Miscellaneous November Shit

My Wuntsahs are two months late. Also, I forgot to make a post detailing my expenses/earnings for the 3rd quarter. I will work on that later.

Memorial

On Friday everyone in our unit attended the memorial for Daniel Winegeart. Apparently a tire blew out on the truck and that’s why it went off the on-ramp. I also know the driver, who was seriously wounded but is coming home. A twenty-foot drop.

Winegeart’s family was also present. They came in last and we all stood, after having watched a slideshow of a bunch of photos of him. He seemed to take a bunch of photos of himself. Do a lot of people take photos of themselves? Was he fascinated with himself? Or was he just trying to understand himself? Did he feel he looked different in photos than how he perceived himself?

He was always good-natured and lightened the mood around himself. The photos in the slideshow didn’t show him with women except from his high school prom. He went Army right out of high school. It’s unclear whether the photos were chosen just to isolate him or whether he was just a loner for the most part, with few serious relationships except for his family.

An old Green Beret played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. I was moved by the whole thing until the chaplain came up to speak, and he ruined it. He offered some stupid parable about God forsaking Man and Man complaining about it. That’s the problem with Army chaplains for me. I can never relate to them, except for one that is deployed right now. He’s former infantry and Ranger-tabbed. He actually talks to you and is a hardass and keeps his religious sermons saved for appreciative audiences.

Some friends of his from the unit talked about him and that helped a lot to add some levity, as they had funny stories about things he had said in the past. He said a lot of silly things that just struck people the right way.

At the end, they did the customary final roll call. This involves the first sergeant calling out names for people to report for duty. The final roll call was for Daniel: “SGT Winegeart, Daniel. … SGT Winegeart, Daniel. … SGT WINEGEART, DANIEL WESTON?” It was quiet. No one answered. Shots were fired outside and a bugler played Taps. It was quiet inside the chapel except for the family, and particularly the mother, who were sobbing.

I remarked to Julie that I think it probably helped the family to have us all there, to have everyone present who had worked with him and were part of the reason he re-enlisted.

Alyssa Peterson

Alyssa was a friend of my friends at DLI back when we were students there. I think she must’ve graduated and left while I was just arriving there. Because she went to the 101st and deployed to the invasion of Iraq. Shortly into my Arabic class, we found out she had died. We were told that she died of a shotgun blast, but it was unclear whether it was from her, and indeed the implication was that it was an accidental discharge by someone else, or as this long and revealing article explains, by an Iraqi civilian.

As it turns out, we only know now because of a journalist’s investigations, that she had committed suicide. And, as even her parents didn’t know, she had been reassigned after objecting to the interrogation techniques she was supposed to use. If she did that then, when the war started, just imagine what they’re doing now.

Then she was given suicide prevention training, which she remarked taught her how to commit suicide.

Why is this stuff covered up? We’re finding this out now, three years later. This smacks of Pat Tillman’s death. Good people dishonored in their deaths by lies and deception.

A Year Later

Today I was working on my graduate school paperwork some more (I’m almost done, except for recommendations and one scholarship essay!!) and I remembered back a year ago when I was in Iraq going to my sergeant promotion board. I remember one of the curveball questions my first sergeant asked me, one of those questions that you can’t study for. He asked me to describe one person who had been my biggest role model while in the Army. I answered Michael Vaden, the owner of Gryphon Group. I met him when I attended his excellent military defensive driving course in Florida a couple years ago. It was probably the best training I’ve ever done in the military. We learned how to spin out someone else’s car, push cars out of the way, avoid being pushed off the road, break out of a traffic jam, pull off J-turns, evade obstacles at high speed, and engage in evasion tactics after exiting a vehicle. We also got tazered and gassed with oleo-capsicum spray.

Anyway, I didn’t hesitate for long and I answered that I respected this guy because he was an instructor for SERE survival school and SWC, which is the Green Beret training school. Then he went to American University and got his Masters in Foreign Policy. Then he started his own business and has been very successful in building clients and earning money. The first sergeant and the sergeant majors seemed very impressed by my answer, although privately with my boss they asked why I didn’t pick him. He said I was just being honest.

Keep in mind I defended my team sergeant much longer than I probably should have.

Elections

I’m expecting to be disappointed by the elections on Tuesday. Even if the Dems do manage to win something, can we really expect to see a return of oversight to our federal government? Or just more useless assholes bickering about stupid issues instead of leading our country back to respectability? Will there ever be a break from the rhetorical framework that all the politicians are stuck in right now?

Julie

Julie got a hot new butterfly tattoo on her Achilles’ tendon, which took some guts! She has a pic at her web site! Also, she’s undertaking a massive writing efford, NaNoWriMo, in which she has to write like two billion words in one month. So far I’ve read the advance copy of her work and it’s starting out ultra intriguing. You should pester her for a copy!