Archive for the ‘A Service-Minded Civilian’s Perspective’ Category

Friends and fans, I’m appealing to you today for help. A young lady I’ve known for ages is expecting a baby. Yay, right? Sadly, the child has Trisomy 18, and his prognosis is not very good. However, this young lady’s resolve to do the best for her child for however long she has him (yes, it’s a boy!) is nothing short of inspiring- as is her desire to honor her son by helping other families with babies who have special needs, have a terminal illness, or otherwise just need a stay in the NICU. She will soon be hosting a knitting/sewing party to make blankets, gowns, hats, booties, etc., in preemie and newborn sizes to donate to the NICUs in our area.

Though I rather stink at sewing, as the mother of an NICU “graduate,” I remember the stress and the heartache, and I know too well how many children do not get the triumphant “graduation” my daughter got. And I also know the difference a group of people with fabric, yarn, and bit of know-how can make to families going through anxious times with a NICU baby or a heartbreaking time losing a baby. If you’d like to join me in helping out with the donation of some fabric, patterns, or yarn, please let me know either here or in PM.

Thanks to Marine Times for posting this article. The idiocy to which dating scammers and identity thieves will stoop is so complete, it apparently knows no bounds.

The targets include the usual for military dating scams – sensitive, patriotic women with heartstrings that can be easily tugged by a man in uniform. Or a man posing in uniform. Or someone using a picture of a man in uniform. The modi operandi are the same as reported here.

The bait this time? Stolen pictures of Marine commandant nominee Gen. Joseph Dunford. As Marine Times says, if you want to look him up on any social networking site or you get a message from someone claiming to be him, click with caution. See if you can identify any characteristics of a scam. Report, report, report.

And enjoy that Marine Times article. It gave me a good laugh.

I was at a book signing in honor of the anniversary of my local comic book store when I got the news. I was discussing Korean War, vol. 2 with an Army veteran and admitted that the hardest story I had to write was that of David Mills, the youngest American prisoner of war from that conflict. He said, “Speaking of prisoners of war, did you hear they released Bowe Bergdahl?”

My eyes about bugged out of my head. “They did? You’re kidding. You’re not kidding?”

He smiled and said, “I just found out myself.”

“Omigoshomigoshomigosh…” I began bouncing up and down in my chair in excitement.

“I take it your related to the Bergdahls.”

“No,” I replied, “but I have met Bob and Jani.”

While I know feelings about Bowe Bergdahl’s actions in Afghanistan are very mixed and- for the time being- running excruciatingly high, I still maintain that any time a veteran returns from war alive, it’s fantastic news. Many vets I know who aren’t big fans of Bowe agreed we needed to get him away from the Taliban, figure out what happened, and if a court martial is necessary for desertion or going AWOL, give him a fair trial. The most important thing is that we don’t leave our troops behind.

I don’t blame those who served in the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry for being angry or bitter over the losses they took in wake of Bergdahl’s disappearance. I’ve wept for them.

I also know what it’s like when friends are serving in a war zone, communication’s blacked out, and we at home fear the worst until a couple of days later, we get a phone call or message. I can only imagine how it must feel to go for nearly five years with only a few proof of life videos to show if a friend or loved one is even alive. Because of that, I’ve also wept for the Bergdahls.

However, I have little patience for those who want Bowe dead, for the bigots who are convinced that his father Bob is a traitor all because he grew a beard and can speak Arabic, and for people who post reports, rumors, or mere flimsy speculation without citing sources or doing any fact checking.

I spoke with retired Army Maj. Bob Ousley after seeing the following correspondence attributed to him circulating all over the internet.

Please be aware that the whackos are out and have begun to start the fog of war. Bob Bergdahl’s Twitter account has been hacked and there are imposters posting comments on various media that look like they are coming from Bob or Bowe Bergdahl. Please help stop the terrorist acts that are now following Bowe Bergdahl home. Get the word out that there seems to be an active campaign to destroy Bowe and his family at this critical time.

If you see a comment that looks whacky or off color or something that you can’t imagine coming from Bowe or his family take heart because they didn’t. Bowe is not communicating on any social media. There are anarchists doing rapid postings to the Million Cards for Bowe site in an attempt to damage support for bringing Bowe home to his family. Please don’t get distracted by the whack jobs. They are the lowest form of life on this earth and it will take the efforts of all who supported Bowe and his family in captivity to put these despicable people back in their slimy hole.

Please spread this as far and wide as possible. The more who understand what is happening the quicker we can out these people and stop this ugly attack.

Bob “Bulldog” Ousley, MAJ USA (RET)

While he said he was no longer sure Bob Bergdahl’s Twitter account was hacked, he verified that he did indeed send out this email. I’ve sent a message to Bob Bergdahl asking if his account was indeed hacked, and have not yet received a reply, so the best I can say regarding the alleged hacking is, “I don’t know.”

However, I am having trouble accessing One Million Cards for Bowe both on their web site and on Facebook.

And then there is this article from the Associated Press via the Spokesman-Review.

I think it’s worthwhile to fact check everything, check it twice, tone down the vitriol, admit we don’t know everything, wait for the full truth of the matter to reveal itself, avoid jumping to conclusions, and try not to make things worse for a family and community that’s already suffered for nearly five years. Is that really too much to ask?

The beautiful thing about having a table at a convention is I’ve got a forum in which I can directly and personally promote causes that mean a lot to me to hundreds or maybe even thousands. And if I lose my voice, I can still raise awareness about the plight of POW and my fellow Idahoan Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl by handing out bracelets or buttons.

