09 May 2016

2016 Invictus Games Open in Florida

From Stars & Stripes:

“You will see people that should have died on the battlefield but instead are going for gold on the athletic field,” Prince Harry said to a thunderous crowd during the opening ceremony at the ESPN Wide World of Sports arena at Disney World. “You will be inspired.”

Prince Harry launched the Invictus Games in 2014 in London after he saw the rehabilitative power of sport at the U.S. Warrior Games and wanted to take that healing spirit global.

01 May 2016

Five Years Ago: bin Laden Killed by U.S. Forces

This is a repost from 2011.

"A lot of people were upset we celebrated the death of another human being. I told them the only thing I as upset about is that I didn't do it. They've got to understand that people have to do terrible things so that things like 9/11 don't happen again."

- Sgt. Christopher "Kit" Lowe, wounded in Afghanistan, 2009.

Words like "grateful," "relief," and "calming," were words local veterans at the Soldiers' Angels Support Center in San Antonio, TX used when they talked about the "most wanted terrorist" Osama Bin Laden being taken down. The words hardly describe the peace and closure many military men and women and veterans say they're feeling.

Here are more reactions from Wounded Warriors and Gold Star families.

"While bin Laden may be dead, America still must defeat the Taliban and the rest of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. We're still not through losing soldiers on the ground over there. There's still a job that we have to do. And we need to complete that job before we come home."

- Donn Edmunds, Gold Star father of Army Ranger Spc Jonn Edmunds, who was among the first combat casualties in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001.

"I always believed in the cause; whether it was against fighting Al Qaeda, or the Taliban, or whoever, but I really think it means a lot more now that we've actually stuck with this war and caught him."

- Robert Riley, former Navy Hospital Corpsman wounded in Afghanistan in 2010.

“I feel like celebrating, but I don't feel like celebrating his death. But I think it's a huge relief that he died for anyone involved in 9/11-- every American, you know.” Nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, he says the U.S. mission is not over.

- Marine Cpl Todd Love, wounded in Afghanistan in 2010.

"A lot of thoughts ran through my mind, with a pounding heart and some relief that this just may be the beginning of the end of what was started with our country’s biggest assault... September 11th. My grandson Seth would have been so proud to see the demise of bin Laden.”

- Ron Garceau, Gold Star grandfather of Army Sgt. Seth Garceau who died at Landstuhl hospital in 2005 of wounds sustained in Ramadi, Iraq.

"I was personally happy to see that. Any time evil is defeated, that's a great thing and it's something to be happy about. Do I take a lot of satisfaction, a lot of semi-quiet satisfaction, in knowing that bin Laden is dead? I do. I guess a small part of that is personal. But for me, it's for my country."

- Layne Morris, former Army Special Forces wounded in Afghanistan in 2002.

"I'm more proud than ever to be an American. There is no better military in the world than ours. I remember after the 9/11 attacks, when Bush said we will not falter and we will not fail. This event speaks to the commitment, intestinal fortitude and perseverance of our military."

- John Walter Wroblewski, Gold Star Father of Marine 2nd Lt. John Thomas "J.T." Wroblewski, who was killed in Ramadi, Iraq in 2004.

"For guys like me who have lost personally so much, and friends, it's like, are we going to be there forever?" He hopes the county's leaders learn something from the costly wars.

- Retired Staff Sgt Joe Beimfohr, wounded in Iraq in 2005.

"When you're fighting an ideology, you're not facing off with a nation-state that can surrender. The only way we can beat them is to stop them from conducting their actions. And we do that by showing them that they will pay an ultimate price."

- Former Staff Sgt. Phillip Baldwin, wounded in Afghanistan in 2006.

‎"I have a vested interest in what happens in Afghanistan. I feel like (bin Laden's death) hopefully will be a turning point and I know it will be a great morale booster for our troops."

