I haven’t done this in about two years, I think. A lot happened this year and I want to offer readers a recap of the most talked about ASP stories of 2011 based on hits and comments. These stories only reflect was was popular here, not necessarily major national headlines.
The year started with controversy as Navy Captain Owen Honors was relieved of command of the USS Enterprise for morale-improving videos that didn’t fit the politically correct image the Navy strives hard to achieve. The controvery provided real evidence that the Navy had fundamentally changed from its “drunken sailor” cliched days to a Navy trying to present a more professional image. Naturally, the story became a sensation thank to a media and public that simply doesn’t understand military humor.
The repeal of the longstanding “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy featured prominently on ASP this year. In January, I wrote a piece condemning the policy for its inherent lack of equality. Because the gay rights crowd has grown more and more organized over the years, they have successfully found a way to force acceptance of their lifestyle, while other deviant lifestyles continue to be banned. The repeal of this policy simply showed that with enough publicity, controversy, and a sympathetic media on your side, anything can forced upon the American people.
2011 also continued my activism in politics. I approached my state representatives about an unfair tax on our servicemembers that get stationed in Texas. Because it is economically unfeasible for Soldiers to simply travel to Texas when they are in the market for a new vehicle, most troops purchase their vehicles out of state – usually wherever they are assigned at the time. If they are in a state with no sales tax or a smaller sales tax than Texas, those Soldier must pay the difference to the State of Texas before being allowed to register their vehicle. As we all know, most auto loans have the sales tax rolled into the overall price of the vehicle in the form of their monthly payments. However, in Texas, troops are required to cough up hundreds to thousands of dollars UP FRONT before they can register their vehicles. Later in the year, I was called to testify about the bill that my representative failed at getting passed. I won’t give up!
January also saw tragedy in the shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabriel Giffords. This single act by a madman resurrected the fight for more gun control and political posturing. The Tea Party was blamed, even though it was later revealed that Loughner was major lib. Giffords is now out of the hospital and recovering well. Loughner is thankfully dead, as all murderers should be. The story was a regular news item the rest of the year. In spite of this act, gun rights were further recognized in more states than ever before.
Michael Yon also finds some way to feature prominently on ASP each year. And every year, I and other bloggers call him on his inaccuracies, misrepresentations, violations of journalistic and embedded standards, and just outright douchebaggery. He began, typically, by attacking milbloggers – specifically Blackfive. He continued his policies of banning those that disagreed with him, which only proved the points that “milkooks” have been making for years about integrity.
In February, LL posted a great story about a young Specialist, David J Bixler, who was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star and CAB for his actions in Afghanistan. Bixler showed a lot of confidence in emailing directly to the CG. The email discussed his 2010 deployment with the 101st Airborne to the very location from which I write this post, Kandahar, Afghanistan. It shows a level of wisdom not normally seen in such a young troop. Bixler will go far in the Army with this mentality. The story was aptly titled, “Every Fights, Nobody Quits.”
February saw my sister from another mother, LL, jumping into the Yon fray. At some point, I think we’re all going to hit that point where we just can’t sit idly by and allow some things to go unchallenged. She ended the story with a great quote: “The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity”~Andre Gides
I did my first gun review this year, one of many that would come down. I decided at the end of 2010 that I wanted to write reviews for the every-shooter. Those people that don’t understand specifications that technical reviews provide, but want a great gun for just self defense, target practice, or whatever. My first review was of the MPA .380 Protector-series pistol. I love it so much I bought my own. It was a lot of fun and I quickly learned how hard writing reviews of firearms can be. It’s also a little pricy, since I need to buy ammo for it. But, it’s worth being able to sample brand new guns and gun components coming on the market and pass along that knowledge.
Ian Murphy. Ahhh, who can forget Ian Murphy. This is the guy that published a story called “F**** the Troops.” Not even sure why I want to highlight this story, but it garnered a lot of hits and shows that just because someone lives and breathes doesn’t make them intelligent.
