30 September 2008

Christmas at Landstuhl 2008

Update: Shipping deadline for this project has passed. Thank you for your support!

The motto of Landstuhl Hospital is "Selfless Service" and that is truly what the staff here do.

There is no better time to acknowledge the efforts of these "selfless" Medical Warriors than during the holidays.

Christmas/Thank You Cards for Landstuhl Hospital Staff

There are many, many dedicated staff here who not only take care of our wounded or ill Warriors, but who have also been wonderful supporters of SA Germany and instrumental in our ability to carry out our mission.

I would like the Christmas/Thank You cards to be personalized by department if you are up for it. They are:

1. Landstuhl ICU Staff. The hardest job on the planet. Please send them Christmas blessings for their extraordinary loving and professional care of our most severely Wounded Warriors. (Number needed: One card for the entire group is fine.)

2. The MTD Staff. The Medical Transient Department is where outpatients stay during their treatment at Landstuhl. The staff look after about 100 outpatients at any given time. (Number needed: 2 cards for this group to share.)

3. The Nursing Staff. Caring for 3 - 4 wards of hospital inpatients with non-critical injuries. (Number needed: 4 cards, one for each medical/surgical ward.)

4. The Service Liaisons. Too many to list individually, the Casualty Liaison Officers for the various branches of service (and Army by division) manage the patients' stay in Landstuhl. In my opinion, these are some of the "unsung heroes" at Landstuhl, in many cases working 7 days a week during their unit's entire deployment. (Number needed: 20 cards, one for each office.)

5. DWMMC Staff. They manage patient movement/transportation from downrange to Landstuhl and on to the US or back to the war zone. (Number needed: One card for this office.)

The salutations in the cards should simply be "To the ICU Staff", "For the Nurses at Landstuhl", "To the MTD Staff", etc. You may wish to add a few words in your message based on the notes above.

Address the outside of the cards for the appropriate group, leave them unsealed, place in a larger envelope, and send to:

Attn: Soldiers' Angels
CMR 402
APO AE 09180

Shipping deadline: 15 November, 2008

Thank you for caring about our wounded and ill Warriors and their caregivers in Germany.

Important: Soldiers' Angels Germany does not request or distribute Christmas cards to the patients. This is due to the very high volume of unsolicited cards received by the hospital.

29 September 2008

173rd's Dragon Platoon in Afghanistan

"Ok, here's the Dragon Platoon, sittin' on top of a mountain, not doing jack $h!t."


Some rockin' footage from the past year's OEF VIII deployment. Well done guys, and welcome home!

Click here for more 173rd ABCT Afghanistan posts.

28 September 2008

"Mama, they brought me back to life!"

From yesterday's Stryker Brigade News, this amazing story:

On Feb. 8, 2008, Hixon, a Soldier with 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, was driving his Stryker through streets in Iraq when it was struck by a 500-pound improvised explosive device.

The IED ripped through the cab of the vehicle, killing four of the five Soldiers riding inside. Hixon, left dangling upside down in the twisted remains of the Stryker, was the only one left alive.

Two hours later, he was freed and on his way to Balad.

In Baghdad, a medical team went right to work to assess his injures. Hixon had a lacerated kidney, a hemorrhaging liver, 10 broken ribs, his badly bruised lungs had been ripped from his chest lining, he had more than 50 fractures, from his neck down his spinal column - three of his vertebrae were completely missing.

Paralyzed but still alive, doctors performed emergency surgery to repair his liver and kidneys.

Now stabilized, he still needed to be transported more than a thousand miles to a hospital in Germany.

When the plane took off for the flight to Germany, his lungs couldn't withstand the change in pressure and he died.

Not giving up, doctors resuscitated the young Soldier and made an emergency landing in Balad. Six hours later, he was back on an airplane headed for Germany when he died again.

After a second resuscitation, the plane was forced to land in Kuwait, where they were able to stabilize him again and continue on to Germany.

At Walter Reed, many days and several surgeries later,

...after the ventilator that had been supporting his breathing was removed, he said his first words.

"Mama, they brought me back to life!"

One September 18, 2008 SPC Wesley Hixon was awarded the Purple Heart in the packed Letterman Auditorium at Fort Lewis' Madigan Army Medical Center by Lt. Gen Charles H. Jacoby Jr., I Corps and Fort Lewis commanding general.

