31 July 2007

1st ID Cavalry Scout Receives Army Commendation Medal with Valor

Pfc. Joshua Philippus, a cavalry scout with Troop A, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Houston, has the Army Commendation Medal with Valor pinned on in an awards ceremony at Forward Operating Base Falcon July 20. In addition to the medal, he received the Combat Action Badge during the ceremony. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs)

Philippus received an Army Commendation Medal with Valor July 20 for his actions in southern Baghdad’s Rashid District April 9.

Philippus and his platoon were on a presence patrol like any other that day. They had never even seen combat, in fact. When the platoon took fire, Philippus was in one mindset: to take action.

“We’d been training for this for a while,” he said. “Until that point it was boredom; we were just driving around in a city that I didn’t know.”

When word reached Philippus’ truck that their dismounts had been trapped by enemy gunfire, he told his driver to drive through a fence into the fight.

After positively identifying the enemy, Philippus returned fire. On his second box of ammunition, an enemy round struck his helmet, sending him flying against the glass in his turret and down into the humvee.

“I don’t know if I thought I was dead or what, but I was scared,” he said. “There were guys on the ground and they were still under heavy contact so I stood back up and kept firing.”

Sgt. 1st Class Troy Murray, Philippus’ platoon sergeant from Augusta, Ga., said his Soldier’s reaction was uncommon and awe-inspiring.

Pfc. Joshua Philippus scans his sector while on patrol in Baghdad June 15. (U.S. Army photo)

“I thought he was gone. I saw him go down, about a minute-and-a-half later he was back on the gun,” he said. “That made me proud. A lot of guys wouldn’t have gotten back up there.”

For Philippus, his reason to get back in the fight was a simple yet profound one: his fellow Soldiers still taking fire.

“When you’re out there, it’s either you, your friends, or the bad guy. I’m not gonna let one of my brothers go down because I’m scared,” he said. “So I stood back up.”

As for the recognition he’s received for his actions that day, Philippus is appreciative, but keeps it in perspective.

“It means a lot, but I’ve had some really good friends die here,” he said. “In all honesty, I did my job-they gave everything.”

The friends he has lost in Iraq have motivated him to continue his mission, Philippus said.

“It’s people like that, that give their life for their country that make it worthwhile. It gives you a reason to fight. If they gave their lives and we just give up then it’s all in vain. Then my friends, my best friends, died for nothing.”

- By Pfc. Nathaniel Smith, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs

More on the fierce fighting that day in Baghdad from Iraq the Model.

30 July 2007

Apache Pilots Receive Distinguished Flying Cross

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nathan Hoskins.

Chief Warrant Officer Micah Johnson, right, shakes hands with Gen. David Petraeus, Multi-National Force-Iraq commander, after Petraeus presented him with the Distinguished Flying Cross during a ceremony in Baghdad Thursday.

Here's a follow up on one of the two similar and amazing rescues made by Apache pilots on July 1 and July 2:

U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Allan Davison and Chief Warrant Officer Micah Johnson, both AH-64D Apache attack helicopter pilots for Company A, 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Davison and Johnson landed their attack helicopter in a hostile area and evacuated the two downed OH-58 Kiowa helicopter pilots of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade.

Apaches only have two seats, so Johnson, the front seat pilot, let one of the Kiowa pilots take his seat in the Apache while he and the other Kiowa pilot strapped themselves to the outside of the aircraft and sat on the wings, said Johnson.

"It looked like they were both in pretty good shape, but one of them kind of looked like he had been through enough, like he was a little shocked, as I would be, too. I told him to get in front," he said.

Once the pilots were strapped in, Davison, the pilot in command, took off and headed to Baghdad International Airport where the pilots were dropped off.

While this was taking place, their Apache wingmen were circling above providing security.

Those two pilots, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Seung Choi and Chief Warrant Officer Troy Moseley, received Air Medals for their efforts.

Although happy at being awarded medals and recognized by the top commander in Iraq, the pilots said their greatest reward was finding the downed pilots alive.

"We've seen a lot of aircraft shoot-downs," Johnson said in an interview after the rescue. "Every one that we've all probably seen, it's resulted in burning aircraft and black smoke and usually catastrophic loss of life. If not loss of life, then there have been serious injuries. Just to see those two alive, it was amazing. It was great."

Dead Taliban Leader Was Guantanamo Detainee

But they're all innocent...
The Pentagon says Abdullah Mehsud is one of about 30 former detainees who have returned to terrorism after being released from Guantanamo. In all, 420 detainees have been released over the years, and 80 more have been approved for release, once arrangements can be made with host countries. There are currently about 360 detainees at the facility.

Mehsud was a Taleban fighter in the 1990s, and he lost a leg in a land mine explosion shortly before the Taleban took Kabul in 1996. In 2001, during fighting against the Northern Alliance, he was taken prisoner. He was transferred to U.S. custody after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, and he was sent to the Guantanamo detention center shortly after it was established.

During 25 months there, he managed to conceal his identity and convinced his interrogators he was an innocent man caught up in the fighting. He was released in March of 2004. Just a few months later, Mehsud masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in Pakistan's tribal areas. One of them was killed during a rescue attempt. Since then, he is reported to have become a leader of Taleban cells in the rugged mountains of western Pakistan.

On Tuesday, according to Pakistani officials, when a team of their intelligence agents surrounded the house where Mehsud was hiding in Baluchistan Province, the prominent Taleban fighter killed himself with a hand grenade.

Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman says it is not easy to determine who to hold at Guantanamo and who to release.

"We have to make judgments and decisions about who to continue to detain and who to release. And it's not a perfect system," Whitman said.

That system has been widely criticized by human rights groups, which say the Guantanamo detainees should either be tried or released. But the Defense Department says much of the evidence against the detainees is classified, making public trials impossible. Instead, it has an annual review process to determine, in secret proceedings held by military officers, whether each detainee is still a threat to U.S. security.

I'm fine with that. I don't believe everybody has the right to know everything. Not sure what part of the word "classified" some people don't understand.

"Lions of the Two Rivers" Win Asian Cup

Iraq's Younis Khalef holds up the Asian Cup trophy after a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the final on Sunday. (AP)

Watch the Reuters video report, Iraq pulls off fairytale Asian Cup.

MNF-I sends congratulations:
Statement from Multi-National Force-Iraq to the Iraq national soccer team

BAGHDAD, Iraq – We join the people of Iraq in conveying our congratulations to the Iraqi soccer team! We watched every one of your games with excitement and admiration, and are truly delighted you have won the 2007 Asian Cup. Throughout this demanding competition, you represented Iraq with distinction and honor, inspiring all Iraqis by your unity, teamwork, dedication and athletic ability. We salute you and congratulate you on this tremendous achievement.

Update from Omar at ITM via FbL at the Castle:
Everyone seemed in a hurry buying what they need to before they all go home to sit in front of the TV sets.

I returned home, filled all three generators with gasoline just in case one of them fails us, which is something that happens quite often. I also put several cans of beer in the fridge and brought some Pringles chips.

Beer and chips while watching sports on TV. Some things are the same all over the world...
Our players, tonight our heroes, learned that only with team work they had a chance to win.

May our politicians learn from the players and from the fans who are painting a glorious image of unity and national pride, and let the terrorists know that nothing can kill the spirit of the sons of the immortal Tigris and Euphrates.

27 July 2007

Cordon and knock in Adhamiyah

U.S. Army photo by Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Colorado Springs, Colo., native Pfc. Jordan Etchells (far left), an infantryman with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, looks into a courtyard during a patrol in Ur, a neighborhood in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah district, July 21. The paratroopers went door to door to gather information from residents who are being terrorized criminal militia.

This is so sad

From Bill Roggio's Iraq Report yesterday: Al Qaeda strikes in Baghdad.

[Wednesday's] attacks occurred during the celebration of the Iraqi soccer team's victory at the Asia Games, which advanced the club to the finals.

Two suicide bombers, sitting in parked cars, struck within a half hour of each other. At least 50 Iraqis were killed and 130 wounded in the dual attacks in the Mansour district in the west and the Ghadeer neighborhood in the east. ...

The attacks on the Iraqis celebrating the soccer victory are classic terrorist events. Al Qaeda piggybacked off of a rare moment of national unity and grabbed the media headlines by turning a positive story into one of despair.

26 July 2007

2600 Minnesota ARNG Soldiers Return Home

Over the past week the last of thousands of MNARNG troops with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division have returned home after a 22-month deployment including mobilization time and a short stay at Ft. McCoy in Wisconsin.

Here's a video from the Pentagon channel showing SGT John Kriesel greeting members of his unit upon their return. John was injured in December of 2006.

Update 27-07-07: The video doesn't seem to be available any longer. If anyone finds it, let me know. Meanwhile, grab a box of tissues and watch this one from J.R.

This is John together with J.R. Salzman at Walter Reed in April of this year. J.R. was home for the event and has a short post up with some good links.

Some other links from the Dawn Patrol:

SSG Thul of Foreign and Domestic: "Home At Last!!!!! 650 days after leaving, I am finally home. Not the home I left, of course, but home none the less."

The Patriot Guard Riders: "Mission Complete - Welcome Home - HHC Group 1, 1/34th BCT"

Powerline: "Our hometown heroes come home"

“Al Anbar is very different from what it was when we got there,” [CPT Captain Adam Gilbertson, one of the soldiers] said. “A lot of that progress is due to guys like this, working day in and day out, trying to make it safer, and we’re really seeing that attacks have dropped 70 percent in Al Anbar in the last six months. That’s a significant, significant change.”

Thank you and job well done to the heroes of the Minnesota Army National Guard. WELCOME HOME!!

25 July 2007

The Animal Story

Stuffed animals, that is.

My friend Butterfly Wife has been sending us lovely cards of thanks and encouragement for the patients here which we use in our backpacks and goodie bags. She's got a knack for writing just a few, well-chosen words that are perfect. BW sends about a dozen a week and is now up to over 200 cards. (HOOAH!!)

But back to the animals. Recently, saying they weren't doing anyone any good in storage, she sent her collection of small, unused Boyd's Bears for our backpacks.

Upon arrival in Germany, however, one of them ended up serving a very different mission. BW has posted the story here. (Tissue alert if you're an animal lover.)

24 July 2007

Preparing to Fire

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Pryor

Sgt. Jake Richardson, of St. Johns, Ariz., 1st Lt. Travis Atwood, of Abilene Texas, and Staff Sgt. Michael Mullahy, of Batavia, Ill. take cover while Mullahy prepares to fire an AT4 rocket launcher at an insurgent position during a firefight in Baghdad's Adhamiyah neighborhood June 16 that ended with one insurgent dead and three captured.

