FrancisKnobel

Soldier Missing from Korean War Accounted For

FrancisKnobelThe Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. soldier, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Cpl. Francis D. Knobel of La Crosse, Wisconsin, will be buried May 21, in Arlington National Cemetery. In December 1950, Knobel was a member of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, operating along the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. On Dec. 12, 1950, following the battle, Knobel was one of many men reported missing in action.

From Aug. 31 to Nov. 9, 1954, the United Nations and communist forces exchanged war dead, commonly known as Operation Glory. As part of the exchange, communist forces turned over 25 boxes of remains that were believed to be American servicemen who were recovered near where Knobel was lost. The remains were transferred to the U.S. Army’s Central Identification Unit (CIU) in Kokura, Japan, for analysis. From the 25 boxes transferred to the CIU, 17 servicemen were identified; one box was believed to contain a Korean national, and the last seven boxes of remains could not be identified. When all attempts to associate the unidentified remains to American servicemen were unsuccessful, a military review board declared the remains to be unidentifiable and the remains were transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, commonly known as the Punchbowl.

In 2014, with advances in technology, the Department of Defense re-examined records from the CIU and concluded it was possible to identify the remains. The remains were exhumed and analyzed.

To identify Knobel’s remains, scientists from DoD and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence, radiographs, and dental comparison.

Today, 7,852 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams.

Airmen Missing From WWII Accounted For

Hot Garters crewThe Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced yesterday that the remains of U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been accounted for and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Army Air Forces 1st Lts. William D. Bernier of Augusta, Montana; Bryant E. Poulsen of Salt Lake City, Utah; Herbert V. Young Jr. of Clarkdale, Arizona and Tech Sgts. Charles L. Johnston of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Hugh F. Moore of Elkton, Maryland and Staff Sgts. John E. Copeland of Dearing, Kansas; Charles J. Jones of Athens, Georgia; and Sgt. Charles A. Gardner of San Francisco, California, have been accounted for and buried with full military honors. Jones will be buried Feb. 28 in Athens, Georgia and Johnston will be buried March 2 in Arlington National Cemetery. On March 18, there will be a group burial service at Arlington National Cemetery honoring Poulsen, Copeland and the other crew members. Bernier was buried Sept. 19, 2014, in his hometown. Young was buried Oct. 15, 2014, in Prescott, Arizona Moore was buried on Nov. 11, 2014, in his hometown. Gardner was buried on Dec. 4, 2014 in Arlington National Cemetery.

On April 10, 1944, 12 B-24D Liberator crew members took off from Texter Strip, Nazdab Air Field, New Guinea, on a mission to attack an anti-aircraft site at Hansa Bay. The aircraft was shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire over the Madang Province, New Guinea. Four of the crewmen were able to parachute from the aircraft, but were reported to have died in captivity.

Following World War II, the Army Graves Registration Service (AGRS) conducted investigations and recovered the remains of three of the missing airmen. In May 1949, AGRS concluded the remaining nine crew members were unrecoverable.

In 2001, a U.S.-led team located wreckage of a B-24D that bore the tail number of this aircraft. After several surveys, DoD teams excavated the site and recovered human remains and non-biological material evidence.

To identify Jones’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Jones’ maternal niece.

To identify Johnston’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Johnston’s maternal cousins.

To identify Gardner’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Gardner’s maternal niece and nephew.

To identify Young’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Young’s sister.

To identify Moore’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Moore’s niece and grand-niece.

To identify Bernier’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Bernier’s cousins.

To account for Poulsen and Copeland, scientists from DPAA used circumstantial evidence that placed them on the aircraft and accounted for as them as part of the group.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or call 703-699-1169.

DOD Announces Operation Freedom’s Sentinel Qualifies for Campaign Medal

afghanistancampaignmedalThe Department of Defense announced today Operation Freedom’s Sentinel as a qualifying operation for award of the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. Additionally, the transition from Operation Enduring Freedom to Freedom’s Sentinel also marks a new campaign phase, “Transition II,” for the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica Wright signed a memorandum authorizing these changes retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015.

The qualifying Afghanistan Campaign Medal operations, campaign phases, and associated inclusive dates for each are as follows:

Operation:
ENDURING FREEDOM (Afghanistan) Sept. 11, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2014
FREEDOM’s SENTINEL Jan. 1, 2015 to Current

Campaign Phase:
Liberation of Afghanistan Sept. 11, 2001 to Nov. 30, 2001
Consolidation I Dec. 1, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2006
Consolidation II Oct. 1, 2006 to Nov. 30, 2009
Consolidation III Dec. 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011
Transition I July 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2014
Transition II Jan. 1, 2015 to Current

Service members should contact their respective military departments for additional guidance.

To learn more, please view the department’s memorandum.

Constitutional Carry: A “Non-issue”

Photo courtesy OpenCarry.org

Photo courtesy OpenCarry.org

Recently, Port Arthur Police Chief Mark Blanton expressed the idea that passing a law that would legalize the open carry of firearms would “put a tremendous burden on law enforcement because citizens are going to call when they see someone openly carrying a weapon.”

With Republicans winning a greater share of the elected offices in Texas, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo met with other Texas chiefs of police about the issue of open carry. After the meeting, Acevedo remarked that “we don’t need to go back to the Wild, Wild West,” something he says would occur with the passage of open carry legislation here in Texas. Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland called open carry “madness.”

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry told the Texas Tribune he doesn’t “want the bad guys to know if I’m carrying” and doesn’t “want to be the first person shot if something’s going down.”

Over the past nearly two years since I founded Open Carry Texas, I’ve heard the gamut of excuses for why Texans should have the right to openly carry their modern handguns. It never ceases to amaze me how these myths have become so ingrained that we just repeat them without thought, evidence, or understanding.

“People will be scared.”

“You will be the first one targeted.”

“Open carry loses the element of surprise.”

