Eight Marines Earn Valor Awards
A Marine master sergeant blasted his way into a building filled with at least eight Taliban fighters in an attempt to save an Afghan comrade during an hours-long fight in which he braved point-blank gunfire and grenade blasts, earning him the nation’s third-highest valor award.
The master sergeant was one of eight Marine Raiders recognized by Marine Forces Special Operations Command for their actions during the April 10, 2019, mission in southern Afghanistan. He received the Silver Star. Three other Raiders — a major and two staff sergeants — were awarded Bronze Stars with combat “V” devices for their roles in the raid.
Four more on the team received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor. The awards were presented during a ceremony Friday at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina by Maj. Gen. James Glynn, MARSOC’s commander.
The Marines were serving with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, according to their award citations. Their identities have been protected, given the secretive nature of their missions.
The Raiders’ actions “resulted in the complete destruction of a determined enemy, including three high-value enemy commanders,” one of the award citations states.
The heliborne raid launched the team into difficult enemy-controlled territory, where they faced “stiff resistance from fortified and barricaded fighters.” Over four hours, the Raiders engaged in close combat against more than a dozen Taliban fighters.
The master sergeant, serving as the team chief, led an assault across more than 30 yards of open terrain to attack an enemy bunker. Trading point-blank gunfire, he took out the fighters with hand grenades.
As Afghan partners fighting alongside the Raiders went to clear another structure, the lead soldier was shot, leaving him lying helpless at the entrance.
“Climbing onto the building, [the master sergeant] employed an explosive roof charge, and after it detonated, he jumped onto the terrace where the Afghan soldier lay,” his Silver Star citation states. “While completely exposed to 8 barricaded fighters only a few feet away, he heroically pulled the wounded man to cover in a valiant attempt to save his life.”
The master sergeant’s aggressiveness and indomitable fighting spirit were singularly responsible for the complete destruction of the enemy, including 14 fighters, with only a single friendly casualty, the citation adds.
Confederate Flags Banned on Bases—without being named
After two services and a handful of commanders created their own policies banning the Confederate flag on military installations, a new Pentagon memo now blocks its display on Defense Department bases worldwide.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a policy specifying the flags that are cleared to be displayed publicly on military installations. The Confederate flag is not on the list of those cleared to fly.
“With this change in policy, we will further improve the morale, cohesion, and readiness of the force in defense of our great Nation,” Esper wrote.
Military leaders have been pressing Esper to put in place a DoD-wide ban on the Confederate flag, The Associated Press reported Friday. President Donald Trump has expressed support for all Americans’ right to fly the flag, which is why the policy doesn’t mention the Confederate flag by name, the AP reported.
One official told the outlet that the workaround is a creative way to ban the Confederate flag in a manner that may not raise the president’s ire. Trump previously said he would block attempts by the Army, to rename bases that honor Confederate leaders.
Flags are powerful symbols, especially for the military community, Esper wrote in the new guidance.
Mexico Puts Military Over Customs
Mexico’s president said he is putting the army in charge of customs at border crossings and seaports to combat corruption and the massive smuggling of drugs and precursor chemicals.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made the announcement during a visit to the Pacific coast port of Manzanillo, where some of the biggest multi-ton shipments of drug and illicit chemicals have been seized over the last decade.
It was the latest in a series of new roles that López Obrador has entrusted to the nation’s armed forces, which are now involved in everything from construction of government projects to running tree nurseries.
The president said the trafficking through the port accounted for a lot of the violence in the state of Colima, where Manzanillo is located. Colima has the highest per-capita homicide rate in Mexico, in part because drug cartels are believed to be fighting for control of ports and shipments coming through them.
“We have taken this decision about management of the port, because of the mismanagement, the poor administration of the seaports, the corruption, the smuggling of drugs into the country through these ports,” López Obrador said. “This explains to a large extent why there are attacks and homicides in Colima.”
The army and the National Guard, which is mainly staffed with army members, are guarding hospitals and transporting medical supplies for the pandemic, have been given an extended mandate to perform civilian policing roles and are running bulldozers to build a new airport outside Mexico City.
The army is also building thousands of new branch offices for a government-run bank. The Navy has been given control of all port captaincies and is in charge of removing sargasso seaweed choking some beaches at resorts on the Caribbean coast.
