Tag: War

By Dan Shaughnessy

Globe Columnist

July 20, 2011   

Next time you feel like ripping Terry Francona, try to remember that the man has a lot on his mind. The manager’s son, Nick Francona, a former pitcher at the University of Pennsylvania, is a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, serving a six-month tour, leading a rifle platoon in Afghanistan. Twenty-six-year-old Nick is one of the more impressive young men you’ll ever meet. In a terrific piece for Grantland.com, Mike Barnicle asked Terry Francona how’s he doing as the dad of one of our soldiers at war. “I’m doing awful,’’ answered the manager. “My wife’s doing worse. I think about it all the time. Worry about it all the time. Hard not to. Try and stay away from the news about it. Try not to watch TV when stories about it are on, but it’s there, you know? It’s always there.’’


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Glaring Omission in Republican Debate: Why So Little Mention of Our Costly War?

By Mike Barnicle

Manchester, N.H. – At ten past eight Monday evening, Michele Bachmann decided to separate herself from the six guys next to her on the stage by telling John King of CNN why she had come to St. Anselm’s College. She did this on the fifth anniversary of a day when a young man from New Hampshire was killed in a war hardly mentioned last night.

“John…I just want to make an announcement,” she said as the first big TV debate among Republican candidates for president began, “I filed today my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency of the United States. . . . So I wanted you to be the first to know.”

King, quite professional, did not indicate any sense of relief upon hearing the news. Bachmann was behind a podium set on a low stage in the college hockey rink. In black suit and high heels she provided some contrast to the six men who looked like they were about to be inducted into the local Rotary Club; smiling, amiable, eager to please and ready to drop the hammer at any given moment on Barack Obama for everything from unemployment to health care to same-sex marriage. The crowd for the debate was middle-aged, white, patriotic and ready to roll for anyone who could convince them that competence could beat charisma in 2012.

Moments before the TV light went on an old guy with a white beard shouted, “Let’s do the Pledge.” The CNN floor producer said, “What?” and the old guy repeated himself, louder: “Let’s do the Pledge.”

“You want to lead it?” the floor producer asked.

“Yeah, “ the old guy said. And he did. The crowd stood, hand over hearts, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to great applause.

New Hampshire is not that different from 49 other states. Anxiety and apprehension fill the air. Confidence in the country is shaky as people pay over four dollars a gallon for gas, listen to news about staggering debt, watch home prices and wages wallow in the shadow of what sure seems like a double-dip or, at least, a never-ending recession.

In the morning, traffic on I-93 South toward Boston resembles the highway from Baghdad to Kuwait as thousands of New Hampshire residents head to jobs in Massachusetts. The unemployment rate here is merely 4.7%, nearly half the national average but fear is contagious and politics seems to offer little hope as more and more candidates behave like seismographs, reacting to each poll and looking at a future they measure in two or four year increments. What happens in the next election is a larger concern than what happens to the next generation.

On the stage at St. Anselm’s, Mitt Romney, appearing somewhat weary, didn’t have to worry about being ganged up on; the others took a pass on getting personal, allowing Romney to look like the leader of the pack. Newt Gingrich continued a pathetic act, posing as a deep thinker while Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain merely occupied space on a night when many in the crowd wondered what the score was in a real game being played an hour’s drive south: the Boston Bruins were beating the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Of course other numbers were never mentioned: Our exhausted nation has been at war for 10 years. Twenty-three residents of New Hampshire have been killed in Iraq, 13 more in Afghanistan. Hundreds have been wounded, physically as well as psychically, and require costly care that is rarely mentioned by any candidate.

Earlier in the day, before the debate at St. Anselm’s, a car stopped on a bridge on Route 114 near Henniker, about 20 miles from Manchester. There is a sign dedicating the bridge to the memory of Sgt. Russell M. Durgin, 10th Mountain Division, United States Army. He grew up in Henniker and was killed in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. He died June 13, 2006 at the age of 23 in a war that seems to be an after-thought for so many in politics on the fifth anniversary of the day his loss fractured a family forever.



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Afghan War Through a Marine Mother’s Eyes

By Mike Barnicle

Nearly everything is a sad a sad reminder for Mélida Arredondo: the news on TV, stories in the paper, speeches of Barack Obama and others who talk about a war that seems to have lasted so long and affected so many lives, those lost as well as those left behind.

“Did your son like the Marine Corps?” I ask her.

“Yes,” she replies. “He loved it.”

“And why did he join?”

“Too poor to go to college,” Mélida Arredondo says.

Alexander Arredondo enlisted at 17 and was killed at 20 in Najaf during his second deployment in Iraq. He died on his father’s birthday, Aug. 25, 2004, when Carlos Arredondo turned 44.

