Friday, April 30, 2010

It's Friday and I Miss My Son...

My prayer is simple, it remains the same
God protect my son, I ask in Your name.

He's brave and strong, this much is true
But he's always my baby, so help me pull through.

Some days I awake and feel ever so strong,
Other days aren't as easy, they feel ever so long.

So I pray you watch over my sweet boy, I do
And I lift every mother's son in prayer to you too.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fisher House Groundbreaking Ceremony Set May 1

4/28/2010 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNS) -- The groundbreaking ceremony for the Fisher House and Meditation Pavilion for the Families of the Fallen at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center is scheduled for May 1here.

AFMAO members will direct the Fisher House as it provides free on-base lodging for families who come here to witness the dignified transfer of their loved one. To further enhance families' comfort, the Fisher House Foundation is building a separate building for meditation and relaxation.

Currently, the families stay in local hotels and are brought on base for the event. In the past, some families have had to stay as far away as Philadelphia due to the lack of local hotel vacancies at certain times.

Fisher houses are "comfort homes" that provide free housing to family members whose loved ones are undergoing medical treatment or rehabilitation at military hospitals or Veterans Affairs medical centers around the country. Since 1990, more than 130,000 military families have stayed at one or more Fisher houses.

Fisher houses are more than hotels; they are fully equipped homes that feature common kitchens, and living and family rooms. The Dover Fisher House will serve only families of the fallen.

Construction on the nine-suite, 8,462-square-foot house and 1,714-square-foot Meditation Pavilion is expected to be completed late this fall. A portion of President Obama's Nobel Prize Award contribution to the foundation will go towards the funding of this house.

The Fisher House will be adjacent to the Center for the Families of the Fallen. The center is where family members who come here for the event receive care and support before and after the dignified transfer. The center also provides a point of contact where families can request follow-up assistance, such as counseling services or other needs, as they cope with the loss of their loved one.

Professionals such as experienced, licensed funeral directors, chaplains, counselors and family support specialists will staff the center as it hosts and helps families in every way needed. Together the Center for the Families of the Fallen, the Fisher House and the Meditation Pavilion will create a campus for families of the fallen here. A meditation garden with water features, a gazebo, paths and benches will surround, and flow through the entire campus.

AFMAO members are charged with receiving and caring for all US service members who die in overseas contingency operations. AFMAO staff, plus selected service-specific carry teams and senior leaders, conduct the dignified transfer.

Upon the return from the theater of operations to the United States, the fallen military members are transferred from the aircraft to a waiting vehicle and then to the port mortuary. Family members are authorized to witness the dignified transfer.

by Capt. Amber L. Millerchip
Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center Public Affairs

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'll NEVER Be A Yankee's Fan, But....

I respect the players for these comments, after visiting Walter Reed!

Walter Reed visit tugs at Yankees' hearts »
By Mark Feinsand

There is little doubt that the Yankees’ visit to the White House will be something they treasure for the rest of their lives, but it was the trip to the Walter Reed Medical Center that really seemed to touch the players on Monday.

The Yankees split up and sent half of their players to Walter Reed to visit with wounded veterans, while the other half went to the Malone House, a housing facility for veterans and their families. Here’s a sample of the reaction from that visit:

Joe Girardi: “You go to thank the soldiers for what they’ve done. It really penetrates your heart to see the sacrifices that they make to serve our country and protect us. It’s amazing.”

More Girardi: “Just to see the heart and the drive in these guys, it’s really pretty amazing. You really get a chane to see the sacrifices these ladies and men make for us, and it really tugs at your heart.”

Derek Jeter: “It was a privilege for us to go there. For them to come up to us and say thank you for winning a championship, it was mind-boggling. We were there to thank them. It really puts things in perspective; people always look at us and say that we’re heroes, but when you look at it, they’re the real heroes.”

Mark Teixeira: “We got much more out of the experience. They’re Yankees fans and baseball fans, so we signed some autographs, but to put our career in perspective, they do so much more for our country than we can ever do.”

More Teixeira: “These guys are serving our country and paying a pretty high price for it. It’s an emotional experience, but one that builds character for us. Any time that we feel sorry about a little injury, it doesn’t compare with what these guys are doing for us.”

