Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday Hero ~ SGT James Craig

This Weeks Post Was Suggested And Written By Cynthia

Sgt James E. Craig
Sgt James E. Craig
27 years old from Spokane, Washington
1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
January 28, 2008
U.S. Army

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. It has been a year since James was killed. He was my friend and I miss him each day.

James was on his third deployment to Iraq. 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. They 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."

To read more about Sgt James Craig, go here.

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

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. 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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Ed. Note: It is hard to believe that it has been a year since I received the call letting me know I would no longer have James in my life. A year since his new bride and his parents and sisters had to learn the awful truth. I miss knowing he is no longer in this world. But, hold onto the faith he had in the better world he has passed into. You are truly missed, my friend.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Troops Bid Pres. Bush Farewell

Young fans at the departure ceremony for former President George W. Bush await his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Jan. 20, 2009.
DoD photo by Donna Miles

Former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush give a final wave to the crowd of more than 4,000 people gathered at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., prior to their final departure aboard Air Force One, Jan. 20, 2009.
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Craig Clapper

Former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Richard B. Cheney say their final farewells at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Jan 20, 2009.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melissa Stonecipher

Troops Bid Bush Farewell at Andrews Air Force Base
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md., Jan. 20, 2009 – The U.S. military bid farewell today to the outgoing commander in chief during a stirring and emotional departure ceremony in which he called leading men and women in uniform the highlight of his presidency.

A joint service honor guard, military band and about 4,000 cheering, flag-waving fans greeted former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush as they arrived here from what’s been called “the ultimate change of command ceremony.”

The participants -- former staffers, invited guests and servicemembers and their families -- waited inside the 316th Airlift Wing’s Hangar Six to hail the president and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

They watched the inaugural ceremonies on a jumbotron screen suspended from the hangar ceiling, then waited with anticipation as Bush lifted off from the Capitol grounds aboard the Marine Corps VH-60 helicopter referred to as “Executive One.”

The crowd roared as the former president and vice president made their dramatic entrance into the hangar. The rousing sounds of the “Air Force One” movie theme rung out as the huge hangar slowly opened, revealing the huge blue-and-white presidential aircraft glistening in the sunlight.

Children climbed onto their parents’ shoulders to catch a better glimpse, and spectators hoisted cameras high to capture the moment in history.

Bush admitted that he wasn’t sure how he would feel passing the presidency to the next administration, but declared, “I am thankful, I am grateful and I am joyful!”

“I’ve had a lot of great experiences,” as president, he told the group, but said none has been better than leading military members who have volunteered to serve the country in a time of danger. Bush said he’ll miss being commander in chief and being able to stand in front of the troops to tell them “how much we respect you and how much we admire you.”

Bush said he’ll leave the presidency with his “head held high,” confident that he took the right course in difficult times. Historians will sort out his time in office, he said, expressing belief that they’ll note “we did not shirk our duty, we did not shy away” from difficult decisions and that “we served with conviction.”

Cheney praised Bush for taking on “the big jobs that needed doing” after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks launched some of the greatest challenges to ever confront the United States. “George W. Bush protected America,” he said. “History remembers such leaders and marks them well.”

Bush shook hands with many in the crowd, then turned toward the VC-25 aircraft that would take him home to Texas. The flight was designated Special Air Mission 28000 rather than Air Force One, which belongs only to the airplane carrying the sitting president.

On the tarmac, Air Force Brig. Gen. Maggie Woodward, the 89th Airlift Wing commander, escorted the Bushes to a red carpet stretching to the aircraft. A 42-piece joint honor guard flanked both sides of the carpet.

At the end of the carpet, Air Force Col. Steven Shepro, commander of the 316th Wing, and Col. Eric Snadecki, his vice commander, said their final goodbyes before Bush climbed the steps to the plane.

