Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Springfield Marine dies in Iraq

Marine Cpl. Nicholas Rapavi
Marine Cpl. Nicholas Rapavi
Marine Cpl. Nicholas Rapavi often told his parents that while the mission in Iraq was important, his top concern was bringing the members of his squad home unharmed.

While on patrol Friday, Rapavi kept his squad back while putting himself in harm's way by going first through a gate in a situation he thought looked suspicious. He was shot in the neck, his father, Paul Rapavi, said yesterday.

"He felt like these guys depended on him and it was his responsibility to make sure they were OK," Paul Rapavi said. "He lost one of the members of his squad in September and he was devastated by that because these people were his brothers."

Nicholas Rapavi, 22, of Springfield, became the 101st Virginian to die while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. According to the Department of Defense, he was fatally injured while conducting combat operations in Iraq's Anbar province.

Paul Rapavi said his son had served in Afghanistan and once before in Iraq. He advanced in the ranks to become a corporal and led a squad of as many as 12 Marines. Nicholas had planned to leave the Marines at the end of his four-year term in May and go to college and possibly re-enlist later, his father said.

Although not from a military family, Nicholas had wanted to be in the Marines since he was in high school.

"Early on, he was an avid baseball player, but when he went to high school, everything was secondary to the Marines," said Paul Rapavi, who is a dentist. He said Nicholas did everything he could to prepare himself -- joined the Army ROTC, lifted weights, did pushups, always strove to improve.

He had two younger brothers -- Jonathan, 20, and Christopher, 18 -- to whom he was very close, his father said.

"It's been especially tough for the 20-year old," Paul Rapavi said. "All his friends think of Nicholas as the true American hero. When he joined, they were saying, 'Osama bin Laden's in trouble now.' Nobody's going to get away from Nick."

Paul Rapavi described his son as outgoing with lots of friends, a natural leader. "He was a tough guy but treated people fairly. You didn't cross his brothers, but as soon as he straightened you out, he could be your friend."

Besides his father and brothers, Nicholas Rapavi is survived by his mother, Cathy Rapavi-Burnley.

Plans for a funeral service are incomplete, but his family hopes he will be able to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, his father said.

Nicholas Rapavi was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Contact staff writer Tina Eshleman at teshleman@timesdispatch.com or (804) 649-6304.

This story can be found at: www.timesdispatch.com

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Iraq - The Right To Bear Arms

Here in the U.S., our Constitution gives every American the right to bear arms. While the Constitution says nothing about licensing, we have learned that licensing is a necessity to keep arms out of the wrong hands. It's not foolproof, as criminals know. But, licensing does stem the flow of arms into the wrong hands.

Is America more violent since licensing? Yes. But, violence has grown in America in proportion to the growth of population and the manufacture of weapons. Imagine what life would be like here if there was no gun licensing?

Does Iraq's current situation come to mind?

In Iraq, tribes, militias, private citizens, and gangs are armed to the teeth. Danger and death are daily threats for innocent civilians. No one can argue about the need to protect one's family. After all, this was the primary reason behind our own "right to bear arms". Guns were used to hunt and to protect in early America.

Iraq can be compared to the founding of our country. It took years for us to realize that our citizens would never give up their guns. As a compromise, licensing was instituted. Now, this is not to start a debate over "gun control". That debate will continue to rage in this country for years to come. Rather, this is merely to point out what Iraq needs to do to stem random violence and sectarian killing.

The Iraqi government needs to begin the process of licensing, soon. Let the people keep their weapons but make registration mandatory. Now, this should not include registration of RPG's (rocket propelled grenades), shoulder-mounted missiles, and the like, but, at some point, they need to begin the process of "search and seizure" of these mass-killing weapons. They are doing that now in connection with a crackdown on militias, terrorists, and common criminals. The average citizen should be next.

It will be up to the Iraqi government, not you or I, to determine what is "illegal". It's their call. It's their country. We cannot fathom their history of armed tribes and sectarianism. There are a multitude of religious leaders with their own small armies. It has been that way since the fall of Iraq. Can we blame them for wanting to protect themselves and their families during the chaos that followed? But, that time has passed. The new Iraqi security forces are nearly ready to take over and ensure the peace so that the Coalition can send their troops home.

Of course, I realize it won't be easy and that such a move will launch a debate over gun control in Iraq. Welcome to Democracy! Welcome to a free people deciding their own destiny, not at the point of a gun, rather with a Constitution and the Rule of Law as the new weapons of choice.
It will continue to be a struggle. Nothing great was ever accomplished by a weak people. The Iraqi's who do not falter will win the day for their nation, not the U.S., not the Coalition. We can only stand behind them to support them until they can do it without us. And, I believe, they will. The first step is weapon registration.

Jim DeSantis is a 15 year veteran of investigative reporting. He runs a Self Help Newspaper, On Line Tribune at http://on-line-tribune-front-page.blogspot.com featuring 14 sections packed with Free articles, courses, and ebooks on a variety of topics dealing with daily life. You are invited to submit your opinion on this or on any other topic to Jim's blog. If accepted, your opinion will be published as a Featured Article.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Was Iraq war a mistake?

Question by ash_m_79:
Absence of democracy, Weapons of Mass Destruction and support to terrorism were the reasons given for the Iraq war or which the latter two were false. In fact Bush's close Ally Pakistan becomes a fitter case for a war if these are the conditions for an Invasion. True the Taliban were asking for it for a long time, eventually someone else would have kicked their @ss if it want for America. Did Bush's personal bias against Saddam lead America to war with Iraq? Did Bush play with the sentiments of the Americans and the support of the International countries after 911? Surely The U.S wouldn't have attacked Iraq if it wasn't for 911 which we know Iraq had nothing to do with. Surely the U.S public was lied about 911 and led to a war because of one man's bias.
Answers
Chainsaw:
1. We went into Iraq because we had a cease fire with Saddam after the Gulf War. Part of that was to allow weapon inspectors unfettered access. He refused. We had 19 UN resolutions. By breaking the cease fire, we voided our part (stop military action). It was then on. I watched Pres Bush talk about this before we went into Iraq.

2. No WMD's? What was gassing the Kurds? What about the missles with mustard gas that was recently announced.

3. On supporting terrorism, Al Qaida was in most countries with dictators. Do you think they were in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and every other Middle Eastern country except Iraq? Think about it.

4. We would have had to go into Iraq without 9-11 because of my first answer.

I suggest taking the time to learn what actually goes on instead of asking questions based on lies perpetuated by liberals and our enemies.

icetender:
It wasn't a mistake. It was done on purpose and the results are no doubt as expected too. You are assuming that the miss information was accidental if you cal it a mistake. It was obviously planned.

It was clear to almost anyone who cared to look that the majority of the world was unconvinced that Iraq had WMD's. Circumstances around the world trade center are unclear and at the best you can say the current administration new there was more to those attacks than what they're telling.

If you mean it was a mistake to let the Bush administration invade Iraq, this is probably true. Since the vast majority of people are not willing to believe their govt. would intentionally lie to them, and since most people want to think what they're told to think, it was an easy mistake to make.

The question is, now that the truth is starting to show it's head, are they going to do something about it. The question is much more complicated now than it was 5 years ago. The US has made a huge mess. By removing one of the major powers of the region and replacing that power with instability of civil war, can they just leave. Don't they have a responsibility to try and tidy up before they go?

Don't be sheep. Think for yourself. Eyes wide open.

Simon Templar:
As President Clinton said, "Those who have questioned the United States in this moment, I would argue, are living only in the moment. They have neither remembered the past nor imagined the future."

Mr. Clinton went on to say," But for all our promise, all our opportunity, people in this room know very well that this is not a time free from peril, especially as a result of reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals.

We have to defend our future from these predators of the 21st century. They feed on the free flow of information and technology. They actually take advantage of the freer movement of people, information and ideas.

And they will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen.

There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein's Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region and the security of all the rest of us."

Mr. Clinton's reasoning for this stance was crystal clear:

" Now, instead of playing by the very rules he agreed to at the end of the Gulf War, Saddam has spent the better part of the past decade trying to cheat on this solemn commitment. Consider just some of the facts:

Iraq repeatedly made false declarations about the weapons that it had left in its possession after the Gulf War. When UNSCOM would then uncover evidence that gave lie to those declarations, Iraq would simply amend the reports.

For example, Iraq revised its nuclear declarations four times within just 14 months and it has submitted six different biological warfare declarations, each of which has been rejected by UNSCOM.

In 1995, Hussein Kamal, Saddam's son-in-law, and the chief organizer of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, defected to Jordan. He revealed that Iraq was continuing to conceal weapons and missiles and the capacity to build many more.

Then and only then did Iraq admit to developing numbers of weapons in significant quantities and weapon stocks. Previously, it had vehemently denied the very thing it just simply admitted once Saddam Hussein's son-in-law defected to Jordan and told the truth. Now listen to this, what did it admit?

It admitted, among other things, an offensive biological warfare capability notably 5,000 gallons of botulinum, which causes botulism; 2,000 gallons of anthrax; 25 biological-filled Scud warheads; and 157 aerial bombs.

And I might say UNSCOM inspectors believe that Iraq has actually greatly understated its production.

As if we needed further confirmation, you all know what happened to his son-in-law when he made the untimely decision to go back to Iraq.

Next, throughout this entire process, Iraqi agents have undermined and undercut UNSCOM. They've harassed the inspectors, lied to them, disabled monitoring cameras, literally spirited evidence out of the back doors of suspect facilities as inspectors walked through the front door. And our people were there observing it and had the pictures to prove it."

