30 March 2007

Aliens Among Us

From James Taranto's Best of the Web Today:

Gort! Klaatu Barada Nikto!

At least two U.S. senators are space aliens, and this isn't one of those supermarket-tabloid gags. We are as serious as a heart attack.

On Dec. 20, 2002, Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska shared a byline on a Washington Post op-ed titled "Iraq: The Decade After." Biden and Hagel, both of whom had voted two months earlier to go to war with Saddam Hussein's regime, warned that it would not be an easy undertaking and that America had to be prepared for a long-term commitment:

Although no one doubts our forces will prevail over Saddam Hussein's, key regional leaders confirm what the Foreign Relations Committee emphasized in its Iraq hearings last summer: The most challenging phase will likely be the day after--or, more accurately, the decade after--Saddam Hussein.

Once he is gone, expectations are high that coalition forces will remain in large numbers to stabilize Iraq and support a civilian administration. That presence will be necessary for several years, given the vacuum there, which a divided Iraqi opposition will have trouble filling and which some new Iraqi military strongman must not fill. . . . Americans are largely unprepared for such an undertaking. President Bush must make clear to the American people the scale of the commitment.

Today President Bush remains committed, while Biden and Hagel are among the leaders of the effort to retreat. Their "decade" turned out to last barely four years. The only plausible explanation is that the planet Biden and Hagel are from revolves around its sun in the equivalent of about 150 Earth days.

28 March 2007

"Why you sad, American soldier?"

I have nothing to add to this.

Dear Family and friends,

As many of you may have heard by now, there was a major VBIED that exploded in [redacted]. The amount of explosives within the truck was enough to shake my CHU almost [redacted] miles away.

When we arrived at the scene, it was one of chaos and despair. There are not enough words to describe the carnage and evil that we saw. I saw it again a little later at the hospital. [numbers of Iraqi civilians dead and wounded redacted] I know, because I walked among the bodies to count them for my report.

At our initial stop at the hospital, it was total anarchy trying to get the wounded treated. We had Blackhawk Helicopters Medevac the injured to the hospitals at [redacted]. The less severe were being treated at the hospital [here] and the neighborhood clinics.

The dead were being piled outside in the yard and covered in blankets. Still, stray dogs found their way to the bodies, but Thank God there were enough people there, still with the sense of mind, to chase them away.

When I walked inside the doorway of the hospital there was a commotion going on. As I tried to get a grasp of what was happening, I looked to my left and saw more bodies, covered in blankets outside of the foyer. I asked [my interpreter] to come with me, so that I could document who these new bodies where or when they came in.

As I stepped closer to them in the dark, I realized I was looking at the bodies of small children. Some as young as 12 months old.

As I lifted the tiny blankets, I became numb; one infant had its tiny head missing. Others were disfigured and their bodies broken and mangled. I could not believe what I was looking at.

There was no semblance or the perception of a rough American soldier. I dropped to my knees and started to cry uncontrollably. All of the men, Iraqi Army and police, doctors and nurses all stopped to look at me. I did not care, I was beside myself. My interpreter did not say a word, he also sat there staring at me, but he knows me and understands.

One of the [Iraqi] men came to me and said, in a voice totally filled with compassion and caring, "Why you sad, American soldier?"

I looked up at him, and I could not say anything. I got up and wiped myself with my Arabic scarf and rejoined the group of men to hear their argument.

They told me that about some doctors did not show up. I asked them why. They said because the terrorist and insurgents had threatened them.

"Did not you and they take an oath to preserve life at all costs?" I asked them. "Why are you here and not them?"

They said it is a sad day in Iraq when an American soldier will fall on his knees and cry for children that are not American, but our own doctors will not come to help.

I asked them, why not send the Iraqi Army to their homes and force them to show up? The head doctor grabbed my by the elbow and said, "That is why God has sent you and given you a big heart." I told him that I would do everything in my power to see that it happens.

3 days prior, a suicide bomber detonated his bomb in a market area. Not just anywhere, but outside of a candy store.

These so called freedom fighters, Martyrs and defenders of the faith do not attack Iraqi army, police or soldiers like me, but innocent civilians, and children on top of that. They cannot win against the American fighting soldier, so they have to go to the weakest of the weak to spread their campaign of fear.

I wish people like Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore and the leftist elite in the Media and Hollywood would come here and volunteer their time and talents. Let them try to count and cover the broken bodies of infants.

If the Coalition Forces leave from Iraq this will be an everyday occurrence until one of these groups, who believes they only should exist, takes over through such terror and murder.

If you have children, whether sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, little cousins or your neighbors kids, hug them and appreciate the fact that you will not have to see their life end in such a brutal and cowardly fashion.

Pray for these people, for these children, and for all of us.

In addition to the redacted names, place names, etc. I have also edited complete passages for the sake of clarity and length.

Update: Because this Soldier was subsequently shown on TV being carried on a litter, a buddy wrote to tell us he was ok. Turns out he was trying to protect a child from being trampled by a crowd in the chaotic and violent aftermath of this incident. While doing so he fell down a flight of stairs, causing a concussion. He briefly collapsed.

He was back on duty within a couple of hours. In a reference to his Greek heritage he quipped, "It is going to take a lot more than about 400 Turkomen to stop a Spartan."

Keep charging, Spartan. We love you.

Update 2, 02 April: "Why you sad, American soldier?" - Part 2

27 March 2007

The Roots of anti-Americanism

Found this at Drudge. It's Evan Sayet speaking at The Heritage Foundation. He's a writer, lecturer, and pundit who for 20 years was a top Hollywood writer and producer for the likes of Bill Maher and Arsenio Hall.

The title of the 45-minute lecture is "Regurgitating the Apple: How Modern Liberals Think", but forget the labels. It's a fascinating analysis of what he calls "indescriminateness of thought", often called moral equivilancy. The indescriminateness of thought which has led to much of today's anti-America, anti-Military agenda.

