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For The Record

Crossposted at Blackfive

I was coated in hydraulic fluid and profoundly grateful as I stumbled bowlegged away from the helicopter.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a 46 or 47 (and I suspect true of any similar make anywhere in the world), you and everything in it gets a fine coating of the fluid.  Just the nature of the beast.  On the up side, the camera still hasn’t needed lubrication since (extra cleanings, yes).  As for stumbling, that came from being wedged into place among the other cargo, legs spread far wider than comfortable.  I’m not saying that the few of us that made the bird had our legs forcibly spread so wide that porn stars were shocked and awed, but…  Yes, it was painful but I was secondary cargo and glad to be able to get out on that particular bird no matter the contortions.  In short, not an atypical flight.

There were some interesting maneuvers on the Marne Express (and similar flights), but those were to prevent people from being able to easily shoot at us.  Being a sick puppy, I found them pretty fun, and they reminded me of some even more interesting rides down at Ft. Rucker back in the day (between those two trees, no, between THESE two trees!).  I will not say the Blackhawks are more comfortable than the old Hueys but will note that you can cram a lot more people and gear into them.

If anyone shot at myself or any of the units I was with via small arms fire, they either did so using suppressors or from such a distance we could not hear the shot, and were lousy shots.  At the time I was there, the largest form of attacks were IEDs, rockets, and mortars. The only time there was the sound of gunfire (other than practice ranges) was in the run up to Operation Browning, and I still wish I could have stayed for that.

As for one particular 5 o’clock Charlie, the safest place to be was his known point of aim.  Sadly, like most sports pools I enter, my picks as to distance missed/what is actually hit have a dismal success rate.  Whoever it was that kept betting on the greater than distance made out like a bandit.  Say, wait a minute…

For whatever mainstream media still checks us out, Brian Williams is a hint as to why troops neither like nor trust reporters.  If you check out the writings by or about dedicated military reporters (Dan Lamothe, Tom Kludt as but two of several articles), you will find that they are livid too.  Far more surprised I think than milbloggers, but…  I also want to point to this story about Stars and Stripes, the first major publication to investigate and run the story.  Note, however, that they were the first old-school media to run it; it was social media/new media that first began to expose it.

As for me, my decision to have my “media” badge say “Blogger” instead of press or media was reinforced by hearing more than once about previous mainstream media embeds and pithy discussions of “misremembered” reporting.  Giving the number of personal videos and other recordings made, I would not be surprised to see more than Brian Williams be deservedly bitten in the ass for “misremembering” and “misreporting” events.  My own opinion is that such extends far beyond military coverage, and the rapid circling of wagons indicates that others see this more than mildly damaging for the media.  Kudos to Tom Brokaw for his reported thoughts on the matter, and if Dan Rather has to try to defend you…

Merry Christmas


May yours be bright and filled with all good things. Remembering Christmas’s past, in this case Doura, Iraq 2007.

Sale Over…

But, I may run some unadvertised specials.  Meantime, you can buy my new book (CreateSpace, Amazon, Kindle) and you can get print versions of ADV: Travels to Al Qa’im and Beyond and ADV: Travels with Team Easy; and, you can get the Kindle version of A Different View: Travels to Al Qa’im and Beyond
A Different View: Travels with Team Easy, Iraq 2007.  I want to share again the heart of the previous post:

A Different View: DJ, Doura, and Arab Jabour (Volume 3) is a view of the day-to-day life of the troops.  It shares one of the most amazing Christmas dinners I’ve ever had, and it shares a bit about Operation Puppy Love.  More than that, it shows how far things had come, and the hope on all sides that existed in late 2007/early 2008.  It shares what was tossed away for domestic political purposes, and stands in stark contrast to the situation today.

I think you really need to read Sarah A. Hoyt’s entire introduction, but this part captures so much of what I hope is shown in the images: Continue reading

ADV 3 Now Available!


A Different View:  DJ, Doura, & Arab Jabour is now available for purchase!  You can get it at CreateSpace (an Amazon Company) and it can also be purchased on Amazon proper and on Kindle.  The Kindle version has a number of blank pages inserted, but will live with that to have the photos show up as I wanted them to and following the text written for them.

The book not only showcases some of the day-to-day life of the troops, but also shares with you “Operation Puppy Love” and where things stood in Iraq at the start of 2008.  That stands in stark contrast to where things are today, and I hope it makes clear what was thrown away for domestic political causes.

I want to thank former Playboy staff photographer (and amazing mentor) David Mecey (warning: link may or may not be work safe) for the foreword, and author Sarah A. Hoyt for her incredible introduction.

Below are some cover/promo blurbs you may enjoy:

“Blake Powers is an experienced combat photographer, and this is not his first trip to Iraq. He has an observer’s eye and can bring great meaning to what at first looks like an ordinary snapshot. If you want to understand our soldiers’ day-to-day existence in a foreign war, these photos do it in a way impossible for any other medium.”

Larry Bond, bestselling author of Shattered Trident , Red Phoenix, and co-author of Red Storm Rising 

“What Powers has done in his most recent work is impossible to convey into words. Now more than ever, this book is a must read. The photos timelessly convey the struggle of valor and the American nobility of service at war. From the soiled faces of war weary civilians, to the bone tired appearance of the Warrior Class; these photos present every aspect of a deployment. The mission. The sector. Duty. Sacrifice. Fidelity. Holidays away from home. And the unsung service of those often times forgotten. If it is true that pictures are worth a thousand words, consider Blake Powers to have completed the complete annals of the true sacrifice of the Iraq War.”

