Geeky Bob

Just a short, simple blog for Bob to share his thoughts.

Be sure to check out my technical blog at www.microsoftbob.com.

MonthList

Always Remember to Shave in the Army

I attended the USAREUR Air Assault School in 1988, and one of the cadets failed to shave one morning.

He was ordered to dry shave while standing on a stump that was placed in front of the entire class, and he was required to loudly lecture everyone on the merits of daily shaving, while the rest of the class stood at parade rest.

At one point, the following conversation took place:

"Roster Number 30!!! Are you bleeding???"

"Yes, Air Assault First Sergeant!!! Blood helps lubricate the blade!!!"

After which the guy's squad leader was order to kneel next to the stump and catch any blood in his cupped hands, lest any blood hit the ground and desecrate the surrounding area.

Posted: Jun 20 2019, 13:13 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Military | Humor
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Why We Have Memorial Day

Here is a gentle reminder of why we have a Memorial Day:

Memorial Day is not about taking a day off work, burning burgers in backyard BBQs, or picking up additional useless things from one-day sales; Memorial Day is about taking a moment to honor the memory of those we have lost.

Posted: May 27 2019, 09:57 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Military
Tags:
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Vintage Aircraft Fly-by

I was driving down the road, and noticed that a B17 was flying past. I thought to myself, "Well, huh. You don't see that every day."

PS - My wife does not share my love of vintage aircraft; she saw this said, "Meh, looks like a plane."

Open-mouthed smile

Posted: Mar 10 2019, 21:45 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Military
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

The Further We Move Away From Peace

A fellow Army veteran from Germany recently posted a photo of the following 1980s-era poster to Facebook:

je-mehr-wir-uns-fur-den-krieg-rusten

The text of that poster reads, "Je mehr wir uns für den Krieg rüsten - um so weiter entfernen wir uns vom Frieden. JETZT ABRÜSTEN!", which roughly translates as, "The more we prepare for the war, the further we move away from peace. DISARM NOW!" This poster was an advertisement for Germany's Green Party, which was advocating disarmament during the time of the Cold War.

I have waxed poetic about this subject before, during which I have illustrated that generations of imbeciles have contributed to their own destruction by promoting the naive belief that laying down their arms will somehow lead to universal peace. However, as an old saying elucidates, "Peace is a fleeting fantasy, embraced by fools, signifying nothing."

That idiom is obviously an allusion to Shakespeare's Macbeth, which states in Act 5, Scene 5: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Personally, I think a link between the contemporary idiom and Shakespeare's prose is warranted, for both phrases capture the same sense of ultimate futility.

Please do not misunderstand me, I think that everyone should ardently desire peace instead of war; but as I have pointed out in other blogs, a lack of war does not constitute peace. The callow conviction that everyone longs for peace is rooted in a childlike world of fantasy, which unfortunately bears little resemblance to the actual affairs of humanity.

History is replete with epic and horrific tales of despots, dictators, and destroyers: Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Francisco Pizarro, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Napoleon Bonaparte, Josef Stalin, Cyrus The Great, Adolph Hitler, etc., etc. Countless populations were ravaged by these marauding conquerors, who were hell-bent on amassing empires and riches that were far greater than any one human should ever need or desire. And therein lies the great fallacy of those who seek peace at any cost: for every noble aspirer to peace, someone evil is waiting in the shadows to kill, maim, rape, and destroy everything and everyone that these pacifists hold dear.

While we should all strive for peace, we need also be acutely aware of the world we live in, and we should act accordingly. Our planet is inhabited by billions of people, many of whom would do harm to other people in order to take what they have, or simply to prevent others from expressing their worldviews. In short, we share an evil world that is populated by an untold number of evil people; and the only way to prevent destruction is to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

There is a Latin adage that states, "Si vis pacem, para bellum," which translates as, "If you want peace, prepare for war." I could not have summarized that sentiment any better.

Posted: Sep 01 2018, 16:55 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Military | Rants | Politics
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Reflections on an Mi-24D Hind

I recently saw this old warhorse at the Pima Air and Space Museum outside Tucson, AZ:

Mi-24 Hind

The Mi-24D was a formidable enemy in its day, so my first thought was that this once-mighty gunship living out the rest of its years as a rusting museum piece seemed such an ignoble end for this amazing aircraft. And yet - like the empire this beast once served, its days of usefulness have long passed.

