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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Courage Under Fire

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
Thomas Paine, 1775

It is the veteran, not the preacher who has given us the freedom of religion.

It is the veteran, not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the veteran, not the poet who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the veteran, not the campus organizer who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the veteran, not the lawyer who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.

It is the veteran who salutes the flag.

It is the veteran who serves under the flag.

I have the greatest admiration for our soldiers....they are not drafted, but choose to serve our country graciously, keeping in tact our way of life, and our freedoms and liberties alive. They train for months, under hostile conditions, being prepared for what lies ahead....war. Most have no idea what to expect..... the rollercoater of emotions that will flood them when they fly half way around the world, are placed in a life or death situation, the sights and sounds of combat, the feeling of fear. How can you prepare yourself to lose a comrad, a friend...your life? I know my son Ben shared these struggles when he deployed to Afghanistan as a combat medic for the 877 th PSD combat team, supporting the 101st Airborne, and the 25th Airborne combat teams. He was trained by the best, but until you're there, you just can't know. While there, he would write poems, expressing what had happened during the missions he was sent on. This one in particular tells of an experience that will always be a part of him.....literally. He tatooed this on his ribs as a reminder of the first life he was required to take.

It isn't fear that grips him,but a new heightened sense of things.
The scent of burning sulphur and black powder fills his lungs
The cavitation of shrapnel can be heard
as gravity guides it toward earth.
Trigger finger to cold steel activates the firing pin.
Rifling embraces naked brass as an inanimate object
is born into an animate world.
An advocate of righteousness tears superficial skin tissue.
Sleep now admirable foe; let not the world judge you but our
Lord God and Savior.

"The air was silent as we emerged from the outskirts of a village located at the bottom of a deep ravine. The valley was wide and its inhabitants were spread out. There were little kids playing on the side of the road begging for food. Now at the end of the mission, I was becoming tired and losing focus. We had already been up for almost two days and it was getting about that time to hit the sack. My back was facing the lid of the rear hatch as I provided sector security from my 6 to 12 o'clock position. Suddenly, a loud explosion shook the earth and woke the convoy from behind. Muscle memory had me dial in the red dot scope on my M-4 and initiate fire superiority. As I peeked around the corner of the rear hatch another explosion shook the ground and made me take cover yet again. Surely there won't be anymore, but as I peeked around the corner, yet again another explosion heightened spirits even closer than the last. The shrapnel traveled so fast that I could hear it whistling in the air. But this time I saw the flash and location of the shooter. The gunner didn't have contact so I knew something had to be done. It was a rocket propelled grenade team and I knew that eventually they would shoot close enough to hit the truck and kill our 50 cal. Gunner. Trigger finger to cold steel activated the firing pin. A 5.56 bullet struck the insurgent almost 400 yards away and the sound was hollow as hit passed through his organs. Now my gunner did have contact and put several hundred rounds through insurgent's house. "Smith two o'clock, Smith two o'clock" AK-47 flashes coming from the door of another house 100 yards to the left were seen as I pulled the trigger. This man fell forward and began to crawl on the ground to find cover. As he crawled a young kid, maybe 14, ran to his aid. But Smith, our 50. Cal gunner, already received my radio contact, and sprayed rounds throughout the 2 o'clock position. The kid went to sleep in several dozen pieces as the man whom was crawling was lying motionless. Standard Operation Procedures provided by our commanding officer had us push through the kill zone and get back to base. Special Forces were in the area and took care of the bodies. The accounts of this day have been kept between our combat team since the day it happened. Although the characters in this story are real, the names and location will not be disclosed. All the events will be denied should this land in the wrong hands. "

May God bless those who serve our country with courage......till next time, adios.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Whoa Mule!

Tomorrow officially starts the beginning of the 2011 hay season....a day I have mixed feelings about. Once into the swing of things, I generally can hang with the best of them. It's the getting started part that I have trouble with. Time is not my friend...neither is gravity. Climbing in and out of trucks and loaders makes stocks in Advil soar....slight exaggeration but I will be a tad bit on the stiff and sore side for the first two weeks into this adventure. I love this job for two reasons.....I work with my family and work for good, down to earth farmers that are decent and as hard-working as we are. They help us help them any chance they get. Karli has also grown up in a hay field. She started her career at a year old and she's fixing to be three. Not sure she's gonna fit behind the steering wheel of the loader this year. She may ride shotgun in my truck this long as there's cold drinks and a snack or two, she's game! She hasn 't forgot we always get ice cream when we're done either - a treat she earns for hanging tough even when she's hot and tired. On the homefront, we have another bunch of baby calves that need branded before long, and we're still feeding cows - till it starts raining. We're still trying to get a house placed on the 100 acres before Jake's graduation the middle of May, and there's always yard work waiting or woman's work that needs done. I think that's why the good Lord instructs us to live one day at a time....I think I'll take His advise and drink me a glass of iced tea....till next time, adios!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cowboy Girls Rock!

I don't know about you, but there is some little something special about kids raised in the country. I've raised three of my own and now my little 3 yr. old grandaughter Karli has had the privilege of breathing country air, rip-roaring through pastures horseback and playing in a hay barn. For sure and for certain, I'm not dogging city kids but I tell ya what, country kids stick out in a crowd like a sore thumb. There is a quality about them.....and a little redneck. Even now, little Karli is out making mudpies in her sandbox...and she's buck naked....and doesn't care. Her powder room is the front yard, and her best friends are two little dogs. Her favorite toy is the corn pile in the barn, her favorite snack is a haycube...well, that's just a little wierd...but oh well. These qualities may prove to be a little strange when she starts school, but she will know how to plant tomatoes, pick pumpkins, make cookies, and know where baby calves come from...and that's not all bad. I might ought to be emphasizing a few more feminine qualities before too long, but for now, she's just gonna have to have fun, be a kid, and love life...I do...Till next time, adios.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weddings, Dogbites and Revenuers

Well, I guess since we visited last, my cup surely has runneth over. My life is a rollercoaster that just won't stop. All in all, through the blessings and heartaches, one thing has never wavered...and that is the Lord has never left my side. Thankyou Jesus! On November 12, 2010, my baby girl Katie Carpenter traded her last name for a young man named Jeremy Ragland. We had a short and sweet ceremony at the house and my ranchwomen friends and family made this day very special. They are now expecting a sweet little girl in September! On January 15, 2011, my son Jake, took Kassie Shelko to be his bride and I was blessed with another daughter who I love dearly. They got married in Clovis, NM and went Cozumel for their honeymoon. They will be moving back to the ranch when Jake graduates college in May.

Then on February 22nd, our little grandaughter was was bit by our 9 yr old boxer. He was a part of our family and had never given us reason to think he was dangerous. I was bringing groceries in when it happened, and in two shakes we were headed to town quick, fast and in a hurry. He bit plumb down to the muscle and Karli required surgery to sew this gash up. The surgeon did a marvelous job and you would hardly know it ever happened.

We are now in the process of moving a Solitare home to the 100 acres my dad gave me a few months back. This has been nothing short of a logistical nightmare. I truly believe running shine has fewer permits that getting this house the meantime, God is good...all the time and till next time, adios!