Friday, October 28, 2011

TFH 10/28: First Lieutenant Lloyd L. Burke, USA

Sixty years ago today, an officer with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division led his combat-battered unit in an attack against fortified Chinese Communist forces with incredible personal courage and resolve. That brave American was Lloyd L. Burke.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company G, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. Place and date: Near Chong-dong, Korea, 28 October 1951. Entered service at: Stuttgart, Ark. Born: 29 September 1924, Tichnor, Ark. G.O. No.: 43. Citation: 1st Lt. Burke, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. Intense enemy fire had pinned down leading elements of his company committed to secure commanding ground when 1st Lt. Burke left the command post to rally and urge the men to follow him toward 3 bunkers impeding the advance. Dashing to an exposed vantage point he threw several grenades at the bunkers, then, returning for an M1 rifle and adapter, he made a lone assault, wiping out the position and killing the crew. Closing on the center bunker he lobbed grenades through the opening and, with his pistol, killed 3 of its occupants attempting to surround him. Ordering his men forward he charged the third emplacement, catching several grenades in midair and hurling them back at the enemy. Inspired by his display of valor his men stormed forward, overran the hostile position, but were again pinned down by increased fire. Securing a light machine gun and 3 boxes of ammunition, 1st Lt. Burke dashed through the impact area to an open knoll, set up his gun and poured a crippling fire into the ranks of the enemy, killing approximately 75. Although wounded, he ordered more ammunition, reloading and destroying 2 mortar emplacements and a machine gun position with his accurate fire. Cradling the weapon in his arms he then led his men forward, killing some 25 more of the retreating enemy and securing the objective. 1st Lt. Burke's heroic action and daring exploits inspired his small force of 35 troops. His unflinching courage and outstanding leadership reflect the highest credit upon himself, the infantry, and the U.S. Army. 

In addition to his Korean War service, Burke also served as an enlisted combat engineer during World War II and in Army Aviation during the Vietnam War. In addition to the Medal of Honor, he also was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star Medal, and the Bronze Star Medal for heroism, as well as two Purple Hearts for wounds received. He retired as a Colonel, and had also served as the Army's liaison officer to Congress. He passed away in 1999, and rests in Arlington National Cemetery.

The motto of the 5th Cavalry is "Loyalty, Courage" - ideals certainly embodied by the service of Lloyd Burke. Today, the 2nd Battalion/5th Cavalry is a combined-arms unit serving with the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, TX.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Perhaps President Obama should have stood here

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the crumbling Greenfield Bridge in the City of Pittsburgh will be replaced, with the existing structure being demolished by implosion in December 2014. Wait...what? Nothing to be done for three more years? This is ridiculous because this bridge has been falling down for about twenty years already.

I first came to Pittsburgh in 1989. I became an official PA resident in 1994. I got my first car in 1996, and at that time, used this particular bridge fairly regularly on my daily commute. It was falling down then. The bridge crosses over Interstate 376, known in Pittsburgh parlance as the "Parkway East". Take a look at the picture that the Trib used to illustrate the story:

The Greenfield Bridge is the arch structure. You'll notice that it has fabric netting wrapped around a large portion to contain falling concrete from the structure. You'll also notice the "bridge" beneath the bridge. What's that?

Well, sometime after the 2003 lawsuit by a motorist injured by falling debris, ostensibly from the city's bridge, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation used tax dollars to build a catcher for the debris - instead granting the money to, and working with, the City of Pittsburgh to fix the damn bridge!

This is government "efficiency" at its worst. Government at any level spends too much time on problems that it shouldn't try to fix, and almost as much time looking at problems it should be on top of and saying, "Sorry, not my problem!"

Transportation infrastructure is a responsibility of government, including the Federal government. I look at a "reasonable" interpretation of the Constitution, specifically Article I, Section 8, Clause 7:
[The Congress shall have power] To establish post offices and post roads
I'm sure the US Mail traverses most of our road infrastructure at one point or another. But, that really isn't the point. It's a city bridge, that crosses a US Interstate highway, that was built and is maintained by a state agency, that receives Federal highway dollars. In other words, it's a shared responsibility, and all have failed.

President Obama likes to stand near bridges that don't need repair or replacement while yapping that they do. Perhaps the next time he inconveniences our city with his presence, he can stand under this one and catch some concrete.

Why the Troops Can't Come Home

Recently, many people - notably Rep. Ron Paul and his supporters - have questioned the wisdom and/or necessity of maintaining forward deployed US military units in foreign countries such as South Korea. Removing these forces as a "cost savings" measure is problematic to say the least. I think it is completely irresponsible and would be disastrous to the United States as a Nation. Let's use South Korea as an example.

On October 1, 1953, the United States of America and the Republic of Korea entered into a mutual defense treaty. The treaty took effect on November 14, 1954. Article 2 of treaty reads as follows:
The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of either of them, the political independence or security of either of the Parties is threatened by external armed attack. Separately and jointly, by self-help and mutual aid, the Parties will maintain and develop appropriate means to deter armed attack and will take suitable measures in consultation and agreement to implement this Treaty and to further its purposes.
Part of the United States' obligation to South Korea under this treaty is our forward deployed forces on the Korean peninsula. The main ground combat force we currently have there today is the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the US Army's 2nd Infantry Division. But, what if they weren't there? What if South Korea came under attack, or even an increased threat of an attack, by the Communist tyrants to the north and we had to quickly redeploy forces from the continental USA?

TFH 10/27: Captain Arlo L. Olson, USA

Operation Avalanche was the code name for the Allied invasion of mainland Italy on September 3, 1943. By early October, southern Italy was in American and British hands, but the Allies' advance northward to Naples and Rome ran into fierce Nazi German resistance along prepared defensive lines and natural obstacles such as the Volturno River.

The 15th Infantry Regiment fought in Italy as part of the 3rd Infantry Division. This regiment's motto is "Can Do". For two weeks in October 1943, one young officer of the regiment simply did. That man was Arlo L. Olson.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:


Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army, 15th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Crossing of the Volturno River, Italy, 13 October 1943. Entered service at: Toronto, S. Dak. Birth: Greenville, Iowa. G.O. No.: 71, 31 August 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On 13 October 1943, when the drive across the Volturno River began, Capt. Olson and his company spearheaded the advance of the regiment through 30 miles of mountainous enemy territory in 13 days. Placing himself at the head of his men, Capt. Olson waded into the chest-deep water of the raging Volturno River and despite pointblank machine-gun fire aimed directly at him made his way to the opposite bank and threw 2 hand grenades into the gun position, killing the crew. When an enemy machinegun 150 yards distant opened fire on his company, Capt. Olson advanced upon the position in a slow, deliberate walk. Although 5 German soldiers threw handgrenades at him from a range of 5 yards, Capt. Olson dispatched them all, picked up a machine pistol and continued toward the enemy. Advancing to within 15 yards of the position he shot it out with the foe, killing 9 and seizing the post. Throughout the next 13 days Capt. Olson led combat patrols, acted as company No. 1 scout and maintained unbroken contact with the enemy. On 27 October 1943, Capt. Olson conducted a platoon in attack on a strongpoint, crawling to within 25 yards of the enemy and then charging the position. Despite continuous machinegun fire which barely missed him, Capt. Olson made his way to the gun and killed the crew with his pistol. When the men saw their leader make this desperate attack they followed him and overran the position. Continuing the advance, Capt. Olson led his company to the next objective at the summit of Monte San Nicola. Although the company to his right was forced to take cover from the furious automatic and small arms fire, which was directed upon him and his men with equal intensity, Capt. Olson waved his company into a skirmish line and despite the fire of a machinegun which singled him out as its sole target led the assault which drove the enemy away. While making a reconnaissance for defensive positions, Capt. Olson was fatally wounded. Ignoring his severe pain, this intrepid officer completed his reconnaissance, Supervised the location of his men in the best defense positions, refused medical aid until all of his men had been cared for, and died as he was being carried down the mountain. 

