Add Me - Blog Me -Digg Me

AddThis Feed Button

Saturday, May 31, 2008 sent you a link to content of interest sent you a link to the following content:

Roundtables: Memorial Day Edition

The sender also included this note:

Roundtables: Memorial Day Edition
Posted By Grim
We had two significant roundtables in preparation for Memorial Day. The first is about a ceremony for Medal of Honor recipients at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. If you might be in the area, read the transcript and see if you would like to get by. Likewise, if you're just interested in what sounds like a fine museum about an interesting carrier -- the Midway served from the end of WWII until the Gulf War -- and an epoch in naval aviation.

We also spoke with Navy Captain Peter K. Dallman, commodore of the USS Boxer. He gave us an update on Continuing Promise 2008, in which we are helping our neighbors in South America, including El Salvador.

You may remember this touching letter from a Salvadoran officer who served with us in Iraq. Many of his brethren are currently out at FOB Delta in Al Kut, not far from the Iranian border. He wrote:

The reason I volunteered is simple: there is a country in need. These people are going through a terrible burden. As you probably know, my country suffered for 12 years, going through that terrible cycle in our history. My country needed a helping hand, and your country, the United States, gave us that helping hand.

I think that if we can give just a small token of that solidarity back to that friend, it is so very worth it. So I know the feeling and if I can heal some of that, then count me in. If I had to come again, I surely would.

The Salvadoran soldiers are good people who want to 'pay it forward,' and to offer Iraq the same chance they have received. Just as Iraqi soldiers may someday help to stabilize some future conflict, and help that country's people find their way out of war, so the Salvadorans are today ready to stand with us.

And we with them, as brothers:

We're working side by side with the El Salvadorians. They have lots of docks and dentists right there in our clinics. And we're working side by side with the engineers at the site. And we're working very closely with their army to effect ground transportation and, you know, standard force-protection measures.... We've been very warmly received by both Guatemala and El Salvador. I think there certainly is a need here. And we also have learned much from the folks that we've been working with and treating. I would say there's been an overwhelming, sincere appreciation for our efforts and -- you know, our commitment to their countries and to their people. And that's been very gratifying and it's been constant and very visible that they've been very thankful for what we're trying to do here. We have been seeing on average 6 (hundred) or 700 patients a day total between dental, optometry and primary care. We saw over -- you know, close to five-and-a-half thousand primary care patients in Guatemala. We did -- we're up to 67 total surgeries for the deployment, handed out close to 1,000 glasses in Guatemala; over 2,000 optometry patients seen; close to 1,500 animals have been treated. So the work has been good. The Seabees have been busy. We worked on -- they worked on three schools, two culverts -- drainage ditches -- and then they re-route the church in Guatemala. And here in El Salvador, they're working on two schools, essentially, to basically get the school back up to where it can function in terms of running water, flushing toilets, working kitchen, a roof that's not going to leak and screens on the windows; lights and electricity standardized throughout the whole compound, things like that.

Just as in Thailand, where we were training to do good for people in future combined COIN operations by actually doing good for the citizens of an ally nation, so in El Salvador. At peace, we train by helping our friends help their own. At war, we join together to help the people among whom terrorists and murderers try to hide.

There are worse ways to run a nation, and for a nation to engage the world. This Memorial Day, we remember those who have paid the highest price for that mission, and honor all who have paid any price for it.

Sent via a FeedFlare link from a FeedBurner feed.

Friday, May 30, 2008

From Blackfive blog: The reason I volunteered is simple...

You may remember this touching letter from a Salvadoran officer who served with us in Iraq. Many of his brethren are currently out at FOB Delta in Al Kut, not far from the Iranian border.

Roundtables: Memorial Day Edition

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Injured Texas Marine dies after enduring 100 surgeries

Injured Texas Marine dies after enduring 100 surgeries

The young Marine came back from the war, with his toughest fight ahead
of him.

Sgt. Merlin German waged that battle in the quiet of a Texas hospital,
far from the dusty road in Iraq where a bomb exploded, leaving him with
burns over 97 percent of his body.

No one expected him to survive.

But for more than three years, he would not surrender. He endured more
than 100 surgeries and procedures. He learned to live with pain, to
stare at a stranger's face in the mirror. He learned to smile again, to
joke, to make others laugh.

