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(CBS News)   Former Army captain and Afghan war veteran William Swenson, becomes only the 6th living Medal of Honor recipient after being awarded the nation's highest military honor by President Obama   (cbsnews.com) divider line 136
    More: Hero, army captain, Medal of Honor, President Obama, Afghans, Afghan war, Medal of Honor recipients, Taliban in the Ganjgal, WWII Memorial  
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5511 clicks; posted to Main » on 15 Oct 2013 at 8:17 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-10-16 12:04:55 AM  

spmkk: Coco LaFemme: "If your brother was killed in action, would you want the body brought home to be buried, or strung up by his boots and used as a pinata?"


Ideally? Of course I would want the body brought home. But if it's a choice between a dead body (even if it had once belonged to my brother) being strung up by its boots and used as a pinata or another living man becoming a dead body in the course of trying to prevent that from happening, I'll take Option A every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Our first responsibility is to the living. There is absolutely no way that I would accept another soldier's death as the price for retrieving a lifeless corpse -- even if (in fact, *especially* if) that corpse had housed me or someone that I loved. I hope to God that I'll never have to bury my brother. But if I do, the funeral will be an homage to his life, not to the piece of flesh he lived it in. I would sleep much better at night -- and if there is such a thing as a soul, his would rest much easier -- if his corpse had been lost but another man's life had been saved rather than vice-versa.


It's more than some corpse you can leave. You don't know they're dead. Can you live the rest of your life without knowing you did everything you could to save them? Or if they turn out to be alive and you get to watch them being beheaded? To live with the thought of them being tortured. It has happened before. Or to tell their families we had to bug out and couldn't bring your son's body back? That you get no grave to mourn at. You don't get to tell your husband, your dad good bye.

Not everyone can stand up and ensure the answers to these questions especially when getting the answers can get you killed. That's why the ones who do are so very special.
 
2013-10-16 12:08:11 AM  
How do you have an awarding ceremony when the government is STILL shutdown?

I just can't thank Obama for anything at all. Nice promises, crappy execution which led to failure.
 
2013-10-16 12:09:28 AM  

eraser8: ScaryBottles: Obunghole handing out more free stuff this is news?

just kidding...

I know you were joking, but I just can't understand the hatred directed at the president.  As I've said before,  it seems completely out of proportion to anything he's done.

So, what's the cause of it?  What's the explanation?

/This question is for everybody. ScaryBottles's post is just the one I attached the question to.


img.fark.net
 
2013-10-16 12:13:18 AM  
"When you reach over and put your hand into a pile of goo that was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do"

well deserved young captain
 
2013-10-16 12:13:51 AM  

nickdaisy: As a tip of the hat to the gentleman who posted the Harry S Flashman cover, I've been reading today about how EXTRAORDINARILY overrated the Tuskogee Airmen were. To hear the media tell it, you'd think those guys had done everything but liberate Auschwitz.

But the reality is they were flying P-51s, late in the war, against undertrained, exhausted German teenagers.

They deserve applause but not nearly as much as they've received. Who's with me on this?



My father always said this...
 
2013-10-16 12:14:57 AM  
anyone want to just give me a rundown of what logins i need to highlight in derp red to save me the read?  the man was a hero, and kinda looks like a young don draper.
also saw the NBC nightly bookend story on this.
www.gannett-cdn.com
images.nymag.com
HOLY shiat I WAS RIGHT.
I AM NEVER RIGHT.
 
2013-10-16 12:22:18 AM  
I watched this when it came on TV today.   I love watching them give the Medal of Honor to the recipients.  It really is one of the few things that can restore one's faith in humanity.  In times such as these, it nourishes the soul to know there are still people who are truly selfless and brave.

Thank you, William Swenson, and God bless you.
 
2013-10-16 12:24:19 AM  
Can we now fund the laws Congress agreed to fund?
 
2013-10-16 12:53:07 AM  
let machelle bachman pin it on him he'll be al queda by the end of the day.
 
2013-10-16 01:00:11 AM  

OdradekRex: The maddening thing is that he's trying to return to active duty.  It will be hard for the Army to turn him down, but after his criticism of his commanders, he'll probably wind up as OIC of the rifle range at Fort Riley.


Well, there's the other side of the story also.  You decide:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24543578
 
2013-10-16 01:28:37 AM  

Beauf: It was actually common for engagements to end with no one dead or wounded, essentially whoever scared off the other side won as soldiers intentionally fired over each other's heads or didn't even fire their rifles.


Uh huh.
 
