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American Ranger

By Charles M. Grist - I am proud to be descended from the patriots who fought the American Revolution. I am a Son of the Sons of Liberty. I am also a retired soldier (veteran of Vietnam and Iraq) and a retired police officer.

Last Build Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2018 22:16:25 +0000


The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation - Perpetuating the Legacy

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 21:26:00 +0000

I recently received an email from Michael Caldwell, the Chief Operating Officer of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. He read the article I wrote on Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer and wanted to let me know about a new resource for anyone who wishes to learn more about the deeds and sacrifices of the great Americans who have been awarded our nation's highest award for valor.I urge all of you to visit Charles M. Gristwww.CharlesMGrist.comCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

Military News - The Latest In The War On Terror

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:36:00 +0000

Yemen Withdraws Permission for U.S. Ground Missions - Fox NewsThe F35 Lightning II - F35 WebsiteFirst Navy SEAL to become Admiral dies at 93 - Navy Times"Lone Survivor" Marcus Luttrell Remembers SEAL Killed in Yemen - Fox News Insider20 Dead in suicide blast outside Afghan Supreme Court - CNNOver Half of Navy's Fighters Are Unable to Fly - Popular MechanicsMilitary Chiefs Warn of Force Readiness Struggles - Defense NewsPutin Scrambles Russian Air Forces to Test Readiness - Military TimesKhamenei Tells Trump Iranian Response To Threats Coming Soon - Times of IsraelCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

"The Emperor's Cross" - Book 2 Of The Miles Cannon Mysteries - Available Now

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 23:39:00 +0000

The sequel to the award-winning mystery, The Perdiccas Scroll, is now available. Please check it out at, or at the Amazon page HERE.

In the latest adventure of Miles Cannon, the ex-cop and private investigator is still recovering from wounds he sustained as a soldier in Iraq. The widow of a British detective asks for his help when her husband is murdered in an old Spanish fort in Florida.

This dangerous investigation will put Miles' skills to the test as he deals with a new group of suspects, an attractive federal agent, and the international mystery of an ancient religious relic.

To survive, Miles will also need his abilities as a special operations combat veteran.(image)

Read "The Perdiccas Scroll" - FIRST PLACE As Published Mystery - 2016 Royal Palm Literary Awards

Sat, 29 Oct 2016 10:09:00 +0000

I would suggest that you read The Perdiccas Scroll, a murder mystery that takes place in modern-day Iraq. It was recently awarded FIRST PLACE in the published mystery category at the 2016 Royal Palm Literary Awards.The description on Amazon says:"Police detective Miles Cannon had already served his time as an Army reservist in Iraq and Afghanistan. His former commander calls him to active duty again to investigate the death of the man who saved both of their lives. Cannon returns to war-torn Iraq and finds himself in the middle of a dangerous investigation involving a seductive archaeologist and a desert mystery that is thousands of years old. He will need both his investigative skills and his Army special operations training to survive this deadly desert adventure."The Perdiccas Scroll is available on for $2.99 for the Kindle version or $9.95 for the paperback. You can order the book at THIS LINK.The author's website is M. Gristwww.charlesmgrist.comCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

Second Edition of "My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq" is Available Now

Mon, 16 Feb 2015 18:20:00 +0000

I am pleased to announce that the Second Edition of my book is available at is available as a paperback for $12.95 LINK HERE or from the Kindle Store as an ebook for $2.99. LINK HERE .This new edition includes a preface with updates on the Iraq situation since the First Edition was published in 2009. Included is a brief discussion of the new threat posed by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) or the Islamic State, whichever description you chose.I have also incorporated a few suggestions from readers of the First Edition.Thanks again to those who have read the original version. (The link to the first edition is HERE). I appreciate all those who gave me their comments and suggestions.Charles M. Gristwww.MyLastWar.comCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

Remembering Pearl Harbor In 2014

Sun, 07 Dec 2014 14:35:00 +0000

Although it has been 73 years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the memories endure for those few remaining veterans who survived this attack.The following article tells the story of one of those men:*  *  *  *92-YEAR-OLD WORLD WAR II VET RECALLS SURVIVING PEARL HARBORFresno BeeBy BoNhia LeeDecember 5, 2014via Joe Quercia was talking to a buddy and staring out a porthole of the USS Medusa in Pearl Harbor when gunfire rang out and an explosion rocked the Hawaiian naval base on Dec. 7, 1941."I watched all these planes coming over and (heard) the Arizona get blown up," Quercia, 92, of Fresno, said of the attack on the battleship as it was berthed in Oahu. "When it exploded, you could sure feel that."The attack by Japanese pilots continued for about an hour and a half, turning what was supposed to be the start of a day off at the beach into the beginning of the United States' involvement in World War II."We lost about 2,500 service men and how many million tons of iron was sunk?" said Quercia, whose recollection of that day remains sharp. "Eight battleships were hurt. We had 20-something ships that got injured."Quercia, who served as a naval chief petty officer, is one of the central San Joaquin Valley's few remaining Pearl Harbor survivors. The Valley once had 150 veterans who were stationed at the base when the Japanese attacked, but those numbers have dwindled, leaving only a few to continue sharing their experiences.On Sunday, Quercia will join a handful of other survivors at the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony. This year it will be at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District.The event was moved from Fresno, where it was held last year at the Legion of Valor Museum in the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Before that, the ceremony was conducted at the Fresno veterans hospital for years.Quercia believes there could be as many as 10 remaining local survivors, but only four have attended the ceremony in the last couple years, he said. "We're all in our 90s now," he said.The northeast Fresno resident grew up in west Fresno and enlisted in the Navy when he was 18. Quercia was stationed on a repair ship, with no guns, about a block away from the USS Arizona when it was hit. He served in the Navy for six years."I gave them six years and that was enough for me," Quercia said. "The water is so big and you get tired staying on the ocean."Tim Springer, who is organizing Sunday's event with the help of the Veterans of Foreign Affairs Post 3225 and other veterans service organizations, continues to hold the ceremony to honor the living veterans and those who have passed.The motto of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, whose local branch disbanded in 2011, is to "remember Pearl Harbor, keep America alert," Springer said."We want to honor these guys, them and their friends who made the ultimate sacrifice on Dec. 7, 1941 so they are not forgotten."*  *  *  *The lessons from Pearl Harbor include the need for a strong military, how important intelligence-gathering is, and the requirement that we never assume that the worst possible scenario won't happen tomorrow.Charles M. Gristwww.MyLastWar.comCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

Farewell To Warrior Dan McKinney

Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:28:00 +0000

Sergeant First Class Dan McKinney in Iraq“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”― HeraclitusAt four a.m. this morning, I woke up to the sound of some drunk driver hitting my mailbox with his side mirror. After I went outside to check the damage, I realized that I would never be able to fall asleep again, so I checked my email.Awaiting me was the news that my long-time friend, Sergeant First Class Dan McKinney, had passed away. He was not just my friend; he was the friend to countless numbers of his fellow Americans, especially to those who – like him – had been wounded in action. Dan and I had both served in Vietnam at different times, just as we would both serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom in different years. We were also both law enforcement officers. He worked for the feds; I was a city cop.I wrote about Dan years ago after he was wounded in Iraq, and I related the story of his heroic actions. That article appeared in the Orlando Sentinel here: also here in my blog where I referenced the Sentinel article: incident I did not discuss was a training mission in the Army Reserve where Dan and I showed the youngsters how a couple of Vietnam vets could kick their asses.The mission required a company sized infantry defense, with booby traps, listening posts, and about a hundred soldiers. Their mission was to defend against the ominous threat of the two of us. That’s right. We were the “Viet Cong” sappers, and before the night was over we had successfully “blown up” much of the interior of their perimeter (including trucks and generators) and “assassinated” their commander.Of course, no one was really hurt by the two old guys dressed in black, but we enjoyed teaching them a lesson they would never forget.Dan lived a life full of meaning and sacrifice. As a wounded warrior himself, he became an inspiration to countless other wounded warriors by helping them and their families recover from terrible life-changing injuries. He not only displayed courage in Iraq when he was severely wounded by a suicide bomber, but his recovery from those devastating wounds was also an example of immense courage.America has lost one of its best warriors. The Army has lost one of its most valuable members. All of us who serve, or have served, have lost a friend.Godspeed, Dan. Hold a place on the perimeter for me….Charles M. Copyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

