One for the Good Guys

The Cold War Warrior studies the legacy of the Cold War through many lenses;

Ohio State Garden of Constants

Ohio State Garden of Constants

memories of uniformed and non-uniformed participants, historic events, and through various government bureaucracies.  A high-profile legacy is today’s global Islamist terrorism (NOT all Muslims).  There is an indirect thread that links this class of terrorism to WWII.  However, a strong and unbroken chain manacles the current terrorist activity directly to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and Western Civilization’s response.  Without diving into the murky waters of the Soviet Invasion, suffice it to say the U.S. and other Western countries failed to understand the Islamic and tribal cultures into which they were diving.  Thus, the diplomatic and subsequent warfighting efforts were and are disastrous.

Investigators work around the scene Monday afternoon on the campus of Ohio State University after an attacker allegedly drove a car into a group of students near Watts Hall and then got out of the car and attacked them. (David Petkiewicz, cleveland.com)

Investigators work around the scene Monday afternoon on the campus of Ohio State University after an attacker allegedly drove a car into a group of students near Watts Hall and then got out of the car and attacked them. (David Petkiewicz, cleveland.com)

On November 28, 2016, the Monday after the U.S.’s Thanksgiving holiday, the University of Ohio was attacked by a lone Somali refugee, a legal resident of the United States.  Cleveland.com’s Karen Farkas reported, “Eleven people were injured during a car and knife attack at Ohio State University early Monday and the suspect was then killed by police, authorities said. An hourlong (sic) campus lockdown was lifted at 11:14 a.m. All classes were canceled for the day…”

Terrorism isn’t the only legacy in this story.  There is another, far more proud, American legacy and its story lies behind the closed doors of the hour-long lockdown.  Written by journalist John Gray, it is a tale of duty, honor, and country.

“Lost in all the chaos at Ohio State University today was something that most people probably missed. About an hour into it, when everyone was “sheltering in place” all over campus, CNN took a phone call from a young woman who was locked inside a classroom right near where the suspect was hurting people. She said she was a graduate student and she and many others were huddled together scared and not sure what was happening outside. Then she said something made me tear up.
She said casually to the TV anchor over the phone, “But we happened to have a few ‘military guys’ in my class and the minute we got the text message alert of an ‘active shooter on campus’ they moved the rest of us away from the door and then all of them stood guard right by the door.” She said they were standing there as she spoke making certain if a shooter or someone with a knife or whatever calamity tried to come through that door, they would be the first thing he’d see and they’d stop it and protect the other students or die trying.
These guys weren’t armed, I’m guessing they weren’t in uniform, they were just students who happened to have military training. Those “military guys” instantly put themselves on the clock and assumed the position to protect those unarmed, vulnerable students.
I thought that was impressive. I thought that was brave. I thought that was oh so very American.
I also thought you’d want to know.”
John Gray

There will be other posts that examine U.S. Foreign Policy legacy and the terrible price we pay when policy fails. For tonight, I am once again proud to be an American and thrilled to share the military legacy that serves to protect the people, the nation and what we, the United States represents. We are a good people. The men and women who wear and wore the uniform are good the ‘Good guys’.

 

About John Gray:

John Gray graduated with honors from LaSalle Institute, Hudson Valley Community

John Gray

John Gray

College and SUNY Oswego.

Celebrating his 25th year on television John has covered many big stories including the terrorist attacks of September 11th, the Pope’s visit to America and has reported on a number of Presidential campaigns. However, his favorite stories involve helping people right here at home. John volunteers with a dozen local charities including, ALS, M.S., Special Olympics, Juvenile Diabetes, Hospice, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters to name a few.

He has won numerous awards for his television work and writing, most recently winning a prestigious Emmy Award. He has been awarded “Columnist of the Year” honors from both the Associated Press and New York News Publishers Association and received the Business Reviews 40 Under 40 Award and H.V.C.C.’s ‘Most Distinguished Alumni’ award.

John’s passion is writing and for nearly twenty years his Wednesday column in The Record and Saratogian newspapers has become a local favorite. He also writes a popular monthly column in Capital Region Living Magazine. John has three children and a German shepherd named ‘Max’. In his spare time John enjoys rollerblading, golf and travel.

FEAR AND LOATHING IN AMERICA or a short, twisted history of immigration

Dear America and the State of Texas, I have some hard truths to tell you. Most of you

"... the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...": FDR’s First Inaugural Address

“… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance…”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address

won’t like what I have to say and I really don’t care. You are afraid. Yep, I said YOU ARE AFRAID. Someone needed to say it and I just did. You’re afraid of your government. You’re afraid of ISIS and Al Qaeda. You’re afraid of immigrants and immigration. You are one short step away from walking around with an aluminum foil

hat on your head. You’re afraid that Obama’s storm troopers are going to kick your door in some evening to confiscate your firearms. You are afraid of many things and that’s dangerous.

