Feb 23, 2009

64 years 

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Ira Hayes, John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and some dude in the middle

Semper Fi.

Feb 22, 2009

Oscar night 

Who cares? Got home just in time to see them announce the win for Heath Ledger, and that's all I wanted to see anyway. Otherwise, watching that many airheads break their arms patting themselves on the back lost my interest over a decade ago.

Which is not to say I hate film. In fact I love it. And when I said "got home," it was in fact from a movie.

Taken. Read that review. Then get thyself to a theater.

Holy. Crap.

It was like watching '24'... but one where the Jack Bauer goes to 11 (another film reference, that if you don't get, you are simply useless). Why is it that Hollywood is the biggest group of tools to scream about places like Gitmo, but are more than happy to have their heroes use torture on the big screen if it puts butts in the seats?

Quite simply, this film puts on full display the concept of sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs, and does so brilliantly. Sometimes the good guys have to do hurtful, distasteful things. Things bordering on horrific. But when the sheep are threatened, the wolves must pay a price. It's sad that celluloid is the only place that a concept that should be taken for granted can be found acceptable any more. Like The Dark Knight or 300, this is a film that's deeper than just a good story - it's a wake-up call. Find it now before it rotates out of your local mega-plex.

Feb 21, 2009

Taking Chance 

Post will remain at top until the premier. Scroll down for new posts.

UPDATE: The original article from 2004 at BlackFive.

The Chance Phelps Foundation.

HBO Films page.

Dug through old emails and found this thousand-times forwarded message that went around the Corps and back.
-----Original Message-----
From: Strobl LtCol Michael R
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2005 7:37
Subject: Marines & Memorial Day


The attached picture is from Memorial Day. These Marines of 3d Bn, 11th Marines had a long weekend and could've gone to the beach, home to visit their families, or anywhere else they wanted.

What they did was drive 1,000 miles from 29 Palms, California to Dubois, Wyoming to stand in the snow and pay respects to LCpl Chance Phelps and his family. I know this gave the Phelps family great comfort and pride.


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UPDATE: Chance's last stand - a message from Gen Kelley.

Feb 8, 2009

R.I.P. James Whitmore 

Don't know who that is? Yeah ya do. If you're like me and you've ever spent all of Veteran's Day watching old WWII movies, you know exactly who he was.

Semper Fi, Marine.
Flashback: my hip pocket review of Battleground.

Feb 6, 2009

Subject: Election Day in Iraq 

All Hands:

Major General John Kelly sends this Iraq election notice
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

I don't suppose this will get much coverage in the States as the news is so good. No, the news is unbelievable.

Something didn't happen in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, today. Once the most violent and most dangerous places on earth, no suicide vest bomber detonated killing dozens of voters. No suicide truck bomber drove into a polling place collapsing the building and killing and injuring over 100. No Marine was in a firefight engaging an Al Qaida terrorist trying to disrupt democracy.

What did happen was Anbar Sunnis came out in their tens of thousands to vote in the first free election of their lives.

With the expectation of all of the above (suicide bombers) they walked miles (we shut down all vehicle traffic with the exception of some shuttle busses for the elderly and infirm) to the polling places. I slept under the stars with some Grunts at Combat Outpost Iba on the far side of Karma, and started driving the 200 miles up the Euphrates River Valley through Karma, Fallujah, Habbiniyah, Ramadi, Hit, Baghdad and back here to Al Asad. I stopped here and there to speak with cops, soldiers, Marines, and most importantly, regular Iraqi men and women along the way. It was the same everywhere. A tension with every finger on a trigger that broke at perhaps 3PM when we all began to think what was almost unthinkable a year ago. We might just pull this off without a bombing. No way. By 4PM it seemed like we'd make it to 5PM when the polls closed. At 4:30 the unbelievable happened:
the election was extended an hour to 6PM because of the large crowds!
What are they kidding? Tempting fate like that is not nice. Six PM and the polls close without a single act of violence or a single accusation of fraud, and nearly by early reports pretty close to 100% voted. Priceless.

Every Anbari walking towards the polling place had these determined and, frankly, concerned looks on their faces. No children with them (here mothers and grandmothers are NEVER without their children or grandchildren) because of the expectation of death. Husbands voted separately from wives, and mothers separately from fathers for the same reason. In and out quickly to be less of a target for the expected suicide murderer. When they came out after voting they also wore the same expression on their faces, but now one of smiling amazement as they held up and stared at ink stained index fingers.

Norman Rockwell could not have captured this wonderment. Even the ladies voted in large numbers and their husbands didn't insist on going into the booths to tell them who to vote for.

One of the things I've always said was that we came here to "give" them democracy. Even in the dark days my only consolation was that it was about freedom and democracy. After what I saw today, and having forgotten our own history and revolution, this was arrogance. People are not given freedom and democracy - they take it for themselves. The Anbaris deserve this credit.

Today I step down as the dictator, albeit benevolent, of Anbar Province. Today the Anbaris took it from me. I am ecstatic. It was a privilege to be part of it, to have somehow in a small way to have helped make it happen.

Semper Fi.

Got this today as it made it's way around the Marine Corps email system. More here and here.

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