31 July 2013

Marine Tells Iraq Story in 'White Donkey' Graphic Novel

Maximilian Uriarte, Iraq War veteran and creator of the "Terminal Lance" web comic, has successfully funded a 150-page graphic novel that will explore challenges of depression, guilt, and suicide that some veterans face in returning home from war. People can pledge money to the project until Sun., Aug. 11.

Titled "The White Donkey," the serious drama is told through the experiences of Abe and Garcia—two characters originally created for the former Marine's more humorous "Terminal Lance" three-panel comic strip.

Uriarte has been writing "The White Donkey" for approximately three years. "I think it's an important story to tell," he says in a fund-raising video. "I don't think too many people have told that story [of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, guilt and suicide] before, and it's something that I really want to do."

Just because it deals with tough issues, however, doesn't mean the project will be without Uriarte's usual sand-in-the-crotch humor. In one sample page, for example, one Marine asks the other, "How do we know who the good guys are?"

Answer: The glow-belts.

A 2013 graduate of the California College of the Arts in Oakland, Calif., Uriarte originally sought $20,000 to publish "the White Donkey" via the Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign. To date, he has received pledged in excess of $118,000.

Depending on the levels of their respective contributions, participants at levels $25 or more will receive either digital or hardcopy copies of Uriarte's "The White Donkey," as well as other rewards.  Supporters at levels $10 or more will have their names listed in the "The White Donkey." Click here for more information about available incentives.

After a print-run limited only to the Kickstarter project's participants, the author plans to shop the book to traditional publishers.

In addition to his "Terminal Lance" comic strip, which appears regularly in the Marine Corps Times, Uriarte works as a freelance artist and animator in the San Francisco Bay area. His senior animation thesis, titled "A Dog and His Boy," tells a story of one Marine's sacrifice from the point of view of his dog.

He has also previously published "Terminal Lance: Head Call" and "Terminal Lance: Knife Hand Compilation (Strips #1-100)."

Other examples of Uriarte's video and print work appear on his Kickstarter campaign page.

29 July 2013

'Grimm Fairy Tales' Comic Benefits Wounded Warriors

"Grimm Fairy Tales Wounded Warriors Special" (Cover A) by Zenescope Entertainment

Grimm Fairy Tales
2013 Wounded Warriors Special
Cover A
Huey helicopters don't have three blades. Marines don't call themselves "soldiers." Still, while military veterans might get all kit-picky about some of the artwork and vocabulary, for the most part, this one-shot special issue of the comic book Grimm Fairy Tales hits the right targets. And it's aimed at a good cause.

The storyline features some familiar fast-tropes: Supernatural Good Gal "Sela" gets knocked out of commission on Page 8. Marines have to protect and evacuate her safely. Meanwhile, despite demon-powered hordes harking at the gates, a CIA operative debates the lead sergeant regarding what's at stake, and what it means to sacrifice.

In a must-read one-page editorial facing the story's end-page, Zenescope Entertainment President Joe Brusha double-taps the moral:
As a parent, I can barely imaging sending my child off to a foreign land to serve our nation, where they would be in almost constant peril. But countless families do that every day. Not all of those children come home. Some of those that do return come back with mental and physical injuries that no person should ever have to endure.
Proceeds from the $6.99 book will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. The issue first hit comic book store stands on Wed., July 24, 2013. The issue may also be available via Amazon and other online retailers. Digital download is available via Comixology.

Grimm Fairy Tales
2013 Wounded Warriors Special
Cover C
On a lighter note, I purchased the cheesecake pinup Cover A by Sean Chen and Ivan Nunes. Thanks to them, I will never look at flak jackets in the same way again. Had it been available at my local store, however, I might've opted for Jamal Igle and Simon Gough's equally blouse-popping Cover C, which features a fatigue-wearing Sela dropping the devil for push-ups.

"Drop and give me 20 eons"?! And you thought Boot Camp was hell ...


An earlier draft of this review was posted at the iFanboy comics website here.

25 July 2013

Tell Your Lessons-Learned in 'Creative Nonfiction'

In "After Action Reviews" (A.A.R.), soldiers and other military types collectively review their actions and results, in order to improve performance in future operations. A "lesson learned" is knowledge based on experience, that results in a change in individual or collective behavior.

In other words: It's OK to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. And help others learn, too.

While not limited to military writers, the literary journal Creative Nonfiction has issued a call for essays focused on a theme of "mistakes." Deadline is Nov. 1, 2013.

According to the editors:
For an upcoming issue, Creative Nonfiction is seeking new essays about mistakes—major or minor, tragic or serendipitous, funny or painful. We’re looking for stories about poor decisions, missteps, or miscalculations; we want to read about embarrassing boo-boos, dangerous misjudgments, or fortuitous faux pas in well-crafted stories that explore the nature and outcomes of human fallibility.

