Friday, December 24, 2010

Family Traditions & Special Gifts From Special Friends

We have a few Christmas traditions in our family. Who doesn't?

Christmas Eve dinner - dungeoness crab, boiled shrimp, homemade cocktail sauce, melted butter, corn on the cob, ceasar salad and french baguettes

That would be my niece, Laura, (former Navy Corpsman) and her husband, Jared (Navy Corpsman). They are PCSing to a new duty station. He started that beard about 2 days ago. LOL! Anyway...not sure whether he's giving Laura encouragement on that crab or hoping she's picking out the meat for him.

Some of the remains of the crabs.  Poor babies.  :)

The stockings were hung from the chandelier with care. AWESOME, huh?

I think my sister-in-law is pretty darn clever!  Not enough room on the mantle - find a better option.

And in the mail today two very special gifts from some very special people:

Thank you Stephen.  I will treasure this forever!  You Sky Soldiers & ROCK Paratroopers mean more than the world to me.  I'm eternally grateful for your love and love you always.

From LTC & Mrs "Ranger" John and Connor.  Ranger John's one of my favorite scotch drinking buddies.  Oh heck, he's just one hell of a guy all the way around.  He'll be home from another deployment soon.  I see a trip south in my near future.  Gotta catch up on some drinking, tales and get some tips on using this flask.  I love you Ranger John.  Be safe and hurry home.  We've missed you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wanat Veterans are Honored with Truth not Unfounded Accusations - It is time for knowledgable people to counter the agenda driven vocal minority

Below is a post (comment) that was sent to me by someone who knows the "Ground Truth" and has one objective, which is to ensure the public is exposed to the information that was available to the Combat Studies Institute (CSI), Lieutenant General Natonski, and the families of the fallen to better allow individuals to understand and formulate informed opinions in lieu of following the fictitious narratives purported by some. The CSI is a reputable Institution that has rigorous academic review protocols that were violated by Doug Cubbison. Remember, the original Cubbison draft asserted Task Force Rock failed to conduct counter-insurgency operations along with a host of other unsubstantiated assertions.

I know scores of people that say Task Force Rock was the model for counter-insurgency in their tough environment. A few have published their informed opinions. Cubbison’s violation served as a catalyst ostensibly for an objective CENTCOM Investigation. It is unclear to even casual readers, amateur academics, and aspiring military historians how a Lieutenant General could extrapolate what he did and convey what he did to senior military officials and Gold Star families. The statements and exhibits he collected do not remotely support his conclusions (see the example statements referenced below). Sadly, his team collected only a fraction of the information that was available to their team. Obviously, they understood even less. General Campbell not only read what was offered, he understood it, and had the intestinal fortitude to articulately convey his findings and understandings to the military’s top brass knowing he would face relentless scrutiny but confident telling the truth was the only option.

Multiple reviews since have understood the information presented. Despite Cubbison’s purposefully leaked draft, CSI was not to be rushed. They began collecting their information in 2008, steadfastly continued to gather information, organized the information, created virtual terrain to better understand the information, cross-referenced and footnoted the information, and published an objective historical analysis some two-and-a-half years after the battle. This is the same CSI Mr. Brostrom lent boundless credibility when he was controlling the narrative.

I am told the narrative below (in italics) was twice attempted to be posted in comments on the Honolulu Star Advertiser’s web page but the “objective” moderator apparently did not see fit to allow the “comment” onto their pages associated with recent articles on this subject. Readers and Rock supporters may want to attempt to comment on the Star’s page  here and here and on this blog as you share the real story of Task Force Rock and the Battle of Wanat.

"Mr. Brostrom lobbied his friend Chip Preysler, then the commander of 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy, to allow his son to serve in that plum assignment. When his Airborne Ranger Infantry son was killed leading paratroopers in combat, he didn't seek to honor his son, the men his son led, or the unit in which his son served. Instead he immediately tried to influence the investigation, awards process, and the insurance disbursement. He elicited well connected family friends to support his quest not for truth but for revision of ground truth; a truth that would make his son, and more to the point him, a victim of a great conspiracy. Mr. Brostrom further sought and successfully influenced his long time acquaintance, MPRI contractor Doug Cubbison, who was the second-stringer charged with drafting the Combat Studies Institute's 'objective' history of the Battle at Wanat. Instead of an objective history, Cubbison wrote a grossly inaccurate tribute to 1LT John Brostrom. Knowing it would not stand up to rigorous academic scrutiny, Cubbison circumvented CSI review protocols and with malice and forethought, distributed his draft to Mr. Brostrom who immediately pointed to the unsanctioned draft as the 'leaked official history'. Now that the written, referenced, cross-referenced, and professionally reviewed academic study is published, Mr. Brostrom no longer touts but disparages the credibility of CSI.

Mr. Brostrom brought intense scrutiny on the Wanat chain of command. A chain of command that did everything possible to properly mission and resource all of their forces in an incredibly undeveloped and extremely resource constrained theater. Mr. Brostrom's queries that started with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Commander of International Security Forces Afghanistan stalled over the brigade, battalion, and company commanders then for a time attempted to go back to the general officers. It should not be a surprise to Mr. Brostrom that the chain of command he so adamantly attacked started with his son, 1LT Brostrom; one he now describes as a hapless victim. As the platoon action was scrutinized, many objectively questioned and reviewed the decisions and actions of the commanding general to the platoon leader. Note it was not the chain of command that brought scrutiny on or questioned the platoon leader, it was those that Mr. Brostrom so ardently energized for a closer look.