With that in mind, this ancient relic seems a fitting epitaph for the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. Its fortuitous demise and relegation to the junk heap of history should serve as a stark reminder of the atrocities committed in the name of Communism during the 20th-century's flirtations with that particular brand of unspeakable evil.

My hope is that future generations will leave this aircraft, and the failed political system that it represents, in the past - where they belong.

Posted: Jun 19 2018, 15:39 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: History | Military | Politics | Ponderings
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Do you think that the Russians want war?

In response to Vladimir Putin's recent proclamation that Russia now has "Invincible Nuclear Weapons," someone posted a link to Dick Gaughan's 1983 song "Think Again:"

The problem with songs like Gaughan's is that they do a tremendous injustice to what was actually going on in the world when that song was written. At the time, there were a great deal of songs written to protest the Cold War and to encourage everyone to "give peace a chance." The problem with naive statements like "give peace a chance" is that many a conquered nation has wanted peace at all costs, but their desire for peace did not prevent their eventual destruction. Appeasement of Hitler prior to WWII is a perfect example: most of Europe did nothing as Hitler stormed through country after country because everyone else remembered WWI, and the rest of Europe would rather stand by and let a madman conquer the world than upset their personal peace.

Which brings us back to Gaughan's song and it's central question: "Do you think that the Russians want war?" The target of Gaughan's lyrics was the policymakers in the West, who have largely done nothing whenever madmen went to war, because the West typically seeks peace at all costs. The West wanted peace with Hitler, and peace with Stalin, and with Khrushchev, and with Brezhnev. The West may not have approved the actions of these madmen, but the West would much rather have peace than declare war on every psychopath who comes along. But here's the thing: even though the West wanted peace, the Russians - in the form of the Soviets - very clearly wanted war.

15 countries ceased to exist with autonomy in the name of Russian/Soviet war: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the Ukraine. These countries did not want war, but Russia gave them war anyway. As a result, these conquered territories became the 14 satellite republics of the Soviet Union. But let us not forget that Afghanistan also did not want war, yet the Russians/Soviets invaded anyway. Afghanistan was destined to become the 16th Soviet republic, until clandestine meddling from the United States helped turn that war in favor of the Afghanis, (and thereby bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union, but that's another story).

But it doesn't end there, because the Russians/Soviets also brought war to Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. These countries were conquered by the Russians/Soviets to serve as sacrificial "buffer states" in the event of hypothetical invasion from the West, (rather than becoming formal Soviet republics).

While Gaughan's lyrics pontificate about the 20 million people slaughtered by Nazi invasion, it does nothing to address the 30 million or so of their own countrymen killed by the peace-loving Russians/Soviets, nor does begin to account for all of millions of people slaughtered senselessly during the Russian/Soviet invasions of the countries previously mentioned, nor does it account for the hundreds of thousands of casualties incurred during the brutal suppressions carried out by the Russians/Soviets whenever one of those countries fought for their independence. (Nor do those numbers address the additional tens of millions of people slaughtered by the USSR's allies in the Far East and South/Central America; but let us refrain from digression and stick to Russia, shall we?)

People can claim that the "Average Russian" did not want war, and that all of these atrocities were caused by the actions and ideologies of their leaders. I must admit, there is undoubtedly a grain of truth to that perspective. But then again, you have to realize that millions of "Average Russians" actively participated in conquering of all of the countries that I have mentioned. Those countries wanted peace; Russia brought them war. As a result, those millions of "Average Russians" are no less guilty than the millions of "Average Germans" who brought the Nazi War Machine to peaceful Europe.

I have quoted this poem before in other contexts, so please forgive my repetition here; following WWII, the German pastor Martin Niemöller expressed the folly of "Average Germans" doing nothing about the Nazis when he wrote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.

Niemöller's sentiments may not be a call to arms, but they certainly condemn the cowardice of those who do nothing while their fellow countrymen commit atrocities.

Gaughan's song attempts to lay the desire for war at the feet of the West's leaders because - as he put it - we didn't "like their political system." To restate what I have said earlier, no one liked Russia's political system. But the Russians/Soviets forced their political system on millions of innocent people through decades of violent bloodshed. Gaughan conveniently ignores all of that.

