Sarah Palin is the other whom Yoda spoke about.

calendar   Wednesday - November 05, 2008

a blade of grass, growing

I went up to the grocery store to pick up some breakfast and to buy the Morning After newspapers. I can’t tell you the last time I bought an actual newspaper, and I could write for hours about the naive idiocy I’ve read in the stories therein. But that’s another post.

I was coming up the aisle and saw an old man trying to get some soup cans off the bottom shelf. He had to squat down with his shaky knees while holding onto the shopping cart handle. Various lady shoppers were detouring around him, wearing various looks of annoyance and impatience.

“Hey, do you need a hand with those?” I asked him.
“I sure could.”

So I knelt down on the floor and got the cans for him. Dozens. Every last can of Beef Noodle soup in the store. He sure must love this kind of soup! No, it wasn’t for him. He was buying it for the soup kitchen over in Phillipsburg. ( a small city in NW NJ that has a lot of low- and no- income families ). He goes shopping for them in the off-hours when the stores aren’t too crowded. I let him know that I’d grown up working in grocery stores, and that any store will always get him a clerk to help him if he asks at the desk. He thanked me for my help and we both went on our way.

I got my OJ and was on my way to the check out when I passed him in the frozen food aisle. He was buying the bargain brand Banquet frozen dinners by the dozen. I jokingly said that he didn’t have any trouble reaching those. We chatted again, and that’s when I noticed his shirt had the Order of the Arrow monogram. I was in Scouts when I was a kid. Cub Scouts, Webelos, Arrow of Light, Boy Scouts, Merit Badges, the whole bit. Nearly 30 years later and that arrowhead still impresses the hell out of me. In my day it was a very rare sign of the best of the best. We talked some more. “Scouts doesn’t teach morals anymore”, he said, “I don’t know what the world is coming to. It’s just one more activity, like soccer camp. Parents just drop off their kids and leave. They don’t even attend the Eagle ceremony, and that’s the biggest event in a young man’s life. And now the country is turning Socialist. That’s not what I served three tours in Vietnam for. I didn’t have to go back the last two times, but I felt my country needed me. And when we all came home, what happened then was disgusting.” Turns out he is also the Scout’s Shooting Sports Program Director for this whole big chunk of the state. Teaching boys how to shoot guns. In New Jersey. Talk about an uphill battle.

So I talked a bit more with this kindred spirit, asking him about the food bank. Were the Scouts involved? Were they funding this? No to both. The whole thing was out of his pocket. “I’ve been part of the food bank in Phillipsburg for 10 years. We used to help out 78 families, now there’s 459.” I said that we always had a can or two for the food drive barrels, and that I’d always gone out of my way to put old clothes, cleaned, in the Goodwill boxes, until I learned what a con that is. [Those clothes get shredded, the pulp gets sold to China, and some of the earnings get distributed. Meanwhile the management gets paid enormous salaries. None of the clothes actually go to your neighbors in need.]

So I got his card, wished him luck, and gave him $20 to help his efforts. And you’re damn right I thanked him for his military service and let him know that it was the right thing to do.

We don’t need big government programs to help each other out. What we need are more people like this guy, John Kauza, to make an effort close to home. Willing to get involved, willing to actually do something. One more blade of grass, growing, sending down roots.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 11/05/2008 at 04:53 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - August 14, 2008




Colonel Jim Johnson
Former SAS officer who in the 1960s led a three-year guerrilla campaign against Egyptian forces in Yemen.

Colonel Jim Johnson, who has died aged 83, was responsible for running Britain’s clandestine war against Egyptian forces in Yemen during the mid-1960s, an experience that inspired him to set up Britain’s first post-war private military company.


Six years after the allied withdrawal from Suez in 1956, the Yemeni monarchy fell victim to a military coup staged by Egyptian-trained officers, an event which served as a warning to the British protectorates of Aden and Oman.

In London the Macmillan cabinet was divided between those who were ready to recognise the new Yemeni regime (the approach taken by Washington) and those who favoured supporting a guerrilla campaign of resistance on behalf of the displaced ruler, Imam al Badr, who had been forced to retreat into the hills.

As the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) dithered, Colonel David Stirling, founder of the Special Air Service (SAS), suggested that Jim Johnson, a retired SAS officer, “put something together”. Johnson was then asked if he might be willing to go to Yemen to destroy the Egyptian Mig aircraft which were bombing tribes loyal to Imam al Badr with phosgene poison gas; and there followed an adventure that would have done credit to Bulldog Drummond.

Weapons of indeterminate origin were stored at Johnson’s home in Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, for use by former SAS regulars and reservists, some of whom had left the Army to take part in the operation.
Among the leaders selected for the operation were Colonel John Woodhouse, a prominent figure in the fortunes of the post-war SAS, and Major John Cooper, David Stirling’s wartime driver, who was now working as a professional freelance soldier.

A cheque for £5,000, signed by the Imam al Badr’s foreign minister, was paid through the bank account of the Hyde Park Hotel, where the SAS’s colonel commandant, Brian Franks, was chairman of the board.
Johnson took leave of absence from his job as a Lloyd’s underwriter and recruited a number of French mercenaries, among them Colonel Roger Faulques, a veteran of the Foreign Legion, and the notorious Robert Denard.

