28 November 2013

A 'Red Bull' Thanksgiving in World War II Italy

Sgt. Schlitz, a sharp-eyed friend of the Red Bull Rising blog, pointed out yesterday that the National World War II Museum in New Orleans had recently posted various pictures of American troops at Thanksgiving—including one depicting six soldiers of the 135th Inf. Reg. sitting down to a rustic table in World War II Italy.

The 135th Inf. Reg. was part of the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division. The regimental lineage is maintained by the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 135th Inf. Reg., headquartered in Mankato, Minn. The battalion is part of the modern-day 1st Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Inf. Div. (1-34th BCT).

The images were taken by U.S. Army Signal Corps photographer William Caldwell in Nov. 1944. According to the museum, Caldwell was assigned to the Fifth Army Headquarters in North Africa and Italy, and later served as the motorcycle driver to Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark.

27 November 2013

Hail and Farewell, and a Prayer of Thanksgiving

Members of the Iowa National Guard's 833rd Engineer Company (833rd Eng. Co.) this week returned from clearing mines in Afghanistan, while 40 members of Bravo Company, 248th Aviation Support Battalion (248th A.S.B.) are heading out to Kosovo.

It is a time of thanksgiving and prayer. In his annual Thanksgiving letter, Army Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, the adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, put it this way:
In the first time in 12 years, the Iowa National Guard does not have units currently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, but we do have individual deployers in the Central Command theater and one unit preparing at their mobilization station for deployment to Kosovo. It is a time to pause, to reflect, and to remember those who have sacrificed so much to insure liberty for all of us.
I've always held "Iowa's Engineers" in high regard. Back in the day, I was a member of the 833rd Eng. Co.'s higher headquarters. The Hawkeye patch they wear echoes the Mexican-water-jug shape of the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division patch.

During one field exercise with the Engineers, I found myself selected to fill-in for the chaplain for the evening prayer. I always like to say that I can be spontaneous, but I usually need to plan ahead. While the commander was speaking in front of the formation, I jotted down a few words.

In the years that have followed, I've thought about those words often. I wish I could find that notecard now, but have tried to re-create the sentiment and spirt of the thing here. I think it still works as an all-purpose prayer of thanksgiving, and offer it here:
Dear Lord,

Help us clear the obstacles we create for ourselves, and protect us from our enemies' actions. Provide us strength, wisdom, forgiveness, and humor.

In your name and example, let us try to be better leaders, and followers, and friends to each other.

Keep our buddies close, our spirits up, and our rucksacks full. Most of all, keep our homes and families safe.

Thank you for our many blessings, and the opportunity to serve.

Essayons ... and amen.

Photos by Army Staff Sgt. Chad Nelson. For more pictures of the recent send-off ceremony for Bravo Company, 248th ASB, click here. For more pictures of the 833rd Eng. Co. homecoming, click here.

25 November 2013

Comic Book Tells of Nisei Soldiers' Service, Humility

Oahu-based writer and entrepreneur Stacey Hayashi didn't start out to write a comic book about World War II—particularly one filled with disarmingly cute characters drawn in a style called "chibi." Inspired first by family and friends' war service, she wanted to tell an unflinching story about the Nisei soldiers—Japanese-American soldiers who fought in Italy, France, and elsewhere—as a feature-length film.

If the world is lucky, it might still be a Hollywood movie someday. This is, after all, a story that should be told again and again.

When Hawaii's film economy turned cloudy in the late 2000s, however, Hayashi was worried that years of research into a screenplay would go to waste. "It's not like you can bind a script and have people read it," she says. "And then it hit me ... a comic book! It would be like storyboards, sort of."

The 30-something Hawaii native teamed up with artist and Rhode Islander Damon Wong, to create and publish "A Journey of Heroes"—an educationally accessible and emotionally powerful graphic novel about second-generation immigrants who put their country first, no matter the cost. In the wake of Japan's Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese-American citizens struggled for opportunities to serve their country. Too often, their efforts were met with distrust and racial discrimination.

