Bring My Country Back!

BREAKING NEWS: As I was about to post this, AP came across my screen announcing that Gov Christie just endorsed Trump for President.

I realize I may be showing my colors on this one, but I couldn’t help it. Our once powerful military is being gradually brought to its very knees and sadly much of society is totally unaware. This video might even be a tad funny if it weren’t all so true.

Love him, doubt him, or hate him matters not —  he is indeed shaking up the very core of our political system – which IMHO is a GOOD thing.

Comment Form Not Working

Apology needed. If you used the form supplied to comment on a post, to contact me, or to buy the book, and not seen your comment posted or received a reply from me, please do it again. Someone emailed me directly wondering why I had not responded to his request for a book. Since I had not received it, I dug into the contact form I use and discovered an automatic upgrade was made that required action by me, but was never informed. Don’t you just love this world of electronics in which we live? Grrr! Anyway, it appears to be fixed now. Thank you and Semper Fi, Jim

Burial at Sea

Body BearsLtCol Goodson’s duty  — the most unpleasant assignment anyone can ever have in the military — was at the beginning . Mine and my Marine’s assignment was at the end. These were indeed bad times. While mine was bad enough, to do what he had to for two long years is something that can never put behind you.

God bless you sir!

Be advised, have a Kleenex handy.

Burial at Sea
by Lt Col George Goodson, USMC (Ret)

In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial… War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it.  Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.

Now 42 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia , Laos , and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montangards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army. Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:

*The smell of Nuc Mam.
*The heat, dust, and humidity.
*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.
*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.
*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.
*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.
*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.
*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.
*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina , Virginia , and Maryland .

It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam .  Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk , rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.

A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5’9″, I now weighed 128 pounds –- 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant’s desk and said, “Sergeant Jolly, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Goodson. Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket.” Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, “How long were you there, Colonel?” I replied “18 months his time.” Jolly breathed, you must be a slow learner Colonel.” I smiled.

Jolly said, “Colonel, I’ll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major. I said, “No, let’s just go straight to his office.” Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, “Colonel, the Sergeant Major. He’s been in this  job two years. He’s packed pretty tight. I’m worried about him.” I nodded.

Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major’s office. “Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Office. The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, “Good to see you again, Colonel.” I responded, “Hello Walt, how are you?” Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.

I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt’s stress was palpable. Finally, I said, “Walt, what’s the hell’s wrong?” He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, “George, you’re going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here. I’ve been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months… Now I come here to bury these kids. I’m putting my letter in. I can’t take it anymore.

” I said, “OK Walt. If that’s what you want, I’ll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps.”

Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory. Four, however, remain.

MY FIRST NOTIFICATION
My third or fourth day in Norfolk , I was notified of the death of a 19 year-old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters, Marine Corps. The information detailed:

*Name, rank, and serial number.
*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.
*Date of and limited details about the Marine’s death.
*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.
*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.

The boy’s family lived over the border in North Carolina , about 60 miles away. I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car. Crossing the state line into North Carolina , I stopped at a small country store/service station/Post Office. I went in to ask directions.

Three people were in the store.. A man and woman approached the small Post Office window. The man held a package. The Store owner walked up and addressed them by name, “Hello John. Good morning Mrs. Cooper.”

I was stunned. My casualty’s next-of-kin’s name was John Cooper!
I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, “I beg your pardon. Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper of (address.)

The father looked at me — I was in uniform — and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited. His wife looked horrified at him and then at me. Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion. I think I caught her before she hit the floor. The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank. I answered their questions for a few minutes.

Then I drove them home in my staff car. The store owner locked the store and followed in their truck. We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving. I returned the store owner to his business. He thanked me and said, “Mister, I wouldn’t have your job for a million dollars.” I shook his hand and said; “Neither would I.”

I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk . Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house. I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.

My Marines steered clear of me for days. I had made my first death notification.

MY FIRST FUNERALS
Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals.  I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how to fold the flag.

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, “All Marines share in your grief.” I had been instructed to say, “On behalf of a grateful nation….” I didn’t think the nation was grateful, so I didn’t say that.

Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn’t speak. When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder.  They would look at me and nod. Once a mother said to me, “I’m so sorry you have this terrible job.” My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.

ANOTHER NOTIFICATION
Six weeks after my first notification, I had another. This was a young PFC.

I drove to his mother’s house. As always, I was in uniform and driving a Marine Corps staff car. I parked in front of the house, took a deep breath, and walked towards the house. Suddenly the door flew open, a middle-aged woman rushed out. She looked at me and ran across the yard, screaming “NO! NO! NO! NO!”

I hesitated. Neighbors came out. I ran to her, grabbed her, and whispered stupid things to reassure her. She collapsed. I picked her up and carried her into the house.. Eight or nine neighbors followed. Ten or fifteen later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel. I have no recollection of leaving.

The funeral took place about two weeks later. We went through the drill. The mother never looked at me. The father looked at me once and shook his head sadly.

ANOTHER NOTIFICATION
One morning, as I walked in the office, the phone was ringing. Sergeant Jolly held the phone up and said, “You’ve got another one, Colonel.” I nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked the officer making the call, I have no idea why, and hung up. Jolly, who had listened, came in with a special Telephone Directory that translates telephone numbers into the person’s address and place of employment.

The father of this casualty was a Longshoreman. He lived a mile from my office. I called the Longshoreman’s Union Office and asked for the Business Manager. He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked for the father’s schedule.

The Business Manager asked, “Is it his son?” I said nothing. After a moment, he said, in a low voice, “Tom is at home today.” I said, “Don’t call him. I’ll take care of that.” The Business Manager said, “Aye, Aye Sir,” and then explained, “Tom and I were Marines in WWII.”

I got in my staff car and drove to the house. I was in uniform. I knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door. I saw instantly that she was clueless. I asked, “Is Mr. Smith home?” She smiled pleasantly and responded, “Yes, but he’s eating breakfast now.  Can you come back later? ” I said, “I’m sorry. It’s important. I need to see him now.” She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, “Tom, it’s for you.”

A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door.  He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said, “Jesus Christ man, he’s only been there three weeks!”

Months passed. More notifications and more funerals. Then one day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth… I never could do that… and held an imaginary phone to his ear.

Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps. I took notes, said, “Got it” and hung up. I had stopped saying “Thank You” long ago.
Jolly asked, “Where?”  I said, “Eastern Shore of Maryland . The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer. His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam.”

Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, “This time of day, it’ll take three hours to get there and back. I’ll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter. And I’ll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief’s home.”

He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father’s door. He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, “Which one of my boys was it, Colonel?”

I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.
He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00 PM). “I’ve gone through my boy’s papers and found his will. He asked to be buried at sea. Can you make that happen?” I said, “Yes I can, Chief. I can and I will.”

My wife who had been listening said, “Can you do that?” I told her, “I have no idea. But I’m going to break my ass trying.”

I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, “General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?” General Bowser said,” George, you be there tomorrow at 0900. He will see you.

I was and the Admiral did. He said coldly, “How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel.” I told him the story. He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, “Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?” The Chief of Staff responded with a name.

The Admiral called the ship, “Captain, you’re going to do a burial at sea. You’ll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed…”

He hung up, looked at me, and said, “The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me. You don’t have to sic Al Bowser on my ass.” I responded, “Aye Aye, Sir” and got the hell out of his office.

I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief. Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship’s crew for four days. Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of. He said, “These government caskets are air tight. How do we keep it from floating?”

All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the Senior Chief stood and said, “Come on Jolly. I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out.”

They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worst for wear, and said, “It’s simple; we cut four 12″ holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs of lead in the foot end of the casket. We can handle that, no sweat.”

The day arrived. The ship and the sailors looked razor-sharp. General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board. The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification. The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.

The sun was hot. The  ocean flat. The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque. The Chaplin spoke. The volleys were fired.  The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father. The band played “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea.

Burial at Sea-croppedThe heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet. The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell. The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea. The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever….

The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters, Marine Corps and said, “General, get me out of here. I can’t take this anymore.” I was transferred two weeks later.

I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering. I was used up. Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy.

I said my goodbyes. Sergeant Jolly walked out with me. He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, “Well Done, Colonel. Well Done!”

NOTE: The above photo of the casket is not of the burial LtCol Goodson speaks, but one I took on the ship on my way to Vietnam. It was of a Navy Senior Chief who had requested burial at sea. I included it to show how this most solemn ceremony appears.

A MARINE EXPLAINS MR. TRUMP

By Colonel Andy Weddington, USMC, (Ret)  of http://acoloneloftruth.blogspot.com/

Another great post from my good friend and fellow Marine, Andy.

Square box, round pizza, triangle slices. I’m confused! Author Unknown

Col Andy

Last evening I had dinner at the Officers’ Club aboard the Marine Base, otherwise known as the Combat Center, in Twentynine Palms, California.

For the uninformed the Combat Center is the Corps largest live-fire base in the country. It’s where Marines go to exercise – to maneuver and integrate fires (ground and aviation) and deconflict problems (before deploying and potentially heading into battle).

It’s serious business – friendly rounds as lethal as enemy.

A Marine pal for nearly 25 years and not seen in nearly 20 was in town. He was helping prepare a unit for deployment. Mission complete, the O Club our rally point.

We talked Marine stuff before, during, and after dinner. No politics.

After about 20 minutes of ‘until next time farewells’ in the deserted parking lot, Mr. Trump came up.

For context…

This Marine is no dummy. I don’t know an infantryman that is. To the contrary. While brainiacs are trying to reengineer how to force round discs into square and triangular holes and the latter into round holes to create something new, he looks at the problem differently.

With a step back, he notices that the round discs actually fit in the round holes and the squares and triangles into their mates and that creates the new thing simply; to the astonishment of all.

So about Mr. Trump he said, “When I receive RNC propaganda and solicitations in the mail I angrily scribble ‘GO TRUMP!’ on it and mail it back,” and continued, “I don’t care that he’s loud and crude nor whatever else he’s accused of being. I’m sick of the nonsense. I don’t care! GO TRUMP!”

A lot of Marines I know feel similarly. Though some not.

Fact: Mr. Trump is going. Steamrolling might be a better word. In Marine vernacular Mr. Trump is moving, shooting, and communicating – effectively. Put the actions in whatever order you want.

He’s on a mission and not taking prisoners.

He nearly doubled the count of his closest competitor (Senator Rubio) in Nevada yesterday.

Last week in South Carolina he drew sword and finished off Jeb! (and the entire Bush family).

Next Tuesday will be big. Real big.

There are no signs of slowing much less stopping the Trump battlewagon.

So it seems Mr. Trump has figured out round discs fit in round holes. He’s created something new, something simple. His vision for America – “Make America Great Again!” – has a familiar look and sweet sound. Americans like what they see and hear.

Four words. Simple. Powerfully so.

Yes indeed Americans are sick of the nonsense. That’s clear.

Stay home next Tuesday. Call Domino’s – the place that offers triangles in the shape of round that fits into a square – and enjoy the show.

Go figure, a Marine founded Domino’s.

Confused?

Ask a Marine! But not one assigned to the Pentagon.

Once Again, the Silent Majority gets a Jolt

 

I love it, I absolutely love it! Once again the Silent Majority is as quiet as a church mouse. That is until a subject hits close to home. Placing women in direct combat roles was a non-issue for the average American — “if it doesn’t affect me, don’t bother me with such trivia, I’ve more important things to worry about.” Then SecDef and SecNav mandated it be done and done now! The Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Chief of Staff of the Army, the two services affected by this radical decision asked the question, “When are the women to begin registering for the draft.”

“WHOA! What a minute, I thought it was a volunteer thing.” Now, parents of these “women” as well as they themselves are scared.  Once again, I find myself in hysterics laughing at the so-called “silent majority.” Those of us who have “been there, done that” have been shouting from the roof tops for years — all for naught. My most often-heard response when the subject came up was, “What’s the big deal?” Now the ill-informed, inexperienced SecNav has spoken out and said we need a national debate on the subject of draft. Really? Why no national debate on placing women in direct combat roles in the first place? A decision having ramifications for every 18-25 year old woman in the U.S., and you are allowed to make it on your own? However, now when the next logical step of draft registration is broached, you side-step and pawn it off on a “national debate.” This is actually funny! I can’t wait to see how this one ends. Great article here by someone with some common sense, and she has “been there, done that.”

JudeEdenCOMMENTARY BY

Jude Eden@Jude_Eden

Jude Eden served in the Marines from 2004-2008.

The question of drafting America’s young daughters is finally making the average voter consider the real implications of fully integrating the combat arms. The large majority of the population may have little or no connection to the military and therefore no concept of what’s at stake, until now. They’ve simply supported the idea because they support women generally, and think it’ll be their choice.

Drafting women is a bad idea because putting women into combat units is a bad idea on a myriad of fronts from degraded combat readiness to skyrocketing injuries, risk, expense, and danger to the long-term medical bill and increased casualties. We always need men to fight whereas drafting women is totally unnecessary.

Justifying a policy with such wide-ranging negative impacts based on the performance of a couple of women like the ones who graduated Ranger School is ludicrous. Having equal natural rights under the law does not mean men and women are the same. Combat is not an equal opportunity for women because they don’t have an equal opportunity to survive.

The combat integration policy has been sold to us on smoke. Advocates for it have made the demonstrably false claim that women are physically capable of anything military men are while decades of military and sports medicine studies prove the opposite. They’ve ignored the heavy negative effects that sexual dynamics already have on coed units, especially those that deploy. They’ve told us women becoming men’s physical equals is just a matter of leadership and training when women tested continually demonstrate it’s nature, not nurture, dictating the reality here.

These same proponents have maligned the Marine Corps’ impeccable 9-month Gender Integration Task Force study as “flawed”—except for the parts they like, of course. They love the part about co-ed teams being better at decision-making but omitted that the women were rested at the time, and these were a mere two of the 134 combat tasks. That all-male teams outperformed them on 69 percent of tasks and they retained more than twice men’s injuries must be hushed up and suppressed as they obliterate the argument that women strengthen combat readiness.

With a dictate from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to increase female representation in the ranks to 25 percent, top-performing military women can be plucked from their units to “show success” in a combat unit. If the next president agrees with this scheme, who’s to say he or she won’t use the draft to get the desired “diversity metrics”? The Obama administration has done all sorts of unprecedented things. Women, especially athletic ones, are not going to have the choice to ride a desk to “free a man to fight” like in WWII. They will be under orders just like men, and they will go where the military needs them even if that “need” is to achieve “diversity metrics.”

The prospect of drafting women brings the issue home to average Americans who before had no skin in the game. Realizing now that this isn’t just about “a few women who want to,” they are starting to internalize the meaning of “tip of the spear,” and they don’t want their daughters there, fighting the rape and beheading-happy ISIS. Technology has not lessened the face-to-face bludgeoning that our infantrymen are doing when the gun jams or ammo runs out as they’re fighting house to house and cave to cave on foot.

But is it too little, too late? The policy is in place, but policies change. Although Israel hasn’t put women in direct combat since 1948, they experimented with women in tank crews and the armored corps and reversed the policy. Britain, too, has gone back and forth depending on who’s in office. Although neither is comparable to the U.S. military’s size and scope, both found the same problems: much higher injuries and lower performance among women that skyrocketed costs and degraded readiness.

Congress can defund or postpone the effort in the next National Defense Authorization Act, or postpone implementation until they can review the studies and ramifications. It may take the next president to reinstate women’s combat exemption, but it can be done.

 The Daily Signal published a different perspective on the issue of women in the draft last year: No More Double Standards for Women in the Military