Mar 31, 2007

The range is going cold 



Couple weeks.


See ya when I see ya.

Till then, a little taste of what I'll be seeing while I'm gone...


Mar 30, 2007

Holy jeez... 

Did you know we were already in a shootin' war with Iran? Yeah, neither did I. And not just fighting with the surrogates and taking hits from the smuggled weapons. That's a given. No, no, I'm talkin' full blown gun fight with uniformed troops...
A moment later, U.S. and Iraqi forces came upon a third Iranian soldier on the Iraqi side of the border, who stood his ground. As U.S. and Iraqi soldiers approached the Iranian officer and began speaking with him, a platoon of Iranian soldiers appeared and moved to surround the coalition patrol, taking up positions on high ground. At that point, according to the Army’s statement, the Iranian captain told the U.S. and Iraqi soldiers that if they tried to leave they would be fired on. Fearing abduction by the Iranians, U.S. troops moved to go anyway, and fighting broke out. Army officials say the Iranian troops fired first with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, and that U.S. troops fell further back into Iraqi territory, while four Iraqi army soldiers, one interpreter and one Iraqi border guard remained in the hands of the Iranians.

The official release says there were no casualties among the Americans, and makes no mention of any on the Iranian side. U.S. soldiers present at the firefight, however, tell TIME that American forces killed at least one Iranian soldier who had been aiming a rocket-propelled grenade at their convoy of Humvees.
This apparently happened about six months ago, but how in the world I missed it I'll never know. I guess because most of my attention is focused on Anbar (where all the Marines are), I'd be up to date on border incursions if they were Syrian, not Iranian.

So now that they've gone and jacked those Brits, can we just go ahead and smoke the bastards? What's it gonna take? Do we need a mushroom cloud in the shape of the Ayatollah's turban before we realize that Iran is at war with us even though we're not at war with them?

That is what happened last week in the Persian Gulf. A British naval vessel and crew stood by while Iranian boats pirated away a group of British soldiers. Reports indicate that the fire power of the British ship was capable of engaging and defeating the Iranian force. Moreover, British and U.S. combatant aircraft could have reached the scene in minutes but apparently weren’t called. The Royal Navy fired not a shot. How unlike the fire of Britain’s former First Seahand, Winston Churchill, who later proclaimed: “We shall fight them on the beaches; we shall fight them on the Seas.”

This war has become demoralizing because of repeated incidents of this nature: the unwillingness of Western powers to crush the enemy even in service of defending our own people. We have allowed the enemy to think he is braver than us. We have, thereby, emboldened the enemy and made things tougher for ourselves, not easier.

We fire not on their fortress mosques, nor on their ships, nor during their holy days, nor in their holy cities, nor at their “holy men.” We dare not humiliate. Instead, we allow ourselves to be forever humiliated and forfeit our men and women. So concerned are we about not offending Muslim pride we have thrown away our own. The West has decided that all things Islamic are to be granted a reverence we no longer grant ourselves. The sand and plaster of the fortress mosque seems to carry more importance than even the flesh and blood of our own soldiers.

Instead of taking action, the British ship commander telephoned home, to his superiors up the chain of command. The officer did what he was told: “Hold fire.” Perhaps our soldiers in WWII were better off not being equipped with phones back to headquarters. They, at least, could act like and do what soldiers are trained to do.
ABSOLUTELY go read the rest of this one.

Mar 28, 2007

An open letter to the Commandant 


As every Marine now knows, your new policy will soon be going into effect regarding tattoos. As a Marine who is tattoo-free and has no intention of getting one any time soon, my ability to get a tattoo on my lower arm after 1 April is of little concern to me. However, what does concern me is the policy itself.

Once upon a time, the judge would look at a young man and say “The Marine Corps or jail. Your choice.” Those days are thankfully long gone, but the fact remains that the Corps has always prided itself on being more rough-and-tumble than the other services. Marines are supposed to be the “door kickers” - the shock troops who go forth and conquer when the mission must be accomplished at the loss of life and limb. We are born of tougher stuff. The few. The proud.

