Posted on November 24, 2015
As a counterintelligence agent, I was cross trained in interrogation and strategic and tactical debriefing. In Iraq, I did a lot of this with the help of interpreters since I was a Spanish linguist (go figure). While in Iraq, I conducted hundreds of battlefield interrogations before, during and after battles. Some prisoners of war were easy to talk to and some needed enhanced encouragement to speak. However, we never resorted to “torture.”
I can’t be specific about the means and methods of Army interrogation, but I can talk in a little more detail about one interrogation early in the Iraq War in 2003. I wrote briefly about this in a journal entry I shared over ten years ago on this blog. 99% of successful interrogations are nothing more than asking questions and getting answers. Very few require more aggressive methods and those are only used as a last resort. This chemical officer we were interrogating wasn’t saying anything. He kept trying to say he was a nobody even though all his documents proved otherwise. It wasn’t until I asked a simple question that he started to cry. That was the break I needed.
Frustrated, I began going through his “pocket litter” (the contents of information on the prisoners person, such as in pockets, briefcases, etc) and found a picture of his family. I showed him the picture and asked him a few simple questions mainly to try and humanize myself and gain rapport.
“Is this your family?”
“Naam (yes),” he answered.
“Would you like to see your family again?” I followed up.
It was a seemingly innocent question, but one that caused his eyes to well up in tears. His demeanor completely changed as his shoulders sagged, his chest deflated, and his head dropped down. This was it. This was his breaking point. I could use his love of family against him. I didn’t mean to insinuate that if he didn’t cooperate with us that he would never see his family again. I honestly just wanted to know if he wanted to see his family again. If he helped us more, we could end the war sooner so he could get back to his family. Little did I know at the time that he valued family over his allegiance to Saddam. We got all the information we needed at the time and passed him and our intel reports up to Division so the Commanding General understood the risks.
There are times where I truly feel bad for making this man think that we were either going to kill him or his family if he didn’t cooperate with us. Maybe it was the translation that made it sound that way or something, but to see a grown man in a position of authority cry during combat like that caused me a lot of reflection after I got home and started to process my combat experiences. At the time, it was no big deal. His tears were a tool I used to get what I wanted. I took advantage of his emotional state.
One day in Fallujah, a man was brought to us that was captured during a patrol. A group of Iraqis had ambushed them with RPGs and machine gun fire, injuring a couple of our troops. It was a brief, though heated battle and adrenaline ran high, as it always does during an ambush. By the end of the battle, all but one of the insurgents was dead, but the troops beat the living tar out of the survivor according to their own words. By the time he got to our interrogation hut, the man was bloodied, bruised, and his eyes were swollen shut. He had swelling all over his head, neck and arms and probably more in places I couldn’t see. He had been bandaged up and blessed by medical personnel to begin interrogation. The man actually asked us for toothpicks to hold his eye lids open so he could see who he was talking to (we didn’t need a blindfold). The man could barely speak because of the swelling. They almost killed this man with their bare fists, not because he was fighting them back, but because they were angry.
I bring these two stories up – which are two examples on opposite ends of the spectrum – because Donald Trump said something yesterday that greatly concerns me.
“I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they do to us,” the Republican presidential candidate said. “What they’re doing to us, what they did to James Foley when they chopped off his head, that’s a whole different level and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation.”
Not only did this concern me, but many of my friends have been praising him for saying it. The vast majority of those saying it have never served in the military so I get that they don’t fully understand the folly of Trump’s words.
Combat is the most inhuman and disgusting activity human beings can engage in. Yes, it’s necessary from time to time, but that doesn’t lesson the severity or impact of it on those that engage in it. Anyone that has been in actual combat and has had to engage the enemy leaves a part of themselves on the battlefield. Sometimes, it’s a physical part of themselves and sometimes it’s an emotional or psychological part of themselves. The act of killing another human being is one of the hardest things to not only do, but to live with afterwards. The images of the people I had to kill – as well as the images of the dead Soldiers I had to search – are forever etched in my head. I can see them when I sleep. I can see them when I’m staring into the night sky. Sometimes I see them while driving. While those men were the enemy and they wanted to kill me, they were husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. While in combat, we don’t think of them that way. They are nothing more than animated flesh – robots – when we are engaging them on the battlefield. They are animals, inhuman. They have no souls. We necessarily dehumanize them so we can kill them.