Al Capone And The Kid From Chicago

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 00:14:00 +0000

I just finished watching an old movie about Al Capone. It reminded me of a conversation I had with an old soldier from World War II who had once been a kid in Chicago.George was in his eighties, and he was a volunteer at the detective bureau of my police department.  When we had cases that were unsolvable (no suspects, no witnesses, or no physical evidence), George would make the call to the victim and explain that we were being forced to close the case and that we were sorry we couldn’t help them.Because George had been an infantryman in World War II and I had been an infantryman in Vietnam, we could relate to each other in ways the average person could never understand. George had participated in the invasion of Anzio and, along with his buddies, he fought his way through Italy and Europe. He was almost killed by the Nazis, and he killed some of them. He was the kind of quiet warrior that most combat veterans become.But George also grew up in Chicago. As a young man he was a truck driver. He told me a couple of interesting stories, the first of which had to do with him running into Al Capone in a delicatessen. George was having a sandwich made when Capone and one of his henchmen walked into the deli. Capone looked at George and said, “Don’t worry about it, kid; I’ll pay for your sandwich.”George responded with, “That’s okay, Mr. Capone, I can pay for it,” thinking he was doing the polite thing.But Capone responded, “No, you don’t understand; I’M paying for it….”George didn’t want to piss off the most powerful gangster in town, so he simply said, “Thank you, Mr. Capone….”At one point during the Prohibition years, George was on the road in one of his truck jobs when he was stopped by a police officer. The officer asked what he was transporting, so George handed him the bill of lading and said “I’m carrying auto parts, officer.”The cop looked at the paperwork, looked at the back of the truck, then told George he could go, but added “You may want to stop up ahead; your auto parts are leaking….”A short distance away, George stopped and discovered that – unknown to him - his truck wasn’t loaded with auto parts; he was carrying a load of gin – probably for the Capone gang. The cop realized it, but let him go anyway.This goes to show all you young people that a lot of old men probably have a couple of really interesting stories to tell….Posted by:Charles M. Copyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

God's Message To America On September 11

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:22:00 +0000

On September 11, two American citizens observed the above cloud formation in the sky above central Virginia.

God truly does bless America....

Charles M. Grist

Remember September 11, 2001 - The Day The World Changed Forever

Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:41:00 +0000

If you are a terrorist thinking about attacking America, remember what happened to Osama Bin Laden.

The lesson for you is that if you hurt Americans, we will go to the ends of the earth to hunt you down and kill you - no matter how long it takes...

Any questions?

