Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sunrise in a Faraway Land

12/23/2009 - The sun rises over the U.S. Air Force 379th Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW) camp Dec. 23, 2009, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. Personnel with the 379th AEW support Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol/Released)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold

Bragg soldier killed in Afghanistan

A Fort Bragg paratrooper was killed the day after Christmas after his unit was attacked in southern Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.

Spc. Jason M. Johnston, 24, of Albion, N.Y., died in Arghandab, Afghanistan, after insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device, according to a news release.

Johnston was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

A memorial in his honor will be held in Afghanistan, according to a release from the 82nd Airborne Division.

"Johnston was the type of guy that did the job with little complaint, comment or fanfare, but always did the job well," said Capt. Adam Armstrong, Johnston's company commander. "He was liked by the men and always ready to go for any mission that came down. You could tell he was the type of trooper that you could count on."

Johnston also was honored in his hometown Monday evening.

Both his parents - Bradley and Jeanine Johnston - are active members of the volunteer Albion Fire Department, according to department president Stanley Farone.

Farone said the department called a special meeting to make Johnston an honorary member. They also lowered flags to half-staff at the town's firefighter memorial.

Albion is a close-knit town of roughly 5,000 people, according to Farone. Johnston's death is believed to be the first for a local serving in either Afghanistan or Iraq.

"We're a small community," Farone said of the town about 30 miles northwest of Rochester. "We're doing this for the family and for ourselves, so we can heal."

Farone said firefighters would help escort Johnston's body back into town later this week. He said nearly all of the department's 40 members had attended the ceremonies for Johnston, who participated in the department's Explorer program before he enlisted.

Johnston joined the Army as an infantryman in August 2006 and attended One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Ga., according to a release from the 82nd Airborne Division. He completed Basic Airborne School and was then assigned to his current unit in February 2007.

It was Johnston's second deployment to Afghanistan. He also spent a tour in the country from January 2007 to April 2008.

Johnston's awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Basic Parachutist Badge.

By Drew Brooks
Staff writer

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Talking Tuesday

The year Twenty-Ten is just days away.

A new decade, a new year, a new day.

Are you a maker and keeper of New Year's Resolutions?

Your turn...............

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas from Afghanistan

This is a MUST-SEE video!
(Please pause my playlist on the right sidebar!)

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I am NOT a 'Beatles' fan.

Never have been, Never will be.


That being said...I will admit to the ugly fact; I could sing along to almost every single flipping Beatles song ever written and recorded. I am not's an IS!

All this being said....there are words to a 'Beatles' song which circulate through my brain, so I figure it is about time to blog them (perhaps they will then evaporate!)

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

This past week has been filled with incredible joy! I had all four of my grandgirls playing together in our home. Precious told us how much fun it is to be at Nana's house...what more could anyone ask for in one lifetime? I am so richly blessed.

This past week was filled with fear for Americans, once again. A plane with a Terrorist aboard. Wrong, simply wrong.

In Maryland, a lunatic abducted and killed an 11 year old girl, her body was found on Christmas Day. Oh Dear God in can this happen?

If all works out, I will meet Chief when he returns home from Iraq. He is scheduled to come through BWI, on his way back to WPAFB. Oh Navy Hubster and two Airman sons, my life is one big acronym! (but I would not change a thing)

Twenty-Ten is just days away.... A new year. A new beginning. May this new year be filled with good health, lots of smiles and oodles of good stuff for each of you!

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

'The angel said unto them .... For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.'
Luke 2:11

I wish each of you a Blessed Christmas. May comfort and joy fill your hearts.

May Almighty God watch over and protect each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Sadness

I's a depressing title.

This post is sad.

Last year around this time, I wrote of Soldiers who live with PTSD. Christmas is a difficult time for those with's a time for reflection of what we have...I suppose those who feel they don't have much, struggle through the holiday season.

So much of my blog is about our Soldiers. Today is a personal post. Today is one of those 'self-therapy' posts. (Feel free to exit, but close the door gently, please)

My cousin took her own life last Thursday. I have to admit, I did not know her well. Her dad is my Uncle Fred, my dad's idential twin. My dad and his twin were separated when they were around 6 years old by divorce. My dad's mother only wanted Fred, as a result my dad was raised by my Grandpa and my Grandmother (literally Step-Grandmother...but, she was my Grandmother!) Growing up; we saw my uncle, his wife and their four children from time to time. I remember one time, Dad picked Uncle Fred up from the airport...we went running to greet Uncle Fred at the passenger side of the car, it took a few moments to realize it was Dad! I'm telling you, they were identical! Uncle Fred passed away in 1974, I don't recall details...just that he became addicted to Rx drugs. His daughter Melinda had surgery a year ago, she too became addicted to her pain relievers. This addiction cost her, her 17 year marriage. Melinda felt shut out by her daughter (who was expecting a son), her friends... Her brother told me she finally knows peace. I read a poem which was written by a friend she had reached out to...he put her off, didn't return her phone calls... oh, the pain depression can cause.

I do apologize for this being such a scrambled post... I didn't know Melinda well; probably had not seen her in 10 to 15 years. But we shared identical twin brothers, as our fathers. As I write this, I miss my Dad terribly. He and I would talk about this, and he would make my heart hurt less. How grateful I am, that God gave me my dad. A man who was rejected by his own mother... yet four and a half years after his death, I know how deeply he loves me.

Melinda's suffering is over. I pray she is being rocked in the loving arms of God. I pray that all those who are silently screaming for help, are heard by someone.

I miss my Dad.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Talking Tuesday

Christmas is only days away!!!

Christmas is the time of year filled with warm childhood memories and traditions which have been passed along for generations.

I'm at the point in my life, where it's not so much about my childhood memories...but the memories made with my children. Their laughter and joy, are the memories I cherish most. We now have an all new generation making memories. My daughters will share Christmas morning with their children; filling their homes with old traditions and new traditions. My sons will spend Christmas morning at their homes, creating their traditions.

We all have favorite Christmas memories; whether it's a song, an event or a special aroma. Christmas is a time of reflection and a time to make fresh new memories.

Your turn......

Sunday, December 20, 2009


A heartfelt thanks to all who donated items for the Good Earth Soldier Drive.
Chief received the boxes and is handing the items out to Airmen and Soldiers. Because of the generosity of many, several of our Service Members have received comfort items.

An entire box of games was sent to Iraq! The base hosted 156 Iraqi children at the recreation center, needless to say the games were much appreciated!

In Chief's kind e-mail, he wrote, "This is part of winning the "Hearts and Mind" phase of the war...trying to get them while they are young...showing them that Americans are the Good Guys..." Without a doubt, our soldiers are good guys!

Chief is due to come home in about two weeks. It will be my honor to welcome him home at BWI, if all goes as planned. My prayers are constant for Chief, along with all our heroes. Our heroes are serving our nation in far away lands, and right here in our own backyard are generous people who want to thank these remarkable men and women.

Our nation is truly blessed!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Operation Cobra's Anger

Marines with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, conduct combat operations in Now Zad, Afghanistan, during Operation Cobra's Anger, Dec. 4. Operation Cobra's Anger disrupted enemy supply lines and communication in Now Zad, once a safe haven for Taliban forces.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Walter Marino

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Heroes at Home

Sears is making it easy to help over 20,000 military families. With a click of a mouse, a gift card can be sent to a family in need. Please check out the program HERE. So far, over $5 million in gift cards have been raised for registered families.

What a great opportunity to help a family who has sacrificed so much for us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Talking Tuesday

The USO has sent over 2,000 care packages overseas, which are filled with hair products, skin care products and makeup for women in the combat zone. You can read the entire article HERE. On various Internet sites, I have read opinions regarding this issue. Many feel it is a great morale booster, women are women...women wear makeup. Others feel it is wrong for women in the combat zone to 'enhance their appeal' care products are fine, but makeup is unnecessary.

Your turn.............

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'll Be Brave This Christmas

I've heard this song on the radio several times and it truly touches my heart. We must not forget the little ones; who have a mommy or daddy far away, protecting our freedoms. Our Soldiers sacrifice so much for us... so do their families!
I finally found Big Daddy Weave's video, "I'll Be Brave This Christmas" to share!
(Please pause my Playlist on the right sidebar.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Words for a Saturday

God Bless America,

Land that I love.

Stand beside her, and guide her

Thru the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the oceans, white with foam

God bless America, My home sweet home.

Friday, December 11, 2009

As We Search For the Perfect Gifts......

U.S. soldiers dig to search for a weapons cache near the village of Al Najatia in Kirkuk province, Iraq, Dec. 5, 2009. The soldiers joined forces with the Iraqi soldiers to conduct the search.
(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew D. Leistikow)

As we spend these days and weeks preparing for Christmas and Hanukkah, let us not allow a single day pass without remembering those protecting us.
May Almighty God Bless each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Little Bit of Good Earth in Iraq

The owner of Good Earth (where I work) was kind enough to allow me to set up donation boxes at both of our shops. Our customers donated lots of wonderful items for our soldiers. I packed up nine boxes! Chief will distribute the items, among our brave Airmen in Iraq. Our soldiers may not be home for the holidays, but they will enjoy small pieces of home!

A warm thanks to all who were generous enough to leave gifts for our warriors!

Wednesday Hero 12/09/2009

Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Elsey
Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Elsey
U.S. Navy

Abdul Rashid, a 5-year-old resident of the Nawa district of Afghanistan, receives a dressing for a wound on his face from Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Elsey, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, while a linguist translates at a medical aid station at Patrol Base Jaker Dec. 3. Rashid was injured by a motorcycle earlier that day. Navy hospital corpsmen like Elsey routinely see local residents and children here to treat their wounds.

Photo Courtesy United States Marine Corps

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 8, 2009

Talking Tuesday

On the 25th of November, the Air Force released a new policy stating potential recruits could not have a tattoo on their right (saluting) arm. On Monday, this decision was reversed. Read the entire article HERE.

Tattoos and the military are known to go 'hand in hand'. Not all soldiers have tattoos, however many do. Should any branch of the military deny entry to one who desires to serve, because of a tattoo? Should tattoos be able to be covered by the uniform? What about face and neck tattoos? What is considered to be obscene or advocate sexual, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination?

Your turn............

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Morning Quarter-Backing

Several weeks ago, Terry Bradshaw and the Fox NFL Sports Team flew on an air-drop mission over Afghanistan. The crew later visited with our troops.
(Please pause my playlist on the right and enjoy this video!)

May Almighty God Bless each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine.
May God Bless those who brighten the day of a Soldier!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold

A Fort Carson infantryman was killed in an ambush Tuesday on his first mission as a sergeant, family members said.

Sgt. Kenneth Ray Nichols Jr. — “Bub” to his friends — had been pinned with his new rank just hours before setting out with his unit on a night patrol in Kunar province. A rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle, killing the 28-year-old , and wounding another soldier, his widow said.

“He always smiled. He loved life, he was happy, and he made everyone around him want to be a better person,” Lexi Nichols said.

She said the other victim of the attack is expected to recover.

The four-year Army veteran grew up in Chrisman, Ill., and served an earlier tour in Iraq, from October 2006 to December 2007. He leaves behind four children, including a 9-month-old daughter, Pailynn.

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Friends recalled Nichols as outgoing and prone to mischief. He loved playing pranks, riding his Harley Davidson and hanging out in a shed he built behind his Colorado Springs home, where he and friends would gather on weekends to drink beer and build furniture that cluttered his family’s home.

Tinisha Shade-Cravens, a high school friend who later became a sister-in-law, said Nichols rarely spent time on the couch, at least not for long. You’d find him fishing, getting friends together for spirited card games or doing whatever he could to stay busy.

“He was an outdoorsy guy, from the time we were kids all the way until he joined the Army,” she said. “He always was Army-bound, I guess you could say.”

While deployed, Nichols chatted on the computer with his wife for 5 or 10 minutes a day, about the kids or the goings-on in Afghanistan and making plans for his two-week break from the battlefield, set for Dec. 16. He was excited to see his children on Christmas, she said. His gift would have been a two-night, three-day trip to Las Vegas booked early for him to enjoy at the end of his second deployment.

“He always wanted to go to Vegas,” she said.

Although services are still being arranged, the family plans to hold Nichols’ funeral next week at Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School in Illinois, where he graduated in 2000. He is to be buried in the Danville (Ill.) National Cemetery, his family said.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Agent Orange...40 Years Later

Hubster and I drove to Delaware yesterday to visit his brother, Phil. Phil suffered his sixth heart attack on the Monday before Thanksgiving. It was touch and go for several days, but he came through...once again.

I wrote of Phil quite a while back... A Vietnam Vet with three Purple Hearts. He has been notified by VA, that it is now believed his heart condition is due to his exposure to Agent Orange. Phil has been diagnosed with COPD...believed to be a one-two punch of too much smoking and too much herbicide. Phil is only 63 years young, but his funeral plans are completely detailed; his wife only needs to pick up the phone.

As we left the hospital yesterday, Phil told us he did not want us to leave. We did not want to leave. We both simply wanted to sit with Phil...for a very long while. Unfortunately, life dictates we do what we must, not what we want. Hubster and I both have to work we hugged Phil, we told him we love him. We made plans to help him power wash his deck at the beach in April. Is it April yet?

I am going to do some research on Agent Orange; so if any of you have articles to pass along to me, I look forward to being enlightened.

Sadly, there are too many of our heroes out there....just like my brother-in-law. They are our nation's warriors and now they have their own battles to fight.
May Almighty God Bless each and every Vietnam Veteran. May God give strength to the families who care for these soldiers.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Citizen Soldier

Citizen Soldier is leaving his family and friends on December 6th for Camp Shelby in Mississippi. Following two months preparing for deployment, he will be off to Iraq for an entire year.

I've been following CS's blog for quite a while, and he is an excellent read. Above all, he is one of our Soldiers!

Please take a few moments and visit his blog. Please leave him words of thanks and support.

It is my hope to post updates regularly. It is my hope to pull together a group of prayer warriors for CS and for his family. Oh, they will miss him so.

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

Godspeed, CS!

Strike Eagle

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle conducts operations over eastern Afghanistan, Nov. 26, 2009. The Strike Eagle is assigned to the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday Hero 12/02/2009

Spc. Michael P. Garton & Spc. Rolando R. Flores
Spc. Michael P. Garton & Spc. Rolando R. Flores
U.S. Army

Spc. Michael P. Garton, a gunner with the Personal Security Detachment, with the 36th Sustainment Brigade out of Temple, Texas, and a Texarkana, Texas, native, relaxes on a Humvee and shares a laugh with Spc. Rolando R. Flores, a gunner with the PSD and a San Antonio native, during a break in preparations for a mission Nov. 23 in the maintenance yard at Contingency Operating Location Adder, Iraq.

Photo Courtesy U.S. Army

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 1, 2009

MudPuppy's Blog

MudPuppy has once again opened his blog,EmbraceTheSuck to the public!

A soldier who spent a year in Afghanistan, is now able to share his words. He's done a bit of housekeeping at ETS, but he is it's all good!

For those who are not familiar with MudPuppy...I affectionately call him my SoldierSon and he refers to me as his VirtuaMom. I first happened upon ETS in July, 2008. His words captured my heart, as he prepared to deploy. He continued to blog while overseas, but was *encouraged* to take his blog private. If you have not read his early posts, please take the time to do so. I have read every post he has written, however MudPuppy's words written on August 14, 2008 are the ones I have read over and over. Check it out, and tell me if you agree.

I spent every single day of MudPuppy's deployment praying for his safety. My continued prayers for his transition are daily... May Almighty God watch over my SoldierSon, keep him healthy in body and mind.