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My husband, Frank Zbozny (see–I always told you I could win a game of Scrabble in one go, if only proper names were allowed), has died. Many of you know of his decades-long struggle with dementia, and of the cardiac and other physical problems that began to sap his strength in 2012 or thereabouts. But he was himself almost to the end. The last intelligible word he spoke to me was two days ago, after I enabled what I believe was one of his last pleasant physical sensations on this earth (so I did it often), the deployment of a just-warmed-in-the-dryer comforter over the top of him. He smiled. I asked him how that felt. He thought. And over the course of about ten seconds, the courtly and rather old-fashioned gentleman I married, 39 years ago on July 24 of this year (I wrote about that marriage here), managed to get the word out: “Deee–li–cious.”
We started out our married life quite poor, at least in financial terms. I was a Teaching Assistant, and Frank was an Assistant Professor of English, at a time (early 1980s) when a liberal arts career path was beginning to be deprecated in favor of a business education, so he wasn’t terribly well paid. We lived at the very end of a dead-end street, in a run-down little house picturesquely situated just above the exhaust vents of Pittsburgh’s Liberty Tunnels. I was assaulted once, going home after work as I walked up the hill from the streetcar stop. I was fondled by the disgusting creep (kneed him in the crotch), and my purse was stolen. Our house was ransacked one evening when we were out, and the very few items of value, both real and sentimental, that we owned, were taken. (I remember, on both of those occasions, feeling utterly violated. It was three-and-a-half decades before I felt anything else as wrenching, or even remotely comparable in terms of being flayed alive in a public space.) One day, I drove home from work to find gangs of thugs in the middle of the street watching a couple of pit bulls fight in the back of a pickup truck. I had them arrested and carted off to jail. It required a bit more moxie than it might today, as this was well before the days when cell phones were in widespread use. So I parked my car in the middle of the street above them (so they couldn’t leave, because dead-end), walked through and past them, while they jeered and insulted me, walked up the steps of the house, and called the police. Frank’s comment? “You would have made a good United States Marine.” Made me proud then. Almost makes me proud now.
It was, to say the least, an interesting place to start off our married life. Still, we had a lovely garden (auto and diesel exhaust fumes must be an excellent fertilizer and growth stimulant), and with the exception of the wanna-be circus performer woman across the street (Kathy) who regularly threw knives at the bathroom door while her husband (Tom) cowered inside, and the fellow next door (Jimbo) who held raucous parties at all hours of the day and night before succumbing to a drug overdose at a very young age, most of the neighbors (elderly, long-term residents) were lovely.
The guest on this week’s Roth Effect podcast, Matthew Betley, is a ten-year veteran of the Marines who was exposed to open burn pits in Iraq. Simply put, the Marines were disposing of waste by burning it and it included everything from chemicals to human waste. The smoke hung over our Marines in a toxic cloud almost every day. In time Betley would be separated from the Corps and return home to battle a new foe: the Veterans Administration. Because he was a successful author and columnist, he was better equipped to battle the VA’s bureaucracy than most. That’s not the case for everyone.
I thought it noteworthy that an unnamed Pentagon source claims that “an Army brigade” has been put on alert for Lebanon:
Around 5,200 American troops are based in Iraq to train Iraqi forces and help in the fight against Islamic State group militants. Defense officials who discussed the new troop movements spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision not yet announced by the Pentagon. A Pentagon official who was not authorized to be identified said the U.S. also had placed an Army brigade on alert to fly into Lebanon to protect the American Embassy. U.S. embassies also issued a security alert for Americans in Bahrain, Kuwait and Nigeria.
That would be a garbled way of saying that the 82nd Airborne has a “be prepared” order to respond to Iran’s oldest and most effective proxy, the original Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah actually runs the government and the military, such as it is, in Lebanon. They blew up a hotel/barracks full of Marines during President Reagan’s tenure. Naturally, the American embassy in Lebanon would be of particular concern now.
It’s not part of Ricochet’s portfolio, but I just listened to a very interesting podcast interview of General (retired) John Kelly. Hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings Magazine, it covers his career with the U.S. Marine Corps, which included his participation in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and as the Commander of U.S. […]
Happy Thanksgiving to all! If you plan on being adventurous on the day after Thanksgiving by strapping on your Kevlar jacket with the credit card bandolier strapped across your chest, a friendly reminder that your local Marine Corps Reserve unit or Marine Corps League of Retired Veterans are in full swing with the annual Toys […]
Some months ago, a United States Marine Corps career officer of my acquaintance observed that, for a foreigner, for a civilian, and for a woman, I seem to have enjoyed the company of a quite a number of United States Marines in my life. And he’s right. (To be clear, I always call them “United […]
Because I didn’t see a timely one, on either the Main or the Member Feeds. Apologies if I missed it.
Tuesday of this week (October 23, 2018) was the 35th anniversary of the bombing of the United States Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. 241 US service personnel were killed in the attack, including 220 Marines, and 21 others.
I worked for several years with (retired) Gunnery Sergeant Brian King, who was in the next rotation deployed to Beirut after the horror, who lost a lot of friends and brothers-in-arms in it, and for whom, although I met him about twenty years hence, I suspect it will never be completely “over.”
Commemorating the start of the Battle of Belleau Wood, 100 years ago today, and Sergeant Daniel Joseph Daly, who is credited with shouting these words to his men, just before charging the Germans. It is reputed that Daly was twice offered a commission, and that he responded, on both occasions, that he would “rather be an outstanding sergeant than just another officer.”
I’ve been well schooled by my nearest and dearest, over the past forty years, on the unique position enjoyed by the word “outstanding” atop the United States Marine Corps hierarchy of merit. And I have a sense that the soon-to-be Sergeant Major was using the adjective correctly in reference to himself. He is one of only seven Corps recipients of two Medals of Honor (there are nineteen such across all the service branches), and he and Major General Smedley D. Butler are the only two Marines to have been awarded their Medals for separate actions, in different years.
Unsurprisingly, there’s a bit of the fog of battle about the origin of the quote itself. Some claim that those weren’t exactly Daly’s words, that they were either even more salty, or slightly less so; others say that, perhaps, they were shouted by someone else. Still others say that a similar cry was first given breath by Frederick the Great, at the battle of Kolin in 1757.
In the Second Battle of Fallujah First Sergeant Bradley Kasal discovered Marines pinned down inside a house by an unknown number of enemy combatants. After entering the house and dispatching an insurgent he discovered a wounded Marine in the next room. While moving toward him Kasal and another Marine were shot multiple times in the legs. The enemy tried to finish them off by lobbing grenades into the house. Kasal rolled on top of the other wounded Marine and took the brunt of the explosion himself.
I’m not one to call for boycotts or protest marches. But sometimes I see things, from sources I don’t expect, that simply make my blood boil. Take the History Channel. They have drifted from the programming I used to love back when we lovingly called it “The Hitler Channel.” They still offer some decent scripted shows and a couple of decent “reality” shows like American Pickers and Forged in Fire.
I don’t DVR much and, like most Americans, I’m not into appointment television. So last night I was catching up on a few series using the History app on my iPad. Programs still have commercials but usually the most annoying thing about them is that they are too damned loud. If you’re listening in on headsets some of them can knock you into the middle of next week. But last night was different. On came an ad for a company called North Korean Express. They offer backpacks and all sorts of merchandise decorated with North Korean propaganda posters. OK, fine. If you want to be a schmuck* and wear the shining face of Kim Jong-Un to class I guess it’s not any worse than parading around in a Che tee shirt.
That’s son #2, front row, far left. Currently in Okinawa with hopes to be home for Christmas and the arrival of his 2nd niece, due in January. When the news hit last week that General Mattis would be named as Defense Secretary, he said “sweet baby Jesus, let it be true”. He and the fine […]
Never, ever, ever walk in unannounced on the Birthday Boys… Preview Open
From Tun Tavern to Tripoli, from Mexico to Mosul, in the Fleet and in the Reserve, Happy 241st Birthday to the Corps! “…For a code that isn’t written… or spoken… but lived.” Preview Open
He thought it was a suicide mission. A full frontal attack on Mount Suribachi without supporting fire? He would not order his men up the mountain, but he would lead them. Raising his rifle above his head he climbed out of the foxhole and his men followed.
First Lieutenant John Keith Wells did not make it to the top, but his Marines did two days later. The leader of 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines died on February 11th in Denver. He was 94.
The citation on his Navy Cross reads thus:
Because it’s too good to be buried in someone else’s thread. Well, maybe more groan inspiring than “good.” Preview Open
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 […]
The words and photography of Army National Guard Sgt. Ken Scar (From Marines.mil – The Official Website of the Marine Corps) ARLINGTON, Virginia — I noticed her in my peripheral vision as I was lying in the grass trying to get a meaningful photograph of all the “60s” etched into the backs of the gravestones. […]
I’m not a particularly big fan of greeting card companies. They’ve conspired to create too many artificial holidays to push their product. I’m no big fan of left-wing film makers, either. But this four and a half minutes hits an obvious nerve with me. Directed by Oscar winner Barbara Kopple this is the story of […]