is great. And this guy is a tool.

I certainly won't bash Dudley Doright for being from California, my home state which I love, even if he is from Sac.

Fact is, he isn't gritty and real like CB. He's fake and blatanly self-righteous. In short, a tool.

"I just hope the infantryman we ought to follow doesn't think everyone else is a "wannabe"." I'm busted. Yes I do think like that. So does every other rifleman I know. Sorry. Its true. That's what we think. Armor guys think that about armor (but of course they're DATs and wrong.)

spaceCADETzoom said...

Fair enough, TWD

I wasn't fixated on his economic situation...I merely brought it up because it *wasn't* following the cliche that he enlisted for such reasons. I didn't mean to imply anything in regard to infantry with such ecnonomic backgrounds. But certainly, you will admit the higher up the scale on the economic totem pole one is raised in, the less likely one enlists in the military (whether that be as an infantryman, or whatever). I was merely making a probably diveregent statement on faux-patriotism.

I merely bring some issues of service up because he, along with former 11B's will be asked the same questions you noted. He may not have seen your defnition of war, but years later, when (I'm sure) he'll be in law school as well, people will ask him if he "ever saw any action?" They will say "did you see Blackhawk Down? Cool, huh?" And your favorite: "I love the military. You guys are great. I didn't serve because I had opportunities, but I always wanted to..."

Of course his answer to all this will be he was a signal soldier...with a lineage of colors and flags and bugles that kept roman legionaires, musketeers and 11B's alive and potent.

As for "discovering" the military only after sept11, and how that somehow makes him less of a soldier... I don't think I ever got that impression from missick...he's had a history of service (though obviosuly not in the military, he has volunteered for government and the like). Pre-9/11 he figured his best contribution would be on the campaign trail talking to his youthful peers, or being some gopher in Sacramento. Post-9/11 he saw a better contribution by being a Guardsman, ready for the call. (oops...too jingoistic, lemme reel it back, I'm becoming a tool) :)

Oh and you're right that i inferred on his economic status. (not because he's a Republican, but from his words, background, haircut even) He is from southern California. An unpoor part of Orange COunty. But I think that goes into ecnomic scales we Americans like putting ourselves in (i.e. everyone *thinks* they are middle class)...I merely meant he wasn't from rural Arkansas or inner city Santa Ana. I didn't mean he was born with a silver spoon necesarilly...

But my point you enumerated perfectly: "Fact is, he isn't gritty and real like CB. He's fake and blatanly self-righteous." You went a step further than me and called him a tool because of this.

I just think he's a little dorky. He is not gritty and real. He's a poster child; fittingly, he is a bugle caller.

Dudley Doright is the perfect depiction of it.

Overall, I think I've identified with him, which is why I was fairly defensive about it all. I agree with you TWD...but I certainly am not as harsh about my opinions of it all. Maybe that's because I'm not some battlehardened 11B...

It's funny this little rant of yours got me all hot and bothered, honestly. hmmppf. You can talk about politics, religion, whatever...but call a dork out, boy oh boy, them's fighting words. :)

AS for Iraq itself (war on terror, etc), well that's another topic...I was defending SGT Missick, not necsarily his stances on it all.


spaceCADETzoom said...

You know,hearing at other comments over the years, and maybe on this board, i think this all stumbles onto something more troubling.

There are criticisims and flat-out ridicule directed to folks like Missick becasue of thier service, from folks who have NEVER served. Surely, TWD, your commetns are valid and topical, but something sorta irks me when folks who know nothing about the militrary ridicule *any* soldier. (The folks who say "I love the military. You guys are great. I didn't serve because I had opportunities, but I always wanted to..." )

Oh, GOre wasn't a real soldier, he was a journalist, says the soccermom in the SUV with a BUSH bumper sticker. Bush was a crappy TX Air Guard nobody, says the Vietnam-aged colleg professor who was smoking...stuff...while Bush was "AWOL". Kerry didn't deserve those purple hearts, says the contractor who's favorite movie is Black Hawk DOwn.

I think it's one thing for an 11B to say something about a desk clerk (I've always figured this was jokingly, but TWD would lead me to believe it's more serious. different topic. Oddly, the one SF, full-on green beret Officer I know has never uttered a crack about AG or Finance or riducle of that nature. Is that a mature officer thing, or SF thing? Off topic, sorry). But when we get well-wishers talking about "lack" of service (not realizing the irony)...something is creeping me out.

this we'll defend said...

