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Philadelphia Center-Right Coalition Nov. 12 (Norquist/Freind)

Friends,

I am pleased to inform you that Philadelphia has been selected to host a monthly Center-Right Coalition meeting, following the hugely-successful model of Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). We will be one of the few non-state capital cities to have such a gathering.

The kick-off meeting, which I will be hosting, will be Thursday, November 12 at the Union League in Philadelphia, with Mr. Norquist in attendance. Light refreshments will be served at 7:00 AM, with the program going from 7:30 to 9:00. The Union League is located at 140 S. Broad Street, just two blocks south of City Hall.

In Grover’s words, the objective is “to get everybody who is center-right to tell each other what they are doing, to share technology and tactics, and to tell stories” regarding issues facing Pennsylvania and the nation.

One key function, according to ATR, is to facilitate collaborative activities of coalition members, many of whom may have not previously known one another, and foster the potential for mutual cooperation.

The rules are simple: Anyone who so desires may speak for three minutes on current initiatives, answer questions, and pass the microphone to the next speaker.

The only prohibition is whining. It is a positive meeting, one that will unify southeastern Pennsylvania.

Attendees will typically include influential political, business, policy and grassroots leaders.

If anyone who would like several minutes on the agenda, please let me know.

You are encouraged to bring any literature for distribution.

I hope to see you next Thursday.

For future reference, the monthly meetings will be held on the FIRST THURSDAY of each month at the Union League, with the same time format as above.

Feel free to invite colleagues and associates. All meetings are off the record.

Steadfast,

Christopher Freind
“Freindly Fire”
Audaces fortuna iuvat
610-659-0098
christopherfreind@hotmail.com (E before I in Freind)
CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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November 2, 2009 at 12:28 pm Comments (0)

Face to Face With Hurricane Bill: Freindly Fire Rides with the USAF “Hurricane Hunters”

Face to Face With Hurricane Bill: Freindly Fire Rides with the USAF “Hurricane Hunters”

11 Hour Mission Covered 3,000 Miles Over The Roiling Atlantic Ocean

BY CHRIS FREIND

“Jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft is not a natural act. So let’s do it right, and enjoy the view.”—Clint Eastwood’s U.S. Marine character in “Heartbreak Ridge.”

ABOARD A U.S. AIR FORCE WC-130 “HURRICANE HUNTER” — With all the celebrity status afforded “Bill,” being that he was the top story in newspapers and on television nationwide, it seemed like a good idea to make his acquaintance. After all, it’s not every day you get to meet someone, or in this case, some thing, with a magnitude as great as Bill’s. At least, that what I kept telling myself after receiving a call on a Friday evening from the U.S. Air Force “Hurricane Hunters” squadron asking if I could be at Andrews Air Force base in 24 hours. They had front-row seats to the Hurricane Bill show, and I was on the A-List.

******

A variation of Clint Eastwood’s words echoes in my mind as we sit on a rainy runway at Andrews AFB, just outside Washington, D.C:

“Flying a perfectly good aircraft into the heart of a hurricane is not a natural act.” It is midnight, and I keep telling myself that the crew will “do it right,” so I should “enjoy the view.”

The WC-130 is a venerable aircraft, so successful in its design that it is still being manufactured after 50 years. The four mighty turboprops that would carry us into the storm fired up, and we were ready to roll. Nothing could stop us now.

Except, of course, for a parade of ducks and ducklings that proceeded to cross – waddle, actually- in front of this mighty aircraft, without a care in the world. The eight-man aircrew, one of the most seasoned to ever fly a hurricane mission, were as giddy as little kids, even trying to snap photos of the unusual sight. I take this light moment as a good omen.

Moments later, after a surprisingly short sprint down the runway, we are airborne, heading east. Flying over the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, we pass over South Jersey, where my three little children are sleeping far below. A moment of brief anxiety sets in, because, for the uninitiated such as myself, it’s only natural to think about “worst case” scenarios. We are doing the complete opposite of what people do when a hurricane nears. Instead of fleeing, we are chasing. It was going to be an interesting night.

