Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Defending the Ponderosa

Several readers in my blog have asked me questions concerning home defense and how to do it properly. I am no expert but I have a lot experience and have conducted research into the topic (including talking to police officers) and here is the best I have come up with. It is not the only solution so do your research properly and thoroughly.

Where most homeowners make their biggest mistake is they purchase a weapon without doing any real, thorough research into the topic. They don’t consider the type of weapon to best suit their needs; do not seek out proper training classes prior to and after the purchase, there’s no real “gameplan” developed or talked about with the family, no thought as to proper, safe storage of the weapon, and they really don’t know their own house any more than the intruder does. They approach the subject with no real clue as to how to defend themselves, much less, the family or the house.

Generally, most people shoot a weapon under “ideal” conditions and it is usually a pistol. It is an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT story when you’re stressed, scared, and it’s dark. Realistically, you can’t hit anything with a pistol unless you’ve been shooting in varied conditions for years. It is beneficial to seek training or training references through your local police department, REPUTABLE gun shop, or the NRA. All three are excellent starting points.

Generally, the best choice for home defense, tactical movement inside buildings, firepower, low cost and pure fear factor is a shotgun. They're easy to use and criminals, as well as insurgents, dread getting anywhere near the business end of a shotgun. It has been my first hand experience, through years of training and multiple combat tours, that a shotgun is the top choice for home defense. The 12-Gauge Remington 870 “Youth Model” makes an excellent choice because of it size, dependability, ease of use, and cost. It is also best suited for women due to their smaller frame. Several sources and schools are available to help the homeowner out with the research and training. Talk to your local police department prior to your purchase and gather the information concerning licensure, regulations, and registry of any weapon in your possession. It makes your life easier and you get to meet some of your local law enforcement under great conditions. Remember, BOTH of the adults in the house need to know how to use the weapon. The kids should learn through the same training source used by the homeowner when they reach the proper age. *Billy’s brother-in-law the avid squirrel hunter is not a viable source.

The other issue has to be addressed by the homeowner himself. They may know what the square footage of the house is, but they don’t “know” their own house. They have no clue as to the quirks of the house, normal versus non-normal noises, and layout of the house. They have no idea where the vulnerable points of entry of the house are. They cannot navigate from one end of the house to the other when it’s dark (try it once blindfolded, you’d be surprised). Then there’s the furniture layout that is too varied to describe but they don’t pay attention to it until the situation is too late. Memorize your house and where the furniture is. This will give you the “Home Field Advantage” and, more practically, it could actually save your life. Research the neighborhood prior to the house purchase, in other words, talk to the cops about crime in the area. Check the home inspector’s report. Find out about emergency services in your area. This will save them a ton of headaches later on.

Finally there’s the attitude of today’s homeowner. We can thank lawyers for the majority of that through frivolous lawsuits where the intended invader/murderer lived through the experience and successfully sued the homeowner for defending himself and his family. The other part is the “softening” of Americans as a whole through various mediums. They’ve taken the “Cowboy” out of today’s American. When you decide to purchase a weapon, specifically for home defense, you better make sure you know the intent of that weapon is to kill something in order to save your life. Don’t worry about the damage to the house and your stuff because it’s going to happen, and you can always replace it. You can’t replace your family. Put time into your research and training in order to assure success for yourself and your loved ones.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Thanksgiving came and went and I have a lot to be thankful for this year. First, we didn’t have to go outside the wire so we got to enjoy the “special” meal. Second, Hajji decided to mortar the other side of post that day so I got to wake up on my own and not to the sound of “Alarm! Alarm! Alarm!” followed by the “kaboom” that follows the notice. Finally, I picked off the stinking rat that was sneaking into my hooch and chewing up my boots as a meal. Hey, you take your victories where you can.

Then I got to hear my soldiers talk about all the hunting season activities that they are missing at home. I’m indifferent to it. The only things, outside of survival, that I’ve hunted are alligator and boar. At least you can call that hunting because one wrong move and it’s not going to be a good day for you. Both animals have teeth and the attitude to back those teeth up. Here I hunt rats and mice because the little vermin get into your gear and chew it up. You’d swear they were part of the insurgency because of the equipment they chose to chew on. Other than that, I’ve punched a camel in the head because it tried to bite me and it would have cost me a lot more money if I’d shot it.

The most interesting part of Thanksgiving was, having to explain the concept of it to our cafeteria workers. See, our meal was prepared by Pakistani, Philipino, Kurdish, and Kuwaiti workers that work for the local contractor. Think of it, all those nationalities preparing an American holiday meal for coalition soldiers (from different nations) in Iraq. Yes, there were a lot of questions because there’s no such holiday here.

I was reminded me of my fourth grade class and teacher, Mrs. Wilma Bradley, who took it upon herself to have us read the history behind the events leading to the first Thanksgiving. When my parents moved to Florida, I only had a little knowledge of the English language and even less knowledge of some of the holidays. Thanksgiving wasn’t a big deal for us in Puerto Rico. She had us bring potluck lunch from home and dress as either pilgrims or Indians and go through the whole deal. She took the time to explain the who and why of Thanksgiving and made sure to remind us not to forget those reasons. I shared this information with the cafeteria workers and you could see their minds grasping the concept.

