Veterans for Peace Radio Hour

August 23, 2014

Sacco and Vanzetti 8-23-1927

 

 

 

This story has been told many times and is perfect conveyance for the dissolution of capital punishment.

Here is a link to the actual trial of the time, copyrighted by Felix Franfurter, from The Atlantic at the time, (it takes some time to read)

http://www.theatlantic.com/past/unbound/flashbks/oj/frankff.htm

What seems to be missing from most of the story is that hundreds of thousands of people across the nation felt that Sacco and Vanzetti were being framed for a crime they did not commit. In fact, the more “evidence” for the prosecution that came out, the larger the crowds became for the acquittal of the two men. In fact it became an international  causes célèbres, where just about everyone believes the accused are innocent, but the powers that be have so much invested, they refuse to back down. We see this today when minorities and poor whites are caught up in a system that is rigged against them, (just think of the drug charges brought against some, depending on county, state or jurisdiction, a person can get life for a joint, while others are tossed out of court for lack of merit.

The New York Times printed the story immediately following the executions:

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0823.html

For further reading of this situation that brought the two men to their men to their deaths, there is plenty to look around for, I chose the two articled linked because they give an accurate account during the time frame at what people were actually hearing. A loose end appears though, even before Sacco and Vanzetti were executed another man admitted to the robbery/killing, from wikipedia:

Madeiros confession[edit]

In November 1925, Celestino Madeiros, an ex-convict awaiting trial for murder, confessed to committing the Braintree crimes. He absolved Sacco and Vanzetti of participation.[86]In May, once the SJC had denied their appeal and Madeiros was convicted, the defense investigated the details of Madeiros’ story. Police interviews led them to the Morelli gang based in Providence, Rhode Island. They developed an alternative theory of the crime based on the gang’s history of shoe-factory robberies, connections to a car like that used in Braintree, and other details. Gang leader Joe Morelli bore a striking resemblance to Sacco.[87][88][89]

The defense filed a motion for a new trial based on the Madeiros confession on May 26, 1926.[81] In support of their motion they included 64 affidavits. The prosecution countered with 26 affidavits.[90] When Thayer heard arguments from September 13 to 17, 1926,[81] the defense, along with their Madeiros-Morelli theory of the crime, charged that the U.S. Justice Department was aiding the prosecution by withholding information obtained in its own investigation of the case. Attorney William Thompson made an explicitly political attack: “A government which has come to value its own secrets more than it does the lives of its citizens has become a tyranny, whether you call it a republic, a monarchy, or anything else!”[91] Judge Thayer denied this motion for a new trial on October 23, 1926. After arguing against the credibility of Madeiros, he addressed the defense claims against the federal government, saying the defense was suffering from “a new type of disease,…a belief in the existence of something which in fact and truth has no such existence.”[81][92]

Three days later, the Boston Herald responded to Thayer’s decision by reversing its longstanding position and calling for a new trial. Its editorial, “We Submit”, earned its author aPulitzer Prize.[93][94] No other newspapers followed suit.[95]

 

Today, 87 years to the day when two innocent men were sent to the electric chair, some states still feel that capital punishment is the answer. Since 1973, 244 death row inmates have been exonerated or had their charges reduced. How would you feel if you were innocent and were walking that last mile?

Peace,

Bob

 

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August 22, 2014

Soldiers Are Always Lonely, Even In the Company Of Other Soldiers

Behind the facade of the “winner” in a war, (just by surviving you’ve “won”), there are millions of lonely men and women who have seen enough to last 10 lifetimes. We are rapidly losing our WWII and Korean vets, the last American Great War vet Frank Buckles died Feb 27, 2011 at the age of 110. Here was a man that saw the end of WWI, the beginning of every war since.

 

I often wonder who will be the last veteran of WWII will be, and will his/her memories be preserved. Korea, Vietnam, the Middle Eastern fiascoes, we need to point out to the young people of today that war is a horrible thing, the closest a person can get to hell here on earth.

