Thursday, December 13, 2007

December Blogmeat - Not

I've decided that I won't be providing the usual run of stuff-I-care-about-but-you-don't tonite.

The Shake 'n Bake theme will be continued, perhaps even later tonite. It's too personal to be written, or composed, in a consistent nightly regimen. And you don't care as much as I do, what I write, even though reader responses have been encouraging.

Instead, I want to do a Blogmeat (as I have before) as I surf through my regular nightly Favorite Websites, providing the links to interesting articles. This probably looks like what I said I don't want to do ... (stuff-I-care-about-but-you-don't) but the difference is that I'm not the source.

For example, Michael Bane links to NRO talking about Fred Thompson's late but not too late arrival on the scene as a viable Republican contender for the Presidential Election.

I agree with Byron York. Thompson has always impressed me as a man who isn't willing to become a media whore to be elected. That quality is not obvious in any other candidate, of any party. Frankly, most of the candidates this year scare the crap out of me.

Thompson may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, or the most charismatic individual, but we've had those kinds of presidents and I for one was not impressed. I'm thinking Wilson, FDR, Clinton ... and shivers go down my spine when I think how narrowly we survived their egotistic predations. Three presidents who did manage to serve their country well were Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan ... none of which I did (or would have) voted for. The difference? They were all mavericks. They were all visionary. They were the closest we have come, as a nation, to electing a Winston Churchill, if a very rough around the edges Churchill and in a non-Churchillian way.

Another thought was that none of these three ever shied away from a fight just because The People of their times were too soft to see what must be done, and to do it. (Mere marital aggressiveness isn't the answer: U.S. Grant was a great general but a thoroughly incompetent President.)

So I'm sorta hoping that Thompson stays in the fight long enough for us to seriously consider him as a candidate. In the final analysis, he may not be the best choice. But in this effete age, is there another man in the running? No, I'm not denying that Hillary doesn't have more balls than her Democratic contenders, but that's not necessarily the same as being sufficiently aware of her limitations to be a viable candidate.

Extra Credit:

Sondra K has this YouTube video of Thompson answering the question: "What's the biggest obstacle standing in the way of Education?" (Fred's answer:


From Michael Yon:
The Iraqi government has ordered all policewomen to hand in their guns for redistribution to men or face having their pay withheld. In 2004 when US trainers started recruiting women for the IPS there were hundreds of applicants and in February of 2006 when responsibility for recruitment and training was handed over to Iraqi authorities the number of women applying dropped to zero.
I'm just saying ... is this the way we had hoped it would go?


Lawdog is (suitably) outraged that The Brits ... you know, the home of Arthur Pendragon, Camelot and "The Sword In The Stone"? .. has decided to outlaw Swords in England.
"[Barbara Dunne] ..."It's an achievement to get the weapons banned. I don't want children to keep seeing them in shop windows and thinking it's normal."
Well, we haven't expected rational thought from The Brits for the last 30 years, have we?

I, too, am spitting on my monitor screen. Trust me, it doesn't help.

It may help, "Gentle Readers" to read more of LawDog.


In one of Xavier's most powerful articles, he writes of Jeanne Assam's Story of standing up to a mass murderer:

"I saw him, it seemed like the halls cleared out, and I saw him coming through the doors, and I took cover. I waited for him to get closer, I came out of cover, and I identified myself. I engaged him and I took him down," Jeanne Assam said modestly at a news conference in the Colorado Springs police station. "I didn't think it was my sole responsibility. I didn't think about this. It was, it seemed like it was, me, the gunman and God."

"I didn't run away, and I didn't think for a minute to run away. I just knew that I was given the assignment to end this before it got too much worse," she said. "I just prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me. I said, 'Holy Spirit, be with me.' My hands weren't even shaking. Honestly, I was very focused, and it was chaotic and it was so loud. I'll never forget the gunshots. It was so loud. I was just focused and I knew I wasn't going to wait for him to do any further damage. I just knew what I had to do."
Xavier's interpretation is worth the read. I am so impressed by this woman, who did The Hard Thing when two other armed men stood, pointing their guns at the Wolf as if mere hardware was a magical Icon against violence.

But during "Sunday Service in Colorado Springs", an Icon was not the needful thing on that day; what was needed was an Avatar of protection, and Jeanne Assam was that Avatar.

In this shameful day of "Gun Free Zones" (see above), we have proof that not all men are created equal, that not all the balls are given to men, and that when The Wolf comes calling you need a Sheepdog. The Designated Protector Sheep-person may not have the courage or conviction (even given the teeth and claws) to protect the flock.

There is, indeed, a place for The Flock. But ...

... It Takes A Sheepdog.

What's your IP address?

Who are you, really.

I've always been a 'full disclosure' kind of guy, although I draw the line at taking my clothes off in public places. (That's as much a public service as modesty, by the way.) So if you're a regular reader, you know that I use Statcounter to keep track of my readership.

This statistical service tells me who reads the articles and such statistical information as where they came from (referrals), what search argument they used to find the website, how long they stayed, what browser they're using, etc.

