For years this blog has tried to make the case that a comic book can be much more than “just” a comic book. For years this blog has tried to make the case that the industry would benefit if it employed, say, men like Terminal Lance creator Maximilian Uriarte. His New York Times bestseller, “The White Donkey,” should officially put that debate to rest.
“The White Donkey” is the story about Abe, a young man who left his small Oregon town in search of … something. He wasn’t quiet sure what he was looking for, but he thought he might find it in the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman. Abe, his best buddy Jesus Garcia, and the rest of their battalion are eventually deployed to Iraq. There is not much more I can say without spoiling the book other than to note its honesty rivals National Book Award Winner Redeployment,” by Phil Klay.
Every so often a critic comes to this blog and says something along the lines of, “You write about popular culture because you wanted to make it in Hollywood and never did.”
Yes, I did go to USC upon exiting the Army as a mechanized infantryman, but nothing could be further from the truth regarding professional regrets. In fact, a better personal attack would be that I exited the military prior to 9/11, didn’t have the courage to re-enlist after the Twin Towers fell, and that it still haunts me to this day.
There actually is some truth to that — I carried a ton of guilt with me for years after 9/11, which was exacerbated after a friend of mine, Hector Leija, had his head blown off in Iraq by a sniper. I disclose these details because readers need to know that everything that happens to “Abe” prior to his deployment is eerily close to what I experienced as a peace time soldier (i.e., it’s authentic). The characters, situations, and confrontations Abe navigates in many ways mirror my own.
I see myself in Abe (except the atheist part), and cannot help but wonder what I would be like had I stayed in military.
If you’re looking for a book with intelligence and emotional weight, then check out “The White Donkey.” If you’re looking for a book that can help civilians better understand returning war veterans, PTSD, and the other burdens they might be carrying, then Uriarte’s work is a must-read. One can only hope that he continues telling tales for many years to come.
George Orwell’s Animal Farm is famous for the quote “Some animals are more equal than others.” Someone should write an update called American Farm that includes the line “Some hate crimes are more equal than others” after the Washington, D.C., attack of war hero Christopher Marquez.
Most media outlets have not covered the Feb. 12 attack of Marquez, who served eight years on active duty between 2003 and 2011. In short, the Bronze Star recipient sat down to eat in a McDonald’s in the nation’s capital and was accosted by a group of teens demanding to know if he thought “black lives matter.”
Like most sane people, he tried to ignore them and just eat his burger. He was promptly ambushed and robbed upon exiting the restaurant.
“I believe this was a hate crime and I was targeted because of my skin color,” Marquez told the Daily Caller Feb. 15. “Too many of these types of attacks have been happening against white people by members of the black community and the majority of the mainstream media refuses to report on it.”
There are two very interesting facts about Marquez’s case:
Cops finally arrested and charge two individuals in connection with the incident, but they will not be charged with a hate crime — even though they were explicitly harassing him about race and calling him “racist” before the attack.
President Obama, who always seems eager to weigh in on race-related crimes, somehow can’t find his voice when it comes to Black Lives Matter supporters who beat a Marine veteran unconscious and stole $400, a VA medical card, and three credit cards from his back pocket just miles from the White House. What did his assailants spend the stolen cash on, you ask? Answer: liquor, a Five Guys burgers, and products from Walmart.
Regular readers of this blog may remember the case of Allen Haywood, who was attacked by a similar group of kids on the DC Metro Green Line in 2011. They may also remember my own tale on the Green Line from September 17, 2011.
I wrote then:
As I came home late from work on the D.C. Metro Green line, an inebriated older man approached me. I stood towards the back of the Metro minding my own business. The stranger crept up beside me, but just enough to my rear to obscure his actions. There was almost no one else on the train. I angled slightly towards him and he whispered in my ear, “Why don’t you sit down? Don’t you like black people?” I ignored him. He raised his voice: “Why don’t you sit down? Don’t you like black people?” Again, I ignored him. Since the third time around is a charm I finally answered, “I’ve been sitting all day.”
He didn’t believe me.
The man continued to ask me the question, and when I ignored him some more (all the while paying close attention to his position and body language) he turned his question into a statement. Then, he squared up, stated that I didn’t like black people and pushed his palm into my shoulder, which I immediately swiped down with a force that surprised him. He approached again, reaching out his hand to push my shoulder and I swiped it hard enough to make him stutter-step backwards.
On his third attempt to escalate the situation he came at me from the side and bumped me. I responded by shoving him to the other side of the Metro car with enough force so that, should I have chosen to pounce, the backward momentum with which he was stumbling would have put him at a distinct disadvantage.
At this time the Metro stopped, the man gave me a few hard glares and left the train car.
This is an ongoing problem in Washington, D.C., whether the mainstream media wants to admit it or not.
I used to take the Green Line home from work on a regular basis, and groups of kids would act like psychopaths — almost daring someone to speak up. They would also look for women who possessed zero situational awareness and then steal their cell phones right before the Metro doors closed at any given stop.
In my case I was just singled out by a drunk man who, like the teenagers, has convinced himself that any white person who doesn’t greet him with giant smiles after a long day of work is somehow racist and worthy of a physical confrontation.
Incidents like this regularly get swept under the rug, yet the media cannot get enough of the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida; the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; or the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland.
Meanwhile, a Marine veteran who literally helped inspire the iconic war memorial “No Man Left Behind” at Camp Pendleton, California, is ambushed — on American soil — and there is deafening silence.
For those who do not remember, Marquez was in Fallujah’s “Hell House” in 2004 when he helped aide Marine Sgt. Maj. Brad Kasal with lance corporal Dane Shaffer. The image of the three men, which went viral, was sculpted into the memorial by Vietnam veteran John Phelps in November 2015.
The moral of the story here is that no group naturally has a monopoly on hate, but for whatever reason American media outlets are obsessed with filling certain subsets of the population with it.
Christopher Marquez, who now attends American University, will be fine in the long-run. Your friendly neighborhood blogger, who also attended American University, has fared rather well since 2011.
My guess is that the drunken man on the Green Line and the McDonald’s attackers — all filled with racial animosity towards guys like us — will have a slew of needlessly rough days ahead. Perhaps they should have enlisted in the Army like me or the Marines like Mr. Marquez.
At a minimum, minorities in Washington, D.C., would be wise to stop listening to race activists, whose careers are dependent upon keeping as many people as possible in a perpetual state of anger and confusion.
Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter, who was severely wounded during a 2010 grenade attack, is set to become the third Medal of Honor recipient from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
The medically retired Marine Corps veteran will be commended for shielding Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio from a live grenade in Afghanistan on Nov. 21, 2010, the Army Times reported.
“We knew the area we were moving into was one of the rougher areas. … The grenade hit … and our Marines do what they do best — they took care of us and they kept us alive,” he told the Army Times.
Cpl. Carpenter, 24, suffered the loss of his right eye, a blown-out eardrum, a “pretty much blown off” lower jaw and various other broken bones. Damage to the soldier’s frontal lobe also left him unable to speak until just recently. …
“I’m still here and kicking and I have all my limbs, so you’ll never hear me complain,” he said.
If you get a chance, read up on his full story. It’s amazing.
“I just wanted to give a little shout out to all the people that not necessarily doubted, but who didn’t think 15 months ago that I’d be running 10K marathons and doing more pull-ups than I at one point thought I could do. I guess this is a message and a constant reminder for me and everybody out there that thinks they have obstacles to accomplish and overcome.”
The guy was in many respects blown to bits, he couldn’t talk for an extended amount of time because of injuries sustained to his brain, and yet he finds the drive and determination to get back into the kind of shape it takes to run marathons and knock out pull-ups.
Imagine what the world would look like if everyone had William Kyle Carpenter’s attitude. I feel confident saying that it would be a much better place.
Years ago I read Marcus Luttrell’s book ‘Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10,’ and was blown away. It captured the complexities of war in ways I had rarely seen on the nightly news. Luttrell’s tale brought tears to my eyes and left a lasting impression in my mind. Apparently, it did the same for five women from Texas, who went out and started Boot Campaign, a non-profit dedicated to helping war fighters and their families when they return home.
