30 September 2005

The Candy Guy - Part X

Via Sara from Soldiers' Angels, another email from Richard the "Candy Guy" providing a glimpse of the Iraqi experience from one of our heroes.

Hey all, was just out with Bravo company again.

Once more we went on a presence patrol. We just ride through the city and see if anything suspicious is taking place. We often stop and question people about what all is going on in the city.

It is crazy in that they have all different types of militias in and around the city, and they dress in different type clothes, and some even wear mask like they are terrorist, or something. All of them, without exception, carry AK-47's. We saw a number of these black-clad militia men this morning.

For the last two times I have been out with Bravo we have given out candy as we rode. Last time big Doug was in the gunners hatch. This is a good ole boy if there ever was one: he is 41 years old, and is a big fellow that chews red man chewing tobacco, and is very good humored. Back in north Mississippi he is a mechanic and drives a pulp wood truck. He can really get to talking if you get him rolling.

He was on the gunner hatch throwing out candy left and right to the kids, thoroughly enjoying himself. After we got finished he looked down at me and said: "%$/@!, that sure was fun." After we got back in he repeated this about how much fun he had throwing out candy to the kids. He is a big fellow with a good heart and enjoyed himself to death that day throwing out candy.

Well ya'll, my time is up, and I have to go.


If you would like to send some hard candy to Richard for him and his unit to hand out please email Sara.

Contributed by:
Sara of Soldiers' Angels USA and "her" soldier Richard from Iraq

28 September 2005

Honor Lines Road for Fallen Soldier

From Soldiers' Angel Hannah:

There was a soldier killed in Iraq that was being buried in my hometown. Monday morning, while I was getting ready for school, I decided that something needed to be done! I came up with the idea of doing the "Texas Style" soldier funeral. I went to school and got it approved there for the First Priority Leadership team to go. I called my mom and dad during Drivers Ed...

What happened next from the Sep. 27, 2005 Lexington Herald:

Honor lines road for fallen soldier


HARLAN - Students from Cawood High School, hospital employees and others turned out to line the roadway as Sgt. Matthew L. Deckard's body was carried to its final resting place yesterday.

Students held a large banner thanking Deckard, 29, for his service.

High school senior Hannah Sergent didn't know Deckard, but she read about him in the newspaper and wanted to make sure he was remembered.

"It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing, but when I was getting ready for school this morning, I couldn't stop thinking about this man and the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country," Sergent said.

"I strongly support our troops overseas, and this was just a small thing we could do for his grieving family."

Deckard, formerly of Elizabethtown, was killed Sept. 16 in a roadside bombing in Baghdad. He is survived by his wife, Angela, a Harlan native whom he met in high school, and their three children. Deckard, based at Fort Stewart, Ga., was on his second deployment to Iraq.

Sergent talked to other students about lining the road during the funeral procession to the cemetery 10 miles away in Cranks.

So many students wanted to participate that a bus, driven by Cawood teacher Glenn Wills, was necessary to take them.

After talking to other students, Sergent called her mother, an emergency room nurse at Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital.

"I got her message on my voice mail at about 8:30 this morning," said Kaye Brown, Sergent's mother. "She seemed pretty determined to do this."

Brown said she called others at the hospital...

Make sure to read about the memorial service in Iraq for SGT Deckard, SFC Alan Gifford, and SPC David Ford from milblogger ThunderSix at 365 and a wakeup.

Godpseed SGT Deckard, SFC Gifford, and SPC Ford.

And well done, Hannah.

"We have an Angel on this Flight"

From the September 26, 2005 Boston Globe, written by Adrienne P. Samuels of the Globe Staff.

When Delta Flight 1880 landed late Saturday at Logan International Airport, the pilot went on the intercom to make a request of the passengers preparing to grab their carry-on bags: Sit for a moment and honor a fallen soldier.

''The pilot said, 'We have a hero on this flight and sadly, he isn't with us, but his mother is escorting his remains,' " said Barbara Bell, sister of Sergeant Pierre A. Raymond, 28, an Army reservist from Lawrence who died Tuesday in Germany after being wounded in Iraq.

