27 May 2008

Memorial Day

General George Patton said that it was wrong to mourn those who died, that instead we should thank God that they lived.

I remember them.

23 May 2008

Taps: PFC Ross McGinnis

PFC Ross McGinnis gave his life so that others might live.

PFC McGinnis was a hatch gunner on a Humvee in Iraq. While on patrol a grenade was thrown at his vehicle and went right into the open gunner's hatch.

PFC McGinnis could have thrown himself clear of the vehicle at that point and saved his own life.

He instead threw himself into the vehicle, and onto the live grenade. His selfless act of heroism saved the lives of his four squadmates at the cost of his own.

PFC McGinnis will be awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony on June 2, 2008 for his actions, which brought great honor upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the U. S. Army.

Photo courtesy of the McGinnis family

17 May 2008

Extraordinary Gentlemen

I just got done reading "Lone Survivor" by Marcus Luttrell.

I don't have the words to express my admiration for these incredible warriors.

If you haven't read the book, do so. HM1 Luttrell (known in the SEAL world as "the ONE") is not a professional storyteller, he is a warrior, and his story is told in a warrior's words.

If you do not know anyone who is part of the Special Operations Force (SPECOPFOR in military jargon - SEALs, Green Berets, etc) this book gives you a bit of insight into the culture that breeds these special men.

If you do not know the story of Operation Redwing, the Soldiers of 160th SOAR, or the Sailors from SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 and SEAL Team 10, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this book.

Most liberals will dismiss them as simply nothing more than trained killers. Yet another example where they are moronically wrong on most things.

There is nothing simple about these men, and although they are indeed well trained in the art of killing, there is much more.

A successful SEAL mission is the one that the enemy never finds out about. These men go in, complete their mission, and if possible never make contact. It is the intelligence that they gather that makes the difference, because a small team will never be able to kill enough of the enemy by themselves to make a real difference in the body count.

They are also trained snipers, because it is true that while killing a lot of people may only make a small difference, there are times when killing just one will make a huge difference. But there again, they are trained to get in, complete their mission, and get out undetected (except for the obvious calling card of a corpse where there wasn't one before).

"Lone Survivor" is the tale of what happens when it all goes wrong. And if you do it long enough, it will go wrong sometime. This time it went horribly wrong, and just got worse.

The American SPECOPS warrior is the best there is, but Petty Officer Luttrell also acknowledges their weaknesses. And even though he takes two full chapters just to get from Iraq to Afghanistan, the story is riveting.

That's all the spoilers you are going to get. Get the book. You won't regret it.

Unless you are one of those liberals I mentioned before.

Click on the picture to learn more about the US Navy SEALs

11 May 2008

From My Heart, Laid Bare

Happy Mother's Day Boo.

I bought a card to go with the flowers, but when I looked at it more closely I realized that it sucked. It didn't say what I wanted to say.

So I went back in to the store and looked some more, and realized they all sucked. None of them said what I wanted to say.

So my only option is to write it out, hope that it comes out the way I want it to, and hope that you will appreciate it as much as a card.

It's been almost 14 years since we met. We joke about my name for you, but the truth is that by September of 1993 I was comfortable with being alone, with not needing anyone to make me complete.

Then there you were, on my beach.

Kicking down my sandcastle walls.

Scaring me.

I was afraid of facing the same pain that I had so recently put behind me. It took me 5 years to put that pain behind me, and there it was right in front of me again, staring me in the face.

You were afraid, too, and for a similar reason. It would have been easy for both of us to turn away, to not face that pain. But we did face it. Together.

And now 13 and a half years later I am again faced with pain, the real possibility that I will not have you for very much longer. And I am afraid again.

I am afraid of the pain again. In some ways it may be easier because I have some slight idea of what is to come. But, because I have an idea of what is to come, I am afraid it will be worse. Much worse.

Then, too, there is Christopher.

I had a vision of my post-Navy life that is quite different from what actually is. In my vision there was just the two of us, the kids have moved out and we had each other all to ourselves.

Nine years ago we brought Christopher home. He had no one, but now he had us, and we had him. And I would not trade that for anything.

That adds to the problem. He needs you in a way that I never really have, and at his young age he doesn't understand what is going to happen. Your......


there. I said it.

Your death will affect him in a way that it will not affect me. He doesn't understand the concept of death, and I do. I grieve for him, the way that he will be forced to find out about it.

I don't know if I can be for him what you are. I know only that I will try. And that we will be OK. But I selfishly wish for you to live long enough for him to grow into maturity, so that he will not have to find out about death with yours. And yet I do not wish for you to linger in pain, either.

These are not the happy thoughts that I wish for you on Mother's Day. So let me say instead that if the choice was between having you for a little bit, or not at all, that I will choose to have you for however long I am allowed to by the grace of God, and I will cherish it and thank Him for every day.

I love you more than life itself.


04 May 2008

Today's Schedule

I spent most of my time in the junkyard today.

Normally I enjoy my trips to the junkyard, but today was too much like work.

The wife's Pontiac had white smoke out of the exhaust, so we pulled the head. I couldn't find a machine shop open on a Saturday, so we cleaned the head with purple power and a pressure washer and took a look at it under the magnifying light I use for my Nn3 models.

Cracked, from the intake valve seat to the spark plug hole, number 3 cylinder.

So, to the junkyard we go, find a Grand Am with the Quad 4 motor, and pull the head.

That's an all-day job, in case you have never dealt with the Quad 4. It's an excellent motor, but it sure wasn't built with the mechanic in mind.

The car we got the new head out of was wrecked, so it's not likely to have had any engine troubles. That's the secret for getting engine and running gear parts, get them out of cars that have been junked for obvious reasons. Large amounts of body damage suggest the cars were running when they were junked. Wheels that lean over and don't quite touch the ground are even better indications that the motors are OK, as long as they were not physically damaged in the crash.

At any rate, we got the head off just as we were being thrown out at closing time, so no chance to check it. I get to work for the next 10 days straight, so the inspection and reassembly will be up to Eldest Son.

I sure would like to have a couple of days off where I don't have cars to work on. If the Pontiac goes back together OK, that might happen. The mighty Rampage finally runs OK, the Aries has proven itself to be well worth the money I have sunk into it (it has, surprisingly enough, been the only vehicle that has reliably run for the past couple of weeks), so maybe I'll be set. (We did end up changing out the rebuilt right drive shaft for a new one from the parts store, and the irritating vibration at 30 MPH is now gone.)

Of course, I still have a motorcycle or two to deal with.

02 May 2008

On The Tube

I was watching "The Dead Zone", the movie based on the Steven King novel. I hadn't remembered that Christopher Walken played the lead part.

He looked so young. But didn't we all, once?