28 February 2007

The Milbloggies

I couldn't figure out what was going on when I started receiving congratulations today - I'm such a dork I didn't realize the winners had been announced.

Thanks to all of you who voted for Soldiers' Angels Germany as best Milblog in the US Civilian Category. To tell the truth, I'm kind of embarrassed that people actually voted for me.

I'd like to give a shout out to a couple of dear friends in the same category, including Pam at Iraq War Today and The Gunn Nutt, who are both better bloggers than I. At the Milblog Conference we'll have one of the guys shoot the award and then split the rubble four ways, ok? (just kidding, JP!!!)

Ok, enough of this award business. Carry on.

Medical Warriors

I've been getting some emails about the first installment of a 5-part NBC News Special called Wounds of War. Although I don't get American TV here, Bonnie sent me the link to the piece on the MSNBC website. From what I know and have seen personally, this is the real thing and quite well done.

It's not often you have the opportunity to witness the work of these Medical Warriors: the Docs at the CSHs and in Balad, and the Heroes of the Flight Line and the Critical Care Aeromedical Team. So be sure to watch.

Inside a flying intensive care unit
Feb. 27: One of the keys to the success of military medicine is quickly getting wounded personnel into fully equipped hospitals. NBC's Robert Bazell reports on how that's accomplished in Iraq. - Nightly News

Watch the video

The accompanying article is informative and worth a read, too.

For the seriously wounded the goal is not necessarily to fix the problem, but to keep the patient alive and stabilize him or her long enough to get to the next stop on the journey home.

For example, doctors, nurses and medics in Iraq worry far less about infection than they would at a hospital in the U.S., although the staff works to keep everything as clean as possible. The wounds themselves are often the filthy aftermath of bomb explosions. In addition, Iraq’s ever-present dust is always blowing, sometimes even into the operating room. When infections occur it is usually three or four days after an injury. By that time, the patient is thousands of miles away.

It is the same with treatments involving surgical repair of bones and internal organs.

“Often you can’t fix everything at once,” says Dr. Darryl Pugh, an Army surgeon in Baghdad from Ft. Belvoir, Va. “Sometimes we do a little bit here, then the guys down the road in Landsthul and Walter Reed do the rest. It’s a very different kid of medicine.” ...

After they are stabilized at the outlying CSH’s, the patients travel by helicopter to the hospital at Balad where they are re-checked and treated further, if needed. From Balad they take the C-17 flight to Germany and then onto the U.S. ...

Medivac helicopters make dozens of runs a day from the field and between hospitals. C-17s take off almost every night. Everyone knows that, at any moment, bad weather, mechanical problems with the aircraft or a surge in casualties can cause a backup, leaving some very sick troops unable to be moved. When that happens, one doctor told me, “We have to make some very tough decisions.”

Usually the operation runs smoothly, resulting in a survival rate of 96 percent among those who make it to the first hospital — the best in U.S. military history.

Along for the ride in a flying ICU
Raw video shot by NBC News on a C-17 flight from Balad Air Base in Iraq to the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

Watch the video

I may update this later, but wanted to get it posted during lunch...

Update: So my lunchtime blogging sucks. This was actually the second part of this 5-part series.

Here's the first video about the Medical Warriors of the CSHs, Saving lives in field hospitals.

27 February 2007

Greyhawk's Mom...

...is celebrating her birthday today.

Go over and wish her all the best.

A Marine and his Sergeant Major

In an update to this post, here is the latest publicly available information.

Marine locked in fight for life

MARION TOWNSHIP -- A U.S. Marine from Bellefonte who was seriously wounded in Iraq is "still fighting" for life at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where his family and fellow Marines are keeping vigil, his father said.

Marine Cpl. David Emery Jr.'s, legs and left arm were shattered on Feb. 7 in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq's Anbar province. Emery, 21, nicknamed "D.J.," also suffered a severe abdominal wound, including a severed artery that caused his kidneys to shut down, his family said. He is on a ventilator and is also suffering from pneumonia.

"I still can't believe it's happening," said his father, David Emery, who made a one-day trip back to his Marion Township home before returning today to Bethesda. "I keep thinking it's a bad dream I'm going to wake up from. But I keep having it." ...

While staying in Bethesda near his son -- the family is being housed by the Marine Corps -- David Emery attended a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery for the Marine he thinks saved his son's life.

David Emery said his son's sergeant major, Joseph J. Ellis, of Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, appeared to have realized that a man pushing into a crowd near Ellis and David Emery Jr. was an insurgent. Emery said he was told by Marine Corps officials that Ellis got between the suicide bomber and his son. Ellis was killed by the bomb.

"I think of him as a hero," David Emery said of Ellis, a 40-year-old Marine from Ashland, Ohio. "He saw him pushing his way through the crowd. He moved to get this guy and probably saved my son's life."

Ellis was buried in Arlington on Wednesday.

