Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Act of Valor - The Movie To See In 2012

The following movie trailer is awesome. Real Navy SEALs were used in the filming of this action movie.

Enjoy the trailer and pass it on; this is a movie for real Americans who want to see real good guys in action - without the typical Hollywood gratuitous bull:

Charles M. Grist
Author of the award-winning book My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Victory In Iraq - Now It's Up To The Iraqis

Me at Baghdad's Camp Victory in early 2004 
I'm a Vietnam veteran as well as a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, so I know a little about guerrilla wars. Sometimes they end well, and sometimes they don't.

You see, I remember what it felt like to sit in my living room in April, 1975, staring at the television while enemy tanks rolled into Saigon. Only then did I have the painful realization that my fellow soldiers and I had fought and bled for a lost cause.

I'm not ashamed to say I cried that day. I remembered the hardships of my own months in Vietnam's jungles, and I saw the faces of my lost friends in the dark corners of my mind. To be honest, I still see them almost every day. You know - those couple of hours in the middle of the night when sleep won't come and the mind refuses to rest. Such is the legacy of Vietnam.

Although the losses are just as painful, the story in Iraq is a different one. When our last soldiers arrive home before Christmas and Iraq's security rests in its own hands, we can honestly say we have been victorious.

There are now over thirty million people living in Iraq. Because of the sacrifice of America and its coalition partners, there is a democratic government elected by the people. Is everything perfect? Of course not. But the problems that remain can only be solved by Iraqis. Whether it is sectarian differences or problems caused by foreign terrorists, it is time for Iraq to take care of itself.

What do I fear most now that we have pulled our soldiers out of Iraq? I fear the influence of Iran, a Shiite country that provides training and equipment to radical Shiites in Iraq like Muqtada al Sadr and the Mahdi Army.

But Americans cannot stay in Iraq forever. The truth is that wherever we go, we become a lightning rod for those with ancient reasons for hating foreign intervention. It was this way in Vietnam, in Iraq, and it is also the same in Afghanistan.

We must welcome our troops home from Iraq as the victorious warriors they are. We shall help them recover both physically and mentally, and they should be proud of all they accomplished.

We shall also continue to extend the hand of friendship to the Iraqi people. While many fundamentalist Iraqis will always hate us, there are a lot of Iraqis who will never forget the generosity of America or our sacrifices on their behalf. We have done all we can to give them a chance for a free and prosperous future.

The rest is up to them...

Charles M. Grist
Author of the award-winning book My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ambassador Ammon Presents German Medal of Honor to U.S. Staff Sergeant Peter Woken

Extraordinary ceremony honoring one of America's warriors. The YouTube video comments posted by the German Embassy are as follows:

"The deep bonds of the German American friendship, and the deep bonds between soldiers, were on display on December 8, 2011, as German Ambassador Peter Ammon presented one of Germany's most significant military honors to a US soldier who was instrumental in the rescue during battle of a Bundeswehr soldier in Afghanistan. 
U.S. Staff Sergeant Peter Woken was awarded the Medal of Honor for Gallantry in Action of the Federal Republic of Germany, bestowed on him by German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière, in recognition of his role as part of the MedEvac crew that landed in heavy fire to evacuate German Corporal Tim Focken in Afghanistan on October 17, 2010."

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Well done Staff Sergeant Woken.

Charles M. Grist
Author of the award-winning book My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Remembering Pearl Harbor: The Greatest Generation's 9-11

For the members of my generation, the day of infamy is September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked America, killing some 3,000 of our citizens.

For the members of my parents' generation, that day of infamy will remain December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked America's naval fleet in Hawaii, also killing thousands.

The members of the Greatest Generation are fast fading from the scene, but I hope each of you will take the time today to pray for the victims of the 1941 attack and their families. For some of these veterans, the memories are as real today as they were then.

Those of us who are veterans of other wars can understand that...

Charles M. Grist
Author of the award-winning book My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remembering The Troops At Thanksgiving

As we gather with our family and friends to celebrate another Thanksgiving, don't forget the troops who make it possible for us to enjoy this day in peace and safety.

Please say a prayer for the thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who are in harm's way. Without their sacrifice - and the sacrifice of their families - this world would be a very different place....

Charles M. Grist
Author of the award-winning book My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Haunting Bagpipes of "Sgt. MacKenzie" - From "We Were Soldiers"

Those who saw the movie "We Were Soldiers" will remember this solemn bagpipe music. Here it is in full with an English translation:

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God bless the fallen warriors...

Charles M. Grist
Author of the award-winning book My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq

Veteran's Day 2011 - Honoring America's Warriors

Please take time today to honor America's veterans. We live our daily lives in safety and security because of their service and sacrifice.

To my fellow veterans who served with me in Vietnam, to those who served with me in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and to those who served with me at home and abroad, thank you for being my brothers and sisters in arms.

May God bless all of America's veterans, and may He continue to bless the United States of America.

Charles M. Grist
Author of the award-winning book My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy 236th Birthday to the U.S. Marines

I had the great honor to serve with Marines from Vietnam to Iraq. Their courage, sacrifice, and devotion to honor is second to none. Without the Marines, this world would be a very different place.

Happy birthday to all Marines, and thank you for protecting America for 236 years.

Semper fi!

Charles M. Grist
Author of the award-winning book My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Imprint of War - It Shall Be With You All Of Your Days

You remember everything about it. It's always with you, just below the surface. You think about some part of it several times a day. Why does a warrior remember his life at war? Because he left part of his soul on the battlefield. He also saw many of his friends for the last time on that same battlefield, and he shared with them the agony of their last moments on earth.

You can't describe it to those who haven't experienced war. When you meet a fellow war veteran, no words are really necessary. The eyes say it all; the tired eyes with a unique depth to them. The eyes that have seen the very worst of mankind when they peeked into the very depths of hell.

After I watched the preview below, I became hopeful that this might finally be the documentary that accurately told the story of my fellow Vietnam veterans and me. We shall see, but at least it will give you another chance to understand what makes us who we are.

After all, we were the first generation of American warriors to be scorned upon our return. Following my own bad experiences with anti-war "hippies" in airports in San Francisco and Atlanta, I arrived home only to take my uniform off and not put it on again for almost ten years.

Then, when I returned from Iraq in 2004, it was terrific to see that this generation has been welcomed with open arms by those they protected. I was finally able to come full circle as a Vietnam veteran. I only wish all of my fellow 'Nam vets could have had the same experience.

Now this generation will also have the imprint of war on their souls. And it will be with them for each and every day of the rest of their lives.

"There are some events that are so overwhelming that you can't simply be a witness, and it will be with you all of your days...." From Vietnam in HD and The History Channel.

Charles M. Grist
Author of the award-winning book "My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Marine Veteran Dakota Meyer Receives The Medal Of Honor

Dakota Meyer in Afghanistan
Read the story of Dakota Meyer at this link: .

We are blessed to have such young men serving America. He will receive the Medal of Honor from President Obama today.

Charles M. Grist

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11 2001 - Remembering The Day Our World Changed Forever - The Tenth Anniversary

I’m an old retired guy now, but on September 11, 2001, I was a police detective in Altamonte Springs, Florida. When the attacks began, I was standing in the Clerk of the Court’s office in Sanford while I taught a new detective how to get an arrest warrant issued.

One of the county employees rushed out and said a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. By the time we got back to the police department, the second plane had also struck. The first war of the 21st century had begun.

Since the attacks of 9/11, I managed to squeeze in almost four years of Army Reserve active duty. Some of it was stateside, training and mobilizing troops who then served in Iraq or Afghanistan. I spent some of my active duty in Iraq where I led a Protective Service Detail in Baghdad. Our mission was to protect a general in the Green Zone and during his travels throughout Iraq.

It’s still hard to think about September 11th and the tragedy that unfolded before our eyes. We were glued to the television, helpless as American souls threw themselves out of skyscraper windows, died under the crushing weight of steel and concrete, or fought to the death as warriors on Flight 93.

When I watched President Bush, President Clinton, and Vice President Biden speak at the dedication of the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania, it was a pleasure to see American leaders who seldom agree politically join together to honor the courage and sacrifice of the forty heroes on Flight 93.

Our parents always recall where they were when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. We will always remember how our own lives changed forever on September 11, 2001, but we shall never waiver in our resolve to be strong in the face of those who wish to harm us.

We paid a heavy price on 9/11, but our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have taken the fight to the enemy. Thousands of terrorists have been killed or captured, and bullets fired by American warriors ensured that Osama Bin Laden, the architect of 9/11, finally paid for his mortal sins.

The message to the terrorists has never been clearer. If you attack our nation and kill or injure our citizens, there is no place on earth to hide. We will hunt you down no matter how long it takes. When we find you, surrender. If you do not, we will destroy you.

So help us God…

Charles M. Grist

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stolen Valor - Liars Who Pose As War Veterans

For more information go to 
During my years as a police officer, I came upon many of these fake war veterans. Some were transients who had nothing in their lives to be proud of so they created a war personality to impress their fellow vagrants.

Others were the bar heroes, the guys who have a few beers before they start telling the stories of great battles and how they won a bunch of medals. It doesn't take much to sort out the truth.

I went to a bar disturbance one night and was informed by several patrons that the guy causing the problems was a "Green Beret", and I better be careful. I could see this character waving his hands and doing everything he could to draw attention to himself. These weren't the actions of a Special Ops soldier. Real warriors don't need to prove anything.

I approached the man and informed him that he was being asked to leave by the bar owners. If he refused to do so, he would be placed under arrest. The guy was "beer brave". He said he wasn't doing anything wrong, and that he wasn't going to leave. Someone in the crowd said, "Watch out, officer, he's a Green Beret."

I looked at the guy and asked, "Are you a Green Beret?" Trying to look tough, he said, "What if I am?" I responded, "Well, I'm an Army Ranger, and you're under arrest. Turn around and put your hands behind your back."

