Thursday, September 11, 2008


I wrote this in 2006 but on this day I can still think of no better way to commemorate what we went through. I want us to remember that 9-11 was about people. People died. Buildings came down but people died. Jeffrey Giordano was one of them. Do not forget. I haven't.

Jeffrey Giordano

I know that a lot of folks are expecting me to write about 9-11 and how it not only changed our nation but also how it changed the lives of myself and my family. Not this time. Instead I will concentrate on the memory of a man. He was a man much like me and the same age. I got his name from Project 2,996 which has been sponsored by DC Roe.He is Jeffrey Giordano 46, of New York, N.Y. and he died at the World Trade Center. He was a Firefighter from Ladder 3 in Manhattan and his Memorial Service was held on October 13, 2001.

As I look at his photo I wonder what he was like, what his hopes and dreams were. I look into into his eyes and I see a man who I would have liked to have known, have had a beer with, have called my friend. A man dedicated to public service, a man who understood the concepts of Duty, Honor, Country. A family man who loved his children but still selflessly rushed to the scene of the attack because it was the right thing to do. He is the same type of man as those I meet here, those who have risked all for those same three words; Duty, Honor, Country. I think that there has already been a more fitting tribute written about him than I ever could compose and I offer it here.

Athlete and devoted father lived a life that focused on helping and inspiring others

Sunday, October 07, 2001 By MIKE AZZARA ADVANCE STAFF WRITER Burlington, VT.

Three words that characterize the life of Jeffrey Giordano, 45, of Tottenville, are "compassion in action." Jeff, as he was known, was committed to excellence in everything he did. His great physical and mental strength helped make him a man with strong moral and ethical convictions. When someone would say, "That's good enough," said his wife, the former Marie Scotto, "Jeff's response would be, 'That's the problem with the world -- people think it's OK to accept less than perfect.'"

Mr. Giordano, a firefighter with Ladder Co. 3 in Lower Manhattan, has been missing since the collapse of the World Trade Center Sept. 11. That morning, he called his wife at 6:30 from the firehouse to tell her to awaken the children so they could watch him on television. "I'm going to be on TV with Larry Hoff in a fund-raising promotion benefiting the Firefighters Burn Center Foundation and the Widows and Orphans Fund," he told her. He was an officer of the foundation. "It was as if he knew it would be the last time they would see their father alive," Mrs. Giordano said. Shortly after 9 a.m., he called to say he was on his way to the World Trade Center. Mrs. Giordano said she "could feel the adrenaline flowing as he spoke."

Since Ladder Co. 3 is downtown, it was one of the first units to respond. "When the towers collapsed," Mrs. Giordano said, "I knew he was in one of them." Mr. Giordano, who joined the Fire Department in 1987, was assigned to Ladder Co. 3 from the start. His fellow firefighters became an important part of his life. "Jeff is treasured in the memory of those who knew him as a 'brother,' a fireman whose professional joy was to be among his fellow firefighters," Mrs. Giordano said. "In spite of his singular bravery, it was his habit to give the credit to others." In an interview in the spring, he told the Daily News: "We just pull them out. It's the doctors and nurses who save their lives."

Mr. Giordano was a highly decorated firefighter. Among his many honors and citations was the Albert Johnson Award for saving two people trapped in a blazing building. The Life Saving Benevolent Society honored Mr. Giordano for diving into the East River to save a drowning man. In March, he received the Hero of the Month Award given by the Daily News for saving the life of a 21-year-old woman he found unconscious in a burning apartment. He was recognized for bravery and citizenship by the Fire Department Honor Legion, the American Legion and the City Council. He wore a chest full of medals on his dress uniform.

While living in Westchester County, he was a member of the South Salem Volunteer Fire Department, where his helmet was retired last week at a memorial service. Mr. Giordano, a native of Brooklyn, moved to Staten Island four years ago. A man of powerful focus and endurance, Mr. Giordano participated in more than 15 marathons. He ran daily and logged more than 50,000 miles. Mrs. Giordano said many people, learning he was missing in the World Trade Center collapse, have contacted her with stories of how he inspired them to achieve more in their lives. He was vice president and a member of the board of the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation. He was dedicated to raising funds for the New York Presbyterian Burn Center. Mr. Giordano was a devoted husband and father who took his children everywhere. "It was important to him that they be involved in the community," Mrs. Giordano said. He was the soccer coach for the Intrepids, the team his son, Nicholas, played on.