I’m frightened myself, but I think I’m afraid for different reasons than you. I’m not afraid of ISIS. I refuse to let a group of religious fundamentalists (Muslim or Christian) control my thinking. I’m not afraid of immigration, but I’ll go into that further down. I’m not afraid of my government. I think our government in its current state is too inept to do much of anything, but that’s a subject for another blog on another day. Ditto the United Nations. Continue reading

Happy New Year

Legacy is the Cold War Warrior lens. As the leaf of the calendar prepares to turn the oldHappyNewYear_col year new, what comes from our past? The tribes are vibrating in anticipation of a wild and woolly presidential election in the U.S.  Mongering fear is a rhetoric staple for the speechwriters. A new player in the political orchestra is playing discordant notes as if he is composing a new symphony in the middle of the presidential concert performance. The Cold War witnessed ten presidential elections, some more noteworthy than others.

The 1960s began with a bang when a young, attractive Democrat, John F. Kennedy, took Richard Nixon to task for the job of president. Richard Nixon was a known as a ‘red-baiter’, but Kennedy, a WWII veteran, was a hawk’s hawk. Both sides played the Cold War Soviet threat card, but Kennedy brought fear alive through words that painted a picture of thousands of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles destroying freedom’s cities, lost children, and hope’s demise for humanity’s future. The number of missiles Kennedy was attributing to the Soviet arsenal, compared to the U.S.’s paltry few, was ridiculous. President Eisenhower could have made short work of Kennedy’s vision of the apocalypse by pointing out the young candidate’s lie, but did not.

Kennedy’s short time in office did make a difference. He and Nikita Khrushchev found some common ground in between shoe poundings. They banned atmospheric and underwater nuclear testing. Together they formed a treaty framework, still in use, to reduce the stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Instead of both empires having enough nukes to destroy the world many times over, we each only have enough left to destroy the world once. Continue reading

The Enemy of My Enemy Illusion

“American blood tastes sweeter, and we are coming for you” paraphrases a battle cry

In honor of the people who died in France on November, 13, 2015.

In honor of the people who died in France on November, 13, 2015.

that rang through the streets of Paris on Friday, November 13, 2015. As shots and explosions rang out at Parisian symbols of Western culture, the people cried, and brutality unfolded. Make no mistake, this is a religious war. President Obama may dance around the words all he chooses, but the dance does not change the facts. ISIS and its allies have declared the war to be holy and just, based on its interpretation of Islam. It matters not that the religion is Dharmic faiths, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Rastafarian, or even other Muslims. It matters only that Western Culture and Eastern Cultures exist. Dissenting with the ISIS interpreters of Islam lands even fellow Muslims on an uncomfortable enemies list alongside Western and Eastern Civilization. Denying the role of religion in this war is like sending firefighters to fight the smoke rather than attack the fire. The structure will burn, and the smoke will hang in the air unfettered.

America, The Great Satan

With the Cold War decisions to use the drug trade to help fund secret, off-the-radar CIA ‘low-intensity’ wars and to align with various political factions of Islam evolving america-great-satan-via irantheocratic states with Shariah Law, the United States left its moral high ground floating in the wake of its fear of Soviet Communist expansionism. The Cold War legacy of the U.S. government’s drug trading is evident in shattered families across the United States and in its streets and alleys lined drug hazed with lost souls. Making a case for the U.S.’s involvement in the growth of the second generation drug cartels we fight now would not be difficult. Why and how the U.S. lost its Constitutional soul to trading drugs leads back to the myriad proxy wars it fought at the height of the Cold War: Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America. The argument is made that proxy wars have been fought throughout history and, it particular, they kept the Cold War from becoming too hot. Whether or not you agree with the rationale, other peoples and their children died by the millions in proxy wars, and it was the first time the U.S. paid for proxy wars by trading drugs thereby bypassing Congress. In May 2009, Shunya published Namit Arora essay, America, the Cold War, and the Taliban pointed out that: Continue reading

FADING AWAY

“Old soldiers never die…they just fade away…” Gen Douglas MacArthur

“Old soldiers never die…they just fade away…” Gen Douglas MacArthur

 

This past Christmas I held my first grandson for the first time. I think that nothing can bring about one’s sense of mortality like the experience of holding that first grandchild.

Author Steve Traywick with Grandson

Author Steve Traywick with Grandson

Asher still had that new baby smell. He looked at Papaw with an unsure look in his eye, but an infant must have a sense of family. He didn’t cry. He settled into my arms and for the next two days only cried when he was hungry or had a wet diaper.

Looking into his eyes brought about a feeling of mortality, but it was a satisfied feeling….that feeling that I can let go now; that my name and bloodline will be carried on. I can live (or not) satisfied. I wonder if some day he’ll want to know about Papaw. I’m trying to leave enough of an ether trail that he can track me down if he chooses. If he does, he’ll certainly learn about the men I served with and what we did and how we served. I certainly hope he does. They are all unsung heroes.

