31 May 2006

Welcome Home LCpl Ben Lunak!

On Friday, June 2 LCpl Ben Lunak will be awarded the Purple Heart in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He returned home two weeks ago for the first time since last October.

The 22-year-old Marine was injured by an IED in Iraq in late February and has been recuperating at Walter Reed since then.

The Friends of Ben Committee have asked Soldiers' Angels to help support the Purple Heart event, which will include honored guests such as Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, Rep. Earl Pomeroy, and Gov. John Hoeven.

"The Miracle Kid"

"It feels good to be back," Lunak said. "This is amazing."

He suffered injuries to his abdomen and right leg, which was amputated below the knee, in the explosion.

He defied the experts' predictions, however, recovering fast enough to earn the nickname "The Miracle Kid" from impressed doctors at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

"His positive attitude had a lot to do with his quick recovery," said Lunak's mother Cindy.
( ... )

When asked if he thought he would be able to return home this soon after the injuries, Lunak showed off his positive outlook: "I had to be back. My goal was to be back by the middle of next week," he said.

It seems he will meet his other goal of walking his sister Erica down the aisle at her July 8 wedding.

Please help Soldiers' Angels support our military members and their families by making a tax-deductable donation today.

Visit the Soldiers' Angels website and click on the "Make a Donation" button in the upper left-hand corner, or send a check to:

Soldiers Angels
1150 N. Loop 1604 W., Suite 108-493
San Antonio, TX 78248

29 May 2006

Two American Heroes

This is a Memorial Day tribute for two members of the Soldiers' Angels extended family. As part of the Soldiers' Angels deployed soldier support program, these two young troops were "adopted" by Angels who sent them letters and packages.

* * *

Hatak Yearby was a young Native American who grew up in Oklahoma together with his parents and two sisters. Many back at Marietta High School in Overbrook remember him as "the polite, quite kid with the two braids".

Hatak, which means "free man", cherished his Choctaw and Creek ancestries. He participated in American Indian dancer competitions, once winning second place.

Jose MarinDominguez was born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and emigrated to the United States in 1991. His family later moved to Liberal, Kansas where he became a U.S. citizen.

Growing up in Liberal, Jose loved music and cars, and even started a car club. He was known as a sweet guy with a tough exterior, a familiar face in church, and devoted to his adopted country.

One morning Hatak woke up and told his mother he had a dream. He had to cut his hair. Influenced by past warriors and veterans, he had to join the Marines.

Jose told his automotive mechanics instructor he was going to join the Marines right after high school, and he did. He was excited about it, believing God "had him there for a reason".

Both were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Both went out on a mission together two weeks ago in Anbar province, Iraq.

And so these two Americans - one a Native American, the other a Mexican-born naturalized American - died together during combat operations on 14 May, 2006 in the Global War on Terror.

Please remember our Heroes, today on Memorial Day and every day.

Both families will receive living trees to be planted in memory of their Heroes from the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team.

* * *

Cross-posted at ArmyWifeToddlerMom.

Memorial Day Message from Patti of Soldiers' Angels

I send a Thank You to those who answer the call.

I will be thinking of all our Vets who have stood so bravely for our country,

I will be thinking of our Fallen Heroes and their families,

I will be thinking of our many heroes in Harms way and their families who are suffering the hardship of deployment,

I will be thinking of the wounded and their pain,

and I will be thinking of Angels who bring hopes and comfort and answers to prayers on a daily basis.

May God Bless Our Troops!
May God Bless America!


24 May 2006

Marine Treated in Germany Succumbs to Injuries

In a sad update on a Marine treated here in Germany, Stars & Stripes reports today:

A Marine highlighted in a May 8 Stars and Stripes article about the medical fight to treat his battlefield injuries has passed away.

Cpl. William Bradley Fulks, 23, of Culloden, W.Va., died Thursday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, military officials said.
( ... )

A five-member team of doctors and specialists from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center traveled to Baghdad to treat Fulks with specialized equipment during his movement out of Iraq.

While on the ground, the team had to perform emergency surgery to ensure Fulks was stable enough to be flown to Germany.

Once at Landstuhl, Fulks was treated by a special burn unit team of before being flown to Brooke.

Fulks was assigned to the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Godspeed Cpl. Fulks.

