29 April 2012

Warrior 100k

President Bush giving Warrior Daniel Gade a helping hand during yesterday's 19.4 mile ride During this weekend's second annual Warrior 100k Ride.

26 April 2012

Loyalty Lives On

U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Derick Clark, a kennel supervisor with Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, comforts Yeager, an improvised explosive device detection dog, as they wait for the beginning of a memorial service in honor of Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe, Yeager's handler, on Combat Outpost Duluth, Afghanistan, April 22, 2012. Tarwoe, who was assigned to Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, was killed in action during a dismounted patrol in support of combat operations. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez.

25 April 2012

Wounded Soldier reunited with mystery Marine after tearful salute

At Corporal Garrett Carnes' homecoming celebration last weekend, the "highlight of the day" was a hug from a total stranger - a young Marine wearing his Dress Blues.

"He tried to let go of the hug and I grabbed him and pulled him back in, because I didn't want to let go," said Carnes.

The mystery Marine left before Carnes could learn his name.

"I wanted to find him and just tell him, 'Thank you, brother.' That meant the world for him to come out there and do that," he said.

On Saturday, Carnes was searching for the mystery Marine. Less than 24-hours later he found him. Carnes and his wife connected with him through Facebook.

He is Lance Corporal Aaron Means, a Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune.

On the phone he said he had heard about Carnes. He heard how Carnes proudly served his country and lost both of his legs, but hadn't lost his sense of humor.

"That struck me as being motivating in that no matter what the enemy threw at him, it's not going to stop him from being who he is," said Means.

Means said he requested a day off from work and drove more than four hours to salute the man he calls a brother.

Warrior Wheels

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Anthony McDaniel races around the track during practice for the 2012 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 23, 2012. McDaniel suffered a bilateral leg and partial hand amputations from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan 2010. He is competing in track and wheelchair basketball. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense.

23 April 2012

DUSTOFF crew honored for 3 heroic days

“There is no amount of training that could have prepared me for those three days of medevac.”

- Flight Medic Sgt. Julia Bringloe

DUSTOFF 73, serving with C Company, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, and who flew 11 hoist missions during 60 hours last June has been honored at the 2012 Army Aviation Association of America’s annual forum.

Army Times:

The Goodrich Corp., an AAAA sponsor, held the reception in Nashville, Tenn., to recognize the four-soldier Black Hawk crew of Dust Off 73 — pilot Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kenneth Brodhead, pilot Chief Warrant Officer 2 Erik Sabiston, flight medic Sgt. Julia Bringloe and crew chief Spc. David Capps — who spent nearly 12 hours in the air, extracting 14 wounded and one soldier killed in action and flying three critical resupply missions during a three-day operation.

Earlier this year, the crew received the AAAA/Goodrich Corp. 2011 Air and Sea Rescue of the Year award at Fort Rucker, Ala. Each soldier has been nominated for a Distinguished Flying Cross, the highest aviation award for valor.

Low clouds three times denied DO-73 entry into the valley leading to the troops. Finally, the crew found a way in and dropped off medical gear, water and food before lowering Bringloe, who prepared a patient for liftoff.

“As she was doing that, the clouds were rolling in even more, and my co-pilot [Brodhead] was looking out and he couldn’t see hardly anything,” Sabiston said.

With Bringloe and a casualty dangling by cable 50 feet below, the pilots began a cautious climb out of the valley on their way to Bagram Airfield.

But within moments, everything went white, as if a sheet had covered the chopper, Sabiston said. Bringloe and the casualty disappeared in the atmosphere below, and the chopper kept rising.

The risks of the maneuver were massive. One tilt too far one way and the chopper could have slammed into a mountainside and crashed, as two Chinooks from the task force had about a month earlier, he said.

Without sight, Brodhead and Sabiston guided the chopper by compass and intuition.

At about 11,000 feet, Bringloe and the casualty were pulled into the aircraft.

In addition to the weather, the crew members faced enemy rocket-propelled-grenade teams and small-arms fire, hovered in a hot pickup zone for 15 minutes, escorted a bullet-riddled chopper to safety, stopped an empty body bag from blowing in tail rotors and causing catastrophic damage, spun violently on a hoist cable and smashed into trees and rocks during extraction ops, piloted while wearing night-vision goggles, and flew the chopper’s tail and rotors inches from trees.

More at the link.

22 April 2012

Wounded warrior homecoming: Sgt. Adam Keys

Almost 2 years and over 100 surgeries later, Sgt. Adam Keys returned home to Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania yesterday. He lost three limbs when his vehicle was struck by an IED in southern Afghanistan in July of 2010.

Four other soldiers in his vehicle, including Spc. Jesse Reed, also from Whitehall, were killed in the explosion. Reed was practically a brother to Keys. They had been buddies since their days at Whitehall High School, where they graduated in 2002 and dreamed about joining the Army.

In Bethlehem, Keys shook hands and exchanged greetings with just about everyone there. Most were complete strangers. Some were veterans themselves. They bent over, hugged him and thanked him for his service.

"Thank everybody for coming to welcome me back," Keys told the crowd, who responded with a mix of applause, cheers and tears.

The soldier fought back tears of his own as he talked about the long road back to Whitehall. With his mother, Julie Keys, plus Reed's mother and two young sons nearby, Adam Keys said, "The support I've gotten from the Lehigh Valley, it has helped tremendously."

Keys, who nearly died and has undergone countless surgeries, said daily phone calls and greeting cards he received from well wishers motivated him to keep moving forward.