I do have to say that I'm not ridiculing him for being signal corps, which is why I made it a point to include the fuel handler (not an infantryman) story. I'm ridiculing him because of the drama and pathos (bathos?) he associates with running a LAN.

Signal corps, medical tech, AG, whatever, they all serve. I made a point of saying they deserve respect, not ridicule. Wearing a uniform should bring you respect.

It is just that making a big deal out of your "sacrifice" when you really aren't sacrificing that much pisses me off when I've seen and sacrificed for real.

Like the email that went around a few years ago (post 9/11) from an air force computer tech that compared his pay with civilian pay and concluded it was unfair, citing the deployments to Afghanistan and 9/11 to show how the 'military' deserved more. That REALLY pissed me off. The guy gets training from the govt worth thousands, gets the same vet benefits as everybody including CB, will leave the military and walk into one of those high-paying jobs he is comparing himself to - that's all fine. But then he complains about the pay, citing guys like CB to justify it. MAN.

Maybe I'm coming down so hard on dorky-boy because he reminds me of TWD prior to enlisting, huh?

this we'll defend said...

Oh, and comparing Bush's NG service to serving in the NG today is comparing a fireman who runs FROM the fire to those running TOWARD it and saying "they're all brave firemen."

That will start a firestorm, but I stand by it. He didn't dodge the draft, but he sure deliberately dodged Vietnam.

strykeraunt said...

Sorry TWD, I am going to side with spacecadetzoom on this issue. I have been to the site and also find it a little "dorky." However, who am I to bash it. Perhaps the fact that you have been infantry somehow give you the right, but as someone sitting comfortably at home right now, I just can't find a good reason to bash any soldier who is or has volunteered to serve. You mentioned the "front line," where is this place in Iraq? Is this front line only populated by infantry? Yes, by default, the infantry is typically a more dangerous job, but the last time I checked there are also a large number of "support soldiers" who have been injured or killed. Sometimes I feel that it is almost safer to be infantry because at least they have the appropriate training (hopefully) and are in more of an offensive position. The support soldier is not trained in this respect because the training focus is more toward their support position.

I have one nephew who is currently in Iraq with the Stryker Brigade, he is infantry all the way. At age 23, he has made it through ranger training and is currently an SSG in Recon. Yes, he had plenty of opportunity to choose the college route, but joined the Army because it was his passion to do so. I am very proud of him for his accomplishments and fear every single day for his safety. However, (this may seem a little strange), I am comforted (somewhat) by the fact that he is Recon rather than support. Not because he is at less of a risk but because he was thoroughly trained for the position he holds.

His little brother also volunteered to serve in the Army, but chose not to go the infantry route (against his brother's advice). Instead he ended up in an Engineer brigade. Little brother ended up going to Iraq before his big brother. He spent a year in the Tikrit area blowing up munitions, pulling guard duty, and driving truck. The conditions that these soldiers served under were in tents for a large part of the time, no air condition in the summer months, MREs for most meals, and bottled water rations. This kid who never complains about anything, called home begging for gatorade because the treated water tasted so bad. He thanked me for the care package I sent (and was specifically excited about the jar of Jif peanut butter!!) Towards the end of his deployment he rode in a buffalo vehicle seeking out IED along the route used by the redeploying (infantry and support) soldiers. He didn't tell us what he was doing because he didn't want to worry us. Ironically, I was more comforted with his buffalo job because that put him in more of an offensive position. As a support person, he was in a very vulnerable position. In fact, after spending approximately six months into his tour, the military actually acknowledged the hazard these guys faced every single day and paid them accordingly (retroactively). Was my nephews buddy, who has spent the last year at Walter Reed, in a less dangerous postition? As a soldier who provided "support" he was in a position of the "sitting duck." Unfortunately that position almost took his life; and probably would have if not for the outstanding work of those "support" medics who worked to save him. Five other support soldiers were injured that day (which pretty much wiped out my nephews unit).

So to sum it up, I believe that most of the soldier over there have an element of risk and sacrifice. Therefore, as someone who sits in my easy chair, I cannot find any justification to bash any of them. I normally have a lot of respect for what you say, but I don't think you will be able to convince me to think differently on this issue.

Some Soldier's Mom said...

sorry, lefty & twd, but not related to missick and don't know him personally... got two sons serving -- one infantry -- and a third son who put in his time. husband served 25 (E1 to O6)... but at 37 you seem a little petty in your attack on a soldier who IS serving (as opposed to one who used to) -- oh, that's right, you're a lawyer ...

strykeraunt said...