Veterans, regardless of branch of service can speak to other veterans with a knowledge that some things they’ve witness have no words to accurately describe what they saw and did, no dictionary no thesaurus possesses the words necessary for an accurate description of the horrors of war. What is spoon fed to the civilian population is old John Wayne movies where every American is a hero and all perceived enemies are cowards or fools, (or worse yet and old Signal Corps film with Ronald Reagan declaring, ‘don’t let your dick look like this!’ while showing a syphilitic penis). The enemies at the time were just as wily as we were, often more so, and they were as brave, if not braver than many Americans.

We are taught to suppress our emotions and I think that is a terrible disservice to the nation as a whole. Most assuredly, those who are awarded the higher decorations, the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, help to create the hero “myth”. This is not to denigrate what they did, but I know that many men and women rest in military cemeteries who did things that were far and away above the call of duty and they received a stone or bronze plaque without the slightest idea of what they did or how they died.

Those of us who survived, recall the names and faces of the forever young, we know what they did, the sacrifices they made so that others may live. Every night, I recall certain things, one is the first man I shot, the first shot I took at a human being and hit him in the forehead, he was dead before he hit the ground. Another poignant point in my life is when a junior medic stuck his pinky in my carotid artery and spoke to me all the way through that Dustoff flight, “You ain’t gonna die on my watch Sarge!” His voice seemed strangely distant, but his face was just about touching mine. I didn’t die because a young black PFC wasn’t going to let me die. How many more like me are out there? Saved by a fellow soldier, often at the cost of life or limb, simply because we had a duty and dedication to one another?

The words may not be there, but there is a gut feeling for all who have served, we know. That knowledge should not be wasted, we need to have service members speaking out against war, shutting down the chickenhawks wherever they raise their ugly heads and squeal about the “necessity” of war.

Personally, the only “necessities” I needed in the Army was coffee and cigarettes.

Peace,

Bob

August 15, 2014

Update: Ferguson MO/Mr. Brown

Fortunately, last night the county officers pulled back and the State Patrol took over by order of Governor Nixon, and during the night, there were no arrests or unseemly behaviors on the part of everyone involved. On the news this morning, I saw something I was hoping to see, white individuals getting involved in the call for justice. These are the times when all citizens need to be involved, when the county rolled out armored vehicles and snipers, things were out of control. The Captain speaking for the State Patrol is articulate and well informed, he’s not going to just blurb out some answers that people want to hear, he seems to be explaining the facts as we now know them. More will be coming after more is known.

One of the more unfortunate aspects of  the aftermath is that some looting took place, that appears to be one of the things that happens when some people can’t control themselves and use anything as an excuse to do damage. The vast majority of citizens held themselves in check and they deserve all of the respect we can give them.

It will be some time before we find out all of the facts in this case, however, the number of shots fired alone, particularly after the man is down, show me that the officer at the scene should be fired and brought up on criminal charges. Accounts vary, but several witnesses have come forward and spoken of what they saw. By all accounts, these witnesses are credible and their stories of the event match.

What we need to do now, is de-militarize PD’s. The “fire sale” events by the DOD have to stop. There is no need for a tank in Phoenix, (especially under that nutcase Arpaio), nor is there a need for an M-60A3 in Omaha or any other city in the US. A police department needs to be armed, but do they need to have military grade hardware? I’ve worked with a lot of military weapons, comes with the territory when you spend 13 years in the US Army, (even Medics like me want to try out things that go “bang”, but we used them on firing ranges, not real life scenarios, that would breach the Law of Land Warfare and UCMJ).

May the good people of Ferguson find solace and peace after a tragedy and may the rest of us learn that each life is precious.

Peace,

Bob

August 14, 2014

Ferguson MO/Mr. Michael Brown

The universal sign of surrender, no threat The Right of the people to assemble peacefully What peaceful assembly brings about     At least 8  heavily armed police aimed at a single unarmed individual Louis Head, Brown’s stepfather, holds a sign saying “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son.”

