Kill Shot: a Walk in the Park

•February 18, 2016 • 1 Comment

This is a work of fiction based on the experiences of its author, Robbie Rea, a qualified sniper, who served in the U.S. Marines for four years before joining special forces and training as a medic. He fought in the Middle East as a Green Beret. His forthcoming completed memoir is called “Next Mission”.

Guest Post by Robbie Rea

I walked in the park with my grandkids and smiled as I watched them run ahead and hide behind a tree. They thought I couldn’t see them and I played along until they ran up behind me and yelled, “Argh!” Playing along, I jump and then fell over like I was so scared that I passed out. All four of them climbed on top of me saying, “We got you papa! We got you!”

As I lay there wrestling with the little ones, I see Lisa smiling down at me. The sun shines behind her head illuminating the blonde hair around her beautiful face. She looks like an angel.

Suddenly everything went black as I felt my left wrist vibrating.

As I clicked the button on the side of the watch to stop the vibration, all of my senses fed my brain information so I could figure out where I was. My nose was the first sense to alert me of the familiar musty smell of dirty clothes, body odor and farts in the sleeping bag. My ears then picked up the sounds of snoring and other breathing sound of people sleeping. My skin simultaneously felt the sleeping bag that surrounded me and the tight stretched canvas cot that I lay on. Now I knew that I was back in Afghanistan. That forsaken area of combat that I often compared to hell.

I had been dreaming, and I want nothing more than to go back to my dream and stay there.

Once dressed, I make my way to the team room to prepare for battle. I check all my gear and make sure nothing will cause me problems during today’s mission. It was 3 a.m.local time.

As I checked the gear and got ready I thought of my family back home in Clarksville, TN. Comparing what I was doing now in contrast to preparing my kids lunches while they ate breakfast and then get their backpacks with homework into the car so I could drive them to school. On the rare occasions that I was home I’d insist on driving them to school instead of having them take the bus as usual. This allowed me to spend more quality time with them that I learned to appreciate more after each deployment.

The next step is to sound proof everything metal with black electrical tape so anything metal won’t touch anything else and make a clicking or clanging sound.

When all of the gear is prepared, the team puts everything on and then jumps up and down to make sure that nothing will make enough sound for anyone to hear if they are less than 30 feet away.

The last step in preparation was to take a ziplock bag and cut it down the sides so I could slip it over the receiver of my rifle. I would then tape up the sides to seal the metal parts to keep them safe from the sand and dust. As I did this and remembered putting sandwiches for my kids in the same ziplock bags, I wondered if it was time to transition so I could be home more often.

Then I remember why I am here. To prevent the bad people of the world from ever making it to my home and spreading their evil ways and robbing us of our freedom.

The sound of the intercom snap me back to reality as it announced our helicopter ride would be ready in five minutes.

My team on this day consists of myself and only three others for security.

As we made our way to the helicopter landing pad we checked each other’s gear one last time.

As we approach the helicopter, we heard the loud whining sound of the blades and felt the downdraft of hot air pushing against us.

As the Blackhawk lifted into the desert air the adrenaline kicked in and I took a deep breath to try to remain calm. Now is the time to slowly push back any thoughts or feelings from home. I had to numb myself to any human feelings and become the cold deadly warrior that was needed to get the job done.

The helicopter dropped us at our checkpoint and we began the 12 mile hike to our attack point. With every step that took me closer to our target, I mentally hardened myself more and more knowing that what I was about to do could have no feeling and no remorse. Only the calculated and well-trained deadly movements of a warrior was needed at this point.

As we approached our final destination, one of the security men stayed behind to protect us from any attack coming from that direction as the three of us proceeded forward just over the hilltop in front of us.

As we came to the peak of the hilltop, we lowered our bodies to crawl the rest of the way. Crawling, the sand worked its way into my clothes and body. The sun was just starting to creep up and the sky began to slowly change from black to purple.

Reaching my final point, I prepared for my task. Every movement from here on would be very slow and deliberate so if anyone below was looking, they would not pick up any movement.

It took about 40 minutes to prepare the hide site and now I slowly slid the sniper rifle from its case. Once in place, I positioned myself behind the .50 caliber rifle, flipped the sight covers off, and looked down range towards the target area.