Joseph Ellis was a 23-year Marine veteran who achieved the highest enlisted rank of Sergeant Major serving mostly in reconnaissance units. He served in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm, and later in Hawaii, North Carolina and Camp Pendleton.

"He just wanted to make a difference," his wife Rachael Ellis said. "Anytime he was asked to go somewhere, even times when he didn't have to, he would. He wanted to be there for his troops."

More at the Arlington Cemetery website.

Godspeed Sergeant Major Ellis, a hero amongst heroes.

Our prayers for DJ and family continue.

Update 28 Feb: FbL has a post about Sergeant Major Ellis.

Update 26 March: Prayers for DJ

Click to read more stories about DJ here at SAG.

26 February 2007

Anyone else find it strange...

...that the results of a Washington Post "investigation" about Walter Reed were published a week before this story?
(emphasis added)

Administrative Issues Cited at Walter Reed
Report From Long-Running Army Probe Notes Problems; Official Orders Fixes

The preliminary findings of a nine-month Army investigation confirm problems in the administrative procedures at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other hospitals, and Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey has ordered the service to begin fixing them, a spokesman said yesterday.

Just askin'.

"They are our heroes"

Bert Brady works to ensure soldiers get a warm greeting when they return from Iraq or Afghanistan. (ABC News)
Click to watch video

(The video is not work safe if you are weepy like me.)

Person of the Week: Bert Brady

Feb. 2, 2007 — Just about every morning for the past year, Bert Brady has been getting up, having a cup of coffee and heading over to the Dallas Fort Worth Airport. But this ritual has nothing to do with travel. He's at the terminal to welcome home American troops as they return from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I went 300 days last year," Brady said. "They are glad to see us, and we are tickled to death to see them because they are our heroes."

Brady, a 69-year-old veteran, is a member of the Welcome Home a Hero program at his local airport. He makes sure every soldier that comes through Dallas gets a special homecoming.

Thanks to Sandy for sending the link to this heartwarming story.

The Voice of Reason

"I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to step back and think carefully about what to do next."
- Joe Lieberman in today's Wall Street Journal

Congress thus faces a choice in the weeks and months ahead. Will we allow our actions to be driven by the changing conditions on the ground in Iraq--or by the unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington? What ultimately matters more to us: the real fight over there, or the political fight over here?

If we stopped the legislative maneuvering and looked to Baghdad, we would see what the new security strategy actually entails and how dramatically it differs from previous efforts.

...the fact is that we are in a different place in Iraq today from even just a month ago--with a new strategy, a new commander, and more troops on the ground. We are now in a stronger position to ensure basic security--and with that, we are in a stronger position to marginalize the extremists and strengthen the moderates; a stronger position to foster the economic activity that will drain the insurgency and militias of public support; and a stronger position to press the Iraqi government to make the tough decisions that everyone acknowledges are necessary for progress.

Unfortunately, for many congressional opponents of the war, none of this seems to matter. As the battle of Baghdad just gets underway, they have already made up their minds about America's cause in Iraq, declaring their intention to put an end to the mission before we have had the time to see whether our new plan will work.

Gathering of Eagles

Groups to Announce Plans to Protect Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Rally for Troops

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 -- Spokesmen for three veterans organizations which are urging their members to rally in Washington, D.C. on March 17, 2007, to protect the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall) from antiwar protesters will be holding a press conference at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, February 22, 2007, at the National Press Club to announce their plans to protect The Wall and rally for America's servicemen and women serving in Iraq.

Word has been spreading like wildfire across the country in the veterans' community about the plans of an anti-American group to hold an antiwar rally on Saturday, March 17, 2007 at, according to their announcement, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Constitution Gardens.)

The Gathering of Eagles was formed by Vietnam veterans to protect the Vietnam Veterans Memorial from being desecrated as the Capitol was at an antiwar march last month. While there is no way to accurately gauge attendance, it is expected that thousands of veterans, their families and other patriotic Americans will gather that day to protect The Wall and other war memorials.

In addition to Rolling Thunder and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, participants in the Gathering of Eagles rally include Move America Forward, which is organizing a cross-country caravan that will bring Gold and Blue Star parents and veterans to the Gathering of Eagles, and FreeRepublic.com.

SOURCE Gathering of Eagles

22 February 2007

Milbloggie Voting is Now Open

From Milblogging.com:

Congratulations again to all the nominees that placed in the Top 5.

You can now vote for one milblog in each category. This is the final phase so please participate... Keep in mind, you must be signed in to vote.

The charts also include the results from the Nomination phase. As of now, the charts are sorted by the number of nominations, but there is a column called “Votes” that displays the current number of votes. The Voting will close on February 27th at 8 PM EST.

Winners will be announced next week. And each winner who does attend this year's Milblog Conference, will be presented an award.

To be honest, I haven't paid much attention to this, but somehow Soldiers' Angels Germany has been nominated and has gotten a few votes since the voting opened earlier today.

Thanks to everyone who has nominated and voted for this blog. I'm very moved.