- Linda Ferrara, mother of MAJ Marcus Ferrara, who served in Iraq, CPT Matt Ferrara, KIA in Afghanistan in 2007, 1LT Damon Ferrara, just returned from Afghanistan, and 2LT Andy Ferrara, deploying to Afghanistan in May.

"What can you say? Everything I signed up for is finally completed. I was instantly emotional. It was amazing."

- Former Army Spc Rob Kislow, wounded in Afghanistan in 2005.

"The first thing that went through my mind was elation. And relief that everything that we're going through hasn't been for nothing, because it kind of feels like that sometimes."

- Leslie Kammerdiener, Silver Star Mother and caregiver of former Army Spc Kevin Kammerdiener, wounded in Afghanistan in 2008.

"In war, the only cause for celebration, in the eyes of a warrior, is its victorious end. There will still be the empty chair at the table, the salt of tears, the bitterness of friends and family no longer among us, and the emptiness that comes from their loss. We will continue this fight, and so will our enemy."

- Major Charles Ziegenfuss, wounded in Iraq in 2005.

19 March 2016

On This Day in 2003 - Operation Iraqi Freedom Begins

Sgt. Matthew LeVart carries injured Cpl. Barry Lange off the battlefield as members of India Co., 3rd Batt., 7th Marine Division engage Iraqi soldiers in battle at the headquarters of the Iraqi 51st and 37th mechanized infantry divisions near Az Bayer, Iraq on March 21, 2003, the first day of the ground war. Photo: Laura Rauch.

"Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look."
- Ronald Reagan

The air operations of Operation Iraqi Freedom began 13 years ago today, followed by the official start of ground operations 2 days later. We will always remember the courage and the bravery of our troops, and we will never forget our debt of gratitude to all of you, especially the wounded and the Fallen. We pray for you and your families every day. May God bless you all.

21 February 2016

Groundbreaking ECMO treatment used at Bagram and Landstuhl to breathe life into NATO ally

A 455th Expeditionary Medical Group team combines efforts with the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation team to save the life of a NATO ally at the Craig Joint-Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on Feb. 18, 2016. The ECMO team, dispatched from San Antonio Military Medical Center, uses technology that bypasses the lungs and infuses the blood directly with oxygen, while removing the harmful carbon dioxide from the blood stream. The patient was airlifted to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, where he will receive 7 to 14 days of additional ECMO treatment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- A specialized team dispatched from San Antonio Military Medical Center combined efforts with the 455th Expeditionary Medical Group to perform life-saving treatment on a NATO partner Feb. 18.

The patient was suffering from adult respiratory distress syndrome secondary to influenza B, and had to be admitted and intubated to the Craig Joint Theater Hospital on Feb. 13. His condition worsened over the next 48 hours, and the decision to rapidly activate and deploy an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation team was reached in order to keep the patient alive.

ECMO works by bypassing the lungs and infusing the blood directly with oxygen, while removing the harmful carbon dioxide from the blood stream. This procedure requires a team of eight, highly-qualified medical personnel to initiate and continue around-the-clock treatment.

“I am grateful for the team that came from SAMMC. This is truly the only chance our patient has of surviving,” said Maj. (Dr.) Valerie Sams, the 455th EMDG trauma czar who coordinated the life-saving care. “With his lung failure and kidney decline, he is still at about a 50 percent mortality risk. However, I think with his relatively young age and lack of significant chronic medical conditions, there is considerable hope.”

The hospital, supported with a staff of 40 providers, nurses, technicians, pharmacy, radiology, and lab personnel, provided tireless care in the intensive care unit. On top of that, around 30 transport medics were used to ensure that the patient could be moved out of theater to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Altogether, nearly 80 military members provided 120 hours of continuous medical care for one NATO ally to have a chance at life.

“I am extremely proud of how all the medics came together to care for this patient,” said Col. Gianna Zeh, the 455th EMDG commander. “They worked non-stop around the clock for six days. They had an unfailing commitment to serve this patient. They never gave up as a team and continuously problem solved to keep him alive. This is a great example of medics providing trusted care, anywhere.”

