30 December 2010

Rules of Engagement and General Order #1

From the Soldier side. الإقامة السابق 100 متر!

The 2 deployments I had the honor of doing with the Army National Guard were some of the most interesting times in my life. I got to celebrate both Christmas and New Years away from home 2 years in a row. New Years in Bosnia was more like a “normal” time in the States, but the New Years in Iraq was something that is almost impossible to describe in a short blog post.

The New Years in Bosnia (2003-04) I was able to spend with my “team” and some friends we made in the EUPM (European Union Police Mission). These were cops from all over Europe and some of the best folks I have ever known in my entire life. They lived on the local economy and went about un-armed observing the Bosnian cops. In California I won’t even go to the grocery store without a gun, but these guys didn’t feel that they needed one. And to tell you the truth- it was actually safer in Bosnia (crime wise) than it is in most places in California!

Camp "Ugly" Bosnia

For New Years 03-04 we were invited to one of the homes some of the EUPM cops were living in. With the low cost of food and housing, most of them had a difficult time spending their per-diem on such things, so they tried to expend these finical resources on alcoholic beverages. On most days they were able to achieve the goal. For New Years, they did meet this objective. (In all my leadership courses, they always mentioned setting goals,)

Unfortunately, in Bosnia we also had “General Order #1” which pretty much covered all aspects of us not being able to have any kind of fun…including drinking. However, since we were in a somewhat special team, we actually had an exemption to the drinking rule- if kept within reason. I did not drink that night, but I did allow some of my team to do so if they chose to….keeping it reasonable. Too many adults can’t figure how to act like adults when left without supervision. We kept it legal and still had fun with our European friends. ( I never drink at all if I’m going to drive.) I felt it a great compliment when one of the German cops told me: “I don’t like Americans, but I like you guys.”

A year later, I was in Fallujah, Iraq. Same rules of “though shalt not drink” but we traveled in armored Humvees in full battle rattle, not civilian Volks Wagons. The mission we did with the “First Mar Div” (1st Marine Division) on this day in 2004 was full of excitement and adventure. Hell, just driving outside any camp in those days would make your sphincter tighten shut.

During the “Battle of Fallujah,” the Rules of Engagement were a little different in that area at that time…but so many American vehicles were getting blown up with Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED, or Car Bomb) that we couldn’t hesitate if a car came at our convoy.

I’ve told this story in the past, but somebody thought it was worth repeating. That day the Marine Gunny my team was working with asked if we could go into the city with him. He needed at least one other armored vehicle with a gun to be allowed to go out. He wanted to go check on his Marines in the city and bring them mail etc.

Of course we’d go I told him. I’d do anything for that Gunny…, he taught my team and me a lot and his group was a pleasure to work with….after all, we were just Army National Guard pukes called up, but when we were able to pull our own weight doing our job (Mess Kit Repair) they treated us with a great deal of respect. (The Gunny was a Marin Reserve and was also a cop in his civilian life.)

So, we borrowed another M-249 SAW (5.55 MM machine gun) and loaded up our M1114 Armored Humvee. The Gunny was also taking a few other very special Army guys with him…they were very high speed…the kind of soldiers that if you got a chance to work with them, something good would rub off on you and make you a better soldier. But, they didn’t put up with any bullshit or any sloppy work that would get them killed.
"Say Hello to my Little Friend"

The basic rules of engagement at that time allowed us to stop any vehicle or person from getting within 100 Meters of our vehicles. If they got closer, you gave a hand signal and shouted for them to stop (non of us could speak much Arabic, so we yelled in English….kind of useless) But the third step was the universal language of STOP--- we pointed a gun at them. The forth step was a warning shot and then we lit them up with a burst of machine gun fire.

Just before going out, Gunny gave his convoy briefing. Short, simple and to the point. When we stop at the check points, the rear gun (my vehicle) was to not allow any civilian vehicles near out rear or to pass us.

At our first check point, I guess my gunner was afuckingsleep or forgot the instructions. He let an Iraqi car come right up behind us as we were stopped, and didn’t stop it as it drover around us…coming wihin several feet of our vehicles.

The “special” guys riding with Gunny were so pissed…one of them started to yell at my gunner…(who was Cuban American) and of course you can’t yell at somebody like that without them yelling right back. The “special” guy (who’s rank was totally unknown to us) threatened to kick my gunners ass and called him all kinds of names…

After we were done in the city, I told everybody that I’d man the gun just so nobody came up on us. I had a lot more experience with guns (well, shooting targets anyway) and I had been a cop for over 20 years, so I felt I could handle it just fine.

We made it all the way back to the last check point before we returned to the camp. As we pulled into the barricaded control check point, we drove through some turns and crap designed to slow vehicles down to a crawl. I was watching our 6 (rear) when all of a sudden the old Pile of Shit (POS) Toyota van comes flying in towards us at 40 miles per hour. I swing the gun around and start yelling “stop you mother fu…er, STOP, STOP, STOP!!!!!”

Well, that always worked being a cop back home… my command presences, my badge and all. But this stupid ass just kept coming. I had my left hand up giving the stop hand signal and my right was on the pistol grip of the SAW flipping it from Safe to Fire…finger moving onto the trigger getting ready to give him a good burst of 5.56 MM.

As the van got closer, I could see the driver…black beard and all….just staring ahead….then he looked up at me…and it looked like he was going to shithispants (I was to) as a Marine on the check point ran towards the van and yelled at me telling me: “Don’t shoot, that’s the mayor and his family.!”

I had just started to put a little more pressure on the trigger, then let go of it… I guess I had held my breath….and I started to breath again…

Everybody in front of our Humvee had no idea what almost happened…. I talked to the Gunny about it later and he said if the dumbass didn’t stop, it would have be OK to “light him up.” But, we were all glad he stopped….I never saw a Toyota Van stop so fast…

The “special guys” heard what I did and patted me on the back later…telling me: “That’s what you’re supposed to do, get them to stop.” 

الإقامة السابق 100 متر! Stay Back 100 Meters!

24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Christmas at Eagle Base, Bosnia Dec 2003 SFOR 14

Merry Christmas.  And for my buddies who are deployed to nice places again this year.... be safe!

23 December 2010

USMC Carpet Ride, another e-mail from Iraq from 05'

From the Soldier side: Here’s another e-mail I sent from Iraq in 2005. I deleted a few things for Op Sec. One amazing thing I recall now was how much everybody, Soldiers and Marines always did everything they could to help my team. They were all hard working, dedicated people.

Spring 2005:
In Iraq I loose track of what day of the week it is all the time…I didn’t even know it was Sunday today. I ordered a watch online that not only has the date, but the day of the week…Now I really understand what was happening in the movie “Ground Hog Day” when you get up and do the same thing everyday, it’s easy to not know the day of the week. Actually, I guess what day of the week really doesn’t matter does it?
I have gotten so use to the sound of AK's being fired, that I don't even react anymore.  I sleep right through it.  But somehow, when I hear one of our fifty cals returning fire, I wake up.

My team and I just got back to Baghdad at about 2 AM today. It was one of the most “special” trips I have had so far in Iraq. Air travel here is always an adventure….and I’m not talking about the flying part. I’m talking about getting a flight

My team’s job in Al Asad was over, so it was time to go back home to Baghdad.

My unit, as always, put in a request for my team to fly back to Baghdad. But as often happens, we did not actually end up on a flight manifest.

No problem as the CI Roller Dude knows how to get his team around the country despite failures in the system.

So, I went over and talked to the Marines at the flight line on Al Asad and asked if we could get on something flying to Baghdad….you know a CH 46, 53, C-130 B-17, whatever… The Marine looked and said; “Why yes, we have a lovely C-130 flying there later today, I’ll put you guys on the list.”

So, we sat around the wooden waiting building eating delicious MREs for lunch and dinner…watching the same episode of South Park I’ve seen about four times already…but I’ve never seen the entire episode. The Marine Private watching the DVD went to shut if off and said: “sorry sir, I’ll shut that off.”

I responded with: “I’m not a sir, I work for a living, and leave it on, that’s funny shit.”

(I never wear my rank or name tape when on missions, so everybody thinks I'm a sir, it must be that I look like a cop even in an Army uniform.)

Later in the evening, the nice Marines said our C-130 was coming in and we loaded up our stuff to move to the flight line….and waited and waited and waited.

Hummm. Where did that C-130 go? Nobody knew.
CI Roller, with the C-130 we never got on

So, we went back and waited some more. CI Roller Dude knew that the flight would never come, so I started pulling more strings and had not one, but two flights set up for my team. (We were going home to Baghdad one way or another.)

So, the Marines said a flock of CH46s was inbound and they had room… Great a ride home. (see attached photos of what a C-130 and CH46 look like.)
CH46, like 2 washing machines fighting with gravity!

