This weekend was the fifth annual Mil Blog conference held in Arlington, VA, and the event to attend if you have any interest in the cyberworld of Military Blogs. They have developed over the years to the point where more and more of the senior ranks, once afraid of them, are now embracing the idea that these individuals can be an asset to our nations’ military.
The average person, knowing nothing about military bloggers, might find this conference as exciting as watching “concrete crack in the middle of summer in Nebraska,” but this group has grown over the years to where it truly is a large family embracing a variety of individuals and viewpoints.
Within this family, there is a strong core of individuals who toil each year to put together, not only an entertaining weekend, but a very informative one as well. So hats off to JP at Military.com who kept us all informed and slaved over the awards; Andi and Jeanie who produced a seamless production; Mr. and Mrs. GreyHawk who rounded up such excellent participants for the panels; Greta, SoldiersAngels, You Served Radio, USAA, Mary at USNI, the guys from Saving Abel, Marcus/Troy/CJ ; Ward Carroll and the Military.com group and the other dozen volunteers that I am missing (which I apologize for) so please let me know and I’ll make corrections.
The big driver for me to attend is being able to put a face to all the people that I communicate with via email/Facebook/Mudville Gazette etc. That was worth the trip right there. Chris from Wings over Iraq kept me entertained Saturday night as he shared his flying stories with me. He also brought up a good point about bloggers bringing a professional point of view to a subject they are familiar with. Right now there is a big controversy over the leaked pentagon tapes of the helicopters shooting the two reporters and other Iraqis. This was all taken out of context, and Chris was able to share his thoughts on his site that clarifies the situation as well as other bloggers. The mainstream media would never have A) that type background to speak intelligently on the subject or B) they have a liberal editor who would rather vilify our troops.
Speaking of the media, while some in Hollywood have lost their moral compass, there are those like Jake Rademacher who made Brothers at War and Scott Mactavish with God and Country who promote the military in a positive light. Jake was at the conference, and it was incredible to have a one-on-one with him. I realized that he was only four miles from me while we were in An Bar province in Iraq back 2005/06. These are two of the guys trying to turn Hollywood around from the inside, and I wish them all the luck in the world. So please support them and buy their films; you’ll love them. Also Michael Yon called in from Afghanistan to chat with the group and take questions. If you haven’t seen his coverage, you need to check him out.
My wife thinks that this conference was all about “playing,” but in reality, it has become quite clear that those in positions of power are giving credence to the Mil Blog community just by the participation of such folks as Gen David Petraeus and MG David Hogg USA, Col Gregory Breazile USMC, and Admiral JC Harvey, Jr., Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, who has his own blog at usfleet-forces.blogspot.com. Since the military has now started embracing MilBlogs, I have stopped feeling like the cockroach hiding in the dark while I type away. Ha!!
I have to say that one of the most exciting things to happen for me this weekend was having the honor of meeting Major (Ret) Norman Hatch USMC, the combat cameraman who brought back the film from Iwo Jima, and also produced and won the Academy Award on his film about the Tarawa invasion.
Mary Ripley, the daughter of one of my heroes from the Marine Corps, Col John Ripley, brought Major Hatch to speak to us about his time over there and he narrated (directors cut) on his Tarawa battle scenes. I took lots of notes over lunch with him, and I will post those later. Mary, thank you again for your participation through the U.S. Naval Institute, and we all appreciate your using your personal connections to give us the chance to meet Major Hatch. All I can say is “WOW!!”
I think I could write another ten pages on this weekend, but to note everything that happened might cause you as my reader to fall asleep at the wheel. If you write, if you have a Mil Blog, I urge you to attend next year to share the company of fellow writers, and see how this whole thing is evolving. MilBlogging won’t look the same ten years from now, and it may even be an MOS within PAO…who knows.