Friday, July 31, 2009
The Navy is honoring the first Marine to win the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. The following article from the Associated Press tells the story:
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Navy's newest destroyer to carry name of Marine who died protecting his comrades in Iraq
Associated Press Writer
BATH, Maine (AP) — Marines flushing out Iraqi insurgents after an ambush came upon a column of vehicles. A van with a father and son. A pickup truck. A tractor. A BMW with a couple of sheiks. And a Toyota Land Cruiser with four young men, all of them insurgents.
As Marines began searching the vehicles, the driver of the Land Cruiser jumped out and attacked Cpl. Jason Dunham. The two men tumbled onto the dirt road. Two Marines ran up to assist but Dunham cried out, "No, no, no, watch his hand!"
A grenade exploded, rocking the narrow street.
Dunham, 22, of Scio, N.Y., mortally wounded as he saved his comrades that day, will be honored Saturday at the christening of the Navy's newest destroyer, the USS Jason Dunham. The young corporal who threw his Kevlar helmet and his body onto the grenade became the first Marine since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor.
His mother, Deb Dunham, said she can't think of a greater tribute.
"It keeps his name alive and his memory alive. And that, as a parent, is what's important, so that people don't forget what our men and women are doing with the fight for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a cost to pay," Deb Dunham said.
Deb Dunham, who'll christen the ship with champagne at Bath Iron Works, will be joined by her husband Dan and their other three children.
Dunham's company commander, Maj. Trent Gibson, and other Marines who served with him in Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, will attend.
First Sgt. John Ferguson, who heard Dunham's last words before the grenade blast, saw the insurgent and the three Marines sprawled on the ground when the dust settled that April 14, 2004.
"I thought for sure all four were dead," he said. Amazingly, though, Lance Cpl. William Hampton and Pfc. Kelly Miller, both suffering burns and shrapnel wounds, rose to their feet. Dunham never regained consciousness and died eight days later.
While Dunham's name will always be synonymous with his actions on April 14, 2004, his parents remember a young man who wasn't perfect, growing up in the small town in western New York. He excelled at sports but wasn't the best student. He often forgot to take the trash out, they said.
But he always had a tendency to look out for others.
"Jason had the biggest heart on this planet. He was always looking out for everybody else and their welfare. When they were sad, he would make them laugh. He was that way all through his childhood growing up, and in the Marine Corps also," Dan Dunham said.
He was an unlikely choice for squad leader because he hadn't seen combat. But Ferguson, who selected him, liked what he saw: "He didn't brag or boast about his abilities. He never yelled. In fact, the whole time I knew him he only yelled once or twice. He led by example."
Dunham took his role as squad leader seriously. He extended his enlistment so he could serve a full combat tour with his fellow Marines, and he vowed to make sure his squad made it home alive.
The rest of them did.
The Iraqi insurgency was gaining momentum when Dunham's unit arrived in Iraq's dangerous Anbar Province and set up shop in 2004 near the Syrian border.
Kilo Company lost its first Marine on April 9 in an ambush, so the troops were already on edge five days later when they heard explosions while on patrol in Karabilah. The battalion commander's convoy had been ambushed, so Dunham's unit set off to engage the enemy.
His squad came across a line of vehicles fleeing and decided to search them.
The old Land Cruiser was of particular interest because it had four young men in it. Miller got there first, and three Iraqis hopped out and fled, Gibson said.
Then the driver jumped out and attempted to choke Dunham. Dunham drove his knee into the man, and they fought on the ground. Miller struck the man with a telescoping baton and tried to put him in a choke hold, to no avail. Hampton, too, charged to the scene. No one but Dunham saw the grenade before the blast. Afterward, the suicide bomber got to his feet and was shot dead.
Later, Gibson, the company commander, returned to the bloody scene and found pieces of Dunham's helmet. He also found the pin from a grenade on the ground, next to the attacker's body. Another hand grenade and weapons including rocket-propelled grenade launchers were discovered in the Land Cruiser.
Dunham's response was not by the book. Marines are taught to hit the deck, facing away, to minimize shrapnel wounds from a grenade, Gibson said.
