07 July 2010

Bully for Freedom! And for the Press!

Sherpa is officially back home in Iowa, having returned from Annual Training 2010 at Camp Ripley, Minn., sometime before Independence Day. While I still have a few Annual Training "war-stories" to share this month--I'm currently unpacking and repacking, while deciphering my own cryptic notebooks--I thought that today I'd point out some of the great attention our Red Bull units received from Midwestern media.

With a little commentary from me, of course, which makes it all "fair use." I know my copy-rights.

Mark Geary of Cedar Rapid's KCRG did a neat job of teasing out the little details of military life, while also putting Annual Training 2010 into the larger context of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry Division's pending deployment to Afghanistan. I found his "Reporter's Notebook" observational style pretty entertaining. For example:
When you tear open the veggie omelet packet, a sour stench seeps from the package. Green vegetable speckles dot the squishy, orange substance inside. The meal looks like a thick piece of rotting, moldy orange Laffy Taffy. And, no, soldiers are not exaggerating. It tastes just as bad as they as they say it does.

“It just kind of crumbles in your mouth,” [1st Lt. William] Hayes said.
Personally, Geary had me at "Laffy Taffy." Even re-reading it makes me giggle.

Check out his whole KCRG "Enduring Freedom" package here.

Michelle Linck of the Sioux City Journal captured this great quote from an Army trainer regarding Red Bull units' upcoming departure to Camp Shelby, Miss.:
"You'll have 80 pounds of new equipment," she warned, describing the three hydration bags -- not one as needed in Minnesota -- each filled with water and strapped to their back for survival in the hot, dry, Afghan climate. That's in addition to the seven Kevlar plates -- not just two, as they recently trained with -- in their flak jackets: two in the front, one along each side of their torso, one covering each shoulder and one across the back.
"When you leave Shelby, you'll have two duffle bags of equipment," Stewart told her audience.
Red Bull soldiers of all stripes and backgrounds will take on a heavy burden, to be sure, both collectively and individually.

Randy M. Cauthron, managing editor of the Spencer Daily Reporter, elegantly pulled off the "Ernie Pyle" trick of piling on the names of local boys (and girls) gearing up for the deployment. Here's one such honored mention:
Private First Class Austin Bartley of Spencer, who joined the guard while 18 and still in high school, said that learning to work with the Afghan nationals is key to the success of the mission. "We've got to learn their culture so we can get over there and gain their respect. We don't want to go over there and anger anybody. We'll learn a few things about them and they'll learn a few things about us.

"It's extemely important. You don't want to have an entire country not like you."
Hot dang! That's counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in a little over 50 words! Remember Pfc. Bartley the next time you find yourself worrying about kids today. They get it.

Despite some never-ending Internet arguments to the contrary, a free press is just as important to maintaining our freedoms as civilian control of our military. This old paper-boy thankful that some reporters and editors took a couple of days out of their schedules to chronicle the lives and sacrifices of their fellow Iowans. Each soldier, after all, represents a community, a family, a story that needs to be told.

I'm not able to point to every link and story here, but let me just say this: Freedom isn't free, and neither is newspapering. If you don't already, please consider subscribing to your local fishwrap--and make sure that editors know how much you appreciate what they do, especially on behalf of soldiers.

Before I end this roundup, consider this lead from The Marhsalltown Times-Republican's Abigail McWilliam:
In the early light of morning, Pfc. Sue Dake moves among her fellow soldiers quietly. She straps on 60 pounds of gear, starts the engine of her Humvee and prepares to drive out to battle drill.

Her son, Kahlel Dake, turned 3 years old Saturday - a milestone both she and her husband, Sgt. Lucas Dake, were not home to celebrate.

When Kahlel turns 4, the military couple will be overseas, fighting in war. [...]

"It's tough," Sue Dake, 25, said. "But it's for their future. The fact that I will be coming home to them keeps me going."
Stories such as that are what keeps me going. God bless the Dake family, and Godspeed the Red Bull.



  1. Everytime I've been involved with the CALIF Army National Guard and the "press" came around to get a story, they usually talked to the most retarded person we had to get the "word from the common soldier." or some such crap.

    Before going to Iraq in 04', they interviewed one of our soldiers...and he sounded like a retard...of course he was one. He was ready to go kick ass and all, but he never told the guy from the paper that he was the cook and would never actually go outside the camp or anthing.

  2. @ CI-Roller Dude: Yeah, and it never fails that the one time a soldier lights up or is out of uniform, THAT'S when the shutter clicks. Still, I think any attention from the home press is more welcome than the alternative. After all, I'd hate for people not to care at all ...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.