The Nisei soldiers—the word connotes "second generation"—include the 100th Infantry Battalion (100th Inf. Bn.), and the 442nd Infantry Regiment (442nd Inf. Reg.). In World War II Italy, the 100th Inf. was, for a time, attached to the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (34th Inf. Div.). In addition to wearing the patch, the soldiers even painted the Red Bull symbol on their helmets. The unit was celebrated as the "Purple Heart Battalion," due to the number of its members who had been killed or wounded while fighting the enemy.

The 100th Inf. Bn. trained at Camp McCoy, Wis., and Camp Shelby, Miss, and fought as part of the 34th Inf. Div.'s 133rd Regiment in North Africa and Italy, including battles at Mount Cassino, Anzio, and Rome. After Rome, it became part of the larger 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team (100th/442nd R.C.T.). The unique, combined numerical designation was a special recognition of the 100th Inf. Bn's previous military accomplishments.

Later, at great cost in lives and casualties, the 100th/442nd Inf. RCT would famously rescue a "lost battalion" of Texas's 36th Inf. "Arrowhead" Div.

Nisei soldiers also include those who served with Military Intelligence Service (M.I.S.). These Japanese-American soldiers served as translators, and trained at Camp Savage and Fort Snelling, Minn.

In addition to battlefield heroics and tragedies, "Journey of Heroes" also offers moments of humor and light-heartedness. Initially, for example, there are language- and culture-barriers between the "Buddhaheads" from Hawaii and the "Kotonks" from mainland states:
"Jus cuz you soun' like one haole no mean you mo bettah dan me!" 
"How am I supposed to know what you're talking about, you crazy Hawaiian?"
Later, those differences are erased when the troops are taken on a field-trip to visit an internment camp. During World War II, the American government detained Japanese-American citizens in camps, and deprived them of their freedoms and properties. With dinners and dances, the internees hosted the troops. From those experiences, the soldiers took lessons of patriotism, thanksgiving, and humility.

"Some were very angry at being put in these camps, and rightfully so," says the narrator, "but I noticed the Japanese philosophy of 'shikata ga na'—it can't be helped—at work. They also reminded me of my parents at home, who said "Gaman"—to endure hardships with grace. [...] We based a real unit after that. From then on, we were all in this together."

The "Journey of Heroes" comic is drawn as a manga, similar to black-and-white comics originating in Japan. Rather than a gritty or realistic style, Hayashi and Wong opted for cute characterizations, called "chibi."

Using the friendly-looking cartoon characters meant they could soften the story without dumbing down the facts. That was important, because Hayashi's objective was always that "Journey to Heroes" could be used in libraries and classrooms. "Yes, it's a book that's going to have war and violence in it, but I didn't feel that that was the lesson," Hayashi says. "To me, the true story is the story of [the veterans'] character, and what they did in the face of racism and adversity ..."

"Also, because they're so cute—like the vets themselves—as the reader, I think maybe people are sometimes sadder ... like, how can something so awful happen to this guy who is so cute?" she says. "Even when you meet the vets themselves [in person]. Sure, some of them are tough, gruff old men you don't want to mess with, but they are also so friendly, so cheerful, so generous and gracious and playful, it's hard to believe that these guys were also tough soldiers."

When "Journey of Heroes" was first published as a 30-page comic in 2012, some 5,000 copies were donated to Hawaiian schools and libraries. The content is suitable for ages 10 and up. A second run of the comic is anticipated in late 2013, with additional new pages. One notable innovation: As individuals and organizations, World War II veterans and their supporters often sponsor distribution of the comics into classrooms—putting history in the hands of today's young people, in a fresh, tangible, and unforgettable way.

An introduction to the book by the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, himself a 442nd RCT veteran, reads in part:
We were unlike most other soldiers because we bore the responsibility of bringing honor to our families' names, and proving that Americanism was not a matter of skin color, but a matter of heart and mind.
To purchase a copy of "Journey of Heroes," visit the website here. Cost is $10 each, plus shipping and handling. There is also a 5-mintute movie-style trailer for the comic book posted on YouTube here, and embedded below in this blog-post.

