Target Centermass


Memorial Day 2007

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:14 am

Memorial Day 1958

Click for larger version. Also, see my photoblogging of my visit to the USS Arizona Memorial.

“Here Rests
In Honored Glory
An American Soldier
Known But To God”

U.S. Memorial
The Day’s Background
Arlington National Cemetery
The Tomb of the Unknowns
Texas National Cemetery Foundation
Texas National Cemetery Memorial Plans and Fundraising

Tomb of the Unknowns: Changing of the Guard (embossed)
The Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknowns

If you have not seen the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, I’ve witnessed it more than once and highly recommend it.

The guard is changed every hour on the hour Oct. 1 to March 31 in an elaborate ritual. From April 1 through September 30, there are more than double the opportunities to view the change because another change is added on the half hour and the cemetery closing time moves from 5 to 7 p.m.

An impeccably uniformed relief commander appears on the plaza to announce the Changing of the Guard. Soon the new sentinel leaves the Quarters and unlocks the bolt of his or her M-14 rifle to signal to the relief commander to start the ceremony. The relief commander walks out to the Tomb and salutes, then faces the spectators and asks them to stand and stay silent during the ceremony.

The relief commander conducts a detailed white-glove inspection of the weapon, checking each part of the rifle once. Then, the relief commander and the relieving sentinel meet the retiring sentinel at the center of the matted path in front of the Tomb. All three salute the Unknowns who have been symbolically given the Medal of Honor. Then the relief commander orders the relieved sentinel, “Pass on your orders.” The current sentinel commands, “Post and orders, remain as directed.” The newly posted sentinel replies, “Orders acknowledged,” and steps into position on the black mat. When the relief commander passes by, the new sentinel begins walking at a cadence of 90 steps per minute.

The ritual is slow. It is determined. It is meticulous. It is touching.

The majesty of the ceremony lies in its detailed, determined nature. It shows that our honored dead are not remembered only one day a year by our military — their memory is unfailingly revered . Their sacrifices receive tribute constantly from both comrades and strangers. Such is as it should be, both in the military and among all of the citizenry that value the freedoms and security that have been bought and paid for in blood and sacrifice. Our heroes deserve their special day, but their honor deserves our hearts throughout the year.

(On a side note, the above photos were taken by my then-girlfriend-now-new-bride. The photo of the ceremony was perfect in every way but one, a slight discoloration I was unable to overcome. In desperation, I tried the embossed effect and was quite happy with the outcome.)


Links o’ the Day

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:18 pm

Just some links for y’all, as I’m currently packing for a weekend excursion to College Station to watch the surprising Texas A&M men’s basketball team match up against Baylor. My Aggies are currently ranked #8 and #9 in the polls, and that was more than enough reason for a guys’ weekend away with some old friends.

Anyway, on with the links.

Victory Caucus

The Victory Caucus

We support victory in the war against radical Islamists. We supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and we believe victory is necessary in both countries for America’s self-defense.

We believe that the radical regime in Iran, while not representative of the Iranian people, is a menace and that it cannot be allowed to obtain or build nuclear weapons.

We believe that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that has killed hundreds of Americans and which waged war against Israel in violation of every law of war this past summer, and will do so again in the future.

We believe Israel is our ally and friend and deserves the full assistance of the United States in its battle with radical Islamists. We believe that Israel has repeatedly shown its willingness to negotiate a just and lasting peace, but that its enemies do not want peace, but the destruction of Israel.

We believe that the American military is the finest in the world and indeed in history, well led and superbly trained, and populated at every level by America’s best and brightest.

We support the troops, and those organizations which assist the wounded in their recoveries and support the families of those who sacrificed everything.

We support leaders who support victory.

Part blog, part message board, still getting its feet wet.

The Danger Room

A blog about what’s next in national security. Hat tip to Op-For.

Pin-ups for Vets

I always loved the beautiful pin-up photos and paintings from the World War II era that American soldiers took overseas with them to boost their morale. The troops often carried these “cheesecake” pictures with them into war to help remind them of what they were fighting for back home. One of the most famous pinup shots was taken in the 1940’s of actress Betty Grable, in a bathing suit, looking back over her shoulder.