“How can we tell the difference between a good guy and a bad guy if everyone is open carrying?”

“It will be the Wild West.”

Each and every one of these is patently absurd and all founded on emotional arguments, not rational or reality based ones. In fact, we don’t even need to be asking many of the questions being tossed about today if Texans regain their natural right to self defense. There are 44 states that currently have open carry. Of those, 31 do not require a license. In other words, two-thirds of the country doesn’t require a license to open carry and there isn’t blood in the streets and shootouts at the OK Corral aren’t happening all over the place.

What I find most interesting is that the same Chiefs of Police that falsely predicted utter mayhem and destruction during the debates about passing the CHL law pass back in 1990s are at it again. With a track record like that, it surprises me how many legislators tell me, “I need to find out what the law enforcement community thinks first,” as if our rights are dependent on the opinions of those that serve in our communities around the state and defend those rights. Have we really devolved as a republican society that our law enforcement who are on the front lines every day get to decide which rights they want to support and defend?

In 2013, Governor Phil Bryant signed House Bill 2 into law that returned open carry rights to Mississippians. However, law enforcement and gun control activists quickly launched an attack to keep the law from going into effect. In an injunction filed in Hinds County Circuit Court, these opponents claimed that “when firearms are openly carried by untrained individuals, it is less likely that these individuals will properly retain control of their weapons. Therefore, others are able to easily disarm carriers in order to use the weapons against innocent bystanders.”

In a refrain that would be echoed here in Texas two years later, the injunction went on to claim that “allowing the open carrying of deadly weapons could cause the escalation of disagreements between citizens and could lead to increased incidents of violence with deadly weapons in the State of Mississippi.”

Ken Winter, the director of the state Association of Chiefs of Police, expressed concern by noting he is “a firm believer in law enforcement officers going home at the end of the day…From an officer safety standpoint, it appears that basically anybody who’s not a convicted felon can go anywhere with a gun.”

One year after Mr. Winter made that comment, he was forced to admit that passing unlicensed open carry has “kind of been a non-issue.” One year later, all the predictions of doom and gloom never materialized.

In 2010, when Arizona was debating its constitutional carry law (exactly what Open Carry Texas is pushing for in passage of HB 195 and SB 342), the gun control crowd was out in force again with the same false arguments against the right to keep and bear arms.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence opined that more violent crimes and accidental shootings are a causal effect of unfettered access to guns. The spokeman for the Brady Center claimed that, “Arizona is a disaster when it comes to even trying to prevent gun violence. It is among the worst of the worst.”

The lobbyist for the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Kendra Leiby, expressed her disapproval for constitutional carry by claiming, “more liberal laws lead to more deaths in the home.”

Sam Hoover, from Legal Community Against Gun Violence, said that passing a constitutional carry bill “sends a message [Arizona] is not really concerned about public safety.” Endorsing that belief, Brian Livingston, executive director of the Arizona Police Association, said that not requiring a permit “would add an increased element of danger” to his job.

Since 2010, the murder rate in Arizona has dropped from 6.4 to 5.4 per 100,000. Additionally, Arizona’s violent crime rate fell from 413.6 to 405.8. An armed citizenry is actually a benefit to law enforcement, not a hindrance.

We’ve already heard all the arguments. It’s a debate that has already been had and each time the proponents of gun control have been proven wrong. 31 states already have unlicensed open carry and it hasn’t contributed to more murders, more accidental shootings, more blood in the streets, and certainly no additional threats to law enforcement. While it may be difficult to determine if open carry is responsible for the drop in crime rates, it certainly can’t be said that it caused a rise! If Texas legislators refuse to allow Texans to openly carry their modern handguns without a permit, they are telling their constituents that we are dumber, less trustworthy, less responsible, and less capable of exercising our rights in a safe and legal manner as opposed to two-thirds of the country. Arkansas, with its constitutional carry law, enjoys reciprocity agreements with 40 other states. Arizona has constitutional carry and its CHL has reciprocity with 36 states. Wyoming has constitutional carry and its CHL is valid in 37 other states, as is the Alaska CHL. Texas only has licensed concealed carry and its CHL is recognized in only 34 states. Constitutional carry will not remove the Texas CHL and will not hurt reciprocity agreements. In fact, it appears that a lack of constitutional carry hurts more.

We’re behind the power curve with respect to recognizing our state and federally protected right to keep and bear arms. As I write this, with 31 unlicensed and 13 licensed open carry states, it boggles my mind that Texas lawmakers would push to make Texas #14 on the licensed list when that list is shrinking instead of joining the growing list of 31 states? West Virginia, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Idaho and Indiana are considering passing constitutional carry laws while many more states are looking to shed their permits for open carry. Why are we still living in the Reconstructionist, carpetbagger era here in Texas?

Legislators have no legitimate reason to license away our rights this session and every reason to return constitutional values to Texas. Licenses should never be a stepping stone to regaining our rights when the debate has already been settled virtually everywhere else.

Army approves awards for victims of 2009 Fort Hood attack

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Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced today that he has approved awarding the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart, the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, to victims of a 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, following a change in the medals’ eligibility criteria mandated by Congress. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded in the attack by Major Nidal Hassan, who was convicted in August, 2013, of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.

“The Purple Heart’s strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood,” McHugh explained. “Now that Congress has changed the criteria, we believe there is sufficient reason to allow these men and women to be awarded and recognized with either the Purple Heart or, in the case of civilians, the Defense of Freedom medal. It’s an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice.”

Under a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, Congress expanded the eligibility for the Purple Heart by re-defining what should be considered an attack by a “foreign terrorist organization” for purposes of determining eligibility for the Purple Heart. The legislation states that an event should now be considered an attack by a foreign terrorist organization if the perpetrator of the attack “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack” and “the attack was inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.”

In a review of the Fort Hood incident and the new provisions of law, the Army determined that there was sufficient evidence to conclude Hasan “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack,” and that his radicalization and subsequent acts could reasonably be considered to have been “inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.” Previous criteria required a finding that Hasan had been acting at the direction of a foreign terrorist organization.

McHugh directed Army officials to identify soldiers and civilians now eligible for the awards as soon as possible, and to contact them about presentation of the awards. Soldiers receiving the Purple Heart automatically qualify for combat-related special compensation upon retirement. Recipients are also eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Following his 2013 conviction, Hasan was sentenced to death by a general court-martial. He is incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, while post-trial and appellate processes continue.

campuscarry

College Police Chiefs to Vets: We Don’t Trust You

campuscarryLast month, two bills were filed (one each for the Texas House and Senate) that would legalize self-defense by concealed handgun license holders on college campuses. In typical fashion, Texas law enforcement agencies aren’t supportive of the idea, especially the Texas Association of College and University Police Administrators. According to WOAI.com, apparently the only people that can be trusted with guns on a campus are police officers:

Felipe Garza, President of the Texas Association of College and University Police Administrators, says there are ‘too many uncertainties’ of college life, from being away from school for the first time, to the stress of college, to the temptations of drugs and alcohol. Garza says he is also worried about the security of the guns which are taken into college dorms and campuses.

“That may cause, if they have a handgun present or nearby, they would steal it from someone they know, and that would cause potential problems,” he said.

University of Texas System Chancellor Admiral William McRaven last week wrote a strongly worded letter to college presidents telling them that campus carry is a real bad idea.

Garza is echoing those sentiments. He says having concealed guns in the close quarters where college students live and study would cause major problems.

“If they are potentially weapons carriers, they have no way of securing that, or keeping those weapons safe, or preventing somebody else from using those weapons in a moment of anger and distress,” he said.

It seems that Mr. Garza is projecting his own inadequacies in dealing with “anger and distress” onto others. After all, it was only about a year ago that a campus police officer shot 23-year old University of the Incarnate Word in Texas student, Cameron Redus, in the back after the student made a sarcastic remark to the officer. A quick search of the internet reveals many shootings and beatings of unarmed students by campus police officers, some justified and others not so much.

It’s a telling statement about how the police view the public they are sworn to protect as undesirables and criminals-in-waiting, claiming that students are basically LOOKING for a reason to commit crimes; they just don’t have their roommate’s gun to do it with. If the state allows a responsible adult who is capable of voting, serving in the military, and actually serving on that same police force to carry, that responsible adult suddenly becomes a violent criminal in search of a victim according to Garza. When you really think about it, it’s laughable. But, this isn’t the the worst of it.

On February 1 – two days ago, I officially became a civilian again. I’m now 1SG(R) CJ Grisham. Prior to retirement, I enrolled in college full time to complete courses needed in pursuit of a law degree. As I sit in my classes, I can’t help but notice that I’m not even the oldest guy in the class. In one class, there is a Vietnam Veteran with Stage 4 cancer. In another class, a retired Air Force NCO. In others, veterans from recent wars and veterans who never saw combat. I would venture to say that about 40% of students are seasoned and responsible adults.

These veterans who are arguably more trained on the use of firearms in self defense than cops are forbidden from protecting themselves and others around them because state law bans firearms on college campuses. Mr. Garza and Admiral McRaven have no problem disarming veterans while their cops operate freely, but sparsely, around college campuses. There is no guarantee one of these campus police officers will be in the classroom with me when someone decides they’ve had enough or need to exact revenge on another person. Us veterans will be forced to either confront the shooter unarmed or hide behind our book bags while we wait excruciatingly long minutes for campus police to arrive (people with lawfully carried guns).

If students who are legally qualified to own a firearm and possess a concealed handgun license are good enough everywhere else in Texas, they’re good enough on our college campuses. There is no reason that those living in college dorms can’t be required to secure their firearms in a gun safe in their rooms or an arms room provided by the university. There is no reason that students who have met CHL requirements can’t be trusted just because they cross an imaginary line called a college campus.

I’ve served in two combat combat tours and several non-combat tours in S. America. I retired as a 1SG, often in charge of training over 100 Soldiers at least twice a year on firearm safety and competency. Since retiring, I’ve returned to school to finish a degree that I placed on the backburner two decades ago to serve my country. And yet, even though I’m well trained and licensed to carry a concealed firearm, I can’t defend myself or my classmates while I’m in class. THIS MUST CHANGE!!

These police chiefs are afraid of losing their control, not the safety of their students. These are the same people that opposed the CHL law being passed in 1995. Gun free zones are crime spree zones. Texans must come together to pass SB11 and HB937. Call your state representatives and senators and demand they return our basic human right to self defense. When did the opinions of law enforcement begin trumping the rights of the citizenry they serve?

Why Is The NRA Selling Away My Rights?

c2c22I have been a card carrying NRA Endowment Life and Golden Eagles member (I joined this because the NRA was looking for “patriotic NRA members who feel they are ready to assume a more prominent role in our cause,” which I assumed meant gun rights) for several years. So, I speak as an NRA member and CHL holder with a bone to pick. The TSRA, which is basically the Texas arm of the NRA, has released its “top priority bills filed to date” list. The TSRA seems to be misleading its members in order to push for licensing away your rights.

According to an email sent out to members, “Currently eight separate bills have been filed dealing with the issue of openly carrying a handgun. Six would create licensed open carry based on current concealed handgun law. The licensing process and reciprocity agreements with other states would stay intact. Two of the bills listed are what proponents call ‘Constitutional Carry’ meaning carrying a handgun openly without the state-issued license.

If licensed open carry passes, Texas would become an addition to a growing list of states with contemporary open carry laws such as Oklahoma.”