Sayet makes several references to Allan Bloom's book, The Closing of the American Mind, which is also well worth your time.

26 March 2007

Prayers for DJ

Leslie and DJ

This is a difficult post to write, but many of you have been asking about DJ. There have been ongoing complications and his condition is very serious. Over the past 3 days the doctors have been forced to amputate both of his legs in an effort to control the infection that is plaguing his body.

Corporal David "DJ" Emery Jr. of 2/4 Marines was severly wounded in a terrorist suicide attack on February 7. He was sent here to Germany and then on to Bethesda Naval Medical Center on Februrary 18. You can find previous posts about DJ here and here.

My hearfelt gratitude to all of you who have kept DJ and his family in your thoughts and prayers. They are much appreciated and needed more than ever now.

The other day Cassandra posted the beautiful words below about faith for DJ and his family. They have been a true comfort during this difficult time and I'd like to share them with you here.


Who can know what tales are told in the whispers of an angel,
Who can see what mighty deeds he does in the name of the Lord,
What eye can see or mind conceive of how he sees this world,
Dark and light is angel sight: the battle brave, and souls are saved.
Demons flee when we're set free, and angels there attend.

- Dennis Carlson Ragsdale

Click to read more stories about DJ here at SAG.

24 March 2007

Dereliction of Duty

House votes for surrender in Iraq, selling out our troops and their mission - our national security - for 30 pieces of silver.

CINC: "As I have made clear for weeks, I will veto it if it comes to my desk. And because the vote in the House was so close, it is clear that my veto would be sustained."

Full text and video here.

22 March 2007

U.S. Marine Awarded British Distinguished Flying Cross

Queen Elizabeth II presents U.S. Marine Maj. William D. Chesarek Jr. with the British Distinguished Flying Cross in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace Wednesday. Chesarek is the first American to receive the honor since World War II. Photo courtesy of British Ceremonial Arts Limited.

Maj. Chesarek has served as the weapons and tactics instructor with the British 847 Naval Air Squadron since 2005 as part of an exchange program between the two countries.

An AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter pilot, Maj. Chesarek was awarded the equivalent of the American Silver Star for his actions which helped save a British marine’s life in Iraq.

The mission started late on the night of June 10, 2006, as Chesarek and his crew were preparing to support about 100 British marines from the 20 Armoured Brigade as they looked for an insurgent weapons cache in the city of Amarah.

He was piloting a Lynx AH47 helicopter, which usually supported each battle group of a few hundred British troops.

As the ground force prepared to leave Amarah after wrapping up the weapons search, one vehicle became disabled. And insurgents took advantage.

“It kind of delayed the process, and now it’s going from night to day,” Chesarek, 32, recalled. “They started taking more fire as well.”

While Chesarek and his men in the air tried to find the sources of insurgent attacks — he estimated it was the work of five to 10 groups of three to five men — civilians started emerging, making it more difficult for the helicopter to single out and fire back at the insurgents.

“Obviously that has a huge impact on everything the guys on the ground are doing, as far as trying to avoid anything with noncombatants, and trying to effectively engage insurgents,” Chesarek said.

As the summer sun got higher in the sky, attacks on the marooned ground forces increased, and one British marine was shot in the head. Chesarek and his crew landed and evacuated the casualty.

Chesarek also drew enemy fire away from the ground troops and called in other air support that helped disperse the insurgents.

As the chopper pulled away from the scene, a rocket-propelled grenade barely missed its tail.

Though he had supported U.S. Marines on similar missions, those close calls never stop feeling too close for comfort, he said.

“I had been through some scenarios which age you significantly,” he said. “You’re that much more prepared for it when it happens again, and you’re grateful when it misses you. I remember looking behind me in the face of my door gunner and laughing briefly at the expression on his face just after that barely missed.”

Update: More on Maj. Chesarek at OPFOR.

Strykers in Baqubah

MNF-Iraq B-roll of soldiers from the 3rd Stryker Brigade as they take and return fire in Buhriz, Diyala Province, Iraq, on March 14, 2007.

The Strykers have begun operations in Baqubah and elsewhere in Diyala Province where elements of al Qaeda have regrouped after fleeing Baghdad. Look for continuing operations here in the coming weeks.

Let's make a deal

Your Congress at work:

You want U.S. troops out of Iraq immediately? What'll it take to get you to vote on the supplemental's 2008 withdrawal date?

Will $750 million for kids health care do the trick?

How about $400 million for rural Northwest schools once dependent on federal timber sales?

Or an extra $2.9 billion in hurricane relief?

Let's make a deal.

Not sure what all this pork has to do with the Global War on Terror. But then again, I'm not a member of Congress.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. -- Mark Twain

21 March 2007

Message from Iraq: American people are the "tipping point for our success"

A message from Iraq to Soldiers' Angels.

Thanks so much for the great packages for our soldiers here. I can't tell you how much it means to our men.

For my men and me - the notes, care, compassion and thoughts that come from you are immeasurable.

The Army provides for us more than any other Army. We are well equipped, clothed and even compensated.

However, no amount of encourgement or words of wisdom from our politicians or military leaders and even myself has the same impact as the thoughts from our friends and families back in the United States.

You don't realize, everything you do for our men helps to turn this war around and is the tipping point for our success.

And here's one from Afghanistan:

From a deployed service-member, heartfelt thanks to Soldiers’ Angels.

In the waning days of my year-long deployment to Afghanistan, I have begun to reflect on the things that have made a huge difference to me during my tour.

When I started this journey to Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I would be wearing body armor and carrying around an M-16. As a Sailor, I was nervous about what I had gotten myself into. As a service member, I knew that it was my time to answer my nation's call. Whatever was needed of me, I would do it.

