Thursday, February 28, 2008

Civilian Global War on Terror Medal

Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England presents the first-ever awards of the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism during Pentagon ceremonies, Feb. 26, 2008. Fourteen Department of Defense civilians who served abroad in direct support of military operations to combat terrorism received the medal. Shown here receiving his medal is Gilbert R. Reed III of the Marine Corps Systems Command. Joining England in congratulating the recipients is Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright.
Defense Dept. photo by R. D. Ward

Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, joined by Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, present the first- ever awards of the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism during Pentagon ceremonies, Feb. 26, 2008. Here, Beverly Hall of the Defense Language Institute, accepts her award.
Defense Dept. photo by R. D. Ward

Defense Department Civilians Receive Global War on Terror Medal

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2008 - Fourteen Defense Department civilians became the first to receive the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism during a ceremony at the Pentagon today.

The medal, approved Aug. 7, 2007, recognizes the contribution of DoD civilians operating in direct support of military forces engaged in the war on terror.

According to Pentagon statistics, seven DoD civilians have been killed in the line of duty in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 16,000 DoD civilians have qualified for the award, according to Patricia Bradshaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy.

One of the awardees today, Natalie Sudman, was wounded by an improvised explosive device while performing her mission for the Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq.

"We are asking more of our civilian employees in this war than in the past," said David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "We are asking them to be part of an expeditionary force."

Chu said civilian specialists not only are helping maintain combat forces, but also are helping the Iraqi and Afghan governments set up and maintain democratic institutions.

DoD civilians are on the front lines of the war on terror, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said. "This is truly a counterinsurgency operation," he said before presenting the awards.

Operations against terrorism require the special skills civilians bring, England said. DoD civilians are working in provincial reconstruction teams, rebuilding Afghan and Iraqi infrastructure, building institutions, and helping run whole cities, he noted.

The criteria for the award mirror those for the military's Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal. The medal is authorized to civilian employees who provide direct support to military operations in locations designated a combat zone. "Employees must be engaged in direct support for 30 consecutive days, 60 non-consecutive days or -- regardless of time -- be killed or medically evacuated from the area of eligibility," according to a DoD news release.

DoD has delegated the authority to make the award to component heads.

The U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry designed the award, and it should be available through the Defense Supply System in March.

In addition to Sudman, the inaugural awardees are:

Carol King, Army Materiel Command;

Scott R. Adams, Marine Corps Systems Command;

Gilbert R. Reed III, Navy financial management and comptroller;

Beverly Hall, Defense Language Institute;

Marion Andrews Jr., Defense Threat Reduction Agency;

John A. Carper III, DoD Inspector General Office;

Aleck K. Holcomb, Defense Information Systems Agency;

Ronald C. Meldonian, Defense Contract Audit Agency;

David J. Munger, DISA; James Rogner, Defense Security Service;

Fred A. Runnels, Defense Finance and Accounting Service;

Larry Spalding, Defense Logistics Agency;

Celeste L. Ward, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F Buckley, Jr ~ The Passing of a Legend

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

William F Buckley, Jr. - 82 - passed away today at his home in Stamford, Connecticutt, a year after the passing of his beloved wife, Pat.

Mr. Buckley, the Conservative Godfather, was an author, journalist, television personality (our first television pundit-and, still no one does it as well as he), harpsichordist, trans-oceanic sailor, and founder of the National Review.

It seems a Buckley column, book, magazine or the television show, Firing Line, was always around. Most of my life Mr. Buckley has been in it in one way or another. There were many things to learn from Mr. Buckley, but I learned that being intelligent and serious did not eliminate being personable and of good cheer.

There will be many pieces written today about Mr Buckley, and I urge you to read them and capture the essence of a man that is so much a part of the fabric of our nation. You will see words like intellectual, revered, talented, humorous, force. I would also urge you to read some of his books - both spy fiction and non-fiction.

Thank you, Mr Buckley. You added flavor to my life!

February 27th, 2008 - Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) made the following statement:

“America has lost one of its sharpest intellects and truest patriots today. William F. Buckley has been a guiding light for the conservative movement for over half a century. He was an inspiration to millions and a personal hero of mine. Buckley’s passing reminds us that a generation of great Americans who built the modern conservative movement are leaving us, but thankfully their philosophical underpinnings are not. Standing on the shoulders of giants is an enormous responsibility; it is left to new generations of conservatives to do just that by carrying the banner of freedom and liberty forward.”

“Debbie and I offer our deepest condolences to the Buckley family, his friends and his colleagues, who are all in our thoughts and prayers.”

Boston Globe

CBS News

The National Review has many tributes and memorials - here are two:

Wednesday Hero ~ Chief Petty Officer Michael E Koch

Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Michael E. Koch

Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL)

Chief Petty Officer Michael E. Koch
29 years old from State College, Pennsylvania
East Coast-based SEAL team
February 4, 2008

"There are only approximately 2,500 SEALs in the Navy and they really are a brotherhood," said Naval Special Warfare spokesman Lt. David Luckett. "This is another unfortunate reminder of the risks and sacrifices these amazing warriors and their families make on a daily basis."

Koch leaves behind his parents and a fiancee. He enlisted in July 1998 and entered SEAL training in January 1999, according to The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk. He received the Bronze Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal and three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

Navy SEAL Michael E. Koch died Feb. 4 after being wounded by small-arms fire during combat operations in Iraq alongside fellow SEAL Nathan Hardy, who was profiled last week.

Michael is buried at Arlington National Cemetery:

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.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Army and Operation Chicken Run

Maj. Jessica McCoy, an Army veterinarian and member of Baghdad embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team number four, holds up a young chick belonging to an Iraqi poultry farmer. “Operation Chicken Run”, supported by the ePRT, is helping develop the intensive farming capacity and providing revenue alternatives to Iraqi farmers who have discontinued support for al-Qaida and other insurgent groups.

