30 June 2006

Combat Medic SSG Heathe Craig Remembered at Memorial Service in Wiesbaden

Soldiers prepare to fire a volley during a 21-gun salute to Staff Sgt. Heathe N. Craig, a member of the 159th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), who died June 21 in Afghanistan during a mission to rescue two 10th Mountain Division soldiers who had been injured in combat. - Matt Millham / S&S

From Matt Millham at Stars and Stripes:
As a combat medic, Staff Sgt. Craig understood that, sometimes, saving people means risking your own life.
( ... )

Sgt. Krendra Jackson, one of Craig’s close friends, couldn’t keep herself from crying as she talked about her fallen comrade during the memorial service at Wiesbaden Army Airfield’s chapel.

She told how Craig, even after back surgery, would work tirelessly, laboring beyond his body’s limits, afraid that he might come off as a slacker. Jackson remembers telling him to take it easy. “He would look at me with those blue eyes and say, ‘My name’s not worthless.’”

Few in attendance could hold back their tears as Jackson recounted her friendship with Craig. “Judy, you once told us we acted like brother and sister. He was my brother,” she said. “He was our brother.”

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Staff Sgt. Heathe N. Craig
Army Staff Sgt Heathe Craig tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog

Remember our Heroes.

Update June 2009: See this post about the hospital in Bagram, Afghanistan named after SSG Craig.

29 June 2006

I dunno...

The things people get upset about.

The New York Times is upset that the government is monitoring international electronic money transfers, although an independent auditing firm has been hired to make sure only terrorist-related transactions are targeted.

At the same time Senator Feingold is upset that the war in Iraq has caused us to take our "eye off the ball" in terms of terrorism and as proof quotes Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai as saying he’s concerned that we’re not dealing with the financing of terrorists.

Then there's all that weird griping from the NYT and others about how the Administration won't allow coffins of fallen Soldiers to be photographed, but neither they nor the AP cover this story.

And in the mailbox this morning I find this from Move America Forward.

Anti-War Crowd Goes Crazy Over Pro-Troop Message

Liberal activists dishonor pro-military ad, calling it "propaganda" and "trash"

The pro-troop organization, Move America Forward, unveiled a new television ad last week that thanks American troops for "a job well done" in the war on terrorism. The ad, entitled "America Thanks You" is currently airing nationwide on cable news channels (watch for it Thursday, June 29th between 5:00 - 7:00 PM Eastern on the Fox News Channel network during "The Big Story" and "Special Report with Brit Hume"). The commercial message has so far been seen by over 2 million American households.

The ad has created an uproar in the anti-war community, which is furious about the decision by networks to allow the ad to be aired. In phone calls, emails and posting on Internet websites the anti-war crowd has called the ad "propaganda" and say it shouldn't be shown on American TV airwaves. Some posters have gone to the extremes, calling for the execution of President George Bush.

You can watch the ad for yourself and try and understand what exactly it is that has anti-war activsits so upset. Read a small sampling of the comments taken from the website where the ad is hosted online, to read the hateful comments from anti-war advocates. You can also post a comment to refute the attacks by liberal anti-war activists - just type your comment in at the bottom of this page.

Is it just me?

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post.

28 June 2006

Soldiers' Angels Mourns PFC Devon J. Gibbons

From Donna of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen Hero, Pfc. Devon J. Gibbons, 19, of Port Orchard, WA.

Pfc. Gibbons died on June 23, in the Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, of injuries sustained on April 11 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle during combat operations in Taji, Iraq.

Gibbons was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

He is survived by his parents, Melvin & Bonnie Gibbons of Port Orchard, WA.

Thank you for supporting the families of our fallen heroes.


Gibbons passed away peacefully from the severe injuries sustained in the roadside bombing in which three other soldiers died.

He fought infections and other complications for over two months. When a breathing tube temporarily prevented him from talking, Devon winked at the nurses and his family to communicate. Some of the last words Gibbons was able to say to his mother Mel were, "I love you".

Please take a moment to read the Army Pfc. Devon J. Gibbons tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

The Patriot Guard Riders will be riding for PFC Gibbons on Saturday July 1 at the family's request.

Remember our Heroes.

Pray for Kidnapped Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit - Updated

** bumping up this post from 26 June with updates **

Israeli troops massed along the Gaza Strip border on Monday, ready to launch a major ground offensive if a kidnapped Israeli soldier is not returned immediately.
( ... )

Palestinian gunmen tunneled half a mile under the Gaza border fence, came up 975 feet into Israel and attacked the outpost and a tank from behind, the army said.

Two Palestinians were killed in the ensuing battle. The remaining terrorists blew a hole in the fence and retreated back into Gaza, taking Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit with them.

More at CNSNews.com

Send a message of support to his family here.
Hundreds of Israeli websites hacked in retaliation for Gaza offensive.