After getting over the initial shock of being over here, I discovered the America Supports You campaign. I was amazed by how much love and heartfelt gratitude my fellow Americans had for all of us deployed personnel.

After a little web-surfing, I happened on the Soldiers’ Angels network. Little did I know at the time when I put my name in for it what a profound impact SA would have on me and my troops serving “over there”.

Within weeks, I was flooded by countless postcards, letters, care packages, and emails from ordinary, extraordinary Americans who were genuinely concerned about how I was doing. Was I getting enough to eat? Am I cool or warm enough? Do I have a special treat that would make life a little easier? Where was I from?

I was taken aback by so many new friends who were honestly concerned for my well-being and of the troops around me. I was shocked and awed to say the least.

We all get homesick and depressed being on the other side of the planet, not knowing if today was going to be our last day. Whenever I felt a little down in the dumps, I always had an Angel to turn to who lifted my spirits. My Angels were there when I needed them the most, when I felt like there was no one in the world understood what I was going through.

With only about thirty days to go until I start heading home, I’m now training the young men and women to do the job that I’ve done for the past 11 months. I hope that they listen to my tips and tricks to keep them safe.

Most of all, I hope they take a little time out of their day to understand how much love their fellow Americans have for them.

From the deepest recesses of my heart, I want to personally thank each and every Angel. We couldn’t do what we have to do without having you there beside us, each and every step of the way.

You are all your heroes, heroes.

Won't you step up and become a Soldiers' Angel?

Because, as a nation, we have a choice...

Landstuhl Fisher House and HomesForOurTroops featured on "Around the Services"

On today's "Around the Services" from the Pentagon Channel:

At 5 minutes: News about the new Army Wounded Warrior Hotline.

At 5:18 minutes: HomesForOurTroops receives $3 million from an anonymous donor.

At 6:32 minutes: Story about the Landstuhl Fisher House.

16 March 2007

"Hard for outsiders to understand"

Germany's Der Spiegel has published what I think is a pretty solid article about Landstuhl hospital (Hotel Tango Mrs. G of the Mudville Gazette). The tone is a bit breathless at times, but in general it's a good overview.

You won't see any photos taken inside the hospital from me, but you may be interested in a couple from the article.

Hallway on one of the wards. You'll also often see US Army and Marine Corps flags as well as flags from Coalition countries.

Familiar sight at Landstuhl - doctors and nurses wearing ACUs.

Another familiar sight. This is Sgt. Nick McDermott, one of the soldiers interviewed in the article.

Arrival of critical patients at Landstuhl, something I've witnessed many times:
The chaplain at the head of the welcoming committee personally greets the new arrival, just as every new arrival at Landstuhl is greeted personally, whether he is awake, asleep or in a coma. The priest stands next to the stretcher and leans in toward the patient, almost as if he were bowing, and, addressing him by his first name: "Michael", he says, "you are safe now. You're in Germany."

As the priest's purple-gloved hand forms the sign of the cross in the air above the wounded soldier, the hands of many others are already whisking the stretcher away toward the hospital, where it is loaded into an elevator and taken up to the ICU.

But not all arrivals are as dramatic:

The hospital has treated 38,000 patients since 2003, most with run-of-the-mill, non-emergency ailments or needs: broken legs, appendicitis, tonsillitis and births.

An inpatient's story of the attack in which he was wounded...

Gillilan and his men hid behind a wall, but in doing so they were falling deeper into the attackers' trap -- the wall was rigged with explosives. Once the Americans and Iraqi troops were safely behind the wall, the detonator was activated, perhaps using a mobile phone or a rebuilt TV remote control. The wall blew up, triggering several secondary explosions; flying shrapnel and rocks from the explosion seriously injured seven Americans and one Iraqi in Gillilan's group.

of those who saved his life...

Instead of dying on a street in Ramadi, he was saved by a medic -- a "91 Whiskey" -- who treated the wound on site as best he could under enemy fire, and managed to stop the bleeding. He was saved by the staff of a forward aid station consisting of two doctors, several nurses, operating tables and beds. He was saved by the helicopter pilots who flew him to Balad, a US base north of Baghdad. And he was saved by the doctors on board the C-17 who monitored his condition while he was being flown to Ramstein.

...and the caregivers in Landstuhl:

"It's a great honor to me," says Flaherty, "to care for our people from the front lines. They're good people who are doing good things. When somebody like that is lying in front of you, it's a special feeling for a surgeon. It's like family, and it has a quality of its own."

It's impossible to visit Landstuhl without hearing stories about heroes. "It's an incredible privilege to me to be able to welcome these soldiers," says Stephen Stavoy, the priest who met the bus of patients in the morning.

"Getting blown up is part of the job," said one of the Soldiers wounded in the attack described above.

Just like the helo pilot we visited last week shortly after he woke up in the ICU to learn he'd lost a leg. "I knew it was a dangerous job," he told us with a grimace and a shrug.

"Hard for outsiders to understand," says one of the soldiers in the article.

Yes, I suppose it is. But I wish it wasn't. I wish more people could understand.

15 March 2007

New CSH in Anbar serving soldiers and "giving back to organizations that are helping us"

Task Force 3 MEDCOM is opening a new CSH (Combat Support Hospital) in Anbar province next week, providing an upgrade to previous facilities.

The 399th Combat Support Hospital, at Asad, will serve as the primary medical facility for the Marine Expeditionary Force and U.S. Army troops in the region, along with Iraqi army and police units in Anbar province.

“The primary benefit of having this hospital in the al-Anbar province is that it will reduce the amount of time before Marines, Coalition and Iraqi Armed Forces receive level III (Surgical and Stabilization) medical care in the region,” officials said.

More than 40 percent of American casualties in Iraq are suffered in Anbar province, so the need for faster high-level care is apparent.

