Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Our latest at

Where we when Pearl Harbor was attacked
Includes comments from former President George H.W. Bush, Senator Bob Dole, William F. Buckley Jr., and others.
See it here.
Semper Fi,

Sunday, November 27, 2005


"Strength and Honor!"

The salutation I just received at the conclusion of a note from a U.S. Army general on the ground in Iraq...
"Strength and Honor!"
God knows I love these guys.
Semper Fi,

Friday, November 25, 2005


THE ROCK is saving lives!

Received some good news earlier today about one of our new armored vehicles, "The Rock," that survived an IED blast in Iraq. I talk about it at National Review Online's THE CORNER.
Semper Fi,


The first official day of the CHRISTMAS SEASON!

Today officially launches the Christmas season!
In light of that, here's a little story published last year in South Carolina Homes & Gardens magazine about Dad and Christmas seasons long past...

by W. Thomas Smith Jr.

DAD LOVED THAT LITTLE STRETCH OF MAIN STREET FROM GERVAIS TO LADY. It was his block, he claimed. But he gave it to me.
My fondest memories of Dad and Main Street are associated with the beginning of each Christmas season in the late 1960s; particularly those cold midweek evenings when Dad would come home from work, pack the family in the car, and take us to “look at the Christmas lights.”
My sister, Annette, and I would stand on the backseat floorboard, as Dad drove slowly from Laurel Street, south along Main, beneath a seemingly endless canopy of green garland extending from one side of Main to the other. Each festoon, ruffling in the night breeze, was afixed with swaying, red-plastic Christmas lanterns and lights of every imaginable color.
Mom was in the front holding my little brother, Jim, who, like the rest of us, was “oohing” and “aahing;” while on the radio, Johnny Mathis was crooning his unmatched rendition of White Christmas.
It was as if we were moving through a twinkling tunnel with the lights reflecting off of every storefront window and parked sedan, Annette’s face, and the perpetually waxed hood of Dad’s car.
“How ‘bout that,” he would say, as Annette and I squinted our eyes to create those blending color effects. “Aren’t these the prettiest lights you've ever seen?”
Block after block we drove deeper into that mystical winter wonderland – as Johnny continued, “… with eeevvvvrrrry Christmas card I write.”
Our journey ended at the Governor’s grand Christmas tree at the 1200 block of Main where it ends at Gervais and the State House: Of course, Dad’s favorite little stretch of downtown Columbia.
On the right of the street was the drab-looking Wade Hampton Hotel, a storied high-rise named for the state’s best-known Civil War general and the site of some of ol’ Strom’s alleged trysts with a few of the local ladies. To our left was the Capital Newstand and next-door the Capitol Restaurant - or as Dad would say, the CAP-a-dull KA-FAY.
The restaurant was another of our Christmas season haunts, where on Saturday mornings, Dad, unbeknownst to Mom, would let us drink fountain-Cokes for breakfast and eat packets of sugar before we had our grits and eggs. Dad, whose favorite foods included pork skins and “salty mackerel,” figured as long as Mom was feeding us well at home, we could eat what we wanted with him at the Capitol Cafe.
As I got a little older, Dad let me work with him during the holidays. He had a tire dealership on the corner of Gervais and Park, just two blocks west of his favorite little stretch. There I spent many a December afternoon, faced pressed against the cold windowpane, straining for a glimpse of the Statehouse tree, as I listened to Dad and a couple of his cigar-chompin' buddies discuss the time they had a “drink of licka” at a “Santee hot suppah” where “old man Jimmy Byrnes” said this-or-that.
Eventually, Dad would say, “Sport, you ready t’ go?” and I’d jump in the car.
On the way home, we’d stop by the Capitol Newsstand so Dad could pick up a pack of Winstons, a copy of The Columbia Record, and I could steal a quick look at the lights.
Dad was a striking figure walking down Main Street: He seemed so tall and straight-backed; always dressed in a dark suit, white shirt, and a tie; his wingtips shined like black glass. He would always stick his head in the door of the cafe or run into some old friend or business acquaintance on the street. “How you doin,’ pahdnuh?” he’d smile, shake hands, or pat on the back. “Now y’all have a good Christmas.”
Back in the car, as we the turned the corner toward home, Dad often pointed toward the Statehouse. “That's where ol’ Gen’ral Sherman's shells hit,” he’d say.
I remember once telling Dad how much I loved our section of downtown. His huge hand rubbed the back of my head and he smiled, “Well, sport, this is kinda like our own lil’ spot, idn’t it?”
Years later, in the winter of his life, Dad spent Wednesday afternoons, rain or shine, delivering weekly newspapers from one end of Columbia to the other. His favorite stops were, of course, along the 1200 block of Main. There he’d see old friends, and make new ones.
On Saturday mornings, Dad and I returned to downtown Columbia just as we had decades earlier. This time I was behind the wheel as we drove down traffic-less streets, always slowing along the 1200 block of Main as he reminisced about his days as a young man, the Christmas lights, the Capital Cafe, the newsstand, and old friends now gone.
Dad, too, is now gone, and I somehow feel I've inherited the little stretch.
Recently, my nephews and I were strolling back to the car after one of our periodic visits to the Statehouse. The oldest boy, Michael, looked down his Granddaddy’s favorite block.
“You know,” he remarked. “I love this little stretch of Main Street.”