I messaged with my oldest friend this evening. We were talking about trying to get together for the Tennessee/Oklahoma football game in Knoxville later this year. I haven’t seen Bill in probably ten years, but we always keep in touch. We’ve both made horrendous mistakes in our personal lives, but unlike me, Bill rose to the very pinnacle of our profession. He was (and in my mind still is) the very personification of a professional soldier and tanker. A tanker in the 2nd Infantry Division, a member of the Audie Murphy Club, an M1 Master Gunner, Master Gunner for a winning CAT (Canadian Army Trophy) team, combat vet in Desert Storm, he retired a Command Sargent Major.

Steve Traywick in Germany.

Steve Traywick in Germany.

I knew him when he was a young Specialist 4 and my tank driver. Later, we became neighbors. We babysat each other’s kids. We watched out for each other. Bill chose a different path than I did. I think that he couldn’t not succeed at anything he did. Even though we went separate ways, we always managed to maintain that sense of family that every member of an Armor unit knew. Bill was, and still is my oldest and dearest friend.

Chatting with Bill tonight, it occurred to me that we old soldiers are fading away like every generation must surely do. There are still quite a few of us around from Uncle Ronnie’s army, but we are certainly getting much older. Most of my buddies from my generation of the nineteen-eighties have grandchildren now. I have no idea how or when this happened. I told Bill tonight that if I’d known I would live this long, I would have certainly taken better care of myself. He agreed.

I suppose I’ve written all this to say that I’m very, very concerned. I worry for my Army and ultimately for my country. Probably every generation of soldiers (sailors and marines too, I suppose) worries that the succeeding generation won’t be tough enough to face the challenges that their generation faced. I certainly won’t compare us to The Greatest Generation or the generation that fought the thankless war in Korea. I’ve met a lot of Vietnam vets and won’t let my generation take a backseat to them; different time, different mission.

wot_sweetdreams_wp_1280x960

Déjà vu Somalia

Dedicated to the memory of Brett Fredericks. Thank you for your service.

On October 3rd and 4th, 1993, two years after the Cold War was declared ‘over’, the U.S.somalia military was in Somalia and they were still fighting. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush deployed 28,000 U.S. troops to Somalia to protect food and medical supply lines to the millions of starving people who suffered at the whims of a gaggle of warlords. The newly-elected Clinton considered the mission important, so the military, including the Delta Force, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), were in Somalia executing the orders of the Commander-in-Chief.

This was the setup for Black Hawk Down the First Battle of Mogadishu, which was part of Gothic Serpent, an operation to capture Mohamed Farrah Aidid, perhaps the vilest of the Somali warlords and self-appointed president of Somalia. Of the eighteen Americans who died on October 3rd and 4th, 1993, five were Delta Force. Seeing an American soldier’s body dragged through the street enraged an American public. Instead of turning the furies of hell loose to smash the evil, the U.S. withdrew its troops in March 1994. But, why was the U.S. really there in the first place? Did George H.W. Bush, President and former CIA Director, really care about suffering Africans?

Running from the problem didn’t solve it. Twenty-two years later the warlords still battle it out in Mogadishu. In December retired Delta Force member, Brett Fredricks, was murdered there by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab rebels. The questions are what is the current political situation, what or who is Al-Shabaab, and why did former Delta Force member Brett Fredericks die on Somali soil? Continue reading

Legacies of the Cold War

The older I get the more dots my memory connects. The legacies of the Cold War have

(Image Source: Chase Bickel). film noir bathroom. Film Noir Look. (Image Source: Uday Kadkade)

(Image Source: Chase Bickel). film noir bathroom. Film Noir Look. (Image Source: Uday Kadkade)

come into sharp relief on this little planet filled with strife, political egos and good people just trying to make it through. Like any good film noir, the bequests of that time present themselves in black and white with deep, menacing shadow. Like a movie scene each legacy a large, slowly rotating ventilation fan blade, one behind the other each timed slightly differently, the viewer sees only the shadow and feels the challenge as the simple swoosh, swoosh as the blades relentlessly and ominously turn. The good guys or bad guys make their jumps through the fans’ portal to the other side; some make it, some don’t. It’s the same footage used for different stories where a dramatic transition is required.

BUFF On a bombing run

BUFF On a bombing run

Delivered to the U.S. military for use in 1953, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber in all its incarnations has been a workhorse of Cold War infrastructure that survived the fan blades of transition from one well-defined enemy to the shadow world of many enemies defined in vague terms like terrorism. Sitting in my office in the Quonset hut on Hickam, I was quietly tackling the piles of paper in the early 1990s. I was quite unprepared for the normally calm Kimo’s bursting through my office door yelling that a BUFF was on the runway. I had no idea what a BUFF was, other than a neutral shade of brown. The sheer size of the airplane that met my eyes that day was impressive. It was a B-52 and I quickly learned that BUFF stood for Big Ugly Fat Fellow (or F….r). I definitely wanted to know more about that old dog. I drank in books extolling tales of daring-do by phenomenal pilots as they flew B-52s on long-range missions over Russia or retrofitted B-52’s taking care of business in Viet Na or patrolling our borders like long-range snipers, and, now, the war on terrorism with precision guided missiles and mind numbing payloads of bombs. Continue reading