Sgt. Jared Hammonds frantically scanned an Afghan poppy field, searching for a glint of silver in the soil.
The 27-year-old Marine reservist from Conroe was looking for a wedding band.
The ring belonged to Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith, 26, of Arlington, who lay dead a few feet away. He had been wearing it on a chain around his neck when his platoon came under fire, but in the chaos of the battlefield it had gone missing.
There was nothing more Hammonds could do for his friend except this one thing: Find the ring and return it to his wife, Rachel.
“I know he would do the same thing for me,” Hammonds said.
Bell Helicopter is exploring new markets and missions for its Bell-Boeing Osprey V-22 military tiltrotor.
The company recently demonstrated the V-22’s search-and-rescue (SAR) capabilities to the Canadian Forces. The V-22 is ideally suited to the SAR mission in Canada, with its vast distances and harsh environments, and could do the work of several aircraft on a typical mission, according to a Bell spokesman.
I’ve been a critic of the MV-22 Osprey for a long time. Not on the technical merits. It works, and it works well.
My beef with the bird is that it is simply too expensive to be used as an assault transport for the Marines.
I do think there are several applications where its unique capabilities would be a boon. The proposed Canadian SAR variant would be one. Again though, costs rears its ugly head. Canada is hardly a nation with bulging reserves of cash. The enormous cost of the airframe, and relatively high operating costs will likely dampen any enthusiasm for what would probably be an excellent SAR platform for them. I’m also unsure of the anti-ice capabilities of the bird.
Military retirement pay is fairly large cost for the DoD. But it is a very, very small slice of the budget overall. The recent discussion actually proposes to change the retirement plan for long serving personnel already well into their second decade of service. One of the core values of military service has always been loyalty. And it will be hard to justify the loyalty of those servicemembers when the Obama administration is being disloyal to them.
The real cost driver for the military is the health care benefits system for retirees and their families. Tri-Care is a perfect example of the joys we’ll see under Obamacare. It’s cumbersome, not at all user friendly, and expensive to the government. Sooner or later, something will have to be done about the costs it imposes on the military. And likely as not, we’ll ask our retired veterans to sacrifice once again. I just don’t have a good answer for how to fix that system. I just know it is unsustainable, and what can’t go on, won’t.
But the retirement pay isn’t broke, and it isn’t bankrupting the military or the government.
We ask a lot of our career military members. But this would be too much.
Roamy here. This past Thursday, the unmanned Tiangong-1 space lab was launched into orbit aboard a Chinese Chang Zheng (Long March) 2FT1 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert. It was launched into a 198 x 332 km x 42.8 deg orbit and was later boosted to a 336 x 353 km orbit. (Orbit data courtesy of Jonathan’s Space Report) This is a somewhat lower orbit than the International Space Station.
An unmanned Shenzhou capsule will dock with Tiangong-1 later this year, with a manned mission planned for either 2012 or 2013.
You know what really cheeses my grits on this? Not just that NASA’s Space Shuttle is retired, not just that the Russians are grounded until they figure out what went wrong with the last Progress launch, not just that the Chinese played an animation of their rocket launch with “America the Beautiful” for background music. It’s that there was a press release a year ago saying they would launch this year, and they did. No political infighting, no squabbles between centers or agencies, no program cancellations, no interminable launch delays. (grumpy Roamy)