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The Soldier, the Knocker, and the Burden of Permission

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posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 04:35 PM
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The desire to defend one's country and loved ones is an awesome and honorable propensity. I don't know how to put this without sounding like a greeting card, but I feel deep respect and gratitude from my heart. The men closest to me held the need to serve and protect as one of their deepest wellsprings of identity and purpose. My granddad was a bombadier in WW II. My Eagle Scout uncle served a five yr. tour in Vietnam. My dad was a cop. I loved them more than words can express.

They all three killed other humans.

They couldn't talk about it, and they weren't encouraged to. All three had severe problems with substance abuse and depression. They all struggled to connect with their families. We were at a loss to reach them, let alone help them. I think what it came down to was that neither party knew how to reconcile this:



With this:



Our fathers, friends and brothers; isolated from us by an appalling understanding. I'd like to say to mine now: you couldn't tell anyone. It was killing you to be alone with it, but you could not get the words out. Somewhere in that silence was an act of mercy: you wanted to spare us that understanding.

It's the central divide between the cilvilian and the soldier: those who have come to an understanding of bloodshed, and those who are kept safe from that understanding by the one who takes up the burden of it on their behalf.

The schism widens when this kind of crap jumps off:


Because of the widespread opposition to the war, and the strong passions ignited by anti-war activists, our veterans were grossly mistreated when they returned home. They could not wear their uniforms off base for their own safety, they were spit upon in public places, and one of the many epithets hurled at them was "baby killer." Even in the Pentagon, military service members only wore uniforms one day a week.

Read more: www.military-money-matters.com...


I have read some revisionist horsedook on the internets about how the mistreatment of returning vets in the Vietnam era is a myth.

It's not. There are hundreds of first hand accounts available. Including my uncle's. Including, for that matter, a Boomer lit. instructor of mine. She told a story about being one of those d-bag protestors and verbally assaulting a group of vets back in the day. And how she felt she had "been in the wrong" after reading The Things They Carried.

I threw up in my mouth a little, as you may well imagine.

How far have we come from the vile scapegoating of the 70's? Well, I ran across this thread, and felt like the video hit the mark. At least, it squares with the complaints I've heard from a couple of my vet buddies.



The awkwardness and smarmy lip-service mask a discomfort which is appearent to both parties. No open contempt, but still a massive gulf of understanding and care. And there is such a need:


Suicide Rates:

· Veterans are more than twice as likely as non-veterans to commit suicide and the “Katz
Suicide Study,” dated February 21, 2008, found that suicide rates among veterans are
approximately 3 times higher than in the general population.

· The VA’s own data indicate that an average of four to five veterans commit suicide each day.

· A document from the VA Inspector General’s Office, dated May 10, 2007, indicates that the
suicide rate among individuals in the VA’s care may be as high as 7.5 times the national
average.

· According to internal VA emails, there are approximately 1,000 suicide attempts per month
among veterans seen in VA medical facilities.

www.veteransnewsroom.com...



*According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2010, young male veterans, ages 18 to 24, who served during the Gulf War II era, including those who have served at any time since September 2001, had an unemployment rate of 21.9 percent (significantly higher than the national average- at nearly double the rate).

*The veterans unemployment rate is on a steady incline and has even risen noticeably since 2010. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of unemployment for military veterans increased from 11.5% in June 2010 to 13.3% in June 2011

www.veteransbenefitsgibill.com...



*Between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year.

*On any given night, more than 300,000 veterans are living on the streets or in shelters in the U.S.

*Approx. 33% of homeless males in the U.S. are veterans.

*Veterans are twice as likely as other Americans to become chronically homeless.

*Veterans represent 11% of the adult civilian population, but 26% of the homeless population.

www.veteransbenefitsgibill.com...



A new study by a Brigham Young University professor has found that combat veterans' first marriages are 62 percent more likely to end in separation or divorce than other men's, a fact he hopes will be considered by defense policy-makers.

"We found that combat experience is an important risk factor for divorce or separation," said Sven Wilson, an assistant professor of political science, whose study is reported in the new issue of the academic journal "Armed Forces & Society." "Traumatic experiences like combat seem to have a persistent impact on the ability of people to form and maintain successful relationships."

mentalhealth.about.com...


This is our country's great unstaunched wound, and mending can only come through understanding. Why the profound civilian disconnect? Enter the Knocker.
edit on 11-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because: ...




posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 04:37 PM
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A sociologist named Timothy Pachirat did some time in a slaughterhouse. He recently wrote a book called Every Twelve Seconds.

Here's what he has to say about the Knocker:


The knocker is the worker who stands at the knocking box and shoots each individual animal in the head with a captive bolt steel gun.

