Posts Tagged ‘honor’

Memorial Day Is….

Monday, May 26th, 2014


A culture which does not connect accurately, reverentially or beautifully with it’s past, is akin to a rudderless boat: doomed to be at the whim of waves and weather.

So today is Memorial Day. So what? Why should you or I care? Only because to not do so, is to engage in our personal demise and that of our families, and in turn, our Nation.

Wiki does a great job with relating the History of Memorial Day.

Memory Flags

In the course of my work, on a somewhat regular basis, I get the opportunity to serve the various Military Communities which heed and fulfill our Nation’s call to Arms. I take a lot of joy, and more than a little bit of concern from those experiences, home with me. I hear their stories. These affect the perception of both my own life, and what time maybe ought to be spent doing. The experience is barometric in many ways.

Everyone has a story. There are many. But this is an aspect of the tale of Memorial Day which I want to be clear about. Those whose memory we honor today perished serving us, some of them anyway. Many of the remainder who are still alive, continue to serve,  albeit possibly out of uniform.


A classic example being two young men who I met while working on a Phoenix Patriot project. They had both had their legs blown off, and were within a year of that crisis, swooping back into life with a vengeance. When the Boston Marathon Bombing took place, those men and their comrades went to Boston to counsel the blast victims. That is how those which this holiday is founded upon, think, and act.

In this culture, currently, it is in vogue, this saying :”Thank a Veteran”.¬† My friend and colleague, Shawn Alladio of K38 Rescue, regularly calls BS on this when she writes, states and acts this out: “Don’t just thank them. Do something for them.”

So part of my day today, and small way of honoring the memory of those dead and alive, whose duty to Country, Comrade and Family is absolute, is to share a few stories.

Here is a video I created as part of a project. The song it is cut to is called Dancing Girl, and is written by USMC veteran Samuel Shoemaker and performed by the Shoemaker Brothers. In it you can see, hear and feel, some of the tableau which should be endemic within every Memorial day.

This story is entitled “Purple Heart’s Final Beat – A Soldier Suicide Story”

This link explains the Spartan Pledge. I hope everyone reading this understands. I have lived through this with great men faced with daunting challenges. As a¬† culture and community, we need to know that this exists. And we need to act to ensure our people are not slaughtered by the broken Veteran’s Administration system, which¬† I have seen first hand, abuse and hurt some of my friends and colleagues in the Military in a criminally negligent manner..

This well produced tale walks sensitive ground. Again, a service rich look at our people published through Funker 530 Veterans Community and produced by CBS.¬† Sgt. Kenneth Westbrook’s Memory is honored here.

Right now Shawn Alladio, Liquid Militia, Kawasaki and our friends are holding what they call a LM Team Weekend up on the Gaviota Coast at Rancho Dos Pueblos which very generously hosts the 5 day event. It is a campout where families of military communities meet up with the action sport and PWC communities, have fun in the Ocean, and generally just have a great time in the peace and security of Dos Pueblos Ranch’s private beach.

What Memorial Day looks like to me: Memory, Gratitude, Honor and Service.

It is why the stories matter so much. They are our strong foundation as a people. Best to do some maintenance on that when possible.

Lastly, here is a piece written by one of the single most decorated warriors in US History. The title is “War is a Racket”

It is up to us to change that.

A glimpse at what I have stood before is below. Click on any of the images for a larger view.Dos Pueblos Memorial_MG_4915 _MG_5759 _MG_7540-95 oj.adj1 copy puu.a-4277


WAR _MG_4417 _MG_4578


Monday, October 14th, 2013

Silverlake, High Sierras. Two standup paddleboarders , fishing

Is not the same as being full of life. The word Ha’ole in Hawaiian translates roughly as being without breath. When we come into this world, it is the first thing we do, draw breath. As we leave, it is the last. We expel it.

I have long seen it evidenced that the heart and soul of culture can benefit deeply by being connected to Nature, especially through water. It is both breath and life. This is why indigenous cultures consider themselves to be a vital part of nature and the eco system. They are inseparable from it.

This is one of the principle reasons I found the shuttering of National Parks and enforced disenfrachisement of the American Public, such an offense. To me it is an indication of the complete loss of moral compass heading and corresponding duty of care, by what passes for leadership in Federal Government in both Legislative and Executive Branches today.

One really had to look no further than see the barricades put up under order of the Executive Branch at the Veteran’s Memorial on the Beltway in DC for an illustration of what we as a people have allowed to rule over us. A formerly wide open and unsecured area, the Memorial was built by the people of this Nation to honor the people who served at great cost, to preserve this Nation and it’s inalienable rights on the field of battle.

The President had it locked down. That was expensive. And I am not speaking merely of the likely 1000 fold increase in daily expense to fence and guard the Memorial, but of the complete loss of respect for the rule of law in this Country.

Because what does one do when Governance becomes Rule and Tyranny descends?

The Veterans once again, led the way.

In defiance of a Federal shutdown of the Vets Memorial by the Executive Branch,the people of the US occupied it.

In defiance of a Federal shutdown of the Vets Memorial by the Executive Branch,the people of the US, occupied it.

Here is some coverage of what has been going on, which Factory Media has declined to air.

Freedom was never free. While the black hearted nature of many in leadership depresses me, the courage of these Veterans and their families and our heavily downtrodden working class, is indicative of strength and hope.

I had thought on what the American Flag means to many recently, and recognized, especially watching very educated people fall willingly into partisan thinking once more, that maybe she should be flown upside down for now. Those of you with Military or nautical backgrounds will know what that means.

I ran across this piece by Nahko Bear. It is called My Country. One man’s take on the land he loves.

I hope all the Artists and Musicians pick up their tools and get to work.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are inalienable rights. Best to recognize when they disappear, that someone has sold them and in process, you. Did you know that an inalienable right is one given by God?

Maybe think about that.

Pursuit of Happiness

Pursuit of Happiness


Hope and Change

Friday, June 29th, 2012

While both the Democratic and Republican camps spend an incomprehensible amount of money, the country suffers as a result of their awful mismanagement and extremely deep corruption.
Several years ago, I began to notice, as I returned from travel around the world, and would fly into LAX, that it was beginning to feel increasingly more like a Third World Nation, here in the US.
I am not saying that I was not grateful to be home. I always am, and thank the Customs Officers as they welcome me back. Some of them have been at their post for as long as I can recall. (I have been working as a photographer, film maker and writer since 1998. It seems like one or two of the guys have been there, each time that I return)
It had proceeded to become increasingly obvious to me, that what we know as being trappings of the American Dream, were going away. I could see our affluence of Spirit, ebbing.
Our system is under attack from within, via it’s leadership. Being here and witnessing the demise-change is interesting. In a Nation known for it’s affluence, great poverty of spirit is being exhibited, and a level of selfishness that I seldom see in my travels, has come to roost here. Like a vulture, it picks at the still bloody, bones of the remnants of freedom.
City on a Hill

City on a Hill

All I can really do, is endeavor to be a light. As we see these men and women, many of them lost souls, take words and ideals sacred to us, and dash them to the ground, it is important to recognize that our Country does indeed have a responsibility to be that often quoted description of the “City on a Hill”.

The real task is to make sure that the light comes from each one of us, and not the Polyarchy, as they burn the structure of the Republic, to the ground.

Seth Godin poses a question. Do we have to pander?

The Fourth of July is right around the corner. Many cherish the Holiday as Independence Day. Increasingly rare commodity, independence. I hope the country takes a good look around, in this time.  Remember that someone died for your independence, your freedom. I hope that we all honor that, and live for it.

Fireworks are significant.

Independence Day, Santa Barbara, California

Independence Day, Santa Barbara, California

Truth Glows

Saturday, February 18th, 2012
Darkness and Lightness: Flow

Darkness and Lightness: Flow

Big difference between the darkness of a Lie and brightness of Truth.

Seth Godin absolutely nails the job description of the Creative, in this blogpost he titles Transparent or Translucent.

Below is a fascinating story taken from an internet hoax of sorts where someone twisted the TRUTH and did it to their own benefit.

My Colleague and friend, Shawn Alladio injected some light into it. This is the true story! Glowing.


Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL)
Michael Anthony Monsoor
April 5, 1981 ‚Äď Sept. 29, 2006
Petty Officer Second Class Michael Anthony Monsoor was born April 5, 1981 in Long Beach, Calif. ¬†Michael grew up in Garden Grove, Calif., as the third of four children of George and Sally Monsoor. He has an older brother James and older sister Sara, and a younger brother Joseph.Michael attended Dr. Walter C. Ralston Intermediate School and Garden Grove High School where he played tight end on the Argonaut football team and graduated in 1999. An incredible athlete, Mike enjoyed snowboarding, body boarding, spear fishing, motorcycle riding, and driving his Corvette. His quiet demeanor and dedication to his friends matched the ‚ÄúSilent Warrior‚ÄĚ SEAL mentality that was to become his calling in life.

Michael enlisted in the U.S. Navy March 21, 2001, and attended Basic Training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.¬† Upon graduation from basic training, he attended Quartermaster ‚ÄúA‚ÄĚ School, and then transferred to Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Italy for a short period of time.

Petty Officer Monsoor entered Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, Calif., and subsequently graduated with Class 250 on Sept. 2, 2004 as one of the top performers in his class. After BUD/S, he completed advanced SEAL training courses including parachute training at Basic Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga., cold weather combat training in Kodiak, Alaska, and six months of SEAL Qualification Training in Coronado, graduating in March 2005. The following month, his rating changed from Quartermaster to Master-at-Arms, and he was assigned to SEAL Team 3 Delta Platoon. He deployed with his platoon to Iraq in April 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was assigned to Task Unit Bravo in Ar Ramadi.

From April to Sept. 29, 2006, Mike served as a heavy weapons machine gunner in Delta Platoon, SEAL Team 3.  During combat patrols he walked behind the platoon point man with his Mk 48 machinegun so that he could protect his platoon from a frontal enemy attack.  Mike was also a SEAL communicator.  On 15 operations, he carried a rucksack full of communications equipment in addition to his machinegun and full ammunition load-out.  Collectively it weighed more than 100 pounds.  He bore the weight without a single complaint, even in the midst of the 130 degree Western Iraqi summer.

Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor recieved the Medal of Honor posthumously in a ceremony at the White House April 8, 2008, for his actions in Ar Ramadi, Iraq on Sept. 29, 2006. On that day, Monsoor was part of a sniper overwatch security position with three other SEALs and eight Iraqi Army (IA) soldiers. An insurgent closed in and threw a fragmentation grenade into the overwatch position. The grenade hit Monsoor in the chest before falling to the ground. Positioned next to the single exit, Monsoor was the only one who could have escaped harm. Instead, he dropped onto the grenade to shield the others from the blast. Monsoor died approximately 30 minutes later from wounds sustained from the blast. Because of Petty Officer Monsoor’s actions, he saved the lives of his 3 teammates and the IA soldiers.
Though he carried himself in a calm and composed fashion, he constantly led the charge to bring the fight to the enemy. His teammates recall his sense of loyalty to God, family, and his team.  He attended Catholic Mass devotionally before operations, and often spoke lovingly of his family Рhis older brother, a police officer and former Marine for whom he held great respect; his sister, a nurse; and his younger brother, a college football player.Mike was one of the bravest men on the battlefield, never allowing the enemy to discourage him. He remained fearless while facing constant danger, and through his selfless nature and aggressive actions, saved the lives of coalition soldiers and his fellow SEALs.  He was a loyal friend and exceptional SEAL, and he is sorely missed by his brothers in Task Unit Bravo.

He is survived by his mother Sally, his father George, his sister Sara, and his two brothers James and Joseph.

During the funeral, as the coffin was moving from the hearse to the grave site, Navy SEALs were lined up forming a column of twos on both sides of the pallbearers route, with the coffin moving up the center. As the coffin passed each SEAL, they slapped down the gold Trident each had removed from his own uniform and deeply embedded it into the wooden coffin. For nearly 30 minutes the slaps were audible from across the cemetery as nearly every SEAL on the west coast repeated the ceremony.
The display moved many attending the funeral, including U.S. President George W. Bush, who spoke about the incident later during a speech stating: “The procession went on nearly half an hour, and when it was all over, the simple wooden coffin had become a gold-plated memorial to a hero who will never be forgotten
Medal of Honor citation

Michael A. Monsoor’s Medal of Honor pictured with the Navy Special Warfare (SEAL) Trident.
“The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to




For service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Automatic Weapons Gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army sniper overwatch element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent-held sector of¬†Ar Ramadi¬†Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

Silver Star citation

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy as Platoon Machine Gunner in Sea, Air, Land Team THREE (SEAL-3), Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, Task Unit Ramadi, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 9 May 2006. Petty Officer Monsoor was the Platoon Machine Gunner of an overwatch element, providing security for an Iraqi Army Brigade during counter-insurgency operations. While moving toward extraction, the Iraqi Army and Naval Special Warfare overwatch team received effective enemy automatic weapons fire resulting in one SEAL wounded in action. Immediately, Petty Officer Monsoor, with complete disregard for his own safety, exposed himself to heavy enemy fire in order to provide suppressive fire and fight his way to the wounded SEAL’s position. He continued to provide effective suppressive fire while simultaneously dragging the wounded SEAL to safety. Petty Officer Monsoor maintained suppressive fire as the wounded SEAL received tactical casualty treatment to his leg. He also helped load his wounded teammate into a High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle for evacuation, then returned to combat. By his bold initiative, undaunted courage, and complete dedication to duty, Petty Officer Monsoor reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