There is also a Facebook page for the comic book here.

To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, visit the website here, or view a 5-minute YouTube video here.

22 November 2013

New 'Pass In Review' e-Journal Seeks Military Writers

The "Pass In Review," a new quarterly online journal based in Chicago, seeks previously unpublished artistic works created by military veterans. Categories include: short fiction, poetry, visual art, and music. Submissions for the inaugural issue opened Nov. 1, and will close Jan. 1, 2014. Multiple and simultaneous submissions are allowed.

Editors plan to publish the journal as a free e-book on the organization's website, as well as via the Amazon Kindle Store.

The journal takes its name from a ceremonial practice of marching soldiers past a high-ranking official or dignitary. Despite the spit-and-polished name, however, profiles of the editorial staff read one part punchy, one part salty, and all parts been-there-and-done-that.

The editorial mission statement of the Pass In Review reads:
We believe that veterans from all conflicts, past and present, are misrepresented and are underrepresented in the artistic community. Our goal is to cast veterans in a new light by allowing the public to see their work and gain an understanding of the veteran's perspective.
The Pass In Review website is here. A Facebook page is here.

The publication "retains exclusive publishing rights for six months after the first publication. After six months has elapsed, the artist resumes full ownership of his/her work."

Submissions may be made via an online portal, which can be found here, along with general submissions guidelines. General guidance includes:
All types of artistic works are accepted and we encourage exciting and engaging works from artists of all ethnicities, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations and religious affiliations.

In our view, every topic is fair game, so we wholeheartedly encourage submitters to push the limits of their artistic abilities. Oftentimes, this might include very adult or dark topics. That being said, we will not accept works that fall into or contain the following categories: fan-fiction, erotica, racism/bigotry, personal rants or manifestos and any other extreme topic that does not fit within the context of the art.

20 November 2013

New 'O-Dark Thirty' Issue is an All-Fiction Special

The Veterans Writing Project's quarterly literary journal "O-Dark-Thirty" celebrated its second year with the recent Veterans Day publication of an all-fiction issue. The issue has been posted free on-line as a PDF file, along with the organization's previous four issues.

A print edition of the all-fiction issue is still pending, according to editors. Meanwhile, poetry, non-fiction, and other military writing continue to be regularly featured on the project's website, under the section labelled "The Report."

The works of six military writers are included in the 80-page all-fiction issue of "O-Dark-Thirty," which is available free here. Story themes include hard looks at race, sex, and injury.

“We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are.”
—Tobias Wolff, "In Pharaoh's Army"

After quoting the 1994 memoir of Vietnam War veteran Tobias Wolff in the issue's introduction, fiction editor James Mathews argues that
[...] constant persistence in the pursuit of conflict [is] the surest method to revealing the truth behind character, story and ultimately, the human condition. [T]he men and women veterans who have shared their fiction with us understand this pursuit. Their persistence reveals poignant and often harsh realities for their characters, but also truth about who we are.
The issue's cover design, by Iraq and Afghan War veteran Janis Albuquerque, features a detail of the Korean War Veterans Memorial. This year marks the 60th anniversary of that conflict.

The "O-Dark Thirty" publications continue to accept submissions year-round. Click here for guidelines.

Single-issues and four-issue subscriptions are available for on-line purchase here.

18 November 2013

Mil-poets Talk a 'Blue Streak' About War and Poppies

Appropriate to last week's Veterans Day launch, three poets featured in the first issue of the "Blue Streak" military-poetry journal evoked the World War I poem "In Flander's Fields."

The 1915 poem was written by Canadian Army physician John McCrae, and later inspired the tradition of wearing the Remembrance Poppy on occasions such as Remembrance Day (also called "Armistice Day" or even "Poppy Day"), Anzac Day, and Memorial Day:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below. [...]
The online journal is a project of Military Experience and the Arts, Richmond, Ky. The 105-page inaugural issue is available free as a PDF here.

