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FIRST PRINCIPLES: Teaching Students Who Aren’t Interested

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Every Veteran who has joined the American military since 1973 volunteered.

The 16-18 year-olds you will speaking to, from groups as small as a dozen, to classroom sized, even auditoriums as you get better known, may not be there voluntarily. Their parents probably sent them.

We’ve all been students in a class room. Think back. We had to be there. Certain rules applied as to how we could behave. But just like a horse to water, they couldn’t make us drink.

From middle school through ...

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SOS on Toast

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The other morning one of our local radio personalities was pitching a fancy restaurant in the Richmond area, and he proudly announced that their most popular entre was chipped beef on toast. A ten dollar platter these days, and whudda thunk it? People paying ten dollars for the most plebeian dish in America, the breakfast anchor for five wars at least for every grunt who ever sat in a mess hall, since Pearl Harbor.

All those memories came rushing forward. I tried to remember how ...

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Letters From Fallujah (5) The POG FOB

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Sept 07 03

Uncle Hank,

Still on COP Factory guarding some radioactive shit we haven’t even seen, not that I mind not seeing it but we don’t even know where it is.  We found 23 IEDs buried along Route San Juan the other day.  Artillery rounds wired to be be command detonated.  That means someone is watching, all we have to do it catch his ass watching and we’ll make him a good terrorist.  You know there’s only one kind of good ...

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Letters From Fallujah (4) COP Factory

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20 AUG 03

Uncle Hank,

We’ve been busy since I wrote last.  We ran a couple missions into Fallujah, what a shithole.  We were security for the Battalion Commander, which means we were way too far from what was really going on but we got to hear about it on the radio.  What utter bullshit.  We also had to watch our Battalion CSM sleep in his vehicle like the huge turd he is.  The men of 1Panther call him “Deebo” like ...

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Letters From Fallujah (3) American Traitors

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Aug 23, 2003

Uncle Hank,

The rest of the Battalion and the Brigade have moved in.  We can’t shoot the mortars anymore, Brigade Artillery has taken over and they’re so slow at clearing fires we can’t shoot.  Its total bullshit according to Sarnt Spear, he hates artillery with a white hot passion.  We just got word that half of the platoon is moving south of the Euphrates to a COP, Company Out Post.  It’ll be us and half of Delta Company.  We ...

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Letters From Fallujah (2) Volturno

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August 18, 2003

Uncle Hank,

Before Sarnt Spear left for the leader’s recon he gave a warning order, get everything ready to roll tonight at O’dark thirty.  Of course he added, “I wanna be able to look at the trucks before dark, me and the LT’s shit is packed, put it on the trucks.”  He’s got a serious pet-peeve with load plans.  Every truck has to be exactly like the others, f*ck its a pain in the ass but Sarnt Spear is ...

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Letters from Fallujah (1) Arrival

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I’ve been avoiding telling stories from my time in combat areas.  You never know when something is gonna set off a shitstorm.  I’d just as soon avoid that.  Remember the Marine Sergeant who was giving blood wings to his Marines who’d made their first jump with a Marine unit?  Poor bastard got kicked out, all he was doin was living up to a tradition.  You shoulda seen my airborne school graduation, there were half a dozen Paratroopers in my Company, ...

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Exorcising the Salutin’ Demon

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Vassar wrote about a Salutin’ Demon a few days ago.  They weren’t uncommon in my day either.  Usually they are young Second Lieutenants who haven’t figured out their actual place in the chain of command.  Do you know the difference between a PFC and a First Lieutenant?  A PFC has been promoted twice. It kinda puts things in their rightful place. Theoretically a Lieutenant out ranks his Platoon Sergeant but in fact that Platoon Sergeant is, by Army regulation, ...

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Jump Master School and Meeting My New Lieutenant

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I spent the first half of 1998 in Sinai, Egypt as part of the Multi-National Force Observers (MFO).  It was an awesome deployment, great training that we made up ourselves and absolutely amazing time off.  23 days of one squad all alone on a remote site, patrols, training, guard duty, all opportunities to build on the basics.  Then two weeks of challenging training, live fires, maneuver live fires, marksmanship, physically brutal stuff that left you full of piss and vinegar ...

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