31 December 2006

Funny thing about Europe...

...they have a problem with guns but just love playing with small explosive devices.

Pallets of fireworks appear in every supermarket, tobacco shop, and convenience store in the days leading up to New Years. And I'm not talking sparklers here. I'm talking 2-ft rockets in cannisters that shoot 75 feet up into the air.

Every Tom, Dick, and Harry goes for it... you start hearing them the day before but in the hours leading up to midnight on the 31st things really heat up.

Now, shortly after midnight, in my normally quiet suburban Munich neighborhood the air is thick with smoke and flashing colors, and the sound of explosions echoes for miles around.

The only people I've seen who are crazier than the Germans when it comes to fireworks are the Icelanders. The average Icelander spends something like $300 for New Years fireworks and I sh#t you not, I have seen rocket cannisters with a 2-inch diameter in Reykjavik.

It's insane.

Happy New Year

Raise a glass tonight, but tomorrow it's on to the Next Order of Business:

From Tripoli to Syria to Teheran to Beirut to Pyongyang, how many of Saddam Hussein’s fellow travelers involuntarily rubbed their own necks as the world was treated to this spectacle of justice for once achieved and not cynically subverted?

Heads up, Khaddafy, Assad and Ahmadinejad. Heads up, the entire rotten, stunted leadership of the People’s Republic of China. Heads up, Kim Jong Il.

The New Year is upon us. With the trash taken out, we end 2006 on an up note and it's time to turn to the serious business of 2007.

Make sure to read the rest of Jules Crittenden's post.

30 December 2006


May the souls of Saddam's victims now rest in peace.

God bless the men and women of the US military for the sacrifices they make to defend the values of freedom and democracy around the world.

I believe I shall open that bottle of fine Vintage Port wine I've been saving for a special occasion.

25 December 2006

Merry Christmas from Landstuhl

Christmas cards from home line the 3-story stairwell at Kleber outpatient barracks. The Christmas Eve "card squad" from left: Dan, SA volunteer Amanda, Doug, me, and the Chief. The project took 2 days to complete, with Dan and Randy (not pictured here) participating on the 23rd. Thanks to all who sent or brought cards... and to the rest of the outpatients and staff for their free advice ;-)

On behalf of the patients at Kleber I'd also like to thank the many Angels who sent decorations and baked goods from the States as well as the many, many groups and individuals of the KMC area who've brought decorations, cards, food, and baked goods to the barracks... among them the members of the Holy Family Catholic Church for the complete turkey dinner on the 23rd, the Marines Liaisons for the complete ham dinner (cooked by a local volunteer) on the 24th, and the Air Force group who came in today. More thanks to the local military families who invited patients into their homes for Christmas Eve celebrations. Your thoughtfulness means so much to the guys.

24 December 2006

A Christmas Eve Story

A Soldier calls home on Christmas Eve from Germany.

His kid brother cries because they aren't together for Christmas.

The Soldier explains they are together, unlike the families of the two friends he just lost in Ramadi.

"By the end of our conversation, I really think he got it."

Story told by a patient during an informal Christmas Eve service at which the Chaplain asked participants to share what Christmas means to them.

22 December 2006

Soldiers' Angels Mourns SPC Kenneth W. Haines

From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen hero from Soldiers' Angels, Spc. Kenneth W. Haines.

Ken, 25, of Fulton, N.Y., died Dec. 3 in Balad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle while on patrol in Abu Hishma, Iraq.

Haines was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Ken is survived by his foster parent, Kirk McMillan of Fulton, three brothers and one sister.


SPC Haines was serving his second tour of duty and a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and a Weapons Qualification Badge as a sharpshooter.

Pending medals, which will be honored to SPC Haines posthumously, include the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Badge.

Please take a moment to read the Army Specialist Kenneth W. Haines tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

Remember our Heroes.

20 December 2006

Soldiers’ Angels – Holiday Mission Accomplished

For Immediate Release

Soldiers’ Angels – Holiday Mission Accomplished

"Holidays for Heroes" Project Provides 90,000 Holiday Gift Bags to Deployed Troops

Pasadena, California – December 20, 2006 – This holiday season most of us will celebrate here at home with our loved ones. However, this will not be the case for tens of thousands of Americas’ bravest men and women who are protecting our freedom overseas. Many of those who guard our freedom will be doing so from across the world and will not be able to share the holiday season with their families and friends.

Fellow service members of many of these same deployed soldiers will be spending the holidays in hospital rooms recuperating from injuries earned in defense of our nation. While the warmth of the holiday season may remind many soldiers of the reasons they serve, it is also the time in which the absence from their families and friends is felt the most.

In an effort to let the soldiers know their sacrifices are appreciated and to lift them into the holiday spirit, many organizations support holiday projects aimed at giving gifts to the deployed and wounded soldiers. Soldiers’ Angels is at the very top of this list. Our mission is to provide aid and comfort to the thousands of American service members stationed wherever the United States raises its flag.

“No project could be better suited to our goal of letting our soldiers know that they are loved and appreciated,” said Patti Patton-Bader, founder of Soldiers’ Angels. “Our ‘Holidays for Heroes’ project strives to make sure that every soldier deployed in a combat area receives a gift of small but welcome items and a card with holiday greetings and encouragement.”

These gifts are mailed to soldiers in combat areas and delivered personally by individual Soldiers’ Angels in our hospitals. While most soldiers receive tremendous support from home, Soldiers’ Angels strives to ensure that those who need the most attention receive it. To succeed in our mission, Soldiers’ Angels works closely with military clergy and non-commissioned officers who are in the best position to know the personal needs of each soldier.

In November and December the Soldiers’ Angels “Holidays for Heroes” teams from around the nation packaged up 90,000 holiday gift bags, that included 35,000 bags with a stainless steel coffee mug bearing the Soldiers’ Angel logo on it, along with packets of hot chocolate, cider, socks, calling cards and candy.

These numbers do not reflect the holiday support that the servicemembers have received through the adoption program with angels from around the globe sending support all year long.

Since its inception in 2003 Soldiers’ Angels has processed more then 100,000 soldier adoptions and has more then 100,000 angels globally supporting projects from letter writing teams to Project Valour IT, which is a laptop program for wounded soldiers.

For those not familiar with Soldiers’ Angels, it is an all volunteer, non-profit 501 (C)(3) organization dedicated to the support of all our brave men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces in the “War on Terror”. We support Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen deployed throughout the world defending and protecting the freedoms we cherish.

We are able to provide our services to our troops thanks to the generosity of people like you. Donations are accepted all year long on PayPal at the Soldiers' Angels website.

11 December 2006

Prayers Needed

For my Dad, who suffered a stroke this morning. And for my Mom.
Two members of The Greatest Generation.

I'll be flying to New Jersey tomorrow and will post updates when I can.

Thank you.

Update: Friday 15Dec2006 2230 EST

Thank you for your prayers and the many well wishes I've received.

My Dad was moved out of the Intensive Care Unit yesterday. It has been determined he suffered two strokes almost simultaneously, one affecting the speech part of the brain and the other affecting balance/coordination. There is no paralysis.

He was able to eat for the first time Wednesday evening after tests determined his swallowing reflexes were functioning. When we went to visit him before he was transferred to the regular ward, we found him sitting in a chair eating his lunch.

Since the meal included meatloaf and vanilla ice cream we knew he must have selected it himself ;-)

He's experiencing a certain amount of confusion and mixing up some of his words, but doing his best to communicate. He was grilling my Mom yesterday about when he can come home, and kept saying a word she couldn't understand. Then he started talking about a birthday.

"Whose birthday?", asked my Mom. She gave him a piece of paper to try and write it down, although his writing the day before consisted of nothing but squiggly lines.

In clear block letters he wrote, "GOD".

God's birthday. He wants to come home by Christmas.

Update: Wednesday 20Dec2006 1105 CET

My thanks again to all of you. Your prayers and kind words have meant a lot to us during this very difficult time.

My Dad is making very good progress and should be released from the hospital today. We had a bit of a scare over the weekend when he ran a temperature for a day and an x-ray showed possible fluid in the lungs, but that cleared up quickly.

He'll be going to rehab for about 3 weeks before coming home, so we've been busy selecting a facility that best meets his needs. Continuing the therapy started in the hospital is crucial for continued improvement.

Numbers are a bit of a problem, as is writing, but he's able to speak in complete sentences now and is much less confused. In fact, the other night he explained to my sister where he hid the Christmas presents he had bought for my Mom. He wants my sister to wrap them for him.

We are very encouraged and incredibly thankful for his recovery so far. The change over the past week is nothing short of amazing.

One of the most important factors for my Dad's positive development to date was the administration of a drug called tPA, which must be done within 3 hours of the CVA (cerebrovascular accident). For this reason it is critical to get immediate treatment for the patient, preferably at a hospital with a dedicated "stroke attack team". I encourage everyone to know which hospital(s) in their area specialize in this treatment and make sure patients are brought to that facility regardless of where the patient's physicians practice. You can sort out the doctors later.

tPA is not appropriate for all patients or for all types of strokes. It is also considered controversial by some and is not without risk. But when appropriate, can make a huge difference in the patient's neurological outcome.

We still have a long way to go. But as I said before, things look very encouraging and for that we're extremely thankful.

10 December 2006

Accepting the Idea of Victory

"A country that often blamed itself more in victory than defeat was showing manifestations of a terminal illness, conducting postbellum hearings to assess blame in the midst of a war for its survival."

Friday's featured article on the Wall Street Journal's editorial page is called Our Unceasing Ambivalence, by Shelby Steele.

He discusses America's reluctance to take on the responsibility of a superpower, our fear of being seen as colonialists, and how that makes us ambivalent toward the idea of victory in Iraq.

He continues by reminding us of the nature of the enemy we face,

Islamic extremism is an ideology of menace. It empowers those who, but for menace, would languish in the world's disregard. The dark achievement of bin Laden, Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad, names we know only because of their association to menace, is that they have used menace to make their people visible in the world, to bring them back into the scheme of history. And they are greatly loved for this. If their achievements follow from evil rather than from good, this is a small thing. Worse than evil is invisibility.

And then concludes with another reminder - of our responsibility to victory in Iraq.

For every reason, from the humanitarian to the geopolitical to the military, Iraq is a war that America must win in the hegemonic, even colonial, sense. It is a test of our civilization's commitment to the good against the alluring notion of menace-as-power that has gripped so much of the Muslim world.

Today America is a danger to the world in its own right, not because we are a powerful bully but because we don't fully accept who we are. We rush to war as a superpower protecting the world from menace, then leave the battle before winning as a show of what, humility? We confuse our enemies, discouraging them one minute and encouraging them the next.

Could it be that our enemies are really paper tigers made formidable by our unceasing ambivalence? And could it be that the greater good is in both the idea and the reality of American victory?

"In the real monster battles of the war, they had won every time. But they now somehow felt more demoralized than the enemy, which had suffered many more losses...

That the assembly exiled, executed, or fined almost every notable leader did not make them more accountable as much as timid and prone to second-guessing.

So the country did not often learn from its mistakes but almost always scared leaders into being too cautious or reckless, their decisions based on anticipating what the voters might approve on any particular day."

- Both paraphrased from Victor David Hanson's "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War."

08 December 2006

Morale and our Mission

This piece was contributed by reader Robert Connolly, whom I'm also proud to call a friend.

Most of the emails that I get from Marines in the field are wonderful: efficient, friendly, sincere thank-yous from senior NCOs and more senior officers. Until the last year, I didn’t personally know anyone deployed in Iraq fitting that description, but in the past year I have met a few. To a man (yes, they are all in combat arms), they are what any civilized society would hope to have leading their sons and daughters in the terrible business of conducting a war. I have come to look forward to getting three sentences from these men, mostly confirmation that another care package arrived and their Marines were ‘feeling the love’ from back home.

Yesterday, I responded to one of those emails from a very senior Marine NCO by explaining a little of what we have been doing (i.e., how did it happen that you got this care package from me). I always try to make a couple of points with these men: 1) the professionalism displayed by our Marines is a source of great pride, and 2) we are aware that much of what they do which is good is not being reported (i.e., we know the news is slanted). Most of the time, I don’t get an email back. That’s generally because these men have another job which occupies their time and energy (and I stress that their families are more important than strangers trying to help with morale).

This time was different. This senior Marine wrote back to say: ”Glad to hear that you care. So many people don't.” I was quite taken aback by this message. Its directness wasn’t surprising, but the tone was disturbing to me. It was completely out of step with what I usually hear.

I pondered this for most of the day, wondering what could lie behind this. The obvious explanations did not fit: there were no fatalities in this unit and there was no other public bad news. True, it could be that I was seeing the consequences of fatigue, the cumulative effects of a raft of minor problems, or other issues that probably won’t matter in the long run. Still, after dozens and dozens and dozens of these emails, all from Marines in roughly comparable settings, this one stood apart.

It occurred to me later that I may have been seeing something that has been noted by many others who interact with Marines and soldiers in the field: what happens back home affects Marines and soldiers in the field. So, what’s happened lately? A casual tour of the blogs which cover such matters shows a litany of serious negativity:

  • Distortions of a Marine colonel’s report on Anbar province

  • Leaks of additional classified documents

  • Mounting evidence of derelict performance by a major news service

  • Speculation about the Iraq Study Group report and its recommendations.

  • Then, a plausible explanation jumped out: this email came 24 hours after this Marine’s likely new civilian boss, Robert Gates, said that the military wasn’t winning the war in Iraq. Now, the truth is that the headlines trumpeted this, but the Secretary-designate’s views are a bit more nuanced than that. From an MSNBC report,

    At the outset of an afternoon session of questions about Iraq and other subjects, Gates began by telling the committee he wanted to amplify on his remark about not winning in Iraq. He did not withdraw the remark but said, "I want to make clear that that pertains to the situation in Iraq as a whole."

    He said he did not want U.S. troops to think he believes they are being unsuccessful in their assigned missions.

    "Our military wins the battles that we fight," Gates said. "Where we're having our challenges, frankly, are in the areas of stabilization and political developments and so on."

    Perhaps this Marine only caught the headlines, or perhaps he was too busy ‘winning the battles’ in his area to have time to scour the testimony. Either way, it doesn’t seem far-fetched that our Marines and soldiers might have come to the point where they are wondering what the hell is going on back home.

    I am not near smart enough to know how to answer that question with authority. I don’t think I have run across anyone who is that smart.

    I do think there is something we can do about it, however. If you know a Marine, soldier, airman, or sailor in harm’s way, take the 10-15 minutes it will require to put a pen to paper (or type an email) and assure them of your personal support. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to happen. (These folks are good, but they cannot read your mind from 8,000 miles away.) Your note will do more good than you can imagine, and it has, I believe, a much more powerful impact on morale than reports in the MSM.

    If you don’t know who to write to, go to Marty Horn’s AnySoldier.com website, pick a PFC or SGT, and send them a note. Alternatively, go to Soldiers' Angels and adopt a soldier. If you don’t know what to say, then the nice people at Xerox have created a way for you to do this without having to use your own words. It isn’t hard, and you won’t get back a critique of your efforts from a soldier or Marine.

    In January 1951, Gen. Matthew Ridgway took over the 8th Army in Korea, and noting the morale problems there, he wrote and had distributed to the entire force a document entitled, “Why We Are Here.” It addressed the difficulties that soldiers and Marines in the field might have had in understanding the purpose of their terrible exertions.

    I don’t think we need that now. This Marine’s closing sentence in his email to me speaks to the differences between morale in Korea at that time and in our force in Iraq: “My boys are doing a great job though and we will continue the best way we know how.”

    I have to go work on something to say to this Marine and his boys. Will you do the same?

    Bob can be reached via email or you may leave him a comment below.

    07 December 2006

    Landstuhl Medical Staff Honored for Extraordinary Treatment of Injured Canadian Soldiers

    Candace and Wendy wrote to tell me about this, which I found at The Torch via The Armorer.

    U.S. military hospital exceeds 'call of duty' with Canadians: Hillier

    Canada's top soldier paid tribute to a U.S. military hospital in Germany on Wednesday, saying it gave excellent medical care to more than 100 Canadian troops wounded in Afghanistan.

    Gen. Rick Hillier, the chief of defence staff, presented the staff of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl with a special Canadian Forces Unit Commendation.

    "They went above and beyond the call of duty," Hillier told CBC News on Wednesday after the ceremony.

    "What we saw here in Landstuhl from which our soldiers benefited was the best characteristics of humankind. We saw men and women, doctors and nurses and specialists at the hospital, who looked after our soldiers on the worst days of their lives. They looked after them as if they were their own."

    At least 110 injured Canadian soldiers have been flown to the centre for treatment since Canada began its mission in Afghanistan in early 2002. Of those, about 100 have gone to the hospital in the past year.

    Three Canadians soldiers who were treated at Landstuhl — Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, Cpl. Jeffrey Bailey and Pte. William Salikin — attended the ceremony where Hillier presented the award. All three soldiers, who have recovered from their injuries, were wounded in a January suicide bomb attack that killed Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry.

    SAG readers may remember the three from this post, and our joint effort with Candace of Waking Up On Planet X to generate messages of support for their families during their stay in Germany.

    Hillier said the hospital deserved the recognition.

    "They treated them well. They gave them world-class medical care, but most importantly, as our soldiers have told me, they gave that treatment with compassion. They are remembered by our soldiers with great affection."

    Hillier said the three soldiers who attended the ceremony are living proof of the care provided at the hospital.

    "As the staff here told me, they often don't get to see the effect of their work in the longer term. To have those three soldiers return and to be getting on with their lives and to be so energetic and irrepressible, was inspirational to the staff here at the hospital and it was a great chance for those three men and their families to thank the staff for their work they had done on their behalf."

    From the Canadian Forces Press Release:

    “We have had the honour and pleasure of treating our Canadian brothers and sisters in arms, giving them the same high level of care that we provide our own wounded sons and daughters, said U.S. Colonel W. Bryan Gamble, Commander LRMC. It is an extreme tribute and privilege to accept this award from the Canadian Forces, on behalf of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, ” he said.

    Proud to stand with you, Canada!

    Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941

    Sailors in a motor launch rescue a survivor from the water alongside the sunken USS West Virginia during or shortly after the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor. USS Tennessee is inboard of the sunken battleship.

    Note extensive distortion of West Virginia's lower midships superstructure, caused by torpedoes that exploded below that location.

    Also note 5"/25 gun, still partially covered with canvas, boat crane swung outboard and empty boat cradles near the smokestacks, and base of radar antenna atop West Virginia's foremast.

    USS Arizona sunk and burning furiously, 7 December 1941. Her forward magazines had exploded when she was hit by a Japanese bomb.

    At left, men on the stern of USS Tennessee are playing fire hoses on the water to force burning oil away from their ship.

    USS Maryland alongside the capsized USS Oklahoma. USS West Virginia is burning in the background.

    The wrecked destroyers USS Downes and USS Cassin in Drydock One at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, soon after the end of the Japanese air attack. Cassin has capsized against Downes.

    USS Pennsylvania is astern, occupying the rest of the drydock. The torpedo-damaged cruiser USS Helena is in the right distance, beyond the crane. Visible in the center distance is the capsized USS Oklahoma, with USS Maryland alongside. Smoke is from the sunken and burning USS Arizona, out of view behind Pennsylvania. USS California is partially visible at the extreme left.

    * * *

    The Attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise aerial attack by the Japanese on the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy and its defending Army Air Corps and Marine defensive squadrons. Pearl Harbor was one of a number of military and naval installations which were attacked, including those on the other side of the island.

    Of 8 American battleships in the harbor, the attack resulted in 1 destroyed, 2 sunk at their moorings, 1 capsized, 1 beached and 3 damaged but afloat.

    The attack severely damaged 9 other warships, destroyed 188 aircraft, and killed 2,403 Americans, including 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians.

    All Official U.S. Navy Photographs, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    06 December 2006

    "Political change doesn't win wars... Only winning wars wins wars."

    Some plain words and common sense from John Podhoretz in yesterday's NY Post:

    The most common cliché about the war in Iraq is now this: We didn't have a plan, and now everything is in chaos; we didn't have a plan, and now we can't win.

    This is entirely wrong. We did have a plan - the problem is that the plan didn't work. And of course we can win - we just have to choose to do so.

    The problem with our plan is that it wasn't actually a military plan.

    We thought a political process inside Iraq would make a military push toward victory against a tripartite foe - Saddamist remnants, foreign terrorists and anti-American Shiites - unnecessary.

    Yes, we'd stay in Iraq and fight the bad guys when we had to, which seemed mostly to be when they decided to attack us first. Our resolve was intended to give the Iraqi people the sense that they were being given control of their future, and to give Iraqi politicians the sense that they had a chance to forge a new kind of country in which everybody could prosper.

    Podhoretz goes on to say that the plan failed for two reasons:

    First, because we chose political rather than military options at crucial junctures, making us look weak.

    Second, because the Iraqis haven't stepped up to the plate.

    He concludes we need a new plan:

    But the Baker-Hamilton advice isn't a new plan. The Democrats don't have a new plan. The only plan that will work is a plan to face the tripartite enemy - the Saddamists, the foreign terrorists and the Shiite sectarians - and bring them to heel.

    Kill as many bad guys as we can, with as many troops as we can muster.

    Which by the way jibes with what just about everything I've been told by the many, many deployed troops I meet on a regular basis.

    It's worth your time to read the whole thing.

    Quote of the Day

    When asked Tuesday when he expected Russia and China to begin supporting the resolution, the American participant in the discussions, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, replied: "This afternoon would be a good time."

    The U.S. and France were hoping Tuesday's closed-door talks in Paris would finally produce a resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for defying an Aug. 31 U.N. deadline to halt enrichment.

    The discussions now move to the United Nations in New York.

    Mort Zuckerman in U.S. News & World Report:
    Some say we should accept that Iran will become a nuclear power and seek consolation in the doctrine of mutual deterrence that worked in the Cold War. Such advice fails to account for the vehemence of the religious and ideological fanaticism that motivates Iran.
    The fundamental assumption of mutual deterrence – that both sides value their lives – simply doesn't apply here.
    ( ... )
    The West will have to decide what is more dangerous – to attack the infrastructure of the Iranians sooner rather than later or to deal with an Iranian nuclear capability after the fact. The choices are not between good and bad but between bad and worse – and the longer we delay, the more dire those bad and worse choices will become.

    Somebody remind me again when these talks started?

    04 December 2006

    Soldiers' Angels Mourns Lance Cpl. Michael A. Schwarz

    From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

    We have a fallen hero from Soldiers' Angels, Lance Cpl. Michael A. Schwarz.

    Mike, 20, of Carlstadt, N.J., died Nov. 27 from wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.

    He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

    Mike is survived by his parents, Kenneth & Pamela Schwarz.


    "He just loved his country. He loved the idea of being a soldier and he loved being a Marine," said the Rev. Donald M. Pitches, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Carlstadt, who baptized the borough native some two decades ago.

    Pitches described Schwarz as a 6-footer built "like a string bean."

    "He's an all-American boy. He was happy-go-lucky, fun-loving and he loved the outdoors," Pitches said, describing how Schwarz reveled in his jaunts along muddy trails in his customized Jeep.

    "Mike, that was his dream, to be in the Marines," said Jim Bononno, one of Schwarz's high school teachers. "That was one of his goals. Any kid who joins the military during a war, that says something special about him."

    Please take a moment to read the Marine Lance Cpl. Michael A. Schwarz tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

    Remember our Heroes.

    27 November 2006

    Battle Buddy

    I come up the stairs and see him sitting on the top step, head in his hands, crying. I sit down next to him.

    He's sobbing uncontrollably, shoulders heaving, gasping for air. Tears and snot drop from his face onto the floor between his feet. I put my arm around him and bury my face in his shoulder.

    Another Soldier with his arm in a sling comes and stands next to us.

    After a while the sobbing slows, his breathing becomes regular and deep. He's tired.

    "Ready to go out for a smoke?", asks the Soldier with the sling. "We can talk."

    I look up at him. "You his battle?"

    He nods.

    24 November 2006


    Buck Sergeant's coming home.

    From THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD: A Buck Sargent Epilogue.

    The loss of a good man can make one question the why
    Spurring a search for the answer for what did they die?
    On behalf of ungrateful nations have our kin repeatedly bled
    Over countless generations spanning acreage of war dead,
    But for those who have fought for it hath freedom truly been tasted,
    On account of what otherwise would most assuredly amount
    Mere killing time well wasted.

    Have a safe journey home, Buck Sergeant.

    H/T Greyhawk

    23 November 2006

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Just a regular day in this part of the world, but my thoughts are with all who are celebrating together with family, friends, and buddies.

    I'm thankful for all of you... who understand that we are blessed to have something worth fighting for.

    22 November 2006

    God Bless Texas!

    500 phone cards donated to Soldiers' Angels Germany for the patients at Landstuhl.

    A couple of months ago I was contacted by Cathy Frederic of Plano, Texas about a trip she was planning to Germany. Her Dad had been stationed here in the 60s and her sister was born at Landstuhl hospital.

    "Knowing the important role that Landstuhl plays now in supporting our wounded soldiers I couldn't go to visit without bringing a gift and a Thank You for the soldiers. I didn't want to bring a small gift either so I started asking friends and workmates if they wanted to help. And they did want to help," Cathy explains.

    "I got immediate positive responses, so I asked more people. I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to help."

    So many wanted to help that Cathy was able to purchase 500 phone cards and collect 200 letters and cards of encouragement.

    Many individuals contributed to this effort but there are some groups that stood out in their level of concern and commitment, according to Cathy.

    The most outstanding sources of support were:

    - The Vietnamese Initiative at Texas Instruments Dallas, Texas
    - Spring Creek Women's Initiative at Texas Instruments Dallas, Texas
    - Stephen Ministry at Grace Outreach Center Plano, Texas
    - Children's Church at Grace Outreach Center Plano, Texas

    There are many Diversity Initiatives at TI. Cathy, for example, is a member of two, TI WIN, the Texas Instruments Women's Initiative Network and CVI, the Christian Values Initiative.

    But the most impressive response that Cathy received from anyone about the project was from the members of the Vietnamese Initiative, which she describes as "swift and decisive". They took it on as their own project and in 2 week's time had raised over $600 to contribute.


    According to one of their members, "Many of us came to US as refugees between 1975 and 1987. We understand very well the values of freedom and democracy which we risked our lives to seek. We really appreciate US soldiers who leave behind their beloved families and a dream country to fight for freedom and democracy around the world. We value their sacrifice."

    Cathy said it made her stop and wonder if someday we'll have Iraqi friends who value, appreciate, and love America as these new citizens do.

    On behalf of the patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Soldiers' Angels would like to thank Cathy for her leadership, and each and every donor for their generosity. Your display of patriotism and compassion is an inspiration to us all, and has touched me deeply.

    Our nation is truly blessed in its fighting men and women and those who support them.

    I know what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.

    Cathy, husband Pat, and Pat's cousin Diana outside the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center at Landstuhl.

    20 November 2006

    So what are you doing on December 14th?

    Christmas at Arlington National Cemetery

    Remember this? How would you like to help out this year?

    Worcester Wreath invites you to attend the annual wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery or in your local area.

    Since 1992 volunteers have placed wreaths donated by the Worcester Wreath Company at the headstones of over 5,000 of America's honored dead.

    Morrill Worcester initially brought 4,000 surplus wreaths from the holiday decoration company he owns to Arlington. Every year since then he has driven to Arlington in December with a trailer full of wreaths and dozens of volunteers to place them throughout the cemetery.

    This year, Mr. Worcester hopes to expand the Arlington Wreath Project into Wreaths Across America, and place memorial wreaths at more than 230 State and National Cemeteries and Veterans Monuments across the country.

    As Mr. Worcester told an Air Force reporter in 2005: "We couldn't do anything in this country if it wasn't for the people who gave their lives to protect us. It's a great honor to be able to come here and pay our respects."

    Please visit the Wreaths Across America website for more information about volunteering to place wreaths at one of the locations, to help organize pending locations, to make a donation, or to help in any way.

    Wreaths Across America Mission:
    Remember - Honor - and Teach

    Remember the fallen;
    Honor those who serve;
    Teach our children the value of freedom.

    Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post.

    19 November 2006

    "It looks like a normal house from the outside... but inside, there's a LOT going on"

    That was the comment from a boy to his schoolmates after visiting Sara Ehrlich's home.

    Through flyers and word of mouth, Sara had spread the word before Halloween within her New Jersey community that extra candy could be dropped off at her home and she would send it to our deployed troops.

    "If you get the word out in advance and contact a local elementary school (2 schools, a boy scout troop, and neighbors have donated this pile) you WILL get people who are eager to help", explains Sara.

    Enough candy for an Army :-)

    When several of the parents and children from one of the schools that collected the candy came by to drop it off, Sara showed them the rest of the "operation" - the room where she fills packages and stores the magazines, books, snacks, and personal care items she regularly sends to our Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    A few days later, one of the teachers stopped by with even more candy and reported what one of the boys had told other kids in the class after his visit to Sara's home.

    I guess the teacher had to see it personally ;-)


    Sara doesn't buy all this stuff herself, although she does claim "Power Shopper" status. Through creative ideas like the Halloween project she is able to offer others the opportunity to get involved.

    Hygiene items

    She has obtained permission to place a box in her local supermarket with a flyer listing items deployed troops enjoy. Shoppers can simply drop items into the box, which Sara checks every couple of days. Schools and scouts are always interested in community service projects, and a simple note on a box placed near her front door asking for magazines and books generates lots of donations.

    Books and magazines

    Sara is a long-time member of Soldier's Angels, an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to making sure "No Soldier Goes Unloved". One of her jobs there is to review the daily submissions from deployed Soldiers requesting "adoption".

    "When I see that a Soldier or a unit has requested some additional support I think to myself, 'well, I guess I can send one more package.'"

    Sara is a Proud Army Mom whose son is currently serving his second deployment to Iraq.

    To find out more about Soldiers' Angels, please visit our main website.

    17 November 2006

    14 November 2006

    The Best Kid's Letter to Wounded Soldier Ever

    Dear Sold Wounded Hero Man,

    Thank you for fighting for me. I hope you get better soon so you can get back out there and fight for all of us again.

    (smiley face)

    Don't worry,
    be happy.

    The huge grins this letter generated among the inpatients were priceless.

    13 November 2006

    In Your Head

    In your head, in your head they're still fighting,
    With their tanks and their bombs,
    And their bombs and their guns.
    In your head, in your head, they are dying...

    Yeah, there's a story behind this I won't go into. This is for Mike, and for Charles, and for all the guys who have to live with what's in their heads.

    Because nobody hates war more than a Soldier.

    (Not that the Cranberries would know, but whatever.)

    Pilot Shot Down Over Laos 35 Years Ago to be Buried at Arlington Today

    Air Force 1st Lt. James "Larry" Hull - AP Photo

    1st LT. James Larry Hull, recipient of the Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, Purple Heart, and nine Air Medals, will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery today, November 13, 2006. He was shot down over Laos in 1971 and his remains were recovered in May of this year after years of negotiations with the Laotian government.

    Pilot shot down over Laos to be buried:
    [Hull's wife] knew her husband was flying over the Ho Chi Minh Trail and that the flights involved reconnaissance. What she didn't know was that he'd volunteered for the highly classified "Prairie Fire" unit, where he commanded the planes and helicopters that dropped Special Forces teams behind enemy lines and pulled fighters from the jungle to safety.

    Unlike some other reconnaissance flights that typically flew no lower than 1,500 feet, these pilots flew as low as 50 feet, sometimes so low that tree limbs scraped the bellies of their planes.

    "We had to find these guys in the jungle and we had to get right at the tree tops," said Tom Yarborough, a retired Air Force colonel who trained Hull and flew with him until the day he died.

    On Feb. 19, 1971, Hull's unit was searching for the crew of an American helicopter that had been shot down. Yarborough had been flying above the soldiers who were on the ground fighting their way toward the wreckage, and in the afternoon it was Hull's turn.

    "There was a heavy machine gun up on the slope; it had fired a couple of times," said Yarborough, who now works in Arlington, Va. "I told Larry about that gun, said, 'He's up there and he's firing.' That was the gun that shot him down."

    The 25-year-old pilot died instantly, his body trapped behind the engine of his plane. A sergeant with him also died.

    When a recovery team arrived at the scene, they were able to pull the body of the other man from the wreckage, Yarborough recalled. But with the enemy closing in and Hull's body pinned inside the cockpit, there was only time to grab one of Hull's dog tags and leave.

    Flying over the site a few days later, Yarborough spotted enemy soldiers at the crash site. He could only imagine they were taking his friend's belongings.

    Angered, he led another attempt to recover Hull's body. But when he shot a smoke rocket to mark the site for other members of the team, he accidentally struck the plane. It burst into flames.

    With that, Yarborough had to do something unthinkable — leave his comrade's body behind.

    1st Lt. James "Larry" Hull information and tribute site.
    COMING HOME, Reflections by Retired Colonel Tom Yarborough

    "You should have seen the sky today," Larry would exult whenever he went flying, training for his wings. "You should have seen the sky."

    Welcome home, 1st Lt. Larry Hull.

    12 November 2006

    Military Bloggers Raise $180,000 Online for Wounded


    Military Bloggers Raise $180,000 Online for Wounded

    Grassroots Fundraiser for Valour-IT Provides Wounded with Voice-activated Laptops

    Pasadena, CA (November 13, 2006): Divided into “competing” teams representing Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force, military and civilian bloggers spent the days leading up to Veterans Day 2006 raising over $180,000 to aid severely wounded troops. The funds raised will allow Soldiers’ Angels Project Valour-IT to continue its work of supplying voice-activated laptops to the wounded.

    The Valour-IT fundraising competition is a yearly online event. The first friendly competition raised $100,000 in 10 days last year. This year it was extended to 13 days and the total raised, when donations by mail are counted, is expected to exceed $210,000. Depending on vendor discounts, this year’s total should fund the purchase and shipment of over 300 laptops.

    Valour-IT’s inspiration, Army Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss, writes from personal experience:

    I know how much it means to the guys who are stuck lying on their backs, unable to use their hands to so much as scratch…I know how humbling it is, how humiliating it feels. And I know how much better I felt, how amazingly more functional I felt [when I received a voice-activated laptop]. I can't wait to do the same, to give that feeling to another soldier…

    Project Valour-IT began in August 2005 after Captain Ziegenfuss suffered serious hand wounds in Iraq. Friends realized how much having a voice-activated laptop could help and encourage him as he healed, and an idea was born. Valour-IT has since supplied over 650 laptops to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from severe injuries in military hospitals and at home.

    About Project Valour-IT
    Project Valour-IT is a project of Soldier's Angels. For more information, see the Valour-IT website. Soldier's Angels is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing aide and comfort to thousands of members of the armed forces and their families through care packages, help for the wounded, and support for military families. For more information visit the Soldier’s Angels website.

    E-mail: sbsmusik@yahoo.com

    # # #

    Soldiers' Angels Mourns 2nd Lt. Mark Gelina

    From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

    We have a fallen hero from Soldiers' Angels, 2nd Lt. Mark C. Gelina.

    Mark, 33, of Moberly, Mo., died November 4 from a non-hostile incident in Al Anbar province, Iraq.

    He was assigned to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

    Mark is survived by his wife, Stacy & their three children.


    Gelina graduated from Missouri University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, was a member of the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, and a 10-year veteran of the Marine Corps.

    At MU, Gelina was president of the Semper Fi society, planned the Navy/Marine Corps ball and mentored other students. He also trained and led teams in drill, rifle and pistol skills at competitions around the country.

    “Just about his entire tenure here spoke to leadership,” said one of Gelina's former professors, Capt. J. Basil Read. “He was a Marine’s Marine. He was the type of leader that other Marines wanted to emulate.”

    Read said that to his knowledge, Gelina was the first MU alum from the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program to have been killed in Iraq.

    “He got to do what he wanted to do, which was go lead Marines,” Read said.

    The Patriot Guard Riders rode on 10, 11, 12 November and will ride again on Monday for 2nd Lt. Gelina.

    I will post a link to the Marine 2nd Lt. Mark Gelina tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog when it becomes available.

    Update: Please take a moment to read the Marine 2nd Lt. Mark Gelina tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

    Remember our Heroes.

    11 November 2006

    In Honor of Our Veterans, Past and Present

    If here today the cloud of thunder lours
    Tomorrow it will hie on far behests;
    The flesh will grieve on other bones than ours
    Soon, and the soul will mourn in other breasts.

    The troubles of our proud and angry dust
    Are from eternity, and shall not fail.
    Bear them we can, and if we can we must.
    Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.

    - A.E. Housman

    Today my thoughts, prayers, and gratitude are with all of the Veterans whom I know, all those whom I have known throughout my life, and in particular with two young men now far from the battlefield but still fighting. God bless you and your families.

    * * *

    This is the last day of the Valour-IT blogger fundraising competition. As a Soldiers' Angel who has met hundreds of Wounded Warriors and as a member of the Marine Valour-IT blogging team, I would like to thank all of our donors and bloggers for their generous support.

    If you haven't donated yet, there's still time: Just click on the PayPal button up to the right. Thank you.

    10 November 2006

    "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference... "

    ... the Marines don't have that problem."

    - President Ronald Reagan, 1985

    Happy Birthday!

    (Not only did I get this post up late due to the birthday dinner I attended, but it is also semi-tipsy blogging. Hope I don't wake up tomorrow and find that I've posted an Army logo with this or something... )

    09 November 2006

    Valour-IT: All gave some....

    ... and some gave all.

    Now it's your turn.

    Please help support our Wounded Warriors by donating here or by sending a check to:

    Soldiers Angels
    Valour-IT Marine Fund
    1792 E. Washington Blvd
    Pasadena, Ca 91104

    Thank you and Semper Fi !

    08 November 2006

    The Kindess of Strangers and Angels

    Soldiers' Angels is running low on Blankets of Hope, which are included in our First Response Backpacks. We are currently distributing 360 backpacks each month to wounded and ill troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Germany.

    I put out a mailing which has starting snowballing. Here's an example from Lauren, who together with her friend Catherine sent 9 blankets, and then passed the word.

    Well, I sent your call to provide extra blankets of hope to my lovely daughter... She forwarded the note to a friend who is part of her sorority and who is still at Syracuse Uni. Yesterday the girls of the sorority made 20 blankets which are being shipped today...

    But it doesn't stop there.

    Good morning! Thought I'd share part of an email from Davia who organised her sorority sisters at Syracuse to make 20 Blankets of Hope -

    "Another sister in the house was shipping the blankets out for me because I did not have time. As she boxed them up and started to walk out of the house, the UPS delivery man happened to walk in at the same time.

    He asked what all the boxes were for, and after she explained they were being sent to soldiers he took all of the boxes and shipped them for free... "

    Sharon and the women of Bethel Baptist Church sent 17.

    Mary Beth simply replied, "Okeedokee, MaryAnn."

    MoJo wrote, "MaryAnn, Our group has several quilts that will ready in the next week or so."

    From Maureen: "Good Morning MaryAnn. Great minds must think alike, I’m sending out a box tomorrow. I’m also going to forward your e-mail to all my crochet buddies. Hopefully that will inspire them to stitch faster... :-)"

    Larisa: "Will get the ones I'm working on done as quickly as I can and get them sent out. I will also check with the ladies of my church to see if we can get another group sewing circle together ASAP."

    "Hi Maryann, I got the e-mail about the urgency of the need for blankets. I have one tied and one I am beginning to cut out. Susan"

    "Hi! My name is Terrie and I am new to Blankets of Hope. I don't sew but some friends do so I am buying the material. Hooah!"

    "Dear Mary Ann: I have sent 12 fleece blankets today. Rita"

    "Hi MaryAnn, I just wanted to let you know that we have sent out four packages of handmade blankets. It is such a wonderful project for all of us to do, as we feel we can at least make a little difference. Susan" (project coordinator at a retirement home)

    Dorothy: "Hi Maryann, Mailed another box of 2 dozen quilts on Saturday..."

    "Hi MaryAnn, I have a link up on my front page. I also posted your email on some online sewing communities that I belong to. Looks like a good response will be forthcoming. God bless you and all the angels. Tink"

    "On the way! I just mailed you several quilts and put in a few get well cards that the lady in my daughters office wrote. Ann Marie"

    "Dear Maryann, Hi my name is Cathy and just read about the need for blankets, I love to quilt. I'm homebound and have had several strokes so if I could do something for these young men it would be an honor..."

    Robin's Blanket

    "Okay, I am going to find time to make a blanket this weekend. I can do the "no-sew" blankets. Robin"

    If you would like to make Blankets of Hope, click here or send me an email for complete information.

    07 November 2006

    Marines at Landstuhl Start Birthday Celebrations Early

    Sgt. Nibya Contreras cutting the Marines' Birthday cake at Landstuhl. Photo: Steve Mraz / S&S

    Although the 231st birthday of the USMC isn't until Friday, the Marines at Landstuhl carried out their traditional cake cutting ceremony on Monday.

    Maj. Gen. Andrew Davis of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe attended the event along with the Landstuhl Marines, some of their patients, and guests from the other service branches.

    Sgt. Contreras is with the Marine Liaision office, with whom we work to help support our Wounded Warriors.

    Steve's full story at S&S here.

    06 November 2006

    Army Stoopid

    The Armorer linked today to this video called "Army Stupid" created by Point Five which gave me the best laugh I've had in days.

    That got me in the mood to view the original "Army Strong" again, so here's that one too.

    Now that you're all fired up, I don't want you to forget that this blog is a member of the Valour-IT Marines Team, so hit that button up in the right hand corner if you haven't yet made your contribution to this great cause. Thank you!

    From the Marines at Landstuhl


    Please pass this on to all the folks that have been so generous in their giving to our wounded Marines here at Landstuhl, Germany.

    All of the foot warmers, hats, gloves, candies, popcorn, books, movies, clothes, phone cards, gift cards, blankets, and too many other things to name, they have been given out and used with great appreciation.

    Our inpatients and outpatients are all being treated with the generous gifts that so many people have donated and given up their time and money to present to us. It makes their transition easier, and all of the generosity and outpouring of love is overwhelming.

    Here at the Marine Liaision, we want to thank each and every one of you who has donated so generously of your time and money. It's people like you who make the world a better place!! As always, we can only hope that we don't have people come through, but when they do, we shower them with the gifts that you have sent our way.

    For those of you who don't know, we are getting ready to celebrate 231st birthday of the Marine Corps. Our official birthday is on 10 November, and today we are celebrating with our cake cutting ceremony here at Landstuhl.

    Again, thank you for your generosity, we appreciate all you do for us.

    Semper Fidelis,

    MSgt Robin Thomas
    NCOIC, Marine Liaision HLT

    My thanks to all of you for your generous support of our mission at Soldiers' Angels Germany. What you do makes a difference... one Marine and Soldier at a time.

    Semper Fi and Happy Birthday, Marines!

    04 November 2006


    So I'm visiting some patients this evening and one has the latest issue of S&S showing the "Halp Us Jon Carry" photo.

    The conversation in the room went something like this:

    "&$)=§#... "

    "$§)$? #& *)"=)/$???"

    "#$§+$ &"#+*!!"


    Feel free to fill in the blanks yourself.

    Valour-IT Fundaising Competition in Need of a Little "Fun"

    So the Marine Team Leader wants some FUN?? Some "motivational posters"? You got it, Cassandra.

    The Valour-IT Marine blogging team is not about to let those other "support" services win this competition!

    We're raising money to provide laptops with voice-controlled software to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering with hand and arm injuries or amputations at major military medical centers in the United States and Germany.

    You can donate via the PayPal button to the right or by sending a check to:

    Soldiers Angels
    Valour-IT Marine Fund
    1792 E. Washington Blvd
    Pasadena, Ca 91104

    Thank you and Semper Fi!

    01 November 2006

    A Cry for Help

    Not only are they smart, and brave, but they can actually pull off a joke without "botching" it.


    "The members of the United States military are plenty smart... and plenty brave... and the Senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology."

    - George Bush today in Georgia.

    31 October 2006

    Wanna Fight?

    Then join the Marine Valour-IT blogging team.

    We're blogging to raise money for Project Valour-IT which provides laptop computers to our Wounded Warriors recovering in military hospitals.

    If you don't blog, please pass the word to your friends, community groups, colleagues, and your company. Soldiers' Angels is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so donations to the project may be tax deductible and eligible for employer matching funds.

    You can donate via the PayPal button at the right or by sending a check to:

    Soldiers Angels
    Valour-IT Marine Fund
    1792 E. Washington Blvd
    Pasadena, Ca 91104

    Thank you and Semper Fi!

    The is a (more or less) friendly competition amongst the service branches to raise funds, but laptops are of course awarded to all wounded service members who qualify regardless of branch.

    Your Marine Cpl Christopher Trevino

    "When I saw those kids I'd see my kids. And it made me want to help more."

    Chris' mom Rose sent me the link to this story the other day.

    "It came from nowhere," he said. "I remember reaching over to grab the water, maybe not even a foot onto the bridge and hearing a loud bang, almost like an amplified shotgun blast... "

    The blast flipped the vehicle upside down, pinning Trevino and filling the cabin with white smoke from an electrical fire. It could have been a lot worse if the group's corpsman hadn't "done his Incredible Hulk thing," Trevino said. The corpsman kicked open a door, giving room for him and the radioman to scramble to their feet and pull Trevino and his lieutenant out.

    Trevino called his wife, Crystal, a couple of days later to say he was OK, but X-rays soon found the C-7 vertebrae is his neck was fractured and pressing dangerously on an artery. He was flown to a hospital in Germany, and finally returned home last week.
    ( ... )
    To him, Iraq is a country of good and bad, of innocent children and terrorist insurgents, of people who welcome Americans and those who don't.

    Iraqi children "are there in 120-degree-plus weather - no shoes, little clothing. My kids are back here. They have shoes, socks, the whole outfit. They have heat and A/C. They can go get a cold drink if they want to.

    "If we can help (Iraqis) so those kids can have a better life, then I'm all for it."

    Chris and his mom, Rose.

    I wanted to relate a huge thank you to the staff and personnel at Landstuhl as hearing my son say, "Mom don't worry - I'm getting great medical care" gave me a smile at a time I was panicked. I don't know if you can in any way relate this message to the hospital but if you can would you please for me. You can't imagine the relief I felt in knowing my son was in good hands.
    Forever grateful to you,

    Rose Trevino

    Turns out Rose dressed Chris as a Marine for Halloween one year when he was a kid and her husband "blames" her to this day for his choice of career ;-)

    Chris is back home and doing well. The doctors expect him to fully recover within six to nine months.

    Semper Gratus Chris and Family!

    30 October 2006

    This is for...

    John, Matt & Jim, and Curt.

    * * *


    "I, (State your name), swear to sign away 4 years of my life to the UNITED STATES AIR FORCE because I know I couldn't hack it in the Army, because the Marines frighten me, and because I am afraid of water over waist-deep. I swear to sit behind a desk. I also swear not to do any form of real exercise, but promise to defend our bike riding test as a valid form of exercise. I promise to walk around calling everyone by their first name because I find it amusing to annoy the other services.

    I will have a better quality of life than those around me and will, at all times, be sure to make them aware of that fact. After completion of "Basic Training", I will be a lean, mean, donut-eating, Lazy-Boy sitting, civilian-wearing-blue-clothes, Chair-borne Ranger. I will believe I am superior to all others and will make an effort to clean the knife before stabbing the next person in the back. I will annoy those around me, and will go home early every day. So Help Me God!"

    ______________________ Signature ______________________ Date

    * * *


    "I, Rambo, swear to sign away 4 years of my mediocre life to the UNITED STATES ARMY because I couldn't score high enough on the ASVAB to get into the Air Force, I'm not tough enough for the Marines, and the Navy won't take me because I can't swim. I will wear camouflage every day and tuck my trousers into my boots because I can't figure out how to use blousing straps. I promise to wear my uniform 24 hours a day even when I have a date.

    I will continue to tell myself that I am a fierce killing machine because my Drill Sergeant told me I am, despite the fact that the only action I will see is a court-martial for sexual harassment. I acknowledge the fact that I will make E-8 in my first year of service, and vow to maintain that it is because I scored perfect on my PT test. After completion of my "Basic Training" I will attend a different Army school every other month and return knowing less than I did when I left. On my first trip home after Boot Camp, I will walk around like I am cool and propose to my 9th grade sweetheart. I will make my wife stay home because if I let her out she might leave me for a better-looking Air Force guy.

    While at work I will maintain a look of knowledge while getting absolutely nothing accomplished. I will arrive to work every day at 1000 hrs because of morning PT and leave everyday at 1300 to report back to "COMPANY." So Help Me God!"

    ______________________ Signature ______________________ Date

    * * *


    "I, Top Gun, in lieu of going to prison, swear to sign away 4 years of my life to the UNITED STATES NAVY, because I want to hang out with Marines without actually having to BE one of them, because I thought the Air Force was too "corporate," because I didn't want to actually live in dirt like the Army, and because I thought, "Hey, I like to swim... why not?" I promise to wear clothes that went out of style in 1976 and to have my name stenciled on the butt of every pair of pants I own. I understand that I will be mistaken for the Good Humor Man during summer, and for Nazi Waffen SS during the winter. I will strive to use a different language than the rest of the English-speaking world, using words like "deck, bulkhead, cover, geedunk, scuttlebutt, scuttle and head," when I really mean "floor, wall, hat, candy, water fountain, hole in wall and toilet."

    "I will take great pride in the fact that all Navy acronyms, rank, and insignia, and everything else for that matter, are completely different from the other services and make absolutely no sense whatsoever. I will muster, whatever that is, at 0700 every morning unless I am buddy-buddy with the Chief, in which case I will show up around 0930. I vow to hone my coffee cup-handling skills to the point that I can stand up in a kayak being tossed around in a typhoon, and still not spill a drop. I consent to being promoted and subsequently busted at least twice per fiscal year. I realize that, once selected for Chief, I am required to submit myself to the sick, and quite possibly illegal, whims of my newfound "colleagues." So Help Me Neptune!"

    ______________________ Signature ______________________ Date

    * * *


    "I, (pick a name the police won't recognize), swear.. uhhhh.... high- and-tight.... grunt... cammies.... kill.... fix bayonets.... charge.... slash.... dig.... burn.... blowup.... ugh... Air Force women.... beer..... sailors wives..... air strikes.... yes, SIR!.... whiskey.... liberty call.... salute.... Ooorah Gunny.... grenades... women.... OORAH! So Help Me Chesty PULLER!"

    X____________________ Thumb Print

    XX __________________ Teeth Marks

    _____________________ Date

    With best regards from Project Valour-IT Marine blogging team:

    Villainous Company *Team Leader*
    Fuzzilicious Thinking
    Something... and Half of Something
    CatHouse Chat
    A Swift Kick & A Band-Aid
    A Blog For All
    When the Smoke Clears
    Soldiers' Angels Germany
    PC Free Zone
    Flopping Aces
    Straight White Guy
    The Gun Line
    Grim's Hall
    Firm Ground
    MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
    Drunken Wisdom
    Lightning From The Sky
    Cao's blog
    Semper Gratus!
    Iraq War Today
    Soldiers Angel - Holly Aho
    Galactically Stupid

    Second Valour-IT Blogging Fundraiser Competition Begins!

    Today marks the start of the second Valour-IT Blogging Fundraiser Competition, which will continue until Veteran's Day. The "competition" is between blogging teams representing 4 service branches, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to raise a total of $180,000 for Valour-IT.

    All donations go into one fund and will of course be used for members of all service branches.

    Readers of this blog are familiar with Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT.

    The goal is to provide voice-controlled software and laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries or amputations at major military medical centers in the United States and Germany.

    Soldiers' Angels Germany is again a member Marine Valour-IT blogging team, this year headed up by Cassandra of Villainnous Company (thanks, Cassandra!)

    You can donate via the PayPal button on the right, or by sending a check to:

    Soldiers Angels
    Valour-IT Marine Fund
    1792 E. Washington Blvd
    Pasadena, Ca 91104

    Please note "Marine Valour-IT Team" on your check so we get credit for your donation, because we want to WIN this thing!

    Thank you and Semper Fi!

    German-Based 54th Engineer Battalion Returns Home from Ramadi

    The 54th Engineer Battalion has come home.

    While most units spend their time in Iraq staying as far as possible from roadside bombs, the 54th spent a year actively seeking them out.

    And they found them. More than 1,000 of them, said Command Sgt. Maj. Terry L. Defenbaugh, the battalion’s sergeant major.

    Rolling up and down the streets of Ramadi and the volatile Anbar province, performing most of their missions at night, the 54th “provided freedom of maneuver for I Marine Expeditionary Force” and other elements in Multi-National Force-West, Defenbaugh said.

    “We were extremely successful. I don’t really know how to put it, except to say that it was a privilege to serve with this group of heroes,” he said, praising the soldiers and platoon leaders.

    “All the credit goes to the soldiers of the battalion and task force who rolled every night knowing what was waiting for them. And they did it night after night after night.”

    Well Done and Welcome Home!!

    29 October 2006

    Save Your Breath, Lynne

    Here's Lynne Cheney trying to explain the difference between "news" and "terrorist propaganda" to Wolf Blitzer of CNN.

    This is, of course, regarding CNN's broadcast of terrorist-made videos showing American troops being shot by terrorist snipers.

    As we all know, CNN was perfectly aware that the videos were terrorist propaganda because they said so themselves (follow the links in Greyhawk's post for complete background on this story).

    I hadn't posted on the sniper video story for a couple of reasons.

    First, because Greyhawk and others have done a much better job of it than I can.

    And second, because the day after the video was first broadcast I happened to visit a Soldier at Landstuhl hospital who had been medevaced to Germany after being shot by a sniper in Iraq.

    "I don't want to wind you guys up", I said to the Soldier and his two roommates, "but have you heard about.... "

    "The video? Yupp. We've seen it", said all three in unison.

    So these three troops - who had spent the previous couple of days getting shot/blown up, having sugeries, been medevaced to Germany, and then undergone more surgeries - had already seen the video on CNN.


    Now ask yourself... and take a moment to really think about this... How would you have felt standing there in that hospital room?

    Well, I'll tell you how I felt. Ashamed. More ashamed than I've ever felt in my life. Ashamed that we let this happen, ashamed that we have let them down. While they were out there putting it all on the line for us.