I have stated many times before that Russia is never more than one madman away from becoming the Soviet Union again, and we're seeing that come to fruition. Under Putin's leadership, Russia has once again annexed the Ukraine, and it has violently suppressed dissension in other former Soviet republics. And once again, the West has done nothing, because despite the flowery rhetoric of naive dreamers like Gaughan, the West still desires peace more than war. But Gaughan ignores all of that, too.

As I have mentioned all along, the West has almost always wanted peace; that much is clear from the staggering amount of reticence that it has shown whenever another madman has come along and started conquering its neighbors. The West attempted to intervene in the Far East, with disastrous results, and we have learned our lesson. As a result, the West typically does nothing now, because most people in the West believe in peace at all costs. But as the saying goes, "Peace is a fleeting fantasy, embraced by fools, signifying nothing." A desire for peace does not prevent war; at best it only delays the inevitable.

With that in mind, to answer Gaughan's question: even though the West wants peace, Russia has always wanted war.

Posted: Mar 01 2018, 03:15 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Politics | History | Rants | Military
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Pima Air Museum

This aircraft museum is pretty much in our backyard, so to speak. We used to live a few miles from it, and if you're into airplanes, it's a great way to spend the day...

Description:
A vast oasis of aircraft lies deep in the Arizona desert
(http://cnet.co/2qA4mo1)
Slideshow:
Vintage aircraft under the desert sky: Yeah, it's worth the heat
(http://cnet.co/2CL0xS2)

pima-air-museum

Posted: Jan 06 2018, 15:47 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Military | History
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Always Check Your Foxhole

In honor of Veteran's Day, I thought I'd share an amusing story from my first days in the Army. One of the infamous Murphy's Laws of Combat states, "When you have secured an area, don't forget to tell the enemy." While the following anecdote isn't exactly what is meant by that statement, my situation always reminds me of that saying.

From April through June of 1986, I attended Basic Training in Fort Leonard Wood (FLW), Missouri. (Or, as we trainees liked to call it, "Fort Lost-in-the-Woods, Misery.") At the time, Basic Training was eight weeks long, during which trainees were taught all of the basic essentials for becoming a soldier; combat skills, physical fitness, navigation, communications, first aid, and - of course - basic marksmanship.

The standard-issue rifle at the time was the M-16A1, and soldiers were taught to fire from several positions: prone, sitting, and standing supported in a foxhole. However, foxholes on the FLW ranges were not actual foxholes; they were culvert pipes buried vertically in the ground, with wood pallets in the bottom on which shorter soldiers could stand to gain a little more height, and each foxhole was fitted with a wood cover to keep the rain out at night. (At least in theory; I still spent a lot of time in the mud at the bottom of a foxhole...)

All of that being said, on one particular occasion, our company had an unexpected lesson in checking out your environment before settling in. One of the ranges had 40 foxholes arranged in a single firing line, and I was assigned to lane #1. We were the first trainees on the range, so the first order of action was for everyone to uncover their foxhole for that day's marksmanship training.

When the Range Safety NCO in the tower gave the appropriate command over the range loudspeaker, everyone pulled the cover off their foxhole, and then everyone but me jumped in. However, I actually looked down before jumping in; that was a very good thing for me to do, because I saw the tail end of a black snake slither under the wood pallet at the bottom of my foxhole. I spent part of my childhood living near the Florida swamps, so I knew of several black snakes with which no one should be taking any chances, so I simply stood up and raised my hand for assistance.

The Range Safety NCO saw me from his lofty perch in the tower, and he bellowed over the loudspeaker, "Lane 1: what is your problem???"

As loudly as I could, I shouted back, "Snake, Drill Sergeant!"

And then I watched as the soldiers in firing lanes 2 through 40 looked beneath them in panicked unison to see if they had snakes in their foxholes; it was suddenly and abundantly obvious that I had been the only trainee who had bothered to check his foxhole before jumping in. (Note: No one else had an uninvited visitor; I was the only 'lucky' one.)

