Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wild Hogs Part Deux

Dear Gang,
There were three morale boosters while over in Iraq that made the world of difference for me. First was Anysoldier.com, an organization that I am a fevered believer in. Second was Boca Java Coffee. They sent over two hundred pounds of coffee to us over the course of our last couple of months there. Finally, having the internet available to email to home, family and friends made a world of difference for a solid piece of mind.

Well, I can tell you that being invited by Marty and Sue Horn from AnySoldier.com to participate in a fund raiser up in St. Louis was a no brainer this past weekend, I mean, you call, I haul. “Hey Marty, just give me the who, what, where and when.” All I had to do next was to get permission from my Commanding Officer which went like this if you were sitting next to my desk when I called. “Hey honey, do you mind if I fly up to Missouri for a fund raiser for Marty in June? What is it? Ohhhhh just a little ride to help raise money for the cause. Bike ride? Well, no not a bike. Yes, a motorcycle, guess I left that part out of it. Yes honey, you did tell me that I could buy another airplane before I ever bought a motorcycle. I promise I’ll be careful. Yes, I will only smoke a few cigars with Major Pain. You don’t mind? Great, thanks honey, I love you too!!”

The big hurdle was done with two phone calls, one to the wife and the other to jack up my life insurance and I was on the road to Missouri. Della Williams, a dispatcher for the Wentzville Police Department, put the whole thing together and man did she do a fantastic job. She arranged for T.V. coverage of the event with Channel five of St. Louis, two free Harley’s from Pat, a great supporter who owns “Doc’s Harley” of St. Louis, the ride route, the Army color guard, a band, picnic, poker run and hotels for us. I’m talking about months of planning to put something this big together.

Everything worked out great till Saturday morning when we found out that Maj Pain from One Marine’s View was stuck in Pittsburg and wouldn’t arrive till one pm that day. The ride started at 11am and we made the decision that we would not leave a Marine behind, so a small group of us would take off late and go get him. Taylor Batten, a live wire thirteen year old girl, who is an honorary Gunny in the Corps, drove all the way down from Michigan with her Family, Cathy and Kevin and brother Tanner for this event. If you go back to Major Pain’s site, you can read all about this wonderful little lady and what she has gone through. She surprised Major Pain at the gate as he was walking up the terminal.

As it turned out, just six bikes for the ride was a lot nicer than in the pack with the other two hundred. We had Harry as the lead, who is a Lieutenant for the Wentzville PD, Leon and Kriss who are Sgt’s with Wentzville as dash three and six, Gary, Marty and myself. The ride started off easy enough as we headed West on highway 70, the only problem was a line of thunderstorms moving our way. As we cruised along the highway, the skies became darker, then you noticed all the cars heading east bound with their headlights on and covered in water. Then it hit, a few drops at first, followed by a complete deluge of water. The Bikes handled great as we slowed up and took shelter under an overpass. The thunder boomed, visibility dropped to a half mile and it poured for a good 40 minutes as we waited. Harry was able to pull up Accu-weather on his phone so we could get a good peek at the storms. “Hey Taco, you’re a pilot, what does this mean as he showed me the radar picture. It wasn’t good; the line of thunderstorms was over our entire route for the ride. We figured out that we needed to head West, through this, go about twenty miles west or so and then head south to come in behind the line of storms.

With a solid plan and a break in the rain, we took off again. The only problem was the next wall of water we hit about ten minutes later. Our speed dropped down to a crawl as we were pelted with water. Your glasses fog up, you can’t see worth crap and the worst part is the water running down your soaked Levi’s legs into your boots. (that sucked) No stopping this time, we pressed on through the rain and busted out onto the other side of the front into sunshine. Back up to seventy miles an hour in the heat of the sun, we dried us off pretty fast. Except, for the wet boots.

The next couple of hours, once we got off the highway and headed South on route 19, was some of the most beautiful countryside you have ever seen. Sweeping valleys with some good size little mountains and lots of green trees covering many small rivers. Our plan worked great as we watched the storm front off to the east and traveled behind it. The end of the ride was down near Fort Lenoard Wood where Della had a band playing and a cookout by the VFW. It was an outstanding ride and all for a great organization. If you have the chance next year, come on out for it! You won’t be disappointed. I’d like to thank Della, Terry, all the Officer’s of the Wentzville Police Department, The Batten family, Pat from Doc’s and of course Marty and Sue for a great time. I think Major Pain and I lost our butt’s somewhere after two hundred miles out of five hundred, but I would do it again in a heartbeat and twice on Sunday. Until then,
Semper Fi,

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I kid you not!!

