12 January 2017

'Soldier Stories' Opera at Camp Dodge, Iowa Jan. 27-29

The Des Moines (Iowa) Metro Opera opens its 45th anniversary season with a regional premiere of David T. Little's rock-infused "Soldier Songs," a one-act, multi-media production about "the loss of innocence and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war," Jan. 27-29, 2017 at the Iowa National Guard's Freedom Center armory, Camp Dodge, Iowa. Camp Dodge is located in the Des Moines suburb of Johnston.

The performance is part of the arts organization's "2nd Stages" series—community collaborations to create events in non-traditional performance spaces for opera.

According to press materials:
The opera centers on the abstract Soldier and follows his path through three different stages of his life: as a boy playing with his plastic soldiers and guns, heavily influenced by media images of heroes and war; as a young adult soldier, both thrilled and terrified by the grim reality of modern combat; and finally, as the older veteran returned home, struggling to confront his memories and consumed by grief when two marines come to tell him that his son has been killed in combat. 
The opera asks us to examine the real human costs of warfare and the part we all play as audience and media consumers in creating the culture of war and the emotionally-devastating cult of the real American hero.
"We greatly appreciate the Des Moines Metro Opera exploring the deeply personal experiences of American servicemembers and bringing forward the unique emotional, physical, mental and spiritual issues engendered by combat operations," said Col. Greg Hapgood, public affairs officer for the Iowa National Guard.

Baritone Michael Mayes will star in the performance, and composer Little will be attending the opening night. Des Moines Metro Opera Music Director and Principal Conductor David Neely will conduct the performance, which features an amplified seven-person orchestra. Audience members are cautioned that the production features strong language, simulated gunshots, explosions, and other potentially triggering sounds and visual effects.

Directed by Kristine McIntyre, and designed by Adam Crinson, the "Soldier Songs" production will also feature real military vehicles supplied by the Iowa National Guard.

Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online here, or by phone: 515.961.6221. Seating is limited. A photo identification is required for admittance to the military post.

Performances are:
  • Fri., Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sat., Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sun., Jan. 29 at 2 p.m.
Each performance will be followed by a facilitated "talk back" session with audience.

A FREE preview performance for veterans will be conducted during the final dress rehearsal Thurs., Jan. 26.

A promotional video appears at link here, and below:

04 January 2017

MWSA Gold Medal Awarded to 'FOB Haiku' Book!

Book reviewers at Military Writers Society of America (M.W.S.A.) recently announced that "Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poetry from Inside the Wire" (Middle West Press, LLC) has been awarded a 2016 Gold Medal in Poetry.

The award takes place after a 2015 MWSA rules revision. Under a new system, panels of three judges considered approximately 80 military-themed or -authored fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and other literature.

According to the association: "The already stringent requirements were toughened further. Three judges read every book submitted and scored them based on content, visual, style, and technical criteria. The three scores were then averaged. To receive a medal, a book had to reflect MWSA's exacting technical standards as well as a high total score."

In a companion review to the award, author and Gold Star mother Betsy Beard described "Welcome to FOB Haiku" as "fresh, profound, illuminating." She continues:
[T]his is a must-read poetry book. It logs the humor and joy as well as the pathos and tragedy that comes as a result of serving in the American military.

The poetry is divided into several sections titled Basic Issue, Getting Embed, FOB Haiku, Lessons Learned, and Homecoming. A final section titled Notes contains valuable definitions as well as pronunciations for the ever-present military acronyms. Information in this section is critical to the understanding of how the poetry is to be read, since many of us do not know how to pronounce DFAC or TOC. My advice is to read the notes for each section before you read the poetry in that section. I think it will deepen the experience as well as allow you to get the meter that the poet intended.

One poem in particular changed the way I think of my son's service in Iraq, where he was killed in action. "Hamlet in Afghanistan" enabled me to realize more than I had allowed myself to think that "nothing we can ever do will change that day in the village." Heartrending, but true.

Not everyone in America understands the military culture. But for those who lived it, this book will bring remembrance and affirmation. For those who are families and friends of service members, this book will help you gain new understanding of your loved ones. For those without experience in this field, you may end up with a fresh look at what it’s all about.
"Welcome to FOB Haiku" can be purchased via on-line booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more. For more information, visit: www.fobhaiku.com

21 December 2016

OPORD for Operation Reindeer Games 2016

PHOTO: Army Spc. Jess Nemec and 1st Lt. Sarah Johnson/Released
Blog-editor's note: This post was originally published on the Red Bull Rising blog Dec. 23, 2013, and again here at the now-archived mil-blog digest "The Sandbox." In 2014, we FRAGO'd the dates and the illumination data, and topped it off anew with a holiday shot (above) from the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter (2-147 A.H.B.), 34th Combat Aviation Brigade (34th CAB). Those Red Bull aviation soldiers were deployed to Camp Beuhring, Kuwait, and elsewhere.

While all Red Bull units are now currently at home, let's remember deployed service members and their families in thoughts and prayers this holiday season! 

*****

OPORD 12-2016: "OPERATION REINDEER GAMES" ... ALL TIMES SIERRA

I. SITUATION: TASK FORCE SHERPA continues holiday sustainment operations vicinity FOB LIVINGROOM.
1. Enemy Forces: 
Refer to Appendix X, "Naughty List." 
2. Friendly Forces / Attachments: 
a. One (1) soldier, callsign "SCOOP," from TF GI-JOE Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, location OP ELFONSHELF.  
b. One (1) Pathfinder-qualified soldier from 1225th Special Operations Aviation Regiment ("The Night-stockers"), callsign "RUDOLPH," location AO ROOFTOP.
c. Five (1) soldiers from 334th Brigade Support Battalion, 2-34th BCT attached as Forward Logistics Elf Element (FLEE), callsign "WORKSHOP," location AO UNDERTREE.
d. Ten (10) 03s-a-leaping from HHC, 2-34th BCT attached as command-and-control cell.
PHOTO: 34th CAB, Minn. Army National Guard, 2013
3. Weather and Terrain: 
High of 45 degrees Fahrenheit; low of 29 degrees. No effects on current snow cover. Condition WHITE for sleigh-borne operations.
4. Illumination:
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow is not likely to give the lustre of mid-day to objects below. Moonset is 251445DEC15; peak illumination is 11 percent. Civil twilight is 250708DEC16. Sunrise is 250740DEC16. 
As noted in After Action Reviews of past holiday ops, however, SUGARPLUM elements have been known to stir well before light conditions warrant, or even Christmas Reveille.
II. MISSION
"TF SHERPA secures LANDING ZONE CHIMNEY NLT 242330DEC16 and conducts resupply via reindeer-drawn miniature sleigh during hours of darkness prior to 250710DEC16. On order, commences opening of presents and distribution of holiday themes and messages."
III. EXECUTION
1. Commander's Intent:
TF SHERPA will conduct safe and secure receipt of Christmas gifts, minimizing boots-on-ground time and distractions for RED-RYDER-6. Endstate is a Happy Christmas to all personnel, and to all a good night.
2. Concept of Operation:
We will start by ceasing all garrison activities, troop movements, and roving patrols beginning 242100DEC16. No personnel should be stirring. Not even a mouse. Stockings will be hung by the objective with care. All SUGARPLUM elements will be nestled all snug in their bunks. 
RED-RYDER-6 will arrive LZ CHIMNEY during hours of darkness, and will successfully evade detection by SUGARPLUM elements and local civilian air-traffic control. 
Following the operation, TF SHERPA personnel will prepare to conduct Key Leader Engagements with both sides of the family. 
Throughout this operation, TF SHERPA personnel will also reinforce themes and messages of "Peace on Earth, goodwill to all" via appropriate official STRATCOM channels, including social media and telephone.
3. Maneuver:
Under no circumstances should unauthorized personnel stir to investigate clatter from exterior areas, including rooftops.
4. Fires:
On order, 1-194th Field Artillery will provide 1.55 cm artillery-delivered tinsel as chaff to defeat detection of TF RED-RYDER by regional air-traffic control radar.
5. Coordinating instructions:
Authorized sleeping uniform is kerchief, cap, or green fleecy hat; MultiCam pajamas; and red-and-white "candy stripe" reflective safety belt. Noise and light discipline will be maintained per SOP. Senior personnel are encouraged to employ red-light headlamps or night-vision devices.
6. Specific instructions:
Headquarters will redeploy public affairs team member SCOOP from OP ELFONSHELF to vicinity LZ CHIMNEY for documentation of gift-giving operations NLT 250700DEC16. Mission focus will be on "telling the Christmas story by telling our Army story."
IV. SERVICE & SUPPORT
1. 334th BSB will provide (1) Meal, Ready-to-Eat to RED-RYDER-6. Ranger cookies and shelf-stable milk are appropriate. On order, also provide one (1) 64 lb. bag of Reindeer Chow.
2. Religious services are 241900DEC16, and 251000DEC16.
V. COMMAND & SIGNAL
1. Location of Key Leaders: 
HOUSEHOLD-6 and HOUSEHOLD-7 will be in the command bunker after 242100DEC16. 
2. Succession of command: 
HOUSEHOLD-6, HOUSEHOLD-7, SUGARPLUM-1, SUGARPLUM-2, and the dog INDIANA
3. Callsigns: 
Holiday callsigns are NOT authorized. Under no circumstances should SUGARPLUM elements refer to HOUSEHOLD-6 as "NUTCRACKER-6." The previously published SOI was in error. HOUSEHOLD-7 is very, very sorry. 
4. Challenge / Password for 24DEC14 is: "SMOKE" / "WREATH." 
5. Challenge / Password for 25DEC14 is: "BOWLFUL" / "JELLY." 
6. Running password is "FIGGY PUDDING."
VI. SAFETY
1. Use ground guides when backing reindeer. 
2. Use drip pans and chocks when parking sleighs. 
3. Don't drink nog and drive. 
4. "Safety first, Christmas always."