CINC Jogs with Wounded Soldier

President Bush jogs with Army Staff Sgt. Christian Bagge, 23, from Eugene, Ore., who lost both legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Tuesday, June 27, 2006. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

From a May 6 interview on CNN:

GUPTA: You know, it's really remarkable because I think for the average person who's never met someone who's had a limb amputated. They didn't realize you could get around as well as you can. I mean, it was really remarkable to see you doing those exercises and everything. I mean, could you go running with the president today if he asked?

C. BAGGE: Absolutely. Yes, I could.

And yesterday he did just that. After changing into his jogging prosthetics in the Oval Office, SSG Christian Bagge headed out for a run with President Bush on the track that circles the White House's South Lawn.

The two met on New Year's day during Bush's visit to Brooke Army Medical Center, and that's when Bagge asked the President if he could run with him sometime. Bagge, of the Oregon National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry and a native of Eugene, was in a convoy hit by roadside bombs a year ago near Kirkuk in which 10 soldiers were injured.

Bush and Bagge paused briefly during their run for reporters:

"He ran the president into the ground, I might add," Bush said, as the two gripped hands in an emotional, lengthy shake. "But I'm proud of you. I'm proud of your strength, proud of your character."

"It's an amazing sight for me to be running with a guy who, last time I saw him, was in bed wondering whether or not — I was wondering whether or not he'd ever get out of bed."

I,too, love seeing the way these guys "come back". It's an impressive testimony to their character - and to the medical personnel that work with them.

Some of you may remember that the President has done this before.

26 June 2006

An Angel’s Sigh

I look from the heavens, my place of safety,
God’s place which He protects.
I watch to see which life is ended,
And which life is reborn.
But today I have seen something different.
I have seen a life that will never end.
It cannot be reborn.

I have seen the life of a Soldier.

For the path he walks is full of mystery.
He knows not of what will happen today.
But I know, I can see where it leads.
It leads to heartbreak and anger,
Things he has never experienced before.
Then how will he react?
Will they stop him from reaching his goal?
His goal to return home to his loved ones,
His goal to save a country’s freedom.
Yet he does not know his joys,
He does not know he will return home,
He does not know he is being watched and protected.
He is a son of God, the God I follow.

I give him thanks.

Thanks for standing up every morning unknowing,
Unknowing of his destiny,
Unknowing of his fate,
Unknowing of his immortal state.
For he is not immortal in body
But immortal in soul.
A soul that cannot be broken or torn,
A soul which rises into the heavens,
A soul in God’s mind and creation.

Therefore I sigh,
I sigh because he is a warrior,
I sigh because he is true,
I sigh for he has been chosen,
Chosen by God to do his bidding,
I sigh because he has no choice,
No choice in fate or destiny.

And then I cry.

I cry because he is a hero,
I cry because he never gives up,
I cry because he never cries.
For that I smile,
I smile because he smiles,
I smile because he is immortal,
I smile because I am his Guardian Angel.

To all Angels,

You all have done so much for us and made our deployments so much easier through emails, letters and mail. So I wrote a poem to show my appreciation. I really do hope you can make sure it gets to everyone some way some how, because I am really grateful. It's called An Angel's Sigh. Please enjoy and smile because all of your hard work and efforts have been seen by God and he has carried your blessings to me and every Soldier in the world.

SPC Maurice in Iraq

Thank you, Maurice. Know that we love you and that Angels are watching over you all.

"You just can't understand the effect you all have had on us... "

A Soldier from Task Force Band of Brothers provides security in north-central Iraq on national election day, Dec. 15. This photo by Spc. Timothy Kingston appeared on www.army.mil.

I would like to give you a special thanks for ALL of the tremendous support that your foundations has extended to not only the soldiers in the United States Military, but specifically to the soldiers in my particular section.

When I first signed up there where letters and boxes of things coming in so fast we would run out of room trying to receive it all.

There are so many good Angels out there I can not name them all but I would like to give special thanks to few young Ladies in particular: Miss Sherry Crenshaw, Miss Melinda Firestone, and Miss Juel Sitner!


I just can't say or show my thanks in the way that you all have filled my heart and kept the morale up in our section. You just can't understand the effect you all have had on us.

THANK YOU so much from the bottom of my heart and the Task Force Band of Brothers DIV AIR ASSAULT!

Way to go Sherry, Mel, and Juel and all of the Angels supporting TF Band of Brothers!

And to the guys at TF Band of Brothers - keep your heads down and your helmets on! We love you all!

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Staff Sgt. Heathe N. Craig

From Donna of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen hero from Soldiers' Angels, Heathe Craig.

Staff Sgt. Heathe N. Craig, 28 of Severn, MD, died on June 21 in Naray, Afghanistan. He was killed when his UH-60 helicopter hoist malfunctioned while attempting to evacuate Pfc. Bradbury during combat operations.

