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|WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)|
Superman's product of the century (so far):
Once again, I'm in Japan during September 11th. It's strange to be far from home in a place where they don't pay much attention to what happened on that fateful day. For me, it is more poignant.
Never forgetting means also, for me, being thankful for the subsequent protection that we've enjoyed since that day. With all of the scheming and attempts that have happened, it is truely remarkable - and a tribute to vigilance - that we have been spared further attacks.
We will never forget that day. We will never forget those who defend us. We will never forget those who watch ceaselessly on our behalf.
God Bless America.
This just in from James Pell:
I was awarded the Combat Medic of the year award this last March. It was a DOD wide award givin to one service member. I thought I would share the write up....
Petty Officer Pell served his first Iraq combat deployment as the Scout Sniper Platoon Corpsman, H&S Company, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines. During this period Petty Officer Pell participated in 20 Scout Sniper Missions. He excelled during this deployment becoming a valuable member of the platoon contributing to the tactical mission and prepared to provide the platoon life saving treatment if necessary. His ability to provide quality care under fire resulted in the successful emergent treatment of active duty, enemy combatants and Iraqi civilians. When Petty Office Pell returned from this first Iraq deployment he was tireless in developing his combat casualty care skills in preparation for future deployments. As soon as the opportunity presented itself he volunteered for a second deployment.
While serving on his second Iraq deployment as the Surveillance and Target Acquisition Platoon Corpsman,(Scout Sniper), attached to Company I, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines on 15 November 2004 during combat operations in support of Operation Phantom Fury, Al Fallujah, Iraq. Early in the morning, Petty Officer Pell assisted with capture of several suspected enemy insurgents. Upon inspection of the building, Petty Officer Pell realized that it contained not less than fifteen injured insurgents, and had been serving as an improvised “aid station.” Once the building was secure, Petty Officer Pell began providing medical assistance to the wounded, regardless of their status as enemy combatants. As a result, all of the fifteen were properly stabilized and later transported to higher headquarters. Ten of the fifteen wounded were considered expectent, due to Petty Officer Pell all survived.
Later in the day, India Company received contact from several hardened enemy positions. Unable to effectively engage the enemy with direct fires, Petty Officer Pell risked his life by braving withering small arms fire, (AK-47), and relocating to an adjacent rooftop in order to employ hand grenades, allowing India Company’s Marines to secure a foothold.
Petty Officer Pell then laid down suppressive fire on a second enemy position, freeing his sniper section to move. He then relocated to a higher position in order to provide suppressive fire in support of an assault that into an adjacent building. Another bout of intense small arms fire was directed at him while he moved. From his new position Petty Officer Pell was engaging hardened insurgents at distances of less than ten meters. As the assault progressed, Petty Officer Pell observed one of his Corporals suffer a severe gunshot wound to the head. Petty Officer Pell immediately moved into the enemy’s cone of fire in an attempt to reach the wounded Marine and provide first aid. Petty Officer Pell moved without hesitation or regard for his own safety. He was hit eleven times by enemy fire and seriously wounded. Petty Officer Pell maintained his composure and presence of mind, administering first aid to himself and continuing to provide suppressive fires as additional Marines arrived to evacuate the wounded Marine. When the day’s fighting was over there were a total of 28 dead insurgents scattered through four mutually supporting buildings. None of the fighters had accepted when given the chance to surrender; they had fortified their positions and held on to the end. Petty Officer Pell’s actions were crucial to 1st Platoon’s seizing of an initial foothold and his subsequent fires surely prevented several more injuries. At the time when Petty Officer Pell was wounded, 1st Platoon and elements of the Company Headquarters had been fighting room to room and roof to roof for more than six hours. His composure and good spirits while being treated played a large part in keeping the Marines’ morale from suffering.
He has distinguished himself during his third combat tour by demonstrating remarkable proficiency, skill, and leadership in stressful combat situations. From 12 November 2005 to 11 November 2006 Petty Officer Pell performed his duties in the most exemplary manner as an advisor to 1st BN, 8th Bde, 2nd Iraqi National Police (INP), He was responsible for mentoring, and advising the INP in the execution of their duties, to include conducting combat operations and under these conditions.
On 28 February 2006, while the team was conducting training at the 1-4 Public Order Battalion (POB) compound, medium machine gun and small arms fire was heard near the location where 1-4 POB was conducting a siege operation with the rest of the 4th PO Brigade and the US Army’s 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment. A couple minutes after hearing the gunfire it was passed over the tactical control net that one of their units participating in the siege was engaged with enemy forces. As the closest coalition unit in the area, the team mounted up and moved to the location of the firefight. Upon arrival to the scene members of the 2/506th along with the Iraqi Special Police (ISP) from the 1st and 3rd Battalions 4th Public Order Bde were engaged in a firefight with the members of the 16th Strategic Infrastructure Battalion (SIB). While getting an update from the senior ISP on scene it was pointed out that one of the ISP had been shot near the SIB’s secondary gate and may still be alive. Petty Officer Pell immediately directed his team to move and use the M1114 as protection to reach the causality. He grabbed the patient and dragged him to a safe position to assess and treat the injuries, but unfortunately the patient died due to the extent of his injuries.
Once back to safety the team leader and Petty Officer Pell were gathering information from the 3-4 POB OIC who was the senior man on scene he received a gunshot wound to the leg. Petty Officer grabbed a tourniquet from his med bag and applied it. It was clear that the round had severed his Femoral Artery Petty Officer Pell worked to control the hemorrhage and prevent shock. If not for Petty Officer Pell’s quick actions the causality would have bled out. Upon completion of the MedEvac the team devised a plan to get the SIB personnel to lay down their weapons. The team leader was able to accomplish this and directed them to bring out their wounded to Petty Officer Pell. He worked on two casualties that had received head wounds. Petty Officer Pell worked feverishly to stabilize the casualties. Upon stabilization of the men he called for and directed the movement of all injured for MedEvac operations. Throughout the event Petty Officer Pell kept calm and reacted as trained. His mastery of battlefield first aid saved the lives of three people that day, and his ability to make quick decisions under fire helped the team to get the insurgents to lay their arms down preventing further blood shed.
On 13 June 2006, Petty Officer Pell was designated as the National Police Transition Team Patrol Leader for a combined patrol that included a platoon of Iraqi National Police from 1st Battalion, 8th Brigade, and a squad from Alpha Company, 2-506th, and a squad of Iraqi Policemen. While conducting –the patrol in Muhalla 822, in Al Doura, the combined patrol was engaged by Anti-Iraqi forces at extremely close range. Three insurgent gunmen came around a corner approximately 40 yards away and opened fire at the patrol with AK-47 assault rifles and one PKC medium machinegun. Petty Officer Pell acted immediately, directing the Iraqi element to drop, seek cover, and return fire. He intentionally exposed himself while moving from each position to position ensuring the Iraqi element maintained proper cover and fire discipline. At the same time he was directing the actions of the Iraqi forces, Petty Officer Pell passed via radio a situational report to the Army squad who had not yet turned the corner. This action alone prevented soldiers from unnecessary exposing themselves to injury from Anti-Iraqi forces. He quickly devised a plan that the Iraqis would pursue as able and try and pin the Anti-Iraqi forces in place while the Army squad 3 would try and flank around to the west of the Anti-Iraqi forces. His plan was immediately effective and started pushing the Anti-Iraqi forces out of their position.
Petty Officer Pell also called the 1st Iraqi National Police Battalion’s Quick Reaction Force out. This Quick Reaction Force also included the remainder of the National Police Transition Team. Being the man in charge on the ground, he ensured that as the Quick Reaction Forces came into the firefight that he deconflicted their arrival with actions of the Iraqi patrol members and the US Army squad. This prevented the potential of friendly fire incidents. HM2 Pell was able to send a SPOT Report up to the Local Coalition Battle Space Owner, 2-506th. They responded by sending all available patrols in the area to the firefight. As the situation developed the Anti-Iraqi forces started to retreat. HM2 Pell quickly redirected the Quick Reaction force to impede their retreat. Unfortunately they were able to flee the scene.