Captain Olson succumbed to his wounds on October 28, 1943. He rests today in Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN.

All of our Nation's heroes embody the motto of the 15th Infantry: Can Do. Today, the 3rd Infantry Division continues to serve our nation. Two battalions of the 15th Infantry still serve with the division; 1st/15th Infantry with the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team and 3rd/15th Infantry with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TFH 10/26: Major Horace S. Carswell Jr., USAAC

On this day in 1944, one American airman refused to leave a wounded crewman and one other with a destroyed parachute to their deaths. While those three ultimately lost their lives in their stricken B-24 Liberator, Major Horace S. Carswell Jr.'s courage and devotion to duty saved the lives of eight of his 11 crew and ranks him among our Nation's greatest heroes.

From Medal of Honor Citations from World War II:

*CARSWELL, HORACE S., JR. (Air Mission)

Rank and organization: Major, 308th Bombardment Group, U.S. Army Air Corps. Place and date: Over South China Sea, 26 October 1944. Entered service at: San Angelo, Tex. Birth: Fort Worth, Tex. G.O. No.: 14, 4 February 1946. Citation: He piloted a B-24 bomber in a one-plane strike against a Japanese convoy in the South China Sea on the night of 26 October 1944. Taking the enemy force of 12 ships escorted by at least 2 destroyers by surprise, he made 1 bombing run at 600 feet, scoring a near miss on 1 warship and escaping without drawing fire. He circled. and fully realizing that the convoy was thoroughly alerted and would meet his next attack with a barrage of antiaircraft fire, began a second low-level run which culminated in 2 direct hits on a large tanker. A hail of steel from Japanese guns, riddled the bomber, knocking out 2 engines, damaging a third, crippling the hydraulic system, puncturing 1 gasoline tank, ripping uncounted holes in the aircraft, and wounding the copilot; but by magnificent display of flying skill, Maj. Carswell controlled the plane's plunge toward the sea and carefully forced it into a halting climb in the direction of the China shore. On reaching land, where it would have been possible to abandon the staggering bomber, one of the crew discovered that his parachute had been ripped by flak and rendered useless; the pilot, hoping to cross mountainous terrain and reach a base. continued onward until the third engine failed. He ordered the crew to bail out while he struggled to maintain altitude. and, refusing to save himself, chose to remain with his comrade and attempt a crash landing. He died when the airplane struck a mountainside and burned. With consummate gallantry and intrepidity, Maj. Carswell gave his life in a supreme effort to save all members of his crew. His sacrifice. far beyond that required of him, was in keeping with the traditional bravery of America's war heroes.

Major Carswell also earned the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his World War II service. The former Carswell Air Force Base, now part of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, was named in his honor in 1948.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rick Perry: Cut, Balance & Grow

GOP Presidential Candidate Governor Rick Perry of Texas released his tax and budget plan today, entitled "Cut, Balance & Grow".  I encourage all my readers to download the PDF from Gov. Perry's website and read the full plan. I'll be citing page numbers from the document below.

The quick hit - what would this do for or to me and my family?

The first evaluation of Gov. Perry's plan I did was how it would have altered my 2010 taxes had the plan already been in force and we opted to file under his 20% flat tax with the simplified tax form. In 2010, we paid taxes with a net effective rate of 14% after all deductions, exemptions, and credits. Under the Perry plan, our taxable income would have been reduced by 41.3% and our federal tax due would have dropped by 16.7%, even with the net higher tax rate of 20% on taxable income. In real dollars and cents, this would have put just over $2,000 back in my family's wallet. On that, I have no complaints whatsoever and just from my own personal financial perspective, the plan looks good.

Nevertheless, my own personal situation does not make this a winner for the Nation. For now, I'm going to mainly analyze the tax provisions. The larger issues such as balancing the budget and entitlement reforms  deserve more attention than I can give now. So, let's look at the nuts and bolts.

TFH 10/25: Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, USMC

John Basilone was born November 4, 1916 in Buffalo, NY. His first military service was with the United States Army from 1934-1937. His desire to return to the Philippines - where he spent much of his Army time - led him to enlist in the United States Marine Corps in July of 1940.

The Philippines weren't in the cards. Basilone was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba when the United States were plunged into World War II in December 1941. Beginning in August 1942 Basilone was serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines as part of the Guadalcanal Campaign in the Pacific under the legendary Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller.

In late October, the Battle for Henderson Field began on Guadalcanal. During the afternoon of October 24, 1942, Puller's 1st/7th Marines were deployed on a 2,500 yard front - more than three yards for each of the 700 Marines in the battalion. Around 0115 on October 25, our Marines were under heavy assault from a Japanese force with a four or five-to-one advantage. The only thing standing in their way were two heavy machine gun sections led by then Sergeant John Basilone.

From Medal of Honor Citations from World War II:


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 4 November 1916, Buffalo, N.Y. Accredited to: New Jersey. Other Navy award: Navy Cross. Citation: For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action against enemy Japanese forces, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Lunga Area. Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 24 and 25 October 1942. While the enemy was hammering at the Marines' defensive positions, Sgt. Basilone, in charge of 2 sections of heavy machineguns, fought valiantly to check the savage and determined assault. In a fierce frontal attack with the Japanese blasting his guns with grenades and mortar fire, one of Sgt. Basilone's sections, with its guncrews, was put out of action, leaving only 2 men able to carry on. Moving an extra gun into position, he placed it in action, then, under continual fire, repaired another and personally manned it, gallantly holding his line until replacements arrived. A little later, with ammunition critically low and the supply lines cut off, Sgt. Basilone, at great risk of his life and in the face of continued enemy attack, battled his way through hostile lines with urgently needed shells for his gunners, thereby contributing in large measure to the virtual annihilation of a Japanese regiment. His great personal valor and courageous initiative were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. 

In 1943, Basilone found himself welcomed home States-side as a national hero. He was used by the Marines as a celebrity to boost recruiting and war bonds sales. Several times, he requested to be returned to combat, only to be told he was more valuable to the war effort doing what he was doing. He persisted. In December 1943, the Marine Corps relented and returned him to Camp Pendleton in California for training. While gearing up for a return to combat with the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines, John Basilone met Lena Mae Riggi, a Sergeant in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve. They married on July 10, 1944.

Monday, October 24, 2011

TFH 10/24: Technical Sergeant Charles H. Coolidge, USA

Beginning this day in 1944, one courageous American infantryman from Tennessee led his unit in four days of continuous combat against a numerically superior force. They emerged victorious.


Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company M, 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. Place and date: East of Belmont sur Buttant, France, 2427 October 1944. Entered service at: Signal Mountain, Tenn. Birth: Signal Mountain, Tenn. G.O. No.: 53, July 1945. Citation: Leading a section of heavy machineguns supported by 1 platoon of Company K, he took a position near Hill 623, east of Belmont sur Buttant, France, on 24 October 1944, with the mission of covering the right flank of the 3d Battalion and supporting its action. T/Sgt. Coolidge went forward with a sergeant of Company K to reconnoiter positions for coordinating the fires of the light and heavy machineguns. They ran into an enemy force in the woods estimated to be an infantry company. T/Sgt. Coolidge, attempting to bluff the Germans by a show of assurance and boldness called upon them to surrender, whereupon the enemy opened fire. With his carbine, T/Sgt. Coolidge wounded 2 of them. There being no officer present with the force, T/Sgt. Coolidge at once assumed command. Many of the men were replacements recently arrived; this was their first experience under fire. T/Sgt. Coolidge, unmindful of the enemy fire delivered at close range, walked along the position, calming and encouraging his men and directing their fire. The attack was thrown back. Through 25 and 26 October the enemy launched repeated attacks against the position of this combat group but each was repulsed due to T/Sgt. Coolidge's able leadership. On 27 October, German infantry, supported by 2 tanks, made a determined attack on the position. The area was swept by enemy small arms, machinegun, and tank fire. T/Sgt. Coolidge armed himself with a bazooka and advanced to within 25 yards of the tanks. His bazooka failed to function and he threw it aside. Securing all the hand grenades he could carry, he crawled forward and inflicted heavy casualties on the advancing enemy. Finally it became apparent that the enemy, in greatly superior force, supported by tanks, would overrun the position. T/Sgt. Coolidge, displaying great coolness and courage, directed and conducted an orderly withdrawal, being himself the last to leave the position. As a result of T/Sgt. Coolidge's heroic and superior leadership, the mission of this combat group was accomplished throughout 4 days of continuous fighting against numerically superior enemy troops in rain and cold and amid dense woods. 

Charles H. Coolidge, age 90, lives in Chattanooga, TN. He still works every day at his family's business.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

TFH 10/23: The Day Entertainment Changed Forever

On this day in 2001, Steve Jobs announced the original iPod. Apple's iTunes is now the #1 music reseller. Mr. Jobs had many great moments in his all too short life, but 10 years ago when he revolutionized both entertainment delivery and playback, ranks among the top.

And for full disclosure, this post was authored on the Blogger app for iOS on my iPhone 4; a direct descendant of the original iPod. Thank you, Mr. Jobs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

TFH 10/22: PFC Milton L. Olive III, USA

On this day in 1965, one brave American soldier from Chicago in the 173rd Airborne Brigade set the lives of his comrades above his own.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War:


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade. Place and date: Phu Cuong, Republic of Vietnam, 22 October 1965. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 7 November 1946, Chicago, Ill. C.O. No.: 18, 26 April 1966. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Olive was a member of the 3d Platoon of Company B, as it moved through the jungle to find the Viet Cong operating in the area. Although the platoon was subjected to a heavy volume of enemy gunfire and pinned down temporarily, it retaliated by assaulting the Viet Cong positions, causing the enemy to flee. As the platoon pursued the insurgents, Pfc. Olive and 4 other soldiers were moving through the jungle together with a grenade was thrown into their midst. Pfc. Olive saw the grenade, and then saved the lives of his fellow soldiers at the sacrifice of his by grabbing the grenade in his hand and falling on it to absorb the blast with his body. Through his bravery, unhesitating actions, and complete disregard for his safety, he prevented additional loss of life or injury to the members of his platoon. Pfc. Olive's extraordinary heroism, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

TFH 10/21: PFC Richard G. Wilson, USA

Richard Gene Wilson was born on August 19, 1931 in Marion, IL to Bert and Alice Wilson. His parents and his six siblings - Jo Ann, Norman, Norris Dean, Ronald, Rosemary, and Shirley - relocated to Cape Girardeau, MO in 1939. He attended Central High School in Cape Girardeau, but felt his Nation's call to service after his junior year. Wilson left school and enlisted in the United States Army on his seventeenth birthday, August 19, 1948.

After basic traning, combat medic training, and airborne training, he was assigned to the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, then part of the 11th Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY. The 187th is a storied regiment of our Army. Fighting in the Pacific during World War II, the unit was nicknamed "The Rakkasans" while on occupation duty in Japan. "Rakassan" is Japanese for "falling down umbrella men"; the nickname stuck. The regimental motto is Ne Destit Virtus - Let Valor Not Fail. Among the alumni of the 187th are two of our greatest modern commanders: General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. and General David Petraeus.

When the Korean War erupted in late June of 1950, the 11th Airborne Division was one of the earliest US Army units sent to fight. Before leaving for war, Richard Wilson married his high school sweetheart, Yvonna Lee Fowler on August 29, 1950.

As a prelude to the Battle of Yongju, the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team jumped into battle on October 20th. Wilson landed by parachute at drop zone "William" near Sukchon with the rest of the 2nd Battalion. The next day, our brave paratroopers found themselves in intense combat with the North Korean 239th Regiment near Opa-ri. As his unit advanced through a narrow valley, they were ambushed by the North Koreans. Casualties were immediate and severe. One soldier in particular, and with awesome courage, laid his own life and safety below that of the wounded and dying. That man was Richard Wilson.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Here Comes the A-Bomb...

...and Herman "999" Cain is in the bomb sight, and no not for an atomic bomb, but for abortion.

Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway provides a very complete run down of Mr. Cain's recent Q&As on the pro-life issue.

I'm not going to rehash Mr. Cain's recent both-sides-of-the-fence statements on abortion, as Doug did such a good job. I agree that Mr. Cain's stance is coming across as basically pro-choice, in that he is using the "personal choice" argument, while also saying the practice should be "illegal"; two, mutually exclusive positions.

I did dig up this interview given by Mr. Cain to Human Events during his run for the US Senate seat from Georgia, dated October 3, 2003. In it, there is the following exchange:
HE: Where do you stand on abortion?
CAIN: Pro-life, conception to the grave.
HE: Do you favor a human life amendment?
CAIN: Explain to me what you mean by the human life amendment?
HE: Well, the human life amendment, which has been in the Republican platform since, I think, 1980, and would go in the United States Constitution, stating just that an unborn child has a right to life from conception.
CAIN: I would support that, stated the way you state it. Yes, I would.
Ok, what are we to draw from all of this? I will take Mr. Cain at his word that he is pro-life, but his equivocation on government's role in assuring the sanctity of life is disturbing, particularly in the shortcomings he's shown in responding to pointed questions on other issues. His explanation is lacking to say the least, but I do believe that there is a constitutional explanation that could be brought into play.

I raise this possible explanation only as it is directly related to my own, very strong pro-life views.

TFH 10/20: Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble

Woodrow Wilson Keeble was born on May 16, 1917. He was a full-blooded member of the Sisseton Wapheton Oyate, a Sioux. He served with distinction and great heroism during both World War II and the Korean War.