He became known as the "Miracle Man."

But just when it seemed he would defy impossible odds, German lost his
last battle this spring — an unexpected final chapter in a story many
imagined would have a happy ending.

"I think all of us had believed in some way, shape or form that he was
invincible," says Lt. Col. Evan Renz, who was German's surgeon and his
friend. "He had beaten so many other operations. ... It just reminded
us, he, too, was human."

It was near Ramadi, Iraq, on Feb. 21, 2005, that the roadside bomb
detonated near German's Humvee, hurling him out of the turret and
engulfing him in flames.

When Renz and other doctors at the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical
Center in San Antonio first got word from Baghdad, they told his family
he really didn't have a chance. The goal: Get him back to America so
his loved ones could say goodbye.

But when German arrived four days later, doctors, amazed by how well he
was doing, switched gears. "We were going to do everything known to
science," Renz says. "He was showing us he can survive."

Doctors removed his burn wounds and covered him with artificial and
cadaver skin. They also harvested small pieces of German's healthy
skin, shipping them off to a lab where they were grown and sent back.

Doctors took skin from the few places he wasn't burned: the soles of
his feet, the top of his head and small spots on his abdomen and left

Once those areas healed, doctors repeated the task. Again and again.

"Sometimes I do think I can't do it," German said last year in an
Associated Press interview. "Then I think: Why not? I can do whatever I

Renz witnessed his patient's good and bad days.

"Early on, he thought, 'This is ridiculous. Why am I doing this? Why am
I working so hard?' " Renz recalls. "But every month or so, he'd say,
'I've licked it.' ... He was amazingly positive overall. ... He never
complained. He'd just dig in and do it."

Slowly, his determination paid off. He made enormous progress.

From a ventilator to breathing on his own.

From communicating with his eyes or a nod to talking.

From being confined to a hospital isolation bed with his arms and legs
suspended — so his skin grafts would take — to moving into his own
house and sleeping in his own bed.

Sometimes his repeated surgeries laid him up for days, and he'd lose
ground in his rehabilitation. But he'd always rebound.

Even when he was hurting, he'd return to therapy — as long as he had
his morning Red Bull energy drink.

"I can't remember a time where he said, 'I can't do it. I'm not going
to try,' " says Sgt. Shane Elder, a rehabilitation therapy assistant.

That despite the constant reminders that he'd never be the same. The
physical fitness buff who could run miles and do dozens of push-ups
struggled, at first, just to sit up on the edge of his bed. The
one-time saxophone player had lost his fingers. The Marine with the
lady-killer smile now had a raw, ripple-scarred face.

Lt. Col. Grant Olbrich recalls a day in 2006 when he stopped by
German's room and noticed he was crying softly. Olbrich, who heads a
Marine patient affairs team at Brooke, says he sat with him awhile and
asked: "What are you scared of?' He said, 'I'm afraid there will never
be a woman who loves me.' "

Olbrich says that was the lowest he ever saw German, but even then "he
didn't give up. ... He was unstoppable."

His mother, Lourdes, remembers her son another way: "He was never
really scared of anything."

That toughness, says his brother, Ariel, showed up even when they were
kids growing up in New York.

Playing football, German would announce: "Give me the ball. Nobody can
knock me down."

In nearly 17 months in the hospital, German's "family" grew.

From the start, his parents, Lourdes and Hemery, were with him. They
relocated to Texas. His mother helped feed and dress her son; they
prayed together three, four times a day.

"She said she would never leave his side," Ariel says. "She was his
eyes, his ears, his feet, his everything."

But many at the hospital also came to embrace German.

Norma Guerra, a public affairs spokeswoman who has a son in Iraq,
became known as German's "Texas mom."

She read him action-packed stories at his bedside and arranged to have
a DVD player in his room so he could watch his favorite gangster

She sewed him pillows embroidered with the Marine insignia. She helped
him collect New York Yankees memorabilia and made sure he met every
celebrity who stopped by — magician David Blaine became a friend, and
President Bush visited.

"He was a huge part of me," says Guerra, who had German and his parents
over for Thanksgiving. "I remember him standing there talking to my
older sister like he knew her forever."