Now, you may recall that my team has flown on CH-46s before..they are the two rotor POS that was made during the Viet Nam war. They landed and we got on with some Third Country National (TCN) civilians and found an empty seat….(nylon cloth flats that your butt just fits into.)

The engine gets louder and the thing starts to take off. One of the TCNs wets his pants and gets the guys sitting on both sides on him.

The Chopper went about 100 yards, then landed back on the flight line…The crew shut off the engines and told us to get out. Something was wrong. The crew chief climbed up and checked the rear engine….I guess he couldn’t find anything wrong, so we loaded back on…the TCN who’d pissed his seat tried to change seats and have somebody else sit in his urine….I pointed and said: “You wet the seat, you get to sit in it.” He didn’t like me.

Now, in Iraq the Marines fly at night with no lights on. So, we’re moving along at maybe 100 MPH with the windows open so the machine gunners can look out and we’re freezing. And don’t forget, we’re only flying a few hundred feet off the deck (ground.)

At about 0130 hours (1:30 AM) we touchdown at Baghdad International Airport. I get out my satellite phone (which works all over the world) and call my company to pick up my team. Now, my company has some of the best and most dedicated people in the world. They were waiting up for us to come in. I love these guys. They are there in no time so we all get home and are tucked into our little beds by 0200 hours (2 am).

I was tired from this last double mission. We were out a month and we were ready to come home. On Sunday I got one of the mail clerks to open up the mail room…she said: “Oh, you’re CI Rollder Dude, yeah we can open up for you.”

Nice people.

After sleeping in, I checked with my room mate who works missions in Baghdad. He was showing me the plaster that go knocked off the wall the day we were sitting in Al Asad trying to get home. I asked what happened:
A Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device – VBIED, was driven up to one of our camp gates yesterday. This gate is at least half a mile away from our room. The bomb blew up and killed 2 US soldiers and wounded others.
I finished my laundry, cleaned my weapons and packed my bags. I told the company commander I’m ready to go out again…That’s why I came here to stop these “As-----s” from killing our people. We got a few on this last mission…but their like almonds…arrest all you want, they’ll make more.

Finding Terrorist so you don't have to meet them.

20 December 2010

Another Baghdad Carpet ride--- old e-mail from Iraq, April 05

From the Soldier side: Here’s another e-mail I sent from Baghdad, Iraq in April 2005. Most of my e-mails just kind of rambled on and had no point. If there was a point I guess was to let people know I was OK and to try to get them to laugh.

I often have been asked: "were you afraid?" 
Hell yes.  You needed a little fear or you'd fall asleep in the heat.  Not the kind of fear that made you unable to function, but just enough to make you do better and fight harder.  Fear is not something you can simulate very well in training. 
Here's another rambeling e-mail I sent to my friends and family...at least the ones who wanted me to.

The Baghdad Carpet Ride.

It’s Tuesday in Camp Slayer, Baghdad, Iraq . Saturday night we had sirens and horns going off. That usually indicates one of two things. The first possibility is someone bumped the Alert siren button by mistake when they spilled their coffee beverage. Or, as in this case the siren was a Real Alert…. to let everyone know to put on their helmets and body armor ( we always have our weapons and ammo with us) and report to the company office.

We thought it might be another drill. They usually pull a drill to see how long it takes everyone to check in. The drills are to prepare us incase the camp is attacked. In this case our camp was not under attack, but another nearby camp had come under attack. So as a precaution, they put all camps in the area on alert. Not a bad idea.

A typical attack on a camp usually consist of some insurgent firing a mortar or rocket from some distance, then leaving the area before we can greet them in return. For this attack, the insurgents did something new…they attacked with several weapons and for a somewhat longer period of time.

Our camp didn’t get attacked that night, but we had to remain in our “homes” or offices since they are solid.

After a nice warm day in the 90’s, and wearing body armor, a nice shower is usually quiet refreshing. They installed a decent shower trailer not far from my “home” and I was looking forward to using it…but despite what the President (Bush #2) said, we are in a war.

There is no hot water in our building since the contractor ruined most of the hot water heaters. How did they do that you ask? They put gas in a diesel generator. This generator had to be replaced. When the hooked up and turned on the new generator, they forgot to set the correct voltage. This caused a massive surge of power and blew up everything plugged into the system—including the electric hot water heaters.

So, I took a cold shower. Actually it was not cold since it had been over 90 F that day. The “cold” water was warm. So what… at least we were not getting bombed. I was in Kalsu and other places when they were “attacked”. Most of the time they miss anything important and just annoy the hell out of everyone.

Sunday I was tasked with going out to a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Baghdad to do a little investigation. I got a ride with another team in one of their armored Hummers. They were happy to have me go, since one of their “security” guys is one of the people I trained on how to shoot a machine gun. This was about his 70th mission out into Baghdad and other places. He’s done well and has never let anyone drive close to the convoy…and he’s never had to fire one shot at anyone.

Now, some of you may remember in Dec when my team went to Fallujah on a convoy. Well it was nothing back then. All the roads were closed to all but military vehicles. So it was a nice straight shot up to Fallujah with nobody on the road. Even when we rode into Fallujah a few times with the Marines, it was ok.

In Baghdad however, it’s a big city. There were cars and trucks all over the place. It’s always a wild ride!

We have a few worries. The insurgents like to stick Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) along the road. And, when they can find someone who is stupid enough to drive, they will fill a car or truck with explosives and drive the vehicle into a convoy. That would be a Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) Wow! What a treat.

So as we’re riding along at max speed… every time a car approaches from a cross street or an on ramp to the highway, we all eyeball them and make sure they are not going to ram into us and blow us up to meet Allah.

We pass vehicles where ever we can….on the shoulder, sidewalk, into oncoming lanes and if we have to, we’ll push a car out of the way if it’s stalled. We can’t stop....if you stop, you are an easy target. The trick is to get speed, zig zag, don’t stop and do not get close to stopped traffic or let other cars get within 50 yards of us. This is done as a team. The driver moves the vehicle; the truck commander looks ahead and tells the driver what he sees. The gunner on the top uses hand/ arm signals, a whistle, and brandishes his machine gun to keep a safe zone around us all the time. All the passengers have M-4/ M-16s to cover the sides. We are all looking around and communicating with each other if we see a possible threat. The rear vehicle has a warning sign in English and Arabic warning vehicles to keep back 50 meters (yards). This little group of 3 vehicles has more fire power than a whole infantry platoon in WWII.

We made it to the FOB. The other team did their mission and I did mine. About a week ago, 5 women who cleaned bathrooms at that FOB were stopped on their way home from work. All 5 were shot to death. My job…put the cowards in prison that did it. I can handle when a soldier gets attacked, but why kill 5 innocent women just trying to feed their family?

Mission over. We jump back in our M-1114 Hummers and head back to Camp Slayer . To fight the commute traffic all over again. We get back, have “chow” then spend hours writing reports. Monday… the teams go out all over again.

Tuesday, today. One of our guys from the “home” unit who has been out at Al Ramadi was due to come back to Baghdad today. He’s going home for two weeks of leave. Man did he have a fun Blackhawk ride. As his helicopter almost got to the landing pad in Baghdad , it hit something and went down hard and fast. Lucky they were only a few hundred feet up and the chopper pilot was trained well. Nobody was hurt and our buddy made it in to catch his flight home.

California Army National Guard~~ one weekend a month…yeah right.

In IRAQ putting the "fun" into Dysfunctional.......

17 December 2010

More "e-mails I sent from Iraq...05

Hit with "annoying IED, just broke glass and knocked out gunner

From the Soldier side: April 2005. Here are two more e-mails I sent from Baghdad, Iraq”

One of the local "contractors" here had (past tense) a new H-2 Hummer. This one was very special and had lots of armor plating. They used it for "special" clients to get them around a very hostile place (Baghdad, Iraq).

The other day that "Contractor" was in a small convoy coming into one of the camps. A VBIED (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) with some crazy rag head in it drove up to the H2 Hummer and the VBIED driver decided to meet Allahah at that time.

The VBIED messed up the H2 Hummer (actually it destroyed it) but the occupants got out with only minor injuries. As the driver was getting out, he heard:

"This is On-Star*, is there an emergency?"

On another day in April 2005…

I called our trips into Baghdad---

The Baghdad Carpet Ride

We went out again yesterday. But by the time we got back, I was too tired to even eat much less e-mail. I have to admire some of our TEAMS who go out almost every day in their little convoy with Humvees.

I was a passenger in the Team Leader’s Humvee. His team had a “job”... I had my own "job" to do at the location we were going, so it was easier to ride with someone already going there instead of setting up our own convoy.

Traffic was heavy in Baghdad and as usual, Hajji was having a difficult time driving. Cars and trucks were breaking down all over...each one we suspected was another VBIED.

