By Nancy Matthis
| Thursday, September 30th, 2004 at 7:23 pm
Former Corporal James M. Schmidt, stationed at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., wrote this poem 17 years ago. Here is his original version:
Merry Christmas, My Friend
Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.
As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.
With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.
I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.
He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?
His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.
Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.
I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.
He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice.
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”
With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.
I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.
Sent in by [Good Cop]
By Nancy Matthis
| Monday, September 27th, 2004 at 3:01 am
This is a poem being sent from a Marine to his Dad. For those who take the time to read it, you’ll see a letter from him to his Dad at the bottom. It makes you truly be thankful for not only the Marines, but ALL of our troops.
We all came together,
Both young and old.
To fight for our freedom,
To stand and be bold.
In the midst of all evil,
We stand our ground,
And we protect our country
From all terror around.
Peace and not war,
Is what some people say.
But I’ll give my life,
So you can live the American way.
I give you the right
To talk of your peace.
To stand in your groups,
And protest in our streets
But still I fight on,
I don’t bitch, I don’t whine.
I’m just one of the people
Who is doing your time.
I’m harder than nails,
Stronger than any machine.
I’m the immortal soldier,
I’m a US MARINE!
So stand in my shoes,
And leave from your home.
Fight for the people who hate you,
With the protests they’ve shown
Fight for the stranger,
Fight for the young.
So they all may have,
The greatest freedom you’ve won.
Fight for the sick,
Fight for the poor.
Fight for the cripple,
Who lives next door.
But when your time comes,
Do what I’ve done.
For if you stand up for freedom,
You’ll stand when the fight’s done.
By: Corporal Aaron M. Gilbert
USS SAIPAN, PERSIAN GULF
March 23, 2003
Do me a favor and label this “The Marine” and send it to everybody on your email list. Even leave this letter in it. I want this rolling all over the US. I want every home reading it. Every eye seeing it. And every heart to feel it. So can you please send this for me? I would but my email time isn’t that long and I don’t have much time anyway.
You know what Dad? I wondered what it would be like to truly understand what JFK said in his inaugural speech. “When the time comes to lay down my life for my country, I do not cower from this responsibility. I welcome it.”
Well, now I know. And I do. Dad, I welcome the opportunity to do what I do Even though I have left behind a beautiful wife, and I will miss the birth of our first born child, I would do it 70 times over to fight for the place that God has made for my home.
I love you all and I miss you very much. I wish I could be there when Sandi has our baby, but tell her that I love her, and Lord willing, I will be coming home soon. Give Mom a great big hug from me and give one to yourself too.
Sent in by [Good Cop]
By Nancy Matthis
| Saturday, September 25th, 2004 at 12:12 am
|These photos and the accompanying brief come from a U.S. convoy leader currently deployed in Iraq. The pictures were taken with his digital pocket camera before, during, and after a car bomb incident that he and his men experienced. He gives us an up-close-and-personal view of the war that we do not get from the traditional media. And in fact, the media will not give you this kind of story, because none of the U.S. troops were seriously injured and there is nothing in the story to alarm or discourage the American viewership.
Typical pictures of armored HMMWVs, these were some shots of my trip prepping for a different convoy run returning from Anaconda. Yep, these vehicles are not A/C’d and all that metal acts like a big oven, but you don’t think about the heat … your total attention is on your surroundings looking for ambushes and traps. Pretty interesting ride when you convoy with your M-16 sticking out the window, operating a radio and sitting square to the window (twist your torso so that your body armor is facing the open window, most protection, it’s awkward and uncomfortable but would you rather be uncomfortable for a short period or have a hole in you?). I was very proud of the way my gunners conducted themselves, standing tall and aggressively directing traffic away from the convoy in their gun turrets (very exposed).
They would physically point and wave back vehicles (hand gestures and yelling), aim their weapons, throw a large rock and if that didn’t work engage the threat. We passed other convoys and their gunners were sitting low and in a position not readily able to respond to a threat. We had two Army Special Forces troops guide us on our first long distance run giving us a lot of tips and what to look for on the road. Training can never replace experience and I was very glad to have them on my runs. My objective is to build up an experienced convoy crew able to confidently handle themselves out in the open roads. This is what happened on one of these convoys four days ago.
On a very recent convoy back, my Airmen saw this abandoned vehicle sitting in the roadway (they were riding with the Special Forces team learning more of the ins and outs of convoy security). Notice how far out it’s sitting from the edge of the road? Normally, broken vehicles are a common sight out here, but they are usually more off the shoulder. Two … no people around. Three … the jugs/containers are a common sight out here too. A lot of fuel is sold on the roadside in this fashion, containers sitting on the side of the road (again not this far out).
The convoy immediately stopped and backed off, blocked the road and called in EOD.
1st CAV had a patrol of 3 HMMWVs rollup. They were advised of the situation and told to find an alternate route or drive past on the opposite lane (pretty common to pass traffic by driving on the opposite side of the road).
Instead of driving on the opposing lanes, they just pulled over to the far left lane or lane number 1. As the patrol rolled by the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was detonated (6 lane highway). Obviously under observation for command detonation.
I ↓↓↓ flow of traffic I I I
I I I I
I should’ve passed the I I ↑↑↑ direction of travel I
I car on this side of the I I I
I highway as advised, to I I I
I maximize distance between I I I
I you and the suspected car I I X I
I I I X I
I x ↑↑↑ I I X C I
I x I I A I
I x I I R I
I I I I
I x I I X I
I x I I X I
I x I I X I
You can see the HMMWVs roll by. Fortunately no one was seriously injured. One HMMWV was damaged (all up armored with window closed, gunner inside as they passed).
Not a lot left of the vehicle. This is by far the biggest danger to our forces. Another strategy is to daisy chain the explosives and bait the area, knowing our typical responses of halting and pulling back to a “safer area” in reality could mean stopping in a bigger “kill zone” with more explosives hidden in the real kill zone (155mm shells strung out) or combination of attacks. This is why it’s extremely important to know what to do on these convoys, search/scan the area for more explosives when you’re stopped, secure area in boxed formation … be ready for anything. The simple truth is stopping on the open road is very dangerous and exposes you to many forms of possible attacks.
This is the vehicle that took the most of the damage as it passed the car bomb. Doesn’t look like much, but it was towed in….
By Nancy Matthis
| Monday, September 20th, 2004 at 2:31 pm
This slide show was photographed and assembled by D. M. Walsh, USMC in May 2003. Mouse-click to advance the slides. Enjoy!
By Nancy Matthis
| Sunday, September 19th, 2004 at 5:06 pm
This is actual video of a missile attack on Iraqi insurgents as viewed from the cockpit of a U.S. attack helicopter over Fallujah.
U.S. Special Forces “Ninja” night-stalkers on the ground in Fallujah during the night discovered a meeting at a protected mosque of followers of cleric Al-Sadyr. A mission to attack coalition forces with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and road-side bombs was being planned by the insurgents in the mosque. The Special Forces Ninjas called in an air strike request.
In this video, the aircraft arrives overhead. The group of well-armed bad guys is seen leaving the mosque in total darkness at 3:15 AM. They first appear on the right side of the image, just above center, as they are pouring out of the building and onto the road. The aimpoint is adjusted to center the group in the cross-hairs.
As the air support arrives, the U.S. ground team clandestinely “paints” the group with hand-held lasers. This enables the helicopter’s missile guidance system to target the group, as can be seen from the cross-hairs in the video. The large white dot is the intersection of the laser beam with the target group.
You will see the chopper, from which the low-light-level video is being captured, reposition 180 degrees to get into firing position. The missile is fired, and the enemy group obliterated. In the audio, you can also hear the brief conversation between the chopper pilot and the ground forces.
The download is less than 7 Kb. It will run in real-time with broadband, and take very little time to acquire with a dial-up Internet connection. As a courtesy to our dial-up visitors, our audio and video media are configured to download completely before play is enabled. The control buttons in the media bar will highlight when the selection is ready for playback. Selections must be started manually by clicking the PLAY button.
By Nancy Matthis
| Saturday, September 11th, 2004 at 12:59 am
On the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, a company of Marines created a memorial picture by spelling out “WE REMEMBER” with a personnel formation. And they sent it out by email with the following request:
The proud warriors of Baker Company wanted to do something to pay tribute to our fallen comrades. So since we are part of the only Marine Infantry Battalion left in Iraq the one way that we could think of doing that is by taking a picture of Baker Company saying the way we feel. It would be awesome if you could find a way to share this with our fellow countrymen.
I was wondering if there was any way to get this into your papers to let the world know that “WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN” and are proud to serve our country.
1stSgt Dave Jobe
The now-famous picture, largely ignored by the mainstream media, spread by way of the Internet, through email and weblogs. The original picture was sent to us by [A Fine Irishman] who probably had no idea of what he was setting in motion. We actually started a weblog called “American Daughter” in September 2004 just so we would have a way to share this picture as widely as possible on the eleventh day of that month. And that is how our media center began.
By Nancy Matthis
| Friday, September 10th, 2004 at 2:51 pm
Here is a link to the online portal for management of compensation for military active duty and retired personnel. myPay puts you in control. myPay allows you to manage your pay information, leave and earning statements, W-2s and more. Effective July 1, 2005, all military members and Department of Defense (DoD) non-bargaining unit civilian employees with a customized PIN who access myPay are consenting to receive only an electronic W-2 and Leave and Earning Statement (LES). Click here to see more information.
Effective September 1, 2004, all current myPay military retired users who request or already have a myPay Personal Identification Number (PIN) and access myPay are consenting to receive only an electronic 1099R. They may, however, elect to receive a hardcopy 1099R. Click here for more information. Simplify your life. Visit the website.
And here is a page full of pay and compensation-related links.
“Super good central link to all manner of Military links for all services…” says [Bad Moon Rising]
|TRICARE is the health services and support program for active duty service members and retirees, and their families. Here is a link to their website. The TRICARE programs are available to family members of active duty military service members and also to military retirees and their dependents. These dependents include:
- Unmarried children under age 21
- Unmarried children under age 23 who are full-time students
- Stepchildren adopted by the sponsor
|Those who are eligible must be listed in the Defense Department’s worldwide, computerized database, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). People age 65 or older who are eligible for Medicare can receive TRICARE For Life benefits.See Understanding TRICARE For Life at Military.com.
Here is a link to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. The US Department of Veterans Affairs provides patient care and federal benefits to veterans and their dependents. The home page for the Department of Veterans Affairs provides links to veterans benefits and services, as well as information and resources for other Departmental programs and offices, including:
Compensation & Pension
Vocational Rehab & Employment Services
Section 508 Accessibility
|Veterans’ Records – Here is a website maintained by the National Archives that accesses a database of veterans’ records. [Bad Moon Rising] says, “This is a good site to be aware of and to bookmark.” Here is a brief description of services:
Welcome to our online military personnel records request system.Use our system to create a customized order form to request information from your, or your relative’s, military personnel records. You may use this system if you are:
- A military veteran, or
- Next of kin of a deceased, former member of the military
The next of kin can be any of the following: surviving spouse that has not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, or brother.
|Here is a link to this resource website to help veterans with small businesses to advertise, to find appropriate procurements, and to network with other veterans. It is also a place where civic-minded folk in the private sector can find veteran-owned businesses to work with or to support with their patronage. The VetBiz Registry is a service of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Center for Veterans Enterprise.
|Here is another way to help our troops. The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund fills some gaps in the coverage of expenses of injured Marines that is provided by the Government.
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund (IMSFF) provides financial assistance and quality of life solutions to:
- Marines and Sailors injured in combat, training or with life threatening illnesses
- Other service members injured while in direct support of Marine units
- Their families — to help defray the expenses incurred during hospitalization, rehabilitation and recovery
- Help with expenses associated with the purchase of specialized equipment, adaptive vans or vehicles, and handicap home purchases and/or modifications not covered by the VA
- Assists in obtaining specialized equipment needed for injuries suffered, such as traumatic brain injuries, burns and visual impairments
The Injured Marine Semper Fi fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It is staffed by volunteers. All donations are tax deductible.
Federal Tax ID # 26-0086305
Combined Federal Campaign #11459
Contact them at info@SemperFiFund.org or visit their website at www.SemperFiFund.org.
From the Public Broadcasting System, this website is part of The American Experience, and includes a calculator for determining the zone of blast damage for a nuclear weapon of your choice.[Bad Moon Rising] added this website to our list saying, “…and one of my little all time favorites…”