2013-10-16 01:41:50 AM  
Too bad he had to get the medal from a piece of shiat like Obumma
 
2013-10-16 01:48:04 AM  

doglover: Beauf: It was actually common for engagements to end with no one dead or wounded, essentially whoever scared off the other side won as soldiers intentionally fired over each other's heads or didn't even fire their rifles.

Uh huh.


Nope, he's right. There's a lot of research on this during the Civil War and other conflicts.
However, all this stopped when soldiers began to be professionally and clinically trained.
 
2013-10-16 02:02:03 AM  

duenor: Nope, he's right. There's a lot of research on this during the Civil War and other conflicts.
However, all this stopped when soldiers began to be professionally and clinically trained.


There is that, and killing efficiency dramatically increased when soldiers were disconnected from the immediate effects of their acts.  A gun team running an artillery field piece on an indirect fire mission can effectively kill with far less mental resistance than a man who has to use a piece of sharp metal to dismember the enemy.

Dave Grossman is the most well known author on the subject.  He has gone a bit overboard in places, and I would not agree with everything that he writes, but his book "On Killing" is a good intro to the field.
 
2013-10-16 02:06:19 AM  

2wolves: spmkk: TFA: "He risked his life to recover bodies..."


I have nothing but the deepest respect for this man, but I have to admit I've never understood this concept.

Once a man is dead, what sense does it make to send more living people to their deaths trying to recover his lifeless shell?  He's done with it - bringing bits of it home isn't going to bring him back to life. Let it go, and focus on saving those who are still breathing from a needless death. If possible come back and get the body later, sure, but not when doing so puts others in mortal danger.

If I were to die in combat, the LAST thing I would want is a single other life to be lost collecting the inanimate mass of remaining dead flesh I left behind. My family is already getting the bad news - better just mine than mine *and* that of the poor sod who got himself killed in the name of "respect" or "sanctity" or some such thing.

Beat into my head from day one of PLC was that you don't leave Marines behind.  Over and over and over again;  If there is any chance to do so you grab and go.  Justification?  Would you want to be left behind?  I wouldn't.


Not just Marines. All American servicemembers. We. Do. Not. Leave. Our. Own. Behind. It's not a matter of 'respect' or 'sanctity' or whatever you want to call it. It is a core tenet of the American military--we are part of a team and the whole team comes home, period.

Ask any ranger who was in Mogadishu how they feel about having left men behind (I have personally talked to several), or ask the families of those whose bodies were (or even better, the families of those who are still MIA from various wars) recovered by CPT Swenson how they feel about his actions and you would never ask such an asinine question or make such an asinine remark to or about a serviceman or woman who risked their life to recover the bodies of their buddies again.
 
2013-10-16 02:36:51 AM  

HotIgneous Intruder: nickdaisy: Satanic_Hamster: nickdaisy: As a tip of the hat to the gentleman who posted the Harry S Flashman cover, I've been reading today about how EXTRAORDINARILY overrated the Tuskogee Airmen were. To hear the media tell it, you'd think those guys had done everything but liberate Auschwitz.

But the reality is they were flying P-51s, late in the war, against undertrained, exhausted German teenagers.

They deserve applause but not nearly as much as they've received. Who's with me on this?

They also did, in fact, have bombers shot down under their watch.  Court marshal them!

agreed!

Supporters will argue that they had fewer bombers shot out than comparable units but again-- they entered the war after all the heavy lifting had been done. And I'd be very curious to see a true analysis of how many of their own losses were through negligence. The skeptic in me tells me that every Tuskogee loss is now credited as heroic whereas other airmen haven't had their records scrubbed in their favor.

Red Tails?  More like Red Fails!

You sir, are a racist biatch, speaking from a low place that proves you have no honor or sense.

plonk.


I haven't seen anybody use "plonk" in this context in so many years.  Thank you for that little bit of USENET nostalgia, sir. :)
 
2013-10-16 02:58:27 AM  

duenor: doglover: Beauf: It was actually common for engagements to end with no one dead or wounded, essentially whoever scared off the other side won as soldiers intentionally fired over each other's heads or didn't even fire their rifles.

Uh huh.

Nope, he's right. There's a lot of research on this during the Civil War and other conflicts.
However, all this stopped when soldiers began to be professionally and clinically trained.


Uh huh.

At least 210,000 people were aiming.
 
2013-10-16 03:00:15 AM  

doglover: Wow. Warfare's come a long way.

Back in the civil war era, we buried 100s of men after even the smallest skirmishes. The big battles like Gettysburg? 10,000s of soldiers dead on both sides.

In Afghanistan the biggest firefight claimed 15 lives and we've passed out multiple Medals of Honor to the participants.