There are several concerning statements here that I believe speak volumes about this supposed “gun rights” organization. First, it talks about the “growing list of states with contemporary open carry laws such as Oklahoma” while ignoring the faster growing list of unlicensed open carry states. Second, and what I think is more underhanded, the email is quick to point out that the licensed open carry legislation they are pushing would ensure that “reciprocity agreements with other states would stay intact.” However, when talking about the two “constitutional carry” bills, they seem to conveniently leave out the fact that under those bills the reciprocity agreements with other states would ALSO be left intact since they leave the CHL PROCESS in place, only making that process voluntary for those that want the perks that come with getting one (easy access into the capitol, easier purchase of firearms through an FFL, etc).

I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but it follows the common TSRA mantra that the only responsible manner to open carry is with the permission of the government in the form of an expensive and cumbersome license. Arizona’s CHL enjoys reciprocity with 34 other states and they have unlicensed open and concealed carry within the state – constitutional carry. Texas’ CHL is only accepted in 30 other states and we DON’T have unlicensed carry. The TSRA talks about the greatness of “if licensed open carry passes” while ignoring the obvious: if unlicensed open carry carry passes, we join the ranks of 2/3 of the open carry states, not the minority 1/3 with licenses like Oklahoma.

These facts beg a simple question: why is the NRA/TSRA that I’ve given literally thousands of dollars to over the years – in addition to purchasing merchandise – working so hard to license away my rights? Is this really where my money has been going all these years? Open Carry Texas and the National Association for Gun Rights is demanding ultimate respect for our rights without licensing and expensive hurdles to jump through while maintaining the current CHL on a voluntary basis like Arizona. It’s telling that the TSRA would tout Oklahoma while ignoring Arizona which seems to enjoy BETTER reciprocity than our state while allowing its citizens to carry without a license within its border. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Arizona CHL is nowhere near as expensive as Texas.

So, let me recap: Texas’ CHL is accepted in fewer states than Arizona, but more expensive. The NRA/TSRA is putting their weight behind licensing and trying to pass it off as somehow protecting Texas reciprocity without telling their members (me) that the two constitutional carry bills do the same thing. I think I’ll keep giving my money to Open Carry Texas, an organization that seems to actually want to fight for our rights.

Why doesn’t the TSRA/NRA seem to support the rights of Texans to keep and bear arms? Are they trying to protect the A+ ratings that they hand out to legislators like candy? Are they personally invested in the CHL laws that generally require “NRA-certified” instructors? Do they view Texans as less responsible, less capable, less safe, and/or less trustworthy to handle having our rights returned to us than citizens of 31 other states? Why hasn’t the NRA/TSRA come to the rescue of the nearly two dozen Texans unlawfully arrested throughout Texas for the lawful and safe exercise of 2A rights, while groups like Open Carry Texas, Texas Carry, Lone Star Gun Rights, and Come And Take It Texas have spent thousands helping them fight? Instead, these groups attacked the victims – the law abiding gun owners. Why isn’t the NRA/TSRA suing the city of San Antonio for violating the state pre-emption law that bars them from creating more restrictive gun laws than the state? Besides having extravagant balls and wining and dining legislators, what are they doing with my money?

As an Endowment Life and Golden Eagles member, I want to know why MY lobbyist organizations aren’t fighting for my rights…uninfringed!

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DOD Releases 2013 Suicide Event Report

Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its 2013 calendar year Suicide Event Report (DoDSER), which details the number of suicide attempts and deaths for U.S. service members.

The DoDSER also includes detailed assessments of demographic information, behavioral health history, and deployment history for each suicide event. This comprehensive information informs DoD senior leaders as they make policy decisions to improve suicide prevention efforts.

In calendar year 2013, active component suicide totals and rates declined over 2012, while reserve components had a slight increase. There were 229 deaths by suicide among active component service members and 220 deaths by suicide among selected reserve component service members (87in the reserve and 133 in the National Guard).

The suicide rate per 100,000 in 2013 was 18.7 for active component service members, 23.4 for reserve component and 28.9 for National Guard.

“One suicide among our ranks is too many,” said Jackie Garrick, director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office. “Suicide is complex, and the better we understand these events in our community, the better we will be able to assist service members in crisis. We consider any measure that saves a life as one worth taking. ”

The department is actively engaged in suicide prevention efforts. Each of the services conducts suicide prevention awareness training for service members and families, and DoD has expanded access to mental health care by increasing the number of providers, embedding them at the unit level and training community clinicians in military cultural competence. Directors of Psychological Health are available for the National Guard.

The 2013 DoDSER findings are available at: http://www.suicideoutreach.org/Docs/Reports/2013_DoDSER_Annual_Report.pdf

Additional information is available on the Suicide Prevention Office website at www.suicideoutreach.org.

If you are a service member or family member in crisis or know someone who is, please contact the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 (Press 1), www.militarycrisisline.net, or by phone-text to 838255. The Military Crisis Line provides 24/7 confidential support to all service members and their families.

Honoring a Great Leader

headshotIn 2003, I crossed the border into Iraq with 3/7 Cav and fought my way north. After the Battle of Samawah, I was moved over to the 4-64 Armor for the feint operation near An Hillah, then pushed north to the outskirts of Baghdad. Then, my team was moved to 1-64 Armor for the two Thunder Runs into Baghdad. Once we were firmly planted in the heart of Baghdad and the city fell to the mighty 3rd Infantry Division, I was transferred to 3-15 Infantry for support and stability operations in the capitol. I would spend the rest of my time with this superb unit.

This is the girl that ran to us for help when her family was warned criminals were coming to take her away.

This is the girl that ran to us for help when her family was warned criminals were coming to take her away.

With 3-15 Infantry, my team collected intel that led to the kill/capture of nine senior Ba’athist officials in the deck of cards (Iraq’s most wanted). Two of those would surrender directly to my team. Together, we pacified Iraq, helped stem the tide of looting, and protected many valuable resources around the city. We also helped capture a group of men that were kidnapping Iraqi school girls off the streets and raping them. After a young girl approached my team and said that she was threatened by these guys, we set up a sting and got them off the streets.

After some time, 3-15 and most of 2nd Brigade consolidated in preparation for redeployment. As we were sitting around playing spades our lieutenant came in with the much anticipated movement order. Unfortunately, the movement order wasn’t to Kuwait – we were being sent to Fallujah and our deployment was extended.

This was my team while I was assigned to Task Force China, 3-15 Infantry. You can see the infamous Mercedes symbol we attached to our truck.

This was my team while I was assigned to Task Force China, 3-15 Infantry. You can see the infamous Mercedes symbol we attached to our truck.

The Command Sergeant Major of 3-15 was a decorated combat veteran named Bob Gallagher. We had a rocky relationship at first because he didn’t like intel nerds like us. We knew we had to prove our worth to him. When he learned of the accomplishments of me and my team over the previous several months, he began to lighten up. However, that didn’t stop him from complaining about the Mercedes symbol we had zip tied to the rail of our HMMWV and demanding we take it down. We had some…heated discussions over it and tried to explain how it helps us interact with the Iraqi people we’re trying to glean information from. They liked it and thought it was funny. That made them more willing to talk to us like humans.

I was warned of CSM Gallagher when I asked to be attached to them. I wanted an infantry unit, since we couldn’t be re-attached to the Cav. I was told that Gallagher was a “take no prisoners son of a bitch.” That’s okay, because I was a take no prisoners warrior at heart. Up to this point, our Tactical HUMINT Team had seen and participated in more combat than any other in the Division. He had already earned three Purple Hearts through his career and he wasn’t done yet. Come to think of it, I should have taken the fact that he received a PH in every combat operation he’s been in as a bad sign, but I took it as an honor to serve under him. After all, a senior NCO battle hardened and tested in Panama and Mogadishu that lived to talk about it could teach me something about survival.

After one particular raid, this infantry platoon leader brought me what he thought was an important map.  Here I am breaking the news to him that it was nothing more than...a sewing pattern.

After one particular raid, this infantry platoon leader brought me what he thought was an important map. Here I am breaking the news to him that it was nothing more than…a sewing pattern.

When we got to Fallujah, CSM Gallagher pulled me aside and asked if my team was capable of handling an insurgency, to which I replied, “more than ready, CSM.” He then gave me one charge: “find these bastards so we can kill them and go home!” Fallujah was a Saddam stronghold and the home to many of his most trusted leaders and advisors. We took up residence at one of their resorts east of the town on a big lake. We immediately went to work establishing a curfew and then aggressively enforcing that curfew. We were able to capture and identify senior leaders of the mujaheddin that were causing us trouble. We identified and destroyed a major, illegal weapons market in the heart of Fallujah in the northwest part of the town – the most dangerous in the city. At one point, we were given a mission to find a missing HMMWV that was stolen after a unit was ambushed. The insurgents that took it were donning our dead brothers’ uniforms and killing innocent Iraqis to make it look like we were doing it. My team was able to locate their base of operations a few miles south of Fallujah, slightly out of our sector though we were the closest.

This was taken just prior to leaving for a late-night, undercover surveillance mission in the heart of Fallujah.

This was taken just prior to leaving for a late-night, undercover surveillance mission in the heart of Fallujah.

Earning Gallagher’s trust, he began embedding us with assault teams and helping with clearing operations. At one point, one of my Soldier’s and I even donned Iraqi clothing to sneak into Fallujah at night in a technical vehicle (a confiscated civilian truck) to assist with an important raid that we wanted to ensure was successful. It possibly meant our ticket home. While we had ONE AK47 in the vehicle with us, we carried no armor and a small, MBITR radio. We watched the target for several hours cringing every time a vehicle would pass or we heard a noise outside the heavily tinted vehicle. Once we were able to positively identify that the targets had arrived at the location we were monitoring, we began our pre-planned route to our rally point.

As we approached the RP, we saw flashes of light and recognized them as warning shots. Somehow, the squad either wasn’t aware we would be coming back or mistook us for someone else, or was just being cautious. Either way, I’ll take being on the receiving end of an entire Iraq Brigade over an American squad any day. I was livid and thought I was about to die. I jumped out of the vehicle and began yelling at them. After they confirmed who we were, I got back in the truck in the truck and headed back to base with my escort. The operation was a success.

Not long after that, CSM Gallagher called me into his office and began chewing me out for not removing the Mercedes symbol he told me to remove back in Baghdad. He was also pissed off because our guys didn’t wear nametags or rank. Because of our mission, we didn’t wear rank so that the people we were interrogated wouldn’t refuse to speak with “low ranking” Soldiers. During interrogations, we were authorized to use any rank necessary to extract information, we just couldn’t wear it. Once I again explained why we do things a little different, he calmed down again and told to get back to work. Another time, I had to see him after a health and welfare revealed we had dozens of bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label, other alcohol, and cartons of cigarettes in our team room. After we captured Saddam’s palace, we had confiscated most of the bottles as barter for information. We were specifically exempted from the alcohol possession policy as long as we kept it secure (so other Soldiers wouldn’t steal it). It took our MI BN LTC to explain why we kept that stuff. We also had cool things like sunglasses, flashlights, and other valuable items to pay off informants with, but they weren’t as popular as booze. Plus, if someone was found with American sunglasses or flashlights, they would be exposed as a traitor and killed on sight.

Today, I was reading the Army Times that makes its way to my mailbox every weeks and I came across a sad story.

A decorated soldier who participated in major military actions spanning three decades and spent the last few years of his career helping fellow wounded warriors was found dead in his Georgia home Oct. 13 of natural causes.

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Robert “Bob” Gallagher — who parachuted into Panama during Operation Just Cause, served as a platoon sergeant with Task Force Ranger in the Mogadishu, Somalia, battle made famous by “Black Hawk Down,” and fought on despite being wounded as Task Force 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, made its way to Baghdad in 2003 — was 52 years old.

His death was a result of a heart condition for which he was receiving treatment, his son, Patrick Gallagher, said in a Wednesday interview. Third Infantry Division, the parent unit of the task force in which Gallagher served during Operation Iraqi Freedom, announced his death in a Facebook post.

When I got promoted to Sergeant First Class while in Fallujah, CSM Gallagher told me, “now that you are a senior NCO, your PRIMARY focus was to take care of your Soldiers and make sure your junior NCOs were competent in executing their missions.” Gallagher was tough, but he cared deeply for his troops. He was protective of them and when Brigade was trying to pull us back, he fought to keep us. We had earned his trust and confidence as true Tactical HUMINT operators, not just intel nerds. We were helping him keep his troops alive by uncovering insurgent TTPs, exposing IED production nodes, and identifying weapons caches throughout the city.

One time, we provided intel that there was a major weapons market that had re-emerged in the slums near the bridge where, later, some Blackwater contractors would be burned and their lifeless bodies left hanging for all to see. However, every time a patrol was sent in, they wouldn’t find anything. Our intel was solid, so we worked harder to figure out why we weren’t finding it. We learned that there was an OP that could see us entering the town in our convoys on the main highway.

We provided the intel and details about how to avoid the spotter on ingress, but Brigade wouldn’t authorize the operation. The 82nd was slowly pouring in to replace us and we were getting short timer’s syndrome. Since no one would sign off on a 3-15 operation, I got with the Psyops Team and we planned our own operation. We were violating orders, but the increase in IEDs, RPGs and direct fire was crippling us in the city. We were able to surprise the guys manning the market and captured thousands of rounds of ammunition, RPGs, and hundreds of blasting caps and other IED-making materials. Gallagher was publicly pissed, but admitted that the only reason we weren’t in trouble is because we were successful. It was a risk every one of us were willing to take.

My good friend (and interpreter) Larry and I handing out Tootsie Rolls to kids in the streets of Baghdad while attached to 3-15 Infantry.

My good friend (and interpreter) Larry and I handing out Tootsie Rolls to kids in the streets of Baghdad while attached to 3-15 Infantry.

I haven’t spoken to Gallagher since about 2009 when I reached out to him as I was weighing getting help with PTSD. I had heard from a friend that he was doing something with resilience, I can’t remember. I was a little worried asking an infantry CSM about seeking PTSD help because of the stigma at the time and the fact that I didn’t want to be seen as a weenie. However, he and others I served with were very inspirational and had a part in convincing me getting help was the right thing to do.

The reason I mention all of these stories is to highlight that Gallagher was a man from whom you had to EARN your trust, especially if you didn’t wear the blue cord. He gave us a chance to prove ourselves and our frequent talks and briefings helped me to be a better NCO and leader. He was the last person to eat and even forfeited his share of a shipment of watermelon to ensure as many Joes as possible got some. He walked around and visited troops and made sure they were maintaining hygiene, hydration, and fitness – both physical and mental. He was one of those leaders that, if you disappointed him or let him down, you were harder on yourself than he ever could be because of respect you had for him. And I’m pretty sure he killed people just by staring at them!

Our nation lost a hero on October 13th. I will never forget Command Sergeant Major Robert “Bob” Gallagher.

Note: all pictures were taken during my time with 3-15 Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized).

Please Stop Helping US (A Review)

Earlier this summer, in my capacity as President of Open Carry Texas, I traveled down to Houston to meet with “community leaders” of the 5th Ward, an historically black neighborhood.

The purpose of the meeting was to directly address the unjustified criticism that our members were racists. While it is true that many of our members are white, we also have members of every nationality and ethnicity. In fact, the entire purpose for going down there was in response to a Twitter exchange we had in which we were accused of staying away from “black neighborhoods.” We believe that gun rights knows no color, race, creed, religion or any other manufactured “class” of society. We wanted to show that community that we were as diverse as the state of Texas can be.

In fact, it seems like any time I’ve ever criticized someone that happens to be black (or other minority) liberals quickly jump to the racist label. I see it all the time on social media. Don’t support “Obamacare?” Racist. Use the term “Obamacare?” Racist, unless you’re a black person. White cop shoots an unarmed black thug? Racist. Black cop shoots an unarmed white thug? That’s ok. Black cop shoots an unarmed black thug? That’s okay. Black thug shoots black thug? That’s apparently ok too.

With that in mind, I was excited to read a new book by Jason Riley called “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.”

Anyone that’s read this blog for any length of time knows that I’m not a politically correct guy. I don’t see skin color in ANY facet of life in which I’m involved. Such ethnocentrism only promotes bias and prejudice and I won’t have any part in it. I guess you could say I’m more of a cultural relativist in that I believe in assessing people based on merit. I simply treat everyone equally unless I need to treat them differently based on their actions, not their race. You know, that whole MLK “content of character” speech. For that reason, I oppose hate crime legislation. Murder is murder. Assault is assault. All are hate crimes regardless of the ethnicities involved.

But, back to Riley’s book. It’s a book that, quite frankly, couldn’t be written by a white person. It’s a timely book in that racial tensions and accusations of supposed oppression are rearing their ugly heads. Had Riley been a white guy, he would instantly be labeled a racist and the book would lack credibility. However, it just happens that Riley is a black guy…criticizing black culture. Rightfully so.

In Please Stop Helping Us, Riley tackles the the issue of the welfare state and how it keeps the black community down. At a time when liberals are hooting and hollering about raising the minimum wage, Riley explains how this wrong headed approach is also regressing his community. While not mentioning him by name, I pictured Quanell X – the self-professed leader of 5th Ward (even though he doesn’t live there) – as Riley’s muse as he courageously calls out “black leaders” for keeping his people slaves to the system instead of encouraging them to overcome it and rise out of their own misery.

The isn’t just 200 pages of bashing the black community. Riley understands that many of these policies – from affirmative action to soft on crime laws – began with good intentions. He knows that his community doesn’t WANT to wallow in their own misery. However, he holds no bars exposing the liberal policies that prevent that community from overcoming their own weaknesses and building upon their strengths. He breaks down the smiley faced muse of racial politics and replaces it with a common sense, raw and honest assessment of reality facing this community.

Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed is a must-read book for anyone truly concerned about making this country a better and more peacefully diverse place to live in harmony. It should be required reading at our inner-city schools and liberal caucuses across the nation so that we understand our own prejudices and can positively overcome them in way that DOES benefit this community.

Quanell X would be well served to read and heed this book.

TOYS“R”US LAUNCHES #PLAYITFORWARD INITIATIVE TO HELP CHILDREN IN NEED DURING ITS ANNUAL TOYS FOR TOTS FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN

ToysForTotsLogoTo help bring holiday joy to some of the 14.7 million U.S. children living in poverty, Toys“R”Us® today announced the launch of its annual nationwide fundraising campaign to benefit the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Now through Sunday, December 7, consumers can donate new, unwrapped toys at any Toys“R”Us or Babies“R”Us® store across the country and online at Toysrus.com/ToysforTots. The company will also collect monetary donations in-store and online through Christmas Eve.

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Again this year, NBA Legend, philanthropist and entrepreneur Shaquille O’Neal is reporting back to Toys for Tots duty as his alter ego Shaq-A-Claus to encourage customers to donate to the cause, along with a new mission that will help double the giving: the #PlayItForward Challenge. Throughout the campaign, Shaq-A-Claus is asking supporters to take the ultimate “un-selfie” – a photo of themselves donating a toy in any Toys“R”Us store across the country. For every selfie shared using #PlayItForward, Toys“R”Us will donate an additional toy to Toys for Tots, ensuring even more children in need have a toy to open on Christmas morning.

“I personally know that play can positively impact the life of a child. When I was young, it was a basketball I received on Christmas morning that empowered me to dream that I could someday become a basketball star,” said Shaquille O’Neal. “Growing up, my parents always impressed upon me the importance of giving back to those in need, and that even the small gift of a toy could make a big difference in someone’s life – like it did in mine. My partnership with Toys“R”Us to collect toys and raise funds for Toys for Tots puts a smile on my face and gives me a sense of great pride, and this season, I’m calling on all my little elves to help #PlayItForward to make a Shaq-sized difference in kids’ lives!”

Shaq-A-Claus “Drafts” Customers to Help #PlayItForward

With kids and kids-at-heart eager to find ways to give back to those less fortunate, throughout the nine-week campaign Shaq-A-Claus and Toys“R”Us will encourage customers to participate in the #PlayItForward Challenge. Shoppers can help #PlayItForward by taking and sharing a selfie when donating a toy to Toys for Tots at Toys“R”Us stores. Participants are also asked to share their selfies on the Toys“R”Us Facebook page at Facebook.com/Toysrus and to tag @Toysrus when posting on Twitter and Instagram. For every photo shared using the dedicated hashtag, Toys“R”Us will donate an additional toy (or the equivalent cash value) to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, up to $150,000, demonstrating that giving a little has the potential to make a big impact on the lives of others.

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And, Toys“R”Us will triple its charitable gifting on Tuesday, December 2, now known as #GivingTuesday, a social media movement designed to kick off the season of giving. On this day, the company will donate two toys to Toys for Tots for every donation selfie posted on social media using #PlayItForward.

Throughout the 2014 campaign, fans of the Toys“R”Us Facebook page, as well as its followers on Twitter and Instagram, will enjoy exclusive content, including special messages from Shaq-A-Claus, fundraising updates and more. To help spread awareness and further engage the online community, the company has created a viral video series in which Shaq-A-Claus demonstrates how to #PlayItForward and encourages others to do the same. To motivate his own followers to #PlayItForward, Shaq-A-Claus will also Tweet and Instagram (@SHAQ), as well as post on Facebook at Facebook.com/ShaqVerified.

“For more than a decade, Toys“R”Us has been instrumental in helping Toys for Tots deliver happiness on Christmas morning to the millions of kids living in poverty throughout the U.S.,” said LtGen Pete Osman, USMC (Ret), President and CEO, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. “And this year, Toys“R”Us will do one better and donate even more toys to the Foundation through the #PlayItForward challenge. This is why we urge all Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us customers to donate and participate in the social media initiative, helping ensure this year is a record-breaking success in reaching even more kids in need.”

Shaq Simplifies Gifting to Toys for Tots with The Great Big Shaq-A-Claus Wish List

To make it even easier to #PlayItForward while shopping with Toys“R”Us, the company is once again offering customers The Great Big Shaq-A-Claus Wish List, the official Toys for Tots wish list filled with toy suggestions, including crafts, play sets, electronics, plush and more, that are sure to excite and delight children. Parents and gift-givers can view The Great Big Shaq-A-Claus Wish List on the company’s dedicated Toys for Tots hub at Toysrus.com/ToysforTots, where visitors can buy toys online and ship them directly to Toys for Tots. Additionally, supporters can view a special message from Shaq-A-Claus, find out more about the organization and make a monetary donation.

Marines hold final toy drive in Times Square with tactical vehicles

The Great Big Shaq-A-Claus Wish List can also be printed in-store at designated Wish List kiosks or at the Customer Service Desk, allowing shoppers to reference the list as they search for a toy to donate. All toys donated in-store are distributed within that particular community, making this a truly local program.

“Play is a powerful tool that inspires young imaginations and creates memories that remain with children forever. That’s why, in our 11th year of partnership with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, we are more dedicated than ever to providing toys to those who might go without one on Christmas morning,” said Kathleen Waugh, Chairman, Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund. “This year, with the help of the biggest and most kind-hearted ‘kid’ we know, Shaquille O’Neal, it is our mission to #PlayItForward and double the gift of play for kids in need.”

As the largest retail partner in the history of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Toys“R”Us has raised over $35.5 million and collected more than 4 million toys since the partnership began in 2004. To kick off this year’s campaign, the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund, a public charity affiliated with Toys“R”Us, Inc., provided a $225,000 grant to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. The Shaq-A-Claus #PlayItForward program is also supported by the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund.

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The 9mm Hydra MARCK-15 Rifle Designed to Use GLOCK® Magazines

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MG Industries, manufacturer of the modular MARCK-15 AR “Hydra” platform, announces their long-awaited 9mm Hydra rifle designed to use GLOCK® magazines. This configuration of MGI’s Hydra Modular Weapon System uses standard 9mm GLOCK® and GLOCK® style magazines.

The 9mm Hydra comes standard with a 16-inch interchangeable barrel, MGI’s QCB upper receiver and modular lower receiver. It is made from 7075 aluminum and uses standard Mil-Spec internal parts. It is completely modular and interchangeable as part of MGI’s ever growing family of multi-caliber Hydras. This configuration is also one of the first of many new Hydra variants scheduled for release this year in the ever growing family of modular weapons available from MGI.

Like most configurations of the Hydra, this weapon ships to you in a standard, hard-sided, lockable pistol case.

The 9mm MGI Hydra MARCK-15 rifle has a suggested retail price of $1,299.00

For more information, visit www.mgi-military.com to find out more about carrying the most modular rifle system in the world.

MGI Hydra 9mm Rifle Specifications:
Caliber: 9mm
Overall Length: 36 inches
Overall Height: 7 inches
Overall Width: 2.5 inches
Barrel Length: 16 inches
Weight: 7.6 lbs.
Magazine Type/Cap: GLOCK® and GLOCK® style magazines

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Convicted Scammer Now Using Military to Target Women

{Shoutout to the Facebook Group “Get the Scammer/@$$holes Online” for keying me into this guy.}

UPDATE 6 Oct 2014: Here are a few current pictures of Link or LJ or whatever he calls himself these days. Link McCormick (LJ McCormick) must be stopped. He is still scamming people in Central Texas and Oklahoma areas. He was arrested yesterday in northwestern Oklahoma. If you have information about this man, please contact me at cj@soldiersperspective.us

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On April 16, 1988, Link Joe McCormick enlisted into the Army National Guard in St. Paul, MN, as a member of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Infantry. He had impeccable career that ended when he was discharged as a Private on February 1, 1989. His numerous decorations and medals include the Marksmanship Badge with Rifle Bar. Here is a copy of extracts from his DD214:

But, that’s not how his friends on Facebook know him. On Facebook, McCormick (who also goes by “Mike”) is a decorated war veteran of multiple conflicts, including Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. He claims to be a veteran of 3rd Rangers Battalion. He claims to be an Army Ranger who was shot down in a helicopter over Mogadishu, Somalia. The truth is that he served time in Stillwater, Minnesota prison for assault. He fooled a lot of Vietnam veterans, online and in person, who said he was an amazing con-man. He has had many convictions for swindle, felony credit card theft, assault on women, and terroristic threats involving a weapon. He had an Army uniform with patches and medals. He wore a Purple Heart medal. He had a Ranger “coin.” He also claims to be a retired Army Major with over 21 years of service. Here is the shadow box he has on his Facebook page:

It’s impossible to read the plaque because of the resolution, but some of the first indicators that this guy is a fraud is that the rank doesn’t go any higher than Captain. He claimes to have a Silver Star, but doesn’t show up in the Hall of Heroes database under this name. He claims to have retired 3-4 months ago, but isn’t in the Army retired personnel database.

I was first informed of this guy by a woman who has been scammed out of nearly $1300 from this dude. This isn’t your typical Nigerian Scam. It’s an actual American who is using his fleeting experience in the military to befriend woman and convince them to give him money. He claims to be a father whose wife left him and took all his money. While he’s trying to fix things with the Army retirement system, he needs a little here and little there to make ends meet. Women typically send about $40 a week or so to help pay for food and his cell phone bill.

The problem is once women get an idea that he is a fraud, he gets very profain and abusive. When I contact him on Saturday, he went into full rage mode right off the bat.

Mike: Hello?
Me: Hey, Mike, where ya at? (very non-chalantly)
Mike: In Hawaii, who’s this?
Me: This is CJ.
Mike: CJ? Do I know you?
Me: No, but you know [name of woman he scammed].

I cannot print what he said for the new minute of so of his ranting. Something along the lines of “your a ******* idiot. She want your ****** *** in her mess” and on and on and on. Boy, did I send him into a tizzy. He then tries to pull rank on me by saying I better watch myself because he’s a retired 0-4. I asked him why he wasn’t in the database, then, but I’m not sure he heard me over all his yelling. On multiple occasions he asked if I knew anything about the UCMJ as an apparent threat to me for talking the way I was to a retired officer and called me an online commando.

By this time, I had already done my homework and located this guy. So, if you ever come across someone named Mike McCormick, or Link Joe McCormick, or Michael O’Malley McCormick, he’s a fraud. Here are the pictures he’s using:



Keep in mind that these photos are NOT of the real Mike McCormick. These are just the photos he stole from a REAL Ranger who was able to accomplish something the loser pretending to be in those photos could never do. The REAL person in this photo is enjoying his life outside the military in Washington State, enjoying the honor he truly deserves.

To the women being scammed by this guy, you need to contact the FBI immediately with all the information you have. I already have a LOT of identifiable information that is being passed to them already, including his arrest photos. Again, there is an easy way to tell a scammer when dealing with Soldiers. If they ask for money – no matter what they ask for – they are a scammer. And if he really is a Soldier asking for money, he’s a loser and needs to be dropped as well. This one is actually an American, so we can put his rear behind bars – again – for a LONG time.

Incoming – Where’s Lomax?

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Incoming – Thor

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