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.

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July 19, 2005

US Forces in Europe: The Dukes Slim Down

Posted in Military at 12:36 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.]
If I read this right, the Big Red One’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team (“Duke”, or, when stationed in Baqubah, the “Dukes of Diyala“) is going to be reduced to cadre strength and make way for Europe’s first Stryker Brigade.  (Note: link refers to Cadre Divisions — I’m not sure what the size of a “cadre strength” brigade is.  The article makes it clear that the 3rd BCT is eventually leaving Germany altogether: “departure of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team“.)

3rd BCT is stationed at Vilseck, Germany, so I like to consider it my home brigade.

Thank you for your service, 3rd BCT.

No doubt the Dukes have multiple heroes in their midst.  One of them we know for sure is a milblogger who received the Silver Star:  1st Lt Neil Prakash, native of India, Johns Hopkins alum, United States Army officer, American hero.  And he’s Red Six at the Armor Geddon blog.

I like Lt Prakash’s account of one of his last incidents in Iraq:

The other day, we were escorting the deputy governor to Baqubah when a guy pulled up to us and blew himself up in his car, while trying to take us out. Hilarious! He only managed to kill himself. The BEST part is that his jackass terrorist friend was videotaping it and Al-Jazeera aired it, reporting that a bomber rammed the deputy governor and 3 Americans died. Our only casualty was a slightly cracked windshield. And he didn’t ram us, he pulled off on the shoulder and detonated. Does Dan Rather work for Al-Jazeera? If anyone can tell me where to find that video clip on the internet, a lot of us in my company are curious as to whether they taped it while hiding in a certain village.

Bravo, Dukes!

July 14, 2005

US Forces in Europe: Georgia

Posted in Georgia, Military at 9:13 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.]
The United States is spending $64 million to help train Georgian soldiers:

Marine Corps Forces Europe is leading the training and providing the largest U.S. contingent of trainers. No more than 70 U.S. servicemembers – from all military branches – will deploy to Georgia at any given time. The Krtsanisi National Training Center is the site of the program, which will train and equip more than 1,200 Georgian soldiers in ground combat skills and tactics, including marksmanship, first aid, urban drills and search techniques.

Cool.  I am always happy when we do good things in Eastern Europe.  Remember, Georgia, the home of the Rose Revolution, is one of our coalition partners in Iraq.

The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains a website with a significant amount of english content.  If you visit there soon, you’ll notice that they have a whole section titled Georgia Welcomes USA, also available directly at http://www.georgiawelcomesusa.com/.  That site celebrates President Bush’s visit in May of this year.

Other links:

WhiteHouse.gov: President Bush Addresses and Thanks Citizens in Tbilisi, Georgia.  (Includes the video coverage – sounds like a big, appreciative crowd.)

CIA World Factbook: Georgia.

US Department of State Background Note: Georgia.

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Country Profile: Georgia.

Publications about Georgia from the Economist Intelligence Unit.

CountryReports.org: Georgia.

Wikipedia.org: Georgia.

GlobalSecurity.org: Georgia Military.

The Georgian Times, an English-language news site.

July 11, 2005

Getting tired of insurgents

Posted in Iraq, Marines, Military at 8:17 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.]

Story of a Marine take-down team, from JD’s blog at Faces from the Front.  Here’s part:

“He’s going to lead us to him,” the intelligence officer said, pointing to an erect and dignified looking Iraqi man, “he’s one of the tribal elders and is sick and tired of Yassir and his family.  He could be playing us.  He could be getting us to settle a score with a rival clan.  Stay sharp.  We want this guy alive.  But if you have to . . .” he trailed off.

The take down team understood.

The dignified looking tribal elder took off his keffiya and put on a kevlar helmet.  The blouse from one of the vehicle commanders went over his dishdasha.  When he sat in a humvee, he looked like an old Gunny on his last tour.

The villagers were scared of Yassir and his comrades in The Green Battalion, and with good reason, in addition to car bombs and murdering Italians on video, the Green Battalion’s affilates had murdered a few Imams that supported the coaltion.

But the older man was not afraid.  He was tired.  Tired of the terrorists. He was glad Saddam was gone, and would be happy when it was all over and he and his clan could get back to raising a few crops and a few sheep in peace.

Dressed like a Marine from the waist up, the Iraqi man climbed into the Humvee.  With Tony and Lt. Gobin.  He waved pensivly at his extended family.  The men just stared.  A few children waved, and tears rolled down the cheek of an older woman.

Read it all.