Wisconsin Democrats were afraid of their shadow and ran away to neighboring Illinois instead of doing what they are paid to do and vote on legislation presented before the body. At issue were several bills bringing back sanity to the state, including restricting public unions, legalizing the 2nd Amendment, and other bills that absolutely frightened them out of the state. Eventually, the losers came home to vote against legislation that was passed into law. Because they were butt-hurt, they sought (and continue to seek) to recall those that voted for these efforts. In the end, only two of them were recalled, proving that they aren’t so right after all. Many in the state continue to fight against the Constitution and I continue to hold them accountable with reality here and on my FB page.
I can’t stand Michael Moore. The guy is a complete tool. But, in a strange twist we are both targets of Michael Yon’s angst! Go figure. Maybe one day, me and Moore should enjoy a (root) beer and talk about it. Anyway, Michael Moore made a completely ignorant comment about the rich sharing their money. This coming from a guy worth over $50 million! So, I brought up the obvious that Moore should share his money. I never did get a response to my email to him. But, neither did Yon, so I guess we’re even.
I wrote a few more posts about military dating scams this year, but to be honest I’m so tired of it. I’ve written everything I think I can right now. The scams haven’t changed much since last year and the information I’ve presented provides a clear path to finding out if that person you’re talking to on datingfordummies.com is real. However, each post I’ve written on these scams get literally dozens of comments EACH DAY from around the world. I even get comment in Chinese and Russian! Even a post by Marcus trying to find women (or men) who have been scammed for a radio show we did has 240 comments on it! This one has almost as many.
During my birth month, the Der Spiegel photos of troops acting like complete tools and morons were released. I’ve never been a fan of taking pictures of dead enemies. Some writers have no inner sense of right and wrong and publish them anyway. Eventually, they get booted out of their embeds. I will always call out troops for doing the wrong thing. I believe in accountability of ALL troops. This is why I never worry about baseless investigations against me. They’re annoying and distract from the mission, but since I walk the straight and narrow with the utmost in integrity (that means telling the truth for those of you just here for espionage purposes) and honor. And I will never back down from my values and beliefs.
I guess in much the same way that attacking me probably results in some minor increase in drops in the Paypal bucket for some, writing about Michael Yon generates a lot of traffic. I’m sure that most of it comes from his own curiosity. Continuing what used to be a monthly occurrence here before the insanity bar was raised, I wrote about the irony of his writings. The irony continued the entire and even continues to THIS DAY only I’m no longer really the focus of his ire.
One of the most popular stories in April contained just eight words. It was titled “AKO Is The Worst Program Ever.”
Another Michael Yon post. I told Yon to [bleep off] and he got butt-hurt and contacted my command about unprofessional language. Remember, folks, that Yon is “former Special Forces Soldier.” This was my command’s first introduction to his mission distraction efforts. I must say, though, that this was one of my best. IMHO.
Even though Yon would claim that the military shut me up – as he does every time I’ve stepped back from ASP to regroup – I decided on my own to stop writing for a little while. I realize that I’ve done this 3 or 4 times, but each time I’ve used the time to reassess. I back off because I get to a point that if I kept writing I would say something stupid. It’s my self-defense mechanism and how I exercise restraint. Words are powerful (and expensive) weapons and some people will learn that quite soon. I don’t stop writing for attention. Usually, I do it to save my family or unit the stress of the moment and allow a particular to die down. Today, I read through the “ASP In The News” section of the site and realized all the major fights I’ve had over the past six years. Standing up for one’s beliefs is a very difficult path to take. There are always people that want to tear you down. But, I also find that standing up for your beliefs with integrity and honor will get you through anything in the end. Yes, you will piss people off but if you value principles more than you value people, it’s not so hard to get through. I’m a principled person and for that reason, I’ve made some enemies. Heck, just the other day I had a “friend” unfriend me on Facebook because I stood for the fact that I’m Christian and celebrate Christmas. I told my friends that don’t believe in Christ to leave their “happy holidays” left unsaid if they can’t bring themselves to say Merry Christmas! One of pagan friends accused me of hate and left. My response? Good riddance. I value my principles more than people!
With that said, I’m truly thankful some people I would do just about anything for. People like LL who stood up for me when I stopped writing (again). What a lot of people don’t realize is that LL and I have had some pretty heated arguments in the past. I’ve frustrated and pissed her off numerous times because of my resolve and hard headedness. But, we love and respect each other enough that in the end, no matter what conclusion we come to, we are still good friends and will always have each other’s back. Next to Emily, I’d say she’s my best friend and we’ve only met each other in person a handful of times.
Okay, on to May.
In May, LL began publishing more to fill the gap. For the first two weeks, I regrouped and reassessed. I slowly eased back in to blogging with non-confontational postings. But, my first big post was again about military dating scams. The reason this post was so popular was because I gave instructions on how to check IP addresses through Yahoo. Since 90% of scammers use Yahoo to further their efforts, this was good advice for most victims. I continue to get about 10-12 emails each day thanking me for posting this information.
We published a somewhat ironic story about bad leaders. The Army Times had a front page story that proclaimed the number one reason Soldiers are leaving the Army is bad leaders. I couldn’t have agree more. A good leader sets the tone for a Soldier’s military service attitude. It doesn’t matter if the Soldier is a first term or career Soldier. Good leaders make Soldiers WANT to continue serving. Bad leaders virtually convince career Soldiers to leave regardless of how much time they’ve invested in their service. It’s a post that continues to draw many hits from .mil IPs.
June was another light month due to my unit’s deployment. I was also diagnosed with skin cancer and was dealing with all the procedures to remove it. In June, I was marked as “undeployable” due to my medical status. It would take me two months to fight the system and deploy with my unit.
The only real story this month were the claims by the media that DADT repeal were 100% successful. Once again, I felt it my duty to correct the record on the matter. If anything, repeal has proven to be a touchy subject and put troops in a state of unease about how to discuss it. Personally, I have no problem stating my personal (and scientific) beliefs that homosexual behavior is not normal in any sense of the word. People can call it hate all they want. I don’t hate homosexuals. I just feel their activities are wrong. My gay friends understand what I mean. I’m not afraid to be around gays, I’m not afraid to touch gays, and I’m not afraid to speak my mind about gays. I don’t like Natalie Portman’s political beliefs, but I respect her as a hottie!
In July, I shared a piece by A.W. Schade called “The Demons of War Are Persistent.” If you missed this when it was originally posted, I highly urge you to go back and read it. Schade is a Vietnam Veteran who also suffers with PTSD. This post continues to help me and really struck a cord within that I think every combat vet should read. I will never forget this advice:
To all past and current warriors, I rise and applaud your valiant stand. Nonetheless, to control War’s Demons takes time, and the battle is much harder should you challenge them alone.
So do not wait to seek medical assistance, as older Veterans had to do. For far too many warriors were less fortunate than me, and even you. PTSD is real my friends, and easily recognizable. Yet, if not confronted in early, can ruin relationships with your spouse, children, family, and career.
Remember, you will always be warriors and heroes to us all. But many will be overpowered by the demons’, and lose ownership of their soul!”
SFC Leroy Petry became the 9th recipient of the Medal of Honor at a ceremony in the White House. He is only the second living recipient since the Vietnam War to receive the medal. During the ceremony, President Obama says of Petry that “this is the stuff of which heroes are made. This is the strength, the devotion that makes our troops the pride of every American. And this is the reason that — like a soldier named Leroy Petry -— America doesn’t simply endure, we emerge from our trials stronger, more confident, with our eyes fixed on the future.”
Once again in 2011, the Navy draws criticism for it’s unique approach to combating a sexual assault. While the poster is displayed on the official Navy Facebook page, it is created by a feminist organization. The politically correct crowd again makes an issue out of a non-issue and a controversy is born. To its credit, I don’t believe the Navy ever removed the poster which was responsible for more discussion on the topic than any other poster. I supported the poster; something that drew its own bit of controvery here and on Facebook.
The military rushed to “certify” the DADT Repeal as its last order of business in July. Again, I felt the need to correct what the public was being told. The entire “certification” process was a joke and the American people (and its troops) were sold a bill of goods on the topic. Even to this date, I have yet to meet someone openly gay. So to say that the integration process is a success ignores reality that there just aren’t that many gays willing to serve. It also ignores the fact taht Soldiers HAVE asked to be moved to other rooms to avoid sharing a barracks room with a gay Soldier.
