Because of an excess of spambot activity, I have blocked new registrations. I hate taking such drastic measures, but I don't have time to clean up all the false registrations that result from whatever attack list I landed on. I will likely revise this in the future once I've upgraded some of my code, but until then, please email me if you would like a user account. Most days, you'll get a login within a few daylight hours. Please let me know:
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The WatchCat spent a year in Russia and the Middle East in preparation for a government career. Unfortunately she got in a little too deep, and health problems sabotaged her career before it began. The future? Now there's an open question. She gets her paws in the action whenever possible, with or without a paycheck. WatchCat keeps busy supporting the troops, recruiting pararescue candidates, yelling at traitors and helping people navigate the grey areas on international everything.
A close family member is active duty US military, but due to OPSEC (and the general need for family peace), WatchCat is unable to write about that person's activities. She makes the most of the opportunities that God gives her, knowing that she should be dead by now.
And yes, she is married & is going to stay married. Smacks upside the head are delivered as needed to those who don't understand this.
I just got back from San Diego and it feels like I was away much longer than the reality. It was a great trip, lots of fun with friends, and I learned things about myself.
My favorite discovery is that I'm evidently a decent speedboat operator. It wasn't exactly a shock to anyone (except for the fact that I did it on about 2 hours of sleep) but I can navigate harbor waters pretty well. I can fly over someone else's wake, make tight or wide turns as needed, and outrun anyone in a similar boat. I'm also cautious enough to stay out of trouble, but flying through the water (and air, occasionally) didn't rattle me. Rather, it was a great adventure.
I also had the opportunity to visit Michael Monsoor's grave at Ft. Rosencrans National Cemetery. There were things I needed to say, things that will never be written here. But the simple words on the bottom of the headstone spoke back to me:
We don't know what may be in the waters ahead. But we have to move forward if we are to find our joy. If considering a choice, I have to ask myself what I'm likely to regret, and then I make the bold, no-regrets move.
Cut through the wake, fly over the waves, feel the salt spray on your face. Choose joy, full speed ahead.
Today we honor the Gold Star moms, whose children gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
And today we remember Mike Monsoor, who sacrificed his life for his team seven years ago today. I'm also especially thinking of the mom who raised such a hero.
I know that some of Mike's teammates have since died, but he gave their families more time. More memories. Moms and wives and kids all got what we hunger for: a few more days. Another hug, another smile. No matter that one is never enough. Each moment is a precious jewel worn on our soul forever.
I just read a piece about how Gold Star Moms see the precious life in every soldier. I can't speak for them, but I suspect it's true. All I can say is that for me, being a good mom is a collision course with heartache. Because if you train them right, if they learn to relish a challenge and put other people first, there's a pretty good chance that you'll live worrying about that knock on the door.
I will support my son in any honorable vocation, but I have to confess that he already seems like a mini SEAL or PJ. My job is to support him with training and chances to exercise his natural gifts, and to give him the foundation of faith and character that will guide him long after I'm gone. I could spare myself some heartache and teach him to be a couch potato, but I can't do that to him. I'm too proud of him.
It's a day of remembrance. But it's also a day to gear up and embrace the people and life we've been given.
Awards: Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Combat Action Ribbon
Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously in a ceremony at the White House April 8, 2008. He will receive the award for his actions in Ar Ramadi, Iraq on Sept. 29, 2006. On that day, Monsoor was part of a sniper overwatch security position with three other SEALs and eight Iraqi Army (IA) soldiers. An insurgent closed in and threw a fragmentation grenade into the overwatch position. The grenade hit Monsoor in the chest before falling to the ground. Positioned next to the single exit, Monsoor was the only one who could have escaped harm. Instead, he dropped onto the grenade to shield the others from the blast. Monsoor died approximately 30 minutes later from wounds sustained from the blast. Because of Petty Officer Monsoor’s actions, he saved the lives of his 3 teammates and the IA soldiers. Monsoor also received the Silver Star for his actions during the same deployment in May 2006, when he exposed himself to heavy enemy fire to rescue and treat an injured teammate.
My best friend and I went to see Act of Valor this weekend. I was a little concerned about some of the negative reviews from the critics, but I wanted to find out for myself.
Verdict? It's in a class by itself but definitely worth your time and money.
Yes, there were a few flaws. A couple technical errors (probably due to the cutting room in at least one case) make good fodder for discussion with experts, and the first few minutes portrayed a DSS agent poorly, which I thought was unfair. Yes, it's a SEAL movie, and few people know who DSS is, but...sigh. Anyway.
Act of Valor is intense, but its emotion is warrior emotion, not the typical Hollywood blubbering. There are a couple of subtle tributes to Michael Monsoor, which just caught me in the heart. I have a feeling that the SEALs involved made sure that those finer details got into the movie.
It's an action movie, yes, and the terrorist plot seemed straightforward to me, at least. (Feel free to comment if you didn't think it was straightforward; I may have studied these things for too long.) I've read critics' reviews which have argued that the movie lacked deep plot or characterization. I could almost see their point, except for one thing: making the movie Hollywood-style would make it into a lie. And I have to wonder whether any of these "movie critics" have ever called a man in uniform their friend. The movie honors the SEALs, far less than they deserve. If you're not interested in SEALs, don't watch it, but that was probably the most valuable two hours I've spent in a movie theater in a very long time.
Normally I try to post during the Pascha (Easter) weekend, at least to encourage people to experience Easter the way we Orthodox Christians celebrate it. This year, that post just didn't happen. And it wasn't because of any change in my desire for you to do that. I got one email out to someone who I particularly thought should go, but beyond that, words failed me.
How does one speak of an undeniable encounter with God?
Recently I had wondered whether my priorities had been askew, namely, whether my blogging and other activities with the military meant more to me than God. It can be so easy to let ideals and friendships take center stage. And so I came to a place where I could offer it all back to God and be okay with whatever happened.
Life with God gets very interesting, however.
I won't try to fully describe it. But one thing became very clear to me: I know God better because of our PJs, because of Michael Monsoor, and even because of my grandmother's death. I want to thank many of you for being the face of Christ to me.
Coming out of this weekend is a story that needs to be written. I haven't decided which name to release it under, but if you email me I can probably share draft copies regardless.
For now I'll just share a video of a "flash mob" in Beirut. They decided to sing our Paschal song (in Arabic and in Greek) in a shopping mall. Watch the faces of everyone involved. The words: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life." Beirut Flash Mob
"Even to the death fight for truth, and the Lord your God will battle for you." -Sirach 4:28
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Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" -Isaiah 6:8
As many of you are aware, the PJCountry blog disappeared in November 2008.
I'm doing my best to help the pararescue community by sharing PJ-related news and events on my blog. The following information may be helpful:
You will find answers to many questions at pararescue.com and specialtactics.com
If you're ready to become a PJ, you'll need to decide between Active Duty and Reserve. This will determine who will handle your official recruitment. Visit Contacts and POCs to find the appropriate person or email me.
304th Pararescue Team (Reserve) (Oregon)
If you're on the west coast near Oregon and are considering being a PJ/CRO on the Portland Pararescue Team (commitment of 4 years beyond training), contact TSgt Stanley Iakopo at stanley.iakopo AT us.af.mil or email me.
I have no official role with pararescue or other SpecOps but I know enough to get you connected to the right people. Email to CAT at THEWATCHCAT dot NET
Jubilate Agno, Fragment B
[For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry]
by Christopher Smart
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.