Photos courtesy of buzzfeed News:  BuzzFeed Staff

Looking into the Ferguson situation, I see police overkill in so many instances. The first being the killing of an 18 year old man, Michael Brown; apparently shot in the head once and eight shots to his his body, all by a single police officer. As we learn more of the story behind this, it will not cleanse the wounds this neighborhood is scarred with, now and forever. I am a white male, Michael was a black male; I live near Boston, Michael lived near St. Louis, I am alive, Michael is dead, and for what? Putting one’s hands up is a universal sign of surrender, showing all around that you intend them no harm, you are unarmed and willing to allow a search of your person. It does not give carte blanche  for police to shoot you down, it is an act of submission, just as if a soldier carries a white flag, upraised arms are a signal of truce.

With all of the arms a police officer carries, a pistol, access to a shot gun, pepper spray, taser, handcuffs and zip ties, why did this officer go immediately for his firearm? More intriguing, precisely when was Michael shot in the head and eight shots fired into his body? This is classic “overkill” at it’s worst. When I was in the army, I would tell my guards under certain circumstances they had the order to use deadly force, if necessary. Rarely was  there any necessity to even come close to deadly force. I reminded them that a well placed shot to the femur or butt would place the intruder in a position where they could not escape, leaving myself and others to find out why they were there in the first place; kill an intruder and the intel goes with them. By almost all accounts, Michael Brown was no threat to the officer that shot him. Some, of course, is speculation, but that does not take away the blatant fact this man was shot 9 times, once to the head and 8 to his body.

Why was he shot at all, much less 9 times, then left to bleed out in the middle of the street? I do not blame the people of Ferguson for being outraged, except for a few cases by some miscreants doing some looting the good people of Ferguson are doing what they are doing under Constitutionally protected actions. They are gathering peacefully seeking redress and an explanation of what happened. So why the show of military hardware, to include machine guns atop armored vehicles? Having been in the military for a number of years, I know what they have and am quite knowledgeable in what devastating damage they can do when one is either familiar with said arms, or the very severe damage they can do when one isn’t familiar with what they can do.

Granted, some things have changed since I was in uniform, but the basics remain the same, killing people that cause a threat. Just where is the threat in Ferguson? With the exception of some looters, (whom the police should have been taking into custody), who appear to have gotten away with their illegal activities when those who joined hand in hand, arm in arm to honor Mr. Brown, were being targeted with military grade weapons systems. This is ludicrous at best, criminal at worst. Under what circumstances are military grade munitions “authorized” to be used on an unarmed civilian population?

There are several tragedies involved here, the death and manner of death of Mr. Brown; the looting that went on; the potential use of military grade weapons systems on civilians. The overkill of police in riot gear when they should be reaching out to a grieving community. The officer who shot Mr. Brown must be held accountable, even if there was a threat, why did it take 9 bullets to take him down, one to the head? This officer should be removed from the force and if charges can be brought against him, then let it be so. If there are no charges that can be filed, so be it; but Justice must be served, using the color of authority is not justifiable for what was done. The “blue line” must come down and criminals within any police force must be dealt with severely if found guilty of criminality themselves. There are plenty of good officers out there, a few can change the equation as to where we trust no one with a badge.

I wish the family of  Michael Brown a swift recovery from their loss. I know they will hold him in their fondest memories. I hope the city of Ferguson can get past this without the trauma that often afflicts communities during times such as these. From what I have seen so far, the good people of Ferguson have held their own, doing what is right, demanding justice in the face of adversity, (with a few exceptions who should be ashamed of themselves for using the demise of Mr. Brown for their own selfish gain by looting stores). Let not fear rule your lives, let truth and love be your guiding principles. The truth of what happened to Mr. Brown, and the love you have shown for the community, indeed, the nation’s loss.

June 30, 2014

“The Best War Fought, Is The One That Is Never Fought.”

The above quote is attributed to Sun-Tzu, essentially his “Rule #1”.

