Saturday, December 25, 2010

Twas The Night Before Christmapocalypse

Well, I just couldn't resist...

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the area
The dead had arisen, spreading plague and hysteria.
Boards were hammered over the windows with care,
In hopes the undead wouldn't break in there.

The children were frightened, hiding in their beds,
With visions of corpses eating the brains in their heads.
Mamma and I stood guard back to back,
Afraid to nod off in case of zombie attack.

When out on the lawn there arose such a sound,
Moaning undead were going to break the door down.
In came the windows with a thunderous crash,
We fled upstairs attempting to save our hash.

Moonlight and a blast of new-fallen snow,
Accompanied the hordes of zombies below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But America's 1stSgt in full war gear!

With a shotgun fed by a drum magazine,
Violently dispatching the foe and wreaking havoc obscene.
The muzzle of his weapon erupted with flame,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them foul names!

"You hookers! You dirtbags!" he cursed as he fought.
As zombie brains exploded with a well aimed head shot.
He cleared the front porch! He cleared the front hall!
Casually bashing their heads as if playing base ball.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
Zombies skulls were caved in or were shot in the eye.
Until none but the 1stSgt stood alone on the floor,
Our living room now dripping and covered with gore.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Heel stomping the head of a corpse that still jerked.
Surveying the scene he gritted his teeth,
Red mist and gun smoke encircled his head like a wreath.

Then he gave me the finger as his voice rose,
"You kind of suck at this! Your security blows!"
The glare of his eye and the way he spent lead,
Made me more fearful of him than of the undead!

He lectured us on gun safety and proper E&E plans,
Signed autographs for the children his #1 fans.
"Kids remember, steady squeeze of the trigger, control of your breath,
 and only shots to the head will defeat the plague of undeath."

Then he sprang into action and let out a roar,
Back into the darkness to wage zombie war.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he lept out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmapocalypse!

December has proven to be a horror show month of various disciplinary and leadership type issues. Nonetheless I strove to remain in the Christmas spirit until what I thought was a parade of Santas turned out to be group of unshaven Sailors huffing and puffing their way to the ice cream stand.

"Ho-ho-hold the sprinkles on my sundae dude."

The average American often feels somewhat guilty they get to enjoy the Christmas season at home while many of us are making sand angels way out here in the Middle Evil. Let me remind everyone each of us is out here because we promised we would. As I related to my Marines the other day, we chose this occupation to do those things others are unwilling or unable to do. That is why it's called service and sacrifice.

So while children are nestled all snug in their beds, Marines sharpen K-Bars and fix bayonets.

Which reminds me of a famous Christmas poem penned by Marine LCpl James M. Schmidt in December 1986.  It is entitled Merry Christmas My Friend.  Some history behind the poem here.

This Christmas season will find America's 1stSgt with his Marines on a cot somewhere in the Kingdom of Jordan.  As is my tradition, I will try and entertain the men with an evening  of zombie films if we can rig it.

In the meantime, let me leave you all with a few of my favorite things...



Merry Christmas!
America's 1stSgt

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stigma Of The Returning Veteran

An old buddy of mine sent me the below links recently and was curious for my opinion on the matter.

Campus Bars Veteran Over Combat Stress Essay

A Second Opinion

Essentially what happened is a student, Charles Whittington, wrote an essay in an effort to deal with his wartime experience. In it he graphically describes his so called addiction to killing. It was published in a student newspaper and soon after college officials barred him from campus citing their concern for the safety of other students.

My first knee jerk reaction was outrage at the campus. Upon reading the article further as well as Whittington's paper I tend to agree more with the Second Opinion piece.

My personal take: As a military professional I am unimpressed with Whittington's remarks and consider his paper a complete work of fiction. His statements about training and what combat is like are, at best, immature. It makes me question how much combat he saw, particularly close hand to hand fighting. I do not doubt the extent of wounds he received from three separate road side IEDs. However, I do doubt he has ever used a knife on his enemy. Whittington's writing more resembles violent porn than a reflection of his experience. None of his statements reflect core values of the military and certainly not those of a warrior ethos. He basically claims to have killed at least three people with a knife stating it gave him a feeling he cannot explain having pushed it "...through his stomach or his ribs or slice his throat..." This sounds pretty questionable. He also asserts he was doing what he was trained for. I suspect the number of hours used to train for knife combat in the U.S. Army are minimal before deployment.

Veterans legitimately raised concerns about this guy as there is enough stereotyping going on without him painting vets as sociopathic killers waiting to happen. I'm not convinced it required barring him from campus as I don't think his paper means he is some kind of danger to his fellow students.  At no time did I read him describe wanting to kill anyone but his enemies in combat. He doesn't talk about stalking professors by the soda machines or even Middle Eastern students on campus.  As a matter of fact, if the university seriously thought Whittington was a dangerous killer it doesn't make any sense to me why they would provoke him with a suspension?

Whittington may have problems with PTSD but if he is addicted to killing it is something he had in him before he joined and not due to his military experience. His drinking issues and DUI are classic signs of PTSD (three roadside explosions and missing body parts will do that) but doesn't remit questionable actions or a lack of integrity. PTSD isn't an excuse for bad behavior; doctors I have talked to have all stated PTSD does not affect a person's ability to distinguish between right and wrong. So merely being diagnosed with combat related PTSD doesn't seem to make you a danger to anyone.

In my experience, Marines with PTSD are usually dealing with issues related to having nearly lost their lives or losing close friends and not issues related to killing their enemy.

Kanani writes on this very story over on the Kitchen Dispatch.  I think her take on the subject is correct.  My concern here is the contrived nature of his writing and the additional negative impact it has on the perception of returning vets.

The answer is for fellow veterans to write of their own experiences and thus refute what Whittington and no doubt others remark about. Indeed, he claims there are "...hundreds of thousands of soldiers like me who feel like me and want their revenge as well." No, there are not. Revenge is not our business nor fundamentally part of what we are professionally.

Semper Fidelis,
America's 1stSgt