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 2012.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy 2013.
For uncommon skills and service, for the choices each one of them has made and the ones still ahead, for the challenge of defending not only our freedoms but those barely stirring half a world away, the American soldier is TIME's Person of the Year.
It is worth remembering that our pilots and sailors and soldiers are, for starters, all volunteers, in contrast to most nations, which conscript those who serve in their armed forces. Ours are serving in 146 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The 1.4 million men and women on active duty make up the most diverse military in our history, and yet it is not exactly a mirror of the country it defends. It is better educated than the general population and overweighted with working-class kids and minorities. About 40% of the troops are Southern, 60% are white, 22% are black, and a disproportionate number come from empty states like Montana and Wyoming. When they arrive at the recruiter's door, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told TIME, "they have purple hair and an earring, and they've never walked with another person in step in their life. And suddenly they get this training, in a matter of weeks, and they become part of a unit, a team. They're all sizes and shapes, and they're different ages, and they're different races, and you cannot help when you work with them but come away feeling that that is really a special thing that this country has."
Santa visits wounded warriors, staff members at hospital in Afghanistan
By Staff Sgt. David J. Overson, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
BAGRAM, Afghanistan (Dec. 19, 2012) -- For many service members deployed to Afghanistan, Christmas can be a very emotional and depressing time of year, as they are separated from their friends and family back home. However, this year, Santa came to town and brought joy with him as he gave Christmas stockings to staff members and patients at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital, at Bagram Airfield, Dec. 18.
Santa wandered the halls passing out stockings filled with fun to every staff member and patient he passed. For those not on shift yet, he left some behind. For the wounded warriors lying in hospital beds, Santa was a sight for sore eyes.
Spc. Joseph Beldon, an infantryman with Delta Company, 3-187 Infantry Regiment "Iron Rakkasans," and a native of Danville, Ky., was excited to see Santa.
"It means a lot to get a stocking this close to Christmas," said Beldon. "I've been sitting here in the hospital for five days by myself, and seeing Santa here really cheers you up."
Santa's workshop was assisted this year by the Blue Star Mothers of Henderson and Boulder City, Nev., when they sent more than 300 hand-made stockings filled with items to Craig Joint Theater Hospital.
Once the hospital received the stockings, staff members reached out to Santa, who agreed to come early this year and spread some Christmas cheer.
"It's awesome to be able to give these stockings out," said Santa. "I know everyone here is missing their friends and families back home, so when I give them a stocking, I can see it really lifts their spirits."
U.S. Air Force chaplain Capt. Peter Drury, the hospital chaplain, feels this is the best medicine both the staff and patients can receive this time of year.
"It's great. It shows that both Santa and the people back home are thinking about us," said Drury.
Santa wanted everyone to know that though he arrived early in Afghanistan, his regular deliveries will be on time.
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.
At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time [December 7, 1941], a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.
With diplomatic negotiations with Japan breaking down, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers knew that an imminent Japanese attack was probable, but nothing had been done to increase security at the important naval base at Pearl Harbor. It was Sunday morning, and many military personnel had been given passes to attend religious services off base. At 7:02 a.m., two radar operators spotted large groups of aircraft in flight toward the island from the north, but, with a flight of B-17s expected from the United States at the time, they were told to sound no alarm. Thus, the Japanese air assault came as a devastating surprise to the naval base.
Much of the Pacific fleet was rendered useless: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded, many while valiantly attempting to repulse the attack. Japan's losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men. Fortunately for the United States, all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea on training maneuvers. These giant aircraft carriers would have their revenge against Japan six months later at the Battle of Midway, reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy in a spectacular victory.
The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941--a date which will live in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." After a brief and forceful speech, he asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the United States and Japan. The Senate voted for war against Japan by 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1. The sole dissenter was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind.
The American contribution to the successful Allied war effort spanned four long years and cost more than 400,000 American lives.
Charlie Med Commander Passes on the MEDEVAC Legacy
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – The 82nd Airborne Division’s MEDEVAC company commander passed on his role during a change of command ceremony at Simmons Army Airfield, Dec. 5.
Company C., 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Commander Maj. Graham Bundy handed over his command to Maj. Trent Short.
Bundy has been the company commander for the past two-and-a-half years, and says words cannot describe how he feels about his Troopers.
“The first part of the speech was easy but to articulate, but how special they are is more difficult,” Bundy said. “Every day I come to work I am surprised. They are just a great group of Paratroopers.”
Company C., better known as Charlie Med, provides ambulatory support for all division troopers and has earned the respect of their leaders and peers.
“Charlie med gives our aircrews courage because they know no matter what the conditions are, Charlie med will be there,” said Col. T. J. Jamison, 82nd CAB commander. “They are a very unique unit and gives all Troopers peace at night knowing they are going to be taken care of no matter what.”
Charlie med flew in brand new helicopters for their most recent deployment to Afghanistan. The HH-60M helicopter is the latest and most technologically-advanced medical evacuation helicopter to date.
“There is so much in flight care that can be done for patients in this new helicopter that could never be done before, and the value it added to the abilities of this Troop,” Jamison said. “It can be sealed, climate controlled, and just about anything you can do in an emergency room, this thing has. It is absolutely incredible.”
The soldiers received intensive training in a short amount of time with the new helicopters prior to the deployment.
“Maj. Bundy and his command team were able to bring all of his Troopers including crew chiefs and 22 enlisted soldiers to readiness level 1 within three months in preparation for their deployment last year,“ said Lt. Col. Landy Dunham, commander, 3-82 GSAB. “Because of his leadership and the Troops’ expertise, all of the ground forces, including coalition forces and civilians, had confidence in the fact that no matter what, these guys will be there if something happens.”
This confidence led several of their Coalition partners, including the Polish and French forces, to decorate these Medevac Troopers with their own national awards.
Bundy, whose next step is retirement, understands the credit to his success with Charlie Med goes to his Troopers and their unwavering ability rise to any occasion when called upon in a professional manner.
“We had a lot of transition and were the first unit to take the HH-60 into combat and these troops were just phenomenal in the training aspect and all the way through the deployment,” Bundy said. “I could not have asked for a better way to go out, and I am truly proud of these guys and all their hard work.”
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on Monday honored four members of a Marine special operations team in a rare public ceremony for those who have served in the covert forces.
In a ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Mabus awarded Worcester Marine Sgt. William Soutra Jr. the Navy Cross, the Navy's highest honor and the military's second highest honor, for tending to the wounded while guiding the platoon to safety during an attack in Afghanistan's Helmand Province in July 2010 that spanned over two days.
Three others on his team, including a Navy corpsman, were given Silver Stars.
Often the heroic actions of those on special operations teams are only known to each other and the leadership because of their covert work on classified missions.
"This is a chance to recognize people who don't get recognized much," Mabus said.
Soutra was a canine handler with a Marine special operations team when they were ambushed. After the team's assistant leader was fatally wounded by an enemy explosive during the ambush, Soutra jumped into action, repeatedly running into the line of fire as he helped direct troops to defend themselves and fight off the enemy, Mabus said.
At one point, the 27-year-old Marine from Worcester, Mass., placed a tourniquet on a wounded commando, before dragging him to a ditch for cover. He worked tirelessly for more than an hour after the initial blast and helped carry casualties through the sporadic gunfire, officials said.
His military dog stayed attached to his side during the ordeal. The dog had to be put down more than a year ago because it had cancer.
Maj. James Rose, Staff Sgt. Frankie Shinost Jr. and Navy Corpsman Patrick Quill were given Silver Stars for their actions that day.
The four men called it a horrible day because they lost their element leader, Staff Sgt. Chris Antonik.
"Every day I think about Chris," said Soutra, calling him a close friend and great warrior.
Soutra vowed to try to carry on as the kind of warrior that would make Antonik proud.
Soutra graduated from Worcester Vocational High School in 2004.
A ride out of Afghanistan these troops didn’t want
Bagram Airfield, 2:00 a.m., Dec. 5
We read about those killed in the Afghanistan war, but rarely hear about the wounded. Seeing them up close and personal brings home even more deeply the price many U.S. troops have paid during the 11-year-old conflict.
Early Wednesday morning, local time, 35 troops boarded or were loaded aboard a C-17 cargo jet reconfigured for what’s called the aeromedical evacuation mission. Eighteen were able to walk with unseen wounds or ailments. Another 17 were borne on litters.
