Aug 31, 2005


So, my dad emails me this news article that says the Army is cracking down on Milbloggers in it’s ranks. Says that these soldiers are loose cannons without any oversight who don’t practice operational security and basically are one step short of selling secrets to the Chinese (something a recently retired President of the United States actually DID and nobody gave HIM any crap… but I digress…). While I couldn’t find the actual article, I did find the Blackfive post it referenced here.

This is both good and bad. Good because the Army is doing the right thing. Bad because they will most likely massively overreact, crush some good and motivated soldiers who didn’t do anything wrong, and frighten all but the heartiest of souls from ever posting again.

As for me, I ain’t too terribly concerned… yet. Firstly, I am not an Army of one. I am a Marine, and as far as I know, not bound by any of the Army’s rules or regs on this matter. Secondly, I post stuff with a clean conscience as to whether or not I’m giving anything away. I decided a long time ago that any stories that were good enough to tell were good enough to wait for, and that sea stories about places I go or things I do can be held on to until after the Public Affairs Officer sends out an official story, or we show up in the news.

And trust me: I know what IS and what ISN’T sensitive info. And you can bet your sweet bippy that ain’t nothing classified is important enough for me to put up for the whole world to see. Oh there’s PLENTY of stuff I’d LOOOOVE to scream out to the world, but it ain’t gonna happen because I don’t feel like going to jail, and more importantly, I don’t feel like being responsible for getting good Marines killed.

Remember when Geraldo was embedded with a unit, and laid out their whole plan of attack in the sand on LIVE INTERNATIONAL TELEVISION? Yeah… If I’d been the C.O. of that unit, I would pulled together a firing squad and shot that son of a bitch on the spot.

Few things piss me off more than when somebody gives away secrets. In fact, it doesn’t even necessarily have to be secret info, just something that someone may never have thought of before. A couple weeks ago I saw a story on CNN that basically went like this:
“The easiest way for a terrorist to build a dirty bomb would be to go to one of two places, collect some radioactive material, and put it together with certain explosives. I really can’t believe this hasn’t happened yet. Now let me tell you where to go, and how lax the security is there…”


My jaw hung open for at least a good thirty seconds as I stared at the TV. My mind was trying to convince my hand that it could reach through the screen and choke out the jackass giving the report, while my hand insisted that if it moved toward the TV with the speed required to do that, it would simply break the TV and my XBOX would thereby become a dust collection device. Sadly, I was unable to prove my theory of trans-dimensional oxygen-supply cutoff through a multi-media portal… but I can still play “Grand Theft Auto,” so I guess I broke even…

Anyway you slice it though, OPSEC is a big deal. Loose lips still do sink ships, and people who say the wrong thing at the wrong time can give away important information that would be best kept out of enemy hands. Like I said, I know what I can and can’t say, and I know WHEN I can and can’t say it. I think most Milbloggers do. Good on the Army for making sure, but nobody likes to write with someone staring over their shoulder. I think we may see the ranks of active-duty Milbloggers (at least the Army ones) thin out due to Soldiers not wanting to be regulated, instead of the Army actually regulating them.

Aug 26, 2005

The Land of Oz 

I shall tell you a story… a story with such power and raw emotion, that it may very well spoil relations between two nations which have been steadfast allies for many years… a story I shall simply call:

The John Howard Story.


Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

We are well into our beers by now. Many Victoria Bitters have been consumed, followed by a good quantity of the local rum (Bundaberg, I believe it is… mmm… Bundy & Coke…)

Me and my friend Kevin are in a small bar at the end of the main drag in town, and trust me there ain’t much to the town. The bar happens to be attached to a small motel, and out the back door is a pool, with the associated pool furniture and tables and such. So we go outside to get away from the annoyingly loud and off key karaoke, enjoy our drinks, the nice weather, and basically shoot the shit by ourselves. No sooner do we sit down at a table out there, than up comes one of the local blokes.

He asks if he can join us, and we say sure. He asks if we’re from the boat in port, and we say yes. He says, “Navy, yeah?”… and we don’t tell him otherwise… hey, if this turns ugly and we gotta split, best he tells the Shore Patrol and the cops it was a couple sailors, right? We may be drunk, but we’re no dummies…

Now let me preface what I’m going to tell you with this: for the most part, the Aussies I met seemed cool. They may not like us as much as they used to (which will pass), but they loooovvve our money. So, for the most part if they have political problems with us, they zip it, and wait to talk smack till after we deposit multiple hundreds of thousands of US dollars into their little port town and then leave.