Sixty years ago today, Master Sergeant Keeble ignored multiple wounds to his left arm and face because he refused to let his platoon attack a hilltop that was a Chinese Communist stronghold without him: leadership is from the front!

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and Organization:Master Sergeant, U.S. Army. Place and date: Korea, 20 October 1951.
Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Sangsan-ni, Korea, on October 20, 1951. On that day, Master Sergeant Keeble was an acting platoon leader for the support platoon in Company G, 19th Infantry, in the attack on Hill 765, a steep and rugged position that was well defended by the enemy. Leading the support platoon, Master Sergeant Keeble saw that the attacking elements had become pinned down on the slope by heavy enemy fire from three well-fortified and strategically placed enemy positions. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Master Sergeant Keeble dashed forward and joined the pinned-down platoon. Then, hugging the ground, Master Sergeant Keeble crawled forward alone until he was in close proximity to one of the hostile machine-gun emplacements. Ignoring the heavy fire that the crew trained on him, Master Sergeant Keeble activated a grenade and threw it with great accuracy, successfully destroying the position. Continuing his one-man assault, he moved to the second enemy position and destroyed it with another grenade. Despite the fact that the enemy troops were now directing their firepower against him and unleashing a shower of grenades in a frantic attempt to stop his advance, he moved forward against the third hostile emplacement, and skillfully neutralized the remaining enemy position. As his comrades moved forward to join him, Master Sergeant Keeble continued to direct accurate fire against nearby trenches, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Inspired by his courage, Company G successfully moved forward and seized its important objective. The extraordinary courage, selfless service, and devotion to duty displayed that day by Master Sergeant Keeble was an inspiration to all around him and reflected great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Regular visitors to these features know that the asterisk preceding a Medal of Honor recipient's name indicates a posthumous award. Woodrow Keeble, however, survived the Korean War, dying of natural causes in 1982 at age 64. The effort to have him recognized as he deserved sadly took far too long.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

999: Right but Mostly Wrong

GOP Presidential Candidate Herman Cain is to be commended for issuing his "999 Plan". Mr. Cain's plan is "Right" in that he is the only candidate who is - so far - beginning the discussion of tax reform with a complete scrapping of the current tax code. I agree with him. The current system is completely broken and, whether it can be fixed or not, should not be fixed but replaced.

Several prominent economists, notably Dr. Arthur Laffer, have come out in favor of 999. I have come to the conclusion however that the 999 Plan is not the solution. My main problem with the plan centers around the second "9", which Mr. Cain characterizes in his public statements and on the plan's page as a "9% Business Flat Tax" on "gross income less all purchases from U.S. located businesses", or simply as a "9% business income tax". Trouble is, it isn't. It's a value-added tax (VAT), and therefore I have to judge it as "wrong".

In an op-ed published today by Dr. Laffer in the Wall Street Journal, the mis-characterization of 999 as a "9% flat-rate tax on net business profits" persists.

I encourage everybody to look at the supporting documents for 999, both the "9-9-9 Scoring Report" and the "9-9-9 Scoring Tables". I'll be citing page numbers from the report below.

In the scoring report, the business tax is properly called a "Business Transactions Tax" (page 7).
Each business would pay tax on gross receipts less payments to other businesses. Allowing the subtraction of payments for intermediate goods yields the value added by the company. Subtracting investment as well yields a subtraction method value-added tax." (my emphasis)
So, there it is in black and white, a VAT. It is not what I'll call a compound VAT since business purchases of materials and resources for production are deducted, but there is one important cost of production that is not deductible from revenue: labor costs.

TFH 10/19: Private Barney F. Hajiro, USA

Barney Fushimi Hajiro was born on September 16, 1916 on Maui, Hawai'i to Japanese immigrant parents. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was drafted into the United States Army and served as a laborer in an engineering unit.

In early 1943, he volunteered to join the new US 442nd Infantry Regiment/Regimental Combat Team, composed entirely of Nisei - the children of Japanese immigrants. The 442nd Infantry served with distinction in Europe, and became the most decorated unit for its size in US Army history. For the approximately 14,000 Americans who served in the unit, 9,486 received Purple Hearts and the regiment as a whole earned an unprecedented eight Presidential Unit Citations. The motto of the 442nd was "Go For Broke". Twenty-one of its members were recognized with our highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.

Initially, Barney Hajiro received the second-highest award for his wartime courage: the Distinguished Service Cross. During the 1990s, the Department of Defense reviewed the records of all African- and Asian-American recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross and Navy Cross to determine if any of them were denied the Medal of Honor due to racial discrimination.

On June 21, 2000, Barney Hajiro was one of six living Asian-Americans who received their long-overdue recognition as being among our Nation's greatest heroes from President Bill Clinton at the White House. From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:


Private Barney F. Hajiro distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 19, 22, and 29 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, eastern France. Private Hajiro, while acting as a sentry on top of an embankment on 19 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres, France, rendered assistance to allied troops attacking a house 200 yards away by exposing himself to enemy fire and directing fire at an enemy strong point. He assisted the unit on his right by firing his automatic rifle and killing or wounding two enemy snipers. On 22 October 1944, he and one comrade took up an outpost security position about 50 yards to the right front of their platoon, concealed themselves, and ambushed an 18-man, heavily armed, enemy patrol, killing two, wounding one, and taking the remainder as prisoners. On 29 October 1944, in a wooded area in the vicinity of Biffontaine, France, Private Hajiro initiated an attack up the slope of a hill referred to as "Suicide Hill" by running forward approximately 100 yards under fire. He then advanced ahead of his comrades about 10 yards, drawing fire and spotting camouflaged machine gun nests. He fearlessly met fire with fire and single-handedly destroyed two machine gun nests and killed two enemy snipers. As a result of Private Hajiro's heroic actions, the attack was successful. Private Hajiro's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit, and the United States Army.

Barney F. Hajiro passed away earlier this year on January 21, 2011 at age 94. At his death, he was the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient. American heroism knows no racial boundaries. To him, all his 442nd RCT comrades, and others who have set aside the United States' imperfections in equality to forward the course of liberty by taking up arms, we are forever grateful.

10/18 GOP Debate Reactions

Running down my reaction the candidates' performances in the October 18th debate, in alphabetical order:

Michele Bachmann - Desperately trying to regain some traction and visibility. Bachmann shark jump of the week: looking and sounding like she was about to cry when she was going through the whole "mom" exposition. Time to go back to Minnesota and make sure we get you back in the House.

Herman Cain - Plus: when the barrages against his 9-9-9 plan started coming from all directions he was smart and stopped parroting "9-9-9" as the panacea for all things economic. Minus: if he can't respond "9-9-9" to every issue, there really doesn't seem to be whole lot of substance there. More to come on my 9-9-9 and tax program thoughts later today.

Newt Gingrich - Once again, clearly the smartest guy in the room. Bad moment when he had to own up for the individual mandate; was surprised he didn't just shoot the whole thing down by saying it was wrong to have supported it when he did. Otherwise, I admire his ability to gently attack his nomination competitors while trashing both President Obama and the media. He's gaining traction with me on substance.

Jon Huntsman - Remember him? This was the best debate yet, since he wasn't there.