Shepro said he felt honored for him and his airmen to bid a personal goodbye to the departing former president. “It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend,” he said. He credited his elite team that regularly serves the president -- with the Air Force’s only flightline protocol office and a second-to-none security detachment, among them -- with bringing honor to the Air Force.

“This is another moment in history that they share,” he said. “We’re giving him a fitting sendoff just like we always do.”

Command Chief James Davis, Andrews’ top noncommissioned officer, relished his base’s role in the inauguration and presidential departure ceremony. “We are a part of history, from the person working the logistics to the ones in the cordon to the ones marching in the parade,” he said.

“We’re all here to honor our former honor in chief as he departs,” said Army Sgt. Tyler Murray, one of six members of the 3rd Infantry Regiment “The Old Guard” to serve in the joint service honor guard.

“President Bush has looked out for his troops, and we’re here to honor him.” “I’ve been involved in a lot of high-priority missions,” said Army Pfc. Jared Robison, a fellow “Old Guard” soldier. “But this one is the highest on my list, personally.”

“It’s wonderful being a part of it, especially as a military member,” agreed Air Force Tech. Sgt. Steven Hawkens, from the 316th Security Forces. “It’s breathtaking, it’s exciting, it’s wonderful to see these things going on.”

Update: Editorial from Karl Rove, well worth reading:

Wednesday Hero ~ PO2 Michael A Monsoor

Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike A. Monsoor
Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike A. Monsoor
29 years old from Garden Grove, California
September 29, 2006
U.S. Navy

In April 2008, Michael Monsoor (who had already been posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions in a May 9, 2006 incident, when he and another SEAL pulled a wounded team member to safety amidst gunfire) was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. His funeral, attended, in the words of President Bush, by "nearly every SEAL on the West Coast," was held on October 12, 2006 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. During Monsoor's funeral service, as the casket was taken from the hearse to the gravesite, fellow SEALs lined up in two columns to slap and embed the gold Tridents (a pin awarded for successful completion of SEAL Qualification Training) from their uniforms onto the top of Monsoor's coffin.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike A. Monsoor's Summary Of Action.

"The procession went on nearly half an hour, and when it was all over, the simple wooden coffin had become a gold-plated memorial to a hero who will never be forgotten." - President George W. Bush

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, January 20, 2009

Farewell & Thank You, Mr. Bush

Farewell & Thank You

President & Mrs. Bush
Vice-President & Mrs. Cheney

We are saying good-bye to these amazing people.
They have worked hard to do what they were elected to do.
They have provided leadership. They have kept us safe.
They have honored those who serve and sacrifice.
They have cared deeply about our country and about each of us.

I am proud to have voted for them twice.
I will miss them deeply.
I send my gratitude and my prayers.

Grace and Class have left Washington.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday Hero ~ CPT Ed Freeman

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Deb

Capt. Ed Freeman
Capt. Ed Freeman
Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)
U.S. Army

While reading the info on Cpt. Freeman, I found that I couldn't have put it better than this.

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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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Farewell to the CinC and the First Lady

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush participate in a military appreciation Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009, at Ft. Myer, Va., in honor of the President's tenure as Commander-in-Chief. The First Couple was honored for their outstanding public service by the Department of Defense.
White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6, 2009 - The top Defense Department leaders honored President George W. Bush today at a farewell ceremony for his deep commitment to the men and women in uniform and their families and the trust he instilled as he led them through challenging times.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in praising Bush during the armed forces farewell ceremony at Fort Myer, Va.

"In my 44 years of wearing this uniform, I have never seen the American public and our military as bonded in understanding, purpose and spirit as I do right now," Mullen told Bush. "For this, Mr. President, we owe you our greatest gratitude."

Gates said Bush fostered that close relationship throughout his presidency.

"The president's deep regard and affection for our service members and their families has played out in ways big and small," he said. Gates pointed to examples: "surprise visits to Iraq and Afghanistan to shake hands and high-five [troops], ... personal phone calls to those deployed over Thanksgiving, and even the occasional chest bump to unwary cadets."

As he sent troops into harm's way, Bush never hid from the human consequences of his decisions, Gates said. He made countless visits to wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the National Naval Medical Center and other military hospitals. He and first lady Laura Bush also met with thousands of family members of wounded and fallen troops.

Gates recalled Bush's visit with Army Staff Sgt. Michael McNaughton, a Louisiana National Guardsman being treated at Walter Reed after losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan. The president suggested that the two go for a run after McNaughton received his prosthetic leg, and carried through with the plan several months later on a track around the White House's South Lawn.

"A single promise to a single soldier. A small act that reflects President Bush's commitment to care for and honor every member of the armed forces," Gates said.

"Mr. President, every day these volunteers execute your orders with courage and determination - facing down danger for the greater good of America," he continued. "On behalf of more than 2 million men and women in uniform, we are deeply grateful for your leadership and service to America in a time of war."

Mullen thanked the president and Mrs. Bush for embracing the military family, and particularly those who have sacrificed heavily in the war on terror.

"You have proven that how well we care for our wounded and the families of the fallen defines who and what we really are as a nation," he said. "You made it personal, and that has made all the difference."

Some of the most powerful accolades during the ceremony came not from the leaders, but from the troops themselves.

Mullen shared thoughts penned by several deployed service members in a journal he and his wife, Deborah, carried with them during recent troop visits overseas.

"Mr. President, thank you and your family for your service. I am proud to serve under you, sir," wrote Army Staff Sgt. Ward from Queens, N.Y. Like several who signed the journal, he did not include his first name.

"You are awesome, and made a difference in the world," Ward wrote.

Army Lt. Col. Scott Raney, deployed to Baghdad, extended his thanks to Mrs. Bush. "Your class and dignity were an inspiration to us all," he wrote.

The writing of Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Fraser brought levity to the ceremony as he referred to a shoe-throwing incident in Iraq last month.

"Sir, nice to see that our president is still quick on his feet after eight years in office," Fraser wrote, bringing an outburst of laughter as Mullen read it at the ceremony. "Next time, pick up the shoe and throw it back," he continued. "We got your back."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Claude Cory from Waco, Texas, turned the tone serious. "Sir, you truly set the standard to uphold the peace and our very way of life so our kids can grow up in a peaceful world," he wrote. "We will always stand tall, one great nation and one great state, Texas."

Other service members, who signed the journal simply as "Your soldiers," thanked Bush for his "service, example and leadership."

"We have not faltered. We will not fail," the anonymous service member continued. "With greatest respect and honor, we serve."

Mullen called the troop messages a sign of the deep mutual respect between Bush and the 2.4 million military men and women, as well as their families.

"Those voices are an answering volley to you for your high regard and great respect for every single man and woman who serves this nation," he said.

Gates presented the president and Mrs. Bush several awards in appreciation of their service. To Bush, he presented the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, U.S. Army Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service, U.S. Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, U.S. Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service, and U.S. Coast Guard Distinguish Public Service Award.

The secretary presented Mrs. Bush the Department of Defense Outstanding Public Service Award.

--By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wednesday Hero ~ Airman Melissa Pyle

Airman Melissa Pyle
Airman Melissa Pyle
U.S. Navy

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Airman Melissa Pyle mans a jet blast deflector station on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in the Gulf Of Oman. Theodore Roosevelt and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 are deployed to the U.S. 5th 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.

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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Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Flag and Star Power

U.S. Air Force airmen support a huge American flag during the singing of the national anthem at the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev., Dec. 20, 2008. The airmen are assigned to Nellis and Creech Air Force bases, Nevada

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.

Thursday, January 01, 2009



I hope that 2009 is a good year for everyone.
2008 was a year of intensity - lots of trials and several losses -
and one I don't care to relive.

I look forward to a new year.
I wish everyone the blessings of the season.