There was only one conclusion Mr. Clinton could make:

" Now, let's imagine the future. What if he fails to comply, and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction and continue to press for the release of the sanctions and continue to ignore the solemn commitments that he made?

Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction.

And some day, some way, I guarantee you, he'll use the arsenal. And I think every one of you who's really worked on this for any length of time believes that, too."

And Mr. Clinton's solution to this problem was claer as well:

" The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world.

The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government -- a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. "

One man's bias, of course.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

This Week on The Patriot Insider - 2

Is the American Dream still alive?

That's what I'll ask my guests on this week's edition of The Patriot Insider, 9-11 a.m. Saturday on AM 1280 The Patriot.

The show was prompted by Quentin, an immigrant who came to this country 20 years ago with nothing and has built his own business. Now his son, who just turned 18, is starting his own business. Quentin called in last week during my interview with the Libertarian Guys. His quote of the week was: "America is still the only place on Earth where you can come with nothing and make something of yourself."

Other guests will include Brian McMahon of University United, which oversees University Avenue development. And Tony Mattera and Rick Bonadeo, first-generation Americans who will talk about what they learned from their immigrant parents and how it has shaped them.

Should be a good show.

Friday, July 07, 2006

This week on The Patriot Insider

First off, my apologies to all my adoring fans who had to sit through two hours of The Nihlist in Golf Pants hosting the show last week. I tried to get Sisyphus, but he refuses to come out of his shell.

I was out of town on an emergency. I went to give blood a few weeks back and the nurse told me that plasma had overtaken extra virgin olive oil as the primary liquid flowing through my veins. So I had to go to my beloved Brooklyn for a transfusion (more on that in a future post).

The show returns to its usual stellar heights this week. In the first hour, we'll have Alan Fine (http://fineforcongress.org/), the Republican candidate for the Fifth Congressional District. Frankly, this otherwise sensible, well-spoken man doesn't stand a chance with the loopy, looney voters of Minneapolis. But we'll ask him about key issues in the race ("Have you ever given money to the Nation of Islam?" and "If elected, will you change your name to Osama bin Laden Farrah Aidid?").

The second hour will feature Corey Stern and Lee Brennise of the Libertarian Party, talking about issues both local and national, including the maverick candidacy of Sue Jeffers, owner of Stub and Herbs, the U of M hockey bar where Sisyphus and Skum drown their sorrows every time the Wisconsin Badgers come to town.

And, of course, we'll have the usual surprise guests, skits, chatter and everything else that has made The Patriot Insider the No. 1 local talk show on The Patriot (yes, that includes the Northern Alliance, most of whom will be too hung over from Keegan's Scotch and Cigar night to put in a good performance this week). Canada phone cards India phone cards France phone cards Russia phone cards UK phone cards USA phone cards

Monday, July 03, 2006

From Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer

The case for America, consummate war-winner
A professor counts the ways the U.S. has been militarily victorious for 200 years, seeing a fundamental belief in "sanctity of life" as the reason why.
America's VictoriesWhy the U.S. Wins Warsand Will Win the War on TerrorBy Larry Schweikart
Sentinel. 352 pp. $24.95
Reviewed by Mark Yost
Even the most vehement critics of the war on terror will admit that our soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are some of the best that have ever stepped onto a battlefield. University of Dayton history professor Larry Schweikart argues that America's troops have always overcome adversity, poor equipment and yes, unpopularity to win wars and do so with aplomb.
How and why are detailed well in his new book, America's Victories: Why the U.S. Wins Wars and Will Win the War on Terror. With the U.S. Marines of Haditha already convicted in the court of public opinion, this book couldn't come at a better time.
Schweikart reviews 200 years of American military history and notes that U.S. troops - often underfunded, ill-prepared and overmatched - "have whipped the British Empire (twice), beaten a Mexican army (against all European expectations), fought a fratricidal civil war that resulted in higher casualties than all previous wars put together (due to the fact that officers and soldiers on both sides were deadly effective), and rushed the Plains Indians with a minimal number of troops. American forces then dispatched the Spanish in less than a year (when again, most Europeans thought Spain would win), helped the Allies evict the Germans from France, and dominated an international alliance that simultaneously beat the Nazis, Japanese warlords, and Italian fascists."
How did we do it? The American soldier has been the most decisive factor in warfare, evolving from a ragtag militia to a draftee army to today's all-volunteer force, which is fighting, and winning, in some of the toughest conditions ever seen. As the soldier has evolved, so has U.S. military doctrine.
"It is a distinctly American military character replete with individual initiative and unprecedented autonomy for soldiers and officers, all supported by free-market production concepts... . America's victories have been undergirded by the principles establishing the sanctity of life that permeate our founding documents, and that temper our treatment of enemies and inspire us to save fallen or captured warriors like no other society and history has done."
This last point is important, for it provides context and perspective to the often-myopic analyses of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Haditha. In the chapter titled "Gitmo, Gulags, and Great Raids," Schweikart recounts how the Japanese treated their prisoners following the World War II Battle of Bataan:
Immediately the Japanese engaged in brutality, massacring the 400 men of the Filipino 91st Division, who, hands tied behind their backs, were lined up along a narrow ravine, and shot. Imperial soldiers marched into the two main field hospitals, defecating and urinating next to the wounded.
During the Death March of Bataan, captured U.S. soldiers crawled on their hands and knees, "aware that if they stopped, they could expect a bayonet or a slow death by starvation or thirst." In 1944, when American Liberator bombers flew over the Puerto Princesa prison camp in the Philippines, the Japanese herded their prisoners into an air raid shelter, not for protection, but to douse them with aviation fuel and burn them alive rather than let them go free.
Compare this to the conditions at Guantanamo Bay, where al-Qaeda prisoners are forced to listen to Christina Aguilera, and the cries of protest from the antiwar left truly ring hollow. That's because even at their worst, American soldiers still hold the moral high ground when it comes to fighting wars and winning the peace. And they're doing it again.
"The very antiwar activism that infuses a substantially antimilitary media results paradoxically in a high profile for leftist sentiments that are not shared by the majority," Schweikart writes. "In turn, the antimilitary Left feeds the tendency of others to underestimate the American willingness to fight, and, if we stick it out, usually to win."
How true. Bizon phone card Jupiter calling card Mozart calling card Continental calling card

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Media's Message to Our Troops

Here is a rough draft of a speech I gave on Sunday, June 25 at the Army-Air National Guard Surgeons Conference in the Twin Cities.

Congratulations. You survived Iraq.

There must be something wrong with you.

You laugh, but it’s part of an anti-war, anti-U.S., anti-military message that the media is sending to our men and women in uniform every day. It’s a message that’s been trumpeted on the front pages of our daily newspapers and led the evening newscasts since just after the Sept. 11 attacks on Washington and New York. The U.S. is bad; we must have done something to provoke this; you’d do the same thing if you were simply a devout follower of Islam trying to live a pure life in a world polluted by MTV, Xbox and McDonalds.

Of course, if your worldview goes beyond the myopic 24-hour news cycle by which these reporters, editors and newscasters live, then you know Sept. 11 was just the latest salvo in a global campaign of bloody, unmitigated terrorism that’s been waged by fundamentalist barbarians for at least 30 years. The Achille Lauro, Khobar Towers, Mogadishu, the African embassies, the USS Cole are just a few of the names that will be recited in American History 101 in 100 years, the way Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, Bastonge and Normandy are today.

But as you prepared to go into the latest battle in this truly global war of terror, the message was clear:

Saddam was no threat to us.

Iraq was not a safe-have for terrorists.

There were no weapons of mass destruction.

Bush is a cowboy.

This war was planned before he was even elected.

Dick Cheney’s behind it, just to boost his Halliburton stock.

But we support our troops.


Once the invasion began, you were told that this would be no “mop-up operation” like the first Gulf War.

We were up against the “elite” Republican Guard, part of the fourth-largest Army in the world.

These were crack troops, battle-hardened by the eight-year war against Iran (never mind that that was 20 years ago and some of them had been killed in a chemical gas attack that Saddam knew would kill some of his own troops).

U.S. bodies will litter a new “Highway of Death.” The media, paraphrasing Col. Troutman in “Rambo,” warned us: “Be sure and bring plenty of body bags.”

But we support our troops.


Once you entered Baghdad, you were told that it would be another Mogadishu. In fact, I think some HOPED it would be another Mogadishu.

As images of the Saddam statue being toppled were broadcast around the world by CNN, FoxNews and MSNBC, you were told that you would not be welcomed as liberators. These people beating the statue with their sandals, a sign of disrespect in Arab culture, were just a small faction of the population. The vast majority of Iraqis hated your guts. Yes, you’ve taken Baghdad, but now try to hold it.

But we support our troops.


Once you secured Baghdad, the media seemed to relish almost every car bombing, beheading and market attack, leaving the safety of the Green Zone just long enough to get their pictures and an incriminating quote from a bereaved loved one wracked by grief. Lost on most of them was that fact that they could return to the safety of the Green Zone only because of the presence and professionalism of U.S. troops.

Rarely did the news accounts look beyond the manipulative power of emotional grief and raw carnage to mention the body count of innocent Iraqi civilians that had been killed, a number that’s in the TENS OF THOUSANDS and dwarfs the number of U.S. casualties. But stop the average American on the street and they could probably tell you within a 100 or so how many Americans had been killed in Iraq. Forget that today, three years later, we still haven’t lost as many people in Iraq and Afghanistan as were lost on Sept. 11.

