To friends and loved ones who can't be with us; and to those who are no longer with us.
You are always in our hearts.
Auld Lang Syne (to days gone by)... farewell 2009.
New Year's Eve, 2009
On this small base surrounded by a mixture of enemy and friendly territory, a memorial has been erected just next to the Chapel. Inside the tepee are 21 photos of 21 soldiers killed during the first months of a year-long tour of duty. The fallen will belong forever to the honor rolls of the 1-17th Infantry Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and they will join the sacred list of names of those who have given their lives in service of the United States of America.
It's just another day for a platoon in Afghanistan
ARGHANDAB RIVER VALLEY, Afghanistan - In their mud-walled compound next to a pomegranate orchard, the men in 1st Platoon are having company tonight.
It's not the kind of company associated with mistletoe and eggnog.
Another platoon from the same unit - Company C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division - is set to move into the outpost to help secure the area just north of Kandahar.
For the 1st Platoon, that means a Christmas Day foot patrol to a spot called Route Philly, clearing the way for their new roommates to arrive.
But the platoon's soldiers are not going to ignore the holiday altogether. A wooden table is decorated with a 2-foot-tall Christmas tree, and a giant white stocking hangs next to a door.
Most, if not all, of the men will have the chance to call home. Sgt. Barry McDonald and other soldiers have been saving their cell phone minutes for it, just in case they can't make it to the satellite phone.
If they can find a goat in the village for a reasonable price, they'll cook it over an open flame - a substitute for the traditional can of ham.
It's not like home, but it's something.
World War II vet's remains, and those of his wife, finally have an honored resting place
By Lane DeGregory, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, December 17, 2009
BUSHNELL — The two teenagers got to the cemetery first.
He wore his dark green dress uniform from the National Guard. She wore a long black dress.
They stood on the edge of the road, across from rows of matching military headstones, waiting for the funeral of the man they had never met.
Mike Colt, 19, and his girlfriend, Carol Sturgell, 18, had driven more than an hour from their Tampa homes on Wednesday to be at Florida National Cemetery.
They weren't really sure why they had come. They just knew they had to be here.
"It's kind of sad, huh?" asked Sturgell, scanning the sea of white gravestones.
Colt nodded. "Yeah, but it feels kind of important."
At 12:20 p.m., a Tampa police car pulled up, then a white Lincoln Town Car. Another police cruiser followed. Two officers stepped out.
"Thank you for being here," Colt said, shaking both of their hands.
"No, thank you," said Officer Dan College. "If it weren't for you guys, none of us would be here."
Malaria claims Navy Seabee from Port Angeles
By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES -- A Navy Seabee from Port Angeles who died of complications of malaria caught in Africa will be remembered as a loyal brother and son who loved his country, his family said.
Joshua Dae Ho Carrell, 23, died of complications of malaria on Saturday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
"He was my gift from God," said Rhonda Carrell, his mother.
Mr. Carrell was a third class petty officer with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3.
He was building a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, with his fellow Seabees -- the naval construction force that carries the motto: "We build, we fight."
About 400 military personnel attended a service for Petty Officer Carrell on Tuesday at Naval Station Rota in Spain.
After the service, his body was flown to Dover, Del., en route to Port Angeles.
Petty Officer Carrell will be laid to rest in Port Angeles on Monday or Tuesday with a full military honor guard. The family has not finalized the details.
For thousands of American soldiers injured in Afghanistan, the road to recovery begins at a military hospital in Germany. The Landstuhl medical centre treats men and women dealing with the reality of life on the frontline. Alistair Bunkall is there.
In 2003, Sgt. First Class Jay Smith and his Army Special Forces team were based in Orgun-e, Afghanistan and were taking regular rocket fire from al Qaeda fighters. But Sgt. Smith and his men were armed with an effective counterweapon—gifts of school supplies and sports gear for children, and clothing, shoes and blankets for nearby families, all provided by American donors.
After receiving these items, the grateful villagers reciprocated by forming a night-watch patrol to protect our soldiers. Good relations with locals helped save American lives. I've witnessed this success on the front lines, aided by support from home, repeated many times since Sgt. Smith.
Accordingly, when President Barack Obama presented his plan for Afghanistan earlier this month he left out one critical element: the American people. Our initiative, resourcefulness and goodwill are incredibly powerful. In fact, the tangible support of the American people can make the difference between success and failure in Afghanistan.
Our troops in Afghanistan are engaged in counterinsurgency, a type of war that depends on winning over the local people. Marine Gen. James Mattis, commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command (which supports ongoing military operations and helps shape military forces for future conflicts), has said that, "One way we create the necessary credibility among the people and dissuade them from supporting our enemies is to show them hope of a better future." This is where the American people can play an indispensable role.
For the past six years, Spirit of America, the group I head, has supported our troops' humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. With donations from American citizens and businesses, we have provided sewing machines, medical supplies, tools, shoes, blankets, toys and more—all at the request of our troops for the benefit of local people.
Other organizations have also given Americans a chance to help the troops. Operation International Children, Soldiers' Angels, and Operation Gratitude, to name a few, have provided a link between the troops on the battlefield and Americans at home.
This is the third time this year Operation Proper Exit, sponsored by the Troops First Foundation, has brought troops to Iraq to participate in the week-long event.
The five soldiers come from different backgrounds, different ranks and have different stories to tell. What they share is an understanding of living life as a wounded combat veteran.
The soldiers will spend the next six days travelling throughout Iraq with Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Wilson, Multi-National Force-Iraq command sergeant major, visiting the places these soldiers experienced their own "alive day."
"We welcome these heroes. They are here to heal, and we are here to help them do that," Wilson said.
In one study, Christine Marx of the Duke University Medical Center and Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center wondered why PTSD, depression and pain often occur together.
Researchers already knew that people with PTSD show changes in their neurosteroids, which are brain chemicals thought to play a role in how the body responds to stress.
Marx is researching treatment for people with traumatic brain injuries using the same kind of brain chemical, and early results show that increasing a person’s neurosteroid level decreases his PTSD symptoms.
A second study, conducted by Alexander Neumeister of Yale University School of Medicine, found that veterans diagnosed with PTSD along with another syndrome, such as depression, alcohol abuse, substance abuse or suicidal ideation, had different brain images on a CT scan than did those who had been diagnosed only with PTSD.
Neumeister became curious after realizing that veterans dealing only with PTSD responded differently to treatment than did those with PTSD and another diagnosis.
In his report, Neumeister also said that depression with trauma is “biologically distinct” from depression without a history of severe trauma.
In other words, PTSD, depression and substance abuse can all be seen as a physical, chemical injury to the brain that occurs when the brain is exposed to trauma. As researchers work more with PTSD, they may be able to determine why some people are more susceptible to this chemical change than others, researchers said.
"It's like I'm a famous person or something. I can't believe all of it. But really, I don't understand why people treat me this way. I'm not special. I was just over there doing my job."
- Marine Staff Sgt. John Stanz
Stanz's homecoming is something of a miracle. Just four short months ago, it wasn't certain whether he'd survive the ambush attack that left him suffering from severe enclosed head trauma, multiple facial fractures, a fractured right hand, a fractured left foot, a dislocated right knee and damage to both of his lungs.
The attack happened Aug. 15, when the vehicle in which he was riding was blown up in an ambush attack by a land-planted improvised explosive device, or IED. At the time of the attack, Stanz was serving with the Marine Special Operations Company F, 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion in Afghanistan.
After the attack, he spent almost two weeks in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, the largest American hospital outside the United States. There, doctors placed him in a medically-induced coma and were able to keep the pressure in his brain low enough so he could make the 12-hour flight between Germany and America.
Doctors were also concerned about the brain damage Stanz sustained in the attack. He has made progress there, too - he has progressed from being unable to communicate to being able to answer yes-or-no questions with gestures to being able to answer open-ended questions and carry on a conversation.
Now that Stanz is home, he will continue outpatient therapy for at least the next year at Erie County Medical Center. But Stanz isn't daunted by the thought of more therapy.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "It's just therapy. I can handle it. 'Bring it on,' that's what I say."
Stanz credited all of the doctors and nurses - but especially the therapists at the Moss Rehabilitation Hospital, with being "just wonderful people."
His brother, Joe, along with his parents, John and Sandy Stanz - who now live in Hamburg but are formerly of Chapman Street in Jamestown - were at his bedside constantly. Stanz's siblings - sisters Lisa Destro, Stacy Waite and Amy Pavlovich of Hamburg, Tara Archfield of Maryland, Cassie Stanz of Connecticut and Christy Quinter of California, and brother Mike Stanz of Warren, Pa. - have also steadfastly supported their brother.
"You just wouldn't believe it," Stanz said Tuesday. "I mean, I knew I had a great family before all this. But my parents were there every single day from the time I'd wake up until the time I'd fall asleep. They and my siblings proved their love for me over and over and over again. I could never thank them enough."