Noah's mom, please thank your sons for their service. You have every reason to be a proud military mom!!!

this we'll defend said...

Strykeraunt: I think we are agreement on some things, actually. I don't bash him because he is signal. And my post included a non-infantry soldier making the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Support soldiers are soldiers, and many go into harm's way.

I bash Missick because he's "drawing a line in the sand" and giving a report "of the war, from the war" and no he is NOT in the war.

Support troops ARE in danger. Convoys get hit regardless of who is in them, and you are right that insurgents are less likely to attack a well-armed convoy of tanks and brads than to attack a truck convoy.

But this guy isn't doing that either. He is patching phone lines. Well, that is great - and the troops on the phones sure appreciate it.

But for him to pose bravely and speak of "America's War on Terror" with some authority does piss me off. He knows no more of the war than you do. He knows what basic training is like, and what it is like to patch phone lines. Maybe "phone line in the sand" would be more appropriate.

I'm not bashing support troops. I'm bashing HIM. And despite your nephews, infantry DOES have it harder. When the bad guys DO attack the infantry goes and FINDS them. Your engineer is a combat soldier, by the way. Infantrymen love combat engineers, they are studs. Don't assume infantrymen have it any easier than your engineer though. They don't.

I can imagine a situation where a rifleman would get bashed like I'm bashing our "hero." Imagine a guy in the Old Guard, the ceremonial unit in D.C. Some 11B serves there on burial detail and never deploys. That is great, to be respected. And he runs into a signal guy (or gal) who spent a year in Iraq running convoys, stationed at some FOB that gets mortared all the time, pulling guard duty along with everybody else, and occasionally the convoys get hit. The signalman comes home and the 11B who has never been anywhere but Fort Benning and the Old Guard says "You don't know what it is like to be a real soldier" and doesn't give the proper respect. That would be BS. I would fire up into bash mode real quick.

That isn't the case here.

Missick, who has never heard a shot fired in anger and most likely never will, posts things like this:

"For what felt like an eternity we were standing outside of the vehicle in the highest heat of the afternoon (I was told it was pushing 130), feeling miserable and frustrated by our seemingly poor luck. After allowing the vehicle to cool, we hit the road again, without incidence, and drove cautiously for the next hour back to our camp. As strange as it sounded, I told my buddy in the vehicle when we returned that it was actually moments like that that made me love being a soldier. When you push your physical comforts to the limits, when you are forced to see over and over again just how much angst and discomfort you can stand, there is always a measure of personal reward afterward. It is in moments like these where some people will claim how much they hate being in the Army. I however, look at it as another reason for me to thank the Army for teaching me ever more about myself."

Any soldier who has actually pushed himself to his limits, who has seen "just how much angst and discomfort" he can stand, will understand why I get pissed off about Missick's post. He is standing next to a hot vehicle and calling it pushing himself to the limit. I don't call that "pushing" any limits. I think it is standing in the hot sun. Suck it up buddy. If that kind of experience "teaches" him about himself he must have an awful lot to learn, and had an awfully privileged upbringing.

He writes about a fellow signal soldier who "posted a picture of him returning one day from work: filthy, sweaty, and with his M249 machine gun in his hand. Under the picture he posted the caption, “What have you done for your girlfriend today?” I don’t think anything could have been more fitting." Wow, machine gun in hand, filthy, sweaty - that sounds dangerous.

It is bullshit. It takes away from the guys who are filthy, sweaty, and USE the M249 machine gun as part of THEIR JOB. What his fellow signalman did, despite the "filth" and "sweat" and "machine gun" was repair a phone line or hook up somebody to the internet so they could surf the net. I have no problem with that, but leave the histronics about filth and sweat and machine guns out of it unless that machine gun is something you use and not just lug around.

He writes "I was reminded yet again of the people that are never far from my mind, the people back home that are the real reason why I proudly endure whatever it is the Army forces us to face." Thanks for enduring LAN hookups SGT Missick. I am so impressed you are forced to face telephone lines in the heat of battle - oops, I mean, the heat of the day. Hell it gets downright hot out there you stud. We are so proud of you for "enduring" it.

