Archive for May, 2014

A moment of silence please….

May 26, 2014

This year marks the 19th anniversary of the death of an American hero.

And because archives only go back so far, I am going to type all of this out in it’s entirety.

First, an example of the information we get from the government about accidents in the military, from the Fort Worth Star Telegram:

Jet pilot killed in training mission

(date not on newspaper clipping)

FORT BLISS-A military jet crashed during a training mission yesterday in rugged Texas terrain on the northern edge of Fort Bliss. The pilot was killed. Ground troops saw the twin-engine, single-seat A-10 Thunderbolt II, an anti-tank plane nicknamed the Warthog, disappear behind a hill just before the start of a joint Army-Air Force training exercise, Fort Bliss officials said. Cause of the crash was not immediately known. The pilot’s name was being with-held until relatives could be notified.

But the truth sometimes rears it’s ugly head:

Military pilot killed in NM crash saved others, witness says

Associated Press (via The Dallas Morning News)

FORT BLISS, Texas-An Air National Guard major may have saved about 100 lives by staying with his plane instead of ejecting before it crashed last week in New Mexico, a witness said.

Maj. Clarence Marsh III of Park city, Utah, died Friday morning in the crash of an A-10 Thunderbolt II.

“If he had ejected, he would have taken out the whole bank (of soldiers),” said Spec Paul Foster of Fort Sill, Okla., part of a Howitzer battery training at Fort Bliss’ McGregor Range when the crash occured about 30 miles north of El Paso.

Maj. Marsh’s plane, flying with an Air National Guard unit from Battle Creek, Mich., slammed into a sand dune Friday morning.

“He came in from the east and banked to the left,” Spec. Foster said. “He came in real low over our firing point. I mean real low. If he had been any lower, he would have taken out the tubes of our guns.”

When Spec. Foster first saw the plane, he said, it was nose down and heading straight at his group of 85 to 100 soldiers. At the last second, the pilot nudged the nose upward and skimmed over the soldiers’ heads, he said.

Spec. Foster said it looked as if the pilot was trying to make it to a nearby road for an emergency landing.

“The landing gear was down, and the canopy was still on. There was a 500-pound bomb underneath,” he said.

Maj. Marsh didn’t make it to the road.

“He hit the ground about 150 meters away from me, slid for about 50 meters, impacted into a sand dune, jumped a little, then the tail hit the sand dune, and the plane exploded,” Spec. Foster said.

The soldier said he’s thankful that Maj. Marsh stayed with the plane and was able to miss the soldiers.

“There would have been a whole lot of casualties if he had ejected,” he said.

The 41-year-old officer had served in the Air Force from 1977 to 1987 and had been a member of the Air National Guard since 1998. He also was a pilot for Delta Airlines.

Air Force investigators haven’t determined the cause of the crash. Maj. Marsh and Spec. Foster were taking part in a joint Army-Air Force exercise.

Spec. Foster said members of his unit, the C Battery, 3-18th Field Artillery, are taking up a collection to send flowers to Maj. Marsh’s widow, Anne, and their three children, ages 9, 6 and 4.

Maj. Marsh’s father, also named Clarence Marsh, said he was not surprised by his son’s decision to stay with the plane.

“When there is impending disaster, pilots are trained to try to avoid ground troops. He would have tried to do that,” said Mr. Marsh, a retired Army colonel reached at his home in Hampton, Va., by the El Paso Times.

I have included both articles for a reason. The first was the official statement put out by the military. The second led to the discharge of a career soldier.

We came out of the field 3 days after the crash. Like everyone else, Foster called home. His fiancee had heard nothing of the crash, so Foster decided to call the local press and tell them of the heroic sacrifice Maj. Marsh had made. The story made the local radio, and Foster left (got kicked out of) the Army soon afterwards. He had served in Germany during the Cold War and Iraq during Desert Storm. He had been phased out in 1992 and had come back in 2 years later. And he got shit canned for telling the story of a hero.

Well, I was there, and Maj. Marsh’s sacrifice saved my life. And today of all days I say thank you to him for his sacrifice, for his bravery.

I remember it in snap shots of time. I was sitting on a water jug leaning against the FDC (Fire Direction Control) vehicle, smoking a cig, enjoying a couple of minutes of down time. We had just refueled and reloaded. and were watching the A-10′s flying missions over our heads. We were to join the exercise again soon, and everyone was getting some sleep, bathing, or just relaxing.

I remember someone yelling “Look!” and I turned my head to the left and say the under side of the A-10 as it banked hard to the right literally right in front of me, its wingtip not more than a couple of meters above the ground.

I just sat there, eyes glued to the impending tragedy before me, as the plane barely leveled out before it’s tail hit a sand dune. The tail ripped off and the plane began to bounce nose to tail across the desert.

The FDC vehicle I was next to was the closest vehicle to the crash, and we had the medic stationed at our vehicle. I remember him jumping out of the vehicle, throwing one soldier a water jug and me a fire extinguisher as he ran towards the wreckage.