Asked what he is most looking forward to doing now that he is home, Stanz paused for a moment and said he ''can't wait to eat dinner with my family.''
"I want to have Christmas dinner with my family and all the kids," he said. "I'm home for Christmas and I can't tell you what that means to me. It's going to be so great."
[Arizona State University professor Thomas] Sugar and his ASU team have been working with the Military Amputee Research Program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to develop a technology called Spring Ankle with Regenerative Kinetics, nicknamed SPARKy after the ASU Sun Devil mascot.
They believe they are close to perfecting it.
Sugar says the device is one of a kind because it uses lightweight energy-storing springs to provide a flex that traditional devices just can't give.
"About 1,000 servicemen and women have had below-the-knee-amputations in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and every year about 100,000 diabetics have the same amputation," said Sugar, an engineering professor based at ASU's Polytechnic campus in Mesa. "We believe this device could mean a different life for many of those people."
The shortcomings of current prosthetics are numerous because the mechanics are "largely passive," Sugar said.
Amputees use 20 to 30 percent more energy than able-bodied people just to walk. Their gait is uneven because they must swing their hips to propel their prosthetics. When they're climbing stairs or even walking backward, the challenges increase.
But SPARKy's technology is radically different because it relies on a "robotic tendon" that stretches with each step, generating energy stored in a small motor in the ankle.
"I would hope that by three years from now there would be at least several hundred new users a year and it would allow more and more people to enjoy effortless walking - taking long walks in the park, walking their dog.
"The everyday things that are your life."
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The Army is preparing to open several multimillion-dollar facilities to treat soldiers for combat stress and traumatic brain injury at Grafenwöhr and Vilseck.
One of the facilities, a $2.5 million behavioral health clinic in Grafenwöhr, will include therapy and conference rooms along with office space. It will house “everything we are doing to help soldiers with the new emphasis on Army mental health — all these issues like depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr commander Col. Nils “Chris” Sorenson said earlier this year.
The clinic, set to open in mid-February, will have an 11-member staff including psychiatrists, psychologists, behavioral health social workers and a behavioral health technician, Grafenwöhr Health Clinic commander Lt. Col. Kendra Whyatt said.
"For most of us, Christmas falls on a specific day on our calendar, but this year, on 51 islands, Christmas will begin as it has for over half a century, when you, the (U.S.) Air Force, show up carrying Santa in the sky.".
- Bill Hagen, long-time volunteer and supporter of Operation Christmas Drop
Operation Christmas Drop is under way once again
by Senior Airman Shane Dunaway
36th Wing Public Affairs
12/18/2009 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) -- More than 12 months of preparation have gone into ensuring this year's four-day air drop mission, known as Operation Christmas Drop, goes smoothly, with countless fundraisers and many drop-off points made available to those wishing to donate supplies and help support Guam's island neighbors in the Marianas, Carolines, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and the Federal States of Micronesia.
Operation Christmas Drop's mission officially kicked off with a Push Ceremony held Dec. 15. Members of the Andersen family and representatives from the local community were on hand to assist in loading boxes onto a C-130 Hercules, in essence preparing the first sortie's load of donations for delivery.
This is the 58th consecutive year that Operation Christmas Drop missions will fly, making it the longest-running airdrop mission in the history of the Air Force. The concept of Operation Christmas Drop began in 1952 when locals on the island of Kapingamarangi waved to the crew of a WB-50 flying overhead. In the spirit of the holiday season, the crew gathered what they could, packed it into a canister, attached a parachute and dropped it to the islanders.
I can easily say that being involved with the Soldiers' Angels teams has been the best thing that I have done in a long, long time. I appreciate you and all those who take care of our heroes.
The pups have sent you their Christmas portrait in the attached file.
Merry Christmas, friend. May God Bless and Keep You in 2010.
The Public Affairs Office at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover AFB, Del. has been receiving your cards and well wishes over the last several days. We post these notes where all in the center can see them and read your kind words of thanks. Many of staff here at AFMAO are Guard, Reserve and Active Duty military members deployed from across our nation to support this vital mission. They are away from their families during this time and your notes are certainly helping to bring holiday cheer. Thank you for your support!
- Lt. Shannon Mann
it is hard for me to tell you all this but i was hurt by an ied here. my right arm has been amputated below the elbow, my left has four working fingers. my legs are fine so l can still logroll! i am on my way to the hospital in germany, then back to the states for more care. i am in high spirits. i am going to be ok, but i will have a long road to recovery. please remember me in your prayers, as well as those who were injured with me. i will let you know more as time passes.
The operation involved removing the airman's pancreas at Walter Reed; flying the organ to Miami, where the cells were extracted and preserved; and then returning the cells to Washington, where they were infused into the patient's liver. There the cells become permanent residents, secreting hormones into the bloodstream and performing part of the function of the original pancreas. The process occurred over less than 24 hours and involved about 60 people.
Speaking by telephone to reporters, the airman's father, Karl Porfirio, thanked the surgical teams and everyone who helped his son, "from the first soldier who touched him when he hit the ground."
“I’m probably the only person you’ll ever meet who opted to have their leg amputated so they could play hockey.”
— Sgt. 1st Class Joe Bowser
The Warriors Way
By: Mark Miller
Battling back from injuries is nothing unusual for hockey players. But “comeback” is an understatement when you’re referring to Sgt. 1st Class Joe Bowser, who’s learned to play with one leg.
Bowser is part of the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program, which organizes hockey clinics for military personnel who have been wounded in action – mostly while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Affiliated with USA Hockey’s Disabled Hockey Program, the team practices at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel, Md., and a second team is forming in Minnesota.
For Bowser and the other USA Warriors, hockey is playing a major role in their recovery, both physically and emotionally. At 49, Bowser is a role model and mentor to many of the other USA Warrior players.
While serving in Balad, Iraq (about 50 miles north of Baghdad), his unit was hit with mortar fire on April 12, 2004. Before he knew what was happening, shrapnel had fired through his right heel bone and out the bottom of his foot, and also opened a quarter-sized hole in the back of his right leg, piercing his femoral artery.
Bowser was flown to Germany, where surgeons immediately went to work to try to save his leg. He was then transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and a few days later he had a conversation he remembers vividly.
“The doctor said, ‘We’re going to give you an option. We can try to salvage your leg, but you won’t be able to use your foot, and you’ll be in pain the rest of your life. Or you can have your leg amputated and do everything you could before.’ I asked, ‘So I could get out and play hockey again? And he said, ‘I’m sure you could.’
“The best way I can describe it is when I get out on the ice and I’ve got my gear on, all people see is a hockey player, and I feel normal,” he says. “I play pickup with ‘two-leggers,’ as I call them, and a lot of time people have no idea I have a prosthetic. The only way people would know is if they see me in the locker room.”
In 2007 Bowser served his country in a different way, when he was named to the U.S. National Amputee Team.
Most of the USA Warriors players hear about the program at Walter Reed or Bethesda National Naval Medical Center, both of which treat wounded personnel from all branches of the military.
Anne Moore, a physical therapist assistant at Walter Reed, has helped Bowser and many other players incorporate hockey into their rehabilitation.
As a former hockey player, Moore says, “The general conditioning, core strength, balance and agility developed by playing either standing or sled hockey parallels our goals in physical therapy. The program can also give a patient the motivation to put their all into rehabilitation.
“Recently, a patient said to me, ‘I thought I would never play sports again, much less ice hockey. Now I am going to work twice as hard in physical therapy.’
The head coach of the USA Warriors, Steve Monahan, says teamwork comes naturally for players who have served in life-and-death situations overseas.
“No one in this program expects to be in the National Hockey League, but the camaraderie and part of being on a team is what draws these guys together,” he says.
Monahan, who travels from southern New Jersey to work with the team in Maryland, says, “Even though it’s three hours from my house and it takes my whole day, it absolutely makes my day to be able to give back to these guys who’ve sacrificed for us so we can live the way we do.”
While Monahan has had his own challenges, he is inspired by the strength and courage of the players who have suffered incredible injuries from roadside bombs and shrapnel.
“It’s amazing sitting in the locker room with these guys, getting dressed and changed,” Monahan says. “You see half of them with bodies that are held together with duct tape, and the will and determination they have to get out there and play is inspiring.”
With both the USA Warriors and his younger players, he says, “I tell them you have to play with the cards they deal you. You have to adapt and overcome any kind of injury or disability you have and make the best of it.”
Bob Banach, president of the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program, says the vision for the program is to start teams in cities across the country.
Boldly into the fray: Godspeed to 10th Mountain Division on Afghan mission
Tuesday, December 15th 2009
President Obama, commander in chief of the armed forces, has sounded the call to duty in Afghanistan. And as it has so often done before, the 10th Mountain Division has answered.
We salute the 3,500 infantrymen of the Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, who next month will begin a one-year deployment to Afghanistan from their base at Fort Drum in upstate New York. They are the first members of the legendary division ordered into the theater of combat since Obama announced an escalation in the battle against radical Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists.
They will no doubt serve with honor, with guts and with skill to burn, as they have countless times before. This brigade was last deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 and served in Iraq in 2005, 2007 and 2008.
Now its members and their families are writing a new page of valor. We wish the brigade good luck, Godspeed and success in its mission.
It may be their fight, but it is our nation's war.
Fort Benning Airborne soldier awarded Silver Star
By LILY GORDON
Staff Sgt. Justin D. Grimm was awarded the Silver Star — the nation’s third highest military decoration behind the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross — in a ceremony held Monday on Fort Benning.
Grimm earned the Silver Star for his actions during the July 13, 2008, battle of Wanat in Afghanistan while assigned to Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vincenza, Italy.
Two of Grimm’s fellow staff sergeants each received a Bronze Star.
“To get an award is great,” Grimm said following the ceremony, “but a lot of these tough fights, anybody out there — everybody out there — deserves a valor award. It’s just certain members get recognized. So, I don’t know the best way to describe it. It’s humbling.”
On the morning of July 13, as Chosen Company was preparing to leave Afghanistan after a 15-month tour of duty, their vehicle patrol base was attacked by about 200 insurgents. The battle lasted for hours. In the end, more than 50 insurgents were killed and nine American lives were lost. Twenty seven more Americans were wounded in action.
Grimm was serving as a squad leader when the insurgents struck.
“He immediately ran forward in order to prevent the enemy from overrunning one of the outposts,” his award citation says. “He manned a Squad Automatic Weapon in order to suppress the enemy and bring relief to the beleaguered defenders, and on numerous occasions left his covered position to render first aid to wounded soldiers and help move them to safety. Despite the heavy volume of accurate enemy fire impacting all around his position and forcing him to take cover, he refused to abandon his post, detonating a mine and lobbing grenades into the enemy ranks, thwarting their advance and forcing them to retreat.”
Staff Sgt. Clifton M. Anderson Jr. and Staff Sgt. Michael J. Lawrence, also assigned to Chosen Company, each received a Bronze Star with “V” Device for their actions during a separate battle in the Chowkay Valley on June 23, 2008.
“I’ve got to give it to my soldiers, basically,” Lawrence said of his honor. “The soldiers that served with me while I was there and fought right alongside with me. They deserve it just as much as I do.”
An Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device was given to senior line medic Staff Sgt. Zachari A. Rushing for his actions following a catastrophic improvised explosive device strike in 2007 in Charbaran District, Afghanistan. Rushing was assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment.
Grimm, Anderson, Lawrence and Rushing are all currently assigned to units on Fort Benning.
Dr. Ralph L. Warren, a surgeon whose practice stretched from the urban confines of Boston, to the battlefields of Iraq, to the Navajo country of New Mexico and Arizona, died Wednesday, December 2, 2009 in Gallup, New Mexico, after a long illness. He was 55.
Born on September 28, 1954, Dr. Warren was raised in Short Hills, NJ, and graduated from The Pingry School in Hillside, NJ. He attended Harvard College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and Harvard Medical School, where he earned his M.D. degree in 1981. He trained in General Surgery and then in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
From 1989 through 2000, Dr. Warren practiced General Surgery at Massachusetts General, where he served as Chief of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. In 2000, he left Boston to take a position with the Indian Health Service at the Gallup Indian Medical Center in Gallup, NM. For the last nine years of his life he dedicated himself to the care of the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, and Pueblo peoples served by the Gallup hospital. A talented linguist proficient in six languages, Warren distinguished himself by becoming conversant in the Navajo language, a feat rarely achieved by bilagaana (non-Navajos).
In 1990 Warren joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard as a Flight Surgeon, and served in that capacity for 10 years. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, he filled in the backlines at Andrews Air Force Base. His service with the National Guard took him several times to the Antarctic, where he served as the physician for National Guard personnel at McMurdo Station, as well as on goodwill missions to Guatemala and Ecuador.
Upon relocating to New Mexico in 2000, Warren transferred to the New Mexico Air National Guard, ultimately becoming the State Air Surgeon for New Mexico before retiring from the Guard earlier this year with the rank of Colonel. During his 20 years of service to the Massachusetts and New Mexico Air National Guard units, he logged many hours in both F-15 and F-16 fighters.
Warren completed two tours of duty in Iraq, the first in 2004 and the second in 2005. During the latter tour, Warren served as a trauma surgeon at Balad Air Force Base outside Baghdad and saved the lives of countless wounded American soldiers and Iraqi civilians alike.
He also logged numerous round trips from Iraq to Germany as a physician supervising the airborne evacuation of critically wounded American soldiers to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center at Ramstein Air Force Base outside Frankfurt. Warren never lost a patient while en route from Iraq to Germany.
He was twice awarded a Distinguished Service Medal by the New Mexico Air National Guard, the highest non-combat honor bestowed by the force. Dr. Warren is survived by his two daughters, Maxine F. Warren of Arlington, VA, and Madison F. Warren of Nahant, MA; his father, Edus H. Warren, Jr., of Atlanta, GA; his sisters Ann F. Warren of Freehold, NJ, and Sarah W. Fenton of Basking Ridge, NJ; and his brother, Edus H. Warren, III, of Bainbridge Island, WA.
"The Price of Peace" was written by Alyssa Gaddis (age 12) and Hart Steen. This video was created by the National Guard's Strength Maintenance Support Center near Nashville, Tennessee and filmed in October, 2008. The video was Directed by Joel Evans, who works with the National Guard in Tennessee. Alyssa Gaddis and her sister Cassy Gaddis (age 16) beautifully honor National Guard Soldiers and their military families who know "The Price of Peace." The song was funded by State Farm Insurance. Thank you to CW5 Jim Gaddis and Mrs. Annette Gaddis and to the girls for this Tribute to Soldiers and Tribute to all our Troops!
Angels at Work from School to KBR
Once again, employees of Soldiers’ Angels corporate sponsor KBR have stepped up to support the troops. This time, they sent 1,116 Holiday care packages to Afghanistan! With the assistance of Mariam Weaver, a teacher at Turner Elementary in Pasadena, Texas, KBR packed and shipped 188 boxes of Holiday Cheer to the deployed battalion they’ve been supporting company-wide.
It started with Mrs. Weaver and her students, who have participated in Soldiers’ Angels Holiday support activities for several years now. This year the students and parents filled 1,116 large Ziploc bags with candy, snacks and socks, then handed the bags off to KBR. Employees then kicked the bags up a notch with additional candy and toiletry items, and off went the packages to Afghanistan.
The Soldiers' Angels contact in Afghanistan, Colonel Jody Nelson, was thrilled to hear the news:You are absolutely AMAZING!! The troops are going to be so happy! The outpouring of support and downright love this holiday season is awesome! My last deployment there wasn't as many that remembered that Soldiers were out here - or that many were. It's great to get all this stuff - it's a great reminder for the Soldiers that there are folks back home that have them in their prayers and hearts.
Angel and KBR employee Marilyn Prewitt has led the way in the company’s association with Soldiers’ Angels — each time she starts a new work project, she invites her coworkers to participate in what she calls a “soldier event.” Last time this year, KBR employees sent Christmas decorations and party supplies, games, etc., to a combat support hospital in Iraq to bring cheer to the medical personnel and patients.
We light these lights for the miracles and the wonders, for the redemption and the battles that you made for our forefathers, in those days at this season, through your holy priests. During all eight days of Hanukkah these lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make ordinary use of them except for to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name for your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvations.
Combat Vets Get Better Knees
Thursday, 10 Dec 2009, 6:29 PM EST
By JOHN HENREHAN/myfoxdc
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Combat veterans who have lost one of their legs are getting new, improved prosthetic knees at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
The new device is called the X-2, and it contains a microprocessor that can adjust the range of motion and stiffness.
"It's the first microprocessor knee specifically designed to be run on," explained prosthetist John Warren.
"The patient can take their everyday walking foot, switch it on for the running foot, and they have a completely safe knee joint with which to run on. So, that's actually pretty revolutionary."
Army Staff Sgt. Alfredo De los santos, who had a conventional prosthetic leg, complained that he would favor his intact limb while standing.
"I was constantly getting knee pain," in his good leg from overuse, according to De los santos. "And my back was killing me."
With the X-2, De los santos says he is standing equally on both legs, and the pain is greatly reduced.
Researchers at Walter Reed say out of 949 patients with major limb loss, prosthetics have allowed 141 of them to return to active duty, and more than 42 amputees have gone back into the theater of combat operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.
That's the goal of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Marcus Wilson, who is also sporting a new X-2 artificial knee. Asked if he can be a combat Marine, Wilson answers immediately: "Yes, absolutely."
The new microprocessor-enabled X-2 knee is expected to be widely available for amputees sometime in 2011.