There is a phenomenal amount of wisdom in those 10 words, it’s kind of a shame that the “smartest species on earth” appears to lack much, if any wisdom. The taking of a life is never a pleasant thing except to sociopaths or psychopaths. Let’s make sure we understand something here, very knowledgeable people in various disciplines have looked at the problems of war and bloodshed and while innumerable “answers” are to be found, we still have the basic situation that Sun-Tzu tried so hard to avoid, war.

Sun-Tzu was a brilliant Chinese general who could see things through a prism like view as opposed to black/white. The times called for some dramatic measures, Sun-Tzu met them all and apparently never lost a  battle, nor a discussion if the latter were an option. Diplomacy should always take center stage and be the primary resource. Except in the most extreme of cases should we turn to armed conflict, which segues into “Rule #2”, “Know your enemy”.

Before we commit, we need to have intelligence and what mental or physical barriers are in already in place, what the culture is or the capabilities of any supposed enemies. War should never be taken lightly, if necessary we need to have the big picture, we can only get that perspective through knowledge and intelligence. We would have never wound up in the Middle East if we had looked into a situation that had been around for over a thousand years with little change; we went in like bullies, we’re being treated like bullies, should we expect more?

In the relatively recent past, (1940’s), we had little comprehension of Japanese culture, but we knew they relied upon us for raw materials for production. In our blind ignorance we thought the Japanese were a nation comprised of people who lived in wooden and paper house and looked down upon them because their Emperor was a “god”. Little did we realize what sacrifices would be made to protect the “god” image. We were not on tune with Japanese society.

In the more  recent past, (1960’s), we failed to understand that since WWII and the extraction of the Japanese from Indo-China that Ho Chi Mihn was an avid ally of the US and thought our Constitution was a work of wonder. What he asked the Truman administration for was a sovereign nation, free from French domination, Truman ignored this, as did Eisenhower and Johnson. After the French were beaten at Dien Bien Phu, Johnson came up with the “Gulf of Tonkin” incident to keep the Vietnamese a divided nation.

OK, all of this is history, but the point of the matter is that none of these wars needed to be fought, no lives lost, no defoliation for generations , no pain, no hard feelings; and since so many things are tied together, we may have been able to find ways to get along with each other, either locally or worldwide. The wars need never have been fought.

The Great War was begun with 2 shots that killed Archduke Ferdinand and dis wife Sophie, on June 28 1914; yes 100 years ago. From then on we have been in a constant state of turmoil, skirmish after skirmish, war after war. Of course, wars have been around as long as there have been groups of people that had something another wanted. However, The Great War was something new, massive amounts of material and man hours could now be used to kill on a scale never before seen, we had industrialized war; the rivers of blood would now overflow as never before.

Weapons were brought forth that killed at great distances and the civilian populations, wanting nothing to do with war, would now become a greater part of the carnage than ever before. Noncombatant deaths rose dramatically and the ruthlessness of all sides would be shown to the world. After the Great War, the world was divided into many parts, most having nothing to do with another creating post war animosity that lasted for a generation, just enough time to rebuild armies and navies for Round 2, The Second World War. For the record, in 1928, the United States refused to be a signatory, along with Japan  to end all war, almost immediately, that treaty was broken. Not with Pearl Harbor, but with tribal fighting and countries trying to rid themselves of being part of an empire.

The Communist, or “Red scare” had been around for quite some time. Trade Unions, Textile Unions and many other Unions and organized labor were constantly attacked for trumped up charges, basically because they were against war and empire building. Hundreds died as spies, thugs and hired guns, as well as police departments, National Guard units and the regular Army were called out to “force ” people to work for pennies. Most Americans were against going into the The Great War, but corporations and the wealthy saw great profit in outfitting the warring nations. American corporations placed their bets on both sides, making huge amounts of cash and cutting worker pay. The wealthiest Americans were more than happy to lend cash for arms at exorbitant rates, paying for the deaths of people they would never know or care about. Is there a greater evil than to make money from behind a desk while millions spill their blood in senseless charges or be buried in trenches hit by artillery, what were the last thoughts of those who died buried alive, while men in glorious rooms counted their gold? Henry Ford sued the US govt for detroying his plants in Germany, and won! He and others thought Hitler and Mussolini “were on to something” and great sums of money was funneled to Germany to prepare for WWII