"I'm not going to let anybody down," he promised the crowd.

Quoting the Soldier's Creed, Keys said, "I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade."

Keys no longer has a home in the Lehigh Valley. His mother has rented out their old house in Whitehall while staying with him Bethesda to aid in his recovery.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation are prepared to build Keys a home whenever and wherever he chooses.

Welcome home, Sgt. Keys.

18 April 2012


U.S. Army soldiers from Alpha troop, 4-73 Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division carry an injured comrade to a helicopter during a firefight with Taliban during a mission in the Maiwand district of Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan. Reuters photo / April 10, 2012.

The Open Wounds of Afghanistan

Written by a Navy doctor, this article called Twenty Citizens’ Worth Of Blood Flowed Through Him: A Medic Confronts The Open Wounds Of Afghanistan talks about some realities of war that most people won't want to read and would probably never understand. For others, it will hit a little too close to home. Here's a passage:

...this spotter was odd in that she was female, and that she was approximately 6 years old. She pointed at the Marines and talked into a hand-held radio, and every time she talked, the rounds got closer.

Hearing this play out, I heard myself say out loud, "Someone needs to smoke that little girl."

Then I paused, stood, and left the tent to consider the idea that I was, in that instant, advocating the killing of a child. Not some abstract child in an ethics discussion question; no, I meant that particular little girl, the one who had come menacingly alive for me over the crackling of the radio. I wanted a 5.56mm round from my friend's rifle to split her throat so that our Marines might live.

Read this entire powerful article here.

17 April 2012

Final Flight

The space shuttle Discovery attached to its 747 transport aircraft passes over Washington, D.C., April 17, 2012. The shuttle will become an exhibit at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The Discovery, along with the rest of the shuttle fleet, has been retired from active service after 32 years of operations. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense.

Surprise for a Prom Queen

Well done, DrueAnna and Randy!! And Sabrina, you look just beautiful :-)

"They announced that my dad was here, and I was shocked and I just didn't know what to do," said Sabrina Newman, who had just been crowned prom queen. "And he tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and there he was."

Here are Sabrina and her mom DrueAnna volunteering with Soldiers' Angels at Landstuhl back in 2006. The Newman family, including DrueAnna's other daughters Samantha and Savannah, were our most dedicated volunteers during 2006/2007. We still miss you guys!!

Pentagon issues guidelines on live explosives in battlefield surgery

USA Today reports that the Pentagon has recently issued guidelines for performing the delicate battlefield surgery of removing live ordnance from a servicemember's body.

The guidelines provide information on bomb triggers, recommend body armor for surgeons, and warn against shifting the patient because of fear of detonation. They also recommend the presence of a bomb disposal expert, and that the surgery should be isolated to guard against killing other patients and destroying equipment. Hand saws should be used for cutting bone, because electronic tools could set off the bomb.

Such procedures are rare.

In March of 2010, an Air Force trauma team at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan removed a live incendiary round from a patient's head.

And in 2006, PFC Channing Moss was impaled by an RPG. MAJ John Oh, a surgeon at the 759th Forward Surgical Team at Orgun-E, Sgt. John Collier, CW3 Jorge Correa, SFC Daniel Brown, and many others all risked their lives to fly PFC Moss to the FST, surgically remove, and then dispose of the ordnance.

The most recent case occurred in January of this year.

As wounded Marine Cpl. Winder Perez, fresh from the battlefield, lay on a gurney at a remote medical station in Afghanistan in January — a rocket-propelled grenade inside his body — Navy nurse James Gennari approached.

"I took his hand. Held it in mine. And said… 'I promise you I won't leave you until that thing is out of your leg,' " Lt. Cmdr. Gennari recalls.

"I really did know that thing could have blown up," Gennari says. "But I figured I would leave that up to God."

Army Staff Sgt. Ben Summerfield, left, removes an unexploded ordnance from Marine Cpl. Winder Perez, while Lt. Cmdr. James Gennari treats Perez on Jan. 12 in Afghanistan. Photo: U.S. Navy.

The nearly 2-foot-long rocket that had struck Perez on Jan. 12 in Helmand province, lay along the length of his thigh muscles with its tip thrust inside his left buttock, says Navy Capt. H. Donel Elshire, a doctor on duty.

As Gennari administered pain medication and kept Perez's airway open, the Army explosive ordnance disposal expert, or EOD, pulled out the explosive.

During all that, Gennari noticed that Perez's dog tag said he was Catholic. "I'm Catholic," the nurse says. "So I said a prayer… for (Perez), for me and for the EOD guy."

In the photo above, you'll note that the procedure was performed outside the OR, surrounded by blast barriers, and involved a minimum number of personnel. The patient was undoubtedly brought into the OR for further care immediately after the ordnance was removed.

15 April 2012

Soldier wounded while protecting his Military Working Dog

Injured U.S. Army dog handler Sgt. Aaron Yoder is dragged behind cover by soldiers from Alpha troop 4-73 Cavalry Regiment, 4th brigade 82nd Airborne division during a fire exchange with Taliban fighters while on a mission in the Maiwand district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan April 9, 2012. Reuters photo taken April 9, 2012.

Army Sgt. Aaron Yoder landed in Texas Friday night to recover from a gunshot wound he suffered in action in Afghanistan on Monday. He was wounded while trying to protect his Military Working Dog, Bart.

“I am so proud of him and what he did to protect his dog,” said his sister Mandy Green.

Bart was uninjured and may be able to join Sgt. Yoder as early as next week.

