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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pfc. Melissa M. Telaak, from 1st Platoon, 164th Military Police Company, pulls convoy security duty in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo by Lt. Col. Wayne Yoshioka.

Wow - Check Out These Poll Results

If you're listening to your average media outlet this week, you may hear some of the results of this poll of British Muslims, done by ICM research, and published in The Guardian. No doubt you'll hear such bleak reports as:

58% of those surveyed blame Tony Blair's decision to go to Iraq as a factor in the bombings in London....

63% put blame on non-Muslims for racist / Islamophobic behavior...

and 63% are considering leaving Britain, fearing a backlash.

But what you likely won't hear is downright inspiring:

81% feel terrorist attacks in Britain are unjustified.
57% blame Muslim Imams / leaders for failing to root out extremists.
52% blame the Muslim community for not doing enought to root out extremists.

and, a remarkable statistic in the wake of all the liberal "blame everybody but" yakking...

85% blame the bombers themselves.

The poll goes on to report that 93% of those polled say that using violence to achieve a political end is unacceptable, as well as some other good news.

They're truly amazing numbers. The media will have you believe that all Muslims hate America and Britain, that all Muslims blame the US and UK for terrorism. Even accounting for the usual factors that affect polls, these are stunning.

Go check it out for yourself.
Mortar men with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8, fire white star parachutes into the night sky over Fallujah, Iraq, July 4. Unable to take a break from operations in the city, the battalion celebrated the holiday with a mortar powered fireworks show of illumination for the Marines. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

Read Story Associated with this photo

Golfing with a Hero

Received via email:

...I must start off by saying that Jason Pepper is everything that he built up to be - a cheerful outgoing young man with a very good outlook on life.

For those of you who are not aware of the particulars surrounding yesterday's adventure, here is the long and sordid tale of woe and suffering.

On July 3, J---- M---- sent to me an e-mail telling me that read in part:
"... Sgt. Jason XXXXX, was blinded while overseas and is now at the Pine School for the Blind in Chicago. The recipient of 4 purple hearts, Jason has been there about a month and is doing very well - he's probably looking at another 2-3 months in the school. Although he's really enjoying the classes, he's terribly lonely in the evenings and weekends, being without his wife, Heather and their 2 year old daughter Naomi. He loves to golf and is very personable - would anyone in Chicago area be able to arrange some outings for him or visits? If you would be able to do this please email me at for more information."

A few days before I had received an invitation from Teng Associates, a Chicago based engineering consulting firm, to a golf outing at Cog Hill Golf course in Lemont, Illinois. (Cog Hill was where the Western Open was played this year during the 4th of July week end. And is a Midwestern golf Mecca for those of us who can't afford to go to Hilton Head or Pebble Beach.) So I thought - consultant paying for the golf, perhaps they may be willing to allow a guest with no business relationship come to the outing.

I sent an e-mail to address listed in the message asking if Jason was willing to come out and play for a day. I got a response that he was too busy with school.

Over the next several days and many e-mails, I found out that it wasn't the "Pines" School for the Blind but the "Hines" School for the Blind at the Hines VA Hospital in Maywood. (I grew up 2.5 miles from the hospital.) I also found out Jason's last name. I sent an e-mail to the "general ask a question" e-mail address that basically said that if Jason was at the hospital to please pass the message about playing golf on July 26th.

In the meantime of trying to find Jason, I was trying to find out if the consultant was willing to allow Jason to play at the outing, find out if Cog Hill had instructors who had taught blind golfers etc. On the 7th, I hadn't hung up the phone more than 15 seconds, when the phone rang and it was Jason - the internet phantom. I was so stunned that I was speechless. After trying to untie my tongue, I asked Jason if he wanted to play golf. Jason said that yes he wanted to play and was agreeable to a lesson in the morning.

Trying to find someone to teach golf to a person with disabilities is a challenge. Everybody I spoke to was agreeable up until I told them that Jason was blind. Then it was "um um call over there and talk to this guy...." I got fed up with the calling was not getting responses, so I called the driving range manager at Cog Hill and asked who were the best instructors and who he would use for his own lessons. I was told Lee Miller. So I marked a 1 hour lesson and asked that Mr. Miller call me. When Mr. Miller called me, he was not put off at the thought of giving Jason a lesson. He seemed enthusiastic about the lesson and couldn't understand the run around that I had been getting.

Here were the hoops thus far - Find Jason. Get consultant to agree to Jason as guest. Jason agree to play. Find instructor. Each of them had been duly and successful checked off.