© 2005 W. Thomas Smith Jr.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


There's nothing like fan mail

In fact, here's one from a reader who comments on a piece I wrote this week for National Review Online:

"Your almost endless dissertation on minor and meaningless "success stories" in Iraq illustrate, better than anything I could ever say, why most Americans want us out of Iraq as soon as possible. I mean honestly, what planet are you reporting from?
Also, I'm very sorry about the loss of your theocratic police state. It must be very frustrating to have come so close to overthrowing our great American democracy, only to have your plans foiled by most all of the pesky American people.
Remember, it's not that Americans don't understand your police state agenda; it's just that they reject it. I mean, my goodness, we're Americans, not Nazis.
Protecting our traditional American values of truth, justice, and freedom for all"

Monday, November 21, 2005


“Thank you” to Rush Limbaugh

We have a piece today in National Review Online that addresses the fact that elminating the insurgency in Iraq is best left to those who know how to do it. See it here.
Thanks to Rush Limbaugh, who again included our piece in his "daily stack of stuff."
Also, just recieved a review copy of Peggy Noonan's new book, John Paul the Great, and discovered that a snippet from the review I wrote for When Character was King a few years back in The New York Post was included on the back cover... nice surprise.
My take on the new book soon.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Our latest at

Our latest at is about Chris Berman, a SEAL Reservist and former Blackwater security officer, who turned the Fallujahan tragedy of March 31, 2004 into a remarkable business venture aimed at saving lives in urban combat.
See Chris' story here.
Also, pleased to announce that my Parisian friend Barbara Pasquet James has landed a piece about the Paris rioting in National Review Online. And Abigail Esman, one of our columnists at World Defense Review, has landed a forthcoming gig at The Nation.
Congrats Chris. Congrats ladies.

Semper Fi,

Friday, November 11, 2005


Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veteran's Day to every active-duty, Reserve, retired, and former members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force (the old Army Air Forces, Air Corps, and Air Service), Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and all National (and State) Guard components.
And let's never forget any of those who have passed on from the aforementioned branches of service as well as the old State and Colonial militias; Union and Confederate Armies, Navies, and Marine Corps; as well as the Continental Army, Navy, and Marines, and all of the auxiliary military services.
Without you, them, us; this great experiment would be moot.
Semper Fidelis,

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Happy Birthday, Marines!

Happy Birthday, Marines!
Today is the 230th birthday of the finest fighting force in the world.
I write about it, this morning, in The State.
Semper Fidelis,

Yep, this is me... many moons ago.

UPDATE: Getting lots of email feedback on the birthday piece, as well as some blogging.
My friend Jeff Quinton says... and then Kathryn Jean Lopez, my editor at National Review Online says...

Monday, November 07, 2005


Brig. Gen. Dave Grange on "strengthening the bond" ... and other things

Lots to report. But only enough time this evening for the abridged version...
OK, our piece on recruits and recruiting made the front page of The Washington Times, this morning. Also, made it in Rush Limbaugh's "daily stack of stuff."
We've also landed a piece on "Defining what it means to be a Marine" in Marine Corps Times (online version will be live domani).
Then, there is Brig. Gen. David L. Grange's excellent piece, "Time to strengthen the bond between veteran and state," in World Defense Review.
Gen. Grange, a friend who wrote the forward to one of my books, is the former commanding general of the Army's famous 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One). Retired after 30 years of service, he's currently the president and CEO of the McCormick Tribune Foundation and a CNN military analyst.

Semper Fi,

Sunday, November 06, 2005


U.S. Army snipers kill eight guerrillas in Ramadi

Just received the following from the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi...