So, ol’ boy launches right into it after that.

“What do you think of your job?” - We say we like it… I mean what else have we got to do?

“What do you think of this war?” - We saw this one coming and both tried to deftly dodge it, wanting to be the good guests in the guy’s country. “I don’t have an opinion,” only draws “Well you’ve got to have one.” “I don’t get paid to think,“ brings a “Ya can’t be a robot mate!“ And finally Kevin shuts him down with, “I don’t know… they won’t send me…” (Kevin’s been to Iraq before… for 24 hours… I’m not kidding.)

But here comes the main event: “What do you think of George Bush?” - This one actually proves quite easy - “Don’t know… never met him.”

And then… the showstopper…

“What do you think of John Howard?”
“John Howard? What do you think of John Howard?”

And Kevin looks the guy dead in the eye and says, “Who the fuck is John Howard?”

I about lost it.

I look at Kevin and go, “I think he runs the place or somethin’… he’s the president.” (He’s the Prime Minister, but at this point in the evening, heads of state and their titles of office were of little concern to me.)

The bloke took that one in stride… at least fifty percent of these nasty Americans knew who the PM was… that’s a start. So he comes back with this gem: “Yeah, who the fuck is he? He’s just a puppet anyway! They all are… John Howard, Tony Blair, Bush, Rumsfeld…” (Side note: I love how Rumsfeld always gets lumped in with the national boss-types).

“They’re all marionettes, they are. All of ‘em’s strings are being pulled. John Howard doesn’t run this country.”

So now, I gotta know. I know I shouldn’t push it. I know I’ve found the Aussie Howler-Moonbat, and I’m quite literally in his corner of the outback.

But, you CANNOT hang that curveball in front of me and expect me not to swing.

“So… who IS running Australia then?”

“Ever heard of a band called R.E.M.?”

Kevin beats me to the punch by half a second, but we both look at the dude and go, “So R.E.M. is running Australia?”

We start to lose it. I mean, that’s some funny crap, right? Wrong… apparently. Bloke gets all kinds of agitated.

“Don’t be fuckin’ sarcastic.”

Yikes. Kevin and I go into mirth and merriment control mode quickly… like I said, we’re trying to be the good tourists.

“So you’ve heard of R.E.M., yeah?” - Yes, of course.

“Well they have this song that explains it…”

I wish I could tell you the rest of what the guy said, but another Bundy and Coke seemed much more important than listening to some dude try to tell me how world politics can be explained by crappy pop songs. I slammed what was left of my drink (which was considerable, but I had to get away from this clown), said in a loud voice, “Damn, I’m empty. I’ll be at the bar,” and went back inside leaving Kevin to fend for himself… but just for a minute or two before another one of our buddies went out and grabbed him up so we could get on to the next bar.

And as we walked out the door, I said to Kevin, “So does R.E.M. pull the strings on the world?”

“Dude, I don’t know… and who the fuck is John Howard?”

Aug 14, 2005

Words that I never wanted to say 

I just found out today that my friend Pat was killed in a motorcycle accident yesterday or the day before… what with time zones and international datelines, I don’t know exactly when it happened.
He would sometimes leave posts in the comments under the name “Dumass,” a screen name he used when we’d get together to play videogames. Usually his comments would be something insulting or vile… and I’d shoot barbs right back at him… because that’s how we were.
His wife and mine were co-workers and are friends. That’s how we met. He was a former Marine… into firearms, and videogames, and strong drinking… the stuff that Marines are into. We hit it off immediately. Even our dogs became best buds, and if I had a son, I’m sure his best friend would have been Pat’s son. My wife and I stayed at his house for awhile before we left North Carolina, after our own lease across town had run out. When we left, how was I to know that would be the last time I’d see him? That was just over a year ago.
We’d still talk to each other, but usually it was through those cheap shots we’d take at each other in my comments section. Our wives would have hours long conversations with each other on a regular basis, but usually we’d exchange our hellos through them… neither one of us was very big on phone conversations I guess… that’s just not what guys do...or something like that.
The last time we “talked” to each other was just over a month ago. He put a smartass comment across my bow, and I returned the shot… typical banter from the two of us… and now he’s gone.


