29 April 2007

Winning hearts and minds...

...one journalist at a time.

It doesn’t matter how skeptical of the war a journalist might be, according to an Army public affairs officer (PAO) who spoke with me about it on condition of anonymity. “So often, they come out of that experience and – even if their opinion of the war hasn’t changed – they’re completely won over by the troops.”

“I was one of those,” admitted Beriain, speaking broken English and blinking away tears. “No matter what you think of the war, or what has happened here, you cannot be around the soldiers and not be completely affected. They are amazing people, and they represent themselves and the Army better than anyone could ever imagine.” A retired Army officer concurred, telling me that “young troops are some of the best good will ambassadors we've ever produced. It would never occur to one to not tell you what he's really thinking, and they are so earnest” that it is almost impossible not to be won over by them if given enough time.

The biggest recent case of a journalist with an anti-war mindset being completely overwhelmed into a change of heart by American soldiers, according to the PAO, was a Greek reporter who had been embedded with a cavalry unit that became entrenched in a 45-minute firefight with insurgents. Taking cover and fearing for his life for the almost hour-long duration of the battle, the journalist had the best view possible of American soldiers in action against an armed and murderous enemy, and credits his having lived to tell the tale directly to those young troops.

“He had tears in his eyes as he talked about it,” said the PAO. “He just kept saying, “they saved my life, they saved my life...these are great men; they are heroes.” He couldn’t get through the story without choking up – and this was a man who had arrived here with all of the disdain for the Iraq mission and for the American soldiers who he saw as the bad guys in this fight.”

Maybe we should deploy a couple of battalions to Capitol Hill.

And who knows? With enough boots on the ground we may even close up that troops/mission disconnect thing.

27 April 2007

"The Noisy Offering"

Phone cards purchased with funds from "The Noisy Offering" collected by the children of Holy Communion Lutheran Church in Berlin, New Jersey.

Hi, I'm sending two boxes tomorrow. In between the items the middle of both of the boxes are phone cards for the wounded.

We have what is called "The Noisy Offering" after the children's sermon on the first Sunday of the month. After the children's sermon they are given aluminum paint pails to wander throughout the pews collecting people's saved change - therefore the name "Noisy".

It has been a wonderful way for them to participate in stewardship and discipleship.

I suggested the idea for the charity to receive the offering in February, so I was asked to give the sermon. To be honest, it is one sermon I won't forget.

Sandy Shourds
Quilting Hearts
Holy Communion Lutheran Church
Berlin, N.J.

Sandy Shourds and the women of Holy Communion Lutheran Church have been sewing for our wounded soldiers in Germany for well over a year now. When I received the email above I never expected to see what I did when opening their boxes. It was a true miracle to have received this generous donation at a time when patient census is increasing and the need is so great.

On behalf of the patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Soldiers' Angels would like to thank Sandy for her leadership, Dawn Jennings who as head of the Caring Team took the offering and purchased the phone cards, the children for their compassion, and each and every donor for their generosity.

I wish I could have heard your sermon, Sandy, but the resulting display of patriotism and compassion is something we won't forget.

24 April 2007

By popular demand...

...the latest pics of our operations (such as they are - lol) at Soldiers' Angels Germany.

This is what we call "Room 1", where we open and sort donations.

We also keep small amounts of some items in Room 1 like sweats, t-shirts, shoes, and blankets sorted by size and ready to distribute. Hygiene items are in the file cabinet.

The staging area.

Room 2, used for storage of filled backpacks for hospital inpatients, bulk items, holiday decorations, etc.

The little portable closet out in the hall where soldiers staying in MedHold can help themselves to blankets, clothing...

...hygiene items, etc.

Telling DrueAnna's 7-year-old daughter Savanna to take the stupid picture already!

Ahhh, there we go. Me and DrueAnna in our Battletoad t-shirts (don't ask... )

"Deployment Buddies" Anna and Savanna. Too bad you can't see the photo of Savanna's Daddy on her t-shirt.

23 April 2007

Carlee's here!

Carlee Ann Emery
April 21, 2007 at 11:11 am
6 lbs. 2 oz, 20 in.

If you're coming to the MilBlog conference, bring a gift :-)

Click to read more stories about DJ here at SAG.

19 April 2007

Follow Up: SPC Sam Floberg & Lcpl Ben Lunak

Sam, Larry "The Cable Guy", and Shelle from Soldiers' Angels

Larry signing Sam's leg

Shelle emailed in November of last year with a request to check on National Guardsman SPC Samuel Floberg. Sam arrived in Germany from Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, where he had been wounded in an RPG attack which took the life of fellow North Dakota Army National Guardsman Cpl. Nathan Goodiron.

