Monday, April 30, 2007

LCpl Dale Peterson ~ Farewell and Walk with God

Marine LCpl Dale Peterson
Died April 23, 2007
Al Anbar Province, Iraq

Redmond High School Yearbook Photo

Dale and his wife Reggie on their wedding day, July 24, 2006

Marine LCpl Dale Peterson died April 23 while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. He was with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Tomorrow morning the Patriot Guard Riders will pass my house on their way to Burns, on the far east side of the state, to meet LCpl Peterson's final plane home. They will serve as escorts throughout his services.

Dale was a son of Burns in Eastern Oregon and Redmond in Central Oregon. He graduated from Redmond High School in 2005, and joined the Marines when he graduated from high school. His teacher, Georgia Hendricks, remembered Dale for his upbeat spirit and positive attitude. "He was very bright, a great young man. We loved him here and had a lot of respect for his abilities and natural talent, and his ability to make other people feel good," she said.

Dale's widow, Marine LCpl Regina "Reggie" Peterson, said that "he chose Camp Lejeune because he knew they were going to deploy. It breaks my heart, but I also couldn't be prouder. He was doing what he wanted to do."

His father said, "this is about a boy who had the courage to go in the military and fight and die for his country."

Dale is survived by his wife, Reggie, a Bend native; his mother, Dorothy, of Burns; his father and step-mother, Greg and Kathy of Redmond, and three sisters.

Condolences may be sent in care of the Marine Corps liaison:

SSG Brian Oswalt, 4087 W Harvard St, Boise ID 83705

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.

Farewell, LCpl Dale Peterson, and Walk with God.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Message to Harry Reid from the Soldiers

Hat Tip to Perish the Thought -

Hope Rides Alone by Sgt Eddie Jeffers

Hope Rides Alone
USA Sgt. Eddie Jeffers, USA (Iraq)

February 1, 2007

I stare out into the darkness from my post, and I watch the city burn to the ground. I smell the familiar smells, I walk through the familiar rubble, and I look at the frightened faces that watch me pass down the streets of their neighborhoods. My nerves hardly rest; my hands are steady on a device that has been given to me from my government for the purpose of taking the lives of others.

I sweat, and I am tired. My back aches from the loads I carry. Young American boys look to me to direct them in a manner that will someday allow them to see their families again...and yet, I too, am just a age not but a few years more than that of the ones I lead. I am stressed, I am scared, and I am paranoid...because death is everywhere. It waits for me, it calls to me from around street corners and windows, and it is always there.

There are the demons that follow me, and tempt me into thoughts and actions that are not my own...but that are necessary for survival. I've made compromises with my humanity. And I am not alone in this. Miles from me are my brethren in this world, who walk in the same streets... who feel the same things, whether they admit to it or not.

And to think, I volunteered for this...

And I am ignorant to the rest of the world...or so I thought.

But even thousands of miles away, in Ramadi, Iraq, the cries and screams and complaints of the ungrateful reach me. In a year, I will be thrust back into society from a life and mentality that doesn't fit your average man. And then, I will be alone. And then, I will walk down the streets of America, and see the yellow ribbon stickers on the cars of the same people who compare our President to Hitler.

I will watch the television and watch the Cindy Sheehans, and the Al Frankens, and the rest of the ignorant sheep of America spout off their mouths about a subject they know nothing about. It is their right, however, and it is a right that is defended by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls scattered across the world, far from home. I use the word boys and girls, because that's what they are. In the Army, the average age of the infantryman is nineteen years old. The average rank of soldiers killed in action is Private First Class.

People like Cindy Sheehan are ignorant. Not just to this war, but to the results of their idiotic ramblings, or at least I hope they are. They don't realize its effects on this war. In this war, there are no Geneva Conventions, no cease fires. Medics and Chaplains are not spared from the enemy's brutality because it's against the rules. I can only imagine the horrors a military Chaplain would experience at the hands of the enemy. The enemy slinks in the shadows and fights a coward’s war against us. It is effective though, as many men and women have died since the start of this war. And the memory of their service to America is tainted by the inconsiderate remarks on our nation's news outlets. And every day, the enemy changes...only now, the enemy is becoming something new. The enemy is transitioning from the Muslim extremists to Americans. The enemy is becoming the very people whom we defend with our lives. And they do not realize it. But in denouncing our actions, denouncing our leaders, denouncing the war we live and fight, they are isolating the military from society... and they are becoming our enemy.

Democrats and peace activists like to toss the word "quagmire" around and compare this war to Vietnam. In a way they are right, this war is becoming like Vietnam. Not the actual war, but in the isolation of country and military. America is not a nation at war; they are a nation with its military at war. Like it or not, we are here, some of us for our second, or third times; some even for their fourth and so on. Americans are so concerned now with politics, that it is interfering with our war.