Ar Ramadi, Iraq – Eight insurgents were killed by U.S. Army sniper teams attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team in separate incidents in Ar Ramadi today.
In the first incident, a sniper team observed an insurgent digging a hole along a street that historically contained a high number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The sniper team engaged the insurgent with one round and was able to confirm one enemy killed in action.
Shortly afterwards, a taxi pulled up and stopped between the body of the insurgent and the sniper team. Three insurgents exited the vehicle and began firing sporadically in all directions with AK-47s. The sniper team engaged all the three individuals and was able to confirm three additional enemy killed in action. At this point, a fourth insurgent got out of the taxi and began firing at the sniper team. The insurgent was engaged as well, but was able to escape in the taxi after being injured.
In the second incident, a sniper team observed as a vehicle pulled up to a historical IED hole and two insurgents got out to inspect the hole. When the insurgents began pulling out ordnance from the trunk of their vehicle to place in the hole, the sniper team determined hostile intent and engaged both insurgents. The snipers were able to confirm two enemies killed in action.
In the two other incidents, sniper teams observed two masked men observing their positions at two separate times during the day. Both insurgents were engaged and confirmed killed.
There were no coalition casualties in any of today’s incidents.



WORLD DEFENSE REVIEW columnist to appear on "FOX and Friends"

WORLD DEFENSE REVIEW columnist Walid Phares will be a guest on FOX News' "Fox and Friends," this morning at 8:20 am (EST).
Dr. Phares will address the question, "Is Washington an al Qaida target."


Saturday, November 05, 2005


"Conversations on Success," a winning poem, and a tribute to Marines

Quick note, then away to the TV - by way of the fridge - for the USC-Arkansas game.
Been a busy morning, tweaking a couple stories for next week and visiting my dear friend, retired Brig. Gen. Dean DuBois at his home here in Columbia.
Dean has just been featured in a wonderful new book, Conversations on Success, by David E. Wright. The book is a collection of 17 interviews with successful Americans from all walks of life, including Dean and Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.
Dean's interview is, well, beyond inspirational... but don't take it from me, rush right out and buy a copy of the book.
Also, got a note from author-poet and friend Kay Day. You'll remember, several months ago, Kay wrote a beautiful poem for me inspired by a piece I wrote, Born to be a soldier. Well, that poem won second place for published poems in the Florida State Association, National League of American Pen Women Letters competition.
Many congrats to both Kay and Dean.
Then, there is my friend and fellow Marine, Col. Jeff Bearor, the chief of staff of the Marine Corps Training and Education Command, Quantico, Virginia.
Jeff has written a beautiful tribute to Marines for the forthcoming 230th birthday (November 10, 1775) of The World's Finest.
More to come, so stay tuned.
Semper Fi,

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


New USMC special operations team gets "green light" 48-hours after story appears in NRO

Can you believe it's been over a month since we've updated here at Yikes! Sorry!
We'll try to do better... It's just that the work-load, travel, deadlines, etc. have been overwhelming.
Anyway, lots to report, and it'll take days to do so, so keep reading...
Two recent pieces in National Review Online, here and here (more on one in just a bit), other stories in The Washington Times,, and World Defense Review.
Speaking of WDR, check out the latest by Mark Dubowitz, the COO of The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; and Lt.Col. Heath L. "Mac" McMeans (yes, for those of you who know me personally, he's my "Uncle Mac").
OK, what else? I don't know... It's been so long, the really great news is now old news. In fact, I probably wouldn't be here now if it wasn't for my friend Beth Zimmerman over at Marine Corps Times who politely and unwittingly shamed me into coming back to for the sake of my readers... and I do love my readers... you ladies and gents are the greatest. Special thanks to all the active duty, reserve, retired, and former Marines and sailors who have sent me so many letters recently.
SPEAKING OF MARINES, the following by Bill Webber of RPRM was released last evening -

On October 26, W. Thomas Smith Jr. reported in National Review Online
that a new Marine special operations team was being formed.
For the report, Smith interviewed Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine,
who had been tasked by the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM)
to evaluate the development of the team and write the report.
Smith had a copy of the report.
Smith also interviewed Gen. Paul X. Kelley, former commandant of the
Marine Corps.
The Marine unit had been being developed for over two years, and it was
waiting on Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld's signature to give it the
"green light."
Some DoD officials said it might be another six months before the
Marine team was officially launched.
Smith wrote on October 26, "the only thing keeping the Marine SOCOM
Detachment from being formally stood up is the signature of Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld."
Within 48 HOURS of the article being published, Rumsfeld called a
meeting of the SOCOM commanding general and the commandant of the
Marine Corps, and the SOCOM Detachment was given the "green light."
Tonight the standing up of the new Marine Special Operations
Detachment is being announced by FOX News and others.
You heard it here first.
Carolyn Ronner
Thanks, Bill and others.
Semper Fi,
P.S. Almost forgot... enjoyed my conversation about Iraq, this morning, as a guest with talk radio host Kirby Wilbur on Seattle's KVI. Many thanks always to friends Kirby and his producer, Kelly Minnis.

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