Mr. and Mrs. Giordano were childhood sweethearts who celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary in August. "Life is empty without him but I am thankful he has given me three beautiful children, the greatest gift in the world," Mrs. Giordano said. "I will always feel his presence for when I look at his gift, I will always see him. "Oh, how I miss him and love him." Surviving, in addition to his wife, Marie, and his son, Nicholas, are two daughters, Victoria and Alexandra; his mother, Jessie, and a sister, Debbie Caputo. His brother, Chris, died three years ago.In line with other honors from a grateful community he has had a street renamed after him. It is Jeffrey Giordano Boulevard, located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Hylan Boulevard and Page Avenue.

I see tributes that state, "Never Forget." I won't. I will always remember that day, what I was doing, how I learned about it, and how it has changed me but I still feel that I should remember Jeffery Giordano.

Tomorrow I will be on post and at the time that the first plane flew into the tower the PA will play Taps. I will stop, turn, and salute the flag. At that moment I will remember Jeffrey Giordano the way he should be remembered. You should too. Don't remember him as a victim, remember him as the man he was. I will.

Cluster Weapons

I have been getting some interesting emails from a group called Survivor Corps. They are working to ban cluster munitions. I don't think they will be successful as cluster weapons are designed to kill over large areas and they are very, very good at that. They are also very good at taking out armor, aircraft on the ground and hard points. This is a lot like the land mine debate. The weapons are terrifying and for good reason. That is part of why they are effective.
The problem with both weapons systems is that they don't POP 100% of the time and can lay inert for years until some unfortunate soul who had nada to do with the prior conflict is killed or maimed by one. There are areas of the world where they litter the countryside like poppies. Afghanistan, Bosnia, Lebanon, and Myanmar are a few of them.
Even rifle rounds are not 100%. That is why any good soldier will clean and inspect every round he has in his ruck before he goes into the field. If it looks the least bit dodgy you toss it. Pilots and artillery men are usually the folks operating the delivery systems for cluster munitions and they can't inspect every bomblet as they are sealed in a canister.
Look at their site and make up your own mind. When you are up against bad guys and an A-10 Warthog comes in and drops a few hundred of these on them you love these things. It's when you have to MCAP the place later that you hate them.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The LOGCAP Diaspora

More and more folks are fleeing this way of life and stresses. Until I left I did not really imagine I would be able to function again in a real world situation and in fact I have had some adjustment issues. I don't live in a Khaki world anymore. Everything is not dress right dress. People don't obey rules because rules are in place. Being around weapons and planning for war is not part of the new normalcy.

Some folks are having tough times. Many can't adjust to what amounts to chaos of life compared to the order and linear thought processes of the military. I know many who indeed think they will make oodles of money in the US just because they did so in Iraq. I'm doing very well but that is because I have a transferable skill set. This is when the skills you brought to the table or developed while in theater are usable to companies in the civilian sector.

Some of the retired military types looked down their noses at those who were in support roles like IT, HR, HSE, medical and such but those are the folks having the least amount of problems refitting to the civilian side. PKTSD while being a funny story is sadly enough based on some realities. There were many who did not save a dime and just powered through what they made.

The active duty folks have many ways to reach out and get help. The civilians don't. There are a lot of people who are a bit jealous and say that they don't deserve it as they made a lot of money. Truth is they did not make as much as a lot of people think they did. The combat truck driver made about 80K in a year. He gets a tax break and brings it all home but think about all the danger he faced to make that. When you add up the combat pay, deployment pay, and uplifts to the military this is about what an E-7 or an O-5 brings home too. Who faced the most danger, the trucker out on an MSR every two days or the O-5 who worked as a S-3 planner and hardly ever left the base? Who needs help the most?

