Archive for the ‘Military History’ Category

What an incredible speech. Nicely done Admiral.

A Sailor’s Perspective on the United States Army
Admiral William H. McRaven, Address to Class of 2015, 500th Night
18 January 2014

Good evening General and Mrs. Caslen, General and Mrs. Clarke, General Trainor, Col Brazil, Command Sergeants Major Duane and Byers, distinguished guests and most importantly Class of 2015. I am truly honored to be here tonight to address the future leaders of the United States Army.

But, as a graduate of a state school in Texas, who majored in journalism because I couldn’t do math, or science, or engineering or accounting, I am somewhat intimidated by the thought of giving any advice, to any cadet, on anything. Nevertheless, after almost 37 years in the service, much of that time with the Army, there may be something I can offer.

So tonight, as you begin the final 500 days of your time at the United States Military Academy, I would like to give you a Sailor’s Perspective on the Army; not the Army of the Hudson, not the Army of the history books, not the Army portrayed in the countless murals across campus, but the Army you will enter in 500 days—the Army upon which the future of the Nation rests; the Army that you will shape and the Army that you will lead. So, if you will humor this old sailor, I will tell you what I’ve learned in my time serving with the Army.

In the past twelve years I have worked for the great Generals of this generation; Dempsey, Petraeus, Odierno, McChrystal, Austin, Rodriguez and Dailey. All graduates of the Military Academy, each man, different in his own way.

Dempsey, a man of great humor and compassion, whose quick wit, and keen tactical sense allowed him to secure Baghdad as a Division Commander, lead the Central Command as a three star, and today, as the Chairman, he presides over the greatest change in our military since WWII and he does so with tremendous reason, intelligence and with a song in his heart.

Petraeus, whose understanding of the strategic nature of war was unparalleled.  Who saw opportunity in every challenge and who dared greatly in hopes of great victories.  His daily command decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan unquestionably saved the lives of thousands of young soldiers.

Odierno, a soldier’s soldier, who as a Division and Corps commander in Iraq, fought with a fierceness one would expect of a great warrior and then as the Commander of all forces in Iraq combined that fierceness with the diplomat’s subtle hand to lead and shape the future of a sovereign Iraq.  And today, he leads the greatest Army the world has ever known.

Austin, the quiet bear of a man, whose deep intellect and incomparable combat experience allowed him to think through every complex problem and to succeed where others might have failed.

McChrystal, whose creative mind and intense drive for perfection, changed forever how special operations would fight on the battlefield and changed how SOF would forever be perceived by the Nation—and in doing so, likely changed the course of the Armed Forces as well.

Rodriguez, the everyman’s general who proved time and again, that character matters–that hard work, perseverance, persistence, and toughness on the battlefield are always traits of success.

And Del Dailey, whose boldness and innovation, coupled with a Night Stalkers sense of teamwork and aggressiveness, began the revolution in special operations.

What did I learn about the Army in watching these men and other great leaders like Keith Alexander, Chuck Jacoby, Mike Scaparrotti, John Campbell, Bob Caslen and Rich Clarke?   Well, I learned first and foremost that your allegiance as an officer is always, always to the Nation and to those civilian leaders who were elected by the people, who represent the people.

The oath you took is clear; to support and defend the Constitution, not the institution– not the Army, not the Corps, not the division, not the brigade, not the battalion, not the company, not the platoon, and not the squad—but the nation.

I learned that leadership is hard.  Karl von Clausewitz once said that “everything in war is easy, but the easy things are difficult.”  Leadership sounds easy in the books, but it is quite difficult in real life.  I learned that leadership is difficult because it is a human interaction and nothing, nothing is more daunting, more frustrating more complex than trying to lead men and women in tough times. Those officers that do it well earn your respect, because doing it poorly is common place.  You will be challenged to do it well.

I learned that taking care of soldiers is not about coddling them.  It is about challenging them .  Establishing a standard of excellence and holding them accountable for reaching it.  I learned that good officers lead from the front.  I can’t count the times that I saw Petraeus, without body armor, walking the streets of Mosul, Baghdad or Ramadi, to share the dangers with his men and to show the enemy he wasn’t afraid.

Or McChrystal, jocking-up to go on a long patrol with his Rangers or SEALs in Afghanistan; Dempsey on a spur ride in Iraq; Austin at the head of his Division during the invasion of Iraq; Odierno, cigar in mouth, rumbling through the streets of Basrah; Rodriguez and Dailey always center stage during the tough fights in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I learned that if you are in combat, move to where the action is the hottest .  Spend time with the soldiers being miserable, exhausted and scared.  If you’re a Blackhawk pilot or a tank commander, spend some time on the flight line or in the motor pool with the maintainers and the wrench turners. Whatever position or branch you are in, find the toughest, most dangerous, job in your unit and go do it.