Posted by Charles M. Grist

Memorial Day 2014 - Remembering The Fallen

Sun, 25 May 2014 14:30:00 +0000


Veterans Day 2013 - Honoring All Who Served

Mon, 11 Nov 2013 18:48:00 +0000

I was honored today to be the speaker at the Veterans Day event at the Altamonte Mall in Altamonte Springs, Florida.Following are my comments from earlier today:"It’s an honor to be here with all of you today on this Veterans Day for 2013. Joining us are those who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan. Some of you served in multiple wars; many of you served in peacetime, manning those watch towers of freedom throughout the world.Perhaps you are the family members of those who served. You know, in a very big way, you’re also veterans because you guarded the home front in our absence, patiently – though nervously – waiting for our return. You must surely know that it was the comforting thoughts of you - and the memories of the green grass of home - that gave us the spirit and determination to do everything possible to come home to you.It is now the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This day began as Armistice Day to celebrate the agreement that brought an end to World War I in 1918. In 1954, veteran’s service organizations urged Congress to change the word "Armistice" to "Veterans".  Congress approved this change and November 11th became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.I am greatly blessed to have served as an American soldier. My own service stretched over a 41 year period with three breaks in that service. I finally managed to get 22 years that were good enough for retirement. During that time, I was either in the active Army, the Army National Guard, or the Army Reserve.But the good thing about taking so long to retire is that I got to serve with other soldiers in part of the ‘60s, the ‘70s, the 80s, the 90s, and most of the first decade of the 21st century. As a very young, brand new Ranger, I served with men who had fought in World War II, Korea, as well as in Vietnam. As a grizzled old sergeant, I was fortunate to serve in Iraq with some of the best trained young soldiers I have ever known.In fact, I am wearing this Stetson to honor the men I served with in the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam. I am wearing my Desert Camouflage Uniform shirt from Iraq to honor the troops I served with there in Special Operations and Civil Affairs.I grew up here in Central Florida as the proud son of a World War II infantryman.  When I was a little kid, I would play soldier like most little boys, wearing my father’s uniforms, his helmet liner, or his Eisenhower jacket. When I was about six years old in the mid ‘50s, I rode in an Army Reserve jeep with my father, Major John Grist, during a Christmas parade in downtown Winter Park. The spectators cheered the marching soldiers, and I kind of felt like I was in the Army too.I grew up hearing stories about my own ancestors who fought in every one of America’s wars, including the American Revolution. I like to say that I’m a “Grandson” of the original Sons of Liberty, the dedicated group of patriots who began America’s war of independence.Remember that it was Ben Franklin who was once asked at the end of the Constitutional Convention: “Well, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?” Franklin replied, “A Republic - if you can keep it.” The task of defending that Republic would ultimately fall to members of America’s armed forces. And they have done a masterful job. But now I’m just another old soldier who’s proud of his service, but who has to stand aside for a new generation of American warriors. That’s okay; but if these kids need backup, I promise you my fellow veterans and I will get there as soon as we can.You know, the first week I arrived in Baghdad in early 2004, I ran into three young soldiers from the First Ca[...]

Happy Birthday To The Marine Corps

Sun, 10 Nov 2013 11:56:00 +0000

This week marks the 238th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

Thank you, Marines, for all you have done to keep our nation safe. Semper Fi!

Charles M. Grist

Doolittle Raiders Share Final Toast

Sun, 10 Nov 2013 11:51:00 +0000

The surviving members of the famed Doolittle raid on Japan in World War II gathered for their final toast to their comrades:****WORLD WAR II’S SURVIVING DOOLITTLE RAIDERS MAKE FINAL TOASTFox NewsNovember 10, 2013Known as the Doolittle Raiders, the 80 men who risked their lives on a World War II bombing mission on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor were toasted one last time by their surviving comrades and honored with a Veterans Day weekend of fanfare shared by thousands.Three of the four surviving Raiders attended the toast Saturday at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Their late commander, Lt. Gen. James "Jimmy" Doolittle, started the tradition but they decided this autumn's ceremony would be their last.READ MORE****Posted by:Charles M. Gristwww.MyLastWar.comCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

Oldest Living Medal Of Honor Recipient Dies

Sun, 06 Oct 2013 08:30:00 +0000

Nicholas OrescoThe following article tells the story of Nicholas Oresco who died this week at the age of 96.Note the part of the article that says Oresco had no living relatives, so fellow veterans came to be with him during his last days.You can read his Medal of Honor citation HERE.****OLDEST LIVING MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT — A WORLD WAR II VET WHO SAID POIGNANT PRAYER BEFORE BATTLE OF THE BULGE HEROICS — HAS DIEDThe BlazeOctober 5, 2013The oldest living Medal of Honor recipient has died.Nicholas Oresko, 96, an Army master sergeant who was badly wounded as he single-handedly took out two enemy bunkers during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, died Friday night at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, hospital officials announced Saturday.READ MORE****Men like Oresco are taking the Honor Flight every day to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. But the Obama administration has closed all war memorials due to the budget debate.In all previous similar government shutdowns, these open memorials have never been shut down.Then again, there has never been an administration as callous, partisan, and just plain dictator-like as the Obama "regime"....Posted by:Charles M. Gristwww.MyLastWar.comCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