Essays must be vivid and dramatic; they should combine a strong and compelling narrative with an informative or reflective element, and reach beyond a strictly personal experience for some universal or deeper meaning. We’re looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice; all essays must tell true stories and be factually accurate.
Essays must be previously unpublished. Maximum length is 4,000 words. There is a $20 reading fee for each entry.

There is a $1,000 award for best essay, and a $500 award for one runner-up. All entries will be considered for publication in a specially themed "mistakes" issue of the magazine.

To submit via postal mail, send manuscript, accompanied by cover letter with complete contact information including the title of the essay and word count; Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (S.A.S.E.) or e-mail for response; and payment to:
Creative Nonfiction
Attn: Mistakes
5501 Walnut Street, Suite 202
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
To submit online, writers may pay either $20 per entry here, or pay $25 here for one entry and a 4-issue subscription to the magazine.

22 July 2013

Iowa Logistics Soldiers Sport Modern Combat Patch

Friends and families who earlier this month welcomed home from Afghanistan the 1034th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (C.S.S.B.) may have noticed the soldiers are sporting a modern-looking patch on both their left and right sleeves.

There's a new combat patch in town!

The new patch was approved by the U.S. Army's Institute of Heraldry in April 2012, and first issued in an August 18 ceremony that same year. On that date, all soldiers of 734th Regional Support Group (R.S.G.)—the 1034th CSSB's higher headquarters—began wearing the patch on the left sleeves of their combat uniforms. On such uniforms, bright colors are subdued to black, brown, and sage.

Later in 2012, while deployed to Afghanistan, some 60 citizen-soldiers 1034th CSSB were additionally authorized the patch as a right-shoulder "combat patch." The unit returned to Iowa Sat., July 13, 2013.

To review: Left-shoulder patch equals the individual soldier's unit. Right-shoulder patch equals the unit with which (or under which) the soldier deployed to a combat zone.

Look closely, and you can make out the distinctive silhouette of the Red Bull "olla" (often described as a "Mexican water jug"), as well as the profile of a hawk. Each symbol connects to the histories of the Iowa Army National Guard and 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division. In a more formal description found on the heraldry institute's website:
The shield illustrates the defender displaying the stylized Mexican flask, is adapted from the Iowa Army National Guard shoulder sleeve insignia and the hawk’s head and symbolizes the heritage of the unit and the location of the Group. Solider red denotes the logistical responsibilities of the unit. The black arrowhead suggests readiness, alluding to World War II service campaigns and awards.
A combat sustainment support battalion is designed to command and control logistics units—including fuel, maintenance, transportation, water purification, and other units—in a given area of operations. The soldiers of the 1034th CSSB mobilized in August 2012, and deployed to Northern Afghanistan. According to an Iowa National Guard press release:
Completion of more than 310 combat logistics patrols; Ran the Life Support Area (LSA) Lightning’s mayor cell, consisting of two dining facilities providing more than 2,000 meals per day, operated two fitness centers, a 180-bed living quarters and a Morale Welfare and Recreation [M.W.R.] facility; supervised seven projects providing $1.1 million worth of assistance for more than 500,000 Afghans, through the Commander’s Emergency Response program; and carried out area maintenance for six Forward Operating Bases ["FOB"] in [Regional Command-North].
Photo by Iowa National Guard
The 1034th CSSB was also deployed to Iraq in 2006-2007. The unit is currently headquartered at Camp Dodge, near Johnston, Iowa.

17 July 2013

MWSA Mil-Writers Can Submit to Anthology, Contests

Members of the Military Writers Society of America (M.W.S.A.) are invited to submit short stories, poetry, essays, illustrations, and photographs to its 4th annual anthology. Entries should reflect this year's theme is "Our Voices." Deadline is July 31, 2013. For more information on the anthology, click here.

According to the association's website:
This is your opportunity to be heard and to further the MWSA’s three-part mission of writing for healing, preservation of history, or education of others. Share something about yourself, be published, and earn buckaroo bucks. The anthology is open to all who are members, so if you have been thinking about joining MWSA, now is the time to do it.
Membership in the association is open to "anyone interested in books, movies, and other works about military issues and the experiences of men and women in uniform." Annual dues are $40 for a one-year membership; $65 for a two-year membership; $90 for a three-year membership.

Send anthology submissions, along with a high-resolution mugshot and short biography, to Betsy Beard via e-mail: eabeard AT nc.rr.com

The anthology, which also includes reviews of the year's MWSA book award-winners, is distributed as a souvenir at the association's annual conference. Participants in the anthology receive $1,000 in association "buckaroo bucks" scrip, which can be spent at the conference. The next MWSA conference is scheduled for Sept. 26-29, 2013 near Dayton, Ohio.

