Thursday, May 31, 2007

Civilians Talk to Troops Overseas

Emery McClendon

Civilians get on radio to greet troops overseas

By Allie Townsend
The Journal Gazette

Children waved miniature American Flags. Families held signs that read “Support Our Troops.” A group of soldiers stood in uniform, backs straight.

Even the heavy rain couldn’t stop the light mood that radiated from the crowd standing in Georgetown Square on Saturday morning. It was time for the fourth annual Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day.

Organized to offer a live radio broadcast of support for those serving in the military, the event aspired to bring the troops into the Fort Wayne community, even if it was just via the airwaves.

The crowd was packed with mothers and fathers missing sons and daughters, and vice versa.

As a letter from Mayor Graham Richard declaring May 26, 2007, Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day was read aloud, Nanci Strahm made her way through the crowd passing out red raffle tickets.

The Fort Wayne mother attended the event in honor of her son, Nick Strahm, 22, a Marine serving in Iraq for the second time in three years.

Thanks to a satellite phone, Strahm is able to speak to her son almost every day. Their conversations shift between homesickness, Nick’s 2-year-old twins and his job of leading a squad of 20 Iraqi police officers.

“It’s very sad to hear some of what he tells me about them,” Strahm said of the Iraqi officers. “They have nothing. Most have only one T-shirt and pair of socks and no hygiene.”

Strahm wanted to help. With the help of friends, she was able to ship her son packages full of personal items for the Iraqi police and other soldiers.

As she described the boxed items, a voice yelled, “Nanci,” in the background. Her son was speaking to the crowd via a phone call. She rushed close to the microphone.

Nick Strahm went on to thank everyone for their support and for the packages sent to help his men.

His mother beamed. The care packages were a success, and they arrived in only 12 days.

Strahm had handed shipping responsibilities over to the only man she knew for the job, Emery McClendon.

McClendon knows the process of sending and receiving packages all too well. He delivers for FedEx.

But McClendon also knows the joy a package can bring. He had to wait for them while serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

“Back then you got to talk to your family maybe once or twice a month if you were lucky,” he said. “Phones that would reach overseas were barely accessible and long distance was so expensive. We loved to hear from home. That’s why we’re here.”

Remembering his own waiting periods, he’s switched from waiting to sending.

He is the founder and organizer of the annual event. Enlisting groups of amateur radio volunteers, McClendon is responsible for an airwave event that is broadcast to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as around the country to other veterans and military bases.

Why? He said it is because troops deserve to hear support firsthand.

Aside from helping with care-package shipments and the live portion of the event, the event also broadcasts messages of support from local residents.

Each year, a station is set up at a Fort Wayne Wizards baseball game where anyone can come and give a verbal message to the troops.

Army Pfc. Derek Dahlman, who attended Saturday’s event, finished his second deployment in the Mideast in June 2005.

And he knows there is a good chance he’ll go back. He also just re-enlisted.

“Today means a lot to me,” the 26-year-old from Avilla said. “People have come up and have said thank you, but I’ve never been to an event like this. It feels good, especially when you are surrounded by the negativity of politics.

“America is a free country, and everyone has a right to voice their opinion. But this, this is nice to hear.”

This is my friend, Emery McClendon. He coordinates these events for citizens at home to be able to talk to and thank our Soldiers overseas. We are currently working together to help Nick Strahm get the supplies he needs for success in his mission. If you are interested in helping, please email me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Oregon's 41st Receives a Medal for Bravery Before Coming Home!

Brigadier General Douglas A Pritt was awarded the State of Afghanistan's Medal of Bravery by Abdul Karim Kahili, Vice President of Afghanistan. the award was signed by President Hamid Karzai. Pritt was the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix V whose mission was to train and mentor the Afghan National Security Forces.

"I am humbled to receive this award for bravery from the President of Afghanistan. The Soldiers of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police are among the bravest people I've served with. They are true heroes." Pritt said, "This award is a direct result of the tremendous effort put forth by each of the over 7000 members of the Task Force. I could not have asked for a better group of Warriors with which to serve."

Brigadier General Douglas A Pritt, commander of the 41st Brigade Combat Team of the Oregon National Guard, has turned over command of Task Force Phoenix to Brigadier General Robert Livingston of the 218th Brigade Combat Team from the South Carolina National Guard.

The 41st BCT is returning from Afghanistan after serving a year long deployment. Members of the Task Force also included National Guardsmen from 49 states, Washington DC, Guam and Puerto Rico, soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines and 15 Coalition nations.

Sgt Dub is still packing!!! You can follow his progress home at his blog.