Ron Paul - Difficult to dislike him on economic issues. On everything else, he might as well be Code Pink's spokesperson. It's hard to believe, but he may actually be more liberal than President Obama when it comes to defense and foreign policy. I shudder to think of him in the White House, but the Treasury Department next door? You could convince me.

Rick Perry - Finally brought his debate "A" game, unfortunately his "A" is still a "B-" to most observers. The three weeks to the next debate should help by way of prep. I think he helped himself, as well as the other candidates, because he fired the first salvo in the Romney pile-on. If he can successfully strike Romney and Obama simultaneously, it won't be long before he's back up in the polls. Lot less stumbling over his own words. He's back on the radar.

Mitt Romney - Easily his worst debate performance. He was completely unprepared for the attacks launched upon him directly by the other six. I thought by halftime he was completely flustered, which of course meant that the other candidates let him get back into the game by laying off. One of Romney's weaknesses is similar to Obama's: he doesn't handle criticism and attacks well.

Rick Santorum - Running on your Pennsylvania electoral record? Really?!?!? Are you freaking kidding me?!?!?! You lost to a candidate by 17.4% whose only credential on the positive side was that he shares his Daddy's name! If you were re-running against Casey this cycle, I bet you'd be at least 10 points down right now, and Casey is completely beatable. Game over.

Winners on my scorecard: Gingrich, Perry
Losers: Cain, Paul, Romney
Time to go home: Bachmann, Huntsman, Santorum.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Green Jobs Answer Man

From the Manhattan Institute and the wonderful Andrew Klavan:

TFH 10/18: Sergeant Max Thompson, USA

As the Allied Expeditionary Force pressed into Nazi Germany in the fall of 1944, the armies of liberty met fierce resistance. On October 17th, one brave American refused to yield to an enemy counterattack on vital high ground.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company K, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Haaren, Germany, 18 October 1944. Entered service at: Prescott, Ariz. Birth: Bethel, N.C. G.O. No.: 47, 18 June 1945. Citation: On 18 October 1944, Company K, 18th Infantry, occupying a position on a hill near Haaren, Germany, was attacked by an enemy infantry battalion supported by tanks. The assault was preceded by an artillery concentration, lasting an hour, which inflicted heavy casualties on the company. While engaged in moving wounded men to cover, Sgt. Thompson observed that the enemy had overrun the positions of the 3d Platoon. He immediately attempted to stem the enemy's advance single-handedly. He manned an abandoned machine gun and fired on the enemy until a direct hit from a hostile tank destroyed the gun. Shaken and dazed, Sgt. Thompson picked up an automatic rifle and although alone against the enemy force which was pouring into the gap in our lines, he fired burst after burst, halting the leading elements of the attack and dispersing those following. Throwing aside his automatic rifle, which had jammed, he took up a rocket gun, fired on a light tank, setting it on fire. By evening the enemy had been driven from the greater part of the captured position but still held 3 pillboxes. Sgt. Thompson's squad was assigned the task of dislodging the enemy from these emplacements. Darkness having fallen and finding that fire of his squad was ineffective from a distance, Sgt. Thompson crawled forward alone to within 20 yards of 1 of the pillboxes and fired grenades into it. The Germans holding the emplacement concentrated their fire upon him. Though wounded, he held his position fearlessly, continued his grenade fire, and finally forced the enemy to abandon the blockhouse. Sgt. Thompson's courageous leadership inspired his men and materially contributed to the clearing of the enemy from his last remaining hold on this important hill position. 

Max Thompson survived the war and passed away at age 74 of November 30, 1996. He rests in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Enka, NC.

Monday, October 17, 2011

TFH 10/17: Major Gregory Boyington, USMCR

Gregory Boyington was born on December 12, 1912 in Coeur d'Alene, ID. In 1930 he began studies at the University of Washington, graduating in 1934 with a degree in aeronautical engineering and went to work for Boeing. His military service began through ROTC while in college. In 1936, he volunteered for the United States Marine Corps aviation cadet program, received a commission, and served until August of 1941.

Boyington's service to the battle against tyranny began before the USA's entry into World War II. His resignation from the Marine Corps was so that he could join the American Volunteer Group, also known as the "Flying Tigers". He flew many missions in Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighters, and was credited with at least 3.5 kills of Japanese aircraft over mainland China.

Upon returning to the United States in 1942, he reentered the Marine Corps and was assigned with the rank of Major to VMF-121 at Guadalcanal. He was then posted as the commander of VMF-214, the "Black Sheep" squadron flying the Vought F4U Corsair.

From September 1943 to January 1944 as the VMF-214 commander, he was credited with shooting down 26 enemy aircraft. His leadership and skill in combat earned him our Nation's second-highest honor, the Navy Cross.

On October 17, 1943 he led a mission against Kahili in the Solomon Islands that contributed to his recognition with our Nation's highest honor. From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

TFH 10/15: Sergeant First Class Webster Anderson, USA

Artillerymen don't usually act as infantrymen. Sometimes when they do, they do so with incredible valor as one brave gunner of the 101st Airborne Division did this day in 1967.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War:


Rank and organization: Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army, Battery A, 2d Battalion, 320th Field Artillery, 101st Airborne Infantry Division (Airmobile). Place and date: Tam Ky, Republic of Vietnam, 15 October 1967. Entered service at: Winnsboro, S.C. Born: 15 July 1933, Winnsboro, S.C. Citation: Sfc. Anderson (then S/Sgt.), distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as chief of section in Battery A, against a hostile force. During the early morning hours Battery A's defensive position was attacked by a determined North Vietnamese Army infantry unit supported by heavy mortar, recoilless rifle, rocket propelled grenade and automatic weapon fire. The initial enemy onslaught breached the battery defensive perimeter. Sfc. Anderson, with complete disregard for his personal safety, mounted the exposed parapet of his howitzer position and became the mainstay of the defense of the battery position. Sfc. Anderson directed devastating direct howitzer fire on the assaulting enemy while providing rifle and grenade defensive fire against enemy soldiers attempting to overrun his gun section position. While protecting his crew and directing their fire against the enemy from his exposed position, 2 enemy grenades exploded at his feet knocking him down and severely wounding him in the legs. Despite the excruciating pain and though not able to stand, Sfc. Anderson valorously propped himself on the parapet and continued to direct howitzer fire upon the closing enemy and to encourage his men to fight on. Seeing an enemy grenade land within the gun pit near a wounded member of his gun crew, Sfc. Anderson heedless of his own safety, seized the grenade and attempted to throw it over the parapet to save his men. As the grenade was thrown from the position it exploded and Sfc. Anderson was again grievously wounded. Although only partially conscious and severely wounded, Sfc. Anderson refused medical evacuation and continued to encourage his men in the defense of the position. Sfc. Anderson by his inspirational leadership, professionalism, devotion to duty and complete disregard for his welfare was able to maintain the defense of his section position and to defeat a determined attack. Sfc. Anderson's gallantry and extraordinary heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Webster Anderson survived, but lost both his legs and part of one arm. He passed away in 2003 at age 70 and rests in the cemetery of Blackjack Baptist Church in his home town of Winnsboro, SC.