Terrorists cut the heads off of American citizens on the internet...and there is no outrage, but an American soldier kills an Iraqi in the midst of battle, and there are investigations, and sometimes soldiers are even jailed...for doing their job.

It is absolutely sickening to me to think our country has come to this. Why are we so obsessed with the bad news? Why will people stop at nothing to be against this war, no matter how much evidence of the good we've done is thrown in their face? When is the last time CNN or MSNBC or CBS reported the opening of schools and hospitals in Iraq? Or the leaders of terror cells being detained or killed? It's all happening, but people will not let up their hatred of President Bush. They will ignore the good news, because it just might show people that Bush was right.

America has lost its will to fight. It has lost its will to defend what is right and just in the world. The crazy thing of it all is that the American people have not even been asked to sacrifice a single thing. It’s not like World War II, where people rationed food and turned in cars to be made into metal for tanks. The American people have not been asked to sacrifice anything. Unless you are in the military or the family member of a servicemember, its life as usual...the war doesn't affect you.

But it affects us. And when it is over and the troops come home and they try to piece together what's left of them after their service...where will the detractors be then? Where will the Cindy Sheehans be to comfort and talk to soldiers and help them sort out the last couple years of their lives, most of which have been spent dodging death and wading through the deaths of their friends? They will be where they always are, somewhere far away, where the horrors of the world can't touch them. Somewhere where they can complain about things they will never experience in their lifetime; things that the young men and women of America have willingly taken upon their shoulders.

We are the hope of the Iraqi people. They want what everyone else wants in life: safety, security, somewhere to call home. They want a country that is safe to raise their children in. Not a place where their children will be abducted, raped and murdered if they do not comply with the terrorists demands. They want to live on, rebuild and prosper. And America has given them the opportunity, but only if we stay true to the cause and see it to its end. But the country must unite in this endeavor...we cannot place the burden on our military alone. We must all stand up and fight, whether in uniform or not. And supporting us is more than sticking yellow ribbon stickers on your cars. It's supporting our President, our troops and our cause.

Right now, the burden is all on the American soldiers. Right now, hope rides alone. But it can change, it must change. Because there is only failure and darkness ahead for us as a country, as a people, if it doesn't.

Let's stop all the political nonsense, let's stop all the bickering, let's stop all the bad news and let's stand and fight!Isn't that what America is about anyway?

Sergeant Eddie Jeffers is a US Army Infantryman serving in Ramadi, Iraq.

From The New Media Journal. us

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Vote for Major Josh Lipschutz!!

Vote for
Major Josh Lipschutz

Radio station 106.1 FM in Philadelphia is having a "Paging Dr McDreamy" contest.

Major Josh Lipschutz is one of the ten finalists. He is the only Soldier in the running.

Josh served in Iraq in 2005 and is getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. He is married and has two small children, ages 5 and 3 1/2.

In civilian life, he is a doctor of Internal Medicine and Nephrology and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvannia.

To vote for Josh - click here

You will have to scroll through the pictures to vote. Click on Josh's name, add your email
and then click the verification email you will get - watch your junk folder!

A win would be a nice send-off for his next deployment!!!
Contest ends April 29th.
Josh Won!
Thank you all for your votes!

Must Reads in the Blogosphere

There are several things currently in the blogosphere that are MUST reads-

Justice Soldier has a story about Star Academy - the Arab version of American Idol -
and the Iraqi woman in it.

A new blog for me, Double Tap, has some outstanding posts.
Be sure to read 'Iraqis Ask, "Why are Democrats Doing This to Us?"

Todd at Task Force Phoenix 5 is getting ready to head home from Afghanistan.
Stop in and wish him a good trip home.

Sgt White is blogging again at Great War on Terror.
He couldn't post for a while, but didn't stop writing.
My favorite post is on the A-10 Warthog!

A Soldier's Mind is having an essay contest.
'What Does Support the Troops Mean to You'

SFC Chuck Grist at American Ranger has a great post -

Friday, April 27, 2007

Faces of Freedom: Army Mechanics Creativity Solve Problems

The Dream Weavers:
Mechanics Turn Imaginings Into Reality

Eric Hale, a machinist with Lear-Siegler Services Inc., a civilian contracting company, fabricates a mounting bracket on a mill in the "blue room," which houses the machinist shop, at the mechanics shop on Forward Operating Base Warrior, near Kirkuk, Iraq.

