Saturday, March 31, 2007

Is being reasonable, reasonable?

Okay, I didn't have my caffeine this morning, I wrote and posted, it was what it was. Not enough going on with me personally right now so I get more introspective rather than just telling the story, and I suppose here is a little more of that.

Western civilization prides itself on being reasonable, at least in matters that affect individuals, we have our bill of rights, and we have scores of laws designed to prevent the Big Brother from abusing our rights. Without sounding like (Name your right wing talk radio guy here) and with out siding with (Name Left wing dude here) don’t you think it is a travesty that we have people who admit guilt, who are not restrained in a timely fashion. Here are two examples:
The first can be found on, the second on Google

FBI arrests Portland man in child porn investigation

Posted by Wade Nkrumah March 30, 2007 19:43PM

The FBI is seeking information about possible "inappropriate contact with children" by a 46-year-old Southeast Portland man.

FBI agents arrested David Charles Leonard this week at his home after his indictment in Los Angeles on possession of child pornography, said J. Stephen Tidwell, assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles office. Anyone with information about him should call the FBI's Portland office at 503-224-4181.

The FBI had begun investigating Leonard in 1999. In 2002, a search of his Long Beach, Calif., residence produced evidence of child pornography and illegal correspondence with minors, agents said. He moved to Portland in 2005.

Just 9 months and Hicks free

Lincoln Wright and Stephanie Balogh

April 01, 2007 12:00am

Article from: Sunday Herald Sun

Send this article: Print Email

CONFESSED terrorist David Hicks will be free on December 30 despite a claim by senior intelligence sources he was being groomed as a top al-Qaida spy.

Hicks, 31, was yesterday sentenced by a military commission at Guantanamo Bay to nine months' jail to be served in an Australian prison.

He has been held for more than five years at the US detention centre after being captured in Afghanistan in December, 2001.

In a plea bargain, a seven-year sentence was reduced by six years and three months.

But Australian intelligence sources yesterday said al-Qaida was training Hicks to infiltrate countries such as Israel and the US and scout for terror targets.

They said that as a white Westerner, he was perfect for the role.

"There wasn't a white man on the planet who was closer to Osama bin Laden than Hicks," one senior intelligence source told the Sunday Herald Sun.

The source said evidence Hicks was having intelligence training for terrorist attacks had been obtained by the Australian Federal Police, including from Guantanamo detainees.

The problem with being reasonable in a combat zone is that it truly handicaps the safety and success of the people in the area. I am not advocating utilizing violence in an unprovoked manner, nor am I suggesting we should stack people up like pyramids and take pictures, I am however saying that artificial time limits put bad people back on the street, or they leave them on the street.

I wonder, and I am sure the FBI involved wonder, how many children were abused by the "Suspect Leonard" between the time they had enough on him to know he was a child predator, and the time they were able to do something about it, what happened in that 5 year time period?

In the case of Australian David Hicks, how do you cure intent to do harm, and how do you judge it to be cured?

You really won't be arrested for child pornography if you don’t have any. You also won't be indicted as a terrorist if you don't attempt to destabilize the world.

Okay, Hope you enjoy both *smiling all the way to dinner of mystery meat products**

While we are over here, what happens over there?

One thing that has happened, is that my sister has aged an entire year in the last day, Happy Birthday Amy...........

I have received a great deal of support from my friends and my family, and from some people I have never even met. I really think that that is fantastic, and I also think it is one of the things that keep the National Guard relevant in the national political discussion.

There are thousands of soldiers who are plucked from the fabric of their daily lives, out of communities in most of our country, who serve in various capacities either here or in Iraq, or, some other theater of conflict. In our nation where your responsibility to vote is sometimes overshadowed by the pressures of life, it is good to bring home the effects of our national actions, so that people see and understand them. Many people are angry about what our country has done. Many are angry because they are frustrated by how it affects their lives, or fear for how it will affect a loved ones life. They at least are interested observers, and they vote with their heart. I don’t care how you vote, I just want you to vote, and I have a great deal of friends who don’t want you to vote unless you have the right thoughts in your head.

While we are here things happen back home, kids grow, graduate, get married, and move out. Parents and Grandparents age, get sick, some die. Friends and other relatives get various maladies, some of which are life threatening, or life altering. They all go largely unnoticed except by their circle of friends. I know that a number of things have happened while I am gone. Not all of what has happened was good. Of course not much of it would be affected by my presence or lack there of. I guess the reason that I point this out, is that while it is significant what happens here, to me, and too many of you, it is also significant to me, what happens at home while I am gone.

When we get back, there will be an entire readjustment in our daily lives again, and the fabric will have been altered by our absence. I have had a couple of people very angry because of this deployment, viewing it as abandoning my responsibilities at home, in support of a concern that is very complicated and can appear questionable in value. I have thought about that myself from time to time, and I can only conclude that people do what they do, sometimes because that is just the thing that they feel they must do. That is why I ended up here. It has come at a cost in terms of time with my family; I have yet to figure out how to split myself. It has been difficult for my wife and family, and while I don’t want to do this again, I would do it over.

That is the introspection for the day.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

287 Days time on target

Today I have been deployed to Afghanistan for 287 days. I listened on the radio today as a very calm person relayed information about a TIC (Troops In Contact) somewhere in the country. He was totally calm and professional. His boss wanted particulars about small arms fire and RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenades), he replied "We received small arms fire from across the river for about 15 minutes, and they started the attack with several RPG's. The commander asked about casualties, and he responded with that information. Later I listened as another unit reported detaining a person, and finding out that he was a person of interest linked to the Taliban organization. It was a very interesting time to listen.

I am trying to learn to say more with fewer words, so far that isn't working so hot for me.....

I keep track of what we gets published in the news on, it provides feeds of most articles printed daily about what goes on here. The media is of course still trying to sell things, so body counts are in the headlines, it is easy to get information on the dead enemy as that falls into the category of good news and is provided with out censor, it is not as easy, nor are there reporters who report on the injuries that must be happening in the course of those events. Injuries don't make good press until of course it is sensational, like what happened at Walter Reed. Anyway, all is fair etc.

One of the things that I love is listening to the names people give themselves for radio call signs, based on what I have heard; I think we need a Trojan Man, and a Chewbacca.

Okay that is all for today.

My Mom will tell you that grammar and punctuation is important. She is correct, and it is easier to catch errors using Word, than it is using the tablet that Blogspot provides, which is why I had to correct a ton of mistakes. I am going to have to kick my own ass.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The more things change, the more they stay the same

The only thing constant is change

Here lately I have not had the pictures to put in the blog, because the subject matter of my pictures hasn’t been particularly enlightening or entertaining. My last several outings have resulted in pictures of artillery shells, or holes in the road generated by artillery shells being used for IED’s by the thugs who operate in the area. It isn’t particularly entertaining, but it is necessary.

My intent with this blog is to keep folks informed as to what is going on here, in western Afghanistan. The military has several caveats to how people can blog, so I have watered a lot down so as not to seem critical of our chain of command. I was thinking of that the other day, and realized that the chain of command is doing what it can.

Here are some points that are reality, not to lay blame. The Improved Explosive Device materials used in most of the last 6 or 8 IED’s in this area are soviet era munitions. Artillery shells, anti tank mines, explosives from each. That is not news. They are easily obtained in the area, because there are storage areas left over from the Soviets time here that are unknown, unguarded, or not destroyed. This war has gone on for over 5 years now I believe, and there are still unguarded (okay, nominally guarded, how about poorly guarded) munitions dumps in the country; given our Coalition form of control out here that means that not everyone thinks that it is a priority. That isn’t a knock on them. There are many things to prioritize here.

However the fact is that 5 years after the war started, and at least 4 years after we started this mentoring with minimal troops on the ground, we still have a ready supply of weapons material for the anti coalition militia (ACM) to use. This is a function of not enough troops in the area with the necessary skills to handle the situation.

Iran has interests in Afghanistan. They have active agents in the area supplying guns, ammunition and communication devices to ACM in the area, and they filter it down to the heavy fighting in the south as well. This is done through a variety of means, but in a country the size of Texas, there is a lot of border to be crossed when necessary.

And let’s not forget our friends in the South. Pakistan may wish to avoid antagonizing the United States of America, but it has no such qualms over destabilizing Afghanistan. Pakistan has given aide and support to the Taliban, in name and in deed. They several months ago made an agreement with them over Waziristan, essentially ceding governance if not ownership to the Taliban, to avoid terrorist activities directed toward Pakistan, notice I didn’t say avoiding activities with in their borders, they effectively sanction that, no matter what they say, as they do nothing to stop it.

Along the border with Pakistan, there is a full out guerilla war going with the Taliban, they group in large numbers and actively attack villages, and the Afghanistan National Army. Along the western border with Iran most of the actions conducted can be laid at the feet of a handful of people, they are funded by various interests and agents, but in essence they commit crimes against the state. They really are criminals who attempt to kill indiscriminately, much like Timothy McVey did in Oklahoma. They deserve no better treatment then he got either.

Okay, that is enough for now. I hope this finds you all well

Thursday, March 22, 2007

22 March 2007, Finally back on line

If you are going to write to a lot of people you have an obligation of sorts to keep it interesting. Books that I enjoy reading typically start off like a shot and draw you in immediately. My Brother in Law would explain to you that I am not that quick in my natural communication pattern, but if you are reading this, you already figured that out.

I could write about yesterday like this....

The sun baked my face as I stood in the turret behind my machine gun, waiting for our fellow soldiers from the south. As I watched the horizon two helicopters came into view, these were the two helicopters that left our southern base by passing my temporary home on their way to Herat. Because they were run by a different coalition member country, they had refused to give the technician I was picking up a lift to our location. I have always admired the great amount of cooperation and common sense that exists in coalitions. The result of their refusal was that my friends from the south drove past an attempted ambush, surviving RPG and small arms fire to safely deliver their cargo, our Scottish technician to the spot on the map we had agreed to meet at. ....

I may have to give that a chance as time goes on. Reality is not much different. Two choppers did not cooperate, and that did result in a link up that took place after about our ANA and US forces were shot at.

I think that while our allies are well meaning, our policies and procedures, not to mention the politics that are involved conspire to make coalition operations difficult and actually more dangerous than they would otherwise be. I don't have experience with all our allies, just those we work with in my part of the world. I am not saying that we should go it alone; I am saying that Unity of Command has always been a Principle of War, and with good reason. Enough on that.

Happy Birthday to Ted, Michael, Teresa and soon Amy. If March is a busy month, so must have June been in the past.

There have been quite a few changes recently in our area, most of which I am going to not discuss for a while, as I have already gone on too long for today.

It is good to be back, I hope you are all well


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Always time for learning

Just a short note, still alive in 07, not a good campaign slogan, but I think it worked for someone in 05. Or was that 95? anyway.

We have had the blogstorm lately, There is a way to register your blog with the powers that be, in order to avoid having brimstone and fire rain down upon you. I have long since advised the PAO of my Task Force of my address and what not, but again the excitement has been higher here about blogs for a while.

This may shock you, but many soldiers don't understand why anyone would sit down and write what they think about events.

Among the things I have learned is that there is an entire world of bloggers out there, many of whom I will link to in the future for your reading pleasure. Also I have learned that I write pretty much in my own voice, meaning the way I think and talk.

There are those out there who write in a very engaging manner, some of whom I wish I wrote as well as. Short point on this is as follows: I could probably learn to improve my prose, I am sure I could improve my punctuation......

Anyway, it is a sunny day here, no one that I know of has been injured in a while, which is a big bonus, and tomorrow is one day closer to heading home to the family. That is always good.

Talk with you later


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Some People you just can't reach ......

So you get what we have here today....

Life here lately has been turbulent, and things are busy.

We have caught some bad guys, and not been able to keep them due to lack of evidence, which I guess is a good thing. However, that frees them to do more bad things. Living in a civilized world, or rather bringing civilized standards to a war zone has interesting implications, most of which I won't go into now.

I guess I will just say, No one has been hurt it has been anouther good week or two.

Also, for those of you who are or have sent things in the mail, and might be concidering doing so again in the future. Thank you for your efforts, but now Please hold the mail. It has taken far to long for things to arrive in country to my location and I have no faith that I will actually receive things sent after this point. Again thank you for sending what you have to date, I still have some things to get out to other folks.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Here is a little piece of Memory from the early 1900's

My Grandfather McNeilly was a big man by my recollection, but of course the last time I saw him I was less than 10. He was born in 1896, lived in Iowa, and had a full life. I am including some notes from him that he taped for my Aunt Liz. I find them interesting, due in part to the similarities between 1900 America and 2007 Afghanistan. Anyway I hope you enjoy.

Andrew McNeilly (Tape- 1971)

This is going to be a description of some things that you have never heard about. The English will probably be terrible, but you’ll have to do the best you can.

I grew up at Center Junction, Jones County, Iowa. Anamosa was the county seat, also the reformatory is there. Mother’s father was a Civil War veteran and he was a turn-key at the reformatory. She taught school at Anamosa. We lived on a stock farm, 240 acres. There was some timber on it, about 15 or 20 acres, and then there was 40 acres of timber that belonged to someone else right next to it, so I had a lot of timber to play around in. I had to walk a mile and a half across the field to school, Black Oak School. It was a country school, and I went there through the eighth grade. When I was going to school at Black Oak, we had a teacher that roomed at our place. I used to drive my pony back and forth to school and put it in the neighbor’s barn in the daytime up at school. One day in the winter time, I had the pony and cutter. I don’t know what I did, but she kept me after school, and I didn’t like it very well. So I went down and got the pony and the cutter. Ruth was along and we all got in the cutter. There was a bank in front of the school house and instead of going around and going down a level spot, I went down over the bank and the cutter upset, and we all spilled out. The pony went home with the cutter and the rest of us walked. Boy, was she mad. Mother said, of course, that I didn’t do it on purpose, but I was sure mad too.

On this farm we had a lot of cattle, a lot of hogs, and a lot of horses. We’d cut logs in the winter time, the tops were good wood. We had coal stoves, wood stoves, and kerosene lanterns. That’s the way we lived then. This land was kind of hilly and we had a lot of woodchuck holes. There was a 20 cent bounty on them, if you could get them. In the winter time the rabbits would use the woodchuck holes. I decided I wanted a ferret, so I got a ferret, a female, and raised some young ones. We’d put a ferret in these holes and up out come a rabbit from the other one, and we’d catch them in a gunnysack. Well, one night after dark in the fall of the year, I fed my ferrets and somehow or other, I didn’t latch the door. I had a wire runway with a nest for them and one of them got out. The next morning we went out and there were sixty chickens bled to death and the ferret was still working on them. Well, that kind of ended my career on raising ferrets. We used to have a lot of ground squirrels and we’d shoot them with 22’s or snare them with a string. We also had a lot of horses. I had a pony named Coxy. He was born the same year that Coxy’s Army went to Washington and that is why he was named that way. He was half Shetland and half Indian, and he was pretty keen.

When I finished Black Oak, I had to go to Anamosa, the county seat, to take eighth grade exams to get out of school. While I was there, I got to playing ball with a piece of coal with a guy, and I knocked a window out. Dad, of course, got a bill for it and I didn’t quite make it to all my exams. So I went to Center Junction to finish. I took some high school subjects while I had to finish up my eighth grade. Then we moved to Springville. I took two and a half years at a high school there, passed on most of them. Then we
moved to Hector, Minnesota. I missed a half year up there. So I took a lot of extra subjects that fall at Hector, and then we moved back to Springville, Iowa, in the center of the year, and I finally graduated. I went to Coe College a half year in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I worked a year, and then I went back to Cedar Rapids Business College where I contacted Burroughs, and got a job maintaining or repairing their adding machines until November of 1917.

Years ago, when I was growing up, between 1900 and 1910, we used to get these old logs out of the timber and saved the tops for fuel. The logs would go to the sawmill and we’d have them come back in wood, whatever you would specify, 2 c 4’s, planks, pine boards, or whatever they would make. When they sawed the wood, they didn’t have gas engines. They had a power tread deal at that time. They’d put eight horses on it, they went in a sweep, and they went around and around. A guy sat up on top in the middle and kept them going. The tumbling rods went out to the saw and that is the way you sawed wood. Along about 1910, I think, they started getting gasoline engines to do the same job, but everything was horse power in those days.

When we would go to grind feed, dad would take a load of feed, ungrounded, and we’d go up to the mill, which was over on the river, Ebee’s Mill on the Wapsy River. They had a water wheel there that did the grinding. It would take a half day to get a load ground. I’d go along and I’d get to play along the river.

About 1909, my Uncle John bought a Model T, a Ford, the first one I ever messed around with. (Uncle John was going to run for County Supervisor, which he did and lost.) They told him after he drove it so many miles, to drain the oil out and wash it out with kerosene, and so on, like that. The crank case and the transmission bands were all one unit. So he did that, but he didn’t put any oil in. Well, he burnt it up. How dumb can you get? That was the first Ford that I ever drove. Dad’s first car was a 1911 or 1912 a Stoddard Dayton. It was a good car. We got it second hand and we had good use out of it. It had 34 by 3 tires on it. All the tires were smooth in those days, and when the roads were muddy, you did not go any place unless you had a set of chains.

In 1911, we moved to Springville, Iowa. I did not know too many people. I wasn’t going to school. The Fourth of July came along, and I didn’t have much to do. Dad said if I stayed home and helped him grind feed, (we’d grind feed all day), he’s send me to the State Fair that fall. So I went to the Des Moines State Fair. I stayed with dad’s cousin, Jim Smith, in Des Moines, and every day I went out to the fair. I liked the horse races. And all the young boys in those days, before automobiles, had a shiny horse and buggy. And if you got lucky enough to have rubber tires on one, that was better yet. And then everybody would horse race and see who had the fastest horse. Dad had an old driving mare that I used to drive to school. I raced with Jim McNeilly, my cousin. He paid $200.00 to $250.00 for a swell driving horse. He was going down the road one day, and I took him in with my old driving horse and he didn’t like it very well.

In Center Junction, we had neighbors that were German. Everybody did a lot of milking in those days. They had a bunch of calves that they used to turn out on the road. They’d get up in our orchard. One day when the folks were gone, we got them in the drive way of the barn and shut the door. We had a can opener in those days where you punctured a hole right in the center of the lid and then went around and did not take the whole lid off.
Well, we took some string or wire or something and put some holes in the can, closed the lid, tied it on their tails and turned them loose.

We used to raise a couple hundred head of hogs and some of the small ones would get crowded out; we called them runts. Dad gave me a couple of runt pigs and I’d give them special attention and have a special pen for them, by themselves. They’d get mostly milk from the cream separator and of course, the feed cost was free. I finally got enough money that way to buy a heifer. After she grew into a cow, I’d trade the cow for a colt. Then when the mother of a colt died, I’d bottle feed one, and finally had two horses. Finally they were sold. Then, I’d draw on that account as I needed it; at least it kept me busy.

Along the road side, where they graded some roads, there’d be some vacant ground. I’d go down and plow it up and sow turnips. You sow them in the middle of July. When frost time come along, I’d top them and pull them, measure them out in bushels, and put them in gunny sacks. I had a pony and cart, and take them into Center Junction and sell them for 50 cents a bushel. Maybe I’d get 10, 12 or 15 bushels that way. I didn’t make a lot of money, but at least it kept me busy.

On the farm we had a range that we burnt wood in, and a coal stove that burnt hard coal that had a glass top. The coal fed from the top and put out a red glow. It looked awfully nice in the winter time as you drove by somebody’s house when it was cold and you could see the red glow in the window. The range had a reservoir on the back, a warming oven on top, and five or six plates. I use to have to carry wood in and keep the wood box filled so we could keep things going.

In those days all those patent medicine outfits were out, Raleigh’s Bakers, and so forth.
Dad bought a license on Baker’s patent medicine. He furnished the horses, which we had plenty of, another guy run it on commission and he kept most of the profits. I don’t think he made anything, outside of we got some patent medicine. One time I had a cold, a bronchial cold, it was quite a cough. I went to bed, and mother gave me a shot of that Baker’s cough medicine. I got coughing again, so I got up, got the bottle and took it to bed with me. The next morning they could hardly get me awake. I didn’t wake up until about noon.

Then, in those days, you take a man that had a grocery store or a general store, he’d send a wagon out, he’d make all the farmers, and they would trade eggs in for what staple merchandise he had on the wagon. About three times a week, the butcher shop would send an iced wagon out with meat and fish and so forth. They’d come in the farm yard, and you’d buy your meat or fish, but you had to pay cash for them. Everything was pulled by horses in those days. I remember when one guy used to come to our place, he always stopped at our place at noon, and we’d charge him for horse feed, and then for his dinner. We always got some groceries back for it. He came from Alden, Iowa. Then in the fall, after we harvested our potatoes, which we generally had a couple of acres of, and a cellar full of, we’d take a load of potatoes over and give them to him, and take groceries back in exchange. We used to get these crackers from Reichmann Company. They’d come in a box, a wooden box, and they’d be 18” high and 18” across and full of crackers.
That was the way we bought our crackers, they came in a big wooden box. There would be nine or ten times as much as you would buy at the store nowadays.

Sears used to have quite a play in then. At Christmas time, when us kids were growing up, instead of getting a bunch of toys, and this and that and the other thing, we’d get a new pair of overshoes, or a new pair of shoes, or a new coat, or mittens or something, whatever you needed. A big order would go into Sears and Roebuck, and when it came back and unpacked, it was just like Santa Claus coming to the house. Everyone was standing around to see what they were going to get.

When I was about twelve years old, in 1908, my grandfather died in Center Junction, Iowa, my dad’s father. Dad got his muzzle loading shot gun, which Bob has now. The gun was long enough. It was above my head so I couldn’t shoot myself, had a powder flask, and a shot flask, and a cat deal. When I was young, the folks used to let me go out in the timber that was next to us. I shot my first rabbit out there and used to shoot a few squirrels. The pigeons around the place were lousy, and if I’d get enough pigeons, my mother would make pigeon pie out of them. That’s the way I learned to hunt. Then we also had an old Steven’s 22 rifle. I used to shoot ground squirrels and stuff with that. Ed Smith, from Winterset, Iowa, came up to hunt his bounty on woodchucks. He was Secretary of State at one time, and he ran the Winterset Madisonian paper down there.
He was my dad’s first cousin. He’d come up on his vacation. He brought me that little rifle and gave it to me, (that Jack has now and everybody wanted.) I used to sit out on the back porch, (there was a maple tree there and the sparrows use to fly in the air) and I used to shoot sparrows out of there. I’d take them down and feed them to my ferrets.

When we were at Springville, Iowa, one year, mother’s uncle, Jim Duncan, came out from Omaha and talked dad into buying a bunch of sheep. So we had sheep, about five hundred of them. Well, I had a big driveway in the barn, and I used to get them in there, close the door up, just about three or four feet wide. Then I’d take a pitch fork handle and put a gunny sack over it and let three or four of them out. If one went, the rest of them would go and as they went out, I would keep raising the pitchfork handle and the sack, and boy, you should have seen them jump!

On the farm, years ago, when spring time came along, everything was harness and horses, so everybody got their harnesses out. They’d oil them and repair them and get them ready for spring work. In those days, when Halloween came along, all the boys would get out, and it wasn’t just little boys, it was big boys too. You’d go by a hotel or livery barn, and you’d see a carriage up on top and wonder how the heck they got them up there. Everybody would raise cane. Any outhouse that wasn’t wired down was over and you’d better be sure that no one was in them.

When we were kids, about nine or ten years old, I had this pony. He was a cattle pony. My Uncle Jim Livingston used to buy a lot of cattle. Maybe he would buy ten, twenty, or thirty head, whatever the case may be, and instead of trucking them like they do now, we would drive them. The roads were narrow and not too many fences. This pony I rode was smarter than I. If a cow or a steer turned back, he was right after them. I didn’t have to go after them, or guide him, he went. You’d better stick in the saddle, as he was pretty quick on the draw. I used to get $1.00 a Saturday for that.

When we were in Springville, we were in a Quaker settlement. They would go to meetings at Whittier, Iowa. They’d wear their big black hats, stove pipe hats, and the ladies were all dressed up in black. At their meetings, they didn’t have a preacher, but anyone who had a spirit to move them, would get up and talk. They were good neighbors, they were honest, and if you owed them $1.91, they wanted that one cent. And if you had it coming, they’d give it to you. One of the Quaker boys bought a buggy with red wheels, and he was criticized because he didn’t have the wheels black, and they didn’t like that.

Oh, you wanted to know about that high school speech. I took an automotive magazine of some kind; I forget what the name of it was, whether it was Motor Age or what it was. Back in 1914 or 1915, when the Germans and the English were fighting and WWI had started over there, the trucks were displacing a lot of horses in one way or another. The English were making a truck and Max had one, Packard, and they were hard up for tires, but they were starting to produce. Well, everybody had to give a speech or whatever, at graduation. I had this all written out in long hand, and had it over at the real estate office, and I was typing it, when I went to play ball or something. When I came back the next day, someone had cleaned the office and everything was gone. I had a week before graduation, and I had to do something. My mother wrote this “Self-Help” for Myrtle Livingston, or helped her write it, I don’t know, but there was a copy there, so I just grabbed that and spieled it off.

In 1917 the Air Corp was open, so I went down and joined up. I took basics at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. We had a Top Sergeant that had seventeen years in the service and he had quite a vocabulary. But he got along with the recruits pretty good. From there I went to San Antoine, Texas, Kelly #2. When we got in there, we took a physical in the afternoon when it was nice and sunny. We stripped to the waist and that evening, what they call an orney down there, came up and there was a lot of wind and temperature change. There were eight of us in a tent. We had our winter clothes issued to us, so we put them all on, laid down on the cots, tucked the tent underneath the cots so it wouldn’t blow down, and we stuck it out. Some of the other guys that came in that night weren’t quite so lucky. They came in from San Diego, still had on summer uniforms and the next morning they said a few of them had committed suicide that night. We formed an aerial squadron there and they called it the 161st. In the Army, when you’d go up on sick call, they’d give you one pill, and that cured everything. All it was is a laxative. It got so the boys didn’t go on sick call. They’d just as soon be sick as to take the pill.

Then we went to Millington, (?,) Tennessee. It was twenty miles out of Memphis. That’s a Navy Camp right now. It was all rain and mud down there and I had the folks send me a pair of four-buckle overshoes, some coveralls and a stocking cap. Then when we went out on detail, I was top man on account of my “uniform”. Finally we got on a train for Mitchell Field, New York, near Long Island, and while the train was parked in the New York yards, there were vendors selling pies, donuts, cakes and so forth. I bribed the porter to get a pint of booze. I passed it around, as I had to stand guard on the rear platform that night. Well, their master electrician from Boston imbibed quite freely. He bunked with a supply Sergeant and in the middle of the night, he got sick, and made a mess of things. The supply Sergeant was going to report the guy that furnished the booze, but he never found out.

When in Memphis, everybody was rookies, but some guy had been in the National Guard for a month or two and he thought he was pretty hot, and he didn’t know nothing. So one night he came over to our tent. Everybody had a guy in charge of the tent. So we all got busy and he ordered one guy to get a pail of water, and another one to get a bucket of coal, and we made his bed for him and took his shoes and this and that and the other thing. That guy thought that was pretty good, so he went back to his tent, and tried it out and some guy hauled off and hit him.

We stayed a couple of weeks in Mitchell Field and were getting ready to sail with fourteen other aerial squadrons on Tuscanian when someone got the measles. So we were quarantined for two weeks. By the way, the Tuscanian was torpedoed and G.I.s were scattered all over Ireland, whoever was saved. But after we were quarantined for two weeks, it got kind of confining. Everybody was kind of on edge. One night the Sergeant came in and said “Lights out”. Someone told him where to go and we got a lecture. Then the Lieutenant came in, he was the Commanding Officer, and he gave us another lecture, and after he was through, turned the switch on the light, someone told him where to go. Well, we got eight hours drill for a few days after that, in about zero weather. We finally did go on a ship and took off for England.

We landed in Liverpool. When we got to England, the money was all strange to us, and we didn’t know one from another. We’d start a crap game, we’d figure the bigger unit was the most valuable, and the pennies were as big as half dollars, so most of the time we were shooting with pennies, didn’t know the difference until we were there for a week. In the meantime, I got the mumps, so I was put in quarantine for a couple of weeks. After I got out of quarantine, they sent me to Casual Outfit in Winchester, England. Everything was relics and antiques. I saw King Arthur’s round table, shown everything there was to see. Then we went to Romsey, a Casual Camp, and there they lost my records. I was there for about thirty days, no money, no nothing, nobody knew who I was or what I doing. I finally ran into a guy from Oskaloosa, Iowa. He was a railroad man, but he was a cook so he got me a job with him as a kitchen helper, so I got plenty to eat, as grub seemed to be kind of scarce over there. So I found my records, I got paid, and went back to my outfit in Huskindowns. That was in Southbury Plains, and about seven miles from Stonehenge. I was assigned as a normer, which was to mount machine guns on planes. They had DH-4’s and 6’s, a lot of them and they used to fly from four o’clock in the morning until ten o’clock at night. Which was all night. No one had the same First Lieutenant. We were eating under the English and all they had was mutton. We’d stand up in line and somebody would say “mutton again”, and everyone would go “Baa-aa. Then we’d get bawled out. We wanted our own cooks, but we couldn’t quite get them yet. They used to have calcetics every morning. They’d call up everybody for calcetics in the morning and no body went out. So they broke every non-com there was, and we started all over again. We finally got our kitchen and our own cooks. Then our Colonel came in one day for inspection, full pack, pulled everybody off their jobs and hurried them down to the barracks. They threw everything together. They didn’t know there was going to be full inspection, so when we got out and laid everything out, some of them had half of it, some of them didn’t have much of anything, and boy was he mad. We got another Commanding Officer then, he was a Captain, and he was one hundred percent real man. He’d go out and lend you money, drink with you, shoot craps with you, and everybody was one hundred per cent for him. We got along fine from then on. Oh yes, I was going to tell you when I was in Romsey Casual camp, I went down to the creek one day and there was a sign saying “Caesar watered his horse here when he invaded England”. Then Florence Nightingale’s birth place was seven miles out in the country.
Then they had a church there that showed the shot marks on the outside, everything was stone, and that happened during Cromwell’s rebellion. On the inside of the church, up and down the walk, there would be big three inch to six inch slabs with inscriptions on them where they buried the dead. So and so was here and so and so was there. That church also happened to be the church where the present King and Queen of England were married at Romsey.

We finally got ready to go to France and we sailed out of South Hampton at night on account of the subs, in a little old cattle boat. Instead of going down below, I stayed up above where there was a donkey engine, laid my blankets down and slept on cast iron that night. We got over there the next morning, it was hot. We had a seven mile hike up the hill at Le Harve. Some of the guys held up. Well, I made it and I got up and took a shower and I thought that while we were waiting for orders, I’d go to the PX and get a can of tomatoes. I like tomatoes. I sat down and ate them, got sick to my stomach and before we got ready to go to the train, I had to ride the baggage wagon. They took us from there to…………………….. We stayed there a day and went on to Fifth Air depot, and that was about half way between Troyes and Reims. We were about twenty miles from the front when we got there and everything was pretty much camouflages. We could hear the guns and see the flashes at night, and feel the concussions once in a while, but that’s all that ever bothered us. We did get our pictures taken a couple of times for somebody, I suspect it was German. We had our anti-air craft outfits set up, but they were just heavy machine guns and huskies, a French name. And at this camp we had five or six hundred planes of all kinds, and we’d supply an outfit. Every time a plane was shot down, we would give them another one, all ready serviced. Eddie Rickenbacker’s plane went through here, a scab and a half- insignia on it.

One day I was sitting outside on a GI can waiting for a truck to come, and a plane went up and went through a pile of mud, wrecked the propeller, it vibrated and he came down. The guy wasn’t hurt too bad; he broke a leg or something. I got a lamination of that propeller. I think there were eight laminations on it. I got one of them and I filled them full of husker machine bullets and made a picture frame out of it. Vera has it now in Des Moines. They had armors on ordinance, men on armors, so I didn’t get back on my job. They put me on a water detail job. I was supposed to supply the water for the camp. We had to haul it from Reze (?); that was one place we’d go in the morning. I’d get the mail at the Post Office and take it up to headquarters. We’d furnish the cooks with their water and the barracks with their water. Then we had a tank, a two-wheel outfit, 500 gallons, and we had to go down to the river and pump it full of water, haul it over there and park it so the guys had something to wash in. We headed for the river one day with that thing on, and three or four of the guys decided they would ride it like a saddle horse. They were sitting on it and the damn thing came unhooked. The Commanding Officer, that wasn’t from our camp, but another guy, had a shack down there and a flower bed. Well, it tore up his flower bed and he came out and wanted to know what the heck was going
on. We told him it just came unhooked. Well, no more guys rode the wagon after that; they all got in the truck. It rained every day and we all had boots and mud. We would get stuck with the truck, and I would have to go to the Officer of the day to get permission to get another truck. That happened to be Richard Mitchell from Fort Dodge, Iowa. He told me he went to Iowa City and we got to talking quite a bit. He’d get me a truck. It’d get stuck and he finally had to get a cat to pull us all out. It was kind of a mess.

When we’d go to town to get water, we had G.I. cans and a GMC truck. Well, if we had a little time, we’d go over to the bakery, and bribe them for one of those three foot loafs of bread. It was warm and you’d get some of this cheese that came in wooden boxes that you could spread with a knife, and a bottle of beer, which wasn’t more than pop, it wasn’t even cold. And we’d sit down and have a little lunch. It tasted pretty good after some of that Army grub. One day we were sitting around there and here comes Dick Mitchell with a prisoner, somebody that had gone AWOL. So he put him on a truck for us to be responsible to get him back to camp. But he didn’t bawl us out or anything for sitting around. After all, we were taking care of our job pretty good.

When the Armistice came along, I worked ten or twelve hours that day. We worked seven days a week and nothing off. After the Armistice was signed, we had five or six hundred planes on the field. They told us we could get ready to go home when the planes were flown out of there. Well, they’d have to haul in fliers and then they’d fly them out. We had a bulletin board that we posted how many we got out that day and the number that was left.

Over in France, on Armistice Day, we’d go down the road, wherever you were at. These French soldiers, who had been in it for fours years or more, all of them had a bottle of wine in their hand and they’d say, “la guerre fini”, la guerre fini”, and boy were they happy.

One day, we were on these side door Pullmans going across France, and I got up in the morning and went out and found a spigot, washed my teeth, and washed my face. I saw a wicker basket full of bottles, so I hooked one of them and took it back to the car. I told the rest of the guys about it, and in a little while, we had five or six of them. They were champagne. The next stop down the line, here comes the MP’s and the French police and everybody else to search the cars. On all of the platforms over there, there was a side door Pullman and one side was rocked up even with the bottom of the door of the car, and the other one was just railroad track out there. So we wrapped it up in a blanket and scooted it up on top of the car and stood at attention. They looked us all over and gave us a clean bill of health and went on. That worked out pretty good.

Another time we were going across and we stopped. The French shipped their wine over there in tank cars, and one of them was leaking. Somehow or other, maybe it was accidentally, maybe it wasn’t, but there was forty guys lines up there with their canteens, getting a fill of red wine.

Well, in February we got all of our planes out. We started out going down to Libourne, that’s twenty miles out of Bordeaux. It was raining and we had to wait twenty minutes before we could get on a train. Some farmer had a woodpile there, so we helped ourselves to wood and built a bonfire. A couple of guys said, “Captain, how about gong up town? “Nope”, he said, “I’m not in charge here. If you get caught, I couldn’t help you any. But if you go, be sure not to get caught”. So they went. We finally got to Libourne. There was an old French barracks and there wasn’t much to do down there. We had an engineering officer from Ames and we got a class started. I finally got on a detail. There were nine squadrons there, to furnish the camp with meat and spuds and stuff. We’d distribute it around to the different kitchens, and that kept us busy. Then on Sunday, we’d take a streetcar out to as many miles as we thought we wanted to walk back, and then walk back.

One Sunday another, guy and I went out that way and we went to Saint Emilion, which was a wine place. They took us down in the cave where they showed us all where they had the bottles stacked, and they had another place where they were re-bottling it. They were shipping it all over the world for that matter. Also there were some caves where they had taken the rock out. The story was that Napoleon hid his army in there one time.
I don’t know whether he did or not. They also had a wishing well, anything to make a little money, I guess.

While in Liebourne, they had a rock wall around this place, and at one place there was a hole in it. The guys used to sneak out and bring in cognac. They plugged that. The French own all the burial ground over there. Their land is scarce. They put them in vaults and you pay rent on your vault. If you quit paying the rent, they just take them out and put them in the bone yard. So we used to go over there. One guy went over to the bone yard, propped a skeleton up, put his arm around it and another guy took his picture.

When we were at Libourne, we had a notice that the big shots were coming in. So we got kind of a band up. Somebody could play some kind of a musical instrument, and we had a taxi driver from Chicago who was a drum major. We got out and practiced for three or four days. Then, when Pershing came in, he brought his own band. There were twelve or fourteen Arial squadrons down there, and we were all out there on the field. He got on a horse that the French furnished for him, and he lined everybody up the way he wanted them. He didn’t leave it to somebody else. And then, after we passed in review, he came around and gave everybody open ranks. He inspected every man there. I was about two feet from Pershing and I thought that was pretty good for that kind of a guy. I thought that he was pretty good.

We finally got through there, started for Libourne, got down there, got on a boat General __________, it was a small one. They figured it made one trip and could make another one. It held six hundred troops. First ten days out it was fine, nice and sunny, and you could lie in the sun. The next six days everything broke loose. We put canvases over the hatches, water seeped in, and I was the fifth bunk up. I used to have to tie myself in the tent overnight, afraid that I might fall out. We finally got in New York Harbor. The welcoming boat came out with the band playing. They played “Jeta”, and that was the first time I ever heard it. We went back to Mitchell Field and disbanded there and everybody went their way. I went to Camp Dodge and was discharged from there. Then I went to Springville.

While I was in New York City, they had what they called a Hippodrome Room. It cost a buck to get in. It was a variety show. They had elephants, chorus girls, and Houdini was there. They tied him up in a tub, and dumped him in the water. Will Roger was there with his little rope. It was a good show, lasted about two to three hours, but only cost a buck to get in.

Then when I was at New York, before we came home; Alman was a pretty good friend of mine. I and two other boys went over to his house for a weekend. He lived in Newark. He had a couple of his cousins come up from Patterson, New Jersey and they were twins and were dressed alike. Well, that was the other guy’s girls and they’d sit around and we’d play games and one thing or another. They finally come up and they didn’t know if they had the right girl or not, they didn’t know who was who!

Dad had a road job so I helped him out a couple of weeks. Some guy didn’t like the rural mail route and he thought that I could get it. He said that he would buy me a new Ford if I would take the exam for it and pass. But it was so dead around that small town, and I was used to having 150 to 200 guys around. I passed it up and went back to Burrs. They wanted me to come back anyhow. I worked in the shop there. I was pretty rusty after coming out of the Army. I worked in the shop a couple of weeks and took a few city calls. Then there was a vacancy in Des Moines, so they sent me to Des Moines. I got there and somebody quit in Waterloo, so I went to Waterloo. Everything in those days was steam trains and a lot of passenger trains. I knew most of the time tables by heart. When I got to Waterloo, they put me on a city route to start. The streets were all crooked and went everyway and were all names, no numbers. I learned the streets in Waterloo the hard way. Then I got a route on the IC West and I thought it was the best time table of all, as I could leave at 8:00 or 9:00 AM and get in at 6:15 PM and it was a good route. I liked it and got along fine. There wasn’t any salesman on that territory for a long time on account of the war. I lined up a bunch of sales for the next salesman that came along.

The office manager in our office decided that I should meet a certain gal in another office, so I am going to knock this off and we’ll put that all on another tape.

Well, I guess I will wind this up. This is the old generation gap; you can take it as it is. That’s the way it was, and no body can do anything about it.

Andrew Franklin McNeilly November 2, 1896……September 15, 1979

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Steph

Hello all,

Fairly frustrating today, our Internet is still down, so I am borrowing from folks down the road, our optempo has gotten higher, we have new folks in, things are in the beginning of the constant state of flux that they will remain in for the next 4 to 6 weeks. Our folks haven't had mail for a couple of weeks again and I was informed by the folks in Kabul that they have had packages sitting there for me for a long time now. I am surprised that they haven't figured out how to forward to me, but maybe there are many many McNeilly's on this task force, of course there could only be one. Who knows. I am rapidly becoming the old timer here, that means I am also getting closer to going home. That is not making me unhappy. It has dropped down to 24 degrees in the mornings again, which is a tad chilly, it gets up to a rousing 58 degrees at the top, which is okay. I guess I have run out of interesting things, I won't lay claim to thoughtful today, but I thought I would run my fingers for a while.

Lots of love for Stephanie, who survived her teenage years with me, and now is a bona -fide adult capable of buying alcohol, entering into legal contracts and generating as much fun and adventure as all of the rest of us. Happy Birthday Steph.

All My Best


Still having fun

23 February 2007

I think that this is 5 days without the internet in our area, due to a combination of events, I am sure some one 800 miles is sure about, but really I am not sure about. Satellite internet is subject to weather considerations, like wind and storms. We are currently waiting to get our service back, but it will probably take a week more.

It points out how much I spend on the net, I love to read, but reading is not always relaxing for me. Getting online seems to be a sedative at some point. I am not sure why, but it always relaxes me. One sure reason is that it allows me to talk with my wife and family on a regular basis. It points out how easy from a mental point this deployment is that past deployments for other soldiers have not been. I feel very connected to my family, despite the distance apart. Now after a number of days of basically no communication other than the brief “I love you” on the phone, I am going through some withdrawals. (Makes me kind of bitchy).

This has been a very eventful couple of days; I am working in the capacity of operations officer for my group now, which has increased responsibility, added time requirements and stress. I have been trained for the job, so I am sharing the differences and some of the effects of them.

I have a checkered time in the military, enlisted for a couple of years, ROTC for a couple of years, active duty in the early 90’s and then I got out about the time we decided as a nation to work more as coalition forces rather than US Forces. I won’t go into all the reasons that I had at the time, but I am remembering them here.

Individual soldiers lives are merely footnotes in history, this soldier died at this time in this location. Some become heroes; some are forgotten by all but those that they served with or their families. That really isn’t much different then the rest of our lives. We live, work and raise our families, are a part of our community and pass on to the next stage of our being.

A couple of days ago we had some Spanish coalition forces who struck a mine, wounding one soldier and killing another. This happened very close to where I am stationed. It is unfortunate from two perspectives. The tragedy of a woman who was serving her country as a medic, who was indiscriminately killed far from home, a tragedy just as any untimely death is. The fact that because our coalition does not coordinate effectively means that the Spanish were working in our battle space with out our knowledge, as a result they were traveling on a road that had recently had IEDs emplaced, and they were not aware that we expected more IEDs to be placed. Failure to coordinate. In addition to that, they did not ask our forces on our base for help. Instead they worked with people 45 miles north. I don’t know if our assets would have saved her, and will never know. Our forces sent a reaction force to assist with any injuries, and our assistance was refused. Our soldiers and the Afghan soldiers were treated as a threat to ISAF forces security, kept at a distance of 500 meters from the scene. The intelligence available after the emergency was lost, as ISAF forces collected what they could find and removed it to their base in the north. That means we are less prepared for potential and probable future events.

I know it always sound arrogant to say that US forces should be in control of areas that US forces work, but the fact is that our military culture runs smoothly as a unit. Putting the front end of a Ford 150 Pickup truck in front of a Toyota Corolla while possible is an engineering feat that is still going to look like a mess, despite the quality of both parent vehicles. That same thing can be said in varying degrees of coalition work. Working side by side in separate areas of operation probably works well, just as parking a corolla next to a 150 is fine. However having them occupy the same space at the same time is awkward, and is also the definition of a collision.