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News Letter Febuary 2007
“The Monthly Diamondhead”
Febuary 2007
Editor-Reporter-Chief Cook-Web Slave-
Ron Leonard
E- mail: webmaster@25thaviation.org
This page survives strictly on Donations, no Donations no exist.
Web Page Accounting as of NOW

Please Add Yourself to our electronic US MAP "Where We Are", then I can loose all these pins and flags on my wall

Company Stuff:
  This month we brought several new people to the fold of long lost 25th Aviation Personnel. Newly found personnel:
               For the Little Bears we added Larry Cogan and Maxwell Joy.
For Diamondhead we drew a blank this month
              For HHD we found Dan Lentz,
After doing quite a bit of research on our members past and present. It is evident that now more than 25% of us are pushing up daisies in a grave somewhere, or sitting in an urn on someone's mantle. Sad but true people, we are getting old.


We still have afew of our reunion coins available. There was only 100 made so they will be collectors items. If you want one let me know. They are $10 and the proceeds go into the reunion fund. If you have paypal, my account is webmaster@25thaviation.org,
or mail a check to

Ron Leonard
PO Box 1451
Krebs Ok

The real deal

The new Association patches are in, they are 12" in diameter and suitable to frame, or sew on the back of a jacket.
Cost is $15 each,  and includes shipping send a check or money order to :

Charlie Rodgers
                         12011 Las Nubes St.
                         San Antonio, TX 78233-5942

Turn your speakers on and enjoy the sight and sounds of the "U.S. Army Sky Soldiers" in their Cobras. This great team is from The Army Aviation
Heritage Foundation. The Army, like the USAF and Navy now has a flight team that will be promoting Army Aviation and the Army at aviation venues
starting in 2007. They are sponsored by the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

These guys and gals are really good. I'm sure proud to be a member of this organization.


Well ,
George Smith Sr. (Smitty), has done what many of us only wish we were able to do, he is off and to report to Ft Jackson, SC on Feb 21, 2007. If he passes the physical and any training they may have, he will be working at the Pentagon as a Logistics Officer.


Hi Guys:

Last year the Modern Day 25th Regiment asked if we could help them out with an award for the NCO of the Year and Soldier of the Year, and we did that. This year they are in Iraq, and are having T-shirts made up to commemorate their deployment. Instead of doing something like last year they suggested we just chip in to their T-Shirt fund if we could. If you guys are up to it send what you will to:

MAJ Rich Gordon
TF 2-25th Avn
FOB Speicher
APO AE 09393

If you have copies of your decoration write-ups, I would appreciate a copy of them for our archives. Those write-ups pinpoint a day in the time of our history, which we were supporting, and what was happening. It is impossible for me to re construct our history just off the Daily Journals and grunt After Action Reports, since they are not specific to what we were doing.

Care Packages:

                             The 25th Aviation Regiment is  deployed to Iraq as we speak, so how about it send them a little something from us old guys. It will be apppreciated.
CSM Rob Felder or LTC Frank Tate
TF 2-25th Avn
FOB Speicher
APO AE 09393

We have approached a very special point in time. There is a window open to us to tell our stories, to get our side of the story told. Every day this window gets smaller, as can be attested to by the number of our members that have left us since coming home. If you can all just take the time to sit down, and write that one good story, send it to me so I can record it. This way the historical events are not forgotten. Don't worry about it being perfect, I can fix it up for you.


Association Reunion San Antonio 2008,

The Tropic Lighting Association Reunion will be held in San Antonio, in  November 2008. The planning is underway and the particulars will be made available soon.

2007 Annual Fishing Trip in Alaska
 As it was this year it will take place on the Kenai Peninsula. September is a great time, the leaves are changing, the Silver Salmon are plentiful, the crowds of tourists are gone, and huge rainbow trout are on the prowl. They run up to 35” and there are many of them. The Kenai River is without a doubt the premier trout stream on the continent. If you are interested let me know and I will start figuring out an Itinerary and make it happen once more.

2007 Welcome Home For Troops in Iraq
August or Sept in Hawaii…I will keep you posted

2007 Littlebear Association Reunion Wednesday, April 25th through Sunday, April 29th in Williamsburg Virginia click here for details and attendence lists.

2007 VHCMA REUNION will be in ORLANDO, FLORIDA June 20-24,  click here for details


(From Our Guys In Iraq)

Hi Ron:

I apologize for the delay but I have been in a shithole for some time doing some things of that which I can not speak of. The name of the individual you mentioned is not ringing a bell but I will see what I can dig up. If it helps we have not lost anyone from our battalion as of yet so if this gentlemen had expired then I would have heard about it so you can tell his father that for sure. It's business as usual work, fly, work, then sleep. You know how it is. I'm enclosing some pics for you and a link to an article which is of a mission that myself and some of my other crewdawgs participated in.

Ok here is the link:
I am second from the right in the far row.

I will give you updates as time allows, Enjoy

Click To Enlarge and for Descriptions

Donut Dollie Reunion

Good afternoon! I was a Donut Dollie with the 25th from October '69 -  April '70. My best friends were Little Bears and Diamondheads! That six  months was one of the pivotal experiences of my life! The DDs are having a  reunion in Dallas and would like to invite any and all25th Inf Div Vietnam  Vets, and expecially 25th Aviation vets, to join us for the premier of a > film about us (done by the same folks who did 'In the Shadow of the > Blade'). I'm attaching a flyer and would like to respectfully ask that you  post the information on your web site. (See attached file:  donutdolliereunion.doc) Please do not hesitate to contact me for more > information or clarifications. I would really appreciate knowing if you  are going to post the invitation. Rene' Johnson former (and forever) Donut  Dollie (850) 425 8061 after 6:00 PM Rene_Johnson@apd.state.fl.us

The reunion runs from April 20-22

You are Invited
to the
World Premiere
Arrowhead Films

Date:           April 21, 2007               
Place:          Marriott DFW Airport South          Dallas / Ft. Worth, Texas                    
Arrowhead Films of Austin, Texas, is making a documentary about SRAO, better known as Donut Dollies.  They are doing it on an unfunded basis, using old photos/film and recent footage shot in Albuquerque and Angel Fire in 2005. Please come!!  All are welcome.

The Main Event, April 21, 2007:   · 6:30 p.m. Banquet, hotel ballroom
                   · 8:00 p.m. Film premiere, hotel ballroom
                                                       Guest banquet:  $40/pp
                                                       Guest, film premiere only:  gratis

If you'd like to join us, please email: donutdolliereunion@yahoo.com     
We'd appreciate an email if you're coming for the film only, but a prepaid reservation is required for the dinner.

Hello Ron,
Sorry I have not gotten back sooner but have been out of pocket for a few days.
I enjoyed the site very much.

Yes, my dad is still alive. In fact, we have been talking about going back to VN in 2008. He said he wants to see the country without being shot at. Currently my dad is out of town. I will contact him and see what information he wants passed on.

I am sure he would like to attend the reunion and since we live in the Ft Worth area, it's not too far away. And I would definitely attend. If for some reason dad cannot make it, would I still be welcome?

If you need to contact me you can call me on my cell @ 682.554.1376.
Thank you very much for serving our great country. Growing up in the military and being a Marine, I have the utmost respect for any and all service members and always will.

Randy Forester
Son of LB Jesse Forester

Hi everyone,

I just received a message from Bryant, following the President's address on Iraq . I wanted to forward it to you all. He has settled into the job of medic over the last two months +, and though we don't hear from him near enough, he does let us know he's "good" whenever he can.

Here's the rest of his letter to us:
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 00:17:06 -0800 (PST)
From: Bryant Shurley
Subject: My view of Iraq

Following the article I sent about Bush's national address and troop increase, I thought it was a good idea to let you all know what the perspective is over here. I'm tired of hearing the media's skewed version, the politicians squabbling over what they read in a report, and the average ill-informed American ranting about things he knows NOTHING about.

I've been over here a couple of months now, and I've learned more about this country than a year's worth of watching CNN. I've sat in mission briefs with Colonels, talked with village elders, had tea with Shieks, played with the kids. And I agree with the President. We need more troops and we need to take greater action.

There are 3 major factions here. The Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. The Shiites are in the majority, but Saddam was a Sunni, so he kept the Shiites in check. Everyone hates the Kurds, who are Christian and in the vast minority. The Kurds received the brunt of Saddam's murderous tyranny. Now that Saddam is gone, the Shiites have taken control of Baghdad . The largely peaceful Sunnis are now the victims of radical Shiite terrorism. So the young Sunni men, who can no longer go to work and support their families, do what all young men would do. They join the Sunni militia and battle the Shiites. And thus the country sits on the brink of civil war.

But this war is between them. They largely do not concern themselves with the U.S. troops. The insurgents who battle the Coalition Forces are from outside the country. And the biggest problem down here isn't the insurgents. Its the politicians. The local politicians. Even though th e country is controlled by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, downtown Baghdad is controlled by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The Shiites follow al-Sadr and thus the Prime Minister does what al-Sadr says. Think of it as if a warlord controlled New York and blackmailed the President into diplomatic immunity.

