Saturday, January 31, 2015

BREAD & CIRCUSES

All you people asking me about the Superbowl and who's gonna win it? I'd say the two teams are very well matched . . . the game will go to whoever stops playing football first . . . just like the Green Bay Packers a couple weeks back . . . FWIW my money's on the SeaBirds - S.L.



"Bread and Circuses" is of course a saying comes from the Ancient Roman Emperors habit of putting on a circus and distributing free bread to the mob, as a distraction during challenging political times.

There is a magnificent portrayal of a Roman chariot race in the 1959 film Ben-Hur; more like a six-way dual to the death than what we think of as a horse race.


Many people equate NFL football to the Ancient Roman circuses and games. Admittedly there are a lot of similarities; the pageantry, the violence, the blood-lust of the crowd.


The players themselves actually resemble Roman gladiators with their helmets and body armor. And of course the injuries - while rarely fatal - do add a level if mortality to what is otherwise considered a game. And of course there is the "bread and circuses" aspect of the whole thing . . .

Well unless you've been living under a rock or just came out of a coma, you're aware of the cheating scandal going on in the NFL - its one of those sports stories that spills over into the mainstream media. After the playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts – which the Patriots won by a landslide - it was somehow determined that the Patriots had somehow underinflated their footballs.

The reasoning behind this is in cold weather, a slightly less inflated football is easier to throw and a hell of a lot easier to catch . . . it was about 35 degrees and raining . . . here are some factoids for those who haven't been following the scandal:

NFL regulation balls are inflated to a pressure of between 12.5 and 13.5 psi (pounds per square inch). In the NFL each team plays their own balls when they are offense - each team brings 12 balls to the game, broken in, well seasoned balls, with their own team logo on it. The balls are presented to the officials 2 hours before the game, who inspect them for correct dimensions and pressure, then hand them over to the team about 15 minutes before the game.


The footballs are handled by several different NFL officials and a group of the balls are inspected prior to each game. After the game the Colts expressed a concern about the Patriot's balls, and NFL officials determined they were about 2 psi under; this is a significant difference in a volume of gas as small as an NFL football. They ruled out Boyle's and Henry's laws of physics - a.k.a. the Ideal Gas Law - because the Colt's balls were not affected by the cold to the same degree.

Anyway it's a big scandal - it was the AFC championship - and the NFL is trying to figure out how to manage this thing going into the Superbow. They won't take away the Patriot's victory, but there will be some fines and or suspensions or loss of draft picks. They're being very careful not to act too soon, to punish the wrong guys - like for example Tom Brady the quarterback who is one of the best quarterbacks of all time - wouldn't be fair to punish him if he had nothing to do with it.

In the meantime the media is honking on and on about how it’s such a scandal, how disgraceful, it’s all about the integrity of the game. Talking heads from Boston are moaning about how ashamed they are of the Patriots . . . ad infinatum ad nauseum . . .

It really is remarkable. It's spilled right over into the regular media - one of those sports stories that migrates from the back page to the front page. Bread and circuses, right?

Now here's the irony of it all:

None of these media types ever moan about integrity or rules or cheating whenever Obama throws out a mandate in direct contradiction to the Constitution.


Not a word about integrity or rules or cheating when the Democrats changed the rules in the Senate and Congress so the Republicans couldn't even debate the bills they crammed through.


The press gave Clinton a pass when he lied under oath - perjury - or when all those women came forward with accusations of rape and abuse. Not a word about integrity or rules or cheating.

So politics gets a pass on rule breaking - that's OK - but in sports the rules and regulations are sacrosanct?

I ran this past a friend whom I consider sophisticated and informed. "Politicians lie and cheat all the time," she shrugged. OK - politicians get a pass on it, but now with this football thing, the same media talking heads who give politicians a pass on breaking the rules - where it has real consequences on people's lives - are all bent out of shape over the integrity of football.

My point is the irony and the hypocrisy of the media, the absolute double standard: with this football thing, the rules and integrity are sacrosanct.


