Baltimore Riots

The details are murky. Baltimore is in shambles. Police are on high alert and the local government has deemed a state of emergency. Baseball games have been cancelled, police have been injured and hospitalized, local businesses have been burned and looted and there’s not much anyone can do about the ensuing chaos.

The media portrays a bunch of black people running around destroying the city. Throwing rocks at cops, smashing police cars, fighting innocent people; savages and thugs as some might call them. It’s a hard situation to decipher. Whichever side you land on, you’ll be met with ridicule and hatred.

People defending the cops continue to say. “well, if you don’t want your ass beat, don’t break the law!”

People defending the blacks continue to say, “who cares about his rap sheet! He shouldn’t have been killed while in custody!”

Both sides are genuinely correct.

The police have a responsibility to the people. Just because someone is a hardened street thug or common criminal, does not give the right for police officers to treat anyone like a sub-human piece of trash. The three major cases that have been in the spot light are the Michael Brown (Ferguson) case, the Eric Garner (New York) case and now the Freddy Gray case in Baltimore. Each case is unique and of course we can not predict how a law enforcement officer handles his every day responsibilities. We empower these people to uphold the law, keep our communities safe and help people who are in need. To be a police officer, one must exercise good judgment, common sense and be professional at all times. These people are not robots. They’re human beings with emotions. Obviously the job is not for everyone.

The shocking thing to me is; the American culture likes to protest about a lot of things that aren’t conducive to a healthy society. Lately, it’s been about police brutality and defending criminals. I understand that the Eric Garners and the Freddy Grays were sons and fathers. I understand that they have brothers and sisters and mothers who love them. What I don’t understand is how the black community can blatantly disregard their way of life that might lead to police contact. I’m not saying the police weren’t out of line. I’m simply saying their actions might be the reason for their situation. To not put that on the forefront is irresponsible.

We, as a human race, have a responsibility to get along. We have laws that we must protect and abide by. When we don’t play by the rules, we have to face consequences. On both sides.

But the social media responses are shocking…

“Can’t we all just get along?”


American Sniper

I saw American Sniper in the movie theatre last night with my girlfriend. This was her third time seeing it. I was a little uneasy about the whole experience because I heard so much political hogwash about the movie and so many people were turning it into a media/political fiasco.

The movie is simply about a Navy SEAL: Chris Kyle. Whether you think he’s a hero or a monster is irrelevant. It’s his story. Being a combat veteran myself, I can relate to a lot of the non-combat scenes where he’s at home just staring blankly at the television or when he has a couple bouts with extreme anger. It’s unsettling but it’s reality.

The part that really hit home for me was when Kyle had returned home from his fifth tour and he’s sitting in the bar having a beer. His wife calls and finds out he’s been stateside for some time but hasn’t quite reached the front door yet. He Kyle breaks down and says, “I just needed a minute.” He’s such a strong, prideful man and doesn’t want to show weakness. But we all have our breaking points. I couldn’t imagine going to combat and shooting over 200 armed combatants and then being “okay” when I come home.

Kyle wasn’t concerned with the amount of enemies he laid down. He was more concerned with how many of his men he couldn’t save. It’s hard to sit at home knowing you could’ve done more for the man on your right and the man on your left.

I just wish America could leave the politics out of this.

Gun-Crazed America

I’ve been thinking about this topic for weeks. Well, actually, that’s a lie. I’ve been thinking about this topic ever since the Ferguson situation went down. I’m not taking a particular side on that; mainly because I don’t have a side to take. I do, however have an opinion about Ferguson.

I can sympathize with the emotional trauma that a community might be feeling after one of their own is gunned down. I feel similar grief having been to combat and losing friends in the war. Although, the two don’t really go hand-in-hand. I do feel like there are some similarities between the two. Violence is apart of our American culture. Violence is apart of our very existence. From the beginning of time.

America, specifically, has this obsessed attitude that everyone should have a gun. And not just one gun. Many guns. Our favorite video games are first-person shooters. Our favorite actors are gun-totting mad men blowing up buildings and mowing down countless third rate rent-a-thugs. Children grow up playing with toy guns and then their parents buy them a BB gun when they turn 13 and a hunting rifle when they turn 18 and then they go get their concealed weapons permit as soon as they turn 21 because they can. For no other reason other than because they can. Or want to. It’s an obsession.

I want you to understand something, though. This isn’t some liberal rant against guns. I’m sure by now most of you are rolling your eyes thinking that very thought. This is going to be an educational, informative piece and probably the longest blog entry I’ll ever write. Please. Indulge yourself and read on.