A Criminal Learns A Fatal Lesson - Don’t Mess With An Armed Marine

Wed, 25 Sep 2013 11:28:00 +0000

You have to love these stories because they emphasize how important it is to protect our rights under the Second Amendment.If Barack Obama, Dianne Feinstein, and the rest of the liberal loonies had their way, this well-trained Marine would have been unarmed. He and his aunt would probably be dead or seriously injured. Note that the article refers to him as a “former Marine.” Having known many of these brave Americans, I have learned that there is no such thing as a “former” Marine. They are Marines until the day they die:****CAR THIEF’S HORRIBLE MISCALCULATION TURNS OUT TO BE DEADLY AFTER HE TARGETED ARMED FORMER MARINE – WHO WAS JUST AS HEROIC AS YOU’D EXPECTThe BlazeSeptember 24, 2013A former Marine in Maple Valley, Wash., didn’t expect to encounter a car thief breaking into his truck as he prepared to walk his dog Tuesday morning. Then again, the thief didn’t expect to run into an armed former Marine either.The thief, identified only as a 27-year-old male, and his girlfriend were reportedly driving a stolen Honda with stolen plates when they decided to break into a pickup truck. As the owner of the truck, the former Marine, came out to walk his dog, he saw the crime in progress and confronted the criminals.In an instant, guns were drawn and bullets were flying through the air. The former Marine was deadly accurate, hitting the male suspect several times before he could hide behind the truck. He was pronounced dead on the scene.READ MORE****Posted by:Charles M. Gristwww.MyLastWar.comCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

New Russian Fighter Will Challenge American Warplanes

Mon, 16 Sep 2013 16:14:00 +0000

The Russians are working hard to regain the old Soviet-style military machine. The following article talks about their new stealth fighter which will more than rival our own air superiority:***RUSSIA'S STEALTH FIGHTER COULD OUTFLY, OUTSHOOT AMERICAN JETSDavid Axemedium.comSince its public debut four years ago, Russia’s first stealth fighter has quietly undergone diligent testing, slowly expanding its flight envelope and steadily working out technical kinks. But for all this hard work there have been precious few indications just how many copies of the Sukhoi T-50 Moscow plans to build … and how it means to use them.Until now.READ MORE****Posted by:Charles M. Gristwww.MyLastWar.comCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