Poppies, of course, also factor into the agriculture of Afghanistan—a fact not lost of Blue Streak poets Chris Heatherly and Virgil Huston.

Chris Heatherly's "In Afghanistan's Fields" [p. 10] is a tight-shot group of three observations on the ground, collectively aimed at the modern military's motivations and missions. In some ways, the work can be read as much as a critique of the War on Drugs, as well as the Global War on Terrorism:
In Afghanistan’s fields the poppies blow
The seeds of war flowering, row on row.
We know the places where they grow
Following orders, soldiers pass on by
Leaving the demons where they lie.

Rules of engagement tied our hands
Prevented us from entering enemy lands
Lines on a map more important than a line in the sand
Lying awake in bed, we ask the night,
“Why were we there, if not to fight?”
In Afghanistan’s fields.

Across America, a slowly falling snow
Thousands of white crosses stand row on row
Our government sleeps; the poppies grow
Perhaps we lost our way,
Avenging a fateful September day
In Afghanistan’s fields.
In "Afghanistan's Flanders Fields" [p. 23], Virgil Huston starts with Alexander and the Hindu Kush before evoking the British, Soviet, American, and Afghan soldiers who would come later. Regarding rules of engagement, he ends with laments that sound similar to Heatherly's:
what of that ground
that is forever England?
I have seen it
no one cares
sheep shit on it
men do not respect
but touch a Muslim grave
and US generals grovel
and prostrate themselves
while Presidents condemn
their own soldiers
for such transgressions
while we should be
denouncing those
who desecrate
Flanders Fields
Finally, World War II Navy veteran William Lincoln Simon, who died earlier this year at the age of 88, wrote "The Dead of Peleliu Speak" [p. 98] in 1944:
On Peleliu no poppies grow, between the
crosses row on row,
But only coral, rock, and sand. Each
cross a muted sentry, stands
A guardian of those hallowed sands
That drank our blood.

On Peleliu we fought and died. We’re restless lying side by side,
Who gave our all. And now we wait,
too worn to rest, too tired to hate.
We are the earth’s repatriate,
Who crave long peace.[...]
Three wars. Three poets. Three fresh takes on Flanders Fields.

Memorable stuff.

14 November 2013

'Veterans' Play Debuts at Fort Snelling 'Base Camp'

Telling the fictional story of the citizens and veterans of a small Midwestern town, the "Veterans Play Project" will be performed at the "Base Camp" multipurpose facility administered by the Boy Scouts of America's Northern Star Council. The facility address is 201 Bloomington Rd., Fort Snelling, Minn.

Opening is 7:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 15, although there is a Thursday evening preview performance. The play, created by the Footprints Performance Collective, runs through Nov. 24 and is part of the Mixed Blood Theatre series. The cast includes 22 actors and musicians, including 15 veterans and military personnel.

According to press materials, the script was inspired by more than a hundred interviews with veterans and service members: "The stories of new recruits, veterans, and advocates from all conflicts and on all sides weave together as the residents of Smedley face the dilemma of how to honor the memory of those who have served in their community."

Free tickets are "first-come, first-served," but may also be reserved for a $20 fee. Show times are 7:30 p.m. all days but Sunday. Sunday performances are 3 p.m. matinees. The Sat., Nov. 23 performance will feature audio description and American Sign Language interpretation.

For further ticket details click here, or call the box office at: 612.338.6131.

The project is also accepting donations toward the production costs at its GiveMN page.

Supporters of the production include:
  • Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
  • Coming Home Collaborative at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church
  • Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs
  • Minnesota Humanities Center
  • Minnesota National Guard
  • University of Minnesota Student Veterans Association
  • Veterans for Peace
  • Veterans in the Arts

13 November 2013

Non-Profit Fires Salvo of 3 Free Arts-and-Military Pubs

Military Experience and the Arts, a Kentucky-based non-profit organization, has launched three new or rebooted journals of military-themed non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Starting this week, each is available free online as Portable Document Format (P.D.F.) files.

Each publication features the work of military veterans, service members, family members, researchers, and supporters. The journals are:
  • A third volume of The Journal of Military Experience (Click for PDF). The 377-page publication has been retooled to focus on literary non-fiction, visual arts, and academic scholarship, having spun off poetry and fiction into separate vehicles.
  • The 105-page inaugural issue of the Blue Streak poetry journal.
Working through collaborative e-mail and social media groups, the organization operates as a virtual writing workshop, and relies heavily on nationwide networks of volunteer peer-editors.

Each publication welcomes submissions year-round. A fourth journal regarding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.) topics is anticipated to launch later this year.

12 November 2013

St. Louis Events Proclaim 2nd 'Warriors' Book Nov. 15

Military writers who have contributed to "Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Vol. 2" will read at two St. Louis-area book-release events Fri., Nov. 15, 2013. Both events are free and open to the public, and the hot-off-the-press books will be available for purchase and signing.

The second of a series made possible through the efforts of Missouri Humanities Council, Southeast Missouri State University Press, and the Warriors Arts Alliance, this issue of "Proud to Be" delivers fiction, non-fiction, poetry, interviews, and photographs by more than 70 military service members, veterans, and families.

Locations and times for the book-release events are:
Friday, Nov. 15, 10 a.m. to 12 noon
University of Missouri–St. Louis
St. Louis Mercantile Library
Fri., Nov. 15, 7 to 9 p.m.
St. Louis Public Library Central Branch
In a 2012 Red Bull Rising blog interview, editor Susan Swartwout of the Southeast Missouri State University Press noted the important role anthologies can take in creating a narrative and record of veterans' service:
We only hear the news media’s coverage, maybe a few oral stories from friends and family [...] The anthology format preserves not only the individual pieces of writing, but also the multiple opinions and viewpoints of involved human beings, all in one artifact. The printed anthology informs the public, allows the soldiers’ and their families’ voices to be heard, and preserves their writing. Triple win.
"Proud to Be, Vol. 2" is available for pre-order as 320-page trade paperback through the Southeastern Missouri State University Press and through Amazon. For a 13-page, PDF profile and sampler of "Proud to Be, Vol. 2" content, prepared by the Missouri Humanities Council, click here.

The 256-page first volume was published in November 2012, and is also available via Amazon.

A call for submissions and contest for "Proud to Be, Vol. 3" has been issued. Deadline is June 1, 2014.

Also currently located at the University of Missouri–St. Louis's Mercantile Library is a special art exhibition titled "War and Healing: Artwork from the Combat Paper Project." The exhibit runs Nov. 1, 2013 to Jan. 6, 2014.

11 November 2013

Veterans Day 2013: 'What Sacrifice Has Been'

This poem by Randy Brown originally appeared in "Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Vol. 1," published in 2012 by Southeast Missouri State University Press.

Later this week, the publisher will release a second volume of "Proud to Be" writing and art by veterans, service members, and families. More news on that in tomorrow's Red Bull Rising blog post. In the meantime, have a safe and meaningful Veterans Day. Make sure to keep the focus on your freedoms, family, and friends—and not necessarily the free lunch.
what sacrifice has been

in airports, well-traveled souls
confuse boots with heroes
and buy us sandwiches
while flat-talking boxes buzz

with bullet-lists and mug-shots of the fallen:
3-second shrines
to soldiers they will never know
like you

this war is on us,
they want to say
thanks for your service
have a nice day

they elevate our routine dead
with casual regard and separate
us from them
with unsustaining praise

they do not grasp our names are found
on medals and on stones
and on the lips of friends who’ve seen
what sacrifice has been

08 November 2013

Women Veterans Film Airs Nov. 8 and Free On-line

A 2011 documentary about women veterans will air tonight, Fri., Nov. 8, 2013 on Public Broadcast Service television stations nationwide, via the PBS World service. According to the PBS website, "Service: When Women Come Marching Home" will also be available for on-line viewing free during the month of November.