The booze warrior looked surprised for a moment. Then he turned around, put his hands behind his back, and I handcuffed him. The incident was over.

As I knew from the beginning, this guy was never a soldier and probably couldn't even spell "Green Beret."

To those who read this I would say: Don't accept big mouth war heroes at face value. If there's a real war veteran in the room, you'll probably never know it.

For more information, go to

Charles M. Grist

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday America - Remember The Sacrifices Of Your Founders

America's founders sign the Declaration of Independence
Have you ever wondered what happened to the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons who were serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six signers fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They had signed the Declaration of Independence and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means and well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in rags.

Thomas McKean was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, and Rutledge.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

As you enjoy this Fourth of July holiday, remember the sacrifices of the first American patriots. Say a prayer for them, for the troops who are defending our freedom throughout the world, and for the United States of America.

Charles M. Grist

Note: My thanks to Logan Barbee for sending me this information.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Army Ranger Killed In Afghanistan

SSG Jeremy A. Katzenberger

From the Army's Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office:

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"Staff Sgt. Jeremy Andrew Katzenberger, 26, was killed by enemy forces during a heavy firefight while conducting combat operations in Paktika Province, Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Katzenberger was a squad leader assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. He was on his eighth deployment in support of the War on Terror with four previous deployments to Iraq and three to Afghanistan.

He was born Nov. 2, 1984 in Kansas City, Mo. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in October 2004 from his hometown of Weatherby Lake, Mo.

Staff Sgt. Katzenberger completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Ga., as an infantryman. After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course there, he was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program also at Fort Benning. Staff Sgt. Katzenberger graduated from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and was then assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in April 2005, where he served as a rifleman, automatic rifleman, team leader and Ranger squad leader.

His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, U.S. Army Ranger Course, Warrior Leader Course, and Jumpmaster.

His awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, Expert Infantryman Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist Badge. He has also been awarded the Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal with one loop, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral 2 and the Army Service Ribbon.

Staff Sgt. Katzenberger is survived by his wife Colleen A. (Montgomery) and his son Everett James, both of Richmond Hill, Ga., and his parents Robert and Peggy Katzenberger of Weatherby Lake, Mo.

As a Ranger, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Andrew Katzenberger selflessly lived his life for others and distinguished himself as a member of the Army’s premier direct action raid force, continuously deployed in support of the War on Terror, and fought valiantly as he served his fellow Rangers and our great Nation."

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Our condolences to SSG Katzenberger's family, friends, and fellow warriors.

Rangers Lead The Way...

Charles M. Grist

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Birthday To The United States Army

Today is the birthday of the United States Army. I first joined the Army on December 3, 1968. I had three breaks in service over the years, but I finally managed to retire on February 28, 2009.

Such a lengthy association means that I have served with men who fought in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan and other lesser-known battlefields throughout the world. I served alongside my fellow soldiers in both Vietnam (1970-71) and Iraq (2004).

The following is a description of the birth of the United States Army taken from Robert Wright, The Continental Army. Read more at :

"The June 14 date is when Congress adopted 'the American continental army' after reaching a consensus position in The Committee of the Whole. This procedure and the desire for secrecy account for the sparseness of the official journal entries for the day. The record indicates only that Congress undertook to raise ten companies of riflemen, approved an enlistment form for them, and appointed a committee (including Washington and Schuyler) to draft rules and regulations for the government of the army. The delegates correspondence, diaries, and subsequent actions make it clear that they really did much more. They also accepted responsibility for the existing New England troops and forces requested for the defense of the various points in New York. The former were believed to total 10,000 men; the latter, both New Yorkers and Connecticut men, another 5,000."

Please take time to thank a soldier for your freedom. They have been protecting all of us for a long, long time.

Charles M. Grist
First Lieutenant, USAR, Retired

Flag Day 2011 - Honoring The Stars & Stripes

Flag Day was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson's proclamation, it was not until August 3, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

"Old Glory" has inspired more people than any other flag in the world. It has accompanied our troops in multiple wars as we liberated untold millions of oppressed people. There is a magic about our flag that brings tears to our eyes, warmth to our hearts, and pride to our spirit.

Please take time today to remember our flag, and remember all of those who have given their lives in its defense.

Charles M. Grist

Monday, June 6, 2011

Remembering D-Day - June 6, 1944

Allied troops storm the beaches of Normandy
There were 160,000 Allied soldiers who landed on a fifty mile stretch of Nazi-fortified beach in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. General Dwight Eisenhower called the invasion a crusade in which "we will accept nothing less than full victory." More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the Normandy invasion and by the end of the day, the troops had gained their foothold in France. The cost was heavy: More than 9,000 Allied troops were killed or wounded.

The following video from the Army's website tells the story of D-Day in the words of the warriors themselves:

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Take time today to thank the brave World War II veterans of Normandy whose courage has become legendary. Without their heroism, the world would be a very different place.