He writes "Although most of my readers agree that this war was crucial for the changing world that lies before us, it is hard for soldiers to think in any other terms than it being a necessity to preserve and sustain the security and safety of all of you back home." How brave a computer tech we have, hooking up lines and patching routers through under fir... in the heat, and all for the safety and security of the folks back home. Tell me that isn't an example of "how brave I am" and I'll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

He writes "If we are indeed sacrificing the small and large moments alike with our families, and putting ourselves in harms way, then we must believe in the cause, and at least find the benefits that it reaps for Iraqi’s and American’s alike." Well, he is away from family. So are most of the people in the Navy, or deployed to Kosovo, or in Kuwait. I don't see them beating their breasts over their "sacrifice." And they would be just as sick of Missick as I am over this. His talk of the "cause" is Pravda-like. And there it is again, our brave computer tech "in harms way." Uhh, when exactly the fuck did he put himself there? If you answer "all soldiers are in harm's way" that is exactly my point - no they are NOT, and to have Missick tell us about it is disgusting and untrue. Guys that go in harm's way don't write like this. I'm telling you, they don't.

He says "To ignore this and oppose our efforts here is to begin to sense a futility in our efforts and our personal trials." He continues "I know that... wearing this uniform, in this place in time, will carry a significant and positive effect that will echo the call of freedom throughout history."


So, to sum up, a guy who FIXES COMPUTERS in a SAFE AREA talks of "drawing a line in the sand," of pushing himself to the limit (by standing in the sun), of reporting "from the war," of "angst and discomfort," of "filth" and "sweat" and "machine guns," of "sacrifice," of putting himself "in harm's way," of the "cause," of "personal trials," of his "efforts" that will "echo the call of freedom throughout history."

Maybe I am a little crusty and hard around the edges, but I'm not bashing support troops. I'm bashing Missick because he is a wuss and needs to suck it up and quit with the hero act bullshit. Any more musing on whether he is "somehow" less than a soldier who is actually in harm's way and he deserves to be slapped by a real soldier. Preferably some 4 foot 8 cute blond girl who has done convoy duty and been under fire. It would be even better if she were signal. She'd slap that crap right out of him, and all that would be left would be a pair of boots and a hat.

As for your post about your nephew:

"The conditions that these soldiers served under were in tents for a large part of the time, no air condition in the summer months, MREs for most meals, and bottled water rations. This kid who never complains about anything, called home begging for gatorade because the treated water tasted so bad."

Your nephew is a stud and deserves respect for putting himself in harm's way. The horrible "conditions" though... that is a peacetime field exercise, except that grunts don't get tents. They often don't have MREs - they go hungry. Bottled water? Anybody that has used the iodine tablets to purify icky water from a puddle would get a kick out of that. Air conditioning? Infantrymen get all they need - cold air in the winter, and heat in the summer, so hot and cold are just fine. We live OUTDOORS. Not to take anything away from your nephew, anybody on an IED hunt is in the shit, and combat engineers are guys that nobody picks on. The "horrible" conditions are simply ordinary, that's all.

I've begged for gatorade and been thrilled to get some vienna sausages in a care package, so that brought back some memories...

strykeraunt said...

Thank you for clarifying that you are not bashing Missick as a signal (or a support), but because of the way he presents himself. Your clarification helped to have a better understanding about where you were coming from with your previous comments. I agree that you have a right to call him on this because of your personal knowledge and experience. However, I believe that people like me or anyone else who has not served at all has no place. I concur that patching phone lines does not place him in the same dangers as infantry, but still hold my opinion that "I" have no place in judging him because I am not nor have I ever been in any similar situation.

Your comparison to the conditions in Iraq with the peacetime field exercise, does not seem fair because there are breaks in between these types exercises. (I do understand that you also experience real war situations but you did not use them as your comparison here.) I am not aware of peacetime exercises that put the soldier in those conditions for an entire year (maybe I am wrong). I can only go off of my infantry nephews remarks to me regarding his living conditions in comparison to his engineer brother's. He said that even though he has faced more attacks than his (engineer) brother, the living conditions were way worse for his brother. This has nothing to do with infantry vs. support, but instead timing and location. As a matter of fact, my infantry nephew says they have it a lot better (the chow is good, the connex is air conditioned, etc., etc.,) in their immediate location. However, that does not mean that every infantry soldier has it as well (or any support soldier for that matter). Different soldiers are living in different conditions depending on where they are located.