The press gave Ted Kennedy get a total pass on Chappaquiddick; weren't even allowed to bring it up in interviews, an unwritten agreement. They covered for John Edwards when his Love Child story was broke by the National Enquirer (of all papers) for six months . . . the regular press gave John Edwards a pass until finally the NE posted the pics of Edwards with the baby and then they couldn't ignore it anymore.


OK I get it. The rules don't matter. The Press gives powerful people a pass because they know what side their bread is buttered on. Politicians are expected to be corrupt and so the Press looks the other way when they are. Sports on the other hand is supposed to be sacrosanct, where examples are created for young people: "Bread and Circuses" - the Powers That Be all over the world want to distract people's attention from what is really happening.

But that is my point, of course. The pundits and the talking heads in the media carry themselves like they are the Keepers of the Flame, the Fourth Branch of Government charged with moral oversight. And yet the message we get is that political leaders aren't supposed to set any kind of example for young people? That it's OK to be a stinker? How is that in keeping with any rule or principle of leadership, in anyone's book?

And of course the Press claims to be objective but in reality they are not. Let us consider the great politicians of yesteryear, John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon.


Kennedy was an absolute stinker - broke every rule in the book in all directions - but he was assassinated by a dirty little America-hating Communist and for the rest of eternity JFK is a saint.

Nixon's crime was standing up for his guys and getting sucked into covering for a crime - an office break-in to the Democratic Party's political office that he had no involvement in and no direct knowledge of, whatsoever - and they ran him out of town on a rail over it.

No, of course politicians are SUPPOSED to be honest, but everyone knows they're not.

I don't accept that. I want my leadership held to the same standards that I am.

Look at all that mess they made about George Bush: "Bush lied thousands died." Never mind there is not a shred of proof that he told a single lie. Whereas Bill Clinton gets up there and committed perjury - lying under oath - which would get you or me 5 years in the slammer automatic sentence - and the press was saying it doesn't matter, its okay to lie about sex, people do it all the time.

In fact in the 1992 election, as it surfaced what a reprobate Clinton was, the press started this saying: "Character doesn't count"

BREAD AND CIRCUSES!

A greater point is that this proves there is a moral imperative to a free & open society . . .


STORMBRINGER SENDS

Thursday, January 22, 2015

SPECIAL FORCES

Some SF propaganda I've been putting together over the past couple days . . . S.L.


The Army is my Tribe . . .


. . . Special Forces is my Family


For mass transmission on all frequencies . . .

STORMBRINGER SENDS

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A REPLY TO MICHAEL MOORE AND THE LEFT ON MILITARY SNIPERS

This came across the wire on my Facebook timeline . . . posted here full text . . . S.L.

Michael Moore, supported by a cadre of fellow liberals, weighed in on the movie "American Sniper" and took the liberty - and I mean took the liberty literally - to criticize military snipers as "cowards."

Let me introduce myself. My name is Sean Johnson. I currently work for Congressman Paul Gosar as his Wounded Warrior Military and Veteran Liaison. I am a Marine and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. I am medically retired due to injuries I sustained during my service in Afghanistan.


I personally know what our snipers do. I have worked with these guys. Calling them cowards wouldn't faze them one bit but it would amuse them, coming from a soft, Hollywood leftist like Michael Moore. If anyone knows cowards it might be him.

Snipers play a key role in military operations. They often go out in advance to secure an area where operations are planned. They go behind enemy lines alone with possibly only a spotter. It is incredibly dangerous. They most often hike into remote areas, up mountains, down valleys, through extreme heat or extreme cold. These men are total bad asses.

During operations they protect our troops who are conducting sweeps and other activities. They keep an eye out for enemies, suicide bombers, etc. They have saved the lives of countless soldiers. One good sniper taking out a suicide bomber can save dozens of troops.

They are used for taking out high value targets. Enemy combat leaders can be effectively targeted thus degrading the enemies' operational readiness and leadership command.

Snipers can buy time for troops withdrawing from a combat zone. It's hard for the enemy to advance when anyone who stands up to attack our soldiers gets a bullet to the head.

Far from being cowards, these are some of our best men. They operate in the worst circumstances often alone in the elements. And they don't complain. They do it because it's right, it's their job and they believe in protecting their fellow soldiers and protecting our way of life granted to us by the Constitution.

I thank God for these brave men. They save lives every day. I hope you join me and Congressman Gosar in praying for the health and safety of all of our snipers, and maybe pray for Michael Moore to one day understand that his liberty to attack snipers like Chris Kyle is only possible because of these brave patriots.


Please re-transmit on all frequencies . . .

STORMBRINGER SENDS

Monday, January 19, 2015

OPEN LETTER TO MICHAEL MOORE

Michael Moore - I dare you to come to Fort Bragg, or Camp Lejeune, or Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, or Camp Pendleton, or Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, and get in a sniper's face and call him a coward. I dare you. I guess we'll see who the real coward is now, eh? - S.L.


Dear Shitbag:

That's mighty bold of you sitting there in your size ginormous pajamas bad mouthing a man who had more chutzpah in his little finger than you've got in your entire bloated body. I guess it's easy for you to call someone else a coward when your excuse for not serving is you're too obscenely obese even in your prime to pass a military medical screening.

Just to show how out of sync you are with reality; if it wasn't for the efforts of THIS American Sniper there probably wouldn't even BE an America - which would probably suit you fine seeing as you hate your own country even more than you obviously hate yourself.


Heads Up Michael Moore: We invaded Italy, France & Germany - none of those countries attacked us - was America's role in World War II illegal & immoral? History judges otherwise . . .

Your comment is hateful and totally unnecessary Michael Moore, and because I'm not a coward if you like I'll say it to your face: you, sir, are an absolute shitbag . . .

STORMBRINGER SENDS

Sunday, January 18, 2015

HOME SECURITY SYSTEM

With all the travel I do, Wifee wanted me to put in a state-of-the-art security system . . .


So I put up an al Qaeda flag, a Pakistani flag and an ISIS flag, then I went about my business . . .

Wifee comes out, takes one look at the flags flying over our house and says, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING ? ? ?"

I said, "You wanted a state-of-the-art security system? Well now you've got the NSA, the FBI, the CIA and the State Troopers watching the place 24-7. I can't do any better than that . . ."



That's my story and I'm sticking to it . . .

STORMBRINGER SENDS

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WHO KNEW?

This little item came over the Interwebbie machine last night . . . S.L.


46-year-old Carolyn Kesel of Seneca Falls, New York went to a Walmart last week, bought two small bottles of vanilla extract . . . and decided to CHUG them in the parking lot.

It messed her up so much that she started drunk driving around the parking lot, and couldn't figure out how to get out.

When the cops pulled her over, it turned out she had a blood-alcohol level of .26 . . . which is more than three times the legal limit. She was arrested for felony driving while intoxicated.

It turns out vanilla extract is 41% alcohol . . . which means it's 82 proof. That's actually LESS alcoholic than some other forms of extract . . . orange and peppermint extract are both 89% alcohol, or almost 180 proof.

There's a little corner of the Interwebbie where the Brothers meet . . . I call it the Double-Extra-Top-Secret-Unauthorized-Special-Forces-Illegal-Team-Back-Channel-Frequency . . .

. . . the conversations always there go One Step Beyond . . .

Team Guy: Good information . . . Can't afford a six-pack get the Extract LMAO

S.L.: I bet you can buy it in bulk somewhere for half price . . .

S.L.: 25 ounces to 750 ml . . . 25 / 2 = 12.5 . . . $4.12 X 12.5 oz's = $51.50 . . . not a cheap high

Team Guy: Oh damn . . . never was good at math . . . Imagine the charges though - under the influence of vanilla extract . . .

S.L.: "So, what are you in for?" . . . "uh.. vanilla, man.." . . . "No, I didn't ask what you ARE Honky . . . I asked what are you IN FOR ? ? ?"

Team Guy: ROFLMAO ! ! !

S.L.: I wonder if the vanilla itself has any effect? Hmmm . . . I bet we have some in the kitchen cabinets . . . hmmmm . . .

Team Guy: Empirical research

S.L.: WELL WELL WELL LOOKY WHAT WE GOT HERE FOLKS ! ! !

Like any good Child of the Seventies . . . always in search of the Next High . . .

