Christmas 2014


I had the second in the “Battle of the Bulge” series for today. But, I just don’t feel like a war story – later. I felt like talking on something that has been ongoing the past month – but no. I will not live in the past, I will go forward.

So, I decided to share a few things for you to think about. Something I hope will put a smile on your face. Something to remind you that YOU ROCK !!! And something to encourage you if you are feeling a little down.

All of you mean so very much to me, and I really appreciate your comments and e-mails.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah.

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Ghosts on the Nog


Nothing says Christmas like a good old Christmas Ghost story, and Charles Dickens isn’t the only one who wrote one. Check out this article.

Ghosts on the Nog.

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A New Author for Your E-book Bookshelf


L Rae Brown and Joe Combs at the end of a long but great weekend of publishing.

L Rae Brown and Joe Combs at the end of a long but great weekend of publishing.

I am going to tell you about a book you’ll want to start your new year off right, but I am also going to tell you about a remarkable woman authored that book. The book:

L Rae Brown On Being A Woman: Short Stories – Poems – Quotes is a book that will make you cry and laugh, it did me. We have all had hard times. But, you will meet a little girl born in the Philippines into circumstances most of us would not have survived. You will go with her as she learns life’s lessons, many of them the hard way. You will admire the spunk of this tiny little girl, and watch her grow into a remarkable woman. Along the way you laugh as her unique sense of humor carries her through situations most of us would not normally find funny, but are hilarious through her eyes. You will feel the pain, sadness, and sense of loss as she mourns the daughter of a friend, lost to childhood cancer. You will feel the fear and terror as she goes through the same scare with her own child a year later, and feel the relief that only a parent can feel when the results come back negative. Along the way you will learn to admire this woman who is tiny, but only in physical stature. You’ll also learn a few of life’s lessons you can apply in your own life.

I remember the first time I met Rae. Afterwards Kimberly Martinez, one of her editors, asked me what I thought. “I thought she would be taller.” I had known Rae for about three years through the internet, but never met her face-to-face before. Her presence just makes you expect a woman over six feet tall. But, physical height is soon forgotten once you meet Rae.

Rae is a woman who lives life at a break-neck pace always juggling her own businesses (yes with an “s”), her children, her friends and family. All without neglecting anyone and while wracking up thousands of miles a year driving and flying. Rae has put together an amazing team of beautiful and talented women as her staff. She has a way of seeing talent others miss. Then she nurtures that talent. Her staff works together well despite the many miles that separate them. Kimberly Powel her administrative assistant goes about her job almost like an invisible woman, making sure all the details are handled and everything goes along smoothly.

Most people would be satisfied if they could just publish a book – one book. But, this book is not only the first in a series Rae is writing, it is also the first book published by her own publishing company. I am proud to say I am just one of the writers who will be writing for her new company.

Rae is all of these things and many more. But to me, she is my little Sister, a woman I will always love and admire … even if I can’t keep up with her. Congratulations Rae, love you Sis.

Kimberly Powel and Joe C Combs 2nd, ready to start a weekend of publishing.

Kimberly Powel and Joe C Combs 2nd, ready to start a weekend of publishing.

And if you do not have a kindle just click on this link and download a kindle app for YOUR electronic device (phone, computers. laptops, ipads, and whatever kind of electronic device you use). The app is free and not only can you download Rae’s new book, but thousands of others many for free.

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Of Heroes and Rings


This past week I was traveling again, and had two people ask me about a ring I always wear. It looks like a common high school or college class ring. I guess you could say it’s my class ring from the school of hard knocks; it is my commissioning ring or plankowner’s ring. I was a member of the commissioning crew of the USS City of Corpus Christi SSN-705, a Los Angeles Class attack submarine.

I arrived at the ship when it was still a pre-commissioning unit, we couldn’t use the prefix USS yet (United States Ship). When I got to the ship the engine room was almost complete, but the rest of the ship was an empty hull. The ring has the ships seal on one side, plankowner on the other and USS City of Corpus Christi SSN-705 around the stone. I always have it with me and the stone even has a small chip bearing testament to the many years on my finger. My daughter knows that one day the ring will be her’s and sometimes puts it on her own finger, claiming that it already fits.

Normally no one notices the ring, or if they do they never ask about it. But, this week two people asked me about it; a friend and a small boy at the airport in Salt Lake City. Both wanted to know if it was a class ring, and I explained to both of them what it was. The small boy asked me about submarines, when I was in and things like that. After I told him he said I was a hero.

Also, this week I received a book about a hero from someone who is a hero to me. I bring this up because it got me thinking about heroes as I was headed home. I know what a hero is not, it bothers me when an athlete is called a hero just because he hits a home run or makes a touchdown. That does not make someone a hero, it makes them talented. Some people call anyone who has served in the military or emergency services (like police and firefighters) a hero. That does not make them a hero, brave maybe, but not a hero. Others think the person who climbs a high mountain, or performs some other dangerous action is a hero. Once again, brave but not a hero.

