Category Archives: USMC

Why Think For Yourself?

I graduated high school in 1971. Like many of my peers, and as I’ve listened to other people around that age, we don’t necessarily have a life plan when we’re that young. It’s not unusual for many to think recklessly, or think they have a long time to live. Hopefully, most had enough time and experience, sensible ideas took over their thoughts.

Not knowing what I wanted to do long term, I saw a need to make a commitment and start out with a set of steps that could enhance my future. I wasn’t terribly patriotic, however I saw the divide which had been brewing for some time. That divide was primarily over the Vietnam war, but it also included civil rights, and a host of other grievances people had. I saw many of my contemporaries believe their government had wronged them and some would protest, while others refused to stand at high school football games when the flag was presented and a pledge of allegiance might be recited.

Standard boot camp picture in dress blues

MCRD San Diego 1971

I was already forming an opinion about the world around me, and knew I had limits to my sphere of influence. I knew I could make choices about my own life, which reflected how I thought. I knew actions were far more important than rhetoric, and in the summer, I enlisted in the Marine Corps.

I didn’t really know what to expect. I entered without support from my mother. She thought I would be killed in Vietnam. Her brother, my uncle had a son that became a Marine about 10 years before me, and my uncle said I wouldn’t make it. With those ringing endorsements, coupled with a high school friend who said he was going in with me and backed out, I had my concerns. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my own abilities.

Me - recruit side profile

As a new scared recruit

What followed were 13 weeks of learning more about myself, than I knew before going in. I found out I could do a lot more physically and mentally than previously imagined. I owe some of that to a Staff Sergeant and lead Drill Instructor. He kicked, punched and choked me into becoming a Marine. I know that sounds terribly harsh to those who never had the experience, but there’s more to it than just that description. Physical challenges, and the choice knowing you can drop out if you can’t “hack it”, were actually motivational.

Over the next four years, I was awarded honors by being first in my class. I gained promotions and given greater responsibility. I look back and recall how fortunate I was from this experience.

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Training was ongoing throughout my time. The Marine in the lower right didn’t have much longer in the Corps at that weight.

That winter of 1972, I returned home to Minnesota. I ran smack into that divide of opinions over the military, with or without the uniform on. I even had a car full of young men pour out to attack me while waiting in my car at a traffic light.

Caravan of Fools – John Prine
Love and devotion
LP-record-imageDeep as any ocean
Don’t play by anybody’s rules
With your carousel of horses
And your own foreseen forces
You’re running with the caravan of fools

baseball_dirty_1This blind anger by people who didn’t know me personally, oozed its way around me and others who were in the military. A real eye opener was when I volunteered for color guard duty and was 1 of 3 Marines in a brief pre-game flag presentation. We marched 3 abreast around the inside perimeter of Anaheim stadium. The center Marine, a sergeant carried the colors, I and one other Marine flanked him, carrying ceremonial M-14 rifles on our shoulders.

While passing the “fans”, threw things they had in their hands. We were paid very little salary each month. All I could think of, when some of the food or drink cups hit my uniform, I have to pay to clean this after these bums are finished. It made me more angry than humiliated.

There was a little comeuppance that day. The final score:
Milwaukee Brewers 4 California Angels 2

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These foolish people were simply following the prevailing mood, and what they saw others do, in the news. It caused them to become pawns in a routine game of public manipulation through peers and the Television news.

This mindless hatred lasted for several years after I was separated from active duty. People swore at me, assigned behavior and activities to me which I never performed. Perhaps, as the saying goes, time wounds all heels, and I moved forward from one opportunity to the next. The mood of the country changed, primarily led by TV news and the attitudes from peers.

An all volunteer military went a long way towards this change in attitude. People started to recognize there were a lot of young people performing duties and responsibilities which many of them either couldn’t or wouldn’t do.  Some of our national leaders were former protestors. Even their opinion changed when it suited them.

Every American ought to find a way to serve, somehow. It doesn’t have to be in the military. I like the idea that everybody ought to give back something.” – John Kerry

He said that, among the lessons from Vietnam, was that “Americans must always treat returning veterans with dignity and respect regardless of whether a war was popular or unpopular.”

mike_marines_cap_aThat anti-military attitude has changed about 180°.  If I’m wearing a baseball style cap with the Marine Corps logo on it, or people see my license plates with veteran status, I usually hear something quite positive. I don’t live in California, perhaps the prevailing mood there is different.

There’s another populist idea promulgated on Americans that those who have been disadvantaged in some manner of our society, need a wealthy spokesperson to aid their cause. I’m not impressed.

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Why so Much Conformity in the News Media?

There’s not much choice when it comes to your daily news diet. Most International and national news is aggregated through Associated Press (AP) and Reuters.
Cutbacks at rival United Press International in 1993 left the AP as the United States’ primary news service, although UPI still produces and distributes stories and photos daily. Other less often used English-language news services, such as the BBC, Reuters and the English-language service of Agence France-Presse, are based outside the United States.
[CLICK ON THE LINKS TO FIND OUT MORE]

Associated Press is a Not-for-profit Cooperative.[1] Steven R. Swartz is the Chairman. Gary Pruitt is the President and CEO. He was the CEO, president, and chairman of the board of the McClatchy Company. The AP has counted the vote in U.S. elections since 1848, including national, state and local races down to the legislative level in all 50 states, along with key ballot measures. AP collects and verifies returns in every county, parish, city and town across the U.S., and declares winners in over 5,000 contests.
Corporate Headquarters
200 Liberty Street
New York City, New York

Steven R. Swartz became president and chief executive officer of Hearst, one of the nation’s largest diversified media, information and services companies, on June 1, 2013.

Hearst’s major interests include ownership in cable television networks such as A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime and ESPN; global ratings agency Fitch Group; Hearst Health, a group of medical information and services businesses; 31 television stations such as WCVB in Boston and KCRA in Sacramento, Calif.; newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle and Albany Times Union, more than 300 magazines around the world including Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR and Car & Driver; digital services businesses such as iCrossing and KUBRA; and investments in emerging digital and video companies such as Verizon Hearst Media Partners, Complex, BuzzFeed and VICE.

In 1994, London-based Associated Press Television (APTV) was founded to provide agency news material to television broadcasters. In 1998, AP purchased Worldwide Television News (WTN) from the ABC News division of The Walt Disney Company, Nine Network Australia and ITN London.

In April 2013, AP stated that it had dropped the term “illegal immigrant” from its stylebook. AP follows ABC, NBC, and CNN in not using the term. Jose Antonio Vargas commended The Associated Press for its decision.

Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Christopher Newton, an AP reporter since 1994, was fired by AP in September 2002 after he was accused of fabricating sources since 2000, including at least 40 people and organizations. Prior to his firing, Newton had been focused on writing about federal law-enforcement while based at the Justice Department. Some of the nonexistent agencies quoted in his stories included “Education Alliance”, the “Institute for Crime and Punishment in Chicago”, “Voice for the Disabled”, and “People for Civil Rights”.

Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest international multimedia news provider, reaching billions of people every day.  Michael Friedenberg has been President of Reuters News and Media Operations at Thomson Reuters Corporation since December 3, 2018. Previously, he served as global CEO of IDG Communications, a media, data and services firm, leading the company across 147 countries.
Corporate Headquarters
333 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2R2 Canada

A Few Billionaires Own America’s News Media Companies

In May, 2012 Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Company announced the purchase of 63 newspapers, including 23 dailies, from the debt-ridden Media General Company. The transaction was a course reversal for Buffett, who earlier had said he wouldn’t buy newspapers, and created a major new player in the industry. It also left Media General-whose history with newspapers dates back to the mid-1800’s-with only one remaining daily, the Tampa Tribune, which many predict it will still try to sell.

Prominent journalists like ABC’s Christiane Amanpour and former Washington Post editor and now Vice President Len Downie serve on boards of operations that receive funding from George Soros. This despite the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethical code stating: ”avoid all conflicts real or perceived.”

6 Corporations own almost all of the TV and Cable Outlets. There used to be almost 90.
{ This is an update to the graphic linked in this post. }
Verizon owns AOL & Huffington Post
Comcast purchased NBC from GE.

illusion_of_choice
Have you ever committed a “HATcrime?” It’s the new crime of wearing a hat that “triggers” deranged people.

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[1] One primary difference between a cooperative corporation and a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation is how money flows back into the organization. A tax-exempt nonprofit organization cannot distribute profits to members or investors, while a cooperative corporation generally distributes profits based on members’ participation.

Vietnam – brief personal history

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USMC Recruit Training October 1971 – I’m 2nd from left

I’ve seen a few Vietnam history posts over the years including an incorrect exit date memorial. As someone who served during this time, I’ve talked with enlisted and officers who served in Vietnam. I’ve taken a deep interest in the history. Ken Burns has done an excellent series on Vietnam, but it by no means is the last word.

+++ Operation Frequent Wind, was executed by the Marine Corps & Navy evacuation of South Vietnam – 29 April 1975. They moved over 50,000 people. Operation Frequent Wind was made late morning, 29 April 1975, Saigon. +++ Mike USMC Hawaii on the beach

The Vietnam War was a complicated extended conflict. Essentially the war we speak about began when the Japanese attacked China. After the Japanese defeat in WWII, it left a power vacuum in the region. This set the stage for a conflict lasting about 30 years.

After a 1963 generals’ coup against President Diem, the United States increased its military support for South Vietnam. President Johnson sent the first official U.S. combat forces to Vietnam in March of 1965. American military manpower peaked in 1969 with an in-country force of 534,000.

The Vietnam War officially ended in April 1975. It’s sometimes called the Second Indochina War or the American War. US combat and combat support operations ceased after January 1973.  21 January 1975 – Asked at a press conference if there were circumstances under which the United States might again actively participate in the Vietnam War U.S. President Gerald Ford said, “I cannot foresee any at the moment.” 28 January 1975 – President Ford asked Congress for an additional $522 million in military aid to assist South Vietnam and Cambodia. Ford said that North Vietnam now had 289,000 troops in South Vietnam and large numbers of tanks, artillery, and anti-aircraft weapons. Congress did not appropriate the money.