******

The biggest difference between a WC-130 cockpit and that of a commercial airliner is the number of windows. While a typical passenger jet has four panes, our plane has 18, affording a view not just straight ahead and to the left and right, but above and below. As we progress out over the Atlantic, the first of what would be many contrasts strikes me. Peering up, the sky is crystal clear, with more stars than can be described. Hard to believe that in a short period of time, that view will be clouded over, literally, by a huge storm.

Among the various monitors and screens in the cockpit is one which depicts not just our plane’s heading, but everything in our flight path ahead. In short order, there he is, in all his glory. Bill’s familiar hurricane shape took form, and we are closing fast. It is showtime.

*******

The most common question asked by the public is how the Hurricane Hunters’ planes can withstand the power of a hurricane, since wind speeds can approach 200 miles per hour. As Major Jeff Ragusa, commander of our mission, explained, the ride is not usually as bumpy and one might expect. This is because the plane, as a moving object, is not subject to the same stresses of land-based structures. Stationary objects, such as trees, cars and buildings, either withstand a hurricane’s winds, or get blown away when they reach a breaking point.

Maj. Ragusa likened our plane to that of a swimmer in a strong current. Whether the current is 20 miles per hour or 40, the swimmer is not physically harmed because he isn’t stationary. He is simply moving with the water. Likewise, since the plane moves laterally in the hurricane’s winds, and does so at an angle, called “crabbing,” the turbulence from that force is minimal.

However, that doesn’t mean the flight is a cakewalk. The crew has to be constantly aware of extremely powerful downdrafts from the thunderstorms inside the hurricane.

For various meteorological reasons, the standard altitude for entering the hurricane is 10,000 feet, at which time the plane slows to 200 mph from its cruising speed of 320. There is another reason that the 10,000 foot level is one often adhered to by the crews – it provides a larger margin of safety.

In 2005, Hurricane Wilma progressed from a Category 1 to a Category 5 (the most powerful) faster than any other storm in history. It remains the most powerful hurricane on record, with the lowest pressure ever recorded. During a Hurricane Hunter flight into Wilma in which the plane was considerably lower than 10,000 feet, a downdraft slammed the plane 2,500 straight down in a matter of seconds. Having the ocean rush up that quickly, and be that close, is not something an aircrew wants to experience.

On Hurricane Hunter missions, the planes are an island unto themselves. Our navigator tells us during a briefing that we are the only aircraft remotely close to the storm. And since cargo ships avoid the shipping lanes affected by the hurricane, there are no surface vessels for potentially hundreds of miles.

Waves generated by Bill exceed an almost inconceivable 60 feet, and are clearly visible from our altitude two miles above the surface (upon entering the eye, the wind speed drops to zero and there is a clear view of the ocean below). Should the plane have to ditch at sea, the crew would be on its own for a considerable amount of time.

Since the Hurricane Hunters have never lost a plane (they have 10), and they have been through hurricanes’ fury countless times, I rest a bit easier knowing the odds are on my side.

*****

The Hurricane Hunters comprise the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (WRS) based out of Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. According to the unit’s public affairs office, it is a one-of-a-kind organization in that it is the only operational unit in the world that engages in weather reconnaissance on a routine basis. An Air Force Reserve unit, its primary mission is to perform aerial weather reconnaissance of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the central Pacific Ocean. In a unique arrangement, the WRS is effectively directed not by the Department of Defense, but by the Department of Commerce’s National Hurricane Center. The squadron’s mission calls for the unit to be able to engage in continuous operations 24 hours per day, with the ability to fly into 3 storms at a time. Based on these requirements, the WRS is staffed with ten full-time and ten part-time aircrews.

Each aircrew includes a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, aerial reconnaissance weather officer, and a weather loadmaster. There are often several backup pilots and co-pilots, since typical mission duration is 11 hours, with some lasting 18.

The flight meteorologist acts as flight director, observing and recording meteorological data at the horizontal flight level, while the the loadmaster collects and records vertical weather data by using dropsondes, devices shot out of the airplane while inside the storm which measure temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and wind direction. Dropsonde information is relayed back to the plane twice per second, which, after being tabulated with the horizontal data via an advanced computer program, is relayed to the National Hurricane Center at regular intervals. Other weather instruments determine rainfall amounts, ocean temperature, and wind speeds at the sea surface.

