30 March 2015

Former Navy SEAL who was shot 27 times to compete in half-Ironman for fellow vets



From the UK's Mail Online:

A Navy SEAL who was shot 27 times and still managed to pull out his handgun and kill two enemy fighters is now training to run a half-Ironman triathlon in honor of his fellow veterans.

Mike Day is representing Dallas-based Carrick Brain Centers, where he was treated for PTSD eight years after he survived a gunfight while serving in Iraq.

In 2007 Day was hit 27 times by enemy fire after he was the first of his SEAL team to enter a room where four enemy fighters were waiting and quickly shot the rifle out of his hand.

Day managed to kill two enemy fighters with his pistol before he was knocked unconscious by a grenade that exploded less than 10-feet away from him.
Eleven shots hit Day's body armor while the other 16 wounded him, according to WTKR.

When Day woke up a minute later in the midst of a firefight, he grabbed his handgun and shot down two enemy fighters before the gunfire ceased.

The tough SEAL then got up and walked himself to the medical helicopter.

Day described the extent of his numerous injuries on his half-Ironman fundraiser page, writing that he was shot in both legs and arms, as well as the buttocks and scrotum. He said a shot to his abdomen also left him with a colostomy bag for a year, and his left thumb was almost amputated. Day's ribs were also fractured and he suffered contusions to his lungs after his body armor was hit so many times, but the bullets missed all his vital organs.

'This was a single gunfight at an ordinary day at the office,' he wrote on the page.

Day, who spent 20 years with the SEALs and is also a Silver and Bronze Star recipient, said his life's mission is now to 'care for and lead my wounded brothers and sisters'.




19 March 2015

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 12 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.

27 February 2015

Jump Salute


A U.S. Soldier salutes his fellow Soldiers while jumping from a C-130 Hercules aircraft over a drop zone in Germany, Feb. 24, 2015. The Soldier is assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group. U.S. Army photo by Jason Johnston.

13 February 2015

R.E.D. Friday - Remember Everyone Deployed!


Tech. Sgt. Travis Egger, 89th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, directs a bus of wounded warriors from the 86th Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility at Ramstein Air Base toward a 445th Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III bound for Joint Base Andrews, Maryland Jan. 4, 2015. U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Elizabeth Caraway

08 February 2015

Army Approves Awards for Victims of 2009 Fort Hood Attack

Secretary of the Army John McHugh has approved awarding the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart, the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, to victims of the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, following a change in the medals’ eligibility criteria mandated by Congress.

Among those killed was a former Landstuhl staff member, Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, 55 of Pittsburgh.

Lt. Col. Warman served a year at Landstuhl as a certified psychiatric nurse practitioner, where she regularly volunteered for round-trip flights between downrange and Germany, as well as between Germany and the US in order to care for her patients during transition. An expert in post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, Lt. Col. Warman's military career spanned 25 years in active duty and Army reserves. In 2006, she was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for her meritorious service at Landstuhl.

Warman had been at Fort Hood for only 24 hours to be processed for duty in Iraq, a deployment for which she had volunteered.

The Department of Defense has a long history of awarding Purple Hearts to victims of both domestic and foreign terrorist attacks including the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia of 1996, and the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.



IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: NR-040-15
February 06, 2015
Army Approves Awards for Victims of 2009 Fort Hood Attack

Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced today that he has approved awarding the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart, the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, to victims of a 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, following a change in the medals’ eligibility criteria mandated by Congress. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded in the attack by Major Nidal Hasan, who was convicted in August, 2013, of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.

“The Purple Heart’s strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood,” McHugh explained. “Now that Congress has changed the criteria, we believe there is sufficient reason to allow these men and women to be awarded and recognized with either the Purple Heart or, in the case of civilians, the Defense of Freedom medal. It’s an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice.”

Under a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, Congress expanded the eligibility for the Purple Heart by re-defining what should be considered an attack by a “foreign terrorist organization” for purposes of determining eligibility for the Purple Heart. The legislation states that an event should now be considered an attack by a foreign terrorist organization if the perpetrator of the attack “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack” and “the attack was inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.”

In a review of the Fort Hood incident and the new provisions of law, the Army determined that there was sufficient evidence to conclude Hasan “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack,” and that his radicalization and subsequent acts could reasonably be considered to have been “inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.” Previous criteria required a finding that Hasan had been acting at the direction of a foreign terrorist organization.