The new combat support hospital will include a women’s clinic, outpatient clinics, mental health and occupational therapy/physical therapy areas, along with a range of surgical possibilities, officials said. It will also have a lab, blood bank and CT scan capabilities.

So aside from all the high-tech equipment and top-notch personnel, what does a brand new hospital need?

To date, we've sent coffee pots, microwaves, funds to purchase TV's, DVD players and video games to equip their wards. The Soldiers' Angels Foundation and our volunteer Angels have also sent blankets, sheets, sweat shirts, snacks by the ton, DVD movies, coffee, cocoa, microwave popcorn... you get the idea.

TF3 MEDCOM includes more than 30 medical units and about 3,000 soldiers and is responsible for all medical care in Iraq. The 399th CSH is an Army Reserve unit from Taunton, Mass.

Now here is the neat thing, according to my buddy Roger who is SA's POC for the CSHs downrange:

A couple of soldiers in that unit started IraqiMuscle.com (a health website) where you can track your weight-lifting progress and buy t-shirts. They split the profits between Soldiers' Angels and Adopt a Soldier. It is growing by leaps and bounds. They said they "wanted to give back to organizations that are helping us."

If you'd like to help support the CSHs, Aid Stations, Surgical Units, or Medics downrange, email Roger or go to the Soldiers' Angels website to make a cash donation.

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Spc. Ryan D. Russell

From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen Hero from Soldiers' Angels, Specialist Ryan D. Russell.

Spc. Russell, 20, of Elm City, NC, died Mar. 5 in Baqubah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit.

He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Ryan is survived by his mother, Kathy Moore.


Pvt. Barry W. Mayo and Sgt. Blake Harris were killed in the same attack.

A family friend of Russell said that he had hopes that the U.S. actions in Iraq would improve the lives of the country's children.

Russell was among soldiers from the company that asked Give2TheTroops for school supplies, children's shoes and socks, toys and soccer balls to give to the children.

He was serving his first tour in Iraq and recently re-enlisted for another five years.

Russell, a medic, was aiding soldiers whose Humvee had been hit by a spring-loaded improvised explosive device when a second device went off, according to family friend Barbara Whitehead.

"Ryan was rushing to help his soldiers," Whitehead said, fighting back emotion. "As a mother, your heart just breaks whenever you hear this."

"Ryan was proud to do this job," she continued. "He made an impact on this world forever."

Please take a moment to read the Army Spc. Ryan D. Russell tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

The Patriot Guard Riders are riding for Spc. Russell.

Remember our Heroes.

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Sgt. Blake Harris

From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen Hero from Soldiers' Angels, Army Sergeant Blake Harris.

Spc. Harris, 22, of Pueblo, CO died Mar. 5 in Baqubah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit. He was posthumously promoted to Sergeant.

He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Blake is survived by his wife, Joanna, his 2-year-old son, Jonah, and his parents John and Deborah.


Pvt. Barry W. Mayo and Spc. Ryan D. Russell were killed in the same attack.

Blake Harris' dad, John, spent 11 years in the Army, and Blake followed suit. He spent three years with the ROTC at South High School in Pueblo. When Blake Harris graduated from high school in 2002, he enlisted.

Deborah Harris, Blake's mother, said her son made his decision after a recruiter came to campus.

"He came home, and said, 'Mom, I'm going to join the Army. I'm going to serve my country,' " his mother recalled. "It was in his blood for sure."

Please take a moment to read the Army Spc. Blake Harris tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

The Patriot Guard Riders are riding for Sgt. Harris.

Remember our Heroes.

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Pvt. Barry Mayo

From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen Hero from Soldiers' Angels, Army Private Barry Mayo.

Pvt. Barry W. Mayo, 21, of Ecru, MS, died Mar. 5 in Baqubah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit.

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

Barry is survived by his father & stepmother, John & Becky Mayo, his mother Kimberly Yarbrough, and his brother, Andy Lee Mayo.


Spc. Blake Harris and Spc. Ryan D. Russell were killed in the same attack.

Mayo attended North Pontotoc High School and had one semester at Northeast Mississippi Community College before entering the Army.

“He first went over to Iraq when he just turned 18,” his grandmother Patricia Mayo said. “He had come back home and had been back for two weeks before he went back on Feb. 20, his 21st birthday.”

Please take a moment to read the Army Pvt. Barry W. Mayo tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

The Patriot Guard Riders are riding for Pvt. Mayo.

Remember our Heroes.

13 March 2007

Where have you been?

Since the Walter Reed scandal broke, I've had more than a few people ask for my thoughts on the facilities at Landstuhl. As a volunteer and outsider with no military or medical experience I don't feel particularly qualified to give an opinion. But I do have eyes and ears, and I've met more than a few patients over the last couple of years. So here goes.

Q. Do the soldiers complain about bureacracy, morning formation, and the like?
A. Yes. I've learned that soldiers always complain about stuff like that. Are their complaints justified? Yes, sometimes they are.

But the fact is, the facilities at Landstuhl are transitional facilities. An outpatient's average stay here is 10 days. Not enough time for the shameful incidents uncovered at Walter Reed to occur. Overall, patients give the Landstuhl inpatient and outpatient facilities high marks, as seen in this recent article in Stars & Stripes.

Q. Have you noticed any recent changes at Landstuhl?
A. Yeah. The Congresscritters and brass who have suddenly descended like a swarm of locusts.

I know it'll sound snarky, but I can't help thinking, "Great to see you... but where have you been?"

If you're not familiar with these types of visits, let me fill you in. Ever heard the expression Dog and Pony Show? Familiar with the term "Entourage"? You get the picture.

Where have they been all this time?

I don't know the answer to that question, but I can tell you about a few people who have always been here.

I'm usually around on the weekend. When things are quiet. When the only people at the hospital and the MedHold are those who are working and those who want to be there.

I don't think I've ever been to the hospital over the weekend without seeing Colonel Gamble, the Commander. He's there when the new patients are unloaded from the buses, he's in the halls, he's on the wards. I guess he works 7 days a week.

There's an Air Force General out of Ramstein whom I've seen numerous times at the hospital on Sundays with boxes of donuts. Alone. He goes into every room, talks to every patient, gives each and every one of them his coin. It's obviously his day off. He doesn't have to be there, he wants to be there.

The Commander of the MedHold at Kleber barracks, Captain Arnold, is there at least one day over the weekend. And I've run into her boss, Lt Col Boone, at all hours of the days and night. Like 2300 on a Saturday night. "Just stopping by... ", he always says.

There are many others, of course. Military and non-Military. The lady who volunteers at the crafts room at Kleber. The volunteer staff of the Chaplain's office who put in countless hours. Sue Timkin, the Ambassador's wife. The Red Cross volunteers - including their Red Cross dogs. The USO... the VFW...

And you, dear readers of this blog, the Soldiers' Angels, the MilBloggers, AnySoldier supporters, the Marine Corps Moms, and all the others who have been standing with our guys. You've been there, too.

Where's everybody else been? Where've they been?

2007 MilBlog Conference: Pre-registration Now Open

2007 MilBlog Conference Information

Pre-registration is now open for the 2007 MilBlog Conference. The pre-registration phase will run from March 9 - March 16 and is open only to members of the military community (active-duty, Guard, Reserves, Veterans and family members).

Registration will open to the general public on March 17.

Registration is $40 per person and covers the cocktail reception on May 4 and the conference/luncheon on May 5.

Seating is limited to 275 people, so be sure to register early.

Register here.

Conference information here.

Hope to see you there!

Still Leading After All These Years

Here's a new post from Robert Connolly, a regular contributor to the SAG blog.

Helping to organize a care package operation means you get to see some remarkable things.

One of my senior colleagues was an Air Force officer in the late 1950’s. Besides being smart as hell (electrical engineer, Stanford Ph.D.), he is an extraordinary teacher and just a wonderful human being. Every time I send an email out inviting assistance with care packages, he responds with a check. A month ago, I sent around an email about the needs of the 3rd Brigade, 10th MTN DIV. (They had been extended for 120 days on pretty short notice, and they needed a hand with hygiene and other supplies.) He tracked me down via email to say he was going to get me a check, and then followed up with one of the biggest checks I have gotten in the 16 months we have been operating. Later, he found me in the hallway to tell me how important this was, and how much he admired what we were doing.

At church, there is an older gentleman who always prays for servicemen and women, deployed in harm’s way, and for the families from whom they are separated. Maybe 18 months ago, I decided to thank him for doing this (I had one son-in-law in Iraq at the time, and another one who had already been there). It turns out this man had served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He was a West Point graduate (Class of 1950), and served in the Air Force (apparently since there was no separate academy for Air Force officers at the time). Months later, after we got the care package operation running, he always asked whether we were still mailing packages. When I answered yes, he would always catch me before leaving church to shake my hand and tell me how great it was that we were still sending packages. Every time he did this, he passed me a $20 bill in the handshake, and he did it pretty often.

Now, I am a firm believer in recognizing people like these two men who do good things (even after doing their duty). So, I asked a contact in Afghanistan, an Air Force Senior Master Sergeant, if I could send him two flags, have them flown on the base, get them signed by the folks there (on the white edging), and sent back. I wanted to present it to these two veterans as a token of appreciation for all they have done for the current generation of airmen. My Air Force SMSgt said he could do that, but suggested that I present his detachment’s unit coin. He said he would send them the next day.

Well, the coins arrived last week on Tuesday. Last Thursday, I snuck in on the last minute of my colleague’s review session with about 25 students and presented it to him. He got a big round of applause from the students, and he was clearly very touched by the recognition. He explained the difference between zoomies and dogfaces to his students, and talked about how important it was to support the servicemen in the field. Later, he came by my office, and he reiterated how much it meant to have a coin from an Air Force unit in Afghanistan that had been on the receiving end of the care package operation that he helped to fund.

At church on Saturday evening, I caught up with my other retired Air Force officer. When I explained the situation and presented the coin, he was momentarily stunned. He didn’t think he had done anything remarkable (…just his duty, I suspect he thought). He was also very touched by the gesture, and wanted to know everything about the unit in Afghanistan. The wife of this man who normally won’t say very much about his past service, let slip a few details about his past service. With the help of Google, I learned he was at least an Air Force Colonel (a pilot) before retiring. I still don’t have the whole story, but he was ready to hand over another $20. Just coincidentally, this man’s 80th birthday was two days earlier (I know 60 year olds who aren’t as sharp, mobile, and capable as this fellow).

On the days when former military who serve in Congress seem to have forgotten their fellow servicemen (acting like ex-Marines, not former Marines), I think about these two great men. True to the oath that both swore over 50 years ago, these two retired warriors are still leading from the front and by example.

Then, not to be outdone by these guys, I get back to the important business of hustling support for the current generation of warriors that serves the nation with such great distinction.

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

10 March 2007

The Gift of Hope: Priceless

Last week Soldiers' Angels put out the call to help the families of Ft Rucker. They suffered the highest loss of life and property from the tornadoes which swept through parts of Alabama on March 1st.

Dear Soldiers' Angels,

My name is SFC Thomas B.. My son and I were home on March 1st when the tornado came through Enterprise, AL. To say that he and I are now bonded with the Lord and to each other in a very special way is simply an understatement.

My daughter was in the high school and while she suffered minor injuries, she is doing as well as can be expected for the experiences she had. My wife was at work and luckily, didn't have to experience the wrath of a tornado at that time. Instead, she spent the next 2 hours just trying to get into our neighborhood to see if my son and I were alive.

As you might imagine, the last week or so has been consumed by salvaging our belongings and prayer. We've moved into a temporary place until our house is rebuilt.

Imagine, if you will, the sense of overwhelming loss at the young lives that were taken, the destruction and then the task ahead. Then, imagine getting a donation of $1000 from your organization to help our battered checkbook.

The gift you folks have given my family will truly be repaid to you a thousand times by the Lord, and we pray for that so you can continue to help others, but we will also place this organization on our donation list once we have re-established our lives here in Enterprise.

Your gift brought with it a product that is priceless. Hope.

My family and I wish to extend our warmest wishes for your continued strength and health as you move about doing great things for those that serve this country of ours. I'm proud to label this organization as our personal Platoon of Angels, for you have certainly helped us in the most angelic of ways. With love and hope.

Tom B. (& family)

Soldiers' Angels would like to thank all of you who helped provid these families with the gift of hope.

07 March 2007

Landstuhl Commander interviewed in "Around the Services"

Yesterday's "Around the Services" show from the Pentagon Channel has coverage of the hearings on Walter Reed and other military medical facilities.

There's also a short interview with COL Gamble, Commander of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center here in Germany, in which he discusses Landstuhl's role in the medevac process. Includes rarely shown footage of wounded soldiers arriving at Landstuhl.

The American Legion Legislative Rally that Andi live-blogged yesterday is also covered.

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Sgt. Chad M. Allen

From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen Hero from Soldiers' Angels, Marine Sgt. Chad M. Allen.

Sgt. Allen 25, of Maple Lake, Minn, died Feb. 28 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

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

Chad is survived by his parents, Steve & Deborah and 3 siblings.


"He was awesome, he was the coolest kid," said his mother, Deborah Allen, of Danbury, Wis. "He was very happy, very outgoing, never could sit still for a minute."

Chad Allen enlisted in the Marines the day after the Sept. 11 attacks "to save his family from harm". He voluteered for this, his second tour of duty in Iraq, to take the place of an inured fellow Marine.

His father Steve Allen said his son told him the Sunday before his death that he had been promoted to Sergeant.

Please take a moment to read the Marine Sgt. Chad M. Allen tribute at the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

The Patriot Guard Riders will be riding for Sgt. Chad Allen.

Remember our Heroes.

06 March 2007

Andi met the CINC!

Go over and read about it. It's part of her excellent live-blogging coverage of American Legion Legislative Rally here and here.

05 March 2007

Call to Action for Community Support for the Veterans Clinics and Hospitals Across America

For Immediate Release

Soldiers' Angels - Call to Action for Community Support for the Veterans Clinics and Hospitals Across America

Pasadena, CA March 5 2007-The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) clinics and hospitals located in many communities across the nation provide medical services to combat veterans. These facilities are an important resource for veterans returning from the Global War on Terror and their families. Soldiers' Angels encourages the nation to stand up and support the needs for improvements for the facilities as our veterans deserve to have the best medical care available for them.

Of the 25 million veterans currently alive, nearly three of every four served during a war or an official period of hostility. About a quarter of the nation's population, approximately 70 million people are potentially eligible for VA benefits and services because they are veterans, family members or survivors of veterans.

Recent reports highlight many areas of concern in the repair needs of facilities and care that our combat veterans are receiving. This may appear only to be a government issue, but as citizens we should prepare to take roles in assisting the hospitals and clinics in areas of need, such as volunteering or donating needed product to make the lives of our combat veterans more comfortable.

To locate a VA hospital or clinic near you please visit www.va.gov or contact 1-800-827-1000.

Soldiers' Angels is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the support of the brave men and women deployed in support of the War on Terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever we fly the flag of the United States of America. For more information about Soldiers' Angels check out the website or contact us by email.

Founder Patti Patton-Bader may be contacted at (615) 676-0239.

Soldiers Angels
1792 E. Washington Blvd
Pasadena, Ca. 91104

04 March 2007

Signing Off

Received by Soldiers' Angel Sara today.

To All My Angels,

I would like to take a moment to say Thank You! There are many occasions where words just can not suffice for what we really want to convey. This is one of those times.

I have been so overwhelmed by all the selfless support you have all provided for my Marines and I. There were so many letter writers and bakers that are not included on this e-mail. If you could post this for all to see I would appreciate that very much.

It was a long seven months and it’s time to go back and spend time with our families. Due to very unfortunate circumstances that most of you may know about we are going back short five Marines and two Sailors who perished doing what they believed was right for our wonderful country. They are the real heroes.

Seeing all the support you have all offered is a true testament that our Armed Forces have the majority behind them. There are many opinions about the war in Iraq. From the standpoint of this old Marine taking the war to the enemy on foreign soil is the noble thing to do. It doesn’t matter about weapons of mass destruction or if Iraq was tied to Al Qaeda. This is the battle field for the larger fight against terrorism and it’s making our country safe.

I don’t ask you to see my point of view; I just want to Thank You from the bottom of my heart for supporting us no matter what you believe. We will never forget Pearl Harbor and hopefully not 9/11 either. Conquering terrorism will be a long job and we the Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen have the will and fortitude to get the job done.

God Bless you all and God Bless America.

Semper Fidelis


Changes to Command Structure Planned at WR

From the WaPo:
Nonmedical General To Be Named as Deputy Commander

Army officials plan to revise the command structure at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, installing a nonmedical general officer as deputy commander to ensure that administrative operations run smoothly, in the wake of reports of serious problems with outpatient care at the facility, officials said yesterday.

A one-star general -- who has not yet been identified -- will work with Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, a physician who was named on Friday to head Walter Reed, according to two defense officials. The new deputy will be a general who will bring a nonmedical eye to the operation to "make it run like it's supposed to run," said one Army official familiar with the decision.

Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army's vice chief of staff, has also directed that an infantry officer -- one who recently served in Iraq -- assume the leadership of a new unit at Walter Reed called the "Wounded Warrior Transition Brigade," whose specific aim is to take care of outpatients. The brigade will address problems such as those identified in a series of Washington Post reports about substandard conditions and bureaucratic tangles that affected the care of injured soldiers who had returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Like the idea of a recently-returned infantry officer heading up the new Transition Brigade.

7 terrorists dead, 4 hostages freed, anti-aircraft weapons destroyed, and political shakeup announced

Not bad for a day's work.



BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition Forces targeted members of an al-Qaeda in Iraq network Friday during an air strike operation west of Taji.

Intelligence reports indicated that this network is responsible for threats to Coalition aircraft.

Coalition Forces believe key terrorists were killed during the air strike. Results are still being assessed at this time.



BAGHDAD, IRAQ – An assessment performed by Coalition Forces following an air strike in Arab Jabour on Saturday led to the rescue of four Iraqi citizens and the uncovering of a terrorist weapons cache today.

Four Iraqi citizens were liberated from a building near the site of yesterday’s air strike. According to one of the liberated hostages, the terrorists holding them captive fled immediately after the air strike. All four hostages were treated on site for various injuries. One of the hostages said he had been held captive for 50 days.

At the site of the air strike, Ground forces also found remnants of an anti-aircraft heavy machine gun known as a DShK and multiple rocket propelled grenades and grenade launchers. Additionally, a DShK Tripod was found dug in the ground along the Tigris River with spent ammunition cartridges. ...

Coalition Forces used two precision guided bombs in the strike destroying a small structure and killing seven terrorists hiding inside. A large secondary explosion was noted after the initial bombs were dropped on the target, indicating the presence of explosive material within the structure.

Meanwhile, PM Maliki sees the light:

Iraq PM vows Cabinet shakeup in 2 weeks

The prime minister did not say how many Cabinet members would be replaced. But some officials said about nine would lose their jobs, including all six Cabinet members loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an al-Maliki ally. ...

During the interview, al-Maliki said other top officials would face prosecution for ties to insurgents, sectarian militias and death squads — including members of parliament.

Looks like Mookie would be well-advised to extend his Iranian vacation indefinately.

...pressure for change has mounted since President Bush ordered 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq last January despite widespread opposition in Congress and among the U.S. public — weary of the nearly four-year-long war....

Al-Maliki said he was encouraged by Iraqi public response to the new Baghdad security operation — which has led to a sharp drop in violence in the capital.

Dare we say the "surge" is working?

Make your voice heard March 8 - March 17

From MoveAmericaForward

From California to Washington, D.C. March 8th – March 17th

On the eve of the 4th anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a national patriotic, pro-troop caravan will cross the nation, traveling from California to Washington, D.C. to show support for U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of the public are encouraged to join the caravan and attend the pro-troop rallies along the way.

The “THESE COLORS DON’T RUN” national caravan will depart San Francisco, California on the morning of Thursday, March 8, 2007, traversing the length of the state and then heading across the nation to Washington, D.C. The effort is in support of the "Gathering of Eagles" event in Washington, D.C. on March 17th. The patriotic caravan will feature 25 pro-troop rallies in cities across the nation.

People attending the rallies are asked to bring American flags to each rally that will be collected and brought to Washington, D.C. where they will be displayed at the Gathering of Eagles event to create a giant "Flag City" on Saturday, March 17, 2007.

02 March 2007

Attack of the "Right-Wing Goon Squad"

If this is the "lunatic fringe", count me in.

The LA Times strikes again. In this unhinged rant (disguised as an Op-Ed), they go ballistic about the participation of three "discredited" Swift Boat Veterans for Truth "operatives" in an "inflammatory" panel discussion at the American Conservative Union's annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

Never mind that one of them happens to be a Medal of Honor recipient who is a WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War veteran and spent over 5 years as a POW.

He and the others are characterized as symbolic of the "unprincipled, right-wing extremists" who are taking over the quote-unquote conservative movement.

What can we expect from these lunatics, you ask?

Expect to see all the old myths revived: The antiwar left spits on returning troops and gives aid and comfort to the enemy. Oh, John Murtha, why do you hate our brave troops?

Myths? Didn't Joshua Sparling get spit at recently during a demonstration in Washington, DC?

Their concern about the fate of conservatives is touching:
All this is bad news for the conservative movement, which will only become more marginal if it continues to embrace its lunatic fringe.

And they bemoan all this as "depressing" because "Americans just aren't that dumb."

Well. There's something I can agree with. We're not that dumb. Not anymore. Never again.

h/t Michelle Malkin

Update: Jason has a good smackdown, and so does Noonan .

Alabama storm victims at Ft Rucker

* * * developing * * *

Patti talked to Ft. Rucker today and Soldiers' Angels is currently coordinating efforts with them for family relief.

They have lost family members and many of them have lost their homes. We are getting Angels on the ground to help.

Soldiers' Angels has started a FT Rucker Family Relief Fund.

You can donate at PayPal here.

To volunteer time please email Bonnie

You may send WalMart Gift Cards, or Amex Credits or vouchers for Holiday Inn, Days Inn, Comfort Inn to:


I have met Matt's donation of $50. Please help if you can.

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Sgt. Jeremy D. Barnett

From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen Hero from Soldiers' Angels, Sgt. Jeremy D. Barnett.

Sgt. Barnett 27, of Mineral City, OH, died Feb. 24 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds sustained from a landmine detonation in Ad-Dujayl, Iraq, on Feb. 21.

He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Jeremy is survived by his parents, Dave & Michelle Barnette, and his three younger sisters, Natalie, Emily and Rebecca Barnett.