In August, I finally convinced the right people that I could deploy. During our departure briefings, I got to meet an angel on earth, Huggy Lady. What an awesome lady! I just wish I remember to take pictures sooner and that they weren’t as blurry. I hadn’t yet gotten the hang of my new deployment camera.
Once in Afghanistan, I asked the poignant question: What have I done? My kids were eight years older than the last time I deployed and I guess I underestimated how they would react. Looking back after six months, I think that this deployment has perhaps strengthened my bond with the kids. I get along a lot better with my oldest daughter and enjoy chatting with them on the webcam. It seems like they have aged years in just the past six months and I can’t wait to be with them again. And I’m sure Emily can’t wait to push them onto me! 😉
Unlike my last deployment, where I was walking through the combat zone on daily patrols, this deployment has me relegated to what we coin “fobbit” duties. In the military, we joke a lot about the role of Soldiers who spend their entire deployments never stepping foot outside the Forward Operating Base (FOB). Except in cases of troops who do whatever it takes NOT to go outside the wire, I don’t have a problem with the term fobbit. There are very important missions that get done on the FOB that make it possible for the guys to be able to beat the street. There are combat troops who probably wish they could have a nice, quiet desk job and there are those with those jobs that wish they could just get out!
While I try to fight the “fobbit” mentality that tends to drift more towards garrison operations than combat support operations, I try to maintain some perspective. There are aspects of the true fobbit mentality I can’t stand, though. I wrote these posts about fobbits to really just deflate the overinflated egos of some writers who were seeking to devalue the opinions and service of troops that never had the opportunity to leave the FOB. I think I made my point quite well.
September unleashed drama of epic proportions. But, let’s start the month with some positive news.
On September 11, Outback Steakhouse and other OSI Restaurant Partners brought Operation Feeding Freedom to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Every single dining facility was packed with troops of all services wanting a taste of home. The restaurants served over 40,000 meals for troops all over Afghanistan. We were talking about it for days. The food was delicious and the servers were the nicest people ever. One of the places I WILL eat while I’m on leave will be Outback Steakhouse just to give thanks for what they did.
There was only really one other major story for ASP in September: Michael Yon. In typical fashion, he twisted a comment that was made about a story he had written in which he went into disrespectful detail about the death of a Soldier to an IED. Because of pending legal actions, I’m not going to rehash the issue. I will say that since then, numerous investigations have been launched (and closed) against me and other troops that have disagreed with Yon. A bunch of slanderous, libelous, and defaming statements were made. I’ll leave it at that.
The stress began building and building through October. I was getting frustrated with a lot of things, including the price of internet here. We also had our first rainfall since I arrived in August. Through the added stress of investigations and false accusations, I recognized that I probably shouldn’t have stopped taking my anxiety medications. Ranger Up only helped moderately with the release of a new t-shirt in light of the “occupy” protests plaguing – yes, plaguing – cities across the globe.
To make matters worse, I lost a good friend this month. Brian Cowdery’s accidental death during a MEDEVAC mission sent me into a sort of tailspin. It took me over a week to recover and find the peace of mind to write about it. I can’t believe it’s been over two months. I still have to correct myself as the desire to send him an email creeps into my mind, only to force myself to remember I can’t. When I get back home, his story WILL be told.
I felt it necessary to remind people that Congressional investigations are serious business. At the time, a lot of people were a little confused by this post because I hadn’t made public mention that some had been launched against me. But, I think the people that needed to read this post got the message based on the hits and from where they came. These investigations continue even months later, one after another. The constant stream of baseless investigations will only serve to strengthen my position when I return home and confront the problem with my full attention.
Heizer Defense unveiled a revolutionary new type of Derringer in its DoubleTap pistol. While I’m home on leave, I will testing this pistol in person. I’m excited about this particular pistol because it represents a fundamental change in derringer design.
Last month, I met SFC Zeke. The therapy dog is making positive impressions on troops all over RC(S) in Afghanistan. He’s a great dog. After I posted this story, people from around the country sent me care packages for Zeke. I collected enough dog toys and treats to share with all the military working dogs on KAF. Zeke and I have become good friends, but I think he’s using me for my presents! 😉 He gets so excited every time I bring a box and he’s like a kid, unable to wait until we can open it for him.
