Wednesday, October 31, 2007

SGT Joshua C Brennan ~ Farewell and Walk with God

Oregon has lost another son. SGT Joshua C Brennan, 22, of Ontario, Oregon was killed in an ambush during combat operations on October 25, in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. SGT Brennan died from his wounds on October 26. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy.

Josh graduated from Ontario High School in 2003. He grew up in Oregon with his mother and spent parts of his summers with his father in Wisconsin. He worked part-time during high school and still maintained good grades and participated in sports.

On Josh's My Space Page he writes:
About me: I'm a Sergeant in the Army and I've been in about 3 and a half years now. I am based out of Vicenza, Italy and am getting ready to go back to Afghanistan. I'm originally from Eastern Oregon. I like football, baseball, and weightlifting. Some other hobbies of mine are listening to music, traveling, and meeting new people. I like people with a sense of humor and are really down to earth.
Who I'd like to meet: Anyone who has a real personality and is down to Earth. I hate snobs and assholes so if either apply don't bother. Oh yeah, and I hate talking about the war.

Josh and his mother communicated through their My Space Pages. Earlier in the week, SSG Larry Rougle lost his life and Josh's mom played "Heaven Was Needing a Hero" on her page. "Never in my wildest dreams did I know heaven was needing him, too," she said. She has written on her My Space Page: Rest in peace my Son, Rest in peace.......... This site will be under construction for the next several weeks in memory of our beloved Son, Joshua Charles Brennan, killed in action in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan on October 26, 2007........................................I cannot find the words at the present time to describe the anguish, the loss, the void in my life now...... there are so very many people who loved him, looked up to him and considered him to be their personal hero. For the men of the 173rd Airborne Brigade who served by his side in battle ........I know you are hurting also. I know you loved Joshua. You are all in my heart, my thoughts and my prayers for your continued safety and return home to your loved ones.................................May God bless each and every one of you and shield you with his Armor...

Josh was shot in the leg in August. In a firefight with the Taliban, Josh was shot in the leg.
He continued to fight for several hours, then made his way down the mountain for help.

Last week, Josh was shot again. This time he was shot in the chest. The Taliban fighters tried to carry him off,  but SPC Sal Giunta (now Staff Sergeant) was able to rescue him from the Taliban.  Sadly, Josh died from his wounds the next day.  Also killed in the fire fight was the medic in the unit, SPC Hugo Mendoza.

Josh had already received a Bronze Star during his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. He also received the soldier of the year award for the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

Update:  SSG Sal Giunta will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in this firefight on November 16, 2010

Please enjoy this tribute from his family:

Wednesday Hero ~ LCpl Nicholas R Anderson

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas R. Anderson

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas R. Anderson
21 years old from Sauk City, Wisconsin
1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force
March 13, 2006

Lance Cpl. Nicholas Anderson lost his life after the Humvee he was riding in rolled over as a group of Marines pursued a suspicious vehicle near Jalalabad, Afghanistan. He suffered head injuries in the crash and died as he was being transported to a hospital.

Nicholas Anderson joined the Marines in January 2005 and began a six-month tour of Afghanistan two months ago with the 3rd Marines Weapons Platoon, his father, James Anderson said.

"I just know that he died fighting for what he believed in," he said. "He wanted to be a Marine and even though it was a major risk he just wanted to go."

James Anderson said his son, a 2003 Sauk Prairie High School graduate, enjoyed riding his motorcycle, lifting weights, going fishing and hanging out with friends.

He joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard when he was 18, but an injured shoulder forced him to drop out. He then enlisted in the Marines.

"I was very nervous when he first joined the Marines because two words jumped into my head: Afghanistan and Iraq," his father said. "I just supported him and prayed that it would end before he had to go over."

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.

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your blog, you can go here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Iraqi Army Donates to California Fire Victims

RELEASE No. 20071026-01October 26, 2007

Iraqi Army at Besmaya Installation Support San Diego Fire Victims
By U.S. Army Sgt 1st Class Charlene Sipperly
Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq Public Affairs

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Members of the Iraqi Army in Besmaya collected a donation for the San Diego, Calif., fire victims Thursday night at the Besmaya Range Complex in a moving ceremony to support Besmaya's San Diego residents.

Iraqi Army Col. Abbass, the commander of the complex, presented a gift of $1,000 to U.S. Army Col. Darel Maxfield, Besmaya Range Complex officer in charge, Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq, to send to the fire victims in California.

The money was collected from Iraqi officers and enlisted soldiers in Besmaya. In a speech given during the presentation, Col. Abbass stated that he and the Iraqi soldiers were connected with the American people in many ways, and they will not forget the help that the American government has given the Iraqi people. Abbass was honored to participate by sending a simple fund of $1,000 to the American people in San Diego, to lower the suffering felt by the tragedy.

Thanks to Richard Lowry at Op-For for finding this story....

These people barely feed their families, yet they chose to reach out to Americans in need. Yep, I think it is worth it to help them have a better life.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Project Valour-IT

Project Valour-IT - part of Soldiers' Angels - provides voice-controlled software and laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries or amputations at major military medical centers. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the 'Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field without having to press a key or move a mouse.

The annual fundraiser - which is done by milbloggers - is October 29 - November 11. 100% of the donations go directly to providing laptops with voice activated software to our wounded warriors. We have a friendly inter-branch rivalry going, but all funds are merged to help our warriors.