 Bronze Star citation

“For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy as Task Unit Ramadi, Iraq, Combat Advisor for Naval Special Warfare Task Group ‚Äď Arabian Peninsula in Support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from April to September 2006. On 11 different operations, Petty Officer Monsoor exposed himself to heavy enemy fire while shielding his teammates with suppressive fire. He aggressively stabilized each chaotic situation with focused determination and uncanny tactical awareness. Each time insurgents assaulted his team with small arms fire or rocket propelled grenades, he quickly assessed the situation, determined the best course of action to counter the enemy assaults, and implemented his plan to gain the best tactical advantage. His selfless, decisive, heroic actions resulted in 25 enemy killed and saved the lives of his teammates, other Coalition Forces and Iraqi Army soldiers. By his extraordinary guidance, zealous initiative, and total dedication to duty, Petty Officer Monsoor reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
Regards,Shawn Alladio
K38 Rescue

Be not just hearers of the Truth, but doers also. Matthew 7:21



Monday, December 7th, 2009


Our lives are a lot like that of a wave, in how we roll through the sea of life, in an ocean of existence, headed for some place. But unlike a wave, we have choices we can make that determine our final destiny. Those choices determine who, and what we are, because we learn from them. Hopefully making for a somehow “better” you and I. The ability to choose is what makes us human. The desire to select by principle, can make us something else.

In the Gospel there is a key saying that has always spurred me when I needed it: “Faith without works is dead.” I sometimes need the spur to be taken to me. My friends and subjects are generally quite happy to oblige.

A simple e mail had dropped into my G mail in box mid week. It was from Venturan Steven Schleder, someone I had met in the course of our recent city elections. The crux of the message was: :”Are you still going?” The letter was in reference to a Memorial service for Col Lewis Millett. A man who had dropped everything and come to Steven’s aid several years ago in a quest to restore a desecrated graveyard in Ventura. You can read a little about that here via K38 Rescue’s blog. My home town did something vile in it’s past. Many believe that honor dictates the desecrated graveyard be restored somehow. Steven had been the sole man to charge up that hill. The city understandably, sought to marginalize him.¬† Now there are many more behind him. The number swells as our honor bound friends hear the sordid tale.

When I agree to shoot something, I know that my simple “yes” means anywhere from 2-5 days worth of work. In this case I had said yes 6 days prior and promptly shelved the affirmation. (I had forgotten about it.) Steven also asked if I could maybe shoot motion. Imagine a slot machine and all the little icons whizzing by.¬† Ding ding ding! That was my psyche the day I realized that my own word had snared me. Okay I would shoot a film now, in addition to stills.

A quick e mail to my partners and colleagues asking for someone to step forward, brought three responses from three men. Tyler Swain and Rob Dafoe would do it if there was no other. Aaron Marcellino said that though he had just arrived back in town by train that day, and was moving into a new house, he would be at my door at 6:30 Saturday morning with his motion kit. We have a good group. Any of us would come at a moment’s notice for another’s project. Each person has mad skills.

Aaron and I arrived at the Riverside Memorial which stands overlooking March AFB at 9:30 am and dragged our gear a 1/2 mile or so and without a word, fell into our separate production roles.

What passed before my eyes remains burned into my psyche. It will make for a great short film. I look forward to completing it. You can read more about Col Millett here.

If you have never been to a Military memorial, please take some time and look at these images. We made them to honor Col Lewis Millet: Medal of Honor holder, but much more than that, a man of God who earned his repose in a dedication to country, family and honor, out of love for his fellow man. No, the irony does not escape me. It enforces just how important this country and a true moral compass heading are.

This beautiful piece was sent along by my old friend, Terry Irwin. It says a lot about the human condition.

As we head towards Christmas, maybe ponder a little bit about sacrifice, love and strength. Have you made a choice about who and what you will follow? What shore you will wash up on?

Here is a beautiful piece about Christmas and small honors leading to great things.  Think about the beat of the snare as you see the casket headed for the dirt of a cemetery. Now think about someone bulldozing the thing. My town did that. They made it into a dog park. Bad choice.

Howitzer detail. Grave field.

Howitzer detail. Grave field.

Shawn Alladio.

Shawn Alladio.

How will your epitaph read?

How will your epitaph read?

From Drew Kampion:

A Song for Occupations
by Walt Whitman


Will you seek afar off? you surely come back at last,
In things best known to you finding the best, or as good as the best,
In folks nearest to you finding the sweetest, strongest, lovingest,
Happiness, knowledge, not in another place but this place, not for
another hour but this hour …

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.