One important piece of information is the IP address, which gives me the geographic location (usually) of the computer they're using to access this website.

There's nothing new here, almost every blogger and many (probably most) non-blogger websites use some kind of statistics-gathering software. How can you tell? Look around when you're on a blog website for a counter which tells how many people have accessed the website. It'll say something like "1,234,567 readers have visited this website since March 4, 2005". That number is provided by subscription software (such as Statcounter), and they all capture the same information.

In fact, bloggers need to know their own IP address. This allows them to tell their statistical service not to count the blog author when counting visitors. Bloggers read their own stuff all the time; not necessarily because they're egotistical (well ... maybe) but because the links on the sidebar are often provided so they can visit their own favorite websites. If bloggers counted their own visits, it would distort the statistics and they wouldn't be able to tell what kind of content was interesting to the folks who visit the website.

When I look at the detail statistics, the thing I can NOT discover is the actual person represented by the IP address. I know what town/state/country they're in, but that's all.

Here's the pitch: I would like to know who is reading what. The only way I can know that is if you tell me what your IP address is. It doesn't have to be your name, but Statcounter allows me to label an IP address ... give it a name. Given that, I can better tell which articles are attracting my frequent visitors.

If you would send me an email with your IP address, I could label the stats so I know who is a returning visitor. The information will go no further than my personal Statcounter software settings (which are available to nobody else, and will not be used for any other purpose.

How can you find your IP address? This is interesting even if you choose not to share it with me.
Go to the free IP Locator webpage at and it will tell you. It also offers some other information which may be of interest to you.

Type (or more likely, copy&paste) that into an email sent to the email address given at the bottom of this page, and send it. if you want confirmation that it has been received, let me know so I can reply.

Whether you choose to do this or not, this is a good opportunity for me to say THANK YOU for your readership.

And of course, you can always write to suggest subjects for future posts, or to submit Guest Posts. Unless the content is totally off-the-wall, I'll be glad to host them for you (although I'll certainly identify them as "I didn't say this, he/she did!")

Jerry the Geek

On posted "Gun Free Zone" businesses ...

Thanks to, here's a refreshing idea:

No Gun, No Money

2 Shake 'n Bake: NCOC

The Beginning:
In February of 1969, I completed my Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Lewis, Washington. I was given a short leave and ordered to report to the Non-Commissioned Officer Candidate Course at Fort Benning, Washingon by the end of the month.

My bride of six months delivered me to the Portland Airport, and after a long plane ride and a not-so-long taxi ride I arrived the night before scheduled at Fort Benning.

I was welcomed by the Night Charge Of Quarters (COQ) and assigned to "take any empty bunk" in my assigned barracks. It was about 10pm, I had no assigned duties for the next day, and so I found the nearest bunk (there was nobody else in the barracks) and fell into an unmade bed as soon as I could strip off my Dress Jacket and trousers and shoes, with no more covering than my field jacket.

Nobody expected 'early arrivals', so I was not issued bedding.

The next morning at"Oh-Dark-Thirty" I was awakened by the COQ and given 20 minutes to dress in the "Uniform Of The Day" (Fatigues), and directed to the mess hall for breakfast. Because this was the first day upon which Candidates (I was no longer a "Trainee"!) were expected to arrive, there were no assigned duties.

I wandered into the mess hall and had a leisurely breakfast. This was my introduction to The South. What I had taken for Cream of Rice cereal was in fact some Southern gruel made from bleached corn. (I believe it was referred to as "corn pone", but I'm not certain about this.) It was gruesome, and I never took it on my plate again. Fortunately, as I was the only member of my company present, I was not castigated when I scraped it into the wet garbage can.

I had already learned about Salisbury Steak, and although I was not offered this viand I would not have taken it.

I had also, it may be noted, learned that the dreaded "Shit On A Shingle" (Chipped beef on Toast, in a white sauce which invariably looked blue under Mess Hall lights), was more tasty than it looked. There was all the milk I could drink, reconstituted Scrambled Eggs, and lots of yummy greasy bacon ... not to mention the Corned Beef Hash for which I retain a liking to this day.

Sorting ourselves out:
As the company gathered through the day, I discovered that I had earned a certain cachet by virtue of having arrived 'early'. I was the Old Man of the company, and while the situation did not degenerate to the point that I was considered an authority about all things NCOC-related, at least nobody muttered the dreaded term "Lifer" in my presence.

It should be noted that a "Lifer" was a volunteer who had willingly joined The Army with the goal of making it a career. There was no lower designation in the Draft Army in those years than a "Lifer", unless it was a 17 year-old RA (Regular Army ... volunteer, or 'non-draftee) from California. (We had one of these in our Basic Training company at Fort Lewis, and he was demonstrably the lowest form of life.)

The People:

As I came to be acquainted with the members of my company, as they arrived, I noted one single characteristic about these young men with whom I had chosen to to be affiliated for the next 13 weeks: they were bright, athletic, and motivated.

I was not the only College Graduate, but I was accustomed to that. My Basic Training company had been at least 90% college graduates and they were 99% draftees. This group didn't have such a high percentage of college men, but they were no dummies.