23 May 2006

Heroes, Bloggers, and PCs

Great article on the BBC website about Valour-IT today, featuring our own FbL, Cpt Z, and Patti:

Laptop lifeline for wounded troops

"Around $750 provides so much healing to a wounded soldier," [Patti Bader] explained. "It gets them involved, it helps them blog, it gets them into online courses."
( ... )

Cpt Ziegenfuss, now mostly recovered from his injuries, says he enjoys the look of annoyance on the face of badly wounded troops when he shows up with a Valour-IT laptop.

But their reaction changes when he explains how the voice-activation software works.

"I don't want to say it's like giving sight to the blind, but it's showing them they can do what they did before," said Cpt Ziegenfuss.

FOXNews also ran an article yesterday about the Milblog conference in April which mentions Valour-IT and other military support efforts:

"We're not only fighting a physical war, we're fighting an information war as well," said "Andi C.," organizer of the first annual MilBlog Conference, which took place last month in Washington.
( ... )

Most milbloggers, but not all, support President Bush's Iraq war effort, and virtually all say they are pro-military. Many feel that "the truth" about operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has been distorted by what they deem the "mainstream media," or "MSM" in blogging terminology

Project Valour-IT, with the support of Soldiers' Angels and many, many Milblog readers have to date raised funds to distribute almost 500 laptops with voice-activated software to wounded troops since August of 2005.

BZ FbL for being the heart and soul of Project Valour-IT!

Valour-IT Blog

22 May 2006

Soldiers' Angels Mourns SPC Ronald W. Gebur

From Cathy of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen SA hero, Spc. Ronald W. Gebur, 23, of Delavan, Illinois.

Spc. Gebur died of injuries sustained in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 13, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations.

Gebur was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

He is survived by his parents, Lawrence and Debra Gebur of Delavan, IL.

Thank you for supporting the families of our fallen and their Angels.

Living Legends Team Leader

Gebur is also survived by his wife, who is also in the U.S. Army, and a 9-month-old son.

"He gave the ultimate sacrifice for us," his father, Larry Gebur, said Monday while fighting back tears.

Please take a moment to read the Army Specialist Ronald W. Gebur tribute on the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

Remember our Heroes.

Soldiers' Angels Mourns LCpl Hatak Yuka Keyu M. Yearby

From Cathy of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen SA hero, Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu M. Yearby, 21, of Overbrook, Oklahoma.

Hatak Yearby died May 14, while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province, Iraq.

He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Hatak is survived by his wife, Lindsay (married 02/06) and his parents, Justin and Mary Hatak of Overbrook, OK.

Thank you for supporting the families of our fallen and their Angels.

Living Legends Team Leader

Fellow Marine Lance Cpl. Jose S. Marin Dominguez Jr., 22, of Liberal, Kansas was killed in the same incident.

Yearby's survivors also include his two sisters, Shema Yearby and Samarrah Bell, a former Marine.

The family said Hatak Yearby, whose the first name means "free man", joined the Marines because he was influenced by past veterans and warriors.

According to a family friend, Yearby wore two long braids until he woke one morning and told his mother he had to cut his hair because of a dream.

"That's one of the things he had to do - to go into the Marines," he said.

The family said that Yearby treated his service in the Marine Corps as he treated his [Native American] tribe - "with respect, honor and dignity."

Please take a moment to read the Marine Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu M. Yearby tribute on the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

Remember our Heroes.

Soldiers' Angels Mourns LCpl Jose S. MarinDominguez Jr.

From Cathy of the Soldiers' Angels Living Legends Team:

We have a fallen SA hero, Lance Cpl. Jose S. MarinDominguez Jr., 22, of Liberal, Kansas.

Jose MarinDominguez died May 14 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province, Iraq.

He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Jose is survived by his parents, Jose, Sr. and Olivia Marin of Liberal, KS.

Thank you for supporting the families of our fallen heroes and their Angels.

Living Legends Team Leader

Fellow Marine Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu Yearby, 21, of Overbrook, Oklahoma, was killed in the same incident.

Marin was born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and emigrated to the United States in 1991. His family later moved to Liberal and he became a U.S. citizen. He was remembered for his faith and devotion to his adopted country.

"He told me that in his own way, he had a relationship with God, and God had him there for a reason," said his brother, Thomas Marin.