Alex Rodriguez: “It was my first time (visiting the White House), and it was a real honor to be in front of the President. To achieve something and to come here, it was a big reward. But for me, the biggest reward of the day was going down this morning and spending time with those guys. I know they enjoyed it, but we enjoyed it as much if not more.”

His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold

Flags to Fly at Half-Staff for Farmingville Army Sgt. Killed in Afghanistan

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP/ 1010 WINS) -- Gov. David Paterson has ordered that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Wednesday in honor of a 25-year-old Army Ranger from Long Island who was killed in Afghanistan.

Army Sergeant Jason Santora of Farmingville died on Friday after a firefight with insurgents in Logar Province, just south of Kabul.

He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment, based at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Santora enlisted in the Army in 2006. He deployed twice in Iraq and once to Afghanistan before shipping out again about two months ago.

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May Almighty God Bless this brave soldier and may God comfort the family who loves him so.

May Almighty God protect my son.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kids Serve Too

Easter Seals has been chosen by the National Military Families Association (NMFA) to host Operation Purple.

Operation Purple is a FREE summer camp for children of military parents who are deployed.

Easter Seals will host the camp this year for boys / girls ages 8 – 13 at Camp Fairlee Manor near Chestertown, MD during August 15 – 19. The NMFA pays for the camp.

Deployment does not necessarily mean a war zone. A parent may be deployed to a stateside assignment, or to a base in a foreign country such as Germany or South Korea .

Please click HERE for more information. Registration is online and ends the end of April!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Don’t Be Fooled By the Snow

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Soldiers from the 2nd Platoon, 'C' Company, 2-87 Infantry Battalion retrieve water during a joint services mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Staying hydrated, even when snow is visible, is a critical part of a deployed service member’s lifestyle.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Susan Tracy)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

So Many Random Thoughts...

I'm so often baffled, how my brain can hold so many random thoughts...
Hubster claims I over think, perhaps he is correct. It's the way I'm wired.

So today, I dedicate my blog to some of those off-the-wall random musings.

B is still in Afghanistan. His deployment is going well. I've shipped about 10 boxes to him so far, trying desperately to make his days a bit brighter and let him know how much I support his decision. He told me he opens the box, takes a few items, then shares the rest with his buddies. Last Monday after mailing 3 boxes off to him, I received an e-mail from B telling me how good a Guava RockStar energy drink would taste. No problem, his momma thought... nine stores later I finally found the drink my son was so thirsty for. Needless to say, I emptied the shelf and went to the courtesy desk requesting a case from the stock room. The box enclosed a note stating, "as you wish..." I miss my son. I'm so proud of what he is doing. My prayers are constant that God protects him from harm and brings him home in one piece...body and mind. Love him so.

I miss my Dad. Some days, it just hurts. To ease the pain, I eat a Swiss Cheese with Alfalfa Sprout on wheat toast sandwich. It was one of his favorite sandwiches, so I feel better being by ingesting something he so enjoyed.

Bright-Eyed-Beauty left a message on my cell phone this week... in a very soft voice she said, "Hi Nana. I sick. I throwed up. I love you. See you soon." Such sweetness, even when she is not feeling well. I picked up a small panda bear and took it over to her, telling her it is the feel better bear. Precious thought we should name it Barry Bear. Two days later, Precious came down with the same virus. Since I had to work, Pa took a get well soon package over to the girls filled with stickers, coloring books, crayons and Pinky the Pig. Precious has decided she must sleep with Pinky until she is all better. Hopefully, Belle doesn't come down with poor daughter. Love them so.

Hallie buried her son yesterday. Dear God in Heaven, my heart hurts for her and her family. How are we mere mortals supposed to carry such heartache? I know the answer is to pray for each other and accept God's love. Some days I feel so small. May Hallie know God's love and find some peace in her heart as she travels through this difficult journey.

John's window for deployment opens in June. This will be his first deployment. I know it is what he wants to do, therefore he has my total support. After hearing of Hallie's son, CJ...I called John to remind him of all the things I know he knows...but words he needed to hear from me again. I need my sons to know they never need to feel too sad or too scared. Those feelings pass, with time. Everybody hurts, feels scared, or feels sad... I'm always there for my guys, I pray it is enough.

Congrats to Chief! We have been invited to his retirement. It was such an honor to welcome him home from Iraq. He is truly the type of person I want my sons to look up to and admire while they serve our Nation. Chief has a strong presence, one of confidence and gentleness. Truly, a good guy!

Work is getting busy...which is a good thing. I'm so exhausted, on my feet for such long days. Physical exhaustion is a good exhaustion. This blog is therapy for my mental exhaustion. The other day, another Blue Star Mom was in the shop...I believe I wrote of her a month or so ago...her son deployed to Afghanistan about the same time B deployed. We shared hugs and tears last month...and we shared more hugs and tears the other day. Not everyone gets it completely. I am so grateful for people who share their concern for my son and I do appreciate all the prayers lifted. However, when I hug a mom who is walking in my's just a little different. We understand the Vegetable Soup of Emotion. We understand the pride, and fear and deep love we have for our child so far from home. We know the intensity of prayer lifted for bringing our children home whole. We understand the stress of driving home and looking around the corner to make certain there is no 'car' parked in the front. Please don't get me wrong...for all of you who do not have children serving...I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your positive thoughts and prayers.

May Almighty God Bless and Protect each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine.
May Almighty God watch over my son.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Remembering CJ

Words are so inadequate at times.

This is one of those times.

CJ's family and friends will lay him to rest this weekend. Although I never met this young man, his mom spoke often of her oldest son in her blog. Her love and pride for her Airman made me smile, with each word she wrote. As a mom, the pain Hallie must be suffering has no words. I can only turn to the Word of God...

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Always Room For Improvement!

Services Improve Diagnosis of Brain Injuries, PTSD

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2010 - Better understanding of post-combat brain injuries and psychological trauma, coupled with a host of measures to diagnose and treat such disorders, are preventing servicemembers from being unfairly discharged due to undiagnosed conditions, Defense Department officials told Congress members yesterday.

Dr. Charles L. Rice, who is performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, acknowledged that such problems existed early in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but said the services had alleviated the problem with improved understanding and outreach to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

"There were concerns early in the conflicts that members suffering PTSD or TBI might be separated under the non-compensable, exclusive diagnosis of a personality disorder," Rice said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee's military personnel subcommittee. "Such concerns were reasonable, given our nascent understanding of these signature injuries."

Rice -- who also serves as president of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and acting director of the Tricare Management Activity -- testified along with William J. Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy. They told the subcommittee about how the services are implementing a new law – Section 512 of the 2010 Defense Authorization Act – requiring them to conduct medical exams before separating a combat veteran under less-than-honorable conditions.

"As the body of knowledge of PTSD and TBI has matured, personnel policies have also evolved to ensure servicemembers are thoroughly evaluated prior to consideration of discharge from military service," Rice and Carr said in a joint statement submitted to the subcommittee. "The department's separation policies offer many levels of oversight to protect against inappropriate discharge."

Rice read the statement outlining steps the department and services are taking to avoid discharging someone for undiagnosed conditions masked as behavioral problems. They include:

-- Awarding more than $500 million in research studies on traumatic brain injuries and psychological health;

-- Investing in pre-deployment resiliency training;

-- Conducting acute concussion screening for all patients evacuated from combat theaters with head and neck injuries;

-- An effort to revamp pre- and post-deployment screenings to make them more comprehensive;

-- A new program designed to help primary care providers recognize warning signs of PTSD;

-- Mandatory physical exams within 12 months of a servicemember's separation – a department policy adopted in October 2005 – that are waived only with the consent of both the servicemember and the unit commander;

-- The addition of more than 2,000 mental health providers to military treatment facilities, with plans to implement a new model to better determine staffing needs; and

-- Establishing director of psychological health positions in military units, and the 2006 creation of the Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

In addition, Rice said, the department and services have done much to reduce the stigma attached to seeking mental health treatment, and have created more and improved ways for servicemembers and their families to access self-help resources, such as a website called, and the ability to receive psychiatry services through phone calls.

New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force and a member of the subcommittee, said an estimated 360,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, or 20 percent, are believed to return with brain injuries. He called it "absolutely inadequate" to not have a consistent metric to evaluate them before and after deployment.

In response, Rice said pre- and post-deployment tests are inconsistent because professionals who assess brain injuries disagree about the best evaluation tools.

"There is no gold-standard diagnostic study for TBI," he said, adding that the department has partnered with the National Institute for Mental Health to determine if biological markers or some other indicators can improve the tests' validity.