With these old glamorous pictures as inspiration, I decided to try to recreate the feeling of these nostalgic pin-ups in my own photo shoots, and then assemble my pictures in a calendar for a fundraiser to benefit the programs that support the hospitalized Veterans, injured in ALL wars, past and present.

A one-woman good cause worthy of your time. Both the cause and the lady are certainly worth a gander.

Appeal for Courage

Received in an email request:

Hello from Baghdad.

I and a Vietnam vet friend of mine have launched a new site, which allows active duty military to (legally) tell Congress and the media that they should support our mission, and that their criticism does hurt our morale while emboldening our enemies.

This site is partly in response to the leftist site AppealForRedress [edit: Grayhawk has more about this over at the Mudville Gazette]. It was created by a big money group and given a free pass by the media. I don’t have any money for advertising, and I don’t expect the media to help.

If you folks could help publicize it in other websites and to your military friends, I think we could get thousands of signatures and have an impact at this crucial juncture in the war. Thank-you for your help.

LT Jason Nichols, USN
MNF-I, Baghdad

Consider it done, sir.

Fullbore Friday

One of my favorite recurring features in the blogosphere is the weekly posting of Fullbore Friday, brought to you by CDR Salamander. Each week, he brings a little piece of military history, usually naval and often focusing on a gallant performance by a particular ship. As a little sample, here’s a recent posting about an engagement that fascinated me when I first read about it as a little child — the clash of the British cruisers Exeter, Ajax and Achilles against the German pocket battleship Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate. After that, be sure to keep an eye out tomorrow for the next Fullbore Friday feature.

UPDATE: While I’m plugging CDR Salamander, I thought I’d take a quick moment to discuss a recent visitor to Target Centermass. Click the “more” for the curious Site Meter listing.


Happy 370th B-Day

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:11 pm

… to the National Guard.

Hat tips to John at Argghhh!!! and RTO Trainer at Signaleer, who both have more on this auspicious day.

As has been the case so many times in the past, the National Guard is once again answering the nation’s call. Here is a Texas Guardsman from 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 56th Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division on patrol in Iraq in 2005 [click to enlarge]:

Lone Star Guardsman patrolling Iraq
[image source]


Remember Pearl Harbor!

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:57 am
Destroyer USS Shaw explodes, 7 DEC 1941

December 7, 1941, a date which will always live in infamy for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Last year on this date, I wrote the following:

As a small child, I constructed a model of the USS Arizona. I was young and knew of its history only from books. Since then, I have learned life’s lessons of death. Come May 2006, I will be paying my tribute at the USS Arizona Memorial.

My new bride and I did indeed visit the memorial on our honeymoon. Below are our pictures of that solemn, stirring place of honor and remembrance.

The memorial sits astride the sunken hull of the famed vessel and is only accessible by boat from the site’s visitor center. Here is a picture taken while approaching the memorial (as with all of the photos, click for a larger version):



A Veterans Day Message

Filed under: — Gunner @ 4:51 pm

[Reposted from 2004, with links updated as needed. More Veterans Day posting to follow later in the day.]

In Flanders fields the poppies blow...I was asked today and have often wondered something about Veterans Day — who is it truly meant to honor? Memorial Day is easy — that is a day to remember and pay homage to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the uniform (though everyday we wake up free should be such a day). I knew the origins of today’s holiday, with Nov. 11 (the anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918) formerly being set aside as Armistice Day to honor those who served in that great conflict. In 1954, the name of the holiday was changed to include the veterans of WWII and Korea. Obviously, Veterans Day is a tribute to veterans, but my question was if it was truly meant for combat veterans or those like myself who only served in peacetime?

Well, according to the FAQ on the government’s official Veterans Day site, the answer is as follows:

Q. What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

A. Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.
While those who died are also remembered on Veterans Day, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.

In light of this confirmation, I would like to thank all who served before me, all who served with me, all who served after me and all who currently serve and sacrifice.

Why the picture of the flowers on my posts about Veterans Day? That’s a pic of poppies from Flanders Field in Belgium, and the significance of that particular flower and its relation to Veterans (formerly Armistice) Day stem from the poem “In Flanders Fields” by WWI Canadian army physician John McCrae. The poem and its history can be found here (hattip to Damian Brooks at Babbling Brooks).