When 1st Cav (mainly 2/5 Cav) came here in 2004, they took downtown Baghdad (known as Sadr City ) by force. It cost many lives, but after a year, we held an iron grip on the largest insurgent breeding ground in Iraq . The insurgents were afraid of the Horse People, and rightfully so. But when 1st Cav left, al-Sadr influenced the Prime Minister to kick out the Coalition forces from that area of Baghdad . He said the Iraqi military forces could hold the city. But all that happened was al-Sadr regained control of his cty, and it is now a heavily guarded fortress. A place where insurgents and terrorists c an train and stockpile arms. And we cannot go back in becuase the Prime Minister won't let us. Our hands are tied.

So where does al-Sadr get his backing? From Iran and Syria . Iran supplies him with money and Syria supplies the terrorists. The insurgents that battle the Coalition Forces are from Syria , Somalia and dozens of other places outside of Iraq .
Iraq is literally a terrorist breeding ground. They have terrorist and sniper schools here. Why not? They train by teaching them to attack the military forces here. And they have an endless supply of these training tools. They have factories in Sadr City to build bombs. Both Iran and Syria have openly proclaimed their number one goal in life is to destroy the great Western Devil and the little Western Devil ( America and Britain ).
Iran wants to control Iraq to further this purpose. Al-Sadr will get to "run" the country and live like a king, but in reality Iran will pull the puppet strings.
Iran will have access to thousands of radical Shiites who will do whatever al-Sadr tel ls them to. And Iraq will be used as a breeding ground for terrorism. Terrorism that will be targeted directly at America and Britain .
The Iraq Study Group advised we should let Iran and Syria help with rebuilding? Bravo to President Bush for striking that idea down and vowing to keep those two countries out of Iraq .

So how do the Iraqi people feel about everything? Of course they don't want the Americans here. But they would far rather have us here than the Iranians.
My platoon visited an average Sunni village on a patrol a few days ago. Their only source of income was to farm, as they could not go to the city to work for fear of violence.
Many of the young men had already run off to join the militia for no other reason than to feed their families. They had no school or hospital near them and the community was dying.
The village elder's granddaughter was very sick and I was able to treat her. Afterwards he invited me and my Platoon Leader to sit in his house and have tea with him, and we talked about the situation.

The people want peace. The Shiites kill the Sunnis because al-Sadr tells them to do so.
The Sunnis fight back because they have no choice. They are glad Saddam is dead (Sunni or not), but do not want to replace him with another dictator in a politician's clothes (which is what al-Sadr will become). And they especially don't want Iran in charge.
Many innocent Iraqis will die if this happens. These are the words that came out of the elder's mouth:

"We do not want America here, and America does not want to be here. But you cannot leave because the militias controll the country. America must use the might of its giant army and sweep through, root out and destroy the militias. Then Iraq can be free and you can leave."

What appears to have happened within our diplomatic community, is that Prime Minister finally realizes that his days are numbered.
If al-Sadr remains, he will be kicked to the curb . So hopefully he is about to allow us to reenter Sadr City , root out and destroy the enemy.
A dramatic troop increase will allow us to do this. And the Horse People are back and ready to finish what they started over 2 years ago.

If leave now, it will be a failure for democracy. Iran will contoll Iraq and the end result will be more terrorist attacks on America .
The American people don't want soldiers dying over here, but its better than American civilians dying over there. Do NOT forget 9/11.
They will do it again. The moment we loosen our grip on the noose, they will do it again. And the only way to root out the evil here is to stop beating around the bush, increase troops and destroy the insurgents once and for all.
The Iraqi government cannot do this on their own. The Iraqi security forces are inadequate for this task. We are the only ones who can stop al-Sadr.

Feel free to share this with whomever wants a real soldier's opinion about the war.

SPC "Doc" Shurley
2/5 Cav, 1st CB

The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right?

The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president. In essence two thirds of the citizenry just Ain't happy and want a change.
So being the knuckle dragger I am, I starting thinking, ''What are we so unhappy about?''
Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter?
I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all involved. Whether you are rich or poor they treat your wounds and even, if necessary, send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes , an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of us unhappy.

Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. , yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have , and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9-11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an ''other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a ''dishonorable'' discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells , and when criticized, try to defend their actions by "justifying" them in one way or another. Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book and do a TV special about how he didn't kill his wife, but if he did? Insane!

Stop buying the negative venom you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.


Medical and VA Issues:

As of January 1, 2007, the Fort Worth Vet Center will be "redirecting" veterans to Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) or Dallas, Waco, Temple or Bonham VA Hospitals. Current enrollees will continue to be treated but no new enrollees will be accepted. The Center has reached capacity and this policy will be in effect until the new Center in South Fort Worth is operational in 2009. CBOCs are located in Granbury, Waxahachie and Fort Worth.

 The definition of "Percent": A proportion multiplied by 100.

The definition of "Permanent": Continuing in the same state, or without any change that destroys form or character; remaining unaltered or unremoved; abiding; durable; fixed; stable; lasting; as, a permanent impression. Continuing or enduring without marked change in status or condition or place; "permanent brain damage".

The definition of "Total": Absolute: without conditions or limitations; "a total ban" sum: a quantity obtained by the addition of a group of numbers damage beyond the point of repair; complete in extent or degree and in every particular; "a full game"; "a total eclipse"; "a total disaster"

The definition of "Disabled": Markedly unable to function as a consequence of injury or illness so badly injured as to be excused from continuing; "disabled veterans".

You've recently received your notice from the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) that you have been awarded a rating of 100% Permanently and Totally Disabled. (For our purposes right now it makes no difference if this is a "Schedular" rating or an "Individual Unemployability [IU] rating.)

You feel a sense of relief. You're vindicated! You've played by the rules and proven your claim to be valid. Your rating is officially going to last forever as continuing in the same state, without any change, without conditions or limitations because you are declared to be markedly unable to function as a consequence of injury or illness or you were so badly injured as to be excused from continuing to work.

That is what that award letter says, right? If you want further proof, look right there where it says, "No future exams are scheduled." and "Dependents are eligible for Chapter 35 DEA benefits." Thankfully, you and the VBA are done, finished, wrapped up but for the once each month they'll make your deposit.


"Jim, please tell me that it's over!!!"

A VA Watchdog reader dropped this in my mail last week: (Names and places redacted for privacy.)

"I was rated P&T in 2004 with metastasized prostate cancer. I was told that I would not be required to receive any more evaluations. A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from a place called QTC http://www.qtcm.com/ that said they were calling about my recent claim for prostate cancer radiation. My radiation was done in 2003 so this was inaccurate. I told the lady that I was told that I would not have to receive another evaluation and she wanted a copy of the award letter. I faxed it to her. She then called back and said that, I was right that I didn't have to go to the exam. I am in (State). The person in (City) that she is calling for is (Official's Name) with the V.A. Next I get a letter stating that I was right, they would make their decision on the current medical records and that they saw no need to keep my disability at 100%, as my psa has been continuously down. I had a radical prostatectomy in 2002. Three months later my PSA rose again and I was given radiation. Again my PSA rose during radiation. They stopped the radiation and I was given Chemotherapy and Eligard (hormone). I thought that P&T was P&T. How can this happen and what can I do? This (Official's Name) has a notorious reputation. My P&T was awarded me in (State). We moved to (A different state) a year and a half ago to be closer to the kids and grandkids. I was in Vietnam from 1969-1970."

The language of the VBA is notoriously indecipherable to us commonfolk. I sometimes think that when Reverend Charles Dodgson (writing as Lewis Carroll) wrote of Alice traveling through that rabbit hole, he was making a metaphor for dealing with the VBA. The things Alice encounters in her journey make little sense to her. Her reality no longer applies in this fantastic world but everyone she meets along the way thinks her experience is perfectly normal. No discussion of VBA Speak is complete without first glancing at what is known as "VA Math". In your world 2+2 probably equals 4 and that's how you balance the family budget and make the car payments. Having passed through the rabbit hole with Alice, your friendly VBA representative will teach you a new way to add.

Your lesson will begin at 38CFR4.25, Pages 364-366, where you'll eventually read the Combined Ratings Table. Glance here to see how your rating was arrived at and you'll learn, "Table I, Combined Ratings Table, results from the consideration of the efficiency of the individual as affected first by the most disabling condition, then by the less disabling condition, then by other less disabling conditions, if any, in the order of severity. Thus, a person having a 60 percent disability is considered 40 percent efficient. Proceeding from this 40 percent efficiency, the effect of a further 30 percent disability is to leave only 70 percent of the efficiency remaining after consideration of the first disability, or 28 percent efficiency altogether. The individual is thus 72 percent disabled, as shown in table I opposite 60 percent and under 30 percent."

There, that was easy, wasn't it?

There's plenty more VA math where that came from but as I have a life to get on with, I'll let you continue reading on your own at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/get

VBA compensation is unique. The basis for your disability rating is defined in 38 CFR, §3.321; General Rating Considerations. "Use of rating schedule. The 1945 Schedule for Rating Disabilities will be used for evaluating the degree of disabilities in claims for disability compensation, disability and death pension, and in eligibility determinations. The provisions contained in the rating schedule will represent as far as can practicably be determined, the average impairment in earning capacity in civil occupations resulting from disability."

VBA uses a schedule developed between 1925 and 1945 to determine your "average impairment in earning capacity" while you are a civilian employee suffering from a disability caused by or aggravated by your military service.