Please note the e-mail addresses above - Denise VAN K---- and Denise von W----. (I sorry ladies, it got confusing.) Denise Von K... is Jason's Hines Blind Rehab coordinator. Denise von W... is his mother in law. I was getting e-mail from both of them.

Denise von W... sent an e-mail that the American Armed Forces Network was going to send a reporter to do a story (Shoot me now and get it over with, because I am deathly camera and publicity shy). To make the short story shorter, I agreed to the press and notified the consultant (They agreed too). Yippee Skippy - they didn't show up.

I met Jason and Denise Van K.... at Hines yesterday morning shortly before 8:30. Jason took me on a tour to the new facility. It seems to be a very nice place with a lot to offer. I had to ask the obvious question - "Where was the Lonely Heart's Club Band?" I am sure that ever since Jason was promoted to sergeant, he got that question in one form or an other. After about a second of thought, he said they were in Germany getting ready for an other deployment to Iraq.

When we arrived at Cog Hill, we went into the main club house to find out where we were to meet Lee Miller and rent golf clubs for Jason. The people at the front desk really didn't know quite what to do with us. Here's the picture - fancy club house with the brass chandeliers and dark polished wood work and a blind guy escorted by a guy who thought nothing of the blind guy playing golf - walking up the front steps, down the hall to the front desk. They were polite and helpful was they sorted out where we were to go. In an effort to ease their fumbling tongues, they gave us the keys to a golf cart early. It wasn't that they were rude, they just didn't know what to do or think. The thought of a blind golfer was more than a little mind boggling for almost everybody I spoke too.

We got to the driving range and met Lee Miller. For anybody else, there would have been a fee for the balls using during a lesson. So first pleasant shock of the morning - The driving range manager waived the ball fee (I am sure unbeknownst to the owners.). Lee Miller gave Jason a 1 1/2 hour lesson. (I wish I was fast enough with the camera for some of the shots I missed were very telling - Lee emphasizing lesson points as though Jason could see, standing 2' away and looking straight into Jason's face. I got some but missed many others.)

At noon, when the lesson stopped, I started to reach for my wallet to pay for the lesson. Lee waved his hand as though to say - no need to pay, we're cool. That was the most pleasant shock of the morning. Lee gave up a good part of his morning to get to the golf course and teach a lesson to Jason for free. I do not know if Jason knew it or not. I have no idea of their motivation. I didn't ask. I think that Lee is a genuinely nice person who felt honored to teach a lesson to Jason.

While we were eating lunch in the bar, our host appeared and introduced themselves. Kim (I don't remember his last name) is an Asian gentleman in his mid 60's. He had organized the outing for the past 20 years before turning it over to a younger man in the company. Kim said not to worry about anything, they would take care of us.

We teed off at 2:00, duffers that we were, and couldn't hit a straight ball if our lives depended on it. We hit more than a few mulligans (extra balls that don't count towards the score.) Lost a bunch too, but who cares - there are more at Walmart. As I told Jason, we were playing army golf - hit to the left, hit to the right, left right left right. I also told Jason that I had yet to either ride or drive a complete round of 18 holes and I wasn't about to break that streak - he was going to drive the cart. And he did. He drove at about half speed. I would tell him, little left, straight, little right, what ever it took to get where we were to go. He didn't hit anything. He can drive my golf cart anytime he wants.

When we were on the 8th fairway, Kim decided that he wanted to get a group picture of the 4 of us. Since we hadn't gone very fair from the tee, we waved at the group behind us to come take our picture. As they went by, Kim called one of the other golfers over and introduced to Jason as an Army Veteran. It was brought up that Jason as blind and playing golf and that was the reason we were going a little slow. The man total disbelieved that Jason was blind and playing golf. He was certain that we were playing a joke. He went off the deep end, when I chimed up that he was also driving the golf cart. Total Denial - blind guy playing golf and driving a cart - impossible! As we drove past him with Jason at the wheel, he became a believer and said that he had to have his picture taken with Jason.

Once we got off the 8th green, a course ranger came up and told us that we had to let some of the other groups behind us play through or start to skip holes. That they were mad because of the slow play, they paid their money and wanted to get their 18 in before it got too bad. (It was a light rain.) Kim went off on the poor guy -- we had paid our green fee and we could play as slow as we wanted and if anybody wanted to play through they had to talk to him (Kim) otherwise too bad. I want to talk to Frank (golf course owner) -- We skipped the 9th hole.

At the 10th tee, Jason won the driver toss when the golf club slipped out of his hands. I was watching the ball dribble between his legs and didn't see where the golf club went. All any of us heard that the clatter of the club hitting the woods. It is one thing to go into the woods and find a bunch of balls, but finding a Ping driver would have made anybody's summer. We finally found the club and called it quits. As we were driving back to the club house, it started to lightning and thunder.

