31 August 2006

Picture of the Day - Your Donations at Work

A wounded Soldier at Landstuhl hospital receives a Soldiers' Angels backpack from SSG Gary Zigler, Casualty NCO of the USARPAC Casualty Liaison Team.

The USARPAC LNOs serve Soldiers from Hawaii, Alaska, Japan, Fort Lewis, and the overall Pacific Theater who have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and medevac'd to Germany.

Thank you Angels and friends for your support, and thank you USARPAC Team for taking care of our Soldiers!

All of us at Soldiers' Angels send our very best wishes for a speedy recovery to this wounded Soldier. Thank you for your service and for your courage.

29 August 2006

Remember Aunt Mary?

The Angel who celebrated her 101st birthday filling care packages for deployed soldiers?

Well, she's at it again. Filling snack bags for patients in Balad, Iraq.

HOOAH and hugs to Aunt Mary from all of us in Germany.

Think you can't help? Well, think again.

As Patti says: If you can, write a letter. If you can do more, write a check.

27 August 2006

Our Medical Warriors in Action

As we were loading the first 3 soldiers on the aircraft, the one who was conscious looked up at the Airmen carrying him and said, "Thanks guys for taking good care of us."

The story below was emailed home by an Air Force CMSgt serving in the 332nd Air Evacuation Wing, and forwarded to Soldiers' Angels by LTC Mario Pastrano, CASF flight commander serving with the Expeditionary Medical Group in Balad.

LTC Pastrano is one of the contacts of the Soldiers' Angels Wounded Team whose goal is to support our soldiers throughout the medevac process.

Soldiers wounded in action are typically sent from a Combat Support Hospital to Balad for further treatment before being medevac'd on to Germany.

It's long but well worth your time. LTC Pastrano would like you to know about the great work our medical personnel are doing.

Friends and Family;

Today was a day that I will long remember. Not only because it's my sister's 38th birthday, not because it was 118 degrees, and not because I am at the end of a 16 hour day. No, I will remember it because of the events that transpired right in front of my eyes at the hands of some incredibly talented and dedicated medical professionals assigned to the 332d Air Expeditionary Wing's Air Force Theater Hospital (AFTH).

For me the day started when the daily intelligence briefing included the medical report which detailed a military vehicle accident that took place the evening before in the local area. As we all listened to the senior medical officer, an AF Reserve Colonel, describe the circumstances of the injuries and status of the soldiers, it sounded like one of the worst tragedies we could imagine. I knew instantly that I wanted to go to the AFTH and visit with these terribly injured soldiers, no matter what their physical status.

Shortly after the meeting concluded I received a call from the senior enlisted member of the AFTH, their chief. He told me just how busy the AFTH was currently after receiving wounded soldiers from several incidents. He thought I should stop in and see these valiant medical warriors in action under some very trying circumstances. So off I went to witness this first hand, having no idea what I would encounter during the rest of the day.

When I arrived at the Emergency Department I could see how busy they were. The soldiers, including the Iraqi National Army soldiers inside, were receiving care from trauma teams consisting of medical doctors from the active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. They were assisted by nurses from the same and the most visible part was watching the young enlisted medics handling business like true professionals, even in the face of dire injuries. They were treating four victims of a vehicle borne improvised explosive device. Most were suffering from burns and shrapnel. Watching these teams was like watching water run through a pile of rocks. It went so smooth that I felt helpless to do anything except to watch them and thank them as they passed me. At one point I noticed a young medical technician trying to carry a large pile of supplies and his hands were full. It was something that I could do to help, so I took them from him and let him get back to work doing what he was paid to do. This was a small thing I could do and it is only a pinch of salt in the large effort made daily by volunteers from all walks in the Air Force. I came across members of several other squadrons who give their day off or come after work to help the medics with patient movement, supply and re-supply, cleaning and organizing and whatever else it takes to concentrate the right effort on the patients.