Most shipments of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, and precursor chemicals used to make it, are believed to come from Asia through Pacific coast ports like Manzanillo or Lazaro Cardenas, to the south. Cartels use the same route to import chemicals used to make methamphetamines, often on an industrial scale.
It would not be the first time the Mexican government has turned to the armed forces to try to solve the thorny problem of corruption and cartel domination at seaports.
Discontent is the source of trouble, but also of progress.
Off Limits Uniforms
The Marine Corps and Navy are tightening up the dress code for troops assigned to the National Capital Region and the Pentagon in an effort to put forward a more professional appearance.
In recent messages to their respective forces, the services announced that, effective July 6, Marines and sailors must exchange their comfortable camouflage utilities for crisper service uniforms, at least when they’re in the Pentagon and in certain locations around Washington, DC.
A Navy administrative message released this month specifically prohibited the wear of flight suits and the Navy Working Uniform Type III, the woodland-green camouflage that is now the service’s standard utility uniform. These cannot be worn inside the Pentagon, in the National Mall area and around Capitol Hill, the White House, the State Department building and national monuments.
“The NWU Type III may be worn as the alternate uniform of the day per commanding officer or officer-in- charge permission on DoD installations, commands and facilities within the NCR other than the restricted areas established above,” the message states.
It notes that sailors who are on duty in the National Military Command Center, Navy Operations Center and DiLorenzo Tricare Health Clinic within the Pentagon reservation are permitted to wear camouflage utilities and flight suits.
The standard uniform of the day for sailors in the National Capital Region is now service khaki for officers and chief petty officers, and the Navy Service Uniform for enlisted sailors in ranks E-1 to E-6, Ed Zeigler, a spokesman for Naval District Washington, told Military.com.
A corresponding All-Marine message released June 30 dictates that the uniform of the day for Marines within the Pentagon reservation is the seasonal Service “B” or “C,” a uniform with olive-green trousers or skirt and a long-sleeved or short-sleeved khaki shirt, depending on season.
“We aligned the Navy-Marine Corps uniform policies in the National Capital Region and the Pentagon Reservation to demonstrate a unified, professional image of our integrated Naval Force,” Zeigler said, adding that the decision was made by Naval District Washington “in coordination with Navy and Marine Corps leadership.”
A Covid Cure?
Combat Veterans for Congess offers this consideration as you deal with the Covid situation.
Sailor Shares Classified Info with Russian
A Navy sailor stationed in Portsmouth is facing charges that he gave classified information to a Russian he knew.
Chief Petty Officer Charles Briggs is scheduled to be arraigned at a general court-martial. Military court documents don’t say what kind of information he’s accused of giving the Russian or how he knew the person.
Briggs, who works in information and technology at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, is charged with unauthorized distribution of classified information obtained from a government computer, obstructing justice, communicating defense information, possessing child pornography, attempting to view child pornography, two counts of violating a general regulation and three counts of making false official statements.
According to the charge sheet, Briggs used a government computer to get secret information on or around Jan. 9, 2019, and had reason to believe the information could be used to “injure the United States or benefit a foreign national.” He was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska at the time.
He had access to national defense information on multiple occasions from October 2018 to January 2019, according to the document.
The charge sheet says Briggs then gave the classified information to a person who the redacted document identifies as a “Russian national,” not authorized to have the information.
Briggs did not report connections to a Russian national and Italian national, according to the charge sheet. It also says he lied on a security clearance pre-screening questionnaire that asked whether he maintained a “close and continuing relationship” with anyone who was not a US citizen.
The document alleges Briggs failed to report his travel to Serbia. It says he also filed paperwork that falsely said he was staying in Nebraska during leave in 2018.
Rioters Attack Police
Dozens of BLM and Antifa stage a full attack on police in Chicago; reinforcements made them regret their decision.
A Mercenary War in Libya
As many as 2,500 Russian mercenaries from the shadowy “Wagner Group” have faced off against 3,500 Syrian civil war veterans recruited by Turkey in the proxy battle for control in Libya, according to the Pentagon’s Inspector General.
US Africa Command, which is focused on rooting out Islamic State and al Qaida-linked groups in the region, is essentially on the sidelines in Libya while closely monitoring activities in the civil war, the IG’s quarterly report on counter-terror operations in Africa states.
AFRICOM told the IG “that it has no credible reports of ISIS or al Qaida-affiliated militants among the mercenary forces from Syria, and assessed that the mercenaries are ‘very likely’ fighting in Libya for personal and financial reasons rather than ideological or political motivations,” according to the 81-page report sent to Congress.
AFRICOM put the number of Syrian fighters at about 3,800 at the end of March and said they were recruited by NATO ally Turkey in support of the US and United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, the report states
Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have lined up behind the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) led by former Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who holds US citizenship, while Qatar and Turkey support the GNA.
“In Libya, fighting in the year-long civil war intensified following a significant increase of foreign mercenary forces,” Acting IG Sean O’Donnell said in his preamble to the report.
“As many as 2,500 fighters associated with the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary company, and as many as 3,800 Syrian fighters were in Libya during the quarter” as peace efforts floundered, O’Donnell said.
To complicate an already confusing civil war, Russia has also been recruiting Syrians who fought against the Moscow-backed Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad to bolster the Wagner Group, the IG’s report adds.
The Syrian fighters aiding the Wagner Group “are former Syrian opposition rebels who reportedly agreed to fight in the Libyan civil war in exchange for $1,000 per month and clemency from the Assad regime,” it states.
Airman Killed When Parachute Opens
An improperly configured back-up parachute inadvertently opened into the wind during a jump training mission, pulling a special tactics airman out of an aircraft and causing his death, according to a new investigation.
The Air Force released its months-long Accident Investigation Board report, which concluded that the unexpected deployment of a T-11R emergency reserve parachute led to the death of Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff, a Special Tactics combat controller with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, part of the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The Nov. 5 accident led to a 17-day search for Condiff over the Gulf of Mexico. His body was never recovered.
In addition to improper parachute assembly, the head of Air Force Special Operations Command said deficiencies and lapses in judgment across the community contributed to the accident.
The command “prioritized operations over in-garrison training and predictable deployment scheduling, resulting in stressed units across the command and leaders accepting unnecessary risk for the sake of mission completion,” according to a news release accompanying the report.
Mount Rushmore Flyover
Blue Angels F-18 Hornets fly over Mount Rushmore during a Salute to America celebration hosted by the state of South Dakota July 3, 2020. The Blue Angels, based out of Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., were part of the DoD’s participation that also included aerial flyovers by the B-1B Lancer from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base; South Dakota Air National Guard F-16s Falcons from the 114th Fighter Wing, Sioux Falls; and HH-60s Black Hawk helicopters from Company C, 1-189th Aviation Regiment, in Rapid City, SD. (U.S. Air Force video)
The Corona Virus Issue Shows that we Need a Bigger Army
As soldiers are once again called on to respond to the coronavirus crisis, the Army’s top civilian leader said the pandemic proves the need for a bigger force.
The Army has dispatched more than 50,000 soldiers to states across the country during the coronavirus pandemic, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said. That’s at the same time 178,000 more soldiers have been deployed to the Middle East, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere across the globe.
“Quite frankly, all [the pandemic] does is justify a large end strength,” McCarthy said during a FedInsider event on how the novel coronavirus is affecting the military.
Soldiers have built hospitals, supported hospital staff, helped deliver food and managed nursing homes since the president declared a national emergency in March as COVID-19 cases began sweeping across the country, now killing more than 137,000 Americans.
“We have been on every front of the COVID pandemic, along with deterring near peers, combat operations in the Middle East, and we’re the ones central to the vaccine development effort for the president on Operation Warp Speed,” the Army secretary said.
McCarthy did not specify how many more soldiers he thinks the Army needs.
When now-Defense Secretary Mark Esper was serving in McCarthy’s position in 2018, the Army announced a plan to boost the size of the active-duty force to 500,000 over the next decade.
The service’s end-strength goal for 2021 is 486,000.
Cheating Contractor Caught
A US District Court judge in Fort Worth sentenced a man to 55 months in prison for lying to the US Department of Defense about the type of metal his company used inside aircraft parts.
Richard Hyde, the owner of Vista Manufacturing Company, pleaded guilty in August to making a false claim against the United States, the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas said.
US District Judge Mark Pittman also sentenced Hyde, 64, to pay a $100,000 fine and to three years of supervised release.
Hyde invoiced the Navy for aircraft components that DOD later found were constructed from a metal different than the one the company said it would use, according to a description of stipulated facts filed in the case.
In August 2014, Vista Manufacturing submitted a bid to the government to provide parts for a Naval Air Warfare Center aircraft, according to the stipulated facts filing. In the $12,897.50 bid, the company included a diagram noting measurements, specifications and descriptions of aluminum alloy 2024.
The government accepted Vista’s bid, and Hyde began seeking manufacturers for 22 wiper back retainers included in the bid.
Hyde found a company that offered to manufacture the parts with a different, weaker aluminum alloy, 6061, for $8,492. Although Vista’s contract with the Navy required that the company use aluminum alloy 2024, Hyde admitted that he accepted the offer and allowed the part to be manufactured with alloy 6061.
The Navy and Racism
One officer was told to stop speaking Spanish on a ship. Another faced snide comments about her cornrows. A third had a superior speak only to her chief, ignoring her years of professional expertise.
Those are just some of the candid examples of discrimination sailors and officers said they’ve faced in their careers. The group shared the experiences with members of a new Navy task force charged with identifying racist or sexist policies.
“I think that we should assume that there are barriers everywhere for minorities,” Lt. Destini Henderson, a Black naval flight officer, told the task force. “That was definitely the case for me throughout my Navy career and also even just getting into the Naval Academy.”
Henderson, who said she took heat over the way her hair looked at the Naval Academy, was one of about 10 Navy personnel asked to participate in the first virtual meeting of the newly formed Task Force One Navy. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday directed his service to stand up a group to examine Navy policies amid the national conversations about race and discrimination.
The group is looking at policies affecting everything from recruiting to promotions and the Navy’s criminal justice system. Gilday said he’s under no illusion that racism doesn’t exist in the service.
The participants agreed. Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Leah Stiles said the task force should consider recommending that the Navy adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to racism. The Puerto Rican senior chief petty officer is married to a Black man.
“I’ve corrected sailors using the N-word around me more than once,” she said. “Not because [I’m] married to a Black man, but because it’s wrong. … The punishment should fit the crime.”
God Loves Us
Scott McChrystal is a retired Army Colonel, Chaplain. Here are some of his insights that I think you’ll find appropriate.
Get Out of My Pea Patch!
And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the LORD worked a great victory. 2 Samuel 23:11-12 (ESV)
Sooner or later, death will come knocking at your door. That knocking sound may signify God’s plan for you to pass from this earth. Many times, however, it’s not God’s time but rather a test- a test to purify your faith.
Sadly, when God’s allows a test, some folks don’t even fight. They throw in the towel and succumb. Others stand, fight, and survive.
Consider this example. David’s reign as King of Israel was characterized by constant warfare. On this occasion, the Philistines, a fierce seafaring nation, were once again fighting with David’s army and brought a strong force in an attempt to claim more territory. Apparently, the sheer number of Philistine warriors caused the men of Israel to withdraw in fear. Two of David’s mighty warriors did not. One was Shammah.
The Philistine soldiers gathered in the middle of a field of lentils, determined to claim that pea patch as their own. They had only one problem. Shammah was in their way and he wasn’t going anywhere. It was do or die. In essence, he shouted to the Philistines, “Get out of my pea patch!” The Philistines didn’t listen. Fierce combat followed. Shammah, an extraordinary warrior, struck down one Philistine warrior after the next. When the fight was over, Shammah was still standing. The Philistines withdrew leaving many of their dead strewn throughout the pea patch.
Notice that last portion of verse 12 says and the LORD worked a great victory. God could have struck the Philistines down with lightning or some other method, but He chose to use a man who trusted Him to achieve victory over the godless nation of Philistia. It looked like sure death for Shammah, but it wasn’t his time to die. He took the test and passed.
Many of you have been tested, particularly those of you who have experienced combat. You could have died, but you stood, fought, and survived. And God was there to help you.
Some of you are presently going through a trial. Maybe the struggle is so hard that you feel like giving up. The struggle may be a physical issue with your health, PTSD, or a painful relationship issue. In any case, you’re wounded, exhausted, and can’t imagine how you’ll be victorious over your circumstances.
Your struggle is real- physical or psychological. But don’t forget the spiritual dimension. You’re at war against strong forces of evil. All of us are. Satan wants to take you out. He’ll use whatever strategy, tactics, and weaponry he can.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
I can’t end without commenting on the state of our great nation. America is being tested on all sides. Some would say that people of faith shouldn’t get involved with politics. I say hogwash! Our founders trusted God for the wisdom, strength and courage to establish a democratic republic. To date, no nation in history has thrived more or done more to help this world.
A small minority is trying to destroy our country as we know it—and they’re having more success than most of us could have imagined.
Here’s my advice. It’s time to stand. Some folks act like what’s happening is so complicated that no one can discern truth or facts. Don’t believe that lie for a minute. At the core of the issue is that humanistic thought has hijacked our culture. Somehow, too many think they are smarter than God. His Word, the Bible, is outdated and irrelevant … that we as human beings are the center of this universe and that through human wisdom, we will take humanity to a new level of progress.
Folks, read your history. That has been tried many times down through history. It has never worked and never will.
The God of the Bible is firmly in charge. He’s on the throne. His purposes will stand. Those who oppose him will go down. Nations who oppose him will go down as well.
For a starter, I recommend that you listen carefully to what political leaders are saying. Does it square with Scripture? Take a look at large organizations that are throwing millions and sometimes billions to support their goals. What are they supporting—does it square with God’s Word?
As it pertains to voting, look below the surface. What are the candidates saying? Do their words make sense? Do their words match their actions? Discern their motives to see if they are genuine in trying to serve others or serve themselves. For questions you may have, use search engines to find out what Scripture has to say about current issues. You’ll find many good articles. They will not all agree on everything. Ask God for the wisdom to discern the truth. The Lord will honor your efforts.
Warrior for God, it’s time to take your stand! Don’t judge by outward appearances. And certainly, don’t let your emotions rule. Take up your spiritual armor and fight. The Lord will fight for you.
You may be one person, but you can make a difference!
Some Words of Wisdom by Ret Navy Capt Joe John:
How dangerous is Covid-19?
Civil War History
Here are some questions on the Civil War; we’ll post the answers in the next newsletter.
Last issue’s questions:
1.What Union general was considered by General Sherman to be a far better general than either he or General Grant and, according to Sherman, would “outdistance Grant and myself” if he had lived?
Ans: Maj Gen James McPherson, who was killed at the Battle of Atlanta.
2. In the Civil War, there was a Captain Richard Kidder Meade, Jr. What was his unique experience during the War?
Ans: He served at Ft. Sumter when it was bombarded when the War started. Subsequently, he was honored along with other survivors in New York City. However, he later served as an engineer on Confederate MG T. J. Jackson’s staff. He died in June 1862.
Here are the new questions:
1. Besides the fall and burning of Columbia, SC, on 17 February 1865, what other major event happened to the state on that day?
2. There were many special and general orders out of General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia headquarters. What was special about General Order No, 9?
The US Coast Guard’s birthday is 4 Aug (it dates form 1790). Since our next newsletter will come out after that date, here is Semper Paratus (Always Ready); the Coast Guard Song.
Frontlines of Freedom Gear
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Two quotes to consider.
I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any treat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.
Take your time. Stay away from the easy going. Never take the same way twice.
Programming: You’ll want to tune into the show (live or by podcast).
25-31 July: Retired Marine Gen Arnold Punaro will discuss the challenges our nation is facing. Tom Dermody will then share about Field of Dreams, a charity taking injured veterans and children on outdoor adventures. And we’ll review July’s movie of the month.
1-7 Aug: Congressman and retired Marine General Jack Bergman will discuss the dangers our nation faces. Then, Medal of Honor recipient Marcus Brotherton will discuss his book, Blaze of Light. And Dr. Val Finnell will discuss Gun Owners of America.
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THE UMBRELLA – A TOUCHING STORY
On a rainy afternoon, a group of protesters were gathered outside the grocery store handing out pamphlets on the “evils” of America. I politely declined to take one.
There was an elderly woman behind me and a young (20-ish) female protester offered her a pamphlet, which she politely declined.
The young protester gently put her hand on the old woman’s shoulder and in a patronizing voice said, “Don’t you care about the children of Iraq?”
The old woman looked up at her and said: “Honey, my father died in France during World War II; I lost my husband in Korea and a son in Vietnam. All three died so a naïve, ignorant, self-centered bimbo like you could have the right to stand here and badmouth our country; and if you touch me again, I’ll shove this umbrella up you’re a** and open it.”
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