Hey Guys,
I just wanted to wish you all a wonderful Fathers day for the guys out there who are Fathers and thanks to all the wonderful women who helped us be Fathers. So here is a toast to all of you, yes Dad especially you, thanks for everything you did to help me get to where I am now and to Ron, my father in law, for taking care of our family too.

Tonight, I thought I would pass on a nice story from an Outstanding Marine, 1stLt Zech and his Dad Ed. As you know... all good Military stories always start out, “I shit you not” or “No Shit man, this really happened.” This piece deals with some Navy guys with a lot of time on their hands to make the ultimate “Whistling Death.”
I hope you all have a great week and I’ll talk to you soon.
Semper Fi, Taco

Subject: Dixie Station Strike

Yes, this really happened Once again history is stranger then fiction, and alot funnier:USS Midway VA-25's Toilet Bomb.In October 1965, CDR Clarence J. Stoddard,Executive Officer of VA-25 "Fist of the Fleet",flying an A-1H Skyraider, NE/572 "Paper Tiger II"from Carrier Air Wing Two aboard USS Midway carried a special bomb to the North Vietnamese in commemoration of the 6-millionth pound of ordnance dropped. This bomb was unique because of the type... it was a toilet!

The following is an account of this event, courtesy of Clint Johnson, Captain, USNR Ret. Captain Johnson was one of the two VA-25 A-1 Skyraider pilots credited with shooting down a MiG-17 on June 20, 1965."I was a pilot in VA-25 on the 1965 Vietnam cruise.572 was flown by CDR C. W. "Bill" Stoddard. His wingman in 577 (which was my assigned airplane) was LCDR Robin Bacon, who had a wing station mounted movie camera (the only one remaining in the fleetfrom WWII).

The flight was a Dixie Station strike (South Vietnam) going to the Delta. When they arrived in the target area and CDR Stoddard was reading the ordnance list to the FAC, he ended with "and onecode name Sani-flush". The FAC couldn't believe it and joined up to see it. It was dropped in a dive with LCDR Bacon flying tight wing position to film the drop. When it cameoff, it turned hole to the wind and almost struck his airplane. It made a great ready room movie. The FAC said that it whistled all the way down. The toilet was a damaged toilet, which was going to be thrown overboard. One of our plane captains rescued it and the ordnance crew made a rack, tailfins and nose fuse for it. Our checkers maintained a position to block the view of the air boss and the Captain while the aircraft was taxiing forward. Just as it was being shot off we got a 1MC message from the bridge, "What the hell was on 572's rightwing?" There were a lot of jokes with air intelligence about germ warfare. I wish that we had saved the movie film."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


This is a letter from my Dad. It could be a two part letter to the people, but I told him it was fine as stated. There are so many things in this piece that ring true and need to be said. I truly believe that we are on the brink of something very big here in the world between our cultures and people.
Anyway, I asked him to write something for you, so here he goes.

Combat Deaths are part of victory,

In the 18th, 19th century, WWI and WWII, Americans believed in their military leaders and believed in a military VICTORY. They understood that only victory ends a war. We did not achieve victory in either Korea or Viet Nam. Those “wars” never ended. What has happened to our nation? Why do we not allow the military leaders to do their jobs? Why are the politicians now running the wars, retreating at every possible turn?

My uncle served with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy during WW II. My grandfather’s younger brother served in WW I in France. My great-great grandfather served and died in Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. One great-great-great grandfather served in the War of 1812 and my other great-great-great grandfather in the Revolutionary War. My father-in-law served as a Naval Surgeon during WW II and Korea.

My brother-in-law served as an NFO (Naval Flight Officer known as a “back-seater”) in the F-14 during the Cold War with Communist Russia in the 1970s. My first cousin served in the Korean Conflict. I served in Viet Nam 1967-1968 in I Corps during the Tet Offensive. I am the first in my extended family to have made the military my career. Did we, the living, and our ancestors go to war just so this country could go down in defeat?

