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Marines honored by ARMY NORTH representative

Colonels Steven B. Vitali (left) and W. Thomas Smith Jr.

By Alex Junes-Ward

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Colonels Steven B. Vitali and W. Thomas Smith Jr. were honored, May 31, by the senior representative of U.S. ARMY NORTH for the Palmetto State, who recognized and commended both men for their service as members of the S.C. Floodwater Commission’s National Security Task Force (NSTF) and for their previous military service.

Col. Bill Connor – a U.S. Army infantry officer, the emergency preparedness liaison officer (EPLO) for South Carolina, and chairman of the NSTF – presented plaques to Vitali and Smith during ceremonies at the S.C. State House, May 31.

Vitali, who serves as NSTF’s operations officer, is a retired Marine infantry and logistics officer, and a veteran of both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, he was assistant chief of staff for the II Marine Expeditionary Force. In Afghanistan, he was senior adviser to the 201st Afghan National Army Corps, commanding officer of the 201st Afghan Regional Corps Advisory Group, and the sole Marine Corps maneuver commander in that country during the period of his deployment. Vitali, who holds a black belt in Karate, is also a member of the South Carolina Black Belt Hall of Fame.

Smith, who serves as NSTF’s executive secretary, is a former U.S. Marine Infantry leader, counterterrorism instructor, and a SWAT team officer in the nuclear industry. As a war correspondent he twice-traveled to Iraq, venturing across much of that country with British contract security forces, U.S. Army cavalry, and a Marine expeditionary unit during the war from Basra to Fallujah to Al Qaim on the Syrian border. He also served as an officer in the S.C. Military Dept. where among his many responsibilities he was founding director of the Counterterrorism Task Force before retiring. Smith is a military technical consultant and a New York Times bestselling editor. Continue reading “Marines honored by ARMY NORTH representative”

Posted in Articles

S.C. attorney and global adventurer honored for military service

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Thomas S. Mullikin, a career attorney, military officer, and global expedition leader was presented a hand-made quilt from the Quilts of Valor Foundation for his singularly unique and distinguished military service during a ceremony at the Mullikin Law Offices in Camden, Thurs., May 30.

Joined by members of his family, friends, and law firm staff, Mullikin received the quilt from Anne Mixon, South Carolina’s state coordinator for the national Quilts of Valor Foundation.

Mullikin was recognized for his service to both the state and the nation as a military officer both in-and-out of uniform for close to three decades beginning with his service as a JAG officer and a certified Army Master Fitness Trainer in the U.S. Army and culminating in his retirement as the two-star commander of the S.C. State Guard (SCSG) in Dec. 2018. It was during his time in the SCSG that Mullikin also served in a civilian capacity as special assistant to the Chief Prosecutor, Military Commissions, U.S. Department of Defense.

Mullikin has traveled to the veritable ends of the earth, climbing four of the world’s seven great summits and having led expeditions on all. He has also logged SCUBA dives in all the world’s oceans, including ice dives in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. Continue reading “S.C. attorney and global adventurer honored for military service”

Posted in Articles

The “Man Killer” that is Everest

One of South Carolina’s top mountaineers discusses climbing perils

South Carolina’s own Tom Mullikin is intimately familiar with Mount Everest. No, the Camden-based global expedition leader has yet to achieve the summit of the 29,000-plus-ft. “man killer.” But he has worked the mountain during a conditioning push, spending time earlier this year at-and-around Everest’s high-altitude base camp. And he has successful climbs up four of the world’s seven great summits, having several times negotiated daunting portions of all.

Mullikin’s experience as a mountaineer – dubbed a “National Geographic Expert” by NatGeo – is matched only by his SCUBA dives in all of the earth’s oceans including dangerous ice dives in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans: Unforgiving environs all where years of training, physical conditioning, proper equipment, and attention to every single detail can be the difference between surviving and not.

Like other adventurers with his level of mountain-climbing experience, Mullikin knows first-hand what the onset of altitude sickness feels like and what extreme cold and altitude can do to both the body and the mind.

We sat down with Mullikin to discuss some of the perils of climbing, particularly Everest, in the wake of at least 11 lives lost there this year.

W. THOMAS SMITH JR: British mountaineer Robin Haynes Fisher, an experienced climber died while he was descending Everest. He was literally on the way down, but still in the so-called death zone. What exactly is this death zone? Continue reading “The “Man Killer” that is Everest”

Posted in Articles

Hall of Fame endorses Lott in re-election bid

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Black Belt Hall of Fame (SCBBHOF), the Palmetto State’s premier martial arts organization, announced the endorsement of Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott in his bid for re-election one hour prior to a campaign-kick-off reception for Lott at Gregg Park in Columbia, May 22.

The endorsement was “an easy choice for us,” says retired U.S. Marine Col. Steven B. Vitali, a 2017 inductee into the SCBBHOF. “Sheriff Leon Lott is one of the best-known, most-respected law enforcement leaders in the nation,” Vitali says. “Not to mention his respect among the citizens of Richland County which is reflected in his being elected and then re-elected time-and-again to the county’s top lawman’s post.”

Vitali’s older brother, former SCBBHOF director Keith Vitali, a martial arts film star who was once the #1-ranked karate champion in the world; agrees.

“Leon has a proven track record as Sheriff of Richland County,” says the elder Vitali from his home in Atlanta, GA. “He’s not only earned the trust of the citizens he and his department are sworn to protect, his near-1,000-employee Richland County Sheriff’s Dept. [RCSD] operates in a culture of very high professional policing standards, high physical fitness standards, and tremendous community outreach. It is for those reasons and others that the SCBBHOF named him an ‘honorary black belt’ a year or so ago.”

Continue reading “Hall of Fame endorses Lott in re-election bid”

Posted in Articles

Mullikin inducted into elite “fight club”

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Tom Mullikin was inducted into the South Carolina Black Belt Hall of Fame (SCBBHOF) during ceremonies at Indigo Jones in Camden, S.C., Sat., May 4. The induction followed a lengthy nomination process in which Mullikin – along with karate national-tournament champion Tommy Genova – were both unanimously selected for inclusion in the SCBBHOF.

“Tom Mullikin was unanimously chosen by all the voting black belt members to be inducted in our coveted hall of fame,” says former SCBBHOF president and former #1-ranked karate world champion Keith Vitali. “The SCBBHOF is honored to include someone of his incredible stature into our brotherhood.”

Vitali’s younger brother Col. (Ret.) Steve Vitali, U.S. Marine Corps, agrees.

“Tom was selected for both his exceptional mastery of martial arts and his significant contributions and notable service to the State of South Carolina and to the United States,” says the younger Vitali, who is also a member of the SCBBHOF. “He possesses and displays an unvarnished warrior code and virtuous ethics so infectious that other martial artists embrace as a standard bearer to emulate.”

Continue reading “Mullikin inducted into elite “fight club””

Posted in Baseball Military History

Military veterans of Major League Baseball

Thousands of Major League Baseball players have answered the nation’s call, serving in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and peacetime. The following is a brief list of players who served in the United States Armed Forces, and will be added to frequently.

Phil Rizzuto

Hall of Fame Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto led a 20mm gun crew in the Pacific during World War II and played baseball for the Navy while he recovered from contracting malaria in New Guinea.

[Click the navigation menu below for more baseball players that served our country]

Posted in Baseball

Runs, Hits, and Ray Durhams

On this day 21 years ago, Chicago White Sox second baseman Ray Durham tied a Major League record by reaching base three times on errors. I don’t know how he got in the heads of the Cleveland Indians, but they committed two more errors while Durham was running the bases.

Durham lead off the game by reaching first on an error by future Hall of Fame first baseman Jim Thome. Another HOF’er, Frank Thomas hits a homerun, and Durham scores.

Durham ranks as one of baseball’s top leadoff homerun hitters in history.

Leading off the top of the third Durham reaches again, this time on an error by pitcher Charles Nagy. He steals second base and advances to third on a throwing error by catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. A sacrifice fly by Thomas and Durham scores again.

In the fifth inning, Durham makes it to first on another error by Thome. He then scores again on a double to right by Albert Belle. The score is now Ray Durham 3, Cleveland 1.

Continue reading “Runs, Hits, and Ray Durhams”

Posted in Baseball

No one comes close to RBI-machine Pujols

Congratulations to former St. Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols for surpassing Babe Ruth on the (official) all-time runs batted in list.

Sure, Ruth’s numbers are lower due to the fact that Major League Baseball didn’t count RBIs until 1920, but even counting the Bambino’s actual numbers, Pujols could be just one swing away from passing both Lou Gehrig and Barry Bonds to become fourth on the all-time records.

All-Time RBI Leaders (as of April 21, 2019)

Hank Aaron2,297
Babe Ruth2,213
Alex Rodriguez2,086
Barry Bonds1,996
Lou Gehrig1,995
Albert Pujols1,993

Equally impressive is the fact that he is one of only seven active players to have driven in over 1,000 runs, and other than Miguel Cabrera, no one else even comes close.

2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera

Pujols (39 years old) 1,993 RBI
Miguel Cabrera (36) 1,640
Robinson Cano (36) 1,242
Edwin Encarnacion (36) 1,171
Ryan Braun (35) 1,068
Nelson Cruz (38) 1,023
Matt Kemp (34) 1,010

Theoretically, Miguel Cabrera could catch Pujols, but even that appears unlikely. Looking at their last three full seasons (119, 101, 64 RBI for Pujols and 108, 60, 22 for Cabrera), Pujols is clearly pulling away from Cabrera despite being three years older. From 2016-2018 Pujols drove in 284 runs in 1,651 at-bats while Cabrera knocked 190 RBI in just 1,198 at-bats. That works out to one run every 5.8 at-bats for Pujols and one every 6.3 for Cabrera. Plus, to drive in runs you need your team to get on base; you could make the case that Pujols put up his higher numbers despite the Angels being a weaker offensive team than the Tigers.

Continue reading “No one comes close to RBI-machine Pujols”