“My husband almost killed himself in grief,” his wife says. “The day [the Marines] came to tell us Alex was dead, he poured gasoline all over himself and all over the inside of [their] car and lit it on fire. He survived … physically.”

Read the rest of Mike’s column at Time.com



Friday, Oct. 16, 2009

One Death in Afghanistan: Ben Sklaver’s Story

Last week, Laura and Gary Sklaver buried their oldest boy, Ben, who was 32 when killed by a suicide bomber in the remote village of Murcheh in the distant land of Afghanistan. Ben was a captain in the United States Army. Now he has become one of 804 Americans, 37 from Connecticut, to lose their lives in an expanding war that belongs mostly to the parents and families of those who serve a nation preoccupied by a wounded economy and political polarization.

“He didn’t have to go,” Laura Sklaver said the other day. “His obligation was up in May.”

“But he was recalled in March,” Gary Sklaver added. “And he didn’t want to leave his men.”

Ben Sklaver grew up drawn to service. He admired his grandfather who served with Patton’s Army in World War II. He joined ROTC at Tufts, received a Master’s in international relations from the Fletcher School of Diplomacy, was commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserve in 2003 and became convinced that a world consumed with conflict and terror might be changed by Americans bringing clean water, medicine and food as much as by drones, missiles and military might.

Read the rest of Mike’s column at Time.com

BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: David Letterman/Afghanistan

10/05/09: Barnicle talks with Jim Braude and Margery Eegan about David Letterman admitting to having affairs with women who worked for him and the situation in Afghanistan.

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2009/10/05/10509-david-letterman-affairsafghanistan.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.

BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: Barnicle on the war in Afghanistan

09/25/09: Barnicle on the war in Afghanistan.

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2009/09/25/92509-afghanistan.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.

BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: Medal of Honor winner Jared Monti

09/18/09: Barnicle talks about Jared Monti receiving the Medal of Honor yesterday.

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2009/09/18/91809-jared-montimedal-of-honor.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.

BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: Local police officer’s life cut short

8/31/09: Barnicle talks about the life of Michael Davey, a 34-year-old police officer, war veteran, husband and father cut short after he was struck by a 79-year-old driver last week.

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2009/08/31/83109-michael-davey.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.



On a drizzly morning in Cape Cod, all talk of birthers and beer summits was silenced as hundreds said goodbye to a fallen soldier. Mike Barnicle on Corporal Nicholas Xiarhos and his forgotten war.

Nicholas Xiarhos funeral

Yarmouth Police Lt. Steven Xiarhos pauses at the casket of his son Nicholas Xiarhos. (Photo by Steve Heaslip / Cape Cod Times)

On a soft summer morning last week, when much of the nation’s media exploded with coverage of the prior night’s White House gathering of a president, a professor, and a policeman, hundreds of ordinary strangers stood like silent sentries along a busy Cape Cod road to salute a funeral hearse carrying a noble young Marine killed in Afghanistan. His name was Nicholas Xiarhos, Corporal Nicholas Xiarhos, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 21 when a war fought by so few claimed him as one of the latest of 768 victims wearing the uniform of the United States of America in Operation Enduring Freedom, the violent effort to tame the Taliban in a land largely unchanged across the centuries.

A Cadillac hearse slowly carried the flag-draped coffin along Route 28, from St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church in Centerville to Bourne and the National Cemetery where Xiarhos was buried. The procession stretched for miles beneath a warm drizzle and a gunmetal gray sky.

Along the way, there were people, hundreds of them; people who were, for the moment, not consumed with health-care debates, deficits, bailouts for big banks, birthers, or house arrests in Cambridge.

It passed ice cream shops and supermarkets, malls and movie theaters, pharmacies and golf clubs, and all along the way, there were people, hundreds of them; people who were, for the moment, not consumed with health-care debates, deficits, bailouts for big banks, birthers, or house arrests in Cambridge.

They stood by their cars, stopped by the side of the road to let the long parade of grief pass. They held children on their shoulders, American flags and homemade posters in their grasp. They had hands over hearts and tears in their eyes for a boy most never met and a crushed family: the father, Lieutenant Steven Xiarhos, wearing the full dress uniform of the Cape Cod police department he has served for 30 years, the mother, Lisa Xiarhos, the dead Marine’s twin sisters, and younger brother.

The roadside mourners were of all ages and from several states, joined now in a unique American moment, a tribute to a casualty of a long war that has affected so few families in this country of such short memory. Witnesses to brutal reality.

Nicholas Xiarhos and motherSteven Xiarhos snapped this photo of his wife, Lisa, and their son, Nick, at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina on Sept. 1.At the cemetery, the mist became rain and thunder announced itself in the distance. A color guard responded to nature’s noise with a 21-gun salute. A bagpipe brigade played “God Bless America.” His mother was presented with the gift of a grateful nation, the folded flag that protected the coffin carrying a son who died protecting others.