The four Soldiers who were killed in the line of duty during the 8 February attack on Hixon's Stryker were SSG Jerald A. Whisenhunt, SGT Gary D. Willett, SGT Timothy P. Martin, and SPC Michael T. Manibog.

h/t to my friend Susanne.

26 September 2008

Sarah Palin Visits Ground Zero Fire Station

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, center, receives T-shirts from Patrick O'Donnell, right, of Engine Company 10, while John Morabito, a fire fighter with Ladder Company 10, looks on at their firehouse next to the World Trade Center site. Palin told the press Thursday that she believed the ground zero memorial was "inspiring and encouraging...I wish every American would come through here, I wish every world leader would come through here and understand what it is that took place here," said Palin. "And, more importantly, how America came together united to commit to never allowing this to happen again." (Henny Ray Abrams/AP Photo)

25 September 2008

Secretary of the Army visits Landstuhl

I see a couple of familiar faces here with the DVs :-)

Congress did something useful this week

No, I don't mean the bailout.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pain Care Policy Act.

Today’s Vote Represents Critical Step to Improving Pain Management in America

Baltimore, MD — “The American Pain Foundation (APF) applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for taking a critical step in helping to improve pain care in America by passing the “National Pain Care Policy Act of 2008” (HR 2994). The potential impact of this legislation on everyday lives cannot be overstated, nor can the tireless efforts of all of the individuals and organizations that have steadfastly joined forces to move this bill forward.

“Despite the fact that pain affects more than 76 million Americans—more than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined—it remains woefully undertreated and misunderstood. All too common are stories of patients in the grip of pain, who are left to consult multiple care providers before their pain is properly diagnosed and managed, if it ever is. Not only is unmanaged pain emotionally and physically debilitating for patients, it also places a heavy burden on families and caregivers. The undertreatment of pain is also estimated to contribute to excessive healthcare costs and lost work productivity of approximately $100 billion every year.

The companion Senate measure has yet to be passed.

Among the millions of Americans affected by pain are thousands of young veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, the cause of so-called phantom pain from amputated limbs is not fully understood, and much more research is needed to develop effective methods of treatment.

The American Pain Foundation is an independent nonprofit 501(c)3 organization serving people with pain through information, advocacy, and support. The Foundation has a number of programs for Military and Veterans, ranging from advocacy to caregiver workshops.

Former Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt filing civil lawsuit against U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha


One of the Marines cleared in the killings of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha plans to sue his congressman today for statements he says defamed him and other members of his squad.

Former Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, 24, of Canonsburg, will file a civil lawsuit against U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Johnstown, who was widely quoted two years ago saying that eight Marines carried out a cold-blooded killing of 24 civilians in the Iraqi town on Nov. 19, 2005.
“As a career military officer and a 9-11 Pentagon survivor, I have a personal interest in seeing the record and reputations of these courageous Marines cleared,” said [Republican candidate in the 12th PA Congressional district Bill] Russell. “It is contemptible that any member of Congress abuse the power of his office to advance a political agenda by unjustly attacking our brave men and women in uniform. Lance Corporal Sharratt was declared innocent by a properly convened military court, and he has every right to seek justice for the denial of his Constitutional rights to due process and the presumption of innocence, and for the damage done to his reputation.

Kevin of Pundit Review has spoken with Justin Sharratt and his father Darryl several times. The interviews can be found here.

Balad CASF Medic to all Angels

From a Medic, now home and a member of Soldiers' Angels.

My heart swells just thinking about SA and I love getting the opportunity to tell others about the organization.

The CASF (Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility) where I was deployed in Iraq served over 3000 patients in the four months I was there and we simply would not have been able to treat our wounded warriors with the respect and dignity that they deserve without the help of Soldiers' Angels.

SA supplied us needed items, such as backpacks, warm clothes, socks, underwear, tolietries and shower shoes whenever our facility needed them, even it was short notice.

We were able to provide our patients with so many comfort items such as snacks, books and games thanks to all the incredible Angels around the country.

I was floored by the generous donation of video game systems and many games for them. I can not tell you the hours the soldiers would spend playing them after weeks of being in the field with nothing.

And I truly hope that each Angel who sits at home making those beautiful blankets without being able to see the recipients knows how incredibly special those are to the troops that receive them. Even while being loaded onto litters for their flight home they would make sure that their blankets were with them. Many expressed looking foward to being able to share that special gift with their spouses and children at home.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you thank you thank you for everything each and every one of you do. My words can not express the incredible feeling of support we received.

Blankets of Hope Marathon in Bowie, MD generates 242 hand made blankets for wounded and ill service members at Landstuhl hospital

180 volunteers made 242 Blankets of Hope for wounded and ill service members medevaced to Landstuhl hospital in Germany from Iraq and Afghanistan. The "Blankets of Hope Marathon" was created by Soldiers' Angels Lisa Dodson and Matt Dick and took place at the Ascension Church Hall in Bowie, MD on Septemnber 20, 2008. The blankets will be provided to patients by the Soldiers' Angels volunteers at Landstuhl hospital in Germany.

For the third year (see previous story), the community around Bowie, MD gathered at the Ascension Church Hall to make "Blankets of Hope" for wounded and ill service members medevaced from Iraq and Afghanistan to Landstuhl hospital in Germany. The blankets will be sent to the Soldiers' Angels chapter at Landstuhl for distribution to the patients.

"We need to thank so many people", said Lisa Dodson. "The list to thank is soooo long, but you just don't pull off something this big without tons of help.

Four of us organized the event, so I would like to thank them: Maureen Barber, Valerie Potter, and of course my husband, Matt Dick."

The entire community participated in the event. Donations of goods and services were received from:

The American Legion Post #66
Sons of the American Legion
The Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion
Val Pak of South-Eastern MD
The Bowie Blade News
Bowie City Hall
Arc Water Treatment
Shapiro and Duncan, Inc.
UPS of Bowie
Giant at Freestate Mall
Jimmy Marcos of TJ Elliotts
The Thompsons at Old Bowie Town Grille
Nicholson Masonry
Share and Care of Ascension Church
Mr. Jim Hossick and the Bowie Lions Club

Donations were also received from many individuals.

Dodson's friend Nancy Freeman and her "card buddies" created 200 beautiful handmade cards to attach to the blankets.

"Only problem was that we needed more, who would have guessed?" said Dodson. "Our goal was to break last years record of 168, and boy did we!"

"And last but not least, I would like to thank Ann Powell who grilled all the hamburgers and hotdogs for the hungry volunteers. It took her hours to get us all fed!"

Four Girl Scout troops and their friends were represented. Here's just some of the young people who participated in the Blankets of Hope Marathon for patients at Landstuhl military hospital in Germany.

Bernadette and her group drove all the way from Aberdeen Proving Ground to take part in the Blankets of Hope Marathon in Bowie, MD. If you look closely you can see the angels on their blanket.

A familiar face: Mrs. Bates (in pink) came back for a second year to encourage her daughters making Blankets of Hope for wounded and ill service members medevaced to Landstuhl hospital in Germany.

Lisa and Matt's daughter Kylie with the blanket pile. That was only about 75% of the 242 Blankets of Hope made by 180 volunteers at the Marathon in Bowie, MD on September 20, 2008. The blankets will be sent to Soldiers' Angels in Germany, where they will be distributed to OIF/OEF patients at Landstuhl military hospital.

Duelling scissors: Lisa Dodson on the left (she didn't want me to use a photo of her but I loved it) with Stacey Cleveland. Stacey brought her husband, two daughters, and her sister to the Blankets of Hope Marathon.

It's a family affair spanning 3 generations: Here's Lisa's Mom Donna Dodson.

Art and Brenda McKinney, members of Ascension Church's Folk Group, making blankets for patients at Landstuhl military hospital in Germany. Art was one of just 7 brave male souls sure enough in his masculinity to wield the scissors for a good cause! (Single men might wish to take note of the opportunities here... )

Guess who? Our own fellow milbogger and Soldiers' Angel Lisa-in-DC! Not only did Lisa make blankets, she also drummed up volunteers and donations by taking flyers and a sample blanket with her to the Pentagon's Freedom walk honoring 9/11 victims. Lisa blogged about the Marathon here.

Father Calis blessed the blankets before they were packed for shipment to Soldiers' Angels Germany, where they will be given to wounded and ill service members medevaced to Landstuhl hospital from Iraq and Afghanistan. We would like to thank Father Calis for providing the use of Ascension Church Hall in Bowie, MD for the Blankets of Hope Marathon.

The Blankets of Hope program was created by Soldiers' Angels to express our nation's love and support of service members recovering from illness or injury sustained in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. A blanket may not seem like much back home, but as a display of compassion and patriotism it can mean everything to a medevaced warrior far from home. To find out more, please visit the Soldiers' Angels website.

“Dear Angel,

I got shot in the foot and I got your blanket in a backpack… I do not mind going back to my unit knowing I am fighting for people like you... “

- An American Soldier

23 September 2008

ANSF / USASOC Ops in Afghanistan

Afghan National Security Forces conduct operations to disrupt the insurgents’ ability to engage friendly forces from prepared fighting positions in Helmand Province Afghanistan. U.S. Army Photo by Specialist David Gunn. (Released)

10 September 2008


Our home away from home.

Teddy Bears

September, 2001.

We finally summon the courage and do what we’ve come here to do. We ask the taxi driver to take us to Ground Zero.

It's well after midnight, and quiet in lower Manhattan. But as we approach the area the sky is filled with the foreboding glow of floodlights.

The night is also filled with sound of wrecking machines.

The wrecking ball slams against the broken structure, then a fire hose sprays down the dust.

Over and over and over.

We are strangely and horribly hypnotized by the endless repetition.

Watch where you walk! Wait, there’s a plank leading over there...

We pick our way along the makeshift, wooden sidewalk with a railing. On it is spray painted: WATER -->

People, lots of people, speaking in hushed voices, walking the perimeter. A policeman. He points and tells people which building used to stand where.

I am shaken by the fact that I can’t remember which building used to stand where, exactly.

. . .

The smell.

Like jet fuel and burning and burnt hair. But all wet, from the millions and millions of gallons of water they poured on it.

. . .

We keep walking. Soon, there are no more people and it’s dark, and quiet. On the south side, we again walk on wooden planks placed over the exposed guts of lower Manhattan.

Then more bright lights, and we hear the trucks. Trucks driving in and out. They rumble past us. Huge, flatbed trucks driving out chunks of concrete and twisted metal; trucks going back empty.

All night. Which means all day, too.

They recede behind us. Dark and quiet again. We are on the Hudson River side of Manhattan now, and it’s the deepest, darkest, loneliest hour of the night. A policeman comes over and asks us where we’re from.

“From here”, we say.

“You seen the teddy beahs?”, he asks.

Teddy bears?

“Wait a minute”, he says. He goes and talks to the other cops and then comes back, opens the barricade and says, “C’mon. I’m taking you in.”

Moonscape. Like those pictures from the moon. Blindingly bright white-grey landscape and a black sky.

Machines, dwarfed by the scale of the whole thing, working everywhere like toys.

Far, far in the distance the wrecking ball slams against the broken structure, then a fire hose sprays down the dust...

. . .

We go back out. He points us towards the teddy bears.

A plaza. A walkway with a low wall. It’s long. New York City long. And there are bears on this wall, thousands and thousands of teddy bears. They are 2, 3, 10 deep.

They’re all holding pictures. Pictures of weddings, of graduations.

Pictures of the people who went to work that day.

“To my dearest wife Debbie, I will love you always... “

“Son, your Mom and I miss you with all our hearts... “

In the Firefighters’ section, a poster with photos of a man and a young boy. Fishing. A birthday party. Playing ball. At the top, in a child’s best handwriting:

“To My Dad – Fireman and Hero”

. . .

Hours later, I stand at the bathroom sink with the water running.

I can’t get the smell out of my nose.

I never will.

09 September 2008

"Spirit of 9/11" JSTARS marks 40,000 mission hours

A U.S. Air Force E-8C JSTARS from the 7th Expeditionary Air Combat and Control Squadron Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System sits on the ramp before a mission over Iraq on Sept. 1, 2008. This flight marks 116th Air Control Wing's JSTARS 40,000 combat hours supporting the Global War on Terror. The E-8C JSTARS is an airborne battle management, command and control, intelligence, and reconnaissance platform.

By Master Sgt. Jeff Loftin
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- A unit here recently reached 40,000 flight hours in support of the Global War on Terror fittingly in an aircraft named for the attacks which began the war.

The 7th Expeditionary Air Command and Control Squadron reached the milestone Sept. 2 in E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft 02-9111.

"It's a pretty big event," said Lt. Col. William Gould, 7 EACCS commander. "It has taken us quite a while to get to this. We've been here since the beginning of the GWOT flying these missions and supporting the folks on the ground."

The unit, deployed from the 116th Air Control Wing at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., provides air-to-ground surveillance to theater ground and air component commanders. The milestone capped more than 3,650 missions for the unit whose service here started just two months after 9/11.

"The Army depends on us for ground coverage so it's very important to me to know we've been supporting them for 40,000 hours," said Capt. Karen Everman, a surveillance officer from Syracuse, N.Y., who was part of the crew on the milestone mission. "I was at Robins the day this aircraft was delivered and I actually flew on its first mission there. It's kind of like a home coming to fly such a significant mission on this jet."

The milestone marks years of unique support to the area of operations.

"We actually bring a huge menu of capabilities," said Gould. "We are the only platform in the world that provides wide-area surveillance for ground moving target indication. Also, we have a huge suite of battle management specialists who can control other aircraft if we need to, move around the battlespace, support [troops in contact], or support a downed aircraft if necessary."

The Charlotte, N.C., native said the JSTARS can provide data to help identify areas on which unmanned aerial vehicles should focus. Because what they provide is so important to units on the ground, the aircraft normally includes three Army crewmembers.

"I'm very proud to be a part of this because I know how important this platform is to the theater," said Army Lt. Col. Darryl Verrett, deputy mission crew commander for the flight. "To be here for this milestone is a very proud moment for everyone who is a flyer."


First Lt. Nathan Sukolsky, 7th Expeditionary Air Combat and Control Squadron Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System air weapons officer, tracks suspected movements on radar during a mission over Iraq on Sept. 1, 2008. This flight marks 116th Air Control Wing's JSTARS 40,000 combat hours supporting the Global War on Terror. The E-8C JSTARS is an airborne battle management, command and control, intelligence, and reconnaissance platform.

02 September 2008

Did you hear the one about...

...the difference between a hockey mom and a Pit Bull?


via HotAir.

Soldiers' Angels and Michael Yon

From Michael Yon:

Teaming up with Soldiers' Angels

02 September 2008

Michael Yon

Over the last nearly four years, I've watched in awe as our men and women in uniform changed the course of history. They have taken defeat and disaster and given us—and the Iraqi people—victory and hope. Their sacrifices for our country are immeasurable.

Now, with your help, we can show our service members that a growing number of Americans do understand and appreciate their sacrifices and accomplishments.

I'm partnering with Soldiers’ Angels to give copies of my book, Moment of Truth in Iraq, to the very soldiers still stationed there. Soldiers’ Angels is an extraordinary organization. Among many other activities in support of America’s military men and women and their families, Soldiers’ Angels sends thousands of care packages to deployed personnel every month. Moment of Truth in Iraq will now be included in as many of those packages as possible.

Many readers have helped support my dispatches, either by purchasing a book or donating. For that I am forever grateful.

Now I'm asking you to help show the men and women in our military how we are telling their true story back home. I know soldiers and I know how much it will mean to them to learn that the story of their growing successes in Iraq is being told faithfully.

I believe that getting a copy of Moment of Truth in Iraq to every soldier serving would help make them realize America has not forgotten, and that more and more Americans are beginning to realize what is happening in Iraq.

This project is dependent entirely upon private donations. Without your help, it won't happen. For folks who wish to put one book in the hands of a soldier, it's just $10. For five books, it's just $40. Ten copies are $75. A donation of $150 will put a copy of Moment of Truth in Iraq in the hands of 30 American soldiers; that's just $5 a book.

Please visit this website to make a donation.

The slogan of Soldiers’ Angels is "May No Soldier Go Unloved." I'm asking you to join with me in showing your support and appreciation for those who put it all on the line, and please remember: All gave some, some gave all.

Thanks, Michael.