Friday, September 28, 2007
Some of us are on the road again and on our way to train more soldiers who are headed overseas. This mission will be longer and we will be away from our families longer, but we are lucky. We are still in the United States.
I will post as often as I can and talk about some of the soldiers with whom I am working.
I took the above photo in Tikrit in 2004. The smoke was from an oil facility that was attacked by insurgents. I thought it made an unusual picture with the sun partially hidden.
SFC Chuck Grist
Monday, September 24, 2007
I had hoped for one more overseas trip, either to Iraq or Afghanistan, in order to serve in combat one final time before I retired. I also hoped to write about soldiers at war as I did in 2004 in a series of op-ed pieces for the Orlando Sentinel.
With my current tour due to end on February 1, 2008, it looks like I won’t get more than a brief trip overseas in these last few months on active duty – and even that is unlikely. As a result, I have decided to request that those who are neck-deep in the war zones tell me their stories.
In other words, I want American Ranger to become a forum for more than just my own thoughts, experiences and opinions. I want Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to send me the nitty gritty stories of the world in which they live. Within the restrictions posed by the needs for operational security and intelligence protection, I will print their stories for them, for their families and for the benefit of all Americans.
This part of my blog will become "The Warrior’s Forum" and I hope it will be a useful outlet for the feelings – good and bad – of the members of the new “greatest generation”. So, please, forward this to your sons, daughters, fathers, uncles, brothers and grandfathers who are serving in the War on Terror. Tell them to send their comments and photos to me at TheRangerCop@aol.com.
Here are the basic ground rules:
1. You need only identify yourself by rank, name, branch of service and hometown.
2. You can tell me what country you are in, but do not identify the unit, specific location or give any operational information that would be of intelligence value to the enemy.
3. I encourage you to send photographs, but remember the military rules.
4. American Ranger will only edit for grammar, punctuation and operational security. I am one of you. I want your story to be told, but only if it does not endanger our fellow warriors.
For examples of the kind of stories I want to tell, please check out these prior postings on American Ranger:
Please send this to your warriors and to those who will send it to others. I want their stories, their pictures and their deepest feelings. I want America to hear from those who deserve the last word – the men and women who lay their lives on the line for us every single day.
God bless America and God bless our brave warriors!
SFC Chuck Grist
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I will always be proud of my service with the First Cav in Vietnam. My pride grew when I served alongside a new generation of First Cav troopers in Iraq.
Many years ago I was part of a small group of men who founded the Florida Chapter of the First Cavalry Division Association. Although the hectic pace and disjointed hours of my law enforcement career have not permitted me to remain an active member, these outstanding men from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and the War on Terror are some of the finest men to walk the earth.
The following is from an email I recently received. It is a combination of sadness, memories and pride, but it provides up-to-date information about one of America’s finest fighting forces and the First Cav veterans who have served:
Let me start this with some sad news.
Robert P. “Bob” Cooper who was the President of the Association from 1978-1980 and has served continuously on the Board of Governors since 1982 died at the Amarillo Veterans Hospital on 21 September. Bob served with B Troop, 8th Cavalry at Fort Bliss and during World War II. Bob was instrumental in forming the Horse Cavalry Platoon (now the Horse Cavalry Detachment) and has been a mentor to many of the Troopers that served in the HCD over the years.
We all sometimes wonder what impact we have on the world and I can think of only a few that had as great an impact on preserving the heritage and traditions of the Cavalry as Bob Cooper. Every time I see the Horse Cavalry Detachment do a demonstration or perform a Cavalry charge I will remember Bob and his love for the Troopers and their mounts. Please keep his family in your prayers. Bob’s funeral is scheduled for 1600 hours on Tuesday, 25 September at the Cox Funeral Home in Amarillo, Texas.
I have also been informed by Bob Arbasetti of the death of Joe Capozzi, B Troop, 5th Cavalry, World War II on 19 September. Joe was a member of the Advisory Council and passed away from pneumonia and problems with residual scare tissue from numerous surgeries over the past 60 years. Joe lived in Lodi, New Jersey.
If you are planning on going to Washington, DC for Veterans Day we have updated information on events there on our web page at http://www.1cda.org/VeteransDay_2007.htm. The “All The Way Brigade Chapter” has done all of the coordination for this event and a Brotherhood of the Pleiku Banquet has been coordinated. A direct link to the information on their activities is http://allthewaybrigade.com/Reunion%20Pleiku%202007/Registration%202.html . A Hospitality Suite and small LZ Souvenir Shop will be set up in the Hyatt Arlington located at 1325 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, VA. The hotel is located close to the Key Bridge and is directly across the street from the Rosslyn stop on the Blue Line of the Metro system. If you live in the area or are visiting DC during that time, stop and visit with us.
The September/October SABER is at the printer and should be mailed out to those who have valid subscriptions sometime next week. We are working on the 2008 Calendar and plan on having it off to the printer by the middle of October.
The Division celebrated its 86th Birthday this month. As most of you know, the Division was organized at Fort Bliss, Texas on 13 September, 1921. Harry Boudreau has been updating his web page, http://www.first-team.us/ and is back on line and feeling much better than he was a few months ago. Harry serves as the Association Historian and has compiled some rather extensive unit histories which are linked from our Association web page. I’m sure that he would appreciate any updates from the units in Iraq concerning the newest historical facts for our units and the Division as a whole.
Many of you may be interested in knowing that the 1st Cavalry Division has reenlisted more Troopers during the past fiscal year than any other division in Forces Command. They have reenlisted more than 4,600 with a few days remaining in the fiscal year. Their nearest competitor is the 2nd Infantry Division and they are more than 2,500 behind. Interestingly, the majority of those reenlisting choose to stay with the First Team. Of course, some choose schooling and some ask for overseas assignment or another assignment in the states, but the majority of the Troopers chose to stay with the CAV. We congratulate the Division’s Career Counselors and the leadership of the Division from Squad Leader through Division Commander!
Last week I attended the monthly Memorial Service for seven of the First Team casualties. The Troopers of the 4th BCT are memorialized at ceremonies at Fort Bliss and those from attached units are also done elsewhere. We memorialized five men and two women this month. Their names are:
PV2 Michael Baloga, 6-9 CAV
SPC Charles Leonard, A 1-8 CAV
SGT Princess Samuels, HHC, 1st BDE
SSG Wilberto Sulliveras, C 2-8 CAV
PFC Omar Torres, A 2-5 CAV
SPC Zandra Walker, A 615 ASB
SPC Donald Young, B 1-5 CAV
A list of all of our Fallen Troopers is available at http://www.1cda.org/fallen_troopers.htm.
I have completed my trips to Jacksonville, Florida and Bloomington, Minnesota coordinating the 2008 Reunion and signing contracts for the 2010 Reunion. Information on the 2008 Reunion will come out in the calendars and be in the November/December SABER. You can reserve your rooms now if you wish. We will be staying at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront Hotel. The dates of the reunion are 18-22 June, 2008. The toll-free reservation number is (800) 233-1234. Make sure you identify yourself as part of the 1st Cavalry Division Association to reserve your room at the $92 rate. There is free self-parking for all registered hotel guests. If you stay at another hotel, you will have to pay to park at the hotel or in one of the cities parking areas.
The Division will begin returning from Iraq soon. Information on the redeployment and the holiday mailing deadlines is available on our web page at http://www.1cda.org/TSP.htm. I also recommend the Division’s web page at http://www.hood.army.mil/1stcavdiv/ for recent updates and news on the Division and its attached units.
Keep all who serve our nation in the Armed Services in your prayers but say a special prayer for the Troopers and families of the First Team!
Executive Director, 1st Cavalry Division Association
Phone (254) 547-6537 Fax (254) 547-8853
Web Page: http://www.1cda.org/
I echo the Executive Director: "First Team!"
SFC Chuck Grist
Friday, September 21, 2007
The email always brings either inspiration or a few chuckles. Here are a few I’d like to share. First the inspiration:
From Jim Rossie:
"Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force personnel have given their lives in the terrible duty that is war. Thousands more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded and facing months or years in military hospitals.
This week, I'm turning my space over to a good friend and former roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, who recently completed a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon.
Here's Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the web log of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for America Website.
'It is 110 yards from the 'E' ring to the 'A' ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here.
This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army' hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew.
Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area. The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.
10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.
A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.
Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden yet.
Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.
Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer.
11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. My hands hurt. Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway - 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.
They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.
'There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son's behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past.
These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.
Did you know that?
The media hasn't told you.”
From Will Cribbs:
America Needs A Leader Like This!
The following speech was made in 2006 by Prime Minister John Howard of Australia.
”Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia , as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.
A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to Australia and her Queen at a special meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, he and his Ministers made it clear that extremists would face a crackdown. Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept that Australia was a secular state, and its laws were made by parliament. "If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you", he said on National Television.
"I'd be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia : one the Australian law and another Islamic law that is false. If you can't agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country, which practices it, perhaps, then, that's a better option", Costello said.
Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, he said those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other country. Education Minister Brendan Nelson later told reporters that Muslims who did not want to accept local values should "clear off. Basically people who don't want to be Australians, and who don't want, to live by Australian values and understand them, well then, they can basically clear off", he said.
Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques. Quote: "IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians."
"However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the 'politically correct' crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against imm igration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia " "However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand." "This idea of Australia being a multi-cultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. And as Australians, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle."
"This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom"
"We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society . Learn the language!"
"Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture."
"We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us."
"If the Southern Cross offends you, or you don't like "A Fair Go", then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from. By all means, keep your culture, but do not force it on others.
"This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom,
'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE'."