A Reuters photographer accompanying the unit during the firefight captured Yoder's fellow Soldiers dragging him to cover.

Update, another photo of Sgt. Yoder and Bart being MEDEVAC'd. Bart looks worried. Note the morphine "lollipop" Sgt. Yoder's been given.

Injured U.S. Army dog handler Sgt. Aaron Yoder and his dog Bart, attached to Alpha troop 4-73 Cavalry Regiment, 4th brigade 82nd Airborne division, are evacuated in a helicopter during a fire exchange with Taliban fighters while on a mission in the Maiwand district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan. Photo: Baz Ratner/Reuters.

Honor the Fallen: Cpl. Roberto Cazarez

Marines at Combat Outpost Castle in the Khan Neshin district of Afghanistan honor the memory of Cpl. Robero Cazarez. Cazarez died March 30, 2012 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Marines TV, produced by Sgt. Michael S. Cifuentes.

Veteran hand-pedals 113 miles to help fellow wounded warriors

Army Sergeant Joshua Cope, who was severely injured in an explosion in Baghdad in 2006, took on a new mission Saturday when he rode from Orlando to Tampa on his hand-crank bicycle.

Until about three months ago, Cope said, the Top End Force G bicycle, which he received from the Veterans Administration more than a year ago as part of his therapy, was largely unused.

Then he and some of his Army buddies, who also left Iraq with various injuries, were searching for a way to raise money for Building Homes for Heroes, an organization that helps provide homes for the wounded and their families.

Cope said he looked at his bike and came up with an idea.

"I would ride 100 miles," he said. ...

14 April 2012

Afghanistan Bound

Active-duty airmen and South Carolina Air National Guard airmen with the 169th Fighter Wing prepare to deploy to Afghanistan, April 12, 2012, on McEntire Joint National Guard Base in South Carolina. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense.

Today's call to action: Family of wounded Soldier requests birthday wishes

Photo from the Support For Travis Mills and Family Facebook page.

Family of wounded soldier asks friends to send greetings
Staff sergeant turning 25 today

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Local relatives of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, severely injured in an explosion while on patrol in Afghanistan on Tuesday, want people to send him greetings via a Facebook page for his 25th birthday today.

Mills' wife, Kelsey Buck Mills, and her brother, Josh Buck, grew up in the Gardiner area before the family moved to Texas, according to their aunt, Tricia Harriman of Augusta.

Kelsey Buck Mills still lives in Texas, and her husband of four years and her brother serve together as staff sergeants with the 82nd Airborne Unit, based in Fort Bragg, N.C. Both men were deployed to Afghanistan when Travis Mills was injured and both are now in Germany, where Travis Mills has undergone a series of surgeries. Family members said he lost both his arms and legs in the explosion.

Harriman said Josh Buck calls his sister with updates about her husband's condition. Mills' parents, who live in Vassar, Mich., also get updates. Residents of Vassar planned to hold a rally Friday night to show their support for Mills, according to news reports there.

The Mills have a daughter, Chloe, who is six months old.

A Facebook page "Support for Travis Mills and Family" has updates about Mills' condition and offers a way to donate $25 to help his family or to contribute to the Wounded Warrior Project, which aids families of wounded service personnel.

"We know the things the Army will take care of, but it's the things the Army won't take care of," she said. "We just really want to get his story out and help him and other soldiers in general."

Harriman said Friday Mills is due to arrive back in the U.S. soon.

Here's the Support For Travis Mills and Family Facebook page. Request to join the group. After your request is approved, you'll be able to leave a message.

Update: Here's the Travis Mills website. And below a new photo from Afghanistan.

Injured soldier, Vassar native, brings community together
Vassar community holds candlelight ceremony for Travis Mills, 24, soldier who lost both legs and arms while on duty in Afghanistan

Update 2, comment left at SSG Mills' Facebook page:

"SSG Mills, I am the MEDEVAC 1SG. Myself and one of my SSG's were the Flight Medics who flew in to pick you up out of the Poppy Field. The entire flight you never complained once. You only wanted to know that your Soldiers were ok. I saw you look up at one of your Soldiers in the Aircraft who was less injured and reassure him with a wink and a smile.

When we arrived at the Hospital and transfered you to the ambulance you again asked about your Soldiers. You were upbeat and even joking with my SSG. You are the bravest Soldier I have ever met in 18 years of service.

You are a Hero to me and although we only crossed paths briefly I will never forget you and the sacrifice you made. Your Unit is made up of some of the most professional Soldiers in the United States Army and the young Soldiers you trained and mentored will forever remain your legacy."

Special Tactics Officer Receives Air Force Cross

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz pins the Air Force Cross on Capt. Barry Crawford during a ceremony in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, April 12, 2012. U.S. Air Force photo by Andy Morataya.

Capt. Crawford, a special tactics officer, "braved effective enemy fire and consciously placed himself at grave risk on four occasions while controlling over 33 aircraft and more than 40 airstrikes on a well-trained and well-prepared enemy force,” his award citation reads. “His selfless actions and expert airpower employment neutralized a numerically superior enemy force and enabled friendly elements to exfiltrate the area without massive casualties."

More after the jump.

13 April 2012

Marine Corporal Chris Bordoni, Honored and Remembered

Bodoni Funeral Thursday April 14th at Immaculate Conception Church in Ithaca.

Cpl. Bordoni's widow, fellow Marines recount his bravery
Ithaca church at capacity for funeral
11:20 PM, Apr. 12, 2012
Written by Rachel Stern

One of the best things about Jessica Bordoni's husband was how well he knew her.