Maj. Jessica McCoy’s helmet is welcome shelter to a young chick on a farm in southern Baghdad province. McCoy is an Army veterinarian and member of Baghdad embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team number four.

Thousands of baby chicks, one of the first steps in the renewed poultry and egg industry sit in warming shelves at an Iraqi poultry farm just outside of Mahmudiyah.

Eggs sit on incubator shelves, part of the effort by the Baghdad embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team number four to help Iraqi farmers rebuild the once-thriving poultry industry in southern Baghdad province.

Poultry Drives Hope: South of Baghdad, Coalition Forces Work With Poultry Growers to Revitalize a Once Thriving Iraqi Chicken Industry

By Tim Kilbride
Multi-National Division – Central Public Affairs Office

BAGHDAD — In this case the chicken will come first. With nearly five years of war taking a heavy toll on Iraq’s domestic poultry industry, overall chicken and egg consumption is down in the country, while 40 percent of the commercial eggs consumed in Baghdad are imported.

In Mahmudiyah, an agricultural community south of the Iraqi capital and a traditional hub of Baghdad province’s poultry industry, some of the most pervasive violence of the war effectively halted production of a variety of poultry, broilers and eggs. But with recent security improvements, achieved through the cooperation of local residents and a counter-insurgency strategy implemented by coalition forces, an opportunity has been gained to resume production.

As part of a wider economic revitalization and job-creation program taking place across provinces south and east of Baghdad, civil affairs specialists with the U.S. military’s Multi-National Division – Center are now taking steps to make Iraq’s poultry growers competitive again within the domestic market.

The military is working hand-in-hand with agricultural experts from a U.S. State Department-led embedded provincial reconstruction team (ePRT) to identify poultry farmers and band them together into a form of regional cooperative. They named the cooperative the Mahmudiyah poultry association.

The military branded its own efforts more creatively: “Operation Chicken Run.”

Like other military initiatives, there is a security angle to it. Employment and economic prosperity, coalition commanders argue, breed stability. Holding on to the pockets of security that were created with combat offensives throughout summer and fall 2007 requires the continued support of local populations, so coalition troops are now focused on building economic and government capacity in the communities they secured. In poultry they see the chance for a quick victory based on the industry’s past in Iraq.

A large percentage of chicken consumed in Iraq now comes from imports of frozen meat from the United States and Brazil. Making Iraqi-grown chicken and eggs competitive in domestic markets will require economies of scale. Thus the need for pooled resources and a regional poultry association to act as a coordinating body, said Maj. Jessica McCoy, an Army veterinarian based in nearby Yusufiyah and a member of Baghdad’s ePRT number four. The team is embedded with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), from Fort Campbell, Ky.

“Right now about 40 percent of the commercial eggs consumed in Baghdad are imported,” McCoy said. “This chicken farmers’ association will assist local egg-laying operations to eat into that share by providing a source of inexpensive high-quality feed, and thereby increase Iraq’s domestic fresh egg consumption.”

McCoy, a native of Wellesley, Mass., is joined in the effort by Capt. Paul Hester, an ePRT agri-business specialist who worked closely with farmers’ associations and cooperatives in the United States. Hester noted that Iraqi farmers are familiar with the principles behind the co-op, and had similar arrangements in place in the past, but require coaching to move beyond their experience under the former state-controlled system and into a free market.

“The Iraqi farmer has the basic knowledge of the association process from his past. Under Saddam (Hussein), the industries were often integrated, but the control was with the government,” Hester said.

“With the formation of the Mahmudiyah poultry association we are putting the knowledge of the farmers, both in farming practices and working in an integrated system, to work for them, not for the government,” he explained.Hester and McCoy met and interviewed more than 100 broiler growers to get a baseline feel for capacity and requirements before advancing with their plan to link the farmers.

“We are assisting them to increase their abilities and profits by working together, buying from each other, and developing items such as breeding stock, feeds, and markets,” Hester said.

Among the most important steps is actually distributing chicks to farmers to enable them to resume self-sufficient operations. But before farmers will be ready to receive chicks, the farms themselves must undergo renovations and the infrastructure needed to support the industry must be repaired and improved.

The ePRT is seeking assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Community Stabilization Program to help individual farmers repair their facilities. They are also seeking to repair the association’s processing plant. Additional funds will come from military and State Department grants, as well as from the government of Iraq.

The system McCoy and Hester envision has Iraqi farmers supporting other members of the association by buying chicks and feed from their partners, selling grown chickens to other partners, and in turn processing the meat or selling live chickens at market. Under that system, the coalition’s primary role would be to get the association and its members up and running before handing off management responsibility.

“Already we can see a rejuvenation of this industry here. In the next year this district’s industry will employ an estimated 1,300 people, compared with 50 today,” McCoy said.Additional employment will be generated as supporting businesses like trucking, road construction and cold storage expand to meet demand, McCoy explained.

“It will boost the district economy and breathe new life into a region’s industry by creating jobs. This will be a permanent improvement for the Mahmudiyah qada,” McCoy said.

“Six months ago, there were four active broiler farms in operation in our district. Today there are seven. In twelve months we anticipate there will be more than fifty,” the major observed.

Despite improved economies of scale, the military advisors still expect the Iraqi chicken to sell for slightly more than imported meat. However, the difference in price should not impact competitiveness, McCoy said.

“Ours will be fresh and Halal-slaughtered, according to Muslim tradition,” McCoy said. “We will not compete on price. We will win by offering a fresh locally grown product, without hormones or preservatives, which our research shows has a select, ready market,” she added.

A side benefit, the major explained, is that the typical Iraqi diet is low in protein, and an increase in the amount of low-cost meat available will improve nutrition.

Another unexpected benefit, the officer noted, is that economic cooperation serves to bridge the sectarian divide that has emerged between Sunni and Shia communities in Iraq.

