The Soldier and the Christmas Card

Two battle-weary Leathernecks of the 26th Marine Regiment take a break in the rain during Operation Bold Mariner in Vietnam in 1969. It was in these conditions a year later that a young man named Jack would receive a Christmas card from a Southern Baptist church. Photo courtesy of U.S. National Archives and Records Administration Photo Terms of Use

COLEMAN, Ga. (BP) — It was a Christmas season that the 18-year-old Marine would rather not experience. Slogging through the mud in the drizzling, never-ending rain was beginning to wear on the enlisted man’s spirit.

Sleeping on the ground without a bath for months with a stubbly beard growing from not shaving in the winter cold was not his idea of a holiday. He had fond recent memories of Christmas in Greenville, S.C., still fresh from his boyhood days. His grandmother’s Christmas ham and visits with family and friends are what he missed the most.

There would be none of that this year. In fact, he was grateful just to be alive.

What made it worse was being part of a squadron chosen to provide security for the annual USO Christmas program. It just didn’t seem fair.

While thousands enjoyed plenty of Christmas cheer and entertainment, he and his buddies silently guarded a nearly 12-mile arc around Da Nang in South Vietnam.

Their mission was crucial to the enjoyment of fellow soldiers. Several thousand troops enjoying a holiday celebration would be an easy target for North Vietnamese troops slipping through the jungles.

For the teenage soldier, this day was just another in a string of cold, overcast winter days. The day is a memory now. A story he tells. For this telling, he prefers to be known only by his first name, Jack

“We were angry, hungry, wet and scared most of the time,” he said. “Our job was to stay alert and patrol to keep the enemy from infiltrating the area and disrupting the show. Needless to say, we weren’t very happy.”

Jack said he and his fellow soldiers spent most of their time “griping, as young Marines are prone to do, about our bad luck. It had rained for what seemed like weeks and was constantly low overcast.”

Dark and gray and miserable. Not an ideal Christmas. Certainly not when it was going to be his first Christmas away from home. (Read more here.)

China: A Growing War Machine Built With American Corporate Greed

America gave China its industrial base and its technology in exchange for cheap/slave labor. These are the weapons we built.

Reuters/Reuters – A carrier-borne J-15 fighter jet takes off from the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, in this undated handout photo released November 25, 2012. China has successfully conducted flight landing on its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, after its delivery to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy on September 25, 2012, according to Xinhua News Agency. REUTERS/Xinhua/Zha Chunming

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has carried out its first successful landing of a fighter jet on its firstaircraft carrier, state media said on Sunday, a symbolically significant development as Asian neighbors fret about the world’s most populous country’s military ambitions.

The home-built J-15 fighter jet took off from and landed on the Liaoning, a reconditioned Soviet-era vessel from Ukraine which only came into service in September this year.

China ushered in a new generation of leaders this month at the 18th Communist Party Congress in Beijing, with outgoing President Hu Jintao making a pointed reference to strengthening China’s naval forces, protecting maritime interests and the need to “win local war”.

China is embroiled in disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam over South China Sea islands believed to be surrounded by waters rich in natural gas. It has a similar dispute with Japan over islands in theEast China Sea.

It has also warned the United States, with President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, not to get involved.

“We should make active planning for the use of military forces in peacetime, expand and intensify military preparedness, and enhance the capability to accomplish a wide range of military tasks, the most important of which is to win local war in an information age,” Hu said.

China has advertised its long-term military ambitions with shows of new hardware, including its first test flight of a stealth fighter jet in early 2011, an elite helicopter unit and the launch of the aircraft carrier.(Read more here.)


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