After a short stay I knew that I had to get to the Intensive Care Unit where the soldiers of the earlier mentioned incident could be found. While I'm not very comfortable seeing badly injured patients, I knew in my heart this was worth facing to see if there was anything I could do or say to help the situation. You see, the soldiers I was about to see we involved in a terrible motor vehicle accident the previous day where they rolled into a large canal near the base and were trapped under water. This is not good clean water like we are all used to seeing in canals and rivers. This is the most green, murky water you can imagine and just going into the water would be dangerous enough. Now imagine these soldiers were wearing about 60 pounds of gear and were tucked well into this armor plated vehicle which immediately sank. As I am told, one of the soldiers got out immediately and he was fine. A second soldier was rescued by the first and quickly got to the shore where he was attended to by several other soldiers from a trailing vehicle. Those soldiers cannot remember the details of what happened next, but somehow they rescued the other two more critically wounded soldiers. While we don't know the full details and may never know, suffice it to say that both were drowned or nearly drowned. We are told that neither had a pulse and neither was breathing. It was then that several of the attending soldiers went to work doing CPR and trying to resuscitate their fellow soldiers.

The second one was able to regain a pulse at the scene and was prepared for transport to the AFTH. The third was not so fortunate. But the spirit of the American Soldier cannot be easily defeated. Within a short period of time and with constant CPR being applied to the third soldier, all of them were brought to the AFTH for life saving treatment. One trauma surgeon described it to me like this. He said, "Chief, this guy was basically drug in here by the collar of his shirt by his buddy and he asked us to save him." Well, you can imagine that I am telling you this story for good reason. Our medical trauma team was able to get a pulse and get him breathing again. In fact, all 3 were now breathing on their own or with some assistance. I can only describe this in one way. They brought him back to life after being drowned to death. If that is not miraculous, I don't know that I ever will figure that word out.

So today there they were, all 3 soldiers being prepared for an emergency flight to Germany for more treatment. When I looked into the ICU, I saw yet another team of professional military men and women, US Army and US Air Force working hand in hand to save these lives. There was an ICU crew, an aero medical Evacuation Team and other critical care ward personnel working in concert to make sure every detail was covered before they were transported. Just outside the room was a team of volunteers waiting to move these brave soldiers to the bus and ultimately to the C-17 aircraft that would evacuate them home. Watching this was like nothing I had ever witnessed. I was truly inspired and nearly speechless. My only conversations were with the staff as they passed me or took a short break from the action to clear their heads. I was nearly speechless again and could only think to shake their hands or put a hand on their shoulders and thank them for what they were doing. At one point I noticed two soldiers standing in the room off to the side. I could tell they were associated with these men and so I had to talk with them. I reassured them that we were and would continue to do anything and everything we could to get their soldiers home and keep them alive. They were shook, but mustered the strength to tell me how proud they were of the soldiers and how happy they were to see our medical team handling the situation in the professional manner they were witnessing. There was one other soldier at the other end of the ICU. It was their unit first sergeant and I could see from a distance that he was affected hard as well.

Over the next few minutes the medical chief told me that we should go outside and help lift the patients into the bus to relive the medical staff from this duty. There was no time to think about it, we just moved out and prepared for this honorable duty. Before we left I noticed that one of the three soldiers (the second one out of the vehicle was moving around and appeared to be doing well. I asked one of the attending physicians how he was doing and I was amazed at the positive yet funny response he gave me. He said, "Chief, I would say he is doing pretty good considering yesterday he was upside down in a Humvee in murky water with his lungs full of gunk." What more could I say, I was speechless once again. He told me that one of the other soldiers had to have multiple liters of fluid pumped from his lungs and that the extent of his injuries would not be known until he was past the infectious stage in his lungs. These medical professionals take great pride in saving lives and fixing wounds. It was plainly obvious to me that pride in saving these men was swelling in this room like nothing I had ever felt before.

At the bus the chief and I joined a small group of volunteers with the medical staff members and we lifted each man into the bus carefully, making sure not to move or bump the medical equipment attached to their gurney. It was a slow and careful operation and you could tell that each and every person on that detail was focused on the mission at hand. After loading the first 3 into the bus we then loaded one additional victim into the bus who had severe burns. He had his wit about him though, as we delayed outside for a brief moment, he looked up, laughed and said, I think I'm getting a sun tan! It broke the tension of the moment and most everyone smiled.

Once complete we headed to the flight line to help load the C-17. Once again we found another team of volunteers standing at the ready. Over the next 30 minutes, the team of volunteers withstood temperatures exceeding 130 degrees behind the aircraft. It was hot, but nobody minded, they just stood ready to handle the gurneys to make sure these men were safe. As we were loading the first 3 soldiers on the aircraft, the one who was conscious looked up at the Airmen carrying him and said, "Thanks guys for taking good care of us." What more needed to be said? Once on the aircraft there was a full team of medical professionals taking care of more than 10 wounded soldiers. They had equipment equal to any emergency room available and working. It looked like an emergency room inside the back of the jet. There were more soldiers on the side seats, each heading home after more than 1 year in Iraq.