Please consider a donation today -
Use the boxes on the left or Click here to go to the donation boxes -
Thank You!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Military Families Deal with the California Fires

10/23/07 - San Diego County residents take refuge in the Sports Warehouse Gym on Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., Oct. 23, 2007. Naval facilities throughout Navy Region Southwest have opened their gates to provide food, shelter and supplies to families of service members, thousands of whom have been displaced by the wildfires that are devastating Southern California. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac, U.S. Navy

10/23/07 - Victims of the San Diego wildfires move personal items and pets into a 500-person tent camp on Turner Field at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., Oct. 23, 2007. U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) One built the tent camp as emergency shelter for victims of the San Diego wildfires. More than 268 military personnel and their families have evacuated their homes to seek shelter in the camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Morales)

10/24/07 - Evacuees from the California wildfires seek refuge in the Camp San Mateo Gym on Camp Pendleton, Calif., Oct. 24, 2007. Hundreds of thousands of civilians and military members have been evacuated as wildfires burn throughout San Diego County. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Seth Maggard

More than 400 military families in San Diego County and the surrounding areas take refuge in the gym on Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., on Oct. 23, 2007, after being evacuated from their homes due to encroaching wildfires. DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark A. Leonesio, U.S. Navy

10/23/07 - U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cory Schultz, attached to the 24th Foxtrot Company, helps displaced families at an evacuation center on Turner Field on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., Oct. 23, 2007. More than 400 military families in San Diego County and the surrounding areas were evacuated due to wildfires. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Mark A. Leonesio)

10/23/07 - U.S. Navy Gunners Mate 3rd Class Bryan Marsh, assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59), hands out a toy to an evacuee at the gym on Naval Station San Diego, Calif., Oct. 23, 2007. More than 30 Sailors from Russell volunteered assist people displaced by the wildfires in Southern California that have destroyed over 300,000 acres of land. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Theresa Donnell)

10/24/07 - U.S. Navy Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Noah Rose, director for administration bachelors enlisted quarters, checks an animal being cared for in a makeshift kennel on Naval Medical Center San Diego, Calif., Oct. 24, 2007, due to evacuations in Southern California areas affected by the wildfires. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Greg Mitchell)

10/24/07 - U.S. Navy Storekeeper Seaman Cristina Aaraosflores and Aviation Boatswain's Fuel Airman Davion Lynch moves their belongings out of their barracks room Oct. 23, 2007, at Naval Station North Island in Coronado, Calif., and onto the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) giving evacuated families a place to stay. Thousands of military families have been displaced by the wildfires in San Diego County, which have forced the evacuation of more then 300,000 and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. Naval facilities throughout Navy Region Southwest have opened their gates to provide food, shelter and supplies to the displaced families of service members. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kathleen Gorby)

As the California Wildfires raged, hundreds of military families were affected. They were evacuated and escaped with a few possessions and their pets. At the Naval stations and Pendleton Marine Base, tent cities and gyms were set up for the comfort of the families. Make-shift kennels were started.

Fortunately, most were able to return to their homes... but, not all were. A friend of ours is currently deployed to Iraq. His home was burned to the ground. Fortunately, his wife and daughters are physically fine. He is returning home as I type. He was getting ready to retire and they had just completed a remodel on their home. Now, they face the loss of everything and the task of rebuilding their lives. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Zone of Destruction

Vehicles and Buildings Destroyed

US Soldiers Deployed to Patrol Zone

Lives Lost

Property Lost

Homes Lost

Zone of Destruction:


A U.S. Army soldier from the California Army National Guard patrols in a neighborhood where buildings and vehicles were destroyed in wildfires in Valley Center, Calif., on Oct. 25, 2007. More than 1,500 National Guard Army soldiers and Air Force airmen are assisting civilian authorities in tackling the fires. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill, U.S. Army.

Friday, October 26, 2007

First Lady, Laura Bush, Visits the Troops in Kuwait

By Sgt. Sara Wood,
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2007 – First lady Laura Bush visited troops in Kuwait today to thank them for their service, calling them a force for good in the Middle East. (Video)

“At the heart of your mission to protect America's freedom is securing the freedom of others,” Bush told the troops. “Because of our men and women in uniform, 50 million people who once lived in tyranny can now choose the future direction of their countries and their own lives.”

Bush noted that the U.S. troops, from the Army’s Task Force 1146 and the Air Force’s 386th Air Expeditionary Group, provide top-notch missile defense, combat rescue and support, medical evacuation, air surveillance, and supply services to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each year, more than 700,000 military personnel move there on their way to and from Iraq and Afghanistan, she said, and the soldiers and airmen move them efficiently and professionally.

U.S. troops in the Middle East are building a foundation of friendship between America and countries in the region, Bush said. Because of the sacrifices troops made in the early 1990s, Kuwait now is a prosperous nation making important strides toward democracy, she said. During a meeting yesterday with Kuwaiti political leaders, Bush said, an official told her, “We will never, ever forget” America's liberation of Kuwait. “It's engraved in our hearts and in our history books.”

Bush’s trip to the Middle East is to promote the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness Research. She said troops in the Middle East are helping make things like this possible and helping people of the region improve their lives.

“With your courage and compassion, you show that the United States military is one of the greatest forces for good in the world,” Bush told the troops.

Bush recounted several stories of compassion and bravery by U.S. troops in the Middle East, such as two officers who helped save the lives of two Kuwaiti civilians in a car accident, troops who coordinated medical care for an Iraqi boy with a serious condition, and an Army Reserve staff sergeant who stopped a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.

“Across the Middle East and around the world, many stories of compassion and self-sacrifice we hear,” the first lady said. “When Americans hear these stories, we think of them as extraordinary acts of heroism. To the men and women in our armed forces, they're just all in a day's work.”

Bush reminded the troops that Americans understand and appreciate the sacrifices they make. She said that she and President Bush get letters from people who say they’re proud of the troops and believe in them.

“If you want the real measure of how Americans feel about you and your mission, listen for the love and pride in phone calls from your families,” she said. “Read the encouragement in e-mails from your friends. Read the stories in the news, the ones about the Main Street parades organized to honor hometown heroes.”


She delivered a great speech - to read the full transcript, go here.

It was touching to see the troops with her - their ovations were standing, loud, strong and long.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

UH-OH - More Good News in Iraq!!!!

Construction workers use a crane to move barrels of material on the airfield side of the Mosul Passenger Terminal on Forward Operating Base Diamond Back, Sept. 30. The terminal will be used to provide air transportation to local residents for the upcoming pilgrimage to Mecca. The renovation is being conducted by a partnership of Iraqi agencies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reopen the terminal after 14 years.