As you rebuilt the country that was mostly destroyed or neglected by Saddam during a 30-year terror campaign and only partially by your efforts to unseat one of the most brutal dictators since Hitler, you were told that you weren’t doing enough. Yes, there were days when the lights were on less frequently and the water ran a little slower in Baghdad than when Saddam’s secret police ran the place. What the media fails to report is that you’re building infrastructure in parts of the country that never had it. Saddam channeled all of his power, all of his water, all of his infrastructure to Baghdad, so that when U.N. inspectors came in to scold him for his 19th violation of the 1991 peace accord, they could have air conditioning and hot running water in their hotel and report that, indeed, all was well in Baghdad. Never mind that the rest of the country was, under Saddam, in the dark, starving and dying of thirst.

But we support our troops.


Of course, just when you thought the media coverage couldn’t get any worse, it did. The greatest disservice – the greatest insult – to our troops during this war has been the way in which the media has blindly – and vigorously – embraced the allegations to come out of Haditha. Seven Marines and a Navy Corpsman have been accused of murdering innocent civilians. Rather than wait for the outcome of the fair trial that these men clearly deserve, the media and some of our politicians have already convicted them in the court of public opinion. Adding insult to injury, the media and their allies at the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and other left-leaning groups have failed to accord to these soldiers the very human and constitutional rights that they’ve demanded for our enemies. Blast Madonna or Eminem into the cells at Guantanamo and there are cries of abuse. Behead two of our soldiers or blow up a market full of people innocently shopping for their dinner and the response is “What did you expect? We invaded a country that never posed a threat to us.”

For three years, the media had screamed “Why can’t we get Zarqowi? Where is he? One man in a mud hut is making a fool of the world’s last great super power.”

When we finally killed him, thanks to a coordinated intelligence-gathering effort between U.S. and Iraqi troops, the same Iraqi troops that are portrayed as incompetent, the response from the talking heads was a ho-hum “So what? You think this ends it (No one ever said you did). His death will just fill the ranks of the jihadists.”

But they support our troops.

I think you get my point. Moreover, many of you have seen all of this first hand. Many of you have been to Iraq and Afghanistan, come back, read the newspapers, watched the newscasts, read the blogs and scratched your head and said, “That’s not what I saw.” Unfortunately, that’s what’s presented to the vast majority of Americans – and, indeed, the world. But you and I know the real story.

Yes, Iraq is a place that’s incredibly dangerous. It is Ground Zero – an appropriate term – for a small but very smart faction of fundamentalist fanatics whose sole goals is to do great harm to us, our allies and the people of Iraq in the most barbaric ways possible. All to further a 9th-century agenda that seems not to bother the 21st-century progressives in the media.

All of this is a daily fact of life in Iraq. But as you know, for all the human carnage and destruction, there are wonderful things going on in Iraq.

Yes, the enemy is inflicting horrific casualties on our troops and the civilian population. But thanks to a revolution in combat medicine that has gone largely unreported in the media, soldiers who just five years ago would have been killed are coming home and going on to lead prosperous lives. Some are even returning to active duty. Let me read to you from an article, “Second Chances at Life,” that I wrote for the February edition of The American Spectator:


“Soldiers are walking on prostheses that wouldn't have lived before," said Lieutenant Colonel Clark Searle, an Army orthopedic surgeon who served in Iraq in 2003 with the 86th and 21st Combat Support Hospitals. "People are keeping limbs that ten years ago they would have lost."One reason is that the U.S. military has started giving basic first-aid instruction to as many soldiers as possible -- not just medics and corpsmen -- through a program called Combat Lifesavers. "We've made great strides in teaching a lot of soldiers first-aid skills," said Lieutenant Colonel Mike Place, deputy commander at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He was a division surgeon with the 101st Airborne in Iraq in 2003 and 2004."That training is one of the reasons why more soldiers are surviving after being wounded," he said.Indeed, bleeding is the number one preventable cause of death in combat. If your buddy next to you knows what to do if you're hit, your chances of survival go way up. As a result, combat medicine used to refer to "the golden hour" to describe the all-important initial care that a soldier receives after being wounded. Today, thanks to Combat Lifesavers and some of the new medical technology, the talk is about "the platinum five minutes.""A major arterial bleed will cause you to die within five minutes," said Major Lisa Maxwell, a general surgeon who deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the 86th Combat Support Hospital. "What we're trying to do is focus more on point-of-injury care to stop the initial bleeding, and then use transportation to get them to a hospital."

Another advancement in combat medicine is a bandage made of chitosan, a biodegradable carbohydrate found in shrimp and lobster shells that bonds with blood cells and helps form a clot. There's another new bandage that contains fibrinogen and thrombin, clotting proteins that can reduce blood loss by up to 85 percent."Both products have been highly effective and there are many reports from the field where they have been able to stop bleeding that normal bandages have not been able to control," according to Army literature.

And we’re using this great medical technology to save the lives of Iraqis as well as our own soldiers.


"The military medical facilities take care of three groups," Colonel Place said. "Coalition forces, Iraqi civilians, and Iraqi detainees."
It is U.S. policy that Iraqi civilians stay in U.S. military hospitals until they're ready to be released or can be transferred to an Iraqi civilian hospital that can adequately care for them. Afghanistan is much the same way."Coalition hospitals are often all that's available," Colonel Place said. Indeed, many of the doctors who served in Iraq or Afghanistan said that upwards of half the patients in U.S. hospitals were civilians.

In addition to treating Iraqi civilian trauma patients, the U.S. and its allies have also set up local medical clinics where Iraqis can go to get treatment for everyday maladies."We've set up literally hundreds of public health clinics over there," Colonel Searle said. "It's a great story."

Not only do our soldiers and Iraqi civilians get cutting-edge trauma treatment when they first come into U.S. medical facilities, they also receive great long-term care. "Once we developed a fixed facility, we had ICUs, some very high-tech ventilators that saved a lot of lives, and we had intensive care physicians on the ground," Major Maxwell said. "Once we get past the golden hour, we have personnel to make sure they survive the next 24 hours. "To have an ICU in a Third World country is amazing," she said.


Of course, little of this is reported in the media, even after this outstanding emergency care network saved the life of a CBS News correspondent. The focus of most news reports on wounded soldiers is on the tragedy, not the triumph.

The same is true for reports on the very important work many of you are doing here at home, helping the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who may not have been physically wounded, but carry emotional scars from their tour of duty. In short, you’re doing an incredible job of taking care of our troops once they come home. That is the primary focus of this conference and you’ve already heard first hand from people like Minnesota National Guard Sgt. Keith Huff, Chaplain Morris and General Shellito about the incredible success of “Reintegration: Beyond Reunion,” the first-of-its-kind program that has been put in place for our returning National Guard troops. The program is such a resounding success that other states – as well as the Department of Defense – are looking to copy it. It’s truly one of the most positive things to come out of this war and something that everyone involved should be proud of.

Of course, that’s not the story that’s being told in the media. I wasn’t joking at the opening of this presentation. The focus and attitude of the media can basically be summed up in two sentences. “You’ve survived. What’s wrong with you?”

This statement reveals the pathology that drives the media coverage of Iraq. This was a misguided, unjust, poorly executed war run by a cowboy administration that’s being fought by a bunch of misguided, illiterate 19 year olds who couldn’t find anything better in the disastrous Bush economy. Again, like media reports on the advances in combat medicine, the focus is mostly on the negative, not the positive. You’re all just ticking time bombs, broken human beings hiding behind a steely fa├žade that’s cracking. You’re all just waiting to explode. And it’s inevitable that you will, in some way or other. But you and I know that the true story is much different. There is much to celebrate here.

The Minnesota program is comprehensive. It brings together the diverse fields of mental health, spirituality, psychology, job placement and training, family counseling, and education to offer a truly broad array of support services for our returning troops. Thanks to Sgt. Huff, Chaplain Morris and countless unnamed others, the program is helping families and communities across the state.

Andy Davis, a former Army Ranger, is literally transforming the state’s college campuses. The St. Peter native came home from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan – including a 13-day firefight in Haditha in which three of his buddies were killed by a pregnant woman who was packed with explosives. He came home to the University of Minnesota to find not just a student body but an administration that was openly hostile to veterans. Through his tireless efforts, he shamed the university into giving space for a Veteran’s Transition Center that has literally changed the college experience for our returning vets. He has also helped a very supportive Gov. Tim Pawlenty craft legislation that is helping vets make the transition from combat to campus. Instead of feeling isolated and ostracized, vets now have a place – and a family – that makes them feel welcome. Davis also convinced the Veteran’s Administration to regularly send caseworkers to campus to help vets process their educational benefits claims, something that previously had resulted in high drop out rates among our returning vets.

How much of this has been reported by the Twin Cities media? Very little. Again, it goes against their widespread and long-held view that the war produces nothing but human suffering and misery. Nothing good could possibly come out of it. To admit as much would be to challenge their entire world view of the military and the people who are dumb enough to put on the uniform.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is the success of “Reintegration: Beyond Reunion” going beyond state boundaries, it is reaching across generational boundaries, as well.

If the media has gotten one thing right in the past 30 years it is that Vietnam Vets are the true black mark on this country’s military record, but not for the false, hyperbolic reasons that the media – especially Hollywood – has perpetuated for the past 30 years. These soldiers were literally abandoned by this country. We deserted them, plain and simple, and left them to struggle with physical and emotional scars that most of us can’t imagine. As a nation, we should truly be ashamed.

But thanks to “Reintegration: Beyond Reunion,” we are reaching out to them, and in a small way making up for our past transgressions. In April, as part of my Pioneer Press column series, “The Home Front,” I wrote about Mike Clark, a St. Cloud native who spent a year in the Mekong Delta.