The association also conducts a monthly writing contest, 12 winners of which are considered for an annual "William E. Mayer Award" (W.E.M.) award. Deadline for submission to the first such contest for the 2013-2014 calendar is Aug. 15, 2013. This year's theme is "Writing to Heal." Entries must be no more than 500 words and relate to the theme. Subsequent monthly deadlines are the 15th of each month.

Monthly winners receive $250 worth of "buckaroos" scrip and be entered into the finals. The first-, second-, and third-prize winners of the finals are respectively awarded $1,500, $1,000 and $500. The works of the winners and monthly finalists will also appear in the association's annual anthology.

The award is named in memory of William "Bud" Mayer, a former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Korean War veteran, and assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. Mayer also authored a number of books, including "Beyond the Call, Vol. I"; "Beyond the Call, Vol. II"; "Brainwashing, Drunks & Madness: Memoirs of a Medical Icon"; and, with his wife Heidi, "Waltzing with Death."

For more information regarding the contest, see page 19 of the association's Summer 2013 "Dispatches" newsletter here.

Send WEM contest submissions to Jim Greenwald via e-mail: LeansToFar AT aol.com

15 July 2013

Past Iowa 'Red Bull' Leader Promoted to 1-star General

The former commander of the Iowa National Guard's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Brigade (2-34th BCT), Benjamin J. Corell of Strawberry Point, Iowa, was promoted from the rank of colonel to brigadier general in a ceremony earlier this month.

In the U.S. Army, the rank of brigadier is denoted by a single star. Historically, brigadier generals commanded brigades—in today's army, more than 3,500 soldiers. Today, however, brigades are usually commanded by colonels.

As a colonel, Corell commanded 2-34th BCT during its 2010-2011 deployment to Eastern Afghanistan. During that deployment, among other highlights, the Iowa unit participated in the largest helicopter-borne operation during rotations overseen by the active-duty Army's 101st Airborne Division, the "Screaming Eagles." During his career, Corell has also commanded smaller "Red Bull" units on deployments to Iraq, Egypt, and Kuwait.

In September 2012, Corell was assigned as the deputy division commander overseeing support operations, 34th Inf. Div. headquarters, in Rosemount, Minn., and will continue in that position.

Corell also serves as the current president of the 34th Infantry Division Association.

Corell's family, including his wife Beth, as well as three sons who are non-commissioned officers in the division, was in attendance at the July 3 event. The family presented Corell with a ceremonial one-star flag, general officer's belt, and pistol. On the weapon was inscribed the 34th Inf. Div. shoulder patch, as well as the division's motto, "Attack! Attack! Attack!"

In speeches, Corell often credits the World War II generation for inspiring him to live and work toward their values, standards, and ideals. In his promotion ceremony remarks, he added, "This promotion isn't so much about what I've done, but about what I'm going to do and what the expectations are. I see a responsibility that I have with this promotion and assignment. It is to shape this organization as a collective, and to pull each individual up to their highest potential."

Maj. Gen. David Elicerio, the 34th Inf. Div. commander, told the audience that Corell is "a man I would want on my left or my right, in my foxhole, or should it come to it, leading my children in combat."

Photos by Army Staff Sgt. Paul Santikko, Minnesota National Guard

11 July 2013

OIF Veterans to Trek from Milwaukee to Los Angeles

Starting Aug. 30, 2013, two Iraq War veterans will walk from Milwaukee, Wis. to Los Angeles–a distance of 2,700 miles–in order to raise funds and awareness for veterans diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.) and others. Other challenges faced by U.S. military veterans and their families include homelessness, unemployment, and suicide.

Funds raised will benefit Dryhootch of America, a Milwaukee-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that promotes alcohol-free coffee-shop social centers, and peer counseling programs for U.S. military veterans. The trekking veterans have set their target high: $100,000.

Anthony Anderson was a member of the Wisconsin National Guard from 2002-2008. He deployed to Iraq in 2004 with the Louisiana National Guard's 256th Brigade, and in again in 2007 with Wisconsin's 105th Cavalry Regiment.

Tom Voss served in the active-duty Army from 2003-2006. He deployed to Iraq in 2004 with 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment (3-21 Inf.), an element of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division  "Tropic Lightning" Division (1-25 Inf.).

To cover costs, the two walkers are seeking to raise a start-up amount of $5,000 via crowd-funding website Indiegogo here. A video describing their "Veterans Trek" project is here.