What moves me much more however, are the many emails I receive each and every day from readers who want to help support our soldiers. Those are the type of "votes" that really count. Thank you.

Anyway, if you haven't voted yet, and would like to, go here. Soldiers' Angels Germany can be found in the U.S. Civilian category.

You'll have to register in order to vote, but don't worry - you won't get any spam or anything.

I've got some very good friends (and in my opinion much better bloggers) in the same category - so vote for them if you think they're better! (I did.)

21 February 2007

IED searches ongoing for Marines of 'Joker'

Marines from Golf Company, a part of the California-based Battalion Landing Team 2/4, currently operating in the city of Barwanah, conduct a sweep and clear operation through the city...

The search yielded no caches but the key object on the list of things to find, an IED placed in front of a bombed out Iraqi Police station, was found. A 155mm artillery round and one 120mm mortar round were found 'daisy-chained' together and were fully prepped to be used against the Marines patrolling the streets of Barwanah.

The kill radius of a 155mm round is 100 meters. Have you ever seen what one can do to the human body?

I have.

Well done, Golf Company and the rest of BLT 2/4.

Source: Marine Corps News

WaPo Articles about Walter Reed

I've received quite a few emails asking me what I think about these articles. I haven't posted on this subject because others have been doing a much better job than I can. I'm going to point you to them and not post abstracts because you should read the entire posts - and click on the links they contain.

Andi has three posts up and I agree wholeheartedly with everything she's written. Her Final Thoughts on Walter Reed are a great summary.

Fuzzy also has been on this since the beginning with a series of posts, and this one eloquently states how I feel about the tone of the second WaPo article - which I strongly object to.

The Armorer has the DoD press release along with his thoughts.

Finally, Chuck writes from the viewpoint of an Army Officer and a Walter Reed patient. He also appeared on CNN today.

20 February 2007

"We seek victory"

From the Washington Times via Greyhawk at Milblogs.

Army Sgt. Daniel Dobson, 22, of Grand Rapids, Mich., is on his second tour in Iraq. I asked him what he thinks of the growing opposition to the war. Writing from Mosul, he says he appreciates the freedom Americans have to protest, but adds:

"The American military has shown a stone-cold professional veneer throughout the seething debate raging over Iraq. Beneath that veneer, however, is a fuming, visceral hatred. We feel as though we have been betrayed by Congress."

Sgt. Dobson believes the military is hamstrung against an enemy with no reservations or restrictions: "It is our overwhelming opinion that we have not been allowed to conduct the war to the fullest of our capability; neither do we feel that we should pull out because of a lack of 'results'.

War is not a chemistry set with predetermined outcomes or complications. With a great army matched with an equally cunning enemy, we find ourselves in a difficult but winnable fight.

We do not seek results; rather, we seek total and unequivocal victory."

Time for Rep. Sam Johnson again. Note how closely his words mirror those of Sgt. Dobson.

Good Doggie

U.S. Air Force military working dog Jackson sits on a U.S. Army M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle before heading out on a mission in Kahn Bani Sahd, Iraq, Feb. 13, 2007. His handler is Tech. Sgt. Harvey Holt, of the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsal

Source: DefendAmerica

18 February 2007

SF schools to teach "witty and devastating portrait of US military history"

First JROTC programs are banned from San Francisco schools, and now Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism is to be included in the public school curriculum.

Although the book has had significant distribution within the Los Angeles public school system for some time, San Francisco Unified is the first entire district to approve use of the book after a unanimous vote by the Board of Education's Curriculum and Program Committee last fall.

Covering 230 years of American wars and conflicts, the San Franciso Bay Guardian calls it a "well-researched text, footnoted from sources as varied as international newspapers, Department of Defense documents, and transcripts of speeches from scores of world leaders", as well as touting endorsements from Susan Sarandon, Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Medea Benjamin (of CodePINK fame), Helen Caldicott, and Cindy Sheehan.

On Manifest Destiny: (All ellipses and emphasis in original text.)

The American revolutionaries who rose up against King George in 1776 spoke eloquently about the right of every nation to determine its own destiny.

Unfortunately, after they won the right to determine their own destiny, they thought they should determine everyone else's too!

On The "Cold War" and the exploits of the Self-Proclaimed "World Policeman"

For the next 45 years, the world was caught up in a global turf battle between the "two superpowers". The U.S. was always much stronger than its Soviet adversary, but both countries maintained huge military forces to expand their own "spheres of influence".

For its part, the U.S. moved to expand its sphere of influence beyond the Americas... To put down insubordination, disorder and disloyalty in its sphere of influence, the new "majority stockholder" also appointed itself the "world policeman".

I confess I haven't read the whole 77 page comic book (yes, it's a comic book), but I don't imagine there's any mention of the fact that it was NOT clear the "U.S. was always much stronger" (Ronald Reagan being the first to seriously question if they were really as strong as universally believed). And I don't suppose the tens of millions killed by Stalin are discussed. Or the millions who achieved freedom through U.S. military intervention.