The normal bustle of an emptying airplane immediately ceased, she said.

''He went on to say that 'a sergeant from the Army is escorting them as well', and then [the pilot] thanked him for doing what he did and for keeping us safe and free."

As Raymond's mother, Santina, got up to walk off the plane, her fellow passengers gave her a standing ovation.

''I was thankful that he was remembered like he was angel," said Santina Raymond, who spent yesterday at her Lawrence home preparing for her son's funeral on Wednesday. ''He was a hero, so everybody cheered. It was wonderful. He was wonderful."

Pierre Raymond died from injuries sustained after a Sept. 15 attack near Ramadi, Iraq, where he was hit in the chest and neck with flying shrapnel while in his sleeping quarters. Immediately after he was wounded, Raymond was talking and even flirting with the nurses who treated him, said Bell, who lives in Palo Alto, Calif. But military doctors in Iraq couldn't stop the bleeding and sent Raymond to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for emergency treatment, where he was kept alive until his family arrived.

''We were all flown out on military orders," said Bell, also a former reservist.

The family stayed at Raymond's side during his last hours.

''Pierre just had this capacity that very few people have. . . . This capacity for life," said Bell, 30. ''Even as a kid, we don't have many family photos of him because he was always running in the park."

Godspeed SGT Raymond.

27 September 2005

The Candy Guy - Part IX

Well, it's been a while since we've posted something from Richard, and we've got quite a bit to catch up on. More in the coming days.

Hey ya'll, not much going on here - thankfully. For the most part, where I am located, has proven to be peaceful, and our missions consist chiefly in training Iraqi forces and humanitarian operations. But I have done missions elsewhere, like around FOB ---, and at ---- .

There we rode through places so full of IED holes you could literally hold your breath between holes, and never go blue in the face, for miles and miles. These holes ranged anywhere from small holes, big enough only to blow a human being into little tiny pieces, to holes large enough to fit a full sized hum-v in.

We went out with the EOD crew, to blow up IEDs. The explosions set off by the IED we found would have been enough to have taken out a fully armored track.

Needless to say, me and the scouts, that entire trip, stayed so puckered up you could not have driven a sharp sewing needle up our @$$%$ with a steel hammer.

But that is there.... here, like I was saying, it has been relatively nice and quiet. Last August, now, they had a serious battle here; but the Marines whipped the insurgent forces so bad they have not given us much trouble.

That all changed last week, to some extent. All of us medics were awaken at around one in the morning. It seemed that they had started a fight, and our sergeant major, that woke us up, was carrying on like they had personally invaded the FOB.

Several of us went out to the city, on patrols, and some of the medics ended up treating injured Iraqi National Guardsmen, that had been wounded by IED's, coming down from Baghdad. There were shots fired in downtown, by the mosque, and several mortar rounds went off. But outside of that, nothing materialized, and the insurgents’ leader backed down and plead for peace - despite calling his mighty militia up, from all over Iraq, to wage his holy jihad.

And now, all is at peace, once more, here.

Check ya'll later,

If you would like to send some hard candy to Richard and his buddies for them to hand out please email me.

Contributed by:
Sara of Soldiers' Angels USA and "her" soldier Richard from Iraq

11 September 2005

Remembering 9/11

This recent letter from a soldier illustrates so clearly to me why we're fighting, how grateful I am to those willing to do it, and how deserving they are of our support.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the support and concern that you and so many others like you are sending to the troops who are abroad. You have the gratitude of all the soldiers and especially mine.

I couldn't imagine how the morale of the troops in Viet Nam was when they received hate mail and saw the anti-war demonstrations back home... I'm just thankful that the public (regardless of their political views) still support our boys out here risking it all for the American way of life.

I just feel better that the bad guys are coming here to fight us instead of going to America to kill civilians.

Thanks again for your support and prayers.

10 September 2005

Unsung no more...

I observed on Tuesday that the Coast Guard seemed to be the unsung heroes of the Katrina rescue efforts.