“There was no thanks, no respect," said the 59-year-old former Army medic who served nine months in Vietnam. "Nobody wanted to understand the experiences that we went through."Indeed, many Vietnam veterans came home to a country that was not just against the war, but also against them."I saw demonstrations with people carrying signs that said 'Ho Chi Minh will win,' " said Clark, whose legs were mangled by a grenade. "For Americans to be cheering on the enemy we were fighting and who were killing and wounding members of my platoon and other Americans was astounding."And sometimes hard to process."Every Vietnam vet felt the enormous social pressure," Clark said. "We were in a supposedly worthless war."Once the war was over, it didn't let up. Vietnam vets became a stereotype on television and in movies."They always had a Vietnam vet who was the psychotic villain of the week," he said.Clark spent the next 25 years as a public schoolteacher, but, like Maj. Gen. Shellito, quietly vowed, "Never again."Indeed, the two Vietnam vets have never met, but their shared experience speaks to the breadth and depth of "Reintegration: Beyond Reunion," the Minnesota Guard's program for returning Iraq vets. It is not only helping returning vets today, but also helping Vietnam vets like Clark and Shellito, who have been trying to come to peace with their war and themselves for more than 30 years."The experience was life-altering," Clark said of Vietnam specifically and combat in general. "It marks you; it makes you feel different than your peers."While their war ended 30 years ago, in many ways it never ended for some vets."I still suffer from my physical wounds as well as the invisible wounds that are called PTSD" (post-traumatic stress disorder), Clark said.But thanks to public awareness of the Guard program, some vets are opening age-old emotional wounds and re-examining how they dealt with their post-combat stress."PTSD doesn't mean you're crazy," said Clark, echoing the most important message the Guard is sending to its combat vets today. "It's just the trauma of the events you've experienced."

That is indeed a message that the Guard is sending to our returning troops today. I hope they’re listening, because it’s the most important message of the program. Anxiety, feelings of loss, disorientation, feeling like you don’t fit in. These things are all normal for someone who has experienced combat, something that is by all means not normal. I truly hope that message is being heard – and understood – in the community. Because the last thing we want to do is abandon another generation of Mike Clarks.

So let me close with this: You’re not crazy. The mission you’re doing is noble. You’re doing it with pride and professionalism in some of the most challenging conditions soldiers have ever faced. And, regardless of what the media says, you’re winning.

You may not be widely revered as heroes today, but I have no doubt that you will be fairly judged by history. But if you ever doubt that what you’ve done is honorable and just, I’d tell you to heed another piece of advice repeated often in Minnesota’s reintegration program. Call your bunker buddy. Call the person who watched your back for a year. The one you trusted with your life like no other. The one with whom you built a bond that, in many ways, is stronger than the one you have with your spouse or your children. Call them and ask if you did the right thing. Ask if you truly made a difference. I doubt you’ll even have to ask the question. Just hearing them say “hello” will be enough.

Thank you.

Different Opinion

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Worth a Listen

If you're around Sunday night, I'd encourage you to listen to the replay of my weekly radio show, "The Patriot Insider," from 7-9 p.m. CDT. You can listen online at www.am1280thepatriot.com.
My guest the first hour is Andy Davis, former Army Ranger who fought in Haditha, the terrorist snake pit that is currently in the news. You'll hear the other half of the story, which is mostly being ignored by the media.
As Davis explains, Haditha is at the center of the terrorist pipeline from Lebanon and Syria. There are daily firefights there between Al Qaeda and Coalition forces. Davis and his 150-man Ranger platoon went in there in 2003 for what was supposed to be a six-hour mission to secure the road across the Haditha Dam, one of the only main highways that crosses the Tigris and Euphrates north of Baghdad. 13 days later, they temporarily secured the area. During the fighting, three of Davis's buddies were killed when a pregnant woman detonated herself and took them with her.
Imagine the scenario had been different. Imagine that the Rangers had recognized her as a threat and killed her before she had a chance to blow up herself and them. These Rangers could very well be the soldiers on trial now for "committing atrocities" in Haditha.
It's a compelling 45 minutes of radio. Davis also talks about the challenges soldiers face as they come back from Iraq and try and reintegrate into a society that's often openly hostile to the war and indifferent to the challenges our soldiers face. Particularly on our college campuses.

alcohol tests, drug tests

Friday, June 02, 2006

Thoughts on Haditha

Below is the latest story from The Washington Post on the alleged killing of civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha, Iraq. I've been waiting to comment on this because 1. These guys deserve a full and fair hearing before the entire nation passes judgment on them; 2. I know a little bit about Haditha and what a terrorist hell hole it is; 3. Who knows what evidence hasn't come to light yet -- or been misreported by the mainstream media.
These last two points are important. Many people probably hadn't heard of Haditha before the latest news cycle. I know a little bit about it because Andy Davis, the former Army Ranger who shamed the University of Minnesota administration into helping him set up a Veteran's Transition Center, fought there. In fact, it was one of the earliest -- and bloodiest -- encounters of the war.
According to Davis, his Ranger Battallion was sent in to secure the Haditha Dam after a large weapons cache was found near there. Haditha had already been -- and continues to be -- the site of almost daily firefights between Coalition Forces and the bad guys. Why? Because it is one of the few major highways that crosses the Tigris River north of Baghdad. As a result, it's the Iraqi equivalent of the Ho Chi Ming Trail for bringing supplies from Syria to the insurgents, many of whom call Haditha "home."
Davis' unit was equipped and prepared for a six-hour mission, securing the perimeter while the Combat Engineers went in and blew up the weapons cache. Two weeks later, they were still there. It was some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. The Rangers and other units had to be re-supplied by helicopter. After nearly two weeks, the U.S. forces managed to secure the area -- temporarily. Haditha remains a hotbed of terrorist activity today.
Of course, all of this is lost on most of the reporters covering this story. All they know is that some U.S. Marines are accused of commiting atrocities and that's a hell of a story. For the anti-war crowd back home, this is Iraq's Mai Lai. Or at least they hope it is.
But let's step back from the fever pitch of the 24 hour news cycle and look at this. First off, I would ask what other country would not only investigate reports of soldier misconduct in an area swarming with terrorists, but prosecute them as well? It's a short list.
How many genocide trials have we read about in Moscow, prosecuting soldiers from the fighting in Chechnya? And what about our Canadian friends? Didn't they cover up atrocities by an airborne unit in Rwanda? And forget the Iraq regime we just ousted. Saddam Hussein not only didn't flinch at gassing his own people, he didn't hesitate at gassing his own troops when battlefield commanders told him that winds were unfavorable and some of his own soldiers would be killed during a chemical-weapons attack on Iranian forces during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
Secondly, even if the alleged misconduct at Haditha took place, let's try and keep this in context. It is but one incident among many thousands -- perhaps hundreds of thousands -- of raids, house-clearings, and firefights that our soldiers have engaged in without a hint of scandal. I often make this point when debating gun control. Yes, the murder rates in places like Washington, Denver and L.A. are disturbing (and higher than the death rates in Iraq, I may add), but before you can blame firearms, you have to look at it in the broader context of all the rounds that are fired without incident. While the media tends to focus on every homicide and hunting accident, they do so without context. They ignore the fact that millions -- if not billions -- of rounds are fired safely every year on gun ranges, hunting trips and in competition. Yes, 1,000 deaths a year -- the peak for New York City -- is a tragedy, but when viewed in a broader context it takes on a completely different complexion.
So when we look at stories like Haditha and Abu Ghraib, we should keep it in context. These are isolated incidents, statistical anomolies if you will, amid the hundreds of thousands of other incursions and engagements conducted by our troops.
What makes this all the more disturbing is that we're not only all-too-eager to investigate any hint of improper behavior by our troops in Iraq, but we almost condemn them in the court of public opinion before all the facts are in. Given all the scorn and questions and controversy that has been heaped upon our troops from the very start of the war, the incredibly challenging environment in which they're fighting, and the fact that some are on their third and fourth tours, it just makes you marvel at them all the more.
The Washington Post, New York Times and others can condemn these guys all they want. But until they receive the full and fair trial to which they're entitled, I say, "Semper Fi, Mac."