In §3.105, Revision of Decisions, we discover your rating may be changed because there is (a) Error (b) Difference of opinion (c) Character of discharge (d) Severance of service connection (e) Reduction in evaluation-compensation. There are others but for today we'll focus on (e). In (e) the regulation tells us that, "Where the reduction in evaluation of a service-connected disability or employability status is considered warranted and the lower evaluation would result in a reduction or discontinuance of compensation payments currently being made, a rating proposing the reduction or discontinuance will be prepared setting forth all material facts and reasons."

Moving on to §3.652 we learn, "Periodic certification of continued eligibility (a) Individuals to whom benefits are being paid are required to certify, when requested, that any or all of the eligibility factors which established entitlement to the benefit being paid continue to exist. The beneficiary will be advised at the time of the request that the certification must be furnished within 60 days from the date of the request therefore and that failure to do so will result in the reduction or termination of benefits."

We've established that VBA may propose a reduction to your rating if a "reduction in evaluation of a service-connected disability or employability status is considered warranted". We know that VBA may require "Periodic certification of continued eligibility". We're now aware that if VBA targets you and suggests that your rating be lowered or eliminated, you have 60 days to refute that and prove that you continue to deserve your original award.

How would VBA determine that your rating may be lowered? By ordering you to undergo a reexamination; §3.327 Reexaminations. (a) General. "Reexaminations, including periods of hospital observation, will be requested whenever VA determines there is a need to verify either the continued existence or the current severity of a disability. Generally, reexaminations will be required if it is likely that a disability has improved, or if evidence indicates there has been a material change in a disability or that the current rating may be incorrect."

You've received notice that VBA is trying to lower your rating. You're mad as hell and you aren't going to take it any more. You've written an angry letter to your Congressman as well as the VBA telling them your condition has not changed and forcing you to drive to the VHA Medical Center for a C & P is a waste of everyone's time. You determine that the C & P examiner with QTC is a hired gun and you're better off not going to that examination.

Before you make up your mind to skip that C & P exam, read §3.655; Failure To Report For Department of Veterans Affairs Examination. (a) General. When entitlement or continued entitlement to a benefit cannot be established or confirmed without a current VA examination or reexamination and a claimant, without good cause, fails to report for such examination, or reexamination, action shall be taken in accordance with paragraph (b) or (c) of this section as appropriate. (b) Original or reopened claim, or claim for increase. When a claimant fails to report for an examination scheduled in conjunction with an original compensation claim, the claim shall be rated based on the evidence of record. When the examination was scheduled in conjunction with any other original claim, a reopened claim for a benefit which was previously disallowed, or a claim for increase, the claim shall be denied. (c) Running award. (1) When a claimant fails to report for a reexamination and the issue is continuing entitlement, VA shall issue a pretermination notice advising the payee that payment for the disability or disabilities for which the reexamination was scheduled will be discontinued or, if a minimum evaluation is established in part 4 of this title or there is an evaluation protected under §3.951(b) of this part, reduced to the lower evaluation.

This complex set of rules goes on and on. There are a few "protected" categories where you might feel secure in maintaining your rating forever. The majority of us don't fall into those slots. We're vulnerable to reexamination and a lowered rating at any moment. If you received your rating in the last decade, if your medical condition has improved, if you started work at a new job after your award or if there have been any other major changes to your lifestyle you're subject to an attempt to lower your rating at any time.

The Veteran who wrote me the email above is in a tight spot. He had a bad prostate cancer. It's one of the "presumptive" diseases and is easily connected to his service in Vietnam. His medical treatment was extensive and it was all life threatening. But, he seems to have been cured. The PSA blood test is often still thought of as the standard test to determine whether or not a man is developing prostate cancer or after treatment, the success of treatments. His PSA has shown a steady normal result. Many men lead healthy, productive lives after treatment for prostate cancer.

So, what should our Veteran do?

First, consider this exchange after our Veteran receives the letter ordering him to the C & P exam; "I told the lady that I was told that I would not have to receive another evaluation ..." That lady replied to our Veteran, "...and [she] said that, I was right that I didn't have to go to the exam...Next I get a letter stating that I was right, they would make their decision on the current medical records and that they saw no need to keep my disability at 100%..."

Our Veteran didn't understand that by refusing or resisting the exam, that lady told him that, "When a claimant fails to report for a reexamination and the issue is continuing entitlement...payment for the disability or disabilities for which the reexamination was scheduled will be discontinued or, if a minimum evaluation is established in part 4 of this title or there is an evaluation protected under §3.951(b) of this part, reduced to the lower evaluation."

If you don't show up for your exam, VA will look at your history that is reasonably available to them and adjudicate with only that evidence. I urged him to get in touch with a local State or County Veterans Service Officer for guidance. He needs quick action by someone experienced with the VARO in that locale. He needs to get to that C & P exam.

As in most other things in our lives, the most effective remedy for these issues is to be prepared. Before this happens to you, keep your records active. The very best thing you can do for yourself is to continue to seek ongoing, regular, documented treatment through your VHA network. Any ailment you have, whether or not it's connected to your claim, must be recorded. The best place for it to be recorded is in your VHA medical record. In the example above, our Veteran should have been seeking continuing follow-up with his VHA primary care doctor and his specialty doctors to treat any other effects of his prostate cancer. Has there been scarring that's caused urinary retention, bladder infections, chronic severe pain or loss of bladder control? Prostate cancer treatment often causes erectile dysfunction, has our Vet sought a remedy for that problem? Are there issues of anxiety or PTSD secondary to facing cancer that have required treatment or anti-depressive medications? Has his overall health declined as a result of his service connected illness and as a result he is unable to accomplish tasks of daily living due to weakness and fatigue?

If VA can take a look at his record and see in the last couple of years that he's doing fairly well, you can bet that he's going to have a tough time of defending his right to a 100% rating. If his last visit to his doctor demonstrated a guy fortunate enough to be cured, who has no complaints and who is getting along nicely, he's got a problem. If his record shows regular visits, at each visit he had a complaint of some physical disturbance related to his condition and that although his PSA was lower, he still suffered from his disease, it's much more likely his benefits will continue uninterrupted.

Nothing in VA is Permanent and Total. Two plus two does not equal four. To be awarded a disability compensation rating by VBA is the beginning, not the end. Once you have that award letter, it's up to you to be in a state of constant readiness to defend it. As the man said long ago; "It ain't over until the fat lady sings". When we are speaking of our dealings with VBA, we'll never hear that song. It ain't over until long after they issue that final brass marker noting the end of our journey.

Health issues plague many PTSD patients

By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes

WASHINGTON - Patients with post-traumatic stress disorders are more likely to struggle with smoking, alcoholism and obesity, according to a new analysis of post-traumatic stress studies.

Researchers say the findings shows that counselors need to deal not just with the mental aspects of PTSD, but also the physical challenges that patients face.

“Relieving the PTSD will help with some of the burden, but these risk behaviors will still be a problem,” said Dr. Miles McFall, Director of Psychology Service at VA Puget Sound Health Care System and an author of the analysis. “They need to be treated specifically.”

The report, published in the latest issue of the Department of Veterans Affairs PTSD Research Quarterly, reviews various research performed over the last few years which shows PTSD patients are twice as likely to smoke, twice as likely to develop a drinking problem and nearly three times more likely to use drugs than the general population.

Another study showed that nearly 83 percent of those suffering from PTSD are overweight or obese, compared to just under 65 percent of the adult population in the United States.

McFall said those symptoms aren't necessarily indicators that someone might have PTSD - for example, many veterans who don't have stress disorders also smoke - but health professionals dealing with PTSD patients should be on the lookout for that type of destructive behavior as well.

Ideally, counselors should treat both the PTSD and the secondary problems at the same time, he said.

“We've seen that mental health professionals who treat both get a better result,” McFall said.

The report pointed to the high-risk health behavior as a possible reason for the shorter life space among PTSD patients.

“It cannot be assumed that these behaviors will resolve on their own without direct, targeted intervention,” the report states.
Complete study here... http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/nc_archives/rsch_qtly/V17N4.pdf

Study below:
The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder  PTSD Research Quarterly
Published by:
National Center for PTSD
VA Medical Center (116D)
215 North Main Street
White River Junction
Vermont 05009-0001 USA

Miles McFall, PhD
and Jessica Cook, PhD
Mental Illness Research, Education,
and Clinical Center,
VA Puget Sound Health Care System

PTSD is associated with increased morbidity, utilization of medical care services, and premature death. The proclivity of individuals with PTSD to
engage in behaviors with adverse health consequences likely contributes to these associations,along with dysregulated neuroendocrine and immune
system pathways, genetic vulnerabilities, maladaptive psychological states, and learned illness behavior (Boscarino, 2004, 2006; Schnurr &
Jankowski, 1999). This review summarizes key papers linking PTSD with the three leading causes of morbidity and mortality in United States.


The National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) showed that the prevalence of smoking in PTSD is over 45% nationwide, compared to 23% for the adult population at large (Lasser et al., 2000).
Although half of all ever-smokers have stopped using tobacco, this study found that only 23% of ever-smokers with PTSD had quit, placing them third from the bottom in a ranking of quit rates for 13 mental disorders. Extraordinarily high rates of smoking have been reported in several investigations involving clinical samples with PTSD. For example, Beckham, Kirby, and colleagues (1997) found that 53% of VA patients with combat-related PTSD smoked and that 48% of these veterans smoked heavily (> 25 cigarettes/day), compared to 28% of combat veterans without PTSD.