I followed him into the thick black smoke. It was awful. The fumes choked me, and then the anti-tank rounds from the Gatling gun began to burn off. I dove to the ground, waited a minute and then got up and ran after, well, just ran into the smoke.

I came out on the other side to find the medic trying to put a fire out around a burning cactis. I ran over with the fire extinguisher and began discharging it. Then I realized why the medic was working so hard to put this particular fire out: because the pilot’s body was burning there too.

The rest of the day is a blur. We secured the area, then loaded up our gear and moved down the road. Chaplins came out of nowhere, we were “debriefed”, and then we spent the next couple of days waiting for an opening so we could roll back in. End of exercise.

I would count myself blessed if this were the only death I had witnessed in the Army, but it wasn’t. And to think I never saw combat.

Clarence Marsh III is buried in Arlington National Cemetery:

Clarence Talmage Marsh III
Major, United States Air Force Virginia State Flag
BATTLE CREEK ANGB, Michigan (Air Force News Service) — A pilot assigned to this base was killed in the crash of an A-10 jet fighter in New Mexico, north of Fort Bliss, Texas, May 19, 1995.

The pilot, Major Clarence T. Marsh III, 41, of Park City, Utah, was an Air National Guard member of the 172nd Fighter Squadron, the base’s flying unit.

Marsh, a 1977 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, was a command pilot assigned as an assistant flight commander for the squadron. He was employed full-time by Delta Airlines.

He is survived by his wife and three children at home, and parents in Hampton, Virginia.

The accident is under investigation by a board of Air Force officers.

Major Marsh was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 25 May 1995 after having been provided with a waiver for such burial.

The waiver was supported and proposed by Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Robert Bennett (R-Utah): Deceased was Clarence Marsh, active duty 1978-87, killed while training with Air National Guard. Major Clarence T. Marsh, U.S. Air National Guard, was flying as part of an Army exercise over White Sands Missile Range when his plane crashed. According to reports of the incident, he remained with the plane as it crashed to prevent it from crashing into the approximately 100 soldiers on the ground, thus saving their lives at the expense of his own.
NOTE: His father, Clarence T. Marsh, Jr., Colonel, United States Army, died in May 2001 and was also laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

He died so that fellow soldiers could live. Clarence Marsh III is a hero.

Please remember everyday that there are people out there risking their lives for the protection of our Republic. And soldiers die in training accidents far more frequently than most folks know. Don’t wait till Memorial or Veterans’ Day to say thank you to a soldier. Especially in this time of war, remember all those who serve so you can live in peace here at home.


On ‘White Privilege’

May 21, 2014

Here is my reply to this post stating that we should stop using the term ‘white privilege’:

I think I get what the diarist is trying to convey, though I disagree. I can understand why whites, especially white males, get defensive when confronted with the term ‘white privilege’. I used to as well. After all, I came from a pretty piss poor background and had to work my butt off to get what I have. So I never felt ‘privileged’.

As I have grown older and had time to really reflect on my early years, several things have occurred to me. The big one being that I was privileged, I just didn’t recognize it at the time. I ran around with a pretty rough crowd, which led to numerous confrontations with the police. And magically we never got arrested. That magical part comes from my being white. There are times I can look back and see where a person of color would not have been let go. Hell, they would more likely than not have had to fear for their life.

The times I was followed in stores were times I should have been. We were generally up to no good and didn’t do a very good job of hiding the fact. The store employees weren’t being assholes. They were doing their job, trying to stop us from stealing.

I did get in a couple of fights where I was attacked for being white. As I see it now the guys who started them where targeting me for my race, but not as acts of racism. They were pissed off black youths, often living in impossible situations, who were lashing out against the people who they saw as oppressing them, white people, and I was a target of convenience. Hell yes they knew full well they were getting the short end of the stick and had little if any recourse. So getting a few licks in on a white kid gave them some kind of outlet. I don’t agree with their methods, but I can fully understand their frustration. I watched time again as black kids were kicked out of school or arrested for offenses that myself and other white kids were given detention for, if punished at all.

We always said that rich kids go to rehab, poor kids go to jail. I think it’s equally true to say white kids have a better chance of getting into rehab instead of jail, with the opposite being true for black kids.

Sometimes we have to look deeper to see the privilege. Sometimes it’s glaringly obvious. Sometimes it’s subtle. But I think most times we don’t see it at all because we are not looking for it. It’s not something white people necessarily experience in their minds as a ‘positive’. I don’t get free money from the bank (as Eddie Murphy comically assumed in a skit once). But I may very well get a loan that a person of color may not. Sure I still owe the money, but at least I got it in the first place.