But Dunham had his own ideas. He'd told fellow Marines he thought the best approach would be to cover the grenade with the helmet and bullet-proof body armor, they said. In fact, he even demonstrated the technique. Little did he know that he'd employ the technique two weeks later.
"Dunham had thought about it quite a bit. He decided that you could cover it with your helmet to help diffuse the blast," Gibson said.
Dunham, whose Medal of Honor was announced in 2006, is one of four soldiers to receive the medal for actions in Iraq.
Gibson said Dunham's example serves as an inspiration to Marines.
"More than just being written up for a medal, it's really what kind of example he set in sacrificing himself, in committing himself so completely to the protection of his Marines," Gibson said.
The USS Jason Dunham will go to sea with several mementoes donated by his family, including his dress blue uniform and a baseball bat. The warship carries the motto: "Semper Fidelis, Semper Fortis," which is Latin for "Always Faithful, Always Strong."
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The motto above says it all...
Charles M. Grist
Monday, July 27, 2009
Now we can add a new name to Obama's list of left wing associates. Can you imagine how many of these loony presidential pals we don't even know about?
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Meet the man at center of Obama's race controversy
Gates immortalized communist, linked to radical black activists
By Aaron Klein
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
JERUSALEM – Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard professor at the center of the current national race controversy, has recruited radical black activists to his university department, is a prominent supporter of reparations for the descendents of slaves and has immortalized a communist and socialist activist.
Since 1991, Gates has been teaching African American studies at Harvard, where he serves as the director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. De Bois, an American civil rights activist, sociologist, historian and author, was an avowed communist and also a socialist sympathizer.
Du Bois was for a brief time a member of the Socialist Party. In 1927 he infamously traveled to the USSR, where he called the Soviet system "the most hopeful vehicle for the world." Eight years later, he published the book "Black Reconstruction," which offered a Marxist interpretation of the Reconstruction Era.
The leftist icon officially joined the communist cause in 1950, when he ran for the New York State Senate on the American Labor Party ticket. He lost the election, but eight years later joined Trotskyists, ex-communists, and independent radicals in proposing the creation of a united left-wing coalition to run for seats in New York State elections.
Du Bois joined the Communist Party USA in 1961. He emigrated to Ghana, where he became a naturalized citizen, living in the country's socialist police state. Two years later, the Communist Party named its new youth group the W.E.B. DuBois Clubs.
Serving as director for the Harvard institute immortalizing Du Bois, Gates cultivated black radicals to his race studies department, most prominently bringing in Cornel West, a controversial adviser on Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March with close ties to socialist and black extremist groups. West is a declared personal friend of Farrakhan.
Gates also lured to Harvard socialist sympathizer Kwame Anthony Appiah, a Ghanaian philosopher, cultural theorist and novelist, as well as William Julius Wilson, who is close to the Democrat Socialists of America.
Gates authored two books with West, a long-time member and honorary chair of the Democrat Socialists of America. West served on the black advisory board of Obama's presidential campaign.
From a young age, West proclaimed he admired “the sincere black militancy of Malcolm X, the defiant rage of the Black Panther Party … and the livid black [liberation] theology of James Cone.”
Cone's theology spawned Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's controversial pastor for 20 years at the Trinity United Church of Christ. West was a strong defender of Wright when the pastor's extreme remarks became national news during last year's campaign season.
Gates himself is a strong supporter of affirmative action and a key member of the reparations movement for the descendants of African slaves. He joined an effort to bring a class action lawsuit for reparations and reportedly has been working privately to urge political and business leaders to keep the issue of slavery at the forefront of social-justice discussions and to support his campaign for reparations.
One of Gates' major sources of intellectual inspiration is Herbert Aptheker, a seminal scholar of African-American history who was a radical American leftist. Aptheker was for decades a leading theorist of the Communist Party U.S.A. before resigning in 1991.
Gates was quoted stating Obama's election last year rivaled the day in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and the day 101 years later when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
"There's never been a moment like this in our lifetime, ever," Gates said.
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The cop did his job. The only racist in this incident was Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Charles M. Grist
Saturday, July 25, 2009
My wife, Debbie, and I are in the middle of a long awaited vacation. Since I came home from Iraq late in 2004, we failed to take a real vacation during the first two years after my return. Then I spent more time on active duty until the end of January this year. Yeah, I know, shame on me.
We are spending about a week at Amelia Island Plantation, a great resort off the northeast coast of Florida. We have a beautiful condo on the beach and a lot of wonderful places to eat and shop. It is relaxing beyond belief.
I have also discovered that Amelia Island offers some great opportunities for service members to enjoy “warrior vacations”.
Blue skies, the soft pounding of the surf, the breeze that carries the salty air, the white beaches, and no crowds. Amelia Island is a true paradise. I took the above picture at sunrise yesterday from our balcony.
For further information, visit www.warriorvacations.org or call (904) 206-0710.
Charles M. Grist
Sunday, July 19, 2009
From the Associated Press:
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World's Oldest Man Dies at Age of 113
Saturday, July 18, 2009
LONDON — The world's oldest man, 113-year-old World War I veteran Henry Allingham, died Saturday after spending his final years reminding Britain about the 9 million soldiers killed during the conflict.
Allingham was the last surviving original member of the Royal Air Force, which was formed in 1918. He made it a personal crusade to talk about a conflict that wiped out much of a generation. Though nearly blind, he would take the outstretched hands of visitors in both of his, gaze into the eyes of children, veterans and journalists and deliver a message he wanted them all to remember.
"I want everyone to know," he told The Associated Press during an interview in November. "They died for us."
Only a handful of World War I veterans remain of the estimated 68 million mobilized. There are no French veterans left alive; the last living American-born veteran is Frank Woodruff Buckles of Charles Town, West Virginia.
"It's the end of a era -- a very special and unique generation," said Allingham's longtime friend, Dennis Goodwin, who confirmed Allingham's death. "The British people owe them a great deal of gratitude."
Born June 6, 1896, Allingham left school at 15 and was working in a car factory in east London when war broke out in 1914.
He spent the war's first months refitting trucks for military use, but when his mother died in June 1915, he decided to join up after seeing a plane circling a reservoir in Essex, east of London.
"It was a captivating sight," he wrote in his memoir. "Fascinated, I sat down on the grass verge to watch the aircraft. I decided that was for me."
Only a dozen years after the Wright brothers first put up their plane, Allingham and other airmen set out from eastern England on motorized kites made with wood, linen and wire. They piled on clothes and smeared their faces in Vaseline, whale oil or engine grease to block the cold.
"To be honest, all the planes were so flimsy and unpredictable -- as well as incapable of carrying large fuel loads -- at the start of the war that both British and German pilots would immediately turn back rather than face each other in the skies if they did not enjoy height supremacy," Allingham would later write." "But I remember getting back on the ground and just itching to take off again."
As a mechanic, Allingham's job was to maintain the rickety craft. He also flew as an observer on a biplane. At first, his weaponry consisted of a standard issue Lee Enfield .303 rifle -- sometimes two. Parachutes weren't issued.
He fought in the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of World War I. He served on the Western Front, by now armed with a machine gun.
He was wounded in the arm by shrapnel during an attack on an aircraft depot, but survived.
After the war he worked at the Ford motor factory and raised two children with his wife, Dorothy. She died in 1970, and when his daughter Jean died in 2001, friends say he waited to die, too.
That's when he met Goodwin, a lay inspector for nursing homes, who realized that veterans of Allingham's generation were not getting the care they needed to address the trauma they had experienced at the Somme, Gallipoli and Ypres. Some veterans ached to return to the battle fields to pay their respects to their slain friends, and Goodwin found himself organizing trips to France.
He encouraged Allingham to share his experiences and the veteran soon began talking to reporters and school groups, the connection to a lost generation. He found himself leading military parades. He was made an Officer of France's Legion of Honor.
He met Queen Elizabeth II and wrote his autobiography with Goodwin, "Kitchener's Last Volunteer," a reference to Britain's Minister for War who rallied men to the cause. Prince Charles wrote the introduction.
He grew accustomed to being one of the last ones standing. Last year, he joined Harry Patch, Britain's last soldier, and the late Bill Stone, its last sailor, in a ceremony at the Cenotaph war memorial near the houses of Parliament in London, to mark the 90th anniversary of the war's end.
As the wreaths were being laid, Allingham pushed himself up out of his wheelchair to place his arrangement at the base of the memorial.
Allingham remained outspoken until his death, pleading for peace and begging anyone who would listen to remember those who died.
"I think we need to make people aware that a few men gave all they had to give so that you could have a better world to live in," he said. "We have to pray it never happens again."
Goodwin says Allingham's funeral will take place in Brighton. He is survived by five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild.
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Our condolences to Mr. Allingham's family and friends.
Charles M. Grist
Saturday, July 18, 2009
The following statement was issued by the National Rifle Association (NRA) which does not support the confirmation of Judge Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.
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Wayne Lapierre, Executive Vice President, National Rifle Association
Chris W. Cox, Executive Director
National Rifle Association - Institute For Legislative Action
On Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Nomination To The United States Supreme Court
Other than declaring war, neither house of Congress has a more solemn responsibility than the Senate's role in confirming justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. As the Senate considers the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Americans have been watching to see whether this nominee - if confirmed - would respect the Second Amendment or side with those who have declared war on the rights of America's 80 million gun owners.
From the outset, the National Rifle Association has respected the confirmation process and hoped for mainstream answers to bedrock questions. Unfortunately, Judge Sotomayor's judicial record and testimony clearly demonstrate a hostile view of the Second Amendment and the fundamental right of self-defense guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
It is only by ignoring history that any judge can say that the Second Amendment is not a fundamental right and does not apply to the states. The one part of the Bill of Rights that Congress clearly intended to apply to all Americans in passing the Fourteenth Amendment was the Second Amendment. History and congressional debate are clear on this point.
Yet Judge Sotomayor seems to believe that the Second Amendment is limited only to the residents of federal enclaves such as Washington, D.C. and does not protect all Americans living in every corner of this nation. In her Maloney opinion and during the confirmation hearings, she deliberately misread Supreme Court precedent to support her incorrect view.
In last year's historic Heller decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees the individual's right to own firearms and recognizes the inherent right of self-defense. In addition, the Court required lower courts to apply the Twentieth Century cases it has used to incorporate a majority of the Bill of Rights to the States. Yet in her Maloney opinion, Judge Sotomayor dismissed that requirement, mistakenly relying instead on Nineteenth Century jurisprudence to hold that the Second Amendment does not apply to the States.
This nation was founded on a set of fundamental freedoms. Our Constitution does not give us those freedoms - it guarantees and protects them. The right to defend ourselves and our loved ones is one of those. The individual right to keep and bear arms is another. These truths are what define us as Americans. Yet, Judge Sotomayor takes an opposite view, contrary to the views of our Founding Fathers, the Supreme Court, and the vast majority of the American people.
We believe any individual who does not agree that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right and who does not respect our God-given right of self-defense should not serve on any court, much less the highest court in the land. Therefore, the National Rifle Association of America opposes the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the position of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
- NRA -
Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America's oldest civil rights and sportsmen's group. Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation's leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military.
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Free Americans will never relinquish their right to bear arms. That right is the bedrock of our freedom. The fundamental right of self-defense gave us the power to resist tyranny and win our liberty in 1776.
Thankfully, Americans have the ability to effect peaceful change in the United States of the twenty-first century. However, the ultimate protection against dictatorship and tyranny in any nation is the realization by that nation's leaders that the citizens are armed, skilled in the use of those arms, and determined to protect their freedom.
Charles M. Grist
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Wounded Iraq Vet Battles US Army
(July 13) -- He's home from Iraq, but retired Florida National Guard Sgt. Ernie Rivera is fighting a new battle -- with the Army.
Rivera was awarded two Bronze Stars for his service, which he completed in 2007. But Rivera, who was hospitalized for six months, says he deserves a Purple Heart, according to the St. Petersburg Times. The Purple Heart is given to service members who've been wounded or killed while serving.
Records show Rivera was totally disabled by traumatic brain injury (TBI) related to combat, but the Army said it can't tell for sure whether it came from a roadside bomb that exploded in his convoy in December 2006 because his most severe symptoms didn't surface until weeks after the blast. He wasn't treated for any of his injuries immediately, thinking he'd escaped serious harm.
"I'm being punished for toughing it out," Rivera, 39, told the Times. "I can't see how a person can go through what I went through and still be denied a Purple Heart."
He said that in the weeks after the blast, his condition deteriorated. He started experiencing vertigo, muscle weakness, memory loss and problems with his cognition, vision and hearing. Rivera, a platoon leader, wasn't evacuated from the field until six months after the explosion.
Wayne Hall, an Army spokesman who commented to the paper generally on policy, said Rivera's delayed treatment may have been key in the Army's decision to deny him the honor.
"If it's not treated in pretty short order, there is no way to verify the injury he is now citing came from the blast," Hall said. "No one questions that TBI is a valid injury. But how do you verify what caused the TBI?"
Rivera plans to keep fighting for the award.
"It takes away from the validity of the Purple Heart," he said, "if you have to fight so hard to get it."
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Sounds like this guy deserves the Purple Heart. They need to take care of this injustice ASAP.
Charles M. Grist
Sunday, July 5, 2009
One of the biggest surprises of the 2008 presidential election was Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama. Powell referred to Obama as a "transformational figure", apparently buying in to the idea that Obama was "The One".
The Associated Press article below discusses an appearance by Powell on a CNN program to be broadcast today:
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Powell Warns Obama on Big Government
WASHINGTON (July 4) - Colin Powell worries that President Barack Obama is trying to tackle too many big issues at one time and he offers this advice: take a hard look at costs and consider the additional red tape that will be created.
"The right answer is, 'Give me a government that works,'" the former secretary of state said in a television interview to be aired Sunday. "Keep it as small as possible," added Powell, who said he has spoken recently with Obama and stays in touch with him. Powell, a Republican, endorsed Obama last year over the GOP presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain.
Obama wants to overhaul the health care system and take on climate change while also helping the country emerge from the recession.
"I think one of the cautions that has to be given to the president — and I've talked to some of his people about this — is that you can't have so many things on the table that you can't absorb it all. And we can't pay for it all," Powell said.
"And I never would have believed that we would have budgets that are running into the multi-trillions of dollars, and we are amassing a huge, huge national debt that, if we don't pay for in our lifetime, our kids and grandkids and great grandchildren will have to pay for it."
It's not a new theme for Powell.
He complained about the government's size and intrusiveness in his 1996 speech to the Republican National Convention. He said then that the nation no longer could afford more entitlements, higher taxes and more bureaucracy. In the interview with CNN's "State of the Union" that is to air Sunday, Powell said he hasn't changed his mind.
"Keep it as small as possible. Keep the tax burden on the American people as small as possible, but at the same time, have government that is solving the problems of the people," he said.
He said Obama "has to start really taking a very, very hard look at what the cost of all this is. And, how much additional bureaucracy and will it be effective bureaucracy."
CNN released excerpts of the interview in advance of the broadcast.
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Powell certainly must have listened to Obama's campaign speeches in which the Chicago community organizer promised that government would involve itself in many more aspects of our lives. How could a well-educated man like the former general not understand that Democrat control of the White House and Congress would shift the balance of power toward the liberal agenda of big government?
With his decision to support Obama, Republican Colin Powell helped put his own party on the skids. He betrayed his conservative background to help elect the most liberal, left-wing president in America's history.
The general's advice to Obama is appropriate, but it's a little late, isn't it?
Charles M. Grist
Friday, July 3, 2009
Have a wonderful Fourth of July for 2009. Please take time to remember the sacrifices made over many generations to achieve and maintain our freedom.
We will enjoy this day of fireworks, cookouts, and family fun because our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are taking care of us on battlefields throughout the world.
God bless our warriors, and may He protect them from harm. And may He continue to bless the United States of America...
Charles M. Grist