The diaspora of the LOGCAPers continues and I keep up with a lot of them by various methods. Some have gone home and have no intention of ever going overseas again. Some have been trying to get another overseas job and some have just melted into the world.

I saw my neighbor's family destroyed by this. He fell victim to the temptations that many faced and most resisted. He made a wad of cash, planned a big vacation, found a new girlfriend and had it all going rosy. That lasted until he was terminated for trying to smuggle out a bullet. That's right, one bullet. The rules say "Don't do it!" I told him as I told everyone who deployed, "Follow the rules." He got caught and was held up in Baghdad until they could finish an investigation. He missed his oldest child's High School Graduation because of this. He came home with his head hanging down and took his family on that expensive vacation they had planned. He figured he would be able to go back with another company in less than a month so he did not worry about his money. They spent it. While on vacation his new girlfriend also came to the vacation spot although she was in a different hotel.

He made excuses and disappeared for a few hours. Everything was just ducky until after their return home. Seems he has been put on a "Do not rehire" list with us and can't get on with anyone else. Since 2006 companies are not desperate for help anymore. They won't just hire you because you are willing to come. If you can't make a single rotation you are a liability and are likely to repeat the behavior. Not only was he now not going back and had splurged all the money but his wife found photos on his digital camera of his girlfriend. Yep, he actually took pics of her at the family vacation spot.

Today he is at home struggling. He had to move out and they are getting divorced. He is working a "make ends meet" job and dreams of returning to the gravy train but knows it is not going to happen.

He is my neighbor but I don't feel sorry for him. He could have obeyed the rules but he didn't. he could have stayed faithful to his wife but he didn't. He could have been smart enough to not have evidence of his transgressions but he didn't. He looks at me and wonders why I made it for 5 years and still have a good overseas gig.

The diaspora of these people will be complete in a few years, sooner of Obama gets elected. I wonder what brainy post grad student will seize on this for a thesis or for a doctoral study in sociology. It will be interesting. The first outsourced war is going to present some very different problems once they are fully recognized by the "experts". I'm no expert and I know the diaspora is bringing new troubles. For many it will be too late before the answers are found.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


In Iraq Ramadan was not even a blip on our radar other than the fact that the bad guys seemed to want to die more frequently. They laid low all day and then got fired up after Iftar (The evening fast breaking meal) and came out thinking they were all Billy Bad Ass.

In Kuwait it was a local law and in our compound we were OK but made sure we obeyed the law outside the gates. The bases were not affected at all. We had one case where a girl walked outside the gate with a juice box and was given a 300 KD fine. That is about 1000 USD so it is a whopper. Other than all the restaurants being closed during daylight hours it was not that big an ordeal.

In Saudi Arabia it is something else altogether. Here they are dead serious about it. NOTHING is open. It is like the whole country shuts down. I tried to go to my favorite bookstore yesterday and it usually opens on Fridays at 16:00. When I got there at 16:00 it was closed and the security guard informed us that it would not open until 21:00. I am fast in slumber land by then so I gave it a miss.

We had to shut down the kitchen at work and place the coffee makers, microwaves, etc in a conference room and put signs up warning Muslims that they shall not enter. The hours of the client have been changed from 07:00-17:00 to 08:00 to 14:00 and no lunch break. They only work 6 hours and get paid for 8. Half my staff is on half days also but it is OK as ALL the Muslims leave early and that is when I start getting a lot of administrative duties out of the way.

One of our locals told me that we should all be observing the Ramadan rules but I told him I was a Methodist and we did not practice it. Religion is touchy here and you have to be very careful when discussing it. I explained Lent and how it is somewhat the same. I told him that I would practice Ramadan if we would observe Lent. It is a no go for both of us.

Oh well, only two more lunar phases until it is over and we get back to everything being back to normal....if you can call it that.

Friday, September 05, 2008


OMG! Thank god the junior senator from Illinois may get the power to call back all the trrops from Iraq. It really looks like he will need them in his own backyard. If this was the case in Texas or in Arizona where McCain comes from the media would be howling.
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