I lost a daughter in an accidental fall so I know the loss of a child and the pain it brings. I feel for every parent who lost a child in combat, or brother or sister who lost a sibling or wife/child that lost her husband/their father due to war. But do combat deaths mean we retreat and wait for an enemy that has a stated purpose of killing or subjugating our country and the world we know? It appears that the sole purpose of almost all news broadcasts is to daily report on, drone on and dwell upon on the number of our troops killed and wounded in our current conflict daily followed by the accumulated total since 2003. Nothing positive is reported about what our troops are doing in Iraq and around the world.

According to DOD numbers, we suffered 4,435 deaths during the American Revolution, 2,260 deaths during the War of 1812. Let us skip over the numbers during the Indian, Mexican, Civil and Spanish American Wars. During WW I, we had 53,402 deaths, 63,114 other deaths in service not in theater. WW II we suffered 291,557 battle deaths, and 113,842 other deaths in service not in theater. What would our lives be like if we had surrendered and withdrawn from any of these wars/conflicts? Would we be speaking German or Japanese?

In the Korean Police Action, we had 33,741 battle deaths, and 2,835 other deaths in theater. In Viet Nam we had 47,415 battle deaths, and 10,785 other deaths in theater. In neither war was the outcome a clear VICTORY for the USA. The politicians, the anti-war movement and the “being tired of war” populous movement won out over victory.

Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991) we lost 147 battle deaths, and 235 other deaths in theater. We achieved the goal of kicking the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, but stopped short of removing Saddam Hussein so as not to destabilize the region politically or militarily. We know the results of this failure to achieve total VICTORY. In 2001, nineteen dedicated, fanatical men killed over 3,000 innocent people in the attacks of 9-11.

We serve/served in the military for various reasons, we try to do our best and we try to win! According to DOD and VA figures, over 42 million men and women have served during our wars, over 650,000 died in our countries’ defense, 524,000 died in other deaths in service (non-theater) and 1,431,290 non-mortal wounds were recorded. I repeat. Political figures need to lead this nation to VICTORY not to defeat. This is done by supporting the troops and not using their funding bills for political advantage, retaining office or adding earmarks for their home states. We are no longer isolated by the two large oceans east and west from missile attack or the suicide bombers who desire to bring in and detonate a nuclear/biological or chemical weapon. Sadly, victory comes with losses in our military ranks.

As a child, I remember the dark air raid window shades, the troop convoys constantly going by our house, and being taken to the railroad bridge to count the 150-200 long flatbed trains hauling planes, trucks, jeeps, trailers, tanks and artillery to Norfolk, Virginia, to be shipped to Europe for the invasion. I will not forget the joy and celebration when VE day was announced, and we all went downtown to Lynchburg’s main street to cheer and dance for joy.

We gave up a lot of things so the troops would have the best of everything; no one really complained. The only dessert we had occasionally was Eagle Brand pie with vanilla wafers as a crust so we could save the rationed sugar. I later learned this was only a lime squeeze away from being the Key Lime pie everyone knows it as today. Gasoline was rationed and the Sunday afternoon drives in the mountains of Virginia stopped.

Ask yourself; are you ready to stop getting your Starbucks latte or stop driving your gas hogs even with today’s gasoline prices? What, then, are you doing for the war effort today?


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Together we served

Hey Guys,
No story today, just some Admin notes of interest. First of all, I am flying up to St. Louis MO on the 22nd of June to join Marty Horn and Maj Pain for a Harley Bike ride in support of Any Soldier. If anyone is close to St Louis, check out the latest news on http://www.anysoldier.com/ and you will see where the ride starts etc and we hope to see you there.

Second, Yes, I pinned on LtCol the other day with my folks who made it down from DC, my wife, In-laws and another Marine buddy named Reb.
The CO did a great job and I'm very proud that I have made O5.

Third, we are expecting a boy this Oct, so we've been throwing names out there and right now "Jesus Mohammad Bell" I think it would reflect the dichotomy of our world today and the future of his classes and race. He would fit in well with all his Hispanic, Islamic classmates the way America is moving and ensure that no college would dare turn him down...
What do you guys think???

Fourth item. “Together we served” this is an incredible website devoted just for each service branch. You have to be a Marine/spouse/dependent to join (and it's free) I have spent hours playing around on the site, adding ribbons/medals, duty stations, and looking up old friends. There must be over 100,000 Marines on the rolls now, so there are a few guys you might know. If you are former Military, find your branch and join up. I think you will really like this site. The address is http://www.togetherweserved.com/

Semper Fi,
USMC - Together We Served