All three Soldiers are with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, based in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Just want to show some of our German-based units the love. And besides that, AT4 rocket launchers are cool...

23 July 2007

Busy here...

Airman 1st Class Dusty Cotter, a medic with the 435th Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility, checks on a patient aboard a C-17 coming from Iraq to Ramstein Air Base in Germany on July 5. Ben Bloker / S&S

Ramstein sees more patients since ‘surge’

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The “surge” in U.S. troops in Iraq has resulted in an increase in patients passing through this base. ...

Only two other months have been higher than May and June, said [Maj. Paul Langevin, who commands the 435th Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility, or CASF at Ramstein].

The facility saw the greatest number of patients in April and May 2003.

April 2004, when military forces converged on Fallujah, was the second busiest time, Langevin said. He could not provide statistics for those months.

Since 2003, the facility has received 43,807 patients from Afghanistan and Iraq. Of those, 9,548 had battle injuries. Airmen have conducted nearly 70,000 patient movements.

For the record, Soldiers' Angels Germany has provided a record amount of donations to the Landstuhl facilities during the past 2 months as well, including almost 400 phone cards during the month of June alone.

Other stats for June include about 100 sweatsuits, hundreds of personal hygiene items, hundreds of microwave meals for soldiers arriving at the outpatient facility after regular meal hours, etc.

Soldiers' Angels Germany volunteers booked 18 days of on-site volunteer time during June, and visited 14 wounded service members on behalf of their families.

Please see our list of projects to the right if you can help, or hit the PayPal button.

Thank you on behalf of our soldiers transitioning through Germany.


Over the weekend I got caught up on some reading. One article, Knowing the Enemy, was recommended by Grim here. It's mainly about David Kilcullen and focuses on the concepts of Information Warfare and Disaggregation.

I'm not a military expert by any stretch of the imagination. But even I know it can take a long time to create and implement new military doctrine. A very long time.

So I was especially encouraged by this recent post by Teflon Don about what he called the transformation of a village in his unit's Area of Operations:

I recently spoke with a Chief Warrant Officer who had been serving at the COP during the transformation. He did not know it had been our platoon in the area that day, but he directly credited our aid and the PSYOPS followup as the events that sparked the transformation.

The Marines had spent months laying the groundwork - interfacing with the villagers, offering aid, and sweeping for bad guys. The Iraqis weren't buying into it.

In one day, that changed.

I was told that the Army PSYOPS unit attached to the Marines put on "the show of a lifetime". They went out onto the roads proselytizing via loudspeaker: "The insurgents say they are here to help you, but they only kill your children. The Americans are the only ones you can trust to help."

They opened the mike up to the villagers, and the response was overwhelming. People came from their houses to tell the insurgents "You killed my daughter. I will not sleep, I will not eat until I see you die!".

Iraqis came up to tell about the strange men that had appeared, threatening to kill families if they were not provided with shelter. They led Marines to caches and IEDs. Perhaps most importantly, they began to work with the Marines to secure their villages.

"This country is our country... we will defend it."

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Serena Hayden, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs.

Staff Maj. Gen. Nouri, deputy commanding officer of Iraqi Security Forces in Diyala province, and Col. David W. Sutherland, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division commander and senior Coalition Force officer in Diyala, talk about future operations with Maj. Aziz, a company commander with 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, on top of the roof of the Zaganiyah Patrol Base in the Diyala River Valley, July 19.

“The heart of al-Qaida members is dead. They kill women, children and everyone,” said Aziz. “This country is our country. Nobody is forcing us to fight and we will defend it.”

20 July 2007

The "Shock Troops" Crap

Ok, this is how a real female service member reacts to adversity:

Just as Padmore reached the scene, he saw Saalman staggering toward him, her charred, flayed hands held up before her, her eyes vacant in a blackened face. She'd lost her rifle during the explosion.

"Sally, pull yourself together," he said. "You are not going to die. I promise: You are not going to die. But we need some leadership."

He watched her expression change instantly from shock to rage. "Somebody give me a fucking weapon!" she screamed. "I need a fucking weapon!"

Running hysterically out of the "chow hall" from a couple of punks, my a$$.

Provided the whole thing ever happened, which is more than doubtful. Deconstructions here, here, and here.

MNC-I Commander awards Purple Hearts to Soldiers in Baqouba

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

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, Multi-National Corps-Iraq commander, speaks with Soldiers from 1-12 Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, at a combat patrol outpost, in Baqouba, Iraq, before he pins Purple Hearts on each Soldier, July 13. The Purple Heart is the oldest award given in the Army and is awarded to those who obtain injuries while in combat.

19 July 2007

Badger 6 Television Interview

Must-see TV interview with Badger 6 from Iraq and Mrs. Badger 6 from home on their local TV station.

Click here to watch.

From the KSDK NewsChannel website:

In al Anbar province, Captain Eric Coulson is in charge of route clearance. His unit removes IEDs from the roads. It's admittedly a dangerous job, but one he says becomes a little less dangerous each day. We spoke to Coulson Wednesday via the internet.

He says, "We have made such progress that instead of being a lost cause, al Anbar is talked about as the model for what Iraq could be." ...

The progress Coulson sees goes hand in hand with the frustration he feels. He dislikes the political infighting, the all-nighter on Capitol Hill, and those he feels are making uninformed decisions.

And they have some news:
Karen pays close attention to every debate and decision, especially now. Eric's just decided to sign on for another year in Iraq.