Drop by table X-6 at Salt Lake Comic Con Fan XPerience April 17-19 so you can join me in making a statement for Bowe and for all our troops.

via Bowe Packs: Sample Photos.

So yet another clueless privileged celebrity compared his career to going off to war- this time Kanye West.

Dear Mr. West,

You don’t have to take any of the risks you do while performing. No mission, nobody else’s lives, and no matter of national security depend on any of your stage antics. And if you’re in any real danger during your stage show, you can just blame your tech crew, faulty equipment, or even your own fool self if you’re not wearing a harness to keep you from falling during the stunts you choose to pull. Nobody’s setting IEDs in your path. Nobody’s trying to shoot you just because of a flag patch on your shoulder. And your shows aren’t what will prevent more 9-11s.

My challenge to you is to try to enlist. Failing that, as you likely will, at the very least sit down with some veterans and shut your mouth long enough so you can listen and learn what war really is like. Then humbly apologize to them. They may fight to the death to protect your right to mouth off, but that doesn’t mean you have to trivialize their sacrifices.

Thank you,

a writer who will only compare herself to Valerie Finnigan

I didn’t forget what day it was.

It was a Saturday. I had to go to work. One of the residents wanted to watch television, and I turned on the TV to see news that Merrill Newman was released from prison in North Korea and returning home. We rejoiced over that.

It was in December. After work I went to a Christmas festival and bought some home baked rolls to save and serve for Christmas dinner. I had wanted to deliver a gift to someone particularly deserving on my way home, but having forgotten that, I settled for driving home directly. It was just as well, as it got dark very quickly, and the weather was abominable.

The temperature peaked in the teens, but it didn’t feel a single degree above zero. The wind- always a fixture in eastern Idaho weather- showed its real strength, bringing gusts so strong and snow so blinding, it didn’t just make my long commute home a nerve-wracking experience. I considered tbe possibility of the wind tearing away my American flag, blowing it down the street, and depositing it two blocks away to freeze under rapidly accumulating layers of snow. It did strike me as a good idea to break with tradition that morning, though, and not put my flag out. When I returned home, I joined my husband and kids in decorating the Christmas tree, thankful to see our flag safe and dry indoors.

Yesterday was the seventh of December. I made sure that my kids remembered what happened on another December seventh, when a storm of a far worse nature hit our shores, making landfall in Pearl Harbor. My grandfather most certainly felt its impact, living- as he did at the time- in Germany with American and German citizenship, forced to examine his loyalties and priorities. This year as always, I remembered him and his service during World War II as a US soldier. But this year I wanted to do something for another soldier whose world was rocked by the attack on Pearl Harbor. His loyalty as an American was questioned even more than my grandfather’s was all because of his ancestry. He also managed to avoid being placed in an internment camp. But, unlike my grandfather, he didn’t have to choose a side. He knew where his loyalty lay, and was only compelled to prove it to a nation that should never have doubted him.
Hero Shiosaki, having served in the all Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, saw some of the worst action on the European front, where my grandfather, due to getting out of Germany when he did and due to his MOS within the army, did not have to fight. Mr. Shiosaki’s service and the sacrifices he and his brothers in arms made did not get the timely recognition due them, though they were nonetheless “most decorated and decimated.” He most recently was awarded an Idaho Hometown Hero medal back in August for his continued dedication to his fellow veterans and to educating our young people, as mentioned in the Blackfoot Morning News.

http://www.am-news.com/content/local-veteran-shiosaki-hometown-hero-medal-recipient

I did not want to give him a medal. I just wanted to show that writers and artists in the comic book industry have not forgotten the valor and dedication of the 442nd. And since Blackfoot was about halfway home from work and road conditions were a little better, I made sure his family got a copy of Journey of Heroes today- better a day late than never! For those who haven’t read Journey of Heroes, don’t wait until next Pearl Harbor Day to get a copy. You can order it here.

http://www.442comicbook.com

Much has been written about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan and has been held captive by the Haqqani network ever since. I would say that not enough attention is given his cause. I believe the plight of others also warrants attention. Some people refer to Sgt. Bergdahl as the only American prisoner of war still living. That he was captured at all and is still a prisoner of war is more than bad enough to me.

But is he the only living American POW?

Let’s not forget that the Korean War technically never ended. Armistice was declared in 1953, but that did not stop hostilities or violence. I had once written about David Mills, who was captured during the Korean War when he was only seventeen. He was rescued in 1953, but sixty years later, North Korea hasn’t stopped detaining foreigners- and often in very harsh conditions.

Kenneth Bae, aka Bae Jun-Ho, was caught with pictures of starving North Korean orphans in November, 2012. For that, he was charged with plotting to bring down the North Korean government and sentenced to fifteen years hard labor. After several months, he was moved to a “special prison” due to his deteriorating health, but he is still being held prisoner.

The latest would be the capture of eighty-five year old Korean War veteran Merrill Newman, who was taking an officially authorized tour of North Korea and wished to, as he said, “meet any surviving soldiers and pray for the souls of the dead soldiers.” For that alone, he was accused of “hostile acts” against North Korea. He also was shown on video reading a “confession” in often rather broken English to various “offensives” committed some sixty years ago, “offensives” such as killing civilians.

When a man who speaks fluent English apologizes for “offensives” rather than “offences” and reads statements like, “I want not punish me,” that smacks of a false confession to me. I hate to wonder what was done to compel him to read that.

Similarly, I also hate to wonder about the 516 South Koreans who were abducted since the armistice and are still being held prisoner in North Korea.

I think they all qualify as prisoners of war. My own thoughts and prayers are with them, as well as with my fellow Idahoan Sgt. Bergdahl.

May they all come home to the warm welcome they deserve.