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 23 Dec 2008 @ 6:03 PM 

First things first;

Camp Falcon, the American camp on the British FOB at Lashkar Gah, has been formally renamed Camp Dimond, after CPL Scott Dimond, the ANP mentor who died in the ambush immortalized by Nick Meo in his self-serving article about… let me see… oh, yeah; himself. Well, the warrior whose life was taken in defense of freedom that night has been recognized with the naming of a camp in his honor.

You can read about it and see pictures here. This will keep CPL Dimonds name in the memories of hundreds of soldiers who will work at and pass through that camp and learn where the name came from. His name will be mentioned in histories, books, and perhaps blogs that have yet to be written. His name is forever linked now with our history now being made in Afghanistan. While he paid a great price, honor will be given many times over to his name. It’s the best we can do for him now.

This happens more often than you think;

Here we see that three would-be IED bombers were summarily executed by a combination of their own device and latent stupidity. This happens more often than you think. In July of 2007, as we were preparing for Operation Nauroz Jhala (New Year’s Hail,) not one but two separate incidents happened in Kapisa Province. In the first, two men emplacing an IED were similarly executed by their own creation as they were trying to put a re-worked artillery shell under a culvert with visions of insurgent glory dancing in their heads.

In the other incident, a bomb-maker blew himself into paradise, which oddly enough looked like hundreds of tiny chunks, while constructing a device in his rented house. These happened within a couple of days of each other near Mahmoud Raqi, the seat of Kapisa Province.

You never heard of these two incidents before, as I’m sure that you won’t hear of most of them. Why now? Because that article brought it to mind and also reminded me that we all need a little Christmas joy now and again. The joy lies not in the deaths of human beings; but if there had to be deaths, there is poetry in those deaths being of the ones who had evil in their minds instead of another CPL Dimond. You see, those two IED’s that predetonated were likely targeted at my team. So my team and I get another Christmas with our families. This also brings greater empathy for CPL Dimond’s sacrifice, and that of his family.

Rest in Peace, CPL Dimond; and may your family find some peace this Christmas season.

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Categories: Afghanistan
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 23 Dec 2008 @ 06 03 PM

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 22 Oct 2008 @ 11:29 AM 

When you are called by a brother in arms, you answer the call. Whether it is O calling from an ambush on Route Vermont, the Marine ETT’s asking for escort to respond to a call to blow up a suspected IED, our ANP reporting that they were under fire, or when characters are being assassinated, it’s the same; you respond.

Shoot at one, draw fire from all.

Especially, for me, when it’s ANP mentors putting out the call. Grab your helmet and body armor, check your weapons and fuel, grab your terp and mount up; we’re riding out.

Recently, a British journalist named Nick Meo from the Telegraph embedded with a PMT (Police Mentor Team) in Helmand Province, one of the hottest parts of Afghanistan. ARSIC South (Afghan Regional Security Integration Command – South) was responsible for coordinating the embed. One night in the past week, the team left Kandahar Airfield to head back to their AO (Area of Operations,) heading out into the darkness of the Afghan night in Helmand Province. I’ve done plenty of night moves in Afghanistan. While they can be spooky, sometimes it actually felt safer than traveling in daylight. If you stay out of each others headlights, it’s harder to tell what you are, making ambushes more difficult to time properly.

Nick Meo rode in that convoy. He rode with Major Becker, the team leader, and two other soldiers; Mitch Chapman and Scott Dimond, in a Cougar MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protective) vehicle. The combat patrol was struck by an IED and apparent ambush about an hour later.

This is where the story takes a left turn at Albuquerque.

Nick Meo was uninjured in the IED strike. MAJ Becker and Chapman were injured, strapped upside down in their seats. Meo released his seatbelts and made his way from the vehicle, leaving the two injured soldiers hanging upside down in their belts in the mine-damaged vehicle. Scott Dimond, a 39 year old father of four from New Hampshire, was crushed under the vehicle when it flipped over from the force of the blast; a common danger for turret gunners on combat vehicles.