In response to efforts by Michael Yon and his fanatics to paint red crosses as somehow killing our troops, I published a post that brought reality to this absurd argument. The post is so dangerous to his argument, that it is deleted any time one of his readers tries to ask him to respond to it. Truth is, indeed, a difficult concept to argue with. Other bloggers and writers would contradict this argument. Since I posted this piece, I’ve gotten emails and IMs from pilots and crews past and present thanking me for writing this. Contrary to what Yon would have his readers believe, his view isn’t widely accepted among professionals. Only by continuing to hammer misleading information and anecdotal stories written by other people that support his argument is he able to perpetuate the myth. The reason the Army isn’t changing its policy isn’t because they are blind or dumb or uncaring or unprofessional. It’s because the argument is inaccurate. Plain and simple.
As I’ve continued to progress and cope with PTSD, I continue to write about my experiences – positive and negative – as a way of healing and helping others. Not only do I hope that other Soldiers and veterans dealing with PTSD read and find inspiration, but I continue to go back and read my own writings to help me heal as well. When I’m in a different mindset, it helps to read something I’ve posted when I was feeling a great deal better.
Thanksgiving in Afghanistan was uneventful. We waited in a LONG LINE for the best meal I’ve had since I got here. The only downside was that there wasn’t any pumpkin pie! It’s just not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top. I found out later that I just went to the wrong dining facility. The one down the road had pumpkin pie. It didn’t make me feel better! 😉
This month there was a LOT to write about. I don’t even know where to begin.
With DADT repeal a done deal, the pro-homosexual lobby refused to rest on their laurels. The complete destruction of the moral fabric of our society was not yet completely destroyed. The Senate voted to repeal Article 125 of the UCMJ that banned sodomy and bestiality. What amounted to ONE LINE in a 2000 page bill caused so much controversy it was eventually stricken from the NDAA. However, I anticipate some congressmen will get sent packing for voting to pass this legislation during the next election. This post continues to garner hits and comments, many of which I’ve had to delete due to the disrespectful nature of the comments on both sides of the argument.
In an effort to double down on the Ian Murphy’s “F*** the troops” article, Kassie Dill posts a video on YouTube explaining why she doesn’t support the troops. In response, I publish a blog post explaining why she’s a moron. Again, the truth is a bitter pill to swallow. And it burns throughout the entire process of digestion!
I’m not shy about the fact that I love my wife. I’m married to the sexiest, most beautiful, kind and loving woman on the planet. I don’t care what you men out there say, you’re wrong. I feel sorry for all the single guys out there. Since I’m married to the best woman on the planet, they will all have to now settle for second best. In my open letter to my wife, I wanted to show men out there that getting married is not the end of the world. With work, respect, forgiveness, trial and error marriage is the best thing in the world. We men need to stop pretending that marriage sucks. If it sucks for you, you’re just not doing it right! Marrying the love of my life sixteen years ago is the best thing that ever happened to me and I’m not afraid to say it. Turns out that a lot of people needed to hear it as well as this is one of the most popular (and shared) links of the year for ASP.
The Air Force tried to outdo the Navy in controversy as a last hurrah this month. Airmen were photographed displaying gangster like poses beside a military remains container. The photo went viral and the American people were PISSED! Most Airmen were pissed, especially porters, because this photo was not representative of their profession. As of this writing, the investigation is ongoing.
While it’s too early to tell how popular some of the more recent stories are going to be, my posts about the NY Times misleading readers about supposed concealed carry “facts” and yesterday’s post about my fictitious gang are gaining steam.
In spite of the latter part of the year, I still think 2011 was a great year. I made a lot of personal progress and the trials I went through only served to strengthen me and confirm my beliefs. My advice years ago that “as long as you always do the right thing, you’ll never have anything to worry about in the end” continues to ring true. It’s a bumpy road, but I’ve adopted a 4×4 life! After 252 posts, I look forward to what 2012 has to bring (besides going home)!!