"If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted."
Maybe if we circulate this amongst ourselves, American citizens will find the backbone to start speaking and voicing the same truths.
Now the chuckles:
Also from Jim Rossie:
Last Tuesday, as President Bush got off the helicopter in front of the White House, he was carrying a baby piglet under each arm. The squared away Marine guard snaps to attention, salutes, and says: "Nice pigs, sir."
The President replies "These are not pigs. These are authentic Arkansas Razorback Hogs. I got one for Senator Hillary Clinton and I got one for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi."
The squared away Marine again snaps to attention, salutes, and says, "Excellent trade, sir."
Another one from Will Cribbs:
The year is 1907, one hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes!
Here are some of the U.S. Statistics for the Year 1907:
- The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years old.
- Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.
- Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
- A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.
- There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.
- The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
- Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California.
- With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.
- The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!
- The average wage in the U.S. was 22 Cents per hour.
- The average U.S. Worker made between $200 and $400 per year .
- A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,
- A dentist made $2,500 per year, a veterinarian $1,500 per year and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
- More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. Took place at HOME .
- Ninety percent of all U.S. Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION! Instead, they attended so-called medic al schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as "substandard."
- Sugar cost four cents a pound.
- Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
- Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
- Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
- Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
- Five leading causes of death in the U.S. Were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
4. Heart disease
- The American flag had 45 stars: Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.
- The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!!!!
- Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.
- There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
- Two out of every 10 U.S. Adults couldn't read or write.
- Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
- Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."
- There were about 230 reported Murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A. !
- Now this was sent to you and others all over the United States, possibly the world, in a matter of just seconds!
Hope you enjoyed these!
SFC Chuck Grist
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The major and I arrived in the vicinity of a large airport at 2130 hours. We traveled to that location instead of the original departure point because the Army changed our international flight reservations. When we couldn’t get a last minute flight to this airport, we were forced to take a military vehicle and drive for almost five hours to get there. Then we had to wait again, so we stayed overnight in a local hotel.
Our baggage was packed, our weapons were securely encased in locked containers, we said goodbye to our families and we purchased those last minute things you always buy before you head to a war zone. Although our trip wasn’t scheduled to be a long one, we mentally prepared ourselves to enter a dangerous, war-torn country.
With a variety of missions always going on in our training unit, we can be sent to almost any nation in the world whether that country is at war or not. In this particular case, we were going to Afghanistan, a short adventure that would add a little spice to our military routine.
I was looking forward to the trip, but I’ve already traveled to multiple war zones. The major has not. This was his first mission to such a place and he was pumped up, excited and ready to go. His family was not all that thrilled, but he prepared them as best he could and they accepted the need for the short but dangerous assignment.
After a sleepless night in a strange hotel, I woke up at 0600. I had a voicemail message on my cell phone that was recorded at 0430. Our mission was cancelled.
I left my coffee sitting on the table in the hotel lobby, walked back to the major’s room and knocked on the door. He listened to me give him the bad news, but the expression on his face, which was covered with shaving cream, said it all. I could almost see his face melt.
We were both disappointed and we vented to each other on the five hour return trip. We called our wives and gave them the news. No, they were not disappointed, but they consoled us nonetheless.
By the time we arrived at the military installation, we were laughing (not real loud, though) about the whole thing. We were Soldiers, we followed orders and we did what we were told to do – no matter how disappointed we might be.
We will both drive on and more of these short-term missions will surely appear on the horizon again. The Army is what it is – that big green machine that has more important things to do than worry about some sergeant and his major who have to drive all over the southeastern United States on their way to nowhere.
We shall do what we’ve always done: We’ll continue to serve as professional Soldiers who must train and prepare those who stand watch on the perilous perimeters around the world.
SFC Chuck Grist
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
During breaks in their training, the youngest soldiers gather around the war veterans who lead them. Like other experienced warriors, the sergeants have a look about them. It comes from an extra dimension in their personalities - an added layer of iron that is common for those who have peeked into the “pit” and lived to tell about it.
All of the soldiers belong to a unit that will soon head to one of the war zones. I am one of the sergeants assigned to monitor and assist with their training. Every time I am given this mission, I get to know more members of the new “greatest generation”. Most of the young soldiers were still in high school when I was in Iraq in 2004.
I will be leaving them for awhile in the next few days to travel overseas on a fact-finding mission to one of the war zones. It is not a “tour” and I will be back soon. Although I can’t discuss the mission or the location, I will be able to provide more information when I return.
On this anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we all remember where we were and what we were doing on that tragic day. We also take time to pray once again for the victims and their families.
Time passes and there are fewer flags flying from cars and houses. Most Americans care about the soldiers, but they are weary of the war. We can never forget that the weariest of Americans are those who are fighting the battles. They don’t have the luxury of turning off the television, throwing away the newspaper or changing the subject.
Thanks again for your support of America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
SFC Chuck Grist