May 31, 2006
Military Inquiry Said to Oppose Account of Raid
By ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID S. CLOUD
WASHINGTON, May 30 — A military investigator uncovered evidence in February and March that contradicted repeated claims by marines that Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha last November were victims of a roadside bomb, according to a senior military official in Iraq.
Among the pieces of evidence that conflicted with the marines' story were death certificates that showed all the Iraqi victims had gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and chest, the official said.
The investigation, which was led by Col. Gregory Watt, an Army officer in Baghdad, also raised questions about whether the marines followed established rules for identifying hostile threats when they assaulted houses near the site of a bomb attack, which killed a fellow marine.
The three-week inquiry was the first official investigation into an episode that was first uncovered by Time magazine in January and that American military officials now say appears to have been an unprovoked attack by the marines that killed 24 Iraqi civilians. The results of Colonel Watt's investigation, which began on Feb. 14, have not previously been disclosed.
"There were enough inconsistencies that things didn't add up," said the senior official, who was briefed on the conclusions of Colonel Watt's preliminary investigation.
The official agreed to discuss the findings only after being promised anonymity. The findings have not been made public, and the Pentagon and the Marines have refused to discuss the details of inquiries now underway, saying that to do so could compromise the investigation.
When Colonel Watt described the findings to Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the senior ground commander in Iraq, on March 9, they raised enough questions about the marines' veracity that General Chiarelli referred the matter to the senior Marine commander in Iraq, who ordered a criminal investigation that officials say could result in murder charges being brought against members of the unit.
Colonel Watt's findings also prompted General Chiarelli to order a parallel investigation into whether senior Marine officers and enlisted personnel had attempted to cover up what happened.
Colonel Watt's inquiry included interviews with marines believed to have been involved in the killings, as well as with senior officers in the unit, the Third Battalion of the First Marine Regiment.
Among them were Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, whom officials had said was one of the senior noncommissioned officers on the patrol, and Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, the battalion commander, the senior official said. Colonel Chessani was relieved of his command in April, after the unit returned from Iraq.
In their accounts to Colonel Watt, the marines said they took gunfire from the first of five residences they entered near the bomb site, according to the senior military official.
The official said the marines had recalled hearing "a weapon being prepared to be used against them."
Colonel Watt also reviewed payments totaling $38,000 in cash made within weeks of the shootings to families of victims.
In an interview Tuesday, Maj. Dana Hyatt, the officer who made the payments, said he was told by superiors to compensate the relatives of 15 victims, but was told that rest of those killed had been deemed to have committed hostile acts, leaving their families ineligible for compensation.
After the initial payments were made, however, those families demanded similar payments, insisting their relatives had not attacked the marines, Major Hyatt said.
Major Hyatt said he was authorized by Colonel Chessani and more senior officers at the marines' regimental headquarters to make the payments to relatives of 15 victims.
Colonel Chessani "was part of the chain of command that gives the approval," Major Hyatt said.
"Even when he signs off on it," the major added, "it still has to go up to" the unit's regimental headquarters.
Colonel Chessani declined to comment on Tuesday when visited at his home at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The list of 15 victims deemed to be noncombatants was put together by intelligence personnel attached to the battalion, Major Hyatt said. Those victims were related to a Haditha city council member, he said. The American military sometimes pays compensation to relatives of civilian victims.
The relatives of each victim were paid a total of $2,500, the maximum allowed under Marine rules, along with $250 payments for two children who were wounded. Major Hyatt said he also compensated the families for damage to two houses.
"I didn't say we had made a mistake," Major Hyatt said, describing what he had told the city council member who was representing the victims. "I said I'm being told I can make payments for these 15 because they were deemed not to be involved in combat."
The military began its examination of the killings only after Time magazine presented the full findings of its investigation to a military spokesman in Baghdad in early February.
General Chiarelli, an Army officer who took command of American ground forces in Iraq in January, learned soon after the spokesman was notified that the Marines had not investigated the incident, according to the senior military official.
On Tuesday, the White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said President Bush first became aware of the episode after the Time magazine inquiry, when he was briefed by Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser. "When this comes out, all the details will be made available to the public, so we'll have a picture of what happened," Mr. Snow said.
blog

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Capt. Nathanael Doring

Marine 'pursued a dream to fly'
Pilot, 31, dies in Iraq copter crash
BY FREDERICK MELO and DAVID HANNERS
Pioneer Press
After college, Nathanael Doring followed his dreams of flying and landed in the Marines, where the 31-year-old Apple Valley man met the second love of his life: his wife. The two served as captains in Iraq, and in April, he extended his second tour of duty so he could return to the U.S. this summer, shortly before she would.
Nathanael Doring, who flew attack helicopters with the Marines, died this past weekend when his AH-1 Cobra crashed into a deep lake about 45 miles west of Baghdad.
Searchers recovered his body from the cockpit Monday, along with that of a 25-year-old corporal, and their families were notified of their deaths. The accident happened during a routine maintenance test flight near an airbase and was not combat related, according to the military.
The cause of the crash is still undetermined, Doring's family said. He was the 32nd Minnesota military member to die in the Iraq war.
Cara Skoglund said her younger brother looked forward to returning to the United States in August and planned to spend time with Alexander, his 7-year-old son from a previous relationship. The boy, who lives in Maryland with his mother, learned Tuesday of Doring's death.
Skoglund and other family members remembered Doring as an independent spirit who loved the camaraderie of the military. Soccer and aviation were his greatest passions, which he took to early. While still a student at Apple Valley High School, he completed ground classes in aviation and played soccer or served as a referee.
He later attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering, graduating with honors in electrical engineering in the late 1990s before joining the U.S. Marine Corps.
"Everything he did was his own path," said Jim Doring, Nathanael Doring's father, standing with Doring's older sister and younger brother Wednesday outside the family's Apple Valley home.
Marine Capt. Lisa Christenson Doring will accompany her husband's casket back to the U.S. this week, where he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A memorial service has been tentatively scheduled for June 10 at the Berea Lutheran Church in Inver Grove Heights.
The two married three years ago in a ceremony at the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
During the opening salvos of the war, Doring's squadron launched operations from Kuwait into Iraq. He was among the 24 pilots of Helicopter Squadron-369 who received air medals in June 2004 for their extensive missions in combat zones.
The twin-engine AH-1W Super Cobra, the latest version of an aircraft that first saw service in Vietnam, is used by the Marines for attacking armor, armed escort and reconnaissance, among other duties.
Doring's uncle, Rich Gamble of Inver Grove Heights, said he recalled a young man who was quiet and devoted.
"He pursued a dream to fly and was able to accomplish that," said Gamble. "He was dedicated to that and dedicated to what he was doing."
Gamble said Doring believed the U.S. involvement in Iraq was a good thing.
"From his perspective, I know he believed they were helping the people in Iraq," he said.
Doring had already completed two tours of duty in Iraq and his unit had returned to Camp Pendleton in April, his uncle said. But because his wife still was serving in Iraq, he decided to stay in the Middle East.
Since his unit was stateside, Doring was assigned to act as a liaison between the military and defense contractors operating unmanned aerial vehicles, which are widely used in Iraq for surveillance and reconnaissance.
"He was flying these other missions for flight time, basically," Gamble said. "It wasn't part of his regular duties."
Doring's helicopter crashed Saturday into the deep water of a large lake near the Al Taqaddum airbase, the military said. Because special equipment had to be moved to the scene to search for and recover the helicopter, it wasn't until Monday — two days after the crash — that Doring's death was confirmed.
32: Minnesota military members killed in Iraq
53: Wisconsin military members killed in Iraq

stop and think for a minute

The war in Iraq?

mommy1 ask q. on Yahoo Answers:
Is it okay to not agree with the war, but to support the soldiers who are and have been over there risking and losing their lives? I support our troops in every way, and i was told that you cant support the troops and not the war. I was just wanting someone elses opinion on that. My boyfriend served for over a year in Iraq, and he is my hero. All of them are, and it makes me mad when i hear people griping about them, and how they are killing innocent people. But i never hear about how many Americans have lost their lives over there. Thank you to all of the soldiers, God Bless You.

okay, my boyfriend did choose to join the military, yes he signed the papers, but it was not his, or anyone elses choice, to go fight for something that they didnt believe in. Its not their fault that our government is like it is, and if it wasnt for all of the people in the military, then where would we be now. I think it takes a really brave person to sign up. And as far as the Iraqi people dying, they are trying to kill our soldiers, no, not all of them are, but its the same way with America, how many lives have been lost in Iraqi soil? How many families have lost their loved ones for a cause that none of us can help???

Best Answer - Chosen by Asker from gentleone:
I say it is perfectly ok to disagree with the war and still be in support of the troops. I personally believe this war was a huge mistake, and did even before it began. People seem to think that this is not possible. These people need to realize that it is part of being in a true democracy to be able to disagree with our leaders' choices and actions. If we had to support our president's actions unconditionally, we would be living in a totalitarian society. Do you all really want that?

My Dad was professional soldier and served in Vietnam---an extremely unpopular war. Many people were against it, but they shouldn't be against men like my father and the troops serving in Iraq now, because they are merely doing their job.

Other Answers:
AlliesForChrist:
In my thoughts, honestly, how can you support your own troops and NOT support their efforts FOR the war? It just doesn't make sense. Whether or not you AGREE, I fully believe that every American should at least support the troops because this will demonstrate their patriotism and their troop's war EFFORTS.

Most importantly, thanks to Shaun, Jeremy, Justin, Nole, and Ruben for risking your lives to defend Freedom. :)

Grace:
i agree with you... you are 100% right about that, it is stupid how people say that you can't support the troops, and not support the war, i think you can because you can think that the war is going on for a stupid reason or something and have the knowledge that you as a person wouldn't have enough courage to stand on the front lines...

it's kinda like you don't like it, but it's happening anyway so why try to fight it ya know?