Charles M. Grist

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Army Ranger Will ReceiveThe Medal Of Honor

SFC Leroy Arthur Petry of the 2nd Ranger Battalion
From the Army News Service:

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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 31, 2011) -- An Army Ranger who lost his right hand and suffered shrapnel wounds after throwing an armed grenade away from his fellow Soldiers will be the second living Medal of Honor Recipient from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On July 12, 2011, President Barack Obama will award Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry, with the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Petry will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Paktya, Afghanistan, May 26, 2008.

Petry now serves as part of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga.

"It's very humbling to know that the guys thought that much of me and my actions that day, to nominate me for that," said Petry, on learning he had been nominated for the medal.

At the time of his actions in Afghanistan, Petry was assigned to Company D, 2nd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Petry's actions came as part of a rare daylight raid to capture a high-value target.

On the day of the actions that would earn Petry the Medal of Honor, he was to locate himself with the platoon headquarters in the target building once it was secured. Once there, he was to serve as the senior noncommissioned officer at the site for the remainder of the operation.

Recognizing one of the assault squads needed assistance clearing their assigned building, Petry relayed to the platoon leader that he was moving to that squad to provide additional supervision and guidance during the clearance of the building.

Once the residential portion of the building had been cleared, Petry took a fellow member of the assault squad, Pvt. 1st Class Lucas Robinson, to clear the outer courtyard. Petry knew that area had not been cleared during the initial clearance.

Petry and Robinson, both Rangers, moved into an area of the compound that contained at least three enemy fighters who were prepared to engage friendly forces from opposite ends of the outer courtyard.

The two Soldiers entered the courtyard. To their front was an opening followed by a chicken coop. As the two crossed the open area, an enemy insurgent fired on them. Petry was wounded by one round, which went through both of his legs. Robinson was also hit in his side plate by a separate round.

While wounded and under enemy fire, Petry led Robinson to the cover of the chicken coop. The enemy continued to deliver fire at the two Soldiers.

As the senior Soldier, Petry assessed the situation and reported that contact was made and that there were two wounded Rangers in the courtyard of the primary target building.

Upon hearing the report of two wounded Rangers, Sgt. Daniel Higgins, a team leader, moved to the outer courtyard. As Higgins was moving to Petry and Robinson's position, Petry threw a thermobaric grenade in the vicinity of the enemy position.

Shortly after that grenade exploded -- which created a lull in the enemy fire -- Higgins arrived at the chicken coop and assessed the wounds of the two Soldiers.

While Higgins evaluated their wounds, an insurgent threw a grenade over the chicken coop at the three Rangers. The grenade landed about 10 meters from the three Rangers, knocked them to the ground, and wounded Higgins and Robinson. Shortly after the grenade exploded, Staff Sgt. James Roberts and Spc. Christopher Gathercole entered the courtyard, and moved toward the chicken coop.

With three Soldiers taking cover in the chicken coop, an enemy fighter threw another grenade at them. This time, the grenade landed just a few feet from Higgins and Robinson.

Recognizing the threat that the enemy grenade posed to his fellow Rangers, Petry -- despite his own wounds and with complete disregard for his personal safety -- consciously and deliberately risked his life to move to and secure the live enemy grenade and consciously throw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers, according to battlefield reports.

As Petry released the grenade in the direction of the enemy, preventing the serious injury or death of Higgins and Robinson, it detonated and catastrophically amputated his right hand.

With a clear mind, Petry assessed his wound and placed a tourniquet on his right arm. Once this was complete, he reported that he was still in contact with the enemy and that he had been wounded again.

After the blast that amputated Petry's hand, Roberts began to engage the enemy behind the chicken coop with small arms fire and a grenade. His actions suppressed the insurgents behind the chicken coop. Shortly after, another enemy on the east end of the courtyard began firing, fatally wounding Gathercole.

Higgins and Robinson returned fire and killed the enemy.

Moments later, Sgt. 1st Class Jerod Staidle, the platoon sergeant, and Spc. Gary Depriest, the platoon medic, arrived in the outer courtyard. After directing Depriest to treat Gathercole, Staidle moved to Petry' s position. Staidle and Higgins then assisted Petry as he moved to the casualty collection point.

Higgins later wrote in a statement, "if not for Staff Sergeant Petry's actions, we would have been seriously wounded or killed."

Petry is the ninth servicemember to have been named a recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of prior recipients, all but Petry and Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta were awarded the honor posthumously.

Included among those recipients are Spc. Ross A. McGinnis, Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, and Marine Corps Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, all for actions in Iraq. Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti and Navy Lt. Michael P. Murphy were awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan.

Petry currently serves as a liaison officer for the United States Special Operations Command Care Coalition-Northwest Region, and provides oversight to wounded warriors, ill and injured servicemembers and their families.

He enlisted in the United States Army from his hometown of Santa Fe, N.M. in September 1999. After completion of One Station Unit Training, the Basic Airborne Course and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program -- all at Fort Benning, Ga. -- Petry was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Petry has served as a grenadier, squad automatic rifleman, fire team leader, squad leader, operations sergeant, and weapons squad leader.