Spc. Kevin Payne, a welder with B Company, 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, welds together bars of metal to make a training ramp for the military police's K9 dogs at the mechanics shop on Forward Operating Base Warrior, near Kirkuk, Iraq.

Spc. Kevin Payne, a welder with B Company, 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, welds together bars of metal to make a training ramp for the military police's K9 dogs at the mechanics shop on Forward Operating Base Warrior, near Kirkuk, Iraq.

Spc. Kevin Payne (right), a welder with B Company, 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, and Robb Kirchoff, a civilian welder with Lear-Siegler Services Inc., weld together bars of metal to make a training ramp for the military police's K9 dogs at the mechanics shop on Forward Operating Base Warrior, near Kirkuk, Iraq.

Photos and Story By Spc. Amanda Morrissey
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

KIRKUK, Iraq – Blue light flares, sparks rain down, and metal melts into metal. Little bit by little bit, the skeleton of a training ramp emerges from random bars of iron by the efforts of the welder.

Invention is the name of the game for the Company B, 325th Brigade Support Battalion Soldiers and their civilian counterparts with Lear-Siegler Services Inc. who work in the maintenance shop on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Warrior.

“My favorite question I like to get from customers is ‘can you do this?’ It’s not can we do it, it’s do you have the time for us to do it,” said Sgt. Damon Barnett, the shop foreman. “We do things that you can’t order or purchase offline, and most don’t exist until we make them. We design things that, until you come in and ask us, you would never know could be made.”

Like every other maintenance shop, the Soldiers perform vehicle maintenance, repair broken parts, and conduct recovery of vehicles that have flat tires, are broken down, or are damaged by IEDs.

However, there is something special about this particular shop. The Soldiers’ attention to detail, ingenious remedies to complex problems, selection of equipment and original designs result in a shop that has earned them a good name throughout the country.

This mechanic shop features a machine shop, a one-of-its-kind in theater, known as the “blue room” because of the color of the building. Within these colorful walls reside a drill press, a mill and a lathe, giving these Soldiers an edge when it comes to fabrication and repair. It’s a dynamic environment where new projects challenge the ingenuity and creativity of the mechanics, welders and machinists.

“The design process for a project is design by committee, where everybody has a little input,” said Chief Warrant Officer Timothy Cox, the officer in charge of the shop. “We start from scratch, standing in a circle around a table with our soapstone, and we’ll just do a simple stick-figure drawing on the table and go from there.”

It is these creations, born from humble beginnings, which have earned the shop a reputation that draws in customers from as far south as Baghdad.

The crew has designed a guard shelter for the Air Force out of a connex featuring ballistic armor and windows, gates that can be hit with forklifts and still operate, ballistic windows for gun turrets, and a multitude of other projects.

One project currently under way is a ramp with walls and jumps that will be used by the military police to train their K9 working dogs.

“There’s really no other shop in the area that can do what this one can do,” Barnett said. “When the machinists and welders get together and do a job, you’re not going to see any other shop put out that kind of product. It could be something small, but the level of complexity to it is something that you’re only going to get here.

“We’ve got more skills, better designs, and we’re just that good,” Barnett concluded.

Greater skills and designs is a bold claim to make, and seemingly arrogant. However, it is one that is reinforced with every satisfied customer who leaves their shop with their expectations not only met but exceeded.

“Soldiers ask us ‘hey, can you just make this one little thing for us?’ And when we make it and put their thoughts into practical application, they’re just so thankful for it,” Cox said.

“Ultimately, the projects where the customers got something they requested and it came out a whole lot better than they thought it would, are the most satisfying,” Cox added.

Such is the boots to be filled by the next unit. With nine months in country, and redeployment coming up on the horizon, Cox is shifting his attention away from establishing the shop to getting things ready for the next unit.

“In the last few months, I’m trying to get the new unit set up to replace us. Our focus now is to leave them as prepared as they need to be to perform their mission,” Cox said. “The guy I replaced left us with nothing, and I’m not going to do that to the next unit. I’ve ordered everything the incoming unit is going to need to do this mission, and I’m hoping to have that in place when they get here,” Cox added.

Until they do, however, the Soldiers at this particular maintenance shop plan to stay busy. Each day brings in a new challenge, a new idea, and another opportunity to not only meet the standard, but to do more than the imaginable.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Soldier Requests Honor for Military

Soldier Requests Honor
for Military

In a rare editorial piece from an active duty soldier, comes this request for us to allow flags to be flown at half-staff at military bases for fallen soldiers.


KABUL, Afghanistan - A U.S. Army sergeant complained in a rare opinion article that the U.S. flag flew at half-staff last week at the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan for those killed at Virginia Tech, but the same honor is not given to fallen U.S. troops here and in Iraq.