I'll bite.

Battle of Gettysburg:  ~94,000 Union soldiers fought, ~23,000 casualties/wounded/missing (~24.5%).  A smaller enemy force of ~72,000 Confederate soldiers.  Conventional warfare.
Battle of Ganjigal:  13 US Army soldiers/US Marines, 5 killed (~38.5%).  A larger enemy force of ~150 Taliban fighters.  Ambush on enemy's home terrain.

Yeah, there were ~80 ANA/ANP on that patrol too (8 killed, 10% casualty rate), but their lack of enthusiasm for combat is well-known.
 
2013-10-16 03:10:17 AM  

The WindowLicker: Dave Grossman is the most well known author on the subject. He has gone a bit overboard in places, and I would not agree with everything that he writes, but his book "On Killing" is a good intro to the field.


Unfortunately, while it's an interesting book, it's predicated almost entirely on the fraudulent writings of S.L.A. Marshall. I managed not to bookmark the dissertation I read analyzing the various arguments in favor of and against Marshall, but Roger Spiller's "S.L.A. Marshall and the Ratio of Fire" is a good overview of the issue and presents what in my mind is the most damning issue: The postcombat surveys didn't ask any questions about rates of fire and similar issues. Badly formatted but thorough overview here.
 
2013-10-16 04:21:59 AM  

The WindowLicker: This was the same battle that Dakota Meyer earned his MOH.  In fact, In Meyer's autobiography, he spent a few chapters excoriating the Army unit responsible for the team's artillery support, and praising Army Capt. Swenson.

I am very supprised that they announced this, because for a long time Swenson's citation paperwork was "lost."  It was a terrible farkup by some Army brass that primarily resulted in dead Marines and Sailor.  I thought inter-service drama and politics was going to ensure Capt. Swenson never got the recognition he deserved.


There is some evidence that Meyer's account of the battle and what actually happened don't exactly mesh together. The human wave attack of Taliban fighters that Meyer says he fought off happens at a different time in his book from the MoH account, and from the helicopter video no Taliban were seen at all even though Meyer claims they were there. There are no testimonials from witnesses saying the Taliban even tried to close with the American/Afghan forces, in fact. Then Meyer says he fired a grenade at a Taliban fighter; when it didn't go off, he engaged him in hand to hand combat. Don't know about you, but if you're firing a grenade at someone you then engage in hand to hand combat, wouldn't that be kind of suicidal if it went off?

/Meyer's claims are questionable
//not so much Swenson's
 
2013-10-16 04:31:44 AM  

duenor: doglover: Beauf: It was actually common for engagements to end with no one dead or wounded, essentially whoever scared off the other side won as soldiers intentionally fired over each other's heads or didn't even fire their rifles.

Uh huh.

Nope, he's right. There's a lot of research on this during the Civil War and other conflicts.
However, all this stopped when soldiers began to be professionally and clinically trained.


I'm sure you can provide a citation of a Civil War battle that had no casualties of any kind on either side, then. No dead or wounded even though both sides fired at each other? Not believable, and I've got a library full of CW research that says you and Beauf are wrong.
 
2013-10-16 05:11:41 AM  

2wolves: DrSansabeltNoShiatSlacks: That, and $5 will get a Starbucks coffee and a stale bagel.

His kids get a space in any of the service academies.   Reserved for them, no competition till they're too old.


Very interesting. And I imagine at a certain age, one might want to be like their decorated Dad... Until they find out what he went through to get that bling. ;)
 
2013-10-16 06:17:12 AM  

MadMattressMack: It's more than some corpse you can leave. You don't know they're dead.


OK, that is an argument that makes sense.  I suppose that so long as the body still has a head, you can't leave it behind.
 
2013-10-16 06:19:57 AM  

chrylis: The WindowLicker: Dave Grossman is the most well known author on the subject. He has gone a bit overboard in places, and I would not agree with everything that he writes, but his book "On Killing" is a good intro to the field.

Unfortunately, while it's an interesting book, it's predicated almost entirely on the fraudulent writings of S.L.A. Marshall. I managed not to bookmark the dissertation I read analyzing the various arguments in favor of and against Marshall, but Roger Spiller's "S.L.A. Marshall and the Ratio of Fire" is a good overview of the issue and presents what in my mind is the most damning issue: The postcombat surveys didn't ask any questions about rates of fire and similar issues. Badly formatted but thorough overview here.


I would not discount S.L.A. Marshall's "Dropzone" either. He was one of the first to interview members of the 82nd and the 101st upon completion of the D-Day invasion. Great book, and I used his book as the principle guide for my staff ride at Normandy. The maps are great, and the account take you step by step on some of the fights.
 
2013-10-16 07:14:49 AM  
It is men like this, that bring out my regret for not serving.
May your nightmares be held at bay, Captain Swenson!
 
2013-10-16 07:35:41 AM  
Capt. Swenson isn't wearing a helmet in that video footage. Can any of you military folks explain this to me? Did he lose it? Is it a comfort thing? I know all that gear is awfully hot. I have read the account of his actions that day, and nowhere is the lack of helmet mentioned.

/If my Da was alive I'd ask him. WWII and Korea. Tough old sod.
 
2013-10-16 09:07:12 AM  

Limeyluv: Capt. Swenson isn't wearing a helmet in that video footage. Can any of you military folks explain this to me? Did he lose it? Is it a comfort thing? I know all that gear is awfully hot. I have read the account of his actions that day, and nowhere is the lack of helmet mentioned.

/If my Da was alive I'd ask him. WWII and Korea. Tough old sod.


He was an implant with the Afghans as an adviser and was essentially special forces.  They have quite a bit of latitude regarding their gear.  That said, protective gear has an inverse ratio of mobility to protection so perhaps in that situation he was more interested in being highly mobile.  Helmets are really only best for protecting your noggin from being smacked by a hard object like a door frame rather than protecting it from flying bullets IMHO.  I've shot a few Kevlar helmets before and the 5.56 and 7.62 round sails right through it.
 
2013-10-16 09:09:16 AM  

Limeyluv: Capt. Swenson isn't wearing a helmet in that video footage. Can any of you military folks explain this to me? Did he lose it? Is it a comfort thing? I know all that gear is awfully hot. I have read the account of his actions that day, and nowhere is the lack of helmet mentioned.

/If my Da was alive I'd ask him. WWII and Korea. Tough old sod.


There is also a possibility that he dropped it earlier during the fight or when he was rendering first aid and just didn't have the time to grab it up.  Besides, the gravitational pull from his brass balls would have varied the trajectory of any bullets so that they would avoid his head.
 
2013-10-16 09:21:07 AM  

spmkk: Coco LaFemme: "If your brother was killed in action, would you want the body brought home to be buried, or strung up by his boots and used as a pinata?"


Ideally? Of course I would want the body brought home. But if it's a choice between a dead body (even if it had once belonged to my brother) being strung up by its boots and used as a pinata or another living man becoming a dead body in the course of trying to prevent that from happening, I'll take Option A every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Our first responsibility is to the living. There is absolutely no way that I would accept another soldier's death as the price for retrieving a lifeless corpse -- even if (in fact, *especially* if) that corpse had housed me or someone that I loved. I hope to God that I'll never have to bury my brother. But if I do, the funeral will be an homage to his life, not to the piece of flesh he lived it in. I would sleep much better at night -- and if there is such a thing as a soul, his would rest much easier -- if his corpse had been lost but another man's life had been saved rather than vice-versa.


They're not getting the corpse because it's YOUR brother, they're getting the corpse because it's THEIR brother.
 
2013-10-16 10:20:11 AM  

CJHardin: Limeyluv: Capt. Swenson isn't wearing a helmet in that video footage. Can any of you military folks explain this to me? Did he lose it? Is it a comfort thing? I know all that gear is awfully hot. I have read the account of his actions that day, and nowhere is the lack of helmet mentioned.

/If my Da was alive I'd ask him. WWII and Korea. Tough old sod.

He was an implant with the Afghans as an adviser and was essentially special forces.  They have quite a bit of latitude regarding their gear.  That said, protective gear has an inverse ratio of mobility to protection so perhaps in that situation he was more interested in being highly mobile.  Helmets are really only best for protecting your noggin from being smacked by a hard object like a door frame rather than protecting it from flying bullets IMHO.  I've shot a few Kevlar helmets before and the 5.56 and 7.62 round sails right through it.


Special forces often don't wear helmets, because they interfere with your ability to see and hear. When you're sneaking around at night, you really don't want that impaired. Helmets are designed mainly to protect from overhead shell bursts, and that's not generally how the Taliban attack. Also, when you're training locals, you don't want to be wearing more protection than they are; it makes you look cowardly.
 
2013-10-16 11:13:48 AM  
The Oil, Gas, and Heroin Trade thank you for your service.
 