He has deployed eight times in support of the War on Terror, with two tours to Iraq and six tours to Afghanistan.

Petry and his wife Ashley have four children, Brittany, Austin, Reagan and Landon.
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Well done, Ranger...

Charles M. Grist

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day 2011 - Remember The Fallen

During this Memorial Day weekend, while we are enjoying hot dogs on the grill, a day at the beach, a swim in the pool, or just the companionship of our family and friends, please remember the American warriors who have given their lives that we might live in peace and safety.

Please watch this video and pass it on:

Those of us who have served in America's wars will never forget our comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice. You may read about those from our most recent wars on the "Honor the Fallen" website HERE. You can read about our Vietnam fallen HERE at the Vietnam Memorial website.

As a veteran of both Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom, I hope that you will pray for the fallen and for those who are still serving in harm's way on our behalf...

Charles M. Grist

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Armed Forces Day 2011 - Thanking The Members Of Our Military

Today is Armed Forces Day. From the Department of Defense website:

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"President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.

On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department -- the Department of Defense."

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Thank a veteran or current member of the military today! We would not be living in freedom without them.

Charles M. Grist

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead - It's Time To Begin Our Withdrawal From Afghanistan

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Taliban refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden to the United States. By doing so, they became his allies, and we went to war in Afghanistan. Although it became necessary to remove the Taliban in the process of chasing Bin Laden, we gradually lost our focus on the primary mission. It should never have been about anything but capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden and those who planned and executed the 9/11 attacks.

Instead, we became involved in nation-building, trying to bring a primitive country from the dark ages to modern times with only a handful of soldiers. Our leaders ignored the traditions of corruption, tribes, drugs, and religion, believing in their intellectually superior minds that we could wave our hands and create a Jeffersonian democracy.

As usual, our troops have performed magnificently. Because the Taliban was chased into the mountains with their tails between their legs, the Afghan people have had a chance to enjoy the fruits of our warriors' efforts. Few of them have embraced us or our ideals. They remain a primitive people for the most part, and they despise foreign occupation - regardless of the reason.

The president of Afghanistan is working against us and continuing the culture of corruption in his country. He wants to work with the Taliban to bring them into the government - kind of like letting the fox into the hen house. When - not if - that happens, the Taliban will only wait until we are gone before they try to return Afghanistan to its brutal past.

Whether we leave today or twenty years from now, the Afghan people - like their Iraqi counterparts - will determine the future of their country. Maintaining their culture of corruption is not worth another American life.

The sacrifices of our troops in Afghanistan ultimately resulted in the death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Almost all the Al Qaeda planners of 9/11 are dead or locked up. The few that remain can still be taken out with accurate intelligence and professional special operations forces. We have accomplished our primary mission in Afghanistan, and we have been victorious. It's time to bring the troops home.

On our way out of Afghanistan, the last soldier to board an airplane should turn to the Afghans with one final message:

"Do what you will with your own country; but if you attack us again, we will destroy you. Any questions?"

Charles M. Grist

Monday, May 2, 2011

Navy SEALs Kill Osama Bin Laden - Major Victory In Continuing War On Terror

America's legendary Navy SEALs stormed the Pakistan hideout of Osama bin Laden yesterday in a classic, well-planned and well-executed raid. The details of the mission are still coming to light, but apparently the Al Qaeda leader who planned the September 11, 2001 attacks resisted capture and was killed by small arms fire.

Once the identity of this infamous murderer was confirmed, his remains were buried at sea so some burial chamber on land would not become a shrine for terrorists.

We commend the efforts of the SEALs, the troops who supported their raid, and the unseen and professional efforts of our intelligence officers. This great victory will hopefully bring some comfort to the relatives of the 9/11 victims as well as the families of the American troops who have died as part of the efforts to locate Bin Laden and fight his supporters in the war on terror.

As a veteran of the ongoing war against Islamic fundamentalists, this victory brings a great sense of satisfaction to me as I am sure it does to my fellow warriors. All of us must remember, however, that the war against terrorism continues. There will surely be revenge attacks by surviving Al Qaeda members, and the larger Islamic fundamentalist movement will continue to take the lives of innocent men, women, and children throughout the world.

Justice has been served on Osama bin Laden. The greatest lesson may be for those who consider attacking America again. If you injure or kill Americans, there is no place on earth where we cannot find you. No matter how long it takes, we will cross every desert, climb every mountain, and destroy every obstacle in our efforts to find you.

Like Adolph Hitler whose ashes were lost in the sands of time, Osama bin Laden's corpse will now rot in the depths of the sea.

Such are the wages of evil....

Charles M. Grist

Sunday, May 1, 2011

We Won In Iraq - It's Time To Come Home

The agreement negotiated by President George W. Bush with the Iraqi government mandates that our troops leave Iraq by the end of 2011. There has been some talk that we would stay longer if the Iraqis asked, but there is no indication they will invite us to do so. That is as it should be. It's time to come home.