One of the drill sergeants quickly made his way down the firing line to my foxhole, whereupon he grabbed my M-16, jumped into the foxhole, and proceeded to beat the snake to death with the butt of my rifle. Once the snake - which turned out to be a lethally-venomous Water Moccasin - was good and dead, the drill sergeant climbed out of the foxhole, returned my M-16 to me, and headed back down the firing line to check on the other trainees.

With my area secured and my miniscule misadventure at an end, I finally climbed down into my foxhole, and I proceeded to blast lots of little holes in the downrange targets.

Posted: Nov 11 2017, 13:34 by bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Military | Humor
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Graduating from 3rd AD PLDC

Someone posted to Facebook that he liked going on Temporary Duty (TDY) when he attended the Army's Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC). I'm not sure where he was sent for PLDC, but I had to attend the 3rd Armored Division's school, which was notoriously awful. However, PLDC was required in order to become a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), and therefore it wasn't TDY for me, but I had to attend if I wanted to be promoted.

With that in mind, here is the response that I posted to Facebook:

3rd AD PLDC in Butzbach was pretty bad.

We started out with 320 students and graduated with only 240 - they threw out 33% of the students for the most-ridiculous of reasons; I watched the cadre as they literally yanked students out of the class for looking sideways in a chow line and tossed them from the program.

I had an instructor tell me on day one of PLDC that he personally hated my MOS; he promised to make my life a living hell because of it, and he delivered on his promise. I got lots of crap for my MOS, and I was assigned to an extra cleaning detail every evening with another person in the same MOS.

The cadre used sleep deprivation for the duration of the course; so lights out was at 2400 every night, followed by reveille and morning PT at 0400. (Although everyone stayed up for at least another hour or so each night shining boots/shoes by flashlight and ironing uniforms.) Rooms had to be perfect for inspections, so no one ever used their wall lockers or slept in their beds; we slept on the floor next to the bunks and hid the clothes we wore in rucksacks.

I attended in January, 1990, and as you might imagine - German winters can be quite cold. Because of that, I developed a debilitating case of Trench Foot during our week-long bivouac ("field problem") because my feet (and every ounce of clothing) were continuously soaked for several days and exposed to temperatures below 45 degrees. One of the instructors caught me limping, and despite my insistence that nothing was wrong, he forced me to go see the medic. I had severe blisters all over my feet, and after the medic applied copious amounts of moleskin and bandaged my feet, she said: "I'm supposed to report this, but they'll bounce you from the course and you'll have to start over. So do your best to pretend not to limp." (I lost the feeling in my toes for a few weeks, and after I returned to Fulda I walked with a limp for the next several months.)

Although to make matters worse, our bivouac happened to coincide with the "Burns' Day Storm," which was - according to Wikipedia - "one of the strongest European windstorms on record." (http://bit.ly/2gQHNnM) Gigantic trees were being knocked over everywhere and literally crushing tents, so with huge branches falling from the trees around us we had to hurriedly break camp and expeditiously evacuate from the forest before someone got injured or killed.

Despite all of that - I had the 2nd-highest GPA for the course and was one of only five students to graduate with honors. (I was promoted to E5 upon graduation since I had already made my points.)

3rd AD PLDC Graduation Certificate

PS - If the military taught me anything, it's that I can push myself to persevere through conditions that I never thought possible.

Smile

Posted: Oct 18 2017, 21:18 by bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Military
Tags:
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Who Says the Military Doesn't Have a Sick Sense of Humor?

When I was stationed with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fulda, Germany, I lived in a sleepy little village named Kleinlüder, which was over the hill and through the woods from post. At the time that I lived there, a Surface-to-Air Missile Battery was situated on top of the nearby mountain. Actually, they were kind of annoying, because we could hear them from our apartment every time they had an alert. (Oh sure, they were protecting us from invasion and all that... but I still wanted a peaceful night's sleep.)

Anyway, it's been more than 25 years since I left, and the land where that missile battery was located has long-since been sold off. However, I found it interesting one day recently when I was scrolling through the area on Google Maps and I noticed that the SAM battery's motto has managed to survive on one of the old launch platforms:

if-it-flies-it-dies

Now, who says that the Military doesn't have a sick sense of humor?

Smile

 

Note: Click the following link for the original map: https://goo.gl/maps/1gAHfk62oYH2

Posted: Apr 06 2017, 15:30 by bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Military | Humor
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us