The convoy quickly moved down the dirt road to the compound 2,000 meters away. The small military contingent positioned themselves so they would be ready when the general arrived. Their positioning confirmed that I was in the correct spot to make the shot.

As the convoy got closer and I knew that I was about to end someone’s life, I began to think about him as a human being. Was he a father? A brother? A husband? A son? Would his family mourn him? How many people would be at his funeral? I didn’t know this man, but I knew what my orders were. The picture of his face was burned into my memory as I’d studied his picture for hours.

Just before the vehicle came to a halt, the general emerged from his tent in full dress uniform. He walked toward the black Range Rover and waited for the door to open. I also waited with the crosshairs of my sights resting on the general’s chest.

The door to the vehicle opened and a man in robes exited. The general approached the man and gave him and hug and kiss on each cheek.

As my finger squeezed the trigger I thought momentarily of my children and grandchildren and of Lisa. There was a brief moment of hesitation and then the flooding thoughts of 9/11, the twin towers, Americans dead and naked being dragged through the streets.

BANG!

The bullet was on its way. I waited to see the red mist as the round went through the Arab benefactor and the general he was providing money and weapons to kill Americans.

I saw their lifeless bodies spilt in half and drop to the ground. Then the sound of the large sniper rifle reached the target and everyone there dropped to the ground.

I was always amazed at how people react when a sniper bullet hits its target and they all freeze in disbelief to what they see but then they always react when the sound of what happened registers to them.

Everything up to this point was in slow motion and everything from this point forward would be as fast as I could move.

Years of training took over as I put the rifle back into its case and quickly broke down the hide position. Then I quickly crawled up and over the hilltop and after getting safely over the other side, my two flanking security guards and I broke into a full out run.

Our rear security was already on the radio confirming our ride home.

We ran for 2 miles nonstop until we reached our extraction point and boarded the Blackhawk.

On the ride back to base, I heard the others telling the crew what had just happened. They were all laughing and high fiving each other. I sat there thinking about my grandkids and Lisa playing in the park knowing that they were still safe at home because two more terrorists were now out of business.

Only then did a smile slowly slip across my face.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, the host of this blog, who is not the author of this guest post, is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award winning author. If you enjoyed reading Robbie’s short story, keep an eye out for his revealing and shocking memoir, Next Mission. The book is scheduled for release later this year.

Lloyd’s second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

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Will the U.S. Cultural Revolution, based on Greed and Power, rival Mao’s in Suffering and Loss?

•February 9, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I produce four Blogs and this one focuses on PTSD and combat. The reason for sharing this post on this Blog is because the United States has been in the midst of a revolution since President Reagan lived in the White House. Reagan launched that revolution with his flawed and fraudulent trickle-down economic theory and a slanderous and libelous report called A Nation at Risk. The agenda has always been to privatize, for profit, everything in the United States in addition to stripping the U.S. Constitution of its ability to protect Americans from tyranny, and the only way to achieve that was to get rid of labor unions and silence, through fear, millions of public school teachers too—the only voices that speak for working class Americans.

iLook China

The difference between the current Cultural Revolution in the United States and Mao’s in China (1950 – 1976) is that this unique American Revolution is from the top down instead of the bottom up. In China the majority of the people supported the Chinese Communist Party against the Nationalist Party in a Civil War that raged for decades (1927 – 1950).

But in the United States, the revolution is being led by the wealthiest 0.1% of Americans: for instance, Bill Gates, two of the four Koch brothers, the Walton Walmart family, Rupert Murdock, Wall Street, Corporate America, Hedge Funds, recently Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, who was recruited into the Gates Cabal, and a few other poorer billionaires, for instance Eli Broad in California, a billionaire who made his money in real estate and who is currently funding a campaign to take half the children in the public schools in Los Angeles…

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Book Promotion for “The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova” on Sale for $0.99

•February 2, 2016 • 4 Comments

The reason I’m sharing this post on my blog about combat and PTSD is because the main character in this murder mystery is also a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Vet who lives with PTSD. After all, authors are often advised to write what we know best, and I am a former U.S. Marine, who fought in Vietnam and lives with PTSD. In addition, years after serving in that war, I was a maitre d’ in a large nightclub for a few years.