After dinner, I took Jason back to Hines.

So we got to play 8 holes, got rained out and had some fun. I know I did. I hope Jason did too. It was a delightful day with some very nice people.

Denise von W---- please tell the Lonely Hearts Club Band (Jason's unit) that he is well and is playing while they are working. If Jason gets back in time, they ought to haul him out to the base and put him to work. He would love it, particularly if he got to drive.

William R-------

Great story. I'd love to see some of those pictures (and I promise I won't post them without your permission).

Please pass along my thanks to Jason for being the Hero that he is, and my best wishes for his continued recovery.

And to the "Lonely Hearts Club Band" - thanks to you all for all you do - take care and stay safe over there in the Land of Sand.
BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq -- Senior Airman Othelia Richards observes a third-country national truck convoy delivering concrete mix here. Third country nationals and local nationals make up a large percentage of the workforce for construction projects and day-to-day jobs around the base. An escort's job is to monitor workers and provide security. For many escorts, the job requires long days in the scorching sun with weapon in hand and a careful eye watching for suspicious activities. Airman Richards is assigned to the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Chisholm)

Fifteen Major September 11 Family Organizations Announce Two New Initiatives

New York, N.Y., July 27, 2005 - Fifteen September 11 organizations representing the majority of the families of victims lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 today announced the launch of two new initiatives that will help America ‘Take Back the Memorial’ at Ground Zero.

Campaign America is the way that concerned communities across the country can show their support to “Take Back the Memorial.” Concerned citizens are encouraged to download the Campaign America Resolution located and present it to their local city or town councils for consideration. Municipalities which have passed the resolution, will be listed on the Campaign America Honor Roll located at The passing of the Campaign America Resolution by communities across America will send a powerful messagethat this is America’s 9/11 Memorial, and American communities will not stand for the International Freedom Center and Drawing Center being located on the World Trade Center site. The Petition Kit is an extension of the widely successful online petition by

Currently the online petition has garnered over 36,000 signatures including nearly 1900 family relatives of September 11 victims. The offline petition will reach supporters without easy access to the internet. We encourage supporters to printout the Petition kit and instructions (available at and gather the signatures of friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

The Coalition of Family Member Organizations
Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund
Fix the Fund
Give Your Voice
9/11 Familes for a Safe & Strong America
9/11 Familes for a Secure America
September 11th Families Association
September’s Mission
Skyscraper Safety Campaign
Voices of September 11th
W. Doyle Support Group
WTC Families for Proper Burial
World Trade Center United Family Group}
PERSIAN GULF — Arabic translator Ali Badie translates for coalition forces and local fishermen in the Khawr Abd Allah waterway in the Persian Gulf, July 20, 2005. Coalition forces are working with Iraqi patrol vessels in an effort to jointly thwart the use of the waterway for illegal activity as part of maritime security operations. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Ansarov

In Today's News - Thursday, July 28, 2005

Quote of the Day
"A doubtful friend is worse than a certain enemy. Let a man be one thing or the other, and we then know how to meet him."

News of Note
London Bombings
Nine Arrested in Failed London Bomb Attacks
Alleged Would-Be Bomber Nabbed
Did July 7 Bombers Mean to Die?
CCTV Captures London Clues
Video: Racing Against Time
Video: Flight Simulator Link
Video: Preachers of Hate
Photo Essays: Bombing Suspects Sought

Bombings in Egypt
Egyptians question culture-extremism link
Egypt seeks 15 in Sharm el-Sheik bombing

Operation Iraqi Freedom
Over 400 Louisiana Guard Soldiers Re-enlist

Operation Enduring Freedom
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Sworn In

Supporting Our Troops
Astros Invite Wounded to Game

Troops on Trial
Warden: Gitmo General Urged Using Dogs at Abu Ghraib
Senior British officer in Iraq reveals concerns over trials for troops
Fox News
Egypt to Hold Multi-Candidate Presidential Election
CIA Sued Over UBL Book
Senator Questions Bolton Role in CIA Leak Probe
Judge Upholds Death Sentence for Calif. Dad
Spring Pullout From Iraq?
U.S., Other Nations Reach Greenhouse Gas Pact
Millennium Plotter Sentenced
Future Shuttle Flights Grounded
Major setback for space program
Discovery to Perform Flip

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq
Roadside bomb kills 2 U.S. troops in Iraq
Iraq builds up military, police forces
U.S. general seeks Iraq pullout by 2006
Mubarak announces bid to contest elections
Egypt leader expected to announce summit
Palestinians confident of securing Gaza
Iran vows to restart nuclear activities
AP: Iran achieves solid fuel technology
Israeli troops kill Palestinian youth
Al-Qaida says it killed Algerian diplomats

