Friday, September 26, 2008

At Sea with the USS Ronald Reagan

09/18/2008 - A plane captain walks down the wing of an F/A-18C Hornet aircraft assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 113 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) while underway in the Gulf of Oman on Sept. 18, 2008. Plane captains perform safety inspections and maintain general cleanliness of aircraft. The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
DoD photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Torrey W. Lee, U.S. Navy. (Released)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday Hero ~ Yeoman 3 Margret Ueberlauer

Click Image For Full Size
Yeoman 3rd Class Margret Ueberlauer
U.S. Navy

Yeoman 3rd Class Margret Ueberlauer hands out toys to HIV infected children during a community relations project at the Camillian Center in Pattaya, Thailand. The USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

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 site, you can go here.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Farewell and Walk with God ~ Lt Col James L Wiley

Lt. Col. James L. Wiley, Jr
Died September 18, 2008
Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

A son of Oregon, Lt Col, James L Wiley, 46, of North Bend, Ore., died Sept. 18 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 27th Brigade Combat Team, New York Army National Guard, Syracuse, N.Y.

Lt Col Wiley was a native of the coast community of North Bend, graduated from North Bend High School in 1979 and he received a degree in marketing and management from the University of Oregon and was also a part of ROTC. He received a degree in law in 1991 from the Willamette University School of Law.

He became a military attorney in Germany. About a year ago, he decided to don fatigues again and take a final tour. And, as Afghanistan has done to many before him, he became a humanitarian and advocate for the children of Afghanistan.

James Wiley collected clothing and inspired members of his mother's church to make hats, scarves and gloves and organized clothing drives through the Oregon State Bar. Before his deployment to Afghanistan, he inspired his mother's church to send hats to the wounded in Germany.

As with so many before him, Afghanistan made him a new person, Ruth Wiley said. "He said he had found the new Jim over there. He was really learning a lot from these children."

Before his service with the New York Army National Guard, Wiley served in 1986 with the Oregon National Guard A Company, Second Battalion, 162nd Infantry, and later with Troop E of the 116th Calvary in Woodburn.

He is survived by his wife, Theresa; three daughters - Ruth, Jamie and Sarah; and his parents, Ruth and James L. Wiley Sr.

From the comments section of his hometown newspaper:

I served with Jim in Mannheim and will always cherish my memories of him. He was truly a class act and his absence leaves a hole that can never be filled. He tried to leave the world a better place than he found it -- there are many who remain to prove that he succeeded.

Jim was a great man. His compassion for others made him a spectacular officer and gentlemen. He will be missed. - A Fellow Soldier

I am sorry to here of your sons passing. I know how proud you are and have always been of his service. We all know that he was where he believed he needed to be and he made a difference. After all that is why our men and women are over there, and he did us all proud. Rest in peace Jim.

The Patriot Guard Riders will be escorting LTC James Wiley on his return home, Friday, SEP 26 time TBA at North Bend Airport, North Bend Oregon.

They have been invited by the Family to provide a Missing Man Formation Escort to the North Bend High School from the North Bend Chapel at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday SEP 27 and provide a flag line for the Memorial Service at the North Bend High School scheduled for 11:00 a.m. We will then provide an escort for LTC James Wiley, Jr and his family to Sunset Memorial Cemetery in honoring this American Hero and his brave family.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pakistan Blast Kills Americans

The terrorist attack on the Marriott Hotel in Pakistan left 60+ dead and over 270 wounded.

Among the dead are two Americans - DOD employees and the Ambassador of Czechoslovakia.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Remembering SGT Eddie Jeffers... One Year Gone

"Blessed be the Lord my Strength,
who teaches my hands to war,
and my fingers to fight."

Psalm 144:1

It has been one year since Eddie left us... but, he is a man we should never forget. This weekend is a 'reunion' for his family and friends - I wish I had been able to travel across the country to be with them. I hope you will take the time to read his essays - linked at the bottom of the page. Thank you. 9/19/08

Wednesday evening - I had just popped dinner in the oven and sat down at the computer to check my email. Up pops a message from David Jeffers, Eddie's father. It was titled Hope Rides Eternal. I expected a new essay from Eddie - a follow up to Hope Rides Alone. Sadly, that was not to be. I was not prepared for the sad news. This is what my email read:

It is with great personal sadness but joy in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that I announce the death of my son Eddie Jeffers. Eddie was killed around 7 am Iraqi time from an accidental vehicle roll-over. Although our personal loss is traumatic, we know he is in a better place. All of you have been so wonderful to my son and my family and he was so blessed and humbled by your love for him. He told me this past summer after the wonderful gift you gave his wife and him that he didn't understand why people were so generous and kind to him. You see to Eddie, he was just doing his job and what he believed was his life mission from God.

I've said this often; Eddie was my hero. My dear brother in Christ Rod Martin told me that Eddie died a hero for not just the soldier he was but the person. Eddie, through his writing, touched so many people's lives, yours and you so lovingly touched ours back.

We thank you in advance for your condolences and prayers. Please pray especially for Eddie's wife Stephanie; as you can imagine she is devastated. Our prayer is that Eddie's death will exalt Christ as did his life.

In lieu of any flowers we are asking all donations be given to the Fisher House in memory of Eddie; he loved that charity.

Love in Christ Jesus
The Jeffers Family

"Blessed be the Lord my Strength, who teaches my hands to war, and my fingers to fight." -Psalm 144:1 (Eddie's favorite Bible verse)

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
-Revelation 21:4

I write this tonight with a heavy heart and great sadness for the loss to the spirit of our country. Eddie was so special to so many of us who never had the honor of knowing him, but whose hearts he touched with goodness and honor. He was a hero to so many of us. We felt fortunate to be able to show our appreciation for what he gave to so many of us... honesty, faith, hope and the American spirit.

I was fortunate to correspond with Eddie's father this year. We were part - a teeny, tiny part - of a surprise for Eddie and Stephanie on his leave. Eddie Jeffers was more than a name on a page to me. He was a part of the spirit of America that has soared for over 200 years - a young man who loves his country enough to fight for her and to speak out for her, a young man of profound faith in God and in America, a soldier who believed in his mission and was willing to tell us all how much.

Tonight, I grieve for the loss of a friend, the loss of a soldier, the loss of a fine American, and for his wife and family. Our prayers are with them all.

We are all much richer as a nation because Sergeant Eddie Jeffers walked among us.

To read Eddie's essays, click on the titles:

All of these essays were originally printed in

Messages for the Jeffers family may be left in the comments section and will be forwarded to them.

Friday, September 19, 2008

JPAC ~ Honoring the Pledge

Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command

Tech. Sgt. Valda Wilson, a U.S. Air Force photographer, hauls buckets of dirt to the screening station so that it can be filtered for human remains as well as other evidence that would lead to the identification of a missing servicemember. Defense Dept. photo by Fred W. Baker III

Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command forensic anthropologist Denise To examines debris that was recovered at a site in a wheat field outside of Strass village in Germany. The JPAC recovery team was there last month to recover the remains of a missing World War II fighter pilot. Defense Dept. photo by Fred W. Baker III

Test trenches are dug into a wheat field outside of Strass village in Germany. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command recovery team was there last month to recover the remains of a missing World War II fighter pilot. Defense Dept. photo by Fred W. Baker III

Army Staff Sgt. Jason Powers, JPAC recovery team noncommissioned officer, sweats as he screens dirt at a recovery site in Germany. Defense Dept. photo by Fred W. Baker III

There are many things done quietly in this country that do not get the recognition that they deserve. JPAC is one of them. Aided by modern technology and the willingness to continue the search, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command is identifying remains of our missing warriors from past conflicts.

JPAC Teams Serve on Front Lines of Recoveries
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2008 -
Tech. Sgt. Valda Wilson is an Air Force photographer. But last month in a harvested wheat field in the village of Strass near Germany's Hurtgen Forest, she spent most of her days with her hands full of dirt.

Wilson is one of about 10 members of a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command team who deployed there in the hopes of recovering the remains of a missing P-38 Lightning fighter pilot downed in combat during World War II.

While Wilson's main job is to help the team anthropologist document the mission, all team members on site, regardless of specialty, get their hands dirty.

"Everybody digs. There's nobody on this team who is so special that they don't dig," Wilson said. "I want to be a part of the entire process. We're all expected to pull our weight. And part of pulling your weight is digging, moving dirt."

JPAC teams deploy on about 70 missions annually to some of the most remote locations in the world. Their work can take them to the tops of mountains and deep into jungles. This year, so far, team travels include Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Belgium, Poland and Hungary.

Team members are deployed an average of more than 100 days per year. The work can be monotonous, back-breaking and dangerous, but you rarely hear a team member complain, said Marine Master Sgt. Jonathan Couturier, a recovery team leader.

"When you look down and find some bones, that really hits you," Couturier said. "You know that's one of our own. If that doesn't keep you going, I don't know what does."

The JPAC has 18 recovery teams and each includes an anthropologist, a team leader, an explosive ordnance technician, a medic and a photographer. They are a combination of ranks and services and often are augmented with servicemembers from other commands. Many times, locals are hired to help. Because the missions are considered humanitarian, the team members do not wear military uniforms.

The process that leads to a recovery team excavating a site begins at JPAC headquarters in Hawaii months or years before teams put boots on the ground. Historians piece together information from databases, tips that come in from around the world and information in case files to determine, first, if the site is likely to yield the remains of missing servicemembers. Often, a research team is sent out first to talk to local residents, interview any witnesses, meet with local government officials and lay the groundwork for the mission.

Once on site, the anthropologist surveys the area, mapping out the site to take into account its topography and history for establishing a site grid for digging. Then, they develop an excavation strategy.

Sites can be as small as a few meters and as large as a football field. Excavation strategies vary depending on location and the type of site and whether the team is searching for a single burial or remains alongside a plane crash. Many times, where to start digging is determined by a combination of aerial reconnaissance, witness statements, metal detection sweeps, and the basic gut instinct of the anthropologist, said Denise To, a forensic anthropologist for the Central Identification Lab at the JPAC.

To has worked about 10 sites, mostly in Southeast Asia. This was her first excavation in Europe.

"I love it. It's very rewarding," she said. "There are very few dull days. [There are] many days where something happens and you are just in awe and you are speechless."

As the anthropologist maps out the strategy, the rest of the team begins working the logistics of the site, building a screening station, pitching tents or building shelters, setting up storage areas and latrines. The team is set up and ready to dig on the first day there. If possible, the team will stay in area hotels, but in many areas the remoteness of the site dictates that they camp onsite.

Once the strategy is in place, digging begins. Backhoes are sometimes used to trench until remains are found. Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt is taken to the screening stations. Hundreds of buckets are filled for dumping into the screens.

The screening stations vary in size, depending on how many people are manning the stations. It can be only a handful of screens, or as many as 50 if many locals are hired to help.

The screens are one-quarter-inch mesh affixed to rectangular frames of one-inch-by-four-inch boards. They dangle from a support beam that allows team members to push and pull the screen freely as they filter the dirt from the rocks and other materials.

It's a tedious process that starts by dumping a bucket of dirt into the screen, shaking it, running gloved hands over the remaining material, picking at the debris with trowels and throwing away the rocks, sticks or roots.

Team members are trained on what to look for before they deploy. But, for the most part, they are looking for anything that is man-made. When in doubt, the rule is to throw it in a bucket and let the anthropologist review it, To said.

Besides bones, the team looks for dog tags, buttons, eye glasses, clothing, or anything that can help identify that the remains are of the servicemember they are looking for. Most airplane pieces and other debris are not kept, only items that can help make an identification.

The teams can go through hundreds of buckets of dirt each day. To break the monotony, they joke, play music and take breaks. They also switch duties, and each member spends time digging with the back hoe, shoveling, moving the dirt from the site to the screens by wheelbarrows, filling buckets with dirt and retrieving empty buckets.

At the site in Germany, the group went four days before the impact crater of the aircraft was found. It can be both frustrating and monotonous for the team, To said. But once the crew hits pay dirt, its motivation spikes.

"Once we find things the attitude instantly changes, and you get up every morning and you realize why you are doing what you are doing," To said. "And no matter hard I make the team work and how much I make them shovel, they don't complain because they know that what they're doing is nowhere near as bad as having to wait for your loved one to come home for 60 years."

The team reads up on the historical case files of those they are looking for, which can create a personal connection beyond the details of the work. Wilson said that while the work can be mundane, it is always in back of her mind that they are looking for a missing servicemember.

"You don't want to lose sight of that. When you lose sight of that, why are you even here?" she said.

Recovery operations wrapped up at the site in Germany early this month, with the teams finding osseous material, or bones, and possible material evidence. Lab tests will allow them to determine whether the remains are those of the missing pilot.

At the site, the team also recovered a significant amount of aircraft wreckage, as well as two complete and intact 1,000-pound bombs. That site was closed and there are no plans to return, To said.

All human material is cataloged, photographed, and its location annotated. It is then placed in transport containers, sealed with evidence tape and kept in double-locked containers until it is returned to the JPAC headquarters. An arrival ceremony is held in Hawaii. While the identification could be months or years away, the ceremony is a symbolic gesture of the remains' return to American soil.

Most team members are off to another site by the time remains are identified and families are notified, but they often keep up on the cases. In To's role, though, she sometimes is able to see the case develop from start to finish.

"It makes the job so worthwhile when you're able to hand the remains over to a family member," To said. "It's as if they lost that person yesterday. It doesn't matter that 60 years went by."

For Couturier, who has done two tours in Iraq, the team's work is a promise kept, he said.

"This is a commitment that America has made to all of our fallen heroes," Couturier said. "I can't think of anything more honorable to do. We're in a war and we're still doing this."

But for Wilson, the job is even more personal. She has sweated through 11 missions including trips to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. She has eaten ants and porcupine.

In the end, Wilson is doing for her fellow servicemembers what she would want done for herself.

"If I was out here I would want somebody to come and get me," she said.

For further information:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Face of Freedom ~ LCpl Ben Gonzalez

Lance Corporal Ben Gonzalez

Lance Cpl. Benjamin Gonzalez said he wants to start wearing shorts in public this summer, something he won’t do until he’s tattooed.

So what does he want to write on his leg?

“Freedom isn’t free.”

Perhaps even a picture of the Silver Star he was awarded March 25 during a ceremony in his hometown of El Paso, Texas.

“I don’t like to show off so much, but that’s something I would like people to see,” Gonzalez said.

This way, he said, he won’t have to explain his disfigured, scarred legs to anyone or worry about being mistaken for the victim of a simple motorcycle wreck when the truth is so much more extraordinary.

Gonzalez and the rest of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, had been moving through Fallujah, Iraq, the night before taking up a position on a bridge at the northern edge of the city the morning of June 18, 2004.

From the position he shared with three other Marines along the road, Gonzalez kept watch over pedestrians until around 9:30 a.m.

“I got off post and I was actually going to go to rest and check on all my gear, and that’s pretty much when it happened,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez remembers the sound of the insurgent releasing the spoon of the old, pineapple-style grenade and the “clink” the grenade made when it hit the ground in his fighting hole.

“Unhesitatingly and with total disregard for his own personal safety, Lance Corporal Gonzalez threw himself on his fellow Marine, shielding him from the blast,” according to his award citation. But that’s not exactly how Gonzalez describes it.

Gonzalez said he was actually about to jump away from the grenade when he saw his fire team leader “sitting there without a clue.” He said he didn’t exactly “throw himself” on his team leader.

“I can’t really remember much of those details, but I guess I hugged him,” Gonzalez said.

When the grenade detonated, the team leader was unharmed, but Gonzalez, who absorbed the blast, was riddled with shrapnel. “I got burned. It broke both of my legs and broke and fractured other parts. It messed up my nerves really bad. I have permanent trauma. I can’t feel my feet or move my ankles. I have shrapnel in my stomach, too,” Gonzalez said.

“This must have been the crappiest grenade ever made because we were all really close. The detonation was one to two feet away from my legs. If it was one of ours, it would have taken us all out.”

Gonzalez was still conscious after the blast. A corpsman gave him general anesthetic, and he was medically evacuated.

“I was told I had gone through Germany for a day and a half, but I woke up in Bethesda and thought I was still in Iraq,” said Gonzalez, referring to the National Naval Medical Center north of Washington, D.C.

Gonzalez, who is on temporary retirement and can rejoin the Corps after he heals, has not regained full mobility or feeling in his feet and legs.

But he was able to stand in formation as his Silver Star was pinned to his suit jacket by Capt. William Zirkle, who, as a first lieutenant, was Gonzalez’s commanding officer at the time of the attack.

April 10, 2006
Marine caught in grenade blast gets Silver Star
By John Hoellwarth
Times staff writer
As posted on the Vets for Freedom site

For more about LCpl Ben Gonzalez:

Wednesday Hero ~ LCpl Jason Hanson

LCpl Jason Hanson
LCpl Jason Hanson
21 years old from Forks, Washington
3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
July 29, 2006
U.S. Marine Corps.

LCpl Jason Hanson died when a gasoline truck near a building he was in exploded, causing the building to collapse in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Three other Marines were also killed in the blast. LCpl Anthony E. Butterfield, 19 yrs. old, of Clovis, California; Cpl Phillip E. Baucus, 28 yrs. old, of Wolf Creek, Montana; Sgt. Christian B. Williams, 27 yrs. old, of Winter Haven, Florida.

Hanson graduated in 2003 and joined the Marines in 2005. He was married prior to shipping out.

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 site, you can go

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An Evening with the General ~ General James N Mattis

General James N Mattis
United States Marine Corps
Commander U S Joint Forces Command
NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation

To our delight, we recently had the opportunity to listen to General James Mattis, one of the four four-star generals currently serving in the US Marine Corps. He is from the Pacific Northwest and still calls it part of America where his memories are.

General Mattis commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He commanded the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and then Task force 58 during Operation Enduring Freedom. He commanded the 1st Marine Division during the initial attack and stability operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He recently served as the commander of the US Marine Forces Central Command. Currently, he is Commander, US Joint Forces Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. Who better to listen to about Iraq and Afghanistan?

This is the second time we have had the opportunity to hear General Mattis. He speaks frankly and honestly about the good and the bad in the situations in the War on Terror. He opens the floor to questions and honestly answers each of them.

"We now have a victory coming in Iraq. We're still a ways away, but victory is coming." He continued about Afghanistan and discussed the transfer of resources from Iraq as it stabilizes to Afghanistan. He discussed the difficulty with the various terms of participation with the NATO countries. He also spoke about the difficulties of irregular warfare.

General Mattis also tells wonderful stories of the Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors in the war zones. While we are "the good guys, not the perfect guys", he noted the trusting relationships that our troops are establishing, which is allowing success and victory.

He told the story of a young man who daily stopped traffic for an Iraqi woman to cross the street. She never acknowledged him, yet daily came to his corner to cross the street. He always smiled at her and wished her well. After many weeks of this, she approached him from a different direction, made eye contact with him, turned her head and stared at a house, repeating the gesture several times, and then passed by him. A raid on the house shut down a bomb making operation and removed a large weapons cache from the streets.

When he arrived in Kandahar, Afghanistan, he was approached by locals interested in opening a school for girls, something that city had not seen in five years. Shortly after military commanders assured them the girls' schools would be defended, girls in school uniforms were suddenly everywhere, Mattis said, 'like somebody added water to dehydrated girls' schools.''These girls came walking down the street, and they walked right by U.S. Navy Seals and Marines with automatic weapons standing there on the street corners,' Mattis said. 'And they knew they could trust these foreign soldiers with all these grenades hanging off them and everything else. They knew they could trust them.'

He also shared stories of hospitals and schools and market places opening. He talked about people wanting to live their lives and to care for their families. He gives the news the press never does. He also does not downplay the fragile nature of the peace that is being found, nor the ferocity of the enemy.

Additionally, General Mattis came to meet with the Marine JROTC students in the new program here. There are 87 students enrolled in the start up year and General Mattis assisted in getting the unit granted. What a start for a young person to meet a four-star general!

Thank you General Mattis for an informative and inspiring evening.


By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The U.S. military will be engaged in irregular warfare operations for some time to come, a senior U.S. military officer said on June 19.

"Irregular warfare, from my perspective, is the key problem that we face today," Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, told attendees at the 2008 Joint Warfighting Conference.

The U.S. military is now locked in battle with transnational terrorists like al-Qaida, but it also must be prepared to fight conventional conflicts, Mattis said.

Meanwhile, American sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines will be fighting terrorists during the next decade or so, Mattis predicted.

"The enemy won't fight us conventionally," Mattis pointed out, noting the terrorists realize they're outmatched on traditional battlefields.

He cited his belief that technology, although welcome and helpful, isn't a panacea for all of the unknowns inherent in warfighting, where the human dimension of conflict reigns supreme.

Terrorists embrace irregular warfare as a countermeasure to U.S. military supremacy, Mattis explained, noting they are intelligent, persistent and patient.

"This enemy is not going away any time soon," the general observed.

Anyone who believes the terrorists can be reasoned with are wrong, Mattis said, noting their worldview is totally at odds with that of civilized societies.

The United States, the Soviet Union and China did not want to use their nuclear weapons during the Cold War, Mattis said. However, he said, it'd be different if al Qaida terrorists acquired nuclear or chemical weapons. "I firmly believe that if they got chemical or nuclear weapons they would use them," he emphasized.

To achieve victory over terrorism the U.S. military must become intellectually focused on understanding the enemy and how he operates, Mattis said. Winning this battle depends on U.S. servicemembers being adaptive and capable of improvisation, he added.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, and his troops have severely disrupted al-Qaida in Iraq operations by adapting counterinsurgency doctrine to separate terrorists from the Iraqi populace, Mattis said.

The U.S. military does a good job of destroying or finishing the enemy once he has been "fixed," or cornered, Mattis said. However, he said, more work needs to be done in areas related to finding the foe.

Mattis told military contractors in the audience that the U.S. military needs to devise a way to blow up improvised explosive devices while they're still in terrorists' hands.

"We have to take the IED and turn it against the enemy by pre-detonation," Mattis said.

Wednesday Hero ~ SSG Andy Pena

SSgt. Andy Pena
SSgt. Andy Pena

U.S. Air Force

Staff Sgt. Andy Pena performs in-flight calibrations on a HH-60 Pave Low while flying Sept. 3 over Ellington Field, Texas. He and members of the 55th Rescue Squadron deployed from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, to Ellington Field in response to Hurricane Gustav with less than 24 hours after notification. Sergeant Pena is an aerial gunner.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives
so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday.
For that, I am proud to call them Hero.

We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams.
Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes,
They Just Don't Know Where To Look

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

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Oregon National Guard Deploys to Aid Americans

The Oregon Army National Guard will send two CH-47 helicopters and nine personnel to the Southeastern United States to position the airframes for possible support of hurricane relief efforts.

The helicopters and crews will mobilize under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact which allows for the sharing of National Guard resources among the states when a disaster or crisis occurs.

They departed Pendleton and go to Hunter Army Air Field near Savannah, Ga. on Sunday to prepare for the arrival and aftermath of Hurricane Ike.

The CH-47 is a versatile airframe capable of carrying dozens of people, nearly 10 tons of internal cargo, or 13 tons of external cargo in a sling load. The CH-47 may be used for search and rescue operations as well.

For more information, see the official Army CH-47 Fact File:

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Farewell and Walk with God ~ PFC Tan Quoc Ngo

PFC Tan Quoc Ngo
June 23, 1988 - August 27, 2008

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Pvt. Tan Q. Ngo, 20, of Beaverton, Oregon, died Aug. 27 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, when his mounted patrol received small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Hohenfels, Germany.

Funeral Services for Private 1st Class Tan Quoc Ngo for Friday, September 5, 2008 at Willamette National Cemetery, 11800 SE Mt. Scott Blvd., Portland, Oregon. The service is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. The Patriot Guard Riders will be escorting and standing in respect.

A public viewing will be held from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 4th at Finley Sunset Memorial, 6801 SW Sunset Highway in Portland, Oregon.

Private 1st Class (PFC) Tan Ngo enlisted in the U.S. Army in October 2007 and had been in Afghanistan two months at the time of his death.

PFC Ngo was born on June 23, 1988 in Portland, Oregon to Ut Quoc Ngo (Father) and Binh Thanh Sam (Mother). He is the oldest of their four sons, Tien, Thanh and Thien. Having a strong sense of family, Ngo would call or email his family each morning and evening whenever he was away from them.

Ngo attended Elmonica Elementary School, Five Oaks Middle School and graduated from Westview High School in 2006. Following graduation he served in the Job Corps and when he returned he had decided to join the Army to serve his country and protect his family. He also planned to use his military service to further his education. Ngo was well respected and liked in the Beaverton community.

PFC Ngo was very involved with caring for his younger brothers. As the eldest he would get up early to take his brothers to school and other activities. He was also involved in Basketball and Football and enjoyed video games.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honor at any Wells Fargo Bank The account has been set up in his mothers name: Binh Thanh Sam. The monies will be used to ensure higher education for his brothers.

Cards and letters should be sent to the family at the following address:
Ngo Family, 21511 SW Frammy, Aloha, Ore. 97006.

The Governor has ordered Oregon flags to fly at half staff in his honor on Friday, September 5.

Wednesday Hero ~ Yeoman 3 Margret Ueberlauer

Click Image For Full Size
Yeoman 3rd Class Margret Ueberlauer
U.S. Navy

Yeoman 3rd Class Margret Ueberlauer hands out toys to HIV infected children during a community relations project at the Camillian Center in Pattaya, Thailand. The USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

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 site, you can go here.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Book Review ~ Never Surrender by LTG William G Boykin

Never Surrender
A Soldier's Journey to
The Crossroads of Faith and Freedom

LTG (Ret) William G Boykin

My first introduction to General Boykin was amid the slime campaign of the left in the early years of the War on Terror. I had never heard of him before - most had not - after all, he was a member of Delta Force, became the commander of Delta Force and finished his career as the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence at the Pentagon.

Reading General Boykin's book is taking an action tour of the history of the last decades of the 20th Century. He takes you through Ranger School, the end of the Vietnam War, the qualifying for the new unit, Delta Force, the Desert One action during the Iran Hostage Crisis, the Sudan, the War in Greneda, Panama and the capture of Noriega, Columbia and the hunt for Pablo Escobar, Waco, Mogadishu and the event known as Black Hawk Down and hunting war criminals in the Balkans. Boykin was in the center of the action at all of these historic events.

I learned a great deal that I did not know about these historic events, including the source and reason for the rock music while Noriega was hiding in the Vatican Embassy. No, it isn't any of the reasons the press told us about. The events are given clarity and reason.

Throughout the most dangerous conflicts in the world, good men are wounded and good men die. General Boykin shares their heroic stories. He also shares the story of his faith - the thread that kept him moving forward and doing the right thing while he was protecting our country.

This is a book full of noble stories and heroism. It reads with the tension of a well crafted novel. Anyone interested in history or the military should read this book.

Wednesday Hero ~ LCpl Ryan T McCaughn

Lance Cpl. Ryan T. McCaughn
Lance Cpl. Ryan T. McCaughn
19 years old from Manchester, New Hampshire
1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force
November 7, 2006
U.S. Marine Corps

"I just can't believe it," said Nicole Cote, mother of L/Cpl. McCoughn. "It's not supposed to happen this way. Your kids aren't supposed to leave you." McCoughn joined the USMC during his Senior year of High School. "He said he needed to do this. He said if he could keep one dad from going to Iraq and he could take his place instead, then he'll feel like he's accomplished something."

Lance Cpl. Ryan T. McCaughn was killed on November 7, 2006 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq. He leaves behind his mother, father, step-father and two brothers.

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.

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