Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday Hero ~ Second Anniversary

Wednesday Hero ~ Lt Col Nathan Blood

Lt. Col. Nathan Blood
Lt. Col. Nathan Blood
U.S. Army

Lt. Col. Nathan Blood, brigade effects coordinator for 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light), Multi-National Division - Baghdad, says "Hello" to his 16-month-old daughter, Mackenzie, during a web camera communication.

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.

Wednesday Hero Logo

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympic Gold for Army PFC Vincent Hancock

Olympic Gold for PFC Vincent Hancock

U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit shotgun shooter Pfc. Vincent Hancock set two Olympic records and prevailed in a four-target shoot-off against Norway's Tore Brovold to win the gold medal in men's skeet on the Beijing Shooting Range.

Hancock, 19, of Eatonton, Ga., shot an Olympic record 121 of a possible 125 targets in five qualification rounds and took a one-target lead into the final. During the final, Hancock missed his 20th shot and finished regulation tied at 145 with Brovold, who shot a perfect round to force the shoot-off.

Hancock was born in Port Charlotte, Fla., and began shooting at age 8. Before his 11th birthday, he was shooting competitively. At age 16, he began rewriting the skeet record books.

Before graduating in 2006 from Gatewood High School in Georgia, Hancock joined the Army and completed Basic Training at Fort Sill, Okla. Later that year, he was named International Sports Federation Shooter of the Year and Shooter of the Year by USA Shooting, the sport's governing body in the United States.

Hancock, who was assigned to the USAMU in November of 2007, established the skeet world record with a perfect score of 150 at a World Cup event in Lonato, Italy, on June 14, 2007. He also won the bronze medal at the 2007 World Championships and was named Shotgun Shooter of the Year by USA Shooting.

Congratulations, PFC Hancock!

Wednesday Hero ~ Pvt Nathan Z Thacker

Pvt. Nathan Z. Thacker
Pvt. Nathan Z. Thacker
18 years old from Greenbrier, Arkansas
2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division
October 12, 2007
U.S. Army

Pvt. Nathan Z. Thacker had only been in the country for two weeks before his death, according to the soldier's father, Stephen Thacker.

Thacker's father said his son felt a duty to enlist. "He said it was his job. Even after he got his orders that he was going over there, he said it's his job."

Thacker had attended Guy-Perkins High School in Guy, Arkansas. He earned his GED in 2006, his father said. Thacker enlisted in the Army in April 2007 and completed his training at Fort Benning, Ga. He arrived at Fort Drum in August 2007. His honors include the Purple Heart.

"Nathan was an excellent man," sister Sabrina Black said. "He loved me, I loved him, and Iʼd give anything to have him back."

Pvt. Thacker was killed when an IED was detonated near his vehicle near Kirkuk. Three other soldiers were injured in the attack.

Pvt. Thacker is survived by his parents, siblings and his grandfather.

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.

Wednesday Hero Logo

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tribute to a Coalition Partner ~ Georgia


Maj. Nino Chkhenkeli, a physician with the 1st Georgian Infantry Brigade, gives food to a woman she treated in His Ais Asomar Feb. 26. Fifty residents, mostly women, received medical care.

A Georgian Soldier watches with a boy as other children leave the site where Georgian Soldiers of the 1st Georgian Brigade distributed food and other supplies in Hwar village, June 9. The Soldiers were a part of the Brigade's Civil Military Cooperation company, tasked with maintaining good relations between civilians and coalition military personnel. "We supply people with food and medicine and hear their problems," said Cpt. Zaur Makaradze, company commander. "Our main mission is to help people."
(U.S. Army photo/Sgt. Daniel T. West)

A boy from Hwar village receives supplies from Cpl. Iago Tedeachvei of the 1st Georgian Brigade. Soldiers of the brigade's civil military cooperation company distributed food and other supplies, June 9.
(U.S. Army photo/Sgt. Daniel T. West)

Second Sergeant Romeo Sharia and Cpl. Georgi Khidesheli demonstrate emplacing a mortar during a class, July 7, on Forward Operating Base Delta.

Georgian forces have been serving as part of the Coalition in Iraq since August of 2003.

They have done training, guarded borders and provided humanitarian assistance.

They have proved to be more than competent and efficient in all of their efforts.

They have sacrificed for the mission in Iraq. Please read the tribute to their fallen HERE.

Georgia has been under attack from Russia.

The above map shows the locations of the attacks.

To see a currently updated map, go here -

American forces have releived the Georgian forces in Iraq and returned them to Georgia.

American humanitarian aid is being delivered to the Georgian people by the US military.

Amazing that a new country has reached out to help the Iraqis gain their freedom when the Georgian freedom is so young and so tenuous.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Georgians at this time of invasion from Russia.

We can not thank them enough and we need to stand with them now.

Update: Does anyone else get joy out of the Beach Volleyball Team from Georgia defeating the Russian Team??

Tribute to Georgian Soldiers

Corporal Zurab Choghoshvili

Died September 30, 2007

Lieutenant Giorgi Margiev
and Corporal Zurab Gvenetadze

13 Battalion of 1st Infantry Brigade

Died in an IED attack in the Diyala Province, May 2, 2008

Corporal Jambul Mgeladze

33rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade

Died in a vehicle accident in Kut, Iraq, on December 21, 2007

Sergeant Irakli Kordzaia

1st Division of the 13 Battalion of the 1st Infantry Brigade

Killed when enemy forces attacked a checkpoint five miles (9 km) from the Georgian Army's operating base in Diyala province, Iraq, on June 4, 2008
These men gave their lives for the freedom and security of Iraq.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Face of Freedom ~ Olympic Gold for Spc Walton 'Glenn' Eller III

Army Spc Walton 'Glenn' Eller III is wearing GOLD in Beijing!
He won it for Double Trap with an Olympic record score of 190.

Eller's teammate, Army Spc. Jeff Holguin, finished fourth.
Both soldiers are members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit,
based at Fort Benning, Georgia.


Wednesday Hero ~ Spc Matthew A Koch

Spc. Matthew A. Koch
Spc. Matthew A. Koch
23 years old from West Henrietta, New York
Company C, 70th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division
March 9, 2005
U.S. Army

Spc. Matthew A. Koch was on his second tour of duty when he was killed by an IED that was detonated near his vehicle in Taji. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He previously was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Service Ribbon and medals for service in the fight against terrorism.

Koch enlisted in the Army in January 2002 after the attacks on September 11, 2001 and re-enlisted because he wanted to help the Iraqi people. "He was a brave soldier who made the greatest sacrifice anyone could make for everyone else's freedom," Diane Worman, Koch's mother, said through tears. "He realized that by being over there, he was going to make a difference in the lives of those people." She said her son once unsuccessfully sought green cards for an Iraqi family that had been threatened for helping Americans.

"He always looked out for the other guy, never thought of himself. He volunteered to go to C Co before our first deployment so that one of the guys from our Platoon didn't have to deploy early and would have a chance to marry his fiance. That's Koch for you, always looking out for his buddies." - David A. "Buch" Buchanan.

"He really loved the service and went back," said James Worman, Koch's stepfather. "He had no problem. He was dedicated to the fact that people over there needed help. He was always concerned about other people. He loved children. He was a nice, soft-hearted kid."

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.
Wednesday Hero Logo

Friday, August 08, 2008

Team Darfur and the Olympics

"Team Darfur is an international coalition of athletes committed to raising awareness about and bringing an end to the crisis in Darfur, Sudan .

"A campaign leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, Team Darfur aims to educate the global public through the unique voice of elite athletes. Team Darfur brings together the world's Olympic and professional athletes to put international pressure not only on Sudan, but also on those countries that support the policy of inaction in the face of this dire humanitarian crisis."

I would urge everyone to visit the Team Darfur site - to get involved, to purchase an arm band, to support the athletes, to reach out to help these people.

Team Darfur was started by Olympic Gold Medalist Speed Skater, Joey Cheek and UCLA water polo player Brad Greiner. In 2006, Joey announced that he would donate his Medal bonuses and encouraged other athletes and sponsors to do the same. He raised over $1 million for the relief effort.

Joey Cheek had planned to travel to Beijing for the Olympics and to show support for the 72 Olympic athletes who are part of Team Darfur, but the Chinese revoked his visa today without explanation. A list of the 360+ athletes of Team Darfur can be found here.

Joey's statement:

“I am saddened not to be able to attend the Games. The Olympic Games represent something powerful: that people can come together from around the world and do things that no one thought were possible. However, the denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur. Team Darfur’s main efforts have been to advocate for an Olympic Truce for Darfur, and to raise awareness about the crisis and ask for lasting peace on behalf of the children of Darfur.

“The Olympic Truce captures the spirit of the Olympics: around the Games, the world should come together to work for peace and speak out against conflict. The Chinese government’s efforts to suppress athletes, even those who are competing in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, who speak about essential human rights issues, is a violation of that core Olympic spirit.

“I still remained convinced of the great role the Olympics can play as a force for promoting peace around the world, including in still raging crisis in Darfur. Yet, despite the fact that I’ve always spoken positively of the Olympic ideal, and never called for a boycott or asked an athlete to break an IOC rule, my visa was revoked less than 24 hours before my scheduled departure.”

Meet Lopez Lomong. He was one of the 'Lost Boys' of the Sudan. Eight years ago, he came to the United States. Thirteen months ago, he became a citizen. He runs the 1,500 meters. He is a member of Team Darfur. Friday night, he will carry the flag of the United States of America in the opening ceremony in Beijing.

ESPN has a story about Lopez Lomong -

While Joey Cheek will not be there to give support to the Team Darfur athletes, the athletes will be visible to the Chinese government, especially when Lopez Lomong leads the United States contingent into the arena.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Army Olympians

Army Olympians
Several of the United States Olympic contenters are
also members of the United States Army.
Staff Sgt Dremiel Byers
Greco-Roman Wrestling
Staff Sgt Libby Callahan
Air Pistol, Sport Pistol

Maj Michael Anti
Air Rifle, Three-Position Rifle, Prone Rifle

Sgt 1st Class Jason Parker
Air Rifle, Three-Position Rifle

Sgt 1st Class Daryl Szarenski
25m Rapid Fire, 50m Free Pistol

Pfc Vincent Hancock

Spc Jeffrey Holguin
Double Trap

Spc Walton Glenn Eller III
Double Trap

US Military Academy Cadet Stephen Scherer
Air Rifle

I will be watching and rooting for these athletes.
The links lead you to their individual pages.
They are part of the Army's World Class Athlete Program.

Air Force Olympians

Air Force Olympians

Capt. Eli Bremer
Modern Pentathlon
(Horsemanship, Shooting, Fencing, Swimming, Running)

Capt. Kevin Eastler

20-Kilometer Race Walk

Maj. Dominic Grazioli


2nd Lt. Weston "Seth" Kelsey

Epee Fencing

You can follow the athletes progress at their home pages.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wednesday Hero~ SrA Kimberly Bickford

Senior Airman Kimberly Bickford
Senior Airman Kimberly Bickford
332nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
U.S. Air Force

Senior Airman Kimberly Bickford performs a pre-load check July 28 on an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, to ensure the cable that releases the bomb is operational.

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.

Wednesday Hero Logo

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Blogger - OOPS!

Gazing at the Flag was one of the many blogs caught in the recent Blogger Lock Down.
It appears that the lock has been lifted and that I am able to post again.
Technology is wonderful when it works - dreadful when it doesn't.
One bit of advise to Blogger - when things like this happen,
communication with the affected bloggers will surely save everyone a lot of frustration.