And uhh, minuteman... we don't know if it was Iraq on 9/11, at first the prez said it was Afghanistan...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Our friends, the Bosnians

Iraq arms 'leaking to insurgents' The United Nations agency responsible for decommissioning weapons in Eastern Europe has criticised arms exports to Iraq.
Seesac has told File On 4 that the sale of large numbers of guns from Bosnia has compromised its operation.
There are also concerns that some pistols flown from the UK which were intended for Iraqi police are now in the hands of insurgents.
A Foreign Office Minister is being pressed for details of security checks.
I don't think that people in the UK would want the UK Government to agree to export licences that would result effectively in weapons going through the Iraqi police into the hands of insurgents and then being used to kill British soldiers Labour MP Roger Berry
When Saddam Hussein was toppled from power, about 20 million weapons were estimated to be in Iraq.
Millions more have come in since because of the continuing conflict.
Paradoxically, back in 2004 the emerging Iraqi security forces were struggling to get weapons, ammunition and other equipment they needed.
The US struck a deal with the Bosnian authorities to open up its stockpiles of weapons left over from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
It aimed to send these weapons to help Iraq's new army.
FILE ON 4
Tuesday, 23 May 2006
BBC RADIO 4, 2000 BST
Repeated Sunday 28 May, 1700 BST
But the UN is involved in a programme of trying to destroy those weapons with the co-operation of the host nation authorities.
The EU would also prefer to see those guns put out of harm's way, with Britain among the countries giving money to assist that process.
The head of Seesac, the UN agency trying to develop safe and effective weapons policies across the Balkans, says they were not consulted about the US deal and that it has made arms control more difficult.
Adrian Wilkinson told File On 4: "We have a range of projects in the region to destroy surplus weapons to counter the risks of proliferation, to reduce the chances of them turning up on the grey and the black markets and fuelling conflict.
"And yet it is very difficult for us to negotiate with governments in the region to destroy their surplus weapons whilst they feel that the United States is going to come along and buy them to re-equip the new armed forces of Iraq."
Complex operation
File On 4 has learnt that about 200,000 weapons and 40 to 50 million rounds of ammunition have been exported by Bosnia to Iraq under this deal.
Some experts say there is a need for this amount of weapons in Iraq to help protect the security forces.
But organisations like Amnesty International are concerned about the complexity of this procurement operation.
The Americans have effectively appointed a main contractor - a small business based in Alabama - which has then had to subcontract middlemen, traders and brokers all over Europe.
Amnesty says that this makes it hard to know who is buying what and what has been sent where.
Paper trail
One case investigated by File On 4 highlighted this difficulty.
The programme has been shown paperwork about a consignment of 20,000 AK-47 type assault rifles by Eufor, the EU peacekeeping force which provides a safeguard for Bosnian weapon transfers.
It shows they were imported by a company in the north of England called York Guns Limited which sells shotguns and sporting rifles.
Its managing director Gary Hyde would not be interviewed but denied having imported the AK-47s. A third party dealer had legally brought them into the UK, he claimed.
Foreign Office Minister Dr Kim Howells also refused to be interviewed about the matter. He has been questioned by MPs about a different company who exported 20,000 Italian Beretta pistols from the UK to Iraq.
Staff in Baghdad found no firm evidence to support the concern about the weapons falling into the wrong hands Foreign Office statement
This is part of the same drive to re-equip Iraqi security forces and there have been concerns that some of these sidearms have fallen into the hands of insurgents.
MPs on the Quadripartite Committee which scrutinises Britain's arms exports asked Dr Howells for clarification.
The committee chairman, Labour's Roger Berry, said: "I wasn't satisfied with the response to our questions at the public evidence session.
"That's why I'm pursuing the matter further with the Foreign Office.
"I don't think that people in the UK would want the UK Government to agree to export licences that would result effectively in weapons going through the Iraqi police into the hands of insurgents and then being used to kill British soldiers.
"The question I want to ask is 'What measures has the UK government taken or not taken in relation to the allegation that the weapons have been diverted from the Iraqi police to insurgents?'
"That, for me, is the number one question."
A Foreign Office spokesman told the BBC in a statement that all export licence applications were assessed rigorously, including consideration of the internal situation in the destination country and the risk of diversion to an undesirable end use.
It said staff in Baghdad had found no firm evidence to support the concern about the weapons falling into the wrong hands.
However, File On 4 has obtained copies of Italian prosecutors' documents which show otherwise.
The prosecutors' office in Brescia, the hometown of Beretta where a criminal investigation is taking place into aspects of this deal, confirmed that serial numbers on pistols found in possession of what are described as "hostile forces" relate to the consignment sent from Beretta to the UK and then onwards to Iraq. File On 4: BBC Radio 4, Tuesday, 23 May 2006 at 2000 GMT and repeated on Sunday 28 May, 2006 at 1700 GMT. Or listen online - see links on the right hand side of this page.

Staff Sgt. Christian Longsworth

Afghanistan war claims Jerseyan
Small-arms attack kills Newarker in Special Forces
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
BY RUSSELL BEN-ALI AND MARY JO PATTERSONStar-Ledger Staff
Early in March, just before Army Staff Sgt. Christian Longsworth was deployed to Afghanistan, he came home to Newark one last time.
He made a point of spending time with his mother, Cecilia, to whom he was devoted, and his girlfriend, Jessica Cruz, whom he loved. He also found time to pal around with the young men with whom he had grown up.
"It was kind of weird. He was getting in touch with all these people who had been an influence in his life," one of those friends, 25-year-old Devin Carroll, recalled yesterday. "It was almost like he had a premonition about what was going to happen to him."
Yesterday, many of the same people Longsworth sought out that week got together at his mother's house in Newark to mourn him.
Longsworth, 26, who was with the Special Forces, was killed Friday in Afghanistan. The Defense Department, which announced his death yesterday, said Longsworth died in Oruzgan province after his convoy came under small-arms fire. The soldier was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Longsworth is the fifth soldier from New Jersey, or with ties to the state, to be killed in Afghanistan since December 2002.
Friends cried and laughed as they recalled his life. Longsworth was one of those young men who had seemed to find himself in the military, they said.
He was proud of being a soldier, positive about the cause, realistic about the danger -- he had been wounded by a grenade in Iraq -- but upbeat.
"He said, 'I'm not afraid to die,'" said Cruz, his girlfriend.
"If there were bullets flying, Chris didn't back down. I know he was the first one that would protect the group," said Miguel Ramos, 27, another friend. "That was his responsibility. That was it. He would never allow any of his guys to go down before he did."
In the living room of her home on Smith Street, his mother, a native of Honduras, wiped away tears. "He's a hero," Cecilia Longsworth, a home health aide, said in Spanish, holding up a wooden plaque given to her son by the Army.
His father, Roy, a longshoreman at Port Newark who came to this country from El Salvador, died six years ago.
Longsworth was born in the Bronx and moved to Newark with his parents and older brother, Roy Jr., when he was 2. He attended St. Joseph's Elementary School in East Orange and, for three years, Essex Catholic High School, also in East Orange.
He spent his final year of high school at Newark's West Side High School and graduated in 1998. At West Side, Longsworth played a number of sports, including soccer, wrestling, track and baseball.
After graduation, he was not sure what to do. His brother, Roy, a make-up artist who lives in Puerto Rico, flew to New Jersey to give him advice. Though Roy was 17 years older than Christian, the two were very close.
"He was more than a brother, he was like a son," Roy Longsworth, 42, said yesterday at his mother's home, a two-family house near the East Orange border. "I said, 'You have to do something with your life. Either get a job or go back to school.'"
Christian decided to enlist in the Army. Proud of his decision, he went back to his old elementary school and told a former teacher, Sister Antoinette, what he planned to do.
"She said, 'This is the first time I saw him so focused,'" his friend Carroll said yesterday.
Longsworth served with the 31st Infantry Regiment at Fort Drum, N.Y., for two years. In 2001, he became a member of the training cadre for the 6th Ranger Training Battalion at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Three years later, he volunteered for Special Forces.
Last year, Chris, Roy and their mother celebrated Christmas together for the first time in 18 years. The reunion took place in Puerto Rico.
The following month, Chris telephoned Roy, saying he wanted to return to Puerto Rico.
"I asked, "Why, what's wrong?'" Roy Longsworth said yesterday. "He was like, 'Don't worry. I just want to be with you.'"
Christian visited again. When he left, he told his brother he was about to go on a mission.
Roy Longsworth wept yesterday while recalling his last words: "He said he was not sure he would be coming back because he knew someday something could happen."
In March, a month after completing Special Forces training, Longsworth was deployed to Afghanistan.
In addition to his mother and brother, Longsworth is survived by a daughter, Jaylin Araya, 5, of Newark.
His body was due to arrive home today.
Longsworth will be buried in Puerto Rico, according to his brother.
"He loved Puerto Rico. I know he'll be happy there," Roy Longsworth said. "All the years we didn't spend together -- now I'll have him near me for the rest of my life."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Capt. Nichola Goddard