Wilt suggested that flags should fly at half-staff on the base where the fallen service member was working and in the states where they hail from. He said some states do this, but not all of them.

"If the flags on our (operating bases) were lowered for just one day after the death of a service member, it would show the people who knew the person that society cared, the American people care."

Read the entire article:,13319,133379,00.html?

Fortunately, our Governor does order our flags flown at half-staff for Oregon soldiers who have fallen.

Flying the Flag at Half Staff (Half Mast)

Flying the Flag at Half Staff (Half Mast)

The American Flag is flown at half staff, or half mast in a nautical setting, on four designated days during the year.

  • May 15 - Peace Officers Memorial Day
  • May - last Monday - Memorial Day (raised at noon)
  • September 11 - Patriot Day
  • December 7 - Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

It is also flown at half staff on occasions designated by the President of the United States or by the Governor of a State. ONLY those people may give the order to fly flags at half staff. However, city mayors often declare this, they do not have authority under the Federal Flag Code to do so.

Presidents will order the flag to be flown at half staff on occasions of national mourning (such as the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech), the death of a former President, Vice President, Supreme Court Justice, Associate Justice, member of Congress or national dignitary.

Governors will order the flag to be flown at half staff when the state has a resident in the military or a police officer or fireman killed in the line of duty, or for former Governors or state dignitaries.

Flying flags at half staff is a high honor of respect and remembrance and mourning.

The ceremony of putting the flag at half staff is to raise the flag, briskly, to the top of the flag pole and then to slowly lower it to half staff. To lower the flag, it should be raised back to the top of the pole and then lowered.

When the flag is flown at half staff, other flags around it should be lowered, as well, or removed. No flag is to fly higher than the flag of the United States of America.

Whenever you see a flag at half-staff, you know someone important in service to our country has lost their life.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Operation Eagle Claw ~ Remembering History

Operation Eagle Claw
April 25, 1980

Rescue attempt of the Iran Hostages:
To land aircraft covertly in the desert
allowing special forces to infiltrate Iran
and free the remaining 52 American hostages.

Courtesy 16th SOW Historian

If everything went right, 52 American hostages would be coming home. The C-130s and helicopters were to rendezvous at Desert One the first night of the operation. The helicopters, with the army special forces team on board, would move forward and hide until the second night of the mission.

DOD Archive Photo

Crews make final checks on three of the eight RH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters lined up on the flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in preparation for Operation Evening Light, the Navy code name for the rescue mission to Iran. For the mission to go forward, six of the eight RH-53s had to make it into Iran in working order. Two were damaged in a severe sandstorm and had to turn back. Six of them did make it. But just before heading out to their next staging point, one developed a hydraulic problem, and the mission was scrubbed.

A rendevous area for the C-130's and the helicopters inside of Iran, was called Desert One. After they lost three helicopters, it was clear that the mission would have to be cancelled. The aircraft refueled and the Special Operations team loaded onto the C-130, it was determined that one of the helicopters had to be moved. It hit the C-130, causing the plane and the helicopter to erupt into a fireball.

The plan for a volunteer force of Joint Special Operations Group to inflitrate Tehran and rescue the hostages ended in equipment failure and a final ball of fire. They has risked all for a daring plan, endured sandstorms and still eight US sericemen died in the Great Salt Desert near Tabas, Iran.

Some of the charred bodies were taken through the streets of Tehran during massive protests. Secret operational documents were also discovered in the wreckage and put on display for the international media to examine.

April 25, 1980 — A defining moment for President Jimmy Carter, for the American people and for America’s military. At 7 a.m. a somber President Carter announced to the nation, and the world, that eight American servicemen were dead and several others were seriously injured, after a super-secret hostage rescue mission failed.

Remembering Heroes
The Memorial to the Fallen at Arlington National Cemetery

United States Marine Corps

SGT John D Harvey, 21, Roanoke, VA

CPL George N Holmes, Jr, 22, Pine Bluff, AR

SSG Dewey L Johnson, 32, Jacksonville, NC

United States Air Force

MAJ Richard L Bakke, 34, Long Beach, CA

MAJ Harold Lewis, 35, Mansfield, CT

TSGT Joel C Mayo, 34, Bonifay, FL

MAJ Lynn D McIntosh, 33, Valdosta, GA

CAPT Charles T McMillan II, 28, Corrytown, TN

"The sheer audacity of the mission, the enormity of the task, the political situation at the time. When I reflect on the results - both positive and negative - I'm awed.

The very soul of any nation is its heroes. We are in the company of giants and in the shadow of eight true heroes." - General Hugh Shelton, April 2000

To read a remarkable account of the mission:


Visiting Arlington National Cemetery, I always stop at the memorial marker for those lost on this mission - picture shown above. Even though I remember the event vividly, I spent many days reading everything I could to know what had happened. One of the most interesting things I found was the report on the investigation of the event - archived at Jimmy Carter's Library - and the positives and negatives of the mission. From this tragedy the Special Operations Command was born - a unification of the Special Operations Forces which made them more effective in communication and working together. The ability to refuel at a remote site was also begun. This was not President Carter's brightest moment. It was an incredibly sad day for our military and for our country. I will ever honor them for trying to rescue their fellow Americans, regardless of the risky and flawed plan they were given.

To read more, go to the Iran Hostage Crisis

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wednesday Hero ~ Col Cyril Richard "Rick" Rescorla

This Weeks Soldier Was Suggested By Sunni Kay

Col. Cyril Richard
Col. Cyril Richard "Rick" Rescorla
68 years old from New York City, New York
16th Air Assault Brigade, Parachute Regiment (England)
Platoon Leader of 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) (U.S.)
September 11, 2001

Col. Rick Rescorla is a multiple time hero. In 1957 he enlisted in the British Army and began training as a paratrooper with The Parachute Regiment of the 16th Air Assault Brigade. He went on to serve with an intelligence unit in Cyprus, a paramilitary police inspector in the Northern Rhodesia Police (now the Zambia Police Service). When his military career ended in England he joined the Metropolitan Police Service in London. But he found the paperwork too boring and quite at the behest of a friend who encouraged him to join the United State Army. Which he did.

In 1963, Rescorla enlisted, with his friend, in the United States Army. After he completed basic training he attended officer training school and was assigned as a platoon leader in the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

He was shipped to Vietnam and participated in the Battle of la Drang. While in Vietnam, he was given the nickname "Hard Core" by his men for his bravery in battle.

In 1968, Resorla became a U.S. citizen and continued his service in the Army Reserves until 1990 when he retired. In 1985 he joined a financial services firm, located in the World Trade Center, as security director.

In 1993, when the WTC was bombed, Rescorla was instrumental in evacuating people from the building. Afterwards, he enacted a policy in which all employees of the firm practiced evacuation drills every three months.

September 11, 2001. Rick Rescorla was supposed to be on vacation getting ready for his daughters wedding. Instead he was at work covering a shift for one of his deputies so that he could go on vacation. When American Airlines Flight 11 hit Tower 1, Rescorla ignored officials advice to stay put and opted instead to put his evacuation drills to use. While evacuating the 3,800 employees of his firm in Towers 2 and 5 he kept reminding them "be proud to be an American ...everyone will be talking about you tomorrow" and sang God Bless America over his bullhorn. When Flight 175 struck Tower 2, Rescorla had already evacuated most of the employees from his firm as well as many others from other floors. He then went back in, despite being told he needed to evacuate himself. The last known words anyone heard him say were, "As soon as I make sure everyone else is out". Tower 2 collapsed with Rick Rescorla last seen heading to the 10th floor looking for more people to help.

As a result of his actions that day, all but six employees of his firm made it out alive. One of those being him and three others being his deputies who followed him into Tower 2, Wesley Mercer, Jorge Velazquez, and Godwin Forde.

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 Should Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Special Operations Forces Week

Special Operations Forces Week

April 23-27, 2007

Marking the 20th Anniversary

of the Special Operations Forces Command

With gratitude to these people who quietly keep us safe and free.

At MacDill Air Force Base, Florida is the

Special Operations Memorial

"This memorial is dedicated to and pays tribute to those men and women of Special Operations who have made the supreme sacrifice to thier nation. It is also dedicated to the 'quiet professionals' of yesterday, today and tomorrow, who, as part of a legendary community of uncommonly skilled and uniquely trained ground, air and maritime forces and civilians, stand ready to meet the challenges faced by our nation."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Blue Angel LtCMD Kevin Davis Soars to Heaven

Lieutenant Commander
Kevin Davis

United States Navy
Opposing Solo

Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis is a native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Reading Memorial High School in 1992 where he played football and was active with the Civil Air Patrol. He attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Science with honors in 1996.

Kevin reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for Officer Candidate School and aviation indoctrination in September 1996. He completed primary flight training at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and transferred to NAS Meridian, Mississippi, for intermediate and advanced flight training. While there, he flew the T-2C Buckeye and TA-4J Skyhawk, and received his wings of gold in June 1999.