Soldiers from 188th ADA SECFOR were participating in a combat patrol mission escorting military convoys when they were ambushed. Four RPGs were fired at their vehicle killing Goodiron, the driver, and severing Floberg's right leg as he stood in the gun turret.

By late February of this year, Sam had hit the slopes for the second time as part of a program sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Project of Jacksonville, Fla., and Disabled Sports USA of Rockville, Md.

Sam volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan and says he has no regrets. "Stuff happens, and you just have to step up to the plate and deal with it," he said. "Instead of just saying, 'Aw, I'm disabled' and just sit on the sidelines, you can actually get out and play again."

Sam and Ben show some leg

In February of 2006 Lcpl Lunak of India Co, 3rd Bn, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division was wounded near Ramadi, transitioned through Landstuhl hospital, and woke up 12 days later at Bethesda Navy Medical Center. He suffered internal injuries and severe damage to his right leg in the IED attack that took the life of two of his closest friends.

His family had waited for him to regain consciousness to make the decision about amputating his leg. But upon awakening "I asked them why my leg was still there. I knew it was useless," Ben said. "I don't regret my decision. I would still be in recovery with a bum leg."

By July he had walked his sister down the aisle at her wedding, and he now snowboards, skis, runs, drives, and has a new job.

People have asked him if it was worth it. Some tell him it's too bad he lost his leg for no reason.

"I get kind of mad about that. I guess if their freedom isn't a reason... " he said. "I didn't lose my leg. I gave my leg for my country."

There are no words to describe what it's like for us here to look at photos like this after seeing these guys only days after their injuries. You don't really talk about it much. Either you "know", or you don't.

And either way, there's nothing to say.

Previous: Welcome Home Lcpl Ben Lunak!
External sources: Pittsburgh Tribute-Review and GrandForksHerald.com

18 April 2007

From the Virginia Tech Army ROTC


I want to thank you so much for your call on Tuesday morning. We continue to respond to the countless e-mails and phone messages but we wanted to again thank you for being among the first to contact and offer financial support. Though we are federally supported we can not provide a fully funded education like West Point, a school some of our students actually turned down.

Our Cadets are committed to serving their country and over the past 48 hours that resolve has been reaffirmed. Your offer to assist will help us provide financial assistance to those who best deserve the gift you provided. Again thank you for your support. We are very grateful.


Previous: Soldiers' Angels Donates $10,000.00 to Virginia Tech ROTC Cadet Endowment Fund - Soldiers' Angels Challenges the nation to donate to the Virginia Tech Corp of Cadets

17 April 2007

Soldiers' Angels Donates $10,000.00 to Virginia Tech ROTC Cadet Endowment Fund

Virginia Tech Army ROTC Cadets Support their Fellow Students

Soldiers' Angels Challenges the nation to donate to the Virginia Tech Corp of Cadets

Pasadena, California -- April 17, 2007 - The students and faculty of Virginia Tech have experienced an unimaginable horror this week. The slaying of over 30 students has left the campus in a fog of disbelief and given rise to a flood of unanswered questions. The sanctity of the university, an institution of higher learning for our country's young adults, has been breached by the sights and sounds from the deadliest shooting rampage in American history. The stories have been splashed across the televisions and computer screens of America, and Americans have blanketed the survivors and their family and friends with thoughts and prayers. Even though the stories of tragedy and heroism are not fully known, the destruction has been wrought and the process of healing has begun.

The participation of the Virginia Tech Army ROTC in the ceremonies following this tragedy will be integral to the healing process. The Cadet Corp will participate in the convocation, flag raising ceremonies, and will help with student support. The Army ROTC cadets are motivated young men and women who will one day swear an oath to protect our nation. They will take on this obligation knowing that they will be placed in harms way to push the fight in the Global War on Terror forward. However, at the present time they will be called upon to serve their fellow students. They will stand up at a difficult time and represent the proud military institutions of this country.

The Virginia Tech Cadet Corp's history is the history of Virginia Tech. The school was opened as a military academy in 1872 and its corp of cadets have honorably served this country in every war since. During World War II, 7,285 Virginia Tech alumni served in uniform with three hundred and twenty three of them being killed. It is ironic that one of the first stories of heroism coming out of this tragedy is that of Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, a holocaust survivor.

Professor Librescu was an engineering science and mathematics lecturer at Virginia Tech for 20 years. Students in his class have reported that he held the door to his classroom shut to give the students time to escape through a window. He died when the gunman shot through the door to gain entrance to the room. In the 1940's the students of Virginia Tech answered the call to fight Nazi Germany and years later Professor Librescu answered the call to protect the students of Virginia Tech.

In honor of the students and professors who died in this tragic event and the sacrifices made by the Virginia Tech Corp of Cadets for our country, Soldiers' Angels is giving $10,000.00 to the Virginia Tech Army ROTC Alumni Endowment Fund.

Soldiers' Angels challenges the nation to double this amount by logging onto the Virginia Tech Army ROTC wesite or by sending donations to Virginia Tech Army ROTC, Account # 872289, 226 Military Building, Blacksburg, VA 24061. The donation you make will help the Virginia Tech Cadet Corp continue on so that it may live up to its motto of "UT PROSIM" - That I may move Forward.

In 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 Don Mackay at (615)676-0239

16 April 2007

When ‘Embrace the Suck’ Isn’t Enough

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

This past week, one of my married daughters called me in the middle of the day and asked whether I had heard the news on CNN. I had not, in large part because I no longer will watch CNN, the network of jihadist videos. “What’s going on?,” I asked. The voice on the other end changed a bit as she told me that standard U.S. Army deployments were being extended to 15 months. There are times that fathers simply do not have an adequate response for a distressed daughter.

On the heels of that difficult conversation the reactions to the news came rolling in from many quarters. I saw two main themes. First, this deal really stinks for the families involved. For a small sample of opinion from some military families, see this post at Spousebuzz or read what the wife of a National Guard officer who is looking at a second Iraq tour had to say .

Second, what sort of person would leak this news to CNN? I cannot add anything substantial (or more articulate) to Andi’s wonderful post (plus the accumulation of comments left there) on this topic. My only minor addition is to say heaven help the person who did this if Army spouses get their hands on his or her hide. I would pay admission to watch the tongue-lashing that would be meted out, and whatever they might say, it couldn’t be punishment enough for the callous act of throwing Army families under the bus. [BTW: My daughter’s situation is pretty uncomplicated, but we all know that isn’t everyone’s situation.]

I heard from a senior Army NCO this weekend who has been on the receiving end of some care packages lately for his soldiers. I have never met this man, but someone else I know served with him, said he was top-notch, and that was good enough for me. I got a real education from him over email about the situation, and it confirmed my sense that while my daughter’s situation is quite manageable, it is an entirely different matter for many others. He made two major points that were quite sobering for me.

First, many families are so fragile from repeated deployments that extending everyone will break many of them apart. (It may be difficult for most civilians to imagine this, but it is simply true.) The Army is not unaware of these issues, but it also isn’t organized to address them as a part of its basic mission. Even if the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs issued a decree tomorrow, the skill sets in the armed services in this area of family assistance probably aren’t as deep as the need is great. Individual Army posts have many programs available, but the quality and quantity vary.

Second, many senior NCO’s that are at or near 20 years of service will leave at the 20-year mark, even if their aim had been to stay for 25 or 30 years. This potential loss of experienced leadership could pose a profound challenge to the Army’s effectiveness. Some of the younger NCO’s, those with about 10 years of service, will begin choosing to save their family and find another way to earn a living. (I can tell you from personal experience that many younger officers are finding it more and more difficult to extend their commitments, when graduate school and/or a new career beckon them; I see them in my MBA classes in substantial numbers.)

So, let’s sweep aside the political games for a minute, accept that we have a problem, and ask what we are going to do. Even if Gen. Petraeus has set the Iraq campaign on the road to victory, it is going to be a tough year or two ahead for everyone with some family skin in this conflict. Since I don’t have enough experience or direct understanding of these issues, let me pose a few questions to help get the ball rolling.

1) The value of the training and experience lost with a senior NCO who leaves after 20 years (or younger NCO’s with 10 years of service) is really quite substantial. How much does it cost to move to a 9 – 10 month deployment schedule vs. the cost of lost NCO leadership?

2) If a soldier is posted in Korea now, I understand that they get 30 days leave in the States during that year. What would it take to move halfway between the current 15 days leave vs. the 30 days that soldiers in Korea get?

3) The Army apparently did some remarkable things when the Stryker Brigade out of Alaska was extended last year, and it also responded at Ft. Drum when the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain had its tour extended by 120 days (at the last minute!). Those were unusual circumstances, but the Army clearly can respond when it needs to do so. What would make a difference for the families at Ft. Campbell, Ft. Stewart, Ft. Hood, and all the other Army posts as the deployments are extended?

