Bunker Mulligan "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~Mark Twain

April 28, 2004

Kids like soldiers

Filed under: Military — Bunker @ 6:44 pm

What is it I keep saying about Iraq?

Give the Kurds their own country!

Armored Humvees

Filed under: Military — Bunker @ 5:07 pm

Hack is back, with Thin skins bleed easily.

As I said the other day, the focus on military spending needs to be on personnel and personal equipment, not big-ticket items. That is Hack’s point, as well. I don’t agree that we need more armored Humvees, but some kind of light armored vehicle–you, know, what the Stryker was supposed to be. Instead, our troops move about in Bradleys (tracked) or Humvees (unarmored).

A tracked vehicle just isn’t as nimble as one with wheels, and that’s what’s needed in street fights. Putting armor on the Humvee adds weight it wasn’t designed to handle. But there is no better choice than that–right now.

Unfortunately, our folks in the Pentagon are wedded to wars and possible wars past.

The entire military needs to be restructured, and the decisions need to be made by junior officers and NCOs–the ones doing the fighting. They need to be empowered to bring their own experiences into the process, not through “lessons learned” reports, but in defining the structure. “Lessons learned” are read through the lens of other experiences when generals try to analyze them. Don’t bother.

Get the young people involved, and give them ownership. A lack of years of experience oftens yields benefits far beyond those expected in any profession. And it doesn’t come with the intellectual baggage of habits from schools and commanders and wars of long ago.

Golf Weather

Filed under: Golf — Bunker @ 12:05 pm

I had a really good group to play golf with in Dallas. We all walked and carried our bags, and all liked to get out early. We often had the first tee time on Saturdays and Sundays. We played regardless of weather. Courses close when there is frost on the ground because walking on frozen blades of grass will kill them, especially on the greens. Also, there were several holes which flooded during heavy rains. Either of these would keep us off the course, as would lightning. With those exceptions, we played. Even if we were the only ones on the course.

When you say “Dallas,” people instantly think “hot.” Yes, it gets a bit warm in the spring, summer, and fall. Thirty days of 100+ isn’t rare in North Texas. But I’d rather sweat than shiver, myself. One of the reasons we played early is that we usually finished our round before the thermometer reached that threshold.

On other days, though, a cold wind could freeze your nose off in thirty minutes. I’ll tell you about one of those days.

The four of us showed up at the pro shop as usual. The air was heavy and humid, with a frozen breeze swirling through the trees. I wore my silk long johns, along with several other layers topped off by my Gore-tex pullover and knit cap. Ready to roll. My partners were all dressed similarly. We were well-known at the club as refugees from the asylum, but even the head professional was a bit shocked to see us. “I guess today’s just a bit too rough to play.” Someone asked, “Have you closed the course?”

He laughed. “No, it’s open if anyone is crazy enough to go out and try it.”

We looked at each other. “Let’s go!” The young man who took care of the clubs and equipment said something about wanting to play. He had often mentioned going out with us some time when his schedule allowed it, so I asked the Head Pro, “Can he play with us today?” The pro looked at him with an incredulous, questioning gaze. “If he’s stupid enough, you’re welcome to take him.” Off we went.

I don’t remember how long it took for us to finish nine holes, but we moved pretty quickly. We enjoyed having the course to ourselves–no waiting for anyone ahead of us, and no being pushed by someone behind. My toes were losing their feeling, but other than that, things were just fine. The poor young bag boy wasn’t having nearly as much fun as we were. But he kept up, and only complained about the cold wind three or four times.

When we finished the ninth hole, one of the guys said, “I need to go into the locker room and get something. Anybody want some coffee or hot chocolate.” We all requested coffee–except our pick-up partner. “You’re not going to play another nine holes, are you?”

Well, as a matter of fact, yes. The rest of us headed over to the tenth tee.

The poor young tyro was torn. Should he listen to his common sense and go back into the club where the temperature was at least forty degrees warmer, or listen to an ego that wouldn’t allow him to be bested by a bunch of old men? It seemed like a long time before he decided. He was almost frozen in his tracks trying to decide which direction to walk. He finally found a compromise he could live with. “Yeah, I’ll finish out the round. But I need to go let the pro know.”

So, he went inside for a few minutes of warmth before rejoining us on the tenth tee. And he finished the round without mentioning the cold.

But he never played with us again. Dementia might be contagious.

April 27, 2004


Filed under: General Rants — Bunker @ 6:30 pm

On days like today I wonder if I’m just being an arrogant ass. Why do I link to other sites’ posts? Is it because I honestly believe the folks who visit my site won’t see an item unless I point it out to them? If I have a comment on the post I’m linking to, why not simply leave a comment there? Bloggers like Sarah, Michael, and John have far more readers than I do, so do I serve reader interest at all in linking to something they’ve already covered?

I don’t have an answer. I generally write to let off steam, or to let the world know what I think. Does that matter to anyone else? Why should my perspective mean anything to someone else? We all build opinions on experience, and I think my experience is of value. But on reflection, my experience, unique though it is, means nothing more than anyone else’s.

I’ve tried to avoid discussing Kerry and politics, but continue to find myself drawn back. I am more interested in International Relations, the Military, and golf. And not in that order. I am concerned people with no sense of reality will take over our government, so I get mad. I would much rather write about the joy of hitting a pure 7-iron that bounces twice and rolls into the hole for an eagle. I just get upset when people demean my sons and all other folks doing the country’s dirty work. And it is.

I’ll try to stay a little more sane, so bear with me. Next week should help. I’ll play in a Military Retiree Golf Tournament along with my father (if his back holds up), and share a beer or ten with some other old fart GIs from all America’s wars and peacetimes since WWII. It’s a great, diverse crew, and is beginning to attract some of the ladies who’ve served.