Wednesday Hero ~ SPC Ahmed Qusai allTaayie

Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie

Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie
41 years old from Ann-Arbor, Michigan

Specialist Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie is a Iraqi American U.S. Army linguist soldier, from Ann-Arbor, Michigan who was kidnapped on October 23, 2006 in Baghdad and has not been seen since.

al-Taayie joined the Army in 2004 to help not only his country, the United States, but also his birthplace of Iraq and was deployed in 2005. On October 23, 2006 he was visiting his wife in the Karrada Shiite neighborhood in central Baghdad when he and his cousin were kidnapped by a group calling themselves Ahel al-Beit Brigades. His cousin was released shortly after. On November 2, 2006 al-Taayie's uncle received a ransom demand of $250,000 for his return. Along with the ransom came a grainy video that showed a man beaten up who was identified as al-Taayie. No more has been heard from al-Taayie or his captures.

For more information on Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie you can 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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Bit of Joy for a Fallen Warrior's Family

This is the last picture taken of Spc Justin Rollins. The puppy was part of a litter he and his buddies had found while out on patrol. The next day, Justin lost his life in an IED attack. He died on March 5, in Samarra, Iraq. He was with the 82nd Airborne Division. His girlfriend, Brittney Murray, went on a quest to find the puppy and bring it back to his family in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The puppy, named Hero, arrived in New Hampshire after a 6,000 mile trip. She is now a member of the Rollins family.

"He really did believe in what he was fighting for," Rhonda Rollins said of her paratrooper son. "I think he'd be thrilled there was a positive story from the negative thing that happened to us. ... He was such a happy-go-lucky guy."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Today is Memorial Day. This is the day that we remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom by losing their lives fighting for our country. There will be big and small ceremonies held across the country. At 3pm local time, the Time of Remembrance, we hold a minute of silence, or prayer for some of us, to remember.

Reflections on Memorial Day are as individual as each of us. For some it is family BBQ's or get togethers with friends. For some it is big sales at the shopping center. For some it is attending a memorial service. For a select few it is remembering the son, brother, father, daughter, sister, mother, grandfather, uncle, aunt or friend who will never come home again.

For me, it is trying to remember the face of the young boy I so cared about. I took a rubbing of his name at the Wall in the eighties. I felt the tears fall as I finally said goodbye all those years later.

For me, it is the memory of the holiday spent with the family walking through Punchbowl - the National Cemetery in Hawaii. As we walked, we read the names aloud - calling them from the cold stone into the warm air to caress their essence.

For me, it is walking the roads in Arlington National Cemetery - the long, lenghty roads away from the center of tourism and inhaling the sweet scent of freedom represented so profoundly in the Garden of Stone.

For me, it is the ceremonies I have attended - the small and disorganized to the large and highly orchestrated. They have all served to honor and to respect.

For me, it was an afternoon spent with my Grandpa, walking through a local cemetery looking for graves of veterans and planting a flag in front of them. It is the memory of him, saying, "You must never forget them, you owe them everything."

For me, it is the beautiful faces and wonderful stories I share in this blog.

For me, it is the grieving of the Gold Star members I know. It is also the grieving of the young warriors I know who have lost cherished friends, yet urge us to all stand strong and fight on.

"I miss him. Yes, I still miss him," she wrote to me from Iraq this week. "Please, never forget him. He was my friend. My best friend. He was such a good and funny and kind man. I think I will always miss him. We need to finish this fight for him."

We all have our reflections of this important day. Today, we will attend our local services. We will honor the Time of Reflection. We will probably shed some tears. But, we will come home and see our flag waving proudly and be so thankful that such men lived that were willing to fight and die for us so that we would remain free. God Bless Them All.

Please read below for a speech by Ben Stein and memorial poem from a Gold Star Wife.

They Did God's Work ~ Ben Stein on Memorial Day

They Did God's Work
Ben Stein
Published 5/26/06
Remarks delivered on Saturday evening in Arlington, Virginia, at the Memorial Day weekend seminar and grief camp of TAPS -- the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME be a part of your family. This is the most important family on the planet right now. There is a First Family on Pennsylvania Avenue, but this is the real first family. The family of those who have paid the ultimate price to keep us free and dignified and alive.

A bad day for me is when I get stuck in traffic or have a toothache or notice that I have gained weight or my teenage son is surly.

A bad day for you is realizing that the only man or woman you have ever loved is
gone for this lifetime.

A difficult day for me with my wife is when she's out at her bridge lesson and comes home late so my dinner is late.

A difficult day for you is when you wake up from a dream that your husband or wife or son or daughter or mother or father was alive and laughing with you and realize you'll never see that loveable person again for the rest of your natural lives.

A bad day for an ordinary American is seeing the stock market go down or watching his son sneak a beer.

A bad day for you is a sort of loneliness, a hopeless, cruel loneliness that cuts right to the bone like the cut of a knife, that tells you that there is no one there to hug you, no one to kiss you, no one to fix the kids' bikes, no one to wipe away the tears that just come uncontrollably when you least expect them.

A bad day for me is getting stuck in an airport security line. A bad day for you is being on the plane alone.

Yet your loneliness has meaning. Your loneliness, your pain, is the mortar and concrete that anchors the nation. The sacrifice your loved ones made, the sacrifice you made, that your kids made, is what makes the whole American world safe from terror.

Your loved ones' lives had what we all want: meaning. The knowledge you were doing something big for others. That is EVERYTHING in life.

Wall Street does not have it. Hollywood does not have it. They're just in it for the fame and the money.

Your loved ones were in it for unselfishness, for kindness, for love of one's fellow man. There is no higher meaning on this earth.

The media try to rob your husbands' and wives' and kids' lives of meaning saying this war is not about anything.

They're wrong and they say what they say because they don't see the truth. They print a story on the front page about Marines killing civilians in a town in Iraq and if they did, it was wrong. But the big media never report a MARINE throwing himself on a bomb to protect an Iraqi child, or a Marine giving his life to rid a town of murderers or a Marine or an Army man or woman or a Navy Seal or a Coast Guardsman offering up his life so that Iraqi human beings can have the same freedoms and rights we take for granted here in America.

The media are like grave robbers, robbing you of the certain knowledge that your spouses gave their lives for something deeply worthwhile: human dignity.

Your loved ones' lives and deaths had as much meaning at the lives and deaths of every American who died for freedom from Valley Forge to the Battle of the Bulge to Cho-Sin Reservoir to the Cu Chi tunnels to the Balkans to Kabul, Afghanistan, to Falluja, Iraq.

And if the media doesn't know it, every other American does. This is a very difficult fight, but the ordinary American knows what your loved ones have done and respects them.

Your families, your loved one, your children have more respect than Sean Penn and Barbra Streisand and the Dixie Chicks all put together times a million. And the media like to criticize because they know -- in their hearts -- that they will never have the guts that the man and woman in uniform have. I think media envy of your loved ones' courage has a lot do with media mockery of the war.

To heck with them. Your husbands are the real stars. Your wives and kids are the real stars. They burn brightly forever as long as there are free men and women and the longing for human freedom burns bright in the human heart.

John F. Kennedy said that here on earth, God's work is our work. That doesn't mean Wall Street's work. It doesn't mean the Washington Post's work. It doesn't mean Hollywood's work. It means the work you guys do and the work of your husbands and wives and kids. Living and dying for your fellow man. That is God's work in the deepest sense, and God bless you for what you do, and God keep you until you are with your loved ones again.

Freedom Isn't Cheap

"Freedom Isn't Cheap"
© Poem by Joyce Lindsey

This is for those of you, who feel the need to express
Your opinions against war, and how you must protest

I wonder if you think, of the soldiers who must fight
Or the family that's alone, and cry to sleep at night

The sacrifice they make, to ensure that you may speak
And to voice your concerns, for freedom isn't cheap

It's paid by all soldiers, and the family they love too
In lost treasured moments, and phone calls that are few

In months of separation, and sometimes, even years
In constant loneliness, and forever haunting fears

The sacrifices are many, and never for the weak
They must always be brave, because freedom isn't cheap

So next time you are urged, to voice your given right
Remember who protects it; remember the soldier's plight

For they do this out of honor, and your words come at a cost
To the ones left behind, who must deal with the loss

So choose your words carefully, remember the cost is steep
For the families of our soldiers, freedom isn't cheap

Joyce Lindsey is the wife of SSG Brad Lindsey who lost his life in Afghanistan on September 9, 2006.

Wednesday Hero ~ Remember

To every man and woman who has served and is serving in the United States military, thank you for everything that you do and have done. And every man and woman who's given their life for the cause of freedom will never be forgotten.

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 Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Flags In" Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery

Each year, the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) has honored America's fallen heroes by placing American flags before the gravestones and niches of service members buried at both Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldier's and Airmen's Home National Cemetery just prior to Memorial Day weekend.

This tradition, known as "flags in," has been conducted annually since The Old Guard was designated as the Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948. Every available soldier in the 3rd U.S. Infantry participates, placing small American flags one foot in front and centered before each grave marker.

During an approximately three-hour period, the soldiers place flags in front of more than 260,000 gravestones and about 7,300 niches at the cemetery's columbarium. Another 13,500 flags are placed at the Soldier's and Airmen's Cemetery. As part of this yearly memorial activity, Old Guard soldiers remain in the cemetery throughout the weekend, ensuring that a flag remains at each gravestone.

American flags are also placed at the graves of each of the three unknown service men interred at the Tomb of the Unknowns, by the Tomb Sentinels. All flags are removed after Memorial Day before each cemetery is opened to the public.