I call bullshit.

He was a good dad, a good man, and a good friend, and now he’s gone and it’s not fucking fair. I just don’t know what else to say.

My wife emailed me with the news, which I ended up getting at a computer in my workspace aboard the ship… basically a public place. I wanted to cry, but I held it together for a while… and then I found someplace private and sat down and bawled for about five minutes. And then I thought, “What would Pat say?”

”Get up you homo! What are you trying to do, embarrass me?”

And I took a few deep breaths and smiled a little, because that IS something he’d say. But that was a few hours ago, and I’m still tearing up now as I write this.

He left behind a wonderful wife and a great kid… and quite a few dear friends who are going to miss him one hell of a lot.

In my next liberty port, you can bet that I’ll be good and sloshed after having raised more than a few to my friend. And contraband or not, I found some bourbon aboard this bucket and did a shot for my friend, because he damn well deserved one.

I’ve told no one here about what happened… I feel that any “I’m sorry’s” would ring hollow… they didn’t know the man, what have they got to be sorry about? I wouldn’t write about any of this, except for the fact that he’s one of the few people who actually know who I am, that I write this thing, and that supported it from the beginning. I’d go so far as to say that he’s one of the reasons I kept doing it… I wanted to see what I could say that would draw a reaction.

I don’t need any sympathy from anyone out there. Nothing’s wrong with me. I just wanted to vent some, and let everyone know what events have transpired… what will be coloring my view of the world for awhile.

Goodbye Pat. I hope to see you again. You are one of the best friends a guy could have.

This post was written three days ago, but I have been unable to put it up till now due to server problems. In that time I have learned that Pat was an organ donor and that he has the opportunity to help as many as 75 people with the tissues and marrow that were available. This is some small comfort to me, but of a much larger comfort is that Pat will have a military burial. I was concerned that this would not be the case... I don't know why, but I was. I know that he would have enjoyed the idea of being laid to rest by Marines, because that's what he was in his heart even though he hadn't worn the uniform in years. Once, always, and forever. It's good to know that someone back home is taking care of my friend, even though they didn't know him, while I'm so far away.

Aug 9, 2005

Even in the middle of the ocean… 

So a couple days ago, our CO got a little “love note” from someone back home… a love note that I am privy to by virtue of my job. Seems that someone with an internet browser (and more than likely a Democratic Underground account) thought it would be fun to look up our unit’s official mailing address – which, by the way, starts with the words “Commanding Officer” and THEN the unit name and PO Box – and launch into a tirade about the war and oil and Israel and God only knows what else. Who knows how many units he sent his little missive to…

I won’t bore you with the fine print. Like I said, you can read it anytime at DU. But it started out with “President Bush - ” (he’s not attached to the MEU, by the way, in case you were wondering) and proceeded to call him a puppet of the Jews and so on and so forth.

Why is it that these guys can never spell? The thing was riddled with spelling errors and choppy sentences that were grammatically out to lunch. I’d bet cash that he’s using Microsoft Word, which has auto-correct and spell-check features, and still, he wrote a letter that sported the syntax of a retarded chimp. How the hell do you pull that off using this equipment?

We turned the thing over to our NCIS rep. Hopefully he’ll be able to put a squash down on this guy. Shouldn’t be too hard… dumbass put his name and return address on the envelope. I hope for the sake of sport he at least put a dummy address on there, but I’ll bet he’s just self-righteous enough to have put the real one… got to stand up for those beliefs and put those uppity Jooos back in their place don’t ya know… what an idiot.

Where’s he from, you ask? Get this:


Now you know why I left.

The CO says to me, “Mike, most guys would have put the thing through the shredder, said to themselves ‘forget it’ and let the whole thing slide. But he addressed that letter to ME.” (…remember what I said about the official mailing address?…) “That letter came to ME, and he’s gonna talk trash about MY country, about MY President? Fuuuck that…”

Anyway, even out here, I can’t escape the stupidity of some folks back home. What disgusts me is that dirtbag’s envelope probably arrived in the same mail sack as the box my mom sent. They would have both come though the Seattle post office. And it somehow got here before the box my beloved Weef sent me. From the date stamped on jackass’s envelope, the Weef sent her nice stuff for me BEFORE jackass sent his spew to my CO.

CO: 1
Me: 0

How come some idiot’s hate mail can get here and a care package can’t?

This could be a very long float…

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