#DDay70 veteran parachutes from plane 70 years after doing it the first time

Jim Martin - D-Day

93 year old U.S WW II veteran Jim Martin of the 101st Airborne, left, completes a tandem parachute jump onto Utah Beach, western France, Thursday June 5, 2014, as part of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D Day.  (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

What an awesome story! (via)

Normandy, France (CNN) — Jim “Pee Wee” Martin acted like he’d been here before, like jumping from a plane is as easy as falling off a log.

Maybe that’s because he had — 70 years ago.

“I’m feeling fine,” Martin told reporters moments after landing in a French field. “… It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful.”

Martin was part of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division that parachuted down over Utah Beach in their bid to retake France and, eventually, the rest of Europe from Nazi Germany. They actually touched down in enemy-controlled territory a night before what’s referred to as D-Day.

His jump Thursday in the same area was different and — despite his being 93 years old now — a whole lot easier.

“It didn’t (compare),” Martin said, “because there wasn’t anybody shooting at me today.”

Every year, every day it seems, the number of surviving World War II veterans like Martin dwindles. He estimates there are only a few dozen members of his unit who took part in the now historic D-Day invasion who are still around.

It’s ironic, in a sense, because Martin was among the oldest of his bunch in June 1944 — at 23 years old — surrounded by others who were mere teenagers.

Together, they parachuted onto France’s northern coast in the dark of night not knowing what awaited them. Whatever it was, it would not be friendly or easy, they expected.

[…]

Seven decades later, Martin did it again — not fighting a bloody war but at least reliving his role in a military campaign that changed the course of history. Others joined him in this now daytime jump, though he was the only one from his generation.

[…]

Martin admitted that he was motivated by “a little bit of ego, (to show that) I’m 93 and I can still do it.”

“And also I just want to show all the people that you don’t have to sit and die just because you get old,” he added. “Keep doing things.”

God bless this American hero and all other members of “The Greatest Generation” who continue to demonstrate what real courage, dedication, and honor look like.   Same same to those who gave their lives that day, and to those who have passed on since. Our world would be a much different place if it weren’t for these brave men.  To say millions owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid would be the understatement of a lifetime.  To them, I say: Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU.

Last but not least, a beautiful, movingly poignant picture tweeted by the French Embassy on the 70th anniversary of D-Day:


Says it all. :) **==

Iranian women rebel against headscarves, start #MyStealthyFreedom campaign

Iranian women

Image courtesy of the #MystealthyFreedom FB page. Click the photo to go to the page for more images.

Now this is REAL feminism. I love it:

Iranian women are posting pictures of themselves online without headscarves and racking up thousands of Facebook likes in the process, the latest challenge to Tehran’s strict morality laws mandating that women keep their hair covered in public.

A Facebook page called “Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian women” showing hundreds of women without the hijab — a veil that covers a person’s head — has garnered more 142,000 likes. Women have used the hashtag #mystealthyfreedom to post pictures of themselves without headscarves riding bikes, dancing, or even sitting in flower beds, flouting rules that have been in force since the 1979 Revolution.

The page was started by journalist Masih Alinejad, who explained her reasoning in a May 3 post:

“This page is not only for women who are against the hijab, this is also for religious women who wear the hijab but don’t believe it should be enforced on people and think it should be a choice. So you if you are a religious woman who wears a headscarf but doesn’t think it should be enforced, please send in a picture of your friend, family member or daughter not wearing a hijab.”

More power to them!   And to think we have women here who feel oppressed because they can’t get “free birth control.” Really!

I’ve done my part and have liked their Facebook page and will help them raise awareness on Twitter, too.  All it takes is one person to make a change – but fortunately there are many Iranian women asserting themselves in this campaign to fight for the right to walk around with their hair uncovered.  It’s one step. But it’s a big step.  These women are bold, brave, beautiful and deserve our support. It’s hard for them to get the message across due to the Iranian government’s censorship of social media websites, so please do your part in helping spread the word worldwide of their movement, too!

Heartwarming: Patriotic Asheboro middle school students give injured veteran a gift he’ll never forget

GRAB the Kleenex! Via MyFox8:

ASHEBORO, NC — Students at North Asheboro Middle School have raised more than $2,000 dollars for Josh Craven, an Iraq War veteran who lost his left leg to an explosion in August of 2010.

Craven’s right leg is intact, but paralyzed below the knee.

Because his ability to run is severely limited, Craven got into hand biking.

He uses a three-wheeled cycle operated by his hands to compete in marathons and other events.

Up until Thursday, Craven had been borrowing his hand bike from a charity. Now, with this money, it’s all his.

Eight grader Sabrina Perez led the fundraising efforts, calling churches and community members and telling Craven’s story.

“He went to war for us so we wanted to care for him just like he cares for us,” Perez, 14, said.

Craven and his wife Holly are thankful.

The video of the story is even better as you can clearly see the love the kids have for Craven. Make sure you watch it.

Even better still? The young Ms. Perez who was interviewed for the story said she was inspired so much by Craven that she wants to join the military herself when she grew up.

It’s a mad, crazy world out there, but sometimes people – even our young folks – manage to get it right. This is most definitely one of those times. :) **==

Rest in peace, Chris Kyle

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on the memorial service that was held today at Cowboys Stadium for retired Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, killed this past Saturday:

About 7,000 attended a memorial service Monday at Cowboys Stadium for Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL sniper who was slain last week near Glen Rose.

At about 11:30 a.m., parking lots filled up quickly for the 1 p.m. service at the 80,000-seat stadium.

“I stand before you a broken woman,” Kyle’s wife, Taya, tearfully told the crowd. “Chris Kyle was ‘all in’ no matter what he did in life.”

After revealing her flaws to her husband, Taya Kyle said Chris told her: “You’re a package deal. I love you. All of you.”

At the beginning of the service, the crowd entered slowly into the stadium with the hymn Mansions of the Lord playing on the P.A. system and images of Chris Kyle on the jumbo screen.

Serenaded by Scottish bagpipes, the casket carrying Kyle was placed on the blue star on the 50-yard line. A photo montage showed moments of Kyle’s life from his childhood through adulthood.

Dozens of Navy SEALS, past and present, stood as the SEAL creed was read at the memorial.

One-by-one, boyhood friends and fellow military members paid tribute to Kyle.

[…]

No politicians spoke at the service, however, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin posted on her Facebook page that she and her husband, Todd, were planning to attend the memorial. “I find it sad to see that flags aren’t flying at half staff for this American hero,” Palin wrote on the page.

Indeed, especially considering he is reportedly the deadliest sniper in US military history:

It’s November 2004. Thanksgiving time. The second battle of Fallujah has launched, and Kyle is swaddled in silence atop an upturned baby crib, studying the enemy through a Nightforce 4.5-22 power scope attached to a .300 Win Mag rifle.

He’s feeling badass.

“We just got word that the president of Iraq said that anyone left in the city is bad — meaning, clear to shoot,” he recalled for The Post. “From that point on, every fighting-age male was a target.”

That was just fine with Kyle, who spent five weeks in the hideout, protecting Marines on the ground and bagging seven confirmed kills — adding to his official total of 160, making him the deadliest sniper in US history.

“After the first kill, the others come easy. I don’t have to psych myself up, or do anything mentally — I look through the scope, get the target in the cross hairs and kill my enemy before he kills one of my people,” Kyle writes in his new autobiography, “American Sniper.”

During his 10-year career as a member of SEAL Team 3, Kyle, 37, saw action in every major battle during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He became known among his fellow SEALS as “The Legend.”

The enemy was less complimentary.

In Ramadi, insurgents put an $80,000 bounty on his head and branded him “Al-Shaitan Ramadi” — “The Devil of Ramadi.”

Kyle, 38, and friend and neighbor Chad Littlefield were murdered this past Saturday at a Texas gun range by former Marine Eddie Ray Routh.  Much is being made of Routh’s alleged PTSD and whether or not that might have been a factor in Saturday’s shootings.  Kyle was known to counsel PTSD sufferers.

Whatever the case may be, may God surround and comfort the families at this extremely difficult time.  And wise words from Sarah Palin:

We may never know to what extent Chris kept us free or how many lives he saved by his brave actions in the line of fire. But his fellow warriors know how important he was. My son Track couldn’t meet Chris when Todd and I first met him because Track was deployed to Iraq. Then when we got to know Chris even better, our son was deployed in Afghanistan. We’ve met a lot of people in recent years, and Track has been privileged to meet them as well. But he said about Chris, “Mom, he’s the ONE person in the entire world I would be star-struck to meet. He’s it.”

God bless this great warrior. Let us keep his wife and children in our prayers, and may we never forget him or his sacrifice.

Indeed.

In Aurora #theatershooting tragedy, heroic acts remind us chivalry still exists

Most of us are fortunate enough to have never found ourselves in a desperate domestic situation where, through an act of moral cowardice on the part of evildoers, our lives and the lives of those of us around us are at risk. We’ve seen despicable acts of this nature all too often in our lifetimes – from the Columbine killing rampage, to 9-11, to the deadly Virginia Tech shooting spree which left 32 dead. In all of those horrific tragedies, our sense of grief, anger, and moral outrage envelops us and in the days and months after they occur, it is hard to see what “good” – if any – came out of such senseless brutality.  But over time, stories emerge of bold courage and selfless heroism & sacrifice which provide some small measure of comfort in the long aftermath of unthinkable tragedies.

With Columbine, it was business teacher Dave Sanders who ran into the line of fire in an attempt to urge high school students to safety from two deranged teen madmen and in the process was killed on April 20, 1999.  On 9-11-01, you had firefighters who ran up flight after flight of stairs in both WTC towers, not knowing if they’d ever make it out. Some did. Some did not.  Same same with reports of numerous civilians who were in the towers who either helped rush their colleagues to safety or died trying to save them.   And then there were the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93.  In the case of Virginia Tech, one such example was Holocaust survivor and VT engineering science and mechanics professor Liviu Librescu, who blocked the doorway of his classroom with his body so his students could escape a killer’s rage through a window.  All but one of his students successfully escaped on that spring day April 16, 2007.  He did not.

In the Aurora mass murders that happened last week, the slow wheels of justice are turning as the killer faced his first day in court this week.  But rather than focus on him, I’d like to focus on the victims – who, tragically, are no longer around to speak for themselves.   Last Friday, I wrote about 24 year-old aspiring sportscaster Jessica Ghawi, who narrowly escaped the Eaton Center shootings in Toronto just last month, only to be fatally shot down in a movie theater in Aurora, CO while excitedly watching a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”  11 others died that night, including four young men who sacrificed their lives to shield their girlfriends from the gunman’s random but methodical shooting.  ABC News reports:

Of the 12 people killed in the Aurora theater shooting, four of them were men who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their girlfriends. Now, each of these women are struggling to come to terms with both their grief and their gratitude.

Alexander Teves, 24, attended the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” with his girlfriend Amanda Lindgren , 24, and another friend.

When suspected gunman James Holmes opened fire in the sold out theater, Teves immediately lunged to block Lindgren from the gunfire.

“I was really, really confused at first about what was going on, so confused,” Lindgren told ABC News. “But, it’s like Alex didn’t even hesitate. Because I sat there for a minute, not knowing what was going on, and he held me down and he covered my head and he said, ‘Shh. Stay down. It’s ok. Shh just stay down.’ So I did.”

Teves blocked the bullets from Lindgren but he was shot and killed. She was not hit.

[…]

Elsewhere in theater nine, John Larimer and his girlfriend Julia Vojtsek went through a similar situation.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Larimer, 26, and his girlfriend Julia Vojtsek, 23, were sitting in the middle of the theater when the shooting began.

“John immediately and instinctively covered me and brought me to the ground in order to protect me from any danger,” Vojtsek wrote in a statement. “Moments later, John knowingly shielded me from a spray of gunshots. It was then I believe John was hit with a bullet that would have very possibly struck me. I feel very strongly that I was saved by John and his ultimate kindness.”

[…]

In addition to these two couples, Matthew McQuinn, 27, and Jon Blunk, 26, died saving their girlfriends in similar ways. Their girlfriends Samantha Yowler, 26, and Jansen Young, 21, did not respond to requests for comment.

For those of you wondering if the age of chivalry is lost, don’t.  In spite of the numerous stories we so often read about people who stand by and do nothing while fights break out in front of them, and the like, there are many, many more heroes like the selfless gentlemen mentioned above.  Same same for women, too.  It doesn’t always involve giving your life – sometimes it’s a simple act of courtesy and respect. Thankfully, most of them will never be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice stateside (although any who are in the military already have been asked or will in the future, naturally, but in the role of a United States soldier abroad) but if they ever are, eventually we’ll read their stories while in the midst of demanding justice for their killers.

I’ve often wondered how I would react if I were in a similar situation. If given the opportunity to save others even at great risk to myself, would I? Hopefully I’ll never  have to find out, but if I do, I pray I will be able to instinctively feel God’s guiding hand on me no matter what happens.

“Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.” – General George S. Patton

Have I mentioned (recently) that Allen West rocks?

**Posted by Phineas

I’ve written before about the undeserved pass the Democratic Party has gotten for its dirty history on race in America and how the Republican Party deserves much more credit than it gets.

Not surprisingly, Allen West did it much better with a recent speech on the House floor in honor of Black History month:

Congressman West not only recounted the early history of the Republicans in defense of civil rights (Passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments; sending the first Black members to the House and Senate; and passing the landmark 1875 Civil Rights Act — all over stiff Democratic opposition), he also spoke of recent history:

In the 1990s, it was the Republican-controlled 104th Congress that passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. Then-Democrat President Bill Clinton signed it only after reluctantly having vetoed it twice.

This reform changed the face of welfare, ensuring that recipients who were able to work would be required to seek employment. No longer would government checks be seen as an entitlement. No longer would States have a financial incentive to add as many names to their welfare rolls as possible. Finally, there was an alternative to the cycle of poverty caused by years of misguided Democrat policy. And it’s been Republicans who have continued to fight for the underprivileged communities, even as we’re painted as the party of the white upper class.

In 2004, another Republican-controlled Congress under the leadership of Republican President George W. Bush signed an omnibus bill that included a voucher program for school children right here in the District of Columbia. Instead of being shackled to the failed public school system, thousands of students were able to use the first Federal Government vouchers to escape high-performing private schools.

Mr. Speaker, what Republicans have long understood is that poor communities are best served when they’re empowered to care for themselves. The more they come to rely on government checks, the less they learn to rely on their own ability and ingenuity.

Our party firmly believes in the safety net. We reject the idea of the safety net becoming a hammock.

Oh, and that voucher program meant to help poor children in D.C., largely African-American, help themselves? President Barack Obama, an African-American and a Democrat, killed it. Again.

There’s much more. Watch the speech or read the transcript. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it. (1)

RELATED: If you want to know more about the real history of the Democratic Party and race relations in America, have a look at Bruce Bartlett’s “Wrong on Race: the Democratic Party’s buried past.” It’s a thorough, detailed, highly footnoted, and altogether damning indictment.

Footnote:
(1) Unless you’re some sort of reactionary liberal or lefty who can’t handle the truth.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

9/11 ten years later: F-16 pilots were ready to ram Flight 93

**Posted by Phineas

All I can say is… wow:

As remarkable as it seems now, there were no armed aircraft standing by and no system in place to scramble them over Washington. Before that morning, all eyes were looking outward, still scanning the old Cold War threat paths for planes and missiles coming over the polar ice cap.

“There was no perceived threat at the time, especially one coming from the homeland like that,” says Col. George Degnon, vice commander of the 113th Wing at Andrews. “It was a little bit of a helpless feeling, but we did everything humanly possible to get the aircraft armed and in the air. It was amazing to see people react.”

Things are different today, ­Degnon says. At least two “hot-cocked” planes are ready at all times, their pilots never more than yards from the cockpit.

A third plane hit the Pentagon, and almost at once came word that a fourth plane could be on the way, maybe more. The jets would be armed within an hour, but somebody had to fly now, weapons or no weapons.

“Lucky, you’re coming with me,” barked Col. Marc Sasseville.

They were gearing up in the pre-flight life-support area when Sasseville, struggling into his flight suit, met her eye.

“I’m going to go for the cockpit,” Sasseville said.

She replied without hesitating.

“I’ll take the tail.”

It was a plan. And a pact.

I’ll point out that “Lucky” was Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney, one of America’s first female combat pilots. She was later part of the fighter escort that guarded Air Force One when Bush returned to Washington. This article is one of the first interviews she’s given since that day.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson has often written of the selfless valor and determination of the free citizen-soldier of a republic, as opposed to the slaves of kings and dictators; the pact made by Col. Sasseville and Lt. Penney on September 11th, 2001, is yet another example

No more commentary is necessary. Just read the whole thing.

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

UK Special Forces raid Libyan oil site to rescue citizens: no ferry needed

**Posted by Phineas

Don’t the British realize this is the age of consultations, expressions of concern, and firm public statements? You know, Soft and Smart Power(tm)? Granted, a ferry wouldn’t work in the middle of the desert, but surely Whitehall could have just chartered a few buses instead of sending in the SAS to rescue their own people:

OIL workers stranded in the Libyan desert by the violent chaos engulfing the north African country were evacuated last night in a daring rescue operation by the RAF and British special forces.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox confirmed that two RAF Hercules had airlifted about 150 Britons and other foreign nationals to safety in Malta.

Fears had been growing for British citizens left in remote parts of the country as protests against Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi’s embattled regime escalated and armed militias supportive of the government opened fire on demonstrators.

Up to 70 military personnel, believed to be SBS and SAS, are understood to have landed in the country yesterday. They split into two groups to travel to camps at Amal, Waha and Nafoora, south of Benghazi. It is understood that the rescuers flew from one camp to another picking up civilian workers.

Want to know something that makes this an extra special treat for us? According to the article, even the French launched a covert operation to get their citizens out. The French.

Meanwhile, the State Department is probably inquiring about caravans with the local camel company.

Okay, sure. Its possible we have something underway that can’t be revealed because the Americans aren’t home safe yet, but, with Captain Obama and the Ferry Crew running the show, I somehow doubt it. Call me crazy.

Remember Sylvester Jr. in the old Warner Brothers cartoons? Whenever his Dad, Sylvester, would do something to embarrass his son, Junior would put a bag over his head and cry “Oh, the shame!”

Right now, I know how he feels.

via Mary in the ST comments

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

The heroism of the late Judge John M. Roll

President Obama talked last week about the stories of some of the heroes of the Tucson tragedy, including husbands who either died or were injured trying to shield their wives from Jared Loughner’s rampage, but not mentioned – because it wasn’t known at the time – was the heroism of the late US District Court for Arizona Judge John M. Roll. Video footage from the scene of the killings indicates Judge Roll shielded a staffer for Rep. Giffords at the expense of his own life. Via the NYT:

TUCSON — The chief investigator for the sheriff’s department here has for the first time publicly described the brief and gory video clip from a store security camera that shows a gunman not only shooting Representative Gabrielle Giffords just above the eyebrow at a range of three feet, but then using his 9-millimeter pistol to gun down others near her at a similarly close range.

The video, according to Richard Kastigar, the investigative and operational bureau chief of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, also reveals that Judge John M. Roll appears to have died while helping to save the life of Ronald Barber, a Giffords employees. Mr. Barber, who was near Ms. Giffords when he was shot twice, has left the hospital.

Mr. Kastigar said Tuesday that the video shows Ms. Giffords standing with her back a few inches from a wall when she was shot by the gunman, who approached in “a hurried fashion” with the gun at his side and then raised it and fired a single bullet above her eye at a range of no more than two or three feet.

Jared L. Loughner, 22, has been arrested in the shootings. In the video, the pistol “is down near his right side, but it is visibly out from where he was keeping it, presumably under his clothing, and then he raises it and fires,” Mr. Kastigar said. “It happens in a matter of seconds.”

The gunman “was very deliberate in my estimation, very calculated,” said Mr. Kastigar, who viewed the video as part of the extensive investigation by the Sheriff’s Department that involves close to 250 people. About 200 F.B.I. agents and analysts are also on the case. The video, he said, is now in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Describing the video, Mr. Kastigar said the judge was “intentionally trying to help Mr. Barber,” adding, “It’s very clear to me the judge was thinking of his fellow human more than himself.”

The judge guides Mr. Barber to the ground, shields him with his body, and then tries to push himself and Mr. Barber away from the gunman, who was no more than three to four feet away as he fired, Mr. Kastigar said.

“He pushes Mr. Barber with his right hand and guides him with his left hand. The judge was on top of him and is covering up Mr. Barber, literally lying on top of him, and his back was exposed,” Mr. Kastigar said.

The judge was shot in the back. Ms. Giffords remains in the hospital in serious condition, and doctors said Tuesday that she continued to improve.

Rep. Giffords will be transferred out of the hospital on Friday and into a rehabilitation center in Houston.

Judge Roll was laid to rest last Friday. Aaron Worthing, guestblogging at Patterico’s, writes:

We call judges “your honor” or “the honorable _______” as a matter of habit, occasionally believing that this person is anything but honorable. But in his last moments of life, Judge Roll proved he deserved to be called that:

Amen.

Please continue to keep Judge Roll’s family, those of the others who lost their lives, and the injured and their respective families in your thoughts and prayers.

When Muslims saved Jews

I regularly (and justifiably) criticize Islam and its apologists for the antisemitism and Jew-hatred that’s hardwired into the faith. But there are exceptions, and these need to be borne in mind so that we don’t cross the line from reasoned, valid criticism to a mindless bigotry that just mirrors our Salafist enemy. Such an exception is the following story, which tells the tale of Albanian Muslims who risked their lives to save thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazis:

“I’ll never forget this – when we were at this guy’s home and he was looking at us sort of like angrily and he said ‘What are you doing here?'” says Gershman. “We said, ‘Well, your family saved this Jewish family,’ and he looked at us and said, ‘So what? Any Albanian would have done the same thing. We did nothing special,’ and he meant it.”The Albanians have a word for this: Besa. It translates as ‘word of honor,’ and is a cultural precept unique to Albania.

“The word Besa in Albanian is kind of protection of when they host a guest, the Albanians, it’s a rule, they protect them with their own lives,” says Alberto Colonomos, a Jewish man born in 1933 in what was then Yugoslavia. He was 10 years old when his family fled to Albania.

“There were about 7,200 Jews living in that area. They deported them to the concentration camps and they deported them all the way to Treblinka. They killed them all, nobody came back. But about 50 families escaped a week or two weeks before the deportation.”

The Jewish family that lived with the Kazazi family (pictured) escaped the Nazis during searches by scrambling through connecting doorways to other homes. “Our parents were not very religious, but they believed in the Koran and Besa,” the grown Kazazi children say. “Without the Koran there is no Besa. Without Besa there is no Koran.”

A wealthy man who worked in a tobacco factory took in the Colonomos family. Unlike many Jews in other parts of Europe who survived the war in cellars and attics, Jews in Albania were given Muslim names and treated as honored guests. Colonomos explains that under Besa, Albanians put their guests before their own family.

“They really hid us with their lives. They knew that the Germans – the consequences if they catch them were very, very stiff. So they would be shot. But when they have that Besa, they will not denounce their guests. They were amazing people.”

Be sure to read the whole thing. I’ll not stop criticizing Islam, but this is a reminder of the good that can be found among all people, and it’s fitting for the season. I hope the exhibit comes my way; I’d like to see it.

via Joshua Treviño

UPDATE: Mr. Gershman has a web site devoted to his exhibit, with photos and stories from the time.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)