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CP) - Canada suffered its first-ever death of female combat soldier during a lengthy firefight with Taliban insurgents Wednesday evening.
Capt. Nichola Goddard, of 1st Royal Canadian Horse Artillery based in Shilo, Man., was killed in action at 6:55 p.m. local time, 24 kilometres west of Kandahar city, said Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, commander of the multinational brigade based in Kandahar.
Goddard's age and hometown were not immediately available. She was married, with no children.
"Our hearts, our prayers and our sympathies go out to the family of Nichola Goddard," said Fraser, standing in front of a Canadian flag at half-mast.
"It's a hard day but it's also a day of achievements here. The government of Afghanistan and the Afghan national security forces have had a good successful day. There was significant Taliban casualties both killed and captured."
"Unfortunately, the cost today was the life of Nichola."
Although Canadian women lost their lives in action in both the First and Second World Wars, Goddard was the first to do so in a combat role.
"I believe it's safe to say she was the first woman in a combat-arms military occupation (such as artillery, infantry, or armoured) killed in front-line combat," said Lieut. Morgan Bailey, a media liaison officer in Ottawa.
Goddard was serving as a forward artillery observer, helping to target the artillery guns by observing where the shells fell.
Combat roles were first opened to Canadian women in 1990.
Canadian forces were acting in support of the Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army, who had received information a large number of Taliban fighters were massing in the Panjwai district, about 24 kilometres west of Kandahar, an area that has seen off-on fighting for weeks, said Fraser.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, to which Goddard had been attached, were supporting the Afghans by forming a ring around the battle area, Fraser said.
"We were there to back them up and support them, providing outer cordons. All the inner work was being done by the Afghan security forces."
Coalition air support was also involved.
Details were still sketchy around Goddard's death, said Fraser.
"There was a firefight out there and sometime during the firefight she was killed."
Fighting had stopped Wednesday night but Fraser said the operation was expected to continue Thursday.
As debate about Canada's mission raged on Parliament Hill, Fraser said the commitment of Goddard and all Canadian soldiers has never wavered.
"This is an important mission," he said.
"This a mission that the soldiers believe in. This is a mission that the soldiers continue to go out every day and prosecute with passion."
"Nichola was doing a job that she loved. Everyone around me said that she loved what she was doing."
"She's indicative of all the men and women serving over here in Afghanistan and Canadians should be proud of the work that their soldiers are doing in a very difficult environment."
"But the Afghan people deserve no less than our continued support to see through this fight to its end."
Five women were killed in action in the Second World War. The First World War saw 29 female combat deaths.
Goddard has become the 17th Canadian killed in Afghanistan since 2002: one diplomat and 16 soldiers, including four who died in the friendly-fire bombing by a U.S. plane.
Her death came on a day when Canadian troops tried to relax and enjoy themselves.
Earlier that afternoon, the military had relaxed its strict no-alcohol policy allowing soldiers two bottles of beer apiece to sip in the hot Afghan sun and the evening saw a four-hour musical performance by Canadian stars such as singer Michelle Wright.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed the regret of a mourning country.
"Captain Goddard died while helping to bring peace, stability and democracy to a troubled region of the world," Harper said in a statement.
"She and the other men and women who serve in Afghanistan are involved in a difficult and dangerous mission. They are serving our country and its people with distinction."
"Our nation will not forget their sacrifice."
Manitoba Premier Gary Doer also expressed regret.
"On behalf of the people of Manitoba, we respect her life of bravery and honour on behalf of Canada and we offer our condolences to the family and to the community of Shilo," he told CJOB radio in Winnipeg.
Canada has about 2,300 troops in Afghanistan, most of them in Kandahar, as part of an international effort to help the Kabul government assert its authority and fight Taliban insurgents, who have been engaging the U.S.-led coalition and NATO forces in hostilities in many parts of the country.
Kandahar, in the south, is regarded as a hotbed of insurgent attacks and the spiritual home of the extremist Taliban movement.
The Taliban were ousted from power by U.S.-led forces after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The Taliban regime was blamed for harbouring Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist organization while it was in power.
naked truth

Paging Bob Dornan

B-1Bs join the battle in Afghanistan
By Bruce Rolfsen
Times staff writer B-1B Lancer bombers have taken up the fight in Afghanistan. On Wednesday, a B-1B and four A-10 Warthogs joined the effort to drive Taliban fighters out of the Panjway District in southern Afghanistan, according an Air Force statement.The Air Force jets in two separate attacks released laser-guided 2,000-pound Paveway II bombs and unguided 500-pound bombs.The missions marked the first attacks by a B-1B since the bombers arrived in the region May 6.The air attacks were coordinated with Canadian soldiers and members of the Afghan army and police.During the day-long fight, one Canadian soldier died, the Canadian military said. She was Capt. Nichola Goddard, the first female Canadian soldier to die in combat since World War II.On the Taliban side, 18 insurgents were killed and 26 captured, officials said.That same day, A-10s flew close-air support missions close to the Pakistan border, targeting insurgents near Asmar and Jalalabad.

Maliki sees own forces running most of Iraq end-year

BAGHDAD, May 22 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday he believed Iraqi forces could take over security in most of the country by the end of this year.
"There's an agreement and, according to this schedule for handing over security, Samawa and Amara provinces will be handed over to Iraqis in June and by the end of this year this operation will be completed except for Baghdad and maybe Anbar," he told a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Blair declined to be drawn on a timetable for withdrawal but stressed that foreign troops would pull out as fast as Iraqi forces were able to take over. Earlier, one of his officials said all foreign combat troops could be gone in four years.
Samawa and Amara are southern, Shi'ite provinces, largely peaceful and controlled by British troops whose commanders have said they may withdraw from some provinces soon. Anbar is the restive western desert stronghold of Sunni Arab insurgents.
Maliki's timetable, which would coincide with the expiry of a United Nations mandate for the U.S.-led coalition forces, is more ambitious than anything voiced publicly by U.S. or British commanders, who stress that any withdrawal will depend on Iraqi forces being able to ensure security.
Maliki also said Iraqi forces needed more training as the foreign withdrawal proceeded province by province and he warned that if his policy of disarming and disbanding militias failed, it could yet lead to "civil war".

never ending war

Security is Everything

Iraq could double oil output with security SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Iraqi officials believe they can double their daily oil output quickly if a new government improves security, US Treasury Secretary John Snow said on Monday.
Snow spoke to reporters travelling with him after a private meeting with Sinan al-Shabibi, Iraq’s central bank governor, about conditions in Iraq now that a new national unity government is in place.
“The governor indicated he thought it was well within reason to think that with security, and the investment that would come with security, Iraq would have daily production through the pipeline on the order of 3 to 3.5 million (barrels) and that could be achieved quickly,” said Snow. Snow said Iraq’s daily production was running at around 1.6 million barrels.
Shabibi, accompanied by heavy security, did not speak to reporters.
“The framework has now been put in place, but that framework can only produce good economic results when the missing ingredient security is in place,” Snow said. “Security is now everything in terms of the path forward.”
The two held a separate meeting on Monday. Iraq’s newly named finance minister, Bayan Jabor, was not in Egypt for the discussions.
“With security will come investments, with security will come much better performance of the electricity sector, which had been badly hurt by saboteurs. With security will come investment in oil and much higher oil output,” Snow said.

never ending war

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Pfc. Brian M. Moquin Jr.

Worcester soldier among 10 killed in Afghanistan crash
WORCESTER, Mass. -- A 19-year-old Worcester man was among 10 soldiers killed when their helicopter crashed during combat operations in eastern Afghanistan last week, the Army announced Wednesday.
Pfc. Brian M. Moquin Jr. died Friday in the remote mountains of Kunar Province, Afghanistan, after the CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter crashed while on a mission to find al-Qaida and Taliban militants believed to be hiding in the rugged terrain near the border with Pakistan.
Army officials said the helicopter was conducting operations on a mountaintop landing zone when it fell into a ravine. All 10 soldiers aboard the helicopter were killed.
Military officials said the helicopter was not downed by hostile fire. An investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing, Julie Curren, a spokeswoman for the Army, said Wednesday.
Moquin's mother, Tracy Vaillancourt, said she was in Chicago on a business trip Sunday morning when an Army officer called her on her cell phone and told her of the death of her only child.
"He was too young," Vaillancourt told the Telegram and Gazette of Worcester. "He just wanted to do something to make everybody proud. I'm very proud of him."
Vaillancourt said that from a young age, her son had expressed interest in joining the military.
Moquin enlisted in the Army in March 2005 and attended basic training at Fort Knox, Ky.
He was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division in August and deployed to Afghanistan in February.
Moquin had received numerous military awards and decorations, including the Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal and Combat Action Badge.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Father mourns Afghanistan death
Port Orange man's son killed Friday in Army helicopter crashKen Ma and Rebecca Mahoney Sentinel Staff Writers
PORT ORANGE -- An Army officer whose father lives in Volusia County was among 10 soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, the military said Wednesday.Lt. Col. Joseph J. Fenty Jr., 41, of Watertown, N.Y., was killed Friday when the CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter fell into a ravine during a mountaintop landing in Kunar Province.Fenty was the commander of the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, The Associated Press reported.His father, also named Joseph Fenty, lives in Port Orange. He did not want to comment Wednesday night. A neighbor, who would not give her name, said the family was told about Fenty's death during the weekend."It's a terrible tragedy," she said.Fenty became a commissioned officer in June 1986 after graduating from Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., AP reported. He was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division in 1997 and was deployed to Bosnia, then to Afghanistan in March 2002.In June 2004, he took command of the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, a part of the division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, AP reported.He is survived by his wife, Kristen; a daughter; and his parents.Three other soldiers from Fenty's unit were killed. The six other soldiers who were killed were assigned to the division's 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment.Last year, Fenty was among about 230 officers from the 10th Mountain Brigade Combat Team who participated in a 10.4-mile motivational brigade run. In an interview with the Fort Drum Blizzard, a military newsletter, Fenty hailed his fellow officers for their spirit of cooperation and partnership."I think it was awesome to get all the brigade officers out there with a team-building focus," he said. "And most importantly, they were all together at the finish line cheering each other on."

CWO Eric W. Totten

St. Paul native dies in helicopter crash in Afghanistan
Pilot who grew up in Frogtown was on second tour of duty
BY DAVID HAWLEY
Pioneer Press
A combat-hardened Army helicopter pilot who grew up in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood was among the 10 U.S. troops killed Friday in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, his family and the military said Wednesday.
Chief Warrant Officer Eric W. Totten, who would have celebrated his 35th birthday Wednesday, was a veteran of military actions in Bosnia and Iraq and was on his second tour in Afghanistan.
He died with nine others when a CH-47 helicopter crashed while scouring remote Afghan mountains along the Pakistan border for al-Qaida and Taliban militants as part a major action involving U.S. and Afghan troops.
The military said the crash was not caused by hostile fire, though Taliban forces claimed to have shot down the helicopter. It was the deadliest single incident for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in a year and is still being investigated.
A Defense Department announcement did not identify Totten as the pilot of the helicopter. But his older brother, Noel Totten of Bloomington said Totten was rated to fly helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft and was primarily serving as a pilot.
"I never really worried about him because he was so intelligent and competent and because he wasn't cocky," Noel Totten said. "I worried about the younger ones, the 19- and 20-year-olds, but not Eric."
The son of a prominent Twin Cities building contractor, Totten grew up on Lafond Avenue in the Frogtown neighborhood and attended Ramsey Junior High School before his family moved to Golden Valley.
Noel Totten said a major change in his brother's life occurred when a close childhood friend died of drug-related causes.
"He said, 'I don't want to go that way — I want to make something of myself,' " Noel Totten recalled. "And he did. We're very proud of him."
Eric Totten joined the Army shortly after graduating from high school and took Ranger training before getting into aviation. A bachelor, he moved at the whim of Army. He had recently been living in Fort Campbell, Ky., the home of the 101st Airborne Division.
In Afghanistan, he was with the 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division. The division is based in Fort Drum, N.Y.
One of six children, Totten was fond of dropping in on his siblings and their families — he had 21 nieces and nephews — at their homes in various parts of the country.
A cousin, Avalon Totten-Denton, posted a note on a Web site that was created after the family learned of the aviator's death. The Web site is filled with slideshows of family gatherings, with many pictures of Eric Totten at birthday parties and at family gatherings near a lake.
"I wish there was a way to set off fireworks on this site because encounters with Eric were always such a blast," Totten-Denton wrote. "Until we meet again, enjoy the ride, my friend. Bless you for your sacrifice and know you are forever loved."
Noel Totten said his brother loved the military and living an active, athletic life, though he was also an accomplished musician who played piano and a number of other instruments.
"They were always training and promoting him," Totten said of his brother's Army career. "He was always excited about his next new challenge. They gave him a lot of pats on the back."
Totten's funeral will be Saturday in Augusta, Kan., where the family has a burial plot. He will be laid to rest near his parents.
His survivors, in addition to Noel, his eldest brother, include a sister, Thais Hinz, of Duluth. Other siblings are a sister, Judy Jackson of Oklahoma City, and brothers Jim of Tallahassee, Fla., and Ottis of New Orleans.
Totten is the third Minnesota soldier to die in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001. Three Wisconsin soldiers also have been killed there.
At least 234 U.S. military personnel have died in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan and Uzbekistan since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban regime, according to the Defense Department.
More than 2,400 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the war started there in March 2003. The total includes 30 Minnesota military deaths and 52 Wisconsin military deaths.
The Totten family's memorial site is online at at www.eric-totten.memory-of.com.

World Reviews

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

'Don't let me die!'

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- "Don't let me die! Please, don't let me die," the U.S. soldier said repeatedly as medics carried him to the trauma room.
His glazed eyes focused on an Army chaplain kneeling over him. There was blood everywhere.
A roadside bomb that exploded next to his patrol vehicle sent shards of metal into his body and catapulted him from the vehicle.
He, like so many of the gravely wounded soldiers in Iraq, was rushed to the 10th Combat Support Hospital, where minutes or seconds can mean life or death. (Watch: Suffering and hope inside a Baghdad military hospital -- 3:33)
"Am I going to live?" he asked, in a pleading, rhythmic voice.
"Hell, yes, you are," replied Lt. Col. David Steinbruner, one of the doctors.
Moments earlier, the soldier asked the medics to keep his leg from falling off the gurney as they hurried him into the emergency room. The blast tore the flesh from the bone. His left hand was just as bad -- a "near amputation," according to one of the doctors.
Less than 5 feet away, a friend and fellow soldier lay dead, his body placed in a black body bag and zipped up.
"It's life and death, every day," said Lt. Col. Bob Mazur, another doctor.
These men and women -- doctors, medics and nurses, many of them just 20 or 21 years old -- have saved the lives of numerous servicemen and women who in any previous war may have come home in flag-draped coffins.
CNN has withheld the names of the wounded soldiers for privacy concerns.
In Iraq, roughly 17,500 U.S. troops have been wounded, and nearly 2,500 have been killed. The survival rate is significantly higher than in previous wars, and much credit goes to those working to save lives in places such as the 10th Combat Support Hospital.
"If you look at the overall death rate ... the case fatality rate is cut in half from Vietnam to now. And again I think that's due to better training, tactical combat casualty training," said Col. John Holcomb, the senior surgeon at the hospital.
At least eight doctors and nurses worked on the soldier with the shredded leg -- their arms and clothes drenched in his blood. His femur protruded from his upper thigh.
A nurse clutched one of his hands.
Outside in the hall, sat the clothes of these wounded men -- or their "battle rattle," as it's called. Flak jackets lay blown in half, boots drenched in blood.
Down the hall, a private first class who was driving the vehicle was put gingerly on a bed. He was in better shape than his comrades despite bad burns on his hands and metal in his neck. Still filled with adrenaline, he breathlessly relived the attack for the nurse.
"It just exploded. On the left side or under the vehicle -- I'm not sure. Everything was on fire," he said. "I got out through the gunner's position and got one more out."
As the doctors and nurses work, the captain of the wounded soldiers' unit sat, head in hands, torn up. At times, he spoke to his commanding officer, a major, in an inaudible tone. Single tears ran down his cheeks.
The private called his wife and explained what happened, followed by a short smile. "I'm fine, I'm going to be OK. That's fine, fine; you just go ahead and pray. Pray."
Steinbruner took the phone and spoke soothingly: "He's going to be fine -- you hang in there now." He turned, shaking his head: "She's totally in shock."
'Don't die on me'
Back in the main trauma room, the soldier hung on, fighting with every breath. He remained conscious. Steinbruner suggested putting him under anesthesia completely.
"He's a sick boy. We need to put him down. He's totally with it. He said, 'Please, don't let me die.'"
"Just breathe deep -- there we go, nice and deep. ... You're a healthy guy," Steinbruner told the soldier.
"I'm not going to die -- am I?"
"Look, I promise -- I wouldn't lie to you," Steinbruner said.
Serving as both doctor and impromptu commanding officer, Steinbruner added, "Don't you dare try to die on me. I didn't give you permission."
Through a condensed face mask, the soldier wheezed and coughed, "Am I gonna lose the f------ leg?"
"I don't know," Steinbruner replied. "We'll try to save it if we can, OK? I just don't know. I can't give you an answer on that."
The near dozen doctors, medics and nurses stopped the blood from pouring out of him and prepared to send him to surgery in an attempt to save his leg and hand.
"Thank you, sir," Steinbruner said to the senior surgeon, Holcomb, while taking off his blood-drenched gloves and tossing them in the trash.
The surgery was a success. The soldier survived and kept his leg for the time being. Once close to death, he is now being treated at a U.S. military facility in Germany.
"He asked me if he's going to lose his leg, and I said, 'I don't know,' " Steinbruner said minutes after working to save the soldier's life. "I never lie to them. I'll say to them, 'I just don't know.' It was tough. It's tough."
He paused in thought. "That's the kind of thing we face out there. ... I mean ... I think there were several killed out there as well."
He paused again and said, "I'm now going to go take care of his buddy." And then he walked away and went back to work.

Lance Corporal Michael Louis Ford

Marine who died in Iraq is remembered
His father sings as mourners sob
By Megan Tench, Globe Staff May 10, 2006
NORTH DARTMOUTH -- Wearing a necktie designed with the American flag, Joseph Ford Sr. slowly stepped forward yesterday, glanced down at his son's coffin, and then sang a hymn that broke the hearts of the mourners gathered inside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
''I'll go where you want me to go," Ford sang, with his eyes closed and his voice cracking amid sobs of anguish from the crowd.
His son, Lance Corporal Michael Louis Ford, a 19-year-old Marine from New Bedford, was killed on April 26 when the tank he was driving struck a roadside bomb during combat in Al Anbar Province.
Ford, known to many in his hometown as Mikey, had been in Iraq for a month, family members said. In 2004, after watching President Bush in a televised speech talk about the war in Iraq, Ford decided to join the Marines, they said.
As rain poured outside the church, hundreds of mourners paid their respects to a young man who dedicated his life to the service of others. Teenagers from the culinary program at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, where Ford graduated in 2004, packed the pews and folding chairs, many wearing shirts and jackets emblazoned with Ford's picture. Dignitaries, including Governor Mitt Romney and Mayor Scott Lang of New Bedford, sat facing the crowd of police officers, Marines, mother, fathers, and children.
''I have Mikey in my heart," said Barbara Owen, a friend who spoke on behalf of the family. She told tales of watching Ford grow up, and his visits to her home, particularly after his mother died of heart failure in 2002. Owen's words came out slow and painstakingly, as she described a loyal and trustworthy child who grew up to be an honorable man.
''I enjoyed Michael's sense of humor," she said, with a small smile. ''Sometimes I didn't get the joke."
As a youngster, Ford was a member of the 4-H Club, helped his mother plant a garden at Hayden-McFadden Elementary School, and often delivered food and created holiday greeting cards for the elderly. As a student at Keith Junior High School, Ford helped the staff install computers, she said.
''Michael and his family had a lot of difficulties in their lives," Owen said. ''I always felt Mikey has the ability to understand what life laid before him. Mikey, my Mikey, was a frequent visitor in my home. I was the only one who could pat his cheeks and kiss him on the forehead. I always told him I loved him."
Owen then stared at the coffin.
''There is so much left unsaid," she whispered, as Ford's father wiped away tears.
''We will always love you very much," she said.
Ford was buried with full military honors at National Veterans Cemetery in Bourne.