Chuck & Debbie's Great American Road Trip Of 2013

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 00:28:00 +0000

(I have been absent from my blog since May 19 because Debbie and I have been on a sixteen day road trip through America. We traveled from Florida through Texas to Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, to points in-between and then back home. This is our journal.)Day 1: May 19 – To Gulfport, Mississippi:                                The primary mission today was to get out of Florida. We left home and took the Florida Turnpike north to Interstate 10. Then we headed west, passing Tallahassee, Panama City, and Pensacola. We drove through downtown Mobile, Alabama, passing Mobile Bay. We reached our first day’s destination of Gulfport, Mississippi and stayed at a Fairfield Inn because I had made a reservation via AAA. This would surely be one of our longest days. It took eight hours and 54 minutes (584 miles) to get to Gulfport.Our budget is about $180 a day. I allowed for around $100 a day for a hotel, $50 a day for gas, and $30 a day for food. Our 2012 Nissan Versa is good on gas, but it is small. By loading up the trunk, we did cut the mileage a bit.Along with our luggage, I added an emergency kit to the car’s trunk with supplies for unforeseen situations. We packed a large cooler with bottled water, a few soft drinks, and some lunch meat for sandwiches. We also purchased a full size spare tire and got the windows tinted to protect us better from the desert heat. Yes, I did take my .45 and some spare ammo, just in case we run into the Clanton gang or any Mexican bandidos. (As a retired law enforcement officer who qualifies at the range every year, I am authorized to carry a concealed handgun anywhere in the United States.)The overall goal is west to the Alamo in San Antonio, then to El Paso, Texas. From there we will head to Tombstone, Arizona. (“You’re a daisy if you do,” said Doc Holliday.) Then it’s the Grand Canyon, north through Utah and a two-day stop somewhere in the area of Yellowstone National Park. After that, we will head home, a cross-country journey of some four days. Depending on money and time, we might stop at Mount Rushmore.We briefly contemplated a change of course in Gulfport, and we thought about going straight to Yellowstone. This would have taken us up Interstate 35 through the Oklahoma City area. Had we done so, we would have been in the area of the huge F5 tornado that struck there on May 20. There had already been bad weather and a couple of tornadoes in that area, so we decided to stick with our original plan to head west.  How lucky we were to make that decision.Day 2: May 20 – To Katy, Texas:                            We drove from Gulfport, Mississippi  past New Orleans and crossed the not-very-clear Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We could see a busy river community with barges and a couple of fancy riverboats. After Baton Rouge, we spent a lot of time on a very long, long bridge through the wetlands and swamps of Louisiana before finally crossing into Texas.We got to Houston just before rush hour, but it was still a busy place. We had made our reservation at a Comfort Suites in Katy, Texas, just west of Houston.  Before we arrived, we noticed that our car’s air conditioning was having a problem. It was not cooling well and sometimes it stopped blowing cold air altogether.After we checked into the hotel, I found a Nissan dealer only two miles from the hotel. I arranged to bring the car in the next morning. Then we ate at a Ken[...]

Vietnam Veteran Receives Purple Heart 45 Years Later

Sun, 14 Apr 2013 08:52:00 +0000

All I can say is, “It’s about time….”****ARMY VETERAN AWARDED PURPLE HEART 45 YEARS AFTER INJURYFox NewsApril 14, 2013A North Carolina veteran has been awarded a Purple Heart 45 years after he was wounded in Vietnam.The AshevilleCitizen-Times reported Friday that U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-North Carolina, presented Dockie Brendle his third Purple Heart during a special afternoon ceremony at the Charles George VA Medical Center.READ MORE****Posted by:Charles M. Gristwww.MyLastWar.comCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

Korean War Chaplain Awarded Posthumous Medal Of Honor

Fri, 12 Apr 2013 14:29:00 +0000

The story of Catholic Chaplain Emil Kapaun is unbelievably inspiring. Please read about this remarkable American soldier below.What is equally unbelievable is how long it took for Captain Kapaun to be honored.It is also reported that the Vatican is considering sainthood.****ARMY CHAPLAIN GIVEN POSTHUMOUS MEDAL OF HONORFox NewsApril 11, 2013President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor Thursday to an Army chaplain from Kansas who risked his life dodging gunfire to provide medical and spiritual aid to wounded soldiers before dying in captivity more than 60 years ago during the Korean War."I can't imagine a better example for all of us, whether in uniform or not in uniform, a better example to follow," Obama said after presenting the nation's highest military award for valor to a nephew of Capt. Emil Kapaun during a ceremony in the White House East Room.READ MORE****Posted by:Charles M. Gristwww.MyLastWar.comCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

Walking Down The Far Side Of The Hill – What It’s Like To Be Retired

Fri, 05 Apr 2013 02:15:00 +0000

I’ve got to tell you that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – especially when you’ve spent your entire life with a Type A personality. Being either a military man or a cop has occupied most of my time since I first left home for the Citadel at age 18. Since then, it’s been hard just to fit all the adventures into one lifetime.Now I’m no longer running patrols or dodging bullets in the jungles of Vietnam. I’m not on a plane making a crash landing in Vung Tau. I’m not on a C130 getting ready for a parachute jump. The convoys along Route Irish in Baghdad are over. I’ll never again stand in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace in Babylon, Iraq. I’m not a street crimes officer on a robbery stakeout. I’m not a detective interviewing some suspect trying to get him to confess. I’m not a patrol officer doing a felony stop. I’m not chasing a burglar or car thief through alleys and apartment complexes. I’m not wrestling with a shoplifter. I’m not looking over the top of my Glock at a guy who just pulled a knife on me. These experiences are all in the past.Life is very, very tame at 64.The good part is that my wife Debbie and I get to spend most of our time together instead of apart. She doesn’t have to worry about me getting shot by some street thug or ambushed by terrorists. I don’t have to deal with scumbags, cope with the deaths of both good guys and bad guys, and it’s no longer necessary to put up with the political horse manure in the military and law enforcement communities.We’ve traveled some, and we’ll travel more. But the last three years since my retirement have been mostly a time of adjustment. The big adventures may be over, but the small adventures will be of our own making. We went to Idaho and Montana last year. This year it may be Mount Rushmore or perhaps the Alamo and Tombstone. We’ll figure it out.Regardless, my greatest blessing from God has been to live the last forty years of my life alongside my wonderful wife. Debbie and I are walking down the far side of the hill of life together, and we shall deal with whatever obstacles we may encounter - as we always have. After all, life is all about enjoying the good times in between the bad times.The mission of life continues…..Posted by:Charles M. Gristwww.MyLastWar.comCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

A Hero Takes His Own Life – PTSD And Living With Ghosts

Tue, 19 Mar 2013 02:19:00 +0000

As someone who served in both Vietnam and Iraq, I have seen my share of the horrors of war. I may be sixty-four years old, but I still see the faces of my young soldiers in Vietnam like it was yesterday - the ones who lived and the ones who died. There is an ache in my soul that is always there. But I have lived with it for so long that it has become a part of who I am. I call it “living with ghosts”; the body bags, the torn bodies, the blank faces, the jungle clearings, the crashed helicopters, the smells, the sounds….When I was first married almost forty years ago, my wife said she would wake up in the middle of the night, and she could see my silhouette creeping through the room like I was holding a rifle on patrol. I would wander around for a while then return to bed. She said she was too scared to wake me up. My night "patrols" stopped eventually – to her great relief – but I never remembered them.I was lucky, and I learned to cope with the bad memories even though a passing thought can bring goose bumps to my arms. Like many veterans from America's wars, I can't forget the horrors. But all men and women are made differently. Some can learn to live with the ghosts, but others cannot.Remember my fellow warriors: It takes a warrior to ask for help. Your brothers are here for you. Seek help, contact the VA, talk to a college counselor, do something, do anything, but do not give up. You would not quit on the battlefield, so do not quit back here.The following story is about a young captain who did his very best to help soldiers who were both psychologically and physically wounded by war. He counseled them on the battlefield, and he tried to help them heal at home. Unfortunately, his own soul’s pain was magnified by the suffering of others, and he eventually committed suicide. Like the inmate in the “Green Mile,” he took the pain of his fellow troops as if it were his own while trying to teach them how to live with what they had endured.Don't read his story to learn how he died; read it to learn how he lived.....****VET WHO SAVED MANY IN IRAQ COULDN’T ESCAPE DEMONSThe BlazeMarch 18, 2013He had a knack for soothing soldiers who'd just seen their buddies killed by bombs. He knew how to comfort medics sickened by the smell of blood and troops haunted by the screams of horribly burned Iraqi children.Capt. Peter Linnerooth was an Army psychologist. He counseled soldiers during some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq. Hundreds upon hundreds sought his help. For nightmares and insomnia. For shock and grief. And for reaching that point where they just wanted to end it all.Read more at:****Rest brother, until your fellow warriors are with you once again….Posted by:Charles M.                    Copyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