Contracted construction workers pour concrete to repair the parking lot at the Mosul Passenger Terminal on Forward Operating Base Diamond Back, Sept. 30.

Contractors move a reel of cable for construction at the Mosul Passenger Terminal on Forward Operating Base Diamond Back, Sept. 30.

A contractor prepares a wall for repair in the lounge area of the Mosul Passenger Terminal on Forward Operating Base Diamond Back, Sept. 30.


Multi-National Division – North PAO
By Spc. Eric A. Rutherford,
115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

MOSUL, Iraq – During the last month of the Islamic year, more than a million Muslims make the pilgrimage, or Hajj, to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. This year, local Iraqis can make the pilgrimage more easily for the first time in almost 14 years, due to a working relationship between the Provincial Reconstruction Team, the provincial Iraqi government, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The relationship created a plan to renovate the Mosul Passenger Terminal on Forward Operating Base Diamondback in order to allow people to take flights out of the area to complete the pilgrimage. That plan was set into motion, July 1, when construction began.

“This project is primarily the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Iraqis of course,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Alex Barlas, the PRT representative working on this project with USACE and the local Iraqi government. “It is very important we integrate them into all of our projects. The Iraqis wanted this terminal renovated. The terminal has not had any flights since around 1993.”

The project, led by USACE, has approximately 70 people working to complete the renovation prior to the terminal’s scheduled opening, Nov. 12.

“The end-state goal is to have the interior of terminal renovated to the point where it can be used by people passing through,” said Barlas. “We want to have it open in time for people to make it to Mecca.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Turkish contractors are in charge of the renovation.

“The renovation’s basic scope is to install electric, phone and data lines,” said Alda Ottley, the project engineer for USACE. “We will have new paint and plaster, polish the tile and repair any missing ones.”

The building, which was already in place, will be modernized, and some new additions will be included.

“The staircase will be renovated with modern railing,” said Ottley. “There is a lounge upstairs, and a VIP area for departure and arrival with kitchen. There is also a security and concierge desk.”

These new additions are intended to make passengers’ travel through this terminal more enjoyable and to eventually make this terminal more than just a place where people can connect with the pilgrimage. The first order of business for the terminal is to allow local Iraqis the opportunity to fly out for their pilgrimage for the first time in more than a decade; subsequent plans include expanding services.

“With a minimum of two flights a day, we are expecting a minimum of 300 passengers a day,” said Ottley. “During the month of the Hajj, it will be straight Hajj flights, but eventually it will be a full blown terminal.”

The importance of this terminal is underscored by more than just a need for modern facilities – it will allow people of Islamic faith from more remote northern areas to make the pilgrimage more easily. Muslims believe the Hajj must be completed in order to get to Heaven.

“This will have a major impact on the city of Mosul,” Ottley said about the project, which has had no significant setbacks to construction. Upon completion, the daily flights will allow Muslims in the area the chance to fulfill their religious duties.

Easier air travel will soon be available to the people of the area. This project is the work of not just the USACE and PRT, but several other Iraqi agencies as well.

“Iraqi Civil aviation authority, and Iraqi Airways are working on this project,” said Barlas. “The money is being funded through the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance.”

With the completion of the project nearing, as well as the beginning of the Hajj, Barlas feels that progress is being made.

“[This is] A very good project and we are glad to be working on these things, with the Iraqis,” said Barlas. “The reason we are here is to assist the Iraqi people. But really it is about helping others."

Story and Photos by SPC Eric Rutherford - take care, my friend!!!

Soldiers Train Iraqis at Skills Center

Iraqi contractors use a front-end loader to transfer materials into the concrete batch plant at the Salah Al-Din Business Center on Contingency Operations Base Speicher, Oct. 17. The concrete plant uses materials to produce force protection barriers for the COB.

An Iraqi laborer sands a mirror frame for a remodeling project at the Salah Al-Din skills training center on Contingency Operations Base Speicher, Oct. 17. The Skills center trains local Iraqis in carpentry, plumbing and electrical skills so they can work on the COB, or use their skills to do contracting work in their villages.

A small Iraqi flag flutters in the wind, while an Iraqi laborer works on a remodeling project at the Salah Al-Din skills training center on Contingency Operations Base Speicher, Oct. 17. The Skills center trains local Iraqis in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical skills so they can work on the COB, or use their skills to do contracting work in their villages.

An Iraqi laborer uses a rip saw to trim some molding at the Salah Al-Din skills training center on Contingency Operations Base Speicher, Oct. 17. The Skills center trains local Iraqis in carpentry, plumbing and electrical skills so they can work on the COB, or use their skills to do contracting work in their villages.
The rock crushing machine makes gravel at the Salah Al-Din Business Center on Contingency Operations Base Speicher, Oct. 17. The rock crusher is part of the Materials Transfer Area that allows Iraqi and Turkish contractors to transfer rock safely onto the COB.

Multi-National Division – North Public Affairs Office
By Spc. Eric A. Rutherford,
115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

TIKRIT, Iraq – In Salah Al-Din province, where 2.3 million Iraqis live, few people have reliable electricity, and even fewer have running water. U.S. Soldiers have teamed up with local Iraqis and U.S. Government agencies to create a program that will train some of the people who live in the Maryland-sized province to get the skills they need to rebuild their country.

The program aims to put Iraqis to work –help train them and open the door to obtaining U.S. Government contracts or starting their own contracting companies. The program is known as IBIZ or Iraqi Business and Industrial Zone. Construction on the first project, the Joint Regional Contract Center began April 16 and was completed May 30. The completed project, officially named the Sal Al-Din Business Center, is a large complex adjacent to the Entry Control Point on Contingency Operation Base Speicher.

“The idea started earlier this spring between the military, the Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Joint Regional Contract Center,” said Capt. Jim Golby, the commander of Headquarters Support Company, 25th Special Troops Battalion. “The group got together and decided to come up with this integrated concept.”