I learned that you won’t get a lot of thanks in return.  I learned that you shouldn’t expect it.  Your soldiers are doing the tough job every day, but I guarantee you, you will learn a lot about your troops and they will learn a lot about you.

I learned that the great leaders know how to fail.  In the course of your Army career you will likely fail and fail often.  Nothing so steels you for battle like failure. No officer I watched got it right, every time.  But the great ones know that when they fail, they must pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes and move on.

Rudyard Kipling, the great British storyteller, poet and soldier once wrote, in part, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowances for their doubting too. If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same. Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it and which is more– you’ll be a man my son.”

If you can’t stomach failure, then you will never be a great leader. I learned that great Army officers are risk takers, but the greatest risk is not on the battlefield, but in standing up for what’s right.

I have seen a young lieutenant stand up to a colonel when that officer’s behavior was out of line.  I have seen a captain challenge a general about a flawed battle plan.  I have seen many a general privately confront their civilian leadership and question the merits of the national decisions. All Army officers are expected to take risks in battle.  The truly great officers know that real victory is achieved when men and women of character take professional risks and challenge the weak – kneed, the faint of heart, the indecisive or the bullies.

And finally, in watching Army officers, young and old, I learned that the great officers are equally good at following as they are at leading. Following is one of the most underrated aspects of leadership and each of you will be asked to follow someone else.  The strength of a good unit rests more on how well the officers follow the commander, than how well they lead their own soldiers. I have seen many a good Battalion and Company underachieve because someone in the officer ranks thought the Commander was incompetent and quietly worked to undermine his authority.

I guarantee you, that in the course of your career you will work for leaders whom you don’t like and don’t respect.  It will be easy to make fun of their idiosyncrasies, their receding hair line, their soft chin or their spouse.  Be very careful about getting too smug, too opinionated and too righteous.  As long as the actions of y our commander are moral, legal and ethical, then do everything you can to support the chain of command and avoid the rolling eyes, the whisper campaigns and junior officer dissension.

I learned that the great Army officers know how to follow. And what about the soldiers that you will lead? In my career I have been fortunate to have served beside soldiers from the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Division, the paratroopers of the All American Division, the 1st Armored Division, the 1st Cavalry Division, the10th Mountain Division, the 1st, 3rd and 4th Infantry Division, all Groups of the Special Forces Regiment and my beloved Army Rangers.

I learned that the greatest privilege the Army can bestow upon you is to give you the opportunity to lead such magnificent men and women. These soldiers are not without their challenges.  Your soldiers will, at times, question your authority.  They will undermine your actions.  They will mislead you, frustrate you, disappoint you, and occasionally fail you. But, when the chips are down, I mean really down, your soldiers will be there and they will inspire you with their courage, their sense of duty, their leadership, their love and their respect.

In difficult times, your soldiers will be everything you dreamed they would be—and more. All one has to do is look at the citations that accompany the actions of Sergeants Sal Giunta, Leroy Petry, Robbie Miller, Ty Carter, Jarad Monti, Ross McGinnis, Paul Smith, and Clinton Romesha.  Men whose unparalleled heroism, above and beyond the call of duty, was only apparent moments before their brothers were threatened. I learned that your soldiers are at their best when their brothers and sisters in arms are threatened.  They are at their best when life deals them the hardest of blows and their indomitable spirit shines through.

In 2007, I visited the intensive care unit in Landstuhl, Germany, where the Army was sending all of its most critically injured soldiers from Iraq. As I walked into the sterile room, clad from head to toe in clean white garb, a man lay naked on the bed in front of me.  Missing one leg above the knee and part of the foot on the other leg, he was swollen beyond recognition from the blast of an IED.

The doctor in attendance didn’t know the man’s unit or service.  I asked the man in the bed if he was a Marine or a Soldier.  Unable to talk, he pointed to his thigh.  There on what was left of his thigh, was a tattoo; the 1st Infantry Division. “You’re a soldier,” I remarked.  He nodded.  “An infantryman.” I said. He smiled through what was left of his face and then he picked up a clipboard upon which he had been writing notes. He looked me in the eye and wrote on the paper.  “I –will—be— infantry—again!”  Exclamation point.  And somehow I knew that he would.