Avi: Who else is directly involved in killing each cow?

Timothy: Of over 800 workers on the kill floor, only four are directly involved in the killing of the cattle and less than 20 have a line of sight to the killing.

Avi: Were you able to interview any knockers?

Timothy: I was not able to directly interview the knocker, but I spoke with many other workers about their perceptions of the knocker. There is a kind of collective mythology built up around this particular worker, a mythology that allows for an implicit moral exchange in which the knocker alone performs the work of killing, while the work of the other 800 slaughterhouse workers is morally unrelated to that killing.

It is a fiction, but a convincing one: of all the workers in the slaughterhouse, only the knocker delivers the blow that begins the irreversible process of transforming the live creatures into dead ones. If you listen carefully enough to the hundreds of workers performing the 120 other jobs on the kill floor, this might be the refrain you hear: 'Only the knocker.'

It is simple moral math: the kill floor operates with 120+1 jobs. And as long as the 1 exists, as long as there is some plausible narrative that concentrates the heaviest weight of the dirtiest work on this 1, then the other 120 kill floor workers can say, and believe it, 'I'm not going to take part in this.'


And why do humans appraoch killing in this schizoid and compartmentalized manner? Because bloodletting is a hard-wired freak-out trigger. It is one of our most primal aversions.

We need to get over that chicken-brained squeamishness, because the isolation process proceeds from both soldiers and civilians. We've come a long way from the open shunning of the seventies. Still, many of us supress our aversion so that it manifests as a sacchrine surface acceptance which would never survive a real look at bloodletting and the toll it takes on the one we delegate it to.

That's right, "we". We put up the walls in the slaughterhouse, and we put on the blinders when it comes to warfare. While a soldier takes orders from another soldier, they are given their first permission to kill by the People. By you and me. We are all complicit, and we need to stop shovelling it all onto the few who loved us enough to serve us this way.

edit on 11-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because: ...



posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 04:59 PM
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reply to post by Eidolon23
 


Eidolon,

Thank you for another excellent thread. Both the sentiment and the statistics are greatly appreciated. Soldiering has deeply impacted both sides of my family for generations and I have lifelong experience rising to the challenges outlined in your OP.

I hope to add more as the depth of the subject matter settles in.

Thanks again.

X.
edit on 11-3-2012 by Xoanon because:




posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 05:14 PM
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reply to post by Eidolon23
 


May I cautiously add this? When I viewed the 'Stuff civilians say' video? And when I think about the way that Vietnam vets were treated and then about the knocker and his or her relationship with the other floor workers?

I am somehow reminded of the anthropological concept of leveling mechanisms.

For instance, in some African and New Guinea cultures, when a hunter returns with a kill, he is stopped at the perimeter of the village, where his kill and skill are ritually criticized before the food is brought in for distribution.

If you will bear with me for a moment, this type of leveling is seen in just about all forms of 'Big Man Distribution' systems in just about all cultures. The Roman Triumph is a great example of Big Man Distribution raised to a very high level of cultural expression.

My point being that all cultures must have a mechanism in place to mitigate the power of those given permission to kill on behalf of society. Maybe the American awkwardness with this is due to the fact that, once again, we have not bothered to recognize the need; and so we act like chimpanzees.

This is just experimental thinking.

What do you think?

X again.
edit on 11-3-2012 by Xoanon because: check 'big man' link



posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 05:22 PM
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reply to post by Xoanon
 


I think blood taboos (ritual cleansings, shunning, etc) and triumphs are a way to mediate the discomfort caused by bloodshed. I think that the citizenry, unless personally impacted by warfare, was just as insulated from the actual killing as we are in this day and age.

Queasy tribute turns to revilement when the civilian is given a means of seeing the violence. Witness the Vietnam era innovation of broadcasting graphic carnage from the front. As asinine and backward as the backlash was, I think it may have been a good indicator of what can happen when you take the walls down.

We start retracting that permission. And not in a productive way.



posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 05:32 PM
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reply to post by Eidolon23
 





Queasy tribute turns to revilement when the civilian is given a means of seeing the violence. Witness the Vietnam era innovation of broadcasting graphic carnage from the front. As asinine and backward as the backlash was, I think it may have been a good indicator of what can happen when you take the walls down. We start retracting that permission. And not in a productive way.


Wow, very insightful, I had not thought of it even though I know I should have.

I agree, if we moosh together our two posts it seems to start to make things more clear.

Thanks.

X.



posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 05:57 PM
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I think it is human nature, a survival mechanism if you will, to try to remember the good things and times. Once in awhile something will flash through ones mind, brought on by unforeseen triggers, mine has always been diesel exhaust.
I guess we are all willing to ask someone to do a dirty job for us and then be willing to disassociate ourselves from the act that we ask of them, either openly or silently.



For those that don't know, Mark Twain wrote those words. As a military son it was expected. I couldn't ask it of my sons.



posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 06:03 PM
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You know how even though teaching is a noble profession, a high percentage of pedophiles take it up because it allows them access to children? Well, the same principle applies to people who enjoy killing and enlist to indulge that taste. But the actual ratio of bad to good apples, as narrow as it is with teachers, is probably even finer when it comes to soldiers.

However, even normal people can snap, given the wrong circumstances.

US Soldier Kills Afghan Civilians

It might only be one out of thousands, but have you been clocking some of the comments on that thread? Holy crap. I was wrong.

We are still in the same mess we were in in the seventies.

And even if the guy responsible isn't a clinical psychopath, we'd still have to look at how one can be driven to that kind of horror. Honestly, and without all the ridiculous divisive knee-jerking.

edit on 11-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because: ...



posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 06:15 PM
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reply to post by Tinman67
 


That is a very powerful passage. Thank you.

I bet you're a really great dad.




edit on 11-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because: ...



posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 07:08 PM
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Going by star count, no one is down with the anthropology on this, but I think it's helpful.
I pulled this post from the thread cited above.


I wonder how many of these psychos will be going berserk once they head back home.
What goes around comes around.


Que the anthropologists:


For example, Boman (1987) provides a broad historical perspective documenting that the stereotyped representation of the dangerous and unpredictable ex-serviceman—as reflected in adverse publicity about the propensity of veterans of the Vietnam conflict to indulge in violent, antisocial, and criminal behaviors—is by no means a modern phenomenon. Sir James Frazer in The Golden Bough (1978) and Sigmund Freud in Totem and Taboo (1960) both noted how returning warriors in primitive societies were regarded as dangerous and tainted and often requiring a period of ritual isolation and cleansing before being accepted back into the community. Western civilization since Homeric times has displayed a morbid fascination with the violent (and quite often gruesome) deeds of veterans of the Trojan wars, as amply documented in the Iliad and the Odyssey and retold for Roman audiences in the Aeneid. Several Shakespearean plays refer to acute stress reactions and include particularly adverse characterizations of a “nefarious collection of war veterans,” including Sir John Falstaff, Richard III, Iago, Macbeth, and Cassius.

www.nap.edu...



posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 08:15 PM
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Civilian complicity:

Leaving aside the need to maintain a military or to engage in any given war, we civvies need to be aware that millions of jobs in this country depend directly upon military spending, with millions more being indirectly created.



Michael O’Hanlon: “We have about a million and a half people in uniform in the active force. We have about another million in the national guard and reserve. So that’s two-and-a-half million total.”

Michael O’Hanlon: “Roughly another 3 million who are in defense industry or the contractor workforce…”

Michael O’Hanlon: “And then on top of that of course you have all the people locally who near a military base run a hot dog stand or a sandwich shop…”

So when you add it all up….

Michael O’Hanlon: “You’ve got 10 million jobs that depend on the department of defense in one way or another at this moment.”

www.theworld.org...



posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 08:20 PM
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reply to post by Eidolon23
 





Sir James Frazer in The Golden Bough (1978) and Sigmund Freud in Totem and Taboo (1960) both noted how returning warriors in primitive societies were regarded as dangerous and tainted and often requiring a period of ritual isolation and cleansing before being accepted back into the community.


Thank you for pulling this detail out, Eidolon. I can't help but think how a society that has this together and regulated could be terribly derailed by mercenaries. I suppose Rome would be another good example.

I am really interested in hearing your thoughts on why you think that America handles this the way that we do, if you have any.

Thanks in advance.

X.
edit on 11-3-2012 by Xoanon because:




posted on Mar, 11 2012 @ 08:34 PM
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reply to post by Xoanon
 


You mean by not handling it? Because we have reached a point in our collective development where we recognize that the shun and shame approach is awful, regardless of its usefulness as a regulatory practice. That these men are our kin, and that we can't formalize that process of shunning anymore.

But we don't know what else to do, and we are not given the tools to understand and recognize our primal aversion for what it is and how it operates. Even the most humane cultural responses have still emphasized quarantine:


In ancient Rome, legionnaires were encouraged to settle in rural areas after their wars, to “decompress” gradually in the serenity of isolation from the city's activity. Japanese lore tells of samurai warriors who retired to tend the “perfect garden,” away from other people and the stresses of warfare .



posted on Mar, 12 2012 @ 12:54 AM
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reply to post by Eidolon23
 



This is our country's great unstaunched wound, and mending can only come through understanding. Why the profound civilian disconnect? Enter the Knocker.

Interesting thread E23.

The soldier, requires to be absolved of the burden from the collective, who elect a figure head that makes it a requisite of the knocker, and the knocker does the job that they can not do. Yet they all still knock the knocker.

Nobody wants to look at it, so its passed on like a game of hot potato. Going in circles, leading in circles, ending in circles, but what goes around comes around....No big surprise there, so why are they all still surprised each and every time it comes back around.

Sometimes, the lone cottage is not the answer and will not break this cycle, because it was not created by them even though they still follow it long after the originators moved on. So some walls had to come down, and some paths broken and shamed, and even though they did not want to talk about it, or look at it, left to fester it grew and spreed till it consumed and turned inward, into self destruction or into outward destruction.

Some pressures and insults might be best contemplated, and not taken to heart. And if they can not handle that, then maybe they might be in the place they should not be. Something to contemplate on.




And why do humans appraoch killing in this schizoid and compartmentalized manner?

Hot Potato...Pass it on. It's a chain, a cycle, a circle, and for those in the midst of it, there is very little they can actually do, there just one compartment and must defer to other compartments.

But I think you said it.

And I quote.


That's right, "we". We put up the walls in the slaughterhouse, and we put on the blinders when it comes to warfare. While a soldier takes orders from another soldier, they are given their first permission to kill by the People. By you and me.

Hmm, you just might be right in the above.

But moving on.


I think blood taboos (ritual cleansings, shunning, etc) and triumphs are a way to mediate the discomfort caused by bloodshed. I think that the citizenry, unless personally impacted by warfare, was just as insulated from the actual killing as we are in this day and age.

Queasy tribute turns to revilement when the civilian is given a means of seeing the violence. Witness the Vietnam era innovation of broadcasting graphic carnage from the front. As asinine and backward as the backlash was, I think it may have been a good indicator of what can happen when you take the walls down.

We start retracting that permission. And not in a productive way.

Smart stuff, and it would take a much smarter head of mine to figure it out

But yes, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, that permissions were retracted in a not very productive way.

I would think if they were retracted in a more productive way that there would be a lot less backlash and festering wounds.

And the whole military machine...You know a standing army has a habit of turning in on themselves, that's why there kept busy with this, and that, and a whole bunch of projects. But with no clear cut enemy's, well then the fire will turn inward, so some times enemies are created, and sometimes even made up. But even in that it is overdone, and leads to more problems then its worth.

Worse left to idle hands it has a habit of turning really bad, and It has happened before, just look at the past, or even the not that long ago, such as the major countries after the war was won and the battles fought. They all fell from the inside out.


Nothing stays the same forever everything changes and evolves, even the military machine is in the process of doing exactly that...Were it will lead, time will tell. But you know pressures from all sides will impress down what road it will go down. And the civvies as you called them do have some clout on were this thing will lead.

But humm ya, I would of joined but I don't think I would of made it. Especially since you have to wake up really early in the morning and worse usually to some guy screaming at you. I can barely wake up in the morning as it is, and I moved the clock away from my bed that way I have to get up to turn it off. Because I have a habit of clocking that thing when it beeps in the morning, sooner or latter I would of broken it. Besides I don't usually go to sleep 4 hours before I have to wake up. I like my sleep, I think I will get some now.



posted on Mar, 12 2012 @ 01:58 PM
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reply to post by Eidolon23
 


Driven to horror:


What has trickled about the suspect is that he was 38, on his fourth combat deployment in 10 years, the first three in Iraq. He was on his first tour in Afghanistan, where he'd been since December.


*4 deployments in ten years


An official told ABC News that the soldier has suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the past, either from hitting his head on the hatch of a vehicle or in a car accident. He went through the advanced TBI treatment at Fort Lewis and was deemed to be fine.


*Brain injury


When the soldier returned from his last deployment in Iraq he had difficulty reintegrating, including marital problems, the source told ABC News, .


*Marital problems


gma.yahoo.com...
edit on 12-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because: link add.



posted on Mar, 12 2012 @ 01:59 PM
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Brain injuries:


Sutton based her estimate upon military health-screening programs showing that 10% to 20% of returning troops have suffered at least a mild concussion. Among them are 3% to 5% with persistent symptoms that require specialists such as an ophthalmologist to deal with vision problems.

Sutton's estimate is similar to a RAND Corp. study last year that said 320,000 may have suffered a brain injury. Following direction from Congress, the U.S. military began to screen all troops returning from the war zones for brain injury last year.