(In my Advanced Infantry Training class ... A.I.T. ... we had one man who was clearly unable to think for himself. I had been informally assigned to make sure that he learned enough to pass the course, regardless of his lack of native abilities. I had drilled him on nomenclature for two hours every night, and he eventually passes his tests, if narrowly. Later, I was to learn that he was sent to Viet Nam and his comrades soon learned to never assign him to a Bunker by himself. He never went on patrol, when his company left he was left behind, and he frightened everyone who was assigned to accompany him on guard duty because he never learned his job. The men assigned to guard duty with him learned to expect him to hide under a bunk. He spent 12 months on guard duty, and went home with an Honorable Discharge. I have often wondered how a man who was the Army's equivalent of Charlie Gordon of Flowers for Algernon spent his life, but by the time I left the Army I had more personal concerns to deal with.)

Back to the NCOC Company.

NCOC school was much like Basic and AIT. Because The Army was 'highly motivated' to graduate as many Candidates as possible, our personal inspections were minimal. We did have Locker Inspections, which were designed to determine that we possessed the minimal uniforms requiered ... but it was also heavy on insuring that we had not, for example, kept live ammunition which we had been issued on the Live Fire Range.

In fact, these inspections were not regularly scheduled ... they were always "Surprise Inspections" and mostly conducted after a live-fire exercise. Most inspections found a few Live Rounds, but after the ammunition was confiscated their possession was always listed as n "oversight" and no punishments were inflicted.

In Basic and AIT I had seen a few men busted out of the Army for similar offenses, but they were invariably those who had also been busted for possession of drugs. We had no such experiences in NCOC: everyone in this course just wanted to come home alive, and bring as many men as possible home with us. The minimal requirements were that that we complete our course-work accurately, we demonstrated a determination to achieve the assigned goals, we kept our belt buckles shined and we didn't run naked through the night where the Company Commander could see us.

The C.O. was effectively blind. And our Belt Buckles glowed due to nightly application of Brasso ... which we could purchase for fifty-nine cents a can at the local PX, to which we were marched (in formation ) every Saturday as soon as we had completed our trip to the Barber Shop for a touch-up on our haircut (also marched to in formation.)


Early in our training, it was impressed upon us that we were training in the same environment as the Candidates in the Officer Candidate School (OCS). This was a program of no longer (13 weeks, 15 weeks, whateve) than ours, with the same instructors and much the same courses, but these Candidates would graduate as Officers ... well Second Lieutenants, which were universally recognized as The Lowest Form of Life even below Buck Private Trainees. Well, an new Enlistee with zero time in grade (E-1) was not expected to know better'; an Officer Candidate had no excuse, so "He Had Better Not Fuck Up". Upon reporting for training, OCS Candidates were assigned the nominal rank of Sergeant (E-5) and were held to the same standards of behavior, responsibility, decorum and accomplishment.

NCOC Candidates, upon reporting for training, were assigned the nominal rank of Corporal (E-4) and were held to the same standards of behavior, responsibility, decorum and accomplishment.


Most enlisted men in a Combat Unit were enlisted as Buck Private (E-1), graduated from Basic Training as E-2 (Private), and Honor Graduates were graduated as E-3 (Private First Class). From there they were expected to advance in the non-command "specialist" grades, such as Spec 4 (E-4).

You will note that a Corporal (E-4) and a "Spec-4" (E-4) have the same rank nomenclature. However, their TITLE was different. Essentially, the rank of Corporal was no longer an active rank-title ... except in NCOC training.

A man who went to combat as an E-3 could expect to make the rank of E-4 (Specialist 4th Class) before his tour ended.

A man who completed the NCOC course could be expected to be advanced to the rank of E-5 (Sergeant), which was a Command Line Rank. A Spec-4 would be lucky to be advanced in rank, unless he earned the Sergeant designation upon which event he would be promoted to E-5.

But promotion for an E-5 was always within the Command Line Rank ... the next step was E-6 ... Staff Sergeant.

Company Organization:
To completely understand the responsibilities of a graduate of NCOC, it's essential that you understand the way Platoons were organized in Viet Nam:

An E-5 commands a Fireteam, usually 4 men (one Automatic-Rifleman, one Grenadier, and two Rifleman) plus himself. Often a Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) is included.

An E-6 commands a Squad -- nine men: two Fireteams, plus himself. Often a Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) is included, but he may also double as a Rifleman.

An E-7 (Sergeant First Class) commands a Platoon -- four Squads, plus a designated Radio Telephone Operator (RTO), a Machine Gunner and Assistant gunner (ammo carrier), plus himself for a total of 'about' 30 men. The number is deliberately left flexible, because (a) the duty assignments may vary, and (b) the number of available men may also vary depending upon availability.

An Officer, usually an O-2 (Lieutenant) but barely possibly a Second Lieutenant (O-1) will be assigned as Platoon Leader. This Officer will command the Platoon Sgt. (whose primary purpose is Administrative .. he looks out for his men and carries out the orders of this L.T. or El-Tee), and will be in over-all command of his Platoon. As well as the (30+/-) men in the platoon who are overseen by the Platoon Sgt, the LT's staff includes another RTO, the Platoon Medic ("Doc") and the Platoon RTO.

The Command Group of a platoon includes the LT, his RTO and "Doc", and (if the Platoon is operating as a group) the Platoon Sgt and his RTO - a total of 4 men, minimum. Squad Leaders may be included in the Command Group, depending on whether Platoon is operating as a unit.

In the actual event in Viet Nam, the Platoon was most frequently operating as two units: two squads would work with the Platoon Leader, two squads would work with the Platoon Leader. Unit commands would be responsible to either the Platoon Leader or the Platoon Sgt, depending upon which half they were assigned to.

In Viet Nam, a Squad was rarely lead by an E-6 Staff Sgt, because of the rarity of men who had achieved this rank; instead, they were usually lead by an E-5 Sergeant ... and the officers in command of the Company (usually O-3 Captains, but often O-2 First Lieutenants)

Note that I have referred to Staff Sergeants (E-6) as being "in command" of platoons. This is confusing, but Sergeants were NEVER placed in 'command' of platoons, unless they were under fire and their officer was killed or otherwise incapacitated. A Sergeant was ALWAYS under the nominal command of an officer ( if available ... see above), but a Sergeant was TYPICALLY in command of a 'half-company' (two squads) group of soldiers, and as such was responsible for that Unit.

Training Exigencies:

Moving back from Combat Organization to the Training Phase of NCOC operations, the Training Program had three clear divisions: Physical, Leadership, Tactical.

The Physical training was merely and extension of Basic and A.I.T. training ... endure that whatever physical challenge was presented to the non-NCO soldier, the NCO was trained to meet or exceed it. This included common exercises such as the Jumping Jack, the 4-Point and the 6-Point Burphy (jumping jack, lateral extention, and possibly a push-up), Pull-ups before entering the Chow Hall (not only the pull-up, but hang-time as well), marching in double-time, and running.

I recall vividly the day when we were required to speed-march 12 miles, in the company of a Major of the U.S. Army Rangers. We did it in two hours. Nobody dropped out, and we took a 10-minute break in the middle of the course. Most of us changed our socks then, because as Infrantrymen we had been trained to take care of our feet.

At the end of the march, I unwisely drank too much water too fast and consequently suffered severe cramps. Because the guy who bunked under me, Brunner, had already left for Chow when I crawled onto my upper bunk and resisted the temptation to throw up, I imposed by a near-bunkmate of my same name (bunks having been assigned alphabetically) to turn in my weapon and inform my Platoon Sgt. that I was not available.

True to the traditions, my Friend returned my check-in slip and went to chow. I slept for 12 hours and awoke at the usual time (5am) with no cramps and ready for duty.

Lesson: sometimes The Army doesn't quite have it's head up its ass, even if I do.


Possible subjects for future Shake 'N Bake posts --

The Plan vs Reality:

Ratting On Your Friends:


The March Up River:

Field Training Exercise:

Confidence Course:

Detroit Guys:


The End:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sitting Duck or .. is the 2nd Amendment about Duck Hunting?

Hog On Ice has this excellent comparison between a "Gun Free Zone" and a place where you have a chance of safety.

I can't say it better.

H/T Sondra K

Reading to Samantha on Thanksgiving Weekend

This video report is of interest only to immediate family members.

My daughter brought her family from California to Oregon for Thanksgiving. We met my newest grandson, Jack, for the first time ... he had his first birthday in September. And we were amazed at how big my youngest granddaughter, Samantha, had grown since we last saw her two years ago.

On Saturday, the family gathered for a Spaghetti feed at my sister's house. After dinner, as we were trying to digest all that pasta, I gave Samantha her copy of "The Dangerous Book for Boys". I also gave her a second copy to give to my son's children, who also live in California.

Samantha liked the books, so she crawled onto my lap so I could read to her from 'her' book while she held onto the other book.

She liked the pictures.

Then we got to Page 53: "Famous Battles -- Part 1".

And the rest ... is history.

In case it didn't strike you immediately, my granddaughter is very expressive and highly opinionated.

She didn't get that from my side of the family.

Technical Note:
While I wanted to post these videos to share with my family, this is also a experiment in using BLOGGER (Google Blog) to post videos which are destined primarily for this blog.

I've been using You Tube as an 'upload application'. Sometimes, I don't really want to post to You Tube, and this is an attractive alternative.

For bloggers who, like me, are not using the New Blogger software, it's worth the effort to use Windows Movie Maker to do the first edit. Blogger doesn't allow you to edit (including titles, which I've used here) like WMM does. Also, I wanted to send small files to Blogger. The first video was originally 50MB, the second was 27MB. Blogger can handle them, but by using WMM to make 'less dense' (smaller) files, the Blogger upload/conversion process was shortened dramatically. It took me 3-1/2 minutes to provide shorter files to Blogger, and it took at least that much time to convert the resulting 5MB files to whatever density/size are provided.