Like many military veterans who served in Iraq, I always felt that Operation Iraqi Freedom was a war that didn't need to be fought while we were still chasing Osama bin Laden all over Afghanistan and Pakistan. Still, my fellow warriors and I did our duty, followed our orders, and defeated the regime of Saddam Hussein. We also killed or captured a lot of Islamic fundamentalist bad guys.

In place of the Sunni dictator, we installed a democratic government that has now been in place for many years. We drew down on our combat forces as the Iraqis built up their army and police. Our training mission continues, but we have forces in place that could respond like a SWAT team to a major problem. We also have advisors who accompany Iraqi units in the field, and those Americans remain in great danger. If any training continues after this year, it can be conducted next door in Kuwait or elsewhere.

The problems that remain in Iraq will be there whether we leave today or twenty years from now. The Sunni versus Shiite religious disagreements existed long before America was created. They will continue to be the greatest issue to face the Iraqi people. Watch radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr and the Mahdi Army - they are the Hamas, Hezbollah, or Muslim Brotherhood of Iraq.

I am proud to have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom with some of the finest soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who ever fought for America. We liberated over twenty-five million people, made many friends among the Iraqis, and gave them a great opportunity to live in a land filled with freedom and opportunity.

The future of Iraq is now in their hands.

Charles M. Grist

Saturday, April 30, 2011

University of Central Florida Reception Celebrates Detective Barry Pruette Memorial Endowed Scholarship

From left to right: Laura Pruette, Chief Robert Merchant, Dean Michael Frumkin, Chuck Grist
It was an honor to attend a reception at the University of Central Florida's College of Health and Public Affairs. The event was hosted by Dean Michael Frumkin to celebrate the establishment of the Detective Barry Pruette Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this was an effort of a decade by the citizens of Altamonte Springs, the officers and employees of the Altamonte Springs Police Department and the City of Altamonte Springs, and the Altamonte Springs Rotary Club. Finally, the money was raised to create this memorial scholarship which will be perpetual in Barry's name.

Along with several university officials like Dean Frumkin, Criminal Justice professor Dr. Ross Wolf, and Katie Korkosz, Assistant Director of Development and Alumni Relations, numerous Altamonte Springs Police representatives attended. These included Chief Robert Merchant, Deputy Chief Mike Deal, retired Deputy Chief Jack Martin, retired Lieutenant Stan Phipps, and of course, yours truly, a retired Altamonte Springs Master Police Officer. Barry's widow, Laura, was also present.

Thanks to everyone involved for their efforts in making this scholarship a reality.

Charles M. Grist

Sunday, April 24, 2011

No "Boots On The Ground" In The New Middle East Wars

I don't know what's wrong with some of our Congressmen, but the effort to become more involved in the Libyan civil war - and perhaps even the Syrian civil war - is misguided at best.

There isn't a problem supporting real democratic resistance movements in other countries, but you better know who you are dealing with. I suspect that the rebels in Libya are just using us because we are letting them do so. As in Egypt, once the dictator is gone, the fundamentalists will usurp the rebel leadership, and a new "baby Iran" will likely be born. (The members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood are finally showing us who they really are, and none of them is a Thomas Jefferson.)

If the United Nations wants to send African or Middle Eastern troops into these countries, so be it. It is, after all, their neighborhood. But American soldiers must never be involved in civil wars or nation building ever again. Not only is another country's civil war none of our business, it is a thankless job anyway, and any success will always be tenuous at best.

There are few reasons to ever have American boots on the ground in the Middle East. One would be the threatened takeover or destruction of the Saudi oil fields. The other would be an all-out war that threatened the survival of Israel.

The decision to involve our nation in the Libyan civil war is one of the worst decisions ever made by a president in American history. There was no clear and present danger to America or our allies. We do not know who the rebels are or what they represent, and there is ample evidence that jihadists from Iraq and Afghanistan are among the fighters.

Tell your Congressional representatives to keep our troops out of these Middle East civil wars.

NO boots on the ground....

Charles M. Grist

Easter At War

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

For the most part, holidays at war are pretty much like every other day. You're looking for the enemy; they're looking for you. In Vietnam back in 1971, the Easter Bunny would have been crazy to look for us in a jungle filled with North Vietnamese soldiers.

Today, there are tens of thousands of our young troops standing guard, walking patrol, and serving in harm's way throughout the world. As we remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf, let us also remember the sacrifices that have been made by our troops since the founding of our great nation.

May God bless them, and may God continue to bless America.

Charles M. Grist

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Minnesota Soldier Killed In Afghanistan

Specialist Joseph A. Kennedy
Army Specialist Joseph A. Kennedy, 25, of St. Paul, Minnesota, died April 15th in Helmand province in Afghanistan of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire.

Kennedy was assigned to the Second Battalion, Second Infantry Regiment, Third Brigade Combat Team of the First Infantry Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Our condolences to the family, friends, and fellow warriors of Specialist Kennedy.

Charles M. Grist

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Please Support The Detective Barry Pruette Memorial Endowed Scholarship

Barry Pruette
My fellow officers and I started this scholarship in Barry's name to provide assistance to young men and women from all walks of life who want to become law enforcement officers, whether local, state or federal. The original motto was "Education, Diversity, Professionalism."