"If we take a screening test, what do we measure it against? What is the yardstick?" Rice said. "I believe all three services have engaged their experts in intense discussion about what the right psychometric evaluation should be and the right tools to deploy it."

Defense Department officials plan to release a report June 25 to update how the services will meet the new mandate, Carr said.

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tucking is No Longer Mandatory

AF Announces Uniform Policy Changes

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas - Air Force officials here announced uniform policy updates resulting from recent Air Force Uniform Board decisions.

The following policy modifications are effective immediately, unless otherwise stated, and will be incorporated into Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Air Force Uniform Dress and Appearance.

The tucking of trousers on utility uniforms into boots will remain optional. This reverses a mandatory tuck-in requirement previously announced by the 98th Air Force Virtual Uniform Board. When tucked in or bloused, the trouser must be even and draped loosely over the top of the combat boot to present a bloused appearance.

The green fleece watch cap is approved for wear with the all-purpose environmental clothing system, improved rain suit, cold weather parka, sage green fleece and the physical training uniform.

Air Force officials encourage all Airmen to affix name, rank and service designator tapes instead of waiting for the Oct. 1 mandatory wear date. However, officers wanting to wear a watch cap with the sage green fleece must now have their name, rank and service designator tapes affixed to the fleece effective immediately.

Other authorized cold weather items remain unchanged. They include the black or sage green leather, suede or knit gloves; black scarves that are tucked in; and black earmuffs.
The sage green fleece can still be worn as a liner for the APECS without name, rank and service designator tapes. The black fleece will no longer be authorized for wear as an APECS liner on Oct. 1.

Air Force officials also modified the 97th AFUB decision that stated the women's A-line skirt would become the primary mess dress skirt for the Air Force. The change allows the side-slit mess dress skirt to continue to be worn as an optional item.

© Copyright 2010 Air Force Print News. April 16, 2010
Air Force Print News

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday Hero 04/21/2010

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Cindy

John 'Jack' Agnew
John "Jack" Agnew (Right)
506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
U.S. Army

John "Jack" Agnew, one of the original members of an Army unit that operated behind enemy lines in World War II and is often credited with having loosely inspired the movie "The Dirty Dozen", has died at age 88.

Agnew belonged to the Filthy Thirteen, an unofficial unit within the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He was pronounced dead last Thursday at Abington Memorial Hospital after becoming ill at his home in the Maple Village retirement community in Hatboro, where he and his wife moved about a year ago, his daughter Barbara Agnew Maloney said.

You Can Read The Rest Of The Article Here And More Info On The "Filthy Thirteen" Can Be Found Here

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

~My warmest thanks to Christopher Lee who dedicates so much time to our heroes!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Thoughts...

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gotta Love These Guys....

Soldiers from the U.S. Army's 2nd Platoon, Alpha Troop, 2-1 Infantry Battalion, 5/2 Striker Brigade Combat Team take a defensive position during an operation in the Arghandab River Valley in Kandahar Province April 15, 2010.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sad Numbers

AF suicide numbers near mid-1990s levels

Airmen are killing themselves at the highest rate in 15 years, and the brass is worried.

Eleven active-duty airmen had committed suicide through March 19, which projects to an annual rate of 13.7 suicides per 100,000 airmen. The numbers were already trending upward: The 2008 and 2009 rates were 12.4 and 12.5, after averaging fewer than 10 from 1998 through 2007. By comparison, the Army and Marine Corps had rates last year of 23 and 24. The Navy has not released its 2009 rate, but Air Force Times calculated it at 14.5 using data released by the service. The civilian suicide rate was 10.9 in 2006, the last year for which data are available.

Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz called attention to the rising rate in early March.

At a Senate hearing on the service’s proposed 2011 budget, Schwartz used a question from a lawmaker about the mental health challenges for unmanned aerial vehicle operators to bring up the service’s growing number of suicides.

Schwartz pointed out the importance of providing airmen with psychological support and having “commanders who care” about their airmen.

The Air Force has been a leader in suicide prevention for nearly 15 years. After watching its suicide rate peak at higher than 16 in the mid-1990s, the service established a prevention program focused on fostering a sense of community and identifying problems before airmen became suicidal. By the end of the decade, the suicide rate fell below 6.

Last year, the service decided to reassess its program. Today, the service is using a new interactive video to help airmen identify counterparts who are at risk, is tracking suicide data more closely and is urging everyone to be more open about their problems.