Lloyd Lofthouse

After years of endless seductions, the 20th century’s Don Juan Casanova has met the one woman he wants to romance for the rest of his life, but his future is threatened when he becomes the prime suspect in the nightclub murders of his grandfather and younger brother.

P Benson, a top 1,000 Amazon Reviewer said, “I loved this book. The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova was a superb, funny mystery.”

A judge for the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards said, “In The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova, we are presented with a contemporary update on an old story told with an interesting spin that gets us to view the original in a new light while helping us to see the world around us in a fresh and interesting way.”

The setting of this novel is based on a night club called the Red Onion in Southern California where…

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Did Sarah Palin really blame President Obama for her son’s PTSD?

•January 23, 2016 • 9 Comments

I’m thinking that Sarah Palin, like Trump, has a serious case of runaway motor mouth without brakes, because she acts like the dumb blond stereotype, and she isn’t even a blond.

What am I talking about?

Well, “Sarah Palin’s freestyle performance earlier this week during her endorsement of Donald Trump for president drew plenty of attention. But what is drawing the ire of some vets are her comments appearing to blame President Barack Obama for her son’s PTSD, which led to his arrest for domestic violence on Jan. 18.” – Foreign Policy’s morning situation report.

Uh, Track Palin was an Army reservist who performed a tour of duty in Iraq in 2008, and Barack Obama wasn’t sworn in as president for his first term until January 20, 2009.

Besides being a loud mouth and a billionaire, who is the man Sarah endorsed for president? Donald Trump currently holds the title as the biggest liar ever according to fact check sites.

  1. FactCheck.org has crowned Trump the King of Whoppers.

FactCheck.org  said, “It’s been a banner year for political whoppers — and for one teller of tall tales in particular: Donald Trump.

“In the 12 years of FactCheck.org’s existence, we’ve never seen his match.

“He stands out not only for the sheer number of his factually false claims, but also for his brazen refusals to admit error when proven wrong.”

  1. Politifact.com awarded Trumps’ statement the “2015 Lie of the Year” for only being totally correct in his claims and statements 1% of the time.

I think it is time to link Sarah Palin to the definition of a dumb blonde: “a blond-haired woman perceived in a stereotypical way as being attractive but unintelligent,” and The Urban Dictionary says, a dumb blond is “A person who can’t really do anything right.”

To discover who is really responsible for Track Palin’s PTSD, Sarah Palin would have to answer who started the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — hint, it wasn’t President Obama?

Sarah Palin would also have to answer what incident took place in New York City that caused the deaths of several thousand noncombatants that led to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — hint, it wasn’t something President Obama did, because the war in Afghanistan started on October 7, 2001 and the Iraq War started on March 20, 2003. I wonder if Sara Palin knows who the president was on those two dates.

By the way, while serving in the U.S. Marines, I returned home from Vietnam in 1966 with a serious case of PTSD, and I have never battered anyone like Sarah Palin’s son, Track Palin, allegedly did to his girlfriend while waving around an AR-15. – nydailynews.com

In addition, according to an Op-Ed piece on Stripes.com, “The link between combat and civilian violence isn’t only anecdotal. Research has found a link between the after-effects of combat service and increased violence. At the Department of Veterans Affairs website, experts explore the available data. A study comparing post-9/11 veterans with the general public found that rates of violence among members of the general public that experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were at about 7.5 percent. Among veterans, the rates ranged from 8.6 to 19.5 percent. … Another study from the mid-1980s looked at violence rates among veterans of the Vietnam War. Among those veterans, one-third of those who suffered from PTSD exhibited “intimate partner violence” — aka domestic violence — versus 13.5 percent among those who didn’t have PTSD.” 

Stripes.com says, “It’s important to note that Track Palin likely had several other of those factors. He was divorced in 2012. He is still in his 20s. He served on active duty. The data suggest that, even without PTSD, his experiences and circumstances might lead him to antisocial or violent behavior. (Track was also involved in a notorious 2014 brawl involving several members of the family.)”