Nick Meo began doing what he thought he was supposed to be doing, shooting video of himself, soon after leaving the stricken vehicle. Shortly thereafter he was safely ensconced in another, undamaged armored vehicle while the American soldiers he was accompanying dealt with the deadly situation outside. He had been asked not to shoot video by this point, a directive that he flouted. It’s clear to me that the video he shot inside the vehicle was shot surreptitiously.

I’ve seen uninjured people hop on MEDEVAC birds before. The man who did it in Tag Ab did it not once but twice, and everyone considered him a coward for it. Meo, uninjured, did not want to be on the ground any longer. I guess embedded journalism isn’t as much fun when you are actually under fire. In any case, Meo lost his taste for the assignment and begged a ride back to Kandahar on the bird.

This is where the fun begins, and I suspect Meo’s justification for his panicked flight from his assignment.

Meo wrote an article, filled with contradictions and published in the Telegraph, that was exceedingly unkind to the men who he was with and who kept him uninjured on that fateful October night in southern Afghanistan. Meo crossed the line in so many ways in his incredibly self-serving article, criticizing everything from the Major’s standard “high and tight” Army haircut to the fire discipline and overall professionalism of the team of men who had functioned successfully in Helmand for over six months. These same men who successfully got him MEDEVAC’d without injury were pretty thoroughly panned in his article.

I would ask that you read the article and view the embedded video. Then ask yourself if those sound like “thousands of rounds” being expended in the background or if the soldier speaking to higher on the radio sounds fearful or like a man who is agitated by having one of his own crushed to death under a vehicle, two more who require MEDEVAC, and a jerkweed reporter in the back seat who won’t follow directions and is trying to be sneaky about filming things that he shouldn’t be filming. Watch the soldier’s movements as he sends up an FBCB2 (Blue Force Tracker) Spot Report on a system that shouldn’t have been filmed by a foreign national reporter and judge if his actions are panicked or the actions of a man in combat doing what he is trained to do.

Then go and view this, and this. Blackfive and Bouhammer, men who I have nothing but respect for, have things to say about this, too; and they are worth reading.

Now consider this; Scott Dimond, a 39 year old who had already lived a career as a police officer in his home state, a soldier who was described as “stellar,” died that night. First, Meo brags about having the good fortune to not have spoken with the man prior to his death. Then, back at Kandahar, he refused to have the respect to attend the ramp ceremony for this hometown American hero unless he could film it (which is a big no-no for ramp ceremonies out of respect for the dead.) That’s what we in the business call, “class.”

Please read the above linked posts, including Meo’s despicable article. Then please take a minute to do two things; write Nick Meo and his boss a quick note and let them know that you don’t appreciate his slander and his self-aggrandizing. Nick Meo took the worst day of several men’s lives, and the last of one’s, and made it his personal “legend-story.” Even the title is all about him.

Here are the emails for Nick Meo and the Telegraph:

nick.meo@telegraph.co.uk

telegraphenquiries@telegraph.co.uk

On a dark night in the “Indian Country” of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, a small group of Americans experienced the ultimate nightmare; they lost one of their own. One man rode with them; an outsider, a “journalist” whose safety they took responsibility for and whom they delivered back to Kandahar unscathed by the event that took one of their lives and left two others injured. The work that these men do and have done for over six months has been unheralded, dirty, frustrating and dangerous. No one knows of their daily struggles, grinds, disappointments, or successes. Now this one self-important blow-hard takes it upon himself to trash their names and their actions after riding away on a helicopter meant for the wounded and dead, refusing to honor the man who gave his life that night, and congratulating himself for having been spared the emotional pain of having had even one conversation with the honored dead while he stood on earth.

All, apparently, to cover for his own cowardice in hopping uninjured onto a MEDEVAC helicopter when he lost his nerve to stay on the ground and continue doing his job.

Please don’t let him get away with it. Many say, “support our troops.” Here’s an opportunity to do so. It won’t cost you anything but a few minutes of your time. These aren’t just anonymous “troops;” they’re real men. Show them that you care. Show Scott Dimond that you care about his sacrifice by taking the time to shoot off a couple of emails, or even one with both addresses, and condemn the behavior of this coward who justifies his abandonment of his assignment by slandering good men.

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Categories: Afghanistan
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 22 Oct 2008 @ 11 29 AM

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