Cynical Synapse

Mon, 13 Dec 2010

Citizen-Soldiers: On Guard for 374 Years

Citizen-Soldiers on Guard for 374 Years

First militia muster in 1636

The United States’ oldest military, the National Guard, turns 374 today. The National Guard traces its roots to the colonial militias formed before the birth of the country. It has always been comprised of Citizen-Soldiers, from the days of the Minutemen, who come from their communities to serve their nation and fellow citizens. How can a military force be older than the country it serves? In the case of the National Guard, the Massachusetts General Court established a militia in 1636

Colonial militias became the organized militias referenced in the US Constitution’s Second Amendment. Unique among US military forces, the National Guard has both state and federal roles. In peacetime, state and territorial governors are the Commanders-in-Chief of their National Guard personnel. As reserves of the US Army and US Air Force, Guardsmen are also subject to call-up for federal service. To that end, Guardsmen and Reservists must meet active component training requirements and standards. They receive equipment and training funding from the Department of Defense (DoD).

Minuteman statue

It is presidential mobilization authority that has seen the National Guard—both Army and Air—in active defense of the country since 9/11. In fact, over 225,000 Guardsmen have been called up in support of the Global War on Terror. According to DoD statistics, in 2005 National Guardsmen and Reservists made up about half the forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fulfilling their federal mission, Guardsmen from each of the 54 states and territories (District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands) have deployed overseas. Many units have deployed more than once and some Guardsmen are on or preparing for their third or fourth deployment. While consuming only 11% of the Army’s budget, Guardsmen make up almost 40% of its operational force.

National Guard 374th birthday

The National Guard, and its predecessor militias, have always been a good value for the country. Citizen-Soldiers have always answered the call. They have always fulfilled the mission with excellence and professionalism. And they have always remembered their roots in their communities.

It might sound like a bank’s motto, but the National Guard represents local values and skills with global reach. Happy 374th birthday, National Guard.

Thu, 11 Nov 2010

Veterans Day: Thanks for My Freedoms

Filed under: Citizen rights, Global War on Terror, Heroes, History, holidays, Military, Patriotism, President — cynicalsynapse @ 9:12 am

Veterans Day 2010

November 11th is Veterans Day. Originally established to mark the end of World War I—Armistice Day—the holiday has come to honor veterans and their families from all wars and conflicts. President Obama began this year’s proclamation with these words:

On Veterans Day, we come together to pay tribute to the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces. Americans across this land commemorate the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve the liberty of our Nation, the families who support them, and the heroes no longer with us.

We pay tribute to veterans in a lot of ways, especially on Veterans Day. Many restaurants offer free or reduced price meals and other businesses extend military discounts. Others simply thank those in uniform or obviously veterans. I can tell you they appreciate it. Members of our Armed Forces serve year round, however, and more than 200,000 are serving away from their families. You could take a moment to show deployed military personnel you care by sending a letter or a care package.

Pres. Obama at Yongsan War Memorial

In the midst of his Asian trip, President Obama honored Korean War veterans at a memorial in Seoul. The President also thanked members of the military in his remarks to them at the US Army Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.

From those who took up arms in our first militias, before our country was even born, to those serving in harm’s way today, we owe our freedoms and way of life to veterans. They are true patriots and heroes. They stand up without reservation to defend us from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Salute them all.

Previously on Veterans Day:

Sun, 04 Jul 2010

Independence Day—What It Really Means

Happy Independence Day from the people of Wal-Mart

We tend to think of the signers of the Declaration of Independence as wise men who had nothing to lose. Rush Limbaugh’s father shows us they had everything to lose. His account also shows the Declaration, eloquent as it was, was the subject debate by the Continental Congress. From that telling:

Continental Congress

Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor

—Rush Limbaugh Jr

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: “Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

“The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

“If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens.”

HT: pamibe

The Declaration of Independence

President Woodrow Wilson said, “The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation.” As if to underscore this, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen’s Independence Day message included these words:

This Independence Day we celebrate our Nation’s 234th birthday. As this holiday weekend approaches and we enjoy parades, picnics and fireworks, I hope we also take a moment to remember the generations of Americans who have safeguarded our independence.

Today, there are more than 200,000 uniformed American men and women deployed in harm’s way, protecting us. Their steady lives of dedication remind us that our Nation’s promise must be tended to everyday. I won’t forget the gifts of their service far away from home or the sacrifices of the families who wait for their return.

HT: Michelle Malkin

Remember, the 9/11 attackers were safeguarded and assisted by the Taliban in Afghanistan. We should make no mistake about the criticality of US efforts there. We also need to be mindful there are competing interests in the region. They cannot be taken for granted nor dismissed as irrelevant.

As you enjoy your Independence Day holiday activities, take a moment to remember the men and women of the Armed Forces. Many of them are fighting to protect our way of live and this holiday. Also keep in mind the families of deployed military personnel, as well as those of the fallen. They know, all too well, what’s at stake.


Mon, 14 Jun 2010

WWII Vet Honored on Eve of Flag Day

Filed under: Flying, Heroes, History, holidays, Military, Patriotism — cynicalsynapse @ 8:11 pm

WWII B-25 pilot Larry Kiger with his hat and medalion from the Yankee Air Museum crew

My Dad bought rides for himself, my brother, and me on the Yankee Air Museum’s B-25 Mitchell bomber on 13 June. Lots of people don’t get to see historic aircraft like that, let alone ride on one. The event was part of a fly-in at the Mason Jewett Airport in Mason MI. Generally, these are events with historic and experimental aircraft and a lot of comeraderie among the pilots and crews. The weather was kind of punk, however, with low visibility and low ceilings, meaning cloud cover was close to the ground. As a result, attendance was low and not that many aircraft had flown in.

FAA regulations require 3 miles visibility and 1,500 foot ceilings before the B-25 could take on passengers. It was almost 2 PM by the time those conditions finally materialized. Persistence pays off and the lucky 7 got their ride on the Yankee Warrior, the only B-25D documented combat medium bomber still flying. During the flight, passengers were able to explore the dorsal turret, which is actually remote-controlled, and the waist, tail, and nose gunners’ positions.

B-25D Yankee Warrior

What truly impressed me, however, was when we landed. After the 7 passengers got certificates signed by the pilot, the Yankee Air Museum crew presented World War II veteran Larry Kiger with a medalion and thanked him for his service. This is all the more significant since Larry was a B-25 pilot during the war. One of the Yankee Air Museum folks told me that, when we were preparing to taxi for take-off, Larry said he could remember feeling the vibration from the controls in his hands. What an amazing connection to history!

Most of the B-25s were flown by the Army Air Corps. It’s only fitting we were able to be part of honoring Larry’s service on the eve of the Army’s 235th birthday, 14 June 2010. I’m proud to have been a part of this small ceremony in mid-Michigan and to have honored such a great American. I’m sure Larry doesn’t think of himself as a hero, but there’s no doubt those of us who met him consider him such.

In the US, 14 June is also Flag Day, representing the day our Stars and Stripes were adopted as the US Flag. Flag Day has always been an under-recognized holiday. This year it took on a grand new significance, at least for me.


Mon, 31 May 2010

Pay Tribute to our Fallen Heroes

Filed under: Heroes, History, holidays, Life, Military, Patriotism, Society — cynicalsynapse @ 6:00 am

Memorial Day graphic

For some, Memorial Day is a long weekend, marking the beginning of summer, a time for family and friends to get together. It is that, but it is also an opportunity for us to remember the sacrifice of so many members of our Armed Forces, from before the Revolutionary War until the present. These military personnel gave their lives to form a new nation and to defend it and their fellow citizens. They have stood, and fallen, to safeguard our way of life and the freedom we sometimes take for granted. They were ordinary people like you and me. A great majority of them volunteered to serve their country. Memorial Day is the day designated for us to pay tribute to those veterans who paid the ultimate price to give us our country and our way of life.

Memorial Day in Iraq

Michigan has lost 179 service members in the current conflict. Regardless of whatever else you may think of Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), she is one of 28 governors that order US flags to be flown at half-staff to honor those who have fallen in action. She also meets with families of the fallen, if they so choose, during the week before Memorial Day.

In the 8th year of the Global War on Terror—Overseas Contingency Operation just doesn’t cut it for me—there is personal significance to Memorial Day for service members. We know the fallen, either from serving with them or by association with their units. The same is, of course, true for their families and friends.

Memorial Day poster

Frequent readers will recall I’m a member of the Michigan Army National Guard. See Faces of the Fallen to learn more about our 12 fallen comrades.

  • 14 Apr 03—SPC Richard A. Goward, 32, convoy accident
  • 17 Jul 04—SPC Craig S. Frank, 24, IED
  • 15 Mar 05—SSG Ricky A. Kieffer, 36, small arms fire
  • 04 Nov 05—SPC Timothy D. Brown, 23, IED
  • 21 Nov 05—PFC John W. Dearing, 21, IED
  • 08 Dec 05—SGT Spencer C. Akers, 35, IED
  • 26 Dec 05—SPC Dane O. Carver, 20, small arms fire
  • 01 Mar 06—SGT Joshua V. Youmans, 26, IED
  • 27 Apr 06—SGT Matthew A. Webber, 23, IED
  • 10 Jul 06—SGT Duane J. Dresky, 31, IED
  • 06 Jun 07—SGT Matthew J. Soper, 25, IED
  • 26 Jun 08—SFC Matthew L. Hilton, 37, IED

Previously on Memorial Day:


Mon, 14 Dec 2009

Ambulance Gets New Lease on Life

Filed under: Behavior, Good job, Helping others, Heroes, Life, People — cynicalsynapse @ 3:24 pm

Ambulance donated to Dominican Republic

Just in time for Christmas, two Hazel Park firefighters deliver a used ambulance and donated protective gear to Villa Elysia, a poor town outside of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. The US military transported the ambulance under the Denton Program which allows private donations to be moved when space is available. Mast Ambulance, of Kansas City, donated the ambulance and Novi donated the protective gear.

Fire Chief Ray DeWalt and Firefighter Kyle Rowinski use their vacation time and pay their own expenses to travel to Villa Elysia, the hometown of former Tigers pitcher Roman Colon. Now playing for Kansas City, Colon is a friend of DeWalt’s and went with the firefighters when delivered a retired fire truck in April. Rowinski said:

When we were down there before we saw the ambulance they were using was an old beat-up minivan. They cover a 30-square-mile area and this ambulance will help them. The majority of emergencies for fire departments are medically related.

Retired fire truck unloading in Dominican Republic

Hazel Park became Villa Elysia’s benefactor when the best offer the city could get for its 20-year old pumper was for scrap. While looking for someone to donate the fire engine to, DeWalt’s friend Colon said his town had never seen a fire truck.

The firefighters found their way through the bureaucracy to get the engine delivered to Santo Domingo. They met it, drove it to Villa Elysia, and taught the locals how to use it. From that experience, Rowinski said he would always remember the townspeople’s gratitude.

We were able to take something that was going to be thrown in the garbage dump and helped a community. I think our next step will be to seek donations from other fire departments for old boots, helmets and gear they have taken out of service and send it down there.

Now Rowinski is seeing his next phase come true. And more.

Sun, 29 Nov 2009

Thanksgiving is More Than A Meal for Some

Filed under: Global War on Terror, Heroes, holidays, Life, Military, National security, Patriotism, People — cynicalsynapse @ 8:36 pm

SGT Matthew Bosch at the US Flag at home

SGT Matthew Bosch, with the Georgia Army National Guard’s 48th Brigade, has been serving in Afghanistan. As a Guardsman, this is particulary significant to me since the 48th was the only Guard combat arms Brigade certified deployable for Desert Storm, although it was not deployed. In my mind, that was a travesty and academic research seems to validate that perspective. But, I digress. Today, the National Guard and Reserves are clearly operational forces, serving alongside their active component brothers and sisters. In fact, it’s obvious active component forces could not sustain the warfight without the reserve components.

Nobody knows the involvement of the National Guard and Reserves better than the families. Not to take away from active duty families, but reserve component families don’t have the benefit of living on base with all its resources. Such is the case for the Bosch family in Zeeland, a western Michigan community. The closest active duty military base is Great Lakes Naval Station, in Illinois. It’s 190 miles, or 3 hours, away. An additional complication for the Bosch family is living in Michigan while SGT Bosch serves in the Georgia Army National Guard. Nonetheless, they’re doing well.

On Thanksgiving Day, SGT Bosch surprised his mother and father, Esther and Roger, by showing up for the family’s big meal.

“I just wanted to show up. It’s something I always wanted to do,” said Matt, a 27-year-old 2000 Holland Christian High School graduate.

Esther, husband Rog and family members experienced a variety of emotions and reactions as a uniformed Matt stepped into the house around 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

“Seeing Matt home from Afghanistan evoked shock, surprise, screaming, dropped jaws … more screaming and hugs,” said Esther.

The Global War on Terror has a human face. And it has real meaning for average Americans. “It was one of the better covert operations he’s pulled off,” Bosch’s mother, Esther, said.

SGT Bosch, thank you for your service.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009

Honoring the Fort Hood 13 and All Veterans

Filed under: Global War on Terror, Heroes, Military, Patriotism, Terrorism — cynicalsynapse @ 6:33 pm

US flag at half-staff

President Barack Obama was at Fort Hood yesterday for a memorial service honoring the 13 killed in November 5th’s domestic Jihadist attack. The shooting spree also left 30 wounded, some in critical condition. Those who died are:

  • Mr. Michael Grant Cahill, 62, a civilian from Cameron Tx who was a physician’s assistant. He had a heart attack two weeks previously but had returned to work to assist Soldiers.
  • LTC Juanita Warman, 55, of Havre De Grace MD, was a physician’s assistant with two daughters and six grandchildren. She was deploying to Iraq in the near future.
  • MAJ L. Eduardo Caraveo, 52, of Woodbridge VA, a doctor of psychology who had taught children with learning disabilities as a civilian. He arrive at Fort Hood the day before the shooting and was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan</li
  • CPT Russell Seager, 51, of Racine WI, a psychiatrist who joing the Army a few years ago to help veterans returning to civilian life.
  • CPT John Gaffaney, 56, a psychiatric nurse from San Diego, who arrived at Fort Hood the day before the shooting to prepare for deployment to Iraq. Born in Williston ND, Gaffney had previously served in the US Navy and California National Guard.
  • SSG Justin M. DeCrow, 32, of Evans GA, was helping train Soldiers how to help veterans with paperwork. He’s survived by his wife and 13 year old daughter in Evans. They were waiting for DeCrow’s assignment to Fort Gordon GA.
  • SGT Amy Kruger, 29, of Kiel WI, joined the Army after the 2001 terrorist attacks. She arrived at Fort Hood on Tuesday in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan in December. She had vowed to take on Osama bin Laden; her mother said she told her daughter she couldn’t do that by herself. Amy’s response? “Watch me.”
  • SPC Jason Dean Hunt, 22, Fredereick OH, joined the military after graduating Tipton High School in 2005. He’d gotten married just two months previously and had served 3-1/2 years in the Army, including a tour in Iraq.
  • SPC Frederick Greene, 29, of Moutain City TN, was a hard worker and a computer whiz. While growing up, he was active in his church.
  • PFC Michael Pearson, 21, of Bolingbrook IL, quit what he figured was a dead-end furniture job to join the military.
  • PFC Kham Xiong, 23, of St. Paul MN, was a father of three. Xiong’s father said, “The sad part is that he had been taught and trained to protect and to fight. Yet, it’s such a tragedy that he did not have the opportunity to protect himself and the base.”
  • PV2 Francheska Velez, 21, of Chicago was pregnant and preparing to return home. She was fun-loving, wrote poetry, and enjoyed dancing. She returned from deployment to Iraq just 3 days before being killed. A friend, who had served briefly in the military, was in disbelief Velez was killed in the US.
  • PV2 Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19, of West Jordan, UT, a Salt Lake City suburb, joined the military instead ofgoing on a church mission.

The President’s remarks at the memorial service recognized each of these Warrior heroes for the ordinary citizens they are and the sacrifice they made for the country they loved. We can only hope the nation is grateful for their selfless service. While this is more apropos to Memorial Day, I can think of no better tribute to what it really means to be a veteran than these 12 Soldiers and a civilian dedicated to serving Soldiers.

Today is, after all, Veterans’ Day. Among us are those who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Regardless of your political views, I emplore you to recognize the sacrifice and courage of our veterans. They don’t decide the wars—that’s a political decision—but they serve with honor and distinction every day. I, for one, am honored to stand in their presence and wear the uniform with them.


Wed, 07 Oct 2009

Operation Enduring Freedom–8th Anniversary

Filed under: Global War on Terror, Heroes, History, holidays, Military, Patriotism, Rogue states, Terrorism — cynicalsynapse @ 8:35 pm

Today marks the 8th anniversary of the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, the beginning of the Global War on Terror. We are at a key point in whether or not we can be successful in Afghanistan.

Crash into the south tower

It’s criminal the Iraq war overshadowed the fundamental region critical to our national security. Nonetheless, that can’t be allowed to stand in the way of doing the right thing in Afghanistan now. Yes, we need to have a strategy for victory and give the military the means to accomplish it. In this regard, I don’t fault President Obama for taking time to consider the strategy.

But, never forget the attacks of 9-11 were made possible by the Taliban. That is, after all, why Pres. Bush attacked Afghanistan in the first place. Less than a month after the terrorist attacks on US soil and citizens, I might add. This is the cause that resulted in Congress giving Bush carte blanche to wage the War on Terror as he saw fit. Consider, before the next election, which legislators supported the war and which ones now don’t. Those politicians have wavered, but the enemy has not.

Thu, 17 Sep 2009

Voice of Baseball: Eloquent as Always!

Filed under: Detroit, Heroes, Life, Media, Michigan, People, Sports — cynicalsynapse @ 10:16 am

For a lot of folks who grew up in Michigan, Ernie Harwell was the voice of baseball! He was always smooth and never at a loss for words. He’s truly in the Hall of Fame of baseball’s great announcers. At last night’s game, the Tigers paid tribute to their play-by-play legend.

As Ernie took to the field, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd, his remarks were eloquent as always! Thanks, Ernie, for being part of what makes Michigan—and Detroit—great!

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