“Already we have 14 tribes represented, and they have all agreed to work together to make this happen,” McCoy said.

“This project will be a model for Iraqi farmers and business owners to show them that they can work together, regardless of their tribal or religious ties, and provide a higher standard of living for their families,” Hester added.

One Mahmudiyah farmer, sheik Suleiman, provided a more direct account of the changes he envisions for his community as a result of the undertaking.

“This farmers’ association will bring people together. If any one of us fails, we all fail. This will force linkages among area farmers, those that run the hatcheries, feed mills, and the processing plant with the growers. It will bring people together regardless of their background - Sunni or Shia, Anbari or Zobai. We are farmers” Suleiman said.

“I fought al-Qaida with bullets before you (Americans) were here. Now I fight them with chickens,” the sheik said.

McCoy provided another motivation for her and Hester’s work with the farmers.

“As people realize the close association between security and increased standard of living, they will reject al-Qaida,” she said. “When that happens, the security becomes self-sustaining and we can all come home.”

(Ray McNulty, MND-C PAO, contributed to this article.)

I know this is a long piece about poultry - but, what it is really about is hope and success and the future for the Iraqis. As agriculture succeeds, so will other things succeed. Without agriculture, there is no pattern for cooperation and food resources. This is truly GOOD NEWS!

Chick, Chick, Chick!

Troops Help Southern Baghdad Poultry Industry

By Sgt. Luis Delgadillo,
USA Special to American Forces Press Service


To some, it might be laughable that the economic welfare of an entire community relies on thousands of flightless birds, but in the farming communities of southern Baghdad, chickens represent a significant way ahead.

A member of the State Department's Baghdad 7 embedded provincial reconstruction team is helping these communities establish themselves as centers of poultry production.

"Some of these farmers had over 100,000 chickens at one time," said Mike Stevens, the team's agricultural advisor. Stevens, a native of Park Rapids, Minn., said farmers from Adwaniyah, Arab Jabour and Hawr Rajab lost their chickens to al Qaeda operatives who took them when they moved into the area.

In many cases, chicken coops were used to hide weapons caches, and insurgents often used the large spaces inside the coops to make homemade explosives, Stevens said. Local farmers also reported that insurgents would seize farmers' equipment and strip generators for parts.

By starting farmers unions for each of the communities, Stevens learned of the plight befalling the region's chicken farmers.

With help from soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Stevens began assessing the various agricultural industries that once thrived in the area. As part of his project, the 15-year State Department veteran also assessed chicken farms in the three tribal areas.

With information he learned about the communities, Stevens set in motion a three-pronged approach to rebuild the region's economic infrastructure.

To boost farm operations, micro-grants of up to $2,500 will be used to rebuild dilapidated chicken coops and other farm buildings. Quick response funds -- grants of up to $25,000 -- will be used to restock vacant local farms. In addition, disarming, demobilizing and reconstruction funds in amounts of up to $100,000 will be used to begin large-scale training and employment programs for people near factories such as the Al Raad slaughterhouse.

Stevens identified a local businessman who owns the poultry processing plant, which can support a work force of up to 200 employees and bring chickens to markets in the capital. Before insurgent activities, the plant owner contracted with many Hawr Rajab farmers to raise chickens for his slaughterhouse. The owner told Stevens he would trade chicken feed and a monthly stipend with farmers who guaranteed him a portion of their chickens for processing.

The plant has the potential to jumpstart the region's chicken industry, but before any profit is earned, both the factory and surrounding farms require funds to get going.

In coming weeks, live chickens will be delivered and farms in the region will begin to rebuild their coops, signaling another step toward progress for the citizens of Iraq.

(Army Sgt. Luis Delgadillo serves with the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)


Yes, It REALLY is that important!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Book Review ~ Soldier's Heart by Elizabeth Samet

Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature through Peace and War at West Point
by Elizabeth D Samet

It has taken me a while to even decide to review this book. I received a copy from the publisher and, while I felt like I was obligated to review it, I hate that I have not one kind word for this book, and that I never finished it. About 2/3 of the way through, I gave myself dispensation from the torture of reading it.

Elizabeth Samet teaches English at West Point. She has held the position for 10 years. This book is about - well what I thought and what it says are two different things.

The book is difficult to read. There is no chronological or logical order to it. It skips from place to place and time to time and topic to topic without warning and sometimes without any logic. In fact, it can be very confusing and frustrating. It reads more like a diary than a book. She will talk about Fred or Harry or Sue, but she never tells you who they are or why their story is important. Like diary mentions which jog your memory, her characters are relevant to no one but her. When she does begin to develop any story, she seems to leave you with more questions than she answers.

In the first paragraph of the first chapeter:
"The firsties were in a reflective mood: later that month, news of the death of a very popular recent graduate, Emily Perez, would carry them for a time into the doldrums."
She never tells you any more. Who was Emily Perez? How did she die? Car Accident, Cancer, Murder, Slip and Fall, or Fallen in Battle. Well, Elizabeth Samet is not going to tell you. But, I will. Please read here to know about Emily Perez. That sentence is as developed and complete as any character will be, which both frustrated and bored me.

Had the structure of the book been readable, I probably could have overlooked the anti-war rhetoric that is thrown in. Like everything with this book, when it appears, it is meaningless and annoying and thrown in at inappropriate places. My assessment of Ms Samet's world view is that, while she teaches at West Point, she never sees a reason for the cadets to use their training. In fact, there seems to be an intended 'feminization' of the cadets and a disappointment in those who will not succumb. I felt a desire to mold the cadets in opposition to their purpose at the United States Military Academy. She seems to resent any religious expression, political expression, patriotism and will never understand the 'cult of sacrifice' she calls the unity of soldiers to one another. Needless to say, I disagree with her on every point.