The patient will need at least seven to 14 days of additional ECMO treatment, and while his condition may still be grim, it is because of the combined efforts of deployed teams he now has a chance at recovery.

A 455th Expeditionary Medical Group team combines efforts with the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation team to save the life of a NATO ally at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on Feb. 18, 2016. The ECMO team, dispatched from San Antonio Military Medical Center, uses technology that bypasses the lungs and infuses the blood directly with oxygen, while removing the harmful carbon dioxide from the blood stream. The patient was airlifted to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

29 January 2016

"Keep breathing"

Sgt. Oliver Campbell has deployed to Afghanistan several times since he joined Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Army Ranger battalion in 2013. He was wounded on a mission there earlier this month. His mother, Carol, visited him at an Army hospital in Germany for his initial medical treatment. Photo courtesy of Carol Campbell via The News Tribune.

Army Ranger Sgt. Oliver Campbell and a teammate from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment are now recovering at Walter Reed Military Medical Center after a Jan. 16 attack in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktika province.

Campbell, 22, was the more seriously wounded of the two, with a bullet lodged close to his heart. Three other bullets passed through his body.
Now, “he’s doing very well,” said his mother, Carol Campbell of Kansas City.

In his letter to friends and family, Campbell thanked his teammates for keeping him alive after the attack. He praised the flight surgeons who revived him when his heart stops and the nurses who’ve tended to him.

“I owe a lot of people thank-yous for everything that has happened in the past week,” he wrote.
He also gave thanks to actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

“Believe it or not, when I was laying there all jacked up, the movie ‘The Revenant’ came to mind,” he wrote. “All I could think of was that line, ‘Keep breathing.’ ”

Read the entire story here.

25 January 2016

Sunnrise at Arlington

Sunrise at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, Va after a record breaking snowfall blanketed the Washington DC area with 18 inches of snow. (Photo by SPC Nathan Johnston)

20 January 2016

Service & Sacrifice: Surgery count high, spirits higher

Veteran Michael Trost guesses he's had 28 surgeries since being wounded in Afghanistan. He now faces another major operation. Photo: WBIR.com.

Four years and dozens of surgeries later, MSgt Michael Trost speaks frankly about his next major surgery: He is choosing to have his badly damaged lower right leg amputated just below his knee so part of his toe can be used as a new thumb.

“I’m not losing a leg, I’m gaining a thumb,” he said with a chuckle, sitting in the kitchen of his family hobby farm in Blount County, TN.

Story and video here.

31 December 2015

Auld Lang Syne

To friends and loved ones who can't be with us; and to those who are no longer with us.

You are always in our hearts.

Auld Lang Syne (to days gone by)... farewell 2015.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy 2016.

25 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Tree at Landstuhl Hospital Fisher House. Photo: Soldiers' Angels.

And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.

For unto you
is born this day in the city
of David a Savior,
which is Christ the Lord.

Thank you and Merry Christmas to all of our generous supporters. May you find joy this holiday season knowing you have uplifted our Wounded Warriors through the priceless gift of love.

At Christmastime and always, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines serving all over the world hold a special place in our hearts.

Your Soldiers' Angels Team in Germany

Gold Star Christmas

To our Gold Star families, with love.

Merry Christmas from Heaven

I still hear the songs
I still see the lights
I still feel your love
on cold wintery nights

I still share your hopes
and all of your cares
I'll even remind you
to please say your prayers

I just want to tell you
you still make me proud
You stand head and shoulders
above all the crowd

Keep trying each moment
to stay in His grace
I came here before you
to help set your place

You don't have to be
perfect all of the time
He forgives you the slip
If you continue the climb

To my family and friends
please be thankful today
I'm still close beside you
In a new special place

I love you all dearly
now don't shed a tear
Cause I'm spending my
Christmas with Jesus this year.

--John Wm. Mooney, Jr