    "Funny," said the Marine in the bed next to the Soldier who had taken a .762 round to the gut, "to think I'm lying here in this bed because I was defending their right to broadcast that stuff."

    Well you know what, CNN?

    I don't think it's funny at all.

    Faces of Courage: SGT William Thomas Payne

    The latest in MSNBC's series honoring our military Heroes.

    H/T John at OPFOR.

    27 October 2006

    Soldiers' Angels Mourns CPL David M. Unger

    From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

    We have a fallen hero from Soldiers' Angels, CPL David M. Unger.

    David, 21, and four other Soldiers died Oct. 18 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.

    The soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

    David is survived by his wife, Laura, a son and daughter, and his mother, Diana Pitts, all of Leavenworth, Kansas.


    Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fort Hood Soldiers and their families.

    "The only way I can remember my son is he made everybody laugh," Diana Pitts said. "For almost 22 years, he was the rock of our family."

    The family is cherishing a video he made spoofing "MTV Cribs," which gives viewers an inside look at the plush homes of television and film stars.

    In Unger's version, viewers got an inside look of a shabby-looking grassy patch in Iraq. Unger called the ground "the future bowling alley, golf course, horseshoe arena. It's all gonna go down right here."

    "He was just always just trying to make everybody happy and laugh. That was my child. I just don't know what any of us are going to do without him," said Pitts, who works in the chaplain's office at Fort Leavenworth.

    The Patriot Guard Riders rode on 25, 26 October and will ride again today for CPL Unger.

    Please take a moment to read the Army Cpl. David M. Unger tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

    Remember our Heroes.

    Soldiers' Angels Mourns SPC Nathan J. Frigo

    From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

    We have a fallen hero from Soldiers' Angels, SPC Nathan J. Frigo.

    Nathan, 23, and two other Soldiers died Oct. 17 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.

    The Soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

    Nathan is survived by his parents Maureen Frigo, of Kokomo, and Fred Frigo, of Indianapolis, and his sisters Sarah and Beth.


    Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fort Carson Soldiers and their families.

    Frigo reported for active duty April 2005, and completed his training at Fort Benning, Ga. At that time, he chose the position of infantryman as his military occupation. He had volunteered to serve a four-year tour of duty.

    “He went into the infantry because he wanted to fill the area of greatest need. Army infantry is a very small area of our military”, sais his sister Sarah.

    While many disagree with America being involved militarily in Iraq, Sarah said her brother believed U.S. involvement was not only right, but necessary.

    “Nate would want people to support the troops there and their families. He believed in what he did over there and that we needed to be there,” she explained, “otherwise it would be on our own shores."

    The Patriot Guard Riders will be riding for SPC Frigo today.

    Please take a moment to read the Army Specialist Nathan J. Frigo tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

    Remember our Heroes.

    Soldiers' Angels Mourns SSG Ryan E. Haupt

    From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

    We have a fallen hero from Soldiers' Angels, SSG Ryan E. Haupt.

    Ryan, 24, and two other Soldiers died Oct. 17 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.

    The Soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

    Ryan is survived by his wife, Nannette Byrne-Haupt, and his parents Lynn (Perrie Jay) Forhand and Lance Haupt.


    Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fort Carson Soldiers and their families.

    Haupt arrived at Fort Carson in April 2004 after serving in Korea. He was deployed to Iraq in December for his first tour, which was scheduled to end next month.

    He was a member of the Army's elite sniper section and was posthumously awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

    The Patriot Guard Riders rode for SSG Haupt on 25 October.

    Please take a moment to read the Army Staff Sgt. Ryan E. Haupt tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

    Remember our Heroes.

    Soldiers' Angels Mourns SGT Norman R. Taylor, III

    From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

    We have a fallen hero from Soldiers' Angels, SGT Norman R. Taylor, III.

    Norman, 21, and two other Soldiers died Oct. 17 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.

    The Soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

    Nathan is survived by his parents, Norman & Lynda.


    Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fort Carson Soldiers and their families.

    The Patriot Guard Riders rode for SGT Taylor on 25 October.

    I will post the link to the tribute to SGT Norman R. Taylor, III at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog as soon as it becomes available.

    Remember our Heroes.

    26 October 2006

    Angels' Tears


    Soldiers' Angels has been notified today of the loss of four of "our" Soldiers.

    Posts on these Fallen Heroes to follow.

    What if Soldiers' Angels earned a penny every time you searched the Internet?

    click here

    Well, now we can!

    GoodSearch.com is a new search engine that donates half its revenue to the charities its users designate. You use it just as you would any search engine, and it's powered by Yahoo! so you get great results.

    Just go to GoodSearch.com and be sure to enter Soldiers' Angels as the charity you want to support.

    Just 500 users searching four times a day will raise about $7300 in a year without anyone spending a dime! And, be sure to check out GoodSearch on October 28, 2006 as Soldiers' Angels is going to be featured as the Charity of the Day.

    25 October 2006

    Salute Our Heroes Veterans Job Fair and Career Expo in NYC November 6

    From Frank Manley of Salute Our Heroes:

    The New York Times will be bringing "Salute Our Heroes" - our Veterans Job Fair and Career Expo to New York City on November 6th. This career expo is in partnership with HireVetsFirst, USO, American Legion, ESGR, and Coalition to Salute America's Heroes.

    We held our inaugural event last year in November, with over 80 companies participating and 3000+ veterans in attendance. This year, we have already had an incredible run with our "Salute" program this year. Events in Chicago, Boston, and Tampa were a big success - providing hundreds of jobs for Veterans and their spouses, as well as valuable skill building, benefit and job seeking information.

    Now, we are looking forward to ending the year with our biggest event in our home market - NYC on November 6 at the Javits Center.

    If you are a Veteran looking for a job, or if your company is looking to add a Veteran to its team, click here for more information.

    German-based 1st AD Soldiers Return Home from Ramadi

    Baumholder Soldiers start coming home:

    About 100 soldiers arrived home to Baumholder on Monday evening, making it the first group of some 3,400 soldiers deployed with the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade to return from Iraq.

    More soldiers are set to return to Baumholder in the coming weeks, capping off the brigade’s second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    For a community that has coped with the loss of about two dozen soldiers during the past 12 months, Baumholder basked in a flood of positive emotions Monday night.

    As the soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, marched into the Baumholder gym, tears of relief and joy streamed down faces in the stands. The soldiers returning Monday were part of Task Force 1-35 that served in the particularly dangerous western Iraq outpost of Ramadi.

    “It’s just a blessing,” said Emma Donaldson, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Donaldson.

    “They’ve been through so much. To see them return in one piece, it’s such a blessing.”

    Well Done and Welcome Home!!

    24 October 2006

    Ricky Forever In Our Hearts

    Ricky, 2/2/85 - 10/24/04

    This is Kay’s favorite picture of Ricky, taken the last time they saw each other before he deployed to Iraq with the 1/3 Marines out of Hawaii.

    Tonight my friend and fellow Soldiers' Angel Robin will be attending the memorial candlelight vigil for Ricky who was killed two years ago today. Her dear friend is Ricky's mom, Kay.

    The theme of tonight's vigil is a Celebration of Ricky's Life. Kay and Robin will be handing out flyers requesting donations of care package items which will be sent to deployed troops in Ricky's honor.

    Marine LCpl Ricky Slocum

    Ricky was just 19 when he was killed. And although he had only been in Iraq a few months he had already proven to be a hero and a leader.

    My thoughts and prayers are with Kay and all of Ricky’s family and friends today. I promise to remember him always.

    Ricky will be forever in my heart.

    They Came in Peace

    Beirut, 23 October 1983

    "Through these fields of destruction
    Baptisms of fire
    I’ve watched all your suffering
    As the battles raged higher
    And though they did hurt me so bad
    In the fear and alarm
    You did not desert me
    My brothers-in-arms"

    From Brothers-in-arms: 'They came in peace' by Lance Cpl. Jeffrey A. Cosola. Read the rest here.

    Originally posted 23 October, 2005.