29 January 2006

Welcome Home, James!

James, Melissa, and children.

A very special welcome home, thank you, and well done from all of us at Soldiers' Angels!

And Mel, thank you for... everything.

Much love to you both.

27 January 2006

More Bin Laden Tape: "Nice Try, But Still No Cigar"

From Victor Davis Hanson's piece today in the Chicago Tribune:
But examine Al Qaeda's plight. Bin Laden's home base in Afghanistan is lost for good. Elites of his terrorist organization are targeted from the air even in the supposedly safe Pakistani borderlands. Plenty of Al Qaeda terrorists have been killed in Iraq.
Second, Al Qaeda's talking points seem to derive from American anti-war rhetoric, as bin Laden & Co. desperately cling to the notion that our resolve may yet crumble. (...) Either bin Laden can't come up with any more grievances himself, or he figures that Americans are better at making his case for him.
Third, bin Laden conveniently distorts history to achieve victim status. Again, he relies on many Americans' penchant for blaming themselves first.
In fact, there are three lessons: Al Qaeda terrorists are losing. Their only hope is to mimic critics in the United States for ideas about derailing American military and diplomatic efforts that are destroying them. And as they go down, they play the victim in desperate search of pity and thus reprieve.

For most Americans--nice try, but still no cigar.

And from Cardinalpark at Tigerhawk last week with Osama - "Hey, Over Here (?) I'm Still Alive, Remember Me?
He is talking to his listeners -- who, by the way, are shrinking in numbers, if you buy into the Pakistani and Afghani and Iraqi polling. He should really broadcast on Air America - does that still exist? -- and see if he can recruit some unhappy Americans. He's gotta get out more. Zarqawi is soaking up all his PR. Poor Osama can't really operate much. And now it turns out the Pakistanis are helping the US roast his best operators and bomb guys with targetted missile attacks -- that sounds downright Israeli!
Seriously folks, I don't know if he put this out in the immediate aftermath of the Missile Strike in Pakistan or if he did it in response to growing questions of his continued existence. But this is a spectacular sign of weakness. It's reactive. It's off message. And it's almost as factually ridiculous as Baghdad Bob, Saddam's wartime PR genius, sounded as the US Military was approaching Saddam's palaces. You will recall he was talking a big game about US losses and Iraqi Army victories, etc. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Next thing you know, Saddam is having his teeth cleaned by an American Army medic and is getting deliced.

Bill Roggio:
When looked at from a higher level - the overall struggle against al-Qaeda in the Global War on Terror - the rejection of al-Qaeda by their Muslim brethren fighting against the forces of the West is a major strategic defeat for al-Qaeda. The premier terrorist group and self-proclaimed defenders of the faith could not maintain support in the heart of the Middle East among its most likely group of supporters: minority Sunnis subject to the rule of a Shiite-dominated government. This is part of the ideological struggle which is sorely missed in the popular reporting and analysis.

Bin Laden emerges from obscurity from Evan Kohlmann at the Counterterrorism Blog

Compare these takes with this one: There They Go Again

Getting the Job Done

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HIT, Iraq -- Eight days of back-breaking searches through villages and fields along the western Euphrates River valley have yielded thousands of pieces of ordnance as Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. Marines continue Operation Wadi Aljundi (Koa Canyon) in Iraq’s Al Anbar province.

Aimed at isolating insurgents and their weapons, the combined Iraqi and U.S. force began the latest sweep Jan. 15, and have uncovered a staggering amount of weaponry.

BARWANA, Iraq - Marines with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, provides security for each other during a halt during a patrol down a riverbed for any possible weapons caches Jan. 15. Photo by: Cpl. Michael R. McMaugh

The soldiers and Marines are making their way inch-by-inch through caves, fields, wadis, and islands in an attempt to disrupt the insurgents.

So far, the combined force has found and destroyed more than 4,300 artillery and mortar rounds, rockets, and mines; 267 kilograms (590 pounds) of explosive powder, 10,000 rounds of various types of ammunition (ranging from small-arms to tank main gun rounds), 300 blasting caps, approximately 100 ft. of detonation cord, and several working machine guns and mortar systems.

Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) unload recently uncovered artillery shells during Operation Koa Canyon (Wadi Aljundi) Jan. 20. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Peter R. Miller

"Every piece of ordnance that is uncovered is one less potential IED [improvised explosive device] that may be used against Iraqi civilians, Iraqi Security and Coalition forces." said Marine Col. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., the commander of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable).

* * *

TIKRIT, Iraq -- Iraqi security forces and Task Force Band of Brothers Soldiers detained 51 suspected terrorists during a series of unrelated actions throughout northern Iraq Jan. 24.

In the largest action of the day, Iraqi troops from the 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division planned and conducted a large early morning raid in three villages outside of Baqubah. The unit detained 19 suspects, including eight known to have strong ties to terrorists in the area.