As this part of a long day ended, there were 3 US Army Soldiers who were alive, breathing and with strong pulses who had faced death just hours before. They were alive because of the collective team effort of USAF and USA medical teams dedicated to saving lives. While this was a life altering experience for me, it was all in a day's work for them. You see, they had to recover and wait for the next emergency. There was not another crew waiting for them so they could take a break, there was not a break in the action for them to take lunch breaks or rest. No, they went right back to the grind ready for the next accident or explosion. These are true professionals, who already had my respect, but now have my deep admiration beyond any level I could have ever imagined. It was a day I will long remember and I pray that there will be 3 healthy soldiers who can tell their grandkids about the medical care of the Air Force Theater Hospital at Balad Air Base Iraq.

This was a proud day for our medics, the Air Force and for me personally. I am so proud to be associated with the AFTH and the professionals who work within it's walls.

24 August 2006

The Day After

Uh, hmmm... well.

If ya'll could keep it down today I'd appreciate it.

Thanks for the well wishes. You guys are the best.

22 August 2006

It's a Wonderful Life

Tomorrow is my birthday. The big "five-oh", in fact. Yikes! Not sure how that happened.

Over the past weeks I've had just one thought about this birthday: I'm incredibly grateful to my parents for having me, because I feel so happy and privileged to be here on this earth.

It really is a wonderful life.

Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?

- Clarence the Angel in the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life

Thanks, Mom and Dad. I love you both.

21 August 2006

Welcome Home, David!

Soldiers' Angel Robin's son David (whom you may remember from this post, scroll down to last picture) is home!

Thank you for your service, David. Well done and WELCOME HOME from all of us at Soldiers' Angels!

Sure is good to see the Screaming Eagles start coming home. It's been a long year.

18 August 2006

The Heroes of Golani Brigade's Battalion 51 - Part 2

Remember this post about the Golani Brigade's Battalion 51 who lost eight soldiers and suffered over 20 wounded in the battle for Bint Jbail in southern Lebanon?

Pam at Iraq War Today has a translation of a Hebrew e-mail sent by friends of the late Major Roi Klein, Commander of C Company:

The little that we can do for somebody who sacrificed his life in such a heroic way is to tell his story.

It is not clear why the media ignored this story. Maybe his altruistic behaviour is unpopular or maybe it does not fit with the image of the suffering, sensitive and fearful soldier that some Israeli media are trying to nurture.

Last week, Major Roi Klein, lieutenant commander of Regiment 51 in the Golani Brigade, from Eli was the highest-ranking officer among his troops at the time in the Lebanese town of Bint AlJubeil.

In the midst of a battle he noticed that Hizballah terrorists have lobbed a grenade that landed close to his soldiers. Since the detonation of the grenade was imminent. He leaped and blocked most of the fragmentation from the grenade with his body, thereby saving his troops. His soldiers said that he cried “Shma Israel” when he jumped to block the grenade.

Read the rest.

"Is anyone down there? United States Marines!"

Wanted to make sure you saw this story posted by Blackfive the other day.

Marine Sergeant Jason Thomas - 9/11 Mystery Hero Identified

He retrieved his Marine uniform from his truck, sped to Manhattan and had just parked his car when one of the towers collapsed. Thomas ran toward the center of the ash cloud.
( ... )

Thomas bumped into another ex-Marine, Staff Sgt. David Karnes, and the pair decided to search for survivors.

Carrying little more than flashlights and an infantryman's shovel, they climbed the mountain of debris, skirting dangerous crevasses and shards of red-hot metal, calling out "Is anyone down there? United States Marines!"

Read the entire story here.

12 August 2006

Beary Special Backpacks

On behalf of our wounded soldiers at Landstuhl hospital, Soldiers' Angels would like to thank soft toy manufacturer Gund for their very generous donation of MANY, MANY teddy bears.

Soldiers' Angel George approached Gund back in June to ask if they would consider providing teddy bears for our transitional backpacks, and they agreed. I wanted to thank the Gund executive who authorized the donation by name, but he has told me the company name is enough.

I didn't know this, but Gund is not only the leading teddy bear manufacturer in the U.S., it is also the oldest. These teddy bears have found their way back to the homeland of the company's founder - German immigrant Adolph Gund - who started the company in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1898.

Savannah gives one of the "World's Most Huggable" teddy bears a hug...

...before big sister Sabrina puts them in the backpacks. Mom DrueAnna is in the background.

A teddy bear may seem like a childish gift for a soldier. But its therapeutic value cannot be underestimated. A wounded Soldier to whom I gave one of these bears laughed - for what I was later told was the first time in six weeks.

Thank you Gund, George, and all who care about our wounded soldiers in Germany.

10 August 2006

WR Amputee Team in Landstuhl Treating Romanian Soldiers

Two Romanian soldiers who lost their legs in Afghanistan have been recovering at Landstuhl hospital since the June 20 attack on their joint convoy with Canadian Forces. This week, the amputee team from Walter Reed arrived to fit them with their new prosthetics:

“Basically, we came here to help them get up, literally, on their feet — prosthetic feet and their own feet,” said Col. Jeffrey Gambel, chief of Walter Reed’s amputation clinic and a physical medicine rehabilitation doctor. “Also, to have them make some functional progress towards walking using assisted devices and so forth.”
( ... )
Seeing the Romanians take their first steps with their prosthetic legs was a great moment, Gambel said.
( ... )
The event marks the first time an amputee care team from Walter Reed has traveled to Landstuhl to treat patients. Normally, U.S. troops are taken from Landstuhl to Walter Reed to receive prosthetic limbs and undergo rehabilitation.

Since the wounded soldiers are Romanian, the amputee care team came to Landstuhl to help them before they head home to the eastern European nation.

“So far, they’re doing real well,” said Zach Harvey, chief prosthetist at Walter Reed. “They exceeded my expectations.”

Love and prayers to Laurentiu and Valerica from all of us at Soldiers' Angels. Thank you for your service and for your courage.

Bojinka Redux

For those who need it, today's thwarted a terrorist plot is a wakeup call that we are at war.

A war in which the enemies' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and to make no distinction among military and civilians. A reminder that fighting this war will be a lengthy series of battles and campaigns on all fronts and will be unlike any other we have ever fought.

Terrorists often use the same or similar plans more than once, adding refinements. Or, target the same places with increasingly sophisticated methods. The 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center as unfinished business completed on 9/11 come to mind.

Similarly, terrorist plans to simultaneously blow up several aircraft heading to the U.S. using explosives smuggled in carry-on luggage are not new. This particular plot sounds very much like 1995's foiled Operation Bojinka, masterminded and funded by now-familiar names like Usama bin Laden, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Wikipedia has extensive information.

The next plan would have involved at least five Al-Qaeda operatives, including Yousef, Khan, Shah and two more unknown operatives.

Starting on January 21, 1995 and ending on January 22, 1995, they would set the bombs on 11 United States-bound airliners that had stopovers all around East Asia and Southeast Asia. All of the flights had two legs. The bombs would be planted inside life jackets under seats on the first leg, when each bomber would disembark. He would then board one or two more flights and repeat. After all of the bombers planted bombs on all of the flights, each man would then catch flights to Lahore, Pakistan. The men never needed U.S. visas, as they only would have stayed on the planes on their first legs in Asia.

United States airlines had been chosen instead of Asian airlines to maximize the shock toward Americans. ( ... )

The bombs would have been timed before the operatives stepped off the planes. The aircraft would have blown up over the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea almost simultaneously. If this plan worked, several thousand would have perished, and air travel would have been shut down worldwide for days, if not weeks. The U.S. government estimated the prospective death toll to be about 4,000 if the plot had been executed.

The "Mark II" "microbombs" had Casio digital watches as the timers, stabilizers that looked like cotton wool balls, and an undetectable nitroglycerin as the explosive.

Other ingredients included glycerin, nitrate, sulfuric acid, and minute concentrations of nitrobenzene, silver azide (silver trinitride), and liquid acetone. ( ... )

Yousef got batteries past airport security during his December 11 test bombing of Philippine Airlines Flight 434 by hiding them in hollowed-out heels of his shoes.

Yousef smuggled the nitroglycerin on board by putting it inside a contact lens solution bottle.

Fortunately, we are more aware than we were before 9/11. Unfortunately, it took 9/11 to do so, in spite of successful attacks by Islamofascist terrorists stretching back over more than 20 years.

Good on the Brits for rolling this up. The intel take should be substantial.

Update, related:
London Airline Bombing Plot News
Al-Qaida's Use of "Liquid Bombs" Targeting Airliners
All from the Counterterrorism Blog.
And The threat level of jihad at Michelle Malkin, including some interesting polls results on attitudes about terrorism among Muslims.

Thanks to the Greyhawks of the Mudville Gazette, now living in a happy place.

08 August 2006

No, it's not a rumor...

... Sue Timkin, wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, the Honorable William R. Timken, Jr., actually does visit the patients at Landstuhl hospital several times a month and she actually does cook the evening meal for the families staying at Fisher House while she's there.

I have evidence.

Sue Timkin in the kitchen at Landstuhl Fisher House

Not sure why I've been asked about this. Probably because Mrs. T doesn't see her work at Landstuhl as a photo op or a publicity stunt (I did get permission to use this photo after a bit of discussion). She simply wants to do what she can to help. Helping means visiting wounded soldiers and cooking dinner. Helping also means using her position to make other kinds of things happen.

Mrs. T, along with her military escort and Liaison Col. Lee Krüger are two of the hardest working troop supporters I've met. Phone calls are made while vegetables are being chopped, and once the chicken is out of the oven they sprint back over to the hospital to "bring that patient the ice cream we promised him this morning."

Col. Krüger contacted me a while back to set up a meet. Recently, our schedules coincided and I had the opportunity to brief Mrs. T about Soldiers' Angels. And to witness their work firsthand.

Watch this space for developments.

Thank you Mrs. T and Col. Krüger for all you do. Soldiers' Angels is honored to stand with you in support of our brave Heroes.

Help a Wounded Marine Call Home

The Marines Liaison Office at Landstuhl are in need of phone cards for their inpatients. I recently gave them the last 20 or so cards I had "in stock" at Soldiers' Angels Germany.

I realize these are expensive items, but it's the least we can do for our Marines who are out there doing it for us every day:

"No joke - looking through the haze I thought I saw a Wal-Mart. I said to myself, 'I bet they got some cold water in there,'" [Lance Cpl. Mike] Young said, recalling a mission last year in a rural area west of Baghdad.

He contemplated running over to fetch water for fellow Marines who were "staggering like dead men." Three of them had collapsed in the heat.

Young soon stirred from his heat-induced hallucination and returned to the struggle of enduring summertime in Iraq.

We recommend purchasing prepaid cards from AAFES to make sure you buy the correct cards for international use at the best price. AAFES now sell Prepaid Phone Cards to military members and civilians.

Our shipping address in Germany:

Attn: Soldiers' Angels
CMR 402
APO AE 09180

Please do NOT specify "phone cards" on your customs forms or anywhere on the outside of your package or envelope.

The demand for phone cards is ongoing and always greater than the supply, so please consider becoming a force multiplier and involving your local church group, VFW, scouts, etc.

Thank you and Semper Fi.

And thanks to the Mudville Gazette for the support.

07 August 2006

Reuters News Service Admits Distributing Manipulated Information

In case you missed this over the weekend:

Reuters admits altering Beirut photo

- Reuters withdraws photograph of Beirut after Air Force attack after US blogs, photographers point out 'blatant evidence of manipulation.'
- Reuters' head of PR says in response, 'Reuters has suspended photographer until investigations are completed into changes made to photograph.'
- Photographer who sent altered image is same Reuters photographer behind many of images from Qana, which have also been subject of suspicions for being staged

A Reuters photograph of smoke rising from buildings in Beirut has been withdrawn after coming under attack by American web logs. The blogs accused Reuters of distorting the photograph to include more smoke and damage.
( ... )

In the message, Reuters said that "photo editing software was improperly used on this image. A corrected version will immediately follow this advisory. We are sorry for any inconvience."

(emphasis mine)

If you are getting your news from major TV and newspaper outlets, remember that virtually all of them rely on news services like Reuters for much of their content and images.

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has been on this since the photo was released and Michele Malkin has more here, here and here.

As the number of additional doctored images grows blog journalists have begun raising some serious questions about the incident, now referred to as "Reutergate". And Reuters owes its news outlet customers and the end consumers of their information some serious answers.

Reuters admits to more image manipulation

- News organization withdraws photograph of Israeli fighter jet, admits image was doctored, fires photographer.
- Reuters pledges 'tighter editing procedure for images of the Middle East conflict'

Reuters has withdrawn a second photograph and admitted that the image was doctored, following the emergence of new suspicions against images provided by the news organization. On Sunday, Reuters admitted that one of its photographers, Adnan Hajj, used software to distort an image of smoke billowing from buildings in Beirut in order to create the effect of more smoke and damage.

The latest image to face doubts is a photograph of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet over the skies of Lebanon, seen in the image firing off "missiles during an air strike on Nabatiyeh," according to the image's accompanying text provided by Reuters.

Sheesh. Did Reuters really think no one would notice? And more importantly, were Reuters grossly negligent or complicit in creating and disseminating manipulated materials? Either way, this is a major scandal.

06 August 2006

It's Called "Decompressing"

Take about 40 troops awaiting medical evaluation in Germany, a bunch of steaks, hamburgers, and ribs, lots of side dishes, and 3 shopping carts full of ice for the liquid refreshments.

Mix well and you've got the perfect cure for a boring Sunday afternoon in medical hold. Carried out purely for medicinal purposes, of course.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

(Yes, I realize some of these photos are just plain wrong. But it was all funnier than heck at the time...)

Thanks to Soldiers' Angel Judy who sponsored the picnic, soldiers Chris and Craig who had the same idea and with whom we joined forces, Angel DrueAnna with daughters Samantha and Sabrina who helped with the shopping, and Chaplain Woodson for stopping by.

And special thanks to First Sergeant for organizing the cleanup detail which extended the bed check deadline to 2400 ;-)

Linked to the Mudville Gazette - MISS YOU GUYS!

Update: Welcome Stand-To! readers.

04 August 2006

NY's Bravest Volunteer in Jerusalem

New York's firefighters show us what they're made of... again:

Eleven New York firefighters put their lives on hold this week and paid their way to Jerusalem, where they have been volunteering in a number of understaffed stations.
( ... )
Nathan Rothschild, commissioner of the Monsey fire district in New York's Rockland County, who planned the whole trip, said 22 more firemen would be coming to Israel next week to replace firemen in other parts of the country.
( ... )
When he heard about the Katyusha attacks on the North, he correctly assumed that fire departments throughout the country would come under severe strain. He then had the idea to gather volunteers to help, immediately got the approval of Shimon Romach, the Fire and Rescue Services commissioner, and three days later they arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport with a warm welcome and a minibus that said "New York Firefighters."
( ... )
"Firefighting is the same job no matter where you go," said Evan Humphrey, one of the volunteers. "It's one big brotherhood like everybody says."
( ... )
"It makes us all feel very good," said Doron Moshe, a fireman at the Giva station. "It's like a big brother over there watching us. Knowing that when you need him he will come make you feel peaceful. In Israel, at this time, the general mood is about going and helping. They have a Thanksgiving once a year, we have a war. Everybody's together helping each other."

"They have a Thanksgiving once a year, we have a war." Sheesh. Now that's chutzpah.

03 August 2006

First "National Muslim Fun Day" Cancelled

Jason sends me today's headline of the day from Reuters:

Theme park calls off "Muslim Fun Day"

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's biggest theme park has called off the country's first "National Muslim Fun Day" because of lack of interest, the park said Wednesday.

Alton Towers in central England was to open on September 17 for Muslims -- with halal food, a strict dress code and prayer areas.

Music, gambling and alcohol were to be banned for the day and theme park rides such as "Ripsaw," "Corkscrew" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" all segregated by sex.

You can't make this stuff up, people.

Now here's the scary part:

But the fun day had caused some consternation: a non-Muslim couple scheduled to hold their wedding at the park's hotel complained to newspapers that event organizers told them the bride and female guests would have to cover up.

This reminds me of something Soldiers' Angels Founder Patti told her son when he deployed: "You're the only thing standing between me and a burqa."

Thanks to the Mudville Gazette for the Open Post.

02 August 2006

The Oasis

'Cause I've got friends in low places
Where the whiskey drowns
And the beer chases my blues away
And I'll be okay
I'm not big on social graces
Think I'll slip on down to the oasis
Oh, I've got friends in low places.

- Garth Brooks

Yeah, it's a dive. But it's our dive.

First Sergeant and Number Three

Marine (no nickname) and Number 4, aka The Favorite

Pensive Number Two

Number One and The Ma'am, who is seriously out of uniform.

Me and First Sergeant

These troops are outpatients in Germany awaiting medical evaluation pending treatment and/or Return to Duty.

Sure missed my fellow Angel Mrs. G during this visit to the guys. Hope the Greyhawks are doing well.