As far as the bottled water, that is an aunt thing. I see water as a basic necessity that the military should have supplied. It made me real mad at the time that they did not have clean drinking water. As you may know, Iraq is an environmental nightmare. The fact that our soldiers had to drink their water (treated or not) is simply disgusting. He wasn't complaining about the fact that it wasn't bottled it was the strong bleach taste for the treatment...the gatorade was to cut that taste. It doesn't matter to me whether past soldiers had to drink out of a mud puddle, because we should always work to improve rather than duplicate those situations in the future. I understand that it is sometimes necessary for survival, but should not be an ongoing thing. (If you would have begged me for gatorade I would have sent you some...its a mom thing :D) As far as the temperature, I am a true blue Washingtonian, and (of course) hate the heat. The idea of 130 degrees for months on end without a break (air conditioner) seems unbearable to me. If you have to take showers at night because the water is boiling hot during the day...then you know its too hot. (And, no I am not talking about a the type of shower we are all accustomed too.) As for this soldiers afternoon in the sun, I understand where you are coming from...especially if this is the only time he had to endure it. However, some soldiers have become real sick from this extreme heat. The fact that they didn't have good water only served to compound the problem.

On a lighter note, its my opinion that if you practice law the way that you defend your position here, you are going to be a great attorney.

~Jen~ said...

Missick wrote about CB today. Worth the read....

August 30, 2004
Thoughts on "MyWar"
It’s been quite busy the last few days, but in a lull of our routine, I had a chance to go to CB’s site. I started thinking about how much it connected so many folks back home with the reality of this war, and how suddenly it seemed to be over. It was on of those rare blogs, that have an immediate impact and suddenly are known the world over. Some of us had been doing this longer, but few of us did it better than he did. It led me to thinking about how truly unique the age is that we live in. I wrote several times about how I felt blogs were a natural progression from the 18th and 19th century pamphlets that were circulated and cultivated passions on the days hottest issues. Blogs do much of the same work, in that they are published quickly, circulate with relative ease, don’t necessarily serve as a source of income, and have immense power to shape public opinion. CB’s blog helped galvanized public opinion behind its soldier’s in a unique and powerful way, which leads me to conclude that it was not the military or even the hassle of an editor which shut the site down. Regardless of the reason’s it is gone, it marks an interesting cultural aspect in the development of blogs.

In music, when a major music group breaks up or an artist passes away, there is usually some form of comfort in their farewell. Generally they have a farewell tour, or their hordes of followers light candles and have personal vigils of remembrance where they discuss how much the music meant to them. I attended one of these remembrances for musician Elliott Smith last fall in LA and it offered a sense of closure for me when he passed away. Although CB is still well I am sure, his blog is now a shell, with the very typical quote of Johnny Rotten listed. Ironically, I met Johnny Rotten in 2000 in a hotel lobby in Philadelphia while in town for a political convention. It was a surreal experience, and after meeting many notable members of the Administration, he was the last person I expected to have the chance to meet. With blogs though, there is nothing of the sort. It was there, it was great to read and one day, it simply is no longer updated. Next blog...

As I looked at CB’s page, and clicked “next” on the Blogger toolbar at the top, I was taken to another blog with relatively few interesting things to say. As I did that, I wondered who had clicked that same toolbar and was brought to CB’s page for the first time without knowing what had been written there over the last few weeks. Never seeing the page before, they would not know the situations he had confronted, the firestorm of controversial comments that led to his negative impressions of some of those individuals who left comments, the media firestorm that swirled around his NPR interview and the fact that a few days after, his body of writing would not exist on the web. I never contacted him personally, but I know many of you did and I hope the personal connections you made with him continue. I am sure he appreciates the e-mail, the letters and support as much as I do.

His writing was rough, to the point, littered with expletives and filled with the angst of the infantry soldier. You could feel how quickly he was writing sometimes, as it gave the impression the keypad and his fingers could not keep up with the thoughts in his head. All this helped make it so real. I was never blessed with that particular gift, probably too many English courses and too many lectures and essays written on topics like political theory and international relations. As one comment noted here a few days back, I do write like a politician sometimes, and quite frankly, it’s because I’ve written for politicians. It is almost a subconscious act now, and of all the emotions I can get across in my writing, angst is rarely one of them. His combination of experiences and feelings left an impression on all of us, and it will be missed. Of course it will not be that last thing I read from him, but I am sure next time I see the pseudonym of CBFTW it will be italicized with the words formerly known as, as his name is spelled out as clearly as it was in the NPR article at the top of some magazine entry or future memoir.

In the meantime, I’ll continue what I do best, along with the other soldier bloggers and hope that it can help some of you back home put a face to the nearly 140,000 soldiers who are in theater defending and promoting freedom.

Posted on August 30, 2004 at 04:56 AM | Permalink