January 18, 2006 Capt. Adam Lackey, commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) awaits UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to extract his Soldiers after an early morning raid on Bayji Island, Iraq. by Spc. Jose Ferrufino

In the Bayji area, Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team continued to make progress against terrorists that have plagued the area. Ten known or suspected terrorists were captured in and around the city.

Tips from Bayji area residents generated a series of early-morning searches south of the city which led to the capture of four men closely tied to a terrorist ring responsible for committing murders and beheadings in the area. A fifth man was killed after firing a pistol at the Soldiers searching his home.

January 11, 2006 Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, wait for their dismounted patrols to return during an early morning foot patrol in Bayji, Iraq. by Spc. Jose Ferrufino

In another positive development, a local tribal leader brought three suspected members of an IED cell from the Bayji area to a coalition base and turned them in to coalition forces.

The troops began their mission working from one tip and with each turn of events, another tip surfaced that carried the Soldiers to two separate caches and 12 individuals.

26 January 2006

Prost, Blackfive

Make sure to go over and wish Matt a very Happy Birthday.

Pugnacious Pups Deploy to Afghanistan

A 355th Fighter Squadron A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II moves in position under and slightly behind a KC-135R Stratotanker to commence refueling operations during Exercise Northern Edge '99 on March 9, 1999. The Thunderbolt, affectionately known as a Warthog, is from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. - DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. David W. Richards, U.S. Air Force.

EIELSON Air Force BASE, Alaska - More than 400 Airmen with the 355th Fighter Squadron and the 354th Maintenance Group and their A-10 Thunderbolt IIs recently left for a 120-day deployment.

“I’m excited to go on this deployment,” said Capt. Darrell Walton, a pilot with the 355th. “With so much training space here in Alaska, I couldn’t ask for better training to help get us prepared for this deployment. My mom is nervous, but I guess you have to expect that.”

The thunder rolls
ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England -- An A-10 Thunderbolt II rolls to mark a target with simulated M-156 white phosphorus rockets as part of an aerial demonstration held here. - U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael D. Morford

The A-10’s mission is to provide close-air support for ground forces and convoys. Designed for maneuverability at low speeds and low altitudes, the A-10 helps eliminate ground targets such as tanks and other armored vehicles.

“I’m extremely confident in the group of pilots that we’re deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Lt. Col. Quentin Rideout, commander of the 355th. “This is why we train. This is what Eielson’s mission is all about.”

That mission, “To fight and support the fight – any time, any place,” begins with a flight that will span three quarters of the earth before reaching Afghanistan.

Welcome to Bagram
OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (AFPN) -- A crew chief from the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, marshals an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot to a parking spot. - U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric M. Grill

Good luck, guys! Stay safe and see you when you get back.

25 January 2006

There They Go Again

A NYT Op-Ed titled Al Qaeda's Big Boast offers an analysis of Osama bin Laden's recently released audiotape (free registration required).

The conclusion, neatly summed up in the last sentence, is that AQ is winning:
A movement that was staggering after the Taliban was toppled has come back with a vengeance.

Further, Osama bin Laden "shows strength", his strategy is "paying off", and the "jihadists are winning sympathy":
Had Americans instead listened with the ears of those for whom the message was intended - Muslims around the world - they would have heard something very different. Instead of a weak Osama bin Laden, they would have heard a magnanimous one who could offer a truce because "the war in Iraq is raging, and the operations in Afghanistan are on the rise in our favor."

Mr. bin Laden staked his claim to leadership of the Muslim world on 9/11, striking us as others only dreamed of doing. On the tape, he shows strength by taking credit for America's humiliation in Iraq and continues to do what we are not: fighting for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world.

It is too early to say how this tape will affect Muslim opinion, but there is no doubt that Mr. bin Laden's strategy has been paying off. According to a poll released last month by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland and Zogby International, when Muslims in several countries were asked what aspect of Al Qaeda they "sympathize" with most, 39 percent said it was because the group confronted the United States.
( ... )
Despite so much evidence that the jihadists are winning sympathy, America has provided no counter-story to their narrative.

Note that the Zogby poll data quoted is about "what aspect of Al Qaeda they "sympathize" with most", not whether Muslims sympathize with Al Qaeda at all.

A recent survey of Afghanis by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland shows that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda are rejected by an overwhelming majority in that country:
Eight-one percent Afghans polled think Al-Qaeda is a negative influence in the world, with only six percent saying Osama bin Laden's terror network has a positive impact.

Osama bin Laden himself, once sheltered by the Taliban militia ousted with the help of a US-led coalition in 2001, has even lower ratings, with 90 percent of those polled saying they had an unfavourable view of him.

Dan Darling of ThreatsWatch has a less political analysis of the audiotape.

2005 One of the Most Successful For Freedom at Ace of Spades.

No "counter-story" indeed.