Just like the young Ranger in the combat hospital at Bagram who had both his legs amputated and was also unable to speak.  The nurse at his bedside said that he knew sign language.  His mother was deaf and the soldier had learned to sign at a young age.  He was so very young and a part of me must have shown a small sign of pity for this Ranger whose life had just been devastated.   With a picture of hand gestures in front of me, the Ranger, barely able to move and in excruciating pain, signed, “I will be okay.”

Admiral William McRaven, commander of US Special Operations Command, speaks to cadets at the United States Military Academy on 18 January (photo credit:  USMA PAO)

And a year later I saw him at the Ranger Regimental Change of Command. He was wearing his prosthetic shorties, smiling from ear to ear and challenging the Rangers around him to a pull up contest.  He was okay. Just like the young female sergeant who I just visited at Walter Reed this week.  She was seriously injured in a parachute accident.  With her father by her side, she laughed off the injury like it was a scratch.  She’s been in the hospital for two months and has years of rehabilitation ahead of her.  She has no self- pity, no remorse, no regrets, just determination to get back to her unit.

These soldiers and tens of thousands like them will be the warriors you lead in 500 days.  You had better be up to the task, because I have learned that they expect you to be good. And, most importantly, I also learned that y our soldiers expect you to hold them to high standards.  These soldiers joined the service to be part of something special and if they are not held to a high standard, if their individual efforts are no more important, no more appreciated than the efforts of a slacker then it will directly affect the morale of the unit.

And I learned that nothing is more important than the morale of a unit. MacArthur once said of morale, “…that it cannot be produced by pampering or coddling an Army, and it is not necessarily destroyed by hardship, danger, or even calamity…It will wither quickly, however, if soldiers come to believe themselves the victims of indifference or injustice on the part…of their leaders.”

The great leaders in the Army never accept indifference or injustice and they only judge their soldiers based on the merit of their work.  Nothing else is important.  Not the soldier’s size, not their color, not their gender, not their orientation, not their religion, not their ethnicity— nothing is important, but how well your soldiers do their job.

I am confident that history will reflect that the young American’s who enlisted in the Army after September 11th, were equal in greatness to their grandfathers and their great grandfathers who fought in the World Wars—and in 500 days you will inherit these incredible soldiers.  Be ready.

Finally, in watching the Army for most of my career, I learned that no institution in the world has the history, the legacy, the traditions, or the pride that comes from being a soldier.  I am envious beyond words. I learned that whether you serve 4 years or 40 years you will never, ever regret your decision to have joined the United States Army. You will serve beside the finest men and women in America.  You will be challenged every day.

You will fail.  You will succeed.  You will grow. You will have adventures to fill ten life times and stories that your friends from home will never be able to understand. Your children and their children and their children’s children, will be incredibly proud of your service and when you pass from this earth, the Nation that you served so very well will honor you for your duty.  And your only regret will be that you could not have served longer.

And if for one moment you believe that because Iraq is over and Afghanistan is winding down that the future holds few challenges for you, then you are terribly, terribly mistaken.  Because as long as there are threats to this great Nation, the Army upon which this Nation was founded, will be the cornerstone of its security, it’s freedom and its future.  And you, as Army Officers, will shape that future, secure our freedoms and protect us from harm.

So what has this sailor learned?   That there is no more noble calling in the world than to be a soldier in the United States Army. Good luck to you all as you complete your final 500 days.  May God bless America and may we always have the privilege to serve her.  Thank you very much.

…this is not going to end well if it isn’t stopped. I fear it is already too late.

Obama building ‘compliant officer class’

WASHINGTON – The extraordinarily large number of senior military officials being relieved of duty during the Obama administration – nine generals and flag officers this year alone and close to 200 senior officers over the last five years – is part of the creation of a “compliant officer class,” according to a U.S. Army intelligence official.

Since WND’s ongoing coverage of what some top generals are openly calling a “purge” of senior military officers who run afoul of Obama or his agenda, some military personnel have been speaking out.

According to a veteran Army intelligence official who spoke to WND on condition of anonymity, there is within the armed forces a major concern that a “compliant officer class” is being created by the Obama administration. So much so, he said, that it’s becoming harder and harder to find “senior officers with a pair of balls in there [the military] now that would say no to anything.”

“Maybe at the rank of major or below, and possibly there are some in SOF Special Operations Forces, but to make colonel and higher is all politics,” he said.

To underscore this concern, the official said almost no public concern was expressed by officers to the recent repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy or the decision to allow women into front-line combat.

via Obama building ‘compliant officer class’.