The fly leaves are well written, and I was looking forward to reading it, but the book disappoints profoundly. Ms. Samet may well be an exceptional teacher, but she is not an exceptional writer. This was one of the worst reads I have ever had. Do NOT waste your time with this book.

(I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Comment Policy

Comment Policy

I am always astonished when I have to lecture on acceptable behavior to people who are supposed to be adults. I was shocked when I had to put comment moderation into effect.

Since we seem to be a society of people who have no sense whatsoever, I am now forced to write what seems to be the obvious to me and anyone with manners.

1. This is my house - be respectful or leave.

2. Disagreement is not curse words and threats. Calling names is never appropriate.

3. Tributes to the fallen are not appropriate places for your political commentary.

4. Be on topic. It helps if you actually READ the post.

5. Sign your post. If you use annoymous, sign the post at the end - Fred, Howard, Julie, 123, 90210, FluffyKitty - sign something so that you are identifiable in replies.

If you can't take credit in someway for what you are writing, maybe you shouldn't be posting it.

6. If you want to spout vitriol, go to one of the many sites that enjoy that sort of thing.

Comment moderation went into effect on this blog when, on more than one occassion, people left foul remarks on the tributes to the fallen. A tribute to a fallen soldier is not the place for your anti-war, anti-American, anti-whatever comments - it is tantamount to having an anti-war protest in a graveyard - shame on you.

In other words, if you wouldn't say it to your Mother and Grandmother, it shouldn't be said here.
And, if you don't know how to be respectful to your Mother and Grandmother - GO AWAY!

Comments will be moderated as quickly as I can. Thanks for your patience.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just for Fun!!!


They do these improvs all over - you can get lost in their videoes!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Support the Marines Over Berkeley City Council

Sign the Petition

Navy Hits Decaying Satellite

The USS Lake Erie launches a Standard Missile-3 at a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph over the Pacific Ocean on Feb. 20, 2008.
Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Jackson activates a modified tactical Standard Missile-3 from the Combat Information Center of the USS Lake Erie as the ship operates in the Pacific Ocean on Feb. 20, 2008. The Aegis cruiser launched the missile at a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph over the Pacific Ocean. The objective was to rupture the satellite's fuel tank to dissipate the approximately 1,000 pounds of hydrazine, a hazardous material which could pose a danger to people on Earth, before it entered into Earth's atmosphere. USS Decatur and USS Russell were also part of the task force.
Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Hight
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright (left), and Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England follow the progress of a Standard Missile-3 as it races toward a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite in space over the Pacific Ocean on Feb. 20, 2008. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump

Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informs Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates of the successful missile intercept from the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center on Feb. 20, 2008. The USS Lake Erie launched the missile at the satellite as it orbited in space at more than 17,000 mph over the Pacific. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump

Navy Missile Hits Decaying Satellite Over Pacific Ocean

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2008 – A network of land-, air-, sea- and spaced-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the earth's atmosphere, defense officials announced in a press release.

At approximately 10:26 p.m. EST today, a U.S. Navy AEGIS warship, the USS Lake Erie (CG-70), fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) hitting the satellite approximately 153 miles (133 nautical miles) over the Pacific Ocean as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph. USS Decatur (DDG-73) and USS Russell (DDG-59) were also part of the task force.

The objective was to rupture the fuel tank to dissipate the approximately 1,000 pounds (453 kg) of hydrazine, a hazardous fuel which could pose a danger to people on earth, before it entered into earth's atmosphere. Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours.

Due to the relatively low altitude of the satellite at the time of the engagement, debris will begin to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere immediately. Nearly all of the debris will burn up on reentry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should re-enter within 40 days.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

History is Our Stories ~ First American Orbits Earth

February 20, 1962 ~ American Astronaut John Glenn was launched into space by a Mercury-Atlas rocket aboard the Friendship 7 capsule. During the 4 hour 55 minute 23 second flight, John Glenn made three orbits of the earth. The successful mission followed two sub-orbital manned mission flights, and set up the advance into space, the moon landings and today's shuttle flights.

I had a wonderful mother. I was kept home from school during all space launches. She felt that 'watching' the launches was apt to be more memorable and more important than anything I would learn in school that day. Of course, she also had me write a report to turn in the next day about what I learned. The television was black and white. There wasn't much to see. But, the newsmen who reported on space launches were experts on the mission. They had models to show what was happening. They became teachers about the mission. So, my day was spent with my mother 'watching' and waiting and praying. In spite of recent history, we forget how dangerous is was and how uncharted the territory. We also forget how exciting it was - exiciting for the entire world. We forget that we knew the Astronaut's names - we cared about them - they were our heroes. We hungered for the personal stories - the stories of the Australians leaving their lights on for John Glenn - the stories of the aborigines in the outback keeping vigil with Gordon Cooper at the tracking station and the conversations they had - the stories of the orbital sunrises and sunsets.

I will always remember the early space flights and those days with my mother. I will always remember and admire the men who made it possible. And, I will remember the excitement of it all.

Today, less noticed in the annals of history the Space Shuttle landed after a 5.3 million mile voyage... quick - who were the Astronauts? What was their mission?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wednesday Hero ~ Nathan H Hardy, Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL)

Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Nathan H. Hardy
Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Nathan H. Hardy
29 years old from Durham, New Hampshire
East Coast-based SEAL team
February 4, 2008

It was Hardy's fourth deployment in Iraq, according to his father, Stephen Hardy, a professor of kinesiology a the University of New Hampshire. His mother, Donna Hardy, is an administrative assistant in UNH's psychology department.

Nathan Hardy grew up in Durham and was a 1997 graduate of Oyster River High School. He joined the Navy after graduation.

Other family members include his wife, Mindy, and their 7-month-old son, Parker; and a brother, Ben, of Middlebury, Vt.

Another brother, Josh, died in 1993 while a senior at Oyster River High School.