Read/watch the whole thing and meet these two extraordinary people, who believe that this "is the right thing to do, for the success of the mission and the safety of others."

Gold Star License Plates now available in Georgia

Georgia has recently passed legislation to provide for a special license plate honoring the family members of service members who have been killed in action. And, according to Deborah Tainsh of TAPS, our friend Robert Stokely had something to do with it...
Thanks to Robert Stokely, proud Gold Star dad of Spec Michael J. Stokely of Sharpsburg, GA and member of Georgia National Guard 48th Brigade Combat Team, KIA 8/16/05 Baghdad, Gold Star families of Georgia now have access to the Gold Star Family License Plate.

Thank you Robert for your son and family, and thank you for your dedication to Gold Star families.

Deborah & Dave Tainsh
Midland, GA

Gold Star license plates are currently available in about 10 states. For more information about proposing a similar bill in your state, see the Gold Star Family License Plate Kit at the Gold Star Mothers website.

Disturbingly, this bill has stalled in the California legislature. If you'd like to let your public officials know how you feel about that, use the link at the end of this article at Military.com.

Thanks to Proud Army Mom Robin for sending on Deborah's email and the link.

"When I found your organization, I found another way to honor my nephew's memory"

Hi Patti,

I wanted to send you a thank you e-mail right after we met for our Central Florida meet and greet, but I thought it would be nicer if I could attach a couple of pictures with my thank you.

I have only been angeling for 3 months, so I thought it would be nice to plan a little dinner for the local angels to meet. My hope is that we can begin to do this on a regular basis and begin to work together on projects for Soldiers Angels.

I have to say that my sister and brother-in-law were just blown away when Jan presented your gift. She gave us all pins and coins for our heroes, and then she presented the beautiful quilt. What an awesome gesture!

Patti, I can't begin to tell you how much that gift meant to my family! As you know, we lost my nephew to an IED in Baquba this past Valentines Day. We are all still very much in mourning, and it is caring gestures like this, that help us to overcome our grieving. The Living Legends team has done a fantastic job, and their kindness can never be repaid, but this gesture was totally unexpected. Your special gift will help us keep John's memory alive every time we see that quilt.

Cheryl and Tom are converting a guest bedroom into a memorial room for John, and this quilt is perfect for it. The first thing Tom said is "It's perfect; it is 1st Cav's colors!" John was so proud to serve the U.S. Army, and particularly the 1st Cavalry.

You see, John was a Canadian citizen fighting for the U.S. Army. He was in the process of becoming a citizen, actually was already eligible, but because of two deployments, had not had the time to make it official. The head of the INS and Homeland Security had a special ceremony up in Washington awarding John his citizenship dated February 14, 2007, the day he was killed. We were able to lay John to rest at Arlington as an American citizen.

I want you to know that this organization that you founded touches people's lives in ways you could never have imagined. In addition to helping our great men and women who are so bravely fighting for our nation, there are many people who are affected indirectly. The healing that comes from helping others is another great benefit.

When I found your great organization through some of my PGR friends, I found another way to honor my nephew's memory by helping his military family. It was extremely hard for my sister and brother-in-law to join, but now that they have adopted a wonderful soldier that stays in contact with them, I see the healing transform them every day.

Patti, you are a true angel! I am honored to be a part of this great organization, and look forward to the day I can thank you in person.

God Bless You!

Cat Brooks
PGR FL Help on the Homefront Coordinator

18 July 2007

Message from the President of the United States ( ...and he's not happy)

This has been going around, so some of you may have seen it before. But I hadn't until I received it from Bonnie today.

Normally, I start these things out by saying "My Fellow Americans."

Not doing it this time. If the polls are any indication, I don't know who more than half of you are anymore.

I do know something terrible has happened, and that you're really not fellow Americans any longer.

I'll cut right to the chase here: I quit. Now before anyone gets all in a lather about me quitting to avoid impeachment, or to avoid prosecution or something, let me assure you: there's been no breaking of laws or impeachable offenses in this office.

The reason I'm quitting is simple. I'm fed up with you people.

I'm fed up because you have no understanding of what's really going on in the world. Or of what's going on in this once-great nation of ours. And the majority of you are too damned lazy to do your homework and figure it out.

Let's start local. You've been sold a bill of goods by politicians and the news media.

Despite the shock to our economy of 9/11, the stock market has rebounded to record levels and more Americans than ever are participating in these markets. Meanwhile, all you can do is whine about gas prices, and most of you are too damn stupid to realize that gas prices are high because there's increased demand in other parts of the world, and because a small handful of noisy idiots are more worried about polar bears and beachfront property than your economic security.

We face real threats in the world. Don't give me this "blood for oil" thing.

If I was trading blood for oil I would've already seized Iraq's oil fields and let the rest of the country go to hell.

And don't give me this 'Bush Lied People Died' crap either. If I was the liar you morons take me for, I could've easily had chemical weapons planted in Iraq so they could be 'discovered.' Instead, I owned up to the fact that the intelligence was faulty. Let me remind you that the rest of the world thought Saddam had the goods, same as me. Let me also remind you that regime change in Iraq was official US policy before I came into office. Some guy named 'Clinton' established that policy. Bet you didn't know that, did you?

You idiots need to understand that we face a unique enemy.

Back during the cold war, there were two major competing political and economic models squaring off. We won that war, but we did so because fundamentally, the Communists wanted to survive, just as we do. We were simply able to outspend and out-tech them.

That's not the case this time. The soldiers of our new enemy don't care if they survive. In fact, they want to die. That'd be fine, as long as they weren't also committed to taking as many of you with them as they can.

But they are. They want to kill you. And the bastards are all over the globe.

You should be grateful that they haven't gotten any more of us here in the United States since September 11. But you're not. That's because you've got no idea how hard a small number of intelligence, military, law enforcement and homeland security people have worked to make sure of that. When this whole mess started, I warned you that this would be a long and difficult fight. I'm disappointed how many of you people think a long and difficult fight amounts to a single season of 'Survivor'.

Instead, you've grown impatient.

You're incapable of seeing things through the long lens of history, the way our enemies do.

You think that wars should last a few months, a few years, tops.

Making matters worse, you actively support those who help the enemy. Every time you buy the New York Times, every time you send a donation to a cut-and-run Democrat's political campaign, well, dammit, you might just as well Fedex a grenade launcher to a Jihadist. It amounts to the same thing.

In this day and age, it's easy enough to find the truth. It's all over the Internet. It just isn't on the pages of the New York Times or on NBC News. But even if it were, I doubt you'd be any smarter. Most of you would rather watch American Idol.

I could say more about your expectations that the government will always be there to bail you out, even if you're too stupid to leave a city that's below sea level and has a hurricane approaching.

I could say more about your insane belief that government, not your own wallet, is where the money comes from. But I've come to the conclusion that were I to do so, it would sail right over your heads.

So I quit. I'm going back to Crawford. I've got an energy-efficient house down there (Al Gore could only dream) and the capability to be fully self-sufficient. No one ever heard of Crawford before I got elected, and as soon as I'm done here pretty much no one will ever hear of it again. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to die of old age before the last pillars of America fall.

Oh, and by the way, Cheney's quitting too. That means Pelosi is your new President. You asked for it. Watch what she does carefully, because I still have a glimmer of hope that there're just enough of you remaining who are smart enough to turn this thing around in 2008.

So that's it. God bless what's left of America. Some of you know what I mean.

17 July 2007

Calling All Brits! (and those who love them)

Now this is a pretty sad state of affairs. Please pass this on to any Brits you know and tell them they need to show their "Squaddies" the love!

Sir / Ma'am

My name is Lt Dave W. currently serving with the British Army in Basrah, IRAQ. A few weeks ago I had to escort a prisoner from Basrah by air to the field hospital at Balad US Base.

My stay was only short with in the hospital, but it gave me enough time to see what a good job the doctors and nurses from the US forces are doing for serving personnel and civilians alike in the North of Iraq.

On speaking to a few of the staff, I was told of your organisation and how much you do for the soldiers defending your country. I can only wish that an organisation, like yours, starts to flourish for the British Army.

Ive only just managed to search the internet for Soldiers Angels and again I was amazed by the amount of support you offer. One of the casualities I was talking to was wearing a grey Soldiers Angels T-Shirt and shorts, and I was wondering how I could get some for me and my guys out here.

My platoon is 25 strong and going through a rough time at the moment as we have just lost a well-liked member of the platoon whilst out on patrol. If there is anything at all you could send to keep moral high it would be much appreciated as we have no organisation within the UK who offers the support you do.

Many Thanks for your time,

'May No Soldier Go Unloved'



Lt Dave W.

If you would like to help support this British platoon or any British Soldier please check out Soldiers' Angels Europe, started by my buddy Sandra to support non-US troops.

Moral Courage

Some have it, some don't.

The sad truth is moral courage is rare – whether among private citizens or among political leaders. Even opponents of the war have to admit that, given the polls, it takes no courage for a politician to call for American withdrawal from Iraq.

... [I]n this matter victory will go to the courageous. If America stays in Iraq, America will win and then the courageous will surely be victorious. But the courageous will gain a victory even if they lose their fight for America staying in Iraq – for then the supporters of the American presence in Iraq will be quickly proven right as Iraq descends into ethnic cleansing, creates millions of refugees who destabilize nearby countries, emboldens Iran to enter directly Iraqi life, spawns a potential genocide and produces the largest base for Islamic terror in the world. These are not the predictions of pro-war advocates. Every one of these consequences of an American withdrawal was acknowledged as likely in a recent New York Times editorial arguing for American withdrawal from Iraq.

What will Americans who called for American withdrawal – especially among those who supported the war until now – tell future historians? That 3,600 American lives in four and a half years was too high a price to pay to fight the cruelest individuals and ideology on earth at that time? (By contrast, in World War II, America lost more than 300,000 lives in three and a half years, fighting the cruelest ideology of that era.) That they thought an Islamist victory in Iraq would make America more secure? And what will Republican senators and representatives tell their descendants? That they read the polls and saw that most Americans supported withdrawal, so they changed their minds and abandoned the cause of freedom in Iraq and fled an unpopular Republican war president?

And the punch line:

Just about every generation has some horrific evil that it must fight. For the Democratic Party today, that evil is carbon dioxide emissions. For the rest of us, it is an ideology that teaches that its deity is sanctified by the blood of innocents, just as the Aztec deities were.

Read the rest of Dennis Prager's excellent column at WorldNetDaily.

A Night at the US Congress

I knew this reminded me of something.

Groucho Marx's "A Night at the Opera"

Don't these people realize that only 14% of the American public take them seriously anymore?

13 July 2007

Happy Birthday, AWTM!

Today is ArmyWifeToddlerMom's birthday - congrats AWTM! Because she loves to share recipes, Tammi suggested we each share one of our favorite recipes as a birthday present for AWTM today.

Here's mine, for a Martini variant known (in very small circles) as a Doge. Pronounced DOH-jeh, it is named for the Doges (or Dukes) who ruled over the Most Serene Republic of Venice from 700 AD until the end of the Republic over 1000 years later.

The Doge's Palace in Venice

First, secure your ingredients and tools. Ingredients include high quality London dry gin (Beefeater will do nicely), high quality dry white vermouth, Amaro Montenegro, bitters, and an ample supply of fresh ice made from good water (both crushed and cubes).

Necessary tools include a glass shaker, a long handled spoon, a strainer, a proper Martini glass, and a sharp paring knife if adding a twist of lemon.

All tools should be cold, and in my opinion one should never use the freezer for this. So fill your shaker and your Martini glass with crushed ice. Thrust the stirring spoon into the ice in the shaker, and have a cigarette while everything chills.

Remove the crushed ice from the shaker and fill halfway with ice cubes. Add a Martini-sized helping of gin - about 3 oz. Then enough Amaro Montenegro to give the Martini a very pale tawny color. Maybe 1/2 oz. Finally, a splash of vermouth and a drop or two of bitters.

Stir. Do not shake.

Remove crushed ice from Martini glass and pour your Martini from the shaker into the glass using a strainer.

You now may or may not have created the perfect Doge. You will want to experiment with the ratios of liquor, the length of stirring time which will effect the amount of water dilution from the ice, chilling techniques, using fresh spring water for the ice, garnishes such as an olive or a twist, etc.

This process can begin immediately.

After all, it's your birthday.

12 July 2007

The Mike Stokely Foundation 1st Annual "Ride To Remember"

Some exciting news from our friend Robert Stokely about a motorcycle ride (cars also welcome!) to raise funds to establish scholarships in the names and memories of fallen 48th Brigade GAARNG soldiers.
When confronted with the news of Mike's death two years ago, we made a choice to remember with honor rather than blame in bitterness.

On August 25, 2007 - 104 weeks since we sat graveside grieving as our hearts broke in the final moments of saying goodbye to Mike, a 21 gun salute and the sound of TAPS riveted our hearts with a forceful reminder of what we had lost, we will gather again to celebrate a lifetime of love we shared with Mike, and a lifetime of memories to carry forward.

We will send a message - Honor is the reward for what one has given, and we will remember with honor by helping others go to college in memory of Mike Stokely.

Freedom is not free and we shall never forget the price Mike and his fellow Georgia National Guard 48th Brigade soldiers, and all the other soldiers from each branch of service paid for us.


Robert Stokely

Find out more about the 1st Annual "Ride To Remember" in Georgia on Saturday, August 25th, 2007 at The Mike Stokely Foundation website.

11 July 2007

24 Hours

Desert Flier, a Flight/Trauma nurse near Ramadi:
Sitting in EVAC with Tim watching the Buick Open on the Armed Forces Network. Not a big golf fan, but I'll take any distraction at this point.

"Just past midnight. We finally hit one July."...

"Four casualties inbound. Mikes unknown; still engaged in a firefight." says one of the EVAC platoon medics.

"Army or Marine?"


Tim and I walk out to patient receiving. Waking up some key staff, including some surgical teammates. Hospital CO is up as well as the XO. 3rd ID Sergeant Major drives up; his men have been ambushed and are taking a beating. The unit is having a hard time getting them out of the fight.

Finally, a humvee guns up to Charlie Medical out of the dark. One out of four casualties arrives so far. Soldier with gunshot wounds to his extremities. Medics, corpsman, and physicians go right to work; no surgical intervention needed, and he will be fine. Humvee looks worse than the soldier: turret is torn to pieces, but the gunner is OK. Two more casualties finally arrive via Humvee...also OK. More gunshot wounds, but all stable. No surgery needed; we start making arrangements for MEDVAC.

The battle began at approximately 9:20 p.m. Saturday when Coalition Forces were attacked with small arms fire from two trucks near their position. U.S. Soldiers returned fire and pursued the fleeing attackers with the help of Army AH-64A Apache helicopter gun ships, Marine F-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier fighter jets.

Helicopters killed at least one insurgent and wounded another, and destroyed the two trucks, later determined to be loaded with weapons, ammunition and explosives.

Desert Flier:
Fourth casualty is critical. GSW [Gun Shot Wound] to the face and no way to safely get him to Charlie Medical by road. A decision is made: one of the Apache gunships providing close air support will touch down, the gunner will get out, and we will just airlift him in the Apache. Effective; and a first for anyone present.

The 36th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office, the story you're familiar with from Blackfive:
Upon landing, the co-pilot/gunner helped load the injured Soldier into the front seat without further injury. Despite the heavy small arms fire and surface-to-air fire events in the area, the co-pilot/gunner strapped himself onto the left side of the aircraft and hunkered down on the wing. The pilot flew to Camp Ar Ramadi medical pad, where emergency medical personnel provided treatment.

Desert Flier continues:
I'm right in the middle of looking at the detainee's chest film, when a detonation and subsequent deep bass of the concussion wave knocks the wooden window covers back. My initial thought: "mortar attack was pretty close." Jason and I both look at our patient and immediately request he be put in patient hold for observation. We need the trauma bay cleared out... as in right now. All staff immediately start pulling down litters, setting up triage stations, and the trauma bay jumps to life as all stations are manned with medics and corpsman.

"VBIED" cracks over the radios. My initial thought was wrong, but somehow doesn't matter when the results are the same: casualties....

Truck-borne IED has taken out a local bridge. Small arms fire coming from the back gate. The few remaining staff running to Charlie Medical from church service and the barracks.

New insurgent tactics recently include attacking Anbar infrastructure. This is the second local bridge targeted over the past few weeks. A communications tower was targeted last month. This attack was coordinated with several others in Anbar throughout the day, including another bridge in nearby Fallujah.

Around 2 p.m., extremist forces again attacked with machine gun fire, grenades and a suicide vest. Coalition Forces responded with small arms fire and grenades, killing at least one insurgent. Helicopter gun ships and fighter jets provided aerial surveillance and engaged multiple enemy positions, including the destruction of an enemy bunker complex with precision guided munitions.

Desert Flier:
The rest of the afternoon was spent on standby as more casualties arrive. Another abandoned VBIED was blown up by an Explosive/Ordnance platoon near the bridge. Not sure if the driver was found, or what happened to him.

At about minute 7 of BG Bergner's briefing today we find out how the driver was recruited, smuggled into Iraq via Syria, and what happened after that.

From Bill Roggio:
U.S. Army forces, with the help of Iraqi police, beat back an attempted al Qaeda in Iraq assault on Ramadi on June 30 and July 1. At least 23 insurgents "affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq" were killed in a series of raids against Donkey Island, which sits about 3 miles south of Ramadi. "Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces received reports that a significant number of anti-Iraqi forces had gathered on the outskirts of Ramadi to stage a series of large scale attacks," Multinational Forces Iraq reported. "The group, affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq, intended to regain a base of operations in Al Anbar with suicide car and vest bomb attacks."

Desert Flier:
Midnight. An Angel ceremony for the fallen. The entire Army unit is in formation, and the surgical team falls in off to the side. We get word that the men lost today were the heart and soul of their platoon. Tragic beyond words.

In formation, it's just an unspoken rule that no one talks. Thirty minutes of silence amongst one another. Each man left to his thoughts and prayers for the fallen and the families and friends left behind. Yet in the silence, we all feel so connected... we stand as one collective Spirit to honor those who gave all. 200 silent salutes in the night as an H-46 lifts them gently Home.

One July. One 24 hour period; midnight to midnight.
One day that couldn't go fast enough.
One day that I will never forget.

10 July 2007

Soldiers' Angels Mourns CPL Kory Wiens and MWD Cooper

From the Soldiers' Angels members forum:
It is with a very heavy heart that I make this post. We lost one of our K-9 teams. CPL Kory Wiens and his MWD [Military Working Dog] Cooper gave the ultimate sacrifice Friday 6 July 2007 in a combat mission / IED attack. They were assigned to Camp Victory.

Please say a prayer for these Heroes, their families, and the brothers/sisters they leave behind. I know Kory & Cooper had many other K9 teams stationed at Victory with them as well, so keep them in your hearts and prayers too.

May you both rest peacefully in God's arms, you will never be forgotten!!!

CPL Kory Wiens & MWD Cooper... RIP

Kory and Cooper were featured in an article earlier this year about Specialized Search Dogs (SSDs) and their handlers.

Pfc. Kory Wiens of the 94th Engineer Detachment has been with his dog, Cooper, for nearly a year. The 20-year-old combat engineer said he's grateful to be a dog handler. When Wiens first met the yellow lab, the pup didn't know simple obedience commands. That's all changed.

"I got to teach him all the things he knows, today," Wiens said. "Seeing him out there working is very rewarding. It's amazing to see how far he's come."

Cooper has become more like a kid than a dog to Wiens. He introduces Cooper to everybody as his son, and said being with him is just like watching a kid grow up.

"It's a lot of fun having him in Iraq," Wiens said. "There's never a dull moment with him."

09 July 2007


Muqtada al Sadr back in Iran

Michael Yon on Pundit Review Radio

Last night Bruce McQuain from QandO joined Kevin and Gregg for an extended interview with Michael Yon live from Baqubah, Iraq. According to Kevin, "We discussed everything from Bless The Beasts, and the Children to Kiki Munshi to Bob Owens work exposing the AP's imaginary massacre. As you would expect from Michael, a good, the bad and ugly assessment on the war itself."

Listen here.

05 July 2007

DJ Emery on the Today Show

This just in from Jamie:

Hello everyone! DJ's segment from the Today Show is online! I know a few of you missed it and the rest of you, like me, would love to watch it again and again and again!

You can watch the segment here.

Update 6 July:

He's coming home to visit this weekend!!!!!!! I hope you all can make it to the car show event. I tried to explain to him what his homecoming would be like, but I would love to really blow him out of the water with support and love! Bring your family, friends, everyone you know to the car show! Wear your DJ t-shirts, bring flags, whatever you can think of... this boy needs to see how much he's touched all of our lives and how much support he has here at home!

DJ won't be arriving until after noon sometime because this entire trip is going to be very difficult for him. He wants to be there to pass out the prizes at the end of the car show. Like I said, it's going to be a very long weekend for him! If you don't get a chance to talk to our Hero this weekend, just keep an ear open for his next appearance in Bellefonte... I'm hoping this is just the beginning for him!

God bless you all!

Click to read more stories about DJ here at SAG.

04 July 2007

Independence Day - The Pledge

"We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

- The Declaration of Independence

Today it seems that every soldier killed in action and every minor skirmish involving American troops is front-page news. But 231 years after the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Continental Congress, we seem to have lost sight of the everyday heroics and sacrifices that made this republic possible. The Revolutionary War took eight years to win, with many defeats and setbacks along the way. We owe those who stuck with it and made those sacrifices more than we know.

Brendan Miniter's column in yesterday's Opinion Journal takes a look back at the Revolutionary War battles which took place in and around New York.

As a New Jersey native, the tragic retreat of General Washington's small Army through the state during the winter of 1776 was always very real to me. Many homes are historical monuments, and main throroughfares are marked with the sign "1776 Retreat Route". And then there's the Palisades along the Hudson River, where fortifications still stand.

At that time the Army was in a critical state in every way. It lacked clothing, food, tents, and ammunition. It was composed chiefly of militia, and many of their terms of service were about to expire. The military force was on the point of dissolution, and faced the presence of a well-disciplined, well-appointed, and victorious enemy.

Washington's pleas for reinforcements and supplies to all quarters - particularly to General Lee - went unanswered. He was forced to retreat further into New Jersey, finally crossing the Delaware River in December.

But there was one thing that represented to me the courage and determination of this small, poorly supplied Army more than any other: The large iron rings bored into the cliffs of the Palisades, to which a chain across the Hudson River was once attached. I will never forget my father explaining their history to me.

Inside what is now Bear Mountain State Park, not far from West Point, fortifications were built to stop the British from gaining control of the Hudson River and with it the ability to split New England and eastern New York from the rest of the country, which might have allowed the British to pacify less rebellious Southern states.

American soldiers had stretched a large chain across the Hudson, built fortifications and waited. A year after Washington was driven from New York City, the British launched an ambitious campaign. Gen. John Burgoyne was dispatched to move south from Canada and link up with other British forces, some of whom would sail up the Hudson. In October 1777, the king's army arrived in the Hudson Valley, assaulted the fortifications and, with a final bayonet charge, defeated the Americans. They then broke the chain.

Those who defended the redoubt that still stands today held off waves of British soldiers before finally being defeated. And their gallantry wasn't in vain. By forcing the British to take the valley by force, the Americans set in motion a series of events that would help win the war.

During these darkest days of the Revolutionary War there were many who lost faith. History will again show that the gallantry of today's warfighters to be no less in vain than that of their comrades. That is the chain which will never be broken.

02 July 2007

Enroute Care Nursing at TQ

Flag Gazer recommends the most excellent blog Me Over There from LT Peter DeYoung, a Navy nurse with the Al Taqaddum Surgical Detachment, 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), known as TQ Surgical.

Here's something he's put together about enroute care nursing.

AL TAQADDUM, Iraq (April 19, 2007) These guardians are called en-route care nurses and fly onboard casualty evacuation helicopters to stabilize and monitor patients being transferred to a larger treatment facility.

When Operation Iraqi Freedom first started, patients were often accompanied by a hospital corpsman, or no caretaker at all. Medical professionals in Iraq knew there had to be a change.

Lieutenant Cmdr. Troy L. King, an enroute care nurse with Al Taqaddum Surgical Detachment, 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), was one of the ground level participants when nurses began jumping aboard with flight crews.

In 2004, medical personnel realized that in-flight patients were not receiving the same quality of care that they would at established facilities, according to King.

“So they started flying nurses with them,” he said.

The nurses who initially began flying were, and even to this day are, volunteers. They volunteer to fly with patients without the extra flight pay and flight status other aircraft crewmembers receive.

I spotted a Soldiers' Angels coffee mug in Peter's latest slideshow called TQ Surgical at Work and Play. Damn, those things are everywhere...


From Jack Army:

I didn't sign up for the possibility of dying in a VBIED any more than you did. However, given the nature of my job and current location, the possibility is higher than it ever has been in my career. I would say, however, that the possibility of you dying in a VBIED is higher than it ever has been in your life, based on what I saw on the news from Glasgow yesterday.

... I would add that despite the swooning and blaring music and graphics on your nightly news broadcast, casualties are not nearly as high as the American public is being led to believe. More people die in car accidents in America every day than are dying in Iraq, yet the folks dying in Iraq are dying fighting for something. The folks dying in America are just senseless deaths...

The rest of his post is a pretty good read too, as always.

Why we fight

A reminder from Michael Yon:

On 29 June, American and Iraqi soldiers were again fighting side-by-side as soldiers from Charley Company 1-12 CAV - led by Captain Clayton Combs - and Iraqi soldiers from the 5th IA, closed in on a village on the outskirts of Baqubah....

The village was abandoned. All the people were gone. But where?

... As we passed through the village, Captain Combs pointed out the nice houses, saying the people had been simple farmers with comfortable homes and lives.

Until al Qaeda came.

There's some graphic material in Michael's post and, understandably, evil is a horrible thing to see. Proponents of moral equivilancy prefer to deny it even exists. But it does, and it must be faced - and fought. God bless those who step up to face it every day.

Speaking of which, I'd like to give a shout out to my friend Lopez with the 1-12 Cav. I told you I'd be thinking about you... you and the rest of the guys keep up the good work and stay safe.