They shared what they were thankful for this year. Things like employment in order to provide for their families, soldiers that look out for their safety, and for all the new things they were learning. It is truly humbling to see the faces of TCNs, third country nationals is what the acronym stands for, light up when they “get it” and start to enjoy the holiday as much as we do. As much as I missed being home for it, I was thankful that I was here so I could take part in helping someone else learn what the “Thanks” in Thanksgiving is all about.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day

We have just flown a flag in honor of a young soldier who became an official United States American Citizen today and guess what, he is a veteran! He chose this day to be sworn in and for his American flag to be flown in honor of that occasion because he understands the magnitude of what the word “veteran” means.

For those of you who have been a little curious about Veteran’s Day, I have compiled a brief history of how it came to be. I stress this because if it wasn’t for veterans in our country’s past, we would not be enjoying the freedoms we have today and in our children’s futures. Please note that nowhere in the history does it state “Veteran’s Day Sale, Discounts, or Movie Marathon” anywhere.

If you have never been to a memorial service honoring all veterans, you should do yourself a favor and GO! It helps to bring you “back to center” and remember how we, America, came to be. Not because of politicians, national parties or popular trends, it was because of veterans serving their country.

I hope that this entry finds you and yours doing well and know that we are here ready to defend freedom.

1918 World War I, then normally referred to simply as The Great War (no one could imagine any war being greater!), ended with the implementation of an armistice [temporary cessation of hostilities—in this case until the final peace treaty, the infamous Treaty of Versailles, was signed in 1919] between the Allies and Germany at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November, 1918.

1919 November 11: President Wilson proclaims the first Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" The original concept for the celebration was for the suspension of business for a two minute period beginning at 11 A.M., with the day also marked by parades and public meetings.

1920 On the second anniversary of the armistice, France and the United Kingdom hold ceremonies honoring their unknown dead from the war. In America, at the suggestion of church groups, President Wilson names the Sunday nearest Armistice Day Sunday, on which should be held services in the interest of international peace.

1921 Congress passes legislation approving the establishment of a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. November 11 is chosen for the date of the ceremony. According on October 20, Congress declares November 11, 1921 a legal Federal holiday to honor all those who participated in the war. The ceremony was conducted with great success.

1926 Congress adopts a resolution directing the President to issue an annual proclamation calling on the observance of Armistice Day. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, most states establish November 11 as a legal holiday and at the Federal level, an annual proclamation is issued by the President.

1938 Congress passes legislation on May 13 making November 11 a legal Federal holiday, Armistice Day. The United States has no ‘actual’ national holidays because the states retain the right to designate their own holidays. The Federal government can in fact only designate holidays for Federal employees and for the District of Columbia. But in practice the states almost always follow the Federal lead in designation of holidays.

1941-1945 & 1950-1953 World War II and the Korean War create millions of additional war veterans in addition to those of the First World War already honored by Armistice Day.

1954 On June 1, President Eisenhower signs legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day.

1968 Congress passes the Monday Holiday Law which established the fourth Monday in October as the new date for the observance of Veteran’s Day. The law is to take effect in 1971.

1971-1975 The Federal observance of Veterans Day is held on the fourth Monday of October. Initially all states follow suit except Mississippi and South Dakota. Other states changed their observances back to November 11 as follows: 1972- Louisiana and Wisconsin; 1974- Kentucky, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, South Carolina, West Virginia; 1975- California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming.

1975 Legislation passed to return the Federal observance of Veteran’s Day to November 11, based on popular support throughout the nation. Since the change to the fourth Monday in October, 46 states had either continued to commemorate November 11 or had reverted back to the original date based on popular sentiment. The law was to take effect in 1978.

1978 Veteran’s Day observance reverts to November 11.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Letters from Home

I signed up for a soldier support program that offers to pass along your “snail mail” address to a centralized database for people back home to write or send packages to “Any Soldier” through your address. The things I asked for include greeting cards because our selection here is VERY limited, DVDs, and letters for me to distribute. The response has been overwhelming.

The best part of the program, by far, has been the letters we get from kids. They have such a wonderful way of looking at the world and asking questions about it. Here are some of the questions (and comments) by category that we’ve had the pleasure of answering.

Are camels really stinky?
Why do camels have a tumor on their back?
Why do camels live in the desert?
My mom says that our dog is a big as a camel. How big are camels?
Do camels chew tobacco? My dad says they spit.
Do camels eat sand?
I think camels are pretty
Mom and dad won’t let me have a camel for Christmas.
Do people really eat camels? Mom says they taste like chicken nuggets.

Is it really hot there?
Why don’t you turn on the air conditioner?
Why do you wear all that stuff (uniform & accessories) if it’s so hot there?
If it’s like the beach, why don’t soldiers wear bathing suits?
Why doesn’t it rain there?
Why do people live there if it doesn’t rain?
Mom says it doesn’t rain there so I drew you some flowers for you to plant.

Life in General
Is it true that there are girl soldiers there?
My dad says that soldiers get to drive crazy like my mom.
My mom says that soldiers don’t get to take a shower very much. Gross
Why do soldiers wear pajamas? *I think she’s referring to the digital uniform
Do you really have to live in holes that you dig?
What do you eat for dinner? Mom makes me eat gross vegetables.
Dad says that movie stars visit you there, have you met Elmo?
My grandpa was in the Army, have you met him?
I made cookies for you but mom says you don’t eat Play-Do.
Mom & dad say that you keep me safe at night, thank you.

Thank you kids for the questions and the letters. Thank you moms & dads for letting your kids reveal your secrets and ideas.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

John Kerry’s Bad Joke

Have you ever had a person you work with, gone to school or just known that you wish would make it a point to finish his/her conversations ONE SENTENCE SOONER? What can I say about John Kerry’s statement? Apparently I’m a moron hence, I am in Iraq. So in response to his comment, here is our reply.