Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Inspiration From a Gold Star Mom

Gold Star Mother Offers Inspiration, Hope

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., Nov. 29, 2010 – Just seven months after her 23-year-old son was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq, and with three months left before her husband returns from his deployment to Afghanistan, Sheila Patton isn’t facing the holidays feeling sorry for herself.

Sheila Patton, here with her son, Army Staff Sgt. James R. “Jimmy” Patton, who was killed April 18, 2010, during a helicopter crash in Iraq, said she has come to peace with his loss as she reaches out to comfort other Gold Star families. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Instead, she’s found a calling: helping to bring inspiration and hope to families of fallen soldiers at this post that’s suffered a heavy toll in combat losses since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Patton, the wife of Army Command Sgt. Major Gregory Patton, command sergeant major for the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, feels the pain of her son’s death as if it had happened yesterday.

Army Staff Sgt. James R. “Jimmy” Patton, died April 18 during a combat mission in Tikrit, Iraq. The 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment soldier, based at Fort Benning, Ga., was serving his seventh overseas deployment since 9/11 that had included two previous tours to Iraq and four deployments to Afghanistan.

His mother learned of his death when a casualty assistance officer drove up to her in-laws’ home in Indiana while she was visiting to celebrate her father’s birthday.

Patton had every reason to feel alone at the time. Her children were at home near Fort Campbell and her daughter-in-law was with family in her native Ecuador, still unaware of Jimmy’s death. Her husband, who deployed to Afghanistan just two months earlier, had flown to Iraq to accompany his son’s body to Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Yet from the moment the notification officials delivered the heart-wrenching news, Patton said, she felt embraced by the Fort Campbell community. It continued as the family made plans to lay Jimmy to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, and after the senior Patton left just a week after the funeral to rejoin his fellow “Rakkasan Battalion” soldiers in Afghanistan’s Khost province.

“The support I have been given through the Fort Campbell community has been absolutely amazing,” she said. “They have been phenomenal in rallying to support my family. It’s been an absolutely heart-warming experience.”

Patton said she cries for her son every day and still feels the devastation of his loss. But she has also developed a sense of peace about his death that’s helped her cope and begin healing.

“I am a proud momma of a soldier who died fighting for his country and doing what he loved doing,” she said. “If he had to die before us that is the only way we could ever have accepted his death: to smile and be proud and honored that God thought enough of my son to make him a hero.”

Patton said she comforts herself “knowing God took my son for a bigger mission, because his mission on Earth was complete.”

Meanwhile, Patton has found a new mission as well: reaching out to other families struggling with their own losses as senior advisor to Fort Campbell’s Survivor Outreach Services program. The program is part of the Army’s effort to help and stay connected with families of the fallen.

As a Gold Star Mother and wife of a soldier serving in harm’s way, Patton recognizes she’s in a unique position to comfort families of the fallen. “I have been where they are, and I can share what they are feeling because I am going through what they are going through, almost simultaneously,” she said.

Patton shared her story as keynote speaker at a recent candlelight vigil honoring Fort Campbell’s fallen. As the crowd began to disperse, one mother who was having a particularly difficult time dealing with her own son’s combat death approached Patton. “You have given me hope,” she told Patton. “I just want you to know that.”

Patton said she’s not quite sure where she gets the strength to carry out what she’s come to see as a personal calling. “I guess God and Jimmy have given me the strength to do this,” she said. “Jimmy has a bigger mission in heaven, and I think this is my mission on Earth, to be able to share his story and offer hope to other families.

“If I can give one person hope that they can look at the loss of their soldier in a different light,” she added, “then that is one person I have helped.”

-By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Monday, November 29, 2010

Heavy Heart for Six American Soldiers

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP — An Afghan border policeman killed six American servicemen during a training mission Monday, underscoring one of the risks in a U.S.-led program to educate enough recruits to turn over the lead for security to Afghan forces by 2014.

The shooting in a remote area near the Pakistani border appeared to be the deadliest attack of its kind in at least two years.

Attacks on NATO troops by Afghan policemen or soldiers, although still rare, have increased as the coalition has accelerated the program. Other problems with the rapidly growing security forces include drug use, widespread illiteracy and high rates of attrition.

A spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, Zemeri Bashary, confirmed that the gunman in Monday's attack was a