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Debate Monday

January 23, 2006

Guest: Michael Lane, President of IntElephant Strategies, a consultant working to elect Republicans to political office.
Debate on the legality of Presidential wiretapping without a warrant

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  • Friend or foe January 25, 2006 2:21 pm

    Not-So Friendly-Fire
    Pfc. Bridges had less than a month in country and was pulling security on his first medevac L-Z; a pointman and his backup were wounded and getting dusted-off. Bridges was lying some-six feet between Zavitz and Bono, two older-timers, on the periphery of a small jungle clearing, just big enough to fit a chopper in.
    Bridges thought it was odd that the medevac’s M-60s were muzzle-down in their mounts, and that the door-gunners weren’t even holding the stocks of their weapons, as the bird came in for a touch-down. The wind turbulence and rotor roar got most of Bridges’ attention, as the two wounded GIs were loaded aboard the rescue-Huey in less than a minute.
    When the bird lifted-off to about 12-feet above the ground, it received AK-fire from Bridges’ side of the landing zone. That was when both door-gunners’ M-60-muzzles came up firing.
    The trouble was, for those few seconds it took to get the guns aimed to the right angle of attack, bullets were dancing in the dirt where GIs were. Bridges ducked his head in the dirt and wished he was a turtle and could hide his whole body within the hardened shell of his steel-pot helmet, as soil-geysers sprouted up all around him. He could hear GIs shouting at the door-gunners, then just at the sky, as the bird lifted away with its guns still firing, now at a safe angle over the heads of the grunts, into the surrounding jungle.
    “Stupid Mothafuckers!” one incensed GI stood, shouted, and shook his fist at the leaving chopper.
    Bridges looked up from the dirt and scanned what he could see of his body, to determine if he was hit. He couldn’t believe he wasn’t; he had been right in the line-of- fire of one door-gunner.
    Bridges looked at Zavitz, who looked back at him a little too long, before Bridges realized Zavitz wasn’t looking at him at all, and that a steel-pot helmet doesn’t stop a M-60 round. Bridges exhaled a silent fright and turned to Bono who was lying near Bridges on the other side. “Hey,” whispered Bridges, almost not making any sound at all.
    When Bono didn’t answer, Bridges crawled close and touched the shoulder of the prone GI. Bono was unresponsive and now Bridges knew why. Like Zavitz, Bono was head-shot, too. Both Zavitz and Bono were dead in the dirt beside Bridges.
    Bridges now had an even more heightened pulse and widened eyes, but not as wide as Zavitz’s; that Bridges took another look at, just to file away in his memory what a dead man’s stare looks like.
    There was a lot of excitement on the L-Z as the GIs determined what the damage was. Only Zavitz and Bono had been hit.
    Now even more, Bridges contemplated his incredible luck. Of course, Bridges had nothing really to compare it to, but still he wondered, without an answer, why he hadn’t been hit.
    Sgt. Brooks approached Bridges. “It’s just a cr-pshoot, man,” said Brooks. “It don’t mean nuthin’.”
    On a different day, Pfc. Hall was the only one not accounted for, when 3-2 squad reassembled after low-crawling back from AK-fire encountered after walking onto a couple jungle-hidden, gook bunkers. No one had seen Hall get hit; he was just missing.
    The call from the CO was that 3-2 was to form a line with the rest of the platoon and Arty would be summoned to lob some 155s on the bunkers. Sgt. Brooks told Captain Anderson that a man was missing, but even with that information, that didn’t change the plan of action.
    When the howitzer shells crashed through the jungle canopy onto the target coordinates, Pfc. Bridges thought, “If Hall isn’t dead now…he soon will be.”
    With the power to easily tear through thick jungle covering and fortified bunker roofs, shell after shell fell on their appointed marks as the fire-mission exacted its toll.
    But Captain Anderson wasn’t through, the GIs were told to identify their line with colored smoke for two Phantoms that would soon be on the scene to drop in more H-Es. The jets screamed in at low-altitude and dropped their bombs on the bunkers. Each resounding explosion emphasized the point to Bridges that Hall, that friendly Texan who always had a smile, couldn’t possible survive this further barrage.
    Finally it was time to assault the bunkers. The gooks had di-di’d; probably left when the 155s came in. We found Hall lying by a blown-up bunker; but he wasn’t dead. He just had a broken jaw from a frag, and that was all. Hall could even manage a smile for the medic who treated him.
    After Hall got dusted-off, Bridges approached Sgt. Brooks. “So do you believe in miracles?” Asked Bridges.
    Brooks looked back at Bridges with a blank expression. “It don’t mean nuthin’,” Brooks said.
    In the night of another day, a medevac L-Z was set up for 1Lt. Glaser, probably only because Glaser was the acting company CO. If it had been anyone else who had shot themselves in the ankle, the dust-off could’ve waited until morning. But, as it was, there were 12 men forming a perimeter for an incoming bird, with one man pointing a hand-held strobe-light toward the sky.
    Bridges could hear the bird before he could see it, and then he just saw a flashing, red light. But something was wrong; it didn’t sound like a slick and the chopper was diving, descending much too fast. Bridges rolled on his side to get a better look at the bird.
    That was when the mini-gun of the attacking Blue-Max opened-up. “Oh shit,” shouted Bridges, who rolled back on his belly and buried his face in the ground with the loud eerie sound of a buzz-saw blaring in his ears.
    Leaves were flying in the air, everywhere, and GIs were screaming as the Cobra peppered the medevac pad with a long burst, before an RTO could radio the pilot and tell him his mistake.
    The pilot replied that he thought the strobe-light was a mortar tube, and sent his regrets which didn’t help the four wounded, including Pvt. Berg, who now had a sucking- chest wound.
    Doc. Flaherty had Bridges hold a bandage over Berg’s wound that gurgled with each breath that Berg took. The GIs now waited with added anticipation for the medevac bird, which never came, all damn night.
    Later that night, Berg drowned in his own blood that seeped into his lungs. When Bridges picked up Berg’s body to separate him from the wounded, he threw Berg over his shoulder and Bridges’s back was covered in the blood that poured out of Berg’s mouth.
    Bridges took his baptism in silence; but there was a rage inside him. He was angry, not with anyone in particular, but rather at the ubiquitous madness of which he found himself to be a hostage. “It don’t mean nuthin’,” Bridges finally whispered, as he set Berg’s body down on the ground and covered it with a poncho.
    Leapfrogging was an efficient way for line-companies to move in column through the bush; but this operating procedure had its inherent dangers. When one platoon would stop a hundred meters ahead of the trailing platoons, then another platoon would pass through the lead platoon and stop a hundred meters ahead of them, and then the other trailing platoons would pass through and setup, one after the other, ahead of the previous lead platoons, there was always that time of possible confrontation between the pointman of the trailing platoon and the dragman of the lead platoon. These two elements needed to be expecting each other, before they were seen, and then recognize themselves when they were spotted. Communication was so very important in platoon leapfrogging, because all movement in the bush is a possible target of opportunity unless perceived as otherwise.
    SP4 Wertz was the dragman for third platoon and got a call of nature of the diarrhea-kind as his platoon was sitting down, waiting for the second platoon to come up and pass through them. Wertz felt the immediate need to do his pressing duty and didn’t take time to tell the preceding trooper in line of his intentions to “take a sierra.”
    Wertz dropped his pack and ran friskily back into “no-man’s land,” between third platoon and the approaching second platoon. He dropped his pants with no time to spare, and squatted behind a three-foot high ant hill.
    SP4 Daniels, the pointman of the second platoon, was making good time on the just-beaten-down path, but didn’t expect to see any GIs for another 25 meters-or so. When he saw a human form jump up from behind an ant hill, it was instinct that fired off three quick shots in that direction.
    One shot hit Wertz in the shoulder and tumbled into his heart, tearing it apart. Wertz died, with his pants just barely on.
    Bridges tried to console Daniels who was broken-up about the mistake. “It’s the quick or the dead…it wasn’t your fault,” said Bridges. “It don’t mean nuthin’.”
    Down deep, Bridges knew not-so friendly, friendly-fire was war’s dirty little secret.