At the heart of this image stands the individual Marine. Rough. Intense. Coarse. A warfighter to his very core. Like the Celts of old, he dons warpaint for battle. Like warriors throughout the ages, he sometimes adorns himself with tattoos of the victories he’s taken part in, and comrades he’s lost. In approximately 72 hours from this typing, that image will begin to slowly be put out to pasture, just like the words of that judge, in the name of protecting our “professional demeanor and the high standards America has come to expect from us.” Respectfully, sir, I think nothing could be more wrong.
“The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!”
Those words, spoken by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, sum up the many contradictions embodied by Marines. They are professional, while uncouth. They are destructive, while protective. They are hard, while amiable. In short, they are everything America expects them to be. Mostly, they are there when America calls, and for the most part America doesn’t much care what they look like. Marines come in every color available, but at our core, we’re all green. Over the past decades our Corps has grown better educated. In public we conduct ourselves with the utmost professionalism and respect. At war, we destroy the enemy and defend freedom. And that is what I believe America expects of us, sir.

I have heard older Marines tell even older tales of Iraqis (in the Saddam era) or Koreans (both North and South) whispering in hushed tones that tattoos on a Marine were there to commemorate different individuals he had killed. Of course, these stories of the Marine as bogeyman were untrue, but not without merit in combat. Anything that makes the enemy wary to engage is worthwhile. Is losing the psychological effect that some skin ink may have on the enemy worth protecting our “professional demeanor?” I cannot answer that, but I know what psychological effect it’s having on Marines.

Right now, many Marines are adding this to their own personal lists of reasons why they will not be reenlisting. It’s something small, to be sure. But at a time when retention is of the greatest importance, little things matter. The Marine Corps intends to swell its ranks by over 20,000. At the heart of this increase will be holding on to Marines who are experienced and can train the next crop of up and coming youngsters. Some of those Marines are tattooed. In fact, I’d wager a great many are. Furthermore, this policy will turn away able-bodied, willing Americans who want to join the Corps simply because they have too much ink on their arms or legs. Not because it is offensive, not because it breaks good order and discipline, not because it’s even somewhere that could be considered distracting (such as the face or neck). These policies are already in place and are not in dispute. But to tell someone who could be a brilliant leader of Marines “go away” simply because they went and got themselves inked up extensively between the elbow and wrist seems somewhat odd.

While this policy may be changed by some future Commandant, as we all know, decisions a Commandant makes typically long outlast his tour of duty. They set a direction for the Corps and the Corps plows headlong on that azimuth, and that’s exactly how it should be, to my mind. But I have spoken to a few Marines who were attached to 1st Marine Division when you were the Commanding General there, sir, and they have informed me that you showed a great disdain for tattoos – basically ALL tattoos. I know it would upset a great many Marines if this policy stemmed more from your own personal dislikes rather than what might or might not be best for retention, recruitment, motivation, and professionalism. You have said that “tattoos of an excessive nature do not represent our traditional values.” With respects, sir, I think those tattoos very well represent our traditional values. They express free speech, pride, and a warrior ethos that strikes fear into the hearts of our enemies and projects the image that Americans think of when they hear the word Marine. Professional, while uncouth. Destructive, while protective. Hard, while amiable.

In short, sir, we go to excess in everything we do because we ARE Marines. And while that may not need to be encouraged, I do not feel it should be stifled.

Very Respectfully & Semper Fidelis,

A Marine

Mar 27, 2007

Guess what 

About a week ago, one of my Marines sends me an email. We have great, world-spanning geo-political discussions around the office, and as it turns out he's big into Barack Obama. Some other Marines give him a ration of crap for this (all in good fun), but hey, that's his opinion. He's been to Iraq twice for it, so he can keep it... (Funny aside: ask him about Hillary, and it's "not just no, but HELL no"). So he shoots me what I can only assume is a form letter from the Obama website to join his campaign. Not to be outdone, I replied with an offer to join MY campaign. Names have been changed to protect the innocent guilty.

From: Sgt O
To: Mike the Marine
Subject: Guess what

I just joined Barack Obama's campaign for president.

I know sometimes the political process seems impossible, superficial, and worse. But we're trying to change that. We're building a campaign of the people, by the people, and for the people.

So please take a moment to learn more about Barack, about the campaign I'm running with him. There's a place in it for all of us.



From: Mike the Marine
To: Sgt O
Subject: RE: Guess what

I just joined my own campaign for Emperor of the Universe.