Kevin reported to Fighter Squadron 101 (VF-101) at NAS Oceana, Virginia, for training in the F-14 Tomcat and was the “Top Stick” in his class. In July 2000 he reported to the VF-11 “Red Rippers” where he completed deployments aboard the aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67). While with the “Red Rippers,” Kevin served as the airframes/corrosion branch officer, air-to-ground training officer and head landing signals officer. His deployments included extended operations in the North Arabian Sea and Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

In July 2003, Kevin transitioned to the F/A-18 Hornet through Strike Fighter Squadron 125 (VFA-125) at NAS Lemoore, California, and then reported to the Fighter Composite Squadron (VFC-12) “Omars,” stationed at NAS Oceana, Virginia. While at VFC-12, Kevin served as a Navy adversary pilot providing valuable air-to-air training for fleet squadrons. In December of 2004, Kevin graduated from the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) as an adversary pilot. During his tour at VFC-12, Kevin worked as the schedules officer, legal officer, FRS/SFARP officer and assistant operations officer.

Kevin joined the Blue Angels in September 2005. He has accumulated more than 2,500 flight hours and 200 carrier arrested landings. His decorations include the Air Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and various personal and unit awards.

Biography from the Blue Angels Official Website.

Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis was killed April 21, 2007 during a Blue Angels performance in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Farewell, and Walk with God, Kevin Davis. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family and friends and your team at this most difficult time.

Blue Angels Tributes continue below.

Blue Angels

This begins with Fat Albert - the C-130 transport used by the Navy and Marine crew.

Then, we soar with the Blue Angels!

High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, —and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Blue Angels - Who They Are and Photos

The Blue Angels are Navy and Marine pilots, crew and support staff. There are 16 officers and 110 enlisted crew who volunteer to accelerate their careers as pilots, maintenance and support in one of the most demanding and prestigious hi-tech teams around-the Blue Angels.

To become one of the ten Blue Angel pilots and one Naval flight officer, you must be highly skilled and willing to devote yourself to many hours of demanding practices so that you perform flawlessly at the more than 70 air shows where the Blue Angels appear every year. Above all, you must devote yourself to the team. Team work is essential to the Blue Angels.

The Chief of Naval Air Training selects the Blue Angels Commanding Officer (BOSS). The BOSS must have at least 3,000 tactical jet flight-hours and have commanded a tactical jet squadron. The Commanding Officer flies the Number 1 or lead jet.

The other six F/A-18 pilots each must have a minimum of 1,350 tactical jet hours, and aircraft carrier qualification to serve with the Blue Angels. Each year the Blue Angels choose three tactical (fighter or fighter/attack) jet pilots, two support officers and one Marine Corps C-130 pilot to take the place of departing members.The Marine Corps pilots (three) flying the Transport/Cargo-130G Hercules aircraft (Fat Albert) must be aircraft commander qualified with at least 1,200 flight hours. The Blue Angels maintenance and support crew travels aboard Fat Albert.

The Blue Angels Support Officers are made up of five officers supervising different areas. The officers are chosen based upon their professional ability, military bearing and communication skills. They serve two or three years tour of duty, depending on their position. After their tours of duty are completed the officers return to the fleet.

Maintenance Officer, Flight Surgeon, Administrative Officer, Public Affairs Officer, Supply Officer

Command Master Chief, Maintenance Master Chief, Chief Petty Officers and Gunnery Sergeants, Fat Albert Airlines, Crew Coordinators, Administration, Airframes, Aviation Medicine, Avionics, Crew Chiefs, Events Coordination, Life Support, Maintenance Control, Paint Shop, Public Affairs, Power Plants, Quality Assurance, Supply, Video

The squadron's Transport C-130 hercules aircraft, affectionately known as Fat Albert, is the only Marine Corps aircraft permanently assigned to support a Navy squadron. It is flown by an all-Marine Corps crew of three pilots and five enlisted personnel. Fat Albert flies more than 140,000 miles during the course of a show season.

The C-130 carries 25,000 pounds of cargo, 45,000 pounds of fuel, and transports the squadron's support and maintenance crew to each show site.

Fat Albert cruises at 320 knots (approximately 350 miles per hour) at 27,000 feet. Four Allison turboprop-engines producing more than 16,000-shaft horsepower provide the C-130 with the power to land and depart on runways as short as 2,500 feet.

At select show sites, Fat Albert demonstrates its Jet-Assisted Take-Off (JATO) capability. Eight solid-fuel rockets are attached to the sides of the aircraft, four on each side. The rockets allow Fat Albert to take off within 1,500 feet, climb at a 45-degree angle, and attain an altitude of 1,500 feet in seconds.

The following photographs and the captions were sent to me several years ago - Enjoy!