24 January 2006

More Maine Troop Greeters

Greyhawk has a wonderful piece up about the Maine Troop Greeters, some of my favorite people in the whole world. The older ones remind me of my parents and their friends (I'm lucky they don't read this blog and won't see that "older" comment).

From one of the linked articles:

Troops here say the Maine Troop greeters have become almost legendary among rank and file. US Army Spec. Matthew Hardee, who was on his way back from Iraq, says he was hoping his plane would fly through Bangor. "It's awesome, especially since they are guys who were doing the same thing 40 and 50 years ago," he says.

And there's this:
Maine Troop Greeter Kay Lebowitz

It is well after dinnertime for Kay Lebowitz, but she hardly notices - she has hundreds of American troops to greet. ( ... )

A planeload of US Marines, heading to Iraq, files in line to board. She strives to hug all 263 of them. "See you on the way back," she tells them.

"Kay, let 'em go," shouts a fellow volunteer at the front of the queue. "You're holding up the line." But the 90-year-old hardly notices that, either.

Go over and read the rest, there's lots more.

"Warriors and Wusses" Fisking Roundup

In case you've been incommunicado for the last 24 hours, here's a roundup of reaction to yesterday's charming Los Angeles Times op ed column by Joel Stein.

A couple of excerpts:
I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car.

Yeah, must be hard being you, Joel.
Besides, those little yellow ribbons aren't really for the troops. They need body armor, shorter stays and a USO show by the cast of "Laguna Beach."

The real purpose of those ribbons is to ease some of the guilt we feel for voting to send them to war and then making absolutely no sacrifices other than enduring two Wolf Blitzer shows a day.

Who's "we"?
But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying. An army of people ignoring their morality, by the way, is also Jack Abramoff's pet name for the House of Representatives.

I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. I get mad when I'm tricked into clicking on a pop-up ad, so I can only imagine how they feel.

No, I don't think you can imagine how they feel, Joel. Not one teensy, tinsy, little bit.

* * * * *

Excellent fisking here:

Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette (scroll down)
Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive
Hugh Hewitt's post and transcript/audio of his interview with Joel Stein at Radio Blogger (buckle up for this one)
Michelle Malkin
Michelle Malkin again
Mark in Mexico
James Joyner, Outside the Beltway
Grim at Grim's Hall
Jeff Goldstein at protein wisdom
Neptunus Lex
Some perspective from The Officers' Club
Eric at Myopic Zeal piles on with an update
Miserable Donuts via Sgt Hook

23 January 2006

Proud to Stand With You, Canada - Part 2

Canadian blogger Candace has an update on the three Canadian soldiers injured last week in Aghanistan.

From an interview with Canadian doctor MAJ Nick Withers at ctv.ca:
The most serious of three soldiers wounded in an Afghan suicide attack is not recovering as well as doctors had hoped and will likely have to remain in Germany while the other two return to Canada.

Saturday was not a good day for any of the soldiers, their Canadian doctor said, but it was Cpl. Jeffrey Bailey for whom he had the most concern.

Cpl. Bailey, Pvt. William Salikin, and Master Cpl. Paul Franklin were wounded in a SVBIED attack near Kandahar that killed Glyn Berry, a senior Canadian diplomat last week.

Currently 450 of the total 685 Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan are in Kandahar. Canada plans to increase its military presence in Kandahar to 2,000 next month.

A political blogger covering the runup to today's elections, Candace took offense with the current Canadian PM's lack of acknowledgement of the US Military's role in the three soldiers' evacuation out of Afghanistan and treatment at Landstuhl hospital in Germany.

You can leave a message of support for the soldiers and their families in the comments section of Candace's post.

Blackfive has a post with a letter from another Canadian and a link to a great Austin Bay article.

More on the Canadian elections at Ed Morrisey's, of course.

Michelle Malkin has a roundup with lots of links.

Proud to Stand With You, Canada

21 January 2006

Victory at Walter Reed

DC FReepers, Protest Warriors, and other pro-troops supporters now hold permits for all four corners of the intersection in front of WRAMC.

Full story at The Redhunter, more at Andi's World, even more and h/t Mudville Gazette.

Thank you FReepers, Protest Warriors, and all of the supporters of our defenders who have been taking a stand outside Walter Reed for months. Thanks for making a difference.

Since we've been following Gunn Nutt's reports from WR for months now, wanted to make sure you've seen this one. Same goes for Landry's Life.
Michelle Malkin has a post up, too.

Plane Talk

Three men are sitting stiffly side by side on a long commercial flight.

After they're airborne and the plane has leveled off, the man in the window seat abruptly says, distinctly and confidently, in a loud voice, "Admiral, United States Navy, retired. Married, two sons, both surgeons."

After a few minutes the man in the aisle seat states through a tight-lipped smile "Admiral, United States Coast Guard, retired. Married, two sons, both Judges."