Now they're running the show.

CG Admiral Takes Over Recovery Efforts

Coming aboard to the assignment is Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who only on Monday had been named Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's special deputy for hurricane recovery efforts. He was already leading the rescue and recovery efforts in New Orleans.
( ... )

On Sept. 11, 2001, Allen was commander of all Coast Guard operations east of the Rocky Mountains. In the days after the terrorist attacks, he was responsible for making sure local responders in the New York area had the vessels, aircraft and personnel they needed.

Four months later, Allen was asked about the Coast Guard's all-hands-on-deck response to the hijackings as part of an oral history project.

"When we decide we're going to do something, we'll do it," he said.

Read the rest.

The Coast Guard and Katrina
More Coast Guard and Katrina

Please remember that over 2000 men and women from the Coast Guard in the Gulf States are themselves victims of Hurricane Katrina.

If you can help with donations of cash, time, or goods, or if you are a soldier or military family needing assistance, click here to find out about Operation Katrina Soldiers Relief Fund.

Don't forget to log your donation here.

08 September 2005

The Candy Guy - Part VIII

Time for more of Richard's adventures...

Hey all, had a good time of it today.

We were out riding all over the province. We stayed lost most of the day - it was great! We got lost first, and stayed lost a great long while at that, out by the Euphrates river.

You cannot believe the difference between the desert away from the river and the tropical zone next to the river. The entire area is irrigated, with big ditches and canals running all over the place. There are little dams all over the fields and it looks almost like a bunch of Vietnam rice patties.

The Euphrates river branches out, everywhere, and it is little rivers and lakes and canals and what even looks like Louisiana bayous as far as the eye can see. We went through this one village that was straddled right on one of these canals and it looked just like the river walk in San Antonio, Texas. What with all these little home-made wood bridges crossing the water.

I love it the most there away from town and down by the river or way out in the country by all the villages. The people are the most colorful down there.

As we were riding I noticed these patty-shaped things stacked in piles, every here and there: on closer inspection I found that they were dried manure, and used for fuel to make fires. When by the canal in that village I saw this fellow leading - no dragging - this goat by the ear, walking him down the road. That goat has - well, had - no idea!

I saw this poor goat tied to a tree one time with all his brothers and sisters hung in a tree right next to him with all their clothes off, and a butcher knife sticking in the tree!

I picked some dates today, that grow all in the palm trees. They are yellow-gold in color, and grow in huge batches, and nearly fill the top of the trees. Saw an Iraqi who was skinnied up the tree and tied on by a rope picking the fruit/nuts. They are very sweet and I saw them in town a while back and thought they were weird looking olives, as they let them sit, like bananas, and ripen til they are brown in color.

Down in that village by the river we stopped and I found a neat looking bottle on the ground and took this with me, and there were two young sisters standing side by side in dresses that were gold to yellow in color, and they blended in with all the date trees just perfect. You could have set them in the top of the palm trees and never seen them.

The canals and irrigation ditches are everywhere. I had to walk down to one and wash my hands, just to get some of the water on me. Well, we loaded up and were leaving and I noticed this dead rotten cow right there in the water I just washed my hands in - I knew I had been smelling something. I then washed them in cooler water.

We went to another town, which is also by the river. As we were pulling in I noticed this black veiled Iraqi woman who had her lower face covered but left her eyes and upper face uncovered. She was quite pretty.

We drove down only a little from her and there was this group of Iraqi police in the road and this short little fellow just grabbed hold of his crotch and shook it around for a little bit, and leaned back like he was real cool, or something. I had to laugh as the cat wasn't no taller than four foot five, and if he were American he would probably be right upset about the fact he had gone his entire life and yet had never been able to ride all the rides at the fair.

There was some boys there throwing rocks at each other and fighting. One of the elders came in and broke them up. I have seen one of these kids before, in our aid station, with his eye put out for good because of all this rock throwing.

Then we went down by the river again, and stopped. There was a group of young men out by the river where I got out. They came up to me and got to talking to me and one of them spoke broken English. No lie ya'll: he asked to marry my sister so she could take him to the U.S. to live. I had to explain, the best I could, that my sister is married. Then he said, alright, you marry my sister. Well, I spent the next five minutes trying to figure out from his broken English how old his sister was, as I think it only fair to know how old the woman is that I am going to marry.

They were cheering us with thumbs up again too, wherever we went. And the grass and green by the river, where all the irrigation is being done is incredible: it is waist high and just as green as green can be. The entire region is lush, and this is my best description.

This country has great potential, great land for agriculture, oil out the ears, and archeological sites equal to Egypt's and Israel's. Westerners would pour in here to see the land of Sumer, where civilization began, and Babylon, further north, and Ninevah, the land of Assyria, way up north, which is where Jonah went to preach after being puked up by that fish.

And the donkeys were all over the place. It reminded me when I went with the scouts and we stopped at Hilla, which is modern Babylon. I got out and heard this braying, "heeeehaaaaaaa, heeeeeehaaaaaa!' But couldn't see a thing. Then I noticed, across the road, the top tip of the two donkey ears, as the donkey was standing down in a ditch, by the road, just a-braying. Was really a funny sight, and the tip of the ears was all I ever saw of that donkey.

It was there that I had to point my weapon at an oncoming car, two times, as they were getting too close, and the people there are not our friends. This is the only time, thus far, that I have pointed my gun at anybody - thankfully.

Well ya'll, was laying it out to you while it was still fresh.

Until next time: Later.

If you would like to send some hard candy to Richard for him to hand out please email me.

Contributed by:
Sara of Soldiers' Angels USA and "her" soldier Richard from Iraq

05 September 2005

The Man


Lieutenant General Russel Honore lived up to his 'John Wayne dude' nickname, blasting complaints that red tape or poor security were snarling relief efforts as 'B.S.'(AFP/Mandel Ngan)

More Coast Guard and Katrina


ALEXANDRIA, La. (Aug. 29, 2005) - A Coast Guard disaster assistance response team from St. Louis begins unloading relief and response supplies from a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft at Alexandria International Airport here today.
U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Larry Chambers


MOBILE, Ala. (Aug. 29, 2005) - Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin R. Feussner, 33, of Daphne, Ala., writes down the locations of stranded individuals in need of assistance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina today at Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile. With electrical power out, Feussner communicates with the Alabama Emergency Operations Center in order to coordinate search and rescue operations on his cell phone.
U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class NyxoLyno Cangemi


NEW ORLEANS (Aug. 29, 2005) - Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Huerta prepares to hoist two children into a Coast Guard rescue helicopter here today. Huerta, 34, of Tampa, Fla., is an aviation maintenance technician stationed at Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, Ala.
U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Niemi


MOBILE, Ala. (Sept. 1, 2005) - A Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew and paramedics from the Mobile area assist a woman onto a gurney at the Coast Guard base here today. Critically ill patients from a Biloxi National Guard field hospital were transported to the Coast Guard base and transferred to local EMS.
U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class NyxoLyno Cangemi


NEW ORLEANS (Sept. 02, 2005) - The rescue crew of an HH-65C helicopter from Coast Guard Airstation Atlantic City, N.J., airlifted a woman in labor to safety. The pregnant woman gave birth within minutes of landing at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.


MOBILE, Ala. (Sept. 3, 2005) - Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Craig A. Miller, 40, of Ocean City, N.J., signs an axe today at the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center here.
Rescue swimmers used axes during rooftop rescues to save trapped victims.
The aircrews signed the axe as a symbol of the unorthodox methods they have used to rescue hurricane victims and will display the axe at the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in memory of those they rescued.
U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

The Coast Guard and Katrina
Unsung No More, Now They're Running the Show

Operation Katrina Soldiers' Relief Fund

If you can help with donations of cash, time, or goods, or if you are a soldier or military family needing assistance, click here.

Don't forget to log your donation here.

Technorati tags: flood aid, hurricane katrina

04 September 2005

The Coast Guard and Katrina

Is it just me, or does it seem like the Coasties have been the unsung Heroes of the Katrina relief efforts over the past week?

Look at the headline of this CG press release dated September 01, 2005

Fourth Day of Rescue, Recovery Operations Continue
(emphasis mine)

Remember Katrina officially made landfall at 6.10am Aug 29. The article continues:

More than 2,580 people have been rescued off of rooftops and flooded neighborhoods since rescue operations began Monday, and joint-agency rescue operations are continuing through the day and night.

There are 25 cutters off the Gulf Coast, in the rivers, and in the ports and waterways. The Coast Guard cutters Pelican, Cypress and Spencer are currently transiting the Mississippi River to New Orleans to establish a command and control presence and provide a flight deck, fuel and communications to the search and rescue assets in and around New Orleans.

Thirty-five aircraft and hundreds of air crew personnel are in the area from Coast Guard air stations as far away as Barbers Point, Hawaii, and Cape Cod, Mass. Coast Guard C-130s are en route to Air Station New Orleans with additional fuel supplies.

In fact, the Coast Guard had already rescued three people aboard a fishing boat as early as August 25:

Coast Guard rescue crew braves Katrina's winds

From Clearwater, they flew to within 10 miles of the storm's eye to save three people aboard a fishing boat.

"I have never been in anything even close to that," said Coast Guard Lt. Craig Massello, commander of the HH-60-J Jayhawk helicopter, based at Air Station Clearwater.

For Massello and his crew of three, it was clearly a dangerous mission. But they weighed that against the three people who might lose their lives at sea.

"The risk versus gain was worth it," Massello said.

"We started watching the winds go to as much as 85 knots," or 95 mph, Massello said.

The fierce winds were blowing the helicopter off course and using up far more fuel than any normal flight. By the time the crew reached the Mary Lynn, it was roughly 1:30 a.m., completely dark, and Katrina was raging.

Using night vision goggles, they could barely see "a glow in the mist," said Lt. j.g. David Sheppard, the co-pilot, who grew up in Pinellas County.

"It was at that point that we realized that we were running low on fuel," Massello said.

By 8am CST on September 4, 2005 the Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Hurricane Katrina Incident Command Center reports the following:
The Coast Guard has rescued more than 17,000 people from the flooded areas of New Orleans.

These rescues were performed by Coast Guard helicopters, boats and cutters, as well as ferries organized by the Coast Guard.

• The Coast Guard continues to deliver thousands of bottles of water to victims in the New Orleans area.
• The Coast Guard is coordinating the salvage of more than 100 vessels.
• The Coast Guard is monitoring hundreds of pollution cases.

The Coasties seem to be everywhere, plucking victims from the water...


Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott D. Rady, 34, of Tampa, Fla., pulls a pregnant woman from her flooded New Orleans home here today. Rady is a rescue swimmer sent from Clearwater, Fla., to help aid in search and rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

From the rooftops...


Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Huerta hoists two children into a Coast Guard rescue helicopter in New Orleans, Louisiana August 29, 2005, in this handout released on August 30, 2005. Others watch from below as the children are among many New Orleans citizens to be rescued from their rooftops due to flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina.

From the superdome...


Lt. j.g. Shay Williams, of Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, carries a small child from the Superdome in New Orleans into a rescue helicopter today. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Niemi.

And delivering supplies from staging areas.


Chief Petty Officer Carey Bollinger loads cases of meals, ready-to-eat (MREs) into a helicopter at Million Air here today.
U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Niemi

More Coast Guard and Katrina
Unsung No More, Now They're Running the Show

At the same time, over 2000 men and women from the Coast Guard in the Gulf States are themselves victims of Hurricane Katrina. Station Gulfport (before and after photos) has been almost completely destroyed. While the Coasties are out there doing their jobs, many of their own homes are gone.

If you can help with donations of cash, time, or goods, or if you are a soldier or military family needing assistance, click here to find out about Operation Katrina Soldiers Relief Fund.

Don't forget to log your donation here.

Technorati tags: flood aid, hurricane katrina