Then, the day before the first reconnaissance team, led by John Cooper, was due to leave London, Macmillan’s war minister, John Profumo, resigned because he had lied to the House of Commons. The Foreign Office now became concerned by the possibility of political embarrassment, and it seemed as if the Yemeni operation might be called off.
Johnson, however, reasoned that SIS would probably not put the brakes on before the relevant duty officer took over at 9am the next morning, and Cooper’s team left the country.

When David Stirling then received a telephone call from the Colonial Secretary, Duncan Sandys, he denied any knowledge. Immediately afterwards Stirling then rang Johnson, who told him: “Too late. They are half way across already.”
While they were changing planes in Libya, one of Cooper’s suitcases broke open and rolls of plastic explosive spilled out; he explained that the substance was marzipan, and the Libyans obligingly helped with the repacking.

(Marzipan is an almond and sugar paste used to ice cakes and other pastries or sculpted into a variety of shapes to be eaten as candy or used as cake decorations. Marzipan is simply a mixture of almond paste, powdered sugar, and a moistening agent such as water, corn syrup, glucose, fondant, or egg whites. After the ingredients are mixed, marzipan reaches a consistency of dough or soft rubber and can be rolled, shaped, cut, or molded.)

After the team had arrived in Yemen, supplies were dropped from a variety of aircraft – some of them Israeli – using the drop-zone expertise Cooper had acquired during the war in Occupied Europe. Johnson himself flew in to Yemen later, on a Canadian passport in the name of Cohen and with a pocketful of gold sovereigns.

Over the next three years he and his men conducted a resistance campaign, wearing down the Egyptian forces sent in by Nasser. The Saudi Arabian government, meanwhile, funded the Yemeni royalist faction and dictated overall strategy, but the hostilities became a war of attrition which eventually led to stalemate. Nevertheless, the Egyptians lost 10,000 men. “Yemen,” Nasser later reflected, “was my Vietnam.”

Henry James Johnson born on December 21 1924, the son of a Ceylon tea planter who was employed on the Enigma project at Bletchley Park during the Second World War; one of his forebears had been a soldier in the privatised East India Company army who had later guarded Napoleon on St Helena.
The young Jim was educated at Westminster, where he was a contemporary of Tony Benn, and as a schoolboy he joined the Home Guard.

Subsequently he was serving as a junior officer with the 2nd Battalion, Welsh Guards, near Caen in 1944 when the artist Rex Whistler was killed.

After his unit had liberated Brussels, he was involved in the hard fighting across northern Germany until he and a brother officer found themselves on the steps of Cologne cathedral. As two armed Wehrmacht officers ran past them, Johnson reached for his revolver, but his companion exclaimed: “No, Jim! Not from the cathedral.”
After the war Johnson joined Lloyd’s, and in his spare time rose to command 21 SAS (TA). On retiring from the TA in 1963 he was appointed OBE, and was later appointed ADC to the Queen.

After his three years running the operation in Yemen, Johnson wrote a memorandum for the British and Saudi governments pointing to “the apparent lack of interest by HMG and the stated indifference to our activities by MI6”, and the “absolute disinterest” of the Saudis. He identified three possible policies in such circumstances: to withdraw; to replace resistance with intelligence-gathering; or to “hang on… and hope we will be used sensibly again”. But he added the reminder that the operation had “discovered, trained and helped arm tens of thousands of tribesmen without official help”.

In 1975 Johnson and David Walker, a former regular officer in 22 SAS, set up their firm to operate in the grey area between the politically acceptable and the officially deniable. Having begun by providing protection for British diplomats in South America, and then for foreign statesmen, the firm trained mujahideen to fight the Russians in Afghanistan.

It also made a substantial contribution to the defence of Oman after the British-backed victory over Communist forces in that country. KMS was allowed by Whitehall to set up the Sultan’s Special Force, an elite unit modelled on the SAS and trained by former SAS personnel. Now “omanised”, it remains an integral part of the country’s armed forces.
In later years Johnson recalled that, during his final audience with a member of the Saudi royal family after leaving Yemen, he had made two requests. These were for the orderly disposal of the heavy weapons, particularly mortars, under his control, and for his men to receive an enhanced month’s severance pay. He had added: “French mercenaries have a habit of blowing up the aircraft of national airlines if they don’t get paid properly.”

Both his requests were granted, and Johnson and his comrades celebrated with champagne a month later at the Hyde Park Hotel.
The final reunion of those who took part in the Yemen operation was attended by eight survivors last year.
Jim Johnson died on July 20. His first wife was Judith Lyttleton, with whom he had a son and a daughter. After her death he married, in 1982, Jan Gay.


Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 08/14/2008 at 03:04 PM   
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calendar   Tuesday - May 06, 2008

THEIR DUTY WAS TO SAVE THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN :  Some Brit History worth reading!

I believe this is an excerpt from his book.
It’s one heck of an interesting story and speaks well of what once was.

by, Neil Oliver

On February 26, 1852, HMS Birkenhead, the iron-hulled, ocean-going paddle steamer carrying soldiers to the front line of the eighth Xhosa War, along with their families, was two days away from its final destination of Port Elizabeth. At around 2am, it ran full tilt on to a submerged reef off the coast at Gansbaai near Cape Town, instantly flooding the sleeping quarters of scores of men. Most of them were drowned where they lay. At least three miles from land, they were in water known to be thick with Great White sharks.