Persistent symptoms can range from headaches and sleep disorders to memory, balance and vision difficulties, said Lt. Col. Lynne Lowe, the Army's program manager for traumatic brain injury.


www.usatoday.com...

I can testify by way of first hand experience to the permanent personality changes brought on by brain injury.
edit on 12-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because: ...



posted on Mar, 12 2012 @ 10:49 PM
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reply to post by Eidolon23
 


This topic is very well thought out and written.I completely agree with you about the population putting on blinders. Nobody wants to deal with the killing or talk about it. We give our permission and never want to know what goes on.

I have a friend who recently wrote a book about a 40 man platoon's 16 month deployment to Afghanistan, it chronicles the change in humanity these Soldiers go through. I would name the book but I am in it quite a bit. He is now getting a Masters in Clinical Psychology to help our returning Vets. BTW he is a medically retired CPT. We have had discussions about society not taking ownership of the conflicts. Whether you support the war effort or not it still falls on the population of the country to take responsibility for that war.

People join the military for many differnet reasons, very very few join because they want to kill people, it happens but not very often. We have psycopaths in all walks of life and the military is no exception.

I got a little off topic my apologies. This topic is very important and severly overlooked. I can tell you from personal experience the Soldiers come back and leave the military at some point in thier life. When trying to reintegrate into civilian life they feel like they don't belong. They develope a close family when they are deployed, after fighting for your life for 12-16 months it happens. Society does not help them when they try to reintegrate. They shun them. There is always an awkward silince and things never talked about, even with close family as you noted in your OP.

As a society we do need to work on improving this. When we can adress this problem and make changes to improve it society as a whole will benefit.

That is my humble opinion.



posted on Mar, 12 2012 @ 11:41 PM
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I have done more thinking and will add some thoughts. I will put out more personal information than I should but if it helps one Soldier reintegrate into society it will be worth it. The suicide and substance abuse throughout current military and Vets who are trying to intgrate is unacceptable.

There are several things that will help our returning servicemen reintegrate.

Most who return from combat do not want to talk about what went on "over there". There are a couple of reasons for this, I think the top two are trying to protect loved ones and their opinion of us, the second is having to relive what happened. We will spend time alone self medicating and trying to forget what happened.

When the book referenced above came out I got my copy but wouldn't read it. I knew what would happen when I did. My wife and kids immediately started reading it. Now all of my family from parents to every cousin I thought I knew have read it. I can imagine the next family reunion. Haha.

When I started reading the book, I read it in one night and was completely wasted by the end of it. It was an overnight read. I relived every moment of those 16 months. Now I am dealing with it all over again. I probably drink more than most right now, my way of trying to get through this again.

The thing with the book and the family reading it is now they know what happened, not everything but a lot of it. The ones I have talked to don't ask many questions, they just give encouragement. But if I want to talk about it with them I can, they already know. It is helping me to deal with it.

If every Vets story was told to the public it would take the public on an emotional roller coaster, but it would do wonders for the vets. They wouldn't have to feel ashamed of what they have done and it would help with the integration. The returning Vets don't need the crazy questions ie, "did you kill anybody?" They need encouragement and to be embraced by the people. They don't need the thank yous either, it makes most of us feel uncomfortable and alienated agian, it's just the way we are. Most do not do these jobs for glory or recognition.

When a Vet wants to talk we as a society need to listen, it will help both parties involved. All the Vet wants to do is feel like he is a part of society again.

One thing my platoon does is have a reunion every year on Memorial day weekend. All of us that can make it get together for three or four days and hang out. We don't rehash the bad things from that deployment but we salute the ones who were lost and feel like a famliy again. It has helped most of Soldiers ease back into things.

In my opinion these two things, the story being out there and the reunions would help most all returning Vets. We need to come up with a way to get these stories out so the Vets don't feel segregated from the reat of society. Society needs to know what the Vets go through to an extent, not everything but a lot of it. Then we need to take ownership of it. If we could do this then the Vets could get thier experiences out there and again feel like they fit in.

Thanks for reading the long reply, and remeber the above was all my own opinion on what would help.



posted on Mar, 12 2012 @ 11:51 PM
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reply to post by Eidolon23
 
A different perspective.
I likn war to what happens when diplomats fail to do their job.
Then brave men and women have to correct their mess.

War is a dirty, violent, disgusting thing. No-one comes out unscathed. Some wear their scars on the inside, others, the outside.



posted on Mar, 13 2012 @ 12:19 AM
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reply to post by Tinman67
 


I was a scout in Desert Storm so deisel and Cordite.We are in church here by the wayThis op is MY preacher too.





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