Team Guy: Doooooooooh

S.L.: Anybody ever want to know . . . that's some pretty rough stuff to chug . . . dddnt smmm t2 B hvign aany efffct thougggh . . .

Team Guy: LOL

S.L.: We're carving out some new frontiers here menzes . . . . SCIENCE ! ! ! I can see an opportunity smuggling footlockers full of this shit into US FOBs that fall under General Order No 1 . . . "PSST Hey Buddy - you want some VANILLA???"

Team Queen: I know. My words exactly.

S.L.: OK Team this is where I went with it . . . took a pint of half & half . . . added about a cup of vodka . . . about 3 tablespoons of really dark dark DARK cocoa powder . . . about 2 tablespoons of expresso coffee . . . then I jammed that 2 oz's of Vanilla Extract in there . . . shook it all up . . . all I need now is what to NAME this milkshake ? ? ?

Bionic Team Guy: How about WILLY PETE?

S.L.: Willy Pete is a DAMN GOOD NAME for it . . . seeing as my favorite soul singer is Wilson Pickett and I started out as a Mortar Maggot ! ! !

Team Queen: How does it taste?

S.L.: Sort of like alcoholic sump oil out of the bottom of an M151 jeep.

Bionic Team Guy: LOL Mortar Maggot might fit it better. Replace the vodka with 151 and call that the Willy Pete.

S.L.: Hmmm . . . not a bad idea . . . 151 is some pretty lethal brew, perfectly good for mixing with shit . . . and I had a lot of WEIRD EXPERIENCES partying with the Puerto Ricans back in the Eighty-Duece . . . never a dull moment that's for sure . . .

You want to know what war is like? Re-read the dialogue above . . . these are the kinds of conversations you have in war . . .

THAT'S MY STORY AND I'M STICKING TO IT . . .


STORMBRINGER SENDS

Monday, January 12, 2015

THANK YOU

Ki's Kiln Kickstarter Campaign succeeded beyond our wildest dreams . . . S.L. & Ki


When the chips were down, I reached out.

After we made our initial goal of $3700 on the Kickstarter campaign, two days before Christmas, the thing kept going right up until the closing date, which was 2 January. We exceeded our goal by a significant amount, which is important because the $3700 only replaced the kiln - it did not cover the cost of an electrician to hook the thing up, or to recover the money we'd put into trying to fix the old kiln.

We are very grateful for your support, and for all your generous donations. The Gallery is Ki's lifelong dream, and having a working kiln is critical to her operation. We simply could not have done it without you.


Please visit Ki's blog or The Gallery at 122 Facebook page to see Ki's original works of art.

Best Wishes for 2015, and

Cheers,


Sean & Ki

MISSING PERSONS REPORT

A husband went to the sheriff’s department to report that his wife was missing.


Husband: My wife is missing. She went shopping yesterday and has not come home.

Sergeant: What is her height?

Husband: Gee, I’m not sure. A little over five-feet tall.

Sergeant: Weight?

Husband: Don’t know. Not slim, not really fat.

Sergeant: Color of eyes?

Husband: Never noticed.

Sergeant: Color of hair?

Husband: Changes a couple times a year. Maybe dark brown.

Sergeant: What was she wearing?

Husband: Could have been a skirt or shorts. I don’t remember exactly.

Sergeant: What kind of car did she go in?

Husband: She went in my truck.

Sergeant: What kind of truck was it?

Husband: Brand new 2015 Ford F150 King Ranch 4X4 with eco-boost 5.0L V8 engine special ordered with manual transmission. It has a custom matching white cover for the bed. Custom leather seats and “Bubba” floor mats. Trailering package with gold hitch. DVD with navigation, 21-channel CB radio, six cup holders, and four power outlets. Added special alloy wheels and off-road Michelins. Wife put a small scratch on the drivers door.

At this point the husband started choking up.

Sergeant: Don’t worry buddy. We’ll find your truck.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

, , , , , , ,

ON TERRORISM

"Kill one, strike fear into the hearts of ten thousand." - Mao

A definition of terrorism is: the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. Politics (from Greek: πολιτικός politikos, meaning "of, for, or relating to citizens") is the practice and theory of influencing other people on a global, civic or individual level.