David Bellavia, U. S. Army veteran and author of House to House: An Epic Memoir of War

Blake Powers captures tender moments between troops and local Iraqi citizens in a dazzling array of clothing, uniforms, foods and the ever-present smiling, grubby faces of Iraqi children.  In these photos and the accompanying descriptions, Powers deftly delineates the difference between citizens of Iraq who desire peace, against the face of insurgents who only want terror and violence.   This is a brilliant effort to take us to a distant world, the land of Iraq and the people, citizen and soldier, who dwell there.”

S.D Kent, author of Firework, The Training of an American Firefighter

Blogs linking here:

The Jawa Report



Yesterday was long, tiring, and good on many levels.  The rough draft of the next “A Different View” book is completed and now being edited, reviewed, and hopefully having the guest parts written.  Yesterday saw some opportunities for Mission: VALOR and myself identified, and now to seize them.  If you care to help, please hit gofundme or paypal in the tip jar; and, go make a donation to Mission: VALOR right now.  Some incredible opportunities, if we can travel and make the most of them.

Labor Day Book Sale

Like books?  Like books in science fiction/fantasy, non-fiction, anthologies, and more?  Well, if you do and like e-books, you are in for a treat with a wide range of works available for $2.99 or less.  Check them out! 

Contest Winner To Be Killed!

And the runner up maimed!  Oh my, the humanity!!

Yes, it is true.  The winner of the Mission: VALOR art contest will die three times (and enjoy it no less), and the runner-up will be maimed.  Thanks to Sarah A. Hoyt, Tom Kratman, Michael Z. Williamson, Le Creuset,,, and Doctrine Man for the initial prizes to go to the respective estates.  Oh, and not only is Nick Searcy a judge for the contest, he’s now on the National Advisory Board for Mission: VALOR.  Thanks also to judges John Sheppard, Greg Browning, and Erin Ingram, who stand ready to join with Nick and give the death penalty multiple times.


It’s My Birthday

Yes, it is indeed my birthday, and if you want to do something for me, go make a donation to Mission: VALOR.  Thank you

Incentives For Donations

Over at Mission: VALOR, we are working on two major efforts.  We need to raise at least $1,500.00 ASAP to cover a variety of expenses and help us seize some opportunities.  To that end, we have some incentives for your donations.  Or, if you don’t want them, feel free to donate directly here.

When looking that over, if you have suggestions for donations, please do let us know.  As always, do your due diligence on Mission: VALOR and any other charity or group you are considering donating to.  While we have filed for 501(c)(3) status, you should check with a tax professional about potential tax or other benefits.

Gala1We are also seeking a donor to purchase a table on our behalf for the upcoming Army Birthday Gala being put on by Army Week Association.  Our plan is to donate most of the spaces at the table to troops, veterans, and Gold Star Families that would not otherwise be able to attend the event.  Cost of the table is $10k.

In Defense of Timmy and Calling Out Fascists and Cowards at Archon

Those who truly know me know that I am a geek.  I am a geek who writes and as such found Science Fiction many many years ago.  In that discovery, I came to know Science Fiction Fandom, and have been involved with everything from local conventions to running media relations and more for a World Science Fiction Convention.  I’ve gotten to meet, and even become friends with, other writers, artists, editors, and more. Years back, there was a term used called SMOF, or Secret Masters of Fandom.  Fact is, I knew and worked for a gentleman who was no SMOF, but an out there and very public master of fandom.  His name is Tim Bolgeo, and I also knew him in his professional capacity as one of the top back-up power system engineers in the world (hint, he worked for TVA’s nuclear division). In short, he was accomplished professionally as well as being an avid reader and promoter of science fiction and fantasy. Having gotten to know Timmy, I found myself sucked into two things:  Killer Cutthroat Spades, and to helping him launch LibertyCon.  LibertyCon is a “small” convention in terms of attendance, which is deliberately limited.  Despite that, it is arguably one of the top literary science fiction conventions not just in the U.S., but the world.  Timmy got major writers, classic and new, to come.  It was through this that I met the DeCamps and a host of  other well-known and respected writers. Yesterday, I was greeted online with the news that the “Glittery Hoo Haa” brigade, as Sarah Hoyt calls them, had gone after Uncle Timmy as he is known in the science fiction and fantasy world.  He was guilty of double-plus-ungood-think, and the usual manufactured evidence was presented and pushed by an anonymous source seeking to have Timmy removed as Fan Guest of Honor at archon.  Sadly, by the time I finished my defense of Timmy and attack on the fascists, the cowardly intellectual and moral cripples running archon had caved to the mob and “disinvited” Tim.  May they reap what they have sown, in spades.  They are without honor or integrity, and unworthy of the company of Men (male or female). Meantime, I thought I would share my post from Facebook, and I will link to a few others at the end.  I am editing one thing:  I forgot a pejorative when describing Timmy.  He’s a card-counting egotistical fat Dago, not just an egotistical fat Dago.  NOTE:  I’ve also edited the name of the convention to remove the capital letter as they don’t deserve it, archon it is!  Continue reading