October 28, 2005

The bloodied hands

Posted in Israel, War on Terror at 4:59 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

News organizations are so ridiculous. Look at the captions for these two photos, selected from the result of this search (hat tip LGF).

Bhands3

Bhands4

If I’d been asleep since, say, 1948, and then saw these photos and captions today, wouldn’t I assume that these people’s hands were bloody because they actually received injuries as a consequence of the Israeli attacks? Why don’t Reuters and AFP tell it like it is?

A Palestinian man raises his hand after deliberately dipping it into the bloodied remains of an Islamic Jihad leader …

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October 27, 2005

Austrian National Holiday 2005

Posted in Austria at 6:41 am by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

I enjoyed the big parade today as Austria celebrated Nationalfeiertag, which is the office state holiday commemorating the anniversary of the declaration of Austrian neutrality. Today was the 50th anniversary of that event and is also considered the 50th anniversary of the modern-day (i.e., post-occupation) Austrian military. The military put on a great show: almost 100 aircraft, 4200 soldiers, 180 tanks, and heck of a lot more.

I took a few photos. Here’s one of what I think is a Blackhawk flying over the parade route, though somebody please correct me if I’m wrong.

Blackhawksmall

I took only seven photos. You can see them all at Flickr. Someone else took way more photos than I did, viewable also at Flickr. And the ORF (public broadcasting) has, of course, some fantastic photos, because they had a big remote camera way up high zooming along cables. The daily newspaper, Die Presse, also has a nice slideshow.

As always, I enjoyed the flyers the most. Among the helicopters were Blackhawks and Hueys. Among the fighter jets were Drakens (being retired this year), some model of Saab that I cannot remember, F-5 Tigers which Austria is leasing from Switzerland as they wait for their first batch of Eurofighter Typhoons in 2007, and then the Eurofighter Typhoons themselves (obviously from another country since Austria doesn’t have them yet.)

The Eurofighter has gotten a ton of bad press over the years. All the criticism may or may not be justified (or partially so), but I’ll tell you one thing from my little perspective on the ground today: they were awesome!

I was happy to see the Stars and Stripes (with a few Marines) taking part. I took a few videos (crappy ones using the digital camera), including one of the American flag marching past. You can see the Brits and the Russian Federation next to it: nfeirtag1.wmv (2.69 MB).

If you want to see a few different Austrian military uniforms, I slammed some short clips together into one movie: nfeirtag2.wmv (6.10 MB).

Of course the whole time I was thinking more about our own troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq. My heroes.

The crowd at the parade in Vienna was enormous. The exhibits on the Rathausplatz and Heldenplatz were interesting and enjoyable. I must hand it to the Bundesheer, they put on a really great show.

One thing was very noticeable, so much so that even my wife — an Austrian — commented on it several times: almost nobody waved their Austrian flags or cheered, despite flags being handed out to everybody along the parade route. That’s quite different from the United States. And though I would like to see the Austrians be a bit more outwardly proud of their Austrian-ness, I recognize and respect the historical reasons why people might tone down their enthusiasm during military parades.

October 12, 2005

Rhein-Main ends flying operations

Posted in Military at 10:11 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

Rhein-Main photo by Air Force Staff Sgt Ricky Bloom

(photo by Air Force Staff Sgt Ricky Bloom)

The real “Gateway to Europe” is no more. As this article at European Command explains, the gateway mission will now be shared at two other U.S. air bases in Germany, Ramstein and Spangdahlem.

Present at the Monday ceremony was retired Colonel Gail Halvorsen, who became famous as the “Candy Bomber” during one of Rhein-Main’s most memorable missions, the Berlin Airlift of 1948–49. I poked around on the web and found this CNN interview with Halvorsen. It’s worth reading. Here’s a little gem:

Kids came up on the other side of the barbed wire [and] looked at me in [my] uniform. … They came up and started talk to me: “How many sacks of flour have you got?”, you know, “How’s it going to be tomorrow? More airplanes?”

They’d tell me they kept a list, how many airplanes would come in every day, and week-to-week. But they got off the subject of flour very quickly [and onto] the subject of freedom. “Look,” [one of them] said. “Some day we’ll have enough to eat. Just give us a little. Just don’t give up on us when the weather gets bad. But we can get along without enough to eat. Some day we’ll have enough. But if we lose our freedom we may never get it back.

And these kids were 8 to 14 years old and blew my mind with their maturity [and] understanding of what was important. They’d seen enough of Hitler; they saw what Stalin was doing across the border; their aunts and uncles were coming into West Berlin to use the library to find out what’s going on in the world; they couldn’t travel; they didn’t have their church opportunities. So these kids had a real understanding of what was important in their life and they wanted freedom like Americans.

[My emphasis]

31 Americans died during the airlift.