Medals again (???)

I understand from a reporter’s email overnight that the Navy is contemplating issuing a new DD214 for Chris Kyle, revising his medal total downwards. I have yet to find out exactly what or why or how they made that decision.

Chris's memory of his medal totals agreed EXACTLY with the original discharge documents issued independently in 2009 by the Navy and reported by us in American Sniper. In revising the discharge documents, the Navy is now admitting to sloppy record-keeping, either in 2009 or today. I find it difficult to believe their records have become MORE complete in the years since the discharge papers were first issued.

I don't know who or what or why things got fouled up, but the bottom line is this: Chris saved countless lives on the battlefield, was awarded numerous medals for valor, and should have gotten even more.

Coming this August . . .

Dale and I are launching a new series, with bots, AI, and damsels in distress . . .
Old bones . . .

. . . for the Corps. Item:

The Marines are looking for a few good planes, and their search has taken them to an Arizona boneyard where the Corps' old F/A Hornets have been gathering dust and rust for years.
In the bizarro world . . .

. . . of North Korea, the fact that they want war justifies them wanting war.

"It's the United States that caused this issue," Han Song Ryol, director-general of the department of U.S. affairs at North Korea's Foreign Ministry, said in his first interview with an American news organization since assuming the post three years ago. "They have to stop their military threats, sanctions and economic pressure. Without doing so, it's like they are telling us to reconcile while they are putting a gun to our forehead."


The real question is when  does Japan decide to implement an offensive capability to meet the threat. Because even with the best defensive shield in place, retaliation will be seen as necessary. And especially after the recent launchings, they have to feel they're the ones in the bull's eye.

VR - don't listen to the critics . . .

Farhad Manjo, the technology writer for the NY Times, has an article today on virtual reality that is going to come off like the stories about the Wright brothers and their new-fangled, never-gonna-work contraption, the aeroplane. We’re seeing a lot of these lately because of the alleged “failure” of the first generation of VR devices to be runaway commercial hits.

You can read the article here; he’s absolutely right about the improved controllers that are coming out soon – they radically alter the experience. And additional technical improvements in the hardware, sure to be available commercially within the next few years, will improve it as well.

But  what Manjo is really reacting to – which he seems unable to fully articulate, or perhaps perceive – is the fact that the art form – yes, VR is an ART FORM – is so new that the VR artists have not yet arrived to develop the medium. The examples that we’ve seen – in the labs where Manjo played and even in the VR “experiences” his own newspaper is pioneering – don’t fully engage the user or exploit the medium. Critics are looking for Charlie Chaplain when the "Great Train Robbery" hasn’t been shot yet.

I’m writing this while out West researching a book on the Pony Express, but as I’m writing this, I’m thinking of how the VR experience – which would not only interactive but multi-participant – would be. (No, this isn't a pitch . . . but . . .)

The medium is an exciting but demanding one, one that demands collaboration as well as vision. But when the artists get a good handle on it, the world will not be the same.

Not horsing around . . .

Superb monument capturing the changing of horses during a Pony Express ride in bronze. The statue by Avard T. Fairbanks is located on the grounds of This Is The Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City.

Road less traveled . . .

. . . today. In its time - the 1800s - it was a super highway (part of the Pony Express trail heading through Utah toward the desert and eventually Nevada and California).

Where I'm at . . .

. . .  for the next few weeks . . .
Nederlands spreken?

(Just out in the Netherlands...)
On D-Day and beyond

This week we remember and honor the soldiers who fought in Normandy, landing in what will forever be known as D-Day, June 6, 1944. It’s been called the Longest Day, and certainly if you were on the beach, had a relative or friend there, or were responsible for someone who was, it was all that and more.

D Day was a great victory, establishing an Allied presence in northern France. Today as we look back, it may seem as if it were a preordained victory, but in fact it was anything but. Nor, it should be pointed out, did the successful landings and securing of the beachheads make ultimate victory a sure thing. The original assault plan, with the British leading a spearhead east, failed, and until the Cobra breakout weeks after the landings, the entire enterprise surely must have seemed in doubt. Even after the breakout, the original plan for kicking the Germans out of France was drastically revised – which while it led to Patton’s charge across the country that summer, made for some other difficulties along the way.

The point is, when we look back at historical moments, they often seem to be not only triumphant but obvious. Real life is never that way.

Ready to rumble . . .

. . . where it started. RIP.

Veterans' day

 . . . . . . is today for a group of honored vets in the Poughkeepsie, NY, area.