Heathe was assigned to the 159th Air Ambulance Medical Company, Wiesbaden, Germany.

He is survived by his wife Judith and their two children, Jonas, 5, and Leona, 1 in Germany, his father and stepmother, Jeffery and Sheila Craig of PA, and his mother, Donna Sloan of PA.

Heathe had one Angel who supported him.

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


Heathe gave his life trying to rescue fellow Soldier Pfc. Brian J. Bradbury, 22, of Saint Joseph, Mo. Pfc Bradbury died in the vicinity of Naray, Afghanistan, when he encountered enemy forces using small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades during combat operations. Bradbury was assigned to the 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

Military records list Craig's address as Severn but he did not reside there, according to his grandfather Daniel Sloan of Mechanicsville, VA. Craig was born in Olean, N.Y., and moved to Mechanicsville at the age of 10.

Please take a moment to read the Army Staff Sgt Heathe Craig tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

Remember our Heroes.

Updates 2009:

The Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram, Afghanistan, has subsequently been named after SSG Heathe Craig.

SFC Jared Monti, who was also killed in the efforts to rescue Pfc. Brian J. Bradbury, will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in September.

25 June 2006

The Fewer. The Prouder. The Female Marines.

This past Friday marked the one year anniversary of the Iraq war's deadliest day for American military women.

On June 23, 2005 Lance Corporal Holly Charette, 21, of Rhode Island, Ramona Valdez, 20, of the Bronx via the Dominican Republic, and Navy Petty Officer First Class Regina Clark, 43, of Washington were killed by a suicide car bomber near Falluja.

Eleven other female Marines were wounded in the attack. (Link to article as pdf.)

From the second truck in the convoy, Marine Sergeant Kent Padmore heard a screeching of tires and an explosion, then his own vehicle braked to a stop so quickly that all dozen or so men in it went tumbling to the floor. When Padmore sat up, he saw the women's truck in flames about 250 yards away. A flight medic back in Miami, Padmore, then 38, had been good friends with Saalman, Clark and Humphrey.

Immediately he jumped from his truck and ran toward the burning seven-ton, barely aware of the bullets zinging past him; the insurgents had staged an ambush to coincide with the car bomb.

There's no way, he thought as he ran. They're all dead. He stopped - it was useless to continue. But then he pushed forward. Keep going, he told himself. He thought of how Clark couldn't wait to go backpacking with her son when she got back to the U.S., about tough-as-nails Humphrey, and about Saalman, the music-loving beauty. It can't be, he said to himself, and kept running as fast as he could.

Just as Padmore reached the scene, he saw Saalman staggering toward him, her charred, flayed hands held up before her, her eyes vacant in a blackened face. She'd lost her rifle during the explosion. "Sally, pull yourself together," he said. "You are not going to die. I promise: You are not going to die. But we need some leadership."

He watched her expression change instantly from shock to rage. "Somebody give me a fucking weapon!" she screamed. "I need a fucking weapon!" The adrenaline pumping through her body obviously masked her pain. Padmore handed her his own M16 and headed off to find other wounded marines, with the sound of Saalman firing her gun toward the insurgents ringing in his ears.
( ... )

On the evening of June 23, as word of the disaster spread, a freckle-faced young female marine stationed in Ramadi, a city near Fallujah, had approached Colonel Robert Chase, who was helping run crisis control at the command center, to say she urgently needed to talk to him. He told her the timing wasn't good, but she insisted.

Reluctantly, Chase stepped outside his office to meet with her — and in the hallway, he encountered about 10 more female marines. "Sir, we know we've had women killed," said the marine who'd first approached him. "We have to replace them — we want to go."

Chase was stunned. "I'll be candid, it was one of the most emotional and profound moments for me," he says. "I don't often work with women as an infantry officer, but at that moment, there were no women there — there were just marines."

Read the rest of the story here. (Link to article as pdf.)

Remember our Heroes.

Update Nov 2009: I am so very grateful to Mrs G of the Mudville Gazette for digging up a pdf of the article quoted here, which is no longer available at the Glamour Magazine website.

24 June 2006

New Fighter Wing Commander at Spangdahlem Air Base

From Stars & Stripes:

Air Force Col. Darryl Roberson officially assumed command of the 52nd Fighter Wing from Col. David L. Goldfein during a change-of-command ceremony Friday morning at the base. The 52nd Fighter Wing boasts F-16CJ Fighting Falcons and A-10/OA-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft and is the only Air Force fighter wing in Germany.

Sounds like agood excuse to post WARTHOG PICS!!!

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.

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

23 June 2006

BREAKING NEWS: ABC: Killers Have Been Captured

Sources with ABC News tell KATU News that some of the people responsible for the deaths of Pfc. Thomas Tucker and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca have been captured by the U.S. military.

Video here.

