One Million Steps

Feel Their Sacrifice

Through the recommendation of a patriot, educator, military historian, WordPress blogger and friend Mustang USMC, I read “One Million Steps” in a one day marathon.  I only put it down to tend to my kids or chores.

It was riveting.

It had sad moments.

It describes how our young Marines would have to patrol through fields of opium poppy  and marijuana to seek out the Taliban intent on killing them and not be able to do anything about it.

It tells of how they had to resort to using Walmart metal detectors, called Vallons, to keep them scant inches from stepping on an IED.

It tells about how policies established by the White House “for” conducting war collide head on with the Marines’ job – “to” conduct war – at the cost of our young boys’ lives.

It showed that 75% of our volunteer Marines of the Third Platoon in 3/5 – the 3rd Battalion, Fifth Marines, 1st Division – came from two parent families.  Think about that for a minute.

And it is humbling to see what Marines are all about: Semper Fidelis.

Always Faithful.


A short civilian’s look into the honored history of 3/5, and more specifically, the Third Platoon…

The 3rd Battalion, Fifth Marines was organized in 1917 in preparation for WWI combat, just one of which was the Battle of Balleau Wood.

During WWII, they endured and won in costly combat at Guadalcanal, New Guinea, Peleliu, and Okinawa.  E. B. Sledge, or “Sledgehammer”, scribbled notes in an Old Testament during combat as a mortarman on Pelilieu and Okinawa.  At the urging of his family, his notes became the foundation for his historic book, “With the Old Breed”.  Sledgehammer was part of the Third Platoon.


During the Korean War, they left their bloodied mark in history once again at battlefields called Inchon and Chosin Reservoir to name just two.

grunt 01
Marines in combat in Viet Nam.

Called again into action during the Viet Nam War, they heroically fought at god-forsaken places such as Chu-Lai, DaNang, Quang Nam and Que Son.  A few of our readers served in that war and are thanked greatly.

After waging war in Operation Desert Storm, they now have Sangin in Afghanistan to add to their battle history.  This is where the story takes place.

This high school wrestler on top is Matt Abbate. He would be awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in 2010 but was later KIA in Sangin. The award would be posthumous. Photo:


I do not wish to steal the thunder from Mustang in case he wanted to write about the excellent book… Indeed, he would do a much better job.  But I could not NOT write something about it as I hope a few of you would read it.  Our boys dying in combat for YOU deserve your support, understanding and compassion.

As I do not wish to taint the book’s message with opinion, what I propose to do (if it’s legal – I’m no lawyer nor writer) is just reference a few passages from “One Million Steps”, a book by Bing West.  Perhaps it will tempt you into also picking up a copy (also available for Kindle):

Excerpt from “One Million Steps” by Bing West. Random House, 277 pages
Laird would return home.  Excerpt from “One Million Steps” by Bing West. Random House, 277 pages
Excerpt from “One Million Steps” by Bing West. Random House, 277 pages
Espinoza returned home an amputee.  Laird suffered two crushed vertebrae while rescuing Espinoza.  Always Faithful.  Excerpt from “One Million Steps” by Bing West. Random House, 277 pages
Excerpt from “One Million Steps” by Bing West. Random House, 277 pages
Yaz would also return home as an amputee.  Excerpt from “One Million Steps” by Bing West. Random House, 277 pages

These boys are fighting under orders from the White House…

They WILL be fighting for you under orders from the White House.

To protect YOU.

Read about them – these young American men.

Feel for them.

Appreciate them.

Semper Fi.



Marine Dog – Lucca

Man, this got my eye plumbing leaking…

Pacific Paratrooper

Two Heroes! Two Heroes!

Marine dog, Lucca, was given a wonderful tribute in the Parade Sunday magazine.  After more than 400 missions in Afghanistan, no one had been hurt by an IED when they were with her.  She was the only one that the Green Berets felt comfortable hugging after a tough day.

Mamma Lucca, as she is nicknamed, was injured herself.  Handler Col. Juan “Rod” Rodriguez quickly applied a tourniquet and she was air-lifted to one veterinary team after another in all-out attempts to save her life.  They succeeded, but Lucca lost her right left leg in the action.  You can see her honorary Purple Heart on her harness.  Today she lives with her original trainer, Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham and his family.  She continues to serve at VA hospitals and in schools.

Could someone please explain to me WHY this Hero’s Purple Heart is considered HONORARY??


Farewell Salutes – 

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She’s Killing Me #2

I’m telling ya, she’s killing me.

My little Cake Boss.  She’s become a girlie.  Totally.

Nails.  Brushing her hair for dance classes.  Face timing.  Trying on different clothes just to go to a supermarket.  Spending 15 minutes in a soap store and not finding a single one she likes.  Never ready on time.

3 kids bolsa chicka
My little Cake Boss on the right with two of her BFFs, K and N.

All summer long, she asked if it was OK to go to the beach or something with her friends.  I said no problem; just don’t do it at the last minute.

I even took her to two stores to buy a new bikini.  Egads.  She even asked me what color she should get to which I replied, “A warm color; I think purple looks best on you.”

So she buys a pink one.  Why ask?? See, she’s killing me.

Oh…  I said to get a beach towel since she had her pink Disney princesses towel since she was three.  Plus, they were on sale.  She said she didn’t need one.


I had my kids for two straight weeks this time…  but she has dance five days a week plus the last two Saturdays were all day rehearsals. I had also promised to take my son to the range but my ex ruined my plans once again by interfering.

So this last Monday, my little Cake Boss – with the days now getting cooler – asked if she and two of her best friends could go to the beach.  Again, I said sure but let me know now so we can be ready.

On Tuesday, I asked, “Brooke, so can your friends go?”

“Papa, I asked, OK?  Just wait, OK?”

On Wednesday, I asked, “So Brooke, are they coming?”

“Papa…  They haven’t gotten back to me so wait, OK? Sheesh!”  Never mind they are classmates, BFF and spend all day together.

On Thursday, I asked, “Brooke.  So what’s the story with the beach this Sunday?”

“Papa!  I’ll let you know, OK??!”

On Friday, I asked, “Brooke…  So is it on?  Sunday’s the day after tomorrow!”




So guess what?  After picking her up from rehearsal Saturday night and after eating dinner, she says, “Papa.  So they’re coming at 11:30 TOMORROW (caps added) and we’re going to watch Godzilla afterwards… but K needs to be home by 6:30 PM.”


SO SUNDAY MORNING at 9:00 AM…  Guess what?  She coyly asks, “Papa…  Can we go get a beach towel?  Its kinda old now. Heh heh, heh.”

We’re off to Target to get a beach towel with her friends coming a little over two hours…  October 1st is just a few days away.  Who’s gonna have a beach towel let alone a one she likes???

We can’t find one, of course…and she gets mad at me.


We then we made a mad dash to Stater Bros. to get stuff to make hamburgers and BBQ for them afterwards… “Papa…  Why do you have to rush?!

So her  two BFF arrive and at 12, I say, “Brooke, you said you all wanted to watch Godzilla afterwards and K needs to be home by 6:30 so we need to go.”

“Papa, OK!!  Just wait 30 seconds, OK?!  Sheesh!”

Five minutes.

Ten minutes.  I’m waiting outside with the car loaded up.  I go back inside.  I find they’re still in her room… yakking away.

“Brooke! We need to go,” I yell through her door.

“Papa!!!  We’re trying on clothes so just wait!”


Fifteen minutes.  Sure is a long 30 seconds.

After 25 minutes…  They are finally ready to leave and come out… but then she realizes she needs to “use the bathroom” and runs back into the house.  Criminy!


3 kids 2
BFF… with my ringleader Cake Boss in the middle.

Well, we finally made it to the beach around 1 PM…  But in a little over an hour, she says, “OK, Papa.  We’re ready to go home now because it’s getting a little cold.”

She’s killing me, I tell ya.  But at least they saw three dolphins just 40 yards off the beach… and they had a great time.

Three dolphins just off the beach and right in front of them.


Green Eggs and Ham… Not

So tonight, the kiddies asked if I could make something new.  Something different.

Not my Fettuccine Alfredo nor my grilled chicken with lemon and chive pan sauce nor my szechuan tofu…nor Hamburger Helper.

Nor green eggs and ham – but it was close.

They asked for bowtie pasta with (classic) pesto.

Like the one they ate at California Pizza Kitchen.




So Cook’s Illustrated came to my rescue again.  They had a recipe AND even a video!

Now…if I could only follow the instructions.  And I was determined NOT to leave a bag of groceries at the check out line like my blogging bud Jan Morrill did when she made pesto. 🙂



Per Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe, the ingredients were simple:

2 “packed” cups fresh basil

2 tbsp “packed” flat leaf parsley (i.e., Italian parsley)

1/4 cup pine nuts (raw)

3 (skewered) garlic

7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano

(The trouble here in SoCal is the drought.  EVERYTHING is getting expensive.  Fresh pine nuts were $8.99 for a small carton!)

Also, note the type of parsley:


It does taste different and with all that garlic, I felt the parsley was important. 🙂

Boil the water but do NOT salt yet.  Skewer the three cloves of garlic and submerge in the boiling water for about 30 seconds then plunge into an ice bath.  Mince but it needn’t be too fine as it will go into the processor.

After generously salting the boiling water, start to boil the pasta while keeping a measuring cup in the colander; you need to remember to reserve about 1/2 cup of the water.

After toasting the pine nuts in a skillet over medium low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, everything went into the food processor except for the Parmesan and the water.  Scrape down the sides with a spatula as necessary until you get a relatively smooth mixture.  You should still be able to make out small pieces of the basil.  (Oh, you had to put the basil and parsley into a Ziploc and pound it maybe a dozen times to bruise the leaves before throwing them into the processor.  Doing so helps release the savory oils.)  Salt as necessary.

This is what it should look like:


The rest is easy.  When your pasta is al dente, reserve about 1/2 cup.  Add about 1/4 cup of the reserved water into the pesto along with the Parmesan.  Toss with the pasta and you’re done!


Brendan Tevlin….It took Todd Pettingill to get your story out

A very important bit of information – for you and your family to digest…

GeeeZ ....

brendanYou must (MUST, please!) read THIS ARTICLE.   I’m hoping Bill Maher (see my post beneath this one today) hears about this and talks about it.

Then, because you’ll be SO MAD at what you read in the article,  HERE is the audio on The Todd Show.  The DJ, Todd Pettingill is trying to wake Americans up to the fact that domestic terror IS here.  The killer admits he was on a jihad.   He shot poor Brendan Tevlin, 19 year old kid who was a wholesome, nice boy, but whom the police apparently suggested was in a drug deal because they don’t want folks to hear about this incident and find out it IS terrorism!

brendan funeral

As Todd puts it “He was a young boy who was killed for being an American”   …I will add “…on American soil!”  The killer admitted this was a retribution for muslims being killed abroad.  And…

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Just Some Snapshots #8.1

I hope you all are well and I pray for our young souls going into combat for our sakes.

In addition to investing time into reading WWII history books, my snapshot side of me still beckons.

“EXPLORE” is a featured group on the photo website  Out of the close to 2,000,000 photo uploads daily, about 500 are selected for “EXPLORE” by the website for “interestingness”.  Some of my photos have been fortunate enough to be “interesting”, 19 in total.


The last four are below; hope they are “interesting” to you.  Clicking on the images will take you to the actual photograph.  🙂

This is called “painting with light”.  You leave the shutter open then use a flashlight to illuminate the subject.
Tried Painting with Light - EXPLORED 9/11/2014

A Lantana
Lantana - EXPLORED Sept. 7, 2014

A blue Balloon flower
Blue - EXPLORED Sept. 6, 2014

An Amarcrinum Lily X taken at Descanso Gardens
Amarcrinum Lily X - EXPLORED Aug. 25, 2014

A summary as of today of my photographs selected for “Explore” on flickr:


Airmen, Marines, soldiers and sailors – be safe.

Johnny Carson’s Best Practical Joke

While I am not a supporter of the entertainment industry using their power to call attention to one of their own for whatever reason, I felt this reblog would perhaps bring a smile into your day…

Masako and Spam Musubi

Yes, I was a fan of Johnny Carson.  Although I could never really watch his shows as they aired so late at night…

But he was a great practical joker.  And this is my absolute favorite.  Always fun to watch – and listen to – again.

Put aside the joke was played on Joan Rivers.  But then again, she is what makes the joke so precious…and this was before she became the Queen of Plastic.

The last few seconds alone are worth the view!

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