For a personal account of the "Flags In" ceremony and Memorial Day in Iraq, please read Badgers Forward - it is a beautiful piece.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Tomb of the Unknowns ~ Arlington National Cemetery


The Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery is guarded twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of the weather conditions. The Tomb Guards are members of the 3d United States Infantry Regiment.

A soldier seeking the honor of serving as a sentinel at the Tomb must possess exemplary qualities, to include American citizenship, a spotless record, and impeccable military bearing.

While on duty the sentinel crosses a 63-foot rubber surfaced walkway in exactly 21 steps. He then faces the Tomb for 21 seconds, turns again, and pauses an additional 21 seconds before retracing his steps. The 21 is symbolic of the highest salute according to dignitaries in
military and state ceremonies.

As a gesture against intrusion on their post, the sentinel always bears his weapon away from the Tomb.

Only under exceptional circumstances may the guard speak or alter his silent, measured tour of duty. He will issue a warning if anyone attempts to enter the restricted area around the Tomb, but first will halt and bring his rifle to port arms.

The Guard wears the Army Dress Blue Uniform, reminiscent of the color and style worn by soldiers during the late 1800’s. Tomb Guards are privileged to wear the Tomb Identification Badge on the right breast pocket. The design is an inverted open laurel wreath surrounding a representation of the front elevation of the Tomb. The words "Honor Guard" are engraved at the base of the badge. A guard leaving after at least nine months of service is entitled to wear the badge as a permanent part of the uniform. -From the Old Guard website.

The Unknowns are fallen Soldiers from World War I, World War II and Korea. With the advent of DNA technology, we will no longer have fallen warriors who are unidentified.

Every American should go to Arlington once in their lives. It is an awe inspiring experience. Visiting the Tomb of the Unknowns is a deeply emotional, and truly humbling, experience.

On Memorial Day, the Tomb of the Unknowns, receives the nation's respect and gratitude for all of those who have served, especially those who fell while in service to our country.

Memorial Day Ceremonies

Arlington National Cemetery

A wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Tomb of the Unknowns, followed by a remembrance ceremony in the Memorial Amphitheater. The event will commence with a prelude concert by the U.S. Marine Corps Band at 10:30 a.m. inside the amphitheater.

National Cemeteries in the United States

To find services in your state -

Local Ceremonies

Check your newspaper or call your local VFW Hall

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Face of Freedom ~ Army Sgt Abdou Cham

A Face of Freedom
Sgt Abdou Cham

An Airborne Sergeant's Journey from Africa to Iraq

BAGHDAD – When Sgt. Abdou Cham was a young boy growing up in the town of Banjul in the West African country of the Gambia, people thought he was a little strange.

While the other boys were playing soccer, Cham could usually be found with his head buried in a book about military history.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the military,” Cham said. “The idea of people sacrificing themselves for what they believe in, it always appealed to me.”

Today, the little boy who read books about Soldiers has grown up to be one. Cham, 27, is a team leader with the 82nd Airborne Division on his third deployment to Iraq. His unit, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, arrived in January and was one of the first to move into Baghdad as part of the new security plan. They are based at Coalition Outpost Callahan in the eastern Baghdad Sha’ab neighborhood.

Inside the COP, propped up on his bunk with a mini-DVD player resting on his chest, Cham doesn’t seem any different than the other paratroopers in the room. All of them have unique reasons for having joined the Army. But few had to travel as far as Cham did to accomplish the goal.

Cham’s journey began in Banjul, where he said he had a happy childhood. His father was an accountant and his mother owned her own business. The Chams weren’t rich, but they were always comfortable.

In school, Cham did well until he got to high school. That’s when he discovered girls, and, he said, “I dropped everything.”

Still, his marks were good enough to earn an advanced-level diploma. At that point, Cham decided to continue his education in America. In 1999, he moved to Gaithersburg, Md., where he had relatives, and began attending college. It was there that he met his wife. They now have two young children.

For the next several years, Cham went to school and worked full-time managing a restaurant. With all the obligation of work, school and family, he saw his chance to become a Soldier slipping away.

In 2004, Cham decided he couldn’t wait any longer to pursue his dream. With his wife’s blessing, he went down to the recruiting office and filled out the paperwork to become a Soldier.

“I always knew I would end up in the Army,” he said. “When I called home to tell my folks I had joined, no one was surprised.”

Cham’s immediate family knew how strongly he felt about being a Soldier, but others were shocked that he would enlist during a time of war.

“Coming from Africa, people thought this wasn’t my war,” he said. “But America has given me a lot, so this was just my way of giving back.”

It wasn’t long before Cham was deployed to Iraq, first to Mosul in December 2004 and then to Tal Afar in the autumn of 2006.

During that time, Cham rose quickly through the ranks. He made sergeant in less than three years, and hopes to be promoted again before this deployment is over.

“Sgt. Cham is a hard charging noncommissioned officer,” said his Company’s senior NCO, 1st Sgt. Jason Mang. “He’s real dependable.”

Cham’s background gives him a unique perspective. He is one of relatively few Muslims in his unit. His home country, Gambia, is 80 percent Muslim and children generally begin learning the Koran when they are young, Cham said. He took Arabic lessons up until high school. Now that he’s in Iraq, he said, he wishes he had studied harder.

Even though his Arabic is shaky, being a Muslim can still create a connection with the local people, Cham said. Sometimes, after the company raids a house in the middle of the night, he’s the only one who can calm the inhabitants down.

“I tell them, I’m a Muslim just like you,” he said. “No one is going to hurt you.”

Once, in Mosul, an Iraqi policeman who Cham was patrolling with gave him a copy of the Koran, tucking it into his body armor for safekeeping. It’s still there.

“It’s on its third deployment,” Cham said.

Cham said he tries to correct the bad impressions some people have of his religion.

“I try to tell them about the good virtues of Muslims,” he said. Cham himself gets angry when he hears about insurgents killing innocent people in the name of Allah.

“I sometimes get (mad) because these people give a very bad image to Muslims all over the world,” he said. “Real Muslims believe in peace.”

But in most ways, Cham is no different than the other paratroopers. He laughs at the same jokes, shares the same hardships and sweats in the Baghdad heat the same as the rest. It’s that sense of brotherhood that Cham said he appreciates most about Army life.

“You may not even like somebody, but if he goes down you would go through a hail of bullets to get him back,” he said. “That really amazes me.”

Cham said being a Soldier has more than lived up to the expectations he had when he was a little boy, sitting in the shade in Banjul reading books about war.

Story and photos by Sgt. Mike Pryor

To Rosie, From Ben Stein

I have resisted talking about Rosie or any of the other faux humans in the "entertainment" industry, because being an actor, singer, etc, does not mean you have an education or any capacity to evaluate and process information. For the most part, I ignore them. If they annoy me enough, I no longer buy their products.

However, Wednesday on the Dennis Miller Show, Ben Stein said something that sums up my feelings.

Dennis asked 'what do you like?'

"I like just being alive and waking up.
Can I tell you what I like?
What I like - I like the fact that I'm a fat, 62 year-old, old guy, living it up in Hollywood, New York, Washington, and some incredibly brave guy from some small town in Arkansas is willing to go and offer up his life to keep people like you and me safe and to go and fight and leave his children without a father and leave his mother and father without a son and they're willing to do that for $1500. a month and they get very, very short-shrift when some idiot like Rosie O'Donnell calls them criminals and thugs and those are the people that keep us alive in our big playpen."

Thank you, Ben Stein, that about sums it up for me, too.

Dennis Miller Radio is available on the internet. You can play the shows whenever you want. He has some remarkable guests and has quite a bit of humor thrown in.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Vietnam Veterans Memorial ~ Plans Unveiled

Plans for the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Wall of Faces will feature photos of service members whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Other displays will highlight some of the more than 100,000 items left at The Wall.

The exhibits will include images of U.S. service members from all wars, including present military conflicts.
Renderings by Ralph Appelbaum Associates

Site Map of Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Today at a Capitol Hill news conference hosted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, world-renowned exhibition designer Ralph Appelbaum provided a first glimpse of the exhibits planned for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, an underground facility slated for the National Mall near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

“The Center will be a place that reveals the human dimension of the war and honors the value of service and the bonds of loyalty and friendship,” said exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum. “It will allow a new generation of visitors to better understand the human experience of war and the web of lives affected.”

During the presentation, Appelbaum spelled out the specific goals of the Center:
*Enhance the Memorial experience
*Honor those who died
*Put faces with the names of those memorialized on The Wall
*Encourage younger visitors to learn more

He explained how listening, learning, research and discussion with distinguished Vietnam veterans, authorities in charge of the National Mall and everyday Americans have resulted in a clear concept for the Center. And, he showed visuals illustrating the main components of the planned exhibits:

Faces of Service Members: A wall of photos of fallen service members who had their birthday on that particular day, along with any images, letters or other remembrances left at The Wall for that individual.
Display of Values: Words such as Respect, Loyalty, Courage, Duty, Service, Honor and Integrity, combined with excerpts from letters of fallen service members that convey those concepts.
Artifacts Collection: A dramatic series of glass cases that contain selections of the more than 100,000 items that have been left at the Memorial – including personal letters home from men and women in uniform.
Timeline: A factual chronology of military events to give an overview of the span of the war and the key actions.
History of the Memorial: A visual and written history of The Wall and the way it has uniquely influenced the way Americans memorialize and pay tribute.
Resource Center: Interactive stations where visitors, specifically young people, can access additional information.
Legacy of Service: A visual connection between those who served in Vietnam and all Americans in uniform, past and present.

“The Center will be the home of some of the personal items that have been left at the Memorial and that illustrate the loss and grieving—they are eloquent examples of love and friendship,” Appelbaum added. “Here, we give each name a face and explore the universal bond among all veterans of war.”

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Site

Oregon National Guard 115th MPAD Deploys to Iraq

Members of the 115th Mobile Public Affairs assemble for a final formation at the Anderson Readiness Center in Salem, Oregon, May 23, before deploying. The unit will deploy to Iraq for one year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Members of the MPAD will spend two months training at Fort Dix, NJ before heading to the Middle East. Oregon National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs.

(From right to left): Oregon Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, Brig. Gen. Charles Yriarte, Commander, 82 Brigade, Oregon Army National Guard and Lt. Col. Donald Rolf, Commander, 821 Special Troops Battalion, Oregon Army National Guard, salute the U.S. flag during a mobilization ceremony May 23, for the Oregon Army National Guard's 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

Maj. Don Troxell, commander of the 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, passes the unit guidon to Oregon Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski during the unit's mobilization ceremony May 23, 2007, in Salem, Oregon.

The 22 soldiers deploying are:
Maj. Don Troxell of Bend, Oregn
Capt. Edward Vance of Sacramento, California
Lt. Stephen Bomar of Keizer, Oregon
Lt. Richard Ybarra of Vancouver, Washington
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Cummings of Kuna, Idaho
Staff Sgt. Russell Bassett of Molalla, Oregon
Staff Sgt. Michael Gholston of Portland, Oregon
Staff Sgt. Timothy Lumpkin of Milwaukie, Oregon
Sgt. Kevin Hartman of Eugene, Eugene
Spc. Stephanie Bacon of West Linn, Oregon
Spc. Elizabeth Conley of Springfield, Oregon
Spc. Anna Judd of Medford, Oregon
Spc. Patrick Lair of Sweet Home, Oregon
Spc. Eric Rutherford of Turner, Oregon
Spc. Jason Van Mourik of West Linn, Oregon
Pfc. John Crosby of Portland, Oregon
Pvt. Loruhama Lopez of Hillsboro, Oregon
Pvt. Matthew Mikolas of Hillsboro, Oregon
Pvt. Nicolas Moler of Portland, Oregon
Pvt. Kirby Rider of Medford, Oregon
Spc. Catie Beck of Pella, Iowa
Sgt. Margaret Nelson of Bend, Oregon

We wish you well and send our gratitude for your service to our country.
You and your families will be in our thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Farewell and Walk with God, SPC Joseph A Jeffries

SPC Joseph A Jeffries

Died May 29, 2004
Kandahar, Afghanistan

SPC Joseph A Jeffries, 21, of Beaverton, Oregon, assigned to the 329th Psychological Operations Company, Army Reserve, Portland, Oregon was killed May 29 when his vehicle hit a land mine in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Also killed were Capt. Daniel W. Eggers, 28, of Cape Coral, Florida and Sgt. 1st Class Robert J. Mogensen, 26, of Leesville, Louisiana. Jeffries was attached to Special Forces.

Jeffries was the first son of Oregon to die while serving in Afghanistan. He was born in Portland and graduated from Sunset High School. He joined the Army Reserve in 2002. The following year he was sent to Bosnia. When he returned, he married Betsy Fiddler - a co-worker at a day care center. At the time of his death
, Betsy was expecting their first child.

Jeffries loved his wife, racing cars, basketball, skiing and had always wanted to be an "Army Guy." He raced his cars at the River City Speedway in St Helens, Oregon with his father. When his father received word of his death, he was 'covered in grease' preparing a car to race as his son's proxy.

His father said that Jeffries felt that the Afghan civilians wanted the soldiers there and were volunteering important information. "In Afghanistan, he felt we were making a fifference, and he was glad he was there. And, from a father's standpont, I'm glad we had that discussion."

Joseph Jefferies was survived by his wife, Betsy, his father, Mark Jeffries, his mother, Linda Lock, sisters Heidi and Terri Jeffries, and grandparents Betty and Rick Smith.

Joseph Jeffries was buried with honors at Willamette National Cemetery. At the River City Speedway, he was honored with a memorial race.

Betsy Jeffries carries her 11-month-old son, Joseph Jeffries II, at the Gold Star Wives luncheon March 22, 2005, in Arlington, Va. Her husband, Joseph A. Jeffries, was killed in Afghanistan on May 29, 2004. Photo by Rudi Williams

Betsy Jeffries was five months pregnant when her husband, Joseph Jeffries was killed in Afghanistan.

"Numbness, denial" are the words she used to describe her feelings when she was told her husband had been
killed in action. "I still live in denial," she said. "I didn't want to believe it - still don't."

She said the Gold Star Wives helps her to cope with her loss. "I live next door to another Gold Star wife," Jefferies noted. "It's good to have her there and to be able to talk to these other women. I can go online and write how I feel, and people will tell me that I'm normal. I don't need to stress out about what stage I'm at, because all of it is normal. Knowing that I'm not weird, or wrong, it's just normal. I'm not odd for feeling or doing or anything."

Jefferies said being a member of the Gold Star Wives makes her feel sane. She advises other young widows to seek out the organization. "And find someone, especially your own age," she said. "For me being married five months is different from someone who has been married for 15 years. They grieve for something they've lost. I grieve for something that I never had and I long to have - wish I could have had."

"His main goal in life was to have a family," Jefferies said, as she fought back tears. "He just wanted to be a dad. That's all he wanted. His main goal was to provide for his children.

"After we found out that we were pregnant, he was going to switch over to active duty to finish out his five years from the reserves," she said. "After that, he was thinking about being a firefighter or a policeman."

We keep the Jeffries family in our thoughts and prayers. We will never forget your sacrifice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gratitude for America's Armed Forces

"America's armed forces are made up entirely of volunteers who knew the risks of service when they joined, and who willingly embrace those risks and their accompanying responsibilities every day, both to protect their homeland and to protect each other while working for the greater good of accomplishing their various missions throughout the world. As Memorial Day nears, take a moment to thank a friend, family member, or total stranger who has served-or is serving-this country, for, while they will never seek the praise or thanks of their fellow man, all will appreciate the gratitude. It is our solemn duty to honor those who have kept us safe and free for the past 230-plus years. America has stood strong for those years largely because of men like [them]... and it is because of men like them that we shall remain so."
-Jeff Emanuel

Veteran's Memorial Wall

Virtual Veteran's Memorial Wall
The VFW is beginning a virtual memorial wall for the fallen warriors
and those who have passed on, from all of our generations of warriors.
To add your loved one's name to the inaguaral wall,

Monday, May 21, 2007

History is Our Stories ~ Grace Darling Siebold

History is Our Stories
Grace Darling Siebold
& the American Gold Star Mothers

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, George Vaughn Seibold, 23, volunteered, requesting assignment in aviation. He was sent to Canada where he learned to fly British planes since the United States had neither an air force nor planes. Deployed to England, he was assigned to the British Royal Flying Corps, 148th Aero Squadron. With his squadron, he left for combat duty in France. He corresponded with his family regularly. His mother, Grace Darling Seibold, began to do community service by visiting returning servicemen in the hospitals.

The mail from George stopped. Since all aviators were under British control and authority, the United States could not help the Seibold family with any information about their son.

Christmas Eve, 1918, the postman delivered a package to the Washington, DC residence of George and Grace Seibold. The package was marked, "Effects of Deceased Officer, First Lieutenant George Vaughn Seibold, Attached to the 148th Squadron, BRFC." No other information was provided.

Grace continued to visit hospitalized veterans in the Washington area, clinging to the hope that her son might have been injured and returned to the United States without any identification.
While working through her sorrow, she helped ease the pain of the many servicemen who returned so war-damaged that they were incapable of ever reaching normalcy.

After months of inquiry, the family received official notice. "George was killed in aerial combat during the heaviest fighting over Baupaume, France, August 26, 1918." His body was never recovered.

Grace, realizing that self-contained grief is self-destructive, devoted her time and efforts to not only working in the hospital but extending the hand of friendship to other mothers whose sons had lost their lives in military service.

She organized a group consisting solely of these special mothers, with the purpose of not only comforting each other, but giving loving care to hospitalized veterans confined in government hospitals far from home.

The organization was named after the Gold Star that families hung in their windows in honor of the deceased veteran.

After years of planning, June 4, 1928, twenty-five mothers met in Washington, DC to establish the national organization, American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.

The success of our organization continues because of the bond of mutual love, sympathy, and support of the many loyal, capable, and patriotic mothers who while sharing their grief and their pride, have channeled their time, efforts and gifts to lessening the pain of others.

We stand tall and proud by honoring our children, assisting our veterans, supporting our nation, and healing with each other.

Information from the American Gold Star Mothers.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

God Bless this Glorious American Military by Ben Stein

"God bless this glorious American military, every wife, every child, every parent, and endless prayers for them to return home safe, mission accomplished. God bless them every moment of every day for keeping safe this America, inside of which we live as powerfully as we live in our skin. This has to be the central fact of our lives: gratitude for the men and women who make this great life possible, who wear the uniform and cover it with glory."

-Ben Stein

Navy K-9's in Action

NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY BAHRAIN (May 7, 2007) -- Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Jeremy Aldrich of Naval Security Force, Bahrain’s K-9 Unit and his military working dog Tyson, a 4-year-old Blue Belgium Malanois, take a little break for some fun at the obstacle course here. Aldrich has worked with Tyson for 18 months, providing security for Naval Support Activity Bahrain and the Mina Salman pier.

NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY BAHRAIN (May 7, 2007) -- Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Jeremy Aldrich of Naval Security Force, Bahrain’s K-9 Unit and his military working dog Tyson, a 4-year-old Blue Belgium Malanois, search a line of buses for any detection of explosives. Aldrich has worked with Tyson for 18 months, providing security for Naval Support Activity Bahrain and the Mina Salman pier.

NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY BAHRAIN (May 7, 2007) -- Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Jeremy Aldrich of Naval Security Force, Bahrain’s K-9 Unit and his military working dog Tyson, a 4-year-old Blue Belgium Malanois, take a little break for some fun at the obstacle course on base Aldrich has worked with Tyson for 18 months, providing security for Naval Support Activity Bahrain and the Mina Salman pier.

NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY BAHRAIN (May 7, 2007) -- Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Lisette Latorre of Naval Security Force, Bahrain’s K-9 unit trains with her military working dog Anna, a 4-year-old German Shepherd, in a detection proficient trail and training during which Anna successfully met her objective of finding the explosive. The training is held at a minimum of three times per month so the dogs stay adept in detecting explosive odors.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Armed Forces Day 2007

Happy Armed Forces Day!

With gratitude to all who serve,

protect and defend us.

Remember Me

Remember them every day.
Remember them always.
Thank them for the freedoms we take for granted.
You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sgt Rafael Peralta: Act of Honor

This Saturday, May 19, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. EST (4 pm PST), the History Channel is airing its one hour documentary Act of Honor about the hero Sgt. Rafael Peralta.

The History Channel's summary:

On November 15, 2004, Sgt. Rafael Peralta died while fighting to secure a key insurgent stronghold in Iraq. Peralta and fellow Marines were ambushed by guerillas who then lobbed a grenade at them. Already seriously wounded, Peralta shielded his companions by covering the explosive device with his body, saving their lives and sacrificing his own. Watch Peralta's extraordinary journey from Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego to the streets of Iraq. Included are interviews with his widowed mother and three siblings in San Diego.

I urge you to watch and learn about a true hero, a Marine, an American.
For more information see my posts which include many comments by Sgt. Rafael Peralta's family and friends:


This post is from Don at the Danz Family

Armed Forces Day - Saturday, May 19

Tomorrow is Armed Forces Day. It is the day that we honor our troops who are protecting us and defending us aroung the world. it was signed into law by President Harry Truman, and 1950 saw the first Armed Forces Day.

"This is the day on which we have the welcome opportunity to pay special tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces ... to all the individuals who are in the service of their country all over the world. Armed Forces Day won't be a matter of parades and receptions for a good many of them. They will all be in line of duty and some of them may give their lives in that duty." - New York Times, May 17, 1952

What are you going to do for Armed Forces Day? For some of my readers - THANK YOU and I wish you a wonderful day. For others, I thank you for the support you give your spouses and your children and your adopted troops. For the rest of you, what are you going to do tomorrow? Here are some suggestions....

    Join a Support Group

    Visit a Veteran's Hospital in your area. Find them here.

    Visit your local Recruiters Office - take donuts or a cake!!!

    Say 'Thank you' to a member of the Armed Services.

    If all else fails, send me an email for 'Any Soldier' and I will send them on to one of 'my kids'.

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Photographer with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan

    Chad Hunt Photographs
    10th Mountain Division

    For this soldier's story, go here.

    Chad Hunt, photographer, had the opportunity to go to Afghanistan. He spent time with a light infantry unit from the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum. While he was there he blogged and posted pictures of his journey with these fine young men and women - read back into November.

    His pictures are beautiful - they take you into a brief window on the existence of being at a remote outpost - KOP - Korengal Outpost in Korengal Valley. His pictures of the countryside, the soldiers and the living conditions are a priceless view into their lives. I don't have the words to describe his work, except follow the links and look at it. It is worth your time.

    Blog -
    Afghanistan Pictures - and
    Fire Fight -

    For those of you in the New York area, Chad has two shows coming up:

    Kingston Museum of Contemporary Arts
    One man show
    Saturday June 2nd, 5pm – 7pm opening reception
    Show will hang through July 2nd
    PHOTOGRAPHY NOW – group EXHIBITION (8 images on display)
    Juried by Alison D. Nordström, Curator of Photography, George Eastman House
    Saturday June 9, 2007 from 5-7 pm, opening reception
    Show will hang through August 18, 2007.
    59 Tinker Street, Woodstock NY 12498

    Chad, graciously gave me permission to post these pictures from his collection.