Welcome to BlackFive! Please consider adopting a soldier in a combat zone!

Casey Sheehan - A SYSK for Palm Sunday

This is an annual repost honoring Casey Sheehan who gave his life in a fight to save his brothers...

Casey Sheehan grew up in a devout Catholic home.  He served as an altar boy and then as a key member of his church's youth group for years.

When he was old enough, Casey joined the Boy Scouts, becoming the very second Eagle Scout out of his troop.

He enlisted in the Army when he was twenty years old.  He decided to be a mechanic.  He would undergo Combat Lifesaver training - a class on how to give IVs and treat trauma only second in intense learning to combat medic training.  He was also certified to assist with giving communion to soldiers while in the field.

Specialist Sheehan re-enlisted in the Army in 2004 knowing full well that he could be sent into a combat zone.

Casey Sheehan was a Humvee mechanic with the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.

On April 3rd, 2004, forces loyal to Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al'Sadr stormed police stations and government offices in Sadr City (a city of over 2 million).  They knew the Americans would come, and they wanted a fight.  Muqtada Sadr was working them up into a religious frenzy.  And he had his thugs murder anyone who he thought might stand in his way - even other Shi'ite clerics.  His forces were known as the Mahdi Army.

American forces quickly surrounded Muqtada al'Sadr's quarters.

On April 4th, 2004, al'Sadr's Mahdi forces blocked roadways and bridges with burning tires, vehicles and trash.  Visibility was less than 300 meters anywhere in the city.  They began to attack American vehicles on patrol throughout Sadr City - some were protecting Shia worshipers (Holy Arbayeen) while others were escorting city government vehicles.

A battle raged across Sadr City.  Insurgents assaulted American troops while looters and mobs formed and stormed through the streets.  Word spread quickly across the American FOBs that there was trouble.

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment were ambushed with RPGs and pinned down and dying.  While fighting off an attack himself, the Commander of the 2/5th, LTC Volesky, called for help.  A Quick Reaction Force (QRF) was formed of volunteers - their mission was to go out and rescue the American troops.

Casey Sheehan's Sergeant asked for volunteers.  Sheehan had just returned from Mass.  After Sheehan volunteered once, the Sergeant asked Sheehan again if he wanted to go on the mission.  According to many reports (and according to his own mother), Casey responded, "Where my Chief goes, I go."

The QRF was launched.  Not long after entering the Mahdi area, the QRF was channeled onto a dead-end street where the roofs were lined with snipers, RPGs, and even some militia throwing burning tires onto the vehicles.  The Mahdi blocked the exit and let loose with everything they had.

Sheehan's vehicle was hit with multiple RPGs and automatic-weapons fire.

Specialist Casey Sheehan and Corporal Forest J. Jostes were killed.

A second QRF was formed - all volunteers - to go rescue the first.  Specialist Ahmed Cason was hit in the second QRF - but kept fighting until he bled to death.

Seven men died with Casey Sheehan on Sunday, April 4th, 2004. 

They were Spc. Robert R. Arsiaga, Spc. Ahmed Cason, Sgt. Yihjyh L. "Eddie" Chen, Spc. Stephen D. Hiller, Spc. Israel Garza, Cpl. Forest J. Jostes, and Sgt. Michael W. Mitchell.

It was Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday commemorates the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem.  Back then, the palm frond was a symbol of victory - laid beneath the feet of those of the highest honor and triumph.  Some believe it was this honor fit for a king that forced Jesus's enemies to act and crucify him.

In recognition of Casey, the Catholic Chapel at Fort Hood, Texas (where Sheehan was stationed) named the Knights of Columbus chapter the "Casey Austin Sheehan Council".

Casey also received the Bronze Star for his Valor that day.

Palm fronds for the most honored.

[Click here for the Someone You Should Know index.]

What Difference Does It Make - take 2

Perennial media darling (and President-anointed in waiting) Hillary Rodham Clinton weighs in on Bowe Bergdahl.

Among her erudite comments was this gem:

"If you look at what the factors were going into the decision, of course there are competing interests and values," Clinton told Sawyer. "And one of our values is we bring everybody home off the battlefield the best we can. It doesn't matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation.”


What is insane about all this are two competing, yet compelling problems:

(1) The circumstances under which Bergdahl was captured were essentially manufactured by his own stupidity.  That said, it is in our charter to bring back everyone we send to a combat zone. And if there is dishonorable conduct, we have methods to deal with that, upon recovery.

(2) The circumstances that led to the release involved an onerous penalty that included release of five notorious AQ operatives and (maybe) some transfer of funds.  We paid ransom.  This would be a scandal if the detained person/POW were captured in otherwise honorable conditions.

Either one of these is bad.  When the two situations are merged, it should be cause for removal of exective leadership.  For the former Secretary of State cum presumptive Dem nominee to rationalize the second action under the guise of the first is doubly damming.

But this is the world we live in these days.   Someone said it during Slick Willy's administration and it is still true. HRC is like a soap opera villainess. They never die, even when they get killed. In the sane world that we used to live in - before being transported to this dystopian world we currently occupy - this woman would have been relegated to the dustbin of history years ago. It is unreal how she remains not only omnipresent, but still touted in many circles as damn-near inevitable as the next President of the US.

Washington Post story linked here:  Hillary - What Difference Does it Make (again)

Honoring Battles, Honoring the Fallen, Something Mayor Emanuel Does Not Understand


As a Chicagoan, it's not my preferable airport, but it bears a name that many don't know... Butch O'Hare.

In 1942, LtCdr Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare became the first naval ace of WWII when he destroyed 8 bombers headed for his carrier, USS Lexington, in the Pacific.  He was the first sailor to receive the Medal of Honor during WWII.  The MoH citation reads in part:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in aerial combat, at grave risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, as section leader and pilot of Fighting Squadron 3 on 20 February 1942. Having lost the assistance of his teammates, Lt. O'Hare interposed his plane between his ship and an advancing enemy formation of 9 attacking twin-engine heavy bombers. Without hesitation, alone and unaided, he repeatedly attacked this enemy formation, at close range in the face of intense combined machinegun and cannon fire. Despite this concentrated opposition, Lt. O'Hare, by his gallant and courageous action, his extremely skillful marksmanship in making the most of every shot of his limited amount of ammunition, shot down 5 enemy bombers and severely damaged a sixth before they reached the bomb release point. As a result of his gallant action--one of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation--he undoubtedly saved his carrier from serious damage." 

On the night of November 26, 1943, O'Hare's fighter group fought with a group of Japanese torpedo bombers.  Reports after the fight indicated that O'Hare's F6F Hellcat was shot down.  That was the last anyone ever saw of Butch O'Hare or his fighter (never recovered).

On September 19, 1949, Chicago's Orchard depot airfield was renamed in honor of LtCdr O'Hare.

And this politician *spit* wants to rename it Obama International Airport.

Could Mayor Rahm Emanuel be thinking about renaming Chicago’s airports, perhaps after President Barack Obama? 

Emanuel brought up the airports' names during a candidate forum Wednesday night atChicago State University

Mayor Emanuel quickly backtracked on talking about renaming O'Hare or Midway (named in honor of the WWII naval battle).

“Look, I made a mistake, and I was quick to change it. I’m not perfect. When I make a mistake, I hear it and change it,” Emanuel said. “And I don’t have a problem saying that. But I won’t make an apology for the fact I think President Obama is a great president. I wanted to honor him. I wanted to be the city to have the first high school named after him. In my rush to do it, I clearly offended people, so I backed off of it. I will never back off of my love and affection for a great president. But I made a mistake.”

You know what the real mistake is, Mr Mayor?  That you and your friends in the administration don't understand why the names O'Hare or Midway should never be changed.  You worry more about the sacrifices made to get votes than the sacrifices made to keep to the world safe.

Mayor Daley should kick your ass.

Photo - Paratrooper AAR

Hires_150323-A-NC569-202ASoldiers conduct an after action review following a night live-fire exercise on Neibar drop zone on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 23, 2015. The soldiers are paratroopers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. 
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Love 

"The Wall", "The Shield", "The Team" -The Latest Batch of Commercials Take a Queue from the USMC

While I appreciate that the Marines stopped using lava monsters in their commercials long ago, they always tend to have the best ones.  Here's the latest USMC commercial...and, as usual, no mention of benefits, jobs, or college, only being a part of something greater than yourself..."The Wall":

 And here the Army talks about sports...or do they? "The Team":

And the Navy, after foundering on a Global Force for Good campaign, has also followed suit with "To get to you, they have to go through us...". Here is "The Shield":

So Air Force, it's been a year since the "Its what we do" commercial...what you got?!

Photo - Fast Rope Entry

Hires_150310-M-CX588-093cU.S. Marines conduct a fast-rope exercise as part of amphibious integration training aboard the USS Green Bay at sea, March 10, 2015. The Marines, assigned to Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, are conducting a spring patrol with sailors in the Asia-Pacific region. 
U.S. Marine Corps photo by GySgt Ismael Pena

Book Review - "The Darkest Hour", An Alternate History of the Occupation of Great Britain

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the right side bar.

9780062339379_p0_v4_s260x420The Darkest Hour, Tony Schumacher’s debut novel, has a very intriguing storyline.  It can be considered an alternate history of sorts that questions morality.  Through the character’s eyes readers examine if it is even possible to redeem oneself after committing terrible acts. ? What makes this novel very interesting is how the author creates an action-packed plot while still exploring the questions, such as: Could the British people become like the Nazis, and what doors would someone open to survive?

The author told blackfive.net he drew the idea “from a documentary on television. It showed a photograph from the Second World War of an English policeman in the Channel Islands, just off the coast of France, occupied by the Germans. This policeman was holding a car door open for a German officer, where both he and the German officer were smiling. It was a propaganda picture taken by the Germans to show they weren't such bad guys. When I saw the photo, I was momentarily angry with the policeman. I'd been a policeman for ten years, and to me, this officer had disgraced the uniform. But almost immediately, I realized I couldn't think like that. This guy was probably told 'Open that door and smile. If you don't, you'll get shot. So, open the door.' And to stay alive, he'd done what he was told to do. After all, he might have a family at home and wanted to live. So I began wondering what I would have done in that circumstance. Once you cross that line, it begins to recede. Each time you're told to do something abhorrent, that line moves back a bit more. You compromise your values, your integrity. And you have to weigh how much you want to stay alive against doing something you find despicable.”

The plot begins with Germany controlling Western Europe after a pact is signed in 1946.  The Germans are occupying Great Britain using brutality, fear, and consensus to control the English. The main character is John Rossett, who won the Victoria Cross for rescuing his fellow soldiers from Dunkirk. After the war he returns home to find his wife and son killed by a bomb that was meant for the German authorities.  He is chosen to work in the Office of Jewish Affairs, whose duty is to hunt down and round up the Jews for deportation.  He attempts to fool himself into believing that they are sent to France as laborers, never questioning, and willingly believing the propaganda.  He goes along to get along until he finds Jacob, the grandson of someone he knew.  Determined to find redemption and to find a purpose to his life he decides to save this one boy who “deserved the chance of life and love.” Trying to help Jacob escape to America Rossett must battle the resistance and the Nazis who have their own agenda for wanting Jacob dead. During this portion of the story the novel becomes a thriller with non-stop action as well as many twists and turns.

At times emotions vary from liking and rooting for certain characters to utter distaste of them.  The author skillfully never allows the reader to forget that, although Rossett, is a redeemable hero, he has a sullied past. Does one good action nullify the previous bad ones? This hero is a complex character who is emotionally damaged and attempts to save his soul by offering Jacob a future, turning from an evil person who assisted in the dirty work, to becoming a caring rescuer. Rossett is contrasted with SS Officer Ernst Koehler who on the surface is very likeable, but in reality is a devil in disguise that inwardly cares little about human life.

Tony noted, “A number of scenes had Jacob taking John Henry Rossett’s hand.  The readers know it is “dirty,” but Jacob believes John will do the right thing by him.  I get the sense readers wanted to hate John, but didn’t because of Jacob’s view of him.  Jacob becomes Rossett’s guardian angel giving him some of his soul back, forcing him to explore within himself. Although Jacob is a character who does not speak a lot in the book, he is a thread through the whole story.  Jacob made John recognize and confront that monster inside of himself.  John carried a lot of guilt and was tortured by his own actions of doing nothing. On the other hand the German SS Officer, Koehler, had people like him on the surface.  They thought of him as charming, but in reality he is a killer, a nightmare.”

The Darkest Hour is the first in a series of books about the “German occupation of England.”  Throughout the thrilling storyline is a moralistic thread.  Readers should not question, “what if this did happen,’ but ‘could it happen today,’ considering the rising anti-Semitism.  This book is a page-turner with engaging characters, plot twists, and a very intelligent storyline that is thought provoking.

Photo - Forced Entry

Hires_150318-F-LX370-171cSoldiers practice a forced-entry parachute assault on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 18, 2015, as part of a larger tactical field exercise. The soldiers are paratroopers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. 
U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher 

Book Review - Military Thriller "Empire Rising" by Rick Campbell

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right sidebar.

9781250040466_p0_v1_s260x420Empire Rising by Rick Campbell is a riveting military thriller.  He uses his personal experience as a retired Navy Commander to write an authentic story regarding submarine warfare. This novel is written in such a way that those who want a gripping story will enjoy it as well as those who want to know about the latest weapon systems.  There is a great balance between a good plot, well-developed characters, and a discussion of different weapons.

Campbell explained to blackfive.net, “I made a conscious decision to balance the level of detail with the most crucial aspect of a thriller, the pace.  Many times having to stop and explain a weapons system comes at the expense of the pacing.  All the weapons are realistic, but I did give China some long-range missile capabilities.  Because some of the material is classified some of the scenes in the book are tweaked regarding the weapon capabilities.  However, I did try to keep everything in the realm of possibility.”

This second book in the series brings back the main character of national security advisor Christine O’Connor.  She advises the US President not to sign the Mutual Access to Environmental Resources accord.  Realizing that the US and the Pacific Rim nations will have the availability to dwindling oil reserves, she fears China will be cut off from present and future production, derailing its economic growth and prosperity.  Christine’s fears become a reality when an all-out naval war with China begins after they invade both Taiwan and Japan. 

There are many comparisons to World War II when Japan also went to war over natural resources and had the upper hand in the initial battles.  Campbell takes the reader on a roller coaster ride as China attempts to neutralize America’s Pacific Fleet through cyber warfare, jamming satellites, and infecting weapon systems with malware.  With intense submarine battles it feels as if you are there, playing the cat and mouse games as submarines engage with surface ships. 

The author hopes to show in his books how the leaders of nation states are put in positions where they must either accept the consequences or take action.  In the beginning of Empire Rising he does not make China pure evil, although, the same cannot be said by the end of the book. 

As with the first book, Christine O’ Connor ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This recurring theme has her playing a leading role as the storyline progresses.  What makes this interesting is that the author through Christine’s eyes, a civilian, can explain different military aspects from her perspective. She is seen as someone who is strong-willed, determined, tenacious, committed to the task, and at times vindictive. 

Empire Rising is a warning of sorts, a ‘what could happen’ if China does gain the upper hand in cyber warfare.  In the spirit of Dale Brown and Tom Clancy this novel is a spellbinding story that never runs out of action scenes.  It also has characters that are intriguing and captivating.

Campbell gave a heads up about his next book, whose working title is Cold Betrayal.  It involves a collision between the newest American fast attack submarine and one of Russia’s new ballistic missile submarines. As life support systems begin to fail, the United States and Russia rush to the aid of their crews. Both sides realize that whoever reaches the sunken ships first will be able to board the other country’s submarine, harvesting the latest weapon and tactical systems technology.