Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas in Burma

Relief Supplies Crossing into Burma
I am hopeful that everyone has had an enjoyable Christmas Season and am reminded how fortunate many of us are in contrast to many others.  I would like to share the below Christmas message from Burma sent by Dave Eubank, a personal friend and the man responsible for the founding and continued operation of humanitarian efforts conducted by the FBR (Free Burma Rangers). Dave and I served together in the United States Army on the same Special Forces A-Team together in the 1990’s. Dave has found his calling through his humanitarian assistance efforts to help the people in Burma in their 60 plus years struggle for freedom and escape from oppression.
(if images are not visible, go to original posting at Point ofView By You)  

Karen State, Burma
24 December, 2011

Christmas 2011

Dear friends, 

We are relaying this out from Karen State and want you to know how grateful we are for each of you and to join you in gratitude for the gift of Christmas this year. Here in Burma as is true all over the world there is plenty of bad news but evil is not the only power in the world. The power of good is also here and is the stronger. 

We were just in Tha Dah Der village that was burned by the Burma Army in July 2010. It was the fifth time the village had been overrun by the Burma Army since 1958 and the third time it had been burned. Even their large teak church had been burned to the ground. In spite of these attacks the people have chosen to stay and rebuild and now a beautiful new church stands on the grounds of the burned one, a testimony to the power of hope and faith. The dedication of the church is on this Christmas Day.

At the rebuilt village we all joined together for a Good Life Club Program (thanks to Partners for all your help in this), a Run for Relief and an outdoor medical/dental clinic. The sounds of children laughing and people singing lifted our souls. As the sun began to set, we finished with a meal served on long bamboo tables in the rice fields. 

We are now further north in Karen State, continuing the Good Life Club and medical programs in an area we haven't been to before. Our 59 multi-ethnic FBR teams representing different faiths and serving in 11 ethnic areas are united with us in love and service, as we are with you this Christmas. 

As I was working on this message I went to give out some gifts. I asked if anyone needed anything else. We all stopped still when Hsa Kae (Living Star), one of our lady medics, said, "I want my father and mother." When she was 16 years old, on Christmas Day, her parents were shot dead in their home by the Burma Army. I went over to her, held her hand and prayed. I told her I was sorry. She looked at me and said, "It is ok," and as I looked her into her eyes, she smiled. Hsa Kae has chosen in the midst of her sadness to reach out and help others. It reminded me of what one of my teachers taught me, "You can live well with sorrow but you cannot live well with shame." Christmas reminds me that God has sent Jesus to help us in our sadness, to free us from any shame and to help us live well. 

This year I have also been reminded to take God at His word and to believe He will help us do what He has led us to do. God wants a close relationship with each of us and we can expect Him to answer when we call, lead when we are willing to follow and bring good from anything we offer to Him. I have also been reminded that the story we live is not so much what are we doing for God but it is about God's dealing with us. I want our story to be something like: "The story of God's dealings with the Free Burma Rangers, for the glory of God and l hope, for the good of others." I want to say, "Look what God is doing." No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we can trust Him and when do we are free. 

Thank you,

God bless you and merry Christmas from Dave, family and teams

The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) is a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement. They bring help, hope and love to people in the war zones of Burma. Ethnic pro-democracy groups send teams to FBR to be trained, supplied and sent into the areas under attack to provide emergency medical care, shelter, food, clothing and human rights documentation. The teams also operate a communication and information network inside Burma that provides real time information from areas under attack.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"Old Blood and Guts" dies

A few days ago, December 21, marked the anniversary of the death of General Patton who died from injuries he received in a traffic accident.  The below article is an excerpt from the “This Day in History” web site and provides a short history about the famed General, who’s leadership was credited by many for bringing an end to World War II. General Pattons personal beliefs, opinions and predictions about the Soviet Union, while ignored at the time, were unfortunately proved to be true.

Dec 21, 1945
"Old Blood and Guts" dies
On this day, General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. 3rd Army, dies from injuries suffered not in battle but in a freak car accident. He was 60 years old.

Descended from a long line of military men, Patton graduated from the West Point Military Academy in 1909. He represented the United States in the 1912 Olympics-as the first American participant in the pentathlon. He did not win a medal. He went on to serve in the Tank Corps during World War I, an experience that made Patton a dedicated proponent of tank warfare.

During World War II, as commander of the U.S. 7th Army, he captured Palermo, Sicily, in 1943 by just such means. Patton's audacity became evident in 1944, when, during the Battle of the Bulge, he employed an unorthodox strategy that involved a 90-degree pivoting move of his 3rd Army forces, enabling him to speedily relieve the besieged Allied defenders of Bastogne, Belgium.

Along the way, Patton's mouth proved as dangerous to his career as the Germans. When he berated and slapped a hospitalized soldier diagnosed with "shell shock," but whom Patton accused of "malingering," the press turned on him, and pressure was applied to cut him down to size. He might have found himself enjoying early retirement had not General Dwight Eisenhower and General George Marshall intervened on his behalf. After several months of inactivity, he was put back to work.

And work he did-at the Battle of the Bulge, during which Patton once again succeeded in employing a complex and quick-witted strategy, turning the German thrust into Bastogne into an Allied counterthrust, driving the Germans east across the Rhine. In March 1945, Patton's army swept through southern Germany into Czechoslovakia—which he was stopped from capturing by the Allies, out of respect for the Soviets' postwar political plans for Eastern Europe.

Patton had many gifts, but diplomacy was not one of them. After the war, while stationed in Germany, he criticized the process of denazification, the removal of former Nazi Party members from positions of political, administrative, and governmental power. His impolitic press statements questioning the policy caused Eisenhower to remove him as U.S. commander in Bavaria. He was transferred to the 15th Army Group, but in December of 1945 he suffered a broken neck in a car accident and died less than two weeks later
From the movie Patton

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Burma Army Continues Attacks

FBR REPORT: Burma Army Continues Attacks in Kachin State as of 14 December 2011
Kachin State, Burma
16 December, 2011


  • The Burma Army continued attacks against the Kachin people and every day there is shelling from attacking Burma Army units. There has been no ceasefire by the Burma Army troops in this area.
  • There are over 30,000 displaced Kachin villagers now in hiding.

Report by Kachin FBR team
The Burma Army continued attacks against the Kachin people and every day there is shelling from attacking Burma Army units. There has been no ceasefire by the Burma Army troops in our area and they keep attacking. There are over 30,000 displaced Kachin villagers in hiding now. On 13 December 2011 at 4:20pm, 3 Burma Army helicopters sent food supplies to Burma Army camps at Loi Yain and Mo Bwan in Kachin State. These helicopters came from Momauk Township, Ba Maw District according to the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO -- pro-democracy ethnic resistance). As the helicopters flew, Burma Army soldiers from Loi Yain and Zin Lon Ka Ba Camps fired mortars and machine guns toward the surrounding area to provide cover fire for the helicopters, which dropped four large loads. Mo Bwan Camp is located at N 24°° 18' 42.6", E 97° 39' 48.7" and Zin Lon Ka Ba Camp is at N 24° 16' 30.1", E 097° 30' 40.2". 

There are at least 2000 Burma Army troops in Momauk Township, and they have been attacking, patrolling, burning villages and building new camps. Between 18 November and 27 November, Burma Army Divisions 33 and 88 were building camps at the villages of Hpaw Kawn, Hkrawng Kawng, Man Da, Pang Mu, Law Mon and Kung Pi, and in the Bum Kapaw Bum area between Hpaw Kawn Village and Hkrawng Kawng Village. 

In late November, these units were actively patrolling and using 81mm and 120mm mortars every day. One mortar round dropped into Hkrawng Kawng Village destroying one family's kitchen. People from this village fled to a nearby village. On 25 November 2011, 200 soldiers dropped from helicopters to join in attacks. On 30 November, the Burma Army was shooting from their new camp at Pang Mu toward Zin Lum Village. There are 1600 to 2000 recently displaced people from 18 villages in Momauk Township, Baw Maw District. The displaced people are in need of medicine, plastic tarps, warm clothes, blankets and food. 

On 8 October 2011, Burma Army Battalions 601, 74 and 276 totaling approximately 200 soldiers entered and attacked Nam Lim Pa Village, Kachin State. Soldiers fired six mortars and small arm fire forcing 297 households, 1573 people, from their homes. In addition to property destruction, soldiers looted over 250 houses and took ten porters to carry the confiscated property. Five people were killed and seven people were injured in the attack. All those killed were civilians and included two adult men and three children.

Soldiers took 33 women and children hostage in the Roman Catholic Church pictured on the left. They were held for three days while the Burma Army looted over 250 households. KIA soldiers claim they were unable to shoot into the bunkers because BA soldiers were keeping children present to serve as human shields. None of the hostages were harmed, though upon their release, all hostages returned to looted and destroyed homes.
Soldiers also captured and held male villagers during the looting. The picture on the right a burned house belonging to 73-year-old farmer Labang Tu. After being held for three days, he was allowed to return to his home where he found it in ashes. He is now displaced in the jungle with his daughter.

Since the attack, 1,573 people have been displaced into the jungle with very little access to food, shelter and medicine.

To read the complete report or see more information on what is happening in Burma visit the Free Burma Rangers website.  Additional reports and photos are posted (warning:some photos are graphic)

The Free Burma Rangers’ (FBR) mission is to provide hope, help and love to internally displaced people inside Burma, regardless of ethnicity or religion. Using a network of indigenous field teams, FBR reports on human rights abuses, casualties and the humanitarian needs of people who are under the oppression of the Burma Army. FBR provides medical, spiritual and educational resources for IDP communities as they struggle to survive Burmese military attacks.
For more information, please visit

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Dreadful Legacy of North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il in One Satellite Picture and One Chart

Interesting Photo and Stats from Professor Mark Perry Blog about North Korea.

This one picture above of the Korean peninsula does a pretty good job of capturing the legacy of Kim Jong Il by comparing electricity usage at night between North and South Korea.

Here's another comparison: The CIA estimates that North Korea's GDP per capita in 2009 was $1,800.  That's equivalent to the inflation-adjusted U.S. per capita GDP back in the year 1847, more than 150 years ago (see chart below).  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fighting in Burma

Over 15,000 Displaced People in Kachin State Await Cease-Fire News
Kachin State, Burma
30 July, 2011

On 9 June 2011 fighting started between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army. The fighting was started by a dispute between the two armies over control of the area surrounding the Chinese-run Taping hydropower projects. This ended the 17-year ceasefire between the two armies. For more information, go to: Fighting in Kachin State ends 17-year cease-fire

Doctors Care for IDP's
Temporary IDP's Living Area
At least 15,668 people in Kachin State have fled their homes for safety along the China-Burma border, according to the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). Most of these people fled because of KIO warnings that there may be fighting in the area. As of now, the Burma Army and KIO have only engaged in small attacks between camps while cease-fire negotiations continue. If the political talks fail, there may likely be more fighting which would cause more people to abandon their homes to seek safety on the border. The Burma Army has sent a total of 68 Battalions to all of Kachin State

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thousands fill streets for return of Donald Shue

During a weekend almost ten years after 9/11, the leader of the terrorist organization responsible for 9/11 was found and killed. On this same weekend in North Carolina, prior to the news of the terrorist leaders death, thousands of people turned out to Welcome Home the remains of a Soldier killed in the Vietnam War, 42 years after his death. 

At times there is a symbolic irony in events.  With the returning of a Vietnam Soldier killed in action in 1969 and receiving notice and acknowledgement for his sacrifice, which he likely would not have received in 1969, today he gets the welcome that those before him did not receive.  The emotional and symbolic tribute to Donald Shue also symbolically paid tribute to those who gave during the Vietnam era, and also reminds us of a continuing sacrifice through every decade and generation.  While many may remember the day a terrorist leader was finally killed, I would hope that more of us will remember the day a Brother-In-Arms was finally welcomed home and laid to rest.

Posting the below article covering the Concord North Carolina funeral. 

Thousands fill streets for return of Soldiers Body
CONCORD — You can only speculate about the last moments of a Vietnam soldier killed in action. Imagine the choking clouds of dust followed by a heavy pattering of rain, those adrenaline-filled heartbeats of a soldier, ready to do what his country asked him to.
Imagine that soldier, fingering a lucky Zippo lighter in his pocket, another touching a cross nestled around his neck, all of them checking their weapons.  They take fire, three don’t make it out.
Things similar to these may have happened during the last moments of Sgt. First Class Donald “Donnie” Monroe Shue. Shue, an Army Green Beret, was serving with two others when they went missing on a mission Nov. 3, 1969. Shue, Staff Sgt. William Brown and Staff Sgt. Gunther Wald were last seen wounded 30 miles inside Laos, near Ban Chakevy Tai in Saravane Province. According to military documents, Shue and the other two men — as well as several men who escaped — were attached to a unit performing highly classified maneuvers throughout Southeast Asia.
The family was notified and Shue was listed as missing in action. On Jan. 15, 1979, he was classified as killed in action, and a military marker was put above an empty grave at Carolina Memorial Park.
Saturday, Shue finally came home.
His remains were found after lines in Southeast Asia were redrawn and the location where Shue, Brown and Wald were last seen was shifted to Vietnam’s control. The U.S. sent a recovery team into the area. According to military records, the team found a Zippo lighter with Shue’s name engraved on it in the remains of the three men, discovered on a farm. The men were found two years ago.
Saturday, Shue made his way slowly from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport behind a procession of police officers, motorcyclists and military escorts. Behind him, the family cars, followed by nine miles of motorcyclists — members of the Patriot Guard, Rolling Thunder, Ghost Riders and more.
“Donnie left behind grieving parents,” said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett, addressing a crowd packing the streets in downtown Concord. Padgett added that he left behind loving sisters and lifelong friends. “He left behind others who never met him but wore his bracelet.”
During the somber ceremony in Concord, American Red Cross workers handed out water and snacks, and employees of the city of Concord’s Buildings and Grounds Department volunteered to hand out small American flags to the crowd.
Flags billowed in the breeze of the afternoon, teasing the arms and necks of people close enough to feel them. Concord resident Laura Raynor performed “God Bless America” as birds sang along, continuing to be heard throughout the ceremony.
Danny Plyler, of Kannapolis, held up a sign through the entire ceremony. Written on it, “Welcome home Donnie! We love you Betty!” Though his arms may have tired, Plyler held the sign high, which had little American flags taped to it and was decorated with hearts.
“We know the sisters, Betty and Peggy,” said Plyler. “We’re here to finally give closer to them.”
First Lt. Michael Kluttz, a member of the N.C. National Guard and currently working at the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office, attended the service with his brother Capt. Todd Kluttz, who is serving on active duty at Fort Bragg.
“Our father served in Vietnam and was in high school with Sgt. Shue here in Concord back in the ’60s,” said Lt. Kluttz. “When we came home from Iraq, there was a big welcome home. These guys never got that. We’re here for him and all the vets who never got a welcome home.”
Andrew Cave, of Charlotte, is also stationed at Fort Bragg.
“My dad has a friend that was a friend with him in high school,” said Cave when asked why he attended the ceremony. “I figured I’d come out and show my support.”
The stories of why people came continued. At least half of the people in attendance could claim some connection to the U.S. military — their son or daughter serves in Iraq now, they have served or one of their parents or siblings served.
Mike Gearing, a special forces Army veteran from Lincolnton, served in the same unit as Shue, though he never met the young man.
Christina Kazakavage, of Harnett County, attended the event in support of the family. A Gold Star Mother, she lost her son, Tech Sgt. Adam Ginette in Afghanistan in January 2010.
Maj. Gen. Gregory Lusk, of the North Carolina National Guard, spoke briefly at the service on Shue’s sacrifice. He described Shue and the men who served with him as having backbones of steel and wills of iron.
“There are no amount of flowery words that will ease the pain of the loss of a loved one,” he said, addressing sisters Betty Jones and Peggy Hinson. “He will forever be that young man with the infectious smile.
Addressing the hearse carrying the flag-draped casket of Shue, Lusk was brief.
“I now ask you Sgt. First Class Shue to rest,” he said. “You have been relieved of your duty. You gave all of your tomorrow so we may have today.”
Jeff Phillips, president of Rolling Thunder N.C. Chapter 2, spoke on the men and women still missing in action from war.
“We could very well be doing this next week,” said Phillips, gesturing to the crowd packed onto Union Street. “Only one third of Vietnam veterans are alive today. If there are any POWs still alive (over there), they don’t have much time.
“We want them home,” he shouted to the crowd. “Nothing less.”
He suggested that anyone kin to anyone who is missing in action contribute DNA to the proper authorities. There are bodies still unidentified at Pearl Harbor, where Shue’s body was held before flights brought him home Saturday.
“We want our boys home,” he said. “We will not stop until it happens.”
Lou Deseta rode his motorcycle from New Castle, Del., to help welcome Shue home.
“I served in Vietnam in the same unit as Don,” said Deseta. Though he left before Shue got there, he feels a connection. “I want to give honor to him and see this beautiful town. It’s a great honor to be here with the family.”
For Doug Letourneau, of Nashville, Tenn., the homecoming of Shue was bittersweet.
“Donnie replaced me on the team,” said Letourneau. “He took my bed, and all my gear out. We are connected that way.”
He knows it could just as easily have been him who died on that remote farm in Laos.
It could have been, but it wasn’t.
Those young soldiers who died on the field of battle on Nov. 3, 1969, died doing what they loved.
As was said more than once during the day Saturday — gone but not forgotten.
“At last we welcome home our native son,” Lusk said. “The circle is now complete.”
Vietnam Memorial