High concurrence of PTSD and smoking is similarly evident among recently traumatized individuals.Vlahov and colleagues (2002; Nandi et al.,2005) assessed PTSD and tobacco use in a large,representative sample of New York City residents following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Four months after the attacks, participants with probable nicotine dependence were more likely to report PTSD symptoms (18.1%) than were participants without nicotine dependence (5.7%). Also, PTSD was more prevalent among participants who had increased their rate of smoking 5 to 8 weeks after the attacks than in those who did not increase their rate of smoking (24.2% vs. 5.6%).

The causal relationship between PTSD and smoking has been examined in retrospective, longitudnal, and twin-study research designs. Breslau et al.(2003) analyzed prospective data from a sample of1,200 enrollees in a health maintenance organization as well as retrospective, lifetime data in order to determine risk of onset of nicotine dependence in traumatized persons with and without PTSD.

The 10-year cumulative incidence of smoking in individuals with PTSD was 31.7%, compared to 19.9% in persons with a history of trauma exposure without PTSD and 10.5% in those with no history of trauma. Koenen et al. (2005) analyzed the temporal order of onset of PTSD and daily smoking in 3,065 members of the Vietnam Era Twin Registry and tested whether the PTSD-smoking relationship was moderated by hereditary risk for smoking. PTSD increased risk of subsequent daily smoking over two-fold. Active PTSD predicted daily smoking for veterans with high as well as low genetic vulnerability for smoking. However, the effect for PTSDwas strongest for those with low genetic liability, suggesting that PTSD is a non-genetic pathway for smoking among individuals at otherwise low
risk to smoke. Smoking also may be functionally related to PTSD as a form of “self-medication” that temporarily relieves PTSD symptoms and negative
mood states. Support for this hypothesis was found in a prospective observational study of cues associated with smoking behavior in smokers with and without PTSD (Beckham et al., 2005). Negative affect, positive affect, and PTSD symptoms were antecedents of naturalistic smoking in smokers with PTSD but not in smokers without PTSD.

Three preliminary studies show that nicotine dependence can be successfully treated in veterans with PTSD. In a controlled trial of bupropion, Hertzberg et al. (2001) found that 4 of 10 smokers with PTSD randomized to bupropion stopped smoking at 6-month follow-up compared to only 1 of 5 smokers who received placebo. McFall et al. (2005) tested the effectiveness of having mental healthcare providers integrate tobacco dependence treatment into psychiatric care of veterans with PTSD. Integrated Care (IC) for smoking was compared to usual care (UC), consisting of referral to a specialized tobacco cessation clinic, in a randomized controlled trial involving 66 VA PTSD patients.

IC patients were more likely to stop smoking than UC patients across follow-up intervals at months 2, 4, 6, and 9 (OR = 5.2). A subsequent test of practice-based IC for smoking in PTSD was conducted in an open clinical trial involving 107 veterans with PTSD (McFall et al., 2006). Seven-day biologically verified point prevalence rates of abstinence were similar to those in the randomized controlled trial at 2, 4, 6, and 9 months follow-up (28% to 18%). These treatment-related quit rates are comparable to quit rates in individuals without mental disorders.

Alcohol and Drug Use

Several epidemiological studies document the high prevalence of substance use disorders (excluding tobacco use) among persons with PTSD (see review by Chilcoat & Menard, 2003). The NCS reported that 51.9% of persons with lifetime PTSD also had a lifetime diagnosis of alcohol abuse/dependence and 34.5% had a lifetime diagnosis of drug abuse/dependence (Kessler et al., 1995).

PTSD increased the odds of having an alcohol use disorder two-fold and the odds of a drug use disorder nearly three-fold. The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (Kulka et al., 1990) found that 75% of male Vietnam veterans with PTSD had a lifetime alcohol abuse/dependence disorder, and 22% had these disorders currently.

Veterans with PTSD were almost six times more likely than Vietnam veterans without PTSD to have a current drug use disorder.  The functional relationships between PTSD and substance use disorders have been studied both retrospectively and longitudinally. In a retrospective analysis of the order of onset of PTSD and substance use disorders, Kessler et al. (1995) concluded that PTSD was more often than not the primary disorder. Bremner and colleagues (1996) studied the longitudinal course of PTSD and substance abuse in 61 Vietnam combat veterans. The onset of PTSD and drug and alcohol abuse occurred shortly after combat exposure and followed a parallel course. Breslau et al. (2003) found that PTSD predicted subsequent onset ofdrug abuse/dependence, but not alcohol abuse/dependence,in their 10-year prospective and retrospective analysis of 1,200 community residents. Chilcoat and Breslau (1998) followed 1,007 midwestern community residents for 3-5 years after baseline assessment. PTSD increased risk for subsequent drug abuse/dependence four-fold,and this risk was greatest for prescribed drug abuse/dependence.

Conclusions about the causal pathways linking PTSD and substance use disorders are summarized in three excellent reviews (see Jacobsen et al., 2001; Stewart, 1996; Stewart & Conrod, 2003). There is consensus that PTSD,more than trauma exposure alone, accounts for subsequent onset of substance use problems, notwithstanding the Breslau et al. (2003) negative findings with respect to alcohol use. There is also agreement that the “self-medication”
hypothesis is valid, based on evidence that PTSD typically precedes onset of substance use and patients' perceptions that sedating substances ameliorate arousal-related symptoms and numb distressing emotions. Also supported is the “mutual maintenance” hypothesis whereby substance-related toxicity and withdrawal intensify PTSD symptoms and hence promote further substance use. Less compelling evidence has been found for the hypothesis that substance use increases risk for trauma exposure and hence liability for PTSD, and the hypothesis that substances enhance susceptibility for PTSD after trauma exposure.
Type of substances abused appear functionally tied to the predominance of different PTSD symptom clusters (e.g.,high physiological arousal symptoms predict alcohol use,while re-experiencing and avoidance/numbing symptom clusters are more strongly associated with drug abuse).

Complex neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the pathophysiology of comorbid PTSD and addiction are detailed in Jacobsen et al. (2001).  Ouimette, Moos, Brown, and colleagues (2003) published six informative papers about the modifiability of substance use symptoms among veterans with PTSD (see Ouimette, Moos, & Brown, 2003 for review). These studies document 1, 2, and 5-year outcomes from longitudinal naturalistic assessment of inpatient substance abuse treatment for veterans with PTSD (n = 140) and those without PTSD (n = 1,116). Nearly half of substance users with PTSD were abstinent from alcohol and drugs at follow-up year 1 or 2. However, veterans with PTSD showed less improvement on substance use outcomes than patients without PTSD. Two years post-discharge, substance use remission for veterans with PTSD was associated with receiving more outpatient treatment sessions for substance abuse and mental health problems, as well as attendance and active participation in self-help groups (Ouimette et al., 2000). The odds of substance use remission at the 5-
year mark were 3.7 times greater for veterans who received PTSD treatment during the first year after discharge and 4.6 times greater for veterans receiving PTSD treatment in the fifth year (Ouimette, Moos, & Finney, 2003). This research supports recommendations for proximate if not concurrent treatment of both conditions.  

Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity

Obesity and physical inactivity may partially explain the elevated prevalence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease among individuals with PTSD (Boscarino, 2006).

In a study of 221 help-seeking male veterans with PTSD, Vieweg et al. (2006a) reported that 82.8% were overweight or obese, having an average Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.2. This rate exceeds estimates for these conditions in the U.S. adult population at large (64.5%; Flegal et al., 2002) and in veterans specifically. Dobie et al. (2004) surveyed 1,259 female veterans enrolled in VA healthcare and similarly found that those with PTSD were 1.8 times more
likely to be obese (BMI > 30) than those without PTSD. David et al. (2004) compared the BMI of two populations of help-seeking veterans at risk for poor health practices, namely, those with PTSD and those with alcohol dependence.

The average BMI was 30.1 for veterans with PTSD versus 25.1 for veterans with alcohol dependence. Vieweg et al. (2006b) showed that psychotropic medication use did not account for the overweight and obesity problems of veterans with PTSD. A more likely explanation is the pronounced physical inactivity among these veterans. Buckley (2004) performed an archival analysis of clinic records to assess preventative and health-riskrelated behaviors in 826 treatment-seeking male veterans with PTSD. Fifty-nine percent of the sample reported exercising fewer than two times per week (> 20 min. duration),which is less than half the minimal standards for exercise recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General (USDHHS, 1996). McFall et al. (2005) similarly reported that among veterans with diabetes, those with PTSD (n = 11,775) were more physically inactive than those without any mental disorder (70% vs. 59%). Chronic pain explained nearly all of the association between PTSD and physical inactivity in this study.

Conclusions and Treatment Implications

A reliable association exists between PTSD and leading causes of morbidity and mortality. Health-risk behaviors constitute only one of several factors responsible for the poor health of individuals with PTSD, as the association between PTSD and adverse health outcomes holds even after they are statistically controlled (see review by Schnurr & Jankowski, 1999). Future research challenges include identifying: (1) the specific contribution of PTSD to increased health-risk behaviors compared with other disorders, such as depression, and (2) cognitive, affective, and neuroendocrine pathways that mediate poor healthhabit choices in persons with PTSD. Further research should also replicate and expand preliminary investigations linking PTSD with other health-risk behaviors, such as aggression, weapons possession, and sensation-seeking behavior (Beckham, Feldman et al., 2005; Freeman & Roca, 2001; McFall et al., 1999).
Routine screening of health-risk behaviors in individuals seeking help for PTSD is clearly indicated, and interventions for these behaviors should be incorporated into treatment plans. Conversely, early detection and sustained intervention for PTSD should be a standard of care for persons primarily seeking help for substance use disorder.

Although alleviation of PTSD symptoms favorably impacts some health-risk behaviors, it cannot be assumed that these behaviors will resolve on their own without direct, targeted intervention.

Many questions remain unanswered about how to best provide health-habit interventions for individuals with PTSD. These include questions about the timing and sequencing of interventions and whether (and how) standard health-promotion interventions should be tailored to accommodate special needs of individuals with PTSD.

In the meantime, research supports the general principle of delivering concurrent (or closely proximate) treatment for PTSD and associated risk behaviors. Ideally, care of both conditions should be integrated into the clinical activities of a single provider team, in order to minimize barriers associated with referral to outside consultants that undermine treatment adherence. Remission of addictive disorders in veterans with PTSD is associated with providing treatment sessions of greater numbers and duration. The effectiveness of interventions for obesity, physical inactivity, and other health-risk behaviors common
in PTSD remains undetermined.

The Aftermath Of War-Coping with PTSD

 Attention Viet Nam Vets, if you think you were exposed to agent orange, or if you know a vet who was---please forward the link to this video. It deals with a new method of possible treatment for the ill effects of dioxin poisoning.

War Stories:

The "secret" war in Laos was a sideshow to the main war in Vietnam--and the crossroads of it lay here. The Plain of Jars
By Walter J. Boyne
At the strategic Plain of Jars, US-backed forces fought North Vietnamese army and Pathet Lao units.
The Plain of Jars is a 500-square-mile, diamond-shaped region in northern Laos, covered with rolling hills, high ridges, and grassy flatlands. Its average altitude is about 3,000 feet. It derives its name from the hundreds of huge gray stone "jars" that dot the landscape. About 5 feet high and half again as broad, these containers were created by a people of a megalithic iron-age culture and probably served as burial urns. Exactly who created them, and why their culture disappeared, is not known.
During the long Southeast Asian war, all sides found the Plain of Jars to be situated in a highly strategic location. The area was a home to several airfields and contained a limited road complex that connected various sectors of Laos to themselves and to the outside world. This crossroads has been a battleground for centuries but never so intensively as in this century's many overlapping conflicts in Indochina.
The struggle for the Plain of Jars in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s was a mysterious and tragic affair, wrapped up in confusion and obscured by years of falsehoods and half-truths. It was a sideshow to the main war in Vietnam, but it was ennobled by some of the finest and most heroic flying in the history of the United States Air Force.
These valiant efforts were designed to support US-backed forces and destroy communist North Vietnamese units that opposed them. The many campaigns in the Plain of Jars were fought in parallel with a continuing bombing effort against the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The latter campaign would prove to be futile, for enemy activities in South Vietnam could be sustained on as little as 60 tons of supplies a day-the equivalent of about 30 trucks' worth of materiel.
This Was the Home Team
The Royal Laotian Air Force made its first-ever strike on Jan. 11, 1961, using its entire operational fleet of four North American AT-6 aircraft, equipped with wing-pylon mounted rockets. Ten AT-6s had been provided, but there were not enough pilots to fly them.
The US arranged for training in Thailand, with the Waterpump program opening at Udorn in 1964. The RLAF began an expansion that would see it receive 60 North American T-28Ds as its main attack force, supplemented by about 50 transports and 30 helicopters.
Like their infantry colleagues, few Laotian pilots were aggressive, and on critical missions the T-28s were often flown by Air America, Thai, or occasionally Raven FACs. A small number of Hmong pilots were trained, and despite their primitive upbringing in which the most advanced technology might have been a flintlock rifle, they proved to be exceptional. One, Lee Lue, a cousin of Vang Pao, was the veritable Hans-Ulrich Rudel of the Laotian war. The Raven FACs loved to work with him, for they considered him the best fighter-bomber pilot they had ever known. Lee Lue flew continuously, as many as 10 missions a day and averaging 120 combat missions a month to build a total of more than 5,000 sorties. Physically ravaged by fatigue and the endemic tropical diseases of the area, he literally flew until he was killed, shot down by heavy anti-aircraft fire July 12, 1969. Had the RLAF had more Lee Lues, the outcome of the war might have been different.

The Secret War
The Laotian war was a "secret" war, by tacit agreement of both sides. It was nominally a civil war, purportedly reflecting the divided interests and political loyalties of members of the Laotian royal family. In fact, the war was fought largely by surrogates for their own aims, the Laotians proving generally to be peace-loving even when--especially when--in uniform.

The communist force comprised tough, regular North Vietnamese army units and supplementary--and generally not very effective--local Pathet Lao units. They were opposed by the very ineffective Royal Laotian armed forces, whose leaders preferred to let the despised Laotian hill people, the Hmong, do the real fighting. The US supplied airpower on a very limited scale, initially, but in greater and greater amounts as the war progressed.

As the Hmong casualties rose, the US-sponsored fighting forces were increasingly augmented by Thai "volunteers," whose numbers eventually reached 17,000. These mostly were mercenaries paid with US funds and led by the Thai army's regular officers and noncommissioned officers.

The situation suited the US, which was loath to introduce American ground forces. The Hmong were supported by airpower and supplied by the CIA. Coincidentally, the North Vietnamese also were content to let the war simmer, as long as they could protect traffic along the ever-growing Ho Chi Minh Trail. Air sorties against the Plain of Jars tied up US military assets that otherwise would be used to bomb the trail. North Vietnam was confident that, when South Vietnam fell, Laos would fall.

The worst result of the 14-year struggle for the Plain of Jars was the destruction of a noble ally, the Hmong. They fought in countless battles against North Vietnamese forces and were in the end left to their fates. Originally numbering about 300,000 people, living high on mountain ridges and subsisting by means of slash-and-burn agricultural techniques, the Hmong suffered some 30,000 casualties, mostly young fighting men.

The Hmong families were driven from their homes to CIA-supported hilltop encampments, where they were fed by "soft rice drops" and armed by "hard rice drops." When the end came, those who could do so fled to camps in Thailand. Those who chose to remain in Laos were for years hunted down and killed by Laotian communists. A few Hmong relocated to the US.

The war was fought through the years on a seasonal basis, with US­sponsored forces advancing from April through September in the monsoon season and the North Vietnamese and its allies responding during the dry season of October through March. Perhaps unique to this ebb-and-flow war was an unusual vertical separation of territory, for the Hmong often dominated mountains and ridges even when the Pathet Lao or North Vietnamese owned the valleys below. It should be noted that the lowland Laotians discriminated against the hill people.

Laos is a landlocked country that shares a border with Cambodia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Burma (now called Myanmar). Its recorded history starts with the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, founded in the 1300s. It has since suffered through six centuries of more or less unbroken warfare. In 1907, France established the modern borders of Laos, primarily to serve as a bulwark against Thai and Chinese expansion into what was then French Indochina. It was granted independence in 1953.
The hole in the leading edge of a Forward Air Controller's O-1 shows that threats from ground forces were always a danger.

In the Beginning
The communist influence in Laos originated with the 1950 creation of the Pathet Lao by Prince Souphanouvang and a hard-core communist from Hanoi, Kaysone Phomvihan. The US backed an unusual dual-regime arrangement consisting of Prince Souvanna Phouma and his neutralist government and that of the right-wing General Phoumi Nosavan.

Ultimately, the combination of Hanoi's interference and attempts by the US to control the development of internal Laotian affairs precipitated a crisis in 1962. Open warfare was averted, and despite the intensity that the conflict would reach over the next 13 years, both the US and North Vietnam would steadily deny any official involvement of regular ground forces in Laos.

The war would see Laos divided into three regions of de facto foreign control. The Vietnamese controlled the east, the area which became a corridor for the Ho Chi Minh Trail; US and Thai forces controlled the west, while the Chinese controlled the north, where they had enormous gangs of laborers building roads and railways for future use.

As the US became ever more involved in the war in Vietnam, the importance of Laos and the Plain of Jars grew. Things remained relatively stable until 1968, with each side advancing during the season appropriate to it.

In 1968, however, things began to change. President Lyndon B. Johnson's declaration of a bombing halt over North Vietnam caused the intensity of the fighting-and the air war-to increase drastically in two Laotian theaters: the Plain of Jars and the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The conduct of the war in northern Laos was delegated to the CIA-supported Hmong, who were led by a classic Asian warlord figure, Maj. Gen. Vang Pao. Napoleonic in stature and ambition, Vang Pao, had worked at age 13 with France against Japan and later against the Viet Minh, predecessors of the Viet Cong. He did so well that he was selected for officer training. In 1961 he was recruited by the CIA to serve as Hmong leader.

Type A Leader
Vang Pao was a type A personality, an enthusiastic and demanding leader, willing to do the dirty work himself and more than willing to lead in combat. He was trusted by the Americans, who delivered to him something no Lao leader had ever possessed, massive logistical support and airpower. He expanded the number of Hmong personnel under arms until they eventually numbered some 40,000. He saw to it that they were trained and well-equipped and led them first in guerrilla warfare and finally in conventional warfare against the North Vietnamese. Vang Pao was always proudly conscious that he was a Hmong who had made good in competition with the lowland (read, "highbrow") Laotians.

His leadership style led to some monumental victories but also caused some heavy defeats. His tactics resulted in heavy casualties over the years, so much so that eventually only preteen-age children and men over 45 remained to serve as soldiers. Everyone else had been killed, captured, or wounded. To spur recruitment, he would withhold rice from communities that sought to shield their young from joining his armies.

Nonetheless, in a country where fighters were few and fighting leaders almost non-existent, Vang Pao established himself as the man to deal with, and he was generally admired by the Americans who flew in his support, whether with the CIA-operated airlines or with the Ravens, the covert US Air Force Forward Air Controllers.

The year 1968 proved to be a watershed period of the conflict in Laos. The North Vietnamese committed more and more regular army units, and the Hmong villages were overrun, forcing evacuations to CIA­maintained hillside encampments. A serious setback occurred in March when a secret US installation at Phou Phathi (Site 85) fell to a determined North Vietnamese attack. Fitted with a modified TSQ-81 radar and a TACAN installation, the station had been vital for raids on Hanoi. Despite desperate efforts by Vang Pao and heavy air support, the site succumbed to overwhelming North Vietnamese army strength, with a heavy loss of life.

By the end of 1968, Laos was swarming with about 40,000 North Vietnamese troops and about 35,000 Pathet Lao. The Royal Lao Army was characterized at the time as "overweight in generals and underweight in fighting." It had 60,000 troops but still had a preference for leaving the real fighting to the Hmong.
Vang Pao scored one more great success, reconquering the Plain of Jars in 1969 with a brilliant attack heavily supported by American airpower. However, North Vietnamese troops recaptured the Plain again in early 1970 and held the initiative from that point on, twice besieging Vang Pao in his huge secret main base at Long Tieng. By this time, Air America was keeping some 170,000 Hmong refugees alive with airdrops of rice, a situation that had gone on so long that Hmong children were said to believe that rice was not grown but simply fell from the sky.

The battles continued until US support ceased in 1973. Then the end came as predicted. Saigon fell April 30, 1975; Vang Pao and his family of six wives and 25 children flew out to Thailand on May 14. Thousands of Hmong followed by whatever means possible. The Pathet Lao announced their assumption of the government of Laos on Dec. 2, 1975.

Levels of Operations
Military aviation was seen in many forms and conducted at many levels of intensity in Laos over the course of the war. There were at least four general categories. The first, and the earliest, was the aircraft and airlift provided by the Soviet Union. The second was that furnished by the CIA, primarily by its proprietary, Air America. The third was the rather shaky support furnished by the Royal Laotian Air Force. (An exception was the excellent effort of Hmong pilots when, at last, they were trained to fly in the RLAF.) The fourth was the tremendous involvement of US airpower.

The story of CIA air operations has been told at length in several books, of which the most authoritative is Christopher Robbins' Air America. It began with the 1950 purchase by the CIA of Civil Air Transport, an airline started by Lt. Gen. Claire L. Chennault and Whiting Willauer. CAT operated not only as an actual commercial airline but also as a conduit for covert US intelligence operations. In 1959 it was renamed Air America.

The struggle for the Plain of Jars cried out for Short Takeoff and Landing aircraft and for helicopters; Air America responded by acquiring such aircraft and building Victor Sites, extremely short runways often on mountaintops. These later became known as Lima Sites, and their number reached 400 by 1972.
In 1962, Air America greatly expanded its fleet in Laos, acquiring some 24 twin-engine transports, including the workhorse C-46 and the C-123. A similar number of STOL aircraft, made up of Pilatus Porter and Helio Courier types were also brought into service, along with 30 helicopters.

The relations between the official US military and Air America were often blurred, as assets, including aircraft like the C-130, were transferred in secret when the need arose.

Air America eventually employed more than 300 pilots to fly in and out of Thailand and Laos. In 1970 alone, it carried more than 46 million pounds of food to the Laotian people. It also carried arms, spies, radar equipment, and refugees and flew medevac missions.

As the war progressed, its equipment became more sophisticated and its missions more demanding. Air America crews flew at low altitudes and in bad weather to insert or extract agents and combat units far behind enemy lines. They conducted photoreconnaissance missions during the day and used night vision equipment and sophisticated electronics for night reconnaissance. Late in the war, they even dropped "hot soup"--that is, napalm-on enemy positions, rolling barrels out the rear of Caribous.

Always controversial, the Air America crews flew valiantly under extremely difficult conditions. As the military situation in the Plain of Jars deteriorated, Air America's operations became increasingly hazardous. The proprietary often undertook missions in adverse weather and with terrain conditions that would have grounded regular military operations.
On a tiny Lima Site, a T-28 and two Raven O-1s wait while a C-123 takes off.

The Rescue Role
Air America was for a time the only organization capable of conducting aerial rescues of downed American airmen. Eventually supplanted by strong USAF rescue forces, quick reaction times by Air America crews saved many an airman before regular rescue helicopters could arrive. They also operated as FACs when there was no alternative.

Unquestionably, some Air America pilots violated the law, sometimes conspiring in the shipment of contraband. The bottom line, though, is that Air America was asked to do jobs that Washington wanted done but could not or would not do itself. They did the jobs, at great risk, and suffered many casualties.

The first use of regular American airpower in Laos came in December 1960, when two reconnaissance missions were flown by the US air attaché's VC-47A. This was the harbinger of the future in more ways than one, for a unique situation developed in which the American ambassador in Laos was to become the controlling agency for the application of US airpower in Laos. The three American ambassadors in Laos during the long conflict all were powerful, assertive men who enjoyed directing military operations. They were Leonard Unger, William H. Sullivan, and George McMurtrie Godley. It was Sullivan who lobbied for the assignment of what became the 56th Special Operations Wing to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. It scarcely needs to be noted that the USAF commanders did not enjoy the fact that an ambassador, however committed and enthusiastic, was directing air operations.

Reconnaissance operations continued with SC-47s, one of which was shot down Feb. 11, 1962. This aircraft type was to be replaced by the RT-33A from Udorn RTAB, Thailand. In December 1962, the US began to launch "Able Mable" flights by RF-101s of the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron and the 45th TRS, operating out of Don Muang, near Bangkok, Thailand. For "protective reaction," the 510th TFS brought a detachment of F-100s while the 509th TFS provided a unit of F-102As.

Also in 1962, the buildup continued. Two squadrons of F-100D fighters were deployed to Takhli RTAB, Thailand. These were augmented by Marine UH-34D and A-4 units. It was for a time a combined operation, featuring an RAF Hawker Hunter squadron and Australian Sabre squadron.

The success of a March 1964 Pathet Lao offensive led to the use of "Yankee Team" armed reconnaissance, using a combination of USAF RF-101Cs and US Navy RF-8As and RA-3Bs. US air operations intensified in 1964, with the initiation of the long-lived Operation Barrel Roll, which endured until 1973. The first attack, by eight F-100s, took place June 9, against Pathet Lao anti-aircraft positions. It soon became obvious that US FAC aircraft were necessary to strike the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese forces. Initially called Butterfly, these FACs eventually were given the call sign Raven.

Greater Intensity
Beginning with the 1968 bombing halt over North Vietnam, Barrel Roll operations increased in intensity, and by 1970, B-52 sorties were called in to halt the North Vietnamese forces and keep them from overrunning Vang Pao's main camp at Long Tieng. The B-52 sorties built up at an amazing rate; by the war's end, some 3 million tons of bombs had been dropped on Laos, with 500,000 tons of this total dropped in the northern regions. The weight of bombs would enable besieged Hmong forces to hold on, favorably affecting the course of the war for as long as the B-52s continued to bomb.

Though the enemy feared the B-52 sorties, the Hmong were especially grateful for the AC-47 gunships, which were freed up for use in Laos after the arrival of the AC-119G/K gunships in Vietnam. The Spookys were perfect for Laos, where they were exceptionally useful in defending the mountaintop encampments of the Hmong. As the war went on, both AC-119s and AC-130s were increasingly used in Laos along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and in support of the Hmong.

Seasoned, combat-tested US Air Force FACs were recruited to fly as Ravens in what was called the Steve Canyon Program. It was known to be a very hazardous assignment. These Air Force officers worked in civilian clothes and carried no military identification, although enemy agents at Vientiane routinely photographed them upon arrival. Under Project 404, the umbrella program for covert Air Force activities in Laos, they were considered "loaned" to the US air attaché in Laos, who became their nominal Air Force commander. In the field, they actually performed missions under the command of the CIA and of the Laotian generals.

Never were there more than a few Ravens. Originally, the group numbered only two at a time. This number grew slowly to a maximum of 20 operating at one time. Ultimately, fewer than 300 persons served as Ravens during the course of the war. Their O-1s and T-28s were based at the five airfields where one found air operations centers: Vientiane, Pakse, Savannakhet, Long Tieng, and Luang Prabang. The Ravens flew from these fields or from Lima Sites controlled by the Hmong or the Royal Laotian Army.

The Ravens flew almost continuously, often exceeding 120 hours per month and sometimes directing more than 100 sorties a day against enemy targets. Informal statistics indicate that the Ravens suffered casualty rates as high as 30 percent. They gathered an intimate knowledge of their terrain, and many became extremely proud of and loyal to the work of the Hmong troops they were supporting. The Hmong in turn were grateful to the Ravens and gave them unconditional approval.