The gunner yells, "One from the right, as he swung his belt fed .5.56 mm machine gun around to counter any threat....thank God (or Allah) the driver saw us and stopped the required distance.

We were moving at 55 MPH, when traffic stopped....no reason that we could see. So we stop at a good distance and covered 360 degrees...traffic starts moving again...and we get into the passing lane.

All we can do to move traffic is tap the vehicle horn, yell and flash our headlights. I swear the horn on the Humvee is the same little "Beep" we used to have on the Jeeps. The horn is useless. I'm going to order a 24 volt real truck horn when I get a chance...

Somehow most of the cars moved out of the way...except one idiot. He looked up in his mirror but would not move over. I figured he used to be in the Ba'ath party or something and was trying to piss us off.

The truck commander told the driver to "let him know we are here." a light tap on the back of Hajji's car and he moved over quick. Wish I could do that in the patrol car back home.

We made it to our mission,,,and back. It was hot, over 100 F. When I got back to our "home" I had to take a nap...then I saw almost everyone else who went out was doing the same thing.

"OK, maybe I'm just getting old." I have to admire these men and WOMEN who go out and do this everyday! Oh, did I mention the .50 cal gunner was a 19 year old female PFC? The gunner on the vehicle I was in is from California Nat Guard and he's only 42.

One Weekend a month, yeah my .....ass

Teach a man to start a fire...and you keep him warm for a day. Set him on fire and keep him warm for life.....

Note: The 42 year old gunner was later wounded really bad and the team leader was killed in June 2005.

(If you're one of those getting a direct feed, you may be missing out on the music that goes along with the postings.... and please leave a comment if you can so I know what kind of crap to write about.)

15 December 2010

OLD e-mail from Iraq

From the Soldier side: The other day I was talking to an older gentelmen...turns out he served during the Korean war.  We had never met before, but we quickly formed a "Vet's Bond" as I call it.  He was telling me how rough we must have had it in Iraq, and I told him: "Oh, but we had really good chow in the big camps and we had e-mail!" 

Later, I was going through some of my old e-mails I sent from Iraq.  At many of the little camps and FOBs I was at, we had to stand in line for hours to use the computer for 20 minutes.  And, often it would take half that time just to send a few messages.  I learned to type fast and send one e-mail to all my friends and family at once.  I did actually get a few e-mails back from a family member saying: "please take me off your e-mail list, I don't have time to read your e-mails."  I not only took them off the list, but I totally deleated them from my address book. 

Here's one e-mail I sent after just being in Iraq for a short time (spelling errors and all)

Baghdad update: OIF III (sent about Jan 2005)

We were talking today how a few of almost went Iraq with another National Guard unit just before the war started. Somebody said “you mean OIF I?”

And I responded with “No, they didn’t call it Operation Iraqi Freedom at first because they were not aware that the Iraqis needed to be free I guess…it was called something about looking for weapons of mass destruction.”

And that was today’s class on the history of Iraq.

We had another discussion the other night about some of the customs in Iraq. It is very common for a man to marry his cousin. As a matter of fact, before a woman can get married to anyone outside her family, all of her cousins have to turn her down. (she must be really bad)

This gets confusing when you ask someone about family. Is your father in-law your uncle or father in-law? And your wife’s brothers and sisters are now you in-laws. One thing that really does not work here is Mother in-law jokes. Because your mother in-law is often your aunt.

If a man is making enough money, he can have more than one wife…but he has to treat both equal. I talked to one guy who had 2 wives and 25 children and grand children. Now I never got around to asking if the wives were sisters, cousins, sheep or what…it was just too confusing. And…how does he remember all the names?

And they do really have camels here. I have talked to camel herders. I was not sure what they did with camels, but they still raise and herd them. I think they just have them for something to do. They sell and trade them and wonder around in the desert with them. They don’t really ride them anymore, but they do eat them sometimes. We suspect that is where they get some of the meat in the mess hall.
Life is so simple in California. We have small families and we can remember all their names, and mothers in law are not also an aunt.

Then there was the one Iraqi guy we were talking to one time. I asked the usual questions..."Are you married?" he said "no" so I continued with "do you have a girlfriend?" he responded with another "no".

So I asked if he was gay...and he said "no, I have sheep."

I gave up at that point.

Winning the Hearts and Minds of the Heartless and the Mindless

Perfume Palace, Camp Slayer, Baghdad, Iraq

14 December 2010

Yeah, yeah I know…don’t drink & drive…

From the Cop side. I know you’ve all heard it before. Don’t Drink and Drive. But, you’re ok to drink and drive right? I mean, you’re a great driver and even after a few drinks, you can still drive ok, so you don’t have to read this.

This dumbass didn't make it home

However, if you’re still reading….good. Maybe I can keep you from screwing up…or maybe you can keep somebody else from screwing up. You see, some of my friends and I are very good at catching drunk drivers. If I see you driving drunk, I will know. You can’t fake the test, you can’t BS your way out of getting arrested. I will know. I’ve done if for over 30 years and I want to keep you from crashing and killing yourself or somebody else. You see, if you crash, the report is much more work for us, so we’d rather do the simple DUI report before.

It wasn't a crash test dummy driving...

OK, don’t think that all of us cops looking for drunk drivers are perfect, but after years of doing this…I will never drink and drive. Why? Because I know better.

I look at it a little different than most people….I like to survive. I haven’t worked as a cop for over 30 years, and deployed twice for the army etc to go out and get killed in a car crash. If I’m going to drive I won’t even have one drink. If I plan on drinking, I have somebody else drive…and that person had better have not even had one drink….our lives depend on it.

Think of it as “convoy prep” for a mission into Baghdad.

1.) Fuel

2.) Ammo

3.) Weapons clean and ready

4.) Route picked.

5.) First aid kits, fire extinguishers etc.

6.) Radio checked

7.) Sober driver

I have friends and family members who have been arrested for driving while intoxicated. I also have friends and family who were not so lucky and died because of they were DUI, or the other driver was DUI, or, both were.

Now, you think: “Oh, I can have one or two drinks and I’ll be OK to drive.” Yeah, legally you’ll be OK…but how much will those 2 drinks slow your reactions when that other drunk asshole comes into your lane, runs the red light, or doesn’t see the stop sign? If you are totally alert, you just might see that asshole before it’s too late.

I’ve done traffic enforcement so often that I know many people run red lights and stop signs even sober….after they’re drunk, those traffic control devices are useless....they provide no protection at all. 

Try my suggestions this year and let me know if it helped any. If not, go back to doing it your way. I can guarantee you my way will give you a better chance of living longer. Then someday you can tell others about your idea of not drinking at all if you’re going to drive.

Have a great Christmas….me and some of my buddies are working overtime to catch those who don’t follow my advice.

09 December 2010

Bureaucratic Bull S.....

OK, as most of those who know me know that I can not stand bureaucratic bullshit. I work for bureaucracy and I hate it when I see it at work. Typically it’s dealt out by office bound desk jockeys who have no real idea how to do whatever that agency is actually supposed to do.   I've seen some folks who can not only talk out of both sides of their mouth at the same time, but out of their ass.  Some are experts at making up bullshit and explaining why it's not their problem or their fault. 

When a citizen comes to me and ask a police question, I like to give them a direct no bullshit answer. If it’s something that I can’t help them with, I explain why and try to get them in touch with somebody who can. I never say: “It’s not my job” or “ I can’t help you.”

Now, to be totally honest, there are often nutjobs who we really can’t help and there’s no hope for them….they’ll complain about how bright the moon is at night and crap like that.

However, I was sent a contact link for the TSA to bring up concerns about TSA workers etc. I thought it over, and thought: “Wow, the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA are really trying to fix things and make them better….great, maybe I’ll write them.”

I wrote about the San Francisco Airport and the insane way they handle firearms when you check them in for a flight. I explained in detail how dangerous they were when handling my handguns in the past etc. Then, I explained when I returned from other airports how much better they were.

Now, despite the fact that some TSA screeners are contract employees, they are all getting paid by the US Government one way or another.

This was their bureaucratic bullshit response:

Thank you for your e-mail.

At the direction of Congress, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) established a program at some airports using private contractors instead of Federal security officers. These airports, although regulated by TSA, are not staffed by a Federal workforce. To address your concerns, you should contact that airport's screening contractor directly.

We hope this information is helpful.

TCC Contact Center

Now I feel much better...knowing that some pogue behind a desk is doing not a damn thing. 

07 December 2010

December 7th, 1941.

Being that I’m an old soldier, there are dates that come up that to me are more important than many holidays. Last year on December 7th, I remember talking to some younger folks who didn’t know what was so special about that date.
I told them: “It’s like September 11th is for you.”

They still didn’t get it. I had to explain that on December 7th 1941 is when WWII started for the US.

