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Thursday, November 15 2018 @ 11:05 am PST

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Wednesday Hero

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SSgt. Erich R.
Phillips

SSgt. Erich R. Phillips

Company C, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment,

173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team

U.S. Army

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Staff Sergeant Erich R. Phillips, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving as Mortar Platoon Sergeant with Company C, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team, in action at Ranch House in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, on 22 August 2007. Staff Sergeant Phillips' gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. NARRATIVE TO ACCOMPANY AWARD: On 22 August 2007, at 0455L, the Ranch House Outpost at Aranas, Afghanistan, was attacked from all sides by a company-sized insurgent force, simultaneously engaging every post in the perimeter by multiple RPGs and small arms fire. Staff Sergeant Phillips was serving as the Mortar Platoon Sergeant with Company C, 2d Battalion, 503d Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team. On that morning he woke up to the sound of intense small arms fire and RPG explosions. When he moved outside of his quarters he came under effective small arms fire and saw Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan Security Guard (ASG) forces fleeing from their post, which had swiftly been overrun by the insurgents. Staff Sergeant Phillips expertly positioned five soldiers, Private First Class White, Specialist Baldwin, Specialist Chavez, Sergeant Dirkinitis, and Special Schilling to defend the TOC, Aid Station, Mortar Pit and ASP, and led the way by returning fire on a quickly advancing enemy force from the vicinity of the ANA and ASG post while under intense RPG and small arms fire. He moved quickly to the TOC and reported directly to his Platoon Leader, First Lieutenant Ferrara, who told him that there was no communication with Post 3 and Post 4. Staff Sergeant Phillips returned to the mortar firing point to employ the 60-mm. mortars while staying in contact with Post 1, whose element continued to engage the overwhelming enemy assault with hand grenades and direct fire. With the insurgents within 15 meters of his position Staff Sergeant Phillips directed fires and hand grenades to suppress the enemy and protect the Platoon Leader, First Lieutenant Ferrara, who was talking to the company from his Platoon Command Post after the TOC had suffered several direct hits with RPGs rendering the antennas inoperable. Staff Sergeant Phillips' actions were essential in securing First Lieutenant Ferrara's position allowing the platoon leader to control indirect fire and CAS to thwart the enemy attack. When he learned that there were casualties at Post 2, Staff Sergeant Phillips took Sergeant Dirkinitis, the Platoon Medic, and assaulted upwards, 30 meters towards Post 2. Recognizing that Post 2 risked being isolated from the rest of the U.S. element he directed his team to give covering fire as he moved up the hill. As they moved Staff Sergeant Phillips and Sergeant Dirkinitis were pinned down by insurgents firing from the high ground near Post 3 and from behind the Class 1 shed 15 meters away. Soldiers at Post 2 told Staff Sergeant Phillips that there were multiple enemy personnel behind the Class 1 shed which was about 10 meters behind him. While under intense enemy fire he ran to a position from which he could throw multiple hand grenades to deter an enemy advance and continued to fire upon enemy positions. His decision to move toward Post 2 spread out the friendly line and was instrumental in preventing the enemy from overrunning the mortar pit and the Platoon Command Post as well as Post 2. As Staff Sergeant Phillips and Sergeant Dirkinitis continued to fight, Sergeant Dirkinitis was struck in the shoulder by a bullet. Staff Sergeant Phillips pulled him to cover while firing on the enemy. He recognized that he had to move to another position to save the wounded medic. He told Post 2 to provide covering fire while he dragged Sergeant Dirkinitis 15 meters back down the hill to a defilade position so he could be treated. Staff Sergeant Phillips then moved back to the mortar pit and directed Specialist Chavez to treat the casualty. At this point, First Lieutenant Ferrara had called in A-10s to strafe the enemy occupied ASG and ANA posts. As the insurgents' fire became sporadic, Staff Sergeant Phillips assembled a team to clear the Ranch House perimeter and recover Private First Class Deloria who had been isolated at Post 3. He lead the team up the hill and pulled Private First Class Deloria from beneath the rubble of the shattered Post 3. Staff Sergeant Phillips continued to organize the MEDEVAC of the casualties from Post 3 (Private First Class Deloria) and Post 2 (Sergeant Gonzalez, Sergeant Relph, Specialist Bell, and Private First Class Langevin) and moved them down the hill to the LZ to be evacuated. Through his quick thinking and total disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Phillips prevented the Ranch House Outpost from being overrun by an enemy force three times larger and with superior fire power. His quick reaction in employing all available soldiers protected the Platoon CP from being overrun allowing external assets to be employed to defeat the enemy. He quickly assaulted toward Post 2 spreading out the friendly lines and directed lethal blows against the enemy halting their advance 10 meters short of the U.S. line. Absent this assault the enemy would have been able to maneuver in between the U.S. forces, isolating Post 2 from the mortar pit and breaking up the U.S. line of fire. Finally, he assembled an ad hoc force to clear the perimeter and recover the severely wounded Private First Class Deloria, who had been cut off for over 2 hours. His actions at Ranch House yielded invaluable intelligence with the death of MVT Hazrat Omar including enemy video tapes of attack plans, pictures of insurgents, and payroll documents utilized by ACM commanders. During the fierce three-hour battle at the Ranch House eleven U.S. soldiers, half of the U.S. garrison, were wounded. One ANA and one ASG Soldier were killed and one ASG Soldier was wounded. Eight insurgents were killed and a dozen more were wounded.