Captain Salmond, thrown from his bed by the impact, appeared moments later, half-dressed. As quickly as he made it to the deck, Lieutenant Colonel Seton emerged too, in his night clothes, his sword belted around his waist. He gathered his officers to him then told them that all hope lay with their ability to maintain order.

The manner in which he chose to do this was the measure of the man and the army that had made him. “Gentlemen, would you please be kind enough to preserve order and silence among the men, and ensure than any orders given by Captain Salmond are instantly obeyed,” he said.

Although he never actually used the words “women and children first”, Seton made it clear just who would be taking the first places in the available lifeboats. Wives cried out for husbands, and children for their fathers, but there was nothing else for it. Nothing like this had ever been done before, aboard a naval vessel or any other. Previously when all hope was lost it had been every man for himself. Here, aboard the Birkenhead, the past was erased and the future shaped.

Fearing the worst, Seton positioned himself at the foot of the gangplank leading aboard the first lifeboat and drew his sword. He was ready to repel any would-be boarders - but not one man stepped out of line.

Instead, they remained where their officers had told them to be. Some in night clothes, some half-dressed in their uniforms and some naked, they had come to order. Shoulders back, eyes front and chins up, they looked into the starry southern sky while the women and children were rowed away from the sinking vessel.

The steamer then broke her back upon the reef. She started to lean crazily, but still Seton called for order from his officers and men, willing them to hold their places. And there they stayed, neatly in their lines as the deck bucked and slid.

Not a man broke ranks, though the deck rose beneath them and only the sea and the sharks awaited. The officers took up the call, too, urging their men to hold the line. And so they did. Green youngsters they might have been when they boarded the Birkenhead, but they were men now. Their last remaining duty was to preserve the lives of the women and children and that was what they were going to do.

As the water rose around them, and while the women, children and youngest of the soldiers looked on from the little boats, the officers and soldiers shook hands with one another and said goodbye. One man’s voice rose above the din of the ship’s dying: “God bless you all,” he said. “God bless you all!”

In all, more than 430 men died that morning. Captain Salmond was killed when one of the ship’s masts fell on top of him. Lieutenant Colonel Seton was last seen among his men, and perished along with most of them. Every single woman and child was saved.

News of the loss did not reach Britain until April - but reports from the survivors ensured a place in legend for the officers and soldiers who had given their lives for the sake of the few. When the King of Prussia, Frederik Wilhelm, later the first German emperor, was told of the events, he ordered that an account of it be posted in every barracks of his army. This, he said, was the standard of behaviour he expected from his men.

By their actions, Seton and his men changed maritime protocol for ever. The cry of “women and children first” is more properly described as the Birkenhead Drill. This, then, is their memorial and their greatest monument.


Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 05/06/2008 at 01:05 PM   
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calendar   Monday - May 05, 2008

The first woman to break the sound barrier. Obit of one BRAVE wartime Brit. And there were many!

This is not a morning I wanna be at a computer.  It is a rather gloomy (to some) and dreary (to some) sort of rainy English morning that I revel in.
It’s also the sort of morning that makes me want to return to a warm bed with a good book.  Of which I have a few.  But I can’t.

Aside from a few duties I have here, when I opened the morning paper looking for news and something of Moonbat interest, I came to the obit page.
No paper anywhere does this the way the Telegraph does, and I was quite taken with the story of this extrodinary woman.

While it’s true that there were countless American ladies doing the same thing, they generally (I do not believe) always had to do this in the same conditions Brits did and as well didn’t often run the wartime risk of attack.  Which isn’t to belittle their bravery or deny em their due.

So .....  Here’s my latest heartthrob.  And Heaven (should there be one) bless her.


Diana Barnato Walker
Last Updated: 1:00AM BST 05/05/2008
‘Atagirl’ who delivered hundreds of planes during the war and was the first woman to break the sound barrier.

Diana Barnato Walker, who died on April 28 aged 90 , occupied an almost legendary position in the world of aviation: as well as being one of a handful of “Atagirls”, women who served during the war as ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) pilots delivering newly-built and battle-ready aircraft to airfields all over southern England, in 1963 she became the first woman in the world to break the sound barrier.

The diminutive socialite granddaughter of a South African diamond millionaire, before the war Diana Barnato was well known in London for her high spirits and for late nights spent at the Embassy or 400 Club in London. She was also known for the Bentley which she was given for her 21st birthday - a gift from her doting father, the motor-racing champion Woolf “Babe” Barnato.

In 1938, looking for new excitement, she decided to try her hand at flying and gained her licence after only six hours’ training. Three years later, she abandoned her affluent lifestyle to rough it in the ATA. By the age of 22 she had delivered 240 Spitfires and many other aircraft and narrowly survived several brushes with death.

It was said that the Atagirls tended to come in two models - cropped hair and sensible shoes, or “powder puff”. That Diana Barnato Walker was one of the latter variety was clear from her autobiography, Spreading My Wings (1994), in which she described an occasion when, delivering a Spitfire, she decided to try some aerobatics but got stuck upside down: “While I was wondering what to do next, from out of my top overall pocket fell my beautifully engraved silver powder compact. It wheeled round and round the bubble canopy like a drunken sailor on a wall of death, then sent all the face powder over everything.”

