1. #1
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    Default First Medal of Honor from Iraq

    Don't know if you saw it yet, but the first Medal of Honor for combat action since Somalia (1993) will be awarded on Monday. THought some of you would like to know.


    The New York Times
    Published on: 03/30/05
    WASHINGTON — Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, killed nearly two years ago defending his vastly outnumbered Army unit in a battle with elite Iraqi troops for control of Baghdad's airport, will receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, administration officials said Tuesday.

    No soldier who served in Afghanistan or Iraq after the Sept. 11 attacks has received the medal. The last conflict to produce a Medal of Honor recipient was in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993; two soldiers were awarded the medal posthumously for actions there later depicted in the movie "Black Hawk Down."

    Smith, 33, led a defense of a compound next to the airport against a much larger force of Special Republican Guard troops, manning a heavy machine gun, repeatedly firing and reloading three times before he was mortally wounded. Fellow soldiers said his actions killed 20 to 50 Iraqis, allowed wounded American soldiers to be evacuated and saved an aid station and perhaps 100 lives.

    Smith's "extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor without regard to his own life in order to save others are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service," a draft of the medal citation says.

    President Bush will present the award to Smith's widow and children at a White House ceremony on Monday, the second anniversary of the airport battle and the soldier's death.

    The story of Paul Ray Smith is that of an ordinary recruit from Tampa, Fla., who fresh out of high school joined the Army not out of patriotism but for a steady- job, and who 15 years later, as a battle-hardened platoon sergeant, was hurled into an extraordinary test, for which he paid the ultimate price.

    More than 1 million military men and women have served in Afghanistan or Iraq since 2001. But Smith is the only one whose actions earned an award nomination that has reached this point after wending its way through more than 12 levels of military and presidential reviews over the last two years.

    Smith's commanders submitted to the Army several eyewitness accounts, diagrams of the battle scene and other supporting documents. A year ago, an Army review board sent back the application, requesting more detailed information about the battle, Army officers said on Tuesday.

    Military officials said several factors weighed in nominating Smith for the medal, including the intensity of the 90-minute firefight on that scorching spring morning; the risk of the enemy attack to 100 other American soldiers; the ultimate defeat of the Iraqi attack; and Smith's death in battle.

    Since the medal was created in the Civil War, there have been 3,440 recipients, but only 842 since World War II, when the requirements were tightened. There are 125 living recipients of the award, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

    Most recipients have been unsung soldiers who acted valiantly in moments of extraordinary pressure. More celebrated recipients include William F. Cody — Buffalo Bill — for gallantry as a scout; Theodore Roosevelt, for his charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War; and 2nd Lt. Audie Murphy, for heroics in World War II.

    "The Medal of Honor has great symbolic value," said Richard H. Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina. "For the American public, it says, 'We want to thank you with this very highest award possible.' For the troops, it says, 'This guy represented the best of soldiering that we aspire to.' "

    Smith was a combat engineer in Fort Stewart's 3rd Infantry Division that swept up from Kuwait on the march to Baghdad. His unit, B Company of the 11th Engineer Battalion, was attached to 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, and had seized its part of the Baghdad airport on the evening of April 3.

    The next morning, Smith and about 15 other soldiers were building a holding pen for prisoners in a compound on the north side of the highway into the airport, on the battalion's flank, when the compound came under attack by some 100 Iraqi soldiers.

    "He told me, 'We're in a world of hurt,'" Staff Sgt. Kevin W. Yetter said in an interview with The New York Times several weeks after the battle. "Yeah, I guess we were in a world of hurt."

    According to a draft of the medal citation and the company's soldiers, Smith organized the engineers' defense, calling in support from a Bradley fighting vehicle. Under a barrage of mortar fire, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire, he hurled a grenade over the compound's wall and blasted an antitank missile at a guard tower.

    Still, Iraqi soldiers held the tower and kept firing into the compound.

    "We were pinned down," 1st Sgt. Tim Campbell told The Providence Journal, which had a reporter traveling with troops at the airport. "They had this planned. They found the lightest-defended area and attacked."

    A mortar round hit an armored engineering vehicle known as an M-113. Yetter was inside it. The blast momentarily blinded him. It also seriously wounded Sgt. Louis D. Berwald, the gunner on top, and another soldier. Smith helped evacuate the three to an aid station, which was suddenly imperiled by the mounting attack.

