Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
I found this information in the Victory Times, October 26, 2006 issue. We are all familiar with the Toys for Tots drives here in the United States, but this drive is for the children of Iraq.
While in the midst of a war, our troops, once again, impress me with the generosity and compassion of their spirit. They are collecting toys for all ages for the children of Iraq.
If you or your family or friends would like to help, mail toys to:
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Cartoon from Cox & Forkum.
It is the "silly season" - the time when our politicians INSIST on making sure we know what vacuous excuses for humanity they are, and the time when we jump on the the bandwagon of the insipid and voice our opinions - not bothering to find out if we have any facts to back them up or not. We hear a lot of "I feel" when engaged in any form of political discourse.
We also don't often bother to vote at all. Guess we insist on being vacuous, too.
Anyone who reads my blog will know a few things about me... I am first, and foremost, an American. An American who loves this country. I am inspired by our history - the good and the bad. The Founding Fathers form the pantheon of my heroes, surrounded by all of those who have acted heroically to maintain and sustain the nation. I am humbled by and inspired by our military men and women - I honor them, always - and believe they are the BEST of America. I am traditional in my belief and value system, as it applies to me, but tolerant of others, as long as they respect me, too. I believe that "the government that governs best, governs least." I am not a partisan. I hate political parties and believe that they are controlled by the Peter Principle - everyone rises one level higher than they should be placed. I believe that most politicians are idiots, immoral, dishonest, condescending, and I wouldn't allow them in my home. I am not, however, an Independent on any ballot - since in my state you can not vote in any primary if you register that way. When I cast any ballot, I give my vote to the person most likely to uphold the foundations of this country and to do the least harm. Isn't that sad?
Since May, The Media has been telling us that the Democrats will soon be running the country and that the Republicans can't win. I believe it is all free political advertising to get you to not bother to research your own candidates and vote like they want you to, or not vote at all. And, just in case the Democrats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once again, they will have a basis to shout, "Fraud."
The only question that will sway my vote is, "Do you want America to win?"
Unfortunately, anything that is more complicated than the voting system on Survivor, American Idol, or Dancing with the Stars, seems to be beyond the American interest level. While we are faced with an enemy who wants to eradicate our very survival, people can't be bothered to learn about what is going on. They want simple solutions to complicated problems. I don't believe that our government has done us any favors by not giving enough information to the public, either.
Recently, I heard Walid Phares, author of Future Jihad, Terrorist Strategies Against America and The War of Ideas, Jihad Against Democracy (to be released Feb 2007), speaking about the upcoming elections. He believes that the insurgents want to divide America and to influence our elections and also believes that they are having some success at doing so.
"It seems that the US is having a hard time winning the hearts and minds of Arabs and Muslims, but an equally serious problem can be observed in the intellectual circles of America where some have had a difficulty coming to terms with the terminology of the War of Ideas. If the educated elite of the United States is incapable of identifying the ideology and the strategy of the Jihadists five years after 9/11, we not only have a problem with handling the War in Iraq, but also with this future of American national security as a whole." -Walid Phares
Read the entire essay here.
"One could go on at length, but the bottom line is that the radical Islamists, especially those engaged in warfare with the United States, are not politically blind. They know our system, and have figured out its weaknesses. In short, they have sought to discover our Achilles heel, and our efforts have been to counter them first through intelligence and followed by preemption.
It is simple. Al Quaida kills US soldiers in Iraq, al Jazeera films the scene, mainstream media relays the events to the West and critics of the war bring it home to the debate. The Administration is accused of failure, and its leaders are blasted for choosing the path of war in Iraq." - Walid Phares
Read the entire essay here. See Walid Phares on video here.
Bernard Lewis, the Cleveland E Dodge professor emeritus of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, recently said, "If Churchill had faced the opposition that President Bush faces today, Hilter might well have won."
Regardless of your feelings about the War in Iraq, if you believe that leaving there before the job is finished will accomplish anything positive, you have chosen not to educate yourself on the threat that has come to finish this country off.
When I vote, the question in my mind as I mark my ballot will be, "Do you want American to win?"
Saturday, October 28, 2006
The statue was originally known as Liberty Enlightening the World. She was built as a joint venture between the French and the Americans with the Centennial of 1876 in mind, to commemorate the unity between the countries during the Revolutionary War. The French built the statue, designed by sculptor Fredric Auguste Bartholdi, and engineered by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower.) The Americans chose the placement and built the pedestal, designed by Richard Morris Hunt. Financing on both sides of the ocean was difficult, and the dedication occured ten years later than planned. But, the torch was delivered in time for the Centennial of the country.
The dedication of the statue was held on October 18, 1886. President Grover Cleveland dedicated the statue in New York Harbor amidst much celebration.
The statue depicts a woman escaping the chains of tyranny, which lie at her feet. Her right hand holds aloft a burning torch that represents liberty. Her left hand holds a tablet inscribed JULY IV MCCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776), representing the day the United States declared its Independence.
Now known as Liberty Island, the statue was placed in the courtyard of the star shaped walls at Fort Wood, which had been completed for the War of 1812. It was declared a National Monument on October 15, 1924.
Most important is the symbol the Statue of Liberty has become in the United States and around the world. It is believed to be the most recognized symbol in the world.
Happy Birthday, Lady Liberty!!!
Statue of Liberty WebCam
Friday, October 27, 2006
By SPC Chis McCann, October 25, 2006
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division
The first few were hesitant, coming in by ones and twos, but soon the floodgates opened and the citizens of Rushdi Mulla came from all over town to receive medical care October 19 at a Multi-National Division - Baghdad Operation.
The medical operation was conducted by soldiers of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, in the small town of Rushdi Mulla, and was intended mostly to get an idea of what medical supplies were needed and to determine what clinics and health care providers were available in the area.
"It's what we came to do, besides taking care of our own," said SPC Carrielynn Spillis, a native of Toledo, Ohio, and a medic with Company c, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, attached to 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment. "It's nice being able to come here and help them."
Kazar, a resident of Rushdi Mulla, brought his cousin's son, Mustafa, to the operation to have the 1 year-old boy's hand treated for an injury.
Medics washed it and applied antibacterial ointment and explained, through an interpreter, that each finger would have to be wrapped separately to keep them from healing together.
"I'm glad the Americans came to help," Kasar said.
"We're planning treatment...to provide for local civilians in the area," said SGT Jason Lane, a medic with 4-31 Infantry Regiment. "We had a very good turnout, didn't see anything too extreme, and we have a better idea of what to expect in this area."
"Initially they were fairly timid," he said. "By the end of the operation, they were more personable, particularly the children."
The soldiers brought bags of toys - everything from plush animals to squeezable rubber ducks, which seemed to transcend the language barrier and brought smiles.
Initially, the operation was announced over loudspeakers throughout the neighborhood; but after a poor showing to start the operation, soldiers went door-to-door to get the word out.
"When we did the foot patrol with announcements, we saw a huge change in turnout," said MAJ Robert Griggs, a native of Colusa, California, and plans officer for 4-31 Infantry Regiment.
It wasn't only the medics who made the operation work. "We went out to distract the enemy so the medics could act," said PFC James Cook, Company D, 4-31 Infantry Regiment. "We set up three traffic control points to search vehicles and patrolled the areas... It was all quiet."
"We kept an eye on things to make sure soldiers didn't get hurt. We all came back in one piece. It was a good patrol," said PFC Samuel Rhodes, also of D Company.
"It;s a positive step in the war on terror," said 1st LT Aaron Brooks, of Syracuse, New York, the medical platoon leader, 4-31 Infantry Regiment. "The Iraqis trust us enough to seek health care, and we are willing to give it in any way possible... The end state should be that we help support the Ministry of Health to do its own medical operations."
Another good news story about the many accomplishments that are being made in Iraq by our fine military men and women. It makes me proud to be an American! Thank you all!!!!!
Thursday, October 26, 2006
On Tuesday, October 24, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held a press conference at the Pentagon. Fortunately, I was able to see it. If you were not, you can see it via C-SPAN here. You can read the transcript here.
We have an obligation as citizens, to make sure that we listen to our leaders and evaluate what they say, before we give our opinions or our votes to anyone.
Jim Garamone of the American Forces Press Service wrote two articles about the press conference, which are posted below.
Pace: Will of American People is Enemy's 'Center of Gravity'
The American people will make the right decisions in Iraq if they understand what’s at stake in the war on terror, the top U.S. military general said here today.
“Baghdad is the center of gravity in Iraq, and the American people are the center of gravity for our enemies,” Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Pentagon news conference.
In military terms, an opponent's “center of gravity” is what prevents a force from accomplishing its objectives. For the United States, Baghdad is the most important city in Iraq and one that other sections in Iraq will follow. It is the center of gravity for the fight against terrorism in the country, he said.
The will of the American people to carry on the war on terror prevents the enemy from meeting its objective; it is the enemy’s center of gravity, Pace said.
He said Americans may be getting an overly pessimistic view of the war in Iraq. “If you go back to the beginning of this war, you remember we had 24-7 coverage of the war,” he said. “Any citizen who wanted to could avail themselves of as much information as they wanted to and come to their own decision about what we were doing right and what we were doing wrong.”
But as time went on, other stories crowded out this 24-7 coverage. News is a business, Pace said, and time, column inches and Internet space went to other stories. “So the time that's allocated ends up being allocated to the things that go ‘bang’ -- not the schools that are being built, not the girls that are going to go to school, not the highways that are being built, not the crops that are being grown, not the agreements that are being made politically, but the bombs that have been going off is what's being shown,” he said.
Pace said he believes that as a military leader, it is his responsibility to answer questions “so the American people can listen to my answers and answers from others and questions from others, from both sides of the problem, so they can make their own judgment.”
If leaders make that information available to the American people, they will find the right center of balance and make the right decision, he said. Pace said he has confidence that America will choose wisely.
Pace Confident Americans Will Grasp Nature of Terrorist Threat
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today expressed confidence that the American people will unite to defeat the terrorist threat once they see it for what it is.
At a Pentagon news conference, Marine Gen. Peter Pace said he is not “discouraged or disappointed” with the situation in Iraq and that the United States faces a long fight against an enemy that wants to destroy the American way of life.
The terrorist enemy has a 100-year plan, the chairman noted. “They've told us they want to go and establish a caliphate from Spain to Indonesia, and from there they want to attack the rest of the free world,” Pace said.
He said the terrorists have been at war with the United States since the late 1970s. Americans didn’t realize this until Sept. 11, 2001. “We're in this war primarily right now in Iraq and in Afghanistan, but when we are complete and successful in assisting the Iraqi government and in assisting the Afghan government, we are still … going to face decades of individuals and cells and groups that want to destroy our way of life,” he said.
The United States can handle this, the chairman said. “We as a nation have capacity to do whatever we need to do for the long haul to protect our children and our grandchildren. We've proved it against the Soviet Union,” he said.