The "New World Order" is discussed in Chapter 3. Ronald Reagan stepped up the arms race, the poor Soviets with their much smaller economy "struggled to keep up", putting a "tremendous strain on Soviet society, contributing to its collapse." Behind closed doors, "top U.S. government strategists" (apparently bored and looking for new ways to bully others) decided that it would be fun to go after much weaker countries now where we could achieve "decisive victories".

Had enough? Wait - there's more. Chapter 4 covers the "War on Terrorism":

After the horrific September 11 terrorist attacks, one question was so sensitive it was seldom addressed by the U.S. news media: "Mom, why did they do it?"

Well, to find out, the book helpfully suggests it makes sense to ask the terrorists. And quotes Osama bin Laden.

You can see where this is going. It's all our fault. Besides that, there's a lot of money and power to be gained by "The War Profiteers" (covered in Chapter 5). And don't forget the government and the media are in cahoots to whip up support (Chapters 6 and 7) but you CAN "Resist Militarism" (Chapter 8).

Did I mention the book - conceived in 1991 to highlight the "real story" behind the 1991 Gulf War - has now been updated to cover the "current quagmire in Iraq"?

Wouldn't want to leave that out.

The author, Joel Andreas, has been an anti-war activist since being dragged by his parents to demostrations against the Vietnam war. He later became a PhD in sociology studying the aftermath of the Chinese Revolution and now teaches at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The books themselves have been purchased and donated to the San Francisco Unified School District using contributions collected by local peace activist Pat Gerber.

What's going on in our schools? Since when has it become acceptable to make certain personal political opinions an official part of the curriculum while banning others?

More importantly, has moral equivalency become so pervasive in America that there is no longer any differentiation made between the concepts of American pluralism and communism? And will they have our children believe there is no difference between the American Soldier and the 9/11 terrorist?

William Arkin calling our soldiers mercenaries pales compared to this outrage.

17 February 2007

Spiritual Warfare Needed

Leslie and DJ

For privacy reasons, I am using only previously published material for this post.

U.S. Marine Cpl. David Emery, who writes in every letter home about the impending birth of his baby girl, was scheduled to leave Iraq on Jan. 1, but his tour was extended to Feb. 20.

He feared he would be extended again and not make it home to be with his wife for the birth of their first baby in May, a little girl already named Carlee.

Now his wife just hopes that he makes it home at all.

Emery, 21, is clinging to life in a military hospital in Germany after a suicide-bomb attack in insurgency stronghold Anbar province last week. ( ... )

The family initially was told by the military that they would not be flown to Germany unless the prospects for Emery's recovery became bleak.

That happened Monday morning.

"Now he has pneumonia and he's on a respirator," said Connie Emery, the Marine's mother. "And he's on kidney dialysis because his kidneys don't work. They said we need to get there. Right now he's hour to hour." ( ... )

While his wife Leslie knows how dire her husband's condition is, she finds comfort in what friends and family have been telling her, that the baby she is carrying is reason for her husband to fight to survive.

"People keep saying that if it wasn't for the baby, they don't know what his mindset would be," Shivery said. "Every letter home, he always writes about the baby."

Your thoughts and prayers would be most appreciated.

Update 18 FEB: Due to an encouraging development in DJ's condition, he is being medevac'd to CONUS today. Thank you for your continued prayers for DJ and all of our wounded warriors.

Click to read more stories about DJ here at SAG.

Now is the Time

Update: Sgt Hook has the video of Rep. Sam Johnson's remarks. A must-see.

"Now it's time to stand up for my friends who did not make it home, and for those who fought and died in Iraq already," he said. "We must not cut funding for our troops. We must stick by them," he added, snapping off a salute as he completed his remarks to yet another ovation.

Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas, a Vietnam Veteran, during the House debate yesterday. The non-binding or "symbolic" measure to oppose the troop surge in Iraq was approved 246-182.

Are you ready to stand up?

Saw this at Michelle's this morning and thought it might work well here.

15 February 2007


This post contributed by Brian Russell, an Aerospace Soldier in Afghanistan.

Why? Why is it that some lose hope and take drastic actions to end their lives?

I can never understand how we can get so down in despair to lose hope. It is difficult to comprehend. I know that depression has a chemical component and can be treated with chemicals, however, it is often the emotional scars that can be the hardest and slowest to heal.

The tragic loss of our brother Soldier was self-inflicted. I talked with a Soldier who was planning the memorial to be held for him and he said that the circumstances are just so confusing. He knows the young man and said he exhibited none of the “signs” we are told to look for... he just gave up.

I watched “Flag of Our Fathers” tonight and it caused us to think... how will history look upon our actions here in Afghanistan? Will they call us heroes or wasted souls cast into the fray by a heartless or soulless government? We do feel forgotten... this is our Korea.

I know that many remember us, I get letters and packages from so many caring people.

But we watch the news and the lead story is some bimbo model who took her life (that is what we think the result in the end will be). She had money and is famous, the tragic loss of one child and disputed fathership of another because of the life style she chose to live.

Are we to feel sorry for her? How does her death compare to this young man here in Afghanistan? His name will be forgotten by the country he served and world he sought to better... hers will become a movie of the week. Just the way it is I suppose…

No famous flag raising here. No Mount Sarabachis. Just the daily reality that our work goes on. How silently the days pass. No monuments or Pulitzer photographs, just the horrors of war and the reality that this place can become a personal hell. We build walls inside our minds and hearts and tell ourselves that we are brave and that what we see doesn’t bother us. We are liars.

One day you see the good and then the next you see the bad. We rec’d a video clip made by the Taliban and its images are haunting me. The message to the Afghans working with the coalition here is that if you continue to rebuild the nation with U.S. help you will be punished.

On one hand I want to delete it, on the other hand I feel I should keep it to show the horror and hate some in our world cling to like a badge of honor. I cannot describe the images here, too horrific, but it has marked me, changed me, even if in small way. I wished I had never seen it.

I am so thankful that my hope is not in false images or lies. I am so thankful that I have hope in a tomorrow that will be another day with air in my lungs and the love of my family in my heart. I struggle to write these days. Just seems like our world is just so confusing. I need to see the face of God... oh the innocence of a child.

It saddens me to think that so many are lost by false teaching and hate mongering.

In Afghanistan the message heard is still one of hate and like seems to happen all too often - the minority voices seem to rise above the majority who remains silent.

Here it is out of fear. That is the reality of life in Afghanistan. In my country it is because of other reasons I just can’t fathom.

There are so many good things happening here and so many good people as well. The children are genuine and hopeful, until their heads are filled with hate. Like in my country where prejudice and its associated ignorance are the inheritance of Americans till today.

I’m tired... maybe I should take up drawing or needle point?

14 February 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

With Love from Soldiers' Angels

A basket of Valentine's goodies for the outpatients at Kleber barracks, part of the Landstuhl medical facilities.

From Alabama With Love

Prior to her visit to Germany last year, Soldiers' Angel Bonnie initiated efforts to involve members of her church in supporting our fighting men and women. Since then, the Minister Mike Nix of the Beltline Church of Christ in Decatur, AL has allowed Bonnie to set up boxes to collect items for care packages for deployed Soldiers and the wounded, and "work parties" are held to pack the items for shipment.

Here are the members of G.R.I.T.S.: Girls Raised In The Son, a program started by Rachel, the youth minister's wife. This is her living room - a free-for-all - as the girls assemble Valentine's Day gifts for patients at Landstuhl.

Bonnie: "Now I ask you, is this beautiful or what? It's about time our kids learned how to get involved with something bigger than themselves. This generation knows nothing of 'war efforts' of old, but now they're learning, and in a new way. I'm so proud of them!

I checked the notes inside; all were positive, and of course my darling daughter had to be a little different and address hers to: Dear Military Dude.

They were made with a lot of excitement and love."

A sense of service and love is nothing new for Bonnie, her family, and her community. Here's Bonnie and her Dad "Mad Matt" during their visit to Landstuhl late last year. Matt's a Veteran who was stationed in Germany during the Cold War.

On the far left is Jennifer, a Soldier here for medical treatment. It was love at first sight between Jennifer and Bonnie. Jennifer has since returned to duty downrange with Bonnie as her adopted Mom and Angel.

Bonnie and Matt came to Germany with more than full hearts - they also brought several hundred dollars worth of cash and material donations from members of the Beltline Church of Christ. Here are some gift bags with "girly stuff" especially for female soldiers.

Here's Bonnie with a wounded Romanian Soldier named Val. (You can read more about Val here.) Meanwhile, Matt was making the rounds and I do believe he spoke to just about every inpatient at the hospital that day, in addition to entertaining the outpatients at Kleber barracks.

Back in Alabama recently, Bonnie's nephew Josh attended a work party while home on R&R where he met several church members.

The next day at church Dr. Steve, one of the church Elders, addressed the congregation with the following words:

"I went to the work party because I love Bonnie so much and I wanted to do something to help her. Then I talked to Josh, and after we left the Church, I realized my heart wasn't right.

I realized that being involved in this program isn't about helping Bonnie, it's about helping Josh and others like him."

How well said.

I'm proud to know you, Bonnie. Your dedication and leadership are an inspiration to us all. Thank you and the members of the Beltline Church of Christ for your compassion and for your patriotism.

13 February 2007

Thoughts from Baghdad

From Omar at Iraq the Model:

I finally found the courage to get up and look out through my window. Two meters from me was a line of Stryker Armored Combat Vehicles that for some reason had pulled over in our street. (...)

After some time, the convoy moved off, their engines fading slowly as the streets swallowed them up. I stood for a moment thinking about the men in those vehicles who stay up at night patrolling the dangerous streets of Baghdad to protect the few insomniacs like myself, and the millions of other sleeping Baghdadis. I said a prayer (in my own way) for their safety and went back to toss and turn in my bed.

And from Chris of Tanker Brothers:

I looked at this picture the most today writing this letter. I kept asking myself if I have done everything I can to give her the opportunity to work for freedom and live in true peace. I hope I have. I know others have given everything in that cause. 3,000 have given their lives so little children like this girl will not live under tyranny. Many thousands more have given years of their lives to fight the rising tide of tyrants in the world.

Not sure which part of this some people don't understand when questioning our mission in Iraq.

10 February 2007

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Aunt Mary

Mary Irvin Roun, 1905 - 2007

It is with great sadness that Soldiers' Angels announces the passing of its dearest and oldest member, Aunt Mary. Mary Irvin Roun was born on April 13, 1905 in Turnersville, NJ and died peacefully in her sleep on February 8,2007.

Mary Jo Stamper, Aunt Mary's great-nice, and the rest of the family had been working on an "Aunt Mary Movie" for her upcoming 102nd birthday party. According to Mary Jo, "we feel it is even more appropriate now to share these pictures/music with all the people that loved her. One of the most endearing characteristics of Aunt Mary was how appreciative she always was, for even the smallest thing you did for her. She loved to say..."wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!" Hence, the music in the video... "

Please take a moment to view the video here.

The family will receive relatives and friends on Monday, February 12, 2007 from 9:00-10:00am

BERLIN, NJ 08009

You may view Aunt Mary's memorial photo scrapbook online here.

Since supporting "her soldiers" was so important to Aunt Mary, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to:
Soldiers Angels, 1792 E. Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

Memories from Aunt Mary's 101st Birthday party last year.

Aunt Mary heading up the "Bodacious Box Brigade", filling care packages for the troops on her 101st brithday last year. Guests were asked to bring items for the packages instead of gifts.

Aunt Mary with some of the boxes for "her" troops all over the world.

Sailors Tim Reagan and Robbie Fox sending birthday greetings from aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.

Soldiers' Angel Mary Jo with her great-aunt Mary, "a treasure and a true blessing to all of us".

The tide recedes but leaves behind bright seashells in the sand.
The sun goes down but gentle warmth still lingers on the land.
The music stops... and yet it echoes on in sweet refrain...
For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.

Godspeed, Aunt Mary.

* * *

Update, 14 Feb 2007

From Mary Jo:

"Her funeral was a true honor to her sweet nature and generosity; her family was awarded two different military service medals from a Lt. Col. from the USMC who spoke of her dedication to supporting our troops. He also read a letter that we had received just recently from one of the units we supported, which I wanted to share with you."

The Stamper family and Aunt Mary:

Thank you for your outstanding support to the Marines of First Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) while we have been forward deployed to the Al Anbar Province of Iraq.

Since Aunt Mary's birthday in April you have been so very supportive of us and the care you have for us was evident through all the time you took to send countless numbers of care packages. During the holidays when a long deployment can be particularly difficult to be away from home and families you brought a touch of home to us.

I cannot thank you enough for your efforts to keep us all going strong out here. You all are greatly appreciated by myself and Marines here at I MEF Camp Fallujah for bringing a little "moto" into our lives. Thank you very much.

With all my appreciation and respect, Semper Fi

MSgt. Bill Canfield

"This letter was accompanied with a Challenge Coin from Camp Fallujah - what a testament to Aunt Mary's support of "her soldiers".

So Angels, once again you can pat yourselves on the back and say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I'm sure it won't be long before I'm back standing in line at the post office with my care packages...

With much love and admiration for ALL you do,

Mary Jo Stamper "

08 February 2007

10th Mountain Feels the Love

From Kathy via the Soldiers' Angels Forum:

To all the Angels that have newly adopted our 10th Mountain soldiers... I did a presentation at our church last night about Soldiers' Angels at the request of one of these Soldier's Moms.

I was listening to her speak before I went up and she told about her son calling and telling her how much everyone loved having an Angel.

He also told how recently the guys had pulled into a base for a short time and on the way out they had a convoy of 4 trucks and everyone was moving when one guy said, "Hey C., did you remember to tell your Mom about the 4 new guys in our unit so they can get Angels, too?"

He said, "No I forgot!" and the whole convoy stopped moving so he could get out and call to make sure these 4 new guys were taken care of.

Just in case you didn't know, all the new soldiers have been adopted and are all set.

And from Bob Connolly:

Three days ago, I posted an email to my colleagues here about an infantry company from the 10th Mountain that operates from a horribly rugged spot in Afghanistan right next to Pakistan. They were just extended for another four months, and their XO posted a plea for help on AnySoldier.com.

From my email, I got five immediate responses, and by the end of today, I had $270 in cash, four boxes of snacks, toiletries, coffee, and the like from a bunch of other people. I know of eight others who are shopping this weekend, and I think that there are others who are working beneath the radar on this. By the time we are done, I think that we will probably send 10 – 12 big boxes (i.e. 15 – 20 lbs each) to 10th Mountain units that have had their tour extended in Afghanistan.

Most of the people I have heard from had never contributed before. Every last one of them was touched that somebody was looking out for these guys. Not one word about the politics except to say that they didn’t matter: these were our guys.

There are a lot of dirtbags in the world and decent people can be discouraged by it all... but then you run across angels like these colleagues of mine... soldiers' angels.

05 February 2007

Congressman, Why Won't You Support Us?

This post is contributed by reader and friend Robert Connolly.

I am contemplating writing my Congressman. My Congressman is David Price, a Democrat, and the new chair of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. Dr. Price (he used to make his living as a professor at Duke University) is not given to the rhetorical nonsense that comes from the likes of Charlie Rangel, or the two U.S. Senators from the State of New York. He is a decent guy, approachable and reasonable in person, and he is reelected pretty regularly because his views map into the majority leftwing sympathies of his district.

I mostly ignore him, but now, his leanings are getting quite personal. I have a son-in-law in the U.S. Army, assigned to an aviation brigade (he is a helicopter pilot) that will probably return to Iraq (but might head to Afghanistan) later this year. When and where they go depends on how some very senior people in the Pentagon choose to deploy his brigade and the infantry brigade that they will support. What is certain is that this highly-capable group will not be sitting around; they will take the fight to the latest incarnation of fascists. That’s the part I want to talk to my Congressman about.

A few of my friends were lamenting the troop surge the other day, saying that they really opposed this move (they were concerned about the troops themselves, not the politics). I asked them why it was that they wanted my son-in-law (and the relatives of a lot of other fellow citizens) to have to enter the fight without appropriate strength. They just didn’t want anyone else in harm’s way. Well, it was cold outside where this conversation was happening, so I didn’t get the chance to remind them that every single man and woman in uniform volunteered to go into harm’s way. I didn’t have the opportunity to remind them that Charlie Rangel’s line of nonsense about intelligence, opportunity, and enlistment was absolutely dead wrong. I dropped the issue with them.

My Congressman is another matter, however. I sense that he does not know that there are families in his district that are carrying the fight (volunteered to do it!) and that they deserve his full support. From where I am sitting, it seems that threatening loss of funding for operations in Iraq, tying the hands of senior officers (to say nothing of the Commander-in-Chief), and proposing to legislate the conduct of this long war (his newest ‘idea’) looks worse than cut and run. It feels like betrayal of the families who bear the burdens. (Our personal burdens are very light compared to the families at nearby Ft. Bragg).

In this sense, then, my family is discovering another remarkable way that it is linked with military families and their friends and supporters across the country (and in Germany and other places, too!).

We also have come to realize that we could have it much worse: the U.S. Senators from New York might represent us.

Bob can be reached via email or you may leave him a comment below.

03 February 2007

Soldiers' Angels Mourns Cpl Stephen D. Shannon

From a friend of Soldiers' Angels Germany who is also a friend of Cpl Shannon's family:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpl. Stephen D. Shannon, 21, of Guttenberg, Iowa, died Jan. 31, in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was hit by a rocket during combat operations Jan. 30 in Ramadi, Iraq.

Shannon was assigned to the 397th Engineer Battalion, Wausau, Wis.

Stephen was unique, "one of a kind" from the first day of his life, his mother Joan Shannon said Friday. He was "by no means a saint, but definitely a hero."

On Friday, his family, including his mother, father and three siblings, gathered at the family's rural Guttenberg home for a press conference to talk about his life.

During his last trip home before deploying in September he spent four days in Guttenberg, but they went by fast, Joan Shannon said.

"He was hardly ever at home, because he was out with his many friends all the time," she said.

Stephen was a popular student at Clayton Ridge High School in Guttenberg, where he graduated in 2003. He served as president of his junior class, was a member of the football and wrestling teams, and played in the school band. After graduation, he attended the University of Northern Iowa where he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps and majored in criminology.

Word of the young soldier’s death has stunned residents of Guttenberg, a community of about 2,000 on the Mississippi River, just across the border from Wisconsin. The students and staff at the high school were so upset after hearing the news that plans for students to take basic academic skills tests were delayed.

James Whalen, the principal at Clayton Ridge High School and the next-door neighbor of Shannon’s family, said the young man’s death is a big loss for Guttenberg.

“He was like a Norman Rockwell painting of an All-American boy,” Whalen said. “He was honest, clean-cut, polite and courteous. He never got in trouble. Everybody would have liked to have had him as their son.”

Stephen's sister, Kathleen Shannon, 19, recently joined the Army's Reserve Officer Training Corps. She wants to become an army nurse, and said she is proud of her brother.

"I saw what he had become. I also wanted him to have to salute me when I became an officer," she said.

Shannon's body is expected to return to Guttenberg next week, and the family plans to have a viewing and funeral Mass. Joan Shannon said the public will be welcome.

"This kid was pretty special," she said. "If this is his 15 minutes of fame and people want to be a part of it, I have no restrictions."

Sources: The DesMoines Register, Examiner

The Patriot Guard Riders are standing by to ride for Cpl Shannon.

Update: Teflon Don of Acute Politics (deployed in the same Task Force at Camp Ramadi) has written a poem in Stephen's memory here.

Remember our Heroes.

A Dream, an Angel, and a Sanctuary for Heroes' Pets

"Thank you Guardian Angels For Soldier's Pet for caring about our pets as much as we do."

February 2, 2007 Hot Springs, Arkansas: Guardian Angels For Soldier's Pet announces plans to develop and open the first of its kind "Military & Veterans Pet" (MVP) Sanctuary in Garland County, Arkansas for the pets owned by military service members deploying to fight the global war on terror.

A military service member deploying who has no family or family members unable to keep or care for the pet is left with one option which is to relinquish pet ownership by turning the pet or pets over to a humane society, animal shelter, or an animal rescue group. Guardian Angels For Soldier's Pet foster home program gives the military service member another option so that their pet or pets will be waiting for them when they return safely from their deployment.

The MVP Sanctuary in Garland County, Arkansas will provide a "home away from home" in a country setting (8 - 10 acres) for these furry family members during their owner's deployment and the model for future MVP sanctuaries in other states where the organization's program/service is needed. The private sanctuary will be a "no-cage" private facility to initially care for up to 20 dogs and 20 cats with the ability to expand as needed.

The sanctuary will also include space for the organization's administrative staff, a veterinarian visit room, grooming room, laundry facility, and kitchen/food prep area. The overall management and responsibility for the sanctuary will be under the direction of the Guardian Angels For Soldier's Pet Board of Officers/Directors with an on-premise volunteer Executive Director responsible for the day-to-day operations of the facility, volunteer administrative staff, and liaison to the BOD.

Additional space is allotted to board/care for horses if needed and non-dog/cat type pets owned by our military service members.

The projected budget for obtaining/preparation of the sanctuary property, erecting/interior finishing of the facility, and first year of operation is estimated at $400,000 - $450,000. Means for reaching the project funding goal will be accomplished via individual, businesses, corporations, and other organizations public support, fundraisers, and grant proposals to include requests for monetary and/or non-monetary contributions.

Guardian Angels For Soldier's Pet is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 tax exempt nonprofit public charity (Fed Tax ID: 20-2229425). The National office is located in the state of Arkansas with affiliated chapters in Minnesota and Mississippi (GEL #5352).

The organization's mission is to support our military service members by recruiting, interviewing, and monitoring foster homes where the pets are fostered to ensure the deploying military service member's beloved pet or pets reside in a caring, loving, and safe environment until their owner returns safely from the deployment.

Questions and/or additional information pertaining to the MVP Sanctuary may be directed to:

Linda Spurlin-Dominik, Co-Founder/National Board President tel (501)760-3875 or via email.

Donations toward the project can be made online at the organization's website here.

Linda is a Proud Daughter of WWII "Battle of Bulge" Veteran, Widow of Vietnam Era Veteran, and an Honorary Member of the SFA Chapter 49 Arkansas.

01 February 2007

Angels & Heroes

Back row, from left to right: DrueAnna, Bill, Carol.
Middle: Samantha, Sabrina, Becky, and Jessica.
Front & center: Savannah.

Everyone in this photo is an Angel and a Hero: Becky is a deployed Soldier here for medical treatment who wanted to help out, Bill's a Vietnam Vet, and everyone else is a volunteer and a military family member (which makes them Heroes in my book).

DrueAnna's husband (and the girls' Dad) is currently deployed in Iraq. Jessica's husband works at the Landstuhl ER and will be deploying some time this year.

Carol and Bill are longtime SA Germany supporters who "stopped by" on their way home from a vacation in Asia.

Carol has been spreading the word about SA and collected $3000 in donations for the wounded and ill soldiers recovering in Germany, including this check for $1000 from a neighbor.

Here's Bill and Carol at the Commissary stocking up on microwave meals, fruit cups, and snacks for the outpatients at Kleber barracks. We do this regularly at SA Germany, but we've never filled 2 shopping carts...

...and just like at home *cough* when the guys see us come back from shopping they help carry in and unpack the groceries.

The rest of that money was burning a hole in Carol's pocket, so she and Jessica went back out to the BX to stock up on some items we were short on like boxerbriefs, chapstick, and those silly little ankle socks the younger guys wear these days. Note the length of that cash register receipt...

Carol and Bill with a Soldier we nicknamed "Tiny". Later that evening at the Oasis I thought we had met Tiny's match, but the competition was only 6'9". The other guy was happy to retain his "Big Air" nickname as an Apache crewman.

Thanks Carol and Bill for all you do. It was an honor to meet you and great to have you here!