Update 24 June 0116z:
From Indigo Red in comments:

I tried the video link, but it didn't work. I went to KATU News and headlines were no where to be found. I got through on Google News and found the story had been removed from the TV site. The story may have been a rumor, bad joke, or national security matter.

I've also been unable to find further official reports on this story. Will be interesting to see what follows, if anything.

Soldier loses leg in search for missing soldiers

Landry Fan pinged me with this story from our friend Steve Mraz at Stars & Stripes.

LANDSTUHL, Germany — Find the missing soldiers and get to them before the worst could happen.

That’s what was going through the mind of Spc. Joshua Gutierrez late Friday and early Saturday as he was driving a Bradley fighting vehicle during a mission to locate Army Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Army Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.

“They’re soldiers,” said an emotional Gutierrez from a bed in the intensive care unit at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. “Just like me. They’re soldiers. Just like me.”

Gutierrez was one of 12 troops wounded in the search for Menchaca and Tucker, who went missing Friday near Youssifiyah, Iraq, in an apparent kidnapping by heavily armed insurgents. The bodies of Menchaca and Tucker were recovered Tuesday near where they were captured, U.S. and Iraqi military officials said.

Gutierrez, with 1st Platoon “Punishers,” Company A, 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, was part of a massive search for the two missing soldiers that involved more than 8,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops.

The 24-year-old Gutierrez, of Mira Loma, Calif., was driving a Bradley early Saturday morning during the search north of Iskandariyah when it hit what he thinks was either a mine or improvised bomb.
( ... )

Gutierrez, who had just learned that the bodies of Menchaca and Tucker had been found, had a message for their families.

“I’d just like to tell them that their efforts and their courage and bravery is not in vain,” Gutierrez said. “There’s a reason all this happened, even if the reason still escapes them. There’s a good reason behind all this.”

“They did not die in vain,” he said.

Make sure to read the rest, including the story of Gutierrez' own dramatic rescue by a fellow soldier, and see this video interview with the family of PFC Thomas Tucker's family posted at Blackfive.

22 June 2006

Soldiers' Angels Mourns SPC David Babineau, PFC Kristian Menchaca, PCF Thomas Tucker

Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass.

Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas

Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.

All three soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

On June 16, in Baghdad, Iraq, the soldiers were manning a checkpoint when they came under enemy small arms fire. SPC Babineau was killed in the initial incident and PFC Menchaca and PFC Tucker were later found slain.

Soldiers Angels have been inundated with requests to support and honor their families. To do so, you may make a donation to Soldiers' Angels Living Legends.

Please take a few moments to read their tributes:

Army Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog
Army Pfc. Kristian Menchaca tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog
May God grant special blessings on these two Angels.

Army Specialist David J. Babineau tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog

Remember our Heroes.

21 June 2006

Soldiers’ Angels’ Project Valour IT Donates Laptop Computer to 500th Wounded Soldier


Soldiers' Angels
Contact: James Riley
Director Wounded Operations
1792 East Washington Blvd.
Pasadena, California 91104
Tel. (615)676-0239
Email: donations@soldiersangels.org


Soldiers’ Angels’ Project Valour IT donates laptop
computer to 500th wounded soldier

Pasadena, California -- June 21, 2006 - During every war in which the United States has been involved, civilian groups have come into existence which were composed of individuals dedicated to providing for the human needs of American soldiers and their families. Programs such as the Overseas YMCA Workers Program played a pivotal role in helping American soldiers while they were deployed and when they returned from the battlefield during World War I.

Today, during the War on Terror, many similar charitable organizations have emerged to provide for the needs of the American soldiers and their families. The memberships of such organizations are diverse and include among their ranks veterans, milbloggers, family members of soldiers and civilians. Some of the organizations exist to provide a specific need to soldiers while others exist to provide a wide array of help and comfort to those in the armed forces. A common theme among the groups is the desire to provide aid and comfort to the men and women who wear the military uniforms of the United States of America.

Soldiers’ Angels is such an organization. In the summer of 2003 Patti Patton-Bader was inspired to found Soldiers’ Angels when her son wrote home from Iraq expressing his concern that some soldiers did not receive any mail or support from home. Within a few short months Soldiers' Angels had grown from a mother writing a few extra letters to an Internet Community with tens of thousands of angels worldwide.

One of the many projects established by Soldiers’ Angels was Project Valour IT (Voice Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops). The project was established in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, a Vietnam era veteran. SFC Ziegenfuss’s son, CPT Charles “Chuck” Ziegenfuss, was wounded in Iraq. While convalescing from hand injuries he discovered the therapeutic benefits of being able to stay connected to the world through the use of voice-controlled software and a laptop computer. He was one of many soldiers who were able to blog from their hospital beds. Out of his struggle and in coordination with Soldiers’ Angels, Project Valor IT was born.

The purpose of the project is to provide voice-controlled software and laptop computers to wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries or amputations. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone, wounded soldiers are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the 'Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field, all without having to press a key or move a mouse.