Besides, I don't have to copy&paste the HTML coding that I get from You Tube, and my 'personal' videos don't end up on a highly visible website.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Shake 'n Bake Sergeant

A funny thing happened to me last week. I received a flyer in the mail. It advertised a book about the Non-Commissioned Officer Candidate Course ... of which I was a graduate in 1969.

The flyer alone triggered memories which I had thought were buried over 35 years ago.

Assuming I can resist the impulse to lay a bunch of "NSTRH" (No Shit, This Really Happened!) stories on you, I'd like to give you some idea what it was like in 1968 and 1969 for a 23-year-old draftee with a college education in America.

I graduated from State University (where I now work) in 1968, and was immediately drafted. I had applied for a post-graduate job with The Teacher Corps, which intended to send me to East St. Louis as a Teaching Assistant, but the draft notice arrived first. (This was before the days of The Draft Lottery.) I wrote my state senator and my congressman for support, but the Army had me and wouldn't let me go. I even offered to go to East St. Lewis for a year, and then report for military service ... but it wasn't acceptable. (I later discovered that Fate had not been that unkind to me; ESL was a war zone, but the Teacher Corps didn't give you combat training before your posting, and they didn't let you carry a gun.)

The next thing I did was to marry my college sweetheart. Six days later, I reported for duty and was sworn into the U.S. Army (September 20, 1968).

I was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington ... the nearest Basic Training Center. On the bus to Fort Lewis, I discovered that every man on the bus was a recent college graduate. Bummer, man!

Upon arriving we met an unpleasant man who randomly picked me out of the group to be the Platoon Guide. (Not so random; I later determined that I was the only married man in the group. Apparently the army considers this a measure of maturity. It was my first indication that the U.S. Army had its head up its ass.)

At the end of the nine-week Basic Training, my platoon was found to be no better or worse than any other platoon in the company. We couldn't compare ourselves directly against any other platoon because there was a Meningitis Epidemic in the army at the time, and we were quarantined in our platoon barracks for the entire period.

On Thanksgiving Day, 1968, we had a 'Family Visitation Day'. My parents drove my wife up from Oregon to have a lunch with me. My father brought me beer in a thermos bottle, and my wife and I held hands (and other parts, under the table) as we spent two hours in a large room with most of the members of the Company. Meningitis was officially declared a non-issue for this period. Then our families went back to where-ever they had come from (no "Married Enlisted Men's Quarters" were made available for Conjugal Visitations) and we went back to our barracks.

Over the Christmas/New Years holiday, we were granted leave. I went back to my wife's apartment in Corvallis, my parents having granted her the loan of their car. On New Year's Eve we held a huge party in her apartment, where we all got drunk as skunks and I beat the crap out of my best friend (who was in college as an R.O.T.C. scholarship student.) At 6am the next morning I tracked my bruised best friend down at his apartment and made him drive me and my wife back to Fort Lewis. We were all hung-over, my wife was nauseus the whole time. It was snowing, the freeway was so inundated with snow that we put on tire chains even though the terrain was flat. We broke three chains on the 12-hour trip to drive 300 miles, and my wife threw up every time we stopped for food. I was 2 hours late for my 6pm return deadline ... and I was one of the first in my company to get back on post.

Immediately after graduation from Basic Training, and I mean five minutes after, I was notified that I was "11-Bravo" (assigned to Infantry) and trucked 300 yards to my Advanced Infantry Training company. After 13 weeks in the army, training, I was assigned to another 13 weeks of training in 'advanced tactics'. The good news: I wasn't selected to be Platoon Guide; instead, some other dweeb was. I spent the next 13 weeks making his life a living hell. Nothing against him, it's just that I was spoiling for a fight the whole time.

During my induction, because of my test scores, I was offered the opportunity to volunteer for Officer's Candidate School. After long and serious consideration (as long as it took me to recover from an uncontrollable fit of laughter), I rejected the offer. It required a 4-year term of enlistment (instead of the two-year term to which I was already obligated by the draft) and I was unlikely to survive the experience. I may have been a college graduate, but I wasn't THAT stupid!

More tests, and they offered me a slot in Helicopter Flight School, from which a successful candidate would graduate as a Warrant Officer qualified to fly helicopters in combat. They carried me out laughing hysterically. I knew people who had fallen for that trick; they were readily identifiable by their snappy uniforms and their crutches and/or canes. I did not take kindly to the idea of having my ass literally shot off.

Besides, this was another four-year deal, and if you flunked out ... you still had your 4-year obligation, but as a Private Soldier. I had no qualms about my ability to pass the course-work but they wouldn't give you the physical until after you signed the paperwork.

However, late in the Advanced Infantry Training course, a few of us were quietly told to report to the captain. At that meeting, we were individually informed that we had been selected for the Non-Commissioned Officer Candidate Course (NCOCC). It was another 13-week course of training, very much like Officer Candidate School, taught at Fort Benning, Ga. by the same instructors and officers and cadre who taught OCS. Following that, there would be a 13-week period of On the Job training (OJT) in-country as Cadre in a Basic Training Company. Then we would be assigned to our Permanent Unit (we already knew we were going to Viet Nam). This option did NOT require re-enlisting for a four-year term.