The Bill of Rights state, and I quote, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Over time there have been laws that dictate and regulate who actually gets to carry a firearm. This done so in a manner as to not to infringe on our right to keep and bear arms. For example: if you commit a strong-armed robbery with a firearm and the police catch up with you, you will no longer be able to carry a firearm. These laws are implemented for the greater good of society because we don’t want unhealthy people carrying weapons that can harm others. I think we can all agree on that.

One thing I’m truly against are law-makers making up laws that make absolutely no sense. I’m also against police agencies trying to govern my life and I’m really against big government trying to tell me what I can and can not do. There is no such thing as gun sense in this country because everyone wants a gun and no one wants to take responsibility when something bad happens with it. So the governments answer to that is to make up laws that really don’t extinguish the problem. What we need is firearm education and firearm training.

Example Number One: You want a firearm for home defense. That means you’ll be engaging potential targets at close range, close quarters with little to no visibility. What is your training regime for that? Do you know the laws concerning firearms and defending yourself, family and personal property? Are you a Castle Doctrine state? Are you a Stand Your Ground state? Do you even know what those things are? When’s the last time you cleaned your firearm and when’s the last time you went to a shooting range? Lastly, someone breaks into your house at 2am, you’re woken up from a dead sleep. How fast can you gain your bearings and get to your firearm before something goes down? Do you keep your firearms in a safe with a combo lock or key to keep the kids out? Would you be able to open the safe up in time? Do you train to these scenarios? If not, you have no business owning a firearm to protect your house hold. Stick to a baseball bat.

Example Number Two: You are going grocery shopping and someone comes in to the grocery store with a gun to rob the cashier. You have a concealed weapons permit and you have your 9mm strapped to your side. Consider your options: do nothing or attempt to defuse the situation. Without proper training, your best bet is to call 911 and stay out of the way.

I’m not in any way trying to tell people not to own firearms or that firearms only belong in the hands of cops and members of the Armed Forces. All I’m trying to point out is that America looks at firearms as a type of novelty and people buy guns without any real form of education or training. Guns get into the wrong hands. Kids get them and shoot other kids. Teenagers bring them to school and kill other students. There are plenty of reasons (and valid ones) to strengthen our gun laws. The most important thing, though, is education and training. If you own a firearm and you think you might become a victim of a violent crime one day, get some formal training. Talk with a lawyer about your states gun laws. Know your capabilities and know your limitations.

This isn’t Hollywood and you aren’t Bruce Willis. A guy breaks into your house, you won’t be able to just shoot his leg out and that be the end of your nightmare. Make sure you understand the judicial system, understand that you aren’t safe from civil lawsuits and have a clear understanding that once you decide to pull that trigger, there is no turning back.

Veterans Day

I wish I could write up a piece and have it go viral like what I wrote about it my latest entry.

I’m not interested in being in the spotlight when it comes to Veterans Day. Hell, I don’t even really ask for this day off from work. I’m hoping my employers will simply identify me as a Veteran and schedule me off out of courtesy. Not because I feel like I’m entitled to this day off from work or because I feel like I’ve earned this day off. It’s simply because I don’t want to be apart of what America has turned into: a capitalistic fat pig.

Every retailer in the United States has some kind of “Veterans Day sale” going on. Whether it’s today or last weekend, they have something happening. People head out in droves to spend money on today’s sale instead of just staying at home and remembering the ones who have given up their lives during combat operations. Veteran’s Day isn’t about you or me. It’s about them. The ones who have given the ultimate sacrifice. The ones who never returned home from duty. The ones who have left children and wives and close relatives behind. The ones who now reside on Fiddler’s Green.

I’m not a veteran because I want a free coffee from Starbucks or a free meal from Applebees. I’m a veteran because I felt like serving. Not for hand shakes and “thank yous” or for prestigious medals and awards. I served to serve. Nothing more, nothing less.

Today is not a celebration but a day of remembrance. It is not “happy Veterans Day” because there is nothing happy about going to war and watching your friends get killed in combat.

Dog on a Leash

“I see it coming, I’m supposed to follow
No, I don’t even want to hold the chain
If this is really what it’s like to let go
It was all in my brain..
There’s something living in the house tomorrow
’cause you don’t even wanna hold their face
Would it be of I refused to let go
It was all in my way!

I see it coming, it’s so hard to swallow
Cause I don’t even want to help the chase
Too hard to sleep if you can hear the echo
Hear it calling my name…
Now I’ve been searching in a love so shallow
Never even wanna have the blame
If this is really what it’s like to let go
Was it all in my way?!

It’s you and it’s me
Dog on a leash

I’m like a dog on a leash
No one in life, I feel it holding on
I’m like a dog on a leash
No one will stop you savin’ my soul
I’m like a dog on a leash
It’s you and it’s me
Killing the dream
Dog on a leash

Is there a reason that you hold the solo now
You don’t even wanna help us stay
I wouldn’t be if I could learn to let go
Would it all be the same!

It’s you and it’s me
Dog on a leash

I’m like a dog on a leash
No one in life, I feel it holding on
I’m like a dog on a leash
No one will stop you savin’ my soul
I’m like a dog on a leash
It’s you and it’s me
Killing the dream
Dog on a leash
Dog on a leash

It’s you and it’s me, the dogs on a leash
And I can’t be fine like that
It’s you and it’s me, the dogs on a leash

I’m like a dog on a leash
No one in life, I feel it holding on
I feel like a dog on a leash
No one will stop you saving my soul
I’m like a dog on a leash
It’s you and it’s me
Killing the dream
Dog on a leash
It’s you and it’s me
Killing the dream
Dog on a leash.”

I had such a shitty day at work yesterday. I walked into work and my work items had been moved. One thing I’ve learned with PTSD (that a lot don’t ever understand) is Combat Vets aren’t “moody” or “just mad” or mad at any one individual. Our minds are so cluttered with filth and garbage that we lose focus of ourselves in the moment.

Small things that generally wouldn’t irritate the common man now hold us like we are on a leash. Something small happens and it literally ruins our entire day. Someone moved my coffee cup or moved my note pad. It literally drives me to the brink. Could you imagine living your day to day life like that? When I get to work, what will get at me today?

I find myself needing that extra time to cool down because in the civilian sector, believe it or not, we can not treat our co-workers like a stupid Army Private. We can’t call them “shitbirds” or anything like that like we did in the Army. We can’t yell and scream and vent our frustration out on the platoon and have everyone doing front-back-goes for an hour. It just doesn’t work that way.

Life goes on, though, doesn’t it? Life continues and we continue with our own demons.

Oyster Run 2014

I missed last years Oyster Run because I had to work and because I really didn’t have anyone to run with. The year before last, I went and it was amazing. I loved every minute of it.

This years Oyster Run was more of the same but I went with a friend of mine and saw many good people I used to hang with while they were in the CVMA.

Here’s a video of the long line of bikes trying to get parked as we walked around. It was pretty awesome.  There was even the 12th Man Seahawks flag flying proudly as we walked into Main street:


The amount of motorcycles that show up for this every year, (rain or shine) is just uncanny. It’s literally miles and miles of motorcycles. They take over all the parking at Safeway, they park down alley ways, in peoples’ drive ways, on the sidewalk… it truly is the best thing I’ve ever experienced while owning a motorcycle.

It’s kind of amazing, too, considering it was just one guy 33 years ago that started this whole thing. Him and a few pals met up for beers in Marysville after a long season of fishing in Alaska and eventually they moved to Anacortes because so many people were showing up. Soon, there were 20,000 followers. This year, it looked like it easily surpassed 35,000 bikes. It was crazy.

I met up with some friends and we talked about things, this and that. Not too exciting but I love my old pals from the CVMA. They’ve moved on to bigger and better things, (in which one day maybe I’ll follow down their path) and it’s always good to see them.

Good friends are hard to come by. People generally have their own agenda’s and you really have to try hard to keep the good ones around. In the end, to me, it’s worth it, though. I’ve had lots of good buddies I would chum around with but never any lasting relationships. I know a lot of people, some I keep in contact with and others I just see on the Facebook or whatever. Truly, some of these relationships I’ve built since I’ve been out of the service, I’d really like to keep. It’s hard being out of the Army and not having a barracks full of friends you can always count on to be there when you need a friend.

It’s really hard some times not to just quit my job, slap on a “nomad” patch on my motorcycle vest and just cruise America looking for my path. I know things aren’t forever but we like who we like and we love who we love. Even though we may not receive the same kind of mutual feelings in return, we don’t know what we don’t know, right?

Anyway. Until next years Oyster Run, I’ll just be cruising around in the rain for the rest of the year. Washington State is good to me like that.

