The Army, Adultery & Hypocrisy

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MG John M. Custer – The Spendthrift Adulterer who used Army funds to keep his Adultress dressed in Victoria’s Secret

Why is the Army in the business of charging people with adultery?

Why can’t the Army get out of the adultery business?

Recently, MG John M. Custer III was allowed to retire with full rank and benefits. The charge? ADULTERY!

This guy wasn’t the average adulterer, though. He actually used his staff and military funds to buy presents for his fornicatress.

The Army inspector general was unsparing: The two-star general had an inappropriate relationship with a woman and lied to investigators about it, made his staff buy sexy clothing for her, subjected his underlings to racist and sexist emails and allowed himself to be photographed with another woman licking the medals on his formal dress uniform.

This guy who was obviously guilty of violations of UCMJ Code and Behavior Unbecoming of an Officer, much less a General Officer, was allowed to retire. He had top cover from GEN Martin Dempsey. More than likely, Custer and Dempsey had known each other a long, long time. Custer probably had the goods on Dempsey. Aside from being a fellow General and being good buddies, Dempsey more than likely feared what could be released to the Army Inspector General’s Office by John M. Custer.

So, Dempsey cleaned the record, provided top cover and lied by omission to the American Congress.

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GEN Martin “CYA” Dempsey lying to Congress by omission about his buddy Johnny C

Nothing new here.

Generals cover for Generals all of the time. General Keane, whilst Commanding Genera of the 101st Screaming Eagles, was picked up for DUI on a near weekly basis. Cover and Concealment was provided and Keane was promoted to the Pentagon.

Here’s my issue.

MSG Snuffy or his soldier PVT Blase’ gets a DUI or is charged with the Big A and…

BOOM!

Courts Martial!

Article 15!

General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand!

They tattoo a HUGE LETTER “R” on one’s forehead and crush you. Oft times, they don’t stop there. Unsatisfied with merely ruining a career and kicking one out of the military. They proceed further and attempt to leave a permanent stain on the record. Removal is not enough. They desire more than anything to hand out that DD Form 214 with a General or Other Than Honorable Discharge. It sounds a bit like a bad villain in a James Bond knock off.

Officers are quick to break out the Uniform Code of Military Justice on an Enlisted Soldier or a junior Officer. Field Grade and General Officers are quick to preach and ruin careers.  GEN Petraeus and MG Custer have ruined careers over adultery. GEN Keane ruined careers over DUI. They like many of their peers were guilty of the same acts. Other Field Grade and General Officers are fully aware of the behaviors of these Officers. Yet, nothing happens to a General unless they are found out by the media or some other source which can hurt the image of the Army. The Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force are guilty of this same behavior.

I currently work with a guy who was charged with adultery and drummed out of the Army. This person was a Captain at the time. He was legally separated from his wife. However, the Army does not recognize legal separation. One is either Single, Married or Divorced in the Army. If you are active duty, remember this.

This former Army Captain was charged with adultery by none other than, then, MG John M. Custer III. Apparently, simultaneous to Custer administratively processing this person out of the Army for violation of the UCMJ over adultery, Custer, himself, was in an adulterous affair.

Custer’s impropriety occurred whilst Custer was married but was swept under the rug by GEN Dempsey. The Captain was harassed and charged with adultery despite the fact that he was legally separated.

I’ve seen these actions happen time and again in the US Army. A Staff Sergeant at my unit in Fort Belvoir was given Article 15 and reduced to Sergeant. He was administratively removed from the Army. His crime? The appearance of impropriety with a soldier in the same command. The Battalion Commander could not prove that he had done anything wrong. However, he could trump up a charge and ruin this man’s career. At that same time, this Battalion Commander was having an affair with the wife of an Non-commissioned Officer in his command. Nothing was ever done about this. No investigation. No charges were ever proffered. The whole affair was swept under the rug and the Battalion Commander was allowed to retire.

Will the Army every resolve these issues? I have no doubt that it will not. As long as there is a US Army, there will exist the *RHIP attitude amongst General Officers and these same men and women will protect those whom they deem loyal to themselves.

No one in Congress cares. No President cares. The little guy will always get the short end of the stick.

U.S. Army Celebrates Its 228th Birthday

The Drunken General — John M. “Jack” Keane

 

 

 

 

The United States Military and State Department in Afghanistan

Camp Scorpion, Every 4 monthsThis is exactly what has occurred in Afghanistan since 2003.

Worse than this is the fact that every 6 months, each organization stops what they are doing, looks around and heads in a different direction. About every 18 months, the cycle of stupidity circles back around to exactly the same priorities and organizational structure as before.

The United State Army reinvents the wheel in Afghanistan on average every 18 months. The State Department has their own wheels that they keep re-inventing as well.

And no one communicates with anyone else.

The only continuity has been the contractors who have been there, done that, seen it all. Contractors are exactly the last people whom any United States organization would ask for advice, assistance or guidance. This is so despite continuity being the exact reason for which  Contractors are hired. Most Contractors work closely with the US Military and State Department. Even so, when it comes to major decisions, the way ahead or guidance, Contractors are usually the very last persons whom the US Military will seek out for input.

It is amazing. I’ve seen the same programs attempted and failed at least three times each.

And still the worm turns…It is almost as if we want to fail.

Big Army, Pls Re-designate our Military Installations after Winners

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Fort Bragg: named after the worst Major Army Field Commander in American History

I have always questioned the designations of several Army Posts. For instance, Fort Bragg is named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg. Bragg may have been an honorable fellow who simply fought in a losing cause. That doesn’t matter to me. Point of fact, this guy lost nearly every battle over which he held field command. He was a loser. Why would we name the Post which hosts arguably the Army’s “Premiere Infantry Fighting Force” and US Special Forces Command after a General who never tasted victory — a complete loser. Never mind that he was a Confederate General, the guy was incompetent and soundly defeated consistently in battle.

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Confederate General Braxton Bragg — Loser of the Battles of Perryville, Stones River, Chattanooga. He defeated only Rosecrans at Chickamauga and Rosecrans was a worst General than even Bragg. LTG U.S. Grant finally put paid to Braggs’ career at Chattanooga after which the idiot President Jeff Davis appointed Bragg Confederate Military Advisor. He advised Jeff Davis, thereafter, on how to suffer defeat soundly.

With that in mind, I would change the following Post’s names as shown below:

Fort Lee to Fort Montgomery C. Meigs (Quartermaster of the Union Army in the Civil War)

Fort Bragg to Fort “Slim Jim” Gavin (youngest Division Commander, made combat jumps in World War II, beloved Commander)

Fort Jackson to Fort Omar Bradley (Omar Bradley was the “Soldier’s General, Commanded D-Day invasion forces in Europe, World War II)

Fort A.P. Hill to Fort Phil Sheridan (Best damn Cavalry Commander in the Union Army from the 1860s to the 1880s)

Fort Knox to Fort G. S. Patton (America’s Armor General and Glory Hound, Old Blood and Guts, essentially won World War II single handedly…lol…I’m joking…sort of.)

Fort Meyer to Fort Winfield Scott (He actually named “The Old Guard.” Commanding General of the Army of the US, Hero of the War of 1812, his Anaconda Plan was eventually what won the Civil War even though he was ridiculed when he presented it and driven out into retirement)

Fort Hood to Fort Abrams (Got us the hell out of Vietnam, Father of the Modern Army for all intents and purposes)

Fort McClellan to Fort Eisenhower (McClellan was another loser and a political idiot. Ike was the exact opposite)

Fort Campbell to Fort Anthony “Nuts” McAuliffe (Answered the German demand for surrender in Bastogne with the one word reply of “Nuss” which is nuts in german, was acting commander of the 101st at Bastogne.)

Fort Benning to Fort Ridgeway (Commanded 82nd Airborne Division in WWII, brought Korea back from the brink after McArthur nearly lost it all to the Chinese)

Another possible name for Fort Knox could be Fort “Mad” Anthony Wayne or Fort George Rogers Clark.

I know that not all of these are CSA Generals. Still, better names overall. The guys after whom I would re-designate our Army Posts were all winners…even Abrams.

What do you think? I’ve never understood why we named so many Army Posts after losing Generals.

It’s as if we are tempting the GoDs. Perhaps, it explains why our wars have gone so poorly since Vietnam.



Why in the name of the GoDs would anyone name a post after Braxton Bragg? Braxton Bragg is quite possibly the worst Commanding General of a Major Field Army in United States History. I can’t think of anyone who lost more in history excepting Hitler. Do the Germans have a Hitler Kaserne? Do the Russians name their Military Bases after losing Commanders? Did Lt. Gen. Boris Gromov who lost Afghanistan get an Army Post named after him?

Hell, they’ve changed the names of their cities to rid themselves of the stink of incompetence and loss.

Why would the Army…..HOW could the Army defend the designations of these Army Posts?

That some of these guys were Confederate Generals doesn’t bother me so much. That many of them were incompetent fools is my point. Only in America do we honor our losers thusly.

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Bowe Bergdahl

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Not all soldiers are heroes. Not all deserters are cowards.

Bergdahl’s act was not one of cowardice. It was of conscience.
That, however, matters not. He signed a contract. That contract bound him to his duty. He shirked that duty.
The more honorable path would have been to serve out and depart. Hundreds of thousands have done so. I did this.
He took a path of dishonor. His actions placed other lives in danger. He deserves punishment. The punishment for desertion can be death. If he is murdered by the State for his crimes, it will be his own doing.
Civilized society is nothing more than controlled barbarism. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either insane or ignorant.

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I spent a decade in the military. I never deserted. I’ll throw a stone at him.

Bergdahl is exactly what irks me about many of our young people today. They want all of the benefits without any of the responsibilities. Bergdahl signed a contract.

I don’t believe he should be put to death for desertion.

However, his desertion caused others to be placed in harms way and to die. He may well have caused harm to come to other Americans by divulging information to the taliban.

If his actions caused the deaths of American citizens, should he not be given the same fate? If he caused the taliban to be able to kill Americans by his actions, should he pay no price for that crime.

I don’t care how troubled he was with the war in Afghanistan or some of his fellow Americans. If his desertion and subsequent actions caused Americans to die, should he not be punished?

If I caused your son or daughter to be killed through my willful, negligent actions would you simply forgive me?

I’m not going to call this guy a coward. I believe it took courage to walk off of the FOB and into the unknown that is the Afghan countryside. I know. I’ve been out there.

That said, his actions were selfish. His actions were negligent. He had moral reservations. He should have taken them up the chain of command. I’ve called folks out in Afghanistan for their treatment of the Afghans. I’ve called folks out for their attitudes towards the Afghans.

Bottom line is that Bowe Bergdahl signed a contract. He was fine with benefiting from said contract. When it came time to fulfill his side of the bargain, he balked. The military is not like other jobs. The consequences can and often times are more serious than working at McDonald’s, Google, GE or Best Buy. An individuals decisions can affect the lives of many.

Bergdahl’s actions likely caused the deaths of several Americans. Bergdahl’s actions caused Obama to make decisions on an international level in releasing 5 taliban ranking personnel who may murder more Americans, Afghans and others.

Is Bergdahl somehow above consequences?

Agree or disagree with the Afghan War, it matters not. Bergdahl’s actions have consequences. That weight is heavy. There is a price to pay for such actions and for the consequences of said actions.

Bergdahl is not exempt.

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Insignia of The Old Guard and Other Unique Army Units

I was incredibly lucky in my assignments in the Army.  I served in some unique organizations.

The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in Sinai, Egypt.

United Nations Command Security Forces–Joint Security Area in Panmunjom, Republic of Korea.

A Company (CinC Guard), 3rd United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Fort McNair, Washington, District of Columbia and Fort Myer, Virginia.

While I was stationed at The Old Guard, I was also fortunate enough to attend the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Panama.  It was closed down shortly thereafter.

All interesting assignments that were outside of the US Army norm.  Unique experiences for which I’m thankful.

Only a couple more places that I wish I had been able to talk DA into assigning me.

1.  The Berlin Brigade — during the Cold War

2.  Honduras

They seem like they would have been equally unique assignments.

Soldier from the Korengal Valley up for the Medal of Honor

The Korengal Valley

A US paratrooper who took part in some of the heaviest fighting in the war in Afghanistan – in the remote Korengal Valley – has become the first living nominee for the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam war.

The highest American decoration for military valour, the Medal of Honor has been awarded only eight times, all posthumously, since 1973. Two were given to snipers for the part they played in the battle of Mogadishu in 1993 in protecting a downed helicopter pilot. Since then, there have been six awarded from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but none of them has been given to a surviving serviceman.

Although the Pentagon has refused to comment on the identity of the soldier, the Army Times reported on Friday that it had established that the proposed recipient was Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. His name is understood to have been put forward after he charged into a wall of fire from Taliban fighters, who were attempting to overrun his position, to drag away another US soldier.

The episode, which took place on 25 October 2007, is described in Sebastian Junger’s new book, War, which describes the fighting in the Korengal Valley. A documentary, Restrepo, made by Junger with cameraman Tim Hetherington and covering the same period, is released this weekend.

Describing his attempts to reach a wounded colleague, Giunta told Junger: “I did what I did because that’s what I was trained to do. I didn’t run through fire to save a buddy – I ran through fire to see what was going on with him and maybe we could hide behind the same rock and shoot together. I didn’t run through fire to do anything heroic or brave. I did what I believe anyone would have done.”

Read those last few words again.  This guy is a true, real and live hero.

Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq are light situations.  They’re deadly serious.  There are areas in both that are deadly.  There are areas in which one can sit on a FOB for a year and never come under enemy fire.  The media doesn’t run stories on this phenomenon.  The enemy-less FOBs out there that see no real enemy combat.  I’ve been on quite a few FOBs over there that see no enemy contact.  I’ve been on some that see rocket and mortar attack.  And I’ve been on some that have taken enemy fire.

I’ve never been anywhere close to the Korengal Valley or it’s daily hazard of enemy contact.

The guys in that valley acted heroically on a daily basis for weeks at a time.  There are lulls, of course.  Times when the taliban and the Arab fighters crawl back into Pakistan to lick their wounds and re-supply.  Even so, the danger is ever present in a place like Korengal.  There is no let down.  The stress is unimaginable.  The bond created by that stress.  A bond forged in fire is indescribable.  Seeing your friends killed or wounded and the unspeakable horror of the possibility or likelihood that you could be next.  How does one speak to that.

I had conversations back in the States with some civilian friends of mine.  Guys who had never been in a combat zone.  They kept telling me that all of our soldiers were heroes.  Some even characterized me as a hero.  I’m simply a contractor over there.  I can leave any time that I feel the pressure is too much.  Hell, I could leave just for the hell of it.  I was able to take holiday every 3 or 4 months.

Not so for soldiers.  They’re there.  For the duration.  They’ll rotate in and out on leave once during their 12 to 15 month tour.  Other than that, they’re stuck.  No choice but to sweat it out.

But.  There are two types of soldiers over there.  Those who see combat and those who don’t.  Some soldiers never leave their FOB.  Never see an enemy combatant outside of CNN, Fox News or MSNBC.  Some of these sit at FOBs that directly support combat troops.  Some sit in rear areas like Bagram or Camp Phoenix and never leave the FOB.  Others drive around green zones wherein no enemy contact is made.

I spent 18 months at Bagram Air Field (BAF).  We were rocketed or mortared once a month at best.  There was always a rumor that the insurgents would try to infiltrate.  Bullshit rumors at best.  Anyone with any knowledge of the situation in Afghanistan and of the insurgency knew that the insurgents had neither the equipment nor the manpower to breach BAF.  It just wasn’t going to happen.  Aside from the occasional rocket and the daily detonation of mines being detonated on the perimeter, I never felt truly threatened at BAF and the war rarely intruded on my day.

That’s how a great majority of soldiers and almost all of the Navy and Airmen spend their tour in Afghanistan.  Contractors are, for the most part, in the same category.

Not so for your average Combat Soldier in Afghanistan.  Not so for your average Marine in Afghanistan.  These guys are sent out to do the heavy lifting.  These guys fight.  For those in Western Afghanistan, it’s a bit of a lighter load.  Excepting parts of Farah and Badghis Provinces.  I know this because I was there for 30 months as a mentor and trainer for the Afghan National Police.  I know how much more dangerous some areas are than others in Afghanistan.  I’ve spent time in Qandahar as well and up in the Mountains of Ghor.  I’ve experienced some of these places and have spoken with folks just out of other areas.  I know people in some of these places right now.  Out in the East and the South, the fighting is much more intense.  Korengal is in the East.  Curved up next to Pakistan.  I’m sure that during some of the Ops that those guys ran in Korengal, they looked straight down into Pakistan.

Those guys are fighters.  Those guys are heroes.

I knew Officers and NCOs over there who never left the FOB.  12-15 months sending Soldiers and Marines out in harm’s way.  Never once did they inspect these troops.  Never once did they share their hardships and dangers.  These Officers and NCOs were not heroes.  They weren’t even leaders.

I know this is not politically correct of me to say, but, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who sit at FOBS and never see the enemy.  They’re just Joes doing their job.  There doing nothing heroic.  Contractors out there are hired to do a job.  They’re not heroes.  There are exceptions to this, of course.  Some men and women will fall into situations and become heroes.  Others will fail and become cowards.

The men who fight on those hills.  They’re guilty.  Guilty of going above and beyond and becoming heroes.  These are the men who in earlier times would have inspired tribal tales and cultural myths such as Hericles, Perseus and Achilles.  These are the rough men standing ready to defend us.  They join the military for adventure.  They join the military for college funds.  They join the military because if they didn’t, they’d probably spend their lives in prison.  They join the military for as many reasons as there are individuals out there fighting.  Regardless, they find themselves in hell.  They fight for their brothers and die for their brothers.

Personally, I feel it’s a stain on the honor of the truly heroic to call all members of the military heroes.  It’s even worse the way the term is bandied about as concerns Sports personalities and others of the like.

The title of hero is an honorific that’s earned.  It’s an honor above all others.  It’s about selflessness.  It’s putting the lives of others above yours.

Despite their protestations. these men in the Korengal Valley and similar places are heroes.
We should not diminish their legacy by such easy use of the word.

If you want to delve more deeply into the War in Afghanistan or the Korengal Valley, I recommend reading WAR by Sebastion Junger. It is an amazing read.

It’s true that heroes are inspiring, but mustn’t they also do some rescuing if they are to be worthy of their name? Would Wonder Woman matter if she only sent commiserating telegrams to the distressed?
Author: Jeanette Winterson

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. Arthur Ashe

Air Assault!!!

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Graduated from Air Assualt School in 1992.

It wasn’t all the difficult, but, it wasn’t all the easy either.

A Dude in Korea at Camp Greaves drew this for me from a picture my friend took right after the 12 Mile Road March that was the “graduation ceremony.”  We started out with about 160 students.  At the end of the course, there were about 70 of us left.  Drop outs.  Test failures.  Injuries.  All had taken their toll.

Most of us made the road march in the alloted 4 hours.  One guy did it in 1 hour and 14 minutes.  He was hauling ass.  I think I did it in 3 hours.  It wasn’t that difficult.  We ran 7 to 10 miles each day over the course of that 2 week course.  By the time it was over, most of us were in pretty good shape.  I aced my next PT test.

After the road march, those of us who finished on time were lined up in groups of about 12 to 15 and presented with our Air Assault Badge or  “wings.” Our instructor walked over to us, pinned our wings on our uniforms.  Then he asked if we wanted blood wings.  I think everyone opted for blood wings.  Everyone in my group at any rate.https://i1.wp.com/www.armchairgeneral.com/wordpress/wp-content/gallery/tactics101-043-loading-plan/image019.jpg

https://i2.wp.com/www.drum.army.mil/sites/postnews/blizzard/blizzard_archives/issues/5-3-2007/photos/aaslt.jpgHe had pinned our wings on us without the backing.  The wings are placed on the graduates chest about where the heart is located.  Our instructor then hit us in our chest.  Right on top of the wings.  The wings stick in your pectoral muscles and when you pull them out, you bleed.  I bled a bit, but, not much.  A couple of guys were bleeders and the blood spread over their t-shirts.

After that, you are blooded.  Blood Wings!

It actually pretty cool and not painful at all.  Our instructor was a pretty big dude.  6′ 6″ and about 250 pounds or so.  Not fat.  Muscle.  When he hit those wings, you didn’t feel the pins sticking into your pec.  You felt his fist hitting your chest.  Took my breath away.  I didn’t feel the wings sticking into my chest.  Didn’t feel anything until I snatched out of my chest and started bleeding.

Air Assault School was a challenging and really cool experience.

You start by learning to rappel from a tower and proceed until you can prep equipment to be air assualted (carried by helicopters) to an objective and you finish by rappelling from a helocopters.  We trained on Blackhawks.  Rappelling from a helo is awesome.  I loved it.

Later, I went to Rappel Master School.  In that course, we started with 22 students.  7 of us graduated.   When the instructor told me that I had passed the Final Exam, I almost jumped through the roof of the building.  Amazing feeling of accomplishment.  Especially since I was a Corporal at the time and everyone else were more senior NCOs and Officers.  I was about 22 years old at the time.  Hell of a great experience for me.

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A buddy of mine who also went through Air Assault School sent me the following:

I got my AA badge in the spring of 1986.  I didn’t think it was that hard, either – at least physically, but then again I was 18 and in shape from running cross-country and playing soccer during my senior year of high school.  The most challenging aspect for me was the rigging and slingloading phase – we lost quite a few from our class for screwing that up.   Very few had problems with the “pathfinder” phase – setting up LZ/DZs – and very few had problems with the actual rappelling (the guys who were scared of heights were weeded-out on the big obstacle course on Day One), but we lost a lot of students for “gigging-out”, uniforms fucked up, trying to cheat with lightened rucksacks – that sort of thing.   Everyone had hyped it as “the toughest two weeks in the Army”, so maybe I had built it up in my own mind, but it didn’t phase me ’cause I loved that kind of shit.  The funny thing though – it was a big deal for my unit.   When I came rolling back onto school grounds at the end of that final road-march/run (2 hours/10 minutes), my team leader, PLT SGT, and company commander were all awaiting me, clapping me on the back, cheering me on.  That made me feel pretty fucking proud, I’m not embarrassed to admit.   lol   It’s funny you brought this up, Dave – I was just reminiscing about Air Assault School earlier this week when we were talking about going rapelling in Red River Gorge.  At the Ft. Campbell school we had a rule that you had to always be running anytime you were on AAS property, and every time your left foot hit the ground you had to yell “Air Assault”, so it was pretty comical to have a couple hundred students at any given time sprinting around the block talking to themselves.   lol

Going back even further, my best buddy growing up was a kid named Eric Reynolds (he’s the guy who had a lung removed a few years back from what he’s convinced is Gulf War Syndrome), and we used to rappel all the time – off the roof, out the attic window, from the tops of tall trees – you name it, we jumped it.   Anyhow, at Ft. Jackson they have that big obstacle/rope course called Victory Tower, which culminates in a 20-ft rappelling wall.   After watching many of my BT platoon struggle down – shaking/trembling, flipping upside down, just freezing in fear, whatever – I went down in a single bound.   Hit the ground, yelled “off rappel!” to my belay man, and as I was sprinting off my DSGT grabbed me and pulled me aside.  Of course, my first thought was “oh, fuck, what did I do?” until he just looked at me, grinned, and said “you’ve done this before, haven’t you Daniels?”   lol    You know what I mean when I say that it was the first moment during the entire Basic Training stint when I thought “wow, my Drill SGT might actually be human after all”.  lol   It was another one of those proud moments for me.

I’d forgotten about having to yell “Air Assault” every time your left foot struck the ground.  It was funny as hell.  A bunch of soldiers running around; “Air Assault!  Air Assault!  Air Assault!” everywhere they ran.  And yes, you had to double time (run) everywhere you went.  There was no walking during Air Assault School.

Every school of this sort in the Army left me with a sense that I just passed a huge test.  That I’d come closer to being a real soldier.

Finishing Jungle Warfighting School in Panama left me with the same feeling of accomplishment.  You feel a better part of the team.  You’re now able to offer more to your peers and to yourself after having graduated with a new set of skills.  These schools teach real world skills.  It’s not like a college course or high school wherein you pass a course but aren’t sure exactly how that course is going to help you in life.

Eventually in the Army, you’re going to deply.  You’re going to war.  You’re going to be sent on a mission.  Many of the skills one learns are directly translatable to those endeavors.  Along with the drop out rate for some of these schools which can be staggeringly high, this sense of having learned something useful is a unique feeling in my learning process throughout my life.  I’ve never felt the same sense of accomplishment after having gone to a University or College course.

It’s an excellent sense of accomplishment that one feels when finishing a course of this sort in the US Army.

Arlington National Cemetery Burial Honors (Enlisted vs. Officer)

SFC Durbin is currently serving a tour of duty in Iraq. He makes a few excellent points about the rendering of honors for our fallen soldiers at our Nations most prestigious National Military Cemetery.

While serving in The Army Honor Guard (The Old Guard) as a Full Honor Casket Team Squad Leader, I was responsible for carrying the Remains of deceased Army Officers on a regular basis, which included Former President Ronald Reagan. While there, I wondered why only Officers received Full Honor Funerals in Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), regardless of what they did or didn’t do in their careers. The difference between a Full and Standard Honor Funeral is dramatic. However, if one has not served in the Old Guard , one would never know the difference. In fact, the only way an Enlisted Service Member can receive a Full Honor Funeral is to be a Medal of Honor Recipient. The Medal of Honor is more often than not awarded posthumously. Well after burial.   Therefore, an Enlisted Medal of Honor Recipient would not receive Full Honors at time of burial.

Basically, a Full Honors at Arlington consists of the following:

  • Horse Drawn Caisson
  • Transfer from Chapel to gravesite
  • 8 pallbearers
  • Army Band
  • 1-2 escort marching Platoons
  • Cannon Salutes for General Officers
  • “Cap” Rider-less Horse(0-6 and above)
  • Firing Party
  • Bugler
  • Chaplain

A Standard Honors Funeral consists of the following:

  • Hearse Transfer
  • 6 Pallbearers
  • Firing Party
  • Bugler
  • Chaplain

Another common misconception is that CSM/SGMs receive Full Honors. In fact, they do not. In addition to the Standard Honors rendered above, a CSM/SGM is authorized a Caisson, 1 escort marching platoon and a drummer to keep escort platoon in-step while marching.

I would add that the above Special Officer Honors rendered at Arlington National Cemetery are not offered at any other National Cemetery in the United States. Why the discrimination. Is it simply a coincidence that Arlington National Cemetery is across the street from the Pentagon? Honors at Arlington should mirror those of our other National Cemeteries.

For the past year, I have been addressing this issue with various Veterans Organizations of which I am a member. As well, I have addressed them with Army Offices in Washington D.C. I have received little or no response. I’m currently addressing this with my Congressman’s Military Liaison. The ANC Superintendent sent me a response stating that he agreed with my position. However, he believed changes would be difficult to implement. I have talked to numerous Senior Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers as well who support this and are addressing this in ways which they feel appropriate for them.

The bottom line is that a 2nd Lieutenant can die in a car accident 2 days after graduating Officer Candidate School. He will receive a Full Honor Funeral. Conversely, a Senior Enlisted member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard with 22 years of Service can die in Combat in Afghanistan or Iraq and be awarded a Silver Star for Valor. He or she receives a Standard Honor Funeral. In the most hallowed ground on American soil. A place which commands the respect of our nation. The burial ground of several Presidents. Audie Murphy. SGT York. Oliver Wendell Holmes, JR.

This issue deserves our attention. Honors rendered should be equal. Action based rather than rank. A panel should decide official criteria for Honors rendered based upon career, circumstances of death, combat record and the like. Not Rank. Funerals should be reminiscent of the Tombstones in Arlington. All the same.

At a minimum, all Service Members killed in Combat should receive a Full Honor Funeral. All other Service Members should have a simple funeral matching the eloquent simplicity of the white tombstones of Arlington National Cemetery themselves.

[This is from an email from SFC Durbin. I paraphrased and re-organized the email a bit before I posted it here.]

I served in The Old Guard from 1994-1997. I was in Alpha Company “CinC Guard” on Fort McNair. I understand what SFC Durbin is saying here. I have always felt that it is disgraceful the manner in which the US Military treats it’s Enlisted soldiers. Not only in death but in retirement as well as on active duty. Enlisted Retirees and Vets are discarded as if they are but so much waste in a dumpster. Such is my opinion.

I agree wholeheartedly with the above. Full Honors should be given to all of the Nations soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who fall in combat. These men and women have laid down their lives in the greatest sacrifice that our Nation could ask of anyone. They should be honored as if such were the case. What does rank matter at such a time. It should not.

Anyone who wishes to assist, can contact SFC Durbin at allen.durbin@us.army.mil or contact your Congressman or Senator.