Some of History’s Other 9/11s

Filed under: — Gunner @ 8:18 pm

For the military history buff, here are a few key events in time that befell the date September 11. The first was a famed moment in Scotland’s past while the latter two relate directly to our struggles today against an expansionist and violent Islamist movement.

1297: The Battle of Stirling Bridge [hat tip to Smash]

1565: Malta

1683: Vienna


Disproportionate Response

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:04 pm

Steven den Beste, one of first bloggers that I began regularly reading, has surfaced again with a look at the evolution of warfare and how this applies to the recent engagement between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Pre-industrial warfare, as typified by Napoleon, pretty much came to an end during the 19th century, to be replaced by what I refer to as industrial warfare. The American Civil War was the first major industrial war, and what set it apart from previous wars was the overwhelming dominance of logistics in deciding the conflict. The South has the majority of the best generals, but the North still won because of its overwhelming logistical superiority. (Of course, it required Lincoln to understand that he had to fight a long war, and it took a general ruthless enough to sacrifice enough of his own men in order to win.)

By the early 20th century industrial warfare dominated war all over the world. It was only in the last part of the 20th century that a new form appeared: information-age war. But right now the US is the only real practictioner of this way of war, and in the rest of the world industrial war remains the norm.

Industrial war can be summed up this way: God fights on the side which has the biggest pile of ammunition and the fastest rate of replacement of expended ammunition. Like any general principle it’s not absolutely unconditionally true, but that’s the norm.

In response, two new strategic doctrines of war were developed to make it possible for small logistically-poor forces to contend against large logistically-rich forces without getting instantly crushed: guerrilla warfare and terrorist warfare. Both of them seek to nullify the logistical advantage of their richer opponents by maintaining initiative, so as to control the tempo of the war at a level low enough to not exhaust the logistics of the poorer side. For the rest of this discussion I’ll be concentrating on guerrillas.

Go read it all. Hat tip to Chap.

September 1 Anniversaries

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:53 pm

Not moments in history to be celebrated but certainly to be remembered.

67 years ago today, Germany invaded Poland and triggered the Second World War. I provided a little more thought and information in my post last year. More reading on the invasion can be found here and here. Also, don’t miss Case White Directive No. 1, Hitler’s orders for the invasion.

Today also marks to two-year anniversary of the day when Chechen terrorists stormed a school in Beslan, taking more than 1200 hostages on a day Ralph Peters described as when the killers came for the kids. The Jawa Report marks the date and remembers the ensuing massacre that cost the lives of 344 civilians, including 186 children, here and graphically here.


Tonight’s Good Reads

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:22 pm

Sorry, but I’m in a bit of a funk right now, but I’ll save the personal news behind that mood ’til another day. Given that, I think tonight I’ll just settle for a link-dump quickie.

Will The West Defend Itself?

Does the United States have the power to eliminate terrorists and the states that support them? In terms of capacity, as opposed to will, the answer is a clear yes.

Think about it. Currently, the U.S. has an arsenal of 18 Ohio class submarines. Just one submarine is loaded with 24 Trident nuclear missiles. Each Trident missile has eight nuclear warheads capable of being independently targeted. That means the U.S. alone has the capacity to wipe out Iran, Syria or any other state that supports terrorist groups or engages in terrorism — without risking the life of a single soldier.

Terrorist supporters know we have this capacity, but because of worldwide public opinion, which often appears to be on their side, coupled with our weak will, we’ll never use it. Today’s Americans are vastly different from those of my generation who fought the life-and-death struggle of World War II. Any attempt to annihilate our Middle East enemies would create all sorts of handwringing about the innocent lives lost, so-called collateral damage.

Such an argument would have fallen on deaf ears during World War II when we firebombed cities in Germany and Japan. The loss of lives through saturation bombing far exceeded those lost through the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


Of course, had there been a peace agreement with Japan and Germany, all it would have achieved would have been to give them time to recoup their losses and resume their aggression at a later time, possibly equipped with nuclear weapons.

[Hat tip to Rightwingsparkle]

Russian Footprints: What does Moscow have to do with the recent war in Lebanon?

The Kremlin may be the main winner in the Lebanon war. Israel has been attacked with Soviet Kalashnikovs and Katyushas, Russian Fajr-1 and Fajr-3 rockets, Russian AT-5 Spandrel antitank missiles and Kornet antitank rockets. Russia’s outmoded weapons are now all the rage with terrorists everywhere in the world, and the bad guys know exactly where to get them. The weapons cases abandoned by Hezbollah were marked: “Customer: Ministry of Defense of Syria. Supplier: KBP, Tula, Russia.”