I think it is time to stop using the term dumb blond as a stereotype for an attractive but unintelligent woman who can’t do anything right, and all dumb blond jokes must be revised, and here are the first two revisions.

  1. What does a Sarah Palin do when her computer freezes?
  2. She sticks it in the microwave!
  3. Why are there six bullet holes in Sarah Palins mirror?
  4. Because she tried to kill herself.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award winning author.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

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AVAILABLE NOW! “Dynamite and Prayers: Emerald Miners of Afghanistan” a New Photo Book by Max Becherer.

•December 7, 2015 • 2 Comments

Max Becherer's Conflict Accounts

Today my book “Dynamite and Prayers:Emerald Miners of Afghanistan” officially goes ON SALE in the United States in advance of an exhibit of my photographs during the PhotoNOLA festival in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Second Story Gallery at 2372 St. Claude Avenue from December 10th to the 13th, 2015.

Daily we see images of the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing war or seeking new lives flooding into Europe. According to the UNHCR more than half of the world’s refugees are from Syria, Afghanistan or Somalia. The Obama administration is making plans to raise the number of refugees accepted in the United States to as high as 100,000 in the coming years, an increase from 70,000 refugees allowed in this year. In Europe, kindness has prevailed for those who have taken these refugees into their homes and fear has spread where people have had…

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Invisible Enemies: Life on the Front Lines of a Modern Vietnam

•December 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

It isn’t a secret that military veterans tend to be conservative and vote Republican. In fact, Gallup reports that veterans are more likely to be Republican than are those of comparable ages who are not veterans. The reason I mention this is because Brian Welch’s memoir takes readers through Army boot camp to Iraq for two deployments, and Welch is brutally honest with his conservative views—a fresh perspective that most who serve in the U.S. military share but is missing from many films about war where the focus is usually on heroism, debauchery or the horrors of war. In fact, most films seem to be more concerned with political correctness than reality. But Term of Service (click link to visit Amazon and buy this book) avoids Hollywood hype and serves us combat as it really is.

Term of Service Cover

When we first meet the author in boot camp, he’s eager to fight for his country, but that eagerness fades when confronted by an elusive enemy that is seldom seen. For instance, unseen insurgents planting roadside bombs; invisible snipers shooting from a distance, or terrorists who become human bombs that infiltrate our lines and blow themselves up among U.S. Troops. The type of combat our troops faced in World War I, World War II and Korea seems to be a thing of the past. Instead of armies clashing with armies, today our troops often fight an invisible enemy.

This modern form of warfare grinds our troops down just like it did to combat vets in Vietnam where I fought decades earlier.  I think Welch’s honesty is refreshing, and anyone who wants to experience the tension of combat—the endless waiting not knowing what will happen next—and what it does to most of the troops, should read this book. War takes boys, runs them through the blades of a blender and when they come out, they are often cut and bruised physically and mentally.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

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To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 

What happens when a unit of Marines throws a wild party in an L.A. County barrio?

•October 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

After returning from the Vietnam War in December 1966, I went home on leave for 30 days to my parents’ house in Southern California in the San Gabriel Valley south of Los Angeles, and then reported to my next duty station, the 4th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton. If you know anything about the 4th Marine Division, you might be thinking that couldn’t be right, because the 4th Marine Division was a reserve unit in the 1960’s.

If that’s what you thought, you’d be right, because the 4th Marine Division has been a reserve division since February 1966 to the present, but in 1966, the headquarters battalion was stationed at Camp Pendleton, not New Orleans, Louisiana where it is located today, and it was staffed by active duty Marines who were all Vietnam combat vets. Our mission was to train and support the reserves and to be ready if the division was activated.

In World War II, the 4th Marine Division saw action in Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima.  It served again in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and that probably explains why the division headquarters battalion moved to New Orleans to be closer to the east coast and the wars in the Middle East.

That’s enough history.

Back in 1967, a few months after returning from combat in Vietnam, I asked my brother if my unit could borrow his house in San Dimas near Los Angeles for a party, and he said yes. His wife volunteered to invite all of her single girlfriends and any single girls they knew.