I figured, this was my best chance to grab as much training as possible before going to The Nam. Also, I would be an NCO ... a Sergeant ... which gave me much more control over the way my war would be fought. I would be making the decisions which determined my assignments. Not a bad deal.

First, I had to pass an oral exam. I stood before the Company Commander and his two Tactical NCO's and was given this conundrum:

"Suppose you are in charge of a squad, and your entire company was pinned down by a machine gun nest in the jungle. There is no way to get around it, the only possible approach is a frontal assault. You know that most of your men will be killed; it's very possible that you will be killed, since you will lead the assault. What do you do?"

I spent five minutes suggesting one alternate solution after another, only to have them shot down in turn by the C.O. who seemed incapable of saying anything other than: "No, that won't work."

Finally, frustrated and exasperated, I blurted out: "It's not going to do anybody any good for a whole squad to die in a failed attempt. I would find another way, even if my commander had given me a direct order to charge the bunker. That's just stupid!"

The interview was over, I left the captain's office feeling that I had just blown the only chance I had at grasping some control over my own fate.

That afternoon a runner called me back to the captain's office. I had been recommended for NCOCC school.

That was my second indication that the army had its head up its ass.


More on Shake 'n Bake Sergeant later.

He's B-a-a-c-k!

John Rambo

Attacking in a theater near you, January 25, 2008.

Moscow, Idaho shooting

May 19, 2007:
(May 21, 2007 -- AP)

MOSCOW, Idaho - A sniper sprayed dozens of bullets on a courthouse in an attack that left one dead and two wounded, then hid in a nearby church for several hours before police stormed in Sunday and found his body and another man’s inside, police said.

The shooting began late Saturday, fatally wounding one officer and injuring another and a civilian, said David Duke, Moscow’s assistant police chief. Duke said the attack was apparently an ambush, with the gunman firing into the Latah County Courthouse to lure people into his line of fire.

Around 6 a.m., three SWAT teams entered the First Presbyterian Church and found the two bodies on the main floor but not in the same room, Duke said. An automatic assault rifle, ammunition and spent shells were found with one of the men, he said.

Another area which subject to Mad Dog shooting is that of Public Buildings.

But during the May 19 - 20, 2007 period in Moscow, Idaho, a crazed man took on the City Police there.

Other reports:
Fox News; May 21, 2007:

"These kinds of things aren't supposed to happen in this community,"Police Chief Dan Weaver said Sunday at a news conference.

Police said the gunman started shooting from a parking lot across from the courthouse shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday. A hail of more than 30 bullets ripped through the county's emergency dispatch center, an apparent attempt to lure people into the line of fire.

"Whoever the shooter is wanted to draw people to the courthouse," assistant Chief David Duke said. "When officers responded, he did open fire on them."

Officer Lee Newbill was killed as he rushed to the courthouse, and a Latah County Sheriff's deputy helped pull the officer out of the way before being shot, Duke said.

And ...
POLICE ONE, May 21, 2007:
Sergeant Lee Newbill was shot and killed in a planned attack on law enforcement.

The suspect fired into an emergency dispatch center inside the Latah County Courthouse intending to lure people into the line of fire. Sergeant Newbill was killed as he rushed to the courthouse, and a deputy helped pull the officer out of the way before being shot and wounded.

And ...
(AP -- May 22, 2007):

MOSCOW, Idaho — Jason Hamilton unleashed his deadly rampage on people he knew: his wife, sheriff's deputies at the courthouse where she worked, the caretaker of a church across the street.

The 36-year-old was already known in the small college town of Moscow for a troubled past before Saturday night's shooting rampage. He had been arrested for domestic violence, had attempted suicide and had warned a mental health worker that if he did kill himself, he would take others with him.

But in the end, Hamilton left no obvious reason for the violence that left four people, including himself, dead.

"We have not found any note," said David Duke, assistant chief of the Moscow Police Department. "We do not have any motive at this time. We have no idea."

And ...
(May 22, 2007 - Spokesman Moscow Shooter had Violent History)
The gunman in a weekend shooting has been identified as Jason Hamilton, a 36-year-old man with a history of violence and arrests. Assistant Moscow Police Chief David Duke said that Hamilton's wife, Crystal Hamilton, also has been found dead in her Moscow home, killed with a single gunshot to the head.


"We've had many contacts with Jason Hamilton," said Duke.

Duke said Hamilton has a history of domestic violence and had been charged in 2005 with felony strangulation of a girlfriend. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sent to jail for 180 days and then given probation.

After attempting suicide by overdose in February, Hamilton was placed in protective custody. He was given two psychiatric evaluations and then released.

"He stated that if he wanted to commit suicide he wouldn't do it this way," said Duke, adding that Hamilton threatened to take others with him. Despite those threats, Hamilton was not placed in custody.

The picture which emerges here is, by now, a familiar one: a man who is alienated from his friends and family, takes up a gun in some undefined and undefinable saga, understandable only in his own personal alienation against Society, with the result that several people end up dead at his hand ... including himself.

The obvious question is: why can't these lostlings shoot themselves first? Why do they feel obliged to kill their family, then their privately defined symbols of society? Is it a mere act of rebellion, or is it a matter of deliberately acting against Society as a whole?

Examining several violent acts within the past few days, we're tempted to act as if we knew the underlying turmoil of the individual psyche. But this is not possible. If an ignorant lone blogger could predict the acts of the ignorant long gunman, surely professional head-shrinkers could do the same.

The fact is, the box-score of professional psychologists and psychiatrists in predicting random acts of violence visited by their patients is no better than your local meteorologist in predicting the weather.

Rain happens, as is evident in this month's flooding in Washington.

Similarly, as heartless as it may sound, murder happens. The recent events demonstrate the truth of that statement.

We've mentioned before that "when seconds count, the police are only minutes away".

Unfortunately, even the police can't defend themselves against this kind of predation.

It's impossible to defend against a determined assassin who intends his own death to be the last act of his random violence.

The best we can do is to protect ourselves in the situations where armed policemen are NOT present, and hope that we can do better than armed policemen ... when the venue is a "Gun Free Zone" and the predator doesn't expect us to defend ourselves.

My son is engaging upon a path which will (he hopes) result in a LEO career. He will be his own personal First Line of Defense. He expects "To Protect and to Serve" his community, and I hope he can do that.

More important, to me and to his mother and to his wife and children, we hope that he can defend himself from this kind of unpredictable random attack.

I've already done all I can do to teach him gun-handling and shooting skills which might aid in that goal. I have no delusions that I have taught him all of the skills he needs, but I have done the best I could.

In the worst possible case, he would be a "Sergeant Lee Newbill was shot and killed in a planned attack on law enforcement."

In the best possible case, he would be an "(officer) Ken Hubbard", who saved many lives by counter-attacking a Mall Shooter in Salt Lake City on February 13, 2007.

I can't save my son by teaching him skills I don't really have. And I can't feel sanguine about metaphorically placing him in a position of danger for the benefit of a bunch of strangers.

I can only hope that, wherever he ends up working as a LEO, the local laws allow private citizens to protect themselves and others in Malls, Churches, Schools and Public Buildings.

I don't expect it, but I do so sincerely hope for it to happen by the time my son begins his term of service as an American Law Enforcement Officer.

(Thanks to reader Bill E. who brought this Moscow, Idaho story to my attention.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday horror: Church shootings in Colorado; gunman killed by armed female church security staffer

Michelle Malkin � Sunday horror: Church shootings in Colorado; gunman killed by armed female church security staffer

We mentioned recently that two of the most dangerous Gun Free Zones were schools and shopping malls.

A third is ... churches.

"Why would anyone want to wear a gun to church?" we hear.

This is why.

Thanx to Michelle Malkin
(H/T: Traction Control)

Omaha Mall Update

At the risk of 'glorifying' the mad dog shooter in Omaha, there are some updates which help place the massacre in perspective.

First (uncited) are later reports that the weapon was an AK-type, not an SKS type rifle.

Next, linked from the Michael Bane blog, a blogger named 'JoeMerchant24' has some first-person reports, and some fallout. I'll link the first four articles in case the articles drop off the 'current' list on his blog:

First-person #1

"A Modest Proposal", the Von Maur Drill

The notorious "Rules of Conduct" signs (#14 makes the mall a 'gun free zone') have been removed.

First-person #2: a First Responder report

(This also refers to the weapon as an "AK (NOT AN SKS)", and specifically describes "2-30 round magazines taped in reverse".)

There has been a lot of traffic in the Blogosphere, including RKBA websites, during the past few days talking about the "Gun Free Zones" which constitute much of our Public Areas. Schools and shopping malls are the most common locations cited.

When the Virginia Tech campus suffered from the predations of a Mad Dog Killer, there were 'some' complaints that a recent policy announcement from the V.T. Administration rejecting a proposal (that 'Concealed Carry Weapon' Licensees ... "CCW" ... should be allowed to carry on-campus) did not hold the well-being of the students, faculty and staff as a priority. Generally, the published comments supported this administrative 'theory'.

This incident, however, may lend more weight to the CCW argument.

What's new here?
I did an Internet search on "Omaha + gun free zone", expecting to report the usual finding that "the blogosphere is all over this, but the Main Stream Media remains silent".

To my surprise, I found this article from the Business Section of (website of the Omaha World-Herald) ... which, for this purpose I will consider the MSM:

Few merchants see need to post no-weapons sign

Signs you'll see at the entrance of O'Connor's Irish Pub in the Old Market:

"Restrooms are for customers only."

"City Council: Please Send in the Non-Smokers."

What you won't see is a "No Concealed Weapons" sign reminding customers that bars are among the few businesses in Nebraska where it is illegal to carry a gun.

Almost three months after the start of a state law allowing people to carry concealed weapons, signs banning guns from privately owned businesses haven't exactly popped up all over the Omaha area.

In fact, although some chains such as Bag 'N Save have posted signs and shopping malls such as Westroads Mall have added "no weapons" clauses to their posted codes of conduct, many small businesses haven't seen the need. And at least one that did later reconsidered.

Under the law, concealed handguns are banned from some businesses, including bars and financial institutions. Other businesses and employers can ban concealed weapons from their property by posting a sign that guns are not allowed.

O'Connor's Pub owner Katie O'Connor said she didn't think a sign was necessary.

"The ones you need to be afraid of don't have licenses for their guns anyway," she said.

At the Nebraska Clothing Co. in the Old Market, owner Brad Ashford said he intended to put up signs but never got around to it.

And now, he said, "It does not seem to be a problem."

If he saw a customer carrying a gun, he'd probably ask the person to leave the store, said Ashford, who also is a state senator.

"Of course," he added, "if I could see the gun, it wouldn't be concealed."

Note the date of this article: March 28, 2007 ... over eight months ago.

Also note the specific reference to the Westwood Mall, identified as one of the "... shopping malls ... [which] ... have added "no weapons" clauses to their posted codes of conduct...".

The article continues:
Greg Cutchall put up a "No Concealed Weapons" sign at his Famous Dave's barbecue restaurant at 71st Street and Ames Avenue, but a customer's reaction persuaded Cutchall to remove it within days.

"He wrote that he was no longer going to do business with us," Cutchall said. "He went on to say how difficult it is for an individual to actually obtain a concealed weapon permit, and that they're law-abiding citizens."

One of the customer's points, Cutchall said, really resonated: The sign wouldn't keep out someone who wanted to rob the place.

"Your business is more important to me than one of 1,000 ways people could sue us," Cutchall wrote back, adding that he would take down the sign.

After he removed the sign, Cutchall said, he received e-mails from other customers applauding his decision and telling him they planned to eat at the restaurant.

"It's a little controversial," Cutchall acknowledged. "There's a group of people who'll say, 'You're going to allow concealed weapons in your restaurant?'"
We can expect that the people who were in the Westwood Mall last week will be inclined to take their dinner guests to Cutchall's restaurant, which reinforces the idea that allowing honest people the legal means to protect themselves is just good business.

Perhaps I was wrong when I predicted a Liberal knee-jerk reaction to the Omaha Mall Shootings. Perhaps Nebraskans, who are proud of their recently enacted 'shall issue' legislation, will stand up to their elected politicians who may attempt to use this tragedy to re-establish gun-control laws which have now been proven to be contrary to the best interests of the public.

There may be other Unintended Consequences of this tragedy.

The (a "... New York Times Regional Media Group Florida site...") Lakeland (Polk County), Florida, has an online Forum feature. Visitors here are reading and commenting on John Lott's article which emphasizes the "Gun Free Zone" in the Omaha mall, and while the responses so far are minimal, they are 'not amused' by the concept.

Here's another article from the Omaha World-Herald, dated August 12, 2007:

Omaha Housing Authority to ban guns in homes

Residents of Omaha Housing Authority properties will not be allowed to have guns - even if they own them legally - in their homes under a new policy due to take effect in October.

The state's largest provider of public housing adopted the new rule in June. It followed the passage of a separate rule in April that prohibits anyone other than sanctioned OHA employees or police officers from carrying concealed weapons in shared spaces such as lobbies and elevators or OHA offices.

Executive Director Stan Timm said the rules are "one more tool in trying to be ahead of and prevent crime."

"We're always looking for ways to improve safety," Timm said.
Obviously, Nebraska has been working to fit the new Concealed Carry laws into the preconceived notion that private ownership of firearms is 'bad'. The politicians are looking for more places to ban guns. The small-business owners (at least) are accepting current law 'as written', and when they discover that private citizens are unwilling to 'give up an essential liberty for temporary security', they yield to whatever measure best attracts their customers.

We have been shown that Gun Free Zones are decidedly NOT what the public wants. We have seen this in the marketplace, surely the best measure of a Capitalistic society. And we have seen demonstrated in the Real World that Gun Free Zones not only do nothing to secure the safety of patrons, but rather makes targets of our families.

It may be that the politicians which we have elected might learn from this experience, and might be convinced that imposing draconian Gun Control laws neither protects the electorate or (mor important, to them) assures their re-election.

We don't expect them to learn this lesson, but it is an outcome devoutly to be wished.

Nota Bene:
Previous Geek posts on Nebraska Concealed Handgun Carry act:

CCW in Nebraska? (January 8, 2006)

Nebraska Joins RKBA America! (March 30, 2006)
The political opposition to passage of this bill was evident even after passage of the bill, as the Journal Star reporting demonstrates:
“There is no justification for it which would be considered rational,” said Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha. “Nebraska is not engulfed in a crime wave.”

The Nebraska State Patrol did not take a stance on the bill. The Police Officers Association of Nebraska opposes the measure.

Sen. Joel Johnson of Kearney questioned why the “safest people in the safest place on Earth” — Nebraska — need to carry concealed guns.

More About Nebraska Shall Issue Law (March 31, 2006)


H. L. Mencken:
The average man does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe.