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Politics & Pop Culture from a homocon.

Category Archives: Defense

Goodbye General Schwarzkopf


Thank you for your service to our country.  You did her proud.  We are a nation grateful for you and all who serve.

goodbye_general

Army Promotes First Gay General!


On the eve of the first anniversary of the end of DADT, the United States Army promotes its first gay general.  Phil Reese of The Washington Blade has the story.

Washington BladeWASHINGTON — At a ceremony last week at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery promoting her to Brigadier General status, Tracey Hepner pinned the star to the uniform of Tammy S. Smith — her wife — making her the first openly gay member of the U.S. Army promoted to that rank.

Smith and Hepner were married in the District of Columbia in March 2012, according to the New York Times, and prior to Smith’s promotion, Hepner co-founded the Military Partners and Families Coalition, which provides support services for the families of gay and lesbian military personnel.

“[P]articipating with family in traditional ceremonies such as the promotion is both common and expected of a leader,” Smith told the Times in a statement.

“For years, gay and lesbian generals and admirals were forced to hide their families in order to protect their careers,” said Sue Fulton, a member of the OutServe board of directors, in a statement. “It is a great day for our military and for our nation when this courageous leader is finally able to recognize her wife for her support and sacrifice in the same way that all military families should be recognized for their service to our country.”

As a colonel, Gen. Smith served as the chief of Army Reserve Affairs in Afghanistan from December 2010 to October 2011. She is currently the deputy chief of the Army Reserves.

GOP Armed Services Chairman Says Gays in Military Settled Issue


In case you missed this little tidbit on Fridayfrom the AP’s Donna Cassata, she reports that House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Buck McKeon (R-CA) has no plans to revisit Don’t Ask Don’t Tell under a Romney Adminstration.

Cassata writes, “The Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Thursday that allowing gays to serve openly in the military is a settled issue that he will not try to reverse even if Mitt Romney wins the presidency in November and the GOP captures the Senate.”

She goes on to report that the Chairman’s focus will be on “restoring money for the military after the latest round of defense cuts.”

Six Months After Repeal


Stars and Stripes produced the following clip.  The Starts and Stripes newspaper has provided independent news and information to the U.S. military community, comprised of active-duty, DoD civilians, contractors, and their families continuously since World War II.   Unique among the many Department of Defense authorized news outlets, only Stars and Stripes is guaranteed First Amendment privileges that are subject to Congressional oversight.

LCRs win attorney fees in DADT case


Federal Judge Virginia Philips has ruled that White & Case, the law firm who represented the Log Cabin Republicans in a constitutional challenge to the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy deserve attorney fees and expenses, even though a federal appeals court ultimately vacated her ruling in the organization’s favor.

Black History Month: The Tuskegee Airmen


The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces. During World War II, African Americans in many U.S. states still were subject to the Jim Crow laws.  The American military was racially segregated, as was much of the federal government.  The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to racial discrimination, both within and outside the army.  Despite these adversities, they trained and flew with distinction.  Primarily made up of African Americans, there were also five Tuskegee Airmen of Haitian descent.

In all, 996 pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1941 to 1946, approximately 445 were deployed overseas, and 150 Airmen lost their lives in accidents or combat.  The casualty toll included 66 pilots killed in action or accidents, and 32 fallen into captivity as prisoners of war.

The Tuskegee Airmen were credited by higher commands with the following accomplishments:

  • 15,533 combat sorties, 311 missions
  • 112 German aircraft destroyed in the air, another 150 on the ground
  • 950 railcars, trucks and other motor vehicles destroyed
  • One destroyer sunk
  • A good record of protecting U.S. bombers, losing only 25 on hundreds of missions.

