The Spoils of War Go to Contractors in Afghanistan

Wartime-contracting-commissionThe Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan estimated that between $31 billion and $60 billion was lost to fraud during U.S. operations in those countries. The Justice Department says it brought 237 criminal cases from November 2005 to September 2014 arising from war-zone misconduct — often contracting fraud.

“We just were not equipped to do sufficient oversight and monitoring on the front end, and we didn’t have sufficient accountability mechanisms on the back end, which led to enormous problems,” said Laura Dickinson, a national security law professor at George Washington University.

UNBROKEN- A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption

unbroken-pbI first learned of Louis Silvie Zamperini in early July, 2014 when I read of his passing in the Plain Dealer. It referenced the book Unbroken, his true life experiences. I saved the obituary to make sure I read the book. When I did read it I learned his incredible story of a troubled childhood, competing in the U.S. Olympics, surviving a World War U.S. Army Air Force Pacific Ocean air crash, being adrift in a life raft for forty seven days, capture by the enemy, beatings, torture, freedom, anger, despair, alcoholism and eventual redemption. Now that I’ve read it I can only say his life story moved me deeply. Author Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote Seabiscuit, spent seven years researching, interviewing and writing his story. She, like Zamperini, is also an amazing human being.
Louie, as he’s called, was born in Olean, New York to Italian immigrant parents Anthony and Louise. Because he contracted pneumonia when two years old, Louie’s physician-recommended a warmer climate. West went the family, all the way to the Torrance, California of 1919. Like many other irascible young boys, his childhood was marred by continuous troubles he created for himself. The police knew him by name from the numerous situations he found himself in. His brother Peter tried to be his mentor by encouraging him to compete in school sports, especially track events. With his attention and energy finally diverted to positive activities, Peter’s support paved the way for Louie to develop into a world-class runner. It lead to winning a spot on the 1936 U.S. Olympic Team. The nineteen year old “Torrance Tornado” ran in the 5,000 meter race in Hitler’s Berlin, finishing 8th.
With Germany’s military rampaging in Europe, he saw war clouds drifting towards the U.S. By then he was a student at the University of Southern California. Although he was focused on the entering the 1940 Olympics in Japan, he had learned that learned that anyone who enlisted before being drafted could choose their branch of service. Early in 1941 Louie went for the Army Air Corps. Events, however, interceded. The Olympics in Japan were cancelled when America was attacked later that year at Pearl Harbor, drawing us into World War Two.
Training as a bombardier, Louis was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. Author Laura Hillenbrand takes the reader through his training and assignments in Iowa, California, and Hawaii. He was assigned to the 372nd Bomb Squadron of the 307th Bomb Group, Seventh Air Force. He had hoped to be assigned to a B-17 but instead he found himself in the bomber nobody wanted, Consolidated’s B-24 Liberator, nicknamed “the Flying Boxcar,” a plane plagued with mechanical problems.
On May 17, 1943 a rescue mission was formed to hunt for a lost B-24. The only plane available for Louie and a scraped-together crew was an unreliable B-24 nicknamed the “Green Hornet.” Although it had “passed inspection”, they were wary to fly it. On that mission it failed its crew and crashed in the Pacific. Only two others survived, Indiana native and pilot Russell A. Phillips (“Phil”) and Ohio tail gunner Sergeant Francis P. (Mac) McNamara. After Louie secured the two rafts that floated free from the plane, Mac began wailing “We’re gonna die,” words that later, unfortunately for him, proved prophetic. However, Mac emerged from his semi-comatose state of shock and redeemed himself by using one of the raft’s oars to fight the sharks that attempted to leap aboard the tiny raft and pull them into the sea. Forty seven days later, after having been strafed by a Japanese fighter and using his ingenuity to survive, survivors Louie and Phil were captured by the Japanese. That began an torture ordeal that few could survive and only ended in August, 1945 when the war ended.
Unbroken’s story doesn’t end there. Upon his return home he descends into alcoholism to deal with his despair, anger and other spiritual demons. He has constantly recurring nightmares of the torture and beatings by his Japanese nemesis Watanabe. After his wife and friends persisted in getting him to go hear a Christian evangelist named Billy Graham , who was preaching the word of God in Los Angeles, he eventually is able to discard his anger and negative lifestyle. Only then did his nightmares disappear, as did the murderous hatred he had for his tormentor.
As I read through this book I discerned parallel stories woven between the covers by its author, Laura Hillenbrand. Her storytelling gifts are numerous, beginning with her attention to the myriad technical details about life in the Army Air Corps of the Pacific wartime era. She tells of its men and equipment, their suffering, joy and remembrance, all of which puts the reader inside their flight jackets, living quarters, aircraft and their lives, before, during and after captivity. She contributes the real-life experiences of courageous men who went through it all and lived to tell her about it. And she manages to also tell the story of the thousands upon thousands lost at sea and land.
The movie version of “Unbroken” is being released on Christmas Day, 2014, directed by Angelina Jolie. I plan on seeing it. Movies, through my eye, can never do a good book justice. In this case I hope I’m wrong. After you see it make sure you pick up the book as well. It will, I’m sure, complement the movie.
For information on where to purchase the book go to: http://laurahillenbrandbooks.com/

To watch a trailer of the film go to: http://youtu.be/rGlsxVfCSyQ9

Stolen Valor

Interesting video from Ryan Berk, a veteran of Easy Company 2/506 calling out a fake ranger at Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, PA

A Soldier’s Thanksgiving Day Poem

 

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM

A Soldier’s Thanksgiving Day Poem
Author Unknown

Instead of family and friends for Thanksgiving you will
Chow with your comrades tonight
One to your left, the other to your right.
Your regiment, your battalion,
Have now become family and friends
Living day to day in a personal sacrifice
On a mission to defend.
You are the hero’s who’s faces we may never get to see
But the pride and glory that’s lives in a soldier heart
Biers one word
“Integrity”
On this day
We give thanks and honor to those brave and true
Our banners, we will proudly wave
The Red, White, and Blue
We will give our thanks not only to our God
but also to every soldier for our bounties, that be.
For they give meaning to words
Home of the brave Land of the Free.
To the soldiers in the mess hall
Eating their thanksgiving feast,
to the troops in the desert eating another
Meal ready to eat.
May peace, hope and strength
Travel with you along the way
And may these wishes find you
On A Soldiers Thanksgiving Day.

Happy Thanksgiving to our veterans and those who serve our country.

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“Music of the Season and a Pearl Harbor Remembrance” Dec. 7

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The Lakeland Community College Civic Band will present “Music of the Season and a Pearl Harbor Remembrance” Sunday, Dec. 7, at 4 p.m. in the Dr. Wayne L. Rodehorst Performing Arts Center, 7700 Clocktower Drive, Kirtland, 44094.

The concert will feature a salute to the United States Armed Forces.

“This program was first presented in 2008 and has been a great success with a capacity audience attending,” said Chuck Frank, longtime conductor of the Lakeland Civic Band.

Frank will be assisted by guest conductor Matthew Salvaggio and narrator Herman Rueger. The program will include the performance of “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” based on the Navy hymn, “The Last Full Measure of Devotion,” a musical tribute to all who have given their lives in service to the U.S. Armed Forces. “The Homefront” features musical memories from World War II such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” The concert will conclude with a stirring rendition of “America, the Beautiful” and Lee Greenwood’s ever popular “God Bless the U.S.A.” which will feature an audience sing along led by guest vocalist Chris Robinson, director of the Lakeland Civic Chorus.

Tickets are $7 adults, $6 seniors and $2 students with ID and may be purchased at the door or by calling 440-525-7134.

For more information, call 440-525-7261.
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Invest in People

GivingTuesday-SaveDate2014

You Can Help Twice As Many Students on #GivingTuesday

Tri-C Twins

On December 2, 2014, the Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) Foundation is celebrating #GivingTuesday – the official start of the giving season. In this special initiative, we are asking our partners to support student scholarships. Our #GivingTuesday gift match will double donations up to a total of $10,000! Your gift will go twice as far!

Your gift to the Tri-C Foundation makes an impact on student success and changes lives. Our generous donors help more than 2,000 students receive Foundation Scholarship support each year, making it possible for students like the twins, Catherine and Josephine Cesa, to start or finish their education.

Your support on #GivingTuesday will help even more students. Every dollar counts. Please save the date and plan to join us in the give on December 2.

Donations can be made online at: www.tri-c.edu/donate

Sincerely,
Gloria J. Moosmann
Vice President,
Development & Tri-C Foundation

Cuyahoga Community College Foundation
700 Carnegie Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
Phone: 216-987-4868 | Email: foundation@tri-c.edu
Privacy Policy | Email Preferences © 2014 Cuyahoga Community College

News from a Parallel Universe

240px-William_P._Gottlieb_16181_originalPresident Obama, in a speech explaining sending additional troops to the Mideast without Congress having anything to do with it, said, “Most of the time, members of Congress are out raising funds, getting liquored up at parties, and, let’s face it, they don’t really want to send the troops. But we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I say, ‘Full steam ahead.’” “Furthermore,” he said, “It’s only another six billion dollars, and I’ve already asked the Treasury Department to print the stuff.”

The VA, after being hammered by Congress’ military veterans, announced it would revise its rules and regulations, translating them from VeteransAdministationese to English. The move, according to VA officials, will take anywhere from two to nine years. VA boss Robert A. McDonald said, “Not too many people can speak both languages.”

A spokeswoman for ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Inc. said today, “Our name has nothing to do terrorists in the Middle East. Never has. Never will. Now stop calling or I’ll report you.” According to Egyptian mythology, Isis was the daughter of the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut. Her sister and brothers were Nephthys, Set, and Osiris. These six deities—Geb, Nut, Isis, Osiris, Set, and Nephthys—belonged to an important group of nine Egyptian gods called the Great Ennead of Heliopolis.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough shut down computers belonging to staff members after porn was discovered on computers. “Our investigation started after the Office of Budget and Management began getting bills from on-line porn marketers.”

The House committee on energy and commerce released new details of its investigation into the events leading up to GM’s recall of 2.6 milion vehicles for ignition-switch defects now linked to 13 deaths. Congress has unanimously passed legislation that will outlaw the phrase, “Close enough for government work.” It will be replaced by “Close enough for General Motors work.”

Fun with numbers: It’s impossible to know for sure what Eisenhower was thinking of when he warned of a military-industrial complex. Now used as a proper noun, The Military-Industrial Complex sells about $235 billion in arms every year. TMIC spokesman Robert ‘Spokes’ Williamson said, “Big deal. We have all sorts of complexes. Oedipus, Electra, Napoleon, and Martyr, just to name a few. At least ours makes money; the rest of those complexes only make shrinks rich.”

The Commander-in-Chief had good advice for military service veterans having difficulty finding jobs that pay more than the starvation rate. “Let ‘em go to China. What the hell, most American companies have moved to China anyhow. It doesn’t pay much, then again, the cost of living is pretty low, too.”