Once Americans understood the nature of the Soviet threat, they worked together to provide the right resources and the determination to protect the country, Pace said, adding that it didn’t matter what party was in the White House.
He said the same will happen once Americans understand the nature of the enemy confronting the nation today. “I have great faith in the balance of the American people, and I take great comfort in knowing that as we are able to articulate what this threat is really about, that the American people will continue to stand side by side and behind us, and that we will be given the resources … to fight this war,” the chairman said.
“I am not looking forward to decades of having to be vigilant,” he said, “but I am looking forward to my grandkids living in the same United States that I grew up in.”
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Gulf Region North
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
TIKRIT---Having one brother murdered and a brother-in-law kidnapped and tortured, Sa'ad Rasheed narrowly escaped with his life, but continues working in the reconstruction of his country.
Daily, Iraq is featured in western media headlines. Reports of insurgents jam the news waves with doom and gloom. While the dangers are real and bad things happen, the real stories here are the ones of bravery and dedication.
Bricks and mortar may not be as exciting or as riveting as insurgents ambushing the innocent, but dedication and commitment to rebuilding a country, risking life and limb in doing so is certainly worthy of headline news and the attention of the world.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region North, employs 53 Iraqi citizens working in different fields of expertise. From project managers to construction representatives, these citizens are working to rebuild their country and their future in spite of the dangers in doing so.
One such employee is Sa'ad Rasheed, deputy resident engineer for a U. S. Army Corps of Engineers' resident office. Rasheed, an engineer by trade and veteran of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980, has journeyed through many heartbreaking moments in his life. Yet, he refuses to quit the mission and remains focused on ensuring a better future for his children and theirs to come.
Witnessing the suffering and damage committed to the Kuwaiti people by the government, Rasheed cultivated disappointment and hatred for the ruthless dictatorship that held Iraq captive. It was 1990 when his hopes and dreams for a better Iraq were restored as he watched U. S. Forces invade Kuwait.
But, these hopes and dreams soon faded as the war stopped dramatically and the U. S. embargo began. More and more each day, the poor people felt the stronghold of the restrictions put on Iraq while watching the regime grow in strength. Rasheed was again filled with disappointment.
Eight years later, elated with joy, Rasheed watched as the American Soldiers entered Baghdad and toppled statues of Saddam Hussein. Within days, he and his elder brother stood in front of the Meridian Hotel in Baghdad offering their services to the Americans.
While working as a linguist for the U. S. Army Civil Military Operations Center in Mosul, he received and opportunity to work with the 326th Engineering Battalion - 101st Division. It was here he gained a great respect for the American Soldier. he saw the great men of this organization as symbols of a high standard of humanity. He witnessed their discipline and respect for their mission and for Iraq.
Having an engineering background, it wasn't long before the leaders of the 326th offered Rasheed a position. The establishment of the American Field Engineering Support Team (AFEST) opened the door for a new life.
The AFEST team, designed to train Iraqi engineers in making assessments and estimating damage to buildings and facilities, worked with its counterpart, the Iraqi Field Engineering Support Team (IFEST) made up of local engineers in making key plans for all the damaged buildings and facilities in Mosul and the surrounding Northern provinces. Rasheed was the first Iraqi engineer hired.
Within eighteen months, the IFEST team possessed the expertise and capability to work on their own. The team covered most facilities in Mosul including hospitals, clinics, schools, police stations, courthouses, banks, electrical plants, water and irrigation stations, border facilities, grain silos, cement, textile and sugar factories, as well as oil deposits and refineries.
"The work was pure engineering, not mixed with any expectations or surprises; the common theme was the good relationship with the U. S. and the mutual care and understanding on both official and personal categories," said Rasheed.
Good things were happening with the reconstruction effort; however, the security situation worsened by the day. The engineers began receiving threats. Realizing they had no protection, members of the team began to leave for fear of losing their lives. Rasheed, the last engineer, moved his family three times to stay one step ahead of insurgents. Finally, no longer able to return to his office for fear of being seen, he decided to resign and the missions came to a stand still.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer offered Rasheed a position in a northern region where it was sager. It was clear to him that the Corps truly cared about the people of Iraq, so he accepted the position and immediately moved his family.
Unfortunately, the insurgents did not give up. Two months after moving his family to the north, Rasheed's brother was murdered in front of an Internet cafe in Mosul. Still looking for information concerning his whereabouts, the insurgents kidnapped and tortured his 18-year old brother-in-law. The young man escaped during the night and went into hiding in Baghdad.
Still, they did not stop. The relentless team of insurgents went to the young man's home and threatened his 72-year old father. Swearing Rasheed has left the country, the gentleman paid the criminals $300,000 to ensure the safety of his refugee son. The stress of the event caused the old man to suffer a heart attack. He died a few weeks later. Grief stricken and afraid, Rasheed sent word to Baghdad for the brother-in-law to come north and live with his family.
Again, they would be tormented. Information received from friends in Mosul led to the evacuation of his family to yet another area in the north. The insurgents knew of his location and were on their way.
During this time of fear and unrest, Rasheed continued to work for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. His hope for the future is that the U. S. and Iraq stay in contact and have more interaction for the good of both countries. He would like his people to participate in training courses and lectures, preferably in the U. S. so his country can observe and learn the system of democracy and liberty where it all began; to see the place where freedom has a real meaning.
Ever since Marine Capt. Lyle Gordon was a kid growing up in the small North Texas town of Midlothian, he had dreams of flying high and fast.
As a thrill-seeking youngster, he must have watched the 1980s fighter pilot movie 'Top Gun' hundreds of times, his mother, Mary Gordon, recalls.
"I'm gonna fly, I'm gonna fly," she said. "That's all he ever wanted."
Most recently, Gordon had visions of one day blending his loves of flying and animals by owning a horse ranch. There, his piloting skills would come in handy, as he could fly high above his sprawling dream ranch while getting a bird's-eye view of his herd.
The Texas A&M University graduate was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq on January 26, 2005. Gordon was one of 31 service members who died when a CH-53E Super Stallion went down in a sandstorm in Ar Rutbah.
Gordon's family said Friday they take comfort in knowing he was fulfilling his dream of serving as a pilot in the military. Finding the good in any situation is a lesson they learned from him.
"He was always happy no matter what," Mary Gordon said. "He could find something to laugh about in almost any situation."
Gordon graduated from Midlothian High School in 1993 and earned a bachelor's degree in animal science from Texas A&M in December 1999.
He has always wanted to attend the university and proud to be a member of Corps of Cadets Company E-2, the outfit in charge of caring for A&M's canine mascot, Reveille.
"He said, 'If I'm not in E-2, then I'm not in the Corps," his mother said. "That's the kind of person he was. He had a direction. He knew exactly what he wanted. He didn't care if anyone followed him. He was going to do it."
Before going to Officer Candidates School, Gordon made one last trip to the Bryan-College Station area to say goodbye to old college buddies. It was then that he net his wife-to-be, Kaci Yates, Class of 2000. The two corresponded through letters before getting married in 2002.
While in Iraq at Christmastime, Gordon helped deliver more than 100 packages to soldiers. People in his hometown had gathered to make care packages, which then were sent to Gordon. He, in return, dispersed them to soldiers who lacked much correspondence from home.
"He was always getting some package from us, but he also knew there were a lot of boys over there that never heard from anyone," Mary Gordon said. "He just wanted to bring some joy to them."
Gordon's time overseras was nearing an end. He was due to return home in March, his mother said.
"But instead, he went to his final home," she said. "We are blessed that he wasn't sent home an invalid with a body he couldn't use and an angry young man. We feel that God blessed us by that."
We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams.
Thosse Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes,
They Just Don't Know Where To Look.
This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. If you would like to participate in honoring the brave men and women who serve this great country, you can find out how by clicking here.
Blogs participating in Wednesday Hero:
I have just joined a group of bloggers who celebrate our heroes each Wednesday. I am honored to be a part of this group and to remind people of the heroes that are everywhere around us. Heroes are not part of a singing group, or actors, or others working at a trade. They are people who put the welfare of others and of their country ahead of themselves and at great personal cost. Most of them are found in the United States Military.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
On September Eleventh, as part of the 2,996 project, I celebrated the life of Major Dwayne Williams who was killed at the Pentagon. We just made a trip to the east coast and went to Arlington Cemetery, where we paid a visit to his grave. It sits in the shadows of the Pentagon with the Pentagon Memorial and the graves of many of the people lost that day. They are buried together, just as they died. It was our opportunity to thank him for all that he gave to our country, and to remember all that was taken from us on that day.
The Pentagon Memorial for September Eleventh is in the shape of the Pentagon and engraved with the names of all who were taken that day - both in the building and on the airplane.
At the Memorial are reminders of the living who still grieve to this day ~ mementos and flowers. It is a very solemn place, far away from the crowds of tourists stomping through the cemetery. We walked for a long way to get there, and saw so much of the cemetery that no one ever does. There are incrdible monuments and memorials. It is humbling to say the least. Peaceful. Quiet. Respectful. It was an honor to do the walk and be able to give a silent tribute to the many who rest there.
Near the September Eleventh Memorial is the area being used for the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the graves had visitors, even more had flowers. It is an experience that will ever stay with us... the cost of war is so great, the losses personal and painful, and we have so much to thank them for. So when you smell the sweetness of freedom each day, remember who paid the cost for you.
Farewell and God Speed, Major Williams.
My tributes to Major Williams are in the September 2006 archives.
Monday, October 23, 2006
We were in Beirut because the Lebanese Government had asked for our help. They saw their country slipping into total anarchy; they saw the United States and her Marines and Sailors as their saviors. We truly did come in peace. We came to do what Marines have done since the beginning of this country: to protect the rights of the innocent and advance the interest of freedom.
Remarks by the Commandant of the Marine Corps to the Senate Armed Services Committee, October 31, 1983:
"In closing, Mr Chairman, let me say that the subject of increased terrorism against all Americans around the world may be one of the most serious problems which could be addressed by this Committee on a priority basis. This unprecedented, massive "kamikaze" attack was not against young Marines, Sailors and Soldiers - it was a vicious, surprise attack against the United States of America and all we stand for in the free world.
Let me say, with all of the emphasis I can, that there are skilled and professional terrorists out there right now who are examining our vulnerabilities and making devices which are designed to kill Americans, lots of Americans around the world, in further acts of mass murder by terrorism. Let there be no doubt about it.
I would hope that the Congress would use this incident of cruel and premeditated mass murder to help us determine ways which tell nations that they cannot export and support terrorists who kill innocent Americans with impunity.
The perpetrators and supports of this challenge to the rights of free men everywhere must be identified and punished. I will have little sleep until this happens."
- General Paul X Kelley, USMC,
29th Commandant of the Marine Corps
Obviously, no one heeded the wise words of General Kelley. Looking back on the 23rd anniversary of the event, I hope Americans will see it as the profoundly important event that it was. I also hope hope you will find a moment of silence to remember all who were lost that day, their families and friends, and those injured and those who survived who still carry this momentous event with them each day.
For a wonderful slide show and documentary of the Beirut Story, go here.
For the Beirut Documentary, go here.
Please scroll down for four more entries about the Beirut Bombing.
The Beirut Memorial occupies a wooded site between Camp Lejeune and Jacksonville, North Carolina. It carries the names of those killed in the attack, those who died from their wounds and those who were killed in other attacks in Beirut - 270 names.
Survivors words are haunting:
"It was the First Bettle of World War Three," -Bob Jordan
"We began to take terrorism seriously," - Chaplain Danny Wheeler
To learn more about the Beirut Memorial in North Carolina, go here.
To learn more about the Beirut Memorial in Arlington, go here.
YOU can help by sending a postcard to the USPS Citizens Advisory Committee letting them know how you feel about the Beirut Stamp Petition.
Send your postcard to:
Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
US Postal Service
1735 North Lynn Street Room 5013
Arlington VA 22209-6432
It is two years away from the 25th Anniversary of this event. It would be memorable to have this stamp and so important the survivors and the families of the victims to have this important event remembered, and other Americans are reminded of the cost of freedom.
For more information go to the Beirut Stamp Intiitative site.
This evening they are having a Memorial Walk through Washington, DC.
When I listened to people siding with Hezbollah against Israel in the recent war, I couldn't understand how any American could side with a group who bombed our Embassy and killed our citizens. I can only imagine the profound heartache that spills upon the families of the fallen when fellow citizens do this. Why? Are they so profoundly ignorant of our history? Are they so profoundly in favor of losing all that we hold dear? Do they have a clue what will become of their lives if these vile people win?
As I knelt to pray,
Next to the rubble
and the wounded and dead flew away.
It comes to mind,
Images of their bodies,
Haunting till the end of time.
Such a large building and so many men,
Many who will never be seen again.
They were ripped, torn and maimed,
Marines we dug for until all that remained,
Were the rescuers, blood, sweat and pain.
I was one,
Of America's best.
Sent to help the others,
Put the countries at rest.
Over 200 died that day,
All were my brothers,
They've gone away.
-James Michael Frasier
James was a survivor of the blast in Beirut.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
During this holiday season, let's show our troops we love and support them!!! From September 30 to November 30, I will be collecting holiday cards for troops stationed in high-combat areas of Iraq and Afghanistan. Being away from home and living in harsh conditions during the holiday season is especially difficult ! They need to know we have not forgotten them!!! Mail from home helps to keep our troop's morale strong, making a very real difference in their lives.
Send your signed, unsealed holiday cards to:
Mrs. Kathy Orr
OPERATION: LOVE FROM HOME
P O Box 1660
Loganville GA 30052
The cards can be handmade or store-bought... for that matter, they don't even have to be cards; a hand-written or typed letter is just as wonderful! This is a great opportunity to get your Scout troop, school, church and other civic organizations involved in doing something to show support for our troops.
If you wish to send an email greeting (which will be printed off and mailed along with the holiday cards), please send an email to: Operation Love From Home
To follow the progress of the cards see the website
This is a wonderful opportunity to involve yourself in some support of our deployed military men and women. It doesn't take long and it doesn't cost much and Christmas cards are already available in all of the stores! Or, you can email a greeting, which Kat will print out and send.
If you have ever spent a Christmas alone or away from home, you can imagine how important it is for these young men and women to hear from us.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
We had finished our visit to Yorktown Battlefield and gone to the town to see it and the monument. We had a marvelous seafood dinner at a cafe along the River and watched the evening mist roll in. On our way out of town, we stopped to look at some of the historic buildings, when we heard fife and drums on the breeze. We went back to the monument to discover that practice was going on. The practice was The Fife and Drums of York Town, a remarkable group of young people who were getting ready for their multiple performances at the Yorktown Celebration that is going on this weekend. The music was amazing. These kids really knew what they were doing and it was quite a treat to sit and listen to them. There was something about listening to the Colonial music, played so professionally, that put a capstone on an amazing day exploring our history and celebrating our Liberty!!! You can hear their music on their site!
Friday, October 20, 2006
Captain Joe Day
Al Anbar, Iraq
Bronze Star Recipient
THE BRONZE STAR CITATION
For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations as Australian Exchange Officer, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Unit, United States Marine Corps Forces, Central Command from June 2003 to October 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
WO2 Day demonstrated exceptional leadership, endurance, and versatility through two major operational deployments to Iraq.
Upon redeployment to the US after Operation Iraqi Freedom, he played and integral role in the reconstitution and retraining of the Battalion.
His tactical proficiency and technical prowess were essential in the planning, coordination, and execution of numerous training events to include LAV-25 gunnery, Security and Stability Operations, and Military Operations in Urban Terrain, that prepared 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion for its deployment back to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom in February 2004.
while deployed, he demonstrated superior leadership and initiative as the Commander of the Task Force Forward Command Platoon/Jump Command Section throughout numerous combat operations in the Ramana and Al Anbar Provinces of Iraq.
His demonstrated moral and physical courage and tactical ability ensured the safety and proper positioning of the Task Force Commander in action against Anti-Iraqi and Anti-Coalition Forces.
His unparalleled performance in combat and in garrison directly contributed to the superior conduct of the Task Force.
WO2 Day's total effectiveness, forceful leadership, and loyal devotion to duty reflected great credit upon him and upheld the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.
Soldier a Bronzed Aussie
From the Australian Army,
by Cpl Andrew Hetherington and Sgt Damien Griffin
An Australian exchange soldier who fought alongside the US Marines in Iraq, including in the battles for Baghdad and Fallujah, has been awarded the US Bronze Star Medal with combat 'V' for heroic achievement.
Then WO2 Joe Day, now a captain, was on a two-year exchange with the 1st Light Armoured Recon BN, 1st Marine Division, when it deployed to Iraq in 2003 and again in 2004.
He spent 14 months in Iraq with the Marine unit and said it was a huge honour to be awarded the Bronze Star.
"I am a little embarrassed though. I think I am overrated and there are a lot of guys I know who took some bullets and didn't get recognised in this way. At the same time I appreciate it," Capt Day said.
He said the unit he was with was a lot like 2 Cav Regt and used the American version of the ASLAV.
"We did the reconnaissance work at the breach before the US forces entered Iraq. We were one of the first units in," he said.
"We fought our way up through to Baghdad and were involved in an operation to attack, seize and hold Tikrit. We were also tasked to deal with the last elements of the Republican Guard and any Iraqi resistance supporting Saddam Hussein."
Capt Day said when the unit entered Iraq in 2003, it fought for about four weeks.
"In the beginning we had light enemy opposition. When we got closer to Baghdad the fighting got heavier, as we were running into the Republican Guard more, and were starting to see the first of the insurgent, guerrilla and militia-type groups appearing," he said.
"In the attack on Tikrit we didn't get much resistance at all. We had a bit of a fight on the first day and into the night, but after that we basically rolled into the palace complex and took it over."
He said during the early days of the campaign there were thousands of Iraqi soldiers surrendering to the US forces.
"Our unit captured quite a few, they either ran away or, if they fought, they died. If they were lucky enough they got to surrender and we sent them back to the rear to be processed," he said.
"We were pretty quick in advancing so we didn't hang on to prisoners for very long. We took care of them as much as we could; especially the wounded ones and we sent them back."
When his unit redeployed to Iraq in February 2004, he noticed a few changes to the country.
"We were operating in the northwest in the Suni Triangle and they didn't like us much there. We also had a lot more casualties in this deployment, there were a lot of guys killed. The insurgency mainly started to take hold when we were there the second time. It was very frustrating and psychologically draining."
Capt Day served as a platoon commander, which he said was a privilege and a great experience.
"This was pretty rare having a warrant officer commanding a platoon of Marines in combat. I then moved on to become the battalion's weapons officer," he said.
"The exchange and deployments with the Marines was an intense learning experience.
Capt Day said the two deployments were pretty hard on unit members.
"You were always fatigued and pretty deprived. We didn't have the luxury of being on any firm bases. We were living on MREs the whole time, shelter was wherever we could dig a hole, we lived pretty rough and it was as rough as I have lived in my 22 years in the Army.
"I have never done anything that hard before."
He said the Marines held Australians in high regard.
"We have a huge reputation over there and they wished they could have more of us working with them," he said. "We just have a way of being able to do what is needed to be done. I adopted a very forthright approach when in command and I decided to command the way I knew how to.
"I didn't try to Australianise them, but I introduced them to a lot of our ways and habits. For example I showed them our methods of tactical vehicle movement, gunnery skills and ever our version of basic field craft."
He even taught them some Australian methods of bush cooking, such as making jaffles in the field.
"In Fallujah I also had the scouts out looking for as many potatoes and onions as we could find and we chucked them into the back of the vehicle and I fried them up for them. It was the only fresh food we had."
Since returning from his exchange, Capt Day has passed on some of his knowledge to junior leaders on courses through Face of Battle presentations.
"... I would like to have more opportunity to do that kind of thing in the future, particularly helping out with the writing of doctrine and lessons learnt. I think my gun-slinging days are over."
From the Australian Army Paper
Thursday, October 19, 2006
October 19, 1781 - Our New Nation
Today, October 19th, is the 225th Anniversary of the surrender at Battle of Yorktown ~ the final confrontation between the British and the Continental Army. This is the battle that led to the end of the war and secured the Independence of the United States of America. On our vacation we spent a day at Yorktown, exploring the battlefields and learning the story. One cannot walk on these grounds and not feel humbled by the men who gave so much to establish this country. Major celebrations are planned at Yorktown October 19-22. This is a date which should be on our calendars, for without the victory at Yorktown, we might not have won the war.
The British, under the leadership of major General Lord Cornwallis, had taken control of the port cities of Glouchester and Yorktown, on opposite sides of the York River.
General Washington led the Continental Army from New York to Virginia to confront the British. He was joined by the forces of the French Lieutenant General de Rochambeau. They formed a semi-circle around the entrenched British forces.
The British were well prepared with redoubts (shown below) and earthworks.
The earthworks - huge trenches dug throughout the area - can still be seen. The Continental Army dug miles of these trenches for force movements, communication running and protection for the Infantry, as did the British.
The seige of Yorktown began on September 28, and concluded with the surrender of the British troops on October 19, 1781. For a complete history of the battle, go here.
"On the 17th, at about 10 o'clock the Brisith raised a white flag on their walls, beat a parley on their drums, and the firing ceased on all sides." - Asa Redington, 1st New Hampshire Regiment.
After nine days of non-stop artillery bombardment of Yorktown, the flag of truce was raised. Cornwallis' letter to Washington read: "I propose a cessation of hostilities for twenty four hours, and that two officers may be appointed by each side to meet at Mr. Moore's house, to settle terms for the surrender of the posts of York and Gloucester."
The officers met at the home of Augustine Moore and drafted the "Articles of Capitulation." The articles povided that the troops, seamen and marines should surrender as prisoners of war.
On October 19, the British surrendered in a formal ceremony. "At about twelve o'clock, the combined army was arranged...in two lines extending more than a mile... The French troops, in complete uniform, displayed a martial and noble appearance... The Americans... exhibited an erect, soldierly air, every contenance beamed with satisfaction and joy. The concourse of spectators... in point of numbers was probably equal to the military, but universal silence and order prevailed." - Surgeon James Thacher, MD, Continental Army.
American soldiers lined up on one side of the road and French soldiers on the other, with spectators behind. The British Army marched into the field and surrendered their weapons and cased their battle flags. 6,000 British troops surrendered, with 10 stands of British and German colours, 240 artillery pieces, small arms, ammunition and equipment.
Surrender Field - the site of the British surrender - is, today, a tranquil place. But, one cannot visit there and not be moved by the image of the surrender.
The Continental Congress authorized the Yorktown Victory Monument on October 29, 1781, shortly after news of the victory reached them. It was not constructed for another 100 years, finally completed in 1884. Made of Maine marble, the shaft is 84' tall and Liberty stands another 14' tall.
Carved on the monument are many tributes to those who fought at Yorktown. Around the column are carved the words: "One Country, One Constitution, One Destiny"
Going to Yorktown gave us a new appreciation for the difficulty of the battles that were fought to establish this country and to secure our freedoms. It was not an easy battle. It was long, hard and seemingly unwinnable many times. But, these were men who kept their faith and their resolve. God Bless Them All.
As always, history has much to teach us....
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
By Cpl. Michael Molinaro
2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO, 4th Infantry Division
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, IRAQ, October 16, 2006 - Multi-National Division
Baghdad soldiers delivered an assortment of equipment and goods to the Muehla Agricultural Union on October 9.
Refurbished tractors, seed spreaders and water pumps were among the items donated to the union as it begins to move from underneath the guidance of the soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and starts earning profits on its own.
"Muehla is the template for success for rural areas of Iraq," said Capt. Colin Brooks, commander, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment.
Muehla is a cradle for farming in the Babil province. Green pastures donimate the area, in Muehla alone, there are 650 farmers who represent more than 10,000 people. The area was known as a safe haven for terrorists in the past, and many rocket and mortar attacks against MND-B forces were carried out from inside the town, Brooks said.
Upon arriving in Iraq last December, Brooks and his soldiers immediately sat down with sheiks from the area to gauge their interests. While no one disputed the fact there were bad people in the area, and Company B would search for and detain individuals, Brooks wanted to open up dialogue with the influential leaders from the area and begin a positive relationship.
He said he quickly discovered farming was the key to stability in the area. With the Iraqis best interests in mind, he took on a major project by standing up an agricultural union that, in time, would provide all of the equipment and goods needed for the farmers of the area. By rounding up terrorists at night and meeting with sheiks and residents during the day, the transformation of Muehla from a terrorist safe haven to an example for the rest of rural Iraq was in full swing.
Brooks said his soldiers talked to more than 200 farmers to see what they felt was needed to work proficiently. Elections were held in May as the farmers voted for a director and a board of seven members who would oversee the union and make important decisions regarding the needs of the people. Soldiers delivered more than 400 tons of fertilizer, seeds and other equipment to get the union on its feet and start earning profits.
"Farming is their lives," Brooks remarked. "We made it important to us, as well. We have an incredible rapport with the people now, and the results in the area are astounding. Those driving around the rural roads of Muehla today will see corn fields so high that farmers from Iowa would be proud," Brooks said. The area is peaceful. There are no attacks resonationg from the region, and Brooks and his soldiers have unprecedented freedom of movement in the area.
The equipment the soldiers delivered will be rented to farmers belonging to the union, Brooks said. The equipment will enable the farmers to do the job quicker and produce more crops. The union uses the money from the rentals to buy fertilizer and seed at subsidized prices, which enables the union to sell the items back to its members at a lower cost. It is a cycle that benefits everyone involved.
The board members have bold plans for the future that once seemed like a dream, said Omar Hashem, director of the union, such as a farmer's education program, veterinarian services, and a young farmer's program.
With Brooks and his men scheduled to redeploy by the end of the year, the time has come for the union to walk by itself without any assistance from Coalition forces.
"We are indebted to Capt. Brooks and his soldiers forever," Hashem said. "They had a plan that no one else had and made it work. They have given us the head start that we needed, and now it is up to us to make it successful."
Very soon, farmers will harvest their corn, sell it to local markets and reap the benefits of their hard work and the new cooperation amongst the members, Hashem said. Wheat season is right around the corner, and excitement is everywhere as the villagers of Muehla can now see a bright future with an endless rotation of crops from season to season.
"We had problems before in the area, but Capt. Brooks and his men made an effort to get everyone to the table and talk," Hashem said. "He and his guys solved the problem peacefully."
The success in Muehla has allowed soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment to work with other areas such as Jiff Jaffa and Diyarah; small farming communities left to fend for themselves previously by the government, Brooks said. Both towns have recently started their own agricultural unions.
Because of the success in Muehla, Brooks has shown it as an example to other Coalition Force units as a way to bring better security through projects that people are passionate about.
Leaders and sheiks are now coming to the table and discussing their problems and ways to counter them instead of resorting to violence.
"I can only hope other communites in Iraq get to experience what we are getting to experience," said Hassam Ali, a local farmer from Muehla. "Our fields have crops; our bins have seeds; and most importantly, our families have peace in their homes. That is all I ask for."
From Defend America.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
More than 300 Soldiers Reenlist in Record Breaking Ceremony
by 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Public Affairs.
October 16, 2006
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (Army News Service, October 16, 2006)
On the way to a yearlong deployment in Iraq, 307 Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, participated in the Army's largest-ever reenlistment ceremony held during a deployment on Saturday.
Headquartered at Fort Richardson, Alaska, the unit ceremony took place at Camp Buehring, where the Soldiers stopped for final preparations before entering Iraq.
"This ceremony says a lot about the personal courage and selfless service of these paratroopers,: said command Sergeant Major David Turnbull, for the 4th BCT, 25th INF. "They understand they have a tough mission ahead of them and are still willing to commit themselves to continue in the Army."
The large turnout underscores the service's new campaign slogan, "Army Strong," said the brigade's commander, Col. Michael X. Garrett.
"Many are going to attribute this record-setting event to reenlistment incentives. but, on the eve of deploying north to Iraq, these paratroopers show that it is on a much more personal level," Garrett said. "These paratroopers have seen something in someone, somewhere - whether it was a squad leader, platoon leader or commander - that led to this moment."
CPL Brian Anderson, a recon scout with the unit's 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, said he reenlisted for much the same reason as his comrades. "I am reenlisting for the same reason as any other paratrooper here in this formation. I want to serve my country and I love the Army."
Monday, October 16, 2006
We just returned from our vacation to Virginia. When we were driving into Washington, DC the first thing we noticed were the spires hovering above the Pentagon. We didn't know what they were. We soon discovered that they were the new Air Force Memorial - still under final construction. This is the picture we took of them from Arlington Cemetery.
James Ingo Freed was the architect for the project. The site is on the high ground near the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery, making it visible across the area. It features three stainless steel spires that soar skyward, the tallest reaching 270 feet, imitating the "bomb burst" formation flown by the United States Air Force Thunderbird Demonstration Team.
The three spires also represent the three core values of the Air Force - Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in all that is done - and the three branches of the Air Force - active, guard and reserve. Embedded in granite beneath the three spires is the Air Force Star.
The Memorial was dedicated over the weekend with much pomp, ceremony and many dignitaries including President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld.
It is a beautiful memorial. We couldn't get any closer than Arlington Cemetery since it was still in its final stages of construction, but it was moving to see it towering above us. Everywhere we went in Washington, DC it sparkled in the distance.
For more information, go to the Air Force Memorial site.
by Robert Crawford
Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming
to meet our thunder,
At 'em boys, give 'er the gun
(give 'er the gun now!)
Down we dive spouting
our flames from under
off with one helluva roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame, hey!
Nothing'll stop the U. S. Air Force!
Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder,
Sent it high into the blue;
Hands of men blasted the world asunder;
How they lived God only knew!
Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer
Gave us wings, ever to soar!
With scouts before and bombers galore, hey!
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!
Here's a toast to the host of those who love
the vastness of the sky.
To a friend we will send a message
of his brother, men who fly.
We drink to those who gave their all of old;
Then down we roar,
to score the rainbow's pot of gold
A toast to the host of men we boast,
the U. S. Air Force!
Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Keep the wings level and true.
If you'd live to be a gray-haired wonder
Keep the nose out of the blue!
Flying men guarding the nation's border,
We'll be there, followed by more!
In echelon we carry on, hey!
Nothing'll stop the U. S. Air Force!
I have to admit - I learned the words
by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Oh! I have slipped the suly bonds of Earth
And danced the skes on laughter-silvered wings,
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Derek was from Salem, Oregon, and a graduate of Sprague High School. He played football and racketball. Derek was an outdoorsman who loved hunting and fishing. He was married to his high school sweetheart, Pamela Petty, and they have a daughter, Madison. He planned to go to college to become an architect after his service in the Marines.
Kary Hadden, Derek's uncle, said his nephew truly believed in what he was doing in Iraq. "He was willing to make the sacrifice for our country," Hadden said.
For a moving video interview with Derek's uncle and brother, go here.
U.S. flags wave along Central Avenue in Sutherlin as the Southern Oregon town mourns the loss of one of its own, Army Pfc. Dean Bright. Bright, 32, a former Sutherlin councilor, was killed by a bomb Wednesday in Iraq. He had recently been awarded the Bronze Star.
From the Register-Guard
PFC Dean Robert Bright lost his life, along with three other soldiers, while serving his country in Taji, Iraq, while under attack from insurgents. Bright was assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas
Dean grew up in the small town of Sutherlin, Oregon. He attended Sutherlin High School, where he played football and baseball and was active in FFA - Future Farmers of America. He served on the Sutherlin City Council. He was a volunteer firefighter and a reserve police officer. He coached youth soccer and T-ball leagues. After September Eleventh, his desire to "make a difference, both in his community and his country" led him to enlist in the Army in 2005. "He was proud of being a soldier," said Becky Bright.
In August, PFC Bright was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for risking his life when he pulled his friend out of a burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle while it was still under attack.
Dean is survived by his ex-wife, Becky. They had been divorced for several years, but had reconciled and were planning a Christmas wedding. He has two children, Jarrod, 9, and Maddie, 6. He is also survived by his father, Bob Bright and his wife, Emily; his mother, Norma Land and her huband, Chris; sister, Sandra Powell and her husband, Ron; Neice, Myah Dalby; grandparents, Tink and Jean Bright: and, grandmother, Darlene Pingleton and her husband, Tom.
To leave a message for his family, visit his Legacy page.