After some thought, the fellow in the center seat decides to introduce himself. With a twinkle in his eye he proclaims, "Master Gunnery Sergeant, United States Marines, retired. Never married, two sons, both Admirals."

Thanks to Soldiers' Angels Eileen via Sara.

19 January 2006

Proud to Stand with You, Canada

With the very best wishes for a speedy recovery:

Pte. William Edward Salikin

Cpl. Jeffrey Bailey

Master Cpl. Paul Franklin

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families.

Welcome Waking up on Planet X readers. Well done, Candace.

Welcome readers of Catprint in the Mash, Obstination, Chimera's Cavern, Celestial Junk Blog, Blogging Party of Canada, www.smalldeadanimals.com/, and more. You guys rock.

If you're not from Canada and have no idea what's going on here, use the links above.

Latest Joshua Sparling Radio Interview

Tony in Boulder tells me the latest radio interview with Sean Hannity is now up at The Political Teen.

Joshua talks about his 19th (!) surgery since his injury in November of last year, and the fact that the doctors now see a 90% chance of saving his leg.

Be sure to listen.

And after you do, go over to Landry's Life and leave a message for Joshua in the comments section. Landry Fan goes to WR weekly and delivers the messaages to Joshua and his Dad.

18 January 2006

Yep, It's Worth Fighting For

From Christopher Hitchens at Slate.

It's Curtains for al-Qaida
What happens when Iraqi "insurgents" take on Zarqawi's thugs?

The best news from Iraq this year would certainly be the long New York Times report of Jan. 12 on the murderous strife between local "insurgents" and al-Qaida infiltrators. This was also among the best news from last year.

For months, coalition soldiers in Iraq had been telling anyone who would care to listen that they had noticed a new phenomenon: heavy fire that they didn't have to duck. On analysis, this turned out to be shooting or shelling apparently "incoming" from one "insurgent position" but actually directed at another one.

( ... ) If all goes even reasonably well, and if a combination of elections and prosperity is enough to draw more mainstream Sunnis into politics and away from Baathist nostalgia, it will have been proved that Bin-Ladenism can be taken on — and openly defeated — in a major Middle Eastern country.

And not just defeated but discredited. Humiliated.

Is there anyone who does not think that this is a historic prize worth having? Worth fighting for, in fact?

More on "Red-on-Red" incidents in Iraq from Bill Roggio at ThreatsWatch.

Help Our Soldiers Help Iraqi Children

Soldiers' Angels received this request today. If you can help by sending shoes to SGT Best in Iraq, please email me for his APO address.


I want to say first thank you for all that you do.

Next I am a S-5 (civil military operations). We provide aid and projects for the local villages, this operation is imperative to us winning this war.

I saw on your website you guys are sending packages to give to Iraqi children. The thing I see that we are hurting for in this village and many others is shoes. 90% of the kids here don't have them and when they get them they are hand me downs that are worn out (sandals).

We will take anything you have - stinky shoes, old shoes, new shoes, shoes without shoe strings - anything to help these kids.

If you can help, please email me back.


Camp Victory Iraq

Angels Needed!

Soldiers' Angels has received over 500 adoption submissions from soldiers during the past week. These men and women have volunteered to serve our country and deserve our support.

Although SA has a "re-enlistment" rate of about 75% among existing Angels who re-adopt after their soldiers' redeployments, we would love to welcome new Angels to the SA family!

Find out more about Soldiers' Angels here.

To adopt a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine, click on the "Adopt a Soldier" link in the upper left-hand corner. Adoption FAQs can be found here.

If adopting isn't for you, Soldiers' Angels also has a Letter Writing Team for those who enjoy writing to our heroes and know how important it is to hear their names called at mail call.

You may sign up for as many days in the week as you want. On that day each week, your assigned LWT "Team Leader" will send you a new name and address to write to. You are only asked to send one card or letter to each address you receive, but of course may send more if you like.

Information about other Soldiers' Angels operations here.

17 January 2006

Last Friday Night at WR

Here's your weekly reminder to go over to Gunn Nutt's and read the latest on the WR counter-demonstrations. An excerpt:

A funny thing happened tonight, and I'll bet it happens every Friday on the far side of Georgia Ave. ( ... ) This week it stood empty for much of the early evening, so ( ... ) I decided to go over as well and get some shots from the far corner, too.

While taking a picture, a car turned in to the hospital and a soldier yelled out the window "Go home, you losers!" or something to that effect.

At first I was horrified to be mistaken for one of the commies, but then it occurred to me that the Pinkos probably get this kind of "welcome" every week. They keep coming back pretending to support the very Troops who know what they're up to and scorn them.

What a bunch of maroons!

Update: Landry Fan's got her report up, too.

16 January 2006

A Good Day in Western Iraq

Great report by 1st Lt. Rob Dolan, Marines of 3/1 and Iraqi Army soldiers unearth weapons caches, to which I've added some photos from the region.