So, if there’s not much posted here during the next two weeks, it’s only because I’m very busy enjoying golf and comeraderie, or trying not to vent!

UPDATE: Thanks, Shannon.


Filed under: Military — Bunker @ 4:45 pm

After reading some of the things posted at IndyMedia regarding Pat Tillman’s death, I wish I could take some of those folks on a trip like the one described on the Blackfive site: Taking Chance Home.

Honor is alive and well in America. It’s a shame some can’t see it through their biased blinders.


Filed under: Military — Bunker @ 1:47 pm

I don’t think we need a draft. Some do. I think our military is probably large enough, although some restructuring is in order. The focus needs to be on people and personal equipment rather than the big ticket items. This issue can generate a lot of bile, so I think a little perspective is in order.

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, THE DRAFT was not a big issue among young men except those making a career studying philosophy. And most of those came from higher income families. THE DRAFT was seen as a possible interruption in your life if you had no intention of joining the military. The fear most had wasn’t going to Vietnam and getting killed or wounded, it was a fear of having to endure basic training and possibly crawling around in the mud with snakes and other critters.

If you wanted to go to college and get a degree, get into medical school or law school, that interruption could cause you some valuable time. For the rest of us, THE DRAFT wasn’t something we thought much about. When you turned 18, you registered and got your card. As long as it said “1S”, you were a student who had no concerns at all unless THE DRAFT ran out of people with “1A” status.

Now, all of that is from memory, so maybe it is in error. But I remember it that way. Getting a draft card gave you legal access to beer, so it was a big deal. I knew nobody who tried to get into the National Guard in order to avoid THE DRAFT. I did know guys who enlisted immediately after graduating from high school.

What I’m really trying to convey is that being drafted wasn’t high on our fear list. STDs were. Well, not enough to really matter.

And I don’t think THE DRAFT would be any more frightening to today’s young men and women. I just don’t think it’s necessary, nor do I believe it could be enforced. Anyone with a high-priced attorney could beat the rap.

After President Carter signed an Executive Order granting amnesty to those who left the country during the Vietnam War, reinstating THE DRAFT would be virtually impossible. We could build it, but they probably wouldn’t come. Just as it would be difficult to convict anyone of treason after letting obvious traitors run free, prosecuting draft dodgers would be problematic.

Vietnam. The war that just keeps on giving.


Filed under: Politics — Bunker @ 1:23 pm

This whole “medals and ribbons are the same thing” issue makes me ill. Military people don’t confuse the two. All medals have associated ribbons, but not all ribbons go with a medal.

I didn’t know anything about John Kerry’s service in Vietnam until he decided to run for President. To me, he was another young man who did what he should by joining the Navy. I’ve known small boat commanders and most spent time driving up and down rivers trolling for trouble. They put SEAL teams in, and extracted them. I don’t recall that any of them had Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars, or Silver Stars. Now, I’ve only known three, so maybe they were the ones who avoided all the trouble.

When I found out Kerry had three Purple Hearts, I was impressed. A Purple Heart is for someone wounded in action. Wounded. What picture does that bring to mind? In combat, a wound is something pretty traumatic. It involves loss of blood. Often, lots of it. To be sure, men continue fighting even when wounded. It is a combination of adrenalin, fear, and anger that keeps them going.

Kerry needed Band-Aids.

I then found out he served only four months due to the three “wounds.” I’ve never known a single Vietnam vet who served only four months of a tour. I’ve heard stories of men who spent six months in the bush, and six months in the rear. But I don’t know anyone who got out as quickly as Kerry. The bullshit flag went up.

Now we’re told, by Kerry’s commander, that he showed up with a scratch on his arm wanting a Purple Heart. He even held a piece of shrapnel which he said hit him. Does anyone else see how stupid that sounds? Where did he happen to find that piece of metal? It obviously wasn’t lodged in the wound. Maybe the dog that got thrown from his boat to the one behind was actually retrieving the offending steel.

I will give you my impression of Kerry. And I believe I’m pretty close to the truth.

When his request to attend school in Europe was turned down, he took Ted Kennedy’s advice and joined the Navy. Pretty safe duty out at sea, and military service would look good when he decided to run for office. His duties didn’t give him anything that made him stand out, so he requested small boat duty. As the next JFK, emulating Jack seemed like a good move.

I need medals. First mission, get a scratch and get a medal. Piece of cake. Only two more scratches and I can get out of here. But Purple Hearts imply enemy action. Must do something more courageous, or at least make it look like I did. Just before I took over this boat, they had a big firefight. If I write this up right, I can get a Bronze Star, or maybe even something higher. Bingo. Throw in another Purple Heart.

Two down, one to go. The sailor on the .50-cal takes out a VC. I jump off the boat, fire a couple of rounds from my .45, scratch my arm on a thorn, claim 20 enemy killed. Write it up. With a Bronze Star already in my records, getting a Silver Star isn’t too hard. Third PH and I’m on my way home.

When he gets home and runs for Congress, he gets beat. The anti-war crowd is getting all the publicity. With the help of Ted once again, he gets some notoriety. He gets into a leadership position in the anti-war movement. Having political connections means he can go immediately to the top. No problem getting elected after all the media attention.

I cannot imagine someone with three Purple Hearts. I cannot imagine anyone with two who didn’t have at least one serious wound. I have known people who whined because they didn’t get a medal they felt they deserved, and Kerry fits that mold. He whined until the commander gave in.

The more I learn about Kerry, the less I like him. And I really don’t care about him. He is just another arrogant politician. All this would be completely irrelevant to me except he wants to be President. And even this would not mean nearly as much if we weren’t in mortal combat with a culture that wants to destroy ours.

Kerry’s concept of combat is writing up the reports in a way that makes him look like a hero.

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