I know sometimes the political process seems impossible, superficial, and worse. And it totally is. I'll be changing all that when I become High Overlord and Ruler of all that I survey... and, of course, abolish elections. I'm building a campaign of the people, by the people, and for the people.

By which I mean that I will build my throne on a mountain of "the people's" skulls.

So please take a moment to learn more about Me, about the campaign I'm running. There's a place in it for all of us... or at least your skull...


Mar 21, 2007

I love the smell of cordite in the evening... 

Found this vid via the Jawa and instantly recognized it. This is what a mixed section of Skids (1xCobra, 1xHuey) can do for ya. I recognized the footage because I know the pilots. They were from our HMLA det on my MEU in 2005. The National Guard unit they were supporting that night filmed this and then sent it to us later as a thank-you. This is only the middle two minutes of what was originally five minutes of pure beat down. Wish I'd made a copy of the original, but never did. So here ya go. Hit, Iraq, circa Nov 2005.


Animal wrongs 

My disdain for dirty hippies is rivaled only by my loathing contempt for PETA - and really damn near all animal rights activists, when you get right down to it. This is not to say that I hate God's little, fluffy forest and woodland creatures. I don't. Quite the opposite. The Wif and I have a dog, two cats, a bird, and more fish than I can count. So I'm a fan of the fuzzy bunnies... unless, of course, the bunnies must die to cure cancer or create shampoo that won't make you tear up when it gets in your eyes. Then the bunnies gotta go. But I digress...

My point is, if these animal rights pukes really cared THE LEAST little bit about animals, would they actually tell you that it was better to kill one than let it live happily and healthily in a zoo?
BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- A celebrity in the animal kingdom, polar bear cub Knut is no stranger to TV cameras, visiting fans and posing for Vanity Fair photographer Annie Leibovitz.

But the abandoned cub is facing demands that he be killed by lethal injection, as he has become too dependant on humans.

Animal rights activists in Germany have said that keeping the orphaned cub alive defies nature. When a cub is abandoned in the wild they fend for themselves and usually die.
"Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate but a gross violation of animal protection laws," animal rights activist Frank Albrecht was quoted as saying by the mass-circulation Bild daily.

"The zoo must kill the bear."
I'm pretty sure that feeding by hand wasn't "species-appropriate" for the California Condor, either, being as most condors in the wild aren't fed scraps by the kind passers by. But it seemed to work out pretty well for that species, didn't it? And if polar bears are as "on the brink" as the Goracle and his Gorbots would have us believe, isn't it important to keep this bear's DNA around for species breeding programs if nothing else?

While a lot of people - myself included - think animal cruelty should be punished harshly and are happy to contribute to conservation efforts, people who support "animal rights," for the most part, are engaged in a political movement that has nothing to do with helping animals. In fact, as we can see from this example they will happily kill animals for nothing but giggles, while railing against medical researchers who do animal testing or your right to have a steak. (A quick spin around Google tells me that the guy calling for us to go "Ol' Yeller" on Knut is into the whole vegan thing as well. I'm shocked, SHOCKED I SAY!) Want more? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or Merchants of Four-Legged Death? You make the call.

And if you have about 15 minutes to spare, watch Penn & Teller call BS on the whole godawful sham that is the animal rights movement. Horrifically strong language ahead, but if you care, you'll watch it... think of the bunnies.

UPDATE: It takes "courage" to off an infant polar bear, apparently. No word on if said "courage" could only be applied with a mixture of chemicals, or if you could use a club...

Mar 19, 2007

Cheney still eeevil 

But Halliburton... not so much. It may take awhile for the memos to circulate, but I'd be willing to bet that within the next month will be the LAST time you ever hear or see Halliburton mentioned by anyone in the rabid anti-war movement. Now that daddy war bucks George Soros has his hand in the till, everything is A-OK. Right?

Normally, I'm willing to overlook the hypocrisy of the liberal elite. If Al Gore and his Hollywood cronies want to fly around on gas-guzzling, atmosphere-polluting private jets while railing against global climate change, I'm willing to overlook it.

But the latest move by globe trotting, hyper-liberal billionaire George Soros
borders on being too much. (all emphasis mine - Mike)
It only borders on too much for a confessed liberal hypocricy forgiver. See? No problemo.

UPDATE: Okay, I'll grant that I can't tell if the author is being serious or a wise-ass right there. And from reading some of his other stuff, it looks like he may very well be a wise-ass. But my point still stands...

Mar 17, 2007


Merry St. Paddy's!

...and, of course, you'll need this...

Oh, and a flashback.

UPDATE: Any and all St. Paddy's goodness that I collect from around the web will be located below.

My Bro sends his

Harvey bestows a highly coveted
honor upon Matty.

Grim lays down a little history.

Lex says, amongst other things, watch Boondock Saints. Good call.

Harvey breaks out the Fun Facts at Frank J.'s place.

Mar 16, 2007

Why I'll be seeing "300" AT LEAST two more times 

Anything that makes Iran this uncomfortable is ABSOLUTELY worth the price of admission... twice THRICE. The most unsettling part of the review isn't even who they blame for the movie (hint: it starts with a "J" and ends with an "s"... and has an "ew" in the middle). No, no. The wierdest part is that it's in english, not farsi. Wonder who they were making this for...

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UPDATE: Exactly!
Because the dirty little secret is, we used to write these movies all the time. Impossible odds. Quixotic causes. Death before surrender. Real all-American stuff, in which our heroes stood up for God and country and defending Princess Leia and getting back home to see their wives and children, with their shields or on them.

And the dirtier little secret is: We loved writing them.

Even a blacklisted communist like Carl Foreman came up with "High Noon," in which a lone Gary Cooper defends a town full of ungrateful, carping yellowbellies and then throws away his badge in disgust at their cowardice.

But then came psychiatrists and psychologists and Ritalin and global warming and racism and sexism and homophobia and the enlightened among us said the hell with John Wayne and Gary Cooper. Hollywood became one big Agatha Christie novel in the last chapter - you know, where the survivors gather in the drawing room and realize: The killer must be one of us!

But now, I'm starting to wonder.

Starting to wonder if celebrating diversity is getting us anywhere when the Iranians think we're insulting their civilization by making King Xerxes a seven-foot-tall club queen.

Starting to wonder if a movie that has no stars, the look and feel of a video game, and the moral code of the United States Marine Corps might have something to say, even to audiences in New York and L.A.

Mar 15, 2007

Self-propelled dhimmitude in action 

It's your "political correctness leading us down the road to hell" moment of the day, and it's a doozy. It's a move so stupid, that even Muslims can't believe it.
The story of the Three Little Pigs' battle with the Big Bad Wolf has delighted children since it was written more than 150 years ago. But the tale highlighting the merits of hardwork and practicality has become the latest to fall victim to political correctness. A junior school production of the children's story has been renamed the Three Little Puppies for fear of offending Muslims.
Committee member Gill Goodswen, head teacher of Stile Common Junior School, defending the move. She said:
"We have to be sensitive if we want to be multi-cultural. It was felt it would be more responsible not to use the three little pigs."
She stressed the decision was not prompted by a complaint from any school. But Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra from the Muslim Council of Britain branded the move 'bizarre'. He said: "The vast majority of Muslims have no problem whatsoever with the Three Little Pigs. It's always been the traditional way of telling the story and I don't see why that should be changed."
WOW. That's… WOW.

I've been quite literally knocked speechless from the stupid. Meanwhile, your "non-shocker of the day"...

Mar 11, 2007


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Just got back from "300." Awesome. I would write a better review, but Ragnar apparently wrote it yesterday for me. Very thoughtful of him.

UPDATE:Million dollar quote from the director.

Mar 7, 2007

Subliminal messaging? 

So maybe I'm reading too much into this. And maybe I'm not the right guy to bitch because I don't read a lot of comic books (or really ANY, for that matter). And to top it all off, as we all know, I'm a Batman guy. But this strikes me as just the most underhanded slap in the face that the guys at Marvel could take at the country that has given them a voice to write comics in the first place:
Captain America has undertaken his last mission — at least for now. The venerable superhero is killed in the issue of his namesake comic that hit stands Wednesday, the Daily News reported.

On the new edition's pages, a sniper shoots down the shield-wielding hero as he leaves a courthouse, according to the newspaper.
Yes, you read that right: THEY KILLED CAPTAIN AMERICA. (That would be bad enough, but then MessNBC goes one better with the headline "Death to America". Nice.)

Now, I know how comics work, and I know that storylines don't necessarily carry over from one series to the next, and I know that comic writers will retcon the daylights out of stuff to bring characters back to life or change their origins, or whatever. Hell, they did it with Superman even. But I gotta agree with 93 year old Joe Simon who co-created "Cap" with Jack Kirby in 1941: "We really need him now."

Apparently, this all makes a very bold statement on personal freedoms, and the Patriot Act, and 9/11, and... whatever… I think it's anti-American BS, and if they bring Cap back to life he'll inevitably be some tortured soul who doesn't bleed red, white, and blue anymore and is more likely to search for international approval before taking any action - ever. Kinda like this guy. Of course, in this most recent incarnation, he may have kinda been leaning that way anyway.

The point is, I can't think of any other country - any other culture - so willing to destroy it's own heroes. Even the fictional ones. I promise you the enemy doesn't kill off HIS heroes in HIS cartoons. Of course, given the nature of our current enemies, I could be wrong...

Mar 6, 2007

1stLt Jared Landaker 

1stLt Jared Landaker was at the controls of a CH-46 in Iraq one month ago when it was shot down by the enemy, killing him, four other Marines, and two Corpsmen. The following was written by Stuart Witt, a former F-14 pilot, and manager of the Mojave Airport/Spaceport (thanks to the flight of SpaceShipOne) who witnessed "J-Rod"'s final flight home. Don't know how long this link will last, so here's the whole thing.

Feb. 17, 2007, 0350 curbside at 24th and M, Washington DC. 16 degrees with a light breeze. Going home after my second week of freezing temps. Fly my aircraft, ride a horse, climb a mountain and get back to living. I'm tired of the cold.

0425 paying the taxi fare at Dulles in front of the United Airlines counter, still cold.

0450 engaging the self-serve ticker machine and it delivers my ticket, baggage tag and boarding pass. Hmmm, that Marine is all dressed up early…? Oh, maybe,,, Hmmm, "Good morning captain, you're looking sharp."

Pass security and to my gate for a quick decaf coffee and five hours sleep. A quick check of the flight status monitor and UA Flight 211 is on time. I'm up front, how bad can it be? Hmmm, that same Marine, he must be heading to Pendleton to see his lady at LAX for the long weekend all dressed up like that….? Or maybe not?

"Attention in the boarding area, we will begin boarding in 10 minutes, we have some additional duties to attend to this morning but we will have you out of here on time."

That captain now has five others with him. BINGO. I get it, he is not visiting his lady, he's an official escort. How I remember doing that once, CACO duty. I still remember the names of the victim and family, The Bruno family in Mojave …, all of them, wow, that was 24 years ago. I wonder if we will ever know who and why?

On board, 0600: "Good morning folks this is the captain. This morning we have been attending to some additional duties and I apologize for being 10 minutes late for pushback but believe me we will be early to LAX. This morning it is my sad pleasure to announce that 1st Lt. Jared Landaker, USMC, will be flying with us to his Big Bear home in Southern California.

''Jared lost his life over the skies of Iraq earlier this month and today we have the honor of returning him home along with his mother, father, brother and uncles.

''Please join me in making the journey comfortable for the Landaker family and their uniformed escort. Now sit back and enjoy our ride, we are not expecting any turbulence until we reach the Rocky Mountains and at that time we will do what we can to ensure a smooth ride. For those interested you can listen in to our progress on button 9."

Up button 9: "Good morning UA 211 you are cleared to taxi, takeoff and cleared to LAX as filed." From the time we started rolling we never stopped. 1st Lt. Landaker began receiving his due.

Four hours and 35 minutes later, over Big Bear Mountain, the AB320 makes a left roll and steep bank and then one to the right, Nice touch captain

"Five minutes out from landing, the captain: "Ladies and gents, after landing I'm leaving the fasten seatbelt sign on and I ask everyone in advance to yield to the Landaker family. Please remain seated until all members have departed the aircraft. Thank you for your patience, we are 20 minutes early."

On roll out, I notice red lights, emergency vehicles everywhere. We are being escorted directly to our gate, no waiting anywhere, not even a pause. Out the left window, a dozen Marines in full dress blues. Highway Patrol, police, fire crews all in full dress with lights on. A true class act by everyone, down to a person, from coast to coast. Way to go United Airlines for doing the little things RIGHT, because they are the big things; Air Traffic Control for getting the message, to all law enforcement for your display of brotherhood.

When the family departed the aircraft everyone sat silent, then I heard a lady say, "God Bless You and your Family, Thank You." Then another, then another, then a somber round of applause. The captain read a prepared note from Mrs. Landaker to the effect, "Thank you all for your patience and heartfelt concern for us and our son. We sincerely appreciate the sentiment. It is nice to have Jared home."

After departing the aircraft, I found myself, along with 30 others from our flight, looking for a window. Not a dry eye in the craft. All of us were bawling like babies. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life. We all stood silent and watched as Jared was taken by his honor guard to an awaiting hearse. Then the motorcade slowly made its way off the ramp.

I have finally seen the silent majority. It is deep within us all. Black, Brown, White, Yellow, Red, Purple, we are all children, parents, brothers, sisters, etc … we are an American family.

What you don't know is that on the flight I was tapped on the shoulder by Mrs. Landaker who introduced herself to me after I awoke. Her words were, "I understand you have sons in the service. Please tell them we appreciate their service. We are so proud of our kids who chose to serve at this time. We were so proud of Jared and today we find ourselves in a fog of disbelief. Jared was three days from returning home."

Early in our taxi out from the gate at Dulles, the gent next to me (a Fairfax City Council Member and acquaintance of the Thuot family) and I were talking to the flight attendant and mentioned that we had sons serving on active duty, "What do you say? How tragic, they must be devastated." He said many of the passengers had told him the same thing so somewhere in the flight he shared his tidbits with Mrs. Landaker. Our flight attendant had been struggling with what to say, to find the right words, so he told the Landaker family of passengers who were parents of service members who connected with their grief as parents. After I gathered myself, I stepped back to their row, two behind me and introduced myself to Mr. Landaker (a Veteran of South East Asia as a Tanker) and Jared's uncle and brother. What a somber moment. Their Marine captain escort was a first rate class act. He had been Jared's tactics instructor and volunteered for this assignment, as he said, "Sir, it is the least I could do, he was my friend and a great stick. He absolutely loved to fly, It's an honor to be here on his last flight."

1115: On my connecting flight, my mind raced. How lucky I was to have had an opportunity to fly my father to Spain and ride the carrier USS John F. Kennedy home in 1981. The same year Jared was born. How lucky I was to have my father on the crows landing when I made my final cat shot in an F-14. Jared's father never had that chance. Jared was at war, 10,000 miles away.

When Mr. Landaker and I were talking he shared with me, "When Jared was born he had no soft spot on his head and doctors feared he would be developmentally challenged. He became a physics major with honors, a high school and college athlete, and graduated with distinction from naval aviation flight school. He was short in stature, but a Marine all the way." Visit his life story on line at www.bigbeargrizzly.net . Bring tissue.

February 7, 2007, Anbar Province, Iraq. 1st Lt Jared Landaker, United States Marine Corps, Hero, from Big Bear Calif., gave his life in service to his country. Fatally wounded when his CH-46 helicopter was shot down by enemy fire, Jared and his crew all perished. His life was the ultimate sacrifice of a grateful military family and nation.

His death occurred at the same time as Anna Nicole Smith, a drug using person with a 7th grade education of no pedigree who dominated our news for two weeks while Jared became a number on CNN. And most unfortunately, Jared's death underscores a fact that we are a military at war, not a nation at war. Until we become a nation committed to winning the fight, and elect leaders with the spine to ask Americans to sacrifice in order to win, we shall remain committed to being a nation with a military at war, and nothing more. (And possibly no funding if congress has their way!)

1st Lt. Landaker, a man I came to know in the skies over America on 17 February 2007, from me to you, aviator to aviator, I am unbelievably humbled. It was my high honor to share your last flight. God bless you.

Semper Fi.

"...we are a military at war, not a nation at war." Sound familiar?

Lt Landaker's MySpace Page

Jared Landaker Tribute at MySpace

Marine Corps Times story on fallen warriors' "cyber-memorials"

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