The documentary by Marcia Rock and Patricia Lee Stotter describes the post-deployment experiences of eight veterans, who served in the Cold War and the Persian Gulf, to present-day Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to press materials:
From the deserts of Afghanistan to rural Tennessee, from Iraq to New York City, these women wrestle with prosthetics, homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma. Their pictures and videos shot in Iraq and Afghanistan speak volumes. Told through their voices during everyday life in kitchens, grocery stores and even therapy sessions, the documentary is a wake-up call to the unknowing civilian population to the challenges female veterans face returning from duty.
Distribution via PBS was underwritten by the Disabled American Veterans (D.A.V.) organization.

For a PBS station-locator, click here. A PDF broadcast schedule is available here.

For the official "Service" documentary website, click here.

For a Facebook page for the documentary, click here.

06 November 2013

Your Pre-Veterans Day Weekend Safety Brief

Listen up, veterans! You don't like listening to them, and I don't like giving them. But we've got a long weekend coming up, and you know the drill. Besides, it's not like it's supposed to a big party like St. Patrick's Day or Carnival, for criminey's sake! It's Veterans Day: Keep your pants on and your $#@! together!

Here's a packing-list of some suggested tips, tools, and techniques. As always, take what you need, leave the rest:

1. Don't be an "angry vet." If someone randomly thanks you for your service, or welcomes you home, say "thank you"—even if you don't feel like it, even if you're "not a hero," even if you were just doing your job and happy to take the paycheck. If nothing else, say "thank you" on behalf of your buddies—particularly the ones who aren't there to take the praise themselves. You know who they are. You know where they are. Be humbled that someone in this allegedly grateful nation still gives a @#$!.

2. Avoid initiating unnecessary friendly-fire missions. If you see some rag-bag who's wearing a uniform that looks like soup—so that he can get a free sandwich or cookie, no doubt—use good judgment before you engage him. In fact, maybe you don't need to confront him at all. He might just be legit. He might be homeless. He might be mentally ill. Everybody has their own war. Don't make others' any worse.

3. Don't assume that women aren't veterans, too. You know better.

4. Dine responsibly. You don't have to take every deal and discount. Think hard about accepting gratitude, particularly when it comes from faceless corporations. Don't reward people who pencil-whip their patriotism. Freedom isn't free, and neither is lunch. Bonus tip: Remember to tip your waitstaff, regardless of how much money you didn't pay for a meal. After all, they're working on your holiday. Thank them for their service.

5. Don't get into any bad-humored urination competitions. That includes jags and jihads such as "pogues vs grunts," "geeks vs. jocks," and "whose deployment sucked more." You know better.

6. Look for teachable targets of opportunity. If someone asks you about your service, have a short and courteous answer prepared. If a child asks you why you're wearing a poppy, stop and talk with them. If someone doesn't know the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, don't make them feel bad when they ask for clarification. Tolerate unnecessary apostrophes. Be polite, be professional: You still represent the tribe, even if you no longer wear the uniform.

7. Check in with a buddy. Back in my day, we didn't have "battle buddies." We had "bunk buddies," until people figured out how stupid that sounded. Having a "battle" or "Boot Camp Friends Forever" or whatever doesn't sound much better. Now, I don't care what you call them, but it's time we start a new tradition: That guy or gal with whom you spent the worst and best days of your life downrange? Call them this weekend. Do a radio-check. See how they're doing. Compare notes. Count your mutual blessings, wounds, or remaining ammunition. Ask if they need anything, and if you can help. Most of all, however, tell them thanks. Because, coming from you, that still means something.

04 November 2013

Award Named for Iowan Honors Baseball, Navy Heroes

Named after a Iowa World War II veteran and National Baseball Hall of Famer, presentation of the first-ever Bob Feller Act of Valor Awards scheduled to take place Nov. 6, 2013 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the United States Naval Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C.