The way I see this, the nation is asking a hell of lot more of Army families than we probably have a right to ask. It seems to me that we have to start pressing the executive and legislative branches of government to address these issues without the political nonsense (this is very difficult for many of them, but the issue has to be confronted). I feel confident that Army families can make their case within the Army (read the posts at Spousebuzz for a while if you need convincing). Now, the time has come to grapple with these issues.

If we fail, it will make the Building 18 business at Walter Reed look like a minor problem. This had best not be our generation’s failure to support our troops. Indeed, this issue could turn out to be the place where we bury some of the ghosts of Vietnam, those who wonder why the rest of the country didn’t do its part. It is time to step up folks. It will not be easy, but it is time for the rest of us to learn what they mean in the Army by ‘Embrace the suck.‘

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

Not News Unless It's About Us

The instructor tells the soldier, "You are in the Bronx. A black van is stopping in front of you. Three African-Americans are getting out and they are insulting your mother in the worst ways ... Act."

The soldier fires his machine gun several times and yells an obscenity several times (...). The instructor then tells the soldier to curse even louder.

No, it's not what - or should I say who - you think:

German army in new racism row

A video showing a German army instructor telling one of his soldiers to envision African-Americans in the Bronx while firing his machine gun was broadcast Saturday on national television.

The video, coming after scandals involving photos of German soldiers posing with skulls in Afghanistan and the abuse of recruits by instructors, seemed likely to raise more questions about training practices in Germany's conscript army.

Found at Davids Medienkritik, who adds:

Hmm... It's a bit early to evaluate the extent of the German media's reporting on the story. I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't make much of splash.

Wrong ingredients, you know.

Let's try a change of venue.

U.S. army in new racism row

A video showing a U.S. army instructor telling one of his soldiers to envision Arabs in Baghdad while firing his machine gun was broadcast Saturday on national television.

The video, coming after scandals involving photos of U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison and in Guantanamo, seemed likely to raise more questions about training practices in America's all-volunteer army.

Now - HERE we have a story!!!

So many aspects to this story aside from the obvious lack of media attention on either side of the pond unless it's about America or American Soldiers.

For example, is the German military instructor racist, or anti-American? Why else would he be using the image of Americans, black or otherwise, to fire up his soldiers?

Or is that simply the result of the misguided impression many Europeans have that American cities are seething with racial tension and swarming with gun-toting criminals?

Another interesting aspect, to which David alludes, is CNN's apparently contradictory opinions about conscript vs. volunteer armies. Not sure how often we've heard their derogatory coverage about our all-vounteer armed forces, but in this piece they make a pointed reference to Germany's conscript army.

I suppose you would be safe in assuming that CNN and the rest of the US and German MSM aren't big fans of armies at all. But their abolishment would sure be hell on ratings, now wouldn't it?

13 April 2007

Update on DJ Emery

Leslie and DJ

DJ sat up in a chair for a little while the other day, and he and Leslie have received a surprise gift. Matt at Blackfive has the latest (good) news.

Thank you all for your continued prayers for DJ and his family.

Cards and letters of support can be sent to:

CPL David Emery
c/o National Naval Medical Center
Intensive Care Unit
8901 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, Md 20889

Click to read more stories about DJ here at SAG.

12 April 2007

"The Soldiers' Angels are an Army within the Army"

Email from a Soldier who recently spent time at the Kleber Medical Hold here in Germany while undergoing treatment.

She has since returned to Iraq, and after exchanging a few emails we realized we had seen each other while she was here.

Wanted to pass along her thanks to all of you who make this possible.

I want to thank you for all of the support/love that you are giving to us. I was just overwhelmed with Soldiers' Angels while I was in Germany. Thanks.

A portable closet was in the hall downstairs and I got a pair of grey sweats and top to go to the gym. I was so happy that I did not have to wear my PFU, first time in civvies since last fall.

The blankets (especially the fleece ones) touched my heart.

MaryAnn, all of the females there got along so good (Thank God) we all sprawled out on the sofas and chairs and watched the Lion King and Tina Turner life story.

I love those fleece blankets. There is one made in the design of the American Flag that we all wanted to take but agreed to leave in order that the next group could enjoy. The knitted and crocheted ones were lovely too.

I am writing the CSM of the Army and the Wounded Warriors a letter about my experience there and how the Soldiers' Angels are an Army within the Army.

Thanks soooooooooo much.

Much Love,


It may not look like much, but here is the "portable closet" for which this Soldier was so grateful.

See this post for information about outpatient support, and this one for information about blankets.

10 April 2007

Hell Hath No Fury

Watch a group of 11 military family members and Vietnam Veterans tear U.S. Rep. Hodes (D-NH) a new one at a roundtable discussion with constituants. Lots of straight talk from this angry group, including one not in the video but quoted here .

"I think there are no good options," Hodes said of America's future role in Iraq.

"I think winning is," said Natalie Healy, whose son, Dan, was killed in Afghanistan in June 2005.

Found this in a post by McQ at QandO on the Veteran vote which is a must-read, as is Cassandra's post which discusses the anger felt by Veterans and military families at Congress.

07 April 2007

Happy Easter!

From Germany, where Jessica prepares baskets for the patients at Landstuhl.

A small Army of rabbits guards the finished baskets for the patients in the Medical Hold.

From Sara's living room (yes, that's a couch under there), where over 100 Easter baskets were ready for shipment downrange a couple of weeks ago...

And from Iraq.

04 April 2007

DJ Emery: Someone You Should Know at Pundit Review Radio

Leslie and DJ

Listen here.

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. Since then, he has been fighting for his life despite a series of very serious complications.

Although he was on vacation last week, Matt of Blackfive posted this about DJ. He also spread the word among the blogging community and asked Kevin and Gregg of Pundit Review Radio to broadcast DJ's story.

Thank you, Matt.

And thanks to all of you for your continued prayers for DJ and his family.

Cards and letters of support can be sent to:

CPL David Emery
c/o National Naval Medical Center
Intensive Care Unit
8901 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, Md 20889

Click to read more stories about DJ here at SAG.

03 April 2007

All Worked Up

First a friend in the States who's having a bad day sends me the link to this video.

Then I read Jules Crittenden's post on Michael Ware, The Newsman More Terrorists Trust, and his follow up rant called Morons Triumphant!

It's Miller Time in my part of the world and I was settling in for a nice cozy evening but now I'm all worked up. Thanks, guys.

However, being a team player and all, I thought I'd make a contribution: "Steve Emerson Talks to Two Morons About Radical Muslims" (with apologies to Chuck Norris who does, in fact, sound like a moron here).

02 April 2007

"Why you sad, American soldier?" - Part 2

"After talking and crying with the mother of the young girl who once wore this sandal."

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. ( ... )

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.

01 April 2007

An American Family

Newsweek is featuring MAJ Mike Mundell in a special this week called Voices of the Fallen. MSNBC.com has video of Mike's wife Audrey and their children Erica, Ryan, Zach, and Dale reading letters Mike sent to them from Iraq before his death.

Please take a moment to view the video and meet this American family and their Hero. I don't know where they found the strength to do this, but I'm grateful they did.

Mike wasn't a hero, he was better then a hero... Mike was a professional. Mike took his job seriously and the lives of everyone on the team seriously. His Iraqi counterparts paid him the highest complement; they called him... Brother.

I will miss him every day.

From a previous post, a "little note about my friend Mike", sent by MAJ Todd Fredette.

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Sgt Michael C. Peek

From Renee of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen Hero from Soldiers' Angels, Sgt. Michael C Peek.

Sgt. Peek, 23, of Chesapeake, Virginia, died on March 3 in Baghdad along with two other soldiers, Sgt. Brandon A. Parr and Sgt. Ashly L. Moyer, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.

They were all assigned to the 630th Military Police Company, Bamberg, Germany.

Michael is survived by his fiancee, Melanie Link of Wurzburg, Germany, his mother, Katharin L. Jordan, and stepfather, Steve Jordan, of Smithfield, Virginia, his brother, Justin M. Peek, and his father, Floyd Peek of Boise, Idaho.


"He just gave himself all to whatever he did," said John Hudak, Peek's uncle.

Peek was excited by school and swimming.

"He was always the first one out of the locker room. He was ready to practice. 'Coach, coach, coach!' I said, 'Mike, calm down buddy,'" former swim coach Scott Evans said.

Peek fought for his country.

"He wanted to make sure we would all never lose our freedom. That was very important to him," said Hudak.

He loved the people that meant most to him.

"I want to thank you baby, for showing me what true love is and means," said Mel.

Peek's enthusiasm spilled into every area of his life. His love filled the hearts of everyone who knew him, even if it was only for a short while.

"You raise them and they go into the service and never, until now, do you realize how many lives they touch in such a short time," his mother Kathy Jordan said.

Army Sergeant Michael C. Peek was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on the last day of winter, less than a week before his wedding date.

Source: Arlington National Cemetery Website.

The Patriot Guard Riders are riding for Sgt. Micheal Peek .

Remember our Heroes.