When she eventually arrived at her destination a “very tall and handsome” RAF flight lieutenant hopped on to the wing to meet her: “One glance was enough. His mouth dropped open. ‘I was told,’ he gasped, ‘that a very very pretty girl was bringing us a new aircraft. All I can see is some ghastly clown!’ ”

On another occasion, “skimming happily along in a Spitfire”, she suddenly found herself in thick cloud, “but I couldn’t bale out! My skirt would have ridden up with the parachute straps and anyone who happened to be below would have seen my knickers!” Instead, to the astonishment of those on the ground, she managed to nurse her aircraft down, breaking through the cloud at tree-top height and banking sharply to avoid a patch of woodland, to make a perfect landing in heavy rain on the tiny grass airstrip of what turned out to be the Navigation and Blind Flying Establishment at RAF Windrush.

The moment she got out of the cockpit on to the wing of the aircraft after this escapade, she felt sure she was going to faint. An RAF man was approaching and, not wanting him to think that anything was amiss, she knelt down on the wing and scrabbled in her cockpit pretending to look for her maps. At which point he said: “I say, Miss, you must be good on instruments.”

In fact, though, Diana Barnato had brought the aircraft down with no instruments. The ATA expected its pilots to fly in all weathers without navigational aids. As a result of this, and the fact that they flew unarmed and without radios, service in the ATA was one of the most dangerous activities available to either sex in the whole war. Out of the 108 female pilots recruited during the war, 16 were to perish in the air - including Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, who died ferrying an Oxford aircraft in 1941.

On several occasions Diana Barnato came within seconds of following her into oblivion. She attributed her survival to her “guardian angel” and a man who had accosted her as she was about to take off on her first solo flight at Brooklands, whose hands and face were horribly burned. “In those days girls like me didn’t see horrors,” she recalled, “so it was a nasty fright. He looked at me and said, ‘Don’t fly, Miss Barnato. Look what it’s done to me.’ After that I was a very careful pilot.”

Diana Barnato was born on January 15 1918 into a hugely gifted and enterprising Jewish family. Her grandfather, Barney Barnato, began as a trader and juggler in the Mile End Road, saved £50 and hitched his way to Johannesburg, where he became co-founder of the De Beers mining group.

Her father, Woolf, inherited his father’s millions aged two, after Barney Barnato mysteriously fell or jumped over the side of a ship taking him to England in 1897. Woolf Barnato went on to win the Le Mans 24-hour race in three consecutive years from 1928 to 1930, was also a “plus” handicap golfer, a first-class shot, a county-level tennis player, a top horseman and a champion swimmer and skier. Among other accomplishments he was said to be able to drink two bottles of champagne with no visible effect.

During the 1920s and 1930s his house near Lingfield, Surrey (described as being “more like the Savoy than a home”), became the venue for wild all-night parties. At one of these, Brooklands-style racing pits were constructed along the quarter-mile gravel drive. Guests in powerful cars, with beautiful girls aboard, tore into the “pits” for champagne, served by waiters dressed as racers, with linen helmets and goggles, before speeding up to the house.

Diana and her sister Virginia were the daughters of Barnato’s American-born first wife. The marriage foundered when Diana was four, after her father embarked on an affair with an actress. Both parents remarried but they remained on good terms.

The two girls were brought up by their mother and an army of nannies and governesses in a large house on Primrose Hill, but often went to stay with their father, who indulged them by allowing them to stay up late for dinner. Once Diana was placed next to Dudley “Benjy” Benjafield, the 1927 winner of Le Mans with SCH “Sammy” Davis. Noticing that her neighbour was nodding off into his soup, Diana politely tapped his bald head with her spoon. Later he presented her with a fine cashmere scarf for “saving” him from drowning.

After leaving Queen’s College, Harley Street, in 1936 Diana came out as a debutante and did the Season. But she quickly tired of being chaperoned and decided that the only way to escape the benign oversight of mother, nannies and governesses was to learn to fly.

This ambition took her to Brooklands where, in 1938, she spent her pocket money on a few hours’ flying instruction in a Tiger Moth, going solo after six hours. On the day of the test she wore her stepmother’s leopard skin coat because she had no other outfit. At the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939, she volunteered as a Red Cross nurse but soon determined to apply for a job as a ferry pilot and was accepted into the ATA training programme.

The Atagirls were objects of fascination for the combat pilots and romance flourished, despite a punishing work schedule. In 1942 Diana Barnato fell in love with a dashing Battle of Britain fighter ace, Squadron Leader Humphrey Gilbert.

Three weeks after meeting, they were engaged. Three days after that, circling over his base at Debden in a Tiger Moth, she was surprised that there was no sign of his blue-nosed Spitfire. After a series of frantic telephone calls, she was told that he had been killed the previous day.

In 1944 she married Derek Walker, another decorated pilot. They took an unauthorised honeymoon trip to Brussels, each piloting their own Spitfire, as a consequence of which Walker was docked three months’ pay.

Four months after the end of the war he too was killed, flying to a job interview in a Mustang. Unlike most of her fellow Atagirls, who found it impossible to forge a career in commercial aviation after the war, Diana Barnato Walker obtained a commercial licence and was appointed Corps Pilot for the Women’s Junior Air Corps.

One evening in 1963 in the mess at RAF Middleton St George, the Wing Commander Flying, John Severgne, idly suggested that Diana might like to fly one of the RAF’s new supersonic Lightnings. She jumped at the chance and on August 26 1963, following clearance from the Ministry of Defence, she took off and reached a speed of Mach 1.65 (1,262 mph), making her the first woman to break the sound barrier.

Diana Barnato Walker continued flying for a few more years with the WJAC. She also became MFH of the Old Surrey and Burstow Hounds, commodore of the ATA Association and took up sheep farming in Surrey.

In 1994, following the publication of her memoirs, she was ceremonially presented with a £5 note in settlement of a wager with Wing-Commander Percy “Laddy” Lucas, the Second World War fighter ace who had bet her that she would never write her autobiography.

Diana Barnato Walker was appointed MBE in 1965.

For 30-odd years she kept up a relationship with the American-born racing driver, Whitney Straight. They had a son, though Diana never asked Straight to leave his wife.

“I was perfectly content,” she explained. “I had my own identity.” Whitney Straight died in 1979.


Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 05/05/2008 at 06:54 AM   
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calendar   Sunday - April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston, R.I.P.

Charlton Heston, 1923 - 2008

Charlton Heston as Moses

LOS ANGELES — Charlton Heston, who won the 1959 best actor Oscar as the chariot-racing “Ben-Hur” and portrayed Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the ‘50s and ‘60s, has died. He was 84.

The actor died Saturday night at his home in Beverly Hills with his wife Lydia at his side, family spokesman Bill Powers said.

The couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1994 at a party with Hollywood and political friends. They had been married 64 years when he died.

In June 1998, Heston was elected president of the National Rifle Association, for which he had posed for ads holding a rifle. He delivered a jab at then-President Clinton, saying, “America doesn’t trust you with our 21-year-old daughters, and we sure, Lord, don’t trust you with our guns.”

Heston stepped down as NRA president in April 2003, telling members his five years in office were “quite a ride. ... I loved every minute of it.”

Later that year, Heston was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. “The largeness of character that comes across the screen has also been seen throughout his life,” President Bush said at the time.

He engaged in a lengthy feud with liberal Ed Asner during the latter’s tenure as president of the Screen Actors Guild. His latter-day activism almost overshadowed his achievements as an actor, which were considerable.

In late years, Heston drew as much publicity for his crusades as for his performances. In addition to his NRA work, he campaigned for Republican presidential and congressional candidates and against affirmative action.

He resigned from Actors Equity, claiming the union’s refusal to allow a white actor to play a Eurasian role in “Miss Saigon” was “obscenely racist.” He attacked CNN’s telecasts from Baghdad as “sowing doubts” about the allied effort in the 1990-91 Gulf War.

At a Time Warner stockholders meeting, he castigated the company for releasing an Ice-T album that purportedly encouraged cop killing.

Thanks for everything you’ve done Chuck. On camera and off. We’ll miss you. Go in peace.

Statement released by the Heston family:

“To his loving friends, colleagues and fans, we appreciate your heartfelt prayers and support. Charlton Heston was seen by the world as larger than life. He was known for his chiseled jaw, broad shoulders and resonating voice, and, of course, for the roles he played. Indeed, he committed himself to every role with passion, and pursued every cause with unmatched enthusiasm and integrity.

We knew him as an adoring husband, a kind and devoted father, and a gentle grandfather, with an infectious sense of humor. He served these far greater roles with tremendous faith, courage and dignity. He loved deeply, and he was deeply loved.

No one could ask for a fuller life than his. No man could have given more to his family, to his profession, and to his country. In his own words, “I have lived such a wonderful life! I’ve lived enough for two people.”


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/06/2008 at 01:48 PM   
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calendar   Friday - March 07, 2008

My stomach was torn open… so I tucked my shirt in and kept shooting

I caught this story early today in our Telegraph and wanted to post it when I caught an email from our GOF, with a link to another paper with the same story.
The Daily Mail.  Thanks Grumpy ... The DMail version is much better as are the online photos and the awards to these wonderful young people I call,

It’s kinda frustrating even for me as a foreigner, to see and read about these kids while at the same time I see ppl of the same age sitting in a doorway in Winchester waiting for passersby to drop money in their hats.  All the while collecting benefits from the taxpayer.

Amazing stories of the selfless heroes of Afghanistan
By MATTHEW HICKLEY and PAUL HARRIS - More by this author »

Last updated at 09:07am on 7th March 2008

They all made a pact before they went to war.

Whatever happened to them in Afghanistan no one - dead or alive - would be left behind.

One night in Helmand Province, that pledge was put to the test.

In a terrifying split second, the close-knit group from one of the Army’s most battle-scarred units came under fire from a hail of Taliban bullets and rocket-powered grenades.

Four men were hit and several others temporarily blinded by phosphorus. Their screams of pain cut through the darkness as the ambushed platoon was pinned down by gunfire from two sides.

But the men of 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment knew precisely what they had to do.

And today the extraordinary heroism which allowed the young soldiers to keep to their pledge at any cost can be revealed as they are awarded some of the highest military honours.

The men repeatedly braved enemy fire to rescue their injured and fatally wounded comrades from the hands of the Taliban.

Private Luke Cole, 22, carried on fighting after half his thigh bone was blown away.

When another bullet ripped open his stomach, he simply tucked his shirt in tighter “to hold everything in” - and carried on keeping the enemy at bay until back-up arrived.