An analogy often used to describe why Hurricane Hunters fly into storms is that hurricanes are like tumors. Their presence is known, but critical details must still be ascertained, such as size, whether it is growing, how it is spreading, and the precise type of entity being studied.

Hurricane forecasters use the Hunters’ data to determine if a storm is intensifying, and where it may be heading. The mission of the Hurricane Hunters is immensely valuable because it increases the accuracy of hurricane predictions by 30%. In addition to saving countless lives, the WRS saves millions of dollars, since it costs approximately one million dollars to evacuate every one mile of coastline.

*******

The flight continues for hours, penetrating the eye eight times. We fly over Nantucket and as far north as Halifax, Canada. While visibility is limited flying through the storm, there are breathtaking views when the plane is out of the hurricane. Despite the raging seas and fierce winds so close to us, we witness a spectacular sunrise above the clouds and a rainbow for the record books. The views give an almost surreal feeling, as these tranquil scenes are occurring within sight of a savage hurricane.

After our last pass through the eye, we head for home, weary from the mission duration, the ever- present turbulence, the noise level (earplugs are worn at all times), and the utilitarian accommodations. The WC-130 is a workhorse, and it does its job flawlessly, but a comfortable airliner it is not. Metal-framed canvass seats with mesh backing are standard in the cargo hold, and there is a port-a-potty with a curtain for a bathroom. The “refrigerator” is a cooler strapped to the floor.

The WRS crew, underneath their friendly exterior, are no-nonsense, tough-as-nails airmen who face elevated risks every time they take to the skies. They perform their mission with the utmost professionalism and poise, knowing that what they do saves lives and property. Seasoned in a way unmatched by other airmen, they are the best of the best.

After sitting in the cockpit for a picture-perfect landing, I step out onto the tarmac with a newfound respect for solid ground under a clear blue sky.

While I encountered a hurricane but once, these airmen face substantial risks flight after flight. That’s true courage.

As I look back at the WC-130, thinking about the tempest we, and more importantly, it – just endured – Maj. Ragusa hands me a 53rd WRS squadron patch.

For 11 hours, I was a Hurricane Hunter – a truly unforgettable experience.

Chris Freind, author of “Freindly Fire,” is an independent columnist and investigative reporter whose home newspaper is The Philadelphia Bulletin. Readers hail from six continents, thirty countries, and all fifty states. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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August 27, 2009 at 5:25 pm Comments (0)

New Jersey Devils: Knights of The Sky

New Jersey Devils: Knights of The Sky

A Media Ride With the NJ Air National Guard

BY CHRIS FREIND

“We live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded… you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use them as the backbone of a life trying to defend something.” — Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men”

ABOARD NEW JERSEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD FLIGHT DEVIL 92- Two physicals, hours of life support training, and multiple waivers later, I am ready.

We are at the end of the Atlantic City Airport runway. Sitting in front of me, Lt. Col. Kevin Kelly, call sign “Grace”, is piloting our F-16D fighter, waiting for clearance from the tower. After the final check by the New Jersey Air National Guard (ANG) ground crew, he is given the green light to commence our flight.

As he pushes the throttle forward, the afterburner kicks in, initiating an acceleration which simply cannot be described, because, quite literally, there is nothing else on Earth with which to compare it. The takeoff speed would make a Porsche 911 Turbo look as if it was standing still. Once airborne, the plane flies relatively level for several seconds before Grace lights the pipe and pulls for the vertical.

For the layman, that is 90 degrees, straight up, with the Fighting Falcon accelerating the whole time. 7G’s later, we level off, upside down, above 13,000 feet. Time from the deck to two-and-a-half miles: about 12 seconds. Do the math.

Tom Cruise has nothing on Grace.

Truth is, the plane could have kept going vertical, but it was a hot, humid day, and the two-seater was hauling two 2,000 pound fuel tanks, substantially increasing drag. Can’t burn too much fuel early, since we have an hour of combat maneuvers ahead of us, some of which will make our bodies weigh nine times more than normal.

****
The Jersey Devil Is No Myth

The Atlantic City Airshow was held this week, billed as the largest in the nation. While the 177th Fighter Wing aircraft are a major show attraction, the star performance is generally thought to be the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerobatic team, who perform high-speed in-flight maneuvers just feet from one another’s wingtips. Impressive as the Thunderbirds are, they, as a unit, don’t hold a candle to the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey ANG, known as the Jersey Devils.

