Sunday, December 31, 2006

What Goes Round Comes Round...

On his holiday trip to Iraq, 'Jon Carry' found himself eating all alone in the US Embassy dining room - notice the lack of uniform clad people around him....

Chris Muir - Day By Day

Click the link for a larger view of the cartoon.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein Executed

"Iraq is now closing one of the most important chapters which is the fear and terror that Saddam created. He is going to have what he deserves for his crimes in the next few hours. Iraq will then enter a new era without the terror, tyranny and mass-graves."
-Hammorabi (Iraqi blogger)

"Personally I have mixed feelings about this execution. To start with, if the punishment for murder is to be death, according to the Law in many lands, including that of the U.S.A., and in accordance with the writ of the Great religions; then Saddam deserves at least a million or so executions. His guilt is as clear as sunlight."
-Messopotamian (Iraqi blogger)

"I drive trucks in the Marine Corps and travel very often. I've been a lot of places in Iraq. I just got back last night from Ramadi. We were working with Kuwaiti forensic scientists. We dug up bodies that were killed by Saddam. It was all to bring Saddam down. The mission was a success and I'm proud to be a part of History. I hope that man goes down. He killed a lot of innocent folks."
-Letter from a 20 year old Marine penpal

These are some of the thousands of pictures of the mass graves in Iraq. When we heard that today would be the day of Saddam Hussein's execution, I went back and looked at them, lest I feel pity for this heinous man. In them, you see a woman grieving over the remains of family members found in mass graves - she lost five members of her family, including her husband, son and three nephews. You will also see the clothing of a small child. The pictures are graphic and brutal - the nature of Saddam.

For more information see the USAID report and
for more pictures see the Mass Graves site.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Lighting Up Soldiers Lives... One Letter At a Time

A Soldier's Point of View

Soldiers’ Angels Earn Their Wings
Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAO
FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – It was in Frank Capra’s 1946 classic,“It’s A Wonderful Life” that the saying, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets their wings” was popularized.

During this holiday season, the saying could be, “Every time someone sends a letter to a FOB Falcon Soldier, an angel gets their wings.”

In this case, the “angels” are fellow Americans from the Soldiers’ Angels Organization.

Soldiers with the 15th Brigade Support Battalion’s Supply Support Activity are corresponding with people from all over the United States through letters and e-mails.

“I just wanted someone to write to me,” said Pfc. Marisela Tapia, an automated logistical supply specialist assigned to Company A from Anaheim, Calif. “I went to the Internet cafĂ© and read the story [on the website]. That’s when I decided to sign up, and one week later, I received a letter.”

It was her supervisor, Staff Sgt. Amador Aguillen, an automated logistical supply specialist, who brought most of his team on board with the program. “It’s really quick, and it’s really good for the Soldiers,” said the San Antonio native. “It’s good that they are supporting what we do here.”

According to its website, Soldiers’ Angels was started by a mother whose son was deployed to Iraq in 2003. He would write letters to his mother expressing his concern about fellow Soldiers who would not receive any mail from home. She decided not to allow a situation like that to continue. So, she contacted a few friends and extended family and asked if they could write to a Soldier or two.

Within a few short months, the Soldiers' Angels went from a mother writing a few extra letters to an Internet community with thousands of angels worldwide and growing stronger with the addition of new members daily. With more and more merchants donating services, money and items for packages, the Angels reorganized as a nonprofit organization, making all donations tax deductible.

Soldiers' Angels currently supports thousands of American service members stationed wherever the U.S. flag is flown and the number is growing daily. Soldiers' Angels are dedicated to ensuring that the military knows they are loved and supported during and after their deployment into harms way.

For Tapia, her angel is a former Soldier of six years. A California native herself, Tapia's pen pal was an Army staff sergeant who also served abroad. Tapia said because of that and that she’s also a female in California, she feels they are connected. Most of all, Tapia said she is very appreciative of the gifts her angels sent to her last week in a care package. “It makes me feel really good that someone would go out of their way for a total stranger and show some love and support,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s just the littlest things … it makes you feel a lot better.”

In appreciation, Tapia went to the base camp’s post exchange and searched around for a greeting card that would express the way she felt about her new friend. “I got her this Christmas card that reads, ‘People like you make the season a little nicer.’ It’s so cute that I don’t want to write on it. So, I’m going to write a letter and put it inside,” she explained.