Please take a moment to read the Marine Lance Cpl. Jose S. MarinDominguez Jr. tribute on the Soldiers' Angels Fallen Heroes blog.

Remember our Heroes.

Soldiers' Angels Mourns 3 Fallen Heroes

The Soldiers' Angels family lost three Heroes last week:

Spc. Ronald W. Gebur
Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu M. Yearby
Lance Cpl. Jose S. MarinDominguez, Jr.

I will be posting on each of these Heroes in the coming hours.

Please keep their families and their Angels in your thoughts and prayers.

21 May 2006

Well, Well, Well

So I've finally received a response to one of the many emails I've sent to the Hilton corporation. Funny how this should happen now that Milbloggers like Blackfive have turned the heat up again.

I've taken to dropping them a short email every time I travel that goes something like this:

To Whom It May Concern,

Just a reminder that I will be traveling again this week (I spend
over 100 nights each year away from my home), and I will not be choosing a Hilton-owned property for my hotel needs.

I simply cannot in good conscience do business with the company which has evicted Fran O'Brien's Steak House from one of its properties, the Capital Hilton.


The very lame and predictable response:

Thank you for your e-mail. I am sorry to hear of your disappointment regarding the Fran O'Brien’s Steak House. By copy of this message, I am forwarding your message to the hotel management. Please allow for a response from that office should they need to contact you.

Please let us know should you need further assistance.


Nope. Don't need any further assistance from the Hilton. But I have asked for it from my family, my friends, and my company. So far, everyone's been pretty happy to oblige.

By the way, SMASH reminds us that these are also Hilton properties:

Conrad Hotels
Embassy Suites Hotels
Hampton Inn
Hampton Inns & Suites
Hilton Hotels
Hilton Garden Inn
Hilton Grand Vacations Club
Homewood Suites by Hilton

My parents were planning to stay at a Hampton Inn next month. Were. And my sister is not too happy about this whole thing, either.

See the complete wrap up from Andi and Greyhawk's post on last Friday night's dinner hosted by the Italian Embassy. (I knew there was a reason I've always loved the Italians).

And to keep you motivated for the long haul, re-read one of my favorite posts about Fran O'Brien's from FbL.

19 May 2006

When a Sniper's Bullet Feels "Like a Rock"

Yes guys, we know the new SAPI side plates add weight, but...

“I thought someone had thrown a rock at me,” said [Marine Lance Cpl.] Dean, from Spring, Texas.

Dean soon realized it was not a rock, but a bullet fired by an insurgent from roughly 500 meters away.

"I'd Follow Him Anywhere... "

JALALABAD AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Cpl. Emilio Diaz Jr., a 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment machine gunner with Weapons Company, Combined Anti-Armor Team 1 (CAAT 1), stands in front of a Humvee before embarking on a mission. Photo by Marine Sgt. Joe Lindsay, Task Force Lava public affairs.

Lava Marine wounded in Iraq returns to combat in Afghanistan

It’s been more than one year since Marine Cpl. Emilio Diaz Jr., a 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment machine gunner with Weapons Company, Combined Anti-Armor Team One, was riding in a humvee that hit an improvised explosive device outside of Fallujah, Iraq. Although violently rocked, Diaz somehow remained in his turret position atop the vehicle, where he was manning a .50 caliber machine gun.

When he woke up after the explosion, he was still atop the humvee, still in the seated position, being held up only by his gunner’s strap. He wasn’t sure how much time had gone by. Marines were running around on the road below him yelling, but he couldn’t make out what they were saying over the ringing — a constant ringing.

The humvee he was riding in just a few minutes before had been transformed into a heap of twisted metal. The .50 caliber gun he had been manning was in pieces. He thought, perhaps, he was dead — that his buddies were dead.
( ... )
“I was scared I’d never hear again – and also scared I’d get medically discharged from the Marine Corps,” said Diaz, from Brownsville, Texas. “I didn’t want that. I wanted to be back with the guys. I wanted to hear again. Most of all I wanted the ringing to stop. I hadn’t learned to block it out at that time.”

After successful surgery back in Hawaii, Diaz regained full hearing in his right ear, and most of the hearing in his left ear.
( ... )
“Sometimes the guys will start yelling or talking around me, except that they are only just moving their lips and mouthing the words, not actually speaking,” said Diaz, suppressing a chuckle, but unable to hide a growing smile. “A couple of times I’ve had to do a double-take, thinking my ears were messing with me again. That’s just Marines being Marines. I love ‘em for it.”
( ... )
“We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t respect him,” said Ericson, from Larkspur, Colo. “I served in Iraq with Corporal Diaz and I’d follow him anywhere. It’s just our way of showing him that we care about him, that we’re glad he’s still here with us, and that he’s once again leading us in a combat zone.”

For his part, Diaz said he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but in Afghanistan right now.

“These people need our support,” said Diaz. “When we’re out on patrol, the locals wave at us and throw us the Hawaiian shaka hand sign as a gesture of goodwill. I guess it’s something they picked up from 3/3 or 2/3, but they seem to know that we are from Hawaii. It’s pretty cool. What isn’t cool is that there are enemies here that will kill and terrorize people for being friendly with us.”

But Diaz said he and his fellow Marines are convinced the enemy will be defeated.

“The Afghan people are our friends,” said Diaz. “It’s just that there are pockets of insurgents here, who want to keep the people enslaved both mentally and physically through terror. That is the problem here. We’re gonna fix that problem.”

16 May 2006

Soldiers' Angel Celebrates 101st Birthday Filling Care Packages for Soldiers

She was 7 years old when the Titanic went down, and still remembers that day.

Mary Irvin Roun was born on April 13, 1905 in Turnersville, NJ, and recently celebrated her 101st birthday in Cedar Key, Florida with over 50 guests from all over the country.

The birthday group at the Island Place in Cedar Key where Manager Patti Collins "went above and beyond" to make the entire weekend such a success.

Soldiers' Angel Mary Jo Stamper (whose husband is Aunt Mary's great-nephew), provided the guests with a list of suggested care package items to bring with them to the weekend-long celebration.

Aunt Mary heading up the "Bodacious Box Brigade".

Aunt Mary asked the guests to bring supplies for soldiers instead of gifts: "Everyone wants to help but they're not sure how... this was a wonderful way to get involved. I even got to pack some of the boxes myself with all the things everyone brought! It was a lot of fun!"

Aunt Mary with some of the boxes which are now on their way to soldiers all over the world.

The weekend was filled with many other activities including a 1905 Trivia Challenge, Wacky Wheelchair Races (Aunt Mary's idea!), and a door decorating contest in which each family decorated their condo door in honor of Aunt Mary's birthday. Since "Jello" is even older than Aunt Mary, they even did Jello shots that night!

Then it was time for the parade... the entire town came out on the spur of the moment for the parade which included a stop at City Hall where Pat O'Neal, one of the city commissioners, presented her with the Key to the City.

Aunt Mary in a Mustang convertible with two of her great-great-nephews escorted by a police car, a fire truck, and the rest of the guests following on foot.

Aunt Mary received birthday greetings from ALL of the living Presidents, Willard Scott of the NBC Today Show, Bay News 9 (her favorite news show on TV) and a very special card and package from her absolute favorite baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies. She also heard from many of the troops she supports.

Happy Birthday from aboard the USS Ronald Reagan! Sailors Tim Reagan and Robbie Fox in their Aunt Mary 101st Birthday T-Shirts.

According to Mary Jo, Aunt Mary loves to help with the boxes for the soldiers and enjoys all the trips to the post office, Dollar Store and Big Lots.

"She is a treasure, and a true blessing to all of us. I wish you could meet her, I feel so privileged to take care of her and have her live with us. She is very healthy so I'm sure we'll be doing it all again next year!"

Angels Aunt Mary and Mary Jo.

HOOAH! And Happy Birthday Aunt Mary from all of us at Soldiers' Angels!

15 May 2006

Putting a Smile on a Face Over 7000 Miles Away

Via Sara of Soldiers' Angels, Leader of the Angel Bakers Team and Co-Leader of the Letter Writing Team.

Hello Angels,

Please forgive the format and somewhat impersonal nature of this letter. I truly wish I had time to respond to each and every one of you on a more personal basis; however, I was recently flooded with more packages and letters than I can manage to respond to with all we have going on here.

That being said, I feel it very important that I respond in some manner to let you know how much your love, compassion and generosity is appreciated. For those that sent cookies, kids never grow up. Something about a cookie can make even the most callous Marine break into a smile. I suppose that is something our mothers instill in us from childhood…All things are made right with a cookie :-)

As if your care packages were not enough, the kindness and support you extend by your actions and letters helps tremendously in knowing what we are doing is right. While there may be some that disagree... That just reinforces the primary reason for our existence... to allow them that right... to disagree.

To those that are new to the Red Dragon family, we are a CH-46 helicopter squadron. Our primary mission here is medical evacuation. I would love to tell you we are under employed or just sitting around like the Maytag repair man, but, that would not be accurate. The sad reality of what we are in business for is being realized by all here on a daily basis. While it is heartbreaking for us to know our fellow Marines and sister service personnel are being hurt or wounded, we put a positive spin, if there could be one, on the issue. We make a difference in getting that person to medical attention, many times with just enough time to save a life.

We are currently about a week away from hitting our half way point in the deployment. Many of the Marines you have chosen to support in this unit are here on their third tour. Good in the aspect that they are experienced and know what to expect, bad because they are tired. They all realize that comes with the territory and they continue to keep high spirits and morale. Each of you is a big part of that.

When not deployed here in Iraq, this unit is based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Ca. For those not familiar with the location, the base is in Ocean Side California just north of San Diego and the better know base of Miramar. (Where TOP GUN used to be.)

The sandy beaches and temperate weather in Southern California is a far cry from the hot, blowing sands of Iraq. I don’t think you will find any here that aren’t eager to return home. That is standard with any deployment, but, much more meaningful returning from a war zone than just a standard training deployment.

( ... )

In closing I will tell you that I think all of you are great Americans and the support you provide is beyond incredible. Deep down, we do this for our country and it is a blessing to be able to hear back from them that they are proud of us and support us in our efforts.

A kind word can make such a difference, especially when extended by someone that you have never met. God bless you for the time you invest in putting a smile on a face more than 7 thousand miles away. As you keep us in your prayers, we also pray that we will remain worthy of your praise and support.


Billy Dial

P.S. I will enclose a poem I wrote last year in honor of my last unit’s Angels. I publish almost all I write on my web site, however, this is just for Soldiers' Angels and only appears to our Angels in a letter or E- mail.

* * *
I Believe in Angels
They are a blessing from heaven,
to me and my Marines,
these people called Solders’ Angels,
whom we have never seen.
Yet all throughout our time in hell,
they’ve sent us special gifts,
to let us know we’re thought about,
and give our spirits a lift.
Through their wonderful packages,
each one would send their care,
with cocoa, food and candy,
or warmer cloths to wear.
In their letters they were consoling,
for the holidays that we had missed,
They told us that we made them proud,
and thanked us for our service.
Each one of them from across our land,
these angels from above,
made sure that my Marines and I,
didn’t go unloved.

Copyright © Billy F. Dial Feb2005

Information about the Angel Bakers Team (Soldiers' Angels Forum, membership required).

14 May 2006

The Difference Between Iraq and Vietnam

Greyhawk points us to an article from today's Washington Post about the impressions of soldiers after returning from Iraq.

Through our work at medical facilities in Germany, we've met hundreds of troops who have been sent out of Iraq for medical reasons and suddenly - very suddenly - find themselves in a non-combat environment. Often we spend evenings with guys who woke up that morning downrange.

From the article:

One day they were in a war zone. Then, suddenly, they weren't. Home for the first time in a year, Dan Ward woke up in his bed, went to the kitchen and fixed himself a bowl of cereal. And that's when the Marine Reservist realized: His war was over. It was almost surreal how something so familiar could seem so strange.

"Almost the most nerve-wracking thing was how normal it was when I came back," he said. "I'd been gone for 11 months, and it's like I've been gone for 11 hours. Then it hit me: This is so normal."

If the normalcy is disconcerting for troops who have gone through the normal redeployment process, the transition for medevac patients is extreme.

Which is exactly what Army Capt. Tyler McIntyre was trying to explain to some family members while eating at an Italian restaurant when he was home on leave a couple of years ago.

He looked across the restaurant and saw everyone stuffing their faces with pasta and drinking wine. "And everyone's kind of just sitting there doing it," he said.

Which is really sort of extraordinary, he said. The country is at war. People are fighting at this very moment. Don't these people know what's going on? Don't they care?

And because they are not yet home, there is an additional anxiety for the medevac'd soldiers, one with which that had not yet had the opportunity to consider due to their circumstances: What is it going to be like when they do get back to the U.S.?

Civilians. After the war, they seemed so different, no matter how many war movies or how much CNN they had watched.

Which begs the question of whether war coverage from the mainstream media is adequate, and if their coverage of Americans' attitudes about it is accurate. But that's another story...

"The media talked so much about how the American people don't support us," he said. "But they do."

I recently brought four soldiers into the Soldiers' Angels Germany mail room to get them some supplies: A young Arabic-speaking soldier who works as a translator, two Currahees*, and a 53-year old sergeant who is a veteran of Vietnam, Desert Storm, and now, Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"Do you want some sleep pants? A handmade blanket? Oh, here's a stuffed animal for your son! Need any hygiene items?"

They kept asking where all the stuff came from, and I told them it was from all the people back home who love and support them.

"Your units all have mottos. Well, we have one too."

May no soldier go unloved.
May no soldier walk alone.
May no soldier be forgotten,
Until they all come home.

Their eyes got bigger and bigger, and then they got misty. (Ok, mine were getting misty at this point, too.)

"This", I said, pointing to the stacks and stack of boxes, "is the difference between Iraq and Vietnam."

* Recent video of these guys in Ramadi here. A must-see.

12 May 2006

Soldiers' Angels Ships 5000th Backpack to Help Wounded Soldiers in Overseas Hospital

Donald MacKay
Executive Director/Soldiers’ Angels
Email: info@soldiersangels.org
Phone: (615) 676-0239

Carmel, CA, May 10, 2006 (Open Release) – Soldiers’ Angels, a military support organization founded by Patti Patton-Bader in 2003 and operated by an all volunteer force of over 60,000 members, has shipped their 5,000th transitional backpack to a hospital in Germany where wounded troops from the Middle Eastern War on Terror are treated, often before returning stateside for further medical assistance.

The idea for the backpack was developed because an injured soldier is rarely reunited with his or her personal belongings as they are rushed first into a Combat Support Hospital for initial treatment and then, if warranted, on to Germany for more intense medical care. Often a wounded soldier arrives in Germany in the same uniform in which they were wounded.

Therefore, in March 2004, Soldiers’ Angels began preparing and
sending these backpacks to the hospital in Germany and to the Combat Support Hospitals so that the soldiers would have these personal items to carry them over until they could receive a more permanent arrangement.

The first 100 backpacks were made possible by the sponsorship of the 1955 Graduating Class of West Point (also the class of Patti’s father), which again co-sponsored the second 100 backpacks along with the West Point Graduating Classes of 1948 and 1959.

The backpacks contain hygiene items such as toothbrush & toothpaste, hair comb, shampoo, soap, deodorant, lotion, and powder. Clothing is included in the form of new underwear and a leisure shirt and pants. A phone card is in the backpack so the soldier can call his or her family.

Also included is a handmade Blanket of Hope, a blanket that has been made by one of the Soldiers’ Angels volunteers and is sent with a note of well wishes for the soldier who receives the blanket.

The backpacks and their contents are donated directly by the volunteers, through group fundraisers and by the generosity of outside donors.

If you would like to donate a backpack to a wounded soldier at the low cost of only $40, please check the Soldiers Angels' website for details.

phone (615) 676-0239
email info@soldiersangels.org

Please take time to browse the website to see the many ways that Soldiers’ Angels supports our deployed and wounded soldiers as well as their families.

New members are being welcomed to help us keep up with the ever growing number of requests for assistance from so many of the men and women who are standing guard over our freedom.

Please help us to make mail call a happy time for all with a letter from home.


10 May 2006

"Soldiers’ Angels: Right On"

Letter to Soldier of Fortune online:

In the Bulletin Board section of the March ’06 issue, you carried a recommendation to support this organization.

I couldn’t agree more.

I have been down here on the security mission with a cavalry troop for about a year now, and signed up with Soldiers’ Angels on line, and within about a month was contacted by a member of this network of fine ladies.

Soon, I was in contact with a whole bevy of folks from all across America, who took the time to send cards, care packages, mail, e-mail, or just a kind word on a post card.

I’ve been soldiering around for a long time, and I can tell you that although this isn’t an area where the action is hot and heavy, but these folks helped us make it thru, what would have been a much longer tour without them. I don’t expect you’d allow me to say thank you to them by name, but these ladies put in some awfully long hours and all for us.

I can’t thank them enough for what they do. The readership could do worse than giving them some support, any way they can.

I love them all!

SSG James Dolan
Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay,

Thank you for your service, SSG Dolan. We love you too!

08 May 2006

Going the extra miles to help a wounded Marine

Medical teams come together to treat burn victim

LANDSTUHL, Germany — One of the Few, the Proud has a faithful corps doing everything it can to keep him alive.This corps is composed of dozens of troops from across the military who are going to great lengths for a wounded Marine who has sacrificed so much.

A team from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center waited out a sandstorm and mortar attack in Iraq to reach him. Specialized personnel were flown to Germany from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio to treat the young warrior. Nurses attended to him around the clock, and doctors stayed awake for 60 hours — minus a few naps — to treat the Marine....

Read the rest of Steve Mraz's story at Stars and Stripes here.

07 May 2006

Atwar Bahjat's Killers

What's standing between us and them?

Warning: The following contains a graphic description of a brutal murder - probably exceeding what you imagine one human being could do to another. However, it is typical of the work of Islamic terrorists. Read on only if you want a bit of insight into the nature of the enemy in this global war. If not, please skip to the final paragraph.

They are.

They did.

What have you done lately?

Consider these words from Daniel Henninger's May 5 piece 'United 93' and the 20th Hijacker:

Nothing could be more innocent than the fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, attendants and pilots on that plane. Like us at this moment, they were in the act of daily life. They were not combatants in any sense. They were targeted precisely because they were unprotected.

During periods of peace, and we have had a long one, some people come to believe that this happy condition is the natural state of life. It is not. The unprotectedness of civilized, quotidian life was earned, over centuries, often in war.

"... not combatants in any sense." Just like Atwar Bahjat.

03 May 2006

Yep, That's Our Guys

You know how you always hear those stories about wounded soldiers wanting to return to duty? Well, Sgt Hook has another inspiring example here.

Meet one of your incredible Soldiers, SSG Willie Hall of Company B, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, currently serving in Iraq.

According to members of his unit, Hall provided first aid to fellow Soldiers before realizing he, too, was significantly wounded in both the neck and arm. After forcing their attackers to flee, Hall’s unit evacuated him for treatment.

He was transported to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where commenced on a six-month journey of treatment and physical therapy he hoped would bring him back to full health.

“As soon as I was feeling close to 100 percent, I knew I had to get back to my platoon,” said Hall. “That is where I belong.”

Go over to Hook's and meet SSG Hall.

02 May 2006

Last Day in DC

After the Milblog Conference I spent two days visiting my sister in Maryland where Taco's Mom tracked me down and asked if I'd have time to get together before my return to Germany.

I told her I needed to drive back down through DC to catch my evening flight out of Dulles on Wednesday, and she graciously invited me to drop by her home on the way. I happened to mention I hadn't gotten a chance to do any sightseeing while in DC, and there were two places I'd always wanted to visit.

Well, that's all Mary needed to hear and she had a plan. "I think we'll be able to talk to John about making that happen for you."

And suddenly, I was there.

Walking up to the Lincoln Memorial.

Then Mary said, "Now turn around."

The Washington Monument viewed from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Of course I needed to get someone to take a picture of us, so here we are.

Mary and MaryAnn.

In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.

We walked past the Vietnam Memorial on the way back to the car. I need to... spend some time there some day.

Then it was on to Arlington Cemetery, so beautiful at this time of year.

John parked the car near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and this time he and I got out while Mary stayed with the car. He looked at his watch, said "come on!", and started to jog up the hill.

We arrived just as the guards were changing. He put his arm around me and steered me right up front within feet of the guards. We stood together and watched.

Noticing I was transfixed, John asked in a whisper if I wanted to take a picture. Cameras were clicking all around me. But I just shook my head.

"It's very moving", he said as we left.

* * *

Thank you, Mary and John. Our time together meant a lot to me.