The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.--George Orwell
Well, it is about friggin' time already! The Times Leader has reporter (Combat Correspondent?) Lane Filler and photographer John Wilkin in Iraq reporting on the daily doings of the boys from the 109th Field Artillery. Ever since the 109th left for Fort Dix, I have spread out the Leader every morning hoping to hear something of my nephew Rory's whereabouts, or what his mindset may be. It'd be easier to schedule an appointment with Vladimir Putin than it would be to track down Rory's nomadic dad, so the info I've been privy to as to the latest on Rory's exploits have been sparse at best.
I did read that Bravo Company was moved out of the middle of "the sh*t" and redeployed to a detainee camp north of Baghdad a few days back which brought on a semi-sigh of relief. There really is no place that is 100% safe in Iraq for our troops, but a detainee camp on the outskirts of town sounds significantly safer than patrolling urban terrains surrounded by clans, militias and whatnot that are propelled by hate, anger, desperation and whatever it is that pissed them off today. Whether many of us realize it or not, taking the war to the terrorists to any degree means having to face the urbanization of insurgency for the foreseeable future.
If the terrorists remain bent on waging their war against the west, battles much like what we saw in the flick "Black Hawk Down" will be the preferred battle of choice for our out-gunned, but maniacal adversaries. The asymmetry of combat as we previously knew it has been blown to hell and them some. No matter which way you intend to vote come November, please understand what we're up against before you start yapping off about who dropped the ball, or who underestimated what. Our military has been training heavily for MOUT (Militarized Operations on Urbanized Terrain) since the Mogadishu debacle. If we're unwilling to completely flatten from the air the Third World shanty towns harboring terrorists, somebody has to go door-to-door to flush them out. That's where we're at.
Rory was born on January 10, 1982, less than twenty-four hours after his cousin, my son, Marque was born. They spent many an hour together until sadly, Rory's mom passed away before he was even old enough to sign-up for T-ball. His Dad had some serious problems dealing with his grief and we saw less and less of him from that period forward. Now and again, his Dad would drop by, but Rory rarely accompanied him. Time passed and the next thing I knew, my kid and Rory were both high school graduates. Marque was leaning rather heavily towards joining the Marines and I was all for that idea. His Mom was much less receptive to it. Then all of a sudden, Marque did a complete about face and said the Marines were no longer an option. I'll admit to being mildly disappointed, but ya' gotta let them find their own way. Anyway, I ran into Rory's Dad at some point and he told me Rory had joined the National Guard. That was cool and all, but it wasn't something that seemed too important at the time. The events that transpired on 9/11 obviously changed all of that.
On the morning of 9/11 I was treating a home for termites. Before very long, the homeowner and I were watching CNN while one of the Twin Towers burned away. Then, the second plane exploded on screen. The guy muttered something about a terrorist attack. My response to him was, "They f**ked up. They just don't know it yet." And here we are not quite three years later and the horrible events of that day, while not initially, have reached out and touched my family. After the towers collapsed, I still had a rather large building to treat, so I threw on the headphones, followed the latest on WILK and spent a rather long day quietly reflecting on what was sure to happen next. Namely, a U.S. Military response to the attacks. And for the very first time, I was happy that Marque had changed his mind and had not joined the Marines. I would have been proud to see him go, but I can't imagine having gotten much sleep afterwards.
Which leads me back to Rory's tour of duty. By some weird twist of fate, one kid was very close to signing on the dotted line for the very real possibility of some combat coming his way, but didn't. Another kid signed on the dotted line to gain some college tuition funding and he ends up smack dab in the middle of the combat zone. A kid that grew up poor, with only one parent and he signed-up for only one reason, that reason being to better himself. Here at the adobe, we're all praying that he gets the chance to do just that.
As of late, much to our chagrin, the terrorists have proven that they're not going to cease and desist, so our only option is victory. Appeasement and negotiation may sound preferable coming from those on the campaign trail, but we either defeat our enemies abroad, or they will continue to chip away until they figure out how to deliver a catastrophic blow. And until our politicos figure out how to beef-up our active-duty forces, there really are no reservists anymore. There's kids like Rory who were just trying to earn a few extra bucks and ended up in the middle of a war for a year, possibly even longer.
I remember watching the 109th march past Gage and I during the latest installment of our Veteran's Day parade and I just knew these guys weren't going to be staying stateside too much longer. I think everybody else in attendance knew it too. I see "Support our Troops" signs neatly displayed throughout the area and I run across plenty of yellow ribbons tied around practically everything imaginable. And that's a good thing. But the next time I run across any of our local "reservists," I will be sure to thank them for their sacrifice. For all intents and purposes, they are all only a phone call away from the hostilities.
As for Pfc. Rory Kirwan, we're gonna have us one humdinger of a party when he finally makes his way back here. We've got some catching up to do.
From today's Times Leader:
For Pfc. Rory Kirwan, 22, of Plymouth, college was getting hard to pay for on his own. He also wants to be state trooper, and he figured the military experience would help.
"I got $5,000 to sign up, and my college was paid for as well as some living expenses, but at that point it never really crossed my mind that I might have to go to war," Kirwan said.
His wife, Melissa, took his deployment "very hard" but has the support of family and the family members of other local soldiers.
The couple moved their wedding date up from May 1 to Nov. 28, marrying before a district justice instead of in a church.
"It's caused a lot of changes in my life and hers," Kirwan said. "I wasn't scared of coming, but ... it's a year of my life and hers.
Make his day. Drop him a line. Better yet, send him some wet-wipes. Showers are not available.
I was rummaging through some of my mom's stuff this morning and I ran across this blast from the past.
Yeah! That's it. He "fell" through the window. Hee. Hee. Hee. Ah, the good old days of 192 seats filled entirely with inebriated customers at 3 o'clock in the morning. I took a ton of heat from my higher-ups for that incident.
"Mark. You threw a customer through the front window???"
Customer? Oh, yeah. A drunken customer that singlehandedly destroyed two bundles of the Sunday Independant and then wanted to play Bloodsport II when I informed him that he was going to pay for them. Yup. That's a customer I'd pummel every time if need be. Hell! I was nice about it. I didn't seek any compensation for the damage his head did to both of our cigarette machines and I didn't seek to make him pay for the double-paned window he was launched through. The only cost to him was the hundred stitches or so it had to require to get him to stop bleeding all over the tarmac. Beer muscles aren't all they're cracked up to be. Like I said, the good old days.
So...Ed Rendell is coming to town tomorrow. The Leader has reported that "he is expected to announce funding for projects in Wilkes-Barre and Pittston."
I have no idea what he has up his sleeve, but I know it's been in the works for quite some time. It's amazing that not one of our local movers and shakers have let the cat out of the bag beforehand. It seems to be a closely guarded secret. I recently asked someone definately in the know how we were going to fund the theater project. Oh, you know, a little bit of this, that and the other thing. Yaw. Forget that I even asked.
What's it going to be tomorrow? Funding for the theater? Funding for the riverfront? Funds for the Sterling Hotel? Funds for the Thompson Street Mall project? Maybe it's for the 20 or so police cars the mayor was lobbying for. To be quite honest, it really doesn't matter to me. At this point, any shot in the arm would be a major shot in the arm for Wilkes-Barre. Although, the Leader did say "gifts for several key economics projects."
I'd be surprised if the "gift" was solely intended for the Hotel Sterling. It seems to me that if we built the theater and remodeled the riverfront to the extent that has been proposed, the Sterling would become a much more sought after property almost overnight. Then again, all of my now legendary urban planning successes were destroyed instantly when my son took his copy of Sim City home with him.
The most significant insider information I've been offered is that Wilkes-Barre is going to turn around much quicker than anyone would have previously believed possible and that sounds very, very encouraging to this indigent numbskull. And that rosy view of our future prospects stands in direct contrast to the defeatist attitude that many of Wilkes-Barre's residents now wrestle with. After receiving nothing but black eyes for so long now, it's simply too much to ask for the average folks to have much faith at this point.
Many of what we'd call the unwashed hoi polloi still see the Chamber of Commerce as an obstacle to be overcome on that long and bumpy road to progress. Despite all of the girders that have risen around us and the ones that could have risen right here in the city had our former mayor not tried to be the hero, it seems as if the Chamber folks have been toiling away and biding their time. Thanks to our having voted responsibly last year, their time is now and so is Wilkes-Barre's. Our new mayor promised to usher in a period of cooperation and that cooperation that he spoke of is about to manifest itself in a number of very positive ways.
He said all along that he couldn't do it all by himself, but what he did manage to do since last year's primary victory was to pull all of the disparate and concerned groups together to help foster in a new, vibrant era for Wilkes-Barre. Some of us schmooze with the Governor. Some of us have the expertise and necessary contacts to get arenas and theaters built. Some of us raise money for new benches and garbage cans. Some of us donate some profits to seeing to it that the downtown is cleaned 40 hours a week. Some of us have the college kids feeling as if the bullseye mentality is no longer necessary. And some of us have nothing more to offer than pushing a broom along the edges of our streets. The point is, for the first time in a very long time, people seem to be coming out of the woodwork willing to push Wilkes-Barre towards being the neat little city that it probably should have been all along.
And at the very epicenter of the growing confluence of suddenly energized forces ready to fight for Wilkes-Barre's future sits one Tom Leighton. As he said all along, he couldn't do it all by his lonesome, but he sure as hell knew where to look for help. What did he say to us when he announced his intention to seek his current position? Wasn't it "Progress, not promises?"
So...Ed Rendell is coming to town tomorrow.
Anybody else up for some sweeping on Saturday morning? We could use all of the help we can get.
Why not? Get me in even more trouble. From the e-mail inbox:
*******An American tourist goes on a trip to China. While in China, he is very sexually promiscuous and does not use a condom all the time.
A week after arriving back home in the States, he wakes one morning to find his penis covered with bright green and purple spots.
Horrified, he immediately goes to see a doctor.
The doctor, never having seen anything like this before, orders some tests and tells the man to return in two days for the results.
The man returns a couple of days later and the doctor says: "I've got really bad news for you. You've contracted Mongolian VD. It's very rare and almost unheard of here. We know very little about it."
The man looks a little perplexed and says: "Well, give me a shot or something and fix me up, doc."
The doctor answers: "I'm sorry, there no known cure. We're going to have to amputate your penis."
The man screams in horror, "Absolutely not! I want a second opinion."
The doctor replies: "Well, it's your choice. Go ahead if you want, but surgery is your only choice."
The next day, the man seeks out a Chinese doctor, figuring that he'll know more about the disease. The Chinese doctor examines his penis and proclaims "Ah, yes, Mongorian VD. Vely rare disease."
The guy says to the doctor: "Yeah, yeah, I already know that, butwhat can we do? My American doctor wants to operate and amputate my penis!"
The Chinese doctor shakes his head and laughs: "Stupid American docta, arways want to cut, cut, cut. Make more money, that way. No need to opelate!"
"Oh, Thank God!" the man replies.
"Yes," says the Chinese doctor. "You no worry! Save money. You wait two weeks. Penis farr off by itself!"*******
Okay. I'll try it.
Q: What do you call a girl with one leg in this country?
Q: What do you call a girl with one leg in Japan?
Oh, why stop there?
Q: How did Bill and Hillary first meet?
A: As it turned out, while in college, they were dating the same chick.
I had better stop there.