Using Your Plane Like a Bullet

It is interesting to read new stories concerning big events, decades after they happened. Here, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney talks about 9/11:

Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.

The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.

Except her own plane. So that was the plan.

Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age, faster than they could arm war planes, Penney and her commanding officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.

“We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”

For years, Penney, one of the first generation of female combat pilots in the country, gave no interviews about her experiences on Sept. 11.

Brave Americans. . .

Iraqi War Vet Tomas Young

I always give veterans the benefit of the doubt. I support them and even when I don’t agree with ‘em, I wish vets the best. Yet Iraqi War vet Tomas Young is beyond the pale with this:

An Iraq War veteran who joined the U.S. Army two days after 9/11 has written a powerful open letter to former President George W. Bush and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney accusing them of war crimes, “plunder” and “the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.”

Tomas Young, who was shot and paralyzed during an insurgent attack in Sadr City in 2004, five days into his first deployment, penned the letter from his Kansas City, Mo., home, where he’s under hospice care.

“I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney,” Young wrote in the letter published on Truthdig.com. “I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.”

Thanks for your service, Mr. Young.

NY Police Commissioner Ray Kelly Comes Down

NYPD Hat

I guess today’s theme is New York. Brace for more of the same.

Back when I was Ensign, I deployed with a Reserve Officer. In his day job, he worked as a New York City Detective. Joining the military was personal for him. It was more than four years after 9/11, but to him and his boys, it still was yesterday. He was a character, larger than life. Good fun, in measured doses.

He used to wear his NYPD hat in his downtime. In an odd turn of events, Ray Kelly, the New York City Police Commissioner, came down hard and issued an interesting edict to his guys:

NYPD Sweatshirt

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Here’s something New York City police officers can cross off their birthday lists – an NYPD T-shirt.

That and the mugs, pins, hats, jewelry, pens and endless curios that bear the famous blue and yellow shield-shaped logo have been banned from use by any NYPD officer under a January 19 order issued by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

The department-wide order prevents New York’s finest from using the shield on anything other than their official uniforms, even when they are off-duty, according to a copy obtained by and posted on the news website DNAinfo.com.

“The department wants to deter the unprofessional appearance associated with unauthorized police-related logos and slogans,” Paul Browne, an NYPD spokesman, said in an e-mail explaining the order.

NYPD Mug

While tourists can head home with bagfuls of the NYPD tchotchkes that fill souvenir shops citywide, the goodies are now off-limits to actual police officers.

Wow. Are his own cops going ticket the off-duty guys? Blue on blue? I don’t t’ink so.

New York owes Ray Kelly a great deal; he is a no-nonsense guy. But perhaps, this is too much?

Where Do We Fight Next?

Warriors, you gotta love them. The current Commandant of the Marine Corps (and naval aviator, per Wikipedia) was in Afghanistan today. The scoop:

General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Naval Aviator

The U.S. Marines’ top general, James Amos, sprinted up and down the Helmand River Valley in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, visiting frontline Marines at nine remote outposts to share Thanksgiving and applaud their gains against the Taliban in a region where al-Qaida hatched the 9/11 plot a decade ago.

Traveling mostly in an MV-22 Osprey, the hybrid that flies like an airplane and takes off and lands like a helicopter, Amos began shortly after daylight and finished 14 hours later — and, improbably, managed to confront just one turkey dinner.

I love it. Leadership, it is not only a word. My favorite part: 

At Combat Outpost Hanson, one member of the 3rd battalion, 6th Marine Regiment asked, “Who do you want us to fight next, sir?” Amos said he did not know, but he reassured the Marine that there would be no shortage of security crises in the years ahead.

At Combat Outpost Alcatraz, in Sangin district where fierce fights against the Taliban have waned only recently, the top overall commander of the war, Marine Gen. John Allen, joined Amos for a pep talk to several dozen Marines.

A special Happy Thanksgiving to all our Service Members deployed around the world. Get some and then get some turkey. . .

9/11, Ten Years After

On 9/11, ten years after, I am:

reading this post: The murderous frenzy unleashed on 9/11 is an awkward size. . .

heeding Michelle.

respecting this warrior: I can tell you I don’t feel hatred or righteous anger or any of that business. . . 

watching a YouTube clip (if you need a little ooo-rah, hoo-yah, hua, or zoom. Marine, Navy, Army, and Air Force “battle-calls” respectively.)

My heart and prayers go out to those who lost family and friends in the tragedy and aftermath. Both civilians and non.

My own remembrance today is of the World Trade Center. I delievered packages (as a bike messenger) to that behemoth. And the first time I dropped one off, I went through the front entrance, before being waved out back by the guards. Some buildings did that, had a separate messenger entrance.

It took me a good five minutes or more to ride around its footprint, so massive was it. One thing I did not do: stand close and look up her. It made me queasy. Not a fear of heights. But the opposite. A fear of lows.

I have never gone to Ground Zero. One day.

Nothing more to say, other than: God bless us all. . .

Hand Salute (for the cartoons): Theo