The 177th, based at the Atlantic City Airport, is home to 24 F-16’s, several of which are on full alert – armed and fully fueled – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Its pilots arduously train for a variety of tactical and strategic missions, preparing them to accomplish a host of objectives. The Unit has seen action all across the globe, from war zones in Afghanistan and the Middle East, to operations in Europe and the Pacific. Mission roles include air sovereignty, combat air patrol, strategic air defense, defensive counter-air, close air support for ground troops, and air-to-ground attack.

The Jersey Devils were the first single squadron unit – including active duty, Guard, or Reserve – to fly 1,000 combat air patrol missions in support of Operation Noble Eagle, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) initiative to defend America’s airspace in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

But it is the 177th’s strategic location along the northeast corridor that makes it so invaluable. The Jersey Devils are responsible for protecting the airspace around New York City, Philadelphia, and parts of Washington, D.C. Its planes can be over Manhattan or the nation’s capital in minutes, and its pilots are trained to protect America and its citizens at all costs, especially from another airborne terrorist attack. They are the ultimate first responders who carry on their shoulders an immense pressure – the responsibility to ensure that a 9/11-type tragedy never happens again.

******

Due to the high volume of local air traffic, our speed slows dramatically until space opens up further south. When the engine is throttled back after the rocket-like takeoff, there is a momentarily sensation that the fighter is just floating in mid-air, with life somehow coming to a peaceful standstill. That perception is fleeting, however, as Grace starts to run the venerable war bird through its paces, performing a few initial rolls and turns that immediately trigger our G-suits to activate.

Being the back-seater offers me incredible views out both sides of the canopy, which, I was told, would protect us if we struck a five-pound bird at 500 knots. Comforting as that was, it seemed only natural to ponder what would happen if a fat six pound seagull slammed us at 500, or a four pounder at 600. I quickly dismissed such thoughts after recalling that I was sitting over – make that strapped to – a rocket-powered ejection seat. I, along with the Colonel, have the power to pull the ejection handle and float to earth. Never mind a force 23 times that of gravity hitting you on ejection, nor the fact that you could break – or lose – a hand or arm on the way out. Or nearly 100 other factors that could make for a melancholy day. Unlike being in an airliner, the knowledge that we had a fighting chance was an empowering feeling, although not one I was eager to experience. Keeping my hands away from the handle seemed like a good gameplan.

And since Grace was in command, I had nothing to worry about. He is a 20 year military pilot who spent much of that time as a naval aviator, a veteran of over 400 aircraft carrier landings who saw action in several theaters of war. Today’s flight is just about flying, pure and simple. No tactical mission briefings, no bombing runs, no dogfighting, and no twitching of the advanced fire control radar. The objective of the media flight is to give a first-hand accounting of the aircraft’s capabilities and how a Jersey Devil aviator handles his, or her, various missions, as there are both men and women comprising the unit.

******

Reaching our destination over the Chesapeake Bay, Grace demonstrates a number of dogfighting maneuvers designed to gain the immediate upper hand on an adversary. American fighter planes are generally accepted to be the best in the world in terms of performance, technology and weaponry. But trite as it sounds, planes are only as good as the pilots who fly them. That is where the Americans’ advantage is greatest. Their intense, and never-ending, training is second to none.

We repeatedly go vertical and fly inverted as Grace performs scissor maneuvers, precision rolls, the split-s, and perhaps most unnerving, flying straight down. It will be forever etched in my mind how quickly the ground appears when your aircraft is hurtling towards it at 500 knots. Pulling out of the dive gives one a glimpse into how strong, yet relatively light, the plane’s airframe is. The tolerances engineered into such a machine make me marvel at just how smart our engineers are, since the only protection afforded us from unimaginable stresses are a thin piece of titanium and a plastic canopy.

When an aircraft performs such maneuvers, the immense acceleration creates forces several times that of gravity. A top-of-the-line roller coaster may hit 3 g’s, and a dragster, 5. Grace repeatedly hit 7.5, and even exceeded 9, which would make a 170 person momentarily weigh 1,500 pounds.

The only way a human can withstand these forces without losing consciousness is by wearing a G-suit. The suit’s air bladders wrap around one’s legs, thighs and abdomen, and automatically inflate when pulling G’s, creating substantial pressure which forces blood back into the brain. Without a G-suit, blood would pool in the lower extremities, forcing a pilot to “black out.”

And blacking out at 15,000 feet can ruin a person’s day in a hurry.

*****

Master Sgt. Jason Gioconda had the task of training me on how to handle potential but rare situations that could be encountered during the flight, from engine fire to bird strike. After being fitted for the flight suit, helmet, mask, and harness, he trained me in the simulator on the basics of flight, extraction from the seat (there are five separate belts and wires to which one is connected), ejection, parachuting, and survival at sea.

MSgt. Gioconda explained that one of the most impressive items among the 38 pounds of equipment the pilot wears ( 44 pounds in the winter) is the harness for the parachute. Since being attached to a parachute in water can quickly lead to drowning, the harness buckles are fitted with tiny explosives which automatically activate upon contact with salt water, thereby freeing the pilot from his chute. Amazed, I naturally asked why the system didn’t work for fresh water, since we would undoubtedly be flying over fresh water lakes. With a sly smile, he responded with a question of his own: With a buckle system that would separate you from your parachute upon encountering fresh water, what would happen if you ejected in a rainstorm?

Point taken. Again, thank God for smart people.

********

As we prepare to leave the Chesapeake, Grace allows me to enter an elite club. Of all people who have lived, how many have traveled faster than the speed of sound? To have the opportunity to do what Chuck Yeager did so bravely in 1947 was, for me, the most remarkable part of the flight. While there is no distinct sensation except for the slight acceleration, it nonetheless is an inspiring feeling. Up here, in this marvelous airplane that just went supersonic, you can’t help but think that man’s potential for greatness in unlimited.

*********
Heading up the coast, we cross Delaware Bay, which despite its size, just doesn’t look that big from my vantage point. After passing the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and a fleet of tankers far below, we begin a rapid descent to 2,500 feet and slow our speed as we cruise just above the south Jersey beaches. We float by Wildwood, Avalon, Sea Isle — and Ocean City. Since we are well below the speed of sound, the F-16’s approach can be heard from quite a distance. Grace remembered that my three little children were on the Ocean City beach, and that I had told them to look up in the sky around 3:00. With a smile on his face that I just knew was there, he dipped his wings from side to side as we roared by, giving three little kids – and their dad – the thrill of a lifetime.

Coming in on final approach, with the beautiful south Jersey marshes below and the sun slowly beginning its descent, Grace made a picture perfect landing on what was a picture perfect, and unforgettable, day.

********

Upon exiting the base, I headed straight to the beach, as much to see my children and tell them about the flight as to look up and see exactly where I had just flown. Gazing skyward at what looked to be 2,500 feet, I felt privileged to have been a Jersey Devil, if for just an hour.

My son ran up to his new-found friends on the beach and told them that his Dad had been in the plane that had just streaked by. I found myself bombarded by questions by children and adults alike, as they looked at me in awe at what I had just done. Exhilarating as it was, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of a lifetime, I humbly replied that I had the easy job. Doing something once that is dangerous and demanding, such as flying in an F-16, is not hard. Doing it every day, in peace and war, despite all the inherent risks and potentially unthinkable decisions a pilot must make, is real valor.

America, rest easy. The 177th Fighter Wing – true Knights of the Air – is on duty. I salute them with my motto: Audaces fortuna iuvat – Fortune Favors The Brave.

Chris Freind, author of “Freindly Fire,” is an independent newspaper columnist whose readers hail from six continents, thirty countries, and all fifty states. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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August 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm Comments (0)

Falling Through the Looking-Glass

I would have to say that what I’m seeing being done in the name of my country is something that I never considered even possible, even in my worst nightmares. This, I believe, is the first time in our nation’s history that our Commander-In-Chief, the Leader of our country and most powerful man on Earth has decided to snub and insult our nation’s friends and warm up to and become bosom buddies with our enemies. This must be what Alice felt like when she stood in the Looking-Glass House. This can’t be the reality I know.

I have read many books on history and ethics, leadership and military concepts, on philosophy and morality and only one thing can allow this to make any relative sense would be the concepts I learned when reading the 2000+ year old masterpiece written by the Chinese general Sun-Tzu called The Art of War. In this you come to learn the concept that a leader should “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” There is only one problem with attributing the President’s actions with this concept. He seems to have skipped the first part of that sentence and only learned the second. Maybe he was sleepy when he read the book. Perhaps he’s so smart that he was speed-reading and just missed it. Or possibly to save time he was reading the Cliff Notes version and that part wasn’t included.

Whatever the reason he has for this type of conduct though does not excuse the type of treatment he forwards toward our greatest ally in the world, Great Britain, or their Queen Mother. Nor does it warrant the touchy-feely attitude toward Communist dictators like Hugo Chavez or the acceptance of Anti-American literature with a childish smile on his face, gleeful with someone giving him a present like a child at Christmas. It made me frustrated on the outside and emotionally unsure for my country’s future on the inside, asking myself in my head “What world am I on anymore? Did I fall through the Looking-Glass?”

At no time that I can recall from anything I have seen, heard or read has a President while in office ever been so obsequious to foreign leaders as to been seen as subservient to their position like our President was with the King of Saudi Arabia, or at best be viewed as a Prop on a stage for the real leader as he was with Chavez. This is not real. It can’t be. Somebody shake me out of this dream!

A President of these United States, any President, let alone the sitting Commander-In-Chief, would never go around the world, to every corner of the globe, and rail on about how his country, our country, is arrogant and full of mistakes and bigotry, that the problems of the world rest squarely on the United States shoulders and that everything wrong on this planet is our fault. No no no! This isn’t happening! I’m asleep. That’s what it is. Only a dream. It has to be. Is it?

There are only three conclusions that I personally can come to after having witnessed all this. The first is that this man that has been elected to be the Leader of the Free World is so inept, inexperienced and gullible that he is incapable of realizing what a buffoon and inconsequential as a President he appears to be to the other leaders of the world and too many of his own citizens. I hope I’m wrong here. Or he is as smart as the media says he is and these actions he is performing in our name are what he truly feels. God forbid this be true. The final option is a combination of the previous two, he is gullible AND he believes in these things he does. This option I believe is by far the most dangerous and frightening of the three, but I’m being optimistic that it is one of the two former possibilities that is the reality of all of this. And that is a sad day indeed when that is an American citizens, a true American Nobody’s, hope.

Just please, somebody, anybody, tell me that I’m dreaming and that I will wake up again to a world where my country stands for the ideals she has always held dear of freedom to all, government staying out of our lives as much as possible, being allowed to succeed or fail based on our own merit and hard work, and our President expressing the greatness that America is.

I want to get back to my side of the Looking-Glass again.

April 23, 2009 at 11:35 am Comments (0)

Thoughts From an American Nobody No.4

     It became clear to me recently that our government and those that “Represent” us truly don’t understand what it means to live by American principles. They have just recently passed a law that “encourages” volunteerism among the young and old in America. Since when have you known any American that needed the government to tell them that it was good to volunteer your time and energy to a good cause? I believe the difference that I as an American am seeing in this type of innocuous legislation is the fact that government is now trying to gives us direction, or as they would put it “Encouragement”, as to what type of things I should volunteer on. Isn’t this the opposite of what volunteering means? The dictionary defines a volunteer as “a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking” or in the legal context “a person whose actions are not founded on any legal obligation so to act.” So, this sounds like to me that our Legislators have either never picked up a dictionary before in their lives or never truly volunteered for anything that they had no real expectation of anything in return except a feeling of having done good for the sake of being good.

     I never needed to be told to be charitable or give first. Not only do I volunteer for several different charities in my area but I grew up knowing that service for country and my fellow American always came first. When I was making the decision to join the Navy, I talked to my father about it, a veteran of the Army and a 6th generation Hayes to answer his country’s call to serve. He didn’t ask me “What job do you want” or “What branch of service?” but looked me dead in the eye and just asked “Why?” He wanted to know if I really understood what I was getting into. I remembered exactly what I said because it was one of those turning points in a person’s life, an epiphany, and I said “Because I don’t believe that I could ever ask for anything from anyone else unless I was willing to give up something first.” That is when he and I both knew that I really understood to look beyond myself and my own self-serving interests and knew that to be American is to give willingly to your fellow American FIRST before anything else. Americans know this and don’t need government telling us from on high how to live our lives and treat our fellow man.

     In Europe, there is a level of Socialism that is entrenched in every level of government and in just about all facets of the average Europeans life to one extent or another. Well, We Are Americans, Not Europeans. Our Founding Fathers and their fathers before them left Europe specifically because the governments of Europe intruded upon every facet of their lives and tried to tell them what to do, when to do it, and how to do what they told them to do. Most importantly, they were told by those same leaders to Not Ask Questions; just do as they said because it was “The best thing for us.” Sound Familiar anyone? They left for the new world to escape this tyranny and choose their own destinies.

     Well everyone, there’s nowhere else to run to. I may be an American Nobody just like you, but even I can see that this is our home at its time to make a stand. The tyranny of the Old World has found us again and we need to draw a line in the sand and stand firm. “This far and no further!” Some of us have begun to gather our friends together to start talking about what we can do to halt this downward spiral and right our course again and set our country back on its intended course. I just hope enough of us see the path before it becomes too overgrown with weeds and is lost to us.

     Forever.

March 24, 2009 at 8:50 am Comments (0)

Veterans Day 2008 in Pittsburgh

Here are some photos I took at the Veterans Day parade in downtown Pittsburgh today. Click each one for a larger image.

Thank you, veterans:

Many high school students participated in the parade. Here are a few of them:

Many of the high school students were also JROTC. Here is one group of them:

Plenty of people showed up to watch the parade, but I was particularly impressed by this child:

November 11, 2008 at 2:25 pm Comments (0)

Obama Was Against the Troops Before He Was For Them

This would be devastating if Obama didn’t have 90% of the media in his pocket. I agree with Captain Ed; this ad needs to be run nationally, but most especially here in PA:

September 27, 2008 at 9:02 pm Comments (0)

Veterans For McCain Event

From the inbox.

In Philadelphia:

Date: 25 August 2008 at 10am
Place: Foglietta Plaza by Penns Landing. The address is Front and Dock Street across from the Society Hill Sheraton One Dock Street · (2nd and Walnut Streets)
Time: 10am
Speakers:
Tom Lynch – Veterans State Chair – Admiral/US Navy
Craig Williams – Running for Congress – Gulf War Vet/USMC
James Matthews – Chairman, Montgomery County Commissioners (PA Republican candidate for Lt Gov 2006) – Navy

I’m guessing Mr Matthews is there at the behest of his political patron, Bob Asher RNC Committeeman (and McCain’s Pa chairman). Jim is desperately trying to repair his reputation with Republicans after giving away control of county government to fellow Democrat Commissioner Joe Hoeffel for his precious title.

Doing PR for McCain hardly compensates for empowering Joe Hoeffel to deconstruct the GOP piece by piece in Montgomery County.

I’d be hard pressed to believe it wouldn’t be a lot easier for him if he changed course. That being said, Jim is a man of his word. To Joe.

August 22, 2008 at 4:17 pm Comments (0)

Open Letter to John McCain

Dear Senator McCain,

Gen. Wesley Clark, who claims to be very concerned about how our troops are treated, and who has spent years attacking conservative Republicans as anti-troop via his partisan VoteVets organization, recently said this about your military service:

“I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.”

I suggest that you reply to Clark with these words:

“Is that so? Well, how many times have you been shot down while flying a fighter plane in a war zone, a**hole?”

If you were to say that, I think we would see your approval rating go up by 10 points overnight.

Sincerely,

John Lewandowski

June 29, 2008 at 4:43 pm Comments (0)

Another Haditha Marine Found Not Guilty

Rep. John Murtha, care to comment on this yet?

Haditha Marine Lt. Andrew Grayson acquitted

When is Murtha going to apologize for calling these Marines cold-blooded murderers? If I had to guess, I’d say “never”.

Be sure to support Murtha’s opponent in the upcoming election:

William Russell for Congress!

June 5, 2008 at 7:17 am Comments (0)

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