Unions were at the forefront of the Peace movement trying to keep us out of the Great War. Americans were sick of war, the Civil War took 600,000 American lives, entire family lines were wiped out, and when Booth shot Lincoln, he doomed the South to 12 years of extreme misery. As  the aftermath of every calamity of such scale, people despise war and killing; we still had more during the Indian Wars. The end of the Great War though brought about a chance to end all war, but the money rolled in. American banksters and corporations bankrolled Hitler as well as the British, leaving France pretty much on it’s own, just to fill the coffers of those who have built their lives on greed and avarice. Have any of these men ever worn a uniform, faced the fire of a fellow human being hell bent on killing them?

Understanding is the key to wisdom. Realizing that some people wish to live in their own spheres is essential to understanding and realizing that “our” way may not be the “best ” way, empire building always fails, no empire has ever lasted, none ever will, they are built on sand and doomed from the first stone that is laid.

We can change all of this though, we can bring about a peaceful, just world where people get along. It takes planning, discipline and a capability to maintain a keen eye on the goal. It sounds pretty easy, but the forces against us have the power to divide us, make us question why we would want to change. In the past, the powers of the time used spies, thugs, scabs, law enforcement, agents provocateur and even the military in certain situations. I have a particular dislike that the same army I was in would fire upon American citizens, it is one of the most reprehensible things our military could do. This has happened before, on several occasions where coal miners were striking and National Guard units were called and machine gunned the  workers. Then there is the infamous “MacArthur Moment” when Herbert Hoover called out the military to clear out the “Hoovervilles” that popped up during the Bonus Marchers in DC. MacArthur was told not to cross the Anacosta River, but he did, with infantry,cavalry and tanks. It takes discipline to face forces such as these, and maintain the group as a whole, but it can be done. Kent State. Let’s not forget a single Chinese man standing in front of tanks at Tianamen Square, we need that kind of strength of character.

What we lack in firepower, (for the record I am against violent revolution), we make up in integrity. The knowledge that we are right in our views is an overlooked aspect that brings great strength during desperate times. It is that integrity that the powers cannot fight directly, they have to undermine it and it our duty as citizens too maintain that integrity. One way to maintain our integrity is to use our Rights within the Constitution, in particular the First Amendment that guarantees our Right to peaceably assemble for  redress our governmental  grievances and through our collective voices we can do this. History has shown us that time is on our side so we must persevere regardless of threats or intimidation.

We need fight no one, we are looking for the “best” way of ensuring we are heard and changes made that benefit everyone, so this should be a “war” based on ideology, truth to power and exposing those who have failed us in the past and in the present. Agitate, motivate, anticipate.

When I put up my right hand to swear allegiance, a portion was to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.” That oath is still apart of my life, it doesn’t expire, I have come to realize that domestic enemies under many different guises are a far greater threat than foreign enemies. I’ll stand my ground, and hope you will as well.

Peace,

Bob

June 28, 2014

So I went down, to the demonstrations, (6-28) Warning, graphic pics.

iraq8

Slate/Daniel Politi

View image on Twitter

Jenan Moussa

View image on Twitter

Zaid Benjamin 

(apologies to the Rolling Stones for hijacking that line)

Park St Station: we had most of the usual crowd, but we did get some people to stop and listen for a while, planting the seeds of Peace one person at a time. We did have a heckler w/the usual, “they’ll be here” propaganda. He was engaged by a member, but I got that into a disengagement. I’m of the opinion that no one ever changed someone’s mind by arguing with them, discussion works at times but arguments just blow things further out of proportion. Besides, we get far more accolades than hecklers, which shows me people are waking up.

At 2 PM, there was supposed to be something at the Statehouse, a glance up there showed me that whatever it was was either cancelled or just didn’t exist.