So what does make a hero? A person who takes action, specific action in a specific situation, which places them in potential danger, for no reason other than to benefit another person; that is a hero. Those people who ran into the twin towers on September 11, 2001, when everyone else was running out were heroes. The people who ran past people fleeing the pentagon to save people on September 11, 2001; they were heroes. The people who fought for control of United Flight 93 to prevent the plane from being used to kill hundreds or thousands of more people, they were heroes. Michael P. Murphy United States Navy S.E.A.L, he is a hero. The young man who threw himself on a grenade to save the lives of his buddies, yup hero. The person who ran into the path of an oncoming car to push a child out of the path of the car – yup hero.

You see volunteering for something that may or may not be dangerous does not make you a hero. It is the willingness to risk death or severe injury to protect another person – when you have nothing to gain and everything to lose – THAT makes a person a hero. I appreciated that little boy calling me a hero, but I am not a hero. I have never had to make the decision to let harm come to someone or to step into the situation and place myself in harm in their stead. I am not courageous or brave either. Just watch me when medical staff comes towards me with a needle and you will see just how cowardly I can be.

The woman who gave me that book, Katherine, she has place herself in a harmful situation for others, with no reward for herself. Michael Murphy, he died trying to save the lives of as many of his men as he could. These are the people who are heroes. Not the star athlete, the movie star, the adventurer, the dare-devil, and certainly not me. We use the word hero too freely, and we need to stop that. It detracts from those people who really are heroes and it cheapens the word hero.

So, the next time you start to use the word hero, honor those people who truly are heroes. Stop for a moment and think, “Is this person a real hero, or truly brave.”

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Battle of the Bulge Part 1


This is not your typical article about a battle, but you will see what I mean by the end.

The Battle of the Bulge has been written about, we have heard the interviews with the men who fought, and have even seen one or more of the many movies made about that battle. However, the battle was actually longer than most of us realize. Begun on 16 December 1944, the battle was not over until 25 January 1945. It marked the last offensive of the war for Germany. It was also the bloodiest battle of World War Two for the American forces. Though British Field Marshall Montgomery held a press conference taking credit for the victory it was, as Sir Winston Churchill told parliament, an American battle.

The casualty figures for the battle bear this out. The German losses were approximately 100,000 killed, wounded, captured, and missing. The American casualties were 19,000 killed, 47,500 wounded, and 23,000 missing or captured. British casualties were 200 killed, 969 wounded, 239 missing and captured.

The event that most people are familiar with in this battle is centered around the Siege of Bastogne. The American 101st airborne division was surrounded by German forces and given an ultimatum to surrender. To which the acting commander of the division, General Anthony McAuliffe, responded with a one word reply, “Nuts!”

At the beginning of the battle General Eisenhower assembled his generals in Verdun to discuss how to deal with this surprise attack by the Germans. It was vital that the Siege of Bastogne be lifted and the 101st airborne division be relieved or the entire division would be lost. When General Patton stated that 3rd Army could reach Bastogne in 48 hours with two divisions no one in the room believed him.

However, the attack was not as much of a surprise to the 3rd Army intelligence staff as it was to the rest of the allied commanders. General Patton’s intelligence officers had predicted an offensive by the Germans. Patton’s staff had worked out three separate plans to turn 3rd Army north and meet this threat. As General Eisenhower was searching for options, General Patton had already ordered 3rd Army to begin its move north to meet the new threat.

While the allied generals were arriving in Verdun, 3rd Army had already started what would be a 100 mile race, in bad weather, in 48 hours. In the end the 101st would be relieved, and 3rd Army would travel more miles in less time while fighting more battles along the way, than any Army in history.

Later this month, as the anniversary approaches, I will do another article on the battle, and just why it was so important to the defeat of Nazi Germany.

I do want to make one point before I go. The articles I write about war, such as this, are not a glorification of war. There is nothing glorious about war. I have known men who have fought in some of the most well known battles this country has fought. The sacrifices they made have benefitted untold millions of men, women, and children. But when you get to know these men, the sacrifices they have made are very real, and very permanent. What war has done to these men we call survivors cannot be described, it can only be witnessed. None of us can ever understand the horrors these men will carry around with them for the rest of their lives, unless we were beside them every step of the way. Other combat veterans have the best idea of the sacrifice and horrors, but each war each battle is different, and no two men ever completely respond the same way. Though none of them will ever again be the men they were before they stepped into harm’s way, to know that many of these men believe their sacrifice was worth the benefits to others leaves me in awe. Our goal should always be to prevent war, not glorify it.

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