Author John Ryan

Many veterans are reluctant to accept a hug for their service.  But then there’s former Chicago Police commander Jon Burge, who was convicted last year of lying about the torture of murder suspects.  He contends his Army duty in Korea and Vietnam should soften his penalty. Burge, a Bronze Star medal recipient, was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice because of how he answered questions during a lawsuit. His attorneys argue he should be sentenced to less than the 15- to 21-month range advised by the probation department.  The sentencing ceiling is about 30 years, reported the Chicago Sun-Times.

He’s back. The fiery Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army battled American troops and incited sectarian violence in Iraq from 2004-08, has returned home after four years in Iran. And his rhetoric against the U.S. military is as belligerent as ever. “We are still resisters, and we are still resisting the occupier militarily and culturally and by all the means of resistance. Repeat after me: No, no for the occupier. Let’s have all the world hear that Iraqi people reject the occupier,” he shouted to an energized crowd of 20,000 supporters in Najaf last week. Though the Mahdi Army’s resistance…

Perhaps there’s no better indication of “command presence” than a leader who can pull back his shoulder blades, scan a crowd and belt out a respectable rendition of a famous Frank Sinatra standard. If that’s the case, Defense Secretary Robert Gates could be spot on with his nomination of Gen. Martin Dempsey as the next Army chief of staff. You can watch this YouTube clip of the chief-to-be, known in high circles for singing Irish folk songs, in full regalia, crooning the chairman of the board’s signature song: “New York, New York.” At one point, during a break between verses,…

It used to be, “Go in the Army or go to jail.” Delinquents in Missouri might have to do both. Under a proposed work release program, Missouri inmates would become part of the National Guard’s formal state emergency response plan–filling up sandbags and shoring up levies. Before they count on prisoners to help during disasters, guardsmen would teach the convicts how to fill and stack sandbags and remove debris,  The Associated Press reported. It’s not a new model, as inmates have helped reinforce levies along flooding rivers in Missouri in years past.  But a signed agreement between the Missouri Guard…

A soldier at an outpost in Afghanistan received a $16,000 phone bill from AT&T. But now the company has decided to credit the soldier’s entire bill after not responding to initial queries from the overseas unit, reported Examiner.com. Pfc. Jose Rivera, serving at Forward Operating Base Shindand, said he believed he was calling home at a rate of only $4.95 per month. Capt. Evan Brainerd, Rivera’s commanding officer, said that Rivera called AT&T to ask about costs after receiving the bill and discovering the rate mix-up. Brainerd said that Rivera was “put on hold for sometimes two hours at a…

Since some TV stations air overseas troops cheering on NFL teams during halftime shows, it’s nice to know which NFL players have had personal relationships with veterans. Below is a list of family ties players have with service members, which was part of a feature in the NFL’s Kickoff Guide called “The NFL salutes the military in many ways.” Scroll down and you’ll find out that both parents of Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones, that guy from Travel Channel, completed military duty and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ grandfather served in World War II. Keep an eye out for…

Remember those painfully slow slideshows about combat reports, drug and alcohol abuse and composite risk management? Now, as part of an Army program to help junior enlisted and noncommissioned officers earn degrees, soldiers can receive college credit for routine Army training. Schools may credit mechanics, supply personnel and pilots for technical skills they’ve picked up during their careers. Not convinced yet? Even pre-deployment training like combat life saving, cultural awareness and language learning may count. Visit the army’s transcript service at http://aarts.army.mil/and read its fact sheet to see which of your abilities warrant accreditation. It maintains a database of over…

NFL announcers’ barrage of military metaphors got me thinking: Who in the NFL right now has endured overseas duty during wartime, and who else has served in any capacity? Dare I say it, here’s inside-the-trenches look at veterans who have played in the NFL, according to the league. These statistics — probably incomplete — tell us the Air Force Academy has graduated the most NFL players since the early 1990s (5), followed by the Naval Academy (3) and then West Point (2). Also, check out this web page, focusing on the NFL and its connection to veterans who have served,…

Somebody at Fort Richardson, Alaska, did what is essential to pissing off everyone in a battalion before a long weekend — and Thanksgiving, no less. On Tuesday, two days before the holiday, a person removed a grenade launcher, one of the Army’s “sensitive items,” from a unit arms room and lost it, The Associated Press reported. Post commanders put a temporary halt to all soldier travel. In garrison, there may be no quicker way to light a fire under troops to find something than to withhold vacation time. Still, after a day, no weapon was found. For soldiers, there may…

Often the casualty count from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, ticking toward 6,000, incites an intense pride or outrage in Americans. Other times, single accounts of tragedy and heroism in the news — like Sal Giunta’s Medal of Honor story — give the public a chance to empathize with troops. But this week, after reading the Associated Press’ “Toll capsules,” or brief obituaries, for 11 ordinary soldiers who died last week overseas, I felt a duller, mixed-up emotion. I read each story, learning things about people I never met but could have known. By the time I read the last…

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