Mr. Brostrom's antics were the catalyst for two very experienced combat commanders to retire, to include his friend Chip, not under scrutiny but exhausted from attempting to justify, re-justify, and re-justify again how and why they made the [very best] decisions they did to a father with a hundred hours of combat experience in over-resourced Desert Storm and an insatiable appetite for pity. Other commanders and leaders have spent hundreds of hours answering the unrelenting investigations initiated by Mr. Brostrom.

Few errors were made before or during the battle at Wanat. Many errors have been made handling the post battle investigations and queries. It should not surprise any that those querying and investigating furthest from the battle served to cause the most confusion. The CENTCOM Wanat investigation, conducted from the United States and Italy, is posted at this link. The following statements will provide an objective reader context: 9B (Commanding General); 10B (Deputy Commanding General); 30A (Deputy Brigade Commander); 41A (Marine Lieutenant Colonel); 14C (Battalion Executive Officer); 33A (Platoon Sergeant); 43B (Mortar Section leader); 37A (Squad Leader); 40A (Platoon Radio Operator). Readers will be challenged to justify the conclusions Marine Corps Lieutenant General Natonski conveyed to the families. The CSI Wanat Study is at in PDF form at this link. Readers will note over 500 footnotes and have a greater appreciation for the context of the battle that occurred at Wanat. Readers are unlikely to draw the same conclusions conveyed by Cubbison's, 'leaked official history' that further hurt families seeking truth and closure.

1LT Brostrom’s unit was a great unit that had consistently amazing results with minimal resources in a very arduous environment. History will be kind to the unit and unit leaders as truth tends to win out at the end of the day. It is unfortunate that Mr. Brostrom will not revel in the glory as he has systematically disparaged the unit and leaders at every turn. Tarnishing his son’s service and the service of his son’s fallen and wounded paratroopers."


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Welcome Home A Hero at DFW Airport 18 December 2010

My very dear friend, Donna Cranston of Defenders of Freedom posted the following video on her facebook page earlier today.  It is a video that Bruce, who along with Donna and many others organize the Welcome Home a Hero welcome EACH day at the Dallas-Forth Worth airport for the inbound R&R flights from Iraq and Afghanistan.

I've had the privilege of being at the DFW airport for a morning welcome.  Words cannot possibly describe what an experience it is.  If you can get inside security you get to wave and hollar as they leave the jetway and pass down a long glass enclosed walk way to immigration and customs.  Once the last person has come though the jetway you scurry back out through security to await the line exiting the secured area (which is what you see in this video).  The family reunions, smiles and tears are something to witness. 

Local citizens, Veterans of all wars, fire department and police department personnel from around the area girl scout and brownie scout troops, boy scout and cub scout groups and every other possible other group you can imagine come out EACH day to welcome home our troops.  Recently Mary Kay representatives were there giving out goodie bags with their products for the female troops to have or the men to take home.  Yep...a real cross section of America.

Volunteers like Donna and Bruce are there to direct the troops to their connecting flights, the USO or to answer ANY questions they may have.  It's not uncommon for Donna to snag a Soldier who has a long delay and take him to her house for a nice long shower and a meal before returning him to his flight.

God Bless you Welcome Home a Hero! 

Well done Bruce!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Some Photos from the White House Reception Following SSG Giunta's Medal of Honor Presentation

These photos were taken by Ed Kearney at the reception held at the White House following the Medal of Honor ceremony for SSG Giunta.  Ed is a 173rd, 2-503rd Viet Nam era Bravo Bull (B Company) Veteran. Thank you for taking and sharing the photos Ed.

I've had the privilige of meeting and getting to know many of the Bravo Bulls and their lovely wives over the past couple of years.  I cherish the time I get to spend with them. 

LTC (RET) Roy Lombardo, Jr with Chief of Staff of the Army GEN George Casey
SGM LaMonta Caldwell, former Battle Company 1st SGT, with the Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.
SGM Caldwell and former Battle Company Commander, Dan Kearney

Admiral Mullen and LTC Roy Lombardo

Four former commanders of Bravo/Battle Company spanning nearly fifty years.

L-R LTC Roy S. Lombardo, Jr., Bravo Bulls. MAJ Michael Kloepper, MAJ Josh McGary and MAJ Dan Kearney - all from Battle Company

MAJ Dan Kearney with Bravo Bulls Jim Robinson, Joe Logan and Mike Broderick

MAJ Kloepper, MAJ McGary and Bravo Bull Ed Kearney

Bravo Bull Mike Broderick shakes hands with Command Chief Master Sergeant of the U.S. Air Force, James S. Roy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Different Christmas Poem

Written by LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN while with 30th Naval Construction Regiment, OIC, Logistic Cell One, Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Multi hankie alert!

When I read the following, while watching the video, I could NOT stop the tears. If ANY of you men or women I know who wear our nation's uniform EVER question that I love you (and how much I love you) and that you matter, then we need to talk.

This is such an incredible and powerful poem and video presentation of the poem.  I hope you will all spread it far and wide.  Many thanks to LTC (RET) Lombardo for sharing this with me. 

"Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret
Just tell us you love us and never forget.
To fight for our rights back home while we're gone
To stand your own watch no matter how long."

"For when we come home either standing or dead
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough and with that we will trust
That we mattered to you and you mattered to us."