With that said, it is the height of hubris and ignorance to suggest that our troops should be ordered to torture another human being, especially by people who have no idea what that means. It’s an easy thing to say, “YEAH, TORTURE THOSE RAGHEADS! THEY BEHEAD INNOCENT MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN! THEY HAVE IT COMING THE BARBARIANS!” But, what people fail to realize is that someone has to strap that person down, wrap their faces in a scarf or cloth, and pour water over their faces to simulate drowning and induce panic. Those Soldiers may find it somewhat easy to deal with in the heat of battle, but one day they are going to reflect on their actions and it’s going to eat them alive. Not only do they dehumanize the subject, they are slowly dehumanizing themselves. No matter how disgusting, inhuman, animal-like, or egregious the enemy is, we don’t need to lower ourselves to their level. Because, unlike them, Americans are good people with conscience and anyone with a conscience knows that torture is evil. It is everything we are fighting against.
Set aside the fact that waterboarding is only minimally successful at best, there are so many others options that work much better even on hardened jihadists. What typically ends up happening with torture is that prisoners tend to just say SOMETHING to make the torture stop. Sometimes there is a partial truth in there so they aren’t subjected to the torture again and sometimes the entire confession is false. Regardless of the relevancy of the intelligence, the toll torture takes on the torturer in life is much more costly.
When I hear people say that if someone broke into their home or tried to rob them on the streets they would put “two to the chest, one to the head” I can’t help but shiver at how cavalier they make killing someone sound, even when justified. As a gun owner and a combat veteran, I hope I never have to shoot another human being ever again. I hope I never have to pull my gun on another human being. I’m willing and able to if I have to defend myself, but I don’t seek it out.
Killing and torture for any reason is not something anyone should dismiss as no big deal. It is a big deal. It weighs on your soul (I wrote about that too, as well as how to keep your soul). Both cause you to lose a little bit of your humanity. This is why I am against torture and condemn Mr. Trump’s casual demeanor about bringing back waterboarding, or what he calls “strong interrogation.” Our politicians need to think long and hard about the ramifications their flippant attitudes towards using troops to achieve political and military objectives will have. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying I’m against killing ISIS or anyone that is a danger or threat to America and our way of life. I’m not some peace loving hippy that thinks we should be putting flowers in the jihadists suicide vests. If they need to be killed, let’s kill them. I’m simply saying we need to think our decisions through and understand the true cost of implementing them before someone has to spend the rest of their lives for being the blunt end of the stick.
Posted on November 12, 2015
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, and welcome to the White House. A little more than three years ago, as Captain Florent Groberg was recovering from his wounds as a consequence of the actions that we honor today, he woke up on a hospital bed, in a little bit of a haze. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he was in Germany, and someone was at his bedside talking to him. He thought it was the lead singer from the heavy metal band Korn. (Laughter.) Flo thought, “What’s going on? Am I hallucinating?” But he wasn’t. It was all real.
And so today, Flo, I want to assure you, you are not hallucinating. You are actually in the White House. Those cameras are on. I am not the lead singer from Korn. (Laughter.) We are here to award you our nation’s highest military honor — distinction, the Medal of Honor.
Now, Flo and I have actually met before. Three years ago, I was on one of my regular visits to Walter Reed to spend some time with our wounded warriors — and Flo was one of them. We talked. It turns out he liked the Chicago Bears — so I liked him right away. (Laughter.) And I had a chance to meet his parents who could not be more gracious and charming, and you get a sense of where Flo gets his character from. It is wonderful to see both of you again.
I also want to welcome Flo’s girlfriend Carsen, who apparently, Flo tells me, he had to help paint an apartment with just the other day. So there’s some honeydew lists going on. (Laughter.) His many friends, fellow soldiers and family, all of our distinguished guests. A day after Veterans Day, we honor this American veteran, whose story — like so many of our vets and wounded warriors — speaks not only of gallantry on the battlefield, but resilience here at home.
As a teenager just up the road in Bethesda, Flo discovered he had an incredible gift — he could run. Fast. Half-mile, mile, two mile — he’d leave his competition in the dust. He was among the best in the state. And he went on to run track and cross country at the University of Maryland.
Flo’s college coach called him “the consummate teammate.” As good as he was in individual events, somehow he always found a little extra something when he was running on a relay, with a team. Distance running is really all about guts — and as one teammate said, Flo could “suffer a little more than everyone else could.” So day after day, month after month, he pushed himself to his limit. He knew that every long run, every sprint, every interval could help shave off a second or two off his times. And as he’d find out later, a few seconds can make all the difference.
Training. Guts. Teamwork. What made Flo a great runner also made him a great soldier. In the Army, Flo again took his training seriously — hitting the books in the classroom, paying attention to every detail in field exercises — because he knew that he had to be prepared for any scenario. He deployed to Afghanistan twice; first as a platoon leader, and then a couple of years later when he was hand-picked to head up a security detail. And so it was on an August day three years ago that Flo found himself leading a group of American and Afghan soldiers as they escorted their commanders to a meeting with local Afghans. It was a journey that the team had done many times before — a short walk on foot, including passage over a narrow bridge.
At first, they passed pedestrians, a few cars and bicycles, even some children. But then they began to approach the bridge, and a pair of motorcycles sped toward them from the other side. The Afghan troops shouted at the bikers to stop — and they did, ditching their bikes in the middle of the bridge and running away.
And that’s when Flo noticed something to his left — a man, dressed in dark clothing, walking backwards, just some 10 feet away. The man spun around and turned toward them, and that’s when Flo sprinted toward him. He pushed him away from the formation, and as he did, he noticed an object under the man’s clothing — a bomb. The motorcycles had been a diversion.
And at that moment, Flo did something extraordinary — he grabbed the bomber by his vest and kept pushing him away. And all those years of training on the track, in the classroom, out in the field — all of it came together. In those few seconds, he had the instincts and the courage to do what was needed. One of Flo’s comrades, Sergeant Andrew Mahoney, had joined in, too, and together they shoved the bomber again and again. And they pushed him so hard he fell to the ground onto his chest. And then the bomb detonated.
Ball bearings, debris, dust exploded everywhere. Flo was thrown some 15 or 20 feet and was knocked unconscious. And moments later, he woke up in the middle of the road in shock. His eardrum was blown out. His leg was broken and bleeding badly. Still, he realized that if the enemy launched a secondary attack, he’d be a sitting duck. When a comrade found him in the smoke, Flo had his pistol out, dragging his wounded body from the road.
That blast by the bridge claimed four American heroes — four heroes Flo wants us to remember today. One of his mentors, a 24-year Army vet who always found time for Flo and any other soldier who wanted to talk — Command Sergeant Major Kevin Griffin. A West Pointer who loved hockey and became a role model to cadets and troops because he always “cared more about other people than himself” — Major Tom Kennedy. A popular Air Force leader known for smiling with his “whole face,” someone who always seemed to run into a friend wherever he went — Major David Gray. And finally, a USAID foreign service officer who had just volunteered for a second tour in Afghanistan; a man who moved to the United States from Egypt and reveled in everything American, whether it was Disneyland or chain restaurants or roadside pie — Ragaei Abdelfatah *Abdelfattah.
These four men believed in America. They dedicated their lives to our country. They died serving it. Their families — loving wives and children, parents and siblings — bear that sacrifice most of all. So while Ragaei’s family could not be with us today, I’d ask three Gold Star families to please stand and accept our deepest thanks. (Applause.)
Today, we honor Flo because his actions prevented an even greater catastrophe. You see, by pushing the bomber away from the formation, the explosion occurred farther from our forces, and on the ground instead of in the open air. And while Flo didn’t know it at the time, that explosion also caused a second, unseen bomb to detonate before it was in place. Had both bombs gone off as planned, who knows how many could have been killed.
Those are the lives Flo helped to save. And we are honored that many of them are here today. Brigadier General James Mingus. Sergeant Andrew Mahoney, who was awarded a Silver Star for joining Flo in confronting the attacker. Sergeant First Class Brian Brink, who was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor for pulling Flo from the road. Specialist Daniel Balderrama, the medic who helped to save Flo’s leg. Private First Class Benjamin Secor and Sergeant Eric Ochart, who also served with distinction on that day. Gentlemen, I’d ask you to please stand and accept the thanks of a grateful nation, as well. (Applause.)
At Walter Reed, Flo began his next mission — the mission to recover. He suffered significant nerve damage, and almost half of the calf muscle in his left leg had been blown off. So the leg that had powered him around that track, the leg that moved so swiftly to counter the bomber — that leg had been through hell and back. Thanks to 33 surgeries and some of the finest medical treatment a person can ask for, Flo kept that leg. He’s not running, but he’s doing a lot of CrossFit. I would not challenge him to CrossFit. (Laughter.) He’s putting some hurt on some rowing machines and some stair climbers. I think it is fair to say he is fit.
Today, Flo is medically retired. But like so many of his fellow veterans of our 9/11 Generation, Flo continues to serve. As I said yesterday at Arlington, that’s what our veterans do — they are incredibly highly skilled, dynamic leaders always looking to write that next chapter of service to America. For Flo, that means a civilian job with the Department of Defense to help take care of our troops and keep our military strong.
And every day that he is serving, he will be wearing a bracelet on his wrist — as he is today — a bracelet that bears the names of his brothers in arms who gave their lives that day. The truth is, Flo says that day was the worst day of his life. And that is the stark reality behind these Medal of Honor ceremonies — that for all the valor we celebrate, and all the courage that inspires us, these actions were demanded amid some of the most dreadful moments of war.
That’s precisely why we honor heroes like Flo — because on his very worst day, he managed to summon his very best. That’s the nature of courage — not being unafraid, but confronting fear and danger and performing in a selfless fashion. He showed his guts, he showed his training; how he would put it all on the line for his teammates. That’s an American we can all be grateful for. It’s why we honor Captain Florent Groberg today.
May God bless all who serve and all who have given their lives to our country. We are free because of them. May God bless their families and may God continue to bless the United States of America with heroes such as these.
MILITARY AIDE: The President of the United States of America, authorized by act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Captain Florent A. Groberg, United States Army.
Captain Florent A. Groberg distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a personal security detachment commander for Task Force Mountain Warrior, Fourth Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Asadabad, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on August 8, 2012.
On that day, Captain Groberg was leading a dismounted movement consisting of several senior leaders to include two brigade commanders, two battalion commanders, two command sergeants major, and an Afghanistan National Army brigade commander.
As they approached the provincial governor’s compound, Captain Groberg observed an individual walking close to the formation. While the individual made an abrupt turn towards the formation, he noticed an abnormal bulge underneath the individual’s clothing. Selflessly placing himself in front of one of the brigade commanders, Captain Groberg rushed forward using his body to push the suspect away from the formation. Simultaneously, he ordered another member of the security detail to assist with removing the suspect. At this time, Captain Groberg confirmed the bulge was a suicide vest. And with complete disregard for this life, Captain Groberg, again, with the assistance of the other member of the security detail, physically pushed the suicide bomber away from the formation.
Upon falling, the suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest outside of the perimeter of the formation, killing four members of the formation and wounding numerous others. The blast from the first suicide bomb caused the suicide vest of a previously unnoticed second suicide bomber to detonate prematurely with minimal impact on the formation.
Captain Groberg’s immediate actions to push the first suicide bomber away from the formation significantly minimized the impact of the coordinated suicide bombers’ attack on the formation, saving the lives of his comrades and several senior leaders.
Captain Groberg’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty at the risk of his life on keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, Fourth Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division, and the United States Army. (Applause.)
[The benediction is offered.]
THE PRESIDENT: That concludes the formal portion of this ceremony. I need to take some pictures with the outstanding team members, as well as the Gold Start families who are here today, as Flo reminds us this medal, in his words, honors them as much as any honors that are bestowed upon him. And on Veterans Day Week, that is particularly appropriate.
I want to thank all of our servicemembers who are here today, all who could not attend. And I hope you enjoy an outstanding reception. I hear the food is pretty good here. (Laughter.)
Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.) Give Captain Groberg a big round of applause again. (Applause.) Thank you.
Posted on November 8, 2015
Michael Yon desperately needs to protect his reputation. People with intelligence have already seen through his Façade and abandoned him long ago (like the military has). So, it comes as no surprise that on his constant stream of posts about me on his Facebook page, he is quick to delete any comments by either people who know me or people who have researched his claims and call him out.
As a public figure, I try to keep tabs on what is said about me online. I have a Google alert that notifies me anytime my name is mentioned. That way, if there is defamatory, false, or libelous things written I can contact the author. A few days ago, I got the first news alert that was written about the dismissal of my lawsuit against Temple Police Department bully and liar, Steve Ermis, by a corrupt and frequently overturned federal judge Walter Smith Jr. This is the judge that oversaw the Branch Davidian trials in the 90s.
I immediately forwarded it to my wife and told her that within the day Yon would be posting the link on his page. Like Pavlov’s dog, the disgraced and discredited Yon posted the link as predicted. My favorite stalker also has a Google Alert on me so that he can follow my every move.
As is standard fair, Yon’s drones began reciting his carefully crafted narrative. Yon is a major donor to the philosophy that if you tell a lie enough times, people will believe it. In fact, he himself stated, “If a writer wants to make money, he should avoid truth and tell people what they want to hear. Yet to win the war, tell the truth.” No one epitomizes this ideology more than Yon. Over the years, he seems to have added to his mantra of not only avoiding the truth, but making up truths out of thin air and carefully ensuring that he can’t be discovered for the fraud he is.
A few of my friends said that they had left some comments on this posting of his, some of whom had served with me in Afghanistan and over the years. They sent me screenshots because they knew their comments would be deleted lest Yon lose more credibility. Here are some of the comments they made.
Amazingly, all but that last comment has disappeared and amazingly my wife’s comment is still up after more than 36 hours!!
Michael Yon is invested in keeping his followers in the dark. He deletes the comments that are damaging to his narrative and keeps the ones he thinks he can use to continue the libel and defamation against me. I know he’s read this blog and everything I’ve written, which is why he stays in Thailand. In spite of having the truth he continues to “avoid truth and tell people what they want to hear.” The few English speaking people that still follow him want to hear what Yon forcefeeds them and makes sure they aren’t educated on reality. Well, I’m always willing to insert reality into his little land of make believe. Mr. Rogers would be envious.
You can see for yourself whether these comments still exist by looking at his posting yourself. You can read about all of his lies – with accompanying evidence to the contrary – by clicking here. Sit back and get comfortable. You’re about to get a wealth of information
Posted on November 1, 2015
At the end of 2013, I qualified for an intensive, inpatient PTSD program called Warrior Combat Stress RESET Program. Applicants had to undergo extensive testing, interviews, and assessments before being admitted. Reset is an eleven–week intensive outpatient treatment program for the treatment of moderate to severe combat–related Post Traumatic Stress symptoms. Only 10-12 troops are admitted each cycle based on stringent criteria. In other words, the worst of the worst cases. Nearly every Soldier that gets admitted has had at least one suicide attempt or suicidal thought. It also enjoyed a 100% success rate. So, what did the Army do? What it does with every successful program – it cut it.
This program literally saved the lives of Soldiers at the end of their rope. Those that participate have built strong bonds of brotherly love by the time it’s over. The program includes individual and group therapy as well as incorporating “complimentary alternative medicine” (CAM) like yoga, acupuncture, deep tissue massage, reflexology, and reiki to name a few.
While in the program I learned how terrible the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Unit was. In fact, Fort Hood as a whole has been struggling with dealing with troops dealing with their combat experiences and the loss of their brothers in arms. A recent report revealed that the military was more interested in simply discarding troops dealing with PTSD and brain injury than actually help them.
And according to figures acquired by NPR and CPR under the Freedom of Information Act, the Army has been pushing out soldiers diagnosed with mental health problems not just at Fort Carson but at bases across the country.
The figures show that since January 2009, the Army has “separated” 22,000 soldiers for “misconduct” after they came back from Iraq and Afghanistan and were diagnosed with mental health problems or traumatic brain injuries. As a result, many of the dismissed soldiers have not received crucial retirement and health care benefits that soldiers receive with an honorable discharge.
Even though Ft. Hood is the third largest base, it is at the top of the list of most troops discharged. The post is extremely hostile towards Soldiers strong enough to seek treatment. It doesn’t matter one’s rank. They treat officers as bad and the enlisted troops – probably even worse.
Oh, how the Army has fallen since the days of Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Peter Chiarelli took on the task of removing the stigma. Unfortunately, the stigma has never been greater than it is today.
Posted on October 25, 2015
It boggles my mind, really. I’m open to anyone that has an answer for why Michael Yon, a disgraced former military blogger living in Thailand currently relegated to inane commentary on news stories, cats, food, and bugs, continues to stalk me while claiming that I stalk him. Where have I said a word about him except in response to incessant stream of attacks and defamation? Frankly, I don’t even think about MIchael Yon until I get another alert that my name is coming up out of the blue. Just thinking about him conjures up images of him in his OD green onesie in Afghanistan that makes him look like a quasi-camouflaged Staypuff Marshmallow Man. If it were anyone else even moderately competent at life, I would feel the need to be worried, but it’s Michael Yon.
When Esquire Magazine did a profile on me in this month’s issue (November), Yon took that as an opportunity to try and recruit new converts to his religion of lies. The only problem in trying to spread his lies on other sites is that he can’t control the content. After leaving approximately 40 comments on the Esquire link, I went behind him and shared links to this blog with the truth. But, trolling Esquire wasn’t good enough since he couldn’t craft his manipulation and lies, so he returned to his clueless lemmings that follow his page (most of whom aren’t even Americans).
Once again he is sharing a conveniently cropped photo without context and tying to some story about Sweden. I’ve already addressed the photo several times, so click the link for that information. What I have to do with Sweden is still a grand mystery to me. But, it’s not really so much about how his warped mind sees “Sweden” and thinks “CJ Grisham.” On top of his usual lies which are well documented on this blog, he’s adding new ones. When people point them out to me, I like to take it as another opportunity to prove that Michael Yon is the antithesis of integrity, principles, honesty, or honor.
In his latest attack, Yon makes several new claims: I’m not a Texan and I was forced to retire early due to mental illness.
I was born on March 2, 1974 (Texas Independence Day), at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas. It’s a beautiful hospital that sits on one of the highest hills in the city. You can see it all the way Salado in spots, especially at night. The hospital is now three times larger that it was 41 years ago. To ensure I wasn’t living in a Michael Yon-like alternate dimension, I called my mom to ask about my birth.
Me: Hey, mom, I need you to level with me. I can take the truth. Am I really a Texan?
Mom: Well, if you consider being born in Texas means you’re a Texan, then yes.
Me: So, when you say I was born in Texas, do you mean to say you gave birth to me in Texas?
Mom: Yes, and I was in the hospital for several weeks recovering from that birth, so I remember it quite vividly.
Me: You weren’t an illegal immigrant were you? I’m not an anchor baby, right?
Mom: You were as heavy as an anchor, but I am a certified American as is your dad.
Me: And to clarify, Texas was a state in the Union in 1974, right?
Mom: I thought you didn’t drink alcohol or do drugs!?
Me: No, mom, but I think a guy in Thailand is a regular user.
And there you have it. My mom even confirmed I’m a Texan. My birth certificate is filed with Bell County Public Records so anyone can confirm. My father was in the Navy, so I grew up all around the country and around the world. Every year, I would come home and spend my summers working on the family farm here in Temple. I graduated high school in Japan, in fact. After high school, I moved back to Texas and worked as a DJ and part time at Blockbuster Music. I joined the Army in 1995 from Texas and maintained my home of record in Texas throughout my service. So, not only am I am Texan by birth (as if anyone with even a gnat’s brain believes Yon’s tripe), but I was raised in Texas to the greatest extent that military service allowed me to. The Army didn’t accidentally bring me to Texas. I CHOSE Fort Hood as my final duty station so I could retire at home and not have to worry about moving from outside the state back home.
Which leads me to Yon’s next new claim: that I was forced into early retirement.
First, I want to address a common refrain that Yon loves to use. He makes great use of the philosophy that “if you say something enough times, it’ll come true.” It’s interesting that he constantly refers to my PTSD – and by extension, that of every service member – as “mental illness.” He mentions in a negative connotation all the time. In Michael Yon’s world, if troops get PTSD, they are weak, must be disarmed, are a danger to society, and must be stigmatized at all costs, especially if he doesn’t like you. What Michael Yon does when he attacks PTSD in this fashion and uses it against me or anyone is further the reluctance of troops to get help. He stigmatizes troops who seek help at the combat stress clinics. He stigmatizes the tens of thousands of troops who had jobs that didn’t allow them to leave the FOB (Forward Operating Base). He talks down to troops if they never saw combat, in spite of the fact that a very small percentage of troops in the military ever saw combat themselves (I’ve seen my share of direct combat engagements). This is coming from a “man” whose only combat experience involves illegally and blindly shooting a propane tank while hiding behind a wall and almost getting the troops he was embedded with killed or hurt. Thank goodness Yon was there to save them from those insurgent propane gases.
I formally retired from the Army on February 1, 2015. This was exactly 20 years and 14 days after I joined the military. In order to normally retire from the Army, Soldiers must have at least 20 years of military service. The majority of Soldiers that reach this point retire. Not many prefer to go beyond their minimum 20 years. I was one of them. One of the overwhelming majority of troops that retire at 20. And it had nothing to do with “mental illness” as Yon claims, again without any proof whatsoever. In fact, the reason I wouldn’t have been able to stay longer in the military had nothing to do with mental illness and everything to do with my activism in Texas. The Army wants it’s troops to be quiet and not stir things up, even if they are right. If Yon were correct, I’d have been MEDICALLY retired and, frankly, I would have gotten more retirement pay that way.
To Yon, he thinks he simply needs to say something as if it’s fact and the lemmings that he cultivates through his carefully edited and censored Facebook page will eat it up. Posting links to this page that have dismantled literally every lie he’s told about me have resulted in deletion and banning from further discussion. Like the Nazis and Orwellian fantasyland, Yon can’t have opposition on his page. That threatens his internet scams. It’s a great scam he has going, but it’s a perpetual failure.
Michael Yon sees my success in relation to his own failure and it eats him alive. I live rent free in his head every waking moment of his life. That’s the only rational explanation for why he keeps talking me when I have long since turned my back on him. He’s no longer a danger to our troops, so I don’t care what he says. But, I will correct him on his lies about me. He has a history of contacting people in my command or that may know me so I have no doubt he is actively trying to feed my campaign opponents with his tripe.
I think my opponents are smarter than Yon. They, like most intelligent people, recognize that many major media sources have interviewed me over the years about my military service: Army Times, Military Times, USA Today, Garry Trudeau, GQ, Esquire, many authors of books, and countless local, state and national news media. Yet, Yon thinks that none of these media entities ever verified any information they wrote about. Apparently, Yon is the only guy that is right and all these media outlets are wrong. There’s a reason that the media hasn’t substantiated Yon’s claims about me: they are products on his imagination.
Posted on September 8, 2015
I’ve written about Nigerian scammers for about 10 years now. Over the years, they have morphed with the changing of times and different technology. When the wars kicked off in Iraq and Afghanistan, the guys that used to spam your inbox with tales of family members in Africa who have died and left behind millions of dollars shifted to stealing photos from troops and setting up profiles on dating websites to scam women out of money.
Well, the scam is evolving again. I was recently sent a GoFundMe campaign that appears to be a Soldier in need of support.
“I am currently finishing up with my contract for the Army. It was a very long three years. I’m honestly not one to ever ask for money. But at this time I am stuck in a hole. I’ve been sending my mom money every paycheck so that she can get rid of all of the credit card debt her ex husband put on her. She is very close to getting it paid off. But that’s not the reason I am here today. I am attempting to fly home to Knoxville, TN to surprise my mom. It’s been a while since I have seen her, and I know she would absolutely love it. Thank you for your time, God Bless”
These scams always include an emotional plea of some tragic event. Naturally, he needs to get home…as they all do. Those who would actually feel compassion for such an individual would probably ask why he needs to fly instead of driving and save a lot of money. He’s got that covered.
“So this happened way back in May of this year. I was cruising along after an hour or so at the gym. Well idk if it’s just bad luck or what but, the person that hit me didn’t have insurance. And obviously me thinking that I won’t get in a wreck had liability. Some stitches and and a concussion, but thank the lord that’s all. So this is a huge reason why I can’t just drive home.”
The “man” goes by the name Evan Palmer and even has a Facebook page. If it’s not there, I’ve already reported it as fake. Unfortunately, whenever you see these pleas for money, you must be suspicious first and helpful second, especially when it appears to be a military member. These scammers prey upon the overwhelming support for the American military.
Posted on August 9, 2015
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Master Sgt. Peter A. McKenna Jr., 35, of Bristol, Rhode Island, died Aug. 8, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds when he was attacked by enemy small arms fire.
McKenna was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
Posted on July 24, 2015
Now that I’ve made a decision to seriously take a look at running for state office, Michael Yon’s Google Alert on my name (it’s a stalker’s best friend) has been going haywire. Anytime I am mentioned, he can’t help himself but to say something (it’s a stalker thing). However, as I’ve done before, I’m again calling out Yon for his dishonesty and lack of integrity.
On his personal propaganda page, Yon has stated on several occasions that in August of last year, I took a bunch of Boy Scouts out on a lake after dark alone. Here are few screen caps of that:
They say if you tell a lie often enough, people will start believing it, as is the case with Yonnites Heath Austin and Mike Barnett:
He claims to have “accurate” sources that give him all this great information, including the whole kayaking fiasco, but doesn’t bother even confirming his sources…if they even exist.
I can’t help but wonder if this is the same “accurate” source Yon is talking about here:
Yon also claims that I was on the lake with these scouts ALONE after dark. He bases his “information” on “sources” who are “reliable.” So, what’s the truth about the “kayak controversy?” Well, here are a few letters from other leaders that were actually with me on the kayaks while helping the scouts earn their kayaking merit badge.
Unlike Yon, my “sources” will actually put their names on their statements. And unlike Yon, I have the facts here. Yon is guilty of defamation, slander and libel against me and many others here in the United States. He hides in Thailand to escape justice. He loves calling other people cowards, but won’t stand behind his own words. When he sent me an email asking for a comment on my nonexistent demotion, I sent back an email asking for contact information for his attorney so I can have him served a subpoena to appear in court and face the consequences of his words. Here is what he replied:
Obviously, most people can’t read Thai, so here’s what happens when you put the “address” into Google Translate:
Keep in mind, I never asked for Yon’s physical location or address, just his attorney. And he is too much of a coward to even give me that because he knows that if I am able to serve him a lawsuit, he’ll lose and all his lies over the years will be exposed. But, even if I can’t expose his lies in court, I can do it here. And I just did. Again.
Posted on July 9, 2015
My Service Pride has a great blog post focusing on the National Defense Service Medal. This is something I’ve seen often with Soldiers.
“I was deployed twice to Afghanistan. I rate that star on the NDSM.”
Or, ”But guys, I’m SURE I rate the American Defense Service Medal.”
That’s it; nothing more, nothing less. If you meet the requirements for any period, you rate the award. Even if you were in Recruit Training or OCS when the window closed, you rate the award. However, you can only receive the award 1 time per period. You don’t get a star each time you deploy to a warzone, or if you re-enlist during a window.
Prior to my retirement, I came across a guy in Killeen at Bush’s Chicken and he was wearing a Combat Action Badge. It’s not uncommon among non-infantry guys that were in very contested areas in combat. All that is needed to qualify for a CAB is to “be personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy.” However, the problem with this Soldier, who a young Specialist, is that his CAB had a star on it. This is impossible since the CAB was instituted in 2005 and only retroactive to September 2001. So, like the NDSM, the CAB is also only awarded ONCE per qualifying period. There has only been ONE qualifying period for the CAB, so it’s impossible for any Soldier to have a star on it no matter how many times they deploy or where.
Posted on June 19, 2015
The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing since World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. John W. Herb of Cleveland, Ohio, will be buried June 18, in Arlington National Cemetery. On April 13, 1945, Herb was assigned to the 368th Fighter Squadron, 359th Fighter Group, 1st Air Division, as the pilot of an P-51D Mustang. His aircraft sustained damage while strafing German aircraft on the ground. During Herb’s attempted landing in an open field southeast of Hamburg, Germany, his aircraft crashed. Herb’s wingman reported seeing the wreckage burning in the field. Herb was reported killed in action. His remains were not recovered during the war.
In 1950, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) investigated Herb’s loss, but was unsuccessful in finding his remains.
In June 2014, a DoD team working in the vicinity of Gudow, Germany, interviewed several locals who recalled a U.S. aircraft striking a tree and burning. The locals also reported that the pilot was severely injured in the crash and had been shot by a German soldier who removed him from the wreckage. The witness also stated that his remains were buried near the crash site. The team excavated the suspected burial site, recovering remains and aircraft wreckage.
To identify Herb’s remains, scientists from DPAA used circumstantial evidence and dental comparison which matched his records.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died. Today, more than 73,000 are unaccounted for from that conflict.
Posted on June 10, 2015
Kalashnikov USA, manufacturer of Kalashnikov style firearms, has launched a new website at www.kalashnikov-usa.com, reflective of their new branding efforts under the “Russian Heritage / American Innovation” tag line. The new site allows users to effortlessly navigate to the various pages and Kalashnikov USA social sites.
Users can quickly navigate between the Home page and other pages using the clearly defined tab buttons at the top right. The Firearms tab is a drop down design providing a choice of currently offered products. Each product page highlights the features, benefits and specifications of the firearm.
To find out where to purchase a Kalashnikov USA firearm, click the Dealers tab button and a map of the continental United States appears. Type in a zip code and acceptable travel radius and the Dealer map will provide the nearest store carrying Kalashnikov USA firearms. Retailers and distributors are also listed alphabetically. Click on one and the address and location will appear on the map.
The Gallery features several lifestyle images and the About tab provides Kalashnikov firearms fans a brief background on the company and their mission to design and manufacture first-rate American-made Kalashnikov style firearms. The recently updated catalog of Kalashnikov USA products is available in a downloadable PDF. Contact information includes Customer Service, the US Sales Team and an address for technical and installation questions.
Posted on June 1, 2015
Not long ago, a miniseries aired on the History Channel that depicted the American Revolution through the eyes of the Founders. I made sure to DVR it so that I could watch it over and over if it turned out to be any good.
The series is an action-packed, no holds barred 5-hour long history of how America was born. As riots consume the streets of Boston, a dangerous game plays out between a British governor and ringleader Sam Adams, which escalates to extreme measures—street brawls, black market dealings, espionage and murder. A sizzling, romantic affair percolates against a backdrop of rising civil unrest, the infamous Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s legendary ride. From the Battle of Lexington, a clash between the dedicated colonists and the superior British Army ensues, and the colonies join forces as a single, united country in the most epic revolution of our time.
On May 26, LionsGate released the DVD and Blu-Ray set of the entire series. What I liked about this release is that it included some really cool features you couldn’t see if you only watched the History Channel episodes. My favorite is the featurette that talks more in depth about the historic figures that shaped this country at its very inception. The “Making of” featurette showed how they created all these elaborate, near monolithic sets that were so detailed the actors could easily immerse themselves in the time.
I share this because, while it is an entertaining depiction of the events that led to the revolution and the revolution itself, Sons of Liberty does help viewers get a better grasp as to how the war began, the various issues leading it, and how it was actually executed. I highly recommend you go out and get this series! With a good stereo system, you can almost feel like you’re there yourself. Sons of Liberty will fit perfectly alongside your miniseries collections like Band of Brothers, the Pacific and Atlas Shrugged (well, that one isn’t exactly about the past, but maybe the future?).
Note: I was sent a reviewer’s Blu-Ray copy of Sons of Liberty for this review, however, I have been given no special rewards or benefits from publishing this review which I make of my own opinion.
Posted on May 19, 2015
The 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.
Posted on February 26, 2015
The 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.
Posted on February 19, 2015
The 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:
ENDURING FREEDOM (Afghanistan) Sept. 11, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2014
FREEDOM’s SENTINEL Jan. 1, 2015 to Current
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.