"Our hearts go out to Steve and Donna Hardy, and their son, Ben, at this incredibly difficult time," UNH President Mark Huddleston said in a statement. "We know it was Nate's dream to become a U.S. Navy SEAL when he graduated from high school, and he pursued that dream and excelled at it. His death has stunned all who knew him, and all who know his parents, who both are so much a part of the UNH community."

Navy SEAL Nathan Hardy died Feb. 4 after being wounded by small-arms fire during combat operations in Iraq.

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.

Union Leader– Friends, family and former classmates are mourning Nathan H. Hardy, 29, a Navy SEAL killed in Iraq Monday by small arms fire during combat.

The special warfare operator chief petty officer was on his fourth deployment in Iraq, according to his father, University of New Hampshire professor Stephen H. Hardy.

"The fact that he was willing to sacrifice himself for his country and his men speaks to his courage and his goodness," said Ginny Tagliaferro, one of Hardy's math teachers at Oyster River High School, where he graduated in 1997. "His loss is a profound one for all of us."

Hardy and his wife, Mindi, have a 7-month-old son, Parker.

The Durham man had wanted to join the elite Navy SEALs since high school, where he was a star soccer player.

Hardy enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Nov. 4, 1997, and graduated from boot camp in January 1998, according to Lt. David Luckett, a Department of Defense spokesman.

Hardy had been awarded the Bronze Star and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and had campaign medals from Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and the global war on terror.

He was one of two sailors assigned to East Coast-based SEAL teams in Virginia Beach, Va., killed on Monday; the other was Chief Petty Officer Michael E. Koch, 29, of State College, Pa.

Murphy Kasiewicz, 32, spoke with Hardy's father after hearing the news of his death.

"The first thing Steve does is tell me tell me what happens, then he was trying to make me feel better. Then he told me that Josh has got his little brother back," Kasiewicz said, referring to Nathan's older brother, who died of cancer in 1993.

"It is definitely rough for them; they have been through a lot losing one son. I can't imagine losing another," Kasiewicz said.

Hardy is survived by a brother, Ben, of Middlebury, Vt.; his mother, Donna, an administrative assistant at the University of New Hampshire; and father Steve, a professor of kinesiology at the school.

"He had that kind of personality that people gravitate to," said Mike Marenga, whose children grew up alongside the Hardys. "He loved what he did, that was obvious."

Officials from the University of New Hampshire said their hearts go out to the entire Hardy family.

"We know it was Nate's dream to become a U.S. Navy SEAL when he graduated from high school, and he pursued that dream and excelled at it," UNH President Mark Huddleston said in a written statement. "His death has stunned all who knew him, and all who know his parents, who both are so much a part of the UNH community."

Friends and associates around the region were mourning his death Tuesday.

Laura Rogers, principal at Oyster River High School, said many teachers were deeply saddened to learn of casualty. Rogers said the Hardys are a well-respected family in Durham and the school had created a scholarship yearly to a student proficient in art to honor Josh's memory.

"This is a family that maintained ties to the school," she said.

Nathan was remembered by his Oyster River English teacher and soccer coach, Martin Brewer, for being a dedicated student and soccer player."

Nate was a great player who relished physical challenges. Whether defending like a lion in the heart of our defense or being part of my backup plan to attack the opposing goal, he always came through," Brewer said. "He played the game the right way which is with 100 percent commitment, said Brewer. "If he tackled any endeavor, you had better believe it was with every fiber of his being — Nate attacked life with vigor. He became a husband, a father and everything that we in safer walks of life look up to in awe. I'll never forget his kindness to me as a new coach and teacher at Oyster River."

Math teacher Ginny Tagliaferro at ORSD also said Nathan was defined by his kindness."As a student, classmate and teammate, Nate was honest, committed and kind to those around him. He was a caring individual who supported his friends, his teachers and his community. His family was of paramount importance to him. The fact that he was willing to sacrifice himself for his country and his men speaks to his courage and his goodness. His loss is a profound one for us all."

The UNH community was also touched by Nathan's death."Our hearts go out to Steve and Donna Hardy, and their son, Ben, at this incredibly difficult time," said University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston. "We know it was Nate's dream to become a U.S. Navy SEAL when he graduated from high school, and he pursued that dream and excelled at it. His death has stunned all who knew him, and all who know his parents, who both are so much a part of the UNH community."

Barbara Arrington, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, sent an email to the college's faculty and staff today. It read, in part, "Our heartfelt thoughts go out to both of them and their family at this terrible time."

Nathan grew up in Durham and enlisted in the Navy on Nov. 4, 1997, after graduating from Oyster River High School, with the ambition to become a Navy SEAL. He graduated from boot camp at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Ill., in January 1998 and in the same month entered Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training in Coronado, Calif., Class 221.

He served his entire career with East Coast-based SEAL Teams rather than attending various schools, according to Lt. David Luckett, Naval Special Warfare Group Two public affairs officer.

He was predeceased by his older brother, Josh, who died of brain cancer in 1993 while a senior at Oyster River High School.

His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, three Good Conduct Medals, two National Defense Medals, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, three Sea Service deployment awards, NATO Medal, Expert Rifle Medal, and the Sharpshooter Pistol Medal.

Gold Star Mom ~ Standing Up for the Troops

Gold Star Mother Debbie Lee

Speaks to the Berkeley City Council

PO2 Marc Allen Lee - Navy SEAL

Tributes here, here and here

Monday, February 18, 2008

President's Day

President's Day or is it Presidents' Day or Presidents Day?

I liked having Lincoln's Birthday - February 12
I liked having Washington's Birthday - February 22

In school, we talked about the men - we drew log cabins for Abe and Cherry Pies for George - and they became the symbols and memory triggers for the many things we learned
about these great Americans and Presidents.

I always thought (and still do) that, additionally, we needed a Founder's Day.

Now we have this day that no one knows anything about
except that Federal (and some State) Employees get off.