The Sal Al-Din Business center consists of three facilities. The first facility is the JRCC office that gives Iraqis access to U.S. Government contracts that they can do on the COB with increased protection from Soldiers. The second area of the center is the material transfer point for Turkish and Iraqi contractors to deliver material to a rock crusher and concrete batch plant for making force protection barriers. The third facility is the Kellogg Brown and Root Skills Training Area.

Golby, who has been involved with the project since its inception, said there are 35 Iraqi workers hired by KBR to do on the job training. They will learn plumbing, electrical and carpentry skills to U.S. and British standards. The aim of this training is to enable them to become qualified for better paying jobs on the COB. He estimates that the project, which is still in its infancy, could save the U.S. government $5-10 million this year.

There are approximately 100 Iraqis working at the site. Golby expects there to be an additional 55 workers in the program by January. These new workers will have opportunities to learn skills in welding, heating ventilation and air conditioning, and small engine repair for generators. He estimates that eventually there will be around 500 employees working at IBIZ.

When IBIZ is fully operational, planners estimate it will save the U.S. $70 million and infuse around $19 million into the Iraqi economy annually, by awarding contracts to lower costing Iraqi labor. According to IBIZ planning documents, the facilities were projected to cost $685,000 to build, and approximately $1.5 million per year to operate.

“This is a tremendous initiative for the Iraqis,” said Golby. “It allows them to get skills training. It allows them to develop economic capacity and get jobs.”

The initiative, which provides jobs and bolsters the local economy, did not come about easily.

“We had to integrate this project into our entry control point, which was a major task,” said Golby. “We went through a lot of hard work, but thankfully I’ve had a lot of dedicated Soldiers and NCOs (non-commissioned officers) who have spent 12-hour days out in the sun, sometimes in 125-degree heat who have secured this area and made it a very safe place for Iraqis to work and American Soldiers to be as well.”

Another challenge Golby mentioned was getting a variety of different agencies to work together. Hard work and dedication have made it a success, he said. One part of that success was getting village leaders involved in recruiting. Another significant hurdle was cleared when the provincial government gave its blessing to the project.

Not only will Iraqis gain work skills that can allow them to work on the COB, or through government contracts, but they will also be able to take their skills into the local economy and continue to rebuild their country, Golby said.

“Local contracts are good because it helps to develop their businesses in the local economy,” said Capt. George Plansky, the contracting officer with the JRCC, Tikrit. “It actually puts people to work. You may have a contract with 20 to 25 guys who are being put to work. The rock crusher is being operated by local Iraqis. When there is more money pumped into the local economy, there’s less guys in the streets trying to plant improvised explosive devices and stuff like that.”

In addition to providing skills training and alternatives to destructive activities, Plansky says IBIZ offers hope.

“We have put a lot of Iraqis to work,” said Plansky. “We have made a lot of people happy that we are employing people and it is giving them hope. Instead of just buying commodities, we get these guys to construct things or produce things such as gravel and concrete. Those kinds of activities for us will eventually spawn activities of the same caliber on the outside. If they can do it here in a secure environment, they will start to have impacts on their local economy.”

Golby and his Soldiers are getting ready to go home after their 15-month deployment. During that time, they have built relationships with the locals, and given something back to the people of Iraq.

“I think this is an outstanding initiative. I spent my last deployment over here as a scout platoon leader facing IEDs and small arms attacks on a fairly regular basis,” Golby said. “This time I have been able to work on this initiative, and I think the things we are doing here are the sort of things we need to do to help give Iraqis the chance to set up a working economy and a government that can sustain itself.”

Pictures and Story by SPC Eric Rutherford. Thanks, Eric - stay safe!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lt Michael P Murphy ~ Inducted into Pentagon's Hall of Heroes

Maureen and Daniel Murphy stand next to a framed picture and Medal of Honor citation during a ceremony where their son, Navy Lt. Michael P. Murphy was inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, Oct. 23, 2007.
Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Molly A. Burgess, USN

A framed Medal of Honor Citation and photo of U.S. Navy Lt. Michael P. Murphy, is displayed during a cermony in which he was inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, Oct. 23, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Molly A. Burgess

Unveiled today, Murphy’s is the only name in a space reserved for those who have received the highest military decoration for combat valor in Operation Enduring Freedom. At the White House yesterday, President Bush presented the lieutenant’s Medal of Honor to Murphy’s parents, Maureen and Dan Murphy.

Upon seeing his son’s name today -- surrounded by the names of 3,444 Medal of Honor recipients honored in the hall -- Dan Murphy kissed his hand and pressed it to the letters. “This is a little overwhelming,” Murphy, choking back tears, told the audience that packed the hall and spilled into the adjacent Pentagon corridor.

“While we are here today to deal with individual acts of courage by Michael,” Murphy said, “Michael was in fact a team player, and there were 10 other SEALs and eight Army special operations (soldiers) that were lost on that day.”

The fateful day Dan Murphy referred to is June 28, 2005. In the Hindu Kush Mountains that day, as his son led a four-man SEAL team in search of a key terrorist commander, the unit came under attack by some 50 Taliban fighters. The lieutenant is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates, according to a summary of action published by the Navy.

Despite intense combat around him, Michael Murphy -- already wounded in the firefight -- moved into the open, where he could gain a better transmission signal and request backup from headquarters. At one point, Murphy was shot in the back, causing him to drop the transmitter. The lieutenant picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy as they closed in.

By the time the two-hour gunfight had concluded, Murphy and two others SEALs had been killed. An estimated 35 Taliban died in the fighting.

As a somber postscript to Murphy’s bravery, the helicopter that he requested crashed after being struck by a rocket- propelled grenade, killing everyone on board. That day was the deadliest for Navy Special Warfare forces since World War II.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England called Murphy a “rare hero” who sacrificed his life for others. He added that the lieutenant devoted himself to preserving the American way of life for future generations.

“As a nation, we are willing to sacrifice our blood and our treasure for our founding belief, and that founding belief is our freedom,” England said. “Michael was securing those very freedoms for Americans and for the people of Afghanistan when he made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter read an excerpt from the SEAL creed, an ethos with which most Americans are unfamiliar, he said.

“I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity,” Winter said, reciting the doctrine. “I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.”

“Lieutenant Murphy lived that creed,” Winter added. “He looked within himself and chose the path of honor.”

Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, said Murphy distinguished himself above and beyond the call of duty.

“On behalf of all who wear the uniform of the United States Navy, today and for all years to come, I extend our gratitude and our profound admiration for Michael Murphy’s service, for his example, for his leadership and for his uncommon valor,” he said.

Aside from those in Navy dress, Murphy’s memory today was honored by men and women in other uniforms. Some 60 members of the New York City fire department arrived by bus and car to attend the ceremony.

On his SEAL uniform, Murphy wore a New York City firehouse patch to honor firefighters killed during the Sept., 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, which occurred about 60 miles from his hometown Patchogue, N.Y. Firefighters like Daniel Swift, stationed at Ladder 43 in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City, now wear Murphy’s patch on their fire coats.

Swift, who was wounded in Baghdad in 2004 while serving as an Army specialist, said he and his fellow firefighters share an indelible bond with servicemembers. After Murphy died, Swift and the other Ladder 43 firemen hosted the SEALs from Murphy’s unit for a few days at the firehouse, loading them onto engines during calls.

“There were no second thoughts,” Swift said about his Ladder’s decision to attend today’s ceremony. “Not many people could understand the bond between the SEALs and the fire department there, but it exists very powerfully.”

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

This is the video of the induction ceremony.
It is quite beautiful - especially when Mr. Murphy talks about his son.

To read about the
Medal of Honor, go here.
To read more about Lt Murphy, please go here.
To read the citation, please go here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Medal of Honor ~ Lt Michael P Murphy

President George W. Bush stands with Dan and Maureen Murphy, parents of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, after the Navy SEAL was honored posthumously with the Medal of Honor during ceremonies Monday, Oct. 22, 2007, in the East Room of the White House. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

President George W. Bush leads the applause after presenting Dan and Maureen Murphy with the Medal of Honor in honor of their son, Navy Lt. Michael P. Murphy, who died in action during service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2005. White House photo by David Bohrer

President George W Bush presented the Medal of Honor to the parents of Lt Michael P Murphy.

It is because of men like Lt Michael Murphy and those on his team, Danny Dietz, Matt Axelson, Marcus Luttrell, and those on the rescue helicopter who died - 8 SEALs and 8 Nightstalkers - that we are free to live in the greatest country on the face of the earth.

To read more about Lt Murphy, please go here.

To read the citation, please go here.

Medal of Honor Ceremony for Lt Michael Murphy

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, and welcome to the White House. The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration that a President can bestow. It recognizes gallantry that goes above and beyond the call of duty in the face of an enemy attack. The tradition of awarding this honor began during the Civil War. And many of those who have received the medal have given their lives in the action that earned it.

Today, we add Lieutenant Michael Murphy's name to the list of recipients who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Deep in the mountains of Afghanistan, this brave officer gave his life in defense of his fellow Navy SEALs. Two years later, the story of his sacrifice humbles and inspires all who hear it. And by presenting Michael Murphy's family with the Medal of Honor that he earned, a grateful nation remembers the courage of this proud Navy SEAL.

I welcome the Vice President; Senator Ted Stevens; Senator Chuck Schumer, from Lieutenant Murphy's home state. I appreciate very much the fact that Congressman Tim Bishop, from Lieutenant Murphy's district, is with us today. Welcome. Thank you all for coming.

I appreciate the fact that Deputy Secretary Gordon England has joined us; Secretary Pete Geren of the Army; Secretary Don Winter of the Navy; Secretary Mike Wynne of the Air Force; Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs; Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations; and all who wear the nation's uniform. Welcome.

I appreciate the fact that we've got Barney Barnum, Tom Kelley, Tommy Norris, and Mike Thornton, Medal of Honor recipients, with us today.

We do welcome Dan Murphy and Maureen Murphy, father and mother of Michael Murphy; John Murphy, his brother; and other family members that are with us today.

It's my honor to welcome all the friends and comrades of Lieutenant Michael Murphy to the White House. And I want to thank Chaplain Bob Burt, Chief of Chaplains, for his opening prayer.

Looking back on his childhood in Patchogue, New York, you might say that Michael Murphy was born to be a Navy SEAL. SEALs get their name from operating by sea, air, and land -- and even as a toddler, Michael could find his way through any obstacle. When he was just 18 months old, he darted across a neighbor's yard, and dove into the swimming pool. By the time his frantic parents reached him, Michael had swum to the other side with a big smile on his face. As he grew older, Michael learned to swim from one side of a nearby lake to the other -- and he developed into a talented all-around athlete.

But beyond his physical strength, Michael Murphy was blessed with a powerful sense of right and wrong. This sense came from devoted parents who taught him to love his neighbor -- and defend those who could not defend themselves. Well, Michael took these lessons to heart. One day in school, he got into a scuffle sticking up for a student with a disability. It's the only time his parents ever got a phone call from the principal -- and they couldn't have been prouder. Michael's passion for helping others led him to become a caring brother, a tutor, a lifeguard, and eventually, a member of the United States Armed Forces.

Michael's decision to join the military wasn't an easy one for his family. As a Purple Heart recipient during Vietnam, Michael's father understood the sacrifices that accompany a life of service. He also understood that his son was prepared to make these sacrifices. After graduating from Penn State with honors, Michael accepted a commission in the Navy -- and later, set off for SEAL training. Fewer than a third of those who begin this intense training program graduate to become Navy SEALs. Yet there was little doubt about the determined lieutenant from New York. And in 2002, Michael earned his Navy SEAL Trident.

Michael also earned the respect of his men. They remember a wise-cracking friend who went by "Mikey" or "Murph." They remember a patriot who wore a New York City firehouse patch on his uniform in honor of the heroes of 9/11. And they remember an officer who respected their opinions, and led them with an understated, yet unmistakable, sense of command. Together, Michael and his fellow SEALs deployed multiple times around the world in the war against the extremists and radicals. And while their missions were often carried out in secrecy, their love of country and devotion to each other was always clear.

On June 28th, 2005, Michael would give his life for these ideals. While conducting surveillance on a mountain ridge in Afghanistan, he and three fellow SEALs were surrounded by a much larger enemy force. Their only escape was down the side of a mountain -- and the SEALs launched a valiant counterattack while cascading from cliff to cliff. But as the enemy closed in, Michael recognized that the survival of his men depended on calling back to the base for reinforcements. With complete disregard for his own life, he moved into a clearing where his phone would get reception. He made the call, and Michael then fell under heavy fire. Yet his grace and upbringing never deserted him. Though severely wounded, he said "thank you" before hanging up, and returned to the fight -- before losing his life.

Unfortunately, the helicopter carrying the reinforcements never reached the scene. It crashed after being struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. And in the end, more Americans died in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005 than on any other day since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. This day of tragedy also has the sad distinction of being the deadliest for Navy Special Warfare forces since World War II.

One of Michael's fellow SEALs did make it off the mountain ridge -- he was one of Michael's closest friends. Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell of Texas, author of a riveting book called "Lone Survivor," put it this way: "Mikey was the best officer I ever knew, an iron-souled warrior of colossal and almost unbelievable courage in the face of the enemy."

For his courage, we award Lieutenant Michael Murphy the first Medal of Honor for combat in Afghanistan. And with this medal, we acknowledge a debt that will not diminish with time -- and can never be repaid.

Our nation is blessed to have volunteers like Michael who risk their lives for our freedom. We're blessed to have mothers and fathers like Maureen and Dan Murphy who raise sons of such courage and character. And we're blessed with the mercy of a loving God who comforts all those who grieve.

And now I ask Michael's parents to join on stage, and the Military Aide will read the citation.

MILITARY AIDE: The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005.

While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged, enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy's team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team.

Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of his team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into an open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team.

In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


To read more about Michael Murphy, go here.

Wedesday Hero ~ Lt Michael P Murphy

Lt. Michael P. Murphy

Lt. Michael P. Murphy
29 years old from Patchogue, New York
SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1
June 28, 2005

On Monday, October 22, Lt. Michael P. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal Of Honor. His father and mother accepted the award. Lt. Murphy received the award for his extraordinary, selfless heroism and steadfast courage while leading a four-man, special reconnaissance mission deep behind enemy lines east of Asadabad in the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan June 27 to 28, 2005

"We are thrilled by the President's announcement today, especially because there is now a public recognition of what we knew all along about Michael's loyalty, devotion and sacrifice to his friends, family, country, and especially his SEAL teammates," the Murphy family said in a statement released earlier in the month. "The honor is not just about Michael, it is about his teammates and those who lost their lives that same day."

Murphy was the officer-in-charge of the SEAL element, which was tasked with locating a high- level Taliban militia leader to provide intelligence for a follow-on mission to capture or destroy the local leadership and disrupt enemy activity. Taliban sympathizers discovered the SEAL unit and immediately revealed their position to Taliban fighters. The element was besieged on a mountaintop by scores of enemy fighters. The firefight that ensued pushed the element farther into enemy territory and left all four SEALs wounded. The SEALs fought with everything they had. despite being at a tactical disadvantage and outnumbered more than four to one. Understanding the gravity of the situation and his responsibility to his men, Murphy, already wounded, deliberately and unhesitatingly moved from cover into the open where he took and returned fire while transmitting a call for help for his beleaguered teammates. Shot through the back while radioing for help, Murphy completed his transmission while returning fire. The call ultimately led to the rescue of one severely wounded team member, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell, and the recovery of the remains of Murphy and Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson.

Eight more SEALs and eight Army "Nightstalker" special operations personnel comprising the initial reinforcement also lost their lives when their helicopter was shot down before they could engage the enemy.

Murphy was also inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon. His name will be engraved beside the names of some 3,400 other service members who have also been awarded the nation’s highest honor.
To read more about Lt Murphy, please go here.
To read the citation, please go here.

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.

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your blog, you can go here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Anybody Out There?

A U.S. Army Soldier attached to Task Force 1-77, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force scans his sector of security during an operation in Tharthar, Iraq, Oct. 5, 2007. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kieran Cuddihy.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Farewell, Deborah Kerr

Deborah Kerr
September 30, 1921 - October 16, 2007
We lost one of our great actresses this week. Deborah Kerr made great movies that are still being talked about and enjoyed today. She made us laugh and cry. She left behind a legacy that we are still enjoying today. Thank you, Miss Kerr.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Don't Mess with Mamma!!!

East Los Angeles, California native 2nd Lt Lauren Cabral, a maintenance officer with the 3rd Infantry Division's 2rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, helps and Iraqi woman get comfortable with the AK-47 automatic rifle during a weapons familiarization class, October 10, that was part of the training for the first group of female Iraqi security volunteers in Baghdad's Adhamiyah neighborhood.

Photo by Sgt Michael Pryor

Leading Ladies: Adhamiyah women join Volunteer Guard Force

Monday, 15 October 2007

BAGHDAD — In a well-lit meeting room in a government building in the Iraqi capital, 20 Iraqi women were sitting in a circle, intently watching the demonstration in the center of the room. They were dressed modestly but with some flair: bright pink and blue headscarves mixed in among the black chadors, chunky, designer purses resting on the floor beneath their seats.
The friendly, casual atmosphere in the room looked similar to a suburban book-club meeting, or maybe a Mary-Kay cosmetics party. Except that these women were not learning how to apply foundation, they were learning how to lock and load an AK-47.

“Who can show me how to do it?” asked the instructor, an Iraqi Army sergeant, holding up the weapon.

One of the women jumped up and took the automatic rifle, expertly disassembled it and put it back together. When she cocked it by loudly slamming the charging handle back, the rest of the women applauded.

They might well have been applauding themselves. As members of the first class of female security volunteers in Adhamiyah, all 51 women in the class were groundbreakers. The women will join hundreds of male residents that are already helping secure Adhamiyah by guarding important public sites like schools, hospitals, and government buildings.

The four-day course running from Oct. 8 to Oct. 11 was organized by the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and taught by U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers. The training focused on security procedures, proper search techniques, and weapons familiarization.

“I think it shows these women that, ‘I, too, can make a difference in my community,” said Los Angeles native, 2nd Lt. Lauren Cabral, the officer in charge of the training.

The necessity to have female security guards became clear earlier this month when a female suicide bomber was able to enter a public building without being searched in nearby Fadhil and blew her explosive vest up, killing several people, said Maj. Ike Sallee, the 3-7 Cav.’s operations officer.

“Insurgents can come in any size, shape, or gender,” Sallee said.

In Iraq, cultural sensitivities preclude men from searching women. But there is nothing stopping a woman from searching another woman. For that reason, it was important to give women in Adhamiyah the chance to assist with the security effort.

“It’s their lives that are in danger, too,” said Kalamazoo, Mich., native, Pfc. Paula Cook, a military policewoman with the 108th Military Police Company and one of the instructors in the class.

In a culturally conservative society like Iraq’s, there are some who might criticize the female security volunteers for stepping outside their traditional roles. But Mervat Hussein, a single mother enrolled in the class, said no one has the right to criticize the women for trying to protect their community.

“What is the substitute they have? Nothing,” Hussein said. “Should we just stay in our houses, suffering?”

However, while women like Hussein had the motivation to take part in security efforts, they lacked the know-how. The class was designed to remedy that by giving them a basic, working knowledge of several skill areas they will need in order to be effective as security volunteers.
Proper search procedures are one such skill area. On the second day of training, Cook demonstrated search techniques for the group. The class began with nervous titters among the Adhamiyah women, who blushed and looked away when Cook showed how to search sensitive areas.

The women were definitely operating outside of their comfort zone, Cook said.

“At first they seemed a little nervous, a little wary,” she said.

But when Cook showed them how easy it is to hide a weapon if a thorough search isn’t conducted, the women stopped being timid and started really shaking each other down during role-playing exercises.

“Once we got it across to them that it’s for their security as well as everyone else’s, I think they got it,” she said. “Towards the end they were really catching on.”

Cabral, who was supervising the entire program, said she felt a responsibility to the women in the class to make sure they received the best training.

“As a female, I definitely feel responsible. I want to teach them everything I know that could help them out on the street,” she said.

After only a few days of training, many of the women were already feeling more confident and better able to protect themselves. Hussein said she had gained a lot of knowledge from the training, especially about the AK-47.

“I really learned many things. I knew nothing about weapons before this,” she said.
She said she was looking forward to putting her new knowledge into action after she starts working.

“I am happy because now I am taking a part in protecting the community,” she said. “I am nervous, but happy.”

Story by By Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs

Thursday, October 18, 2007

General Peter Pace ~ A Beautiful Farewell

General Peter Pace
leaves his stars at the Wall
for his men...
Heroes - one and all....

This story has been hitting many of our mailboxes and popping up on several blogs. I am posting it here to keep it as a record.

I wanted to share with you what we saw in Washington DC last week. After the mid-term brief we toured the Mall and made the usual stops at the WWII Memorial, the Wall, Lincoln Memorial, etc. At the Vietnam Wall we saw something unbelievable. We noticed three small index cards at the base of the Wall. I knelt down for a closer look and noticed that a 4-star general's rank was pinned to each card.

The cards were personally addressed and said:
These are Yours- not mine!
With Love and Respect,
Your Platoon Leader,
Pete Pace
1 Oct

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs had laid down his rank for his boys who died in Nam just the day before! I later found out that 1 Oct was also the same day he stepped down as chairman.

I was furious when General Peter Pace was not offered a second term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was 'believed' that his appointment would be too controversial and that the Senate confirmation would be too ugly. That is probably true. But, what is also true is that one of the finest men in America was sent packing because of petty politics waged by people who will never be half the patriot that he is.

This act of leaving his stars for his fallen men should not surprise anyone who has listened to him, read his speeches and watched his interactions with his troops. This is a man whose core essence is Lt Pete Pace, who dedicated his entire life to honor those he led. As his ranks became larger and larger, in his heart he remained Lt Pete Pace. He remained a Platoon Leader.

Thank you, Sir, for all you and Lynne have given to our country. We are a better country because of your service. I am a better person for watching your grace, your perseverance, your patriotism.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

They Served Together, Died Together, and Rest Together

Army honor guard soldiers hold 12 folded American flags during an interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Oct. 12 for 12 soldiers killed in Iraq 10 months ago. The soldiers, 10 from the Army National Guard and two from the active duty Army, were killed northeast of Baghdad when their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was shot down.
Photo by Sgt. Mary Flynn, USA

Helicopter Crash Victims Buried Together in Arlington Cemetery

By Sgt. Mary Flynn, USA Special to American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va. , Oct. 12, 2007 - Hundreds of soldiers, family members and friends gathered at Arlington National Cemetery today to honor 12 soldiers killed in a helicopter crash Iraq earlier this year.

The soldiers, 10 from the Army National Guard and two from the active Army, were killed northeast of Baghdad on Jan. 20 when their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was shot down. Their combat deaths were the highest number of National Guard fatalities in a single incident since 2001.

They were Army Guard soldiers:

Col. Paul M. Kelly, of Virginia;

Lt. Col. David C. Canegata III, of the Virgin Islands;

Capt. Michael V. Taylor, of Arkansas;

Capt. Sean E. Lyerly, of Texas;

Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard, of Iowa;

Command Sgt. Maj. Roger W. Haller, of Maryland;

1st Sgt. William T. Warren, of Arkansas;

Sgt. 1st Class Floyd E. Lake Sr., of the Virgin Islands;

Sgt. 1st Class John G. Brown, of Arkansas;

Staff Sgt. Darryl D. Booker, of Virginia.

The active-duty Army soldiers killed were:

Col. Brian D. Allgood, of Oklahoma

Cpl. Victor M. Langarica, of Georgia.

Mourners gathered in a grassy area at the cemetery near a hillside, where other group interments have been held. Honors included a casket team, a firing party and a bugler who played "Taps." A single casket contained remains of the 12 soldiers, but there were separate flags for each deceased soldier.

Honor guard members ceremoniously touched each flag to the casket before presenting them to the members of the 12 families.

Service leaders including Army Secretary Pete Geren, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard A. Cody, Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard, and several state adjutants general stood silently near the families during the ceremony.

"I think it was the right thing to do," Vaughn said. The country owes it to the families to inter these soldiers at Arlington, to let them know that the whole nation is behind them, he said.

Vaughn held a reception for the 12 families at the Army National Guard Readiness Center here following the ceremony.

"There is a healing piece that goes with this," he said. "(There's a) helpful healing between people who have the exact same issue, (who can) wrap their arms around and look at someone who's going through precisely the same thing."

Wednesday Hero ~ SGT Robert M McDowell

Sgt. Robert M. McDowell

Sgt. Robert M. McDowell
30 years old from Deer Park, Texas
2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division
April 01, 2007

Sgt. Robert M. McDowell was a military police noncommissioned officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion.

Originally from Deer Park, Texas, he joined the Army in February 1998 and completed training at Fort Benning, Georgia.

In June 1998 he was assigned to Fort Hood where he served until being reassigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment at Katterbach Kaserne in Germany in January 2003. While a member of 1st Infantry Division, he served as an AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter repairman.

McDowell was assigned to Fort Drum in March 2006 after completing military police reclassification training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

He was deployed to Bosnia from February to September 1999.

His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Valorous Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge and the Army Aviator Badge.

Sgt. McDowell was killed when and IED struck his vehicle in Baghdad, Iraq. He is survived by his wife and son, of Evans Mills, N.Y., and a daughter, Madison McDowell, of New Mexico.

Also killed in the attack were Staff Sgt. David A. Mejias, Staff Sgt. Eric R. Vick and Sgt. William G. Bowling. You can find more information about them at this site.

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.

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your blog, you can go here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Authorization of the War in Iraq ~ Five Years Ago

Five years ago, Congress authorized military action against Iraq. The action did not take place for another five months. Most of us never read the resolution and allow people to quote incorrectly from it. It is well worth the read.

Washington, DC — October 16, 2002 - Congress gives President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq to locate and destroy Saddam Hussein's suspected stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction. While the authorization encourages Bush to seek UN support for such action it did not require him to have it in order to attack Iraq. The war, known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, started in March 2003.

Public Law 107–243
107th Congress
House Joint Resolution 114
To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq.


One Hundred Seventh Congress
of the
United States of America

Begun and held at the City of Washington on Wednesday,
the twenty-third day of January, two thousand and two

Joint Resolution
To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq.

Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq's war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;

Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;

Whereas in Public Law 105-235 (August 14, 1998), Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in `material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations';

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolution of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;

Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 (1990) and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 (1991), and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949 (1994);

Whereas in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1), Congress has authorized the President `to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolution 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677';

Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1),' that Iraq's repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and `constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,' and that Congress, `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688';

Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;

Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to `work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge' posed by Iraq and to `work for the necessary resolutions,' while also making clear that `the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable';

Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;

Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and

Whereas it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This joint resolution may be cited as the `Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002'.

The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to--
(1) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and
(2) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

(a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to--
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
(b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION- In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that--
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and
(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
(c) War Powers Resolution Requirements-
(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

(a) REPORTS- The President shall, at least once every 60 days, submit to the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 3 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required after such actions are completed, including those actions described in section 7 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338).
(b) SINGLE CONSOLIDATED REPORT- To the extent that the submission of any report described in subsection (a) coincides with the submission of any other report on matters relevant to this joint resolution otherwise required to be submitted to Congress pursuant to the reporting requirements of the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), all such reports may be submitted as a single consolidated report to the Congress.
(c) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION- To the extent that the information required by section 3 of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) is included in the report required by this section, such report shall be considered as meeting the requirements of section 3 of such resolution.

Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Vice President of the United States and
President of the Senate.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Home of the Brave Quilt Project

The Home of the Brave
Quilt Project

This nationwide effort to show our support for the families of service men and women was established in 2004 by Don Beld, nationally recognized quilter and historian of Redlands, California. Just as the quilters in early American history were dedicated in their heartfelt efforts to support the soldiers, we are working to show our gratitude for their service and sacrifice by providing these commemorative Home of the Brave quilts for the family of each serviceman or woman killed in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq).

During the Civil War, a volunteer organization called the United States Sanitary Commission was formed with the purpose of raising supplies and funds for the North, and of overseeing the sanitary conditions of military hospitals. From this Commission, many significant Americans -- including Clara Barton, Dorothea Dix and Frederick Law Olmstead -- went on to achieve greatness by beginning America's social and medical movements. Fund and supply raising events, called Sanitary Fairs, were held throughout the Northern states. The Women's Auxiliary of the U. S. Sanitary Commission was particularly important in making and donating clothes, bandages and quilts at these Fairs. All supplies donated were stamped on the back saying "U. S. Sanitary Commission" and documented in Commission records. Today, they are national treasures.

The Sanitary Commission requested that quilts measure 48 by 84 inches, as these quilts were given to soldiers to carry as part of their bedrolls and were used in military hospitals on the wounded soldiers' cots. In two and a half years, the Women's Auxiliary made and donated to the Union troops 250,000 quilts. They frequently carried the names of the makers and messages of hope and support.

The U.S. Sanitary Commission later became known as The American Red Cross.

The pictures shown are from the Oregon Chapter web site.
Anyone can help make the quilt blocks and the quilts for the family.