The last two were testament to the remarkable advances in trauma medicine the war has wrought. These were the most grievously wounded. Each was moved by six large airmen struggling to lift the patient and the equipment that was keeping them alive. One, unconscious, his face wrapped and visible limbs heavily bandaged, was literally covered with gear: a ventilator, an IV pump, a heart monitor, a sequential compression device, and more.
As the AE crew specialists secured the litters to the stanchions jutting from the deck, doctors from a Critical Care Air Transportation Team hovered over the men to ensure their continued stabilization. Less-seriously injured litter patients were tended by the AE crew’s two flight nurses and three medical technicians.
Within minutes, the upload was complete and the ramp raised, sealing the huge jet for flight. Next stop: Ramstein, Germany, and a trip to nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. As is always the case – the Defense Department does not announce the names of those wounded and never acknowledges them unless they accompany a death in an attack that makes the news – the fates of those aboard the jet, even those most seriously hurt, will likely never be known – unless they don’t make it.
Local dessert shop to re-launch campaign for troops
By Raina LeGarreta
Sinful Treats Gourmet Pastries and Desserts in Elk Grove are once again launching their campaign to donate familiar, tasty delights to United States soldiers overseas.
The Citizen reported last year that Mariel Black, owner of the Sinful Treats Gourmet Pastries and Desserts shop in Elk Grove, thought of a way to send soldiers treats and get the community involved.
She wanted to offer the troops something they were familiar with; tasty desserts that would remind them of home.
Black was inspired to send the goodies overseas by her cousin whose husband was stationed in Germany; the community of Elk Grove was more than receptive to Black’s idea.
Black soon chose to donate the treats through Soldiers’ Angels, a nonprofit organization that provides aid and comfort to men and woman of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
Before she knew it, her “Treats for Troops” drive took off.
Black was put in contact with M. Phillips, vice president of Warrior Medical Support Europe, who facilitated the project in 2010, and will be doing so this year.
“I’m honored to distribute the delicious treats to our patients and staff again this year... I’d like to take care of these donations personally,” Phillips wrote an email to Black.
Sinful Treats completed the project in 2010 by packaging the treats and sending them to a U.S. hospital in Germany where American troops are treated.
Although the workload of Black’s business prompted her to hold off on doing the successful desserts drive last year, many people were curious as to when she’d start it up again, encouraging the shop to get their “baking hands” ready.
Black received a letter from Brittany Paredes - the wife of a U.S. soldier who is stationed in Germany – that encouraged her to start the donation project once again.
“Our local military hospital Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is the middle ground when transporting injured soldiers from Afghanistan,” Paredes wrote. “I’ve been reaching out to various organizations asking for a care package donation, or simply a few letters of appreciation.”
Paredes wrote that her goal was to help bring a smile to the brave men and women during their recoveries.
“We’re really excited to start this up again,” Black said of the campaign.
In November and December, the treats can be purchased online at SinfulTreats.net, by phone at (888) 994-6385, or by visiting the shop located at 5650 Whitelock Parkway, Ste. 110.
The desserts can be purchased for $2 each, or you can buy five treats for $10.
If you choose the second payment option, Sinful Treats will add one more to make it six desserts.
The treats will be sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in January.
“I was told that after the holidays things quiet down and many soldiers feel forgotten at that time… we figured January would be the best time to send the packages over,” Black said. “We will cover all packaging and shipping cost and guarantee that every single treat gets to Germany.”
This time around, Black is encouraging people to write notes or letters to the soldiers, which will be included in with the treats when shipped.
“I thought it would be an added surprise for the soldiers to receive notes of appreciation from us here at home,” Black said. “Last time we sent 540 treats. This time we’re aiming for at least 1,000 treats."
Published : Sunday, 11 Nov 2012, 6:27 PM EST
LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Marine Corps. League member Mark Dolfini was just one Marine standing at attention at the intersection of Highway 26 and Creasy Lane Sunday afternoon.
"We come out here, we stand at attention from four to sometimes 24 hours at a time," Dolfini said.
The event is called Standing for the Fallen. The Marines are raising money to buy supplies for wounded warriors receiving treatment at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
"Pretty basic things. Things like calling cards, sweatpants, good quality shaving razors, and shaving cream. Things that we provide for them so that they don't have to worry about it when they get there," Dolfini said.
The Marines took turns standing in front of the American and Marine Corps flags for a total of 6 and a half hours. Dolfini said helping provide wounded heroes with the supplies they need is why he is Standing for the Fallen.
"To a guy like me, a veteran, it's everything," Dolfini said about the opportunity to give back. "None of this would matter if it wasn't for our guys keeping us safe and it's only seven percent of the population that does this and people don't realize how few people are actually keeping us safe, so to me it's everything."
Fellow Marine Corp League member Bob Mantle said he's here for the same reason.
"Help out my fellow Marines and other services and the needs that they need when they get off the line injured or whatever so they can get these supplies and make them more comfortable," Mantle said.
Donations and supplies collected will go to the Soldiers Angels group at hospital in Germany.
An Army medic, Staff Sergeant Max Warshaw, was awarded 11 medals and a Combat Medic Badge in World War II.
He received his first Bronze Star medal in 1942, in the North African Campaign. His regiment was fighting the Germans in Algeria. He risked his life by exposing himself to the enemy to help his regiment's wounded lying in open areas.
Two days later, Warshaw was wounded by shrapnel. "An artillery shell blew up right near me," he recalled, "it didn't knock me out and I didn't require hospitalization. However, for many years I would still need to have artillery shrapnel removed."
In 1943, Warshaw received his first Silver Star medal for gallantry in action in Tunisia.
On D-Day, he landed with his outfit in Normandy, where he was one of the first to hit Omaha Beach. It was for his heroism on June 14 and 15, 1944, that he received his second Bronze Star medal.
His division kept pushing the German Army back to its own country. It was in Aachen, Germany, on October 13, 1944, that Warshaw received his third Bronze Star medal. He constantly exposed himself to the enemy to administer first aid to the wounded.
Three days later, he was again awarded the Silver Star medal for heroism and gallantry beyond the call of duty.
On November 25, 1944, Staff Sergeant Max Warshaw was captured by the Germans. They gave him a medical kit to care for the other prisoners of war. He was liberated five months later and sent to England for medical care.
I am a UH-60 pilot who flew over nine hours in support of a mission on the night of November 9th 2007 in the vicinity of FOB Bella Afghanistan. The events that happened there are something that I have thought of daily even though I saw many things over my 13 months in country.
My company was responsible for all of the resupply missions, air assaults, and air movements in Matt's area. I had the unique opportunity as an Aviator to see almost all of the terrain Afghanistan has to offer and can say without a doubt the area of Bella and Ranch House were the worst. I flew on many days in and out of Ranch House before it was closed down and on many days while they were under contact and know I flew Matt and his Soldiers on multiple occasions.
Shortly before November 9th I was asked to sit on a board to approve or disapprove awards that were recommended and the one that stood out during the hours of reading citations was that of Matt's Silver Star recommendation. His is without a doubt one of the most courageous actions I heard during the hours of reviewing them.
To see and know the area Matt had to work in daily and the smarts and ability to defend it with the relatively small numbers up there were amazing, and he did this from the front. I am thankful we had leaders like him up there to take care of his guys. The hair on my neck stood up when I read what he had done even though I listened to much of that morning's events over the radios.
I was not the MEDEVAC pilot on November 9th but was the Air Mission Commander that night for the operation and was one of the first UH-60s there dropping ammo out our doors for the guys and getting everybody consolidated when the ground reinforcements from Bella showed up.
There was a knot in my stomach when I connected Matt's name with the award citation I had read and recommended for approval shortly prior to the 9th. I knew as soon as I heard his name that night who he was.
An impressive story that night was who I talked to when I first got there and tried Matt's frequency on the radio. Somebody with broken English answered, an Afghan gentlemen named Alex who ended up being Matt's interpreter. He had taken the radio when he heard me calling. He wasn't sure of their position on the mountain so we found them by having Alex key the microphone: We listened to the sound of our rotor system in the radio and found them by making our noise "louder" or "quieter" in the headsets.
I guess what I'm getting at is Matt trained everybody down to the interpreter to a level that an interpreter from Afghanistan was able to get the helicopters there.
"They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right."
- Ronald Reagan
"We believe in fighting to keep all people safe and free to be themselves, because it is the right thing to do."
- Linda Ferrara
Helping to save lives one scan at a time
by By Airman 1st Class Holly Cook
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
10/17/2012 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Analyzing X-rays, running computerized tomography scans and performing pregnancy ultrasounds may sound mind boggling but it's what the men and women of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center radiology department do every day.
"We process more than 100 wounded warriors from Operation Enduring Freedom, inpatients, active duty service members, dependents and retirees every day," said Karen Reynolds, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center medical support assistant. "This keeps the members of the department busy through its 24-hour, 7-days-a-week working schedule."
Using the staff's manpower to its fullest, the LRMC radiology department processes more than 110,000 radiological scans a year, she said.
In order to produce the numerous products, the staff goes through years of high-level training.
"With approximately 100 slots for diagnostic radiologists in the Air Force, each radiologist has to go through extensive education," said Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan Unsell, LRMC diagnostic radiologist.
Each diagnostic radiologist is required to attend about 13 years of school before they can become a certified Air Force diagnostic radiologist.
"Since most doctors' patients come through us, radiology is at the center of modern medicine," said Unsell.
As the only military radiology department in Europe, training and up-to-date technology is a must. The department processes all military members in Germany and the surrounding countries. As such, the men and women who work here process information spanning the European Command.
The department's highly trained and educated diagnostic radiologists can process and diagnose images within minutes depending on the urgency, Unsell said.
Having a fast turnaround gives the department not only the ability to assist with diagnoses, but also helps them process more individuals daily, he added.
Responsible for more than 50,000 service members and their families in the KMC, and all of EUCOM, sometimes the work the 13 LRMC diagnostic radiologists do can't be done alone.
"When we are in need of help, we are able to send less time sensitive studies back to the U.S.," said Unsell.
With the advances in technology, radiology departments are becoming more important.
"The amount of imagery being processed through radiology departments all over the world is increasing because our diagnoses are becoming more important to modern-day technology," said Unsell.
By using radiation, magnetic and other high-tech equipment, the men and women of the radiology department have become a key role in helping diagnose diseases such as breast cancer and testicular cancer, Unsell said.
"We use different forms of energy in order to diagnose small medical problems and diseases in patients," said Unsell.
By diagnosing these problems early the radiology department can help patients treat major diseases. They are helping save lives, one scan at a time.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.
-- Mary Elizabeth Frye
He was so pumped running out with that flag, he was jumping up in the air, running around in circles, waving the flag, even BEFORE he came down the hill. The crowd was going nuts!! At Clemson they do this before every game... they say a prayer, the pledge of allegiance, then sing the national anthem. 2 F-18s flew over and one of them tipped their wing, and the crowd erupted! (all 83,000) They cheered a deafening roar for like 5 minutes... never heard anything like it. Then the U-S-A chants started, then that's when Dan appeared at the top of the hill with the flag. It gave you goosebumps.
At halftime they brought out a group of veterans onto the field including the 2 AF guys who flew the aerial missions during the Kamdesh battle, they honored them, and then Dan ran across the field as fast as he could and grabbed them both and hugged them. It was amazing.
They played the military theme songs for all 4 branches, did a 21-gun salute, had a wreath display and rifle with helmet, and when they played taps there was not a dry eye in the house. Senator Lindsay Graham was wiping away tears. It was very moving.
Around the world in 80 beats per minute
By U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Shawn David McCowan, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Consistent quality is always a priority when it comes to medical care. Successful innovations and greater efficiency can send a hospital's credibility and patient reviews to new heights. And medical emergencies in the military community can be more complicated than a civilian emergency due to the nature of the patient's injuries. But the Air Force has met the challenge, and organized a patient care and transport system that truly flies miles above any other.
Servicemembers injured on the battlefield do not have the luxury of easy access to emergency services. Careful and efficient coordination is often vital to a wounded warrior's survival and recovery. Once an injury occurs, on-scene medical technicians alert Bagram Airfield's state-of-the-art Craig Joint Theater Hospital. That contact begins a chain of events designed to ensure the wounded warrior gets the care needed at the facility best equipped to provide it. CJTH is widely recognized as the premier medical facility in Afghanistan. But they are not large enough to keep all incoming patients. In some cases, that means a patient must be cared for from the mountains of Afghanistan back to a hospital in America.
Patients are transported by Medical Evacuation helicopter to Bagram's CJTH. Once there, volunteers deliver them to either the emergency room or the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility. The Med Tech hands over any charts, notes and insight on the patient's current condition. That hand-off begins a series of transitions of care that might take the patient from the war zone to the United States. Med Techs and Registered Nurses assure the patient receives the best care possible all along the way.
Some patients can be treated entirely at CJTH. But some wounded warriors need additional care.
An Air Force Aero-Medical Evacuation aircraft is scheduled to transport those patients from Bagram to Ramstein, Germany. In the meantime, medical technicians at the CASF constantly make sure patients have required medications and remain stabilized until the flight. Other support personnel also track and coordinate the next leg of the Aerovac flight.
Some people might think caring for patients injured in a war zone may be highly stressful. But 1st Lt. Rachel Hinson, a Registered Nurse at Bagram's CASF, says she loves working right where she is.
"There's nowhere else I'd rather be working. It's so rewarding to work here, because we're taking care of people who have pulled through, and are about to start a flight back to the U.S.," said Hinson.
That flight to the States usually begins within a day or two of their arrival at Bagram. Then an aircraft arrives to move patients out of the country to advanced military medical facilities in Germany or the United States. Getting patients from Afghanistan to Germany and America requires a very special team of men and women assembled aboard a C-17 Globemaster II or C-130 Hercules. A medical team travels with patients during the flight, including a Flight Doctor, a Critical Care Nurse, a Respiratory Specialist, and several Med Techs. The team assembles at the aircraft, where nurses like Hinson turn patient information over to the in-transit team, making certain that care remains constant and seamless.
Aboard the aircraft a Medical Crew Director receives patients, medical equipment, and any information necessary to make sure they remain stable during the from Bagram to Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He and the team of airborne medical specialists become the sole source of care for as many as 30 patients during the eight-hour flight to Germany.
When the aircraft arrives at Ramstein, patients are either transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for further treatment or sent to Ramstein's CASF. There, Maj. Maria Coppola, a director at the CASF, makes sure those in her temporary care are kept as comfortable as possible until their journey to the United States. As Coppola watched patients arrive with various degrees of injury, she reflected on the perspective her team has toward all who enter their care.
"Whether someone has lost limbs, taken a head injury, or come in with a cast or stitches, each person is equally important here. While they are here, they really are like family, because we're the only people they have to care for them right now. We do all we can to make sure they know how much we care," said Coppola.
One of the patients, Army Sgt. 1st Class Russell Allen was traveling in a Stryker 40 kilometers from Kandahar, Afghanistan, when the hatch he slipped from its catch, slamming onto his head. He sustained a head injury and nerve damage. He was hesitant to accept medical care, but his experience at Ramstein's CASF caused a change of heart.
"I saw a lot worse injuries out in the field, especially IED amputees. I thought I wouldn't be important enough to worry about. But I was blown away by the care here. I didn't expect this kind of reception or care. Everyone here is treated the same way, like we're all important," said Allen.
As another day passed, and a new flight arrived to take patients on the final length of their journey home, Coppola helped coordinate yet another transition for patient care. This time, her team turned over all patient information to another crew of in-flight caregivers. After the CASF personnel completed the transition to the aircraft medical team, Coppola pointed out that through each treatment, transition, and flight, one constant brought a great sense of pride to her and her team.
"It's so fulfilling to know that, even though this process take patients halfway around the world, through at least three medical facilities, and on at least three flights, the standard of care never changes. These men and women are getting the best care medicine can offer every step of the way. That really says something about what we accomplish," said Coppola.
Even though the next day would likely bring another several dozen injured military members in need of constant care, the CASF team left the flightline with smiles, knowing their efforts meant a safer, efficient, and more comfortable journey for wounded warriors on their way home.
”The service rendered the United States by the American mother is the greatest source of the Country’s strength and inspiration.
We honor ourselves and the mothers of America when we revere and give emphasis to the home as the fountainhead of the State.
The American mother is doing so much for the home and for the moral and spiritual uplift of the people of the United States and hence so much for good government and humanity.”
Whereas the American Gold Star Mothers suffered the supreme sacrifice of motherhood in the loss of their sons and daughters in World Wars, Public Resolution 12 provides: the last Sunday in September shall hereafter be designated and known as “Gold Star Mother’s Day”.
- The preamble to Public Resolution 123, approved June 23, 1936, the first legislation to provide recognition for Gold Star Mother’s Day.
LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Germany (Sept. 24, 2012) -- When an injured handler of a military working dog regains consciousness from a blast or other incident downrange, the first thing they ask is, "How is my dog? How is my dog?"
A Soldier recently injured in Afghanistan asked the same question in the intensive care unit at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. When his nurse told him JaJo (pronounced "zsa-zso") was being treated for injuries at a nearby military veterinary clinic, but was doing fine, she said a tear of relief rolled down his cheek.
Only one day after surgery, JaJo, with a bandaged foot and shrapnel wounds visible across his body, was allowed to visit his handler and friend -- an infantry Soldier recovering from the same incident, whose name is being withheld for patient privacy reasons.
Although JaJo had half of his spleen removed and suffered two broken bones in his right-rear foot, the young German shepherd appeared uninjured as he eagerly made his way bedside. Although his handler wasn't initially aware of his visitor, JaJo licked his outstretched hand and was ready to jump up and share the bed. Moments later, an eye opened as JaJo licked his hand again and the Soldier was alert enough give his friend a loving cuddle.
"If he could, JaJo would lay on that bed all day," said Capt. (Dr.) Catherine Cook, officer-in-charge of the Military Working Dog Ward at the Dog Center Europe facility at Pulaski Barracks. Cook said JaJo is expected to recover from his wounds and could be able to deploy again as a Tactical Explosive Detection Dog, but first would be medically evacuated, or medevaced, stateside to convalesce. His handler will also soon be medevaced to the U.S. to continue his long-term recovery.
It was because of the unlikelihood of their paths crossing again that prompted Cook and her staff to help them reunite. She could recall only a handful of previous occasions when both handler and dog were seriously injured and one was physically capable of visiting the other.
JaJo and his handler weren't a traditional K-9 team, in which a handler remains part of the duo until his or her permanent change of station. JaJo's handler is an infantry Soldier who attended an intensive dog handler's course for approximately four weeks. He would be paired up with JaJo only for the duration of his deployment.
It is during the training period where Cook said teams develop a special bond and handlers learn to give commands for seeking out improvised explosive devices.
Cook gives huge credit to the on-scene medics and other medical personnel downrange for helping make the reunion possible. JaJo's treatment in Afghanistan included a chest tube, catheter and other medical treatment for penetrating shrapnel wounds.
"The medics who worked on him did a fabulous job -- high speed. They treated him as well as any human Soldier," said Cook.
The effort to treat military working dogs continues in Germany where Cook and her staff put in long hours caring for canines seriously injured downrange. Being able to experience the reunion helps put the hard work and effort into perspective.
"It's rewarding because you could tell he recognized JaJo," Cook said. "If he only remembers just a little bit of this in the future, it was all worthwhile."
During a teleconference given on background to reporters, the official described the scene of an attack whose elements are unclear or unknown but that killed U.S. Amb. J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith and two others whose names are being withheld until State Department officials notify their families. Three other Americans were wounded in the attack.
All Benghazi consulate personnel have been evacuated to the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli in a series of flights that included the three wounded personnel and the remains of the fallen State Department officials, the official said.
The Benghazi consulate staff will be transported to Germany, she said.
“The staff that is well is going to stay in Europe on standby while we assess the security situation,” she said. “The wounded will be treated [at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center] in Germany, and the remains will come home.”
Also here this afternoon, Libyan ambassador to the United States Ali Suleiman Aujali held a press conference to condemn the attack on the Benghazi consulate and the deaths of embassy personnel.
“It is a sad day in my life. I knew Chris personally. He's my tennis partner. He comes to my house. We have breakfast together. I’ve known him for more than six years. He may be the first American diplomat to [have arrived] in Tripoli … after the revolution. He’s very welcomed by the people. He visited the Libyans. He [ate] with them. He [sat] with them,” Aujali said.
Aujali also offered his country’s “deep condolences” to the American people, to the families, and the president.
“We are very sorry for what happened,” Aujali said. “We will do everything possible … to [ensure] that we have better relations, better protection [for] the American diplomats and [for] the international community … working in our country.”
The three diplomats injured in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya are being treated at an American military hospital in Germany and one of the two most seriously wounded is expected to leave the intensive care unit on Thursday.
A State Department status report obtained by The Associated Press says the third injured staffer is awake and alert at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center near the Ramstein Air Base, where 33 uninjured consulate personnel are staying and receiving military counseling. All were evacuated from Benghazi early Wednesday and arrived in Germany late that afternoon along with the remains of the four diplomats.
According to the report, the injured staffers "are doing relatively well" and most want to return to Libya.
When U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Thomas Howard McRae rolled into a Juneau pizza parlor earlier this week, people couldn’t help but stare.
The two missing legs. The prosthetic arm. The wheelchair.
Then, the grey T-shirt that says, “If you keep staring, they may grow back.”
“You may as well have fun,” McRae said with a sly grin.
The 30-year-old Explosive Ordnance Technician returned to Juneau this week to visit his parents and the place where he was born and raised. It was his first time back since he was wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Jan. 16.
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Every day, hundreds of U.S. military nurses work around the clock providing care to wounded warriors operating in Afghanistan. Each of these professionals have memories that stay with them; for U.S. Air Force Maj. James Webb, his experience has given him a new perspective and greater appreciation for his calling.
Webb, a Critical Care Nurse attached to the Army’s 966th Forward Surgical Team with Task Force-Medical Alpha, was shot when his team began taking enemy fire while loading patients onto a UH-60 Black Hawk as part of a MEDEVAC crew in eastern Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2012.
It was because of the incident on that August day in Ghazni province that Webb was awarded the Purple Heart recently at a ceremony at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
Since its inception in 1782 by General George Washington, the Purple Heart remains the oldest award still given to military members, awarded when injured or killed while serving in the line of duty.
After receiving the medal, Webb said he draws strength from the men and women in his unit.
“It’s very inspirational to be around everybody in our crew. I love and believe in the mission,” said Webb.
Webb said he is motivated by the people he works with, but he also wants to deliver that inspiration to the men and women on the ground who need his help.
“It’s important that our guys and girls out there can trust that there are those willing to risk everything to make sure they make it back to their families.”
Maj. Chris Chung, commander of the 101st General Support Aviation Battalion, MEDEVAC Company, and Webb’s commander, says he has high esteem for the efforts of both Webb and his teammates.
“Critical care nurses are the key part of the MEDEVAC team in the amount and the type of care we can provide to the wounded soldier, sailor, airman or Marine on the ground,” said Chung.
Chung said he considers it a privilege to work with an airman like Webb, and admires him for his positive attitude and desire to get back to work.
“I have the greatest respect for him, especially because he is continuing to move forward to rejoin the fight down in Ghazni where he was wounded. That’s admirable.”
Brig. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, was happy to present Webb with his Purple Heart.
“It was an incredible honor to award the Purple Heart to an airman like Maj. James K. Webb. Even more amazing was his desire to quickly recover and get back to his remote outpost in Afghanistan, where he and his teammates put their own lives on the line every day to save and care for others. His selfless devotion in support of our nation’s effort here is an inspiration for all airmen,” said Guastella.
For Webb, receiving the Purple Heart is an experience he never anticipated. And though humbling, he says he just wants to be with his crew again.
“It’s extremely overwhelming, and it’s just great to be part of this organization. I get to be around men and women who put themselves at risk daily for probably the greatest job in the military; helping injured warriors get home,” said Webb.
After being presented with the Purple Heart, Webb was also presented the Air Force Combat Action Medal by the 455 AEW Command Chief, Command Sgt. Marcus Snoddy. The AFCAM is awarded to airmen who have come under direct enemy attack while performing duties.
Webb has made a full recovery and will be returning to Ghazni to resume his duties; helping his fellow wounded warriors.