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Join Jim and Greg as they assess the news of two terrorist attacks in Kabul, one at the Abbey Gate by the airport and one at the nearby Baron Hotel. As they recorded, there were reports of three U.S. Marine casualties. Since then, we know of numerous deaths and injuries among our heroes in the Armed Forces. They also react to the Taliban proving they haven’t changed a bit as their spokesman says there is no evidence that Osama bin Laden was behind the 9/11 terror attacks. And they bang their heads on the table at the news the Taliban could very well end up on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Jack is joined by his National Review colleague Mark Antonio Wright, who, in the course of his (relatively) young life, has spent time living in Mexico, roughnecking in oil fields, serving in the Marines, and, now, attempting to give advice to young people with his new “Vitruvian Life” column for NRO. If you’re a young person with questions you want him to answer, email Vitruvian.Life@nationalreview.com.
My daughter is active-duty Air Force and she is currently deployed overseas. She works in a direct mission career field which requires a top-secret clearance. Her work schedule on deployment is much more intense than it is when she is stateside. She works with all sorts of people: ages 19-50, all races, all genders, officers, NCOs, and enlisted. Her field is highly technical and competencies are more important in some aspects than how many stripes you may have. Her unit was tapped for the required “Extremist Briefing” recently and this is her report.
There was about 90 personnel in attendance. The briefing was two hours in length, despite their tight mission schedule. The briefing room required masks and chairs were positioned two feet apart. The briefing started with a video on the big screen with speeches from the SecDef, a four-star, the Chief MstSgt of the USAF, Commander of Air Combat Command, and on down the command structure until the video featured my daughter’s immediate command. She said that the way it drilled down to a face she knows made it feel very personal. The talking heads kept using the term “extremists” and “extremism” but the terms were not specifically defined, and that the terms were used very generally. (Kind of a “we all know it when we see it” kind of way). She said the video was creepy and made her feel uncomfortable. As a “Hunger Games” book fan in middle school, she said that she felt like it was a scene out of a Hunger Games book where the “Capital District” was telling everyone in other districts what the reality was, but that the ones out of touch with reality were on the screen.
After the video and some PowerPoint slides (can you have a briefing in the military without PP slides?), my daughter said they were broken up into smaller groups and a “facilitator” (another military person) then asked questions of the group members such as “Tell me about a time in your military career that you saw or experienced extremism.” The groups were told that the facilitators were required to write down their responses and would be sending them back into the SecDef. One group member tried to pin down the facilitator about what did they mean by “extremism?” (Still no clear definition.) One group member, a black airman, stated that he may have experienced a couple of jerks during his AF career who were racist, but when were they going to be asked about the thousand other incidents of his colleagues going out of their way to support him professionally and personally? Another group member wondered why they were not talking about extremism in the context of Antifa and Portland. Another black female airman said that the AF was a melting pot and, although she came from an all-black neighborhood, she had met and worked with great people of all walks of life. No one in the group offered any examples of “extremism” despite the lack of definition.
Navy Chief Aaron Siebert joins the show. Originally from Big Sky country, Aaron details his path through the Navy. Starting in San Diego, Aaron eventually made his way to Camp Pendleton with the Marines, to three tours in Iraq. On his third tour, Aaron was wounded from a mortar round, an injury for which he was awarded the Purple Heart.
In a wide-ranging and candid conversation, Aaron talks about his time embedded with the Iraqi Army, dealing with the uncertainty of a sometimes hostile and suspicious population, the round that exploded just a few meters away from him, being read his Last Rites, and the long road to recovery. Even more impressive is what Aaron has done after his military service, working with multiple organizations dedicated to helping veterans deal with PTSD, injury recovery, job training, and all other aspects of reintegrating back into society.
Growing up, I only had one grandparent. My mom’s mother, who, for a variety of reasons, my dad wished to largely keep my sister and I away from, and who died when I was 7. I’m never quite sure of how much this difference from others my age affected me; on the one hand, there was little point in pining after something I had never had, but that didn’t always mean that seeing my peers bring grandparents to every significant school occasion, and excitedly report on all of the neat adventures they got to go on with them, didn’t sometimes rankle. That vague feeling of a missed connection has waned over the years, as I was lucky enough to be kind of informally ‘adopted’ by one of my best friend’s maternal grandfather, and to have been given a second family in a community of (mostly 50 and over) Benedectine monks. Still, questions linger, questions that I didn’t really feel comfortable posing to my parents past a certain age.
