Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wednesday Hero 12/31/2008

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Kathi
2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon22 years old from Brockport, Pennsylvania1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division October 17, 2006.
2nd Lt. Christopher Loudon graduated from Slippery Rock University with a Baccalaureate Degree in Environmental Health in 2005. Upon graduation, he entered the United States Army on September 9, 2005. He received his commission as an Infantry officer and was assigned to 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Hood, Texas. He deployed to Iraq in July 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 2nd Lt. Loudon’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Ranger Tab.He was KIA in Baghdad, Iraq when an IED detonated near his vehicle. Also killed with him were; Corporal David M. Unger, 21, of Leavenworth, Kansas ;Corporal Russell G. Culbertson III, 22, of Amity, Pennsylvania and Specialist Joseph C. Dumas Jr., 25, of New Orleans, Louisiana.He leaves behind his parents, Randy and Susan Loudon ; his wife, Jacey Loudon ; a daughter, Isabel Loudon ; two brothers, First Lieutenant Nicholas Loudon ,and Jonathan Loudon ; his paternal grandmother, Florence Loudon and his maternal grandfather, Everett William Campbell.
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.

**** It appears I am having technical issues with this week's Wednesday Hero. To see the picture of this fine young man, please visit ShaysMom blog. My apolgies and hopefully the new year will bring fewer blogging challenges!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday Random Thoughts

Since this is my final post of 2008, I chose to write a complete hodgepodge of thoughts.

Today, I am going to BWI to welcome home heroes. The Washington Post featured Operation Welcome Home on Christmas Eve. Our local news covered this outstanding organization as well. As I watch these brave men and women come through the airport's security doors, I cry. They thank us! Some of them are so overwhelmed by the hoopla, they bow their heads. I reach to shake the hands of as many as possible, and hopefully they know my tears speak while my voice is stuck somewhere in my throat. I am in awe by each and every one of them! My goals for 2009 are to recruit more people to join me in welcoming home troops at local airports and to request Sunday School classes to write Thank You cards which I will hand deliver to our troops at BWI.

MudPuppy is my first "adopted" SoldierSon. I am relatively new to the blogging world and his blog was one of the first I began to follow on a regular basis. His writing style is brilliant, but be forewarned...he puts it as it is. If you can't take it, don't read it. My heart is filled with gratitude, respect and love for this young soldier. MudPuppy will receive packages from me throughout the year, it is the very least I can do to show my heartfelt thanks for what he does for me each day! My second SoldierSon is David, my AdoptedSoldier. He too, will see packages of random pieces of home. The simple things which we take for granted, mean so very much to these brave men and women.

Prayers, prayers and more prayers for Airmen who I have not met: Michelle's daughter, Shay. Travis and Bryan are two fine Airman who are serving in Afghanistan and need prayers. Christopher who I have been introduced to by HL is on my prayer list and package list. Zachary, a young Marine who graduated with my son, John and is currently serving in Afghanistan also is in need of prayers and packages from home!

My sons. B is going to Korea for two weeks. He is in the United States Air Force Reserves. May Almighty God watch over him while he is away and bring him home safely. John may or may not be deployed in 2009. Chances are good, my youngest son will find himself in the Middle East. It is all in God's hands.

My youngest daughter, Marie. In just a few short weeks my baby girl, my sweet angel will hold her daughter. My prayers are lifted, since this sweet grandgirl of mine already is causing a wee bit of concern; this baby has decided she is enjoying her tranverse position inside her momma (meaning she is sideways). There is not much more time or room for her to get into a better position for a natural birth. I know God is good and always has a good plan. Marie keeps saying that her daughter may know something the rest of us don't if a 'section' is needed to bring this baby in the world, so be it. I so look forward to holding this precious child in my arms. I look forward to staying with my daughter and son-in-law for a week to help them, as they care for their sweet girl. I look forward to watching my daughter, as she mothers her daughter. Truly, I am deeply blessed to know this honor. *HAPPY NOTE- I just got off the phone with Marie who saw the doctor this morning; Our Sweet Angel is turned and in position to enter the world naturally! I guess those strange pains Marie was enduring on Christmas Day, was the baby flipping and dropping! Woo-Hoo!!!! I will be able to watch this sweet angel's birth!!!!!

So, as we move into a new year...I pray that each and every one of you know peace in your heart. I pray that you enjoy a year of good health. I pray that you are richly blessed in what makes you whole.

May Almighty God bless each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine. May God bring comfort to the families who have lost loved ones. May God reunite families who are separated, whether it is within our country or by an ocean. May we all show love towards one another, in deeds and words.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It is still this year, so I have posted a few photos from today at BWI. My camera is not the best, perhaps next year I will own a nicer camera and be able to capture these moments a bit better! It was simply amazing to be there and greet our troops. One sweet soldier was so very overwhelmed, she cried her way through the long pathway of greeters. OWH had so many volunteers today, oodles of Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girls Scouts giving out cookies! There were two groups of Red Hatters (yes, I am one of them). Shaking the hands of these soldiers is an honor, which has no words. As these heroes were bumping knuckles with Cub Scouts, I stood there taking in the moment. So very grateful to whisper a "welcome home" or a "thank you". I wanted to hug each of them, as they are my own children. Truth is, they are our children. They represent us. They are us. May Almighty God Bless each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Operation Welcome Home

Cheers, All Around For Service and a Safe Return, Troops Get a Big BWI Welcome

By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 24, 2008; Page B01

The volunteers gather by the dozen, hang their "Welcome Home" signs on the wall and transform Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport into something akin to the red carpet at Cannes. Cameras flash. Strangers stop and stare, and sometimes join in the applause for the troops coming home from war.

Several times a month, the service members -- Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines -- emerge from the arrivals gate in ones and twos. Some are sheepish about all the hoopla, ducking their heads and smiling shyly. Others embrace it. Navy Lt. Tony Davis of Tampa, who returned Monday evening from a tour in Afghanistan, worked the line of greeters like a celebrity, shaking hands and accepting hugs.

"This is awesome," he said.

Since the wars began, BWI has become a hub for those going into and out of Iraq and Afghanistan. And since last year, the volunteer group Operation Welcome Home, Maryland has welcomed more than 12,000 of the camouflaged warriors who passed through the airport on their way home. The volunteers are lined up on weekends and late at night, making sure the troops "feel welcome," said Larry Shipley, one of the group's organizers. It is a duty made even more important, volunteers said, around the holidays.

Some of the volunteers who greet the incoming flights are Vietnam veterans who want to "show the troops the support they didn't receive," said Shipley, a former serviceman whose son is in the Army Reserve. Others say they think that at a time when the burden of war is carried by a small percentage of the population, service members should be given the same royal treatment as movie stars and ballplayers.

"I think people forget we're at war," Shipley said. "And this is one small way we can draw people together."

The group does not have a presence at Dulles International or Reagan National Airport, which do not see nearly as many troops as BWI, but maintains a Web site, an e-mail database that has grown to 1,600 contacts and a flight arrival hotline.

On Monday, about 100 volunteers turned out to welcome the troops at the airport's international terminal. Some wore American flag shirts. Others carried red, white and blue balloons. "God Bless the U.S.A." blared from a CD player. Girl Scouts gave the soldiers high-fives. One woman in an elf hat occasionally planted kisses on the cheeks of young sailors.

BWI is also home to one of the USO's busiest lounges, where more than 60,000 service members this year have been treated to first-class accommodations: a big-screen television, free snacks, WiFi, phones and cots to sleep on. This week, some of the 190 volunteers arrived in Christmas hats and passed out candy canes. Small touches, perhaps, but after someone spends a year at war, the details matter, volunteers said.

Soldiers lounged on the chairs, appearing tired but excited by the prospect of being home for the holidays. Senior Airman Keith Wilcox said he could not wait for home cooking, "my grandmother's turkey and ham." Others said they were looking forward to a hot shower and a warm bed.

"It's weird to think that just a few days ago you were in Iraq and now you're here," said Air Force Capt. Chris Kleinhenz, who was waiting in the lounge for a flight home to Las Vegas.

Arriving in Vegas, he said later by telephone, was satisfying and surreal. The air was unusually crisp and cold, and for the first time he saw the mountains around Las Vegas covered in snow. The slot machines in the airport and the tourists "dressed up all glitzy and glamorous" were as different as you could get from his base in Balad, Iraq.

At home, Kleinhenz's wife told him she had a surprise. On the kitchen table were presents. Not Christmas gifts, his wife told him, but welcome-home presents: sweaters and long-sleeve shirts, clothes to keep him warm. After several months in the Middle East, she figured, he would need some winter clothing.

Army Capt. Garrett Slaughter, going to his parents' home in Chevy Chase, called the welcome at BWI a "Christmas gift."

"I wasn't expecting this at all," he said. "It's pretty cool."

Home from Afghanistan, he was eager to be with family for the holidays. After three deployments, one to Iraq and two to Afghanistan, "this will be one of the first Christmases I've had with my family in a long time," he said. But he was most eager to see his fiancee -- they are getting married on New Year's Eve in Richmond.

Davis, the Navy lieutenant, had thought the emotional part of returning was going to be surprising his two daughters for Christmas at home in Tampa. But getting the celebrity treatment at BWI "almost brought tears to my eyes," he said. "I was just trying to stay strong."

He originally was not supposed to arrive home until Dec. 30. But his flight was moved up. When he told his wife that he would be home for Christmas, "she started screaming into the phone," he said.

They made a pact to surprise their 19- and 12-year-old daughters. Davis's wife told the girls they were going to the airport to pick up their grandmother.

So when Davis walked off the plane late Monday in Tampa, daughters Jazmine and Jayda were ecstatic, he said.

"They saw me before I saw them," he said later. They came running through the terminal "and almost knocked me down," he said. "It was great."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Franking For All!

On January 18, 2009 USPS postage rates for shipping services will see yet another increase!
Many groups and individuals all around the USA are working collaboratively to put together boxes and other mailings for our troops, many of whom are in harm's way. We all know how important it is to send these boxes year-round!
A Tampa Bay radio stations, 970 WFLA, and the hosts of the morning show, Jack Harris, Tedd Webb, and Sharon Taylor, are sponsoring a drive to urge Congress to have those groups and family members sending to their loved ones in the military, be able to send these items free, using the same "franking" privilege as the congress enjoys. Two congress people, Cathy Castor and Gus Bilirakis are introducing this bill in Washington, and are fully supportive of this endeavor. We need this to be supported in both the House and the Senate.
There is a way that you can help that won't cost you anything, except putting in your zip code. Below is a website where you can fill out a petition and also have an email sent to your local congress people in Washington to urge them to vote for this when it is introduced to the House and Senate. We all want to do all that we can for the troops, no matter what our opinions about the wars. Thank you for taking just a minute or two to complete this request. Please feel free to pass this on to others.
Our troops, their families, and all working to support them will really appreciate it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our Christmas 2008

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree-slim pickings days before Christmas!
J & K with my two precious grandgirls - they love to say "Cheese"
Hmmm... I do believe my Marie is ready to bring her daughter into the world!
My Bright Eyed Beauty!

Marie at 35 weeks!

Christmas was a fantastic day, beautiful new memories were made.

John and B were missed terribly, one day we will share Christmas once again!

I am so very Blessed!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oh Holy Night

Servicemembers at Victory Base Complex , Iraq, attend the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Al Faw Palace, Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 24, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric J. Glassey

Thursday, December 25, 2008


For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Eve of Christmas

To all who serve our country...My heart is filled with gratitude, respect and love!

To all who take the time to read my words...I deeply appreciate you!

To my two Grandgirls(and the baby we are to meet very soon)...I cherish you deeply!

To my two Son-In-Laws...I am so blessed to have you both in our family!

To my two Beloved Daughters...I love you SO!

To my two Sons...My heart hurts to be away from you this Christmas, my heart is also filled with pride and eternal love!

To my Husband...I could not ask for more!

Wishing you all a Blessed Christmas and Happy, Healthy, Peaceful New Year!

May Almighty God Bless each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine, their families who love them, who support them, who miss them, who need them to come home!

Angels Cried

They came from near
They came from far
Following a distant star
To where he lay

Not being sure of what it meant
but knowing it was Heaven sent
they made their way

And the creatures gathered round
And didn't make a sound
And the angels cried

The angels knew what was to come
The reason god had sent his son from up above
It filled their hearts with joy to see
And knowing of his destiny
Came tears of love

And the creatures gathered round
And didn't make a sound
And the angels cried

I've often thought about that night
And wondered if they realize that star so bright
Was sent to tell all the land the son of God would soon become
The son of man

And the creatures gathered round
And didn't make a sound
And the angels cried
And the angels cried
And the angels cried

~Alan Jackson

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Mother's Prayer

Dear God,
Tonight I ask as a mother to bless my child as I do every night,
but now I am reminding you this is a special child.
This child helps to provide a blanket of protection that we as Americans slumber under each night.
He has decided to give his life to protect this great country of ours, and before now there was always prayer for you to watch over this child but after the terror that has struck our U.S. soil,
I feel even stronger, more pleading as I pray to you.
This child loves God and country and has sworn to protect her inhabitants.
But, this is still my child who I have sworn to protect with MY life until the day I die.
Now I need your help more than ever.
He is no longer in my reach, but can only be reached by your hand to protect him.
He may be on the oceans, above the earth or in lands foreign and hostile to him, please God, keep him safe and bring him home to me…alive and soon.
Let this horrendous terror go away. Let us find peace and keep these special children alive and safe to teach future generations how important life is and how important it is to protect it.
They are a rare breed, and we are the mothers who have helped to raise them.
Now we are the mothers who ask for your help to protect them.
Please bless all the mother’s children of the world, but please remember I am a military mother and am asking you to take special care of this special child.
I ask this in your name God,

Monday, December 22, 2008

To-Do List...

And I'm off.........

First stop...the mall (ugh!) A couple last minute gifts to pick up!

Then it's time to choose the perfect stocking stuffers! Do ya think an almost 3 year old will enjoy finding sunglasses, coloring books and chapstix in her stocking?

Final stop is the grocery store for our Christmas Dinner. Turkey to fry, Spiral Ham, Mashed Potatoes with gravy, Stuffing, Cranberries, Peas.....the works! Yummy!

With only three days until Christmas, there is much running around to do.....

Let me ask you this....when you are in the grocery store shopping for your holiday favorites, or dashing through the mall picking up those last minute gifts, or in the airport picking up a loved ones to spend the holiday, or moving about in any of numerous places... when you see a member of our Armed Forces, will you notice them? Will you let them know you appreciate their service? Will you look at them with gratitude as they proudly wear our flag on their shoulder? Will you say "Thank You"?
(please pause playlist on right sidebar)

So it goes...

An A-10 Thunderbolt II takes off on an Operation Enduring Freedom mission December in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

May Almighty God Bless each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dear Santa....

Christmas is now only days away. All of the last minute preparations are now in high gear. Mad dashes to fill the stockings, final gifts to wrap, sifting through recipes which are family very much to do.

For many of us, despite the hustle and bustle...there is a piece of our heart which simply hurts.

That empty piece holds the void of a son or daughter, a husband or wife, a mommy or daddy...who won't be home for Christmas. Some of these pieces of our hearts are stateside, some are overseas and some are spending Christmas in Heaven.

I am blessed to know both of my sons are stateside. They won't spend Christmas Day at home, but it will not be a problem to hear their voices and be able to wish them a Merry Christmas.

Please pray for the families who are not as fortunate. Families who will wait for the phone to ring, so they may hear their soldiers voice. Especially Pray for the families, who only have Christmas memories of their loved ones.

May Almighty God Bless each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine...and their families who love them so.

Thanks to OldSoldier for posting this amazing video on his blog. It is a MUST-SHARE! (please pause playlist on right side-bar)

*Tissue Warning*

Friday, December 19, 2008


Trainees slew the BEAST in new basic training program

by Staff Sgt. Desiree Palacios
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio

12/18/2008 - SAN ANTONIO (AFNS) -- The first group of Airman Basic trainees in the newly extended 8.5-week Basic Military Training program conquered the BEAST Dec. 15 at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

The BEAST, which stands for Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills and Training, is the centerpiece of the new two-week expansion that gives Air Force trainees a more realistic forward-operating base environment to practice wartime skills.

Air Force leaders expressed a need for deployment and field training about 10 years ago, but no additional time or funding was available, said retired Chief Master Sgt. J.R. Williams, the BMT superintendent from 1998 to 2000.

"The talented and dedicated men and women of the 737th Training Group began developing curriculum and constructing field training sites in 1998," Chief Williams said. "During the 1999 Air Force Basic Military Training Triennial Review, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Eric W. Benken and major command command chiefs validated the curriculum and need to add up to two weeks to BMT for deployment and field training. Chief Benken gained funding for a civil engineer RED HORSE team to complete a field training site and Warrior Week was incorporated into the 6.5 weeks schedule in 2000. I was very pleased to hear planning continued and funding was approved to increase BMT to 8.5 weeks. BEAST will provide operational commanders properly prepared Airmen for their deployed missions, save lives, and ensure we remain the most formidable Air Force in the world."

"This would have benefited anyone coming in 10 to 11 years ago significantly," said Staff Sgt. James Dillon, a military training instructor about the BEAST complex. "Training has increased by a week as far as field conditions. When I came in, I spent one day out in the field and six months later I was deployed to Bosnia to a combat situation. So the training they are receiving now would have helped me out greatly."

Sergeant Dillon said Airmen coming out after an additional two weeks later of training are a lot more mature. The skills they have learned have been fostered for several more weeks at their training squadrons. So when they come out to the BEAST in their sixth week of training, they will basically be able to run the camp themselves whereas before the MTIs had to guide them along step by step. Now they just get them in the camp and get them set up. Their hands off approach makes the trainees feel a sense of ownership and pride of the skills they have learned.

Col. Edward Westermann, the commander for the 737th Training Group, was very pleased with the BEAST complex opening this week.

Some of the additional training allows MTIs to spend some more time on key training, Colonel Westermann said. For example, self-aid and buddy care has increased from four hours to 16 hours in the current curriculum, which means trainees have more time to learn the combat lifesaving skills so they'll be able to take care of wingmen downrange. In addition, the program has added integrated defense training. This enhanced integrated defense training provides trainees more time with skills such as defense of their base positions and defense of their areas so they'll be able to go downrange and employ these skills. Also included is the enhanced training of chemical, biological, radiological and high yield explosive effects, called CBRNE, which allows trainees to go downrange and to be prepared for threats they might face in a deployed environment.

"We've increased the toughness of training in terms of physiological, physical and mental stressors," Colonel Westermann said. "For example, the BEAST site has increased from a two-hour culmination exercise under the previous flight training program to a five-day exercise. So, we have indeed increased a lot of the stressors on these young men and women. However, what we do know is by increasing stress at this end, we're going to save lives down range, and that is the purpose of this program.

As for the trainees coming in right now during the extended BMT program, they are taking the new changes in strides.

Airman Basic trainee David Sledge in his sixth week of training said even though he would be graduating this week during the old BMT program, he is proud to be a part of this new extended program. He is happy to have more hands-on training and said it will help him out a lot for future deployments.

"We most definitely will feel a bit safer than the previous basic trainees of the six-week program," said the 20-year-old trainee from Fayetteville, N.C. "They didn't get the opportunity to have this kind of training. I think we will be better prepared."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rockin' USO

No Fancy Venues, But the USO Stars Rock
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Dec. 17, 2008 – This year’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff USO Holiday Tour has played at an aircraft hangar in Germany, in a maintenance facility and in an in-processing facility here in Afghanistan.

The tour’s stars -- Kid Rock, Kellie Pickler, Lewis Black, Tichina Arnold, Zac Brown, Kathleen Madigan and John Bowman -- have played far more prestigious venues, but probably none as appreciative. And their usual audiences generally don’t get this warning:

“In case of a rocket attack, let’s do what we always do – hit the ground and count to 100,” Army Brig. Gen. John Nicholson, deputy commanding general for stability at Regional Command South, told the audience here. “If it continues, the performers will leave, and you will leave to take shelter. But when the all-clear sounds, they will come back and you will come back, and they’ll pick up where they left off.”

The performers rocked at every show. U.S. troopsand their allies got world-class entertainment under challenging conditions. Joint Chiefs Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said the performers are national treasures who came for the purpose of saying thanks to the servicemembers, and giving them a little touch of America.

Kid Rock worked his appreciation for the servicemembers into his “If I Were President” blues song. He told them, “As long as you are out here, you can count on me to keep coming back.”

In the middle of Kathleen Madigan’s performance in Kandahar, the all-clear siren sounded. She wasn’t sure what the siren meant, but she kept right on with her bit, incorporating it seamlessly into her comedy.

The comedians kept the audiences roaring, and servicemembers sang along with Kid Rock’s, Kellie Pickler’s and Zac Brown’s songs.

“It was freaking awesome,” said Army Spec. John Barnett, who saw the show at Forward Operating Base Sharana in Paktika Province. “Not too many people come out here – it really is the middle of nowhere -- so we all really appreciate it.”

“These guys could be having fun back with their families – it is the holiday season,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Annette Gant, who caught the show here. “Instead, they are with us. We can’t thank them enough.”

Mullen told servicemembers at every stop that he appreciates their sacrifices and those of their families.

“Thank you for volunteering at a very crucial time in our nation’s history,” he said. “Thank you for all you do for our country and for the people of Afghanistan.”

In an interview later, Mullen said the universal comment from servicemembers when he meets them is an expression of thanks for bringing the entertainers to perform for them.

“It’s something that they will remember for life, and I hope that as the years go by they remember and do something for USO,” he said.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday Hero 12/17/2008

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Melinda

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christian P. Humphreys
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christian P. Humphreys
28 years old from Fallon, Nevada
6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force 49
November 15, 2008
U.S. Army

A funny, nice guy who loved to fly. That's how Christian P. Humphreys is remembered by his friends. "He was a great guy, always happy and had a joke," said Sean Whitney, a flight medic. "We used to play with our paintball guns in the cornfields behind his house."

Humphreys flew with the Fallon Naval Air Station Search and Rescue Longhorns from June 6, 2004, to May 5, 2006. He left the Navy and joined the Army as part of the "Blue to Green" program to become a helicopter pilot.

Humphreys, along with Chief Warrant Officer 3 Donald V. Clark, 37 years old from Tennessee, was killed when their OH-58 Kiowa helicopter crashed while on a mission over Mosul, Iraq. As a rescue crew chief, Humphreys was in charge of the operation behind the pilots. He made the decisions when to deploy rescue crews out of the helicopter to assist injured people, and he also took care of the equipment.

"He was a funny guy, a nice guy, a lot of character," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Schmidt. "The guy was always entertaining, always had something to say, but like everyone here, he displayed the professionalism in saving lives."

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christian P. Humphreys leaves behind a wife and parents.

All Information Was Found On And Copied From

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 Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

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, December 16, 2008

Bursting With Pride!

It was my deep honor to attend the Commencement Exercises at Weber State University this past weekend. Among these amazing men and women, stood my oldest son! He has earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology. It has been an enormous amount of work and sacrifice on B's behalf. Not only has he been attending classes, he works full time on F-15's at Hill AFB and serves our country in the Unites States Air Force Reserves. B's grades have provided scholarships, so he has not needed to tap into his GI Bill. He is among an elite group graduating Phi Kappa Phi. B is in the process of applying to Graduate School. I know, I know... I am a totally mushy, bragging Mom! Please indulge me for this important post. For those who know me, you know that my Mom-Tears were in full force. The picture above is B goofing off, following graduation with his girlfriend.
We had a fun weekend in Salt Lake City, it was much colder than the 70 degrees here in the DC area last Wednesday. We saw extremely cold weather and SNOW! Saturday night we enjoyed the Christmas Lights at Temple Square. Breath-taking beauty! Sunday was our extremely long trip home-an hour delay in Salt Lake City and another hour delay in Denver. It was good to get home, luggage and all!

So, here it is only nine days until Christmas and I have truly got to get myself in gear! Yesterday, Hubster and I bought and set up our Christmas tree and took our Mutt to the vet for an ear infection. Today will be spent wrapping gifts for shipping to B and John, along with baking cookies. Tomorrow is my last minute Christmas shopping and writing Christmas cards. Thursday and Friday will be spent with my two precious grandgirls, so that my daughter and son-in-law can enjoy a romantic New York City getaway to celebrate their 5 year wedding anniversary! Congratulations J & K! Finally, this weekend the house and Christmas tree will get decorated.
This is the first year I have not been totally prepared for Christmas early, since my children were little. I believe I forgot to mention we spent four days in Philly the first weekend of December. It was business for my Hubster, but we were able to visit with both of his brothers, which made it so nice! At this point, it's just doing what it takes to make everything nice and not stress over the small stuff. Staying focused on the Reason for this Season, keeps my heart warm!
B, my son...I do love you so!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Soldier's Prayer

The soldier stood and faced his God Which must always come to pass...
He hoped his shoes were shining Just as brightly as his brass.

"Step forward now, you soldier, How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"

The soldier squared his shoulders and Said,"No, Lord, I guess I ain't...
Because those of us who carry guns Can't always be a saint.

I've had to work most Sundays And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I've been violent, Because the streets are awfully tough.

But, I never took a penny That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime When the bills got just too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help, Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me, I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place Among the people here...
They never wanted me around Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord, It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much, But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was a silence all around the throne Where the saints had often trod...
As the soldier waited quietly, For the judgment of his God,

"Step forward now you soldier,
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday Hero 12/10/2008

Spc. Jonnie L. Stiles
Spc. Jonnie L Stiles
38 years old from Highlands Ranch, Colorado
769th Engineer Battalion, Louisiana Army National Guard
November 13, 2008
U.S. Army

Louisiana National Guard spokesman Maj. Michael Kazmierzak said Spc. Jonnie L. Stiles had been serving as a gunner on a Humvee doing route clearance when and IED detonated near his vehicle in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. He said the job typically involves checking roads for bombs and insurgents.

Stiles' wife, Launa, said that he was nearly killed last month when a suicide bomber blew up a military vehicle in front of his. She said he was still able to rescue three other soldiers and returned to duty before his 30-day recovery period was finished.

"He was strong and really cared for his men," she said.

Stiles was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and graduated from Littleton High School in Colorado. He served in the military for 17 years, first joining the Marines and then switching to the Army in 1999. He served three years at Fort Carson, left the Army and then returned as a member of the Colorado Air National Guard in the Summer of 2007.

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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 Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

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, December 9, 2008

Stand Up

"Stand Up" written by Vietnam Veteran Dan Mayhak,performed by legendary singer Big Mitch. (Please pause Playlist on right sidebar)

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Hands are Small I Know

This time of year is always so busy, as we get ready for the holidays. However, I also find it to be a time of reflection of the past year; along with looking to the year ahead. As I anticipate 2009, the song "Hands" written by Jewel popped in my head.

"My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
I am never broken
In the end only kindness matters
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray"

Great words to live by!

I've listed a dozen ideas of how our small hands make a big difference:

1)Fly the Flag on Your House, Car, or Business

2)Send an E-Mail or Letter of Thanks to an Airman, Soldier, Sailor or Marine

3)Send a Care Package to a Soldier (year-round)

4)Go to the nearest Airport and welcome home our Troops

5)Organize an event in your own community and at your workplace-promoting our Military

6)Ask your Elected Officials at all levels to Recognize our Military

7)Ask local media (TV, Radio, and Newspaper) to feature Military Heroes

8)When you see a person in a Military Uniform, shake their hand and say, "THANK YOU FOR SERVING OUR COUNTRY”

9)Raise funds for Military Charities (or at least write a check to "USO")

10) Ask Libraries, Schools, and local Organizations to participate in recognizing our Armed Forces

11)Hire a Veteran

12) Pray to Almighty God to Bless each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Letter

This Christmas as I lay asleep
I see your face and my heart beats
In tender rhythms that express
The love that makes me happiest
Although you now are far away
Within my heart you always stay
No matter where I go this day
You're in my heart a gentle way

You are carried with great pride
With all the joy of love arrived
That finds us in a state of grace
Our spirits joined in love's embrace
The love I feel is never ending
In every season love extending
On Christmas and the days between
You occupy each precious dream

Remember that you're not alone
For no where in this world you roam
Without the love that's held steadfast
With every memory that will last
In prayerful thought and love that binds
Together we shall conquer time
Hours pass but love we share
I close my eyes and you are there.

Francine Pucillo~2004

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

As we move through our days; which are filled with Christmas Carols, Tinsel, Colorful Lights, along with the chatter of the days and weeks ahead.... there are those who are not feeling all that jolly. Many Veterans suffer from PTSD. These heroes have served our country well, and may be in need of compassion. At the very least, they deserve understanding.

After a trauma or life threatening event it is common to have upsetting memories of what happened, to have trouble sleeping, to feel jumpy, or to lose interest in things you used to enjoy. For some people these reactions do not go away on their own, or may even get worse over time. These people may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I came across this article on ABOUT.COM and feel it is a Must-Share:

PTSD and Holiday Stress
Holidays may be particularly difficult for someone with PTSD. First, spending time with family and friends may not always be enjoyable. A person with PTSD may feel cut-off or detached from others. Some people with PTSD may even have difficulties experiencing positive emotions, such as joy and happiness. Being surrounded by others who are happy and not anxious may further make them feel as though they don't quite "fit in."

In addition, certain family members or friends may actually bring about memories of past traumatic experiences. Some people may also not know that certain conversations bring about unpleasant memories or feelings. At a time when family and friends come together, it may be difficult to avoid these triggers.

Likewise, the holidays are a busy time. People with PTSD may feel very uncomfortable or unsafe in large crowds. Large crowds whether at the home or at the mall may be difficult to avoid and can worsen symptoms of avoidance and hyperarousal.

Finally, the holidays are also a time when people tend to consume more alcohol. People with PTSD are more likely to have problems with alcohol. Therefore, during the holidays, they may experience more urges to drink or cravings for alcohol.

What Can Be Done?
Fortunately, a person with PTSD can take measures to better cope with the holidays. Below is a list of several coping strategies that may be helpful.

Be Prepared
Now is the time to make sure that you know what your triggers are and have a number of coping strategies available to you that you can use to cope with a stressful situation. Practice your coping strategies at a time when you are not feeling high levels of stress. For example, practice deep breathing or mindfulness at times when you are relatively relaxed. The more you practice different coping strategies, the more they become a habit and can be easily implemented during times of stress.

It can also be helpful to make "coping cards." If you are going into a stressful situation and you think it may be difficult to cope with stress in the moment, write out a number of different coping strategies that you can use on small index cards. Put these cards in your pocket and during a time of stress, pull them out and try the different coping strategies on them.

Also, if you are going into a social situation, come up with some excuses ahead of time and practice them with others. This way, if your anxiety becomes too much to handle, you will have an excuse readily available that will allow you to easily leave the situation and manage your anxiety. For example, you may tell people that you have another event you might go to or that you may be meeting people from work later. The more prepared you are before hand, the less you have to think on your feet during a stressful situation.

Plan Ahead
As mentioned above, social situations or large crowds can be very stressful for someone with PTSD. Part of what makes this stressful is the unpredictability of social situations and large crowds. Unpredictability naturally brings about anxiety. To lessen this, before you go to a social gathering get a sense of how many people are going to be there and who is going to be there. The more information you have, the less unpredictable the situation will be and you will be better off in being able to identify potential sources of stress and how to cope with that stress.

Seek Out Support
Social support is a wonderful way of coping with stress and now is the time to make sure that you have support available to you. Seek out a friend that you can trust and bring this friend with you when you go into a stressful situation, such as a social gathering or shopping. Doing so will prevent you from avoiding situations that may be scary, but in the end, enjoyable for you. Social support (whether through a friend, support group, or therapist) can also be useful in helping you cope with any PTSD symptoms that may arise.

Focus on Spirituality
The holidays are a time when many people place more emphasis on their spirituality. Going to a place of worship (such as church or temple) or celebrating your spirituality in your own personal way is also a healthy way of coping with PTSD symptoms. Given this, focusing on spirituality may be one way of connecting with the holiday season that is not stressful or uncomfortable for someone with PTSD.

Redefine What the Holidays Mean
The holidays are a time for celebration, and this can occur in a number of different ways. For example, if you no longer feel comfortable celebrating with family and friends, find another way of connecting with the holiday season. Redefine what holiday celebration means to you. Celebrate in your own way. Come up with your own personal rituals that allow you to connect with the spirit of the holiday season. For example, donate some of your time at a homeless shelter or at a hospital for veterans. Help others. Giving back and helping others can be a very effective way of recovering from trauma.

To the extent that you trust family members, discuss with them things that may be triggering or stressful to you about the holidays. Discuss ways that things can be changed so as to lessen the likelihood that your PTSD becomes worse. Be open and honest about what you need to enjoy the holiday season.
Enjoy the Season
However you celebrate the holidays, make sure you take time to enjoy them. Although a person with PTSD may find it easier to avoid aspects of the holiday season, this avoidance is likely only effective in the short-run. In the long-run, it may further increase feelings of detachment, depression, or low self-esteem.

These are just a few coping strategies that may be effective. Spend some time coming up with your own so that you can enjoy the holiday season to the fullest. Although having a diagnosis of PTSD can make it more of a challenge to do so, it does not have to prevent you from connecting with and celebrating the spirit of the holiday season.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wednesday Hero 12/03/2008

Spc. Matthew T. Morris
Spc. Matthew T. Morris
23 years old from Cedar Park, Texas
2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
April 06, 2008
U.S. Army

"He was a very creative kid, and when he wasn't in a challenging environment, he tried to make life interesting," Glenn Morris, father of Spc. Morris, said. "He excelled in a military school structure and in a team environment."

Before enlisting in the Army in 2005, Morris attended the Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, Virginia where he met a history teacher who inspired him to want to become an educator. "After his service, he wanted to go back to school and get a four-year degree to become a teacher," said his mother, Lisa. "He wanted to make a difference and give back to the community."

Spc. Morris was killed when his vehicle encountered an IED in Balad, Iraq. Also killed in the attack was Cpt. Ulises Burgos-Cruz.

All Information Was Found On And Copied From

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 Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

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, December 2, 2008

Let's Make a Mad Dash For The Post Office!

A soldier in Iraq can't see your ribbon,
Or the flag at your front door.
But a letter they hold in their hands,
To them means so much more.
Supporter Liam Sweeny

There are only a few more days left to get packages in the mail to our soldiers by Christmas. I have addresses for Zachary, MudPuppy along with two Airman, Travis and Bryan. Please visit AdoptAPlatoon or AdoptASoldierfor the addresses of many other soldiers who would welcome a package from home!
Don’t forget to include a note, sharing your gratitude and support.

Some last minute ideas:

Magazines -Hunting, Fishing, Outdoors, Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles (guy stuff)
AT&T phone cards
Baby wipes and body wipes
Batteries (AA)
Dental floss
Waterless hand sanitizer
Eye drops
Saline nasal spray
Black sunglasses
Foot powder
Disposable razors
Soap (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Shampoo (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Baggies with Zip Lock
Tube Socks
"Gold Bond" type anti-fungle powders
Fleece gloves, scarves and blankets
Lotion (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Breakfast-type foods and drinks
Small, single pot packages of coffee
Hot chocolate packages
Canned tuna and chicken
Canned Chef Boyardee ravioli, beefaroni, spaghetti & meatballs, etc (in "zip-top" or easy to open cans)
Canned fruit (with flip top lids)
Beef Jerky
Canned Nuts
Cereal bars, granola bars, etc.
Pre-sweetened powdered drinks, Kool-Aid, Gatorade, etc.
Beanie Baby toys to give the kids.
Candy Canes

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Poem

Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts…

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said, "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.”
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
“I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Written by: Michael Marks

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A special thank you to Debbi at Debbi's Dribble for sharing this absolutely beautiful poem. Debbi has requested this poem be passed along, I could not agree more. These words are far too important; they need to be shared.

May Almighty God bless each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine.