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McQ
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Speaking of familiar names, my dad was a company commander with the 63rd Tank Battalion (1ID) after WWII (he'd served in the Pacific) and two of his platoon leaders were George Patton IV and Don Starry. And the battalion commander was fairly well known ... a fellow by the name of Creighton Abrams.
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There was a tragic accident today at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada: A deadly explosion at a military ammunition storage facility in Nevada during a training exercise Monday prompted the U.S. Marine Corps to issue a blanket suspension of 60-millimeter mortars and associated tubes pending a review of the accident. Seven U.S. Marines were killed and several others were wounded Monday when a mortar exploded prematurely inside is firing tube during mountain training exercises at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada. It's unclear what caused the malfunction. The accident prompted the Marine Corps to immediately halt use of some mortar shells until an investigation can determine its safety. And who immediately went to the floor of the Senate to politicize it? See the title: This explosion had nothing to do with sequester. And while we may agree that sequester is not good for our military, it is a despicable act to use the death of those 7 Marines as a basis for arguing a political point. The Marine Corps was unusually blunt in it's condemnation of Reid's actions: NBC’s Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reported that Marine Corps officials took serious issue with Reid’s implication that the explosion was a result of sequester cuts, and said that was not the reason for the accident. One official went so far as to say Reid was doing “nothing but pure political posturing on the backs of these dead Marines.” They told Miklaszewski that the live-fire training exercise was planned well in advance and would not have taken place if they felt the Marines were at risk because of the cuts. Ammunition like 60mm mortar rounds are normally manufactured well in advance of its use ... in fact it can literally be years before it is fired (I fired '60s era 81mm rounds at Ft. Bragg in the '70s). This wasn't a sequestration problem, this was a defect somewhere in the round or lot of rounds that apparently caused the premature detonation. For the the Majority Leader in the Senate to use the tragic death of these 7 Marines to make a political point shows you how ill served we are by the cretins who govern us. Too bad there's not hot tar and feathers immediately available. I doubt I'd have any trouble recruiting a bunch of Marines to help ride Reid out of town on a rail with the appropriate plumage attached. In the meantime, all of us here at Blackfive offer out sincerest condonlences to the families of the 7 fine Marines we lost in today's horrific accident. Our prayers are with you all. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2013 at BlackFive
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Both.
Toggle Commented Feb 20, 2013 on So "badass" at BlackFive
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Pretty much says it all, doesn't it? HT to Doctrine Man: ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2013 at BlackFive
I assume, given this administration, this won't particularly surprise anyone (per Barbara Starr at CNN): Just days before he leaves office, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is recommending military pay be limited, effectively decreasing troop salary next year. Panetta will recommend to Congress that military salaries be limited to a one percent increase in 2014. The Pentagon has calculated that the 2014 Employment Cost Index (ECI) from the Labor Department is expected to be above one percent, but wants to still cut back on pay due to “budget uncertainties,” one department official told CNN. In 2013, a 1.7 percent increase was approved, based on the ECI, which has been the basis for military pay for the last several years. Three Pentagon officials have confirmed details of the plan to CNN. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have also agreed to Panetta’s proposed pay plan. Final approval for the pay would come from Congress in the form of the 2014 budget. Oh, and thank you for your service. And welcome home. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2013 at BlackFive
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I love reading about the SR-71. One of my favorite anecdotes is this: One day, high above Arizona, we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. 'Ninety knots,' ATC replied. A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. 'One-twenty on the ground,' was the reply. To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was 'Dusty 52, we show you at 620 on the ground,' ATC responded. The situation was too ripe. I heard the click of Walter's mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace. In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, ' Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.' We did not hear another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast. Read SR-71 pilot Maj. Brian Shul's account of flying the "Blackbird". You'll enjoy it. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2013 at BlackFive
Posted Jan 31, 2013 at BlackFive
It's an incredible story of humanity and honor, of a pilot risking his life - in a way you might not expect - to help an "enemy". Franz Stigler had been on the ground in Oldenburg, Germany, smoking a cigarette while his plane, a Messerschmitt 109, was getting re-armed and refueled. At first it sounded like a high pitch, off in the distance, and then it was crushing, like a multitude of drums, a low-flying aircraft. Here it came, just a few miles out, this American bomber that dropped no bombs. Then, suddenly, it was over them and gone. No one said a word. The crew unhooked the hoses, Franz flicked away his cigarette, saluted his sergeant and was gone, off in pursuit of the American plane. If he could down this one, Stigler would have his 23rd victory, and he’d be awarded the Knight’s Cross, the highest honor for a German soldier in World War II and one that symbolized exceptional bravery. Within minutes, Stigler, alone, was on the B-17’s tail. He had his finger on the trigger, one eye closed and the other squinting through his gunsight. He took aim and was about to fire when he realized what he wasn’t seeing: This plane had no tail guns blinking. This plane had no left stabilizer. This plane had no tail-gun compartment left, and as he got closer, Stigler saw the terrified tail gunner himself, his fleece collar soaked red, the guns themselves streaked with it, icicles of blood hanging from the barrels. Stigler was no longer energized. He was alarmed. He pulled alongside the plane and saw clean through the middle, where the skin had been blown apart by shells. He saw these terrified young men attempting to tend to their wounded. He drew equal to the B-17 and saw that the nose of the plane, too, had been blown away. How was this thing still in the air? Go read the whole story - it's both incredible and inspiring. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2012 at BlackFive
Posted Dec 7, 2012 at BlackFive
Except the bill is talking about those released to jails in "foreign countries", not those released by the military tribunal. But nice strawman you got there.
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Approved? $631 billion. [T]he legislation ... authorizes money for weapons, aircraft and ships and provides a 1.7 percent pay raise for military personnel. The vote was 98-0, which, in this day and time, is quite remarkable. However a Presidential veto hangs over the Senate version of the NDAA. Why? The administration has threatened to veto the Senate bill, strongly objecting to a provision restricting the president's authority to transfer terror suspects from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to foreign countries. The provision is in current law. The Senate also voted to restrict the transfer of detainees held at Guantanamo to prisons in the United States. That would effectively shoot any chance the President would have of closing Gitmo in the near future. The point of the provision is to many former Gitmo residents transfered to other countries have ended up shooting at Americans again. This would effectively stop that. Additionally, there have been rumors of the Federal government is again in the market to buy a closed prison in the US with the intention of transfering Gitmo prisoners to that prison. That should be a no-go. Last, of course, it is a restriction on presidential power. Syria: Reacting to the relentless violence in Syria, the Senate voted 92-6 to require the Pentagon to report to Congress on the ability of the U.S. military to impose a no-fly zone over Syria. Republican Sen. John McCain, who has pushed for greater U.S. military involvement to end the Syrian civil war, sponsored the amendment. Obama on Monday warned Syrian President Bashar Assad not to use chemical and/or biological weapons against his people as the U.S. and its allies weigh military options. "If military action has to be taken to prevent sarin gas to be used, Congress has to be involved," McCain said. Who is saying "military action" has to be taken in such a case? Oh, McCain, that's right. Sorry, but I vote "no" on this little adventure. If, per our politicians, we can't afford Afghanistan, we can't afford Syria. And besides, Libya turned out so well, didn't it? Speaking of Afghanistan: The bill sends a clear message to Obama and the military to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan. On a strong bipartisan vote of 62-33 last week, the Senate endorsed Obama's timetable to withdraw all combat troops by the end of 2014 but pressed for a quicker pace, without specifying how that would be achieved. Obama and the military are engaged in high-stakes talks about the pace of drawing down the 66,000 U.S. combat troops there now. Time to leave. I'm with the Senate here. Iran: The bill added stringent new sanctions on Iran's energy and shipping sectors in a fresh attempt to hobble the Islamic Republic's economy and hamper its nuclear ambitions. The sanctions build upon penalties that Congress has passed -- and Obama has implemented -- that target Tehran's financial and energy sectors. Officials in Washington argue that the sanctions have undermined Tehran's economy and robust oil sales, thwarting its suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who have shepherded sanctions bills through Congress, sponsored the latest package that also would close a major loophole -- the ability of Iran to circumvent sanctions and barter oil for precious metals. Turkey has been bartering gold for oil. The sanctions would designate Iran's energy, port, shipping and ship-building sectors as "entities of proliferation" and prohibit transactions with these areas. The legislation also would penalize individuals selling or supplying commodities such as graphite, aluminum and steel to Iran, all products that are crucial to Tehran's ship-building and nuclear operations. The administration complains that these additional sanctions are redundant and unnecessary. Iran, of course, simply sees these sorts of attempts as a challenge to their sovereignty and usually doubles down on their development effort. Finally: Current law denies suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens seized within the nation's borders, the right to trial and subjects them to the possibility they would be held indefinitely. It reaffirms the post-Sept. 11, 2001 authorization for the use of military force that allows indefinite detention of enemy combatants. That provision had created a conservative backlash, and a coalition of liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans pushed for the new provision. I'm sorry, no matter how odius they may be, US citizens have certain Constitutional rights that must be respected. It's sort of like free speech ... if you don't protect the worst speech you can imagine, then the "freedom" expressed in the protection is worthless. So, a lot in there, a lot of controversy, the threat of a presidential veto and a likely confrontation between the House and Senate before the bill is reconciled. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2012 at BlackFive
Here's an interesting bit about Fluckey - he had already earned the MOH and his Navy Crosses, but after the war, in 1948, he became an Eagle Scout as well. That's how important that was to him. http://www.victoryinstitute.net/blogs/utb/2007/08/20/rear-admiral-eugene-b-fluckey/
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Well, you will in a minute. I know, you're saying it has to be a Marine, right? Uh, no. A submarine skipper. The alternate title could be "if you're name is Fluckey, you'd better be good". Well, Eugene Fluckey was very good and the story of his sub, the USS Barb is one for the history books. It is the only submarine that I know of that sunk a train. He's definitely someone you should know. Here's the story (as sent to my by a friend): July 18, 1945 In Patience Bay, off the coast of Karafuto, Japan. It was after 4 A.M. And Commander Fluckey rubbed his eyes as he peered over the map spread before him. It was the twelfth war patrol of the Barb, the fifth under Commander Fluckey. He should have turned the submarine's command over to another skipper after four patrols, but had managed to strike a deal with Admiral Lockwood to make a fifth trip with the men he cared for like a father. Of course, no one suspected when he had struck that deal prior to his fourth and should have been his final war patrol, that Commander Fluckey's success would be so great he would be awarded the Medal of Honor. Commander Fluckey smiled as he remembered that patrol. Lucky Fluckey they called him. On January 8th the Barb had emerged victorious from a running two-hour night battle after sinking a large enemy ammunition ship. Two weeks later in Mamkwan Harbor he found the mother-lode... More than 30 enemy ships. In only 5 fathoms (30 feet) of water his crew had unleashed the sub's forward torpedoes, then turned and fired four from the stern. As he pushed the Barb to the full limit of its speed through the dangerous waters in a daring withdrawal to the open sea, he recorded eight direct hits on six enemy ships. What could possibly be left for the Commander to accomplish who, just three months earlier had been in Washington, DC to receive the Medal of Honor? He smiled to himself as he looked again at the map showing the rail line that ran along the enemy coastline. Now his crew was buzzing excitedly about bagging a train! The rail line itself wouldn't be a problem. A shore patrol could go ashore under cover of darkness to plant the explosives... One of the sub's 55-pound scuttling charges. But this early morning Lucky Fluckey and his officers were puzzling over how they could blow not only the rails, but also one of the frequent trains that shuttled supplies to equip the Japanese war machine. But no matter how crazy the idea might have sounded, the Barb's skipper would not risk the lives of his men. Thus the problem... How to detonate the explosives at the moment the train passed, without endangering the life of a shore party. PROBLEM ? If you don't search your brain looking for them, you'll never find them. And even then, sometimes they arrive in the most unusual fashion. Cruising slowly beneath the surface to evade the enemy plane now circling overhead, the monotony was broken with an exciting new idea: Instead of having a crewman on shore to trigger explosives to blow both rail and a passing train, why not let the train BLOW ITSELF up ? Billy Hatfield was excitedly explaining how he had cracked nuts on the railroad tracks as a kid, placing the nuts between two ties so the sagging of the rail under the weight of a train would break them open. "Just like cracking walnuts," he explained. To complete the circuit [ detonating the 55-pound charge ] we hook in a micro switch... And mounted it between two ties, directly under the steel rail. "We don't set it off ... The TRAIN will." Not only did Hatfield have the plan, he wanted to go along with the volunteer shore party. After the solution was found, there was no shortage of volunteers; all that was needed was the proper weather... A little cloud cover to darken the moon for the sabotage mission ashore. Lucky Fluckey established his criteria for the volunteer party : [ 1 ] No married men would be included, except for Hatfield, [ 2 ] The party would include members from each department, [ 3 ] The opportunity would be split evenly between regular Navy and Navy Reserve sailors, [ 4 ] At least half of the men had to have been Boy Scouts, experienced in handling medical emergencies and tuned into woods lore. FINALLY, Lucky Fluckey would lead the saboteurs himself. When the names of the 8 selected sailors was announced it was greeted with a mixture of excitement and disappointment. Members of the submarine's demolition squad were: Chief Gunners Mate Paul G. Saunders, USN; Electricians Mate 3rd Class Billy R. Hatfield, USNR; Signalman 2nd Class Francis N. Sevei, USNR; Ships Cook 1st Class Lawrence W. Newland, USN; Torpedomans Mate 3rd Class Edward W. Klingesmith, USNR; Motor Machinists Mate 2nd Class James E. Richard, USN; Motor Machinists Mate 1st Class John Markuson, USN; and Lieutenant William M. Walker, USNR. Among the disappointed was Commander Fluckey who surrendered his opportunity at the insistence of his officers that as commander he belonged with the Barb, coupled with the threat from one that "I swear I'll send a message to ComSubPac if the Commander attempted to join the demolition shore party." In the meantime, there would be no harassing of Japanese shipping or shore operations by the Barb until the train mission had been accomplished. The crew would 'lay low' to prepare their equipment, practice and plan and wait for the weather. July 22, 1945 Patience Bay [ Off the coast of Karafuto, Japan ] Waiting in 30 feet of water in Patience Bay was wearing thin the patience of Commander Fluckey and his innovative crew. Everything was ready. In the four days the saboteurs had anxiously watched the skies for cloud cover, the inventive crew of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2012 at BlackFive