Today’s international terrorism was conceived at the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the KGB, in the aftermath of the1967 Six-Day War in the Middle East. I witnessed its birth in my other life, as a Communist general.

[hat tip to Smash]

The last thre stories kind of blend together into a bigger picture.

Hezbollah Didn’t Win

By controlling the flow of information from Lebanon throughout the conflict, and help from all those who disagree with U.S. policies for different reasons, Hezbollah may have won the information war in the West. In Lebanon, the Middle East and the broader Muslim space, however, the picture is rather different.

Hoodwinked by Hezbollah

Well, since it’s all settled that Hezbollah has won, let’s just open a six-pack of non-alcoholic beer and drink to the health of the party’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, the Arab world’s latest Che Guevara.

But what kind of victory is this that, even by Hezbollah’s unexacting standards, must qualify as a major setback? In its public appraisals of the conflict, Hezbollah has ignored what Israel did to those parts of Lebanon the party cannot claim as its own. Its cries of triumph have been focused on the stubborn resistance put up by Hezbollah combatants in south Lebanon. Nothing has been heard from party leaders about the billions of dollars of losses in infrastructure; about the immediate losses to businesses that will be translated into higher unemployment; about the long-term opportunity costs of the fighting; about the impact that political instability will have (indeed has already had) on public confidence and on youth emigration; and about the general collapse in morale that Lebanon faces.

Let’s forget such trifles for a moment and use Hezbollah’s own benchmark. Even there, the evidence points to a net loss for the Shiite militia.

If this was a defeat, the Israelis must be praying for a lot more of them

IF ONLY Israel were as effective at public relations as at military operations, the results of the conflict on and around its border with Lebanon would be so much starker. As it is, however, the real meaning of the UN resolution that will start to come into force today is being widely misrepresented. Hezbollah is hailing a “victory” of sorts, albeit one of a presentational character. In a bizarre situation, Israeli politicians on both the hard Left and the hard Right appear to agree with the terrorists. All are profoundly mistaken.

What, after all, does this Hezbollah claim consist of? The organisation considers it a triumph that it has not been completely “destroyed” after just four weeks of fighting. It contrasts this with the dismal record of several Arab armies combined in 1967. It has not yet been disarmed and may not be formally neutralised in the near future. Nor has it been discredited on the Arab street, where it has enhanced its popularity. The Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrullah, thus proclaims himself a “new Nasser”.

As victories rank, not being destroyed, disarmed or discredited is not that impressive. It is hardly Henry V at Agincourt. The idea that the Six-Day War represents the military standard for the Arab world is a somewhat humiliating notion.

Hat tips for those last three stories goes out to Neptunus Lex and Ron Coleman of Dean’s World, who offer interesting pieces of their own on the matter here and here, respectively.


Secret U.S. Interrogators Break Silence

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:33 pm

Some former American interrogators have gone on record with stories possible violations of Geneva Conventions, of a secretive detention camp, of actual prisoners of war — not just battlefield detainees, mind you — begin held for months without their captors notifying the Red Cross.

Indeed, so secret was this prison camp that it was called for a while by only a code name: P.O. Box 1142.

For more than 60 years, they kept their military secrets locked deep inside and lived quiet lives as account executives, college professors, business consultants and the like.

The brotherhood of P.O. Box 1142 enjoyed no homecoming parades, no VFW reunions, no embroidered ball caps and no regaling of wartime stories to grandchildren sitting on their knees.

Almost no one, not even their wives, in many cases, knew the place in history held by the men of Fort Hunt, alluded to during World War II only by a mailing address that was its code name.

One by one, some of the surviving 100 or so military intelligence interrogators who questioned Third Reich scientists, submariners and soldiers at one of the United States’s most secretive prisoner camps are, in the twilight of their lives, spilling tales they had dared not whisper before.

Ah, World War II and FDR. One can only wonder if today’s congressional democrats, were they to be thrust back in time, would have been grumbling about investigations and threatening impeachment.

Hat tip to Florida Cracker‘s Donnah, who has a link for more historical information on the camp.

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