She said the first letter cheered her up. Like the Soldiers who Soldiers’ Angels was originally founded for, Tapia receives almost no mail from family or friends. “A lot of people were getting mail, and no one was writing me,” she said. “I was like, ‘Is this what the year’s going to be like?'"

Like many new Soldiers, this is Tapia’s first holiday season away from home. She said working constantly is the only thing that has distracted her from being too homesick. “I just work, so it doesn’t seem like the holidays,” she said. “It’s not like home where you see all the lights, get in your car and visit your friends … the sales with the discounts.”

Although she’s far away from home, she said she can’t help but to feel good because of her new friend. “It just makes me feel good, though,” she said about what her Soldiers’ Angel has done for her and her section. “I mean, even though she’s at home with her family, she's still thinking about other people. I just think it’s really nice, and I’m grateful that there’s an organization that tries to make it better for Soldiers having a hard time out here.”


I joined Soldiers' Angels shortly after it was founded. Over the duration of the OIF and OEF, I have adopted MANY Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen. Some have become friends and a few have become family. Our first adopted Soldier has become family. We supported her through her deployment, attended her wedding and then her husband through his - he just returned in November. Next week, they will be here visiting for ten days. As with all gifts you give, the rewards more often than not outweigh the gift. Being involved with this organization has given us much love, and has been a boost to the morale of our military. I would encourage everyone to get involved in support activities! There are many organizations listed to the left.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Army Captain Founds Charity to Aid Iraqi Families

US Army Captain William Perrich, a civilian called back to active duty, and soldiers of the 413th Civil Affairs Battalion, are making a difference in Southern Baghdad in the towns of Mahmudiyah, Yousifiyah, Lutifiyah and Al Rasheed through personal humanitarian efforts. Their mission is to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure - hospitals, clinics, schools, water treatment plants and more. Seeing the urgent needs and extreme poverty, Capt. Perrich, his soldiers and their families and friends, founded a charity to funnel humanitarian aid to Iraqi families and children. These efforts improve the lives of Iraqi families and the safety of US soldiers.

"The people here are friendly and appreciate our help in many ways. They live in total poverty, and our hearts go out to them, especially the children. We are collecting donations to do what we can to make their lives better. The smiles of gratitude make it all worthwhile," say the soldiers.

Capt Perrich called upon his family to set us a 501c3 charity - - to collect humanitarian aid. Through this charity, he has received and distributed:

  • medical suppies sent from doctor's offices

  • school supplies sent collected and sent from US schools

  • clothing provided by thrift shops

  • used sports equipment and toys

Beverly Peyton, President of Blue Star Mothers, Miami Valley chapter #3, supports Capt Perrich by sending packages and supplies for soldiers and civilians. "It is so improtant to show our troops that we care about them and their safety. This is a win-win situation for our soldiers and needy Iraqi families. We are honored to be able to help Capt. Perrich and his soldiers."

Capt Perrich says, "We deeply appreciate your help in our mission to relieve suffering, build a sovereign government, and help the children of Iraq live through this savage period of history. Iraqi families are very grateful to receive help from American citizens. It shows we care. The goodwill this creates is priceless."

All donations are tax-deductible. Please visit their website at Help Iraqi Families.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Passing of a Patriot - God Speed President Ford

President Gerald R Ford
July 14, 1913 - December 26, 2006

The next week will give some of us a retrospective into history we lived and to others a history lesson. I hope that Americans walk away with a sense of who this great man was. I will always remember President Ford for his courage. He had the courage, in the worst of times and against public opinion, to put the health and welfare of the United States of America above the polls. He did two amazing things - amazingly controversial things - he pardoned President Nixon and he offered pardons to the Vietnam war draft dodgers. He believed that it was time to unite the country, to find the best within us. He declared, "Our long national nightmare is over." He later received the John F Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award for these acts.

President Gerald Ford was a man of great character, great courage, great intellect, and, most of all, he was a great patriot. He was a man who loved his God, his family and his country.

One of the most interesting books I have read on presidents is Fraternity, by Bob Greene. In his interview with President Ford, Greene asked him if he prayed. Ford said, "Every night. It's the same prayer I have said most of my life." Proverbs, Chapter Three:
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, lean not on thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.

For more information about President Ford, visit the Ford Library and Museum site.

The family condolence book can be found here. Please leave a message for the family.

Wednesday Hero ~ Parents of Soldiers

This weeks Wednesday Heroes are the parents of soldiers.

These people sacrifice just as much, if not more, than the soldiers themselves. They, in many cases, are having their babies leave home for the first time in their lives. While most parents only have to adjust to them moving a few miles away or going off to college, these Blue Star Parents have to watch their children go off to a very dangerous situation and can only hope and pray that everything will turn out okay. We have a few Blue Star Parents in the blogroll, so to them, and every parent of a Hero, we all stand with and support you and your family.

There's a site that everyone should check out if they haven't already. Blue Star Mothers Of America.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams.
Those 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.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Soldiers and the Spirit of Giving

The Spirit of Giving
Above: Spc Nicole Daly, cuts some packaging paper that will cover a care package Christmas present that will be handed out to a third country national working at the bulk fuel re-supply point at Camp Taji, Iraq, come Christmas Day.

Below: Spc Daly puts the final touches on the packages with decorations and greetings. She packaged, wrapped and decorated 60 packages for the third country nationals that work at the bulk fuel re-supply point at Camp Taji. She will surprise them on Christmas day when she shows up with a truck full of presents and Christmas stockings.

Photos and Article by: Spc Nathan Hoskins,
1st Air Cavalry Brigade Public Affairs

Camp Taji, Iraq - One of the toughest times of the deployment for Soldiers is normally the holidays, but it isn't just Soldiers who are homesick and miss their loved ones.

Crivitz, Wisconsin native Spc Nicole Daly, a motor vehile operator, for the 1157th Transportation Battalion, Wisconsin Army National Guard, attached to the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 1st cavalry division, sees the smiling faces of the men who work at the "bag farm," a bulk fuel resupply point where the fuel containers look like over sized bags.

These employees are third country nationals who are from the Philippines.

"They celebrate Christmas just like you and me; they even have Christmas tree competitions and give gifts," Daly said. "I know that they all have families back home and they all want to be home just like everybody here wants to be home for the holidays. They work hare there for 15 hours a day."

The large influx of care packages to the 1157th gave the idea to Daly's squad leader, Appleton, Wisconsin native Sgt Dominic Renteria, a motor vehicle operator, to give away the extras. That is when Spc Daly took the idea and ran with it.

"I got the idea to put together smaller care packages and wrapping them and giving them to the third country nationals here - giving it to them so that they can celebrate Christmas, too."

Daly put up fliers in the mail room for boxes of all shapes and sizes and received a good response. She then filled those boxes with crossword puzzles, books, DVDs, coffee mugs, candies, cookies and more. Some of them even have baseballs and squirt guns.

For the 60 boxes she assembled, she wrapped them in brown packaging paper and drew pictures on the outside of every box. "They each have their own personalized card. We work with them every day, so we know all of their names," she said.

Daly has gathered up enough Christmas stockings so that every one of the base camp workers will get one.

"I think this is the coolest thing I've ever done. I've never been involved in charitable things before," she said. There is always a first time for everything, and for Daly, being able to bring cheer to someone else's life brings with it her own feelings of joy.

"That morning when we get there and they're expecting it to be like any other day... It will probably be the first gift they've gotten in months. To be able to be that person who can hand them that gift -- moments like that make it worthwhile," said Daly.

It truly is the giving that warms the heart. Thank you, Spc Nicole Daly.

Monday, December 25, 2006

May the Blessings of Christmas Be with You

Christmas Day. For me, it is a time of reflecting, a time of remembrance, a time of sorrow, and a time of joy. It really is about the Blessings. The first gift of Christmas was the Blessing of Love. Should we be wise enough to see them, large and small, the blessings that we receive throughout our lives are ones that we grasp and hold onto - the people we have loved, the people we have lost, the joys we have shared, the trials we have endured, the guidance we have received, the kindnesses received and given, are all about love.

Christmas comes twice in our home. The first Christmas is marked by the early December mailing deadlines that we have for packages and cards for our friends who are deployed. We shop, we wrap, we pack, we write. We fill out customs forms. We look for just the right thing to brighten the day of our friends. We send them off with love.

The second Christmas comes today. We prepare for it much the same way. We shop, we wrap, often we pack, we write. We look for just the right thing to brighten the day of our family and friends. We send them off with love.

Today, we will sit around the tree and open the gifts that have been given to us. But, what is in the package does not mean as much as the fact that someone shopped, wrapped, packed and sent off with love a gift for us. Or, that someone took time to write us a card. Under the tree is a box from Kansas. I don't know what is in it, but I do know who it is from. A young soldier we supported last year. I don't care what is in the box. What matters is that he sent us his love. It's arrival was a huge surprise. The box could be empty and it would mean just as much. Christmas Eve morning - early, very early, it was still dark - the phone rang, and another young soldier was calling to say, "I'm back from Iraq!" These gifts are the ones that we cherish most - the acknowledgement that we have made a positive influence on someone else - it doesn't get much better than that! We receive them with love.

Throughout the days of Christmas, we have been blessed to receive so many kindnesses. We have been given the gifts of confidences - sharing joys and sorrows, requests for prayers, prayers offered to us, friendships - old ones celebrated and new ones made.

In my life, I have learned a great many things. But, the most important thing I have learned is the joy of giving and graciousness of receiving. If these things are done with love, it doesn't matter what is in the box, because the blessing is the gift of love.

We have been blessed, truly blessed. As God blessed us with his Son, He blesses us still with the love that He encourages us to give and receive. Our wish for you ~ May the Blessings of Christmas be with You!!!

Christmas Bells

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
'There is no peace on earth,' I said;
'For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!'

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
'God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!'

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Special Gifts for Christmas

Christmas Gifts from my blogger friends:

Maryannaville has a list of priceless gifts that are free.

Gawfer has a story of Christmas I have never read before, but it will stay in my heart forever.

A Rose By Any Other Name has another beautiful story of kindness, giving and faith.

Bear Creek Ledger has a beautiful story about a visit to a Veteran's Cemetery.

Fight the Good Fight has some great Christmas photos up.

A Soldiers Perspective has a wonderful recorded Christmas message.

Mike's America has a beautiful picture of the Capitol Christmas tree.

Yankeemom has posted a great poem.

My Weekly Thoughts sends us to a VERY FUNNY link

Gunz Up sends us to a link for a magnificent interactive Christmas card.

Thank you all for sharing the joys and charms of Christmas!
And, thank you for the friendship that comes through blogging.


Thank you to CPL M at

Saturday, December 23, 2006

HO HO HO!!!!!!!!!!!!!


You Are Rudolph

Sweet and shy, you tend to be happiest when you're making someone else happy.

Why You're Naughty: You sometimes stick that nose where it doesn't belong

Why You're Nice: Christmas would be a sad affair without you!

However you decorate your part of the world this time of year,
we wish you a very Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas in the Sandbox

Christmas in the Sandbox

The weather this year has already been unkind to some travelers. People are not going to get to their destinations... families may not be together... presents may not be delivered on time. For those that do get where they want to be, they may be dreading the family foibles. All in all, there will be a great deal of fretting and anger about something that is out of our control.

While we are feeling sorry for ourselves, we need to stop and think about the fine young men and women who are deployed around the globe - many in harm's way. They will not be sharing Christmas with their families. They will not have a Christmas morning as we know it or the Christmas dinner with family and friends. But, unlike the rest of us, they will find a way to celebrate the day and the meaning of Christmas with the make shift Christmas trees, decorations cut out of cardboard, and Santa traveling in a flak jacket. They will attend the candlelight ceremonies. They will sing. They will pray. They will share their care packages with one another. They will be true to the meaning of the day.

God Bless You All on Christmas and Always.

The pictures are from my own collection sent by our adopted kids and from the military web sites. I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Minnesota Soldier Rings the Bell in Iraq

"Thank you for visiting my Red Kettle Page! Please help me reach my goal (or surpass it!) in support of The Salvation Army by making an online gift today... I have supported the Salvation Army in the past by ringing the bells during the holiday season and would really like to do so again this year; unfortunately online is my only means of doing so as I am currently deployed to the Middle East (and will be throughout the holiday season). I'd really appreciate even the smallest donation.
Thanks so much- have a wonderful holiday season!"
~SGT Lacy Marie Hennessy


SGT Lacy Hennessy - a Minnesota National Guard Soldier (The Redbulls) now serving in Iraq - has a tradition of ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. "We always had fun with it, singing carols and being goofy. I love to see generous people throwing even some change in the kettle, because it all adds up," said Sgt Hennessy in an email. This year she is doing her bell ringing virtually. Can you click the link and add to her kettle? She has set a goal of $4,000 and is almost there!

I do admire her generosity and determination!
The Salvation Army is our Christmas Charity and this year, our contribution is going in Lacy's Kettle.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Remember - Honor - Teach

Remember - Honor - Teach
Remember the Fallen
Honor Those Who Serve
Teach Our Children the Value of Freedom

2006 will mark the 15th anniversary of holiday wreaths being sent from the State of Maine to Arlington National Cemetery. Each year the folks at Worcester Wreath Company make and decorate wreaths that will adorn over 5000 headstones of our Nation’s fallen heroes - in what has become an annual event coordinated with the Cemetery Administration and the Maine State Society. This year, wreaths have been sent to over 230 State and National Cemeteries and Veterans monuments across the country. They get youth groups involved in the wreath laying so that they will learn about those who have sacrificed so much for the freedom of our country.

Merrill Worcester explains the Wreaths Across America Project:
"Our goal is to expand the recognition of those who serve our country, both past, present, and future, as well as their families who deserve our support. Without the sacrifices of our veterans, there would be no opportunity to enjoy the freedoms, the life we live today."

The Patriot Guard Riders provided the honor escort from Harrington, Maine to Arlington, Virginia. The touching story of their journey and pictures of the wreath layings can be seen on their site.

Please watch the video below to see the touching story of Wreaths Across America.

Arlington Wreath Project

The moving story of the Wreath Project

Wednesday Hero ~ SGT Roy A Wood

Sgt. Roy A. Wood
Sgt. Roy A. Wood
47 years old from Alva, Florida
ODA 2092, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
January 26, 2005

Sgt. Roy A. Wood, a Special Forces medical sergeant, was fatally injured when the vehicle he was riding in was involved in a traffic accident near Kabul, Afghanistan, during a return convoy from Qalat to Bagram Air Base.

His 24-year military career with the Army Reserve and Army National Guard was distinguished and unique. After receiving a commission as a second lieutenant in 1979, he was first assigned to the Army Reserve’s 421st Quartermaster Company (Light Airdrop Supply).

While assigned to the 421st, he received training as a quartermaster officer, a parachute rigger, and participated in both basic airborne and jumpmaster courses.

In January 1982, he left the 421st to begin an association with U.S. Army Special Forces that would last until, and beyond, his death.

His first SF assignment was to the Army Reserve's 11th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Meade, Md., where he served in the 3rd Battalion’s Company A as the detachment executive officer for Operational Detachment-A 1175.

In May 1983, he became Detachment Commander for ODA 1175 after returning from the Special Forces Detachment Officer Qualification Course.

In October 1984, he left ODA 1175 to become the Company Logistics Officer.

He served in a variety of positions at the 11th SFG over the next 11 years, including operations officer and support company commander.

After four years at USSOCOM, he served a year with the Army Reserve’s 73rd Field Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., before switching from the Reserve to the Army National Guard and renewing his association with Special Forces.

He was assigned to 3rd Bn., 20th SFG in December 2001, where he served for a year as the Battalion Surgeon, supervising medical coverage of three Special Forces companies and one support company.

In December 2002, he resigned his commission to become a Special Forces medical sergeant on Operational Detachment-A 2092, Co. C, 3rd Bn., 20th SFG.

He, with ODA 2092, was mobilized in July 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

At the time of his death, he was pending appointment as a Special Forces warrant officer, a position in which he would have served his team as an assistant detachment commander.

During his service, he received the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Reserve Achievement Medal with Silver Hourglass device, the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Basic Parachutist badge, the Parachute Rigger badge, the Ranger tab and the Special Forces tab.

Sgt. Roy Wood leaves behind a wife and two children.

These brave men and women have given their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams.

Those 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 Partcipating In Wednesday Hero