This past weekend in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., I had the pleasure of taking part in the final event of the year for Pushups for Charity, which worked in conjunction with Boot Campaign to help raise funds for our returning war fighters and their families. Men, women and children of all ages and fitness levels came out to do as many pushups as possible within 90 seconds, with the goal of hitting 10,000 before the end of the day. There was a lot of people who needed a shower when all was said and done, but the goal was ultimately accomplished.
The thing that most struck me about Pushups for Charity was the sense of community the event instilled in participants from the get-go. All of the Team Leaders were upbeat men and women who made complete strangers feel as if they were longtime friends. It was hot and humid with no wind and no shade — but no one cared because everyone was having fun. Organizers, participants and the audience that cheered and clapped with each round all seemed to concentrate on a shared bond — love of the military. There was no amount of sunburn or sore muscles that could take away from the joy of moment.
After I got home on Sunday night, I was looking at a picture of myself with Team Leaders Mark Little and Chris Nesbitt and wondering why I seem most at ease (no pun intended) around soldiers. I laugh more. I smile more. I’m more “me” in those moments than in any other social situation.
I think a clue to the peace that company brings me can be found in the bio for CPT Mark Little (U.S. Army Ret.), which reads:
Mark enlisted in the Army in 2002. Mark spent 4 years as a Combat Engineer learning and performing the craft of a demolitions expert.
Mark was deployed to Iraq as a Platoon Leader for the 3rd Infantry Division. He spent 99 days in Iraq, conducted over 150 Combat Patrols, and received 3 direct IED blasts, resulting in 2 Purple Hearts and the loss of both of his legs.
Mark is the Captain of the USA Warriors Hockey Team, which provides recreational hockey therapy to wounded Service-members, he actively Crossfits, and is excited to help the Boot Campaign with their critical mission of supporting our Nation’s Heros as they return from combat.
Mark is a Hero Team Leader because every fiber of his being is dedicated to serving his fellow Military Service-Members and refuses to let injuries get in the way of completing any mission he undertakes.
Selfless Service. Check. Courage. Check. Perseverance. Check. The list of qualities that I respect, admire and seek to cultivate in myself are so often found in individuals like CPT Little that it is in their presence where I feel most comfortable.
There is something extremely awe-inspiring about men and women who can have both of their legs taken from them and, upon healing, get out of bed and essentially say to the world, “You took my legs and knocked me down? Okay. I’ll just build myself some new legs and stand right back up again. And on top of that, I’m going to be just as hard-core awesome as I ever was.”
That is the character of winners. These are the individuals we should look to for inspiration. Their stories are the ones that should not be forgotten.
The next time a political party comes knocking on your door, I suggest laughing them off and turning to an organization with a track record of actually keeping its promises. Boot Campaign is one, but there are many, many others. And if you can’t give money, you can always take 90 seconds out of your day during the next Pushups for Charity event to knock a few out. It won’t cost you a dime, and you’ll meet some incredible people in the process.
In 1997 I enlisted in the U.S. Army straight out of high school and spent three years as a mechanized infantryman.
After Basic Training in Fort Benning, Ga., I was sent to Schweinfurt, Germany, to join my unit, Charlie Co., 1/18th Infantry Battalion. I was part of First Infantry Division, known by most civilians as “The Big Red One.”
My time in service does not include the kind of deployments faced by the men and women who serve in a post 9/11 world, but I am confident that I can speak knowledgeably on the culture of combat units.
And I am confident Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey’s announcement that the front lines will now be an option for women is, for all intents and purposes, a policy shift that will get good soldiers killed.
While most commentary since the shift was revealed Wednesday has focused on the physical rigors demanded in combat roles, little has been mentioned about the sexual element that first sergeants and company commanders will now be forced to deal with.
Editor’s note: I’m trying to knock out “Damn Few” by the former Head of Basic and Advanced SEAL Training so I can give you guys a worthy review. In the mean time, hopefully this piece I did for TWT will serve as an adequate addendum to yesterday’s post on women in combat units.