  • Randy K January 25, 2006 5:24 am

    That is absolutely amazing. Vicky or all people woule be talking about liars. is she totaly unaware of what she is doing each time she speaks? This p[ost is not displaying so I will repeat it.

  • Robt January 24, 2006 3:02 am

    Thanks, I was sort of on a tangent.
    Clinton has been out of office how long and they continue to hide their eneptness behind Clinton and their hatred of him. They hate so deeply they cannot escape presence.
    They seem to cry and whine and go negative on anyone that remotely questions or disagrees with them. I guess they think we are supposed to just submit. Puttting down someone to elevate oneself is a very immature presence of mind for any of our elected officials let alone on the kindergarten playground. It has gotten very aggravating like a tv advertisement that insults your intelligence. You know?
    You are absolutely correct that they do not raise Dad Bush or Reagan in these instances.
    After work as I checked for Mark’s show tonite. I find it not available to listen to. As I glanced at the 24 jan show I see Mark is going to do two shows a week at least for a while. He will keep the blog going. I for one plan to stick around. Hope you and others do as well. You ever want to discuss issues or such, I’ll be here. I do work alot of hours but I do keep up here for the most.

  • madfuq January 24, 2006 12:12 am

    Good questions Robert! I for one and sick of hearing the excuse Clinton did this or Clinton did that, so what is their reason for not doing what they promised when they campaigned? What are they going to do and why haven’t they done it is my question. So far all I have seen coming out of this administration is to aid and abet the ultra rich and to hell with the poor and even the average American. Nothing this group has done has been for the benefit of Americans as a whole only the corporate cronies they so love. What or who convinced people that money made you good or even right and it sure doesn’t make you holier than the poorest among us. They do not walk the walk they so loudly proclaim and talk is a cheap commodity as we have seen by their example.
    So America took a devistating hit on 9/11 but it was on their watch and they are the ones responsible not anyone else. They wanted to lead but they don’t want to own the failures at all, like little children they blame Clinton over and over well maybe they should look at Bush I or even Reagan too of course that does not suit the mantra they preach. Most of us just try to do the job we have at hand with as much skill as we have but what I have observed with this group of thugs in Washington now they would screw up the simplest job and I don’t believe they are stupid but it serves a purpose that they utilize to cover up the real agenda which seems to be to take the USA to destruction by either war or financially. Either way it seems the only thing they know how to do well!