PFC Jeremy Church Awarded Silver Star

FORT McCOY, Wis. (Army News Service, Feb. 28, 2005) — As the 724th Transportation Company was welcomed home from Iraq Feb. 25, the first Army Reserve Soldier in the Global War on Terrorism received a Silver Star.

Pfc. Jeremy Church of the 724th was pinned during a homecoming ceremony at Fort McCoy, Wis., with the Silver Star, the Armyâââs third-highest medal for valor.

Church earned the medal when his convoy was attacked April 9 by more than 150 insurgents in an ambush during which Spc. Keith ââÅMattââ? Maupin was captured.

Church was the convoy commanderâââs driver in the lead vehicle. The convoy was taking fuel to Baghdad International Airport when the Madr Militia struck. Churchâââs actions are attributed with saving the lives of at least five Soldiers and four civilians.

Church drove aggressively through the ââÅkill zoneââ? to dodge explosions, obstacles and small arms fire, according to his citation. When the convoy commander was shot, Church grabbed his first aid pouch, ripped it open, and instructed the platoon leader to apply a bandage. Church fired his M-16 at the enemy as he continued to drive around barriers.

When an improvised explosive devised blew out a tire, Church continued driving for four miles on only three tires, all the while firing his M-16 out the window with his left hand. He finally led the convoy into a security perimeter established by a cavalry company from 2-12 Cav. He then carried his platoon leader out of the vehicle to a casualty collection point for treatment.

Then Church rallied the troopers to launch an immediate recovery mission and escorted them back into the kill zone.

ââÅPfc. Church identified the assistant commanderâââs vehicle amidst heavy black smoke and flaming wreckage of burning fuel tankers to find two more wounded Soldiers and four civilian truck drivers,ââ? his citation reads, adding that after a hasty triage and treating a sucking chest wound, he ââÅcarried the Soldier over to one of the recovery vehicles while exposing himself to continuous enemy fire from both sides of the road.ââ?

When all the wounded were loaded in the truck, there was no room and Church volunteered to remain behind. He climbed into a disabled Humvee for cover, according to his citation, and continued firing at and killing insurgents until the recovery team returned. He then loaded up several more wounded before sweeping the area for sensitive items and evacuating.

Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly presented Church with the Silver Star. Helmly also spoke with the parents of Maupin, who was captured in the ambush.

Even though Maupinâââs Army Reserve unit has returned to its home station of Bartonville, Ill., Army officials said other Soldiers in Iraq will never stop the search for Maupin.

I think I can speak for all of us; we are very proud of PFC church!


Some Places Opted Out of Social Security

From an article appearing in ABC News:

When county employees in Galveston learned 25 years ago that Social Security could be in trouble, they took a gamble on their retirement and opted out of the federal system.

The three Texas counties are among a small number of state and local governments around the country that opted out of Social Security for government employees or never joined up at all, like Massachusetts and Ohio.

The Galveston plan operates something like a 401(k): County employees in Galveston contribute 6.2 percent of their salary to the plan, with the county matching that amount plus as much as one additional percentage point. A private firm manages the employees’ accounts and picks the annuities and bonds, which generally are not as risky as stocks. The plan also provides disability and life insurance.

Richard Gornto, president of First Financial Benefits Inc., which administers and designed the Galveston plan, estimates his plan offers an employee who works 37 years at an average of $25,596 a year a monthly benefit of $1,250, versus $669 from Social Security. An employee who worked the same amount of time, but earned $75,000, would get $3,663 a month, compared with $1,301 on Social Security, he said.

Eric Kingson, a professor of social work at Syracuse University who has studied the Galveston plan, said he sees some problems. He said it is possible for retired workers to outlive their benefits, and the plan does not cover children who would qualify for Social Security benefits.

“We have essentially a privatization experiment and it doesn’t work very well, not if you think Social Security should provide basic protections to all American workers,” he said.

Gornto said the Galveston plan gives workers more control over their retirement than Social Security. He said there is a direct correlation between what a person invests in the plan and what they receive upon retirement.

Greg White, who has worked for the Galveston County Sheriff’s Department for 23 years, said he plans to retire in 2009 in his late 40s. He said he is pleased with the alternative plan and thinks it offers a safe alternative to Social Security.

“I know my money is there. I know I am going to be better off,” he said. “I don’t worry about it.”

This sounds pretty darn good to me.

Al-Sadr’s Influence

Taken from an article that appears in Yahoo news:

Al-Sadr’s influence

Iraqi Prospect Organization’s Shames said al-Sadr’s group has made strong inroads at university campuses when mainstream political movements are all but invisible there. “The most organized groups inside the university are people loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr,” he said. “They are definitely not playing a positive role in improving the understanding of democracy.”

By comparison, he added, more mainstream parties have not made “a good effort to educate university students what democracy is.”

The Iraqi Prospect Organization’s interviews with university students, half in Baghdad and the rest distributed evenly in the north and south, showed that university students’ enthusiasm for democracy is accompanied by a weak grasp of what democracy means.” For instance, 91% of the polled students said living without fear of arrest is essential to democracy. A third said majority rule is not essential. Almost half said the right to belong to one’s political party of choice is not an essential component of democracy.

Many young adults here have lived through three wars – a decade-long conflict with Iran (news – web sites) and two clashes with the United States and its allies – and United Nations (news – web sites)-sponsored sanctions. Shames said they are fearful that the country’s new democracy is too fragile to withstand fractious party politicking and vigorous debate.

“People see criticizing the government as (equivalent to) being opposed to the new government, as being opposed to the new Iraq,” Shames said. “It shows how much needs to be done to improve the understanding of democracy.”

Other attitudes on government

In other findings:

44% agree the president should be able to exercise absolute power during crises.

45% agree the judiciary should defer to the executive branch on key decisions.

55% agree the army should be allowed to intervene and govern when necessary.

Defense Ministry spokesman Majid al-Sari condemned last week’s attack on the students in Basra.

“No group can take the government’s role, especially when dealing with students, the future leaders of society,” al-Sari said.

At the University of Baghdad, several students agreed.

Maysa’a Atta Meersa, 20, a chemistry major who is a follower of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Shiite leader who has sought to moderate religious intervention in political life, feared the situation could get worse. “I am thinking very seriously with my family about this matter,” Meersa said. “We might leave Iraq if these things (get worse).”

I hope they get this situation under control soon. It brings up the question of what kind of government will Iraq enact? Will Sharia, Islamic religious law, be the law of the land? We will all have to just wait and see.

Appropriate Parable

I found this gem on a blog from Iraq. It may help with all the bad news.

There was a boy who was always losing his temper. His father gave him a bag full of nails and said to him, ââÅMy son, I want you to hammer a nail into our garden fence every time you need to direct your anger against something and you lose your temper.ââ? So the son started to follow his fatherâââs advice. On the first day he hammered in 37 nails, but getting the nails into the fence was not easy, so he started trying to control himself when he got angry. As the days went by, he was hammering in less nails, and within weeks he was able to control himself and was able to refrain from getting angry and from hammering nails.

He came to his father and told him what he had achieved. His father was happy with his efforts and said to him: ââÅBut now, my son, you have to take out a nail for every day that you do not get angry.ââ? The son started to take out the nails for each day that he did not get angry, until there were no nails left in the fence.

He came to his father and told him what he had achieved. His father took him to the fence and said, ââÅMy son, you have done well, but look at these holes in the fence. This fence will never be the same again.ââ? Then he added: ââÅWhen you say things in a state of anger, they leave marks like these holes on the hearts of others. You can stab a person and withdraw the knife but it doesnââât matter how many times you say ââËIâââm sorry,âââ because the wound will remain”.

Future Combat Systems

This is an important article. I encourage you to read the whole article if you have time. I believe the funding of Future Combat systems to be of paramount importance to our future defense.

The Army’s plan to transform itself into a futuristic high-technology force has become so expensive that some of the military’s strongest supporters in Congress are questioning the program’s costs and complexity.

Army officials said Saturday that the first phase of the program, called Future Combat Systems, could run to $145 billion. Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman, said the “technological bridge to the future” would equip 15 brigades of roughly 3,000 soldiers, or about one-third of the force the Army plans to field, over a 20-year span.

“We’re dealing today with a train wreck,” Representative Curt Weldon, Republican of Pennsylvania and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a March 16 Congressional hearing on the cost and complexity of Future Combat Systems.

Army officials say the task is a technological challenge as complicated as putting an astronaut on the moon. They call Future Combat weapons, which may take more than a decade to field, crucial for a global fight against terror.

The Army has canceled two major weapons programs, the Crusader artillery system and the Comanche helicopter, “to protect funding for the Future Combat System,” said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and a member of the Armed Services Committee. “That is why we have to get the F.C.S. program right.”

The Army wants Future Combat to be a smaller, faster force than the one now fighting in Iraq. Tanks, mobile cannons and personnel carriers would be made so light that they could be flown to a war zone. But first they must be stripped of heavy armor. In place of armor, American soldiers in combat would be protected by information systems, so they could see and kill the enemy before being seen and killed, Army officials say.

Future Combat soldiers, weapons and robots are to be linked by a $25 billion web, Joint Tactical Radio Systems, known as JTRS (pronounced “jitters”). The network would transmit the battlefield information intended to protect soldiers. It is not included in the Future Combat budget.

That doubt may damage a conceptual underpinning for Future Combat: the ability to deploy armed forces quickly in a crisis. Unless the weapons are as light as advertised, they will have to arrive in a theater of war by ship.

The challenge for the Army and Boeing is to build “an entirely new Army, reconfigured to perform the global policing mission,” said Gordon Adams, a former director for national security spending at the Office of Management and Budget, “and that is enormously expensive.”

Mr. Rumsfeld told the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee last month about the challenge of remaking an Army in the middle of a war. “Abraham Lincoln once compared reorganizing the Union Army during the Civil War to bailing out the Potomac River with a teaspoon,” he said. “I hope and trust that what we are proposing to accomplish will not be that difficult.”

Power To The People!

I previously reported on the civilians in Iraq gunning down terrorists in the street. It was good news.

Christian Science Monitor’s own masthead editorial enthused:

“This preemptive citizen attack, done in the absence of a strong police presence, sends another signal that Iraqis really do want stability and not sectarian strife.”

“Vigilantism, of course, isn’t the way to do this,” the Monitor added. “The US still needs to put more resources into training the new Iraqi army and police force.” But nobody really seemed to tackle a crucial question: whether preemptive attacks count as criminal activity, or how Iraqis can otherwise deal with terror attacks while they wait for the country’s security situation to improve. It’s hard to fault civilians who’ve been targeted by terrorists for fighting back, but it also seems dangerous to herald the eruption of sectarian gunfights as an overall improvement in security.

It sounds like a good idea to me! What do you think the real answer to countering terrorist cells in the U.S. should be? Many think giving the police more power is the answer. Not I! I donââât wish to live in a police state. The answer is already with us; the Second Amendment.

No one can protect us better then ââÅwe the peopleââ?. We have eyes everywhere in the country. Some times making a 911 call will be enough, but if something deadly is going down right in front of you, the only way to stop it is through action. I say arm and train the people! Certain lobbyist screamed that concealed carry permits would yield to a ââÅwild westââ? atmosphere with gun fights rampant in the streets. Well that never happened, there logic was wrong! Only ââÅwe the peopleââ? can defend ââÅwe the peopleââ? effectively.

Indoctrinating Our Children

Recently Harvard President Larry Summers was attacked and censured for what he said. What he said was that he fancied that not as many women as men get on with science and engineering, perhaps because there is a genetic indisposition there, women to science.

President Summers apologized profusely over his presumption, but even this did not spare him formal censure by the faculty of Harvard.

Why did he apologize? Didnââât he realize he would be crucified for making such a statement? Cannot one have such observations? Of course not, we have become to politically correct for such statements.

The scene at Columbia University was slightly different. For once, rights of teachers and professors were being challenged. The complaint had gone out that Columbia was, brace yourself, anti-Semitic. This wasn’t just one Jewish student, reacting to one adverse comment on Ariel Sharon. It was, to quote a dispatch in the Jerusalem Post, a charge that faculty members in the school’s Middle East classes “use their positions to promote anti-Zionist activism, discourage intellectual discourse on the Israeli-Arab conflict and vilify Israeli students. One student recounted a professor telling his class, ‘The Palestinian is the new Jew, and the Jew is the new Nazi.'”

Academic freedom was conceived to protect scholars engaged in scholarly thought. The Type of wild charges of the kind done by, such as Ward Churchill who said ââÅthe “technocrats” working in the World Trade Center who died on 9/11 are to be likened to Adolf Eichmannââ?, should not be protected by academic freedom.

We must find a way to protect our children from political indoctrination in the classroom!

People are pushing for censorship of cable T.V. to the standards of the broadcast networks, but they are going to continue to let our children be brainwashed in all levels of education! Wake up people, we have got to do something about what textbooks print and teachers teach.