Reuters: Top News
Shuttle Discovery to dock with space station
Pakistan arrests man wanted in Pearl murder case
Suspected bomb hits oil train near Baghdad
Shuttle Discovery to dock with space station
Pakistan arrests man wanted in Pearl murder case
N.Korea, U.S. to continue talking -China
Politicians brace for imminent IRA statement
House set to approve $14.5 bln energy bill
House passes Central American trade pact

Yahoo! News: War with Iraq
Iraq Urges Neighbors to Stop Infiltrators
Poll: USA doubts Iraq success, but not ready to give up
In Surprise Visit to Baghdad, Rumsfeld Prods Iraqi Leaders

Department of Defense
Rumsfeld in Iraq, Lauds Troops' Service — Story
Iraq Must Talk Border Issues, Rumsfeld Says
Troop Withdrawals Could Begin Next Year — Story
NORTHCOM Ready, Able to Defend Country — Story

Training, Hydration Help Troops Cope With Heat — Story
Team Helps Overcome Platelet Shortage – Story

3rd Platoon Soldiers Keep Supplies Moving
Reservists Protect Airmen at Baghdad Base

Afghan Officers Learn How to Operate Army

New Cargo Mission Increases Incirlik Flightline Ops

Lone Star Colors Fly in Romania — Story


Iraqi, U.S. Troops Nab Insurgents
5 U.S. Troops Killed in Attacks
Soldiers Help Attack Victims
Iraqi Police Graduate Training
IG Report Topics: Iraqi Police
Bush, Babil Province Leaders Meet
Forces Continue Crackdown
New Police Express Determination
Photos: Iraqi Soldiers Take Lead
Iraq Reconstruction
Iraq Daily Update
Multinational Force Iraq
Iraq Progress Fact Sheet (pdf)
Weekly Progress Report (pdf)

Afghan Army Hones Artillery Skills
Taliban Losses Affect Recruiting
Officials Address Protest at Base
Afghanistan Daily Update

U.S. Still Welcome at Manas Air Base
Rumsfeld: Tajikistan 'Solid Partner'
Rumsfeld Visits Kyrgyzstan
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Army Unveils Repositioning Plans
Virtual Convoys, IEDs Train Troops
Myers: QDR Must Look at Missions
National Guard, Reserve Update

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar


Today in History
1586 - Sir Thomas Harriot introduces potatoes to Europe.
1588 - The Spanish Armada sails to overthrow England's Queen Elizabeth I.
1821 - Peru declares independence from Spain (National Day).
1830 - In France, a revolution Charles X with Louis Philippe.
1862 - Confederate forces are defeated at More's Hill, MO.
1868 - The 14th Amendment is ratified, granting citizenship to ex-slaves.
1900 - In Connecticut, Louis Lassing creates the Hamburger.
1914 - Austria-Hungary attacks Serbia, officially beginning WW I.
1931 - Congress makes "The Star-Spangled Banner" the U.S. National Anthem.
1942 - Nazis murder 10,000 Jews in Minsk, Russia.
1943 - Italian Facist dictator Benito Mussolini resigns; FDR announces the end of U.S. coffee rationing.
1945 - A U.S. Army bomber crashes into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building, 14 die; the U.S. Senate ratifies the UN charter 89-2
1962 - Mariner I is launched for Mars; it plummets into the Atlantic Ocean.
1964 - Ranger 7 is launched toward the Moon; it sends back 4308 TV pictures.
1977 - Oil first flows through the Alaska pipeline.
1986 - NASA releases the transcript from the doomed Challenger Space Shuttle.
1988 - Israeli diplomats arrive in Moscow for the first Israeli visit in 21 years.
1990 - A blackout hits Chicago.

- Ibn al-'Arabi, Muslim mystic/philosopher
1746 - Thomas Heyward, soldier, signed Declaration of Independence
1859 - Balington Booth, founded Volunteers of America
1907 - Earl S. Tupper inventor of Tupperware
1929 - Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, First Lady
1961 - Scott E. Parazynski, MD/astronaut

1540 - Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII's chief minister, executed
1655 - Cyrano de Bergerac, French dramatist/novelist
1746 - John Peter Zenger, journalist, involved in 1st Amendment fight
1750 - Johann Sebastian Bach, German composer (Art of the Fugue)
1794 - Maximilien Robespierre, French revolutionary/avocat, guillotined

Reported Missing in Action
McSwain, George P., USN (CA); A4E shot down, released by DRV March, 1973 - alive in 1998