What an oath

In being commissioned, an Army requirement was that I have an officer administer to me the oath. The oath – the United States Uniformed Services Oath of Office. That official thing. The officer could be on active duty or retired – it did not matter. I called Kristin’s grandfather and asked him if he was available. Eric was a retired Army officer – Infantry – having served in the California National Guard after being commissioned through the then-new Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Actually, though an Infantry officer, he had initially been assigned


Our Homeless Vets

Just over a year ago, my buddy Tom arrived in Portland. I had been following his journey, as he rode his motorcycle up out of the deep South, blogging about his adventures, and headed this way to see family and possibly spend the holidays in the Portland area. I was excited at the prospects of getting the chance to see him, if only for a little bit, before his plans had him heading East and on to other parts unknown. He had just closed one large chapter of his life, and he was free – or adrift – to go

Army / Writing

NaNoWriMo and my Army career

I’m using November 2015 to participated in #NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. It’s suppose to be a month in which to bang out 50k words towards a novel, using a lot of great tools and formulas from this great and structured program, but I’m a rebel – I’m going to try and put down 50k (or more) words about my time in the Army. Stories I Should Tell, I’m calling it. So, here’s the question to you: what are you favorite Art in the Army stories, that just have to be included?

Army / Iraq / Syria

America on being, or not being, in Syria today

The White House announced Friday that the US is going to deploy Special Forces personnel to Syria. The announcement specified that these SF personnel, described as intending to number less than 50, are going there as advisers to moderate rebel groups fighting against ISIS/ISIL. Today, President Obama faced questions from NBC Nightly News about his September 2013 pledge to not put troops on the ground in Syria. Back then, President Obama had stated, “My answer is simple. I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will

44 Days / Army / Iraq

On Stifled Innovations

I have been spending a lot of time recently reading, re-reading, and talking with fellow captains about an April 2002 paper, ““STIFLED INNOVATION? DEVELOPING TOMORROW’S LEADERS TODAY.” Dr. Leonard Wong, of the Strategic Studies Institute, wrote it. The first time I read it, I cheered. The second time, I stewed. Now, it just gets me thinking, and worrying, about the company commanders to follow. The description of the paper is tantalizing – “The author examines the current company commander experience and concludes that the Army values innovation in its rhetoric, but the reality is that junior officers are seldom

44 Days / Army / Iraq

Coming out of Command

I’ve spent time today rebuilding my main computer, and with that, moving and backing up a lot of files.  I ran across a file, the contents of which are below, from an online interview I did with the folks at, back in 2003 or 2004, about capturing and sharing lessons learned about wartime command.  I’d almost forgotten I’d done the interview.

Army / Oahu / Running


“I’m going out for a run, probably up to Post.  I’ll be back… after midnight, probably after 1,” I said to my wife, as I laced up my shoes.  I’d been making noise about going for a longer run, since it was the Thursday night starting a long weekend, and really, I didn’t think my wife was listening to me. We’d just finished dinner, there was still plenty of summer sunlight, I had a good full belly, and was feeling strong. “Uh huh,” she said, “yeah.” Followed by, “Wait, what?”

Army / Blogging

The Army Officer’s Guide to Mentoring

My good friend and Army colleague Ray Kimball has a new book that has hit the Amazon bookshelves. The Army Officer’s Guide to Mentoring is the book version of his dissertation, written to support his PhD at Pepperdine this year, about the state of affairs for mentoring in the specifically Army Officer Corps. This is the book I wish that John Chverchko had had available, when I reported in to his unit as a brand new second lieutenant in 1996. Ray doesn’t prescribe what mentoring and coaching in the Army should be, he just does a great job, based on his


“I need you to go into this minefield…”

I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my day. I did a lot of stupid things in service to the Army. At or near the topic of the list involves the time when I was a lieutenant, of course, and I was tasked to go into a minefield and recover 5,000 gallon field truck that rolled over onto its side there. We like to joke about minefields. They make for good drama. They are fantastic visuals, in movies, on TV – we just saw one on Doctor Who. But I’m not sure people really understand just how amazingly

Army / Culture / Family / etc.

The sound of gunfire

Alone, I can’t change American culture and this strange relationship we have with guns and ammunition. There are so many different things that America could do, to change the levels of gun violence in America, and the numbers of events of school shootings in our country. But this isn’t small problem, these solutions aren’t tiny ones, either, and I’m afraid that I haven’t come upon one yet that I can implement myself, which will bring national, regional, or cultural change. But what I can do is model the behavior I want to see. The behavior I want to see in

Army / Blogging / Culture / etc.

As we use to say, History is Written By the Winners

I still love that quote, from George Orwell. It was the title of a column he wrote in 1944, you can read it here. I bring it up because China – the People’s Republic of China, or as it’s also called, Communist China – just celebrated the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II. The Atlantic, and one of my favorite features they do, In Focus, has great photos up that relate to both this topic, and this great quote from Orwell.

Army / Military

Before You Separate from the Army, Fix Your Records

I retired from the Army this spring. I didn’t want to. I had more years of service to the national left in me, more cans of whoop-ass, more things I could and wanted to do for the nation, for the Army, for the Soldiers with whom I was having the honor of serving. It wasn’t my choice. The Army said it was time. It’s also that time now when more of my peers are being told the same thing. Thanks, but it’s time to retire. Here are things I learned during my process, things they can and should considering


19 years, 7 months, 28 days

That’s it. Today was my last day on active duty in the United States Army. Today is also the 20 year anniversary of the day I signed my enlistment contract, and twenty years and a day after Kristin agreed that we should marry. I think this is where and when I am suppose to wax-nostalgic and blubber on about these twenty years, but today is only a milestone. Things aren’t stopping. There’s still shit to do. We still have great kids to raise. My amazing wife is still by my side, and we have many more adventures ahead of

Army / PTSD


Megan has an interesting and awesome blog post here, about being a teacher, being an alcoholic, and being public with her addiction. It’s a short but worthwhile read. She talks of the strength of AA, but the fear of being an alcoholic and what the exposure would mean – until now, when she publicly blogs about it. And I totally get it. I have PTSD. I have had it, for coming up on a dozen years. It’s been, for too long, something we don’t talk about. Except – I’ve always talked about mine. And that was deliberate.