A military course involving terrorism that I used to teach began with this image of Julius Caesar, subtitled 'The History of Terrorism'


It was explained that the Romans systematically used lethal force to subjugate the populations of the lands they conquered. A standard operating procedure of the Romans at every town or village they entered, was to round up the people, select three of the leaders and crucify them at the entrance of the village or at the busiest crossroads. This was a message to everybody in the neighborhood: the Romans are in charge, do what they say.

The Roman technique is an early form of State Sponsored Terrorism. This was extremely effective in controlling the populations of their empire over a thousand years. Modern examples of State Sponsored Terrorism include North Korea and Iran. Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq through a brutal regime of State Sponsored Terrorism. Things have not changed much since the Roman days; ISIS, so far as it is a nation-state, maintains control over the territory it has conquered through beheadings and mass executions, widely publicized via modern mass media.

However, when most people think of terrorism, they think of this:

PLO Black September terrorist, Munich Olympic Village, September 1972


TWA Flight 847 - Beirut, June 1985


World Trade Center, Sept 11, 2001


Al Qaeda in Yemen claimed responsibility for this military-style assault in Paris, yesterday.


What's in a Name?

In 2003 I attended a briefing given by a Central Intelligence Agency analyst. His opening statement was "We call it the 'Global War on Terrorism' but this is a misnomer. Terror is a tactic and we don't make war against tactics. A more correct name for the conflict that we are in is "The War on Islamic Fundamentalism," because that is what it is."

And herein lies the problem. We have constrained ourselves from the truth, and yesterday's attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris vividly illustrates this. The editors at Charlie were targeted and killed for mocking Islam - as they mocked all religions, and for refusing to buckle to the threat of reprisal from Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, or as the French call them: "Islamistes". And yet when referring to the attack, western media outlets have delicately avoided mentioning 'Islamic Fundamentalism'. Even the Whitehouse initially hesitated to refer to the attack as terrorism, only using this terminology after becoming aware that the French themselves were describing the attack as an act of terrorism.

Subsequent demonstrations in Paris express sympathy for the victims, of course, and for freedom of the press, symbolized by pens being held up, or piled in little stacks on the pavement. Look again at the opening line of this post: twelve are killed in Paris, and more than ten thousand media outlets are afraid of labeling the killers for what they are: Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists. They categorically avoid reference to Islam, out of political correctness, which is in itself a form of fear.




I was raised in Asia, have lived in several Muslim countries, and was taught by my parents and my teachers to respect all religions. This includes Islam. However, as I have stated before: It is a fact that I owe my life to a Muslim. I cannot be against my fellow man because of his religion, but I can say that the Muslim religion has been hijacked by a pack of psychotic homicidal maniacs.


Related:

Here is a link for a rather large-scale Inspector General complaint focused on the Intel community and "terrorism studies".

This document is the narrative for a United States Office of the Inspector General complaint focused on the waste and mismanagement of funds for terrorism studies. Terrorism studies is defined as the research and development of doctrine, classes, courseware, and other educational products for irregular threats, irregular warfare, anti-terrorism, counterterrorism, combatting terrorism, counterinsurgency, stability operations, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, and counterterrorism financing. The complaint involves two Intelligence Programs, several offices, bureaus, and departments, and the Armed Forces. The hybrid nature of terrorism, the size of the Intelligence Community, and the fact that no single entity is responsible for terrorism studies are the reasons for the mismanagement and waste.

16 million members on the site and the paper is still with the TOP 3% after 2 months.

BOTTOM LINE: Until we get serious about identifying the enemy for what they really are, we will never gain any momentum against the terrorist enemy.

STORMBRINGER SENDS

Monday, January 5, 2015

A SEEKER

"Servitude to egoism is the consequence of dishonor to oneself."
- Dale Comstock



"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afrai . . . He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.
~ Raymond Chandler ~


STORMBRINGER SENDS

Friday, January 2, 2015

ULTRA DOUBLE EXTRA SECRET

At the DMV getting my tags the other day I finally ran into one of those shit-talking phony wannabe guys . . . S.L.


I was wearing my SF cap and had a card from the VA showing I get a discount on my tags. He said that I must be 100% disabled. I said "No-o-o."

Then he told me he was only 10% for agent orange. Then he went on to tell me how he was running two-man recon teams in Laos for the CIA while he was with the 101st. He said he spent 13 days in a tiger cage until the Marines came in and rescued them. He said the CIA wouldn't release his records to help him with the VA and he has been fighting them for the past ten years.

So I threw some of my own B.S. on him by telling him to join the Special Operations Association. They have access to all those top secret documents and all they have to do is stamp approve your claim and then the VA approves you for 100% plus an extra 2 grand a month for Special Operations with no questions asked. He just said "Oh," and didn't even inquire on how to get into the SOA.

Motto of the Secret Squirrel Division: "We Protect Your Nuts"

I told him about how I got fucked up during the latter stages of the Cold War. We used to do night HALO infils into Siberia to pull observation on the trains the Russians were moving their nukes around on. Living in a snow cave for weeks on end manning a bunch of radiac monitors, that whole area is such a giant frozen morass of industrial toxic waste and radioactive slime I'm still pissing chemlite juice.

It was no picnic either when the 3d Mongolian Motorized Spetznaz Division had us surrounded for six weeks and we were gnawing on tree bark and living off pine needle tea until they managed to airdrop a Fulton surface-to-air recovery system for us to ride tandem out of there . . .



Then there was all that time I spent in Odessa during our assassination campaign against the Black Sea Fleet maintenance personnel. Hanging out in those poorly heated Stalinist communal housing units took it's toll on my health as well; a guy can only breath so much coal dust and wash it down with bad vodka for only so long, that's why the tours were limited to 24 months.

When I told the man at the VA all this he looked at me like I had a dick growing out the middle of my forehead. He said there's nothing about any of that in your records. I said "Well, OF COURSE there's nothing in my records! That stuff was ultra-top secret classified at echelons above reality! You don't see anything in there about me being on the Space Shuttle Door Gunner program either, do you?" But I WAS and I showed him my SCUBA bubble to prove it. The CIA won't release my shit either so I'm in the same boat as Secret Agent Orange Man but at least he got a job at the DMV while I'm stuck out here in Palookaville . . .

Special Forces Secret Squirrel Assassination Squad Assault Rifle

Double Extra Ultra-Top Secret G-14 classified . . . which is even higher than 00-KNOT-SPY level 5 . . .

STORMBRINGER SENDS

"IT WAS JUST A STRAIGHT-UP BRAWL"

Brutality of 1994 Panama fight still resonates with U.S. troops . . . S.L.

Officially it wasn’t even a battle. The U.S. soldiers and the men they fought weren’t even enemies.

But 17 years later, the veterans of this “medieval fight” remember every inch of the battlefield.

“It was just a straight-up brawl,” recalled Sergeant First Class Arturo De La Garza, an Army Specialist on that day.

Outnumbered more than five to one, the Americans endured 20 unforgiving minutes that seemed like an eternity, unsure if they would emerge alive.

There were no firearms or bombs, just raw, primitive weapons: clubs and shields and, most of all, thousands of baseball-size rocks that shattered the U.S. troops’ bones and rained so densely that the sun seemed blacked out by a sea of stone.

Some of the Americans had seen combat in the Persian Gulf War. Others later fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those men almost unanimously agree: Their fight in Panama on Dec. 8, 1994, was the equal in terror and ferocity of anything else they ever faced.

No U.S. troops died that morning. But when they reunited more than a decade later, the U.S. veterans realized they’d all been casualties.

Soldiers gather at the gate of one of the four camps that the U.S. military built to house Cuban refugees in Panama in 1994

Rocks and Batons

Understanding how the men of Company C, 5th Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment fought an unofficial, unnoticed battle in Panama requires a brief history lesson.

In 1994, more Cuban refugees set out for U.S. shores than had tried in a decade, many in rafts and makeshift boats. The U.S. filled the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay with those it caught. Buying time, the U.S. built four large, temporary camps on a military reservation in Panama called Empire Range. The effort was called Operation Safe Haven.

General Barry McCaffrey, 52 at the time, was the four-star commander of U.S. Southern Command. In an interview last week, he said he sympathized with the Cubans, even as it was his job to detain them.

“Our guidance was, the camps would be exactly what my grandparents would have hoped to see when they got off the boat at Ellis Island. No guns visible,” McCaffrey said. “We had schools and clinics. It was a model of how to handle refugees.”

The Cubans lived in large military tents, 100 tents in each camp, built on concrete slabs.

The perimeter of each camp was lined with chain-link fence. There were soccer fields and dining facilities. With so many people living in a wet climate, the ground was covered with rocks to allow water to drain away quickly.

By fall 1994, about 10,000 refugees waited warily at Empire Range. McCaffrey recalled walking through the camps with his wife and talking to them.

“They loved Cuba,” he said, “but they went to the beach, and they put grandmothers and 4-year-old sons on rafts to be baked by the sun, and risk being eaten by sharks. Why? They wanted freedom.”


The Sun is Gone

If they had to go into the camp to restore order, U.S. soldiers would be armed only with wooden batons and plexiglass shields.

“We asked for shotguns, with birdshot. We asked for tear gas. We were told we couldn’t have them,” recalled then-2nd Lt. Jason Amerine, a recent Ranger School graduate who was assigned to Company C’s 1st Platoon. “We weren’t running a concentration camp. We were there to host the Cubans.”

Several times in November and early December, Company C quelled demonstrations. Each time, things died down without violence. On Dec. 7, however, news came down that most of the refugees would be returned to Cuba.

About 500 Cubans rioted inside Camp No. 1. They burned at least one tent, and stole and crashed a military Humvee.

Company C was at Fort Davis, a three-hour drive or 15-minute helicopter flight away from the camps.

“I had just got my tray of food in the cafeteria and sat down, and somebody came into the chow hall and yelled, ‘Charlie Company!’ ” recalled Ryan Epley, then a Sergeant with 3rd Platoon. “We were used to getting alerts ... but minutes later Chinooks were landing. We knew it was business.”

An hour later, at 6 p.m., they were landing at Empire Range.

“Charlie Company had 96 soldiers,” Amerine later recounted in an academic paper about the fight. “The Air Force Security Police fielded about 80 airmen. We expected to face between 500 and 1,000 rioters . . . we continued to wield batons, with our shotguns and tear gas locked up at Fort Davis.”

Things quieted down. Company C guarded the camp all night. By mid-morning, a crowd gathered again on the soccer field.

There were two gates to Camp No. 1, both toward the northeast side. The plan was for the Air Force security police to march in from the main gate, while Company C advanced from the side gate. As Company C moved toward the field, its members would force the Cubans toward the dormitory tents.

The soldiers formed up near the dining facility, which blocked their view of the soccer field. About 20 refugees gathered at the gate, wearing masks that they’d made from white T-shirts. They taunted the Americans. A few of the U.S. troops were bilingual. They tried not to laugh at some of the more creative insults.

The sun was hot. An hour passed. A soldier came by with hockey-style shin pads. There weren’t enough for everyone.

Inside the camp, the Cubans tied the gates shut and pushed bleachers from the soccer field against the fence.

“Finally we got the word,” Epley said.

He and two other soldiers went to work on the gate. By now the Cubans were hurling the drainage rocks at the U.S. troops. A few rocks broke through the fence. One of them hit a soldier in the face.

“He got nailed,” Epley recalled. “Broke his jaw.”

They got the gate open slightly, and Epley raced through. He charged at a group of rioters, screaming, with his baton in the air. The sight of the crazed American soldier sent them scurrying.

“Move out!” Amerine yelled.

The Cubans retreated around the corner of the dining facility. Marching three abreast with their riot shields up, as if in a parade, Amerine’s 1st Platoon walked along the back of the dining facility.

As they turned the corner and faced the soccer field, they finally saw what they were facing: hundreds and hundreds of angry rioters.

“The sky filled with a dark cloud of stones,” Amerine wrote later.

Another soldier, Spc. Robert Young, wasn’t far behind. He’d been in the Persian Gulf War and was one of the few combat veterans in the company. He’d never seen anything like this.

“The sun is gone,” Young recalled. “Thousands and thousands of rocks.”

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