The Cost of Hate

There was a time when I had an outlook on life in an optimistic point of view-where I saturated myself with happiness and carefree thoughts. I think the day everything really changed was in December of 2005. Well, I take that back. It might have changed earlier then that. I remember going out with the scouts in my M88 recovery vehicle. We had to switch out vehicles for maintenance purposes as we were staying in this shit hole outside of Camp Taji. Here’s a picture:

It wasn’t much. We had cable on a little 13-inch  tv and we mostly survived on MRE’s, pizza pockets and whatever else we could find. We all slept on Army cots and red Gatorade was the drink of choice. It was the true definition of “roughin’ it.”

As the maintenance guy, we had our M88 recovery vehicle parked outside near a gate  in case some asshole decided to run it, they’d have to get through a 45 ton road-block with some pissed off Army guy behind a .50 caliber machine gun. I remember driving across route “Islanders” or route “Thunder” or some crap like that and our vehicle had broken down on the road. We were also informed that the route was considered “black” which meant stay the hell off of it because of hostile enemies planting IEDs everywhere.

The scouts in my unit were highly trained and I had much respect for those guys. They worked hard and since I was friends with the platoon sergeant, I got to ride with them on a couple of missions here and there. I wanted to see what they went through every day. I wanted to experience their job. I wanted to be apart of something in Iraq. I didn’t want to just sit around the motor pool or guard a fucking radio all day. For the most part, that was my deployment. Sitting in the motor pool or guarding a radio. I didn’t do much else.

We stopped on the road with a busted transmission and myself and my soldier dismounted to help the scouts pull guard if need be. We didn’t want to get ambushed and that’s all I could think about because we had high grass fields on both sides of us. I kept day-dreaming of some asshole terrorist running through the grass, bending down on one knee and shooting an RPG at us from the grass. Hey, it could happen, right? I remember one of the scouts totally pissed off. He was cussing at everything and just mad as hell. He was rambling on about how he was done with the Army because he refused to lose another scout in combat.

I just stared at him. He was talking about Eisenhauer. He was the first scout we lost in battle. It dawned on me how combat affected everyone; including these scout soldiers. These guys were my rock. These guys took the fight to the enemy. These were the guys I respected and seeing one of their buddies die during a fight hurt them, too. And seeing how pissed off this guy was sorta made me pissed off, too.

I couldn’t imagine what it was like to lose a friend or a fellow soldier in combat. Especially when the bullets were flying. Your buddy gets hit and all you want to do is save his life. Fuck everything else-he’s your priority. But if the injury is too bad and trying to save him might end up costing you your own life or more lives, you gotta move on. I couldn’t imagine having to make that decision. And I think not being able to be in those situations has made me hate myself. I could’ve done more for my Army buddies. I could’ve been out there in the fight. I’m good at what I do. Every job I’ve ever taken in life, I have excelled at. I’ve always done exceptional jobs. But here I was, pulling radio watch while my buddies are out there getting shot at.

I don’t know how many times I’ve asked to go out with the scouts on missions. I think at one point, I just left the compound without permission from the Battle Captain. I was like, “fuck it. If he won’t let me go, I’m going anyway.” I even rolled out with the Estonian Army, too. Against orders. Fuck it, man. Watch your own goddamn radio, I would say to myself. The Estonia Army guys were all into this combat shit, though. We went into a couple of houses for some routine cordon and searches and they’d literally turn the house upside down and shake it like a snowglobe. I wasn’t all for bashing people’s’ shit up, and one Estonian Army guy called me out when I showed lack of enthusiasm.

“You act like you give a shit about these people, man.” he said.

I sorta just stared at him.

Back at the compound, the Estonian Army guys would literally beat the shit out of each other. You know, for fun. That’s how they were. They were tough and rugged. Durable. Mean and nasty. They were animals. I didn’t feel safe with them. But going out with them gave me a sense of accomplishment. Me, a fucking POG (Personnel other than Grunt or Piece of Garbage), went on a mission with the Estonian Army. I felt like a real bad-ass. I was hoping we’d find some piece of shit terrorist and get to torture the shit out of him like they do in James Bond movies. It was a total thrill ride. But alas, nothing happened.

In 2009 I got picked up for recruiting duty and I literally thought my life had ended. I wanted to go back to combat and be apart of this monster that was festering inside of me. It was eating at me. I hated going to work every day. I hated waking up. I hated going to bed. I hated where I lived and I hated everyone around me. I was now a paper-pushing bitch amongst a chain of command that had never seen what I’ve seen. The worst part about it was that they thought they were God’s gift to the Army. It was sickening.

“If it’s natural to kill, how come men have to go into training to learn how?” –Joan Baez