…a great read.

Soldiers recall Vietnam firefight that led to posthumous MoH for Cpl.

PHILADELPHIA — It was called a “fortress in the clouds.”

The 21st Regiment of the Second Division of the North Vietnamese Army had carved a stronghold into the steep slopes of Nui Chom, a mountain with rugged peaks covered by a towering jungle canopy that blocked the sky. There, the NVA had dug 250 machine-gun bunkers to defend a secret field hospital.

On Nov. 20, 1968, Michael J. Crescenz of Philadelphia walked into an ambush on Nui Chom. His squad was pinned down when he made a snap decision to grab an M60 machine gun and charge the bunkers. He took out three, killing six enemy soldiers who may have been dumbstruck in their last seconds to see a lone American running into their fusillade of bullets.

As he charged a fourth bunker, Crescenz, 19, was killed.

via Soldiers recall Vietnam firefight that led to posthumous MoH for Cpl. | Army Times | armytimes.com.

Today is the birthday of the 1st Infantry Division. The Big Red One. It is the oldest continuously active division in the Army. To my fellow Big Red One Veterans, happy birthday to a great Division and to all who have served in the Big Red One, her history includes you. Well done and congratulations!

The 1st Infantry Division Patch World War I
1st Infantry Division Patch Modern Day

World War I

The First Expeditionary Division was constituted in May 1917 from Army units then in service on the Mexican border and at various Army posts throughout the United States. On June 8, 1917 it was officially organized in New York, New York. This date is the 1st Infantry Division’s official birthday. The first units sailed from New York and Hoboken, N.J., June 14, 1917. Throughout the remainder of the year, the rest of the Division followed, landing at St. Nazaire, France, and Liverpool, England. After a brief stay in rest camps, the troops in England proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre. The last unit arrived in St. Nazaire on Dec. 22. Upon arrival in France, the Division, less its artillery, was assembled in the First (Gondrecourt) training area, and the artillery was at Le Valdahon.

On the 4th of July, the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, paraded through the streets of Paris to bolster the sagging French spirits. At Lafayette’s tomb, one of General Pershing’s staff uttered the famous words, “Lafayette, we are here!” Two days later, July 6, the First Expeditionary Division was redesignated the First Infantry Division. On the morning of Oct. 23, the first American shell of the war was sent screaming toward German lines by Battery C, 6th Field Artillery. Two days later, the 2nd Bn., 16th Inf., suffered the first American casualties of the war.

By April 1918, the Germans had pushed to within 40 miles of Paris. In reaction to this thrust, the Big Red One moved into the Picardy Sector to bolster the exhausted French First Army. To the Division’s front lay the small village of Cantigny, situated on the high ground overlooking a forested countryside. It was the 28th Infantry, who attacked the town, and within 45 minutes captured it along with 250 German soldiers, thus earning the special designation “Lions of Cantigny” for the regiment. The first American victory of the war was a First Division victory.

The First Division took Soissons in July 1918. The Soissons victory was costly – more than 7000 men were killed or wounded. The First Infantry Division then helped to clear the St. Mihiel salient by fighting continuously from Sept. 11-13, 1918. The last major World War I battle was fought in the Meuse-Argonne Forest. The Division advanced seven kilometers and defeated, in whole or part, eight German divisions. This action cost the 1st Division over 7600 casualties. In October 1918, the Big Red One patch as it is now known was officially approved for wear by members of the Division.

The war was over when the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. The Division was then located at Sedan, the farthest American penetration of the war. The Division was the first to cross the Rhine into occupied Germany where it remained until the peace treaty formally ending WW I was signed. It deployed back to the United States in August and September.

By the end of the war, the Division had suffered 22,668 casualties and boasted five Medal of Honor recipients. Its colors carry campaign streamers for: Montdidier-Noyon; Aisne-Marne; St. Mihiel; Meuse- Argonne; Lorraine1 917; Lorraine, 1918; Picardy, 1918.

World War II

On On August 1, 1942, the first Division was reorganized and redesignated as the 1st Infantry Division.

