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Double-Amputee Marine Veteran To Trump: I Am Not Your Political Prop
While President Donald Trump claims his war of words with the National Football League is driven by the “disrespect” he says is shown towards U.S. military personnel by athletes’ decision to kneel during the pre-game national anthem, a handful of service members and veterans don’t seem to appreciate being kicked around like political props by a commander-in-chief who never served himself.
Among them is retired Marine Staff Sgt. John Jones, a double-amputee Iraq War veteran and the development chief at the California-based Workshops for Warriors veterans’ advocacy group. A photo of Jones along with the caption “this BRAVE American would give to stand on his OWN two legs just ONCE MORE for our #Anthem” was retweeted by the president on Sept. 24.
Photo via Twitter
But in a Sept. 26 interview with Talking Points Memo, Jones not only rebutted the idea that the silent protest conducted by pro athletes is somehow “unacceptable,” but was apparently “not enthused about being dragged into the politics” of the ridiculous national debate over standing for the national anthem.
“I went over there and I fought for the rights and freedoms of everybody to do whatever they wanted to do in a lawful manner,” Jones said. “So if the NFL as a whole wants to protest the flag and protest America, then so be it, that’s your right. Keep it peaceful, keep it respectful and I don’t care what you do."
Jones, at the time a platoon seargent with Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, was critically injured in both legs after his convoy was struck by an anti-tank mine blast in Iraq on Jan. 3, 2005, according to the Department of Defense. Upon returning the United States, he learned that both legs would require amputation above the knee. In 2012, Jones told a group of retired Marines that his first thought after the incident was simple: "How am I going to stay in the Marine Corps?"
“My amputated side was my good side, I didn’t have any pain and it worked perfectly fine, so I elected to amputate the second one so I could potentially stay in,” Jones told the veterans at the Metroplex Marine Coordinating Council in Carrollton, Texas. “They told me I could, but I would be in a desk job and that wasn’t me. I kicked in doors for a living. I don’t sit back and watch people do what I’m supposed to be able to do.”
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. John Jones (retired), speaks to Marines of Wounded Warrior Battalion West (WWBN-W), Wounded Warrior Regiment, about the difficulties and successes service members face when transitioning out of the Marine Corps and into the civilian sector at WWBN-W on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 17, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brian Bekkala)Photo via DoD
Jones' road to recovery and current work fighting for his fellow veterans is a remarkable story — one that the political zealots of Twitter didn't even bother to consider.
“So many people have taken that photo and never even contacted me, never found out who I was or anything, to say, ‘Hey can I utilize your photo for this?’" Jones told Talking Point Memo. “I don’t like being utilized in the whole political debate of whether you should stand or whether you should not stand.”
Jones’ comments came the day after Marie Tillman, the widow of NFL player turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman, objected to the use of her late husband’s image by the president (again, in a retweet) for political purposes.
“Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman’s service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us,” she told CNN in a Sept. 25 statement. “The very action of self-expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for.”
etired Marine Staff Sgt. John P. Jones, a double amputee, speaks about his experiences in Iraq to the Metroplex Marines Feb. 7, 2013, in Carrollton, Texas.U.S. Marine Corps photo
As Task & Purpose’s Adam Linehan noted, the deployment of Tillman’s image, like Jones’, runs counter to the veteran’s actual views on the matter: A 2005 profile characterized Tillman as a “fiercely independent thinker” who loved “favorite” author Noam Chomsky, a current, outspoken critic of the Trump administration. As CNN’s Jake Tapper put it on Twitter, “no one who knows anything about Pat Tillman can credibly assert he would endorse” the tweet Trump passed on to his millions of followers.
Denying veterans their agency and the wisdom to speak for themselves in the name of “respect” and “loyalty” isn’t just rude, but extremely disrespectful. Let Sept. 26, 2017, mark that day that we don’t fetishize veterans to score points in an argument about standing for the national anthem, of all things. If you want to defend the honor and service of American military personnel, here’s a novel idea: Go ahead and let them speak for themselves individually.
Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."
"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.
"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."
Former Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn will plead not guilty to a charge of murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed Afghan man whom a tribal leader had identified as a Taliban bomb maker, his attorney said.
Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.
No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
John Wick is back, and he's here to stay. It doesn't matter how many bad guys show up to try to collect on that bounty.
With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.
Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.
And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.
But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.
As it turns out, there's a good reason for the caliber of gun-play in John Wick. One of the franchise's secret weapons is a professional three-gun shooter named Taran Butler, who told Task & Purpose he can draw and hit three targets in 0.67 seconds from 10 yards. And if you've watched any of the scores of videos he's uploaded to social media over the years, it's pretty clear that this isn't idle boasting.
The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.
That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.
The Justice Department has accused Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) of illegally using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with five women.
Hunter, who fought in the Iraq War as a Marine artillery officer, and his wife Margaret were indicated by a federal jury on Aug. 21, 2018 for allegedly using up to $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.
In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign money to pay for a variety of expenses involved with his affairs, ranging from a $1,008 hotel bill to $7 for a Sam Adams beer.