31 October 2010

Wounded Warriors participate in the Marine Corps Marathon

(Reader photo submitted to the Washington Post.)

(Reader photo submitted to the Washington Post.)

Teamwork is what the Valour-IT fundraiser is all about. And although the blogging teams are competing with each other, we have a shared goal. Supporting those who have sacrificed so much for all of us.

30 October 2010

Valour-IT: Go Team Marines!

You can make a donation by clicking on the Valour-IT widget in the right-hand sidebar, or by clicking here. Thanks to everyone who has already donated!

If you're a blogger, you can join the Team Marines here. But remember, we don't accept applications - only commitments.

28 October 2010

2010 Valour-IT Fundraising Competition Begins Today!

Today marks the start of the 2010 Valour-IT Blogging Fundraising Competition, which will continue until Veteran's Day. As always, the "competition" is between blogging teams representing the 4 service branches - Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines - to raise funds for Valour-IT. All donations go into one fund and will of course be used for members of all services.

Readers of this blog are familiar with Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT, which provides laptop computers and other electronic devices to wounded service members recovering at major military medical centers in the United States.

Soldiers, airmen and Navy medical personnel unload wounded inbound troops from Afghanistan at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Photo: Ben Bloker / S&S.

And as you can imagine, this project is very close to our hearts. We see our guys as they arrive in Germany directly from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan on a daily basis. And as we watch them leave for the U.S. three times each week, we take comfort in the belief that their fellow Americans back home will take care of them and make sure their sacrifices have not been forgotten.

Your contribution will help keep them connected to the world as they heal. It will remind them they are NOT alone - that they still have something to contribute, they are still a vital part of this nation, and even though they may have lost parts of themselves they can never recover, though they may temporarily be feeling hopeless, helpless, even alone - they aren't.

Soldiers' Angels Germany is proud once again to be a member of the Marines Valour-IT blogging team, this year led by Cassy Fiano and ably assisted by Carrie of Villainous Company (thanks, ladies!)

You may donate by clicking on the Valour-IT widget in the right-hand sidebar, clicking here, or by sending a check to:

Soldiers Angels Project Valour-IT
1792 E. Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91104

Please note "Marine Corps Team" on your check so we get credit for your donation, because we want to WIN this thing!

Thank you and Semper Fi!

About Valour-IT
Project Valour-IT provides technology to service members recovering from serious injuries. Technology supplied includes:
- Voice-controlled and other adaptive Laptops allow wounded service members to maintain connections with the rest of the world during recovery.
- Wii Video Game Systems which are used as part of physcial therapy program, and
- Personal GPS, to build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD.

26 October 2010

October 26 - Day of the Deployed

On October 26, 2010, the 5th Annual Day of the Deployed, Americans are encouraged to reaffirm their patriotism and allegiance to our flag and country, and to honor our brave men and women in uniform (and their families) who are selflessly putting their lives on the line to protect and preserve our way of life.

Businesses are encouraged to display the proclamation honoring America’s deployed service members and their families. Other ways for individuals in local communities to honor a deployed service member are: holding a special thank you event, assisting with daily chores, raking leaves, watching their children, or adopting a hero, among many other ways to say “thank you!”

Major Bryan Carroll, recently returned from Afghanistan, explains why this is so important. "Our brave young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard are in harm's way, every day, around the world. I cannot even begin to tell you how much of a difference it makes when they know that they are loved and supported by their fellow citizens back at home. It could have been the worst day in the world, for any number of reasons, but that knowledge that comes from a letter, a care package, or a day like Day of the Deployed is what can make a critical difference in their spirits and morale. Thank you to all of you that participate in events like Day of the Deployed and sending care packages and letters to our brave troops."

Shelle Michaels, who led development of this special day adds, "This is the 5th Annual Day of the Deployed that Soldiers' Angels has honored. We encourage Americans to join with and other organizations across America to make this a day that our country stands in unison to support our deployed warriors and their families, a day to renew our commitment to support the troops all year long."

Cpt. Dan Murphy, North Dakota Army National Guard Public Affairs Officer says, “From the service member deployed today to those who have deployed throughout history there is no greater call than to serve others. Take the opportunity to thank all who wear a uniform, that show of support means more than we can express.”

Soldiers' Angels Patti Patton-Bader and Shelle Michaels developed the concept of Day of the Deployed in 2006 in honor of all deployed military members and their families. This day of honor is no longer a day of honor just from the Soldiers‘ Angels standpoint, as governors across the nation are on board signing their own state proclamations.

Soldiers’ Angels is a volunteer-led nonprofit, with over 30 different teams and programs supporting all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Volunteers send letters, care packages, and comfort items to the deployed, and support their families here at home. Soldiers’ Angels also provide assistance to the wounded, continuing support for veterans, remembrances and comfort for families of the fallen and immediate response to unique situation. For more information, please contact ShelleMichaels@SoldiersAngels.org or view details on www.soldiersangels.org.

Complete story and the Day of the Deployed proclamation.

24 October 2010

Remembering Ricky

Marine LCpl Richard "Ricky" Slocum
Feb 2, 1985 - October 24, 2004

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.

I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.

I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.