As one might expect of an organization forbidden to wear uniforms, led through a confusing chain of command, stationed in isolated outposts, and subjected to the utmost stress in battle, conventional Air Force discipline and decorum did not always prevail. Ravens became noted for an aggressive attitude, unusual dress, and a willingness to party. Their colorful history was recorded in another book by Christopher Robbins, The Ravens, and veteran Ravens will concede that the author got it mostly correct.

The tremendous fighting over and bombing of the Plain of Jars over a 14-year period decimated the population and destroyed its civilizational structures. Some Hmong returned to the plain to resume the timeless patterns of their lives. The seasons still come and go, the sky still fills with smoke from burning fields, and the mysterious jars still stand sentinel over the plain, now verdant with new life.


by Heike Hasenauer
Adapted from Soldiers Magazine

Bruce P. Crandall Today
President George W. Bush announced that he would award the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest honor for military service, to Lt. Col. (Ret.) Bruce Crandall at the White House for his actions on Nov. 14, 1965 in Vietnam's Ia Drang Valley.

"I still think about Vietnam a lot," said Crandall. "I have wonderful memories of the people I served with." Despite the horrors of war that he experienced - and the many times his life was on the line - "I don't really have bad memories," he added.

"I had very experienced pilots," said Crandall, who served as a flight mission commander and was an Army engineer. Three of the four company commanders in the 229th [Assault Helicopter Battalion] were engineers. We were bush pilots, who had flown in areas of the world that hadn't yet been mapped."

Crandall commanded 16 helicopter crews of the 1st Cavalry Division's Company A, 229th AHB that lifted troops on a search-and-destroy mission from Plei Me to Landing Zone X-Ray in what would become the most vicious fight of the Vietnam War to that date.

Then-LTC Harold G. Moore, commander of the 1st Cav. Div.'s 1st Bn., 7th Cav. Regiment depended on then-MAJ Crandall's helicopters to insert his Soldiers of the 1st Bn. into the LZ.

On the fifth and final troop lift, which involved eight helicopters, the LZ was under horrific enemy fire by small arms, automatic weapons, mortars and rockets.
As Crandall's helicopter landed and Soldiers exited, three Soldiers were wounded and three killed. Remaining helicopters waiting to land were ordered to abort and return to base.

When Crandall returned to the base, he learned that all medevac assistance had been cut off to the men of the 1/7 "due to the policy of the time," Crandall said. "The medevac pilots were all great pilots, but they weren't allowed to land on a landing zone until it was 'green' for a period of five minutes," meaning it wasn't being relentlessly attacked.

Crandall made the decision - without anyone requesting that he do so - to fly the medevac missions. When he asked for volunteers, his former colleague in Vietnam, Maj. (ret.) Ed Freeman, who had been his friend for 10 years before they deployed together to Vietnam, immediately stepped forward.

Crandall's helicopter led the two, and he supervised the loading of seriously wounded Soldiers over the course of 14 landings under intense enemy fire. He and Freeman saved the lives of some 70 wounded Soldiers.

"One of the principal reasons my company survived one of the largest and fiercest battles of the Vietnam War was the critical support provided by the aviators of Co. A, 229th Avn. Bn.," said Col. (ret.) John D. Herren, who commanded the 1st Bn.'s Co. B during the battle.

"These helicopter crews were our lifeline, as they brought battalion units into the LZ," he said. "They evacuated our wounded and brought in water and ammunition, despite intense enemy fire," Herren said.

"I was an eyewitness to one of Crandall's flights," Herren continued. "I was pinned down by intense enemy machine-gun and rifle fire that killed my radio operator and severely wounded the Co. D. commander, Capt. Ray Lefebvre.

Crandall's helicopter landed and evacuated Lefebvre and others. The act of bravery "was extraordinary and inspirational," Herren said.
"It demonstrated to me and other Soldiers that our casualties were going to be taken care of and that they would not have to wait for a break in the fighting to be evacuated," Herren added. "The sheer volume of casualties was heavy. My own company suffered 46 casualties out of a company strength of 122 during the first two days of the fighting."

Additionally, one of Herren's platoons was cut off for 24 hours and suffered 20 casualties. Every one of the 12 who were wounded survived because Crandall and Freeman evacuated them.

On the Ground

"The first afternoon of the three-day battle was a running firefight - a run for survival - with helicopters coming in under fire trying to get the wounded out. There was a hell of a fight the next morning and night, and I realized we were in an historic battle," Moore said.

The first man on the ground with his troops, Moore jumped out of the chopper and looked up at the mountain and knew the enemy was there, he said. "It was ominously quiet."

He learned later that three battalions of fresh North Vietnamese Army troops had come down the Ho Chi Minh Trail and were waiting.
"When the fight began, it was furious. The NVA troops came out intent on killing us all," Moore said. About 50 percent of his men were killed or seriously wounded.

The men were some 20 miles in the middle of enemy territory, surrounded by a force seven times larger than their own.
The three-day battle, Nov. 14 to 16, left 79 infantrymen and one Air Force pilot dead and another 130 men wounded, some of them horribly, Galloway said. It happened in a space no bigger than a football field.

It was followed a day later, 14 miles away, by the battle at LZ Albany, during which 154 American troops were killed in an ambush.
The two battles were part of the 34-day Pleiku Campaign, which lasted from Oct. 23 to Nov. 26, 1965. Counting the skirmishes before and after the two major battles, 305 Americans died - more than in the entire first Gulf War, Galloway said.

According to the MOH citation: "Major Crandall's bravery and daring courage to land under the most extreme hostile fire instilled ...in the ground forces, the realization that friendly wounded would be promptly evacuated. This greatly enhanced morale and the will to fight at a critical time."

The citation further reads: "He completed fourteen landings on medical and re-supply missions under intense enemy fire and retired from the battlefield only after all possible service had been rendered to the infantry troops."

Of 31 helicopter loads of ammunition and supplies brought into the LZ after it was closed, Crandall's helicopter flight brought in 28. And of the approximately 78 wounded in action who were evacuated, Crandall's flight took out 70.

Crandall's courage is depicted in the movie "We Were Soldiers," adapted from the book "We Were Soldiers Once...And Young," by Moore and Joe Galloway, a United Press International war correspondent who experienced the battle at LZ X-Ray with Moore's men.
Additional Information
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Iditarod 2007
I have put this up the last several years, and everyone had fun with it. Tomorrow the ceremonial start in Anchorage kicks it off at 10A.M. as the puppies head towards Nome 1100 miles away. Click the Map to keep up with the stories and news for the next two weeks as this race progresses. It passes along Long Lake just north of Willow and through Chuck Moores back yard so the party is on!!

Go Getum Aliy Zirkle !!
Click to Enlarge and more Info
Noses toward Nome
Sweet spots along start route let you cheer mushers on their way
Published: March 1, 2007
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Daily News archive 2006

Move your booties to the corner of Fourth Avenue and Cordova Street, one of the prime locations to catch the ceremonial start of the 2007 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Saturday is dog day in Anchorage, as the ceremonial start of the 2007 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race sends a pooch procession along 11 miles of streets and trails from the downtown starting line to the finishing area at Campbell Airstrip.

The real race starts Sunday in Willow, and it isn't exactly a spectator-friendly trail from there to Nome. But the ceremonial start -- set for 10 a.m. at Fourth Avenue and D Street -- is Iditarod's most visible and accessible affair. Since the ceremonial run isn't timed, the atmosphere is more friendly than competitive. As long as the fans respect their time and space, most mushers gladly talk and pose for pictures in the starting area or say "Hi" and high-five folks along the snow berms on the trail.

Heck, mushers even take along a few passengers on this pass, including friends, family, handlers and Iditariders, who bid top dollar to ride in the sled basket on ceremonial start day.

And the dogs are so raring to run after months of training that they literally jump in their harnesses and bark and howl in the starting area as if to tell their driver to put the pedal to the metal.

The Iditarod start wasn't always like this -- the ceremonial aspect of race day began in 1995. Before then, the first leg from downtown to Eagle River was timed. Racers then had just four hours to load their teams and gear and drive to Wasilla or Settlers Bay, where the restart took place.
Now the restart is one day away, giving drivers, teams and spectators plenty of time to soak up the party and put on a proper parade on ceremonial start day.
So leave the dogs at home, dress warmly, fill a thermos, pack a lawn chair and set up shop at one of these popular viewing spots along the ceremonial trail.

1 Downtown: Come early to grab a key bleacher spot at the starting line or just hang out, talk with mushers, admire the dogs or eat a grilled hot dog and listen to the announcer count down each team's departure. The most exciting spot on the ceremonial trail is the corner of Fourth and Cordova, where teams buzz around the soft, snowy turn at speeds that occasionally spill the sled and its riders -- this is prime real estate. If you really want to do it up big, book a hotel room facing Fourth Avenue and throw a viewing party.
2 Cordova Street and 16th Avenue: Now that crowds have thinned out and the teams are out of the din of downtown, drivers are a little more responsive to fans who wish them good luck. There's plenty of room to roam in this area, yet it's still urban enough to find food and drink vendors.
3 Chester Creek Greenbelt: This is as intimate as a gets -- some stretches are so quiet you can hear the dogs' feet and runners of the sleds cruising along the snow in the distance. But it's also close quarters along this trail, so be sure to give teams and drivers plenty of room to pass and, again, keep your dogs at home.
4 Goose Lake Park: This is tailgate central, where folks picnic and party while teams pass by. Grab a pizza or pull the grill out of the garage and make a day of it. This is a festive environment but definitely dialed back compared with the madness downtown.

5 Tudor Road overpass: This is your last urban chance to check out the dogs before they disappear into the woods and load into trucks at Campbell Airstrip -- and traffic on Tudor Road in early afternoon is as urban as it gets around these parts. Just be sure to set up on either side of the overpass, not on the overpass: That space is reserved for the dogs.

Untie military hands
By James A. Lyons Jr.
January 26, 2007

In order to ensure that the additional combat troops being deployed to Iraq can achieve their objectives, we must change the current restrictive rules of engagement (ROEs) under which they are forced to operate. The current ROEs for Baghdad -- including Sadr City, home of the Mahdi Army -- have seven incremental steps that must be satisfied before our troops can take the gloves off and engage the enemy with appropriate violence of action.

(1) You must feel a direct threat to you or your team.
(2) You must clearly see a threat.
(3) That threat must be identified.
(4) The team leader must concur that there is an identified threat.
(5) The team leader must feel that the situation is one of life or death.
(6) There must be minimal or no collateral risk.
(7) Only then can the team leader clear the engagement.

These ROEs might sound fine to academics gathering at some esoteric seminar on how to avoid civilian casualties in a war zone. But they do absolutely nothing to protect our combat troops who have to respond in an instant to a life or death situation.

If our soldiers or Marines see someone about to level an AK-47 in their direction or start to are receive hostile fire from a rooftop or mosque, there is no time to go through a seven-point checklist before reacting. Indeed, the very fact that they see a weapon, or begin to receive hostile fire should be sufficient justification to respond with deadly force.

We do not need to identify the threat as Sunni, Shia, al Qaeda or Mahdi Army. The "who" is immaterial. The danger is not. The threat of imminent attack must be immediately suppressed. And while we must always respect the lives of the innocent, the requirement of minimal or no collateral damage cannot preempt an appropriate response.

The insurgents, be they Sunni or Shia, are well aware of our restrictive ROEs and they use them to their advantage. Indeed, as the thousands of insurgent-inflicted Iraqi civilian deaths illustrate, the death squads, assassination teams and al Qaeda killers in Iraq have no regard for human life. Victims are looked upon as expendable: cannon fodder in order to achieve their objectives. As we saw in Lebanon, Hezbollah held women and children hostage in the same buildings they used to conduct offensive operations. They wanted civilian deaths. This same tactic is being used in Iraq today.

We cannot, therefore, afford to keep our combat troops shackled by a naive, legalistic disadvantage that takes no note of the real world, or the real battlefield. Moreover, our combat forces are currently fighting a two-front war: a literal battlefield in Iraq, and a virtual front in Washington, where politicians snipe at our troops with words, threats of budget cuts, and unrealistic strictures on our warriors' behavior. Both the Iraqi insurgents and the radical Islamist fundamentalists dedicated to the destruction of Western values and democracy understand quite well that today, wars are not only fought on the battlefield but are also won or lost in Washington. They are only too happy to watch as our politicians water down our military goals and objectives in the name of some misbegotten legalistic concept of fair play and gentle warfare.

Our combat forces have never lost an engagement in Iraq. Let's make sure they don't lose the war in Washington. Unshackle the military and let our soldiers and Marines do their job. This will quickly silence the critics, as well as the insurgents and radical Islamist fundamentalists.

James A. Lyons Jr. is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, senior U.S. Military Representative to the United Nations and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, where he was principal adviser on all Joint Chiefs of Staff matters.

Kyle Snyder's life has gotten complicated.

U.S. deserter arrested, then released
By Mike Howell-Staff writer

Iraq War veteran Kyle Snyder never thought his life would be so complicated.

In the last two years, the 23-year-old served in Iraq, deserted his unit, fled to Vancouver where he was the subject of a Courier cover story, started a refugee claim, got engaged to an Alberta woman and returned to the United States in October to seek a discharge from the army.

The discharge-as allegedly promised by the U.S. Army-was never granted. The news sent him and his dreams of a life outside the military into a tailspin. His wedding to his fiancée Maleah was put on hold.

Snyder's been on the run since November, narrowly escaping arrest in California. He crossed the border back into B.C. in January after showing border guards his B.C. driver's licence.

After a short stay in Vancouver, he settled in Nelson, where he planned to get married this week. But last Friday, Nelson police arrested him at his house on unspecified immigration violations. "The officer's exact words were, 'We're arresting you under the Canadian Immigration Act,'" Snyder said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "They had no warrant for the arrest and they took me out in the cold in my boxer shorts and my robe. My rights weren't read to me, so I was just very, very scared."

Snyder's housemates called two NDP MPs, Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas) and Alex Atamanenko (Southern Interior), who contacted Citizenship and Immigration Canada, which led to his release six hours later.

Snyder said after the arrest he received a phone call from an officer with the Canada Border Services Agency. She told him he was released under the Canadian Immigration Act.

"So the same act that is protecting me right now was the reason for them arresting me, which makes no sense," he said, adding the officer told him the U.S. Army requested the arrest.

Snyder is wanted in the U.S. for unauthorized absence from the military.

The Courier contacted the Nelson police officer who arrested Snyder, Canada Border Services Agency, the U.S. consulate in Vancouver and the U.S. Army in Fort Knox, Ky., where Snyder last had contact with the military. None of the agencies would discuss details of the arrest or confirm whether the U.S. Army requested Nelson police arrest Snyder. All agencies cited privacy concerns, even though Snyder has gone public about his arrest.

Being absent without leave, or AWOL, from another country's military is not an extraditable offence in Canada, nor does it have any bearing on immigrating to Canada, according to Snyder's lawyer, Daniel McLeod.

The War Resister Support Campaign is pressing the Canadian government to create a "sanctuary policy" for military personnel who refuse to participate in "war crimes."

Snyder dropped his refugee claim after he returned to the U.S. to seek his discharge. He is expected to attend a hearing in Vancouver in the next year to determine his status in Canada.

"Any chance to stay in Canada is better than none for me," he said, adding that he is aware his pending marriage could affect his case. "I'm not too sure how it will change things, but I never expected marriage to be the reason that I was staying in Canada in the first place."

Snyder deserted his unit in Iraq in April 2005 and went to Prince George, before settling on East Pender Street for more than a year. He fled Iraq because he said the war was illegal and immoral-and he naively thought he would be building schools and roads, not manning a 50-calibre gun on a Humvee military vehicle.

The top general at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was fired Thursday

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top general at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was fired Thursday, the military announced, following revelations of
poor conditions in the building where troops who were wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq are treated.

Maj. Gen. George Weightman's firing was the first major military staff change after reports surfaced last month about substandard conditions in
a building that is part of the facility.

Army Secretary Francis Harvey, who removed Weightman from his post according to an Army statement, had blamed a failure of leadership for
the conditions, which were first reported by The Washington Post.

A Poem:

It wouldn't be funny if it wasn't so true... Julie Andrews turns 69 - To commemorate her 69th birthday on October 1, actress/vocalist, Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall for the benefit of the AARP. One of the musical numbers she performed was "My Favorite Things" from the legendary movie "Sound Of Music."

Here are the lyrics she used:

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillac's and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak,
When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short, shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache,
When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

(Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from the crowd that lasted over four minutes and repeated encores.)


An old southern country preacher from Georgia had a teenage son and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession. Like many young men, the boy didn't really know what he wanted to do, and he didn't seem too concerned about it.

One day, while the boy was away at school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy's room and placed on his study table four
- a Bible,
- a silver dollar,
- a bottle of whisky and
- a Playboy magazine
I'll just hide behind the door," the old preacher said to himself, "and when he comes home from school this afternoon, I'll see which object he picks up.
If it's the Bible, he's going to be a preacher like me, and what a blessing that would be! If he picks up the dollar, he's going to be a businessman, and that would be OK, But if picks up the bottle, he's go ing to be a no-good drunkard, and, Lord, what a shame that would be. And worst of all, if he picks up that magazine he's gonna be a skirt-chasin' bum."

The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son's footsteps as he entered the house whistling and headed for his room. The boy tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave the room he spotted the objects on the table. With curiosity in his eye, he walked over to inspect them.
Finally, he picked up the Bible and placed it under his arm. He picked up the silver dollar and dropped it into his pocket. He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink while he admired this month's Centerfold.

"Lord have mercy," the old preacher disgustedly whispered, "he's gonna be a helicopter pilot!"


Ted Nugent, the famous rock star and world class hunter, was being
interviewed about his deer hunting by a touchy-feely French

The journalist asked, "What do you think is the last thought in the
head of a deer before you shoot him? Is it, "Are you my friend?" or
is it "Are you the one who killed my brother?'"

Nugent replied, "Deer aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All
they care about is, "What am I going to eat next, who am I going to
screw next, and can I run fast enough to get away. They are very
much like the French."

"We few, weWe few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
For he today that sheds his blood with me, Shall be my brother."
-Wm Shakespeare-
Well guys Until next month..keep a smile on your face and  your skids out of the TreesJ--Ron