Never forget that we are the land of the free because of the brave!

Marxist Irony, iTunes Edition

On my iPhone, I have five apps that I use quite regularly (two more than the other three). They were free, and are e-readers with the texts of:

Thomas Paine's Common Sense
The Declaration of Independence
The Federalist Papers
The Constitution of the United States
Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

All free! Even the capitalist bible of The Wealth of Nations!!!!

So, it occurs to me that it might be nice to be able to have the opposition's text(s) too, so I just searched on the iTunes AppStore for The Communist Manifesto (Marx/Engels) and Das Kapital (Marx). Care to guess what I found?

Yep. There are no free apps with the texts of those two. Funny that someone wants to make money off of Marxism, considering that the works - all that I've listed - are in the public domain.

Friday, October 14, 2011

TFH 10/14: Three Heroes in the Waning Days of WWI

On October 14, 1918, three brave Americans - one Soldier, two Marines - showed the best the United States can offer in the face of tyranny and received our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War I:


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company I, 165th Infantry, 42d Division. Place and date: At Sommerance-Landres-et St. Georges Road, France, 14 October 1918. Entered service at: Haverstraw, N.Y. Born: 1884, Haverstraw, N.Y. G.O. No.: 9, W.D., 1923. Citation: The advance of his regiment having been checked by intense machinegun fire of the enemy, who were entrenched on the crest of a hill before Landres-et St. Georges, his company retired to a sunken road to reorganize their position, leaving several of their number wounded near the enemy lines. Of his own volition, in broad daylight and under direct observation of the enemy and with utter disregard for his own safety, he advanced to the crest of the hill, rescued one of his wounded comrades, and returned under withering fire to his own lines, repeating his splendidly heroic act until he had brought in all the men, 6 in number.


Rank and organization: Gunnery Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, 1st Marine Aviation Force Place and date: Pittham, Belgium, 14 October 1918. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 30 April 1896, New York, N.Y. Citation: For extraordinary heroism as observer in the 1st Marine Aviation Force at the front in France. In company with planes from Squadron 218, Royal Air Force, conducting an air raid on 8 October 1918, G/Sgt. Robinson's plane was attacked by 9 enemy scouts. In the fight which followed, he shot down 1 of the enemy planes. In a later air raid over Pittham, Belgium, on 14 October 1918, his plane and 1 other became separated from their formation on account of motor trouble and were attacked by 12 enemy scouts. Acting with conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in the fight which ensued, G/Sgt. Robinson, after shooting down 1 of the enemy planes, was struck by a bullet which carried away most of his elbow. At the same time his gun jammed. While his pilot maneuvered for position, he cleared the jam with one hand and returned to the fight. Although his left arm was useless, he fought off the enemy scouts until he collapsed after receiving 2 more bullet wounds, one in the stomach and one in the thigh.


Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 6 January 1897, South Weymouth, Mass. Appointed from: Connecticut. Citation: For exceptionally meritorious service and extraordinary heroism while attached to Squadron C, 1st Marine Aviation Force, in France. 2d Lt. Talbot participated in numerous air raids into enemy territory. On 8 October 1918, while on such a raid, he was attacked by 9 enemy scouts, and in the fight that followed shot down an enemy plane. Also, on 14 October 1918, while on a raid over Pittham, Belgium, 2d Lt. Talbot and another plane became detached from the formation on account of motor trouble and were attacked by 12 enemy scouts. During the severe fight that followed, his plane shot down 1 of the enemy scouts. His observer was shot through the elbow and his gun jammed. 2d Lt. Talbot maneuvered to gain time for his observer to clear the jam with one hand, and then returned to the fight. The observer fought until shot twice, once in the stomach and once in the hip and then collapsed, 2d Lt. Talbot attacked the nearest enemy scout with his front guns and shot him down. With his observer unconscious and his motor failing, he dived to escape the balance of the enemy and crossed the German trenches at an altitude of 50 feet, landing at the nearest hospital to leave his observer, and then returning to his aerodrome.  

Second Lieutenant Talbot lost his life in service to our nation eleven days later when his Airco/de Havilland DH-4 biplane crashed on a test flight. His namesake, the USS Ralph Talbot (DD-390), served throughout World War II - surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor and earning 14 battle stars. Gunnery Sergant Robinson survived the war and passed away at age 78 in 1974; he rests in Arlington National Cemetery. Sergeant Donaldson also survived the war and died at age 86 in 1970; he rests in St. Peter's Cemetery in his home town of Haverstraw, NY.

How Not to Run for President

Who do I support for President? I'm firmly in the "Not Romney" crowd. I passionately want to vote for a candidate. I'm sick and tired of picking the "least worst". With each passing day though, the forces are aligning to anoint Mitt Romney the GOP standard bearer. If that's what happens, my vote in the Pennsylvania primary will be meaningless and I'll have the same enthusiasm to vote for Romney in 2012 that I had for McCain in 2008 - which is to say, none.

I'll admit to being a fan of what I'll term the "fictitious" Rick Perry, that is, the Rick Perry prior to announcing his Presidential run and his mind-boggingly poor debate performances. The campaign produced a fantastic video which would be even better if the candidate acted as confident and as tenacious as he's portrayed 24-by-7.

I love this video, and yes, it makes me yearn for a candidate - perhaps Governor Perry - who is not afraid to attack President Obama, Mitt Romney, and the entire Republican establishment with every waking moment, breath, and sound out of their mouth.

I don't claim to be an expert on Presidential campaigns, but I do consider myself at least versed in common sense. Governor Perry's campaign thus far has shown none. Had I been running Governor Perry's campaign, here's what I would have done differently.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Birthday to the Iron Lady!

Today is Margaret Thatcher's (Officially The Right Honorable The Baroness Thatcher LG OM PC FRS) 86th Birthday!

Which means, it's a good day to surf around on the Margaret Thatcher Foundation's web site!

Margaret Thatcher is one of the icons of Liberty from the latter half of the 20th Century and we have much to thank her for with her contributions to the freedom of man.

Happy 236th Birthday, United States Navy!

Since October 13, 1775 - Non sibi sed patriae (Not self but country)...

Thanks to all the Sailors past, present, and future, and may He protect those in peril on the sea.