Awards and decorations awarded for valor and performance included:

  •  Three Distinguished Unit Citations
  • 99th Pursuit Squadron: 30 May–11 June 1943 for the capture of Pantelleria, Italy
  • 99th Fighter Squadron: 12–14 May 1944: for successful air strikes against Monte Cassino, Italy
  • 332d Fighter Group: 24 March 1945: for the longest bomber escort mission of World War II
  • At least one Silver Star
  • An estimated one hundred and fifty Distinguished Flying Crosses
  • 14 Bronze Stars
  • 744 Air Medals
  • Eight Purple Hearts

Black History Month: Colin Powell


Colin Luther Powell (born April 5, 1937) is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army.  He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005.  He was the first African American to serve in that position.  During his military career, Powell also served as National Security Advisor (1987–1989), as Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command (1989) and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), holding the latter position during the Gulf War. He was the first, and so far the only, African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Colin Luther Powell was born on April 5, 1937 in Harlem, a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, to Jamaican immigrant parents.  Powell was raised in the South Bronx and attended Morris High School, a former public school in the Bronx, from which he graduated in 1954.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree in geology from the City College of New York in 1958 and was a self-admitted C average student.  He was later able to earn a Master of Business Administration degree from the George Washington University in 1971, after his second tour in Vietnam.

Powell joined the Pershing Rifles, the ROTC fraternal organization and drill team begun by General John Pershing.  Upon graduation, he received a commission as an Army second lieutenant.  He was a professional soldier for 35 years, holding a variety of command and staff positions and rising to the rank of General.  Powell was a captain during the Vietnam War, serving as a South Vietnamese Army adviser from 1962 to 1963.  While on patrol in a Viet Cong-held area, he was wounded by stepping on a punji stake.  He returned to Vietnam as a major in 1968, serving in the Americal Division (23rd Infantry Division), then as assistant chief of staff of operations for the Americal Division.  He was charged with investigating a detailed letter by Tom Glen (a soldier from the 11th Light Infantry Brigade), which backed up rumored allegations of the My Lai Massacre.

Powell served a White House fellowship, a highly selective and prestigious position, under President Richard Nixon from 1972 to 1973.  At the age of 49, Powell became Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor, serving from 1987 to 1989 while retaining his Army commission as a lieutenant general.  After his tenure with the National Security Council, Powell was promoted to a full general under President George H.W. Bush and briefly served as Commander-in-Chief (CINC) of Forces Command (FORSCOM), overseeing all Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard units in the Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

His last military assignment, from October 1, 1989 to September 30, 1993, was as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense.  At age 52, he became the youngest officer, and first Afro-Caribbean American, to serve in this position.  In 1989, he joined Dwight D. Eisenhower and Alexander Haig as the third general since World War II to reach four-star rank without ever being a divisional commander.

During his chairmanship of the JCS, there was discussion of awarding Powell a fifth star, granting him the rank of General of the Army.  But even in the wake of public and Congressional pressure to do so, Clinton-Gore presidential transition team staffers decided against it.

In 2001, newly elected President George W. Bush appointed Colin Powell to be Secretary of State.  At the time, it was the highest rank ever held by an African American in the United States government.  In his first months in office, Powell won praise for his efficient administration of the State Department, and cordial relations with other governments.  Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Secretary Powell took a leading role in rallying America’s allies for military action in Afghanistan.

Black History Month: Dorris Miller


Doris “Dorie” Miller (October 12, 1919 – November 24, 1943) was a cook in the United States Navy noted for his bravery during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  He was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross, the third highest honor awarded by the U.S. Navy at the time, after the Medal of Honor and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal (today the Navy Cross precedes the Distinguished Service Medal).

Miller was born in Waco, Texas, on October 12, 1919, to Henrietta and Connery Miller. He was the third of four sons and grew up in a strong and loving household.  He worked on his father′s farm until enlisting in the United States Navy as Mess Attendant, Third Class in September 1939.  Following training at the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia, Miller was assigned to the ammunition ship Pyro where he served as a Mess Attendant, and on January 2, 1940 was transferred to the battleship West Virginia, where he became the ship′s main cook.  In July of that year, he had temporary duty aboard Nevada at Secondary Battery Gunnery School. He returned to West Virginia on August 3, 1940.

On December 7, 1941, Miller awoke at 06:00 and was collecting laundry when the alarm for general quarters was sounded.  He headed for his battle station, the antiaircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover that torpedo damage had destroyed it.  When directed to assist in loading a pair of unattended Browning .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine guns, Miller took control of one and began firing at the Japanese planes, even though he had no training in operating the weapon.  He fired the gun until he ran out of ammunition. Japanese aircraft eventually dropped two armor-piercing bombs through the deck of the battleship and launched five 18 in (460 mm) aircraft torpedoes into her port side.  Heavily damaged by the ensuing explosions, and suffering from severe flooding below decks, West Virginia slowly settled to the harbor bottom as her crew—including Miller—abandoned ship.  Miller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on April 1, 1942, and on May 27, 1942 he received the Navy Cross, which Admiral Chester W. Nimitz—the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet—presented to Miller on board aircraft carrier Enterprise for his extraordinary courage in battle.

Doris Miller Auditorium in Austin, TX

I Can See DADT Repeal from my Front Porch!


There was a lot of talk today about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) in and around the United States Senate.  There were 13 Senators (Lieberman and 12 Democrats) who held a press conference to announce that they had the 60 votes to beat back a McCain-led filibuster.

The Advocate’s amazing reporter, Kerry Eleveld, did some outstanding reporting surrounding the presser.  She writes, “Sen. Joe Lieberman said Thursday that repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ as part of the National Defense Authorization Act is no longer a question of votes, it’s a question of process.”

That “process” Lieberman speaks of, is the guarantee of a fair and open amendment process to the underlying bill.  You see, as I said last week, when the defense authorization bill was first brought up back in September, Senate Republicans wanted to offer germane amendments to the bill that had no effect on the repeal of DADT.  But Majority Leader Senator Reid said no.

So as long as we have a fair and open amendment process, Lieberman says that Susan Collins (R-ME) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) can be counted as yes votes.

Late this afternoon, according to an interview with KTVA’s Matt Felling in Alaska, returning Senator Lisa Murkowski said that she would “not vote against a bill that had that repeal in it.”

And now we learn, thanks to Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade that Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) intends to vote in favor of moving forward with the defense bill while retaining the provision that would end the law.

So if you’re keeping count, Mr. President, that four Republicans who have now signaled that they will vote for repeal.  That is what you demanded from Log Cabin Executive Director Clarke Cooper – to get you two to five Republicans.  “It can’t be that hard,” you said.

Well now it’s your turn. Get on the phone and tell, no, DEMAND that Harry Reid have a open and fair debate for the National Defense Authorization Act.  Allow the GOP to offer amendments.  You still have 59 Democrats.  What are you scared of?

So Senator McCain, it’s time for you to sit down and shut up!  That, or simply step aside.  This will happen.  And you will go down as a bigot would tried to stand in the way or equal protection for all Americans.

The Beginning of the End of DADT?


 

Wow!  So much happened yesterday that I want to talk about.  I’m not sure where to begin.

First let’s start with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  We all read yesterday with a happy heart that DADT was ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, of Riverside, California.  In her decision, she said that the 17 year old law.

What will President Obama do?  His Justice Department now has 60 days to appeal the decision.  That, ironically, is after the self-mandated December 1st deadline set forth by Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the review of the DADT policy.

Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate tells us that “Justice Department attorneys may seek to appeal Phillips’s injunction to the U.S. court of appeals for the ninth circuit. They have argued that the district judge does not have the authority to block DADT.”

E.J. Dionne, of WaPo has a great op-ed in today issue.  He writes, “You can be gay and serve – as long as nobody knows you are gay. Or as long as nobody who knows tells anyone else you are gay. Or as long as nobody finds out you are gay. It just doesn’t make much sense, and what can be a greater violation of individual rights than the demand that someone keep an important part of his or her identity secret? Not to mention that the policy invited dishonesty — and, potentially, intimidation and blackmail.”

And as many within the LGBT community cheer this decision, they need to stop and be reminded who brought this case.  It was the Log Cabin Republicans.  It makes me proud to say that I am apart of their leadership.

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