So……a group of us trotted off to City Hall Plaza, where we waited by the T entrance for 45 minutes w/o anyone showing up. Lo and behold, the Iraqi anti-ISIS was on the other side of the plaza, appropriately I thought, across from the Holocaust Memorial. Perhaps I’m a little too in tune with irony, but while people chanted I thought that the numbers etched into the glass at the Memorial each was a human being; we should have more memorials, one for the Native Americans that were slaughtered, one for the Cambodians slaughtered under Pol Pot. One for the Vietnamese we slaughtered, one for the Iraqi’s we’ve killed, the Afghans, Palestinians who can’t get food and medicine and are dying a horribly slow death. The list could go on, but the point is, human beings have done such damage to other human beings, I’m actually amazed any of us still survive.

At the back edge of City Hall, we found the anti-ISIS demonstration, albeit a little late. I unfurled the VFP flag and there were many smiles from the Iraqi’s. They had brought children, some in strollers, and I thought that children, women and men, still in Iraq were being killed by some radical cowards known as ISIS, (or ISIL if you prefer). Some of the more graphic pictures were reminiscent of the Holocaust and My Lai, people in ditches being shot to death, (there’s that irony again). Men, women and children being murdered while some sick SOB took pictures or filmed the horrific event. The executioners were all in black, to include ski masks, (cowards once again), sickly using their power to bring death to innocent people who merely thought differently than them.

Iraq is a sovereign nation, (I think), at this point. It has the right to defend itself against attack, but if the Army is going to fold at the first shot, what good is it?

Thousands threw off their uniforms and fled, this against a few hundred ISIS members. I have been in firefights where we were out numbered, but good tactical decisions and an eye for the weak spot made a surefire loss into a win. If the Iraqi Army had stood it’s ground with it’s thousands of soldiers in a good defensive position, ISIS would have paid dearly for their invasion, in fact, they may well have been wiped out. But the Army that was trained by the US, (under Bremer), turned tail and ran. Near as I can figure, that is not a good tactic to be written up in any Field Manual. By some sources, the Iraqi defense forces at the border outnumbered ISIS 10/1, perhaps more. In most attacks on fortified defensive positions you want at least 5/1; ISIS should have been taken out as a force almost immediately, that can’t happen though if the defenders panic and resort to essentially a rout w/o even taking a few pot shots at the invaders.

With VFP flag waving in the breeze, I was not about to talk about expanding war, but I made VFP presence known and many in the community recognized the symbol, some even recognized me personally. As rallies go, this one was pushing violence just a tad, nothing radical like murdering all ISIS members, just expelling them from Iraq. To do that though, people are going to die,

I would find myself in a bad position advocating death and war, even though I believe that Iraq has the right to defend itself. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite; but the T-shirt and flag were out there, reminding people that we look for peaceful solutions to ugly problems.

So that was my day, interestingly, things went off on time and people got to where they wanted to be w/o 17 other things going on that garners 2 or 3 people each. Communication works when done well.

My best to all, wishing you long and prosperous lives free from war and hatred,

Bob

June 11, 2014

“Friendly Fire”, no service member ever wants to hear those words.

The loss of five Americans and a Pakistani to “Friendly Fire” is a tragedy in itself, the bigger questions are, “How and Why did this happen?”

I heard on the radio today that a B-1 bomber was used on the raid to break the firefight. A lot of things have changed since I was in the Army, but using as AF FAC, (Forward Air Controller), seems a bit much to me for such a small patrol. In most cases, smaller units depend on mortars, artillery and rotary wing aircraft for these types of operations. To me, calling in 4.2 in mortar rounds in rapid succession in a bracketing attack would have been much faster, more accurate and could have set up a “ring of fire” for the extraction of friendlies. Dropping a round every 6-10 seconds from 8 4.2’s would have been devastating for the attacking forces. Artillery takes a little more time and an error factor increases , but the real problem I have is where were the rotary aircraft such as Apaches, Blackhawks, etc that can pinpoint attacks eye to ground?

Generally, when one calls in higher firepower, you move behind the Red Line, the spot that protects your people from short or errant rounds, if you’re surrounded, you bring people in for protection of each other, passing of ammo and make orders easier to understand and a host of other reasons; making the enemy come to you has great advantage in most situations.

Let me bring you up to speed here, the B-1 is a strategic bomber originally designed to replace the B-52, it is a sweep-wing, sub/supersonic aircraft that hold either nuclear or conventional bombs. Obviously, no nuke was used here, but why call in such massive firepower, when other means were available? Here are some images of what was used and what could have been used to extricate the soldiers being pressed.

  

The first is a B-1, the second, an Apache, the 3rd, the A-10 Warthog.

I have no idea how many bombs were dropped by the B-1, but it really does appear to be overkill, and there is no visual contact with the target(s).

In just a few minutes, (which can seem like years during a firefight), any one could have been called in for help. Encircling the enemy with mortar fire can be devastating, specifically as you bring your line of fire in closed. A mortar round can be dropped in just seconds, and you can get a lot of out there very quickly.

A lot of things could have happened that brought about this tragedy, maps misread, bad coordinates, bad info put into the fire control computers, the list can go on.

As an old NCO, I learned the basics and beyond of finding out where you are and where you should be, on maps that could give you a 16 digit grid, putting you within 25 meters. Technology is fine, until it fails; at that point you had better know your way around a map, the terrain, the possibility of hostiles and they’re weapons at their disposal. The most high tech item I used were night vision goggles, I found binoculars better, (wider view).

I don’t know who ordered a B-1 strike, but they should be pushing a broom in the motor pool at this point. (I’d love to see a bird colonel with a broom in his paws!)

The easiest way for this to never happen again, is to end the war; end all war. In the mean time, I suggest we get some competent people out there, because no one should bury one of their own because of  “friendly fire”. End war, end killing and maiming…and the next “victory” parade that trots down 5th Ave, should be led by victims on litters, then wheelchairs, then prosthetic devices and finally flags and the “usual” parade…perhaps people will then comprehend the cost of war.

Peace,

Bob

June 10, 2014

My take on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl…

No one, except Bergdahl himself knows what the experiences are he has had. After 5 years of being  a POW, abused and other assorted situations, (none of which we know anything about), leads to speculation, the wilder the better.

I know the following, SGT Bergdahl was a POW for five years, much of that time under threat of death or other means of degradation. How he became a POW is a mystery, but walking outside the wire is always hazardous, even for a squad or a platoon, much less an individual who appears to have come and gone as he pleased: (a serious breech of military protocol to anyone who has ever served).

Who let him out of the wire?, Where were the guards?  Who Was Sgt of the Guard at the time? Who was the NCOIC of the unit? Then we get into officer country; Who wad the OIC?, Why wasn’t he/she immediately informed, (particularly if this was a more than single occasion?)

The  “Why,Who, What, When and How’s” need to be answered in a truthful and distinct way. The military is well prepared for this under the UCMJ and Law of Land Warfare. We, especially those of us who served in one of our uniforms should not be second guessing and making ludicrous remarks about a situation we know nothing about. The media has us jumping at every drumbeat, and the “usual suspects” are there to condemn or condone depending on their own points of view, (without facts to back them up.)

There will be an “exhaustive” investigation, we might actually learn something from it; but I’m holding my cards close to my chest before I put down any bets. Five years is a long time for being a POW, one might think McCain would know that. Let’s give this kid some breathing room, a chance to meet back up with his family and the some time he has earned.

Peace

Bob

June 2, 2014

The Tragedy of the Shinseki Resignation

I cannot convey how depressed I am that Secretary Shinseki has resigned. He was not only a phenomenal general, who honestly cared for his troops, he was also a man that kept veterans close to his heart. This low spoken man moved the VA from a dinosaur into a dynamo. While I worked at the VA, Secretary Shinseki was placed in almost impossible situations. Thousands of veterans were returning from the Middle East with horrible wounds,legs and arms traumatically amputated; PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Military Sexual Trauma and a host of other problems, not the least, burying the dead.