During its initial phase, Valour-IT created "libraries" of laptops equipped with voice-controlled software for the severely wounded staying at major military medical centers. In many cases laptops are provided to a wounded hero for permanent use. Valour-IT has continued to accept donations of any amount to supply the “libraries” of laptops at major military medical centers and gifts to individuals, but has also added the option of an individual or organization directly sponsoring a wounded soldier by completely funding the cost of a laptop and continuing to provide him or her with personal support and encouragement throughout recovery.

Through donations from milblogger challenges, churches, groups of coworkers or friends, and members of community organizations, Project Valour IT has recently donated its 500th laptop computer to a wounded soldier. This project helps keep wounded soldiers from falling into depression by providing them with task-oriented activity; giving them access to entertainment and news; allowing them to sustain positive self value; and allowing them to maintain and enjoy rewarding personal contact through instant messages, email and even voice chat.

In essence, the voice activated laptops provided by Project Valour IT become instant lifelines for the severely wounded soldier. The project directly and positively helps those soldiers who have given up so much of themselves to protect their fellow countrymen and gives them the ability to experience some of the small enjoyments found in daily life.

Continuing the time honored tradition of civilian support of American soldiers, Soldiers’ Angels sponsors programs which provide support to American soldiers and their families. Soldiers’ Angels’ programs include first responder packs, support, and laptop computers to wounded soldiers who are receiving treatment at American military hospitals; care packages, letters, and support to deployed soldiers; armored blankets to military ambulances; items shipped for deployed soldiers to give children in the war zone; and memorial trees for the families of soldiers who have died in the service of their country.

# # #

If you would like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with Patti Patton-Bader, please call James Riley at (615)676-0239 or email Don: donations@soldiersangels.org.

20 June 2006

The Miracle Marine

"Would you like to come meet my patient?", one of the ICU nurses asked us.

Mrs. G and I were in the Landstuhl ICU restocking the hand/foot warmer shelf and bringing some thank you cards for the staff.

"Sure", we said. "What's the deal with him?"

"He was shot in the eye by a sniper. But aside from losing the eye, he's basically fine."

We went in and there he was, one eye sewn shut and bruised. Smiling. Happy and amazed to be alive.

Turns out they're going to leave the bullet in there as long as it doesn't move and cause trouble. He has no brain damage. His eyelid was not even injured.

I just could not stop shaking his hand and patting him on the shoulder and head. What a miracle.

God bless you, Miracle Marine, and have a safe trip home.

15 June 2006

Light Blogging

Heading over to the Greyhawks, who are currently experiencing technical difficulties, so light/no blogging until the problems are resolved.

14 June 2006

Happy Birthday, US Army!

The US Army was founded on June 14, 1775 as the Continental Army to fight the British. Later, the Continental Army was replaced by the United States Army under the newly-established War Department. The US Army was a volunteer army until the first conscriptions took place during the Civil War. After the Vietnam War the US Army once again became an all-volunteer force.

Many units active today can trace their roots to the orginal colonial army, such as parts of the 5th Field Artillery, the 112th Field Artillery ("NJ Guns"), Pennsylvania's 111th Infantry (Stryker), and Rhode Island's 705th AAA Gun Battalion, as well as the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Quartermaster Corps.

Read the riveting first-hand accounts of today's Heroes of all service branches in Heroes - A Nation Honors Valor in the War on Terror, a special section of today's Stars & Stripes.

Staff Sgt. Matt Blaskowski and Staff Sgt. Christopher Choay
1st Lt. Stephen Boada
Sgt. Keith Camardo
Sgt. 1st Class Makonen Campbell
Col. James Coffman Jr.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Alan Dementer
Capt. Steven Victor Engberg
Petty Officer 3rd Class Clayton Garcia
Lance Cpl. Ben Gonzalez
Sgt. Justin Hormann
Lt. Cmdr. Richard Jadick
Capt. Marlon James
Spc. Kurt-Alexander Kaahui
Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Maldonado
Capt. Chad T. Martin
Maj. Lauralee McGunagle and Maj. Kathryn Van Auken
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Mucci
Staff Sgt. Timothy Nein, Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester and Spc. Jason Mike Staff Sgt. Jason Pepper
Petty Officer 2nd Class Juan Rubio
Master Sgt. Suran Sar
Staff Sgt. Anthony Viggiani

Thank you for your courage and for your service. You represent us all with courage and dignity, and show the world that we will never waiver in our belief that every human being, no matter what race or religious belief, has the right to live in freedom, without fear.

Flag Day

Near the New York Stock Exchange, December 2001.

13 June 2006


Mohammed and Omar at Iraq the Model express their anger and disappointment over the reaction of certain elements in the Middle East and elsewhere to Zarqawi's death.

