27 November 2006

Battle Buddy

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

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

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

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

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

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

He nods.

24 November 2006


Buck Sergeant's coming home.

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

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

Have a safe journey home, Buck Sergeant.

H/T Greyhawk

23 November 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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

22 November 2006

God Bless Texas!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most outstanding sources of support were:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

I know what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.

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

20 November 2006

So what are you doing on December 14th?

Christmas at Arlington National Cemetery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wreaths Across America Mission:
Remember - Honor - and Teach

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

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post.

19 November 2006

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

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

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

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

Enough candy for an Army :-)

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

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

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


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

Hygiene items

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

Books and magazines

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

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

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

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

17 November 2006

14 November 2006

The Best Kid's Letter to Wounded Soldier Ever

Dear Sold Wounded Hero Man,

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

(smiley face)

Don't worry,
be happy.

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

13 November 2006

In Your Head

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

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

Because nobody hates war more than a Soldier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome home, 1st Lt. Larry Hull.

12 November 2006

Military Bloggers Raise $180,000 Online for Wounded


Military Bloggers Raise $180,000 Online for Wounded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

E-mail: sbsmusik@yahoo.com

# # #

Soldiers' Angels Mourns 2nd Lt. Mark Gelina

From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember our Heroes.

11 November 2006

In Honor of Our Veterans, Past and Present

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

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

- A.E. Housman

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

* * *

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

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

10 November 2006

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

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

- President Ronald Reagan, 1985

Happy Birthday!

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

09 November 2006

Valour-IT: All gave some....

... and some gave all.

Now it's your turn.

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

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

Thank you and Semper Fi !

08 November 2006

The Kindess of Strangers and Angels

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

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

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

But it doesn't stop there.

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

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

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

Sharon and the women of Bethel Baptist Church sent 17.

Mary Beth simply replied, "Okeedokee, MaryAnn."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robin's Blanket

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

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

07 November 2006

Marines at Landstuhl Start Birthday Celebrations Early

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

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

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

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

Steve's full story at S&S here.

06 November 2006

Army Stoopid

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

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

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

From the Marines at Landstuhl


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

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

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

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

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

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

Semper Fidelis,

MSgt Robin Thomas
NCOIC, Marine Liaision HLT

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

Semper Fi and Happy Birthday, Marines!

04 November 2006


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

The conversation in the room went something like this:

"&$)=§#... "

"$§)$? #& *)"=)/$???"

"#$§+$ &"#+*!!"


Feel free to fill in the blanks yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you and Semper Fi!

01 November 2006

A Cry for Help

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


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

- George Bush today in Georgia.