BARWANAH, Iraq(Jan. 15, 2006) -- The day is chilly and windy in the middle of a wadi on the outskirts of Barwanah where aside from the view of the city, there is nothing except barren desert.

Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. Marines with 2nd Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, were conducting routine security patrols roughly 500 meters east of southern Barwanah Jan.14 and heading back to their base after a long day’s work.

That is when Friday, one of Company L’s interpreters, noticed a discoloration in the dirt. ( ... )

The Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Marines conducted a thorough search of the area and unearthed a total of 11 buried weapons caches within a 300 meter radius that terrorists planned to use during attacks in the area. ( ... )

“There were 12 Iraqi Army soldiers directly involved in finding and digging up these caches. This gives them a sense of ownership and pride in what they’re doing,” said 2nd Lt. Geoff Meno, 2nd Platoon Commander with Company L.

Although these caches were found by Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers patrolling, citizens of the Haditha region have increasingly provided information to disrupt insurgent activities so their community will be safe from insurgent attacks.

( ... ) If not found, these weapons are employed to kill Coalition Forces and innocent Iraqi civilians. For example, the day following the Iraqi National Parliamentary Elections insurgents targeted a polling site in Barwanah with indirect fire, only to kill four children and wound two others playing soccer.

“Taking these caches out of the hands of insurgents puts a tremendous dent in their logistics. Every round that the Marines and Iraqi Army take off the streets is one less (improvised explosive device) … one more saved life,” said Meno.

The Marines proudly piled the cache findings so the explosive ordnance disposal experts could destroy them on the spot.

“It is going to take between 2-3 satchels full of C4 to blow all this stuff,” said Chief Petty Officer Brad Bundy, the EOD team leader.

After moving to a safe distance, the Marines were able to see the culmination of their labor with the destruction of the cache findings, totaling more than 4,000 pounds of high explosives taken out of the hands of insurgents. ( ... )

“This is a testament to the vigilance of the Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. Marines. They’ve been doing a hell of a job out here. It is nice for them to see what they are doing occasionally comes with a tangible pay off,” said Meno.

Update: This from a 14 January post from Mohammed at Iraq the Model:

Al-Qaeda is apparently being chased down and confronted by Iraqis in Anbar and Samarra according to a report from al-Sabah.

Mohammed al-Ubaidi is a citizen of Anbar who took part in a battle against al-Qaeda fighters said that people were enraged by the attacks that kill civilians in Anbar and other provinces and therefore have decided to form squads from the residents to rid Anbar from the foreign terrorists.

The reports mentions that several tribes’ sheikhs had a meeting in the home of a sheikh of the Dulaim tribe where they pledged to fight al-Qaeda and throw them out of the province. There are also news that some 120 al-Qaeda members have already fled outside Iraq after a series of battles between their cells and the residents of Ramadi and other towns and suburbs of Anbar.

According to the same report, similar measures are being taken by the residents in Samarra and have succeeded in forcing foreign terrorists out of their city.


For exceptional dedication and selfless service leading to the creation of the Soldiers Angels Foundation which has immeasurably enriched the lives of countless thousands of service members and their families.

Ms. Patton-Bader's talent and marketing skills provided them a myriad of services and unending support at this critical time in our nations fight to end global terrorism.

Her selfless service, abundant generosity and tireless care reflect great credit on her, the American Soldier and the United States Of America.

signed by Lt. Gen Kevin Kiley

We are all proud to stand with you, Patti! Thank you and God Bless.

Soldiers' Angels Mourns SPC Clinton Upchurch

From Cathy of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen SA hero, Clinton Upchurch.

Spc. Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, of Garden City, Kansas, died in Samarra, Iraq, on Jan. 7, during patrol operations when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV and enemy forces attacked using small arms fire. Upchurch was assigned to the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

He is survived by his parents, Greg and Cindy Upchurch, of Garden City, KS.

Thank you for supporting our heroes.

Angel Hugs,

SPC Upchurch Guest Book

SPC Upchurch will be buried Wednesday, 18 January at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

A local memorial service at Word of Life Church in Garden City, KS on 31 January is expected to be protested by Fred Phelps' Westboro "church" members who continue to disrupt funerals of fallen soldiers across the country. The Patriot Guard Riders will be there.

Army Specialist Clinton R. Upchurch tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

13 January 2006

We Will Never Forget

Debey and Grandma Senska, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family today.
Love always,
Soldiers' Angels

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 got 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, 23 Nov. 2003

Killed near Mosul, Iraq on 13 January 2005

Contributed by Soldiers' Angel Amber, who wrote the poem in this post, In Memory of PFC Gunnar Becker.

Be sure to see Pam's beautiful tribute to Gunnar at Iraq War Today.

Sean Hannity Interviews Joshua Sparling

From The Political Teen:

Remember Pfc. Joshua Sparling, the soldier that received a death wish while he was at Walter Reed?

He appeared on The Sean Hannity Show to discuss his recovery and how hurt he was when he received a card that told him to die.

Audio here.

H/T Tony in Boulder.

12 January 2006

What's Working, What's Not

Hundreds of mortars, artillary rounds, rockets and other munitions commonly used to make IEDs were uncovered by Marines and Iraqi Soldiers in recent days, according to a USMC press release.

22 MEU finds cache
CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq, January 11, 2006

"This was our biggest find to date," said 1st Lt. Antonio Agnone, the combat engineer platoon leader for Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. ( ... )

In just a few days, Iraqi Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division and Marines under 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), 2nd Marine Division unearthed nearly 500 rockets and artillery and mortar rounds, along with approximately 100 tank rounds and large quantities of rocket propellant, fuses, and blasting caps.

These supplies are the components insurgents commonly use to make improvised explosive devices. A stockpile of assault rifles, ammunition and two IEDs were also discovered. The weapons and ordnance were destroyed. ( ... )

In one instance, the insurgents defiled a local cemetery to place their stash. Acting on a tip, Iraqi Army Soldiers and Coalition Forces carefully searched the cemetery and found caches in grave spots adorned with both head and foot markers.

(emphasis added)

Maybe we're getting tips because of Marines like Sgt Howard Denny.

Because this one certainly isn't being very helpful.

Blackfive has a must-read, Saving Private Ali - The Rest of the Story, along the same line. Make sure to read the entire thing.

The Letter the Washington Post Won't Print

If I understand your explanation why you would not print my letter about my son, SGT MIKE STOKELY, KIA 16 AUG 05, IRAQ / IED, it is because my letter was previously used and "widely circulated". First, I am sure that can be taken as a great compliment to the blogs that used my letter - to be known as a wide means of circulation.

However, I am curious to know how many times the Washington Post published, most likely front page, the thoughts and views of Cindy Sheehan - probably the most widely circulated and published thoughts of anybody on the war in Iraq, including any parent who has lost a son or daughter?

Read the posts at Mudville Gazette and Crazy Politico's for the whole story. Also at Blackfive. Stay tuned for further developments - and get ready to write some letters.

Army Sgt Michael J. Stokely tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

11 January 2006

Well Done!

From a survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland:

The poll, conducted across ethnic groups including Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbek and Hazara communities, also found large support for the US military presence in Afghanistan.

Eighty-three percent said they had a favorable view of "US military forces in our country."

(emphasis added)

Via Ace of Spades.

Making a Difference

From Soldiers' Angel Christina:

I got home this evening and was not even home 5 mins and the phone rang. So I answer and this strange lady's voice comes on and says, "Hi is this Christina?" And I say yes thinking "great, telemarketer".

She then tells me "Hi this is Xxxx and I am the wife of Xxxx. You wrote to him in Iraq when he was deployed" - I did not know what to think at this point.

So I let her go on and she was saying she wanted me to know that her husband is now stateside and back to reg duty and she can not believe all the people that wrote to her husband.

He has a duffle bag filled with letters and she had been reading them and crying and she could not stop thanking me for all I had done for her husband.

We ended the conversation with me telling her how honored I was to write to him and for her to give him an extra big hug for all of us here at SA.

09 January 2006

Action-Packed Friday Evening at WR

Marine's parents hang supportive sign on WR fence which is removed by CodePink protestors because it is on "their" side of the street.

CodePink protestors get busted for stealing sign because said fence happens to be US Government property. Evidence of the theft is caught on video.

Go over to Gunn Nutt's and read the whole thing, and make sure to follow all the links including the one to the video.

Joshua Sparling's father shows up. Mentions Joshua has received very few cards from Michigan, his home state. So if you're from Michigan, please go here to find out more.

While you're at LF's read her post on Friday evening, too.

What an evening!

Soldiers' Angels Mourns SPC Ryan Walker

From Cathy of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen hero from Soldiers' Angels, Ryan Walker.

Spc Ryan Walker, 25, of Stayton, OR, was killed in action 01/05/06 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during convoy operations.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA.

Ryan is survived by his father, Randy.

Thank you for supporting our troops.

Angel Hugs,

The 3rd Infantry Division, which assumed responsibility in the Baghdad area in February of 2005, is in the process of ending its second tour in Iraq. The handover ceremonies to their successors of the 4th ID took place on Sunday.

After almost a year in Iraq, Maj. Gen. William Webster, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said the day was bittersweet.

"It's mixed emotions today," he said in an interview after the ceremony. ( ... )

"We have achieved some great things in the last year. It has come at a cost," Webster said. "Our soldiers paid with their blood, and so have the Iraqi soldiers and policemen."
( ... )

The Georgia-based unit is the only Army division to have completed a second full tour in Iraq. The division led the charge into Baghdad during the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Part of SPC Walkers' work as a combat medic was to give lifesaver classes, and his is mentioned in this article U.S. Army medics teach Iraqi forces how to treat trauma (pdf).

Army Specialist Ryan D. Walker tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

From the Horse's Mouth

Not sure how I missed this from the BBC:

Al-Qaeda broadcasts new message

The deputy leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has appeared in a new videotape shown by Arabic satellite television station al-Jazeera.

In the tape, he claims that US hints of a future reduction of troops in Iraq are "a victory for Islam".

(emphasis added)

Also at JihadWatch.


In a statement released in the name of the al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorist group on Monday, leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi says the same thing:

Al-Zarqawi also echoed last week's purported statement by al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri by saying the recent U.S. announcement that it will withdraw some troops from Iraq this year was a victory for Islamic forces.

Al-Zawahri made the same claim in a videotape broadcast Friday on pan-Arab television.

"America today is breathing its last breaths and shaking under the blows of the holy warriors," al-Zarqawi said in Monday's tape.

He said he was praying to God to destroy Americans.

(emphasis added)

08 January 2006

Photo of the Day

Wanted to make sure you all saw this photo from The Officers' Club on Friday.

Photo Courtesy of the US Air Force

Airmen and Soldiers take a moment to pray for each other's safety before heading out for another day of convoy duty in Iraq. The Airmen run the convoys into Iraq and the Soldiers, in their armored trucks, escort them.

Via Michelle Malkin.

Update: Steve at LinkedInUSAF put up a great post on Monday with the background on this photo and lots of other good stuff on the AF teamwork with the Army on the ground in Iraq.

06 January 2006

James Cathey, Jr. Arrives!

In a follow up to this story, Lt James Cathey's wife Katherine gave birth to James Cathey, Jr. on 26 December.

JarHeadDad has the news here:

Katherine Cathey delivered her bouncing baby boy the other day. James Cathey, Jr! What a good lookin' little rascal he is. Ya' done good Kat and God Bless You and little James!

And includes this story:

War Widow Finds Christmas Gift In Newborn Son

A woman who lost her husband in the Iraq war gave birth to their son a couple weeks before his due date. The early Christmas present brought hope and joy after a year of war and tragedy.

The baby will never meet his father. The father will live in this Christmas gift, sent to comfort grieving hearts on earth.

"I've been kind of afraid that once I had him I would get even more upset about Jim having passed away, but having him has actually helped me," Katherine Cathey, a widow and mother said.

( ... )

Before Jim was buried, Katherine Cathey spent the last night with her husband. When she closed his coffin, she placed an ultrasound picture of their baby over his heart.

Make sure to read the original post and follow the link to the Denver Rocky Mountain News.

04 January 2006

Soldiers' Angels Mourns SFC Shawn Dostie

From Cathy of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have another fallen SA hero, Shawn Dostie, 32. Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Dostie was killed in action December 30, 2005 from an improvised explosive device attack in Baghdad. He was assigned to 2nd Bat., 502nd Infantry Reg., 2nd BCT, 101st Airborne Div.

He is survived by his wife, Stephanie and two children, Cameron and Bayleigh.

Thank you for supporting the families of our fallen heroes and their Angels.

Angel Hugs,

SFC Shawn Dostie Guest Book

SFC Shawn Dostie page at Arlington National Cemetary website

Army Sergeant First Class Shawn C. Dostie tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

Last Friday of 2005 at WR

Make sure to read the last posts of 2006 on the Friday night counter-protests at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

From Gunn Nutt:

2006 may see the end of the weekly commie "vigils" outside Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The increase in police activity over the past few weeks has prompted speculation among the FReepers that CodePink is looking for a face-saving way to end their blood dance by getting the permits for both sides revoked.

Now that would be a great way to start the year!

And Landry Fan:

Since they protested wounded soldiers two days before Christmas, it wasn't a surprise that they'd return for more psych-ops the day before New Year's Eve.

Lots of photos on both blogs, so go over and take a look.

03 January 2006

Welcome Home 236th Medical Company Air Ambulance

Soldiers of the 236th Medical Company Air Ambulance spent a year evacauting and treating patients in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. They returned to Germany in late December. In this file photograph, an Iraqi man and son are being taken to get medical treatment. - Photo courtesy of 236th Medical Company Air Ambulance

Flying medical unit is back home at Landstuhl

They love to do their job, but doing it means a fellow servicemember is hurt somewhere beyond the horizon.

It’s a bittersweet task for soldiers with the 236th Medical Company Air Ambulance out of Landstuhl, Germany, who returned in December from a yearlong deployment supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From January to December, members of the “Dust off” helicopter medical evacuation unit safely transported 996 patients during more than 3,000 hours of accident-free flying in their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, officials said. Just as important, the company accomplished the mission without losing any of its own soldiers.

“It went well,” said Maj. Michael Breslin, company commander. “It was a very gratifying mission. That’s why we joined to be medevac. We want to help the soldiers, and we were able to do that as evidenced by the numbers.”

