Monday, May 30, 2011

Russ Vaughn

It's not often this old Airborne line doggie (that's a paratrooper infantryman for those of you unfamiliar with military lingo) gets a thrill up his leg, to borrow a phrase from someone I'm sure knows absolutely nothing about military lingo. But for the past year or two, my old soldier's heart has been going pitter-pat every time retired Army Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) and now Florida Congressman Allen West is featured on one or other of the FOX News shows or on one of the more hostile liberal media venues. Listening to the basic common sense that flows from this man, my eyes always drift to his left lapel where are pinned what I would wager are the only master parachutist wings ever worn in the hallowed halls of the United States Congress by one of its members. Those wings are a silver badge of courage, accomplishment and honor, a small shiny symbol of the wearer's willingness to have repeatedly (65 jumps being the qualifying minimum) stood in the open door of an aircraft in flight and leaped into the turbulent prop blast, leading his troops to the ground to conduct ground operations.

One has to wonder whether any other members of Congress (or our ping pong playing president) would be willing to do this just once and not hundreds of times as LTC West has likely done.

Congressman West's interviews are typically marked by a calm demeanor and spot-on assessments of the issues put to him. In this he reminds me of the many excellent, no B/S, Airborne officers I served under during my six years of active duty in various assignments from company level to battalion and then brigade staff, both in peacetime and ground combat in Vietnam. That ability to remain composed, even serene, when all hell is breaking loose all about you, is what separates the merely good officers and NCO's from the great ones. As an infantry radio operator, squad leader and staff NCO, I served closely with some of the best as well as a couple who didn't measure up; I've seen the difference. Allen West is one of the good ones.

The United States Army, in yet another example of the madness of political correctness infecting our military, chose to punish LTC West for forcefully interrogating an Iraqi detainee suspected of possessing information about an ambush planned for West's battalion. The colonel's egregious offense was to drag this terrorist suspect outside the command post and fire two rounds from the Colonel's service pistol beside the recalcitrant's ear in an effort to make him divulge the location of potential ambushes, which he then did. There are mixed reports as to whether the ear-splitting blasts actually revealed significant intelligence; it most certainly however resulted in West being disciplined by what old Vietnam warrior and paratrooper Colonel David Hackworth, RIP, referred to as the Army's perfumed princes.

Well, as the saying goes, you can't keep a good man down and for sure you can't keep a good paratrooper down. West is doing what all good combat commanders have always done, he's aggressively taking the fight to those he will ultimately defeat. In a classic airborne maneuver, he has jumped behind enemy lines by joining the all-Democrat Congressional Black Caucus, making that bunch of race-exploiting liberals collectively gag on the very thought of a Black Republican operating within their midst.

While the Army foolishly passed on the opportunity to nourish and promote an excellent future general, the American public will not be so hamstrung by political correctness. Allen West is looking to be a major player in American politics, someone who may someday be the boss of those very generals who misplayed their hands. While I do not yet think he's politically experienced enough to serve as vice-president as some here at American Thinker have wished, it would give me and millions of warriors and ex-warriors deep satisfaction to see Allen West, sporting those shiny, silver master jumper's wings on his lapel, become Secretary of the Army in the incoming Republican administration, then after a couple of years, move up to Secretary of Defense. I'd wager a lot of the politically correct foolishness we now see being imposed upon our young warriors by the perfumed princes in the Pentagon would come to a screeching halt.

Who knows where Allen West could ascend to after that. After all, the paratrooper motto is:

All the way!

SSGT (E-6) Vaughn, Russ
U.S. Army 1959-1962, 1964-1967
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

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