We see the strength in our Military and, sadly,
we see the Twin Towers.
Something I never want to forget.

Niagara Falls - so beautiful!

I wonder who wins this battle? HA!!!

What a beauty - not many of these old vessels left.

Blue Angels over San Francisco Bay.

Golden Gate Bridge

Alcatraz and San Francisco Bay

Big Bird (Fat Albert) coming in for a landing.
Alcatraz, or what's left of it.

JATO - Jet Assisted Take Off
Even more impressive at night!

Short Roll Take Off

Upside Down

How do they do it?!

All for one, and one for all! WOW!

So Impressive

You couldn't ask for anything nicer to look at.

Which way is up?!

Nice boats!


Saturday, April 21, 2007

National Parks Week

National Parks Week

April 22-29

For Events in your state

For a beautiful short video of our parks

The Faces of America

The Faces of America

The Tin Foil Brigade

These people will believe anything, no matter how screwy, that condemns their country. The only thing larger than the screwy things they believe is their willingness to express it. Little things like facts never seem to get in their way.

The Haters and Anarchists

These people hate most everything and believe in the downfall of this country. They are loud and obscene and violent. They believe that none of us should have any ownership rights... everything should belong to everyone!

The Surrender Crowd

These people voted to authorize the war, then decided that winning it was a bad idea. They like to pretend that there is only one war - Iraq - and, they seem to believe that it is unwinnable. Harry Reid just declared "The War in Iraq is Lost," while standing in front of a "Support the Troops" sign.

The Anti-War Crowd

Mostly left over from the sixties, these, mostly women, believe that there is no good war. They really don't support the troops, but have convinced themselves that they must protect the troops from the government... no war EVER... for any reason.

The Hate Bush Crowd

They just hate President Bush. It wouldn't matter what he did, they would disagree and hate him for it, even if it were their own idea.

The America is at the Mall Crowd

Unfortunately, I think this is the majority of America. These are the Americans that never think about the war, the troops, the issues. They just know that they are annoyed by anything that they perceive as negative or interrupting their lives. For the most part, they live in a pre-911 world.

The Pro-Victory Crowd

This is the only group that seems to live in a September 12 world. They see the threats against the country as being quite real. For the most part, they embrace the troops with support. They believe that this is a long war and that victory is essential for the survival of the country.


The divides between the groups continue to grow. Friendships and families are being torn apart by the excesses of opinions and emotions. Some people belong to several of the groups. Eliminating Bush and/or Iraq will not change anything. Substitutes will be found.

And, in case my usual obscene crazies read this, NO ONE is pro-war. If you can find someone who loves war, I would be surprised. And, yes, comment moderation is still on.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Face of Freedom ~ Army Sgt Jose M Pantoja

Army Sgt Jose M Pantoja
Wounded in Battle,
Medic Chooses to Stay with his Soldiers

Army Sgt. Jose M. Pantoja, a medic with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, received a gunshot wound to the face during a firefight near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite the wound, Pantoja continued to treat the injured Soldiers and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew Leary)

By Army Spc. Matthew Leary
Task Force Fury Public Affairs Office

FORWARD OPERATING BASE BERMEL, Afghanistan - While conducting combat operations in Afghanistan, Soldiers may sustain various non-life threatening injuries that are easily treated by a medic on site. But when Army Sgt. Jose Pantoja received a gunshot wound to the head during a firefight near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan last summer, he was unable to turn to his platoon medic. He was the person his platoon turned to for help.

Pantoja had initially wanted to be an infantryman and looked into the possibility of joining the Army, he said. While in the recruiter’s office, the idea of being a medic was suggested and Pantoja became interested in the career field.

“I asked what kind of things I would be doing, and it sounded like I would like it,” Pantoja said.

In 2004, he enlisted in the Army as a medic.

Going through Basic Training at Fort Benning, Ga., and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Pantoja said he saw the role a combat medic plays in the field.

“I was fired up to be with the infantry,” Pantoja said.Pantoja was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, following his training.

“Medics belong to [2-87th Inf. Regt.], but when we deploy, we are attached to infantry units,” said Army Staff Sgt. Jason M. Morgan, Battalion Treatment non-commissioned officer in charge, for 2-87th Inf. Regt.

When 3rd BCT deployed to Afghanistan in January 2006, Pantoja was attached to Company B, 2-87th Inf. Regt., and got his wish of being officially attached to an infantry company. The assignment meant Pantoja’s role within the battalion would change dramatically.

Medics with infantry units have a unique relationship with their infantry counterparts, Morgan said. “When we go out with the platoons, we eat, sleep and pull security with them,” Morgan said.