Three summers ago, Nick Xiarhos graduated from high school. In the 36 months since his senior prom, he fought in Iraq, returned to Cape Cod, redeployed to Afghanistan, and had now come home forever to a country and a culture that simply does not place enough value on the loss of those who go to a war that sometimes seems as forgotten as those who fight it.

Mike Barnicle has been a newspaper—remember them?—columnist for 35 years. He is a contributing commentator on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program.

BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: Media coverage of those who sacrifice for our cou...

7/27/09: Barnicle tells the story of Marine Cpl. Nicholas Xiarhos, a local 21-year-old man who died recently in Afghanistan, and the minimal newspaper coverage of his and other soldiers’ deaths.

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2009/07/27/72709-marine-cpl-nicholas-xiarhos.aspx?ref=rss

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.

BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: A recommendation for the film “The Hurt Loc...

7/17/09: Barnicle gives a thumbs up to Summit Entertainment’s new Iraq War movie “The Hurt Locker,” calling it “as real as any war movie ever made.”

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2009/07/17/71709-the-movie-the-hurt-locker.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.

BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: Michael Jackson funeral coverage over the top

7/8/09: Mike laments the over-the-top coverage of the Michael Jackson funeral service the day prior, citing the foolish and the fringes dominates the news.

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2009/07/08/7809-tv-coverage-of-michael-jackson-funeral-service.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.

From WGRZ-TV Buffalo

Tim Russert’s Best Friend Remembers Him



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Mike Barnicle was Tim Russert’s best friend.

“I miss him everyday, I miss him everyday,” says Barnicle.

“I miss his companionship, I miss his sense of humor,” he adds.

They were two Irish Catholic guys from blue collar families, one from Buffalo, the other from Boston.

Tim was Godfather to one of Mike’s sons.

Scott Brown: “If you had three or four words to describe him, what would they be?”

Barnicle: “Generous, loyal, honorable and loving.”

The two men shared a love of family, and sports, and politics.

“He knew what it was to lead a real life, largely because of his upbringing in Buffalo and largely because he was unchanged as he progressed through his life.” said Barnicle.

“From working for Senator Moynihan and Governor Cuomo of New York, to becoming arguably the most important media figure in the country on Meet the Press, he never changed, he was always just a real guy.”

Scott Brown: “Did he talk about South Buffalo and the real people and the steelworkers and the guys he grew up with?”

Barnicle: “Nearly everything that Tim brought to the table was always about South Buffalo, always about where he grew up, always about the Catholic church, the parochial school, the nuns who taught him, his father’s friends, the VFW post, the Legion Post, his dad’s experience in World War II.

“Everything, everyday within there was South Buffalo, he could be living in Washington, D.C. he could be in Paris with the president, he could be with the Pope in Rome and he always brought South Buffalo to the table, that was part of his magic.”

Brown: “How often did his love of Buffalo and the Bills and the Sabres and everything else come up in conversation?”

Barnicle: “You could get Tim in an instant bad mood with two words: ‘wide right’. You’d be talking about Scott Norwood missing that field goal in the Super Bowl. Two words, wide right he would go into a funk, for years he would go into a funk after that event.”

Brown: “Can you tell us how Luke and his wife Maureen are doing these days?”

Barnicle: “I think they’re doing as well as can be expected. And yet lingering over the two of them obviously is the fact that Tim is gone and they can still, I’m sure as I can, as many people out there can, still hear his voice. He still has a resonance in their lives, he always will. So it’s a burden they carry, the loss of a husband and a father, but they’re doing pretty well.”

Tim’s death a year ago was the ultimate of ironies.

The man who considered himself the luckiest guy in the world died on Friday, the 13th.

The guy who wrote a best seller about his father died on the eve of Father’s Day weekend.

Brown: “What is this Father’s Day going to be like without him?”

Barnicle: “It’s going to be a very difficult day, Father’s Day. But I think every day is a difficult day for anyone who has lost a loved one, it’s particularly tough for Luke and Maureen because they suffered such a public loss, but every day has been difficult Scott.”

Brown: “What’s a great Tim Russert story that encapsulates who he was and what kind of fun he had?”

Barnicle: “Tim loved to come to Fenway Park and sit with me and by the third inning he would have mustard all over his golf shirt and people coming up to him asking for autographs. A fellow comes up to him, this is several years ago, and asks him for an autograph, Tim takes the pen and signs and thanks the fellow very much and the guy says ‘I want to thank you very much for the ketchup too’ because Tim had slobbered ketchup all over the autograph paper (laughs).”

Brown: “It seemed like he squeezed every bit of joy and fun and excitement out of those 58 years?”

Barnicle: “Yeah he did, he sure did. He had more fun in his life than most people have in two or three lifetimes. And he had fun everyday and the best part of the fun that Tim had was whether it was at work, whether it was on Nantucket, whether it was in Buffalo at a Bills game, he didn’t have to work at having fun, because having fun came naturally to Timmy.”

BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: Former VP Dick Cheney like your “crazy uncl...

5/13/09: Barnicle talks about former Vice President Dick Cheney’s poor judgment and why we shouldn’t care about what he says.

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2009/05/13/51309-vp-dick-cheney.aspx?ref=rss

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.


11/10/08: Veterans Day and how these days people just treat it as another day.

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2008/11/10/111008-veterans-day.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a

BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: Mike Recommends the Book “Generation Kill&#...

8/22/08: Mike recommends the book “Generation Kill” by Evan Wright

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2008/08/22/82208-book-generation-kill.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.

BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: Nation Still at War

8/18/08: A tragic story from this past week of two service men from Cape Cod killed in Iraq and Afghanistan

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2008/08/18/81508-nation-still-at-war.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.


6/23/08: The CIA and Al Queda

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2008/06/23/62308-al-qaeda.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.

BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: Memorial Day and what it means to different peopl...

5/23/08: Memorial Day and what it means to different people.

Listen here: https://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2008/05/23/52308-memorial-day.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.

MIKE BARNICLE IN THE BOSTON HERALD: His history, public and private, always entw...


By Mike Barnicle

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It seems as if he’s been with us always, his history, ours; his voice, his views taken for granted like some permanent landmark that would forever be part of life’s landscape. Now, a medical bulletin changes everything. Mortality, always there in his own mind, has potentially arrived with the cruelest of phrases: Malignant brain tumor.

So, Edward Kennedy, at 76, rests comfortably in Mass. General, waiting for tests and treatment that will put a number on his days. He is, this very public man, part of the last, unique chapter of a great sprawling American story shared by whole generations.

He is a walking compendium of history, political and personal – as if the two could ever be separated given his last name. He can sit on the front porch of his home in Hyannisport, beneath the cloudless sky of a crisp autumn day and clearly recollect the long gone morning in the summer of 1944 when a priest and a soldier arrived to tell the family that the eldest boy, the one to first carry the father’s dream, Joe, was dead at war; his plane exploded over the English Channel. The end of chapter one.

“Oh yes, I remember,” Ted Kennedy told me once. “My mother was in the kitchen and dad was upstairs. I remember clearly.”

The deaths, the disappointments, the wins and losses, the tragedies, the historic along with the self-inflicted, have all been there like open, very public wounds that halted a nation and, with one, road-blocked any ambitions Ted Kennedy had of gaining the White House.

We have all been there for the ride. The country has careened across the decades with the man. From Dallas to Los Angeles to Chappaquiddick and Palm Beach, very little has happened outside of the harsh glare of publicity.

But the man has endured and today he remains the most accessible and familiar of our politicians.

In Bedford this morning, a man named Brian Hart greets the day with an added measure of grief, knowing Kennedy as something more. Hart is a transplanted Texan, a conservative Republican and in October 2003 he and his wife lost their only son, Pfc. John Hart, to the ill-planned and ill-fated war in Iraq.

On a cold day in November, after their boy was killed in a Humvee that offered the protection of tissue paper, the Harts buried their noble son in Arlington National Cemetery. The father, turning from the grave, saw the familiar face of a man he’d never met.

“That’s the first time I ever met Sen. Kennedy,” Brian Hart once told me. “I didn’t know him from a hole in the wall and he didn’t know me. He came out of respect for John’s service.”

Brian Hart was outraged at the Pentagon’s indifference and incompetence. Like thousands of other soldiers, John Hart, 20, had been sent to battle without the best equipment he might have had.

“Within one month after John’s death, I had several meetings with Sen. Kennedy and he started Senate hearings and he changed things for a lot of other soliders who might be dead today if it were not for him,” John Hart said. “You tell me: Is that being a liberal? I would do anything for Sen. Kennedy.”

Now it is October 2006 and Ted Kennedy, days from being re-elected for the eighth time, is home again in Hyannisport. It is a spectacular Cape Cod day, the water glistening beneath a late fall sun. The senator’s boat, the Mya, sits in the harbor, perhaps 500 yards in the distance, swaying with an Indian summer breeze.

“When you’re out on the ocean, when the color of the sky and water change and you’re sailing,” he was asked. “Do you ever see your brothers?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Ted Kennedy answered, his eyes welling with tears. “I see them all the time.”

And so too, we see Teddy.