The 1st Infantry Division entered combat in World War II as part of “Operation Torch”, the invasion of North Africa, the first American campaign against the Axis powers. On Nov. 8, 1942, following training in the United Kingdom, men of the First Division landed on the coast of Algeria near Oran. The initial lessons of combat were harsh and many men were casualties in the campaign that followed and which stretched from Algiers into Tunisia. On May 9, 1943, the commander of the German “Afrika Korps” surrendered his force of 40,000 and North African operations for the Big Red One ended. The Division then moved on to take Sicily in “Operation Husky.” It stormed ashore at Gela, July 10, 1943, and quickly overpowered the Italian defenses. Soon after, the Division came face-to-face with 100 tanks of the Herman Goering Tank Division. With the help of naval gunfire, its own artillery and Canadian allies, the First Infantry Division fought its way over the island’s hills, driving the enemy back. The Fighting First advanced on to capture Troina and opened the Allied road to the straits of Messina. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Big Red One stormed ashore at Omaha Beach. Soon after H-Hour, the Division’s 16th Infantry Regiment was fighting for its life on a strip of beach near Coleville-sur-Mer that had been marked the “Easy Red” on battle maps. As the assault progressed, the beach became so congested with destroyed equipment, the dead and the wounded, that there was little room to land reinforcements. Col. George Taylor, commander of the 16th Infantry Regt., told his men, “Two kinds of people are staying on this beach! The dead and those who are going to die! Now, let’s get the hell out of here!” Slowly, spurred by the individual heroism of many individuals, the move inland got underway.

A German blockhouse above the beach became a command post named “Danger Forward.”

After the beachhead was secured, the Division moved through the Normandy Hedgerows. The Division liberated Liege, Belgium, and pushed to the German border, crossing through the fortified Siegfried line. The 1st Inf. Div. attacked the first major German city, Aachen, and after many days of bitter house-to house fighting, the German commander surrendered the city on Oct. 21, 1944.

The Division continued its push into Germany, crossing the Rhine River. On Dec. 16, 24 enemy divisions, 10 of which were armored, launched a massive counterattack in the Ardennes sector, resulting in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The Big Red One held the critical shoulder of the “Bulge” at Bullingen, destroying hundreds of German tanks in the process. On Jan. 15, 1945, the First Infantry attacked and penetrated the Siegfried line for the second time and occupied the Remagen bridgehead. On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, the Division marched 150 miles to the east of Siegen. On April 8, the Division crossed the Weser River into Czechoslovakia. The war was over May 8, 1945.

At the end of World War II, the Division had suffered 21,023 casualties and 43,743 men had served in its ranks. Its soldiers had won a total of 20,752 medals and awards, including 16 Congressional Medals of Honor. Over 100,000 prisoners had been taken.
Following the war, the First Division remained in Germany as occupation troops, until 1955, when the Division moved to Fort Riley, Kan.

You can read the rest of the Division’s history here: Society of the First Infantry Division

…the invasion of Europe began.

D-Day. June 6, 1944.

On that day, thousands of men and equipment stormed ashore at a place called Normandy.
Brothers in arms fought and died on those beaches by the thousands.
Their sacrifice was heavy, their victory was total.

I choke up thinking about the bravery that these men showed in the face of certain death. Many watched as their friends died right in front of them, or right next to them, wondering if they were next, but persevering until the beach was taken.

Some of those men would die in the heavy fighting that continued after the D-Day landings.

Never forget the sacrifices made by this greatest of generations. The survivors of World War II are dying at the rate of 600 a day. If you have the honor of seeing one, let them know you appreciate their service. Honor their sacrifice.

Please visit the Army’s website dedicated to the D-Day invasion. US Army June 6, 1944 D-Day

Of all the divisions that were involved in the D-Day invasion, I had the honor of serving in 5 of those divisions in my Army career. The 1st Infantry Division, the 2nd Infantry Division, the 4th Infantry Division, the 8th Infantry Division, and the 3rd Armored Division.

D-Day vet: “We made a difference”

By:O’Ryan Johnson

One of the Bay State’s dwindling number of D-Day veterans recalls the Normandy Invasion — 69 years ago today — as a day when he and other young men “made a difference.”

“I’m proud of it. I have a lot of personal satisfaction. If it weren’t for the Rangers, they would have lost the beach,” said James Gabaree, an old Ranger who fought and nearly died in the largest armed invasion in history, known as Operation Overlord.

“We made a difference,” said Gabaree, 88, who landed at Omaha Beach with the 5th Ranger Battalion, part of an invasion force of 160,000 American, British and Canadian troops who established a foothold in Nazi-occupied western Europe.

via D-Day vet: “We made a difference” | Boston Herald.

Remembering D-Day: As WWII veteran ranks thin, those who remain recall invasion

CHILLICOTHE — As Americans mark yet another solemn anniversary of the D-Day invasion, those who fought in World War II, including the ones who stormed the beaches of Normandy 69 years ago today, continue to slip away.