Whenever people she didn't know well would come up and speak to her, she would get little panic attacks. Her heart would start to race, but over the course of time, she said, her husband, Chris Bordoni, taught her how to calm down. He would always say, "Chill out, babe, chill out," she said.

So on Thursday morning, when Jessica walked up to speak at Chris' funeral, tissues in hand, with her heart racing, she said she was able to do it because he was there with her.

The night before Chris left for his deployment to Afghanistan, he and Jessica were in their room and she told him she didn't know what she would do if anything ever happened to him. He just looked at her, wrapped his arms around her and said, no matter what happened, everything would be OK.

The last conversation Jessica had with her husband in Afghanistan was two days before he was critically injured there. Chris told her that he couldn't wait to come home to her.

"He said I promise I'll come home, and he did," she said. "He made it home. And even though he fought so hard and he struggled and he knew that everything that happened, it all lay in his hands and it would be his decision and that's exactly what it was. And he made it home to be with us. To let us say what we wanted to say to him."

Immaculate Conception Church was filled to capacity, which is 750 people, with about 30 more standing behind the pews against the wall, for a Mass of The Resurrection for Cpl. Christopher D. Bordoni.

About 60 members of his Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines sat in pews on the left side of the church.

Cpl. Bordoni, 21, was critically injured in January in Afghanistan and died April 3 at the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

The line to get into the service wrapped around the corner of North Geneva and West State/Martin Luther King Streets when the doors opened at 9:30 a.m. When members of Cpl. Bordoni's Bravo Company arrived and filed past the line. Those waiting applauded.

One Marine, stationed in Quantico, Va., stood in line on a few hours of sleep after leaving Virginia at 10 p.m. last night. He marveled at the community outpouring of support for Cpl. Bordoni. He said this type of support does not take place in all communities.

Rev. Joseph Marcoux said it was a privilege to speak with members of Cpl. Bordoni's family a few days ago. The stories that emerged about Cpl. Bordoni were amazing, he said.

Chris' father, Tim, told Marcoux a story about when Chris was 5 and asked if his shoe would hit someone if it fell off in heaven.

Chris' mother, Carol Sprague, told Marcoux a story about a time when Chris' brother, Casey, was in school one day and some kids were picking on someone. Casey went over to try and help. Chris just happened to be walking by, dropped his backpack, and immediately went over and tried to help Casey defend the kid who was getting picked on.

"So, even when he was young," Marcoux said, "he was protecting others."

Lt. Col. George Benson, commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, spoke about the dangerous operations Cpl. Bordoni faced when he served in Afghanistan.

"I am here to make sure you all understand that the young man you grew up with, or simply knew as Chris, became one of the Marine Corps' most talented and courageous leaders," he said.

Cpl. Bordoni was part of two of the most significant and dangerous operations the U.S. Military has committed to in Afghanistan, Benson said. For example, in August 2011, Cpl. Bordoni's battalion was ordered to clear the remaining stretches of a valley in the Helmand Province that held more than 145 Taliban bunkers, Benson said.

It took Cpl. Bordoni's company three days to reach their objective and Cpl. Bordoni was in the middle of it all, he said. Cpl. Bordoni maneuvered his team from position to position and within a week the majority of the Taliban leaders had fled the Kajaki area, Benson said.

"I think Chris lived these past couple of months with a message. He was showing everyone how much he loved us. He wanted his fellow Marines to be proud of him, and we all are," Benson said. "And he wanted his family to recognize that he was willing to endure extreme hardship in order to see them again. One day I will tell my grandchildren how I am not a hero, but as a younger man I was once blessed to walk among them for a while. Thank you, Chris Bordoni."

Cpl. Paul Chambers said he carries so much of Cpl. Bordoni with him. Chambers was Cpl. Bordoni's squad leader in Afghanistan. He leaned on Cpl. Bordoni when it came to tactical decisions. He admired Cpl. Bordoni's courage, dedication, heroism and commitment.

On Nov. 5, 2011, the squad's point man was struck by an improvised explosive device. Cpl. Bordoni cleared out a landing zone for a helicopter. Those actions saved the right leg and life of the lance corporal, who was at the service on Thursday, Chambers said.

Something that will always stick out to Chambers, though, was the way Cpl. Bordoni befriended Afghani children. Cpl. Bordoni would show these children that the men who showed up in their villages every day with large rifles were not there to cause harm, but to help rid their surroundings of bombs.

"I can, without a doubt, affirm that he touched numerous children throughout Afghanistan as I remember their faces and voices chanting his name upon his arrival into their villages, ever so joyous of the security and the hope that he brought with him," Chambers said.

While sniffles could be heard throughout the morning service, crying was most audible throughout the church as Jessica recalled memories of her life with Chris, from their first home together, from the hospital in San Antonio and just before he deployed.

Two weeks before Cpl. Bordoni was due to return home, Jessica said, she received the phone call and it was a long four days until she was able to see him in San Antonio, she said. No matter how critical his condition was, she said, everyone was just so happy to see him.

The doctors continued to remind the family how amazing it was and how shocked they were that he had made it that far, she said. As the weeks went by, there were ups and downs, but Jessica said she was at peace and she knew everything would be OK because there was a reason that he was brought home.

While in San Antonio, Jessica said they saw bits and pieces of Chris' personality. One time his physical trainer came in for cognitive therapy and asked him if he was Chris Bordoni, and he shook his head, no. Then she asked if he was Corporal Bordoni and he shook his head, yes.

