German soldiers I’ve known

BERLIN — For decades, Germany shied away from celebrating its military, ashamed of the jingoism that helped spark two world wars. But as thousands of the country’s troops return home from Afghanistan, many here are saying that old ghosts are causing new neglect.

One fix, Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said this month, would be to bring back a veterans day, a commemoration that Germany shunned after World War II. The suggestion is a major departure for a country where, until recently, officials did not call the conflict in Afghanistan a war or refer to “fallen soldiers,” fearful of stirring swastika-studded memories. But soldiers themselves say far more is needed.

german2On my most recent foray into Afghanistan I had the privilege of working directly with German Soldiers. They like most soldiers go about their jobs in a quiet manner. Daily doing what needs to be done waiting to return home. While their command saw the mission in Afghanistan a bit different than many within the American command I found them quite competent and very aware of the constraints they were working under.

One of our co-worker Germans seemed a bit wistful as he watched the American soldiers unpacking the numerous care packages that seemed to arrive nearly every day. “We don’t do this in Germany”, he would say.

I asked if German soldiers received any care packages at all. He stated only from family. One of the other Americans mentioned that he thought the packages were sometimes a little much. But our German friend said no, that it was a good thing.

I hope the German people understand the good work of their military and let them know.  Sooner would be better.

A number of nations have sent troops to work and fight hand in hand with us and I appreciate it even if their own may not.


New found awareness with Panetta?

Panetta regrets expense of his weekend trips to California home, says he’s looking for savings

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday he regrets the cost to taxpayers for his weekend trips to his California home, but says it’s important “just to get your mind straight and your perspective straight.”

Panetta said he’d try to find some savings, with each round trip costing approximately $32,000…

…“I regret that it does, you know, that it does add costs that the taxpayer has to pick up,” Panetta said during a Pentagon briefing Monday, speaking publicly for the first time about the flight costs. “A taxpayer would have to pick up those costs with any secretary of state or secretary of defense. But having said that, I am trying to look at what are … the alternatives here that I can look at that might possibly be able to save funds and, at the same time, be able to fulfill my responsibilities, not only to my job, but to my family.”…

…Based on fuel and other operating expenses for his Air Force plane, the 27 trips have cost the government as much as $860,000…

Oh now he regrets it?  Now as the GSA is getting it’s umm hat handed to it Panetta regrets it.  Humm

Here is my post of the original story long ago.

SoD has it figured out. Flying cheap

Just the same as with any member of Congress, Panetta is made to reimburse the U.S. government for the cost of an equivalent coach fare for every personal flight he takes. But Panetta doesn’t fly coach. When he’s not flying for business in the Defense Department’s customized Boeing E-4B, Panetta travels the country in a government Lear jet at a cost of $3,200 per flight hour

Secret Service / Military OPS, I mean oops

Cartagena, COLOMBIA – The scandal regarding as many a 12 Secret Service agents being sent home because one allegedly tried to bring a prostitute into his hotel room, which resulted in a confrontation, has now widened to include five U.S. service members.

Military officials said Saturday the service members violated curfew and "may have been involved in inappropriate conduct …alleged to have occurred in the same hotel where the recalled U.S. Secret Service agents were staying."

The service members were assigned to Joint Task Force Summit of the Americas in support of the Secret Service.

General Douglas Fraser, commander of USSOUTHCOM, said he is "disappointed by the entire incident and that this behavior is not in keeping with the professional standards expected of members of the United States military."

What the hell is going on here?  Look I’m no prude but damn this is the Secret Service (SS) you’d think they’d understand discreet.  It appears the standards have dropped in both the SS and the Military. What are they a bunch of E-1 privates on a weekend pass from AIT (Advanced Individual Training).

As a former military fella, I cringe knowing that this doesn’t just affect the summit or their personal careers but others who have nothing to do with this event.  Trust me, rules will be put into place that will screw over others with more common sense.

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There is good news now and then.

UPDATE: Not all good news as the bus driver has passed away. Apparently it was a heart attack. I’m Sorry to hear that.

MILTON, Wash. – A middle school student is being credited with saving a school bus full of kids after he drove the bus to safety after the driver passed out behind the wheel.

13-year-old Jeremy Wuitschick told Q13 Fox he was riding the bus to school Monday morning when he noticed something was wrong with the driver.

"He starts acting all funny," he said. "His eyes are bulging and he is twitching in his chair."

Surveillance video shows Jeremy’s split-second reaction. The teen raced out of his seat and grabbed the wheel as the bus veered towards the sidewalk. He was then able to bring the bus to a stop and take the keys out of the ignition…

…Though Jeremy is being credited with saving the students and the driver from serious injury, he says he wishes he could have done more to help. He told Q13 Fox the incident has inspired him to learn CPR.

"When something major happens, I look back to see if there’s something I could’ve done better," he said.

Wish more people did this.

Good Job kid. 

Back into shape, the re-deployment challenge

One of the worst aspects of a military or civilian contract deployment overseas is that you tend to stop working out or at least cut it back some. It has been this way for me my entire adult life. With numerous short and long term deployments behind me, one of the biggest challenges is to get back into the workout regime upon return. Once again I find myself in the painful position of starting over.

Anyone whose stopped running for a while knows the dread you feel prior to that first real push to work out. It’s not that you don’t like to work out it’s that you know your body will push back the first couple of times.  After a six month deployment to Afghanistan and now a little over a month back stateside I begin the miserable journey back.

Today I forced myself to the local running/biking trail. The W&OD Railroad. It’s a nice paved trail that is sided by lush green trees and grass. The trail runs a total of 45 miles. I would be running a very short part of the trail.

I began slow and tapered off from there. The extra weight I’ve picked up while deployed I felt with every step. But I was happy to be outside. The weather was great for running. In the mid-60s with a slight breeze I couldn’t really ask for a better day to start.

For a Saturday the trail wasn’t really that full , well this portion wasn’t.  Though not completely packed with runners or bikers it was busy enough.  The bikers in their high-speed outfits and the runners with their neon shirts and stretchy spandex.  I felt like a bum in an old school track suit and normal $5 Wal-Mart T-Shirt.  I did bring my state of the art $30 mp3 player and on todays run I listened to a little Guns and Roses, David Bowie, and Kid Rock. 

You know that feeling when your legs begin to tingle and they feel more like attached sandbags with feet, well I felt that in about two minutes. But I hung on and began my task to get back into shape…again. My run was not very long, a couple miles at most and it was not fast at all but it’s a start.

Below I’ve posted some pictures from the same trail but a different part.

Now to just get out there every day till it feels good again.


Note this top picture is the only I actually took.  The rest can be found online.