Throughout this event Petty Officer maintained and displayed the finest discipline and leadership. If not for his quick actions and thinking, the Iraqi forces would have not reacted as a cohesive unit. His ability to focus their fire and actions took great tactical knowledge and exposed him to dangers greater than those experienced had he been with a U.S. pure unit.
Petty Officer Pell’s administrative and organizational have also been highlighted during this deployment. Due to the relative detached nature of the National Police Transition Team (NPTT) and its mission, He almost single-handedly developed the Iraqi battalion medical program. Far before deploying to Iraq, Petty Officer Pell anticipated the needs of the Iraqi battalion to include all medical supplies, training aids and manuals. He was instrumental in the acquisition of a site for the BAS, the associated construction and cleansing, storage of supplies, and the day-to-day
operations. He supervised and treated approximately (25) Iraqi personnel on daily basis to include medical issues ranging from E-Coli to shrapnel and bullet wounds. He researched and acquired the necessary allocations to send Iraqi National Police to a national level medical class in Baghdad.
Over his three Iraq combat deployments Petty Officer Pell has been combat meritoriously promoted twice and has earned the Bronze Star with Combat ‘V’, Purple Heart Medal , Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat ‘V’, Army Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat ‘V’, Combat Action and numerous other campaign awards.
Time and time again Petty Officer Pell has proven himself to be the very best Combat Corpsmen. He possesses all the finest qualities of the Combat Corpsmen and truly understands the sacred duty of caring for his Marines and Sailors under the most extreme combat conditions and at any personal cost to himself. Petty Officer Pell epitomizes the spirit of our sacred mission and his selection for this award will be a great honor in memory of HM2 Luke Milam and the bond they share as Combat Corpsmen who will and have given all.
James, there is no one more deserving than you of this honor. Continued Godspeed dear brother. We cannot thank you enough for your courage, sacrifice, and service.
In the aftermath of the Archibishop of Canterbury's recent pronouncements about the unavoidable adoption of Sharia law in Britain, Mark Steyn's comments in the Guardian newspaper almost three years ago - these in the aftermath of the tube bombings in London - seem, well, just downright prescient.
He, of course, brilliantly followed these ideas up in his outstanding book: America Alone.
It does seem clear that Eurpope is indeed dead - has already succumbed. Perhaps unintended, but by his words, Rowan Williams was pounding nails into the continent's collective coffin.
This just in from HM2 James Pell:
(ROE = Rules of Engagement)
I wrote this in response to a post on Blackfives' blog (Ed: http://www.blackfive.net) . And I actually have more to say, I just ran out of time....I started off wondering how I could write this blog without offending anyone, then realized I couldn't. Before I get discredited as a random fanatic I'd like to tell you where I'm coming from. Like most others I've been in theatre three times. First was for the invasion, second was for Fallujah, and third and last was as an embedded trainer living, eating and breathing with 500 Iraqis for twelve months. I've whitnessed the changes of R.O.E. from day one. I've had the chance to work with Spanish SF, Brits and Aussi soldiers.
This last year we were 11 Marines in a all Army AO. We operated in southern Bagdad in the infamous Dora Market. We moved to Sadr City and then again to a neighborhood known as Jihad. As the only medical provider for 500 Iraqis while in Dora Market I averaged 25 Iraqi W.I.A. and 15 Iraqi K.I.A. a month for the first seven months of the deployment.
I wanted to put it sraight, I'm not frightened or scared to be in Iraq. My morale is high and I love the USMC. I serve next to the bravest and most diligent men in the world. And when myself and my Marines are in trouble and I kill someone in the right I don't sweat sitting infront of a JAG jerkoff to tell him why I killed a man firing a weapon at me. Never once have I worried about the fallout of my actions during contact. The war is constantly changing in Iraq gentleman. In OIF 1 I had a green light to kill anyone on a cell phone. Now every person in Iraq has two. The lines of friend and foe, civilian and combatant are blurred. The ROE changes from day to day and place to place. And it's something that both Soldiers and Marines have to adapt to. Unfortunatly the stricter ROE are a direct reflection of actions of coaltion forces inside Iraq. A taxi with a mother, two daughters and two sons were blasted for coming too close to parked coaltion vehicles and the next day we were using pen flares instead of bullets to warn cars to stay back. It's cause and effect.
Every one of us is ready to fight every day - that doesn't mean it would make anyting any better for anyone over there. To have done it the right way would have meant a slow methodical sweep from the border in OIF 1 instead of the "Race to Bagdad". It would have meant taking and maintaining the countrie's countless ammunition supply points instead of letting insurgents strip them bare. It would have meant having the foresight to see Iran and Syria were going to be major contributors in both insurgents and weapons and having a better plan to control Iraqs borders from the beginning. But to think that simply turning coaltion forces loose for the fight would solve anything is insane. It would in all reality make matters worse. The Sunni and Shiite are for the majority caught up in their own little civil war for the time. To attack them would unite them as well as the rest of the Arabic world. This is the reason Ramadi still stands the way it is. It's why Sadr City and the JAM are still intact.
So here is the bottom line Gents. Buck up. Put your game faces on and look at the big picture. We are making headway on being able to come home. Stay motivated and tough. And if you ever think once you've got it bad or you've lost to many friends or brothers take a minute and sit down with a WWII veteran or someone who fought in Vietnam. God bless the military.
(Ed: God bless you James and all who serve this great land. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!)
If you haven't noticed, life had become even more difficult for those that serve this country in places like Iraq - beyond the price that they pay to serve - it is now more difficult for them to speak their minds and tell their stories.
Let's hope that the military censorship in the name of security is inadvertant. The unprecedented blog access to the real lives of those that serve this great country - by hearing directly from them - is such a refreshing alternative to the constant negative we hear from the mainstream media.
It would be a complete shame to have the mainstream media be the only source of information about the lives we care so much about. The stories we know, and those we love so much because of their great service would not be heard.
We have been so richly blessed to have James Pell share some of his life with us through the pages of this blog. I hope you'll agree that we are enriched by his sharing and that people like James - who else could have more earned the right? - should be able to exercise their freedom of speech.
This just in from our intrepid James Pell:
Thanks for the boost. Everyone has bad days. On a brighter note, I made it. We are done. I can't believe it's been a year already. We have moved to a safe zone to conduct a week or so a debreifs and then we fly home. Again thanks for the support from everyone. I'm sure you will wanna know details of what took place out here and what progress has been made with the Iraqis. I was amazed how bold the media was in the lies they told about our Iraqi police corruption problems and the measures enforced to stop it. I have alot to share after I get home and rest....
Come on home dear friend to your most deserved rest. We're so proud of your service to this great country - you've gone beyond the call so many times that our heartfelt gratitude seems so pale. Nonetheless, we offer grateful hearts from a grateful country. Blessings!
Like I mentioned, I'm in Tokyo - have been here since last Wednesday.
Yesterday was September 11th here. I spent a good part of the day riding on trains. Part of what that meant is that I had tickets that were printed out for me that I had to insert into machines, show to conductors, and just pull out from my pocket while retrieving business cards.
Each ticket had printed in bold:
Every time I saw it, I could literally see that hallowed scar in the earth that I've visited so many times.
In Japan, on TV they've been showing the WTC attacks over and over again. Guess CNN has spared the American public at home - might alter those WOT polls...
I will never forget. We should never forget. Forgetting is invitation to repetition.
I'm in Tokyo - James sent in the blockquote following a few days ago.
My dear friend is hurting. This venue is one place that he can 'get it off his chest' - that's good.
But I think we should perhaps see this as a measure of sacrifice - what those that serve are willing to do - this man on tour after tour after tour - after taking more bullets last year than we can imagine - and he's still in theatre because he loves you and me more than himself.
Who am I?
Were do I belong?
Why can't I come home and live normal?
Am I insane?
Why do I lust for death?
Am I lost?
Why don't I want to be fixed?
Why does this feel normal?
Is this really MY life?
What am I going to do when my wife leaves?
Why do people think they know or can relate to any of this?
Why don't I want to leave this place?
How can I explain what I've done?
Why won't my body stop hurting?
When did hurting others become so easy.
Who am I?
Dearest James, from here - you are my brother, and you have given enough. You have paid more than anyone can ask. Come on home and rest a while.
Friends, when you have a moment, say a prayer for James: true, true American hero.
Godspeed James, Godspeed....
Who I was and who I am now are two completely different people. My wife, family and friends can all back this statement up. I wonder sometimes if I am insane. I say that with no pun or joke intended.
I met my wife at a military school in Chicago. We dated for five months and got married. I smiled, laughed, was focused on what ever the two of us were doing together. We were married for five months and I was shipped out to Iraq for the invasion. I was so busy I didn't have time to miss my new wife. I am a corpsman. This means I am directly responsible for the lives of my Marines. I took this very seriously and had my face in the books every day up until the invasion. I wasn't going to lose one of my snipers. I was worried about death. I wrote the ever popular last letter to my wife and family and gave it to a friend, looking back now it was all very mellow dramatic on my part. So the call finally came after a couple of months of sitting in the deserts of Kuwait. It was time to finally cross the border in Iraq. Not less than a hour after the call came there were two loaded rockets that passed overhead and the alarm went out. GAS, GAS, GAS!!!! I was on a pure adrenaline rush for the next week. Our convoy would move from city to city, day to day, stopping along the way to engage enemy fighters or take in surrendering deserters.
We stopped for the night about a week into the fight out in the desert. We had Intel - reports that locals were running into the makeshift patrol bases with bags full of explosives and committing suicide, so we, the snipers, were tasked with keeping security with our long range night optics. Somewhere around one in the morning the call went down the line from another team that they had three people trying to cross into the patrol base, one had a large bag on her back. The shots were taken, the targets dropped, and there were high-fives all around. Good solid long range night shots. When sunrise came the next morning we were excited to go inspect our kills. Before we left the Chaplin stopped us and said he needed a word. He said we needed to go get our ponchos and follow him. He led us to our kill, ponchos in hand, questions across our faces. We came over the berm they had been standing on and I saw our "score". One five year old little boy, his twelve year old sister and their father. The Chaplin wanted all three wrapped in our ponchos and buried. Not to cover anything, the shootings were justified in the situation, but for moral and mental protection of the rest of the battalion. I can see all three clear in my mind. The boy and girl didn't look real, almost like big china dolls. From that day I have never been the same. They don't haunt me. I don't dream about them. Today is the first time I have thought about the three for over two years. But it was the starting point of a massive personality change.
I came home from the invasion after eight months in country. I was there as three Marines took their last breaths. I was witness to burned, charred, and melted bodies. We sometimes made camp at night next to our battle site of that day and had to sleep with the smell of burned decaying flesh. Coming home was almost unreal. Seeing America and how clean and beautiful it was. Watching people interact and laugh was amazing. But I wasn't interacting and laughing. I had a problem with crowds and people I didn't know. This meant that I spent less and less time with my wife, she noticed the changes but gave me my space. I had super violent nightmares where I would strike out in my sleep and hurt my wife. I woke up one night out on the street below our apartment between two cars with my pistol loaded, set to fire, and at the ready. After I went upstairs my wife said someone had thrown a firework under our window and I went ripping out of bed and ran down to the street. Scared the hell out of her. Her last straw was when she decided to try and wake me up from a dream by grabbing my hand. While still asleep I clasped her hand and sqeezed until I woke up with her screaming with a broken hand. She stopped sleeping with me for her own health. Another large problem I had was being able to pay attention to anyone or anything for more than a few seconds. Someone would start to talk to me and I would fade off to images of the invasion. I couldn't help it, it was uncontrollable. Still today I can't make eye contact with someone. I did some horrific things during the invasion, I can't look at anyone because I don't want them to see the real me. My wife, the person I lived with every day started to take notice of all the changes. One day she told me I was not the same person she married. I told her she was right. I tried to explain what had happened to the old me. Slowly she accepted the new person I was.To be continued.....