President's Day = a day to celebrate one specific President (which one?)
Presidents' Day = a day to celebrate many specific Presidents (which ones?)
Presidents Day = a day of many Presidents (all of them?)

So now, no one celebrates anything - no one learns anything -
no one knows anything about the Presidents.

How Sad.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Imad Mughniyeh ~ A Bit of Evil Expires

Hezbollah Co-Founder, Terrorist and Mastermind of the Murder of Innocents
has lost his life to a car bomb in Damascus, Syria.
A bit of evil has been eliminated from the world.
Mughniyeh was responisible for the death of many Americans,
and was on the FBI's most wanted list for almost 25 years.

A recap of some of the American losses caused by this evil scum:

April 18, 1983 - 18 americans murdered
September 20, 1984 - 2 soldiers murdered

October 23, 1983 - 220 Marines, 18 Sailors, 3 Soldiers murdered
58 French Soldiers Murdered

June 15, 1985 - Beaten and Murdered
Body thrown out of hijacked plane.

Terry A Anderson
Held Hostage and Tortured - March 16, 1985 - December 14, 1991
Several hostages were held - 3 were murdered

Mughniyeh was believed to have directed a group that held Westerners hostage in Lebanon. Among them was journalist Terry Anderson, a former Associated Press chief Middle East correspondent who was held captive for six years.

"I can't say I'm either surprised or sad," Andersen told the AP by phone from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, where he was sailing. "He was not a good man - certainly the primary actor in my kidnapping and many others," he added. "To hear that his career has finally ended is a good thing and it's appropriate that he goes up in a car bomb."

"Our war on terrorism began on 9/11,
but the terrorists war on the United States began a long time ago."

- Patrick Hayes

Remembering SW2 Robert Dean Stethem

SW2 Robert Dean Stethem
Murdered by Terrorists
June 15, 1985

SW2 Robert Dean Stethem, November 17, 1961 - June 15, 1985, was brutally tortured and finally murdered, by terrorists on TWA Flight 847. The terrorists dumped his body out of the plane to the tarmac below, in a final disrespectful act. His body was so tortured, that it was identified through finger prints. It is a vivid image I will never forget.

An eye witness account:
Over the couse of time we are told that we will forget the pains that have been inflicted upon us.

I was one of the Navy Seabee Divers who had to endure the pain of hearing and seeing SW2 (DV) Robert Stethem go through the brutality of terrorism on June 14, 1985. It has been 19 years since that day. I will NEVER FORGET what he sacraficed. I was lucky/blessed to be able to return home after 17 days of captivity. The mental and physical pains which we all endured during that time will heal, but will also be forever etched into our memory. Bobby was a close friend who is deeply missed by many. Let us all remember what has been taken away from us by EVIL and call it what it is. Many people ask me the question of, are we doing the right thing in waging a world wide war on terror, as if I am some type of an expert on the topic. I can only respond by saying,"If you can answer that question buy saying NO, you have not personally felt the pain of the enemy. Only a casual observer can say that we are doing the wrong thing, someone who lives in a bubble".

Let us not just remember the events of Sept. 11,2001, but remember all of what has happened over the course of many years. Remember we are not the bad guys in this fight. It is right for us to take a stand and support the cause of freedom and to do our best in preventing these acts of barbarism. I have no doubts that if Robert Stethem were still alive what his answer would be.

As the gunman fired the fatal shot into my friends head, he cried out to God. That is the example I will always remember and try to follow. Never give up, endure all that is pressed upon me, and cry out to God for strength when I have done all that is within my power. We as a Nation can respond to evil in this same way. The motto of the USS Stethem DDG-63 is, "Steadfast and Courageous". This very applicable to the way Bobby lived & died.

We can honor him and all the other 5000+ Americans who have fallen to terrorism by applying this creed to our support of our Armed Forces and President of this great nation.

May we endure as Bobby did untill the end and always "Keep the Faith"

Robert was a Navy Diver with the SeaBees. He was returning from assignment in Greece, when Hezbollah terrorists hijacked the commercial plane he was on. Once they had identified him as an American Sailor, they beat him and put a bullet into his head. Unfortunately, his murderers have been consistently given the easy path throughout the justice systems in Europe. Now, the mastermind, Imad Mughniyeh, has been killed in a car bomb in Damascus.

The Stethem family is a Navy family. His mother was a civilian Navy administrator, his father and brothers were SEALs. "Every time I look at the flag now and for the rest of my life,'' said Kenneth Stethem, "the red will represent the blood he spilled, the blue the beating and bruises he endured, and the white the purity and integrity he demonstrated in sacrificing his life.''

Robert Stethem was honored with the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. In 1995, the Navy christened a destroyer, USS Stethem. Today, his hijackers are still free, but the planner of the hijacking has been removed from earth.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday Hero ~ CPL Ryan J Buckley

Cpl. Ryan J. Buckley
Cpl. Ryan J. Buckley
21 years old from Nokomis, Illinois
2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment,
4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne (Air Assault)
June 26, 2006

"His platoon leaders described him as the type of soldier every leader wants: A very talented, dedicated soldier, who did everything that was asked of him." That's what Lt. Col. Greg Butts, commander of the Army's 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, said about Cpl. Ryan J. Buckley at his memorial service. "I'm glad I could come here. It was an opportunity to recognize one of my great soldiers."

Cpl. Buckley lost his life on June 26, 2006 when an IED detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad. "I held him while he died," Spc. Richard Morris, a fellow soldier who was wounded in the attack, said after the service. "He was my best friend. This nation has lost a hell of a soldier."

Ryan Buckley, a 2003 graduate of Hillsboro High School, was attending Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield in March 2004 when he left school to join the Army. He had told his mother on 9/11 that he planned to join the military to defend his country. Jennings Carter, who recently retired from the Army, was the commander of the Litchfield Army Recruiting Station when Buckley signed up. Carter said Buckley was an unusually cheerful young man. "Every time we saw him, he was always smiling," Carter said. "Before he went to Iraq, we saw him a few times. He was always happy. He would come by and tell us what he was doing."

Jean Buckley, Buckley's aunt, said he was always a responsible young man, who took his school work seriously, as well as his role in the school bands. The talented French horn player was awarded the John Philip Sousa award his senior year as the outstanding band member.

"He was always a protector," Jean Buckley said. "It's such a sad time. We're so thankful for the Ryans of the world. I appreciate all the veterans and all they've done for this country."

Cpl. Buckley was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq from Nov. 30 to June 23. Bronze Stars were presented to his wife of one year, Tina Buckley, his mother, Sally Nation, and father, Dennis Buckley.

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.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sacred Ground

Thank you to x_dhimmi for the great video

Music by a Newt One

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wednesday Hero ~ Robert S Cone

Robert S. Cone
85 years old from Delray Beach, Florida
506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

Surrounded by family, feted by a U.S. congressman and a Veterans of Foreign Wars color guard, one of the few surviving members of the "Filthy Thirteen" was honored on October 8, 2006 in a backyard on Massapoag Avenue.

Robert S. Cone, 85, now of Delray Beach, Fla., finally received the 13 military medals he was due for his service on D-Day during World War II, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, POW medal and Presidential Unit Citation.

"To tell you the truth, I never expected it. I'm very honored to get it and really feel good about it," Cone said.

"He's finding it an honor, and he's a little embarrassed, to be honest," said Cone's son, Edward R. Cone, 45, who hosted the family barbecue that included a visit from U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch.

Only a few members remain of the 101st Airborne Division's famed "Filthy Thirteen," an elite parachute and demolition unit that volunteered for a suicide mission on June 5, 1944, the eve of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

The Filthy Thirteen, who shared a Quonset Hut in England, were a group of "pretty bad boys," Edward Cone said, renowned for hard-living and fierce fighting. They are believed to be the inspiration for the 1967 movie "The Dirty Dozen," although none of the Filthy Thirteen was a convict.

The unit's mission was to parachute behind enemy lines on the night before D-Day to blow up bridges and impede the Nazis.

Many were killed on the drop. The survivors found it difficult to reunite on the ground because the pilots had panicked when the Germans opened fire.

Cone said he spent two days in a hedgerow battle and was shot in the right arm. When he escaped to a French farmhouse, the owner turned him over to the Nazis and he became a prisoner of war.

His unit and his family thought he was dead. His mother, in Roxbury, received a telegram from the War Department saying he had been killed in action.

Cone spent 11 months in three POW camps in Germany before being liberated by the Russians near the Polish border. He fought alongside the Russians as they made their escape, his son said.

Cone walked to freedom through Poland, Russia and Romania, journeyed by ship to Egypt and was eventually flow to Italy, finally making his way home.

All the medal ceremonies had taken place without him.

Cone married Ida, now his wife of 61 years; became a postal worker and plumber; raised three children in Hull; and spoke very little about the war, Edward Cone said.

About four years ago, Edward Cone decided to find out whether any of his father's Army colleagues were still alive.

He found the Filthy Thirteen's leader, Jake McNiece, in Oklahoma, and put his father in touch by telephone. Their conversation was recorded by the BBC and played on the anniversary of D-Day.

Later, the History Channel filmed its own segment on the pair, which still airs, Edward Cone said.

The group reunited in Taccoa, Ga., the home of their jump school.

"My Dad and I drove from here to Georgia. I heard everything on that trip," Edward Cone said. "Three were alive from the unit. They talked and drank and told stories for days."

Three years ago, McNiece published a book, "The Filthy Thirteen: From the Dustbowl to Hitler's Eagle's Nest: The 101st Airborne's Most Legendary Squad of Combat Paratroopers."

It was McNiece who mentioned that Cone was due a few medals. Edward Cone and his fiance, Kate Guthrie of Leominster, who works at the Statehouse, gathered documentation and contacted Lynch.

The result was the Sunday party, also attended by Cone's daughters, Ronna Townsend of Monroe Township, N.J., and Natalie Gaudet of Hampton, N.H., and most of his seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Cone admits he never talked much about the war before.

"I really didn't," Cone said. "But they insisted I tell the grandchildren and the great grandchildren. So I talk to them. I tell them stories. I tell them true stories. They all enjoy it."

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.

Friday, February 01, 2008

SGT James Craig ~ Farewell, My Friend ~ Walk with God

Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.

-Psalm 144:1

This is my friend, James. We 'adopted' James after he received a Christmas card from us in 2005 and wrote to thank us for it. We wrote and sent packages through out that year of his deployment. James sent long and fascinating emails. He was a character with a spirit as loud as it was kind. He was devoutly Christian and not afraid or hesitant to talk about it. At his mid-term leave in Fall 2006, James met the love of his life, Natalie. They married in July 2007. And, now, James is walking with God. Please feel free to join me in my wandering memories of James. I want you to know this wonderful young man who just gave his life for our country, for us.

When James recently returned for his third deployment to Iraq, he sent this email from Kuwait:

"Please write to me and pray for me. I would love to get letters and updates from all of you. I look forward to 2010 when I will finally be out of the Army and can carry on a regular life and can be a bigger part of your lives. You are all loved by me very much, that's why you are getting an email. I hope this letter finds you all in happiness and Christmas cheer."

James, 27, was killed on January 28, 2008, in Mosul, Iraq, along with four other soldiers when the unit encountered an IED, followed by an ambush from a nearby Mosque. They were members of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.

Also killed were (click on their names to read their stories):

Staff Sergeant Gary W Jeffries, 37, Roscoe, Texas

Specialist Evan A Marshall, 21, of Athens, Georgia

Private First Class Brandon A Meyer, 20, of Orange, California

Private Joshua R Young, 21, of Riddle, Oregon

James served with the following units:

C Company 1/17 Infantry, Ft Wainwright, Alaska, Infantryman - Grenedier/Rifleman, 172nd ~ 1 Dec 00 - 10 Apr 02

HHC 1/17 Infantry, Ft Wainwright, Alaska, Sniper/Scout, 172nd ~ 11 Apr 02 - 18 Sept 03

B Company 1/8 Infantry, Ft. Carson, Colorado, Infantry Team Leader, 4th Infantry Division ~
19 Sep 03 - 28 January 2008

James loved being a soldier and wrote about that frequently.

James attended Cusick Jr/Sr High School in Cusick, Washington from 1992 - 1996, and the Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston, South Carolina where he graduated in 2000. He was involved in Football and Wrestling, excelled in English and Creative Writing and was member of the National Honor Society.

James called the northwest his home - specifically the area outside of Spokane - growing up 'riding horses and going camping.' He looked forward to eventually settling down somewhere in Washington. He was close to his family and spoke of his parents with great love and pride, and of his sisters and aunts, uncles and cousins. His DOD announcement and press reports list Hollywood, California and South Carolina as his home, but he considered the Spokane, Washington area his home.

I was touched by his love for his soldiers. He would send names of those he didn't think were getting enough (or any) mail and have me find people to write to them.

During his second deployment, James received a medal for some of the action he saw. Of couse, this went along with the "I got shot - don't tell my parents" email! Fortunately, the ammunition cartridge below took the brunt of the shooting!

There was also profound sadness on the 2nd deployment. James has this listed under 'Heroes' on his My Space page : Real American Heroes SPC Grant Dampier and SSG Marion Flint are the biggest heroes I have ever met who died in combat on 15 May 2006. I miss you and I will never forget you. See you on the flip side brudda' You can read their story here.

There are so many things about James that I admired. He was 'loud' and funny and articulate and sweet - even calling himself 'Sweet Soldier' - and brave and tough. He was a devout Christian and more comfortable with telling people he was than anyone I ever knew - he had a enviable, easy comfort with this faith. It would be so easy to write and write about James, but let me share some portions of his letters - his long and articulate letters.

"...I am very much looking forward to this war being over. However, I fully support everything that is going on over here ever since I saw first hand what the real situation was. Our media doesn't portray the truth of this operation or the necessity to the people here. The need freedom and desperately cry out for someone to help them. ... I know one thing, God wants me here."

"The war here is stating to come to an end. It will be a slow transition period where the responsibility of the battle space is handed over to the growing Iraqi Army. It all depends on the Iraqis if we are able to leave them with it safely."

" is a tale of my wonderful journey where I made memories I will never forget and stood up for something that I believe in...that sweet taste of freedom when the day is done and the knowledge that I have done something to ensure the positive future of my loved ones. And, you should know that it comforts me the most that what I do protects wonderful people like you."

"I just got back from my R&R around the 15th (september 2006). I spent a lot of time with family, wne on a couple of adventures, and met a very special Christian womand named Natalie who I have begun a relationship with...just wait until you meet her. I have included some pictures in this letter."

"I know the Bible says not to be anxious, but it is so difficult not to be when we only have a few weeks left of this deployment and I have met a wonderful Christian woman... Natalie. She is the kind of woman that God would want me to have, so we are going to take things slowley and keep our relationship pure. I am very excited about her."

James and Natalie were married in July 2007!!! It was a joy to watch their love grow and mature.

When I think of James, I always see that brilliant smile. I think of the love he had for life, for the Army, for his fellow soldiers, for his family, for his beloved Natalie, and for his friends. Dear James, you will be missed by so many people. You have touched so many lives. Many will have a difficult time going forward without you. I know God will provide comfort to them. The world will be a little less without the brightness that you brought. Farewell, my friend, and walk with God.

The Patriot Guard Riders will be at the funeral and memorial events Which will take place on the 9th in the Spokane area at the .at Fourth Memorial Church, 2000 N. Standard St., Spokane

News Reports on James:


He is the second to the right of the flag - his friend the first!
These SFC's re-enlisted for life!
Both are Reservists and on their second deployment -
and they volunteered to go back.
This was Chrsitmas time!

SSG Gary W Jeffries ~ Farewell and Walk with God

Staff Sergeant Gary W Jeffries
Killed January 28, 2008
Mosul, Iraq

Staff Sergeant Gary W Jeffries, 37, of Roscoe, Texas, was one of five soldiers killed on January 28, 2008, in Mosul, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado.

From the Abilene Reporteer News: He graduated in 1990 from the high school in Roscoe, a town of 1,380 people 50 miles west of Abilene.

In the school yearbook, Jeffries jokingly "willed" to underclassmen his camouflage jacket, his intelligence, ability to fix a carburetor and change oil, and his cowboy boots.

Former classmate Chas McGlothlin of Sweetwater said Jeffries was a quiet kid who was "always in the weight room." He remembers Jeffries showing an interest in the military in high school and frequently wearing camouflage.

Roscoe High School Principal Frank Young was a football coach for the Plowboys when Jeffries was a student-athlete. Young remembers him as a "really quiet kid who did what he was supposed to." He said Jeffries was a good person and hard worker who was part of a good class.

Jeffries joined the Army in 1997 and was on his fourth deployment overseas when he died, according to records from Fort

He served in Korea from March 2000 to March 2001 and joined the 3rd Brigade Combat team in April 2001. Jeffries deployed to Iraq from March 2003 to March 2004 and from December 2005 to November 2006. He returned to Iraq in December for his third deployment.

Services: San Antonio is Graveside Only. Ft Sam National Cemetery. Shelter # 4. Wednesday, 06 Feb 08, 11:30 am. The Patriot Guard Riders will be in attendance.