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S.C. Governor touts state’s new Floodwater Commission

COLUMBIA, S.C. – In his State of the State address delivered, Wed. Jan. 23, 2019, S.C. Governor Henry McMaster highlighted the criticality, purpose of, and path forward for his newly established South Carolina Floodwater Commission.

The S.C. Floodwater Commission “is unique in the United States: There’s not another one,” said McMaster. “This Commission’s purpose is to provide guidance, solutions and opportunities presented by inland and coastal flooding and all that entails.”

McMaster added, “Its scope will be global, to be applied here in South Carolina.”

The Governor also recognized Floodwater Commission Chairman Tom Mullikin [View the State of the State address –, specifically beginning at the 39:34 mark].

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Korean church presents check to Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Foundation

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Members of the Korean Community Presbyterian Church in downtown Columbia presented Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott with a check in the amount of $4,500 for the Richland County Sheriff’s Foundation, earlier this week. The check, according to Sheriff Lott, speaks to the close, ongoing relationship between the Richland County Sheriff’s Dept. (RCSD), the church, and the broader Korean community in Richland County, S.C.

“I feel as if we’re part of the extended family of the Korean community in the Midlands of South Carolina; and they with us,” said Lott. “This relationship and their gift to us today speaks volumes as to the familial bond and kinship we share.”

If there are any barriers between the Korean community and RCSD, it exists only within the language gaps experienced occasionally, which is why RCSD’s Korean-American deputies who speak the language and fully understand the cultural nuances are key to RCSD’s service to all of its citizens.

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Elections, new appointments to S.C. Floodwater Commission

Connor named chair of the Commission’s National Security Task Force

ORANGEBURG AND COLUMBIA, S.C. – Col. Bill Connor was unanimously elected chairman of the National Security Task Force of the South Carolina Floodwater Commission, Thurs., Jan. 24.

Connor (left) and Vitali

An Orangeburg-based attorney and U.S. Army Reserve Infantry officer (Airborne Ranger), Connor is a decorated combat veteran and former senior U.S. military advisor in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He currently serves as the Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (EPLO) for S.C. As EPLO, Connor is the ranking military representative of UNITED STATES ARMY NORTH for the Palmetto State.

Among Thursday’s new appointments was Col. Steve Vitali of Columbia, who was named to the National Security Task Force, Wed., and elected operations officer, Thurs., upon Connor’s recommendation and nomination.

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Military expert receives South Carolina’s highest award

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Col. (Ret.) W. Thomas Smith Jr. received the Order of the Palmetto, the highest award presented by the State of South Carolina, Jan. 22, 2019.

Governor Henry McMaster presented the award in recognition of Smith’s 35 years of work and experience in military and national security matters, both in and out of uniform – most notably his recent work with the S.C. Military Dept. (SCMD) wherein he served as founding director of the Counterterrorism Task Force for the SCMD’s Joint Services Det. and later as special advisor to Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Thomas S. Mullikin, previous commanding general of the S.C. State Guard.

A former U.S. Marine Corps Infantry leader, counterterrorism instructor, SWAT team officer in the nuclear industry, and retired SCMD officer; Smith is a professional writer, a New York Times bestselling editor and an internationally acclaimed military technical consultant. A veteran war correspondent, Smith has covered conflict in the Balkans and throughout the Middle East (twice in Iraq during the war).

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Lewis and Clark (virtual) Ride: Bushwackers, dysentery, and hemp bales

[This is part seven in a series of articles documenting my virtual bike ride across America, following the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition. For previous posts, click here.]

Tracing Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s route to the Pacific from over 200 years ago, I strap back into the pedals of my PROFORM Tour de France bike and pick up the trail in modern-day Saline county, just west of where the Chariton River empties into the Missouri River. My virtual route, which follows the river as closely as roads allow, meanders through the western portion of Missouri’s “Little Dixie” region. This part of the “Show-Me State” got its name from the plantation owners that migrated here from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia in the 19th Century, bringing their slaves with them, and establishing hemp, tobacco, and cotton farms.

Typically, the Google Street View images displayed by my bike look great. But certain stretches of Missouri backroads aren’t the greatest, such as this (heavily retouched) screen capture over the Missouri River, near Miami, Mo. Imagery along this stretch of Missouri Route 41 dates back to 2009, while the old steel truss bridge pictured above (built in 1939) was still standing. Today, a new concrete girder bridge stands in its place.

The explorers had been traveling upriver for a month at this point, and Capt. Clark writes that the men were “much aflicted [sic] with boils and several have the Decissentary [dysentery].”

If you played Oregon Trail as a kid, some of your poor characters probably died of dysentery.

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Posted in Articles Military History

HISTORY MATTERS: How Japan’s victory at Pearl Harbor lost a war

As Japanese pilots returned to their carriers on 7 December 1941 following their attack on Pearl Harbor, they left behind a destroyed American fleet. American sailors, soldiers, and Marines enjoying a weekend in paradise were startled out of their bunks by the sounds of enemy planes overhead dropping bombs on a nation that – when they went to sleep the night before – had been at peace. In the space of a few hours on Sunday morning, dozens of ships and hundreds of planes were destroyed, seemingly wiping out our ability to strike back.

But what the Japanese war planners had no idea of when their warships silently slipped out of port on 26 November was the annihilation they would bring upon themselves when the United States used Pearl Harbor as a rallying cry, inspiring millions of young men to join the Armed Forces and avenge the 3,000-plus killed and wounded in the surprise attack. In the words of Admiral Hara Tadaichi, “We won a great tactical victory at Pearl Harbor and thereby lost the war.”

The Japanese had been fighting a war for ten years by the time the Roosevelt Administration shut off American oil exports to Japan. This was viewed as an act of war since the Japanese needed vast quantities of oil to run their economy and war machine. So when we cut them off, they turned their sights on invading the oil-rich European colonies in Southeast Asia and the Dutch East Indies.

However, our Pacific Fleet, which had recently transferred its headquarters from San Diego to the territory of Hawaii, stood between Japan and their conquest, and their admirals realized that the only way to get the oil they so desperately needed was to wipe out our ships in a surprise attack.

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Posted in Articles Military History

Maskirovka Matters: Khrushchev Puts a ‘Hedgehog Down Uncle Sam’s Pants’

[Originally published at]

56 years ago this week, the United States and Soviet Union were on the verge of all-out nuclear war. Suddenly, American families learned that they were in the crosshairs of Soviet nuclear-tipped missiles stationed 90 miles away from Florida, and virtually the entire continental U.S. was now moments away from annihilation. We know how the Cuban Missile Crisis ended, but how did it come about in the first place?

During the early days of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had a big problem: mutually assured destruction only works when both sides can assure destruction. The United States could target Moscow with intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic bombers, and nuclear-armed submarines. By deploying nuclear missiles to Italy and Turkey, the USSR could be devastated in just minutes. Sure, the Kremlin could target Western Europe and Alaska, but Washington, D.C. was well outside of the reach of the Soviets.

That was a problem. But Nikita Khrushchev saw a solution, and he declared his intention to “throw a hedgehog down Uncle Sam’s pants.”

Khrushchev meets with fellow officers during the Battle of Stalingrad (RIA Novosti image)

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Posted in Articles Military History

COURAGE 53: Black Hawk shot down over Mogadishu 25 Years Ago

[Originally published at]

In the early morning hours of Sept. 25, 1993 – eight days before the famous Battle of Mogadishu that will claim the lives of 19 Americans – an enemy rocket-propelled grenade slams into COURAGE 53, an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter conducting a night reconnaissance “Eyes Over Mogadishu” mission.

The grenade blast ignites the aircraft’s fuel, killing three soldiers on board. Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Dale Shrader and copilot CWO Perry Alliman fight to keep the helicopter in the air long enough to reach friendly lines at the port, but the helicopter crashes into a building and slams into the street. Alive, but critically injured, Shrader and Alliman are down and behind enemy lines.

A 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier fast ropes from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Connor Mendez)

In 1993 Pvt. Jason Wind was a 19-year-old combat engineer attached to “Tiger” Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division, part of the quick reaction force (QRF) sent to secure the crash site and evacuate the casualties. On the 25th anniversary of the battle to secure the COURAGE 53 crash site, Wind shares his account with us.

OPSLENS: What what was the situation on the night of the crash?

WIND: As part of the QRF, we were used to getting all sorts of alerts to mobilize. Most of the time we would wind up standing down without leaving the university compound or just go to the airfield and wait for nothing.

This time we got a hot “QRF get it on now” wake up call in the middle of the night. As usual, we quickly got our gear on, picked up heavy weaponry and made our way to the TOC [tactical operations center] so the COC [chain of command] can be briefed. Word got around that a bird got hit and our orders were to secure the site and look for our troops that were in the bird.

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