Late last year, we finally reached our goal of $25,000, ensuring that the scholarship will be awarded in perpetuity. The following news release was published in "For The Record," a publication of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida.

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"A scholarship awarded to criminal justice students at the University of Central Florida in Orlando to memorialize Altamonte Springs Police Detective Barry Pruette will now be awarded in perpetuity thanks to the generosity of the Altamonte Springs Police Department and Altamonte Springs Rotary Club.

The organizations established the Detective Barry Pruette Memorial Scholarship in 2001 to honor Pruette, a highly respected member of the department who died two years earlier, at age 42, from a heart attack. Pruette served the department in many roles, including patrol officer, traffic officer and detective. He was especially passionate about working as a field training officer, helping to mold new officers.

Each year since 2001, the Rotary Club has funded a $1,000 scholarship to an undergraduate or graduate criminal justice student in Pruette’s memory.  In 2007, the club began making contributions toward an endowment fund for the scholarship as well. Police department employees followed suit and began making contributions through lump-sum gifts or payroll deductions. In late 2010, the organizations reached the requisite $25,000 in donations needed to endow the scholarship at UCF. The scholarship is now named the Detective Barry Pruette Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

'It’s a great collaboration,” said college Dean Michael Frumkin. “It allows us to support the preparation of future police officers. Their effort is absolutely amazing.'"

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Although the scholarship is now a perpetual one, the annual endowment will be based on the interest received. Therefore continued donations will help to increase the principal upon which that interest is based.

If you wish to donate to the scholarship fund, please send your check to the "Detective Barry Pruette Memorial Endowed Scholarship" c/o The UCF College of Health and Public Affairs, Department of Criminal Justice, P.O. Box 161600, Orlando, Florida 32816-1600.

Thank you, and please pass this on.

Charles M. Grist

The Internet War On Terror - Beware: The Enemy May Try To "Friend" You

To those of you who enjoy social networks such as Facebook, may you heed this warning.

I recently received a “friend” request from a man in an apparent position of responsibility in Iran. Knowing that the use of sites like Facebook can be fatal in a dictatorship like the Islamic Republic of Iran, I researched the postings of this man.

One of the first things I found on his page was a video showing “Israeli Terrorism Against Palestinians.” The video appeared to show dozens of casualties, including men, women and children who had been killed or wounded – allegedly – by an Israeli attack.

Now I couldn’t find any video footage that showed Israeli civilians being murdered by Hamas rocket and mortar attacks. Nor did I see any mention that recent attacks by Israelis resulted from an endless bombardment by terrorists in the West Bank. Like all people, the citizens of Israel have the inherent right to self defense.

To the guy in Iran, the terrorists of Hamas, the fugitives of Al Qaeda, and to those who condone attacks against Israel or the United States, I suggest that you remember this very important lesson: If you wage war against us, we will seek our justice. Unlike you, we don’t try to harm the innocent. If your families are accidentally injured or killed because of the war you brought upon them, then their blood is on YOUR hands.

To my friends on the Internet, I say be careful. Don’t “friend” everyone who makes that request of you. In your desire to get along with the world, make sure you don’t invite the enemy to sit next to you in your very own living room….

Charles M. Grist

Friday, April 15, 2011

Posthumous Medals of Honor Awarded to Korean War Veterans

From Fox News:

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President Obama To Award Two Posthumous Medals of Honor to Korean War Veterans

by Sarah Courtney
Fox News
April 15, 2011

Nearly 60 years after they heroically served in the Korean War, President Obama will honor two soldiers at the White House next month with the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government.

Private First Class Anthony T. Kaho'ohanohano, and Private First Class Henry Svehla, who both served in the U.S. Army, will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously in a ceremony attended by their families May 2nd.

Kaho'ohanohano selflessly held-off enemy forces solo while his company changed position. After running out of ammunition and grenades, he fought face to face with enemy combatants until his death. In a statement the White House said, "His heroic stand so inspired his comrades that they launched a counterattack that completely repulsed the enemy."

Private Svehla charged into battle while serving in the Republic of Korea, causing many casualties to the advancing enemy. Of his heroic actions, the White House said in a statement, "When an enemy grenade landed among a group of his comrades, without hesitation and undoubtedly aware of the extreme danger, he threw himself on the grenade."

Siblings of Kaho'ohanohano and Svehla will attend the White House and join President Obama in honoring their brothers' service and sacrifice.

Most recently, President Obama awarded Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta the Medal of Honor.  He became the first living service member from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars to receive the high award.

The qualifications for medal of honor recipients include bravery above and beyond those of one's comrades as well as risk to one's own life. "There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit," says the White House. For those reasons, most recipients of the highest honor are awarded posthumously.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Iowa Soldier Killed In Afghanistan

Specialist Maher

From the "Honor the Fallen" website:

Army Specialist Brent M. Maher was killed on April 11, 2011 during Operation Enduring Freedom.  Maher, 31, of Council Bluffs, Iowa was assigned to the First Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment of the Iowa National Guard, Shenandoah, Iowa.