But for someone on the other end of the spectrum ‘privilege’ is a direct negative on their life. I can’t ever recall not being able to get a cab. No one ever follows me around stores anymore. No one sees me as threatening when I walk down the road. Cops are generally nice to me, and I often get warnings for speeding over a ticket. If I wasn’t aware that this is not the normal experience for people of color I could claim that I am not privileged. But the opposite is true.

By not being white the person is subject to a plethora of negative experiences and treatment I am not, for no other reason than skin color. I am not aware of this on a daily basis as these experiences do not happen to me. But that does not mean they don’t happen. And I can choose to ignore the existence of this bias because of my skin color. That my friend is the privilege of being white.

There are some really great replies in the original diary. Read the thread if you have the time.

Thoughts on the OAS

May 16, 2014

Um, what? Read this article and see if you can figure out what exactly these people want to achieve. My biggest problem with this and similar movements is the conflicting, manic, and utterly incoherent nature of their stated grievances. They throw around words like tyranny, freedom, liberty, revolution and the like as if it’s a contest to see who can use them the most per paragraph. Yet they never seem to have a real answer for what would happen the day after if their little fits of rage actually achieved their purported goals.

They all seem convinced that America was paradise right up until President Obama got elected. That somehow everything suddenly went to shit in 2009. I’m not in any way saying there are no problems in this country. There are real issues that need addressed, both here and globally if humanity is to continue to survive, not just thrive. However, what these folks seem to be selling has more to do with listening to too much hate radio than actual facts.

What do they really want? What does their dream America actually look like? I am guessing the 1950’s is as best a vision as we can find. Back when women and minorities knew their place, the MIC was never questioned in their drive to kill us all, this country was laser focused on destroying communism to the point that things like human rights and democracy abroad meant nothing. A fever dream of American might, of industrial strength and fanatical patriotism.

The echo chamber they live in pumps them up more and more each day. And this I fear will eventually lead to real trouble. We worry about lone wolves, but at some point, especially if a Democrat wins the White House in 2016, this will boil over into more. One of these days a group of these angry white guys will actually try and follow through with their threats.

I am going to guess that these same folks all voted for the very politicians that have sold the heart of this nation to Wall Street time and again. That they cheer when taxes are cut but then bemoan the crumbling of the very institutions those taxes support. And no doubt their versions of freedom and liberty will do nothing to further the causes of civil rights, environmental stewardship or universal peace.

No, they are our version of the Taliban. Fundamentalists clinging to an ideal that never really existed, willing to take up arms and force their own view of paradise on the rest of us, with no regard to the hell they would in fact create. Revolutionaries who would in the end create another failed state, one where real tyranny would rein supreme. History books are filled with them.

The Difference

May 12, 2014

I normally don’t care about sports related news, but I have to take issue with this article discussing Don Jones’ reprimand by the Miami Dolphins concerning his comments about Michael Sam.

“Expect plenty more of this, along with plenty of talk that Sam is “courageous” for being open about his homosexuality. I suppose you have to say he has some guts for not hiding what he does, but that goes only so far. How much courage does it really take to do your thing when the forces of cultural correctness are ready to enforce cultural correctness – including fines, suspensions and sensitivity training – against anyone who has a negative reaction to you?”

First off, it’s not ‘what he does’, it’s who he is. Michael Sam is a man who is attracted to other men. To say ‘what he does’ is to still make homosexuality about a choice. Which it is not. Michael is gay. To state otherwise is no different than saying he chooses to be a black man.

Second, there is this:

“But it is different. For one thing, many of us (and I am one) refuse to ignore 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 or Romans 1:27. The one is not just as good as the other because God’s Word says it isn’t. If you have a problem with that point of view, take it up with God. Don’t talk to me.”

OK, let’s play this game. God made Michael a gay man. So if you are so damn bothered by the existence of gay people, how about YOU take that up with your God.

“And they dare us to say that it is different, and attack us as backwards Neanderthals if we do.”

Because this is no different than attacking someone for their race. We as a society have woken up to the reality that racism is bad, that hating people for who they are is wrong. That’s why Don Sterling is banned from the NBA.

“And because this comes from God, so too does the natural inclination of the human being to look at two men kissing and say, “Ewwww!” Many people don’t want to see it. That’s why we chose not to show the kiss in the photo above. I can’t rail against the media for shoving that image in our faces and then shove it in your face.”

Wrong. Your reaction is a cultural construct. Period. As for the media I will have to admit that they will get as much mileage out of that image as they can. That said, does the author of this article also bitch every time someone mentions that Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in MLB? I doubt it. At least not publicly.

And finally:

“I’ll leave you with this question: How come they can show pictures of two dudes kissing, and we’re not allowed to have any negative reaction whatsoever . . . but when we show pictures of aborted fetusus, they go ballistic? Hmm?”

Because this is done by people hell bent on interfering with the rights of over half the world’s population. It is done as part of a campaign to subjugate women camouflaged with religion, which is the same argument being made here.

‘My version of God as I interpret the Bible says these things are wrong.’ That my friend is a choice you are making. And that is the difference.