2013-10-16 02:11:19 PM  

Bendal: There is some evidence that Meyer's account of the battle and what actually happened don't exactly mesh together. The human wave attack of Taliban fighters that Meyer says he fought off happens at a different time in his book from the MoH account, and from the helicopter video no Taliban were seen at all even though Meyer claims they were there. There are no testimonials from witnesses saying the Taliban even tried to close with the American/Afghan forces, in fact. Then Meyer says he fired a grenade at a Taliban fighter; when it didn't go off, he engaged him in hand to hand combat. Don't know about you, but if you're firing a grenade at someone you then engage in hand to hand combat, wouldn't that be kind of suicidal if it went off?

/Meyer's claims are questionable
//not so much Swenson's


Of course Meyer's account is going to have factual problems.  However, he did not write his Medal of Honor citation.  The Marines and Soldiers who were with him (the ones who lived) did.  These are men I personally knew.  Major Williams was my CO, Lt Fabio signed my missing/damaged gear statement, Doc Layton taught me CLS.  These are men who's honesty I trust(ed) completely.

Of course the video is going to contradict eyewitness testimony.  Swenson does not remember kissing his friend as he put him on the chopper, does that mean his actions are suspect?  Using the few min of video to understand the hours long battle is like extrapolating Sasha Grey's occupation from her yearbook photo; a snapshot can't possibly show the whole story.  That is after you get past the real world fact that Taliban fighters who don't know how to hide from helicopters don't live very long...

The real issue is that most of the questions come from the McClatchy reporter who was imbedded with the team.  His initial articles actually support Meyers story, but I think the journalist saw the opportunity to get further mileage out of questioning the narrative.  This pisses me off, because when he questions what happened, he is challenging the integrity of the whole Medal of Honor citation process, and the integrity of every officer and enlisted who gave the testimony that was used to construct Meyer's citation.

Meyer's was not awarded a Medal of Honor because he made up a great story, Meyer's was awarded the Medal because other trustworthy individuals witnessed him carry out a string of badassery with no regard to his own well being.  These are the same individuals who constructed Swenson's award.  If you question one Medal, you question both.

chrylis: Unfortunately, while it's an interesting book, it's predicated almost entirely on the fraudulent writings of S.L.A. Marshall. I managed not to bookmark the dissertation I read analyzing the various arguments in favor of and against Marshall, but Roger Spiller's "S.L.A. Marshall and the Ratio of Fire" is a good overview of the issue and presents what in my mind is the most damning issue: The postcombat surveys didn't ask any questions about rates of fire and similar issues. Badly formatted but thorough overview here.


That is actually the article I was thinking of when I added hesitation to my recommendation.  I also am not quite sold on Grossman's assertion that video games are training kids to be professional killers.
 
2013-10-16 02:42:50 PM  

mbillips: CJHardin: Limeyluv: Capt. Swenson isn't wearing a helmet in that video footage. Can any of you military folks explain this to me? Did he lose it? Is it a comfort thing? I know all that gear is awfully hot. I have read the account of his actions that day, and nowhere is the lack of helmet mentioned.

/If my Da was alive I'd ask him. WWII and Korea. Tough old sod.

He was an implant with the Afghans as an adviser and was essentially special forces.  They have quite a bit of latitude regarding their gear.  That said, protective gear has an inverse ratio of mobility to protection so perhaps in that situation he was more interested in being highly mobile.  Helmets are really only best for protecting your noggin from being smacked by a hard object like a door frame rather than protecting it from flying bullets IMHO.  I've shot a few Kevlar helmets before and the 5.56 and 7.62 round sails right through it.

Special forces often don't wear helmets, because they interfere with your ability to see and hear. When you're sneaking around at night, you really don't want that impaired. Helmets are designed mainly to protect from overhead shell bursts, and that's not generally how the Taliban attack. Also, when you're training locals, you don't want to be wearing more protection than they are; it makes you look cowardly.


I had a special forces roommate in for a while.  Apart from never, ever being around... the impression I got was that the variety of stuff they do is so broad that it doesn't even make sense to say things like "they don't wear helmets, and this is the reason why".
 
2013-10-16 05:02:51 PM  
That picture of him being decorated is quite haunting.  That man has seen the elephant.
 
2013-10-16 05:22:00 PM  

Kygz: That picture of him being decorated is quite haunting.  That man has seen the elephant.


Where did that phrase originate?  I think H. Beam Piper used it--the character speaking it was a student of Earth history by hobby, and was of course quoting someone else, since there were no elephants in that part of the galaxy.
 
2013-10-16 08:19:10 PM  

flondrix: Where did that phrase originate?


Depends, I guess.  Military guys will tell you that it comes from Hannibal.  When you saw his war elephants come over the top, you knew you were in deep shiat.  The wiki entry on the origin of the phrase is not quite as interesting.
 
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