Saturday, June 30, 2007

MAJ Gregory D Young ~ Farewell and Walk with God

Farewell and Walk with God,
Major Gregory D Young

Oregon Air National Guard, 142nd Fighter Wing pilot, Major Gregory D Young, was killed on June 26, 2007 while participating in combat training. Major Young was flying an F-15 Eagle, coordinating with three other Portland based fighter pilots, dogfighting with Texas Marine Corps Reserve pilots, when the crash occured.

The rapid reaction of the Coast Guard had a helicopter on location within 30 minutes and was joined by cutters and a C-130. They recovered Major Young's body in the Pacific Ocean about 35 miles off of the coast of Oregon.

Major Young, 34, was from St Helens, Oregon. Major Young graduated from Oregon State University in 1996 with a degree in civil engineering and a minor in aerospace studies. He was a cadet in the OSU Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corp and was one of 46 picked to participate in a 55-week Euro-NATO joint jet pilot training program. Major Young had about 700 hours of flying time in F-15s and more than 1,000 hours of flying time in other aircraft.

Statement by Brig. Gen Daniel B. O'Hollaren Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard:

"As you know, the 142d Fighter Wing lost of one of our finest yesterday in an F-15 jet fighter mishap over the Pacific Ocean. It is with my deepest regret that I must announce the loss of Maj. Gregory D. Young, 34, from St Helens, Ore. - a highly respected officer, gifted pilot, father, and friend. We ask that your thoughts and prayers be with him and his family."

Statement by Col. Steven Gregg, commander of the 142nd Fighter Wing:

"He was a very talented young man with many years of dedicated service to the protection of the freedoms we enjoy today."

The loss of this fine young Oregonian reminds us that the pursuit of excellence in the defense of our nation is not without danger, even at home. We mourn his loss and will keep his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

To send condolences to his family:
6801 NE Cornfoot Rd, Box 2
Portland, OR 97218
The group will make sure the letters get to the family promptly

UPDATE: Services will be held July 5, 11 AM, at St Helen's High School.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Soldier's Prayer

A Soldier's Prayer
(author unknown)

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

SPC Joseph P Kenny ~ Farewell and Walk with God

Farewell and Walk with God,
SPC Joseph P Kenny
December 26, 1986 - June 23, 2007

Specialist Joseph P Kenny, 20, of Veneta, Oregon, died June 23, 2007 in Mosul, Iraq from injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident. He served with the 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

SPC Kenny attended Elmira High School. His principal, Karen McKenzie, said, "he was excited about being in the military."

Joe is remembered by his friends and teachers as the 'class clown' - a well liked and bright young man, good at math and at drawing out smiles from others. The tributes from his friends and teachers speak volumes about his spirit and character. Read it here.

SPC Kenny is survived by his mother, Linda Peterson-Phillips Smith of Veneta, father, John Kenny Jr of Escondido, CA, fiance Ashley Brodkotb, brother, Michael of Eugene, sister Jennifer of Issaquah, WA, sister Taylor Krisine of Escondido, CA, sister Mercedes Smith of Veneta.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this most difficult time.

UPDATE: Services for SPC Kenny will be held July 2, at 3 pm, at Elmira High School.

SPC Dominic Rodriguez ~ Farewell and Walk with God

Farewell and Walk with God,
SPC Dominic N Rodriguez
November 11, 1983 - June 22, 2007

Army SPC Dominic N Rodriguez, 23, of Klamath Falls, Oregon, died June 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq from injuries sustained in a non-combat incident. He served with the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

SPC Rodriguez was born and raised in Klamath Falls and graduated from Klamath Union High School. He was captain of the football team. He played college ball at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, California. He also enjoyed wrestling, swimming and fishing.

SPC Rodriguez enlisted in the US Army believing that it was where he belonged and he wanted to defend his country.

He is survived by his wife, Jeannette McMackin, stepchildren Husion and Austin, parents Filomeno and Patricia Rodriguez, Sr and Michael and Patricia McMackin.

Requests for memorials are to requested to be made In Honor of Spec. Dominic Rodriquez to the Special Olympics, P.O. Box 221, Klamath Falls, OR 97601, 541-850-5257.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and the community of Klamath Falls at this difficult time.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

VFW Veteran's Memorial Wall

The VFW has started a virtual Memorial Wall for Veteran's.

You can add names of your relatives and friends from the link at the site.

This is a wonderful virtual tribute to our Veterans.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wednesday Hero ~ SSG Darrell R Griffin, Jr.

Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin Jr.

Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin Jr.
36 years old from Alhambra, California
2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
March 21, 2007

"He was a really patriotic young man", said Darrell Griffin Sr. "He said that the people there really needed us and he felt it was the right place to be. He wished we didnâ?Tt have to have wars, but since thatâ?Ts the way mankind is, he felt he was contributing an important part to his country".

SSgt. Griffin lost his life in Balad, Iraq when his unit came under fire as it was returning to base after conducting security operations in the Iraqi capital.

The eldest son of six children, SSgt. Griffin worked as an EMT before joining the California Army National Guard in 1999. He enlisted in the Army two years later, and in July 2001, was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, in Ft. Lewis, Washington. He served with that unit in Iraq from October 2004 to September 2005.

On his second tour of duty, SSgt. Griffin had been awarded the Bronze Star for valor in 2005 when he was credited with saving the lives of three U.S. and two Iraqi Army soldiers injured during battle in Tal Afar. He had also received the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Parachute Badge, and the Meritorious Unit Citation.

"Griff was the type of man you want to have by your side in a fight," Maj. Brent Clemmer, his former company commander, wrote from Iraq. "He was the type of squad leader every young soldier wants to have".

"Darrell was my husband, my Soldier, my gift from God who was also the love of my life and always will be." Said his wife, Diana. "He was also 'a Soldier's Soldier of Strength and Honor' whose commitment to duty, honor and loyalty will be forever remembered by all who know and love him. The news of his death saddens us deeply and we ask for your prayers in our time of grief. Please also continue to keep our Soldiers in your prayers."

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

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Face of Freedom ~ Army SFC Adin Salkanovic

Wounded Soldier Heals,
Returns to Unit in Iraq

Army Sgt. 1st Class Adin Salkanovic points out gunner positions to Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, on the roof of Patrol Base Shakarat in Iraq's Diyala province, June 20, 2007. Salkanovic, of the 1st Cavalry Division's Troop B, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, volunteered to rejoin his unit in Iraq after recovering from multiple gunshot wounds suffered in March.

BAGHDAD, June 25, 2007 -
Army Sgt. 1st Class Adin Salkanovic won't spend a full 15 months in Iraq like the rest of the soldiers in his unit. Still, he knows all too well about the sacrifices of war.

The platoon sergeant with 1st Cavalry Division's Troop B, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, volunteered to rejoin his unit in Iraq after recovering from multiple gunshot wounds suffered in Buhriz, Iraq, March 6.

Salkanovic, 27, was leading a dismounted, eight-man reconnaissance team when 15 to 20 insurgents wielding grenades, sniper rifles and AK-47s started attacking from three different directions.

Pinned down on the roof of a building, Salkanovic and his squad returned fire. In a span of 15 minutes, Salkanovic was struck by three enemy bullets: one to his left index finger and shoulder and one apiece to his right shoulder and bicep. Two more enemy rounds nearly struck Salkanovic, but were stopped by his body armor - "the two that would have killed me," he called them.

Salkanovic's team managed to fend off the attack, eventually killing two insurgents. If not for the actions of one of his soldiers, Cpl. Cory Walter, Salkanovic is sure he would have died that day, he said.

"Corporal Walter is pretty much responsible for me being alive right now."

Salkanovic, whose wounds caused him to lose two liters of blood, was evacuated to Germany and later moved to Fort Hood, Texas, to recover. After two months of healing and rehabilitation, he was ready to head back to Iraq. He rejoined his unit, which is based at Forward Operating Base Normandy, May 15.

"As soon as (my doctor) cleared me to come back, I was on the first flight out," said Salkanovic, a native of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Although returning to Iraq was entirely his choice, Salkanovic said, the decision was not up for debate. Rejoining his unit was his goal from the start.

"It's like a family - especially being a platoon sergeant. You get attached to the soldiers," he said.

(Photo and Story by Army Staff Sgt. Curt Cashour, who is assigned to Multinational Corps Iraq Public Affairs.)

Home, Again!!

We had a great weekend - worked hard, but enjoyed ourselves at the same time. Everything was great until the long drive home, when we hit a torrential downpour. The Cascades need the water, but it was a wild drive through the passes with the rain! As good as it was to go, it is always great to be home!!!

MEGEN, Jr went with us and visited with the Angora goats! The real MEGEN will be here later this summer! Stay tuned!

My 'hit and run' commenters were busy while I was gone - which is why I turned on comment moderation. They always seem to know when I'm gone! Never fear, your poop has been deleted! Why waste your time? You know I will delete it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Navy Nurse in Iraq

Want to know more about Navy Nurses in Iraq? Please read my friend's blog. Lt Peter DeYoung, blogs at Me Over There. Peter is a Navy Nurse and a flight Nurse in Taqaddum, Iraq. His entires are short and powerful and he has put up some great videos and lots of amazing pictures.

I will be gone for a few days, check back on Monday! Until then, read Peter's great blog!!!

I have turned on Comment Moderation until I return.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SFC Christoper Dale Henderson, Farewell and Walk with God

SFC Christopher Dale Henderson
Farewell and Walk with God

An IED claimed the life of SFC Christopher Dale Henderson, 35, of Hillsboro, Oregon on June 17, 2007 in Panjway, Afghanistan. Henderson was a member of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (Transistion Team) of Fort Riley, Kansas, part of the training team for the Afghan soldiers. Also killed were Capt Joshua E Steele, 26, of North Henderson, Illinois, SFC John M Hennen, 26, of Vinton, Louisiana and an Afghan interpreter.

SFC Christopher Dale Henderson is a son of Oregon. He attended Glencoe High School where he competed in track and field events. He enlisted in the Army after high school and made his life and career in the Army. He was based at Fort Lewis prior to his deployment with Task Force Phoenix. He attended Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, Air Assault School at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and was a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

SFC Christopher Henderson is survived by his wife, Jennifer, 8-year-old daughter, Kayley, mother, Cindy, twin sister, Athena Gordon and father, Jim.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and the members of his unit at this difficult time. We will ever be grateful for all you have done to keep us safe and free.

Wednesday Hero ~ LCpl Hatak Yearby

Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu M. Yearby

Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu M. Yearby
21 years old from Overbrook, Oklahoma
3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division,

III Marine Expeditionary Force
May 14, 2006

Hatak Yuka Keyu Martin Yearby was remembered in funeral services as a small town boy who balanced his Choctaw tribal heritage and his military life.

He did traditional American Indian dances with grace, compassion, discipline and free spirit - "the way he lived his life," the Rev. Timm Emmons said Monday.

"He had a desire to be in the military since he was a young boy. And he believed in what he was doing. He was a warrior, and he was a hero and he finished the course."

Yearby was killed by a roadside bomb, along with fellow Lance Cpl. Jose S. Marin Dominguez Jr., in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, two months after he arrived in that country.

Friends and family, fellow American Indians, teachers and classmates filed past his open casket for an hour after the funeral while a U.S. Marine Corps honor guard stood at attention.

About 1,000 people attended a funeral service meant to celebrate the life of the 21-year-old newlywed from Overbrook in southern Oklahoma's Love County.

Those who spoke in the packed Marietta High School auditorium talked of how he loved to hunt, but never came back with anything. He played tricks, won dancing awards at powwows and appeared on a recruiting magazine for Upward Bound because of a headdress he made from a T-shirt.

Nine of his friends stood on stage to remember Yearby. Jake Barber spoke for them, pausing several times to regain his composure.

"Many great words describe Hatak. The only real word you need to say is 'brother'. He will always be known to us as the ace of spades, the most important card in the deck. He touched us so dearly that words cannot explain,".

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

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Face of Freedom ~ Army SSG Christian Bagge

I first learned of SSG Christian Bagge in June 2005 when I received an email about an Oregon soldier who was wounded in Iraq and headed back to the United States. Later, I received his address at Brooke Army Medical Center. We packed up a small care package and supportive letters and sent them off, along with our prayers. We never expected to hear of the SSG again, but we kept him in our prayers.

The following year, SSG Christian Bagge was at the White House to go jogging with President Bush. When the President visited him at the hospital, he was newly arrived and had lost both legs to an IED - one above the knee and one below.

"I first met Christian when I went to Walter Reed -- or Brooke Army in San Antonio, Texas. And he said, "I want to run with you." He was in bed -- he had lost both legs. I looked at him, like, you know, there's an optimistic person. But I could tell in his eyes that he meant it. And after a lot of hard work and a lot of compassionate care, this fine man is here on the South Lawn running with the President. And he ran the President into the ground, I might add.

"But I'm proud of you. I'm proud of your strength, proud of your character. Thank you for your service.

"It's an amazing sight for me to be running with a guy who, last time I saw him, was in bed wondering whether or not -- I was wondering whether or not he'd ever get out of bed. There was no doubt in his mind that he would," said President Bush.

Christian Bagge is from Eugene, Oregon. He currently resides in Texas with his wife, Melissa, newlyweds prior to his deployment.

Christian Bagge participates in sports - running, golf, biking. He mows his own lawn and does his own home repairs. He works on the Wounded Soldier Project and is a spokesman for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Foundation, which is raising funds for a memorial to wounded veterans. He also speaks at events around the country, but especially enjoys speaking to school children.

Now, SSG Christian Bagge is a finalist for the Energizer "Keep Going" Hall of Fame.

Christian said he could remember the people who spoke to his intermediate school class - and, none of them had prosthetic legs. "I don't expect them to retain everything, but I think I'm memorable. My legs aren't going to grow back. The only thing I can control is my attitude. Everyone's going to go through something hard in life. When it happens I want these kids to remember me, the personality I have and my attitude. I want them to keep going," said Christian.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Feeding Freedom

Outback Steakhouse
Serves Meals to Troops
in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq

Soldiers are treated to food from Outback Steakhouse on June 13 at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan.

Mark Moses, owner of Carrabba's Italian Grill in Fayetteville N.C., cooks steaks for soldiers June 13 at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan

Army Pfc. Jason McGregor, military policeman, 546th Military Police Company, 385th MP Battalion, Fort Stewart, Ga., decides between chocolate or carrot cake for dessert June 13 at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan.

Soldiers enjoy food from Outback Steakhouse June 13 at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan.

Restaurant Brings Taste of Home to Deployed Troops
Article and Photos By Sgt. Matthew Clifton, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SALERNO, Afghanistan, June 15, 2007 -

A large line could be seen extending from the chow hall here as the aroma of steak floated across the base June 13.

Soldiers here were treated to a little taste of home when "Feeding Freedom 5" brought the "Down Under" taste of Outback Steakhouse to the base dining facility.

"Feeding Freedom" is the program that brings food from Outback Steakhouse to servicemembers deployed overseas. Thanks to numerous donations and volunteers from the United States, the troops at Salerno enjoyed a vast menu, including rib-eye steaks, calamari, vegetable ravioli, chocolate and carrot cake, and the signature Outback dish -- the "Bloomin' Onion."

"It makes me feel real special to have these guys come over here and risk their own safety just to bring us something good to eat," said Army Spc. Sharice Lidell, a water purification specialist with the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team. "I love steak, and it really shows a lot about their character that they come here."

Feeding Freedom 5 has been to Kuwait and is headed to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.

A reccurring sentiment wherever the people of Feeding Freedom go is gratitude. They are very thankful for what servicemembers are doing, but this sentiment is reciprocated by the enormous appreciation the troops have for the volunteers.

"This is just our way of saying thank you to the troops," said Lisa Ross, a regional service technician with Outback. "We are only here for a couple weeks, but these guys are here for a year."

Most of the volunteers with Feeding Freedom are owners and operators of Outback Steak Houses and Carrabba's Italian Grills. The volunteers of Feeding Freedom worked diligently throughout the meal making sure every table had a fresh Bloomin' Onion, clearing the empty plates for the troops, and having friendly conversations with the soldiers.

"It's such a reality check," said Mandi Cannon, a volunteer and regional service technician for Carrabba's. "Not a lot of people know exactly what goes on over here."

Cannon alluded to a mission she saw where water was being loaded in an aircraft to be dropped to people in the field. "It shows me just how rough some of these guys have it over here," she continued. "And that's why I volunteered -- strictly to say, 'Thank you.'"

During the dinner, laughter could be heard mixed with compliments on the excellence of the food. Volunteers were chatting with soldiers everywhere.

"Everybody is so excited we are here," Cannon said. "When we were in Kuwait, I'll always remember what one of the guys said to me. "He said, 'Today's chow tastes like freedom.' That is something I will never forget."

(Army Sgt. Matthew Clifton is assigned 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)
I've got to say that this puts Outback Steakhouse on my list of places to eat!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Face of Freedom ~ Army Sgt Chester Temple

Father's Day in Iraq
Army Sgt. Chester Temple, a supply noncommissioned officer for Battery A, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, a, restocks his supply room with notebook binders and other items at Camp Taji, Iraq, on June 13. A single father and sole bread winner for his family, Temple is serving his second tour in Iraq while his parents are taking care of his children in Killeen, Texas. While it's hard to be away from his kids, Temple said, he understands the sacrifices he is making for them and for his country.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, USA

By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP TAJI, Iraq, June 15, 2007 -

Nearly three years ago during his first tour to Iraq, things were a little different for Army Sgt. Chester Temple, a supply specialist for Battery A, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.

He had a wife and premature twin babies to worry about -- a boy, Trey, and girl, Abbey, who weighed just a little less than three pounds each and could fit in the palms of his hands.

Shortly after their birth, he had flown home to Fort Hood, Texas, on emergency leave to see them for the first time but then had to return to Iraq. Later, when his tour was over in early 2005, his wife moved far away, leaving him custody of the ailing twins. Eventually, a painful divorce left him a single father raising his children.

For his second deployment to Iraq, Temple had to leave his son and daughter in the care of his parents, who live in Killeen, Texas.

"The kids are doing really well now. They're nearly three years old and healthy," said Temple, who calls Fort Hood his home. "I had no worries leaving them with my parents. I'm glad to know that my babies are being taken care of."

He said he worried more when his children were younger and dealing with health issues. It's easier now.

"My son has become a chunk, getting big," Temple said. "His sister was always bigger than he was, but now he's outgrown her. But they're both healthy and happy."

Temple's father is a retired soldier, and his mother now works at home with her own business, processing physicians' orders for nursing homes via computer. They are able to easily watch Abbey and Trey and take turns doing so, Temple said.

"My parents are great people. I was raised by the best," he said. "I really appreciate what they're doing for me and the sacrifices they're making at home. I've got pretty good kids, and they're not that hard to manage," Temple added. "They're communicating well now and can tell you when they're hungry and thirsty."

Along with Abbey and Trey, who are from his second marriage, Temple has an 8-year-old son, Austin, from his first marriage. Austin lives with his mother in Alabama.

"Whenever I go on leave, I go see him. I really miss him a lot, and I know he misses me, too," said Temple, who said he has a good relationship with his first wife.

Temple said he keeps in touch with his children as often as he can.

"I e-mail Austin a lot, and he has a good understanding of what I'm doing out here," Temple said. "The twins don't really understand; they just think that daddy's at work.

"I also call them on the phone," he added. "They tell me they love me and miss me. Trey will usually tell me what he's watching on TV, and Abbey will look at the phone trying to figure out how I got in there."

To stave off depression and keep his mind off his family, Temple said, he often keeps himself busy so the time goes by quicker.

"The best thing to do is for me to engulf myself in my work," Temple said. "When I can't contain thinking about them, a telephone call always softens things up and makes it easier to cope. It can be lonely (without your family), but I joined the military for a sense of pride, my family heritage."

Temple noted that not only did his father retire from the Army, but both of his grandfathers, most of his uncles, and three brothers have all served in the military.

Temple said he has a lot of things he wants to do with his kids when he gets back home from this deployment. Most of the things the family likes to do together involve being outdoors, but there is one special place he likes to take the kids. "They love to look at the animals at the zoo in Waco," he said. "I plan on taking them first to the zoo and then out to eat."

For Father's Day this year, Temple said, he hopes to convey a simple message to people who ask him why he's in Iraq when he could instead have chosen another career path that would have allowed him to have been home with his kids.

"I love this," he said. "Too often the American people as a whole forget the price that's been paid for freedom. They'll take the freedoms they have for granted and lay them by the wayside.

"People in Iraq have never had true freedom before, but you can see they love the taste of it," Temple said. "We're helping them to get those freedoms. Everybody needs to think about that, especially when so many people have laid their lives on the line for it."

(Army Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp is assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.)

Father's Day - Far, Far Away

Today is Father's Day.

For thousands of Fathers it is a work day - they are deployed to some country far away from their families. Their children won't have a special day with Dad. Dad will be in Djibouti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Korea, Philippines, Kuwait, Qatar, or...

For others, their wives are off in those distant places and they are home playing both Mom and Dad.

For the lucky ones who are home, it is a day they can cherish being together.

Today, I celebrate the Fathers who are part of the military community. I thank them for all of the holidays they have missed, the special events that have been missed, the bedtime stories that have not been read. Thank you for all you sacrifice to keep us all safe and free.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

American Flag Project

Begun on Flag Day 2005, the American Flag Project collects pictures of the American Flag shown flying in front of your home. To have your picture included, visit the project page.

For bloggers, there is also a blogroll.

At the very least, visit the American Flag Project - it is beautiful to see!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Buy Coffee and Support the Troops

Brew of Bravery
Purchase Coffee and Support Freedom Alliance

Each summer, there is a series of Freedom Concerts - this year there will be five of them. The Concerts raise funds for the Freedom Alliance.

The Freedom Alliance provides college scholarships to the children of fallen warriors. It also assists our Wounded Warriors and has special troop support projects. This organization was founded by LtCol Oliver North.

Currently, BocaJava, a coffee company has a special blend of coffee - 'Brew of Bravery'. The company is donating $2 to the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund, from the sale of each package of “Brew of Bravery” sold now through July 4th.

The Scholarship Fund honors the bravery and dedication of our Armed Forces by providing educational scholarships for their children. For more information or to order your brew, visit

Brew of Bravery is $6.95 for 8 oz of whole beans or ground.
The direct link is

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Army Celebrates 232nd Birthday!!!

Flag Day ~ Flags Across America

Flag Day ~ June 14

Fort McHenry
The sight that inspired Francis Scott Key
to write the poem
The Star-Spangled Banner

Iwo Jima - Marine Memorial

The Flag at Arlington House
Arlington National Cemetery

The Flag at the National Archives

The 50 Flags of the States
Washinton Monument

Fredricksburg National Cemetery

The Flag at the Stonewall Jackson Shrine
The site where he died.

Flag at Petersen Gardens in Oregon
Mr. Petersen scoured the desert for rocks and glass and built some incredible stuctures from them. This flag has 48 stars.

World War II Memorial

Flag at Fort Meade Parade Grounds

Flag at Vietnam War Memorial
Pueblo, Colorado

Flag at the Painted Hills
John Day National Monument

Flag at Home
Summer and Winter

Photos from my personal collection and travels

Flag Day

On 14 June 1777, the Marine Committee of the Continental Congress adopted a resolution, which gave birth to our National Flag. The resolution read: "Resolved that the Flag of the United States be made of 13 stripes, alternate red and white, that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."

General George Washington explained: "We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty."

We thank our troops - those who have served throughout our history and those who are serving still - for keeping our flag flying high!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Postage Stamps Honor Air Force One & Marine One

Air Force Col. Margaret H. Woodward, commander of the 89th Airlift Wing; David Failor, the U.S. Postal Service's executive director of stamp services; and Marine Col. Andrew W. O'Donnell Jr., commander of Marine Helicopter Squadron One, participate in a May 18 ceremony that kicked off this year's Joint Services Open House and previewed new postage stamps commemorating Air Force One and Marine One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore

"We really appreciate this opportunity to recognize our banner aircraft in the Air Force fleet," Col. Woodward said. "Air Force One is, of course, more than an airplane. It's a traveling monument to freedom. It is instantly recognizable to millions of people all over the world, serving as a beacon of hope, democracy and so many other things that this great nation stands for."

The Marine One helicopter transport fleet is based at Quantico Marine Corps Base, Va., and consists of two specially equipped Sikorsky helicopters. The fleet is operated by Marine Helicopter Squadron One, commanded by Col. Andrew W. O'Donnell Jr. The Marine helicopter squadron has "the important and prestigious responsibility" of transporting the commander in chief, O'Donnell said during the ceremony. "On behalf of all the Marines and sailors serving in HMX-1, I want to thank you, and certainly thank the postal service for recognizing their service."

These two aircraft represent not only the power of the presidency, David Failor said, but they also symbolize "the extraordinary military professionals that stand behind that power and epitomize the meaning of duty, honor and country."

Air Force One Stamps will be $4.60 for Priority Rate.

Marine One Stamps will be $16.25 for Express Rate.

The stamps go on sale June 13 - TODAY

Dallas Fort Worth Welcome

This video is from February. Well worth watching!

Wednesday Hero ~ Bert Brady

69-year-old Bert Brady has never stepped foot in Iraq or Afghanistan, yet many soldiers who have know who he is and appreciate what he's done for them. You see, for the past year Mr. Brady has made a trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport nearly every morning to welcome home returning American troops. Bert Brady, along with fellow veterans, is a member of the Welcome Home a Hero program. They make sure that every soldier who steps off a plane in Dallas gets a special homecoming.

Brady shows up each day with the goal of making soldiers feel appreciated and proud of their service. He's often joined by veterans of the Vietnam and Korean wars who did not get a warm reception when they returned from battle.

"We are not going to forget them like a lot of Vietnam soldiers have been forgotten," Brady said. "We are not going to forget the soldiers of today."

To read more about Bert Brady, you can go to

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.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Face of Freedom ~ CWO George Greyhek

A Face of Freedom ~

CWO George Greyhek

Chief Warrant Officer George Grayhek, Intelligence Electronic Warfare officer with the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th MI Brigade, helps serve dinner to Soldiers at Camp Slayer during his tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Photo courtesy of 502nd MI BN

From ODs to ACUs, Vietnam to OIF

7-Jun-07 By Spc. Stephanie Homan


“What were they called? BDUs? Yeah, I missed that entire era,” said Chief Warrant Officer George Grayhek, intelligence electronic warfare officer for 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th MI Brigade.

“My wife said I could have two years in the sandbox with the Soldiers and I want the two years,” he said, but he knew it would not be easy.

Grayhek, a Washington state native, first served in the Army from 1959 to 1979, then retired as a chief warrant officer. He returned to duty in 2006.

“I am (part of a) very special group of people that recognizes the Army is undermanned and I wanted to do more than send a package or a card,” said the 65-year-old maintenance Soldier. “I had to help. I am financially stable, my kids are doing great, and my grandkids are doing great. I have the time. I am one of the few people (at my age) who is fortunate enough to be able to be here and I should be here.”

Sgt. 1st Class Verlon Land, intelligence electronic warfare foreman with 502nd MI BN, works with Grayhek on a daily basis and has a lot of respect and admiration for the chief’s reunion with the Army.

“Chief fought so hard to get to come to Iraq,” Land said. “He just wanted to serve one more time. He brings a little bit of the ‘old’ Army back to us.”

Grayhek said there is a lot of prejudice when you are over 60 years old and that people make it seem like you have one foot in a geriatric clinic.

“People really hold age against you,” he said.

In July 2005 the Army had more than 3,300 retired Soldiers who applied and said they would come back to the Army if they were needed, Grayhek said.

“Some people count each day until they can get out of the uniform. I count every day until I have to get out of the uniform,” he said. “We want to give the battlefield commander 100 percent strength if we can do it.”

Grayhek traveled to two other states outside his own to find someone who would endorse him for active duty. He believes the Army is to thank for a big majority of his success in life.

“I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to college (in 1959),” he said. “The Army is my Alma Mater. They trained me, invested in me, gave me a security clearance and a sense of purpose. I took all that (in 1979) when I got out and went to work. I had no trouble finding a job anywhere I (went).”

Land said that Grayhek goes out of his way to work with the Soldiers on missions. The Soldiers reinforce the reason he returned to duty.

"I like to go with the Soldiers rather than just telling them to go take care of it. That’s the fun of it,” Grayhek said.

He said he prefers to be out in the field with fellow Soldiers.

“I’ve always been a field Soldier, and I wanted to come to Iraq because I have never been here. It is fantastic to see these Soldiers and work with them. I have to be here. When I look at the machine I work on, and when I look at the Soldiers, it reinforces that.”

NASCAR Honors Troops at Talladega

Marine Sgt. Noah Tretter thanks Pace Car Driver Brandon Thompson for three 120 mph-plus laps around the newly paved Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Amy Kirk

From Left: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Virginia Mayo, Marine Sgt. Noah Tretter, Comedian Jeff Foxworthy and Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Olson pose for a snapshot after the NASCAR driver's meeting before the start of the Aaron's 499 race at Talladega Superspeedway, April 29, 2007. Foxworthy served as the event's grand marshal. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Amy Kirk

America Supports You: NASCAR Honors 'Why We Serve' Troops at Talladega

By Petty Officer 1st Class Amy Kirk, Special to American Forces Press Service

TALLADEGA, Ala., April 30, 2007 - A soldier, a sailor, an airman and a Marine received expressions of thanks over and over again from members of the crowd at Talladega Superspeedway during the Aaron's 499 yesterday.

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Olson, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Virginia Mayo, Air Force Tech Sgt. Robert Jubie and Marine Sgt. Noah Tretter attended the race as part of the Defense Department's "Why We Serve" program. Under the auspices of the program, troops travel on a speaker's circuit across the country telling their personal experiences from Iraq and Afghanistan.

All four servicemembers were nominated by their respective commands to be a part of the "Why We Serve" program and share their own personal stories with the country.

For all the time they have given overseas and for sharing their stories, NASCAR decided to give a little back to this group, starting with a few laps around the Superspeedway in the pace car, then moving on to a special introduction to the drivers and the race's Grand Marshal, comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

"This was my first NASCAR event," Mayo said. "The people have been so great. NASCAR fans seem to be the heartbeat of America, and I think I am quickly going to become a part of the NASCAR nation."

NASCAR has been a member of the America Supports You program since the beginning of the program. America Supports You recognizes the support of American individuals, groups and organizations for military men and women, and it communicates that support to troops at home and abroad.

NASCAR has been working to help raise awareness about the organizations' efforts by including signs at tracks, airing public service announcements on Nextel Vision and placing decals on race cars.

Jubie said the thanks he received from NASCAR and the race fans meant a lot to him.

"It really makes me feel appreciated," Jubie said. "I wish more people would be this way."

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Olson was very humble about his experience with the NASCAR fans.

"It's a little awkward," he said. "I don't really consider myself a hero. There are way better people they could take photos with. I was just over there doing my job."

Olson added that the Why We Serve program allows the servicemembers to tell a part of the story that doesn't make it into news reports.

"I like being able to talk about the good stuff," said Olson. "In my unit, we were a tight knit group. Morale was good, and we supported each other. We got care packages from home and if we saw someone didn't, we shared. You don't see that side of it."

Trotter said that receiving support from Americans is very important to the troops.

"I know when I put the uniform on that people are going to stop me. I stop, shake hands, listen to their stories and smile," Trotter said. "We couldn't do what we do without the support of the people."

(Petty Officer 1st Class Amy Kirk is assigned to Navy Recruiting District Atlanta.)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

History is Our Stories ~ D-Day Memories of Kurt Ullman

Normandy memories live on after 63 years
Supply pilot had to ditch wounded plane in ocean

This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press on Wednesday, June 6, 2007.

By TITUS GEE Valley Press Staff Writer

QUARTZ HILL - Kurt Ullman did not fly one of the airplanes that dropped paratroopers on France 63 years ago during D-Day, June 6, 1944. There was no plane left for him, the retired airman said, so his war started the next day, June 7, carrying supplies into the hot zone under heavy fire.

"It was just at dawn, we were going across the coast," said Ullman, now 86 and steady on his feet, with a firm handshake.

"The sky just glared red," he said. "I don't know how anyone got through."

The day had started about 2 a.m., Ullman recalled, when a new man called a "drop master" reported to 1st Lt. Ullman's four-man crew. Theoretically, the young fellow was a specialist in dropping the supply loads, but he told Ullman he never had been aloft. The lieutenant rousted his copilot, radio man and crew chief and ran the lot of them through drills on emergency bail-outs, crash landing and "ditching."

Shortly after dawn those drills probably saved their lives in the waters of the English Channel. Their C-47 supply plane dropped its load but caught a hail of anti-aircraft flak as it turned back toward home. Ullman took a chunk in the leg, but said that hardly held his attention as he fought to keep the damaged bird headed west.

"I was fully occupied," he said.

Finally, Ullman told the crew they were going down.

The stick went dead.

They crashed into the water and put their recent drills to practice. All five made it into the dinghy and back to the rescue boats. Ullman's leg wound was the only injury among them.

That was his first flight and the last time Ullman got shot down, though he flew missions beyond counting. His gun-less airplane carried paratroopers, supplies, even medical teams running evacuation missions.

"We flew every day," he said. "It was seldom - seldom - that you didn't fly. . When Patton got moving up there, we were hauling gasoline - sometimes two runs a day."

Ten days after the crash that landed him the Purple Heart, Ullman was back in the cockpit. By the end of the war he had seven battle stars - Normandy, Southern France, Northern France, Rome-Arno, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe.

They worked so hard the doctors started stepping in to keep them on the ground long enough to rest, he said.

He missed the Battle of the Bulge by one day.

"My name was on the board," he said - at a time when American planes were going down in waves, leaving one or two to limp home after each run.

"You don't say, 'No, I won't go.' You're name is up, you go," the retired pilot said.

That kind of attitude pervaded America culture in that era, he explained.

"We were all of a mind," he said. "There was nobody that I know of thinking, 'Hey I'm going to get out of this.' You're thinking, 'Hey, I'm gonna go.' "

Ullman left active duty at 25 but continued as a reservist for more than 20 years and retired as a lieutenant colonel.

Those raw and violent early days may loom large in retrospect, but Ullman said he rarely thinks of them except on Memorial Day - or when there's a reporter sitting across the table.

"You get out and you think about it, but you go to work, get married. You have kids. You get it behind you," he said. And that's just what he did. Ullman went on to be a farmer, a bank president and a manager of Palmdale Regional Airport. He's still active in investing.

He continued to fly for recreation until his hearing began to dim. Then many of the memories dimmed as well.

"With the passing of time you forget names; you forget routes," he said.

These days, he said, he appreciates the public recognition of the military and its service, but he doesn't go to the reunions.

"The ranks are getting thinner," he said. "Every one of my friends have died, of the ones I knew well - every single one of them."

He said he marvels sometimes at the public obsession with losses in Iraq, but he understands the personal cost of every casualty.

"They (the casualties in Iraq) are very minor compared to so many other things . and yet no life should be considered minor," he said. "It's not funny when it's your family."

And yet, he said, "We don't like fighting over there, but it's better than fighting here. . It's an old saying, but it's true - freedom isn't free."

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Chad Hunt - Photographs of Afghanistan

“Chad Hunt’s arresting and revealing images of young American soldiers in Afghanistan, serve as a center for the entire exhibition that, like the war they depict, are impossible to ignore.”

The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Photography Now ‘07
Juror Alison D. Nordström, Curator of Photographs, George Eastman House.

CPW’s annual juried exhibition presents the newest voices in photography spanning the United States, from Massachusetts and New York to California, Illinois, Texas, and Oregon! Out of over 270 applicants, Alison D. Nordström selected nine featured photographers whose work crosses boundaries, charts new territory, and exemplifies what is new and now in photography in 2007!
Admission to the Center for Photography at Woodstock’s galleries is free and open to the public, Wednesday-Sunday 12-5pm

OPENING RECEPTION Saturday June 9, 2007 from 5-7 pm -
Map of Center For Photography: 845-679-9957 59 Tinker St Woodstock, NY 12498, US/ Woodstock, New York

Anyone in the area is welcome to attend!!!