“If you have concerns about somebody, don’t ignore those,” said Lt. Col. Michael Kindt, a clinical psychologist. “Maybe they just didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night … or maybe it’s something that needs more engagement and more help.”

Enlisted male airmen are most likely to commit suicide. Men make up about 80 percent of the force and account for 95 percent of suicides; enlisted airmen are about 80 percent of the force and account for 90 percent of suicides, he said.

The career fields most at risk for suicide, according to Kindt:

— Security forces, because they have easy access to weapons.

— Intelligence officers, because they may be more hesitant to seek help because of security clearance concerns.

— Manned aircraft maintenance officers, for no readily apparent reason.

Psychologist David Rudd of the University of Utah, a nationally known suicide expert, attributes the Air Force’s relatively low rate — compared with the Army and Marine rates — to the service’s prevention program as well as its shorter deployments and more consistent operational tempo. Rudd, scientific director of the university’s National Center for Veterans Studies, has linked repeated exposure to combat with post-traumatic stress, depression and substance abuse — the top three causes of suicidal behavior.

In a speech at a suicide prevention conference, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen voiced strong suspicion that deployments are to blame for high suicide rates.

“There does not appear to be any scientific correlation between the number of deployments and those who are at risk, but I’m just hard-pressed to believe that’s not the case,” Mullen said. “I know we are and hope to continue to look [at deployments] first to peel back the causes to get to the root of this.”

The Air Force, according to Kindt, isn’t ready to draw a direct connection between deployment and suicide. He acknowledged, however, that deployment creates conditions — strained personal relationships, for example — that “increase the overall stress on the force.”

Air Force leaders have discussed the service’s prevention program with their counterparts in the Army, Marine Corps and Navy, Kindt said, and other services now have training and courses similar to the Air Force’s.

The Army launched the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program in October to emphasize mental well-being as much as physical well-being. The Marine Corps now requires all new corporals to take a suicide-prevention course so they can identify at-risk Marines early.

Rudd praised the Defense Department’s efforts at suicide prevention but cautioned new programs take time to be effective.

For Rudd, the best way to prevent suicides in the military is to ensure that service members are not afraid or embarrassed to ask for help, a cornerstone of the Air Force’s prevention program.

The Air Force’s efforts have made a difference, Kindt said, especially in war time.

“We encourage people to be good wingmen, to look after people in the same way you’d look after your brother or cousin or friend back home,” he said. “That has set us up well to minimize the impact of the ongoing war on our suicide rates.”

By Tom Spoth - Staff writer - Air Force Times
Posted : Saturday Apr 10, 2010 12:19:50 EDT

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Because Every Airman is Someone's Child....

I read these words and had to post.

A blogging friend, lost her child on April 14th.

He was an Airman.

He was her child.

My heart hurts so deeply for this family.

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

May God protect my son and bring him home safely.

Thy will be done..............

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday Hero 04/14/2010

Sgt. Maj. James E. Booker
Sgt. Maj. James E. Booker
Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment, FIRST Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
U.S. Marine Corps

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Sergeant Major James E. Booker, United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Sergeant Major, Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment, FIRST Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, U. S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from February to September 2004. Sergeant Major Booker courageously exposed himself to enemy fire while leading Marines and eliminating enemy forces in several battalion engagements. On 31 March 2004 the forward command element came under intense machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire. With utter disregard for his own safety, Sergeant Major Booker dismounted the vehicle, engaged the enemy and forced their withdrawal. He pursued his attackers down several darkened city streets and mortally wounded a rocket-propelled grenade gunner who was engaging the Command Group. Sergeant Major Booker subsequently led a search that resulted in the arrest and capture of an eight-man cell and several weapons. On 10 April 2004, the forward command element came under fire from insurgents during cordon and search operations. He calmly led a team of Marines in a counterattack, personally clearing several buildings, eliminating one insurgent fighter, and facilitating the evacuation of a severely wounded Marine. Sergeant Major Booker's efforts enabled the forward command element to regain freedom of maneuver and inspired Marines to fearlessly engage the enemy. By his bold leadership, wise judgment, and loyal dedication to duty, Sergeant Major Booker reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

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.
Wednesday Hero Logo

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Special thanks to Christopher Lee for his dedication to our heroes!

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

May Almighty God protect my son.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Talking Tuesday

Is it time to bring our Soldiers home?

Your turn........

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Their Stars Have Turned From Blue to Gold

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two airmen who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Maj. Randell D. Voas, 43, of Lakeville, Minn. and Senior Master Sgt. James B. Lackey, 45, of Green Clove Springs, Fla. died April 9 near Kandahar, Afghanistan, in a crash of a CV-22 Osprey. They were assigned to the 8th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.

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

May Almighty God protect my son.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Congrats to the Winners!

The Milblog Conference begins today. is a great site to find new Military Blogs. (Check out the left side panel titled, Recently Added). Soldier's Angels and Homes For Our Troops are acknowldged for the good work these organizations do for our soldiers. It is my hope to attend the conference next year.

Bloggers voted for the Fourth Annual MILbloggies. I was thrilled to learn A Little Pink In A World of Camo won the U.S. Military Spouse award. I have been following the blog for a while now and here is your *tissue alert*. Another one of my favorite blogs to read is titled, Afghanistan My Last Tour which won the U.S. Air Force category. Last but not least, congrats to YankeeMom for winning the U.S. Military Parent award. Please take a few moments to visit these amazing blogs.

Thanks to all who write of our soldiers and thanks to all who read our words.

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

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How in the Hell Do We Terminate IED's?

With the number of improvised explosive attacks doubling in the past year, the Pentagon team in charge of rooting out the bombs is racing to assemble its response.

Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, the former commander of the 10th Mountain Division who was brought in three months ago to focus on the surge in Afghanistan, believes the numbers will come down.

“We’re going to see more casualties in the short term, but in the long term, as we just saw in Iraq, we’re going to improve the Afghan security force. We’re going to secure the population using them largely, and the IED will become less effective as a weapon system, and the Taliban will be less effective as an enemy,” Oates told reporters Thursday. “That is the thesis. We have proven it once, and I’m very optimistic we will prove it in Afghanistan.”

The use of IEDs in Afghanistan has skyrocketed in the past three years. While more than 2,600 IED attacks were counted in 2007, there were 1,000 this January alone. Oates said in his three months on the job, about 50 U.S. military members have been killed and 400 wounded by the devices.

Members of Congress have already criticized the Pentagon for perceived foot dragging in their response to the increased use of IEDs in Afghanistan. The previous commander of the Pentagon’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Task Force, Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, was excoriated by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) during an October hearing for not moving faster.

“We’re losing guys every day. What are we going to do tomorrow?” Hunter asked Metz, whose shop had received about $16 billion over the previous four years to fight IEDs.

Oates, who after serving four tours in Iraq was called on to lead the fight against IEDs, estimates it will take about $2 billion and seven months from the time the troop surge began in December to put in place a “very robust counter-IED capability.”

But logistical hurdles in a country with few paved roads and not enough runways for the military’s enormous efforts could impede that schedule of progress by July.

Late last year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates established a senior task force to coordinate efforts to add more drones and mine-resistant vehicles with JIEDDO’s anti-IED efforts. The new troops and equipment President Barack Obama called for in December are now beginning to arrive in the theater, providing new resources for the anti-IED fight, but also new targets for the devices.

“It’s more than coming soon; it’s arriving on the ground,” Oates said. “It’s going as fast as humanly possible.”

The IEDs seen in Afghanistan tend to be slightly different than those placed along the roads of Iraq. They are usually operated by plates, and the bombs, made of fertilizer, detonate when pressed, rather than being remotely detonated by individuals.

Oates downplayed the level of Iranian involvement in training or equipping the Taliban, saying while the U.S. has identified some evidence of Iranian help, they have not seen the deadly explosively formed penetrators used in Iraq. He noted that the Taliban continue to use the domestic black market to obtain bomb-making components and weapons.

“If you have enough money, you can pretty much acquire any type of explosive or military-grade capability you need in the world” in Afghanistan, he said. “This is what concerns me about the Taliban, which does not have a historical affinity with Al Qaeda and is now seeking hegemony in Afghanistan. They’re resourced through the poppy trade and with those resources can acquire lethal munitions and components from all over the world.”

According to Hunter, JIEDDO would be more effective if it had the authority to compel commanders on the ground to use the equipment they provide, instead of the current process in which they have to wait for commanders to request the equipment. But the primary way to defeat IEDs anywhere, he said, remains 24-hour watch over roadways in order to find the people burying explosives.

While Hunter said he sees progress, he added, “It’s been slow going.”


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday Hero 04/07/2010

Airman Sasha Sales and Sgt. Richard Montes
Airman Sasha Sales and Sgt. Richard Montes
U.S. Navy

Aviation Support Equipment Technician Airman Sasha Sales, from Gulf Shore, Ala., looks away as Sgt. Richard Montes, from San Antonio, Texas, draws blood samples during a blood drive at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

Photo Courtesy United States Navy taken by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nardelito Gervacio

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

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Special thanks to Christopher Lee for his dedication to our heroes!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Talking Tuesday

April, 2010 is "Month of the Military Child".

As I have mentioned so many times, attending Operation Welcome Home events have been one of the most humbling times of my life. Shaking the hands of our soldiers and looking them in the eye to say, "Thank You" is such an honor. And then there are the days that an entire family is at the airport waiting for their loved one to return home. I have seen soldiers drop to their knees at the sight of their child.

I've never known their world. So I ask you, if you are a child of a soldier or if you are the wife with children who have welcomed home one of our heroes...please tell us of a moment which is in your heart. Reminder, a child is a matter the age! If you have witnessed an incredible moment between returning soldier and their child, please share it with us.

May Almighty God Bless each and every child of all our Warriors, past, present and future.

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

May Almighty God protect my son.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Air Force and Navy explosive ordnance disposal participants ran the 10K race wearing a 70-pound military bomb suit March 21, 2010, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The event raised more than $9,000 for the Wounded Explosive Ordnance Disposal Warrior Foundation.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nancy Hooks)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Twelve Nations Working Together

Multinational wing feeds Afghanistan surge

by 1st Lt. J.D. Griffin
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs

4/2/2010 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- The Heavy Airlift Wing, comprising 12 nations, recently moved 2.1 million pounds of equipment essential to surge operations supporting the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The international wing has been part of the operation to move more than 6 million pounds of basic expeditionary airfield resources, or BEAR materiel, to build six forward operating bases supporting 3,500 people in austere settings.

"The HAW received the requirement and planned these airlifts that are running 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week," said Lt. Col. Brad Johns, HAW liaison officer at the 603rd Air Operations Center. "Here we call them HAWsome."

Airmen from the 12 nations have maintained 100 percent reliability for more than 30 sorties moving war reserve materiel that includes sleeping quarters, shower and shave units, laundry, kitchen and latrine facilities, electrical power and heating and cooling units.

"HAW participation in this large airlift effort is an important milestone in developing our operational capability," said Col. John D. Zazworsky Jr., HAW commander. "Our multinational crews have been trained to the same standards of the U.S. C-17 (Globemaster III) force, and the high-tempo operations of the past month validate the effectiveness of our multinational team."

The HAW, based at Pápa Air Base, Hungary, was activated July 27, 2009, and operates independently of NATO's military command.

The wing operates three C-17s to meet strategic airlift requirements of participating nations for national missions including missions in support of NATO, the European Union and the United Nations.

The NATO member nations include Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States, as well as Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden.

The HAW BEAR missions support ISAF, but also grow the capacity of the multinational wing, according to Colonel Zazworsky.

"The lessons we learn from this experience will make us even more effective in support of the other (Strategic Airlift Consortium) nations' requirements in the future," he said.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sweet Child of Mine

Today is the celebration of the birth of my oldest child.

She calls it the '32 on the 2' birthday.

I feel as though this once upon a time baby, turned toddler, turned teenager, turned wife, turned mother has been with me my entire life. It's hard to imagine I ever existed, without being her mom. She's been a piece of me since I was a 19 year old kid.

My love for this child of mine, has grown deeper with each passing year. These past few years, seeing her as a mom...has taken my love for her to an all new level. Her patience and nurturing for her sweet girls, brings so much joy to my heart. When Precious or Bright Eyed Beauty come to me and sing, "You Are My Sunshine" my heart soars. The girls tell me they know I sang this song to their mommy when she was little...I know one day this song will be sung to their daughters.

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are gray.
You'll never know, Kel
How much Momma loves you
So don't take
My Sunshine away.

Happy Birthday, Kel.
I do love you so.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's All Good!!!

It's all good!

God is Good! He answers prayers in His time. As a mere mortal mom, my heart hurts at times. I miss my son, when I am unable to pick up the phone to hear his voice. When I come home from work and hear my son's voice calling from Afghanistan on an answering mortal heart hurts. Yes, I heard his voice, I heard his positive words, it was good. But, I so needed more.

On Wednesday, I answered the call from Afghanistan and was able to talk with my son. It was answered prayer. I spoke with my son. Hearing his voice was such relief to this Mom Heart. Ahhh...the Mom Heart. God gave us this gift, a heart which can be filled with more love ever imaginable, it takes our breath away. A Mom Heart which can hurt so deeply, it can take our breath away. God is there constantly for the Mom Heart.

My daughter, K sent the video below to me. My beautiful daughter, has a Mom Heart and this song means so very much to her. Now that I have heard this song, I know these words will help my Mom Heart through the days and weeks ahead until my son comes home. (please pause my Playlist on the right sidebar)


Like many of you, I am following the story of Albert Snyder. Mr. Snyder is the dad of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder of Finksburg, Maryland, who died at the age of 20 years old in Iraq. The following is an editorial written by John Ellsworth. Mr. Ellsworth's son was also killed in Iraq. Mr. Ellsworth sued Yahoo! to recover his son's wartime e-mails in 2006. Families United was founded in part by Mr. Ellsworth to support families of fallen heroes. Mr. Ellsworth words state perfectly what I believe many of us are thinking:

(CNN) -- The recent ruling of a federal appeals court requiring the family of fallen hero Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder to pay the legal expenses of Fred Phelps and his misguided followers at Westboro Baptist Church is unconscionable.

Like Matthew's father, Albert, I am all too familiar with the hardships associated with losing a son in combat, having lost my son Justin in 2004. It is a tragedy that the thanks given the Snyder family in return for the life of their son is a court order to repay the legal expenses of the hate group that protested at his funeral with signs such as "thank God for dead soldiers."

Beyond simply insulting though, this decision by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals is a slap in the face for every Gold Star family that has lost a loved one in combat. It also represents an egregious misuse of the judicial system; one that sets a dangerous precedent for how the memory of our fallen heroes will be treated. The Supreme Court should immediately move forward with this case and stand up for those who have stood in the face of danger for all Americans.

The legal maneuvers that brought Albert Snyder and his family to this point are enough to make any American shake his or her head in disgust. After Snyder lost his life in 2006, Fred Phelps and his followers showed up at his funeral to spread their message of hate.

Mind you, they didn't know Matthew, and thus had no understanding of the enormous sense of loss his family was feeling; they simply decided that the Snyder family's vulnerability presented an easy platform for their own agenda.

To his credit, Albert Snyder sued the group and won an $11 million judgment against them. However, that award was reduced to $5 million on one appeal and overturned altogether this week by the appeals court.

In fact, not only did the court overturn the original ruling, but it decided to add to the pain and suffering of the Snyder family by imposing more than $16,000 of court fees. Perhaps the judges had forgotten that without the sacrifices of brave soldiers and their families, the American judicial system would have been a long-distant memory.

Beyond the inherent injustice of the court's decision is the message it sends to the thousands of families around the country that have received a tightly wrapped flag and heard the words, "On behalf of a grateful nation ..."

When the Snyder family sued to protect the common decency we should provide to all grieving families, their efforts were met with court orders to pay the legal bills of those who caused their family so much needless pain.

Surely, this is not the kind of thing that Lance Cpl. Snyder or my son, Justin, gave their lives to protect. Has our nation learned nothing from our treatment of returning Vietnam veterans? What would have been the reaction to Fred Phelps and his repugnant actions during World War II? Our veterans and the families of those who didn't return deserve better than this.

Looking ahead, as engagements in Afghanistan draw on and our soldiers answer the call to defend freedom around the world, this case could have a dangerous effect on morale and willingness to serve.

It is time for the Supreme Court to take up this case, not only for families like Albert Snyder but for the families who will bear the ultimate price of freedom in the future. The justices should strike down the ruling of the Virginia court that brushed aside the sacrifice of Lance Cpl. Snyder and restore common sense and basic decency to the way we honor our fallen heroes.

Snyder fought on behalf of all of us, and now his father fights on his behalf. I can only hope that the Supreme Court will restore some measure of justice and dignity to a family so richly deserving of the best the United State has to offer.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Ellsworth.

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