Shinseki went to work immediately during the scandal that evolved. He fired the people responsible, ensured that a system would be in place to take care of our vets, was moving toward answers to problems that needed to be addressed. Who can take his place? Where can we find a man or woman as capable as Shinseki?.

When Shinseki took over the VA, it was the same as when Max Cleland took the post so many years ago. Few people realize that Cleland, called a “coward” by the Right Wing, had received a Silver Star for saving men in a firefight during Tet, treating them and having them evacuated, about a month before his tragic accident with the grenade. Now, these same sharks call for Shinseki’s head, and that includes spineless Democrats as well.

Now they have it, and the reprehensible individuals in congress will find some slug to pick up where Shinseki did such a fine job. Be it known, the Republicans have shaved cash from the VA for years, “send ’em to war, forget ’em when they come home.” Boehner and his band of thugs need a reality check, toss the slew of them out, everyone who  voted to slash VA funds should be tossed into the street.

General Shinseki, this veteran respects you and stands by you; I salute you sir for you dedication to all veterans and service members. Few have achieved what you have.

Bob Funke

Veterans For Peace

Executive Board Member

Chapter 9, Smedley Butler Bde

Boston MA

 

April 26, 2014

“Thank you for your service.”

citadel, u.s. forces, tet offensive, the vietnam war, hue

 

wounded marine, the vietnam war, battle of hue, tet offensive

 

I have about 20 “stock” answers for this, and another 30 depending on the circumstance. It is something we veterans hear quite often, as well as “welcome home” and other variants of people who have never served, but want to show some respect for those of us who did. I used to find this quite awkward, considering my first tour was to kill as many VC/NVA as possible; it is difficult to think of saying “thank you” or “you’re welcome” to people who have no concept except for the Hollywood crap that pours out from time to time and the books that glorify the killing of others. I’ve come to understand that people honestly wish to thank those who took some time out of their lives to defend the country and the Constitution, (against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, that italic is not an error). My second tour was as a Combat Medic, saving lives, something I am proud of.

We veterans are in a unique position, many of us served behind the lines, (REMF’s), in fact, it takes about 20 soldiers in the rear to support a single soldier on the line. Many served during times of relative peace, others have been in the very pit of hell, hand to hand combat. All who have worn a uniform of the services have different points of view, there are times of great pride, there are times of great sorrow, the fog of war narrows the vision of the larger picture and even though there are generally numbers of soldiers with you on a mission, you can still feel alone. To get a feeling of this, go to Downtown Crossing and stand there for a few minutes, so many people, and yet you are alone in your thoughts, it is an eerie feeling, you want human contact, but can’t have it because of social norms. But the fog of war often breaks, you know that the individual near you is trying to save not only his/her life, but yours as well, just as you are trying to save theirs. I’ve see men do things that were unbelievable, just to make sure a fellow soldier was covered or taken care of. We were all “green”, because of our uniforms. We fought together, we kept watch over each other and every man I served with did heroic things that many never received a single accolade; we knew we could trust each other, not much else mattered than that.

I took an oath on 17Jan69 to protect and defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic. I don’t know who look at this the same way I do, but once I took that oath it was for a lifetime, oaths don’t “expire”, it is something you make that lasts through one’s life. As a member for Veterans For Peace, I am more worried about domestic enemies than I am about foreign one’s we’ve gone out of our way to create. Domestic enemies are crawling out of the woodwork, generally calling themselves “patriots”; most have never served this nation in a military capacity and I find it reprehensible that citizens would go into a situation, armed and in direct violation of federal law to espouse their ideology, which is a very sick twisting of the Bill of Rights.

From now on, when someone thanks me for my service, I will answer, “you’re welcome, but I’m still defending the Constitution, until it is safe, my job is not done”

Peace,

Bob

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