Memorial Day 2014–Am I Wrong?

   REQUEST: United States Flag in Wind

    Last year I posted some thoughts on Memorial Day and as we approach another, I’ve got a couple of other things to talk about. In my opinion, Memorial Day is the most important holiday that we, as Americans, celebrate each year. Without the sacrifices of our soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors (men & women), we all wouldn’t be here to trick or treat, carve turkeys, or trim the Christmas tree.  But you know what? Some of those sacrifices didn’t have to be made.

     Let me say first that I don’t mean to go off on a rant here or focus on the negative. But as an American, a patriot, and a veteran myself, the needless deaths of American warriors just pisses me off and probably should you as well.

     So what got me on this subject?  Last night, my wife and I laid down (in the Cave, of course) to watch something on Amazon On Demand. The first thing that popped up under New Releases was the film, Lone Survivor, written & directed by Peter Berg. I’d wanted to see this movie in the theater but never got a chance. So I immediately clicked “buy” and settled in to watch.

     I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read the book of the same name by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and co-author Patrick Robinson.  It’s been on my literary “to do” list and I’m about to go digging around my shelves because something tells me I have a copy somewhere.

     I’m not going to recap the plot…if you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it.  What I want to do is focus on one small aspect of the movie, and presumably the reality of the mission it portrays. I’m anxious to read the book to see how much, if any of this aspect was “Hollywooded up.”  I suspect that it was not.  It’s the same issue that makes the story of Blackhawk Down so maddening (to read or watch).

     I simply cannot believe, in the 20th and 21st Century, that we continue to send our warriors into battle without the absolute highest level of support that the most powerful and innovative nation in the history of the world can muster. In Blackhawk Down, we sent U.S. Army Rangers, Delta Force operators, and U.S. Army pilots & crew into a battle zone without heavy armor support.

     I’m not General Patton. I’m just a history buff who happened to do three years in the peacetime U.S. Army of the late 80’s. But you don’t have to be Sun freaking Tzu to know that a bunch of Somali yahoos with RPGs and AKs would’ve struggled hard against a company of M1A1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. A lot of good soldiers died that day because some politicians didn’t want to send armor to Somalia because it would look too much like a war. I’d venture to say none of those politicians’ sons were in Mogadishu that day.

     So what’s my beef with Lone Survivor?  And remember, this isn’t aimed in any way, shape, or form at the Navy SEALs or U.S. Army personnel who died during that battle in 2005. Again, I’m no Von Clausewitz but if you watch Lone Survivor, you’ll notice that the recon team portrayed suffered from “Comm” problems early and often. “Comm,” is short for “communications” and basically, the SEALs in Operation Redwing were unable to speak to their command, and in the end it cost three of the team members and sixteen of their rescuers their lives.

     I sat in a theater this afternoon waiting for Godzilla to start. While I sat there with my popcorn, Coke, and chocolate-covered raisins, I surfed the internet on my iPhone 5c (the cheapo plastic version).  I checked my eBay listings, read some crap on Reddit, and if I’d have wanted, I could have called anybody I know anywhere in the world. My niece is in China on a college trip.  I’d have probably been able to get here on the horn and said, “What’s up girl?”  Yet we send four Navy SEALs into the mountains of Afghanistan with what appears to be the radio equivalent of two soup cans and a string?

    It’s not explained clearly in the film exactly why the comm problem exists. The commander, played by Eric Bana (also of Blackhawk Down film fame) says at one point, “we knew we’d have comm problems.”   Again, I’m not an engineer or a satellite communication specialist. But I have to assume that in 2005 we had at least one satellite in geosynchronous orbit over Afghanistan? Didn’t we? Couldn’t we have had a bird (aircraft) @ 30,000 feet to relay radio traffic between the team and HQ?

     There’s a scene in the movie where Army Apache helicopters are pulled off the the mission to assist with an Army unit that was in contact with the enemy.  It’s made pretty clear that even though losing the Apaches sucked big time, the SEALs involved didn’t begrudge the need to help out some brother warriors.  But one of the Apache pilots (I think) says something to the effect of “limited resources, Man.”

     And therein, for me, lies the rub.  We, as a nation, spend billions of dollars on things that are (again, my opinion), total wastes of money. I don’t necessarily want to offend anybody by offering specifics, but if you’re in favor of spending $2,000,000 to study the mating behavior of South Carolina sand fleas, I’m looking at you.

     I could probably rant for awhile on this subject and I know that a post about this on a blog where I usually navel gaze about my newest Godzilla poster or how much I pay for comic books is like spitting into the wind. But if I can get one person to at least think about this, then it might be worth it.

     As Americans, let’s get our priorities straight. Whether you agree with the politics behind a given military action or not, can we at least, as a nation, demand that our leaders give our men and women in uniform the tools they need to crush our enemies (to quote Conan)? We will always lose our warriors to enemy action. It’s the nature of war. But let’s not contribute to those deaths by giving anything less than 100%.

Speaking of…

     While I’m on the topic of Navy SEALS, let me turn you onto a guy who, in my humble opinion, is doing the Lord’s work.  His name is Don Shipley, and he’s a retired Navy SEAL Master Chief who’s made it his life’s work to call out the scumbags who would portray themselves to be that which they are not. He’s got a YouTube Channel.  Do yourself a favor…charge your iPhone and settle in. Prepare to get pissed and laugh your you-know-what-off…all at the same time.

     Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “stolen valor” or “the Stolen Valor Act of 2005?” Let me sum it up simply: There are losers–a bunch of them–who tell people–verbally, on resumes, websites, and social media, that they themselves are Navy SEALS, Green Berets, Army Rangers…you name it.  And they aren’t. Not even close. Many of them never served a day in the military.

     I stumbled upon Master Chief Shipley’s channel by accident and I am hooked. As a veteran myself, I would never, ever, ever, never dream of claiming I was something I was not. I was a three-year, peacetime, 11-B infantryman who served in the Old Guard (the Honor Guard at Ft. Myer, Virginia).  I earned Air Assault wings and was awarded two Army Achievement medals during my time in service.  A couple months after I had EOS’d, I received a package in the mail from my old Platoon Sgt.–Shout out to SFC Mansell!  He’d put me in for an Army Commendation medal, and the package contained the certificate (signed by the Old Guard Commanding Officer) and the actual medal–but no orders.  To this day, I still wonder if I can claim that award without the orders.

     So seeing some low-life rocking the SEAL hat, the tats, and all the other trappings and THEN finding out said loser was booted out of the Navy after 6 months raises a level of rage in me rarely felt beyond the rush-hour commute home.

     OK, this is going way long. Like I said, check out Master Chief Shipley’s channel and revel in the masterful smack-downs he delivers to the scammers and sham-artists out there in Stolen Valor land. You won’t be disappointed.

     Well, that’s it for the Kid.  Thanks, as always, for stopping by. Undoubtedly I’ll be back soon with the latest news from my nerdy corner of the world.  Maybe a rant on why it takes like 70 minutes for Godzilla to appear in his own dang movie.  Until next time…stay nerdy my friends.


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