TFH 10/13: Captain James M. Burt, USA

As the Allied Expeditionary Force pressed in to Germany in 1944, one brave American tank company commander's courage gained an important victory, and was recognized with our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations from World War II:


Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army, Company B, 66th Armored Regiment, 2d Armored Division. Place and date: Near Wurselen, Germany, 13 October 1944. Entered service at: Lee, Mass. Birth: Hinsdale, Mass. G.O. No.: 95, 30 October 1945. Citation: Capt. James M. Burt was in command of Company B, 66th Armored Regiment on the western outskirts of Wurselen, Germany, on 13 October 1944, when his organization participated in a coordinated infantry-tank attack destined to isolate the large German garrison which was tenaciously defending the city of Aachen. In the first day's action, when infantrymen ran into murderous small-arms and mortar fire, Capt. Burt dismounted from his tank about 200 yards to the rear and moved forward on foot beyond the infantry positions, where, as the enemy concentrated a tremendous volume of fire upon him, he calmly motioned his tanks into good firing positions. As our attack gained momentum, he climbed aboard his tank and directed the action from the rear deck, exposed to hostile volleys which finally wounded him painfully in the face and neck. He maintained his dangerous post despite pointblank self-propelled gunfire until friendly artillery knocked out these enemy weapons, and then proceeded to the advanced infantry scouts' positions to deploy his tanks for the defense of the gains which had been made. The next day, when the enemy counterattacked, he left cover and went 75 yards through heavy fire to assist the infantry battalion commander who was seriously wounded. For the next 8 days, through rainy, miserable weather and under constant, heavy shelling, Capt. Burt held the combined forces together, dominating and controlling the critical situation through the sheer force of his heroic example. To direct artillery fire, on 15 October, he took his tank 300 yards into the enemy lines, where he dismounted and remained for 1 hour giving accurate data to friendly gunners. Twice more that day he went into enemy territory under deadly fire on reconnaissance. In succeeding days he never faltered in his determination to defeat the strong German forces opposing him. Twice the tank in which he was riding was knocked out by enemy action, and each time he climbed aboard another vehicle and continued the fight. He took great risks to rescue wounded comrades and inflicted prodigious destruction on enemy personnel and materiel even though suffering from the wounds he received in the battle's opening phase. Capt. Burt's intrepidity and disregard of personal safety were so complete that his own men and the infantry who attached themselves to him were inspired to overcome the wretched and extremely hazardous conditions which accompanied one of the most bitter local actions of the war. The victory achieved closed the Aachen gap. 

Today, the 3rd Battalion of the 66th Armored Regiment is nicknamed "Burt's Knights". 3-66 Armor deployed to Iraq in 2008-2009. James Burt returned to civilian life after the war and passed away at age 88 on February 15, 2006.

The motto of the 66th Armor Regiment is "Sempre in Hostes" - "Always into the Enemy". We salute all the brave men and women of our armed forces - on this day, the tankers in particular. So long as our forces are "always into the enemy", liberty will be victorious.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ten Years is too Long for Victory

Last Friday (October 7) marked 10 years of the War on Terror and Operation Enduring Freedom - our attack on Al Qaeda. Ten years. I have a problem with the United States waging war for ten years without victory.

First, let me state unequivocally that I support the war and the brave men and women fighting it. I believe categorically that it is impossible to "support the troops" without supporting the mission they are on. I want the United States to achieve victory - however long it takes.

I mourn the loss of the 1,754 servicemen who have given their lives in Afghanistan, honor the sacrifice made by the over 14,000 wounded, and applaud all of those who have served with honor. Our Nation owes you a great debt.

That said, I am appalled that we are still fighting there in 2011 after 10 years. Fighting 10 years after the first shot indicates to me just one thing: we do not have the political and social will to achieve victory.

How do I define victory in this, or any war? Once the President, with concurrence of Congress (as happened in both cases of Afghanistan and Iraq), commits our Armed Forces to war there should be only two possible outcomes for the enemy: unconditional surrender or complete destruction.

I question if the United States actually has the ability to wage war anymore. Before anybody throws a gasket, I am not questioning the dedication or professionalism of our military. Far from. I am questioning the character of our society that thinks that war can be waged in a "nice" way. Our Nation would be much better off had the term "collateral damage" never crept into the lexicon.

We should have destroyed our enemy in Afghanistan ten times over by now. I believe that unrealistic expectations and militarily unjustifiable restrictions placed on our forces prevent us from destroying our enemies, or bringing them to their knees in surrender, are the reason we are still fighting after 10 years.

Why has the United States "gone soft" when it comes to waging war and achieving victory? I'll be exploring this from time to time in this space, the first segment of which will appear shortly and is called "The PGM Effect".

God bless all of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen, and may His grace shield you through every battle and take you from victory to victory.

TFH 10/12: Lieutenant Commander George Thomas Coker, USNR

(Photo: Wikimedia)

George Thomas Coker was born in Amarillo, TX on July 14, 1943. His family moved to Linden, NJ in 1951. He attended St. Benedict's Preparatory School in Newark and became an Eagle Scout on January 27, 1959. While studying at Rutgers University from 1961-1963, he entered the Navy's aviation officer cadet program, received a commission, and became a Naval Flight Officer. George Coker eventually graduated from the University of San Diego in 1976; his studies were interrupted by his gallant service to our Nation during the Vietnam War.

In 1966, Coker deployed with Navy Attack Squadron VA-65 on board the USS Constellation. VA-65 flew the A-6 Intruder, and then Lieutenant Coker was a bombardier/navigator. He recieved two Navy Commendation Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross for "resourcefulness, superb airmanship, and courage" throughout 54 air missions over enemy territory.

George Coker's 55th mission on August 27, 1966 changed the course of this great American's life. On that day, his A-6 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over North Vietnam. Both Coker and the A-6's pilot, John H. "Jack" Fellowes, were captured.

After his capture, Coker's fighting spirit and devotion to our Nation could not be broken. He resisted his incarceration as best as possible while working to maintain morale among his comrades.

On October 12, 1967 Coker and another prisoner, Captain George McKnight (USAF), escaped from Dirty Bird Prison. For his courage and refusal to be held captive, he was awarded our Nation's second-highest honor: the Navy Cross.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Real Jason Altmire

Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA-04) is my representative and is considered a "Blue Dog" or "moderate" Democrat. President Obama is in Pittsburgh today to preach his New Soviet Man Five-Year Plan. Mr. Altmire was there to gleefully welcome the President at the airport (pic linked from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):

Mr. Altmire is third from the left. Remember that grin when he tries to run against much of Obama's agenda as a "moderate" next year.

TFH 10/11: Colonel Neel E. Kearby, USAAC

Twelve-to-one odds. Six kills, indomitable courage and leadership in the skies!

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:

KEARBY, NEEL E. (Air Mission)

Rank and organization: Colonel, U.S. Army Air Corps. Place and date: Near Wewak, New Guinea, 11 October 1943. Entered service at: Dallas, Tex. Birth: Wichita Falls, Tex. G.O. No.: 3, 6 January 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy, Col. Kearby volunteered to lead a flight of 4 fighters to reconnoiter the strongly defended enemy base at Wewak. Having observed enemy installations and reinforcements at 4 airfields, and secured important tactical information, he saw an enemy fighter below him, made a diving attack and shot it down in flames. The small formation then sighted approximately 12 enemy bombers accompanied by 36 fighters. Although his mission had been completed, his fuel was running low, and the numerical odds were 12 to 1, he gave the signal to attack. Diving into the midst of the enemy airplanes he shot down 3 in quick succession. Observing 1 of his comrades with 2 enemy fighters in pursuit, he destroyed both enemy aircraft. The enemy broke off in large numbers to make a multiple attack on his airplane but despite his peril he made one more pass before seeking cloud protection. Coming into the clear, he called his flight together and led them to a friendly base. Col. Kearby brought down 6 enemy aircraft in this action, undertaken with superb daring after his mission was completed.

Colonel Kearby was the commander of the 348th Fighter Group, flying the P-47 Thunderbolt. By March, 1944 he personally was credited with the destruction of 22 enemy aircraft. Sadly, Colonel Kearby was shot down on March 5, 1944 later in the New Guinea campaign and died of his wounds. He rests in Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park in Dallas, TX.

We are forever grateful to our brave airmen, and for Neel E. Kearby's finest hour in service to our Nation on October 11, 1943.

Science and Religion - Not Mutually Exclusive

I was very pleased to read the article from the Los Angeles Times "Science and religion: A false divide" by Dr. John H. Evans, sociology professor at UC San Diego. (Hat Tip: Hot Air)

I am an evangelical Christian. I believe that the Bible is true, but that it is also crucial to delineate in the text between what is taken as literal, word-for-word truth or fact and what is to be taken as allegory or apocalyptic text and literature, that is, "truth" that speaks to the nature of God but not to actual events. Such a delineation does not detract from the whole truth of the Biblical story, which after all is about God, not man.

It drives me nuts to hear Christians quibble over non-salvific points such as "creation happened in a literal six days" when whether or not it is literal time or allegory is 100% irrelevant to the Biblical truth of John 14:6.

I also believe in science, and do not view what I have learned from science and what I believe through faith to be mutually exclusive.

Example: I hold that the Big Bang Theory is supported by observation and experimentation and that it is describing in scientific terms the same beginning of creation as found in Genesis 1:1-5.

I also hold that a belief in creation does not preclude a belief in evolution, for "with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26b) Who are we to say that God can not have established and uses evolution? If one believes that God is omnipotent, then one must logically concede that if God wants to have species evolve He can most certainly do that.

Do I believe evolution is a fact? Yes. The fossil record, dinosaurs-into-birds, etc. are enough evidence for me. Do I believe that evolution is used by God and evolutionary processes are part of God's creation? Yes. Do I believe that evolution can explain the genesis of life and the rise of the human race? No.

Do I believe that science will one day be able to synthesize life by laboratory chemistry? No. While I don't believe it will happen, an intellectually honest, pure evolutionist who does would have to admit that the belief in "evolution explains all" is rooted in faith, not science. In that, science and religion are identical. To sum up, I'll quote Dr. Evans' writing:
The greatest conflict between fundamentalists, evangelicals and science is not over facts but over values. While scientists like to say that their work is value-free, that is not how the public views it, and conservative Protestants especially have homed in on the moral message of science....
To move forward, we, as a country, need to lower the political conflict. Yes, the views found in fundamentalist churches are not exactly the same as those at the National Science Foundation. But we would see less of the polarizing "we real Americans" rhetoric from the religious right if its members were not ridiculed as know-nothings. Conservative Protestants are not fundamentally opposed to all science.
Hear, hear!

Friday, October 07, 2011

"Settled" Science

Last night via Twitter, I was alerted to today's Washington Post column by Charles Krauthammer, "Gone in 60 nanoseconds".

Mr. Krauthammer calls to attention a surely under-reported story: "Scientists at CERN, the European high-energy physics consortium, have announced the discovery of a particle that can travel faster than light." (Italics in original)

What? Now, I have to say that I'm skeptical about the claim - as are most theoretical physicists. Experimentation validating Einstein's theory of relativity are numerous and easily understandable, but could it really be that Einstein was wrong about the speed of light being an absolute maximum?

Of course it could be. Scientific advances are often produced by completely unexpected observations and evidence. I really think this is a big deal, for as Mr. Krauthammer points out:
It cannot be. Yet, this is not a couple of guys in a garage peddling cold fusion. This is no crank wheeling a perpetual motion machine into the patent office. These are the best researchers in the world using the finest measuring instruments, having subjected their data to the highest levels of scrutiny, including six months of cross-checking by 160 scientists from 11 countries.
Many other researchers are attempting to duplicate CERN's experiment to either confirm or invalidate the astonishing result.

Now, if true, does this change everything?, not really. Newtonian physics aren't invalid, they just can't explain everything. Einstein's theories are just that - theories. Do they explain a lot? Yes, as experimentation has verified. Do they explain everything? Hardly.

TFH 10/7: PFC John L. Barkley, USA

One brave American, a captured machine gun, and a disabled tank...

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War I:


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company K, 4th Infantry, 3d Division. Place and date: Near Cunel, France, 7 October 1918. Entered service at: Blairstown, Mo. Born: 28 August 1895 Blairstown, Mo. G.O. No.: 44, W.D., 1919. Citation: Pfc. Barkley, who was stationed in an observation post half a kilometer from the German line, on his own initiative repaired a captured enemy machinegun and mounted it in a disabled French tank near his post. Shortly afterward, when the enemy launched a counterattack against our forces, Pfc. Barkley got into the tank, waited under the hostile barrage until the enemy line was abreast of him and then opened fire, completely breaking up the counterattack and killing and wounding a large number of the enemy. Five minutes later an enemy 77-millimeter gun opened fire on the tank pointblank. One shell struck the drive wheel of the tank, but this soldier nevertheless remained in the tank and after the barrage ceased broke up a second enemy counterattack, thereby enabling our forces to gain and hold Hill 25.

We thank all our brave fighting men and women for their service to liberty, past, present, and future.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

TFH 10/5: Private First Class Richard Edward Kraus, USMCR

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: 24 November 1925, Chicago, Ill. Accredited to: Minnesota. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 8th Amphibious Tractor Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu, Palau Islands, on 5 October 1944. Unhesitatingly volunteering for the extremely hazardous mission of evacuating a wounded comrade from the front lines, Pfc. Kraus and 3 companions courageously made their way forward and successfully penetrated the lines for some distance before the enemy opened with an intense, devastating barrage of hand grenades which forced the stretcher party to take cover and subsequently abandon the mission. While returning to the rear, they observed 2 men approaching who appeared to be marines and immediately demanded the password. When, instead of answering, 1 of the 2 Japanese threw a hand grenade into the midst of the group, Pfc. Kraus heroically flung himself upon the grenade and, covering it with his body, absorbed the full impact of the explosion and was instantly killed. By his prompt action and great personal valor in the face of almost certain death, he saved the lives of his 3 companions, and his loyal spirit of self-sacrifice reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his comrades. 

Richard Kraus, all of us who cherish liberty salute and honor your courage and sacrifice for the freedom of man. October 5, 1944 was your finest hour!

Monday, October 03, 2011

TFH 10/3: The Shot Heard 'Round the World

Sixty years ago today, Bobby Thomson hit one of the most famous walk-off home runs in baseball history.

Russ Hodges' home run call ranks up there with Al Michael's "Do you believe in miracles? YES!" The Giants beat the hated cross-town Brooklyn Dodgers and won the right to face the other cross-town team (actually, just across the Harlem River), the Yankees, in the 1951 World Series.

The Yankees would go on to defeat the Giants in six games, the third of their five straight Series wins from 1949-1953.

(And my apologies for the late post!)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

TFH 10/1: The Most Magical Place on Earth Turns 40

Walt Disney changed entertainment and is an enduring influence on our culture. Forty years ago today on October 1, 1971 the gates opened to Walt Disney World. Sadly, Walt did not live to see Disney World built, but we are grateful for his energy, his talent, and his imagination. We're all better for it!

My family and I were blessed to spend a week at WDW this summer, and can't wait to go back!

It all started with a mouse! Thanks Walt! (Pictures are my own).