Some are sad just because we're happy.
Hamas's reaction to the death of Zarqawi caused the contempt of so many Iraqis. The printed and watched Iraqi media lashed out vigorously on Hamas, politicians and ordinary people on the streets are just equally angered by some Arabic official and media reactions which spoke of the criminal as if he were a hero.

It is totally unimaginable why someone would describe the head chopping, children murdering terrorist as a hero. It's disgusting and infuriating beyond words.

This wrongful description of evil is a major reason for misery in this region and it only contributes to justifying more unjustifiable death and violence. This makes one sometimes wishes that Iraq is somehow lifted away from these perverted sociopaths who surround us.

Iraq, Jordan send powerful messages to Zarqawi's lovers.
The anti-Zarqawi-lovers sentiment is getting stronger in the region, especially in Iraq and Jordan where Zarqawi and his gangs committed their worst crimes.
( ... )
Those who preach hatred and death represent one of the roots of the terrorist culture and the struggle against terror cannot succeed without bringing justice upon those evil men.

I wonder what will it take to see a strong public and official stand against terrorism and death-preaching in the rest of the Middle East and when are we going to see the people in Saudi Arabia or Egypt for example raise cases against Qaradawi and his likes?

I wonder, too.

CINC in Baghdad

Drudge Report:
President Bush left for Baghdad on an unannounced five-hour trip designed to boost the government of new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and allow the two leaders to get to know each other face-to-face.
( ... )
"The POTUS is on board!" Mr. Bush, wearing a navy blue baseball cap, dark pants and blue button down shirt, yelled to reporters as he climbed the rear steps of the plane. Air Force One - piloted by the same colonel who had flown Mr. Bush to Iraq on his first trip to Iraq in November 2003 -- was wheels-up at 9:07 PM Washington time Monday night. It landed at Baghdad International Airport at 4:08 PM Baghdad time Tuesday afternoon.

My favorite CINC quote from ABC News:
"I've come to not only look you in the eye," Bush told al-Maliki. "I also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it keeps its word."

Nothing but good news lately - Zarqawi dead, Iraq cabinet posts filled, Haditha "massacre" story unraveling, Iraqi PM al-Maliki cracking down in Baghdad, Rove walks, and now another bold move by our CINC.

Things are looking up.
In this morning's paper, a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll of Americans "found that 48% believe the United States probably or definitely will win the war, up from 39% in April. It also found that 47% believe things are going well in Iraq, up from 38% in March."

09 June 2006

Zarqawi's End

The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by US forces in Iraq yesterday was a cause for joy and relief that "this violent man will never murder again", as President Bush stated.

It also is a cause for tremendous pride in and gratitude for the work of our military forces in Iraq.

One of my first thoughts upon hearing the news was of a photo I received early this year from a Marine deployed in Western Iraq. The photo, entitled "Too Many Dogtags", was of the memorial to the fallen Marines of that Regimental Combat Team who, "during this tour of duty gave their lives for their country and the nation of Iraq".

I thought of those Marines and their sacrifice. I thought of the suffering of their families. I thought of all of our Fallen, and their families. I thought of the pain of the wounded, and the sacrifices made by all who have served in the War on Terror.

And I thought to myself: I promise never to forget them.

Zarqawi's death is by no means the end of this war, or even of this battle. But together with the inauguration of Prime Minister Maliki's cabinet on May 20 and the appointment of the last 3 cabinet posts this week, it marks an important milestone and provides a significant morale boost to the new Iraqi nation.

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Capt. James A. Funkhauser

From one of our adopted soldiers in Iraq.

Dear Angels,

I apologize for not writing you guys sooner. However, this past week has been difficult for all of us. On Memorial Day we had a convoy that was attacked with a vehicle-borne explosive device while returning to camp.

I regret to inform you that our company commander is dead along with his Iraqi interpreter. Also there are six wounded in action. They are being transported to Germany and then back to the states.

There are many feelings that we are dealing with as we mourn the loss of Captain James Funkhouser. Among those, hatred toward the enemy, anger, sadness, depression and grief for the many families involved.

Captain Funkhouser is survived by his wife and two young daughters, ages 4 and 2.

We had a memorial service for Captain Funkhouser on 02 June 2006. It was very good. I think it opened up a lot of hearts and minds as to how to deal with these emotions. However, our work is not anywhere close to being over with.
( ... )

Finally Angels, I want to thank you all for your hard work and support. We love and miss you all very much. You are in our thoughts and prayers everyday.

You have my promise to you and before God: I will never quit, I will never accept defeat, I will never leave a fallen comrade. It may not be today, tomorrow, or next week. But EVERY SOLDIER WILL COME HOME!!!!

God Bless You All!

Respectfully yours,

CBS News employees Paul Douglas and James Brolan were killed in the same attack, and CBS's Kimberly Dozier was critically injured. Dozier has since returned to the US via Germany.

Please take a moment to look at the story, photos, and video about Captain Funkhauser at keyetv.com here.