Most of them centered around my paternal grandfather, Charlie. My dad was always full of stories about his mother, who he compared to me (when I maybe wasn’t meant to be there) in terms of devotion and bullheadedness to his siblings, and the little aquatinace that I had with my maternal grandmother didn’t really leave me wanting more. My mom’s dad, meanwhile, had passed in the late ‘70s, and seemed a distant, somewhat painful memory even to her. Charlie, though, existed as a kind of aura around my dad’s stories, a cheerful and mischievous but indistinct presence who bore 7 kids and 50 something years of marriage with equanimity and good humor. The most I concretely knew about him was that he drove my grandmother crazy playing with a Rubix cube at the dinner table, ate peanut butter crackers by the thousands, and died a few months before I was born.
There is a silent epidemic impacting our bravest and finest citizens, their families and friends; Those who served in the United States Military are more likely to die from suicide than on the battlefield.
According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, each day there are around 20 veterans who commit suicide. What’s more, they report that veterans’ suicides account for 18 percent of the suicide deaths in the country, while they only make up 8.5 percent of the adult population. Even more disturbing is how many US soldiers who attempt suicide often have no history of mental health issues.
While politicians and our media focus attention on protecting those who may not even be US citizens, we are letting down the patriotic individuals who sacrificed everything for our great country.
18-year-old Skylar Fontaine of New Orleans is in love with a Marine. (C’mon. Who isn’t?) Her boyfriend, Gage Moak, was a year ahead of her in high school, so her date for her Senior Prom was 1,900 miles away at his MOS school the night of the big dance. Not only would she have to go stag but she would be deprived of all the traditional prom night photos.
Enter Clay Moak, Jr., Gage’s little brother. And I mean little brother. The younger Moak, who is just 2, was called upon to “stand in” for his bro during pre-dance festivities. (He did not attend the dance since that would have meant staying up waaaaay past his bedtime.)
Skylar posted the photos to her Facebook page and it didn’t take long for them to go viral. Now she’s got two handsome men in Dress Blues. How does she choose?
Today is the seventy second anniversary of the end of the battle of Iwo Jima. March 26, has long been a tough day for me. My dad fought on Iwo. His best friend, Sgt. Herbert Schmaultz, age 21, died within minutes of hitting the beach, felled by shrapnel from a Japanese mortar. Pop’s been gone for sixteen years now. Among my most cherished and heartbreaking memories of him is the single tear that would roll down his face whenever he spoke of his long lost friend. I’ve sort of assumed the responsibility of keeping Herbie’s memory alive, if only in my private reflections. There is no question that my dad loved Herb, and I see it as my duty to never forget this young man who truly gave the last full measure of devotion. Somewhere in this field lie the remains of Herbert Schmautz:
You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon. Share your courage with each other…Keep faith in your comrades on your left and right and Marine Air overhead. Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit…carry out your mission and keep your honor clean. Demonstrate to the […]
Have you heard the news? Today, this evening, two American Marines stopped a terror attack in France. Another Muslim terrorist having nothing to do with any of the previous ones or the ones sure to follow. The terrorist, a Moroccan man, boarded in Amsterdam & commenced what would have been a slaughter after the train crossed […]
It sounds like some off-duty Marines may have foiled an attempted mass shooting on a train from Amsterdam to Paris, subduing an armed man: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/three-wounded-in-shooting-on-train-travelling-from-amsterdam-to-paris/article26053939/ Preview Open
I trust that it’s OK here at Ricochet to sing the praises of our children. I want to share what my eldest son did yesterday on Memorial Day. My oldest is a 20-year-old Lance Corporal in the Marine Reserves. Yesterday morning he reported for a Memorial Day formation. He then volunteered to drive in the […]
Jonah Goldberg once wrote that he was invited by a group of geeks who had been plotting on how to hold out in a zombie invasion for years to join their group, that he told them, “I don’t mean to overly mock the role-playing game community, these are my people. But when the zombies come, I’d […]
It is the last step, the last big test before graduation. Fifty-four hours of being stretched to the limit. Forty-five miles of marching. Two and one-half MREs. Seventy recruits that trained side by side for the last 12 weeks acting as one unit.
At the end they meet at a replica of the Marine Memorial from Arlington National Ceremony. Here, a Chaplain says a prayer, the Drill Instructors will shake each hand and then place in that hand the Globe and Anchor and address the recruit as “Marine” for the first time.
This past week, someone other than myself called my son “Marine.” This time it was for real. He’s made it through. And on Sunday afternoon he was granted some base Liberty and allowed access to a telephone. For five minutes we got to talk, to hear his voice. It was lower in register, more assured, not the voice of my baby boy but a glimpse of the man I’ll get to meet later this week.