    Faced with pulling back to a safer position or holding fast, Smith took over Berwald's .50-caliber gun, firing and reloading before he was shot in the neck.

    Smith grew up in Tampa, enlisted in the Army in 1989 and served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. As a sergeant, he was considered a taskmaster, insisting his troops keep their weapons spotless, Cpl. Daniel Medrano, who served with the sergeant in Bosnia in 2001, told The St. Petersburg Times. Smith would push a cotton swab into rifle barrels, looking for dirt, Medrano said.

    Reached at her home in Holiday, Fla., on Tuesday, Smith's widow, Birgit, expressed gratitude. "I'm proud and honored that Paul would be recognized by his country in such a meaningful way," she said in a telephone interview. "He loved his country; he loved the Army; and he loved his soldiers."
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    I read a story about this a couple of weeks ago, but I don't remember where. Somethng that I didn't see mentioned in your article that was in the one I read was that the Iraqi fire was so intense, the Bradley that had come up in support actually backed out of the compound while Smith held fast.

    "In the highest tradtion of the military service...."

    Indeed.
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    I know, I have read numerous articles on this but I'll be darned if I am going to try to find them - go ahead, call me lazy.

    I have also heard through the grapevine so to speak, that a Marine First Sergeant has been nominated for a MOH for actions in Fallujah last November. He survived but was seriously wounded and last I heard he was recovering well and looking forward to going back to his unit. Truly a warrior, always concerned about their brothers in arms.
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    "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

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    Where do we keep finding these people?

    Incredible character.
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    Where do we keep finding these people?

    Incredible character.




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    Originally posted by Neman13
    Where do we keep finding these people?

    Incredible character.




    MCRD Paris Island & San Diego
    You mean MCRD Parris Island and San Diego don't you?

    Remember, the gentleman mentioned in the article is an Army Sergeant First Class.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

    The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

    "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

    "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

    www.daveramsey.com www.clarkhoward.com www.heritage.org

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    Well it's good to see that the standards haven't been lowered for everything....

    "In the highest tradtion of the military service...."
    In deed
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    God bless the soul of SFC Paul Smith, a real Marne soldier.
    He went far above and beyond the call of duty.

    There was a topic on the forums not long ago about the definition of a hero. Well, this man is most certainly a hero.

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    r
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    Default thanks for posting this Sharkie

    extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor without regard to his own life in order to save others are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service
    Thank you Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith.

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    During Operation Iraqi Freedom, SFC (Sergeant First Class) Smith was a platoon sergeant/acting platoon leader in the 1st Brigade's B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion attached to the 2-7 Task Force. Bravo Company was in contact with Saddam's forces nearly every day during the second phase of the campaign. After a pause below As Samawah and Karbala, the drive on Baghdad from the south carried the 2-7th into Saddam International Airport.

    On the morning of April 4, the Task Force was inside of the airport and several enemy soldiers had been captured, so a containment pen had be to quickly built. There was a wall 10 ft tall paralleling the north side of the highway, on the battalion's flank just behind the front lines. Smith (whose callsign was 'Sapper 7') decided to punch a hole in it, so that the inside walls would form two sides of a triangular enclosure and the open third side could be closed off with rolls of concertina wire.

    Smith used an armored combat earthmover to punch through the wall and, while wire was being laid across the corner, one of the squad's two M113s moved toward a gate on the far side of the courtyard. The driver pushed open the gate to open a field of fire, revealing between 50 and 100 enemy soldiers massed to attack. The only way out was the hole the engineers had put in the wall and the gate where the hardcore Iraqis were firing.

    What happened next was equal to Audie Murphy's legendary World War II heroism. Iraqi soldiers perched in trees and a nearby tower let loose with a barrage of RPGs and there were snipers on the roof. A mortar round hit the engineers' M-113, seriously wounding three soldiers inside. Smith helped evacuate them to an aid station, which was threatened by the attack as well.

    Smith promptly organized the engineers' defense, since the only thing that stood between the Iraqis and the Task Force's headquarters were about 15 to 20 engineers, mortarmen and medics. A second M113 was hit by an RPG, but was still operational. Dozens of Iraqi soldiers were charging from the gate or scaling a section of the wall, jumping into the courtyard.

    Smith took over the second APC's .50-caliber machine gun and got the vehicle into a position where he could stop the Iraqis. First Sergeant Tim Campbell realized that they had to knock out the Iraqi position in the tower and after consulting with Smith, led two soldiers to take the tower. Armed only with a light machine-gun, a rifle and a pistol with one magazine, the trio advanced behind the smoke of tall grass that had caught fire from exploding ammunition.

    Smith yelled for more ammunition three times during the fight, going through 400 rounds before he was hit in the head. Shortly before taking the tower and gunning down the Iraqis inside, Campbell noticed that the sound of Smith's .50-caliber had also stopped. Campbell figured Smith was just reloading again.

    The medics worked on SFC Smith for 30 minutes, but he was dead.

    According to the citation, his actions killed 20 to 50 Iraqis, allowing the American wounded to be evacuated, saving the aid station and headquarters (as well as possibly 100 American lives). Fellow soldiers credit Smith with thwarting the advance of well-trained, well-equipped soldiers from the Special Republican Guard, which was headed straight for the 2-7 Task Force's headquarters (Tactical Operations Center), less than a half-mile away. The battle captains, commanders and journalists huddled at the operations center were trying to protect themselves against tank fire and snipers in the nearby woods They had no idea about the possible onslaught of Republican Guard from the nearby complex.

    Smith, a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, was a 33 year old from Tampa, Florida. He left behind a wife, a son and a daughter. Memorials to SFC Paul Ray Smith, online at:

    · http://www.fallenheroesmemorial.com/...mithpaulr.html
    · http://www.sfcpaulsmith.com/
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    The story on First Sergeant Kasal, who DaSharkie mentioned earlier.

    Bonds forged in battle create lasting image [more on USMC Sgt Brad Kasal]
    Omaha World-Herald ^ | Feb 13, 2005 | CINDY GONZALEZ

    With more than half his blood draining onto an Iraqi battleground, a bullet-riddled Brad Kasal feared he might never again see his family in Afton, Iowa.
    This photograph of wounded Marine 1st Sgt. Brad Kasal in Fallujah, Iraq, is making the rounds of the tight-knit Marine community. Kasal, of Afton, Iowa, shares a bond with two other Marines who also were wounded in the Nov. 13 firefight.

    But the first sergeant's resolve to save a younger Marine lying next to him pushed aside such thoughts.

    "I was losing consciousness," a recuperating Kasal recalled last week. "I forced myself to stay awake. I was worried about saving him and keeping the enemy at bay."

    Both Kasal, 38, and Pfc. Alexander Nicoll survived that Nov. 13 Fallujah firefight, albeit with life-altering injuries. Nicoll lost part of a leg; Kasal is fighting to save his.

    Kasal's heroics have been memorialized by a journalist's photograph that's quickly spreading over the Internet.

    The powerful image shows the bloodied warrior with his arms wrapped around the necks of two comrades pulling him to safety. By then, Kasal, leader of 170 Marines, had absorbed seven rounds from a fully-automatic rifle and up to 40 pieces of grenade shrapnel. Still clenched in Kasal's right hand is his 9 mm Beretta.

    What happened during the hour or so leading up to that moment is a story of wartime loyalty, bravery, brotherhood.

    The events highlighted a bond among three Marines: Kasal, Nicoll and 24-year-old R.J. Mitchell of Omaha. They earlier had served together in the same Marine company.

    As with any photograph, there is more than meets the eye. In interviews, Kasal, Mitchell and others recounted the deeper story behind the picture.

    They were five days into Operation Phantom Fury, the American assault on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

    Troops were clearing buildings of terrorists when Kasal spotted a wounded American who said at least three Marines were trapped in a nearby house filled with "bad guys."

    Kasal rounded up a crew and led the way.

    "I knew it was the toughest fighting we were doing," he would recall.

    He entered first to give the Marines more confidence.

    He noticed several dead Iraqis on the floor. He pointed two of his men toward a wounded American, then took Nicoll with him to check an "uncleared" room.

    Shots burst from an AK-47 assault rifle 2 feet from Kasal. He backed up, then returned fire.

    "I stuck my barrel right in his chest, we were that close," said Kasal. "I kept pulling the trigger until he went down . . . then I shot him two more times in the forehead to make sure he was dead."

    From a staircase behind him came another barrage. "I never even saw it coming," Kasal said.

    Round after round after round, nearly cutting his leg in half.

    He watched Nicoll get sprayed, too, and saw him bleeding from the midsection.

    In spite of his own wounds, Kasal crawled back to help his comrade.

    Sliding on his belly, Kasal kicked away the insurgent he had killed and pulled Nicoll into a tiny adjoining room for cover. On the way, he was shot in the buttocks.

    Both men were bleeding profusely but protected by a wall. Kasal wrapped a field dressing around Nicoll's leg.

    Then came the grenade-exploding just 4 feet away.

    Kasal rolled on top of Nicoll, trying to protect him from the blast.

    Omahan Mitchell came running into the room to help. He, too, was hit by grenade shrapnel.

    At Kasal's behest, Mitchell tended to Nicoll's injuries. Kasal laid his rifle in the doorway - a sign to other Marines that friendly forces were inside - then pulled out his 9 mm for protection.

    Mitchell radioed other troops, who came later to pull the wounded Marines out.

    The dire circumstances brought together three Marines who had served together in Kilo Company before Kasal shifted to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines.

    Mitchell calls Kasal the epitome of a Marine. Kasal says he was honored to fight beside a trusted comrade like Mitchell. Both praised the younger Nicoll's courage.

    And they did not forget other Marines, who ultimately collapsed the house on remaining insurgents. Mitchell said the two lance corporals shown in the photo pulling Kasal to safety are heroes, too.

    "It's crazy what a human body is capable of doing when you actually have meaning to do something," Mitchell said. "You're completely willing to put your life on the line for your fellow Marine."

    Shot multiple times in the firefight was yet another Marine with Midlands ties, Cpl. Ryan Weemer. The Fremont, Neb., native had hobbled out to seek help, passing Kasal and Mitchell on their way in.

    The final rescue phase of the battle claimed the life of Sgt. Byron Norwood, whose parents were spotlighted during President Bush's State of the Union address.

    Joseph H. Alexander, a retired Marine colonel who is now a military historian, said the photo of Kasal's rescue is making the rounds in the tight-knit Marine community.

    "He's badly shot up, but he's still got his weapons and he's not quitting," Alexander said of the photograph. "That's the kind of men you want fighting for your country."

    Alexander, who saw his share of bravery in the Vietnam War, said he wouldn't be surprised to see high military honors bestowed on Kasal.

    "He was conspicuously brave at the risk of his own life, took care of his troops and was such a warrior. That's not going to escape the attention of any of his superiors," Alexander said.

    Sixty percent of Kasal's blood was shed that day.

    "I'll be honest. A couple of times I didn't think I was going to make it out," he said. "I thought I was going to bleed to death."

    Separation from his unit during recovery ached more than the wounds, he said. "It's hard to explain - just that bond."

    The hospital stay, however, did produce lasting memories. Kasal's father, Gerald, beams over a photo of a special December visitor, President Bush, who met with his son at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

    "It ain't every day an Iowa boy gets to meet the president and talk to him one on one," his dad said.

    More surgeries are ahead as doctors try to stretch Kasal's lower leg, which lost 4 inches of bone in the firefight. Time will tell whether it can be saved.

    His days now are divided between military hospitals and his home in Oceanside, Calif.

    Nicoll is on the mend, and Mitchell is heading home to Omaha later this month. Mitchell's wound on Nov. 13 was his fourth injury since enlisting in 2001. He is processing out as his contract ends in March. He was promoted to sergeant after the battle. He'll leave with at least two Purple Hearts.

    Kasal plans to retire in 2006, capping two decades of active duty. He wants to get into real estate and settle in Iowa, near the farm where he and four brothers, all of whom served in the military, grew up.

    Retirement will wait, though, until Kasal gets better.

    "I want to go out as I came in - healthy and in uniform, with pride."

    If I screw up the attachment, the photo can be seen at
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1342267/posts

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    Thanks Gunny. I couldn't recall the First Sergeant's name so I couldn't Google him.

    Semper Fi!
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    Are we sure this guy is on the up and up?

    Thanks to the Swift Boat Vets, we now know official records are pretty worthless.

    I hope this guy never runs for office.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    Looks like he went through hell to me SC.......
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    Originally posted by VinnieB


    Looks like he went through hell to me SC.......
    How do you know that's him.

    The SwiftVets told us that official records weren't to be believed.

    The shame that group brought to our men and women in uniform should have been denounced from the start by idiot conservatives. Instead they sucked it up like rock candy. Fortunately, there were normal GOP's like McCain and Hagel who rightfully denounced them for the idiots they and their followers showed themselves to be.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    Geez SC, lighten up. This is a post about a Marine who earned the Medal of Honor. Even if you don't agree with the war, maybe you could show a little respect. Maybe write something positive about the guy. After all, it is young soldiers like this who give you the right to speak your mind in the first place.
    I really think turning a respectful topic like this into political banter - again - shows a complete lack of character.

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    Ok...the election has been over for sometime now.....but as I recall...the otherside went after GWB's record of service..... So I guess there both at fault.
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    Originally posted by Plattsfire2
    Geez SC, lighten up. This is a post about a Marine who earned the Medal of Honor. Even if you don't agree with the war, maybe you could show a little respect. Maybe write something positive about the guy. After all, it is young soldiers like this who give you the right to speak your mind in the first place.
    I really think turning a respectful topic like this into political banter - again - shows a complete lack of character.
    I HAVE a lack of character? Don't thank me for questioning military records. Thank the Bush supporting Swift Boat Vets. I'm sure this ARMY SERGEANT deserves every honor and then some. Unfortunately, thanks to those idiots from Texas, there is now doubt as to its validity. Unless he got his decorations from a seperate DoD.

    And to answer VinnieB. Yes, there were questions about Bush's service. What part of those questions claimed his valor and heroism in combat were bogus?
    Last edited by scfire86; 04-02-2005 at 10:27 AM.
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    Originally posted by scfire86


    And to answer VinnieB. Yes, there were questions about Bush's service. What part of those questions claimed his valor and heroism in combat were bogus?

    Give it a rest SC...its over....EVERYONE knows what happened during the elections....and quite honestly I would be wasting my time reiterating the details....let it go....its OVER....Kerry lost...its done.....so in the words of Arnold in "Kindergarden Cop"...."Stop Winning"....
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    Originally posted by VinnieB



    Give it a rest SC...its over....EVERYONE knows what happened during the elections....and quite honestly I would be wasting my time reiterating the details....let it go....its OVER....Kerry lost...its done.....so in the words of Arnold in "Kindergarden Cop"...."Stop Winning"....
    Just giving a little perspective Vinny. You of all people should have been kicking their asses hardest. Sadly, you weren't.
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    So because of someone's political beliefs and feelings, we have taken a post to just notify folks of an impending award and turned it into your own little ****ing contest.

    Thanks for nothing. There is no perspective to be given. Should you truly feel that the awarding of a Medal of Honor is minimized by John Kerry or his actions, go tell the widow of Sergeant First Class's wife and parents, as well as the men whose lives were saved by his actions. Somehow I don't think that will happen, so just show some decency and respect. I don't care about your political viewpoints and they are entirely innapropriate here. You want to trash his actions and minimize them, start another thread.


    Just a reminder here, Sergeant First Class Smith was NOT a Marine, he was a soldier in the United States Army.

    First Sergeant Kasal is a United States Marine who has been nominated for the Medal of Honor.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

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    "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

    "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

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    Originally posted by DaSharkie
    Thanks for nothing. There is no perspective to be given. Should you truly feel that the awarding of a Medal of Honor is minimized by John Kerry or his actions, go tell the widow of Sergeant First Class's wife and parents, as well as the men whose lives were saved by his actions.
    His actions weren't minimized by John Kerry. They were minimized by the actions of those very good conservative Bush supporters, Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth. That is where you wrath should be focused. This is one of those that would have been an easy mark on KD range, yet you missed.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

  24. #24
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    1835Wayne's Avatar
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    Geez SC...........no one cares anymore about that except you. Let it go.
    I.A.C.O.J. Charter Member
    "Chet, get an inch and a half on that!"

    "Not for fame or reward,Not for place or rank. Not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity. But in simple obedience to duty as they understood it. These men suffered,sacrificed,dared all, and died. Let us never forget our fallen friends."

  25. #25
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    DaSharkie's Avatar
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    My wrath is focused on you for throwing politics into this. You should have just kept your opinions to yourself. You want start another of your rants, start another thread for dicscussion, stop ****ing on this man's actions.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

    The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

    "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

    "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

    www.daveramsey.com www.clarkhoward.com www.heritage.org

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