From CNN's interview with Captain Funkhauser's wife Jennifer and father James:

COSTELLO [CNN]: Funkhouser was third generation military. His father and grandfather before him, James Senior, spent 31 years in the service.

JAMES FUNKHOUSER SR: When you lose a child, it's always painful. And when you lose your only child, it is especially painful.

JENNIFER FUNKHOUSER: I just want his name out there, you know? He was wonderful. He was a great soldier, a great guy, a great father, a great husband.

COSTELLO: But the attention given to tragedy involving the CBS news crew and her husband is somehow bittersweet, because so many others die in relative anonymity.

JENNIFER FUNKHOUSER: All of these soldiers that are injured, my husband had a lot of soldiers that were injured with him. They all have names. They all have stories. They're people. They're not just a soldier. They have a life. They have a family, a family that mourns them, a family that hurts. Everyone needs to know.

The Patriot Guard Riders will be riding for Captain Funkhauser today.

Remember our Heroes.

08 June 2006

The May Backpack Delivery to Landstuhl

Another month - another delivery of backpacks for the patients at Landstuhl hospital!

Everyone hates those drafty hospital gowns - especially soldiers! - so the backpacks contain a t-shirt and a pair of boxers. Just as important, each backpack contains a letter from home and a hand-made Blanket of Hope.

Passing the backpacks through the window of the Liaison offices. This is our trademarked (TM) way of saving steps around the building to the door.

Thank you for your support!

05 June 2006

The Longest Day

Shortly after dawn on June 7, Lt. Horace Henderson of the Sixth Engineer Special Brigade landed on Omaha Beach.

Going in on his Higgens boat, "I noticed that nothing moved on the beach except one bulldozer. The beach was covered with debris, sunken craft and wrecked vehicles. We saw many bodies in the water...

We jumped into chest high water and waded ashore. Then we saw that the beach was literally covered with the bodies of American soldiers wearing the blue and grey patches of the 29th Infantry Division."

- From the opening pages of Stephen E. Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers.

Blackfive has a D-Day remembrance roundup here

A Function of Loyalty

Marine Lt. Gen. James F. Amos:

"When we send them off to do the nation's bidding in a place like Afghanistan or Iraq and they're wounded, we're not returning the same individual," Amos said. "When we send them back wounded there is a piece of me that says I haven't kept my bargain. What's left for me to do is to continue taking care of them."

It starts with a visit - to as many as he can.

"It's a function of loyalty," the 59-year-old general said. "In Marine speak, it means fidelity. It's a wonderful word not used very often - except in the Marine Corps. It means faithful. It implies faithful almost to a fault...

"I owe it to them."

Unlike the General, we are often asked by the soldiers at Kleber outpatient barracks who we are and why we are there. I usually reply that we're just volunteers. During a recent visit there with Mrs. G, one Soldier kept pressing us for a more complete answer.

I always find that question difficult to answer, because it seems so self explanatory to me. I'm just trying to do my part.

We are at war. Because the military is doing its job in taking the fight to the enemy, we don't experience the war at home. But make no mistake - the Global War on Terror is more than the political and academic debates with which we are ceaselessly confronted in the mainstream press.

This is a real war, with real enemies.

And everybody has a part to play, whether it's engaging friends and aquaintances who question our right to defend ourselves or sewing a blanket. Everybody can do something, everybody can make a difference.

Back to our Soldier. I finally decided to turn the tables on him and asked why *he* does what he does.

He just laughed and said, "I guess you could call me a volunteer, too".

Via FbL, who has an inspiring post on the subject.

04 June 2006


We dare not rest as the most important front of the War on Terror and for the very survival of Western Civilization lies not upon the sands of distant shores, but in our own common discourse. The most important battlegrounds are around our dinner tables and in intelligent and persuasive common sense discussion among our peers, seeking the discomfort of battle and the very defense of defense rather than the comfort and unproductive endeavor of agreement among friends.

The line has been clearly drawn. Tire not. Engage.

- Steve Schippert, at Milblogs

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Spc. Brock L. Bucklin

From Donna of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen SA hero, Brock Bucklin.

Spc. Brock L. Bucklin, 28, of Grand Rapids, Mich., died May 31, in Balad, Iraq, of a non-combat related cause.

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

Brock is survived by his parents, Duane and Dawn and his twin brother, Brad, who is in the Army serving in Germany.

Thank you for supporting the families of our fallen heroes.


Brock's twin brother will be escorting him home:

Dawn Bucklin was on the phone with one of her sons, a soldier stationed in Germany, when two Army officers approached her home with tragic news about her other son: Army Cpl. Brock Bucklin had been killed in an equipment accident in Iraq.
( .. )

Brock Bucklin, 28, joined the Army in August 2004, about a year after his twin brother, Brad, did.

"Were they close? When one brother follows his brother into the Army a year later, I guess they are close," Duane Bucklin told The Grand Rapids Press.

Brock Bucklin, who graduated from Forest Hills Central High School in 1997, thrived in the Army, Duane Bucklin said.
( ... )

Brad Bucklin plans to escort his brother's remains home from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

"He and Brock made a promise if anything ever happened, they would carry their brother off the plane," Dawn Bucklin said. "He did not want to break that promise."

Please take a moment to read the Army Specialist Brock L. Bucklin tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

Remember our Heroes.

02 June 2006

An Honor and a Privilege

I'm often asked what it's like to volunteer with Soldiers' Angels in Germany. Well, as with any non-profit, there is a lot of administrative work, planning, coordinating, and a lot of correspondence. There's a lot of schlepping, unpacking, and sorting of boxes of donations. There's a lot of late-night phone calls.

It's a lot of things, but above all it's an honor and a privilege to work with our soldiers, their families, and all who support them.

My experiences with our wounded and ill soldiers are personal, and not mine to share, but I can take you for a short tour through my inbox.

To: maryann
Subject: Looking for help with an injured Marine


I was referred your way via the Soldier’s Angels. I’m trying to find out information for a co-worker who’s nephew was injured in Iraq via an IED. We believe he has been moved to Landstuhl in the last day or so. I’m looking for any information I can give his family and to see if there is anything he wants or needs that we can help facilitate.

Thanking you in advance for your assistance and grateful for your service to our soldiers and their families…

Sincerly yours,

To: maryann
Subject: Important question

Dear Fine Folks,

My nephew was injured by an IED in Baghdad today. Xxx is the CO's driver. He and the CO were driving when hit by the IED. Xxx has [description of injuries removed].

His father just called to report that Xxx is in the hospital in the ICU in Baghdad in critical condition. If his condition improves he'll be delivered back to Germany.

So, I'm asking for two things.

#1. Prayers.
#2. Any thing you can do to help.


And, because tragedy and kindness always exist together, there is the outpouring of love and support from perfect strangers who want to do something. Receiving each and every one of these emails brings me to tears.

To: maryann
Subject: next shipment


The Ladies are just so very excited about being able to give a little of themselves for those who are giving so very much of themselves for us.

Thanks again for letting us help.


The Bloomin' Loomers of Vancouver, WA.

The Bloomin' Loomers have sent over 200 hand/foot warmers, hats, and Blankets of Hope since March of this year.

To: maryann
Subject: request from robert ferrigno

Hi Maryann,

Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette suggested I might send some copies of my book Prayers for the Assassin to Landstuhl so the troops who are less critically injured have something to occupy them while they recover.


I told him that would be wonderful and gave him our address.

To: maryann
Subject: request from robert ferrigno

I deeply appreciate the opportunity to do some small favor to the men and women who have sacrificed so much to keep my children safe.

I've also contacted some other writers who are eager to help and they're passing the word on. You may get a LOT of books.


And we did.

Some of the books sent by Robert and fellow writers in the Soldiers' Angels Germany mail room.

So far we've received books from Robert and authors T. Jefferson Parker, Don Winslow, Brian M. Wiprud, Ben Rehder, and Bill Fitzhugh

To: maryann
Subject: box sent

I'm sending 7 warmers made with love and prayers for our brave soldiers. My contribution seems so small but the prayers are substantial.


To: maryann
Subject: Soldiers' Angels - DVD Player


I have a brand new 7" portable DVD player that I opened literally within an hour before reading the email saying you need some of them.

If you'll take it, please tell me where to send it.


To: maryann
Subject: Blankets of Hope


If you still need blankets, please send instructions. I'm a Soldier's Angel, and I send packages and so forth. I really feel so blessed to participate. I would like to help with the blankets if you need more.


To: maryann
Subject: want to help

Mary Ann:
What can I do to help?
I can sew / crochet / quilt.


To: maryann
Subject: DVDs for wounded

Hi Mary Ann, It's me Cathy. I spoke to you a few months ago regarding the 7th grade class and their project to collect DVDs for the wounded. Well their project is complete and I went there yesterday to pick them up.

I cried the whole time they were presenting them to me. It was so touching. Those kids worked so hard. They have even written letters. I'm going to enclose them also.

The teacher was so happy that her students responded so well to doing this project. She thinks once she gets her next 7th graders in the fall she will see if they want to this all over again. Isn't that wonderful...

Have a happy and safe holiday... Cathy

To: maryann
Subject: items for wounded

We are so happy to help in anyway possible. I wish we could do more! What are your greatest needs?

Be safe and be well.


Wouldn't you feel honored and privileged?

God bless our troops and all who care about them. Everyone who does something makes a difference.

"These little ripples of kindness add up to oceans of greatness." - Patti Patton-Bader, Founder of Soldiers' Angels.

Cross posted at ArmyWifeToddlerMom