A few weeks later on a Saturday morning, we drove in a caravan of cars more than 90 miles to San Dimas where we filled the entire block on both sides of the street with our parked cars.

We also brought trays of food from our unit’s mess hall because all of the enlisted men were invited, all ranks, but no officers. The previous weekend, I’d driven to Mexico with money collected from everyone in the unit to buy enough booze to fill the trunk of my car. While crossing the border on our way back, the booze was confiscated and my car was impounded. It was 2 a.m., and I made one phone call to the duty sergeant, who woke everyone up and collected enough money to get my car out of impound and replace the booze we’d lost but from a liquor store in the U.S.

My brother worked the graveyard shift so he wasn’t there for most of the party, and to make room for all the Marines and women my sister-in-law had invited, we moved all of the furniture out of the house to the garage and changed all of the light bulbs in the house and on the front porch to red ones.

The party launched about 9 p.m. and roared through the night with loud music, dancing, food, drinking and other activates that will go unmentioned here. Use your imagination. What happens when you mix dozens of Marines, booze and broads, who are all in a party mood?

About one a.m. I was sitting on the curb with two other Marines sharing a fifth of Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey, and we weren’t feeling any pain when a car rolled to a stop in front of us.  There were several other cars, bumper to bumper, behind it. All of the cars were lowriders with hydraulics that lowered the chassis to the ground, and they had expensive paint jobs. Each car was crowded with tattoo laden gang bangers looking tough with their dark glasses on.

The window was down and the passenger in the front seat, who was wearing a white T-shirt with a red bandana tied around his forehead, said, “We come to party.”

I smiled. “This is a private party, and you and your friends weren’t invited, and I think you should stop and think about who’s in that house. Look at the rear bumpers of all the cars parked on both sides of this street before you do anything.”

The fancy lowrider in front of me had a spot light on the driver’s side in front of the rearview mirror. The spot came on and the beam sliced through the dark and settled on the bumper decal of the nearest parked car that revealed it was a parking permit for Camp Pendleton and belonged to a Marine. The car pulled up and the spotlight moved to the next car’s rear bumper and then the next one and the next.

A few other Marines had come out of the house. One had a cast on his right arm and he held an empty vodka bottle in his left hand. It was obvious he was tanked when his glazed, glassy eyes glanced left and then right as he counted the cars filled with obvious gangbangers. He smiled and broke the end of the empty bottle against a tree leaving a jagged glass weapon in his hand.

The lead car drove away and the rest of the gang followed. They never returned.

The loud music continued along with the dancing and some hot sweaty romance when some of the girls coupled up with a few of the Marines.

At 2 a.m. I was still sitting on the curb with a few other Marines nursing another bottle of Jack when a sheriffs black-and-white squad car turned the same corner with its spot light on inspecting the rear bumpers on all the parked cars. It moved slowly down the street, did a U-turn at the stop sign and came back inspecting all the rear bumpers on the other side.  We watched the squad car stop at the opposite stop sign and idle. We heard one of the two officers on his mike calling their dispatcher, but we didn’t hear what he was saying.

With the call finished, the squad car made another U-turn and came to a stop in front of me. The two officers were not wearing dark glasses and the uniformed sheriff in the passenger seat asked, “Our shift ends at three and the entire squad wants to join your party. Is that okay?”

I shrugged. “It’s okay with me.” I looked at the Marine on my right, and then on my left. Without saying a word, they both nodded.

“We’d appreciate it if you turned the music down about halfway,” the officer said. “We had several complaints called in.”

By 3:30, more than a dozen off duty sheriffs in their civilian clothes joined the party that didn’t end until dawn. By noon, the house had been cleaned, the furniture returned and we were on our way back to base.

Two marriages resulted from that party and one of the girls was pregnant when she said yes to her Marine boyfriend that she’d met there. My brother came home from work about the time the sheriffs arrived, and a few minutes later he threw one of the Marines through a closed window, breaking the glass, when he discovered him in the back bedroom breaking the rules we’d agreed to before he’d said yes to the party.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

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This is a love story that might cost the lovers everything—even their lives.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 
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