So on June 10, 2006, when the Soldiers of 3rd Platoon, Co. B received direct fire from insurgent forces, Pantoja was right alongside his fellow Soldiers.

The platoon was positioned on a mountaintop observing a likely enemy movement point when the firefight broke out, said Army Pfc. Kyle A. Lewis, a M-240B machine gunner with 3rd Platoon.

“It was one of my first missions with the platoon,” said Lewis, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn. “It was quiet, and next thing I knew, 10 feet in front of my truck, a rocket propelled grenade hit and bullets started flying by.”

What ensued was one of the largest battles the 2-87th Inf. Regt. had been involved in during their deployment, said Pantoja.

“They had two squads of fire, and they were trying to maneuver on us,” said Spc. James N. Murray, a grenadier with 3rd Platoon. “It was a pretty well organized attack.”

Shortly after the start of the firefight, the platoon had sustained injuries, Pantoja said. “A gunner ran up to me and said two of our guys were hit.”

Pantoja ran up to the two injured troopers and began to administer aid. “I started to patch them up and to pull them over to cover,” Pantoja said. “The firing got more intense then.”

It was at this point, carrying the second Soldier to cover, that Pantoja sustained a gunshot wound to the face. “I just felt my head turn, but it didn’t want to turn. I thought I was dead,” he said. “I just finished carrying the second guy to cover, and kept on treating the guys.”

Lewis, who received shrapnel wounds to the hand during the attack, remembers Pantoja running up to treat him, showing signs of his injury. “He had blood all over his face and he ran up to treat my finger,” he said.

From then on, Pantoja would continue on with his mission injured.

“He was running around with a huge gash on his face, treating all the casualties,” said Murray. The Soldiers on the ground encouraged Pantoja to tend to himself and take cover, but Pantoja continued to administer aid to his injured platoon members. In all, 12 Soldiers were injured, three of them seriously.

As Pantoja helped carry the seriously injured to an incoming MEDEVAC helicopter, several servicemembers tried to evacuate him as well. Pantoja refused their suggestions that he leave.

“There was no other medic out there, so who else was going to help my guys?” Pantoja asked. “I didn’t want to leave them without a medic on the ground.”

When the firefight ended, the platoon took the remaining wounded and headed back to their base.

Pantoja finally sought medical attention for himself upon his return to base. “The bleeding had stopped, but there was blood all over his face,” Morgan said. “He was more worried about all the other Soldiers.”

It took 18 stitches to close the wound, and a small scar below his left eye can still be seen today.

Looking back on the incident, Pantoja still isn’t sure why he acted in the way he did. “I still don’t know why I did it, but they were my guys,” he said. “When you’re a medic you have a bond with these guys.”

Pantoja was awarded an Army Commendation Medal with a Valor Device and received the Purple Heart for his actions.

“He’s probably one of the best medics I’ve ever worked with in 13 years in the Army,” said Morgan. “And it’s one of the bravest acts I’ve seen in a long time.”

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ohio Doctor Shares Life as Soldier in Iraq - 4

Ohio Doctor
Shares Life in Iraq
Mustang Aviation Clinic

Staff Sgt. Robert Kohler and Sgt. Courtney Chung
storing medical supplies at the Mustang Aviation Clinic.
Medics 265, Col. Ulrich and Col. Charles Killingsworth with Sgt Joy Buntzel
in an exam room at Mustang Clinic

When we think of military combat medicine, we think of hospitals treating combat wounds. But, there is more to it. Soldiers get sick, get hurt, and have all of the needs that most of us have. Clinics to deal with this are created in the midst of the war zone. For an aviation unit, they have the additional duties of flight physicals.

Col. Stephen Ulrich has been documenting his experiences for the Central Ohio News. In this installment, he discusses life at the Mustang Aviation Clinic.

"Sick call in the Army is a long noble tradition for sick soldiers and those who need to get acute sore throats and other illnesses treated. Also, chronic medical problems often flair up under the stresses of deployment such as wearing heavy body armor, exposure to smoke, fumes and dust and just long days of walking on loose gravel."

"Hearing is an important aspect of aviation medicine. Hearing is at risk in aviation due to constant exposure to loud noises. The loss of hearing can dramatically affect communication for the crew member and/or pilot which can be dangerous. The army has come a long way in recognizing and preventing hearing loss in aviators. The automated hearing test allows Sgt. Hugo to download previous hearing tests in the system so that we can easily see if there is any significant change in the soldier's hearing since the last exam."

To read the rest of Col Ulrich's story, go here:

Previous Stories from Col Ulrich:

Part 1 & 2

Part 3