World War II veterans are dying at a rate of more than 600 each day, meaning tales of combat in Europe and the Pacific are more likely to come from a book or a website than from the veterans themselves.

Milestones such as the anniversary of D-Day — the airborne and amphibious assault that began June 6, 1944, launching the Allied forces’ invasion of German-occupied western Europe — underscore how many of these veterans are gone, but also illuminates the contributions of those who remain.

As a member of the Scioto Valley and Ross County veterans honor guards, Carl Jividen, 92, has paid tribute to more than his fair share of deceased veterans.

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…it was breaking back in 1915! And pretty much sealed our fate in entering the Great War. 

Lusitania Sinks!

On the afternoon of May 7, 1915, the British ocean liner Lusitania is torpedoed without warning by a German submarine off the south coast of Ireland. Within 20 minutes, the vessel sank into the Celtic Sea. Of 1,959 passengers and crew, 1,198 people were drowned, including 128 Americans. The attack aroused considerable indignation in the United States, but Germany defended the action, noting that it had issued warnings of its intent to attack all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain.

When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that the vast majority of Americans favored. Britain, however, was one of America’s closest trading partners, and tension soon arose between the United States and Germany over the latter’s attempted quarantine of the British isles. Several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines, and in February 1915 Germany announced unrestricted submarine warfare in the waters around Britain.

In early May 1915, several New York newspapers published a warning by the German embassy in Washington that Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so at their own risk. The announcement was placed on the same page as an advertisement of the imminent sailing of the Lusitania liner from New York back to Liverpool. The sinkings of merchant ships off the south coast of Ireland prompted the British Admiralty to warn the Lusitania to avoid the area or take simple evasive action, such as zigzagging to confuse U-boats plotting the vessel’s course. The captain of the Lusitania ignored these recommendations, and at 2:12 p.m. on May 7 the 32,000-ton ship was hit by an exploding torpedo on its starboard side. The torpedo blast was followed by a larger explosion, probably of the ship’s boilers, and the ship sunk in 20 minutes.

via Lusitania sinks — History.com This Day in History — 5/7/1915.

…not my normal genre, but…

…is well worth your time.

11 Facts About Medal of Honor Recipient Clinton Romesha

BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
January 17, 2013 3:59 pm

Former Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha (ROE-muh-shay), 31, will receive the Medal of Honor next month for heroic actions during the day-long attack on Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan.

More than 300 Taliban attacked Keating early in the morning of Oct. 3, 2009, from all four sides and from higher ground. Armed with recoilless rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, machine guns, and rifles, the Taliban swarmed the site, occupied by only 53 Americans and two Latvians. A score of Afghans stationed there had abandoned the site. Mortars hit Keating every 15 seconds during the first three hours of the attack. Taliban breached the site and destroyed 70 percent of Keating with a fire.

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…in 2006, a UH-60 Blackhawk crashed near Tal Afar.

12 souls perished that day.

Why is it significant? Well, it’s significant because my friend was killed in that crash.

And as I do every year since then, I honor his memory and those of the other 11 that were lost that day.

Doug was my friend. He was my son’s godfather. He was an honorable man. He is sorely missed all the time. He was my last platoon leader that I had in the Army. He was the best of the bunch. And I don’t say that lightly.

Jan. 7, 2006: A Black Hawk helicopter carrying eight U.S. troops and four American civilians crashed near the northern city of Tal Afar, killing all aboard.

Here’s the names of the souls lost that day: Maj. Stuart M. Anderson, 44, of the 3rd Corps Support Command; Maj. Douglas A. LaBouff, 36, Capt. Michael R. Martinez, 43, and 1st Lt. Joseph D. deMoors, 36, all of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment; and 1st Lt. Jaime L. Campbell, 25, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chester W. Troxel, 45, Spc. Michael I. Edwards, 26, and Spc. Jacob E. Melson, 22, all assigned to the Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment. From Dyncorp International, Arsenio Domingo, 40, and Robert Timmann, 49, were killed in the crash. Both were members of a Civilian Police Advisory Training Team working with Iraqi police officers. I don’t know the names of the other two civilians lost in the crash.

A salute to my friend and those that died with him.

MAJ Doug LaBouff Scholarship Flyer 2012

This is Doug. He was just promoted to Major.

Rest easy, sleep well my brother.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell…

I still cry when I think about it too much.

…December 7th, 1941 a day that will live in infamy.
Today is the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial Navy.

If you have a flag, fly it, if you have a flag pole fly it at half staff today.
Honor those that gave their all.

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