The old rivalry begins to heat up: Bill the Goat, the Naval Academy Mascot, was stolen over the weekend and attached to a median near the Pentagon. He was recovered Saturday morning in good condition. The goatnapping was confirmed Thursday by John Jordan, manager of Maryland Sunrise Farm, the home of Bill XXXIII and Bill XXXIV. Jordan did not know which of the academy’s two mascots was stolen. Jordan suspects soldiers were behind it, but he had no knowledge of it. Soldiers? Why in the world would he suspect that? GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY! Roasted goat, properly done, isn't so bad. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2012 at BlackFive
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A friend sent me this and it is a very interesting travelogue put together by a guy riding a dirt bike down the Ho Chi Minh trail and photographing points of interest. He also has a bit of dialogue going that explains some of the places he visits and artifacts found. Definitely worth the few moments it takes to scroll through it. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2012 at BlackFive
Rodger ... I get your point. Don't disagree. Thanks for your service. Hope you and yours have a very happy Thanksgiving.
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And I don't mean "pay" in a good way. According to Military.com, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) believes that regardless of whether we're confronted with sequestration (or not) or the fiscal cliff (or not), it's time to cut back on military and veteran pay and benefits. You see the wars are winding down and the time is approaching where it will be politically safe to ignore the military and veteran communities again. And here's a great way to get that ball rolling: This week Tom Philpott reported that the Congressional Budget Office has put a red “laser dot” on future pay raises, TRICARE, and future retirement benefits. In their report, the CBO says annual military pay raises have exceeded civilian wage growth over the last 10 years. In fact the CBO estimates that military pay increased by 52 percent from 2002 to 2010 while civilian wages rose only 24 percent. Anyone, what have we been doing with the military for the past 10 years? Oh, yeah, fighting two wars. Notice the CBO isn't recommending cuts in the federal work forces pay and benefits which is consistently higher than the civilian community (and it is such dangerous work to boot). Nope, it's the 1% in military that needs to be brought to heel. And let's not mention the fact that much of the reason that civilian wages haven't risen in these past 10 years rests with politics and policies of the very government now considering cutting military pay and benefits. Says the CBO: The CBO says that any impact reducing pay increases might have on recruiting and retention can be mitigated by offering larger enlistment and reenlistment bonuses. The CBO pay cap option would mean military pay would lose nine percent to private sector wage growth over the five-year period. That assumes private sector growth. Look around you ... how much of that are you seeing? How much do you expect? Yeah, me neither. You'll love this next part from a grateful government: The CBO also suggests an option to raise TRICARE enrollment fees, deductibles or copayments, actions also proposed by the administration last April. For working-age retirees, those under 65, fee hikes should be phased over five years and use a “tiered approach” so that senior-grade retirees would pay higher fees than lower-ranking retirees. Philpott reports that the CBO says higher enrollment fees not only would raise collections but also discourage retirees and families from relying on military health care versus civilian employer health insurance. Higher deductibles and co-pays would restrain use of medical services too and also lower TRICARE costs. Plan: We'll make it so expensive you won't use it. And that, of course, makes it effectively worthless to the retiree. Feeling the love? Key point from the story? The plan to discourage retirees and families from relying on TRICARE has some support in the Senate. Maybe you want to "discourge" that support (as well as the pay plan)? As the author of the article points out, whether its about sequestration or the fiscal cliff, the avoidance of both has targeted us: The servicemembers and retirees should be aware that the deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” is likely to impact their families as much as the sequestration itself. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2012 at BlackFive
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Check it out ... pretty interesting: ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2012 at BlackFive
Like I've said many times, this never gets old: Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2012 at BlackFive
In remembrance. We build upon the legacy of those who've gone before us: ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2012 at BlackFive
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And yes, it's done through private funds and with people and organizations who care. On September 11th at 6:59am PST, at the same exact time that FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller was killed when the South Tower fell, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation turned over the keys to Cpl. Juan Dominguez, a triple-amputee veteran from Afghanistan. This video shows the smart home technology used by the Building for America's Bravest Program. God bless CPL Dominguez and those who made this possible. And, btw, that's some pretty awesome technology. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2012 at BlackFive
Words: (President Obama at Veteran's Day ceremony): “Today, a proud nation expresses our gratitude, but we do so mindful that no ceremony or parade, no hug or handshake is enough to truly honor that service,” Obama said during the Veterans Day observance. “We must commit, this day and every day, to serving you as well as you served us.” Actions: 171,000 Retirees Likely To Lose TRICARE Prime Option. With the presidential election over, Defense officials are expected to announce soon that military retirees and their dependents living more than 40 miles from a military treatment facility or base closure site will lose access to TRICARE Prime, the military's managed care option. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2012 at BlackFive
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No, thank you Jeff. I remember when I was in Ranger school how we used to look forward to air assaults, because the crews of the helicopters that picked us up always had a snack or two for the starving Rangers. That's a mentality that pervades the military ... we take care of each other. And as veterans, we should continue the tradition.
Toggle Commented Nov 11, 2012 on To all our Veterans -- thank you! at BlackFive
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A Veteran's Day salute from an infantryman (I wrote it a few years ago, but it is still true today): Most of the time when you read tributes to vets, they’re filled with the stories of those who’ve suffered in combat and we see pictures showing the battle-weary combat vets which pointedly make the argument about the sacrifices our veterans have made and continue to make. But not all sacrifices are made on the field of battle. While infantry, armor and artillery are the combat arms – the tip of the spear – they, better than anyone, know how important the team that makes up the rest of the spear are to their success on the battlefield. Those F-16s don’t show up on target at the right time unless that young lady flying the boom of a KC10 tanker at 30,000 feet at 2am doesn’t do her job. That sabot round from an M1A1 fired at a threatening T72 isn’t there unless the truck driver hauling ammo day in and day out gets that ammo where it needs to be when it needs to be there. Veterans are the guys like the cook who gets up every morning at 3:30 am and begins to prepare breakfast for his soldiers. The young man below deck on an aircraft carrier who makes sure the F/A 18 he’s responsible for maintaining is in perfect shape and ready to fly. The nurse who holds a dying soldier’s hand as he takes his last breath, wipes away the tears, straightens her uniform and heads out to do it again. He’s the youngster in the fuel soaked coveralls who hasn’t slept in 2 days gassing up another Bradley from his fuel tanker. The company clerk who makes sure all of the promotion orders are correct and in on time, or the drill instructor in basic training who ensures those he trains get his full attention and who puts his all into helping them learn important lessons that will save their lives. He’s the recruiter who’d rather be where the action is, but does what is necessary to make sure he gets the best and brightest available for his branch of service. Or the MP at the gate who shows up every day, does her job to the very best of her ability and never complains. Not all vets have seen combat in the sense we think of it. But every single solitary one of them has contributed in vital ways to the success of our combat efforts. Without those who support the combat troops, success would be impossible. Without the wrench turners, truck drivers, fuel handlers, cooks, clerks and all those like them, the greatest military the world has ever seen is an “also ran.” It doesn’t matter what a vet did during his or her service, it matters that he or she chose to serve and do whatever vital job they were assigned to the best of their ability. It isn’t about medals, it isn’t about glory, it isn’t about what job they did. It all boils down to the fact that they are the 1% who, when their country called, stood up, stepped up, risked it all and served.They are all, every one of them, heroes. To all the vets out there who have ever served – Happy Veteran’s Day, thank you and God bless you. ~McQ Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2012 at BlackFive