A year later, SSGT. Phillips was awarded the Silver Star. Staff Sergeant Erich R. Phillips, United States Army, was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, in Afghanistan, on 13 July 2008, while serving with Company C, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team. Staff Sergeant Phillips' valor and competence under intense fire were instrumental in repelling an overwhelming attack by an enemy force at least four times greater than his own. He saved his fellow paratroopers from an unstable missile and then led a relief force to save a beleaguered outpost. Staff Sergeant Phillips repeatedly risked his own life to save the lives of others.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives just so others may get to enjoy freedom. For that I am proud to call them Hero.

Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don't Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

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PJ News

PJ StuffSource: http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123356118

Gallantry earns pararescueman Silver Star

by Senior Airman Christine Griffiths
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/16/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) -- An Airman assigned here earned the Silver Star medal for gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan April 23, 2011.

Maj. Gen. Frank Padilla awarded Staff Sgt. Zachary Kline the Silver Star in a ceremony here July 14, citing Kline's role is rescuing two U.S. Army pilots while under fire, defending a crash site and coordinating aerial counter-attacks. Kline, a pararescueman, is assigned to the 306th Rescue Squadron at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

"The Silver Star is way up on the continuum of honor," said Padilla, the deputy inspector general of the Air Force. "That means you voluntarily risked your life to save others, voluntarily risked your life to expose yourself to great danger in the service of your country. And that is exactly what Zach Kline did that day."

Kline endured approximately six hours under enemy fire, while in the process of recovering two U.S. military members.

"It's an honor being recognized for just doing my job," Kline said. "I worked with some awesome guys and was nice being a part of it."

According to the award citation, Kline was a part of a rescue team tasked to recover two U.S. Army pilots from an OH-58D Kiowa that had gone down. While on the ground, Kline fought enemy fire while coordinating with aircraft by radio to target threats located behind his position.

During the engagement, an incoming round ignited fuel within the wreckage, which then erupted in flames. He continued to push through enemy fire to an alternate site while still guiding overhead aircraft to adversarial positions by radio.

"He leaves us with an example of an Airman that bands together with other Airmen to get the job done and to save others so that they may live," Padilla said. "When Zach leaves our Air Force he's going to leave it just a little bit better because of his accomplishments while he was here."

The Silver Star is the third highest military decoration for valor and is given for gallantry in action against enemies of the United States.


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The Ventura Suit Against Chris Kyle's Widow

General NewsIf you haven't seen this yet, you should: Jesse Ventura Lawsuit Vs Murdered Navy SEAL Can Move Forward, Judge Says

To sum up, Jesse Ventura is going after Taya Kyle for the proceeds of "American Sniper."

What the article doesn't say is that the initial confrontation between Ventura and Kyle occurred when Ventura allegedly mouthed off about a whole slew of issues....at Mike Monsoor's wake. I'm trying to be objective since I can only work with other people's reports, but I have to come down on the side of Chris Kyle because it's a lot more plausible that someone would say something stupid at a wake (and be made to pay for it) than that a group of SEALs would just make up a story to discredit another retired SEAL. Maybe there was bad blood that wasn't getting talked about, but I just don't see it. So the inciting incident just adds to my fury.

But WHATEVER the truth of the matter is, it needs to stop at the grave. Going after the widow of a fellow SEAL is scum-sucking low, and it reinforces my opinion that Ventura's ego has overridden his brain. The SEALs can best decide how to handle Ventura; I'm more concerned about Taya Kyle.

Common decency demands that Ventura drop the suit against Taya Kyle, but it doesn't look like that's happening. While I don't know how big or small the book proceeds have been (and what the author gets is usually smaller than you'd imagine) Taya shouldn't have to use those funds for a legal defense. Someone has started a support page on Facebook, and I know that there's at least one memorial fund out there. I'm going to ask around about their legitimacy before posting any direct links. But decent people have to stand up and say that going after Taya Kyle is morally wrong.

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Similar to WW1 Leadup....

General NewsStavridis: Flash Point in the Eastern Mediterranean
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Honesty and duty

General NewsI've written a lot on integrity over the years. so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that my thoughts on the subject are regularly challenged.

Yet I am also weary. Weary because the demands are often conflicting. Some of the hardest times of my life were when someone thought it was their "duty" to do something that ended up hurting me. Their motives might have been good but their actions were not. But I don't know if I get to complain, as various people have successfully gotten me to do the wrong thing for a supposedly good reason. Glass houses, you know.

Still, I've squirmed in a few recent conversations with people who evidently have stricter standards than I. They've challenged me. While part of my mind wants to accuse them of smug self-righteousness, another part says that their standards are better. Or perhaps it really is a question of the heart: what motivates us to do what is right?

I wonder if a lot of people lower their standards because they dislike feeling as though they don't measure up. Don't bother trying... see me as a rebel... or perhaps all kinds of nameless fears prompt us to choose falseness as a route to self-gratification.

As you can see, I don't have the answers. Black and white thinking has its value but it leaves a lot of us struggling to find our way back after a bad decision. I'm thinking as I type here...a strict code makes people feel safe. I've been on both sides of that. And right now I'm torn between the desire to do better and utter frustration with people who judge too quickly.
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Wednesday Hero

Wednesday Hero Blogroll
Sgt. Richard W.
O'Neill

Sgt. Richard W. O'Neill

82 years old from New York, New York

Company D, 165th Infantry, 42d Division

August 28, 1898 - April 09, 1982

U.S. Army

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Richard William O'Neill, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 30 July 1918, while serving with Company D, 165th Infantry, 42d Division, in action at Ourcq River, France. In advance of an assaulting line, Sergeant O'Neill attacked a detachment of about 25 of the enemy. In the ensuing hand-to-hand encounter he sustained pistol wounds, but heroically continued in the advance, during which he received additional wounds; but, with great physical effort, he remained in active command of his detachment. Being again wounded, he was forced by weakness and loss of blood to be evacuated, but insisted upon being taken first to the battalion commander in order to transmit to him valuable information relative to enemy positions and the disposition of our men.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives just so others may get to enjoy freedom. For that I am proud to call them Hero.

Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don't Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

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Tuesday Scramble

ScramblesHow to Get Your Lady to Shoot: 3 Dos and Don'ts (resisting comments about guaranteed ways to make her pull the trigger... But I'll add a 4th "Do"... Connect her with other women who shoot!

Army Ranger Helps Rescue People Trapped in Apartment Fire

Modesty: I Don't Think it Means What You Think it Means "The truth is, a man can choose to objectify a woman whether she’s wearing a bikini or a burqa."

Study Calls Pentagon Effort to Recover MIA Americans Acutely Dysfunctional

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Beautiful silence

The PTSD DiariesThe Power of Silence

If you have PTSD or know someone who might, this is well worth your time. I especially liked, "...our souls can often heal through nothing more than being allowed to speak freely in the light of day."

YES.

This came into sharp focus with the incident a week ago. In years past I would have internalized the guilt, letting it fester until it became part of me. Instead, I wrote about it. I talked about it. And I hashed it out with God immediately instead of trying to deny that it mattered. I'm so grateful to those friends who said what needed to be said and no more. They cleaned the wound and then let it scab over and heal. No emotional steri-strips or sutures required.

Just friendship, crashing waves, and acceptance. Now silence is something to embrace, not fear.

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Wednesday Hero

Wednesday Hero Blogroll
Lance Cpl. Sean J.
McSweeney

Lance Cpl. Sean J. McSweeney

Company G., Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

U.S. Marines

Lance Cpl. Sean J. McSweeney, an amphibious assault vehicle crewman with Company G., Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and native of Palmyra, N.J., cleans the barrel of a .50 caliber machine gun inside an AAV here, June 29. The Marines and Sailors of the 31st MEU are constantly engaged in training, education and gear maintenance while embarked aboard the ship, taking advantage of their time at sea. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Photo courtesy U.S. Marine Corps taken by Sgt. Jonathan Wright

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives just so others may get to enjoy freedom. For that I am proud to call them Hero.

Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don't Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

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Guilt

General NewsSomething funny happened on the road on my way to vacation.

But that's not the point of this. This post is catharsis for what happened next.

Traffic was backed up, allowing the drivers to laugh at something going on in one of the cars. The location was so well-managed that we thought it was road construction or some other planned event.

We got the signal to move and we began driving through a large gathering of people. I saw debris on the road. Accident? Someone was lying on the ground, well away from traffic, with people clustered around. But the scene was so well-managed...

I got to the end and realized I hadn't seen any emergency vehicles. The whole thing while we were stopped had been so funny that I just wasn't on the lookout for a crisis.

And I was on vacation, my first extended me-time in a year. And traffic would have made it hard to pull over. That's what I told myself. Not to mention that my certifications are expired.

Still, I felt terrible. I'd just about talked myself into turning around when the emergency vehicles started flying past. One two three four five.... they didn't need me any more. But a response like that, on this particular road, meant it was a bad call in every sense.

Lord, have mercy upon me, the sinner.

I'm still searching for the report so I can fight this out with God. If the man died waiting for help... forgive me, God. Nice intentions and "no obligation" weren't enough. My choice was selfish, and cause for a lot of self-examination.

Still, as I thought about that possible conversation with my confessor, I could predict part of what he would say: there's guilt we should own and there's guilt we shouldn't own. Patients die, even when we do everything right. That's God's call. If someone is friends with God...is death so terrible?

But it's too easy to delude ourselves into believing that our character has "arrived." Life will always find the flaws. Just one question: What do you do when you discover them?