I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.

I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

-- Mary Elizabeth Frye

Much love to Kay, Bob, and all of Ricky’s family and friends today. Ricky is not "there" - he is right here, forever in our hearts.

23 October 2010

Landstuhl-based trauma team makes history

Dr. Matthias Amann, left, and Dr. Alois Philipp make final preparations for transporting a 22-year-old soldier to the university hospital in Regensburg. Philipp, a perfusionist, helped to develop the ECMO machine, which had been used the previous day to evacuate the soldier after he had been shot in the chest. It was the first time that the innovative and portable heart-lung machine had been used in a combat evacuation. Photo: Seth Robbins/Stars and Stripes.

Landstuhl hospital's own Dr. (Lt. Col.) Sandra Wanek made medical history this week. For the first time, an innovative and portable heart-lung machine was used in a combat evacuation, saving the life of a 22-year-old soldier wounded in Afghanistan. Dr. Waneck flew to Kandahar as part of Landstuhl's Acute Lung Rescue Team, performed surgery there, and returned to Germany with him.

The device, known as an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, performs the function of a patient's trauma-damaged lungs by forcing the patient’s blood through an artificial membrane that lets oxygen in and takes carbon dioxide out. The ECMO, developed at the university hospital at Regensburg, Germany is a further advancement of the earlier Novalung technology.

Within hours, Wanek and her team were bound for Kandahar.

When they got there Wednesday, they operated on him for five hours and tried several different ventilators, but all of them failed.

“I just could not improve his oxygenation to the point where it was safe to fly,” Wanek said.

After missing an evacuation flight and doing one more hour of surgery, Wanek chose to use the device ( ... )

The machine connects to blood vessels in two places: the groin and the jugular vein. Wanek recalled how nervous she was in Afghanistan when she had to unclamp the veins and let the soldier’s blood flow through the tubes.

“I had not felt my heart beat that hard in a long time,” she said.

The machine worked even better than she expected, and by the time the team landed at Landstuhl several hours later, the soldier’s condition had started to improve, said Air Force Maj. Clayne Benson, another anesthesiologist on the lung rescue team.

Dr. Alois Philipp — one of the developers of the machine — accompanied the soldier back to the Regensberg hospital. Philipp will care for the soldier until his lung injuries heal and he is healthy enough to return to Landstuhl.

Read the rest of Seth Robbins' terrific story about this historic, life-saving event in Stars and Stripes.

Established in 2005, the Acute Lung Rescue Team is one of the legacies of former Landstuhl doctors (USAF Col.) Warren Dorlac and (USAF Lt. Col.) Gina Dorlac.

- Experimental Novalung system in preparation phase for US FDA approval
- Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s Acute Lung Rescue Team: The "Delta Force of military medicine"
- The needs of the one...

20 October 2010

Love and Grief

Lance Corporal Bryant Whalen farewells compatriot Corporal Jorge Villarreal, who was killed after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Kajaki, Afghanistan. Picture: Scott Olson of Getty Images. Source: The Australian.

I'm often asked how my experiences at Landstuhl have changed me, or what the most important thing is that I've learned through those experiences. The response surprises many, because the answer is love. The love the guys who fight together have for each other, and the love the military family has for its own.

Scott Olson, one of the best combat photographers currently in Afghanistan, captures "sequences of a journey that takes men such as Corporal Jorge Villarreal, 22, of the US Marines, from a patrol in Helmand to a stretcher, to a helicopter, to a coffin, to home" in a photo slideshow titled "Death of a Marine".

The name of the accompanying article says it all: "Images talk of love and grief as much as war and death".

15 October 2010

"It's what I do"

Follow 101st Airborne medic Staff Sgt. Adam Connaughton during the Shadow Dustoff missions in Kandahar, Afghanistan, during the opening stages of Operation Dragon Strike. We're so proud of you Adam and the rest of Shadow DUSTOFF! Love you guys!

13 October 2010

Happy 235th Birthday to the United States Navy!

Blackfive has some great military motivators in honor of the Squids' birthday.

Retired Air Force Pilot continues to serve

Captain (ret.) Gary Barnhill, USAF 1955-1966.

Several months ago I received an email from a gentleman who introduced himself as a retired Air Force pilot. He'd come across the blog and wanted to help, mentioning he was "deeply touched by the service that Soldier's Angels provides to our guys and gals in their hour of need."

We started 'talking' and he told me his story.

Gary with his F100C Skyblazer at Bitburg Air Base, 1961.

I was a USAF fighter pilot (F-100 Super Sabre) based on Landstuhl Air Base circa 1958-1961. Living in the Landstuhl BOQ was the best time of my life. It didn't hurt that the exchange rate was 4.2 D-Marks to the dollar. Gas was 7 cents a gallon and beer a nickel at the PX. We lived like Kings on $300 a month salary. A brand new Porsche was $2,300 and the VW Beetle was $1,000.

The fraternal experience and bonding was so great we still have annual pilot reunions for pilots based there in the fifties and sixties. We were a wild and crazy bunch, mostly early twenties singles, dashing about in sports cars, zipping aloft in jet fighters and lavishing extraordinary attention on the Landstuhl nurses and Ramstein school teachers.

With the F-105 Thunderchief during his tour in Vietnam, 1965.

After 11 years in USAF including a 1965 tour in Viet Nam flying the F-105 Thunderchief I became an airline pilot but never lost my love, respect and admiration for all military who serve our great nation.

And so Gary's new mission began - find high quality clothing at great prices for our wounded warriors transitioning through Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Gary recounts his odyssey:

Next time I was in Costco I picked up 10 sets of sweat pants for the Angels. I kept checking on the site and next time at Costco bought 60 t-shirts. A few days later I happen to be near Carlsbad CA Outlets and since Adidas was having a great sale I took all 26 baggy basketball pants they had.

I visited the Adidas store again a couple of days later and loaded up with over 100 items. I asked the manager for and additional 10% discount explaining the good cause involved. He agreed and everyone in the store was very helpful.

A couple of days later after lunch I dropped in on the Dick's Sporting Good store near my home to check prices on the Adidas items to see if indeed they had been a bargain. Dick's was having a huge 50% off clearance sale. I asked the manager for another 10% for the Angels and he agreed. It's a big store and the buzz went round that these items for for our wounded soldiers. Everyone wanted to help.

Gary's brother Col. (ret.) Jim Barnhill with the 5- and 6-foot long cash register receipts. Jim served 32 years in the Army National Guard and Reserves.

I called my brother Jim in Yakima, WA and he agreed to contribute $2500 toward Angels clothing. Jim was never on active duty but served 32 years in the Army Guard and Army Reserve and made full colonel. It's a family joke, I was only a captain after 11 years active duty.

The next day I drove to another Dick's Sporting Goods store about 70 miles away and found the best deals yet. I was now asking for and getting another 20% off the already great sale prices and purchased over a hundred items using Jim's money.

After picking out every suitable item on sale I would call Jim in Yakima, put him on the phone with the store manager who would take down Jim's credit card information. Each store had four or five people involved in the check out. The theft tag had to be removed, hanger removed, item scanned, then bagged.

One printed cash register receipt was over five feet long and the next one was over six feet long.

Gary's neighbor Karen Davis and sons Jack and Luke model some gear. Karen wears the $75 "killer jacket" purchased for $12. He got 10 of them.

I felt like I was on a roll, so I decided to drive about 75 miles to Lake Elsinore where a Rebock Outlet is located. They had a few racks with an additional 40% off. As I was sifting through the merchandise the manager said if you buy $100 worth we'll give you another 20% off.

An hour later I had filled three of those six foot rolling salesman racks with great merchandise. There were a dozen or so of these gorgeous zip up jackets with great pockets and fit that I really wanted for our soldiers. But, they were $35 or $21 on sale. I was trying to get items priced near $10. After some some haggling they gave me all 10 for about $12 each.

Shopping is fun, but the packing... not so much. Jim packed boxes by clothing item type and size, which made unpacking and sorting here in Germany so much easier.

In all, Jim and I purchased over 600 items for about $8,000. I think the retail value of the items are at least $30,000. Some $15 prices were $75 retail.

Gary encourages other Angels to leverage their donation funds by watching for outlet mall sales. He's a fan of Dick's Sporting Goods, which has over 440 stores nationwide and clearance sales 2 - 3 times a year. He also recommends speaking with the store manager and letting him know who the items are for, which often results in additional discounts.

Soldiers' Angels salutes Gary and Jim Barnhill for their prior service to our nation - and their continued service to today's warriors. Their extraordinary donation made a significant contribution to getting us through the busy summer months at Landstuhl. Thank you, Gary and Jim! Love you guys!

11 October 2010

Missions of Mercy

From the Pentagon Channel:

It's a journey of thousands of miles, involving hundreds of dedicated servicemembers, all to bring a wounded warrior back home. It truly is a Mission of Mercy.

09 October 2010

Congratulations, Carren!

A tribute to the Military.com and CinCHouse.com Military Spouse of the Year - and someone I am proud to call a friend - Carren Ziegenfuss. Congratulations on this well-deserved award, Carren!

07 October 2010

The Wait

Marines and Corpsman attached to India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment wait to aid wounded arriving back from a patrol at FOB Zeebrugge on October 5, 2010 in Kajaki, Afghanistan. Eleven Marines and one of their IED sniffing dogs were transported by MEDEVAC helicopter from the patrol after being hit by rocket propelled grenade fire. The Marines at the FOB are responsible for securing the area near the Kajaki Damn on the Helmand River. Getty Images.

04 October 2010

Soldiers' Angels Mourns SPC David "Alex" Knapp

Today we wrap our wings around the family of SPC David "Alex" Knapp.

Alex suffered a fatal heart attack on October 2, 2010 doing one of the things he loved most, competing in a game of sled hockey.

We remember Alex as a fighter during his stay at Landstuhl after being injured in March of 2008. And we remember him as the embodiment of courage and optimism when he later visited the hospital while in Germany attending his unit's homecoming.

Our deepest sympathies go out to his parents Jeannette and Eric, his brothers Ryan and Michael, and his fellow Soldiers.

Alex touched our lives and will live on in our hearts.