You may have heard or read about Jeremy in the past week. As a Soldier, he served his country. As a forward observer, his job was to make sure other soldiers going on missions would be safer, saving lives.

And after he was mortally injured, as an organ donor he saved yet another life.

Jeremy's parents were flown to Germany after he was wounded. There they spent Friday and Saturday morning with him before he was brought to the operating room for the surgery that would not save his life, but that of a 51-year-old European.

"I bathed my son," Michele Barnett said. "I escorted him to the doors of the operating room."

"He gave his life twice," his mother said. "Once for his country and once for another human being.

"He did what a lot of us never have enough guts to do.

"Our son's heart is beating in this person's body so that they can live. It was my son's choice to be an organ donor and I was never more proud of my son - he was truly a hero". "

Michelle Barnett is truly a hero, too.

Please take a moment to read these two articles about Jeremy and his family:
- Remembering Sgt. Jeremy Barnett - Heart of a soldier - Mineral City man killed in Iraq helps save another's life
- A soldier's heart saves another life

The Patriot Guard Riders will be riding for Sgt. Jeremy Barnett .

Remember our Heroes.

"A human life is a human life, sir"

More from Robert Bazell's special report at MSNBC, Wounds of War:

With almost no warning, three Medevac helicopters touch down at Camp Speicher near Tikrit, Iraq. ...

"He's got some open wounds, he has some ortho wounds, and he needs an X-ray," says a doctor as he evaluates the men. "The fourth guy has some back wounds."...

"I need two units of blood!" orders the doctor. "He looks like he has lost plenty of blood."

The worst of the cases ... goes immediately into surgery, where in less than an hour doctors administer 30 units of blood.

"Right now, we have had five major traumas come in," says Eric Shrye. "We're down to our last 10 percent of our blood supply."

The four patients who arrived on the medevac helos are Iraqis - two of them insurgents who had been seen placing an IED. A search of their car revealed weapons and a video camera to film the planned attack.

The story continues:

The call goes out at the base for volunteer blood donors, and within minutes dozens of soldiers line up. Brian Suam is at the head of the line. He says it doesn't matter that his blood might be used for insurgents.

"A human life is a human life, sir," Suam says.

Previous: Medical Warriors

01 March 2007

The Kid is Alright!

Continuing on today's theme about America's youth, here is a new post from Robert Connolly, a regular contributor to the SAG blog.

A few weeks back, we took a swing at helping out the soldiers of the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. They have been in Eastern Afghanistan for the past 12 months taking care of business in that very rugged territory. At the last minute, their tour was extended until June. They are professionals, so when the word came to turn around and head back, they did it. If they had a problem, it was largely due to having disposed of all the extra things that make life bearable: hygiene items, snack stuff, electronics, bedding, and so forth.

I explained the situation to my faculty and staff colleagues and students here and asked them to consider helping out one infantry company of about 150 men. Many did, and I once again renewed acquaintances with the folks at the local Post Office. Many of you are personally familiar with this.

I wanted to bring to your attention the extraordinary industry and commitment of one 12-year old whose efforts dominated all my (generous) adult helpers.

Sarah (not her real name) decided that she was going to make it her mission to help all of these guys. Not just a platoon... an entire infantry company. With the financial backing of her parents, this young lady put together 150 (!) hygiene kits for me to send to 3rd Brigade troopers. Each kit was contained in its own big Ziploc bag with the following items: two small cans of shaving cream, six razors, deodorant, two small bottle of shampoo, two small bars of soap, one small bottle of body wash, a small container of foot powder, a toothbrush, two small tubes of toothpaste, dental floss, two energy bars, and two single-servings of drink mix. Oh, and she added a travel pack of detergent into the Ziploc bag, too. Now if you know anything about hygiene needs, you realize that Sarah covered all the bases.

To make this work, Sarah negotiated bulk discounts with local merchants (dad made his fortune in the sales business…it runs in the family!) and then organized a mammoth packing operation at home. (If you haven’t done something like this, you cannot imagine how big this job really is.) Sarah’s dad brought everything to me, but it took three days to transfer everything. With everything that she and my other ‘helpers’ provided, we were able to make a substantial dent in needs for three infantry companies, a cavalry troop, and a field artillery platoon. Without Sarah, we wouldn’t have made anywhere near this big an impact.

I don’t guess Sarah knows (or even cares) too much about red states, blue states, Congressional resolutions, and so forth. What she knew is that these guys needed a hand, and she was going to do what needed doing. As 12 year old, she understood the fundamentals of supporting the troops. There is a lesson there for an awful lot of adults.

Bravo, Sarah! The kid is alright!

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

Remember Me

If you watch only one video today, make it this one created by Elizabeth "Lizzie" Palmer, a 15-year-old high school sophomore from Columbus, OH.

You hear a lot about "kids today", but when I see our young soldiers and Marines... and things like this from young people like Lizzie, I'm very hopeful.

With thanks to Sara for sending this on.

Update March 2: I just found the following in the comments to this video at YouTube.

I am LTC Jack Eckles.

...the soldier labled "Wife" was a soldier lost to me and my Company. Her name was SGT Regina (Gina) C. Reali, KIA, Eastern Baghdad, 23 Dec. 2005 along with her fellow soldier, SGT Cheyenne C. Willey. I was their commanding officer and we miss them very much. Thank you for such a beautiful tribute.

Godspeed, SGT Reali and SGT Willey. We will remember you both always.

Hey, Macarena

Soldiers from Forward Operating Base Warhorse were told if they didn’t dance for the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills’ cheerleaders, the Jills, the Jills would not perform their routine for them.

These Soldiers quickly jumped on stage to perform the “Macarena” for the Jills.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan Stroud, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)

H/T Iraq War Today