McHugh directed Army officials to identify soldiers and civilians now eligible for the awards as soon as possible, and to contact them about presentation of the awards. Soldiers receiving the Purple Heart automatically qualify for combat-related special compensation upon retirement. Recipients are also eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
Following his 2013 conviction, Hasan was sentenced to death by a general court-martial. He is incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, while post-trial and appellate processes continue.

For additional information regarding this announcement, please contact Lt. Col. Ben Garret at 703-614-5302 or my email at: benjamin.l.garrett4.mil@mail.mil.

01 February 2015

The Bonds That Will Never Be Broken



Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis previously deployed to Iraq, from April 2008 to May 2009, and to Afghanistan, from June 2010 to May 2011. Ollis deployed with his unit to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in January 2013, and was killed Aug. 28, 2013, defending Forward Operating Base Ghazni. (Photo courtesy of Fort Drum Public Affairs)


On August 28, 2013, 24-year old Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis of the 10th Mountain Division deliberately placed himself between a suicide bomber and Polish Soldier Lt. Karol Cierpica, saving Lt. Cierpa's life. SSG Ollis was killed when the bomb exploded. His actions that day have earned him a Silver Star and a Polish Armed Forces Gold Medal.

And now, he has a namesake.

Earlier this month, the Polish soldier became the proud father of a baby boy he named in honor of Ollis.

Robert Ollis and his wife, Linda, called the tribute to their son "unexpected" and "wonderful."

"I thought of the baby as a grandson," Ollis Sr. said "We are very happy and honored."

To thank Cierpica and his wife, the Ollis family sent the couple a teddy bear they had specially made out of their son's Army fatigues.


Newborn baby Michael Cierpica lies with a teddy bear made from the Army fatigues of Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, the soldier from New Dorp who sacrificed his life saving the infant's father during an attack in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Ollis family, via silive.com)

The Ollis family are hoping to meet "Little Michael" in person some day soon. The families have become close, and last year the Ollises traveled to Poland where they visited with the Cierpicas as well as the other Polish soldiers who served at the same base in Afghanistan.


H/t This Ain't Hell.

23 January 2015

R.E.D. Friday - Remember Everyone Deployed!



U.S. Army Pvt. 1st Class Arias patrols past a group of Afghan children while providing security in a rural area near the Nangarhar Police Regional Logistics Center in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, Jan. 6, 2015. Arias is assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Train, Advise, Assist Command East. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jarrod Morris.

22 January 2015

Brain Injured Veterans Use Masks to Heal Inner Wounds



Army Staff Sgt. Perry Hopman, who served in Iraq from 2006-2008, confronts the battery of medications he takes daily for blast-force injuries he sustained while treating soldiers as a flight medic. "I know my name, but I don't know the man who used to back up that name." Photo: Lynn Johnson/National Geographic

These "Healing Our Soldiers" images from the February, 2015 issue of National Geographic magazine will take your breath away. They photo essay may be viewed online here.

13 January 2015

We Are Soldiers



In Loving Memory
PFC Gunnar Becker
January 22, 1985 - January 13, 2005



The following poem was written during the 19th and final year of Gunnar's life. He was laid to rest on his 20th birthday. His life was short, but full of love and meaning for all who knew him - and for many more who didn't.

We will love and remember him always.

We are soldiers.
We are soldiers in the United States Army.
We are trained to be all we can be.

We fight for the freedom of many citizens of the United States. We are all ready to meet our fates.

We all volunteer to defend the red, white and blue.
Not only the flag, but for the citizens of our great country too.

Since our country's birth for all these years,
we have been trained to be the best on Earth.

Many times we have went to war.
We will be involved in many more.

Generation by generation soldiers continue to enlist.
Some of us will go to war and definitely be missed.

Some soldiers will return and some won't.
Those who do not, we won't forget and we hope you don't.

Many of us are going to Iraq.
Some of us won't be coming back.

We have loved ones we are leaving behind.
They will always be in our prayers, hearts and mind.

If we don't make it home safely at the end of the war,
just remember we died defending the beliefs of those of many more.


- Gunnar Becker

09 January 2015

R.E.D. Friday - Remember Everyone Deployed!



A C-17 transports medical equipment and personnel to Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The 10th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, based at Ramstein, is responsible for transporting critically ill or injured patients from deployed locations. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Katherine Tereyama/RELEASED. 12/17/2014.