Anderson and Voss invite other veterans and supporters to walk with them through towns along the way. In Iowa, the walking route will go through the towns of Dubuque, Farley, Dyersville, Earlville, Manchester, Winthrop, Independence, Jesup, Waterloo, Marshalltown, Des Moines, Adel, Stuart, Anita, Atlantic, Hancock, and Council Bluffs.

Visit the Veterans Trek website here and Facebook page here.

For more information on Dryhootch of America, visit the organization's website or Facebook page.

08 July 2013

Today's 'Red Bull' Troops Remember Civil War Fallen

A delegation of approximately 80 Minnesotans, including Army Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, retraced the steps of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment ("First Minnesota") as part of this year's commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The battle was fought from July 1-3, 1863, in Gettysburg, Penn., during the American Civil War.

Nash is adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, and was  commander of the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division when the headquarters deployed to Iraq in 2009-2010. During the events in Pennsylvania, Nash met Army Maj. Gen. Perry Smith, the adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard, on the same ground as Minnesota and Alabama troops had fought 150 years earlier.

The self-described "task force" also included the Minnesota secretary of state, the state historian, students, reenactors, and 30 current citizen-soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment (2-135th Inf. Reg.). As part of its official history, or "lineage," the 2-135th Inf. carries the honors bestowed to the First Minnesota. The 2-135th Inf. is a battalion currently assigned to Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Inf. "Red Bull" Division (1-34th BCT). Further history of the 2-135th Inf. is here.

"Our predecessors had no way of knowing that 150 years later a new breed of citizen-soldier would continue to answer the call to preserve freedom for our state and nation," said Nash.

The First Minnesota was the senior-most volunteer regiment in the Union Army. On April 14, 1861, Minnesota Gov. Alexander Ramsey was in Washington, D.C. when President Abraham Lincoln issued a national call for 75,000 troops. Ramsey offered troops for three months' service. The unit was organized at Fort Snelling, Minn. on April 29–and remustered for three years' service on May 10. The First Minnesota fought at the battles of First Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg. In the latter battle, it suffered 82 percent casualties.

The Fist Minnesota Regiment is depicted in the U.S. National Guard's heritage series of historical prints. According to the narrative that accompanies that print, which was painted by artist Don Troiani:
On the morning of July 2, 1863, the First Minnesota, along with the other units of the II Corps, took its position in the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Late in the day, the Union III Corps, under heavy attack by the Confederate I Corps, collapsed creating a dangerous gap in the Union line. The advancing Confederate brigades were in position to breakthrough and then envelope the Union forces. 
At that critical moment, the First Minnesota was ordered to attack. Advancing at double time, the Minnesotans charged into the leading Confederate brigade with unbounded fury. Fighting against overwhelming odds, the heroic Minnesotans gained the time necessary for the Union line to reform. But the cost was great. Of the 262 members of the regiment present for duty that morning, only 47 answered the roll that evening.
The First Minnesota was also mentioned in a recent 4-slide presentation by the U.S. National Guard, regarding the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Pictures of the commemorative events in Pennsylvania are posted here and here.

All photos by Army Master Sgt. Daniel Ewer, Minnesota National Guard.

01 July 2013

Military Journalism Contest Again Welcomes Bloggers

The annual Military Reporters & Editors (M.R.E.) journalism contest will again include a "non-corporate blogging" category for creators of online news content.

Two awards may be given in the category: one recognizing independent bloggers and a second recognizing bloggers associated with an established news outlet. The contest also includes categories for print and broadcast journalism. There is a $500 prize for each category. For more information on the contest, click here.

In 2012, the Red Bull Rising blog was recognized in the first MRE journalism contest to include a category for bloggers.

To be eligible in this year's contest, works must have been published between Jan. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2012. Deadline for e-mailed or hand-delivered submissions is July 31, 2013. Mailed submissions should be postmarked not later than July 30.

Fee is $50 for the first entry in a given category. MRE members are entitled to one free entry. Additional entries in a category are $25 each for MRE members and non-members. A maximum of two entries per category is permitted per person or team.

Other submission instructions include:
  • Submit cover letter listing a “live” URL to the entry and dates the story, opinion, slide show, or video were posted on the Internet.
  • Broken or faulty links will disqualify an entry.
  • Cover letter also should list writer, photographer or videographer directly involved in the producing the content.
  • All entries must be accompanied by entry fee (unless waived for MRE members), entry form, a one-paragraph biography of the entering journalist(s), and a nomination letter of two paragraphs or less from an editor.
Judging will be conducted by a panel independent of the organization, its officers, and board of directors. All decisions by the judges are final, and will be announced in October.

Mail or deliver entries in person to:
Military Reporters & Editors
c/o Medill School of Journalism
1325 G St., NW, Suite 730
Washington, DC 20005
Send electronic files to: natalie.jones AT northwestern.edu; use the subject line “MRE Contest.”