Specialist Maher died in Paktia province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Our condolences to Specialist Maher’s family, friends, and fellow warriors.

Charles M. Grist

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Florida Soldier Killed In Afghanistan

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Spc. Keith T. Buzinski, 26, of Daytona Beach, Fla., died April 7 in Logar province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

For a current list of all casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, go to the "Honor the Fallen" site at .

Charles M. Grist

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Part II - Radical Iraqi Cleric Muqtada Al Sadr Threatens Violence

Muqtada Al Sadr with his inner circle
With regard to my recent post of April 6 on radical Iraqi cleric Muqtada al Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia, here is an update today from the Associated Press:

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Iraqi cleric threatens action if U.S. forces remain
BAGHDAD – A powerful anti-American Shiite cleric threatened Saturday to reactivate his feared militia if American soldiers remain in Iraq beyond this year, after a U.S. offer to keep troops on if they are needed.

Muqtada al-Sadr issued a statement to his followers on the eight anniversary of Saddam Hussein's ouster that stopped just short of calling for violent action against U.S. forces. He accused "the occupation" of inciting panic, corruption and unrest among Iraqis.
His statement was read aloud at a huge protest of tens of thousands in Baghdad's Mawal Square, near al-Sadr's stronghold in an eastern Baghdad slum. The cleric is in Iran, where he has been studying religion for the last several years.
"What if the invasion forces will not leave our lands?" al-Sadr asked in the statement, which was read at the protest by his aide Salah al-Obeidi. "What if the U.S. forces and others stay in our beloved lands? What if their companies and embassy headquarters will continue to exist with the American flags hoisted on them? Will you be silent? Will you overlook this?"
"No, no America. No, no America," the crowd shouted in reply.In January, al-Sadr visited his ancestral home in the holy Shiite city of Najaf, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, and told followers to embrace a peaceful approach to diplomacy as his political wing gains power in Iraq's government. But he also said that should the U.S. troops remain in Iraq past 2011, followers might retaliate "by all means of resistance."
On Saturday, al-Sadr elaborated on that point explaining he would quickly train newly armed followers and bring his feared Mahdi Army militia out of retirement. "We will have to adopt (this) approach if they will not leave our country," he said.
The Mahdi Army ran rampant in Baghdad, Basra and other Iraqi cities at the peak of Iraq's violence a few years ago, raiding homes and killing Sunnis in the widespread sectarian fighting that brought the country to the brink of civil war. Al-Sadr froze the militia after it was roundly defeated by Iraqi forces in Basra in 2008, dramatically reducing violence in the country.
Under a security agreement between Washington and Baghdad, U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Iraq at the end of 2011. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who needed al-Sadr's support to keep his job after his party failed to win a majority in national elections last year, has said repeatedly he believes the American forces will no longer be needed in Iraq by next year.
But many Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers want U.S. troops to stay, fearing Iraq is still too unstable to be able to protect itself should Iran begin to play a more active role in the country after American forces leave.
Visiting Iraq this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Obama administration is willing to keep troops in Iraq past 2011. After meeting with al-Maliki and other leaders during his two-day visit, Gates signaled that scenario was becoming increasingly likely.But demonstrator Haidar Nuaman, 25, said al-Sadr's statement shows that many Iraqis won't stand for a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq.
"It seems that the government does not know what to do. Muqtada's is an important voice to stand against any intention by the government to extend the presence of forces," he said.
On April 9, 2003, a U.S.-led coalition ended Saddam's nearly quarter-century regime in Iraq, deposing his government after he fled Baghdad.
Saddam's fall was celebrated by millions of Shiites, Kurds and even Sunnis across the country, whose joy was immortalized in images broadcast worldwide of Iraqis beating a huge statue of the dictator with their fists, feet and shoes after American Marines pulled it down.
Many of those pictures were rebroadcast on Iraq state TV on Saturday. Images of men pulling the head of the Saddam statue down the street were followed by a map of Iraq and the slogan: "The day of change, the place of change."
At a Baghdad speech to his Shiite Dawa party that Saddam terrorized for years, al-Maliki did not mention the anniversary but lamented the day that also marked the assassination of one of al-Sadr's relatives. Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr was killed by Saddam's forces in 1980, and al-Maliki's message Saturday likely will be welcomed by the Sadrists.
"It is good to remember this anniversary in order not to have criminal in power again," al-Maliki said.
Many Iraqis are frustrated with al-Maliki's government, however, including some who have compared him to Saddam because of his often heavy-handed leadership.
"Toppling Saddam Hussein's regime was a dream," said Ari Harseen, a senior leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. "Since then we've gotten some of our rights, but we still have fears about the future as there are still Saddamist thoughts in some governmental institutions."
Associated Press Writers Mazin Yahya in Baghdad and Yahya Barzanji in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq, contributed to this report.
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Once America has left Iraq, old grudges and ancient rivalries will continue to fester. It will not be an easy time.
Charles M. Grist