The life-saving flights — during which medics attend to the injured — are gratifying to Delgado, but he has a love-hate relationship with it.

Blackhawk Medevac Helo in Kirkuk - U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Gish

“If we’re flying, (it means) somebody’s hurt,” he said. “We do everything we can just to get out there and get them back. We love to fly, but hate to have to do it. I’d rather just be able get in, go fly a couple circles and know everybody’s OK, than knowing this might be somebody’s life on the line.”

The company’s battalion commander praised the soldiers for their service downrange, particularly for transporting nearly 1,000 patients.

“For many of those patients, they saved their lives outright,” said Lt. Col. Kyle D. Campbell, commander of the 421st Medical Evacuation Battalion. “Had the crew not been there, that soldier would have died — not in every case, certainly, but in many of those cases. But in every one of those cases, they reduced the suffering. If you’ve ever ridden in an ambulance or any other vehicle on a several-hour drive to health care, as opposed to a 20-minute flight, it makes a big difference.”

A Medical Revolution: Mortality Rates Among Today's War Wounded Half of During Vietnam Era

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center doctors perform surgery on a wounded servicemember. Today, the mortality rate among wounded troops is half of what it was during the Vietnam War. - Photo by Todd Goodman / Courtesy of U.S. Army

Refinements in medical care help more war wounded survive

Doctors cite new techniques in saving of about 2,200 troops

The number of troops dying as a result of battlefield injuries in the Iraq war is half of what it was during the Vietnam War, critical care and trauma surgery experts at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center say.

Medically speaking, today’s mortality rate among wounded troops is 50 percent less than it was roughly 35 years ago.

The lower mortality rate among today’s wounded troops has been achieved not so much by innovations but rather refinements to U.S. military medical care, doctors said.

“I think it’s the refinement of techniques that has really changed the outcomes of our multitrauma patients,” said Air Force Dr. (Lt. Col.) Guillermo J. Tellez, chief of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s surgery division. “It’s everybody putting their lessons learned toward refining techniques.”

Those refinements have saved thousands of lives since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“There would have been an additional 2,200 people that would have died without the things that we’ve done,” said Air Force Dr. (Lt. Col.) Warren Dorlac, chief of critical care and trauma surgery at Landstuhl.

Those include: damage-control surgery, limb and abdomen incisions, external fixators, critical care air transport, formal trauma systems and concurrent process improvement.
( ... )

In damage-control surgery, surgeons treat only a patient’s most critical problems and get that patient out of surgery so he or she can receive additional treatment at a medical facility with more assets.
( ... )

The critical care air transport allows wounded patients to be evacuated from downrange to Landstuhl, where doctors can provide more comprehensive treatment. From July 2004 to July 2005, 690 critically injured patients were transported to Landstuhl via critical care air transport. The air transport capability allows U.S. military medical providers to have a smaller presence downrange.

Until very recently, the military lacked a formal trauma system that linked what doctors were doing to patients across its continuum of care — from downrange to Landstuhl and on to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
( ... )

With concurrent process improvement, military medical providers have been able to examine data and make treatment changes just weeks later — something that has never been done in prior U.S. conflicts.

“It has been done on a large scale before, so at the end of one or two years in World War II someone says, ‘Hey, we’ve had a lot of complications with this,’” Dorlac said. “They pull all the records up, look at it and say, ‘We are having some problems. Yeah, let’s change that.’ We’re making decisions now after a month of data.”

01 January 2006

Soldiers' Angels Mourns SPC Peter Navarro and SPC Aaron Forbes

"One can not fathom the enormity of emotions running through the family and friends of these brave soldiers. We can only hope when these horrifying times become history pages that it was all for something. That the world is a more peaceful place and these deaths praised for the heroism it was. To die in a strange land with hatred and viciousness makes this all the more daunting and hard to stay the course. If we break now though it will have been for naught. We reach out to the loved ones of the slain and with hope and faith holds them in our hearts forvever."

- Patti Bader and The Soldiers Angels

From Cathy of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen hero from Soldiers' Angels, Peter Navarro. Peter was killed in action 12/13/05. He was in Taji, Iraq where he was conducting combat operations when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV. He was assigned to the Army's 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Riley, Kan.

He is survived by his parents, Jose and Rowena Navarro.

Army Specialist Peter J. Navarro tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

SPC Navarro Guest Book
Memorial service article, Ft. Riley website

* * *

We have another fallen hero from Soldiers' Angels, Aaron Forbes. Spc. Aaron Forbes, 24, was killed in action in Baghdad, Iraq on December 28, 2005, when an improvised explosivev device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations. Forbes was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, TX.

He is survived by his wife, Brittany and son, Alex (5 years old).

Thank you for taking the time to comfort the families of our fallen heroes. It means so much to them that we support our troops.

Angel Hugs,

Army Specialist Aaron M. Forbes tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

Spc. Aaron M. Forbes Guest Book