Life At 64 – The Adventure Continues

Thu, 28 Feb 2013 13:37:00 +0000

With Debbie in Idaho in 2012I turn 64 today. It was suggested to me that I create a “bucket list.” I politely told the person that I didn’t need a bucket list. I’ve done just about everything I could desire to do in life.No, it hasn’t been perfect. Whether alone or with Debbie, my wonderful wife of almost forty years, I have spent the last six plus decades walking the challenging path we call life. We have known success, failure, and success again. We have endured challenges, painful loss, and bittersweet times, but through it all we have endured with a philosophy of never giving up on life or each other.I don’t need a bucket list. I am indeed proud to say that I managed to graduate from college, become an Army paratrooper and Ranger, serve in two wars, survive the bullets, mortars, or rockets directed at me, climb tall mountains, cross raging rivers, walk through jungles in Asia filled with both men and animals that could kill me, traverse deserts in the Middle East also filled with both men and animals that could kill me, jump out of perfectly good airplanes, ride a surfboard at dawn, scuba-dive in the ocean with sharks and in freshwater springs with alligators, survive the crash landing of an airplane, own a business, put a lot of bad guys in jail as a cop (and help a few good guys along the way), start a scholarship fund to honor a fellow police officer’s memory, write a book, live in the best country on earth, have the greatest parents and sister anyone could ask for, marry the finest woman in the world, father four beautiful children, and live to see my wonderful grandchildren. I didn't do everything right, but I hope the pluses are more than the minuses.I have no right to ask for more than God has given me so far. I only wish to spend as much quality time with Debbie as I can. We have been blessed to retire together.I received the following email from a good friend. We both grew up in Orlando in the fifties and sixties, and we now find ourselves on the far side of the hill of life. We don’t plan to cash in our chips any time soon, but it is easier to see the end of the game somewhere down the road:****“Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn't done...things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done. It's all in a lifetime. If you're not in your winter yet, let me remind you that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don't put things off too long! Life goes by quickly. Do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life, so live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember, and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past! 'Life' is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one. Live it well, enjoy today, do something fun, be happy, travel everywhere, and have a great day. Remember that it is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. Live happy in 2013!Lastly, consider the following:Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, yet the youngest you’ll ever be, so enjoy this day while it lasts.Your kids are becoming you, but your grandchildren are perfect! Going out is good; coming home is better!You forge[...]

Home From The War: Army Sergeant Surprises Sons

Tue, 26 Feb 2013 10:25:00 +0000

You can never get tired of these reunion videos. Get the tissues out:****From The Blaze:THERE WILL BE TEARS: U.S. ARMY SGT. RETURNS HOME AFTER A YEAR IN AFGHANISTAN AND SURPRISES SONS AT SCHOOL ASSEMBLYU.S. Army Sgt. Chris Page had been away from his two sons for roughly a year serving in Afghanistan. On Tuesday of last week, Hunter Dodd and Chandler Pittman got their dad back in a tearful reunion at a school assembly.See the full story and the video here: can also watch more of these great videos at the Welcome Home Blog.****Posted byCharles M. GristAuthor of the award-winning book My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in IraqCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]

Army Staff Sergeant To Receive The Medal Of Honor

Sun, 10 Feb 2013 14:07:00 +0000

Staff Sergeant Clinton RomeshaThe White House has announced that Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha, 31, will be awarded the Medal of Honor for “acts of gallantry” during a battle for Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan on October 3, 2009.A large enemy force of some three hundred fighters attacked the base with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, mortars and rifles. During the battle, which lasted a full day, Romesha inspired other soldiers with his courage, personal example and leadership. He killed several enemy troops, was wounded, and still developed a plan to secure major parts of the base. Romesha exposed himself to enemy fire and continued to eliminate enemy positions. He also directed air support that resulted in the destruction of a large enemy force, and he led other soldiers forward to recover wounded and dead American troops. A total of eight Americans were killed.According to journalist Jake Tapper in his book “The Outpost,” Romesha is “an intense guy, short and wiry.” Tapper said that Romesha was the son of a Mormon church leader. Charles M. GristAuthor of the award-winning book My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran’s Tour in IraqCopyright 2006 - 2017 - American Ranger [...]