Sergeant Craig Brelsford, 25, continued to command his men long after he was critically wounded - and right up to the moment he died.

In a singularly selfless act, he ran to put his body between the enemy and his wounded comrades.

It protected them from Taliban gunfire, but cost him his life.

And the 25-year-old platoon commander, Lieutenant Simon Cupples, led a rescue party into the killing zone to carry the injured to safety and recover the dead - again and again and again.

Their astonishing courage - and that of scores of other British servicemen and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq - is marked today with a raft of 184 awards.

They include the biggest batch of medals since fighting began in Afghanistan nearly seven years ago - a reflection not just of the ferocity of the conflict, but of the conspicuous bravery of British troops.

The ambush near the frontline town of Garmsir underlined the extreme danger that troops face daily in what has turned into a bloody and difficult war.

It played out into a six-hour pitched battle as both sides poured in reinforcements. But true to the pact, Lt Cupples and his men refused to withdraw until the bodies of two fallen comrades were recovered.

Telling their families back home that no one knew what happened to them, he decided, was “simply not an option”.

His valour and dedication is recognised with the award of a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross - the highest bravery medal after the Victoria Cross.

Yesterday he told the remarkable story of that night last September.

The young officer, now a captain, recalled how his men were advancing under cover of darkness when they came under devastating fire from a Taliban trench just 20 yards away, and then from other enemy positions.

“I could tell we had taken serious casualties.” he said. “There was screaming from the men around me. Because we were so close to the enemy it was very difficult to withdraw and regroup, but we couldn’t leave the casualties.

“It was asking a lot for the blokes to run forward into enemy fire like that.

“But they did it because their mates were out there. When you live and serve with your men like that it creates a very special bond. You would do anything for those guys. That’s what drove the soldiers forward.”

Captain Cupples, from Derbyshire, who married his sweetheart, Louise, shortly before deploying to Afghanistan, is due to return with his unit next year.

Also involved in the September firefight was Private Cole, from Wolverhampton, who is awarded the Military Cross.

See that link for photos and more info.  Impressive! But then, bravery always is. And the Brits have it in spite of all that goes on at home.  And I’ll get to that maddening subject later. 


Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 03/07/2008 at 01:33 PM   
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calendar   Saturday - February 09, 2008

R.I.P.  An American None Of You Have Heard Of.  CHARLES FAWCETT, Errol Flynn couldda played him.

I had every good intention of taking the whole wkend off, hand and arm painful with repeat motion thingy, but when I came acrss this obit in the Telegraph today ... I just knew that was it.  I had to boot and blog.  I’d never heard of this guy and I really doubt many if any of you have.  Interesting how the Telegraph finds ppl and often Americans the world is unaware of, and tells the stories behind them.  This guy could have been played by Errol Flynn in another age.
Ya look at his photo and and can believe everything.

There’s other reasons for booting today and I’ll post but this one just had to be shared.  And so me and my arm will be slightly busy after all.  But I am taking off Sunday..  Maybe.

Charles Fawcett
Last Updated: 2:32am GMT 09/02/2008

Charles Fawcett, who died in London on February 3 aged 92, was a film maker and adventurer of great and generous passions that embraced Afghan freedom fighters and the much-married film actress Hedy Lamarr.

His unlikely - some would say unbelievable - life was informed by an impulse to stand up for the underdog mixed with a thirst for glamour and adventure. Fawcett charmed everyone he met with tales of swashbuckling intrigue and good deeds.

In 1980, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, he helped film the conflict between the Russian forces and their enemies, the Mujahideen - footage that was pivotal in persuading the United States secretly to arm and fund the tribal warriors fighting the Red Army.

Fawcett’s film featured the glamorous, ultra-conservative Texan socialite Joanne Herring, portrayed by Julia Roberts in the current Hollywood blockbuster Charlie Wilson’s War. In typical Fawcett style, he had alerted her by sending her a note he had scribbled in crayon on the back of a child’s notebook: “Come immediately. Bring film equipment. The world doesn’t know what’s going on here.”

Although aspects of Fawcett’s career sometimes seemed to soar to the wilder flights of fancy, he did furnish documentary evidence to support descriptions of his deeds of military derring-do.

After the war he recalled being reduced to playing trumpet at funerals and carrying out exhumations to identify victims of the Nazis. After a friend offered him a bit part in a film, Fawcett spent the next 25 years reinventing himself as an actor, appearing in some 100 B-movies, many made in Italy.

Gossip columnists crowned him “the king of Rome” and “mayor of the Via Veneto”, while Warren Beatty recalled him as the hub of the Roman dolce vita, “loved and adored by everyone”.

Charles Fernley Fawcett was born on December 2 1915 at Waleska, Georgia, where his mother had been caught in a snowstorm, but came from old Virginia stock. Orphaned by the age of six, he and his younger brother and two sisters were raised by two maiden aunts at Greenville, South Carolina, where he acquired the old-world manners of a typical southern gentleman.

In 1937, having run away from Greenville senior high school, where he had learned to wrestle and to play American football, he made his way to New York and then Washington DC, where a cousin happened to be the US assistant postmaster-general and took him in. By his own account, when he was 15 Fawcett had started an affair with his best friend’s mother. “If that’s child molestation,” he declared, “I would wish this curse on every young boy.”

But the end of this adolescent affair had set up suicidal thoughts, and Fawcett jumped a series of tramp steamers, working his passage through the Panama Canal to the Far East before returning to the United States.

Gifted with an artistic talent and a musical ear, he received tips on playing jazz trumpet from Louis Armstrong, and on grappling from a professional wrestler, with the result that Fawcett, still restless, spent a year in eastern Europe earning a living by fighting in back-street theatres.

When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 Fawcett joined the Polish army but had been in barracks for only a week before escaping from the advancing Nazis and hitchhiking back to Paris. When the French rejected his application to enlist, Fawcett joined the Section Volontaire des Américains - the ambulance corps.

He was sharing a studio with another young American, Bill Holland, whose mother was a German aristocrat. One of Holland’s relatives, General Otto von Stülpnagel, had been appointed commander-in-chief of occupied France, and when Holland introduced Fawcett to senior German officers he was able to pass important information to the French Resistance.

In Paris Fawcett also took part in the rescue of a group of British prisoners-of-war who had been placed under French guard in a hospital ward by the Germans. By impersonating a German ambulance crew, Fawcett and a comrade marched in at 4am and ordered the French nurses to usher the PoWs out into the yard. “Gentlemen,” he announced as he drove them away, “consider yourself liberated.”

“You’re a Yank,” said a British voice.

“Never," came Fawcett’s lilting southern burr, “confuse a Virginian with a Yankee.”

In 1942 he joined the RAF and trained as a Hurricane pilot but was invalided out that Christmas with tuberculosis, from which he had suffered as a youth. After convalescing in a Canadian sanatorium, Fawcett decided to make his way back to the United States.

From New York he travelled to a TB clinic in Arizona where he remained for about a year. In 1944 he returned to Italy and rejoined the American ambulance corps.

For six months in 1945 he fought with the French Foreign Legion in the forests of Alsace, and took part in the liberation of Colmar. A further bout of tuberculosis landed him in the Legionnaires’ Hospital in Paris, and although he applied to rejoin his regiment, Fawcett was turned down.

In three months at the end of the war, Fawcett married six Jewish women who had been trapped in concentration camps, a procedure that entitled them to leave France with an automatic American visa.

By 1948 Fawcett was back in action, this time against the Communists in the Greek civil war, fighting in a lounge suit in the guise of a journalist, since no foreigners were supposed to be involved. The following year, he returned to Paris and began his career as an actor, working in the theatre, radio and films. During the next 25 years he appeared in two films with Sophia Loren, knew Orson Welles and William Holden, and in Rome - between two of her six husbands - became the lover of Hedy Lamarr.

In 1956 he spent three months helping to rescue refugees from the Hungarian uprising and, following riots in the Belgian Congo in 1959, joined a friend with a private plane in missions to rescue people who had become trapped and unable to escape the fighting.

Fawcett made his last two films in the mid-1970s, playing the lead in one and in the other, Up The Antique Stairway (1975), supporting Marcello Mastroianni.

Later in the 1970s, short of money and in poor health from a recurrence of tuberculosis, Fawcett accepted an invitation from an old friend, Baron Ricky di Portanova, a wealthy figure in Houston’s high society, to supervise the building of a huge new swimming pool complex at his mansion.

Fawcett moved in, and although his new billet afforded access to the best doctors in Houston, he failed to settle. In June 1979, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, he announced that he was leaving for that country to pass on to the Afghan resistance fighters tactics he had learned in the Foreign Legion.

Charles Fawcett’s first wife died in 1956 and after a 30-year engagement he married, in 1991, April Ducksbury, with whom he settled in London. She survives him with the daughter of his first marriage.

story and photo here > > >


Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 02/09/2008 at 02:35 PM   
Filed Under: • HeroesHistoryWar-Stories •  
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calendar   Monday - January 21, 2008


THE GREAT ESCAPE, BRIT HERO OF THE STORY PASSES AWAY.If you saw the movie with Steve McQueen you might have thought the hero was American.  In a way I suppose all those guys who tried it knowing the odds and knowing their enemy, were heros. 

Hero made 13 wartime bids for freedom
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Last Updated: 11:13pm GMT 19/01/2008

Bertram “Jimmy” James, described by one military historian as Britain’s greatest war hero, escaped from 13 German prisoner-of-war camps and was one of 76 officers who escaped from Stalag Luft III on the night of March 24, 1944.

Fifty of them were executed on Hitler’s orders after being recaptured, but the RAF squadron leader survived the war and outlived the century, to die peacefully on Friday, aged 92.

Although he was recaptured, he was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, from which he escaped again, only to be caught again after 14 days on the run.

The British officer’s adventures in Germany began in May 1940 when his Wellington bomber was shot down over the Netherlands, which had recently been overrun by the Nazis.

The military historian Howard Tuck, a close friend of the veteran, said that James had dug the first RAF escape tunnel of the war, at Stalag Luft I, in Bart, in 1941.

“He was the country’s greatest living war hero. He had a truly remarkable life,” said Mr Tuck. “This guy was truly unique and he was the finest gentleman anyone could ever meet. To me, he represented not only an era, but a type of Englishman you rarely meet. He was honest and funny, and I used to talk to him like he was 25.”


Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 01/21/2008 at 03:26 PM   
Filed Under: • HeroesHistoryMilitary •  
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calendar   Friday - December 28, 2007


Bravo for one brave lady while the village men (and women) hid in fear.
It may have been foolhardy but ya can’t deny her guts. Please see the link for rest of story and photo.