“The North Vietnamese army (PAVN) launched their Spring Offensive in March 1975. The South Vietnamese army (ARVN) was quickly defeated. The communist North Vietnamese captured Saigon on April 30, accepting the surrender of South Vietnam. In the final days of the war, the United States, which had supported South Vietnam for many years, carried out an emergency evacuation of its civilian and military personnel and more than 130,000 Vietnamese.

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*1 General Giap has published his memoirs and confirmed what most Americans knew. The Vietnam war was not lost in Vietnam — it was lost at home.

We paid a high price [during the TET offensive] but so did you [Americans]… not only in lives and material…. Do not forget the war was brought into the living rooms of the American people. … The most important result of the TET offensive was it made you deescalate the bombing, and it brought you to the negotiation table.”

It was, therefore, a victory….” “The war was fought on many fronts. At that time the most important one was American public opinion.”

°≡≡° “What we still don’t understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi .. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender! It was the same at the battle of TET. you defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it.” °∙··°

But we were elated to notice your media was helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields. We were ready to surrender. You had won!” «──

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The first phase of the Southeast Asia operation was called Operation Eagle Pull. It was the United States military evacuation by air of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, beginning on 12 April 1975. Ambassador John Gunther Dean called for the evacuation of Americans from the city.

This is a 4 minute video on the fall of Saigon, 30 April 1975

Notes ——- *1 Snopes claims this is an incorrect quote. Sorry Snopes, I think you got it wrong this time. This information was previously publicly published. Did Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap’s memoirs pin U.S. defeat in Vietnam on American anti-war reporting? 

Mike_Marines_75

Standing beside data & communications unit – 1975

 

War is Failure to Win

Why would I start out with such a title? Isn’t war about winning? The movie about the life of General Patton started out with a speech. Among his remarks, this was said.

“America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser, this is why America has never, and will never, lose a war.” “War is the supreme test of man in which he rises to heights never approached in any other activity.”

Patton also said this; “Many soldiers are led to faulty ideas of war by knowing too much about too little.”

General_George_Patton_bwPatton enjoyed war, more than others and even he knew it’s terrible consequences.

War is a failure for people all living on the same planet, who don’t understand how to get along with each other. There have been despots, tyrants, dictators, and rulers of every type. Throughout history, we witness one battle or war after another. The United States, since the beginning has been involved in fighting amongst itself or other nations, over 90% of the time.

Unlike what Patton quoted, Americans will never lose a war, he was wrong about that. Check out the war of 1812 for a start.

War is stupid.

Those who advocate it are either without conscience or unable to grasp the realities of it.

In 1860, with the Southern states ramping up their rhetoric and threatening the union, this is what William Tecumseh Sherman wrote:

You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing!

To advocate a pre-emptive war is the moral equivalent of shooting someone on sight because they might commit a crime. If you suggest or listen to the nonsense of a pastor who says, “God wants us to go to war“, you’re listening to the wrong people and misinterpreting the words of the Bible. You may as well be a heathen if you advocate going to war. War is only justified when all other options are unavailable, that means right up to the time they attack. Once they’ve made that choice, you can revisit the decision.

There are too many things that can go wrong in a war, especially when you have China as their immediate neighbor. Think Germany had logistical and manpower problems when they attacked Russia in WWII? Russia lost over 20 million people under arms with many more civilian deaths, fighting against Germany. In rough terms, they lost nearly 20% of their population. China has over 1 billion people, and approximately 300 million, which they could use in their military. Think long and hard what that means? They don’t have any more respect for the potential losses in their population than the Russians did in the 1940’s.

Here’s another person very familiar with the tremendous cost of war.

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A nun burned to death in the Spanish Civil War

Robert E. Lee

What a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world!My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.
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President Donald Trump has launched a verbal volley at North Korea. On Wednesday, Trump said he would unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea.

Defense secretary James Mattis said on Thursday, “diplomatic efforts to contain the threat posed by North Korea remain the favored means for solving the crisis.” He noted that the UN Security Council, unanimously passed a resolution that tightened sanctions against North Korea.

Russia called on the Trump administration to keep calm, and on Friday Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told state media that his country was working with China on a “double freezing” plan to address the threat.

years_at_war_usa_chartIt may become necessary for the U.S. to go to war, but it shouldn’t do so without being first under attack. To shoot, bomb, or destroy someone, just because they have the means to kill you, isn’t justification to attack first. A person with morals doesn’t initiate conflict. Words are not conflict, even though they can aid an escalation of conflict.

Inside the borders of the U.S. we have strict laws which punish people who start fights or kill others. It doesn’t matter if someone swears at you or someone you know, or taunts you. They must first be the aggressor. Laws also don’t support revenge. Anyone advocating differently isn’t a moral person despite their claims to the contrary.

Whatever will happen, I hope cooler heads can prevail. Predictions of the outcome of any war are for fools and charlatans.

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A man shot and then run over by a tracked vehicle – Iraq

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Aftermath of Marines attacking Japanese soldiers