Born 1918 in Van Meter, Iowa, Bob Feller bypassed the minor leagues and pitched for the Cleveland Indians from 1936-1941 and 1945-1956. His professional nicknames include "Bullet Bob" and "The Heater from Van Meter."

Feller enlisted after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, despite having the option of a draft deferment. During World War II, he served four years on the U.S.S. Alabama, and ended his military career as a chief petty officer.

According to press materials, when asked what the most important game he ever won was, Feller replied, "World War II."

The award is to be given annually to one Major League Baseball player, one Baseball Hall of Famer, and—in the first crossover award of its kind between Major League Baseball and the U.S. Navy—one serving naval chief petty officer. The physical award is a bronze bust of Bob Feller in naval uniform.

Awardees are selected on criteria include the display of good character, assisting those less fortunate, supporting the United States and its servicemen and women, and good moral conduct.

The 2013 finalists were announced in a Cleveland, Ohio ballfield ceremony on July 4th. (See YouTube video here, or embedded below in this blog-post.)

Honored at the Nov. 6 awards ceremony will be:
Due to health-related travel restrictions, Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, 88, was presented with the third of this year's inaugural awards in a private ceremony Oct. 19 at the Yogi Berra Museum at Montclair State University, Little Falls, N.J.

An Oct. 16 Iowa Public Radio report regarding the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award can be found here.

The website for the Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter, Iowa can be found here.

01 November 2013

Military Sci-Fi Book Needs Writers, Guns, and Money

The literary terrain is littered with the hulks of military science-fiction stories of the 1970s and '80s, and Hollywood has lately been stripping the carcasses. Given the daily advances of military tech heralded in today's headlines, however—robot tanks and mulebots and supersuits—it's probably time for a revolution. Or, at least, a renaissance.

This weekend, for example, sees the premiere of "Ender's Game" (2013), based on a 1977 short story and a 1985 book, by Orson Scott Card. (To read the original short story, in its entirety, see the author's website here.)

There are rumors of a pending remake to "Starship Troopers" (1997), a movie inspired by the 1959 book by Robert A. Heinlein.

There are more-than-rumors that a "Forever War" film is also in the works, based on the 1974 novel by Joe Haldeman. (For a 2011 Red Bull Rising note about Haldeman's work, click here.)

Using science-fiction as a device, military writers can explore the effects of new technologies on how we think, fight, and act ... as a military, and as the society it protects. It's time for a new generation of war stories.

A group of editors and writers has launched a $10,000 crowd-funding project toward publishing an anthology of military-themed science-fiction, with the aim of telling "some new stories that look at the future of warfare, and the people, robots and aliens involved." The Kickstarter project ends Nov. 14.

The Kickstarter project page is here.

Participants contributing $25 or more to the "War Stories" project will receive a trade paperback edition of the anthology.

At the $150 level, there are opportunities to have a fictional character named after you, a technique called "Tuckerization."

At the $250 level, there are opportunities to have your writing critiqued by a published author. Participating author-mentors include Janine Spendlove, an active-duty U.S. Marine KC-130 pilot and author of the War of Seasons series.

For more information, see the Kickstarter project page here, or the "War Stories" website here. A Facebook page is here.

On the same Nov. 14 deadline, the group has also issued an open call for previously unpublished stories of 1,000 to 7,500 words in length. Ideal length is less than 5,000 words. According to the submissions guidelines:
We want top-notch original military science fiction stories that are contemporary, innovative, relevant and exciting. We want to speak to the civilians and soldiers of the last decade, keeping in mind the collective experiences of the wars in the Middle East and Africa, from all sides of conflicts. We’re not looking for stories that are necessarily set in the present or near future, but stories that take to heart the major themes and lessons that we’ve seen. Stories on different planets, timelines, with power armor, spaceships, robots and more are welcome.