I would like to take this time to thank all of those Vets who went before us and made this world a safe place for the rest of us. Another point that some may not know, the Vets who fought in the wars before our wars, also fought the wars back home. Their organizations, like the VFW, American Legion etc fought for better pay for better veteran benefits.

If you know a WWII Vet, please take some time this week to buy them a cup off coffee, or whatever, and ask them to tell you some stories. The ones I’ve talked to had much better stories than I did. Our living conditions in Iraq were so much better than most had in past wars.

If you need some history lessons today, take a look at these. There were also Army folks at Pearl Harbor, but I got this from my retired Navy uncle (subs).




04 December 2010

Don’t stand too close to a naked crazy man..

From the Cop side: I don’t often post stories on fairly recent police stuff, but some of the things we end up doing is more funny than fiction. I know some of you read some of the cop stories by some of those I list on the right side (over there…scroll down a bit…see) Like Mamma Fargo, Hogday, and Texas Ghost Rider. I’m sure that there are lots of good other bloggers.
The reason I usually don’t post more recent events is the area I work is over loaded with attorneys. Hell, most of the kids I end up stopping start out with: “My dad is an attorney and we’re going to sue you.”

I’ve heard that so many times that I just respond with: “Oh, shit….are you trying to intimidate me?”

They’re so stupid that they don’t know if trying to intimidate a cop is against the law. It should be, but so far it’s not.

Well, last week was Thanksgiving. Of course I worked it…as it seems like whenever Thanksgiving was my normal work day, I’ve worked it for over 30 years. No big deal. A typical Thanksgiving day is all the good citizens who are planning on stuffing as much food into their pieholes as possible, go out for a walk in the morning. After they eat, they can’t walk and usually pass out on the couch. It’s normally a slow day as far as crime and traffic accidents….but the family fights tend to start picking up.

Thanksgiving is that one day of the year where families get together and visit others---then remember why they only want to see them once a year.

And the mentally ill seem to go off their meds around this time of the year…and again at Christmas.

So that was “the call” of the day. Our county mental health hospital is attached to the county “normal hospital for normal stuff”. It’s also really close to our main office and we even are co-located near the Sheriff’s sub –station that covers the hospital.

So, a little before lunch time, I was punching holes in the air with my Crown Vic, when I hear on the scanner that some nut job was running around the hospital naked. As I drive by the deputy responding, I give him a hand signal asking if he needed a cover…since his closest cover deputy was 4 miles away….he waved me to follow him.

As we rolled into the parking lot for the lovely newish’ county hospital, the private security guards were running in all directions---so it was difficult to figure out where the problem was. One guard was running back towards the hospital, one was running away and one decided to run at my car---I guess to see if I would run over him or something….still not sure.

So, since I could only go one place, I asked the guard who looked the least stressed: “What’s up?” as he pointed to a hill next to the hospital.

There appeared to be a giant plucked turkey climbing up the hill….then I realized it was a naked man…totally naked. Not even shoes. And the hill he was trying to climb up was almost straight up, so I was impressed at how far he climbed with no clothes on….and did I mention it was cold outside? Well, at least for our part of California, not like Mamma Fargo’s cold, but it would not have been a good day to go surfing!

So, it was the deputies call, and I was just going to cover him. But, the nut was still climbing up the hill and the deputy was trying to get information from hospital security. I was worried that the nut would fall and land his naked ass in the parking lot. I hate to see nuts hurt themselves…because it’s so messy.

So I ask the nut his name. He tells me. I suggest that he be careful so he doesn’t fall. (remember it’s not my call, so I don’t want to take over, but just tried to stall until the deputy had the info he needed.)

The nut stops climbing. I ask him if he’s looking forward to eating turkey. He tells me “I want to commit suicide by cop. Just shoot me!” I told him: “I’m afraid I can’t today, I’ve already shot too many people this week and I’ll get in trouble if I shoot anybody else.”

That got him to laugh.

The deputy found out he was a homeless dude who was dropped off at the looney bin. But, before they’d let him inside, the nurse told him to take off all his nasty clothes and leave them outside. That’s as far as he got…naked…then he decided that the nurse was being mean to him, so he ran away.

If it had been my call, I would have just told him to not fall off the hill, and driven away. The nut farm didn’t want him…but the nice deputy talked him into putting his clothes back on…then gave him a ride to the soup kitchen. It was funny, when the naked guy was walking back to his clothes….none of us got within 30 feet of him. He really looked like a giant plucked turkey. Same shape and skin color. Same IQ.

01 December 2010

Gun Control- Means .....

OK, I don’t usually post stuff like this, but after I read it, I thought: “What better way to explain why our gun control laws in California are not working. I support the Second Amendment and I think all honest, law abiding, trained citizens should be able to carry a concealed weapon if they so wish. This was e-mailed to me, so I’m not sure if it’s true, but it’s funny as hell!  Please leave a comment on what you think about CCW permits for citizens.


To the Guy Who Tried to Mug Me in Downtown Savannah night before last.

Date: 2009-05-27, 1 :43 a.m. E.S.T.

I was the guy wearing the black Burberry jacket that you demanded that I hand over, shortly after you pulled the knife on me and my girlfriend, threatening our lives. You also asked for my girlfriend's purse and earrings. I can only hope that you somehow come across this rather important message.

First, I'd like to apologize for your embarrassment; I didn't expect you to actually crap in your pants when I drew my pistol after you took my jacket.. The evening was not that cold, and I was wearing the jacket for a reason.. My girlfriend had just bought me that Kimber Model 1911 ..45 ACP pistol for my birthday, and we had picked up a shoulder holster for it that very evening. Obviously you agree that it is a very intimidating weapon when pointed at your head ... isn't it?!

I know it probably wasn't fun walking back to wherever you'd come from with that brown sludge in your pants. I'm sure it was even worse walking bare-footed since I made you leave your shoes, cell phone, and wallet with me. That prevented you from calling or running to your buddies to come help mug us again].

After I called your mother or "Momma" as you had her listed in your cell, I explained the entire episode of what you'd done. Then I went and filled up my gas tank as well as those of four other people in the gas station, -- on your credit card. The guy with the big motor home took 150 gallons and was extremely grateful!

I gave your shoes to a homeless guy outside Vinnie Van Go Go's, along with all the cash in your wallet. [That made his day!]

I then threw your wallet into the big pink "pimp mobile" that was parked at the curb ... after I broke the windshield and side window and keyed the entire driver's side of the car.

Later, I called a bunch of phone sex numbers from your cell phone. Ma Bell just now shut down the line, although I only used the phone for a little over a day now, so what 's going on with that? Earlier, I managed to get in two threatening phone calls to the DA's office and one to the FBI, while mentioning President Obama as my possible target.

The FBI guy seemed really intense and we had a nice long chat (I guess while he traced your number etc.).

;In a way, perhaps I should apologize for not killing you ... but I feel this type of retribution is a far more appropriate punishment for your threatened crime. I wish you well as you try to sort through some of these rather immediate pressing issues, and can only hope that you have the opportunity to reflect upon, and perhaps reconsider, the career path you've chosen to pursue in life. Remember, next time you might not be so lucky. Have a good day!

Thoughtfully yours,


Note: These are the kind of toys the CI Roller Dude grew up playing with:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMqd5EQXD-g&feature=related

29 November 2010

Don’t volunteer for nothin’

From the Soldier side: I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about the 6 Americans killed in Afghanistan by an Afghan either dressed up like a cop, or he was a cop. And last night I watched one of the news type reports (TV Show- “60 Minutes") ran a story about the not so high speed cops in Afghanistan. Illiterate, dope smoken’ corrupt and all.

I haven’t been to that lovely place, but I’ve been to other places. First of all, you have to forget the notion that cops in places like that will be anything close to what we have in “First World” countries…like the US, Australia and most of Europe.

Take for example when I was in Bosnia. We traveled around in civilian cars and in civilian clothes. (No, we weren’t spies, we did mess kit repair). I lost track of how many times a member of my team or myself were stopped by the local cops--- and the first thing they asked for was “lunch money.”

Their line was usually: “My partner and I have been out here all day and we haven’t had lunch yet. 10 or 15 KM would sure be helpful.”

The Bosnia cops with white hats did traffic enforcement

(In Bosnia the cops don’t drive around much, but stand on the side of the road—holding up a sign with “STOP” on it…expecting you to pull over. This saves them using a lot of gas, but easy to know where they’re posted and avoid that area. We were with SFOR, so they couldn’t arrest or cite us.)

The first time I heard them ask for money, I was shocked. I know we’ve had corrupt cops in the US, but I was brought up doing police work where we’d haul somebody’s ass to jail for shit like that. After I got to know some of the cops in Bosnia, I realized that they were barley able to pay the rent and buy food for their family. So, that was the reason for the car stops. I noticed that they only stopped nice cars…so I started to just use our shitty looking Volks Wagon Passat after that.

A year later when I was in Iraq, within my first week of being on missions, I talked to a local cop in the wonderful city of Mosque—Fallujah. I found that many of the cops there couldn’t read….or write. I asked how they wrote tickets and reports…and they just looked at me funny. I guess writing wasn’t important.

When I was in Fallujah, my team was attached to the USMC. The officer in charge and the NCO in charge were both civilian cops (USMC Reserves). So we got along great. One day at Camp Fallujah, a bus full of brand new Iraqi cops came in. The cops were all brand new rookies. They had been sent to Fallujah from other cities in Iraq to help restore law and order after the “Battle of Fallujah. These Iraqi cops were all ordered to go to Fallujah for 2 weeks, and then they’d be returned home.

The bus full of the bastards all wanted to quit. They didn’t want to be away from home for 2 weeks. I got pissed. Really, really pissed. Here I was going to end up being away from my home for a total of 2 years because of 9-11. 9 months for Bosnia and 15 months for Iraq. Two Friggen’ Years of my life helping other countries get their shit together…and these little maggots couldn’t stay away from mommy for 2 friggen weeks! Totally useless little maggots.

After we’d been in Iraq for several months, “they” (never knew who the hell “they” was) sent out a request for all the American Military reserves and National Guard serving in Iraq…..”they” wanted to know who were police officer back home and if any of us had were trainers.

I read between the lines…I figured that “they” were looking for those with civilian cop experience to help train the Iraqi Police.

I didn’t volunteer for that job. By that point I had already seen how fu—ed up the Iraqi Police were. I knew I didn’t want to get anywhere near those dumbasses if they were holding weapons. Even if they weren’t trying to kill us, they had so many negligent discharges that they seemed to suffer more that way than from the insurgents.

I didn’t fill out the form…and when asked about it later by one of my bosses, I just said I was more useful doing what I was doing at that time. I didn’t want to admit that I was really afraid of getting shot in the back by a retard with an AK.

(If any current or former I.P.s are reading this and you’re offended….tough shit…. But that shouldn’t be a problem since most I.P.’s can’t read.)

Youtube Iraq Police training





Coming soon: "Don't stand too close to a naked crazy man." 

23 November 2010

More fixin' stupid.....

From the Soldier side: These days our Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is getting a lot of bashing. Usually, I try not feel negative about any government organization, but the TSA folks protecting our air traffic are pretty much ----. I don’t make conclusions like this based on media coverage etc, but from my own experiences. Since 9-11 I have had to travel by air many times in service or my country and sometimes for private reasons.

In the old days, soldiers, sailors, and Marines traveled by ship to get to other countries across the oceans.

Now in modern times, we travel by air, except for the sailors who actually have to get the ships to some far off land or drive around in the ocean. So, in all my years of military service, I have been to over 10 countries. I only got a passport recently, and I will likely never use it. You see, all those times I went to far off lands, I was under orders from the US Army. “I didn’t need no stinkin’ passport.”

Traveling on military aircraft is pretty simple. Get a rid to the airport, go where the Air Force, Army or Marine folks tell you and get on one of their wonderful air craft. They may put you on a C 17, or in the cargo hold of a tanker, a Blackhawk, CH 46/47, but they’ll get you there without hassle (maybe a few stray rounds from an AK 47). They really don’t even care what you bring with you as long as it’s secured and doesn’t start a fire. I’ve flown with M16,s, .45’s,9mm’s, packs of TNT, (the blasting caps were with another soldier)

But whenever I’ve had to fly private passenger jets since 9/11, I’ve been usually shocked and annoyed at the TSA re----. Where do they get such workers who have no friggen’ idea what they are doing?

In 2003 when my national guard group had to fly to Minnesota (pronounced Men-Ah-So Tah) to train with the Minnesota guard before Bosnia. The RED BULLS. All of us from California met up in Northern California and we all had to go to the San Francisco air port. (one of the least military friendly airports in the world, and least gun friendly). We were all traveling in civilian clothes, but we all had the big green Army duffle bags. We all checked in with our Army ID cards, and showed our orders. Our leader explained that we had all been activated and had to travel for training.

Then the stupidity started. The TSA dummies decided that we all might be terrorist and started to dump out our duffle bags. For those who’ve served, you know your duffle bag (Sea Bag for Sailors and Marines) is never big enough, we all learn how to cramp and pack 100 pounds of shit into a 50 pound bag. It takes a lot of shaking, stomping, and muscle---usually requiring two or three to help one load their gear. But we get it in.

So, these TSA guys at the San Francisco Air Port want to dump all our gear out. It’s all green. Mine does show traces of explosives from past training missions. I told the guy that it would show traces…but he had to look. And dump. No explosives. I think it was the very first time they got a positive reading for explosives and they freaked out. I was a friggen’ combat engineer for 12 years, we carried explosives all the time. Sorry, I didn’t wash my gear very well.

So the “big dump” happened. When they got to the Protective Mask (gas mask) they were really freaked out…then they got to all the little army toys that they could not identify….no weapons, just stuff….like camo paint for your face.

Even when we told them multiple times that we were all in the fucking army and traveling on orders to go train to fight fucking terrorist…we were not the terrorist…they continued to fuck with us.

Flying back from Minnesota weeks later was no problem. “Oh, you’re on orders? Have a nice flight.”

Then when we were flying to Bosnia in 2003...we flew on a chartered private jet. Since it was under FAA rules, we had to follow all FAA laws. Now get this.... we were in uniform. We had the entire aircraft. We were traveling with military weapons. M-16s, M-249's, I had an M-9 pistol. But, before we could get on the plane, we had to make sure we had no pocket knives or cigarette lighters.

Wow. I told the person telling this: “what about guns?”

No answer.

Well, being that we were all good soldiers and followed orders. We dumped all our knives, nail clippers, matches, cigarette lighters etc into a big box.

Flying home from Iraq in 2005, we had to land in San Francisco. They made us wait on the plane and de=plane on the flight line. I guess they didn’t want us walking through the airport in our nasty Desert Battle Dress Uniforms.

A few years ago I flew to Texas with a few pistols. As per FAA regulations and the air carrier I flew on, I “declared I have two firearms” to put in the hold. Again this was at the wonderful San Francisco airport. The airline clerk looked like she was going to faint. I tried to help her feel better by telling her I was a police officer and showing my badge. She escorted me over to a special TSA office and told the TSA dude I had firearms to check in so he could “inspect them.”

I had a Glock and a Beretta. Two very common pistols. He opened my case and pulled out the Glock…staring at it like he’d never seen a gun before. He proceeded to point it at his own face, at me, then at the clerk….all before he pulled back the slide to make sure there was no round in the chamber. That was scary. Then he did the same thing with the Beretta. When I said: “Hey, I know they’re not loaded, but that not cool to point them at people.”

Oh, you should have seen the look he gave me. Like I was calling him a fucking retard or something.

My guns and I made our flight. When I flew out of Texas, I told the airline clerk that I had two unloaded pistols to check in. The clerk said: “That’s nice” and threw them on the conveyor belt to go on the plane…. No TSA retarded inspection.

My next adventure by air took me to another gun friendly state. I knew since I was leaving San Francisco, I should get there early. This time TSA didn’t even look at my guns, but there the entire bag into an X-ray machine. I asked the TSA guy: “well, do they look like guns?” He couldn’t tell anything else about their condition…I’m not really sure what the heck he thought the X-ray machine was going to do.

When I flew back, I told the clerk where I was leaving that I had firearms to declare. She asked if they were unloaded and threw them on the conveyor belt. No hassles.

You know, maybe it’s not TSA. Maybe it’s San Francisco? Perhaps I should leave this state when I retire.

19 November 2010

You really can't fix stupid! Trust me...

From the Soldier side: As some of you may remember, many years ago I was an Army Combat Engineer, MOS 12Bravo. (now 21 Bravo). That’s the sort of job where you learned how to build things…not really “fine” things, like a custom wooden cabinet or something like that, but basic combat field construction. We could build bunkers, make bridges, roads, dig fighting positions (think fancy fox hole) with our equipment much faster than a grunt could with his entrenching tool.

And the best part, we got to blow shit up! Some of us became very good at estimating charges, clearing a path through a mine field, taking down a bridge and that sort of thing. The one really nasty thing some of us were really, really good at was setting up mine fields and booby traps. I could set up stuff that even I could not take apart without blowing myself up. (Learning with training devices saved a lot of us from death and maiming ourselves.)

One really handy device was the M18 Claymore Anti Personal Mine. The actual point of today’s post is not really to talk about the fun I used to have, but the conversation I had today trying to explain to somebody that you can’t fix stupid. There are many things in military and police work that have been developed to be “idiot proof.” But as I learned a long time ago, when you make something idiot proof, they make a better idiot. Some people have no common sense, or mechanical skills.

I’ve seen training NCOs and police officers tell a group during training that: “this new thing (weapon, device, tool, etc) is idiot proof.” While the soldier or cop is looking at the new thing and trying to see how they can actually screw it up.

Police range master may have noticed this “fact” with the Glock pistol. It is about the most idiot proof handgun ever made. However, if you run a range long enough, you will find a cop that finds a way to make that weapon fail. I’ve seen them put 9mm rounds in a .40 cal, getting the 9mm stuck in the barrel, then feeding a .40 cal and pulling the trigger. Ouch! I’ve seen them fail to fire, because the dumbass thought he (it’s always the male cops) could take it apart…then put it back together wrong because he’s usually the type too fucking stupid to even know how to change a flat tire.

"Hey Private, do you see those words: "Front Toward Enemy?" 

And take the US Army and US Marines. They demand that everything be idiot proof.

But I can still remember in Jan 2003 when I was first called up for active duty for Iraq. I was placed in a unit of “mess kit repair” soldiers. They were all very, very smart…but almost none of them had any combat training. For our training task, I was asked to train and test them on the Claymore mine. After the training, I suggested that they unit not even order any such mines as they would likely suffer major casualties from their own troops.

A Claymore:
The M18A1 Claymore mine consists of a horizontally convex green plastic case (inert training versions are blue). The shape was developed through experimentation to deliver the optimum distribution of fragments at 50 m (55 yd) range. The case has the words "Front Toward Enemy" embossed on the front surface of the mine. A simple open sight on the top surface allows for aiming the mine. Two pairs of scissor legs attached to the bottom support the mine and allow it to be aimed vertically. On both sides of the sight are fuse wells set at 45 degrees.
Internally the mine contains a layer C4 explosive behind a matrix of about seven hundred 1⁄8-inch-diameter (3.2 mm) steel balls.

When the M18A1 is detonated, the explosion drives the spheres out of the mine at a velocity of 1,200 m/s (3,937 ft/s) [1], at the same time breaking the matrix into individual fragments. The steel balls are projected in a 60° fan-shaped pattern that is 6.5 feet high and 50 m (55 yd) wide at a range of 50 meters. These fragments are moderately effective up to a range of 100 m, with a hit probability of around 10% on a prone man-sized 1.3-square-foot (0.12 m2) target. The fragments can travel up to 250 m. The optimum effective range is 50 m.

The weapon and all its accessories are carried in a bandolier. An instruction sheet for the weapon is sewn inside the cover of the bandolier.

Yep, War and stuff is a nasty buisness...but I bet a lot of you sleep better at night knowing that there are those willing to do nasty things in your defense. 

16 November 2010

Task Force Nothin’ part IV

From the Soldier side: OK, back to my border mission story. Our first day on the boarder was getting equipment, vehicles and our selves organized. That took most of the day, then we spent a few hours actually checking out our “AO” (Area of Operation). It smelled. We were warned to not step, fall, or try to swim in the canal running through the area…they told us it would cause our boots to fall apart, not to mention what it would do to our flesh. It seemed that our neighbors across the border dumped so much toxic crap into the water, that it was a Haz Mat.
I saw that it was going to be a fairly easy job. A job that didn’t require too much brain work, and mostly just moving our vehicles and equipment around. Our first mission was to clear out a place called “Smuggler’s Gulch.”

Smuggler’s Gulch looked just like you could imagine it looked like. It was a low spot in the terrain that was over grown with bramble, tumble weeds, rocks, dead automobiles and crap. If you just took a look at it from the road, it looked impassible, but when you got out of the truck and started walking, you could see where the smugglers had cut little trails through the brush--- like wild animals in the woods. Only in this case, instead of leading to water, the trails led to the USA. A route to move drugs and stuff into our land of freedom. This was going to be fun. Wild, but fun.

The first day, 1700 hours. Shift change for the US Border Patrol (USBP). By 1630 hours, we’d pulled our trucks and equipment back into the little motor pool we’d built that day. I didn’t know why the USBP made it sound so urgent that we were not driving around the border in the next half hour, but we were going to see why.

As the USBP started their shift change, we suddenly saw what could have looked like mice looking down from the sky. But what started running from the south to north, were humans. They were running down the road, through the brush, climbing over everything in their way…fences, parked cars, rocks, people slower than them….in mass. We started to count. After 15 minutes, we counted 150 people running by just where we were parked. I could see that if we’d been driving on the roads, we might have hit half a dozen border crossers without even seeing them. They were so desperate.

The next day, we got to our base camp early---the morning USPB shift change…and the same thing happened. I was in shock until about the third day, then I got used to it. I figured if Mexico looked as bad as I could see from our side of the border, I’d run away to. If it smelled like it smelled where we were at, I’d run away to. I couldn’t blame them.for coming to the US. Wouldn’t you?

The third day, we had a bulldozer operator stopped for a break. He was sitting on his dozer eating his lunch, when some drunken’ dude from across the border run up to the dozer. The drunk climbed up the track and pulled a knife on the operator. We were all un armed. The dozer operator was able to convince the asshole to not stab him, and the drunk got off and ran away.

Each day, we’d drive by and see the same guys sitting on the edge of the border drinking beer and waving at us. We were entertainment in a world that had none. My main duty was to train the truck operators. That was easy…I only fired one who was too stupid to even figure out how to spit.

We got one day a week off to start out…then as we got settled in, 2 days a week of. It wasn’t’ a war, but it was weird.

Now I know some of you are going to comment about why we were not armed…but I guess that has something to do when General Pershing went into Mexico about 100 years ago trying to catch that terrorist Pancho Villa. Never caught him, but sure did piss off the Mexicans….so to this day, they are worried about the US invading Mexico. In my opinion, they can have that place…not much better than Iraq, and not as nice as Bosnia was.

11 November 2010

On Veteran’s Day

From the Soldier side/ Cop side: 11/11/2010- Today is “Veteran’s Day” in the US. Most of our “allies” celebrate this day and call it other things, but we go with “Veteran’s Day”.
M1 Tank, Camp Ripley, MN (SFOR Training)

I’m not very good at it when somebody says: “Thank you for your service.” I think most of the Vets I know really never know what to say when we hear those words. It’s not that we don’t appreciate it, but, when we “joined up” we didn’t do it for medals, and thank you’s, we joined up for other reasons.

Hell, when I first joined the “Regular Army” after high school, I joined because the only jobs I was able to find didn’t pay enough to actually support myself….and I wanted a little adventure.

I got out of the “Regular Army” I stayed out for many years, then I joined the State National Guard….getting the chance to go to floods, fires, earthquakes, drug mission, riots and two deployments.

If I had it all to do all over again…I’d do it all over again. I do appreciate people’s thanks, but I actually enjoyed it, and got to help spend a lot of the tax payer’s money on ammo and stuff, so maybe I should thank the tax payers?
Flag from Camp in Bosnia, taken home, to Iraq and back home

Have a beer, I’m working today, but that’s OK, at least on my cop job they pay me overtime….never got that in the Army. Peace. Happy Veteran’s Day- Danny

08 November 2010

Task Force Nothin’ Part III

From the Soldier side: When you read a story written by somebody who writes really well, you can often gain a sense of what they are telling in their story. I have often read a book by one of my favorite writers who writes about military or police work, and I have said: “Yeah, I know exactly what this person is writing about.” They can describe people, places and events with such clarity that you think you are there. I am not that good. In this story about our mission on the US/ Mexican borders, there are some things that I don’t know if I’ll do them justice…or injustice.

The first Monday we arrived on the border, we were still trying to get organized. I guess in the interest of saving time, we staged our base camp very close to the border of Mexico. If it were a war zone, we would have been within easy small arms range of the enemy. Not a good location I thought. But, being close to where we were working did save some time.

Day 1. We were transported to the area we were going to build a base camp in Ford passenger vans. When we got to the base site, we found an odd assortment of Army Engineering equipment and vehicles. Some of it dated back to the 1950’s. For the most part, everything did run, but some items were going to take a lot of work from mechanics who knew what they were doing.

As soon as I got out of the nice, plush, air conditioned van, I was almost overcome by the stench. It smelled like a mix of human waste, toxic chemical waste and I’m not sure what else. I find it almost impossible to describe with my limited English vocabulary what the smell was like. I would never experience any smell like that again---until I went to Iraq. Shit was the one word I would use to describe it all. Bad Shit. Really, really bad, bad, bad Shit. The kind of smell that almost makes you want to gag and puke.

For those troops who’ve been to places like Iraq, you are now having bad memories. Sorry.

To be Cont.

05 November 2010

Task Force "Nothing" cont....

From the Soldier side: Cont:

Task Force ???? For those of you who don’t know it yet, the US Army loves to give names to missions. If it’s a small mission, or a small group that’s part of a big mission, they may call that small group a Task Force. For the mission this story is about, when we first started, we had no task force name. So we called ourselves “Task Force Nothing.”
So continue from my last post…. As we were riding on the bus to our new mission, the LT who was the Officer In Charge (OIC) of our little adventure had sorted out who he wanted to be the NCOs in charge of the platoons and squads. This was going to be a Combat Engineer mission, so the “job announcement” stated that all of those who volunteered needed to be qualified to operate the big dump trucks and other heavy equipment and tools we were going to use.

With about 80+ troops, we divided into two platoons. One platoon was all the Heavy Equipment Operators (HEOs)…bulldozers, backhoes, loaders, scrapers, etc. The other platoon was all dump truck and other truck operators. (you don’ t just “drive” a dump truck, you have to actually know the correct way to dump stuff.) …and we had a small team of support folks--- clerks, mechanics etc.  This was one of the few times in any of the missions I worked where we would actually have more workers than support staff and bosses. 

We took the bus all the way to XXXX and unloaded. This was a US military base located in southern California. We were about to deploy to one of the most smelly, dirty, nasty, deadly (at that time) horrible, toxic locations in the world. The US /Mexican border. Our mission- Drug Interdiction.  To work with other Federal Agencies to reduce the flow of Illegal Drugs coming into the US. 

We arrived and were assigned rooms to live in. The accommodations were so nice that we actually had a sort of maid service. Somebody came into our rooms each day and cleaned them up and made our beds. I was an old soldier, so when I got up, out of habit, I still made my bed each morning. I’ve never been able to leave and not make up my bed…and polish my boots when I could. We ate in a XXXX mess hall and the food was so good, I suspect we had several troops gain 10 pounds a week.

Then we lined up in platoons the first Monday. I was given first squad of the truck platoon. If the platoon sergeant was not there, I was to fill in. My squad had 10 soldiers. Then the platoon sergeant asked the big question: “How many of you have a military license to operate the dump trucks?”

Only about 6 hands went up, including mine. Guess what we’d be doing the first week or so…training the rest of the platoon to operate the old 5 ton Army dump truck. Oh joy. While we were on the mission.

To be cont.

02 November 2010

Task Force......???

From the Soldier side: I just read where the US Army has just figured out that many citizens join the Army for adventure. The article made it sound like this was a bad thing. Well all I could say was: “No kidding. Why do you think I joined?”

This is a story from a mission I did many years ago. I’m not going to tell where it was until later in the story. This was when I was in a Combat Engineer unit of the California Army National Guard.

One day back in the early 90’s, I stopped by my National Guard armory to say hi to some of the full timers who worked there during the week. Operation Desert Shield had just started in the "Gulf."  One of the guys, I’ll call him “Ed” told me that the state was looking for volunteers for a special mission. Ed said that the job required volunteering for at least 30 days. I told him to put me down for the job, but I wasn’t sure about 30 days because I had a good “normal” job. He said: “well, they won’t take you if you can’t go for a full 30 days, but we’ll see what happens.”

A few weeks later I got a call. Ed said that they would take me and I was getting orders to go...be ready in about 2 weeks. Cool. I loved going on little short missions for the Guard. By this point in my career with the Guard, I’d only gone to one earth quake (1989), so I was itchin’ for some more excitement. I packed my uniforms and gear and reported to our Head Quarters early one Saturday morning.

When I got to HQ, I was with a few other soldiers I knew, and a bunch I didn’t. I was only a lowly Buck Sergeant E-5 at that time, so I figured I’d just fall into some squad and have somebody else in charge of stuff. I’d just kind of follow and go along and see what was going on. I’d lead if I was put in charge, but I saw a lot of people who looked like they’d been in longer than I had….so I’d just be quiet and see how things were going to go. After all, I had a real, full time job that I could always go back to.

As we were gathering, I started to notice that some of the soldiers were pretty squared away, and others looked like crap. I was from the “Old Army” where when we were not out in the field, we’d polish our boots and starched and press our uniforms. We always had proper haircuts and saluted officers and stuff like that. Some of these soldiers I was seeing looked like they had slept in their uniforms and hadn’t seen a razor or boot polish in months.  (the new Army tan boots can't be polished....both a good and bad thing)
Then another thing started to happen, we started to take charge. We formed into squads and platoons based on rank. (that’s a thing the Army does). Then we filled out some papers and stuff and got on the buses. We were in for a very long ride so I settled in with a good book and tried to relax….still not fully knowing what I was getting into.

As far as the make up of the unit we formed went, we had 2 platoons of about 40 soldiers each. Normally a platoon would have one officer, a LT (O-1 or O2) and one Platoon Sergeant, usually an E-6 or E-7. In our case we had only two E-6’s and one LT…but plenty of E-5s and below. Good, few officers met more workers and less crap. Oh, and we had something I'd never seen before...a "Cadet".  This was a guy who was in college ROTC, but had gotten put on orders to come play with us.  He was not an officer, and not an NCO.  The college ROTC cadets were a little round disc looking thing for rank, so we call them "DOTS." 
During the bus ride, which lasted about 12 hours, the LT stared walking down the isle on the bus and sitting next to all the NCOs and talking to us. He asked who we were, what kind of jobs we did when not in the National Guard, how long we’d been a Combat Engineer and stuff like that. What I didn’t realize he was doing, was, he was trying to figure out who the leaders were going to be.

Normally in the Army, if you have lots of people of the same rank, you pick who’s been that rank the longest and they are the leader. That didn’t happen in this case. I was a pretty new Sergeant, and there were some who’d been around for many years…but the LT made me a squad leader. I’d have a full 10 man squad…and when the platoon sergeant wasn’t around, I’d be the acting platoon sergeant. Wow I hoped this didn’t piss anybody off. But I was going to find out that this “promotion” was going to mean a lot of work.

To be cont….

28 October 2010

The Great Jewel Theft Caper- Part II

This is not the actual car used by the suspect in this story

From the Cop side: Ok, you all know how I love keeping you in suspense….so here’s Part II.

Caveat: As most of you who’ve worked in law enforcement or the military know, your memory of things sometimes gets fuzzy with years…but these stories are to my best recollection of the events. I do leave out names etc to protect the innocent and to avoid law suits.

As you recall, Officer Baby Feet had just gotten behind the Fat Jewel Bastard (FJB) when FJB accelerated the 64’ Lincoln and started running red traffic lights and driving up on sidewalks and shit… So Baby Feet now had a duty to stop this insane driver before somebody was hurt.

Baby Feet called out what was going on over his radio…(keep in mind, between all the different little police departments, we were all on different frequencies!) We did have a “common” radio freq we could all go to. In those days the old Motorola Radios we had only had 4 channels. They were not like the new digital radios we now have that have 16 zones with 12 channels on each zone (do the math….what’s that add up to?)

So, Baby Feet switched to the common channel and so did I as he called out: “We’re eastbound approaching the Freeway at 60 MPH. 004 are you behind me yet?” (I was 004.)

I got on the radio to Baby Feet, who’s call sign was: “ L 2” and told him I was about a quarter mile behind a set of police lights…which I assumed were his.

I kicked the old Doge in the ass and got it up to 80 MPH and was able to slip through traffic to the Freeway….as the police car that was about a quarter mile in front of me was pulling away…I never did see the suspect’s 1964 Lincoln as I hit the freeway southbound heading towards San Francisco.

Now as I rolled out onto the Freeway, I automatically did a self check of both me and the car I was driving. I was breathing OK, focused on the task…all good. But the POS (Piece Of Shit) car I had was not getting up to the speed I needed. The suspension was good, not bouncing…and the breaks were new, the tires were fair…the steering was good…but I just couldn’t get the damn thing to go any faster….I had a nice open freeway…but the Dodge would not move any faster….as Baby Feet called out his speed: “I’m doing 95 and he’s pulling away…we’re southbound passing the Big Hill exit (the name was changed to protect the innocent).

At this point, I was pushing the gas pedal down with all my might…I was wondering if the floor mat had gotten in the way or something then I remembered I’d already taken the mat out. What else could I do to gain some speed? Start throwing un-needed equipment and passengers overboard? Start talking nice to my car? Nothing was working…. Then the speedometer stated to very so slowly move up a little higher….86-87-88---88---89---89…come on baby a little faster….89----oh crap now I’m coming to a hill….88---87---86….. over the top of the hill and all I could see was the red & blue lights of the police car ahead of me still pulling away….

Then Baby Feet called in again his speed, location…still southbound heading towards San Francisco…

I was really hoping we didn’t actually make it to the Golden Gate Bridge because I heard rumors that the toll collectors actually stop police cars in pursuit and expect them to pay the toll.

Then Baby Feet called in that the Suspect’s Lincoln was slowing down and moving from the #1 lane (fast lane on the left) to the # 4 lane (slow lane on the right) and almost hit a few cars in the maneuver. Then the suspect actually put on his turn signal and stated to take the next off ramp.

The problem was, there was one off ramp just before the one the suspect was taking that did not have a name---we called it the No Name Off Ramp. The Suspect and Baby Feet took the exit south of No Name and by this point I noticed I had another law enforcement patrol car behind mine---which looked like a county deputy but I couldn’t focus long enough on the review mirror to be sure…but I knew it was some kind of cop behind me….

So, I took the No Name Exit…and realized I made a mistake (soon to learn it was actually the best thing I could have done…I just didn’t know it yet.) So, as I take the exit, I hear Baby feet calling out that he was now behind the suspect who was now heading north along the frontage road and about70 MPH…with lots of daytime traffic in this next little town (lets call it Mayberry 5.)  They were north bound heading towards us--going south bound..and a closing rate of about the speed of light.

Then…bad news…Baby Feet called out that the suspect vehicle had crashed into a car with a mom and a bunch of kids…the car mom was driving was smashed badly and the suspect’s Lincoln had major front end damage and a flat left front tire…but still moving north bound…now a little slower. With sparks coming out from under the car.

About this time, I realized I had not been behind Baby Feet, but another cop who never called out on the radio…and a deputy behind me who had also not called out what he was doing. I was the only one who was “right” since I had called in what I was doing. Oh well, not my problem, we now had four different law enforcement agencies involved in the chase and we had driven through a few other agencies jurisdiction and were now in another department’s area. Dang it was all so confusing….but exciting.

Then I look down the frontage road and see what was left of a tan 1964 Lincoln Continental coming at us with major front end damage, a flat left front tire and steam coming from under the hood. It wasn’t going to go far. So, I just stopped my patrol car in the street and the cop in front of me and behind me blocked the road.

The Fat Jewel Bastard came to a stop once he saw he wasn’t going to get past us (we also had our pistols pointing at his fat ass). So, being that he realized there was no way out, he came to a stop.

One of the cops starts yelling at him in a rather unfriendly way (something like get your fucking hands up or I’m going to blow your fucking brains out) and the Fat Bastard actually started to complain. He said: “you don’t have to talk to me like that.”

I looked at him, pointed my Colt 1911 .45 (with 8 185 Grain Jacketed Hollow Points) auto at him and said in a very clear and professional manner: “If you don’t show me your hands, I’m going to shoot you.”

He showed me his empty hands.

Well, Baby Feet called me and said that one of the kids in the car had a small cut from broken glass, but other than that, the folks in the victim car were OK. However, since the Fat Jewel Bastard had left the scene of an accident with injuries---that made it another felony. Forget the about the jewels he had stolen (and still had in the car with him) he had hurt innocent people.

Since he was sooooo fat, the handcuffs were very tight on his fat wrist. He was very uncomfortable all the way to jail. The really sad part of this story was a very nice and clean Lincoln was destroyed in this incident. I only had to write a one page report, Baby Feet got credited with another great arrest and the Fat Jewel Bastard went to jail.

26 October 2010

The Great Jewel thief caper....

From the Cop side: This is a cop story about a caper that happened …oh, about maybe 20 years ago…? I lost track. Anyway, the story you are about to hear is true, the names and locations were changed to protect….something or somebody. Remember, all suspects are guilty, I mean innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The county I’ve worked in since 1981 is made up of many small police departments, a sheriffs department and the freeways are covered by the California Highway Patrol (CHiPs). When you add in State and Federal Parks and a few other odds and ends…I have no idea how many Law Enforcement agencies we actually have.
In the old days, we used to get into all kinds of pursuits and stuff. In all the pursuits that I was ever involved in, the only persons ever injured were the bad guys…and in each case, they got what they deserved. I still feel if you try to outrun the police, you are putting everybody else on the road in jeopardy and you deserve what you get as punishment. A motor vehicle is a very deadly weapon!

In this caper, there was a “Jewel Thief” who had a habit of going into jewelry stores during business hours, asking to look at expensive things, and then running out of the store with the loot. He was doing it so often and because he was so fat and drove an unusual car, I couldn’t figure out how he had not been caught a lot sooner. We called him the “fat jewel bastard, or FJB for short.

FJB drove a 1964 Lincoln Continental. This car is huge and was so unique…they only made this for a short time---unlike cars nowadays where you can’t tell one year or model from another---today’s cars almost all look the same. But the 64’ Lincoln was a boat! The back doors opened backwards (suicide doors) and the car must have weighted 500 tons. If you knew cars, it would have been an easy one to spot.

The day of this caper, I was working patrol on dayshift in the “valley” area. My beat was 2 miles west of the freeway. If you continued west, the next town was what I call Mayberry One, then further west, the next town was Mayberry Two…then the next town west was Mayberry Three. If you put all of the Mayberrys together, it still wouldn’t make a decent small size city. But each little town liked to have control over the police department, so there were four different jurisdictions.

Now also keep in mind, even though all these little towns were right next to each other, they all used different radio frequencies for each police department. So they often didn’t know what the cop a few blocks away was doing until the dispatchers called each other up and told them.

Now if this all is confusin’ the heck out of you, just think about how screwed up things are on a daily basis. Too often, by the time us cops heard about something that could have just taken place across the street from where we were, it was too late to do anything. And as you can likely see, this waste not only time, but a waste of money. Each department has a chief and a support staff on duty where if you combined all the departments, one chief could run the show.

So, back to the caper. Fat Jewel Bastard had pulled up to a little jewelry store in Mayberry Three. He parked his 500 ton Lincoln in the street---where no cops noticed it. Walked into the jewelry store, where the clerk didn’t notice the Fat Bastard…and he asked to see a few expensive items.

Of course, he grabbed the jewels and ran---as fast as a fat bastard could run---out to his 500 ton Lincoln. If he hadn’t burned rubber leaving, the cop in Mayberry Three wouldn’t have noticed…

So what does cop in Mayberry Three do? Instead of taking off after FJB, he calls it in and ask for the cops in Mayberry Two to stop the guy. Of course, by the time this goes from Mayberry Three dispatch to Mayberry Two, the guy is in Mayberry One---heading towards the freeway.

The cop on duty that day in Mayberry One was “Baby Feet”. Now Baby Feet was a good cop and I like the guy. (He had to retire on a disability many years ago.) Baby Feet tells his dispatcher that he behind a 1964 Lincoln traveling East Bound at a high rate of speed. (in Mayberry One, a “High Rate of Speed” was anything over 35 MPH.)

Now, since Baby Feet was so smart, he quickly figured out that he was behind the Fat Jewel Bastard. So, Baby Feet calls for back up before he does his car stop. He knew I was on duty west of him, so he asked for me.

Then…before Baby Feet could light up the Lincoln, the Fat Bastard takes off. driving up on sidewalks and running red lights and all kinds of crazy shit. So, instead of waiting for back up, now Baby Feet has to stop this asshole before he hurts somebody. Baby Feet calls out “In Pursuit!”

Now, I don’t care who you are, or how long you’ve been a cop…but when you hear those words, you got to do something to help…so off I went. The problem was, we were driving the old P.O.S. Dodge Diplomats and full speed was only about 90 MPH….going after a car that could do 120 MPH.

To be cont.

21 October 2010

Yes they can

From the Soldier side:  I was listening to some random news talk thing on the radio today...I didn't catch the name of those talking, but one was a former female soldier who (from what I could gather after having missed some of the show) had served in recent combat. 
She said that she was running for some political office somewhere and some male said that she could not have possibley earned all the medals she had shown the public. 
Now, I didn't see her medals and awards, and she didn't mention what they were...however, I worked with a few female soldiers in Bosnia and Iraq who were going out almost everyday and doing the same shite us male soldiers were doing.  We had female soldiers on the security teams, on the "guns" and driving.  If we had to get out of the Humvees, outside the wire, they were next to us "men." 

Even the troops who never left the camps and FOBs, had the same chances of getting hit by the same random, poorly aimed mortar rounds as the rest of us.  Now the question I have is: "How many folks would be willing to stand up in the gun turret in a Humvee, with a 1/4 of metal in front of you and a little on the sides and be ready to fire up some asshole insurgent trying to attack the convoy.  I did it a few times, and I'll tell you it scared the shit out of me. 

Prep for mission in Baghdad- 50 Cal

Road back to Uglivik, Bosnia in the snow
Yes.  In the modern wars we're fighting now, female troops can earn Bronze Stars, Combat Action Badges and all the other shit that the dudes can earn. 

Coming soon: A cop story- "The great jewlery heist."