War hero’s daughter facing arrest for tackling yobs who ‘trashed war memorial.By LUKE SALKELD -

Last updated at 22:09pm on 27th December 2007

When she spotted yobs vandalising a war memorial garden, Julie Lake sprang into action.

As the daughter of a Second World War RAF pilot – and granddaughter of one of the fallen in the 1914-18 war – she felt it was her duty to intervene. But, after giving the main culprit a talking- to and a ‘cuff round the ear’, she finds herself facing the prospect of being arrested for assault.

Yesterday Mrs Lake accused police of failing to follow up her complaints about graffiti and other hooliganism in the memorial garden.

“The memorial is a sacred place – it’s like a grave,” said the 50-year-old.

“How dare these youngsters tarnish the memories of those who made a sacrifice for future generations?

“I’ve called the police and I’ve tried to talk to these kids, but I’ve got nowhere.


Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 12/28/2007 at 02:59 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - December 06, 2007

Hero at Seven

There are a lot of angles to this story.

DETROIT—A 7-year-old-girl is being hailed as an “angel from heaven” and a hero for jumping in front of an enraged gunman, who pumped six bullets into the child as she used her body as a shield to save her mother’s life.

Alexis Goggins, a first-grader at Campbell Elementary School, is in stable condition at Children’s Hospital in Detroit recovering from gunshot wounds to the eye, left temple, chin, cheek, chest and right arm.

“She is an angel from heaven,” said Aisha Ford, a family friend for 15 years who also was caught up in the evening of terror.

The girl’s mother, Selietha Parker, 30, was shot in the left side of her head and her bicep by a former boyfriend, who police said was trying to kill Parker. The gunman was disarmed by police and arrested at the scene of the shooting, a Detroit gas station. Police identified him as Calvin Tillie, 29, a four-time convicted felon whom Parker had dated for six months.

Parker, who was treated and released at Detroit Receiving Hospital, is now at her daughter’s bedside. She declined to comment Tuesday.

Read the rest to get the full story, but imagine the courage of this young lady to jump in front of an enraged man who is shooting her mother.  Imagine the horror of seeing your child do that for you?  Imagine the depth of evil in a man’s heart to continue shooting this little girl when she threw herself in the line of fire.

I hope and pray that proper justice will be served on this cretin.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/06/2007 at 02:13 PM   
Filed Under: • CrimeHeroesSelf-Defense •  
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calendar   Friday - November 23, 2007

Honoring Heroes at the Holidays

I received an email from Ryan Gill of ”Move America Forward” asking for some help in promoting this event.  It sounds very worthy, so if you are along the route, go out and support the effort.


Join Move America Forward for the “Honoring Heroes at the Holidays Tour” this November 26th - December 16th as we cross this nation holding pro-troop events in 40 cities across America to honor and salute the men and women of the U.S. military who will be thousands of miles away from their homes and families during this holiday season.

Along the tour we will be collecting more than 100,000 Christmas, Hanukkah and holiday greeting cards for our troops that we will deliver to them in Iraq and Afghanistan. Get your kids involved, and invite local schools to participate! On the outside envelope be sure to write either: “Christmas Card for Our Troops” or “Hanukkah Card for Our Troops” or “Holiday Card for Our Troops.”

Bring the cards to one of our 40 pro-troop holiday events along the route of the “Honoring Our Heroes at the Holidays Tour”


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 11/23/2007 at 03:32 PM   
Filed Under: • HeroesMilitaryWar-Stories •  
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calendar   Wednesday - November 21, 2007

We’re Not Worthy

Via Hot Air.

U.S. Soldier Re-Enlists Hours After Being Seriously Wounded in Iraq IED Attack

Spc. Christopher Hoyt, an infantryman from California with the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, based out of Fort Lewis, Wash., was injured after an improvised explosive device — or IED — exploded near him while he was out on a foot patrol near Zaganiyah, Iraq.

Two of Hoyt’s fellow soldiers were killed in the attack. Hoyt was rushed to the emergency room at Logistics Support Area Anaconda where he was treated for cuts to his legs and body.

It was there, after having witnessed the deaths of his comrades, that Hoyt decided to re-enlist for four more years.

“He said he wasn’t finished,” Hoyt’s battalion commander Lt. Col. Mark Landes said.

Landes conducted the re-enlistment himself. “He said, ‘I still have a job to do.’ “

Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the brigade’s top non-commissioned officer, who was also present during Hoyt’s re-enlistment at Anaconda, said Hoyt was the epitome of what a soldier should be.

“It takes a person of very strong character to go through an incident where another soldier five feet away was killed, and he was severally wounded, and still say ‘I believe in what we are doing and I want to stay on the team. I want to support the United States Army and my country,’ “ Troxell said.

“He is a model for what all men and women should be, and that is very patriotic and very selfless,” Troxell said.

Hoyt is currently recovering in an Army hospital in Germany

As Bryan said, “Thank You” seems trite, but what else can we say?  You, Spc Hoyt, give us hope for our great country.  It is men and women like you that shine the light of valor and courage for all to see. 

Next time someone calls our soldiers an evil baby-killing dolt, kick him in the nuts.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 11/21/2007 at 03:02 PM   
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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