Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Medals for Drone Pilots?

Our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President, who apologized to the world for Bush's water-boarding of three terrorists caught on the battlefield (none of whom were killed), has now, at his own discretion, killed almost 5,000 people (including some very bad guys) using predator drones. Drones are controlled by "cyber pilots" sitting in an office behind a computer screen using a joy stick.

Now, there is a new service medal for these drone pilots and other cyber warriors. Soon after its announcement on Feb. 13, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Military Order of the Purple Heart both slammed the decision to rank the award higher than the Bronze Star with Valor device and the Purple Heart - both medals earned in physical combat or through direct enemy action. Is this yet another example of the Army brass and the Joint Chiefs allowing their civilian masters to water down the U.S. military? What's next, drone pilots filing for PTSD? Anyway, here's the story ...

DoD Stands Behind Controversial Drone, Cyber Medal

Obviously, it's a much safer way to fight; but, does it warrant a high precedence combat medal? Here's is a clip of our very efficient cyber warriors in action executing a drone strike ...

"Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.” -- Barack Obama

Saturday, February 16, 2013

2/94 FA Reunion, 2004 - Part 1

Captain Greg Smith introducing General Alfred M. Gray, 29th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps as the dinner speaker at the 2004 Reunion of the 2nd Battion (175mm Guns) 94th Artillery, U.S. Army at Washington, DC September, 2004. General Gray's remarks to follow as Part 2.

General Gray who, as biographer Scott Laidig's recently titled book suggests, preferred to be known as Al Gray, Marine, was a Major and the S-3 of the 12th Marine Regiment on the DMZ in 1966 when he wrote the request to General Westmoreland that the Army's 2nd battalion, 94th Artillery be re-routed as we sailed across the Pacific on the USS Eltinge. As a result, our battalion of 175mm guns landed at Da Nang and instead of Saigon and headed north where we were operationally attached to and fought with the 3rd Marine Division. The Marines were being out-gunned on the DMZ by Russian-made artillery with a longer range than anything the Marines had and our 175 guns, with the longest range (20 miles) of any artillery weapons in the world, changed all that.

Al Gray went from private to four-star general and was one of those legendary American military heroes who would lead from in front: a pure warrior. All of us were changed forever for having fought with him.

"There are higher things in life than the soft and easy enjoyment of material comfort. It is through strife, or the readiness for strife, that a nation must win greatness.. .A rich nation which is slothful, timid, or unwieldy is an easy prey for any people which still retain those most valuable of qualities, the martial virtues." -- Theodore Roosevelt

"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war." -- Otto von Bismarck

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Scott Laidig's book about General Gray

I received an email today from Scott Laidig who is one of General Al Gray's biographers.

Part One of Al Gray, Marine has just been published. The hard copy version can be purchased from the publisher for $50 here ...

I just bought the Kindle version on Amazon for $10.

Our 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery connection goes back to 1966-67 when Gray was a Major and ran the 12th Marine Regimental Artillery Fire Direction Center that had operational control over our Army battalion of 175mm Guns. After we were first attached and found ourselves fighting with the Marines, I remember having heard sarcastic comments from some Marines like "we're safe now the Army's here." But we earned their respect and the Marines - particularly Major Al Gray - came to depend on our massive, long-range firepower. Some of us got to know Gray very well while serving with him when he was the commander at the Gio Linh combat base - where we were attacked constantly and suffered our greatest casualties. During quieter times, he would stop by occasionally and participate in a softball games with us at Camp Carroll and Dong Ha. He was a good friend of the battalion and a valuable connection to the 3rd Marine Division.

When I organized the 2004 reunion in Washington, DC, our own GEN Trefry helped me get Gray as the speaker at our reunion dinner. After Vietnam, he went on to become a four-star General and the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps. He was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Desert Storm in 1991. GEN Gray was always rather informal. Every time I talked with him on the phone, he always identified himself as Al Gray; so, I guess it's not surprising that Scott titled the book, Al Gray, Marine. Scott interviewed some of us who are honored to be included in the book.

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem." -- Ronald Reagan, President of the United States; 1985

"The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!" -- Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, 1945

"Take me to the Brig. I want to see the 'real Marines'." -- Major General Chesty Puller, USMC - while on a Battalion inspection.