Chris made it to his one-year wedding anniversary with Jessica, March 27, she said. He made it to see his brother, Casey, and sister, Jackie. He made it to see his mother and father, she said.

But when they started to realize that things were getting more difficult for him, the family got together and the Marines came and pinned him with his Purple Heart.

"It wasn't 10 minutes after they pinned him that his heart beeped for the last time and we knew that was what he was waiting for," Jessica said, as she fought back tears.

A month before Chris left for deployment, Jessica said, the couple bought their first home together in Jacksonville, N.C. Chris loved that more than anything, she said. He had a huge smile on his face when he came inside after mowing the lawn for the first time. The two held hands as they watched their brand new washer and dryer wash their clothes.

"He had that satisfaction, he had that," she said. "It was quick and it was short, but he had it. He was at that peak that I knew he always wanted to be at and he said he always wanted to be at. We made it a year and that is OK because it was intense and it was hard and it was fast and it was for a reason and it was for this reason. And like he says, everything's OK."

More associated videos and stories at the link. Many thanks to The Ithaca Journal for honoring Cpl. Bordoni.

12 April 2012

Sgt. Felipe Pereira awarded Distinguished Service Cross

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno presents Sgt. Felipe Pereira with a Distinguished Service Cross on Fort Campbell, Ky., April 12, 2012. Pereira, assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, received the award for his actions in Afghanistan, Nov. 1, 2010. Pereira is the 165th Screaming Eagle Soldier to receive the award, which is second highest only to the Medal of Honor. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense

Very nice personal interview with Sgt. Pereira here at TIME which is well worth watching.

From Army News Service via Blackfive:

While suffering from a partially collapsed lung due to shrapnel wounds, Pereira rescued other injured Soldiers caught in an ambush in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Nov. 1, 2010.

Pereira is a dual citizen of Brazil and the United States. He will become the first 101st Airborne Division Soldier since Vietnam to receive the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest award for valor. He is assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 502d Infantry Regiment (Strike), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Div.

Pereira's citation reads: "His dedication and commitment to duty undoubtedly saved the lives of two of his fellow Soldiers, while his leadership and distinguished service were instrumental to his unit's successful response to a lethal attack."

Read the rest of the Army News Service article as well as Sgt. Pereira's citation at Blackfive.

A Musical Interlude With Cpl. Todd Love

Just watch this!

Previous: "I've gained more than I've lost"

Wounded Soldier Gets Hero’s Welcome In Hammond, IN

From CBS Chicago.

Indiana National Guard Spc. Doug Rachowicz barely survived a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in January. Four of his fellow Soldiers died in the attack.

“I think about them every day, and I miss them like crazy. I lost four great friends,” Rachowicz said.

Rachowicz came home to Hammond, Ind., on Tuesday, after months of rehab and coping with the loss of his friends.

11 April 2012

There's strong, and there's Army Strong

Andrew Exum at WPR: After a Decade of War, U.S. Army Emerges Unbroken

This past week ... the U.S. Army released the results of an internal survey it conducted on the health of the force (.pdf), and the findings are encouraging. For the survey, 41,000 soldiers and Army civilians responded to an initial questionnaire, while another 500 soldiers and civilians responded to questions posed during focus group sessions.

The survey makes explicit what has been implied in defense policy conversations for the past several years: The all-volunteer force, which was never intended to fight a decade of continuous conflict, has nonetheless succeeded beyond all expectations in Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of maintaining its health and professionalism. High-profile stories such as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales’ massacre of civilians in Afghanistan have convinced many Americans and others that a decade of war has broken the Army and Marine Corps. But military officers are quick to point out that Bales is the exception, not the rule, in an Army in which 51,270 other soldiers have seen four or more combat deployments, and in which an additional 81,000 soldiers on active duty have seen at least three.

Six out of seven soldiers and Army civilians, the study reveals, trust their senior leaders to make the right decisions for the Army, and 90 percent of those surveyed remain willing to put the Army’s needs above their own. Whereas the soldiers who fought in Vietnam considered themselves amateurs and conscripts, 98 percent of the soldiers in the Army today consider themselves professional fighting men and women. As such, those who serve in the U.S. Army today are in no danger of losing their pride, heart or soul. And based on personal observations from the field, I can report the U.S. Army is today more combat effective than it was when I myself first led a light infantry platoon in Afghanistan in 2002.

There are, of course, causes for concern, which are outlined in the rest of the article.

Wounded Corpsman recovers downrange, returns to action

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Chase Speed waits for the patrol order before departing friendly lines at Forward Operating Base Whitehouse, Afghanistan, during a March 30, 2012, operation. Speed was injured during a firefight when an enemy bullet went through his waistline, and after a two-week recovery period, he went back to the fight. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Albert J. Carls.

“Ever since I got injured, I’ve had more pride in the uniform and understand that if you get knocked down, you have to get right back up.”
- PO3 Chase Speed

Face of Defense: Wounded Corpsman Returns to Action

By Marine Corps Sgt. James Mercure
Regimental Combat Team 6, 1st Marine Division

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WHITEHOUSE, Afghanistan, April 6, 2012 – Navy Petty Officer Third Class Chase Speed still has the blood-soaked belt he was wearing when an insurgent put a bullet through it last year.

Speed, a native of Orangeburg, S.C., was serving as a corpsman with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, the day his platoon was inserted by helicopter into Jahazi, a small town that was a hotbed for insurgent activity.

“I saw guys watching us from the tree line and from a compound to our southeast. A fire-team element of military-age males went into the same compound so we knew our position was about to get attacked,” Speed said. “Sure enough, we started to take fire from the compound, and our staff sergeant yelled to take cover, and then we began to engage them. As we were bounding to a different compound, I got hit and kept running another 50 meters. I got on the ground facing the enemy and kept firing to protect my guys.”

Suffering from a deep laceration in his right hip, while consistently receiving automatic weapons fire from the insurgents, Speed heard his staff sergeant yell, “Corpsman up!”

“I half ran, half limped to the Marine we thought was in trouble,” Speed said. “I checked him out, and he didn’t have any apparent injuries, so we busted into a nearby compound. I told him, ‘I think I got shot in the [butt].’ We both laughed about that in the middle of the firefight.”

Once inside the compound, Speed was able to check his wounds and begin to apply first aid.

“I looked down and saw I had an entrance wound near the base of my spine, and the exit wound was coming out of my right hip,” he said. “Luckily, the bullet cauterized the wound, so there wasn’t as much bleeding as there could have been.”

After the Marines called for a medical evacuation for their ‘Doc,’ his right leg had gone numb. He could no longer walk without help.

“A sergeant had to help me get to the bird as it was coming in. I hadn’t taken any of the meds I was carrying in case my Marines got hurt worse than me,” Speed said. “So I was glad when the crew chief gave me something to dull the pain when I got on the helicopter.”

After several operations and two weeks of recovery at Camp Bastion, ‘Doc’ Speed returned to his unit, which was still engaged in the fight.

“The day he got back he was still smiling and as happy-go-lucky as ever,” said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Gerald Brant Jr., an independent duty corpsmen who worked with Speed last year and during his current deployment. “It was like getting shot didn’t affect him. He still went on patrols with his Marines and still kept up like nothing happened to him.”

Throughout the whole ordeal, Speed has stayed positive, setting his sights on continuing his career in the Navy.

“Ever since I got injured, I’ve had more pride in the uniform and understand that if you get knocked down, you have to get right back up,” the Purple Heart Medal recipient said. “I get sharp pains every now and then, but it doesn’t slow me down a bit. I still keep up with my guys, and I keep pushing forward no matter what, because my Marines count on me, and I will be there for them.”

Speed is serving as a corpsman with Police Advisor Team 2, 1st Bn., 8th Marines, and he said he plans on becoming a naval officer as a critical care nurse after returning from his current deployment.

09 April 2012

Video: Life at the Center for the Intrepid

Really nice video story about The Center for the Intrepid at Fort Sam Houston (Brooke Army Medical Center) in Texas, a one-stop-shop rehab facility for wounded warriors, from the creation of prosthetic limbs to physio-therapy. Through the collaboration of a multi-disciplinary team, they provide state-of-the-art amputee care, assisting the patients as they return to the highest levels of physical, psychological and emotional function.

In the spring of 2005, Arnold Fisher and the board of directors of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes proffered a rehabilitation facility. Secretary of the Army Harvey accepted the proffer and funds for the facility were received from over 600,000 Americans. Ground was broken for the four story, 65,000 square foot outpatient rehabilitation facility and two new 21 handicap accessible suite Fisher Houses on 22 September 2005. The ribbon cutting for the CFI and the new Fisher Houses was held on 29 January 2007 and patient care began in the facility on 15 February 2007.

08 April 2012

He is risen!

United States Army Capt. Ryan Kenny, of Billings, Mont., left, with the 82nd Airborne Division, holds a light over the text for Chaplain William Kneemiller, center, as he reads while Staff Sgt. Richard Webb, of Donna, Texas prepares to light the Easter candle during the Lighting of the Easter Vigil fire service of light at a forward operating base in the Arghandab Valley of Kandahar province in Afghanistan. AP Photo from Easter 2010.

And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre.

And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men.

And the angel answering, said to the women: "Fear not; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified."

"He is not here, for he is risen, as he said."

Matthew 28: 1-6

07 April 2012

The Measure of an Airman

Former Senior Airman Brian Kolfage, a Security Forces Airman, holds his wife, Ashley on his lap as they look out over the water on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Sept. 9. Kolfage was one of the first Airmen deployed to Iraq in 2003 at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During a routine trip to the chow hall, a mortar flew over the walls of his camp and landed less than 10 feet in front of him. Kolfage barely escaped with his life and is the most injured and surviving Airman from any war. Photo by Senior Airman Lauren R. Main.

Photographer Senior Airman Main earned third place in the "Illustrative Photography" category with this photo in the 2011 Military Photographer of the Year awards. Many thanks to John Donovan for sharing this.

05 April 2012

'Beyond science fiction' at Bastion's Role 3 hospital

Army Sgt. Daniel Chavez, a flight medic with the 171st Aviation Regiment, briefs members of the emergency department seconds before a patient is wheeled into the room at the Bastion Role 3 Hospital in Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, March 12. Photo and story: Cpl. Isaac Lamberth.


For Marines on the battlefield, urgent care is just a call away

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - A four-vehicle convoy travels along the barren desert when the first vehicle is suddenly struck by an improvised explosive device. A Marine in the first vehicle is hit in the face by shrapnel. A Navy corpsman riding in the third vehicle jumps out and pulls the injured Marine from the vehicle and rushes to assess his injuries. The convoy commander immediately radios for a medical evacuation.

"It’s not like time stops; it’s not like in the movies where everything is going slow," said Hospital Corpsman First Class David Eldridge, an ambulance dispatcher for 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). "That patient that you’re with, you build a brotherhood. You do everything in your capability to keep them alive."

Marines and sailors on the battlefield face these kinds of situations every day. However, they can take comfort in knowing the best care possible is just a radio call away.

When a Marine has been wounded, a medical evacuation request from the ground is sent to the Tactical Air Command Center, which is the principal air operations director for 3rd MAW (Fwd). The request is reviewed by the senior watch officer who assesses the situation.

"After receiving the MEDEVAC request, we quickly determine which aviation asset is best suited for the mission, based upon the injuries and location of the patient. We then direct the launch of medically equipped and staffed helicopters, which are airborne in minutes," said Lt. Col. William W. Hooper, a Senior Watch Officer for 3rd MAW (Fwd.) and a native of Philadelphia.

While a Navy corpsman helps sustain the injured warrior on the ground, help from coalition forces comes in from the air.

One of the most advanced medical assets is a modified CH-47 helicopter, which is available to 3rd MAW (Fwd.) but part of the United Kingdom’s Task Force Jaguar. The helicopter carries a critical care physician and nurse, several emergency medical technicians and its own protective force. Hooper explained that it is like bringing a flying emergency room to the casualty. The asset is used in the most serious of cases, such as head injuries, serious gunshot wounds and amputees because when Marines are injured, time is of the essence.

"We work under the premise of ‘the golden hour,’ he said. "That means that from the time we get the call for an urgent MEDEVAC, we can have the injured service member in a medical treatment facility, in the hands of a surgeon, in less than 60 minutes."

Located in the southwest region of Afghanistan is a medical facility that boasts a 98 percent survival rate for critically injured service members. This rate is based on data pulled from the hospital’s Assigned Trauma Nurse Coordinators (Combined/Joint U.K./U.S. Nurses who collect and analyze trauma injury data).

Known to some simply as ‘Role 3,’ the code for the top echelon of medical care provided, the Bastion Hospital is the only one of its kind in Regional Command Southwest and one of three in the entire country. These hospitals are staffed with a variety of medical specialists ranging from intensive care doctors to radiologists and surgeons.

Army Lt. Col. Richard Lindsay, the officer-in-charge for the U.S. contingent at the hospital, said Role 2 hospitals can stabilize patients and perform limited surgeries, but Role 3 hospitals are equipped for any situation that may arise.

"It’s beyond science fiction what they can do there," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Martens, the wing surgeon for 3rd MAW (Fwd) and a native of Belchertown, Mass. "The medical care given at Bastion is [among] the best in the history of warfare when it comes to warrior survivability."

Martens said the advanced medical equipment, the manner in which patients arrive, and the cohesion between service members of different nations facilitates the high rate of survivability.

"[The doctors] get double or triple amputees," Martens said. "They’re saving people who might not be able to be saved back in the states. Stateside trauma bays just aren’t used to that level of stress."

"The equipment we have here, most hospitals back home don’t have this kind of stuff," said Lindsay, a native of Sherburne, N.Y. "Only your university medical schools, Department of Defense medical facilities and a very few others have this kind of equipment. Other than that, most hospitals have equipment that is a generation or two behind."

"Everything here is integrated at every level," he added.

The unique integration between nations is one reason the hospital does so well, Lindsay said.

"There is no definitive line where it’s ‘this is what the Americans do, and this is what the Brits do, and the Danes do this.’ Everything is done as a team and it works really well here."

Lindsay said while the hospital is the busiest in theater, the statistics prove just how well 3rd MAW (Fwd) responds to calls for help and how doctors and nurses save lives.

Wounded Marine Adopts his Military Working Dog

Yesterday, LCpl Jeremy Vanhoose was officially able to adopt his Military Working Dog Imi and bring her home.

"Imi is the missing piece to Jeremy's puzzle of recovery and when I spoke to him today he was absolutely beside himself," said Vanhoose's mother on her son's Facebook support page. "Thank each of you that have held my son up in prayer since the beginning!!!!"

Vanhoose was injured on August 24, 2011 by an IED blast while on foot patrol in Sangin, Afganistan.

Kudos to the Marine Corps, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Air Force for making this happen.

America's Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team

A wounded warrior makes the catch during warmup before the Amputee Softball Team exhibition game at Washington Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., April 3. U.S. Department of Defense photo.

04 April 2012

Off-duty Landstuhl Doc saves German woman

Great story from Chuck Roberts, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Public Affairs:

Off Duty Doctor Comes to Aid of German Woman

LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Germany – Donald Bittner has been a doctor since 1981, but the Navy captain had never practiced medicine like he did March 26 while driving to a local restaurant with his wife.

They were passing through the village of Bann when they noticed several people crowded around a man performing CPR to an elderly woman beside the road. When he approached the scene and announced he was a physician, the daughter told him the woman was her mother and had collapsed only a few minutes prior.

Bittner quickly assessed the woman who was not breathing, had no pulse and had turned blue. After succeeding in opening an airway blocked by her dentures, Bittner performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and assumed control of CPR procedures with the help of the initial responder who assisted when he became fatigued from the continued effort.

After about 25 minutes an ambulance arrived and they were able to assess she was in ventricular fibrillation, which is when a weakened heart flutters or quivers and is unable to pump blood. However, the defibrillator in the ambulance was inoperable to apply the needed electrical shock to restore the heart.

Bittner continued CPR until a second ambulance arrived and the defibrillator was successfully applied to initiate a heartbeat, a pulse and resume breathing on her own.

The patient was taken to nearby St. Johannis Krankenhaus where the Bittners visited about an hour later and met the emergency room doctor who said the patient was in stable condition but had transferred to Westpfalz Klinikum in Kaiserslautern for further care. It was there that Dr. Bittner met with the family and received a tearful, grateful hug from the daughter. He said they were the ones he was thinking of as he performed CPR as his wife Leticia held the IV bag above.

“My concern was for the family,” said Bittner. “I saw my own self in that situation, and the feeling of helplessness the family must have felt in being there. It really made me feel bad for them that they had to witness that.”

Although Bittner said he has performed CPR a few times during his career, to include reviving a patient in the operating room who had gone into cardiac arrest, it was the first time while off duty.

“In a hospital you have that sterile setting. When you’re outside the hospital it’s a whole different thing. It’s not sterile anymore. You become actually involved with the family, so the whole emotional experience is completely different.”

The timing of the incident, said Bittner, proved interesting. Just four days prior he completed a basic life support refresher class that included new procedures he applied on the scene.

The events also happened soon before his scheduled departure from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center where he is serving a one-year rotation as deputy director for Navy Expeditionary Medical Unit 12 supporting the wartime effort in treating Wounded Warriors.

“For me it was a culmination of my time here because I felt so good to be able to give something back to the German community that has been so nice to me,” said Bittner.

Germany Tour

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, left, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army, gives the thumbs up to U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno while flying inside a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a tour of Army bases across Germany, April 3, 2012.

Open Letter to CNN from a CCAT Team in Afghanistan

Published on Facebook, February 20, 2012:

Dear Mr. Anderson Cooper and CNN (or other reputable news agency),

Although I am sure that you receive thousands of communication attempts per day, I remain hopeful that this letter will cross your desk, or that of an appropriate staff member. My name is Adam Tibble, and I am currently deployed at Camp Bastion, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. I am a critical care air transport physician for the US Air Force. My team includes a critical care nurse, Captain Frank Brisendine, and a respiratory therapist, Staff Sergeant Robby Wilson. Together we transport our severely injured soldiers within Afghanistan and onto medical facilities in Germany. The work represents a difficult paradox for us. It is incredibly rewarding and heartbreaking at the same time. The injury patterns inflicted by enemy fire and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are awe-strikingly severe, and serve to stir emotions rarely experienced by medical personnel.

Just the other day, we flew two critically ill patients to another US hospital within Afghanistan. Following the mission, my team sat, exhausted, eating lunch at an American dining facility. CNN played passively on a television in the background, and a large group of US Marines was positioned on our right. Given the condition of their boots and their aggressive chewing, it was obvious that these guys had just returned from the field “outside the wire.” For 50 straight minutes, CNN’s coverage failed to deviate from the day-old Whitney Houston tragedy. I lifted my eyes up from my food as a handful of Marines were clearing their trays. One Marine leaned back to his buddy after gesturing to the TV and said, “Man, no one gives a shit about what we did yesterday.”
At that moment, I craved for the American public to be informed as much about a Marine’s sacrifice as the life of a music legend. In no way is this letter an indictment of CNN, its coverage, or Ms. Houston. In fact, we scour your website, as it is one of the most respected sources of journalism in the world. Rather, this is a challenge to devote a percentage more coverage to the true heroes in this conflict.

For example, our team had the honor of transporting a special forces medic who suffered incredible injury. As pragmatic medical minds, we didn’t necessarily believe in a patient “fighting” for their life. But, this medic changed all of that as he tolerated replacement of his blood volume too many times to count. He made it to Germany to see his family before succumbing to his wounds. He represents a real-life “Saving Private Ryan” story as his brother also lost his life in this nearly forgotten conflict.
Or what about the two US Army PFCs (Private First Class) that we flew on the day of Ms. Houston’s overdose? Each soldier lost two legs and one hand in IED attacks. In total, six limbs were lost in a matter of seconds on February 11, 2012. The American public will never know their names, but will likely know the results of Ms. Houston’s blood toxicity screen. However, we submit that these soldiers are more hero than any rockstar, athlete, or actor that dominates the headlines. We will never know the courage or bravery it takes to join that convoy or be the first to enter that cave, nor will we forget the sacrifice they made for our country. CNN is in the unique position to not let the American public forget, either.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the 1% and the 99% of America. Less than 1% of the population belongs to this all-volunteer military that has been tested by two wars for over 10 years. The political and foreign policy implications of these conflicts make them hard to understand, and even more impossible to hold the general American public interest. And to be honest, it is sometimes difficult for us to understand as service members. However, these kids still join that convoy and enter that cave, only because of their incredible bravery, commitment, and because America asked them to.
Therefore, in turn, we plead with one of the most respected news agencies in the world to return the favor--to recognize the elite of our 1%, perhaps with a hero highlighted per week, or per day. There are thousands of stories out here. We would be happy to help you find these heroes and stories. Please ask. Then, maybe, CNN can tell that Marine in the dining hall that we all, in fact, do give a shit about what they did yesterday.
Adam Tibble, Captain, USAF, MD
Critical Care Air Transport Physician
Cardiac Anesthesiologist
Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA

Frank Brisendine, Captain, USAF, RN
Critical Care Air Transport RN
Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA

Robert Wilson, Staff Sergeant, USAF, RRT
Critical Care Air Transport RT
Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA