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Comments by YACCS
Friday, March 31, 2006

You sit on your ass all day

USAF Pararescueman

This is from Sadly No, which should really be called, "Really funny shit"

Selfless Martyr Watch

Quod Mark Steyn:

. . .But I felt gradually exhausted since September 11th, 2001, [because] it's very dispiriting trying to keep going in this phase of what is a very long conflict. And the reason I do it is because I want us to win. I don't particularly like journalism. I don't particularly like writing newspaper columns. I'm sick of having to make what I think should be an obvious case again and again and again. And I'd much rather pack it in and sit on my porch in New Hampshire and enjoy the view of the mountains. But I do it because I want us to win.

We were waiting on Hugh Hewitt to say something like, "I don't use the word 'hero' very often, but you, Mark Steyn, are the greatest hero in American history." But instead, he used Steyn's lead as an opportunity to whine about how lefties were so very mean to him over his Empire State Building comments, directed at Time Mag's Iraq correspondent, Michael Ware:

I'm sitting in the Empire State Building. Michael, I'm sitting in the Empire State Building, which has been in the past, and could be again, a target. Because in downtown Manhattan, it's not comfortable, although it's a lot safer than where you are, people always are three miles away from where the jihadis last spoke in America. So that's...civilians have a stake in this. Although you are on the front line, this was the front line four and a half years ago.

To which Steyn replied magnanimously:

[W]e're all, in a sense, we're all conscripted in this war. Those 3,000 people who died on September 11th, they weren't serving forces, they were just fellows who got up in the morning and went to work, or went to Logan Airport and got on a plane. And that's the thing. We're all conscripted in this war, whether we know it or not.

Must be something in the wingnut water cooler, because Roy Edroso finds Jeff Goldstein exhibiting the same sort of self-aggrandizing self-pity:

...[Tbogg] and his fellow Iraq war critics have started to pretend that the threat from al Qaeda doesn’t exist, and instead spend the majority of their time poking their sticks into the sides of those who aren’t quite so sanguine about al Qaeda’s intentions.

This is almost plaintive: Goldstein only wants to save America, why are we making fun of him? Maybe Goldstein noticed that, too, and quickly butched back up to the belligerent sophistry that is his stock in trade

Anyway, this is yet another episode to add to the Steyn dossier.

Oh, fuck this shit. Conscripted?

No. Fuck No. Mark Steyn gets clean water and a bath and a clean bed. He wasn't conscripted to anything.

I want people to read the following. It's been on the hard drive for three weeks, but it was forwarded by a reader who knows something about this: It originally ran in Texas Monthly

Four years in the Air Force, including stints in Iraq and Afghanistan, have prepared me for every conceivable situation. Except, that is, for my mind-numbing new civilian existence.

by David Broyles

WHEN I WAS IN IRAQ, I couldn’t wait to leave. Now, driving home to Texas, I wish I’d never left. Earlier today, I stuffed my car full of green military-issue duffel bags; the past four years of my life fit inside six of them. Then I changed out of my uniform and passed through the gates of Moody Air Force Base, in Georgia, for the last time.

The boots I threw in my trunk have desert and dirt stuck in the treads, pieces of Afghanistan and Iraq mixed with Georgia swamp. My favorite pair is stained with helicopter hydraulic fluid from flying over Baghdad with my feet hanging out the door and, next to those, my wetsuit booties still have mud from a canal by Fallujah where we dived for bodies. I kept some others, too. Dried flakes of memories coat them in a fine layer of dust. I did a lot of things wearing all those boots; I did a lot of things I never would have done before.

A few months after graduating from college, I went to sleep on September 10, 2001 not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. The next morning, I woke up and I did. I signed up for the hardest job in the military I could find: Pararescue. SEALs with stethoscopes, as they've been called, their job was to save lives, not take them. Their motto was as apolitical and unambiguous as their mission: "That Others May Live." Pararescuemen, or PJs, lived and sometimes died by those words.

The two-year PJ qualification program is famously difficult: nine out of ten don't make it through. After basic training, I was there, and I was in over my head. During a tough pool session, the guy in front of me drowned. Already hypoxic, he had to swim fifty meters underwater, recite the Pararescue Mission between gasps, and then try to swim fifty more. Halfway there, carbon dioxide built in his blood from not breathing and, before it was my turn, he spasmed and sunk. As they pulled his limp body from the water and worked to revive him, I relaxed. No way we'd keep going.

"Broyles!" The instructor said, "You're up! GO!" It was the first time I pushed the bubbling fear down, swallowed my own vomit, and did the thing that needed doing.

After the instructors put the trainee on oxygen, he came back to life, and, before he stopped coughing up water, he quit. In two hours, six more were gone. One of them, a star athlete, lost it and started whimpering like an animal, and they carried him away sobbing. We never saw him again.

"Look at that sun, men!" said our instructor at the end of the day.

"While you were crying about how hard training was, two of your PJ brothers died today doing the real thing."

He shifted and the sun blinded me.

"Enjoy this sunset," he said, "Because they can't. Now, drop!"

We fell into the push-up position and knocked out the usual fifty, plus two more in honor of Ridout and McDaniel, the names of the PJs who'd been killed in the war. In a few months, we added another for Cunningham; he was shot through the stomach during a rescue but saved ten lives before he bled to death. Then there were two for Maltz and Plite; they died on a mission saving two Afghani children. I wondered if I'd be able to make the same sacrifice. I wondered if anyone would do push-ups for me.

Suddenly, I don't feel like driving and I pull over on the shoulder somewhere between Mississippi and Louisiana. I study the backs of my hands on the wheel and listen to the rush of passing traffic. Maybe, if I never get where I'm going, I can still go back to where I've been.

posted by Steve @ 11:45:00 AM

11:45:00 AM

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