Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Today, October 25th, the Caribbean nation of Grenada celebrates Thanksgiving Day – a national holiday commemorating the US-led invasion of their country, code-named “Urgent Fury.”

My first visit to Grenada occurred on the 10th anniversary of that invasion.  As Assistant Air Attaché in Venezuela, I was also diplomatically accredited to several Caribbean island nations, including Grenada.  Because of this posting, my wife, Sandi, and I were invited to represent the US military at a diplomatic reception at the Prime Minister’s residence commemorating the event.  During that evening – and the remaining days of our visit – Sandi and I fell in love with Grenada and its people.

For the past several years, I have been fortunate to return to Grenada often, as American Airlines flies there from our Miami base.  During the short drive to and from our layover hotel (located in the True Blue area just to the southeast of the airport), our crew van passes several points of interest that hearken back to October 25, 1983 and Operation Urgent Fury.

Each time I return to Grenada, I can’t help but imagine what that morning would have been like.  I look around today’s Maurice Bishop International Airport and my mind re-creates the various Cuban-built antiaircraft artillery positions that ringed the airfield back then.  As my 737 taxis out onto the runway, my mind congers up lumbering C-141 transports disgorging paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division – both of whom faced the intense (and unexpected) AAA and small arms fire aimed at them that morning.   Finally, as our aircraft reaches the end of the runway and lines up for takeoff, my eyes scan the horizon – looking at the same waters that took the lives of four Navy SEALs earlier that day.

It’s somehow comforting to know that Grenada celebrates this day with a national holiday – it’s good to know that they remember.  However, given that the median age in Grenada is a little over 28 years, almost half of Grenada’s current population had not yet been born on that October morning in 1983.  In fact, most of the young Grenadians with whom I’ve spoken during my recent stays, are unaware of the details of the invasion.  Then again, the same can be said of Americans today… most of us are only vaguely aware of the events which led to our intervention.  Given its short duration, the foul-ups that occurred, and especially when compared with our on-going and long-lasting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Grenada and Urgent Fury seem a mere historical footnote.

Today, it’s hard to imagine that this lovely island was once the scene of intense combat that lasted several days, but it’s fitting that we remember this day.  In that spirit, I therefore wish all of us a Happy Thanksgiving Day!

 

For a quick and informative read about the events that morning, I’d recommend this excerpt from Rick Atkinson’s best-selling novel, “The Long Gray Line.” 

http://www.commandposts.com/2011/10/october-25-1983-grenada-and-operation-urgent-fury/

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Colombian Hostage Rescue

Ever since the dramatic rescue mission, the international news media have been filled with the courageous and unbelievable story of the 15 hostages who were held — for five years or more — by the leftist Colombian guerrilla group known by their initials “FARC.” Among the 15 were three US defense contractors, a former Presidential candidate (Ingrid Betancourt) and the eleven others.

During my service in Colombia as a military attaché, I got a first-hand look at the terrible toll the FARC has taken on the country of Colombia. I visited with Colombian military units who had been locked in combat with the FARC for decades. I worked with other agencies in the US Embassy in Bogotá to help the USA work with Colombia in their fight against those who wanted to

disregard the will of the Colombian people and impose their own system of government on the country.

hostage briefing
Hostage briefing on Colombian TV

No longer driven by ideology, the FARC rebels now routinely use kidnapping, money laundering, and drug trafficking to finance their war against the established government of Colombia. Many believe they are finally starting to lose their struggle. Colombian President Álvaro Uribe’s stratospheric approval ratings in Colombia, and the low esteem in which the FARC is now held bear witness to that fact.

If you’d like to learn more about Colombia, the FARC, and get an appreciation for the impact of Colombia’s violence is having on everyday people, take a look around my site and get a copy of my novel, Delta 7. Although a work of fiction, Delta 7 will prove to be an exciting and informative look into the exotic, often-violent, and beautiful world of Colombia.

Delta 7

The novel was published this past July.  I’d love to hear from anyone was has… or would like to read the book.

For more information see the Delta 7 website!