German liked to gently tease everyone about fashion — his sense of
style, and their lack of it.

Guerra says he once joked: "I've been given a second chance. I think I
was left here to teach all you people how to dress."

Even at Brooke, he color-coordinated his caps and sneakers.

German also was something of an entrepreneur. Back in high school, he
attended his senior prom, not with a date but with a giant bag of
disposable cameras to make some quick cash from those who didn't have
the foresight to bring their own.

At Brooke, he designed a T-shirt that he sometimes sold, sometimes gave
away. On the front it read: "Got 3 percent chance of survival, what ya
gonna do?" The back read, "a) Fight Through, b) Stay Strong, c)
Overcome Because I Am a Warrior, d) All Of The Above." D is circled.

Every time he cleared a hurdle, the staff at Brooke cheered him on.

When he first began walking, Guerra says, word spread in the hospital
corridors. "People would say, 'Did you know Merlin took his first step?
Did you know he took 10 steps?' " she recalls.

German, in turn, was asked by hospital staff to motivate other burn
patients when they were down or just not interested in therapy.

"I'd say, 'Hey, can you talk to this patient?' ... Merlin would come in
... and it was: Problem solved," says Elder, the therapist. "The thing
about him was there wasn't anything in the burn world that he hadn't
been through. Nobody could say to him, 'You don't understand.' "

German understood, too, that burn patients deal with issues outside the
hospital because of the way they look.

"When he saw a group of children in public, he was more concerned about
what they might think," says Renz, his surgeon. "He would work to make
them comfortable with him."

And kids adored him, including Elder's two young sons. German had a
habit of buying them toys with the loudest, most obnoxious sounds — and
presenting them with a mischievous smile.

He especially loved his nieces and nephews; the feelings were mutual.
One niece remembered him on a Web site as being "real cool and funny"
and advising her to "forget about having little boyfriends and buying
hot phones" and to concentrate on her education instead.

But he was closest to his mother. When the hospital's Holiday Ball
approached in 2006, German told Guerra he wanted to surprise his mother
by taking her for a twirl on the dance floor.

Guerra thought he was kidding. She knew it could be agony for him just
to take a short walk or raise a scarred arm.

But she agreed to help, and they rehearsed for months, without his
mother knowing. He chose a love song to be played for the dance: Have I
Told You Lately? by Rod Stewart.

That night he donned his Marine dress blues and shiny black shoes —
even though it hurt to wear them. When the time came, he took his
mother in his arms and they glided across the dance floor.

Everyone stood and applauded. And everyone cried.

Clearly, it seemed, the courageous Marine was winning his long, hard

Merlin German died after routine surgery to add skin to his lower lip.

He was already planning his next operations — on his wrists and elbows.
But Renz also says with all the stress German's body had been subjected
to in recent years, "it was probably an unfair expectation that you can
keep doing this over and over again and not have any problems."

The cause of his death has not yet been determined.

"I may no more understand why he left us when he did than why he
survived when he did," Renz says. "I don't think I was meant to know."

As people learned of his death last month, they flocked to his hospital
room to pay their last respects: Doctors, nurses, therapists and
others, many arriving from home, kept coming as Friday night faded into
Saturday morning.

German was just 22.

He had so many dreams that will go unrealized: Becoming an FBI agent
(he liked the way they dressed). Going to college. Starting a business.
Even writing comedy.

But he did accomplish a major goal: He set up a foundation for burned
children called "Merlin's Miracles" to raise money so these kids could
enjoy life, whether it was getting an air conditioner for their home or
taking a trip to Disney World, a place he loved.

On a sunny April afternoon, German was buried among the giant oaks and
Spanish moss of Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.

Memorial Day is a time to remember the fallen with parades, tributes
and stories.

Sgt. Joe Gonzales, a Marine liaison at Brooke, has a favorite story
about German.

It was the day he and German's mother were walking in the hospital
hallway. German was ahead, wearing an iPod, seemingly oblivious to
everyone else.

Suddenly, he did a sidestep.

For a second, Gonzales worried German was about to fall. But no.

"He just started dancing out of nowhere. His mom looked at me. She
shook her head. There he was with a big old smile. Regardless of his
situation, he was still trying to enjoy life."

Brought to you by the

Friday, May 2, 2008

FW: A Letter of Apology

An old rehash letter but still good reading!
(located here:

Mike S. Adams
June 14, 2004

Author's Note: the following editorial contains mildly offensive language.
Given the subject matter, the author is sorry that it does not contain highly offensive language.

Lately, I've been hearing a lot about the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. The pictures of those "abused" prisoners have been plastered all over the front pages of papers around the country. Some of my conservative friends have interpreted the excessive coverage as proof that papers like the New York Times are actually rooting against America in its current war on terror. Even those who aren't willing to go that far say that such coverage is helping the enemy to recruit a new generation of terrorists to inflict harm upon our troops.

Despite these views, I have decided to make a formal public apology to the entire Arab world in the aftermath of Abu Ghraib. It is my hope that the following apology will help bring some clarity to the situation and, who knows, maybe even lasting world peace:

Dear Arabs,

I am truly sorry that Americans decided to take up arms and sacrifice their own youth in the defense of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, and the first Gulf War. After we clear up this mess in Iraq, we will refrain from any such activity in the future.

I am truly sorry that I did not hear any of you call for an apology from Muslim extremists after 911. After all, the hijackers were all Arabs.

I am truly sorry that Arabs have to live in squalor under savage dictatorships throughout the Middle East. I am also sorry that the "leaders" of these nations drive their citizens into poverty by keeping all of the wealth in the hands of a select few.

I am also sorry that these governments intentionally breed hate for the U.S. in their religious schools while American schools do the exact opposite.

I am sorry that Yasir Arafat has been kicked out of every Arab country and has attached his name to the Palestinian "cause." I am also sorry that no other Arab country will offer nearly as much support to Arafat as we offer to them.

I am sorry that the U.S. has continued to serve as the biggest financial supporter of poverty stricken Arab nations while wealthy Arab leaders blame the U.S. for all of their problems.

I am sorry that left-wing media elites would Rather (pun intended) not talk about any of this, thereby perpetuating your anger towards us. It's probably really bad for your blood pressure. I am also sorry that most of you lack the medical resources to measure your blood pressure. And, of course, I'm sorry that few of you have indoor plumbing. That's bad for your health, too.

I am sorry that the U.N. cheated so many poor people in Iraq out of their "food for oil" money so they could get rich while the tortured, raped, and poverty-stricken citizens of Iraq suffered under Saddam Hussein.

I am sorry that some Arab governments pay the families of homicide bombers after their children are blown to pieces in pursuit of Arafat's "cause."

I am sorry that these homicide bombers have as little regard for babies as the local office of Planned Parenthood.

I am sorry that so many people are unable to differentiate between the gang rape rooms and mass graves of Saddam Hussein on the one hand, and the conditions of Abu Ghraib on the other.

I am sorry that our prison guards do not show the same restraint that Arabs show when their brothers in arms are killed. By the way, you shouldn't be sorry about that.

I am sorry that foreign trained terrorists are trying to seize control of Iraq and return it to a terrorist state. I am sorry we have not yet dropped at least 100 Daisy cutters on Fallujah in order to stop that effort.

I am also sorry that cleaning up the mess in Iraq is taking so long. It only took Saddam Hussein about 30 years to accomplish all he did in the realm of human rights. Come to think of it, that's about ten years less than the duration of our War on Poverty in the U.S. Come to think of it, I'm sorry we haven't sent all of our gang bangers from South Central Los Angeles to Fallujah.

I am sorry that every time the terrorists hide, it just happens to be inside a "Holy Site."

I am sorry that Muslim extremists have not yet apologized for the U.S.S. Cole, the embassy bombings, and for flying a plane into the World Trade Center, which collapsed in part on Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which is one of our Holy Sites.

I am sorry that we have not taken a portion of the diet of Michael Moore and shipped it to one of your starving villages in the Middle East. You need it Moore (pun intended) than he does.

I am sorry that your only supporters are professors, journalists, and other assorted Leftists who also support homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, partial birth abortion, and everything that you abhor in this world. I am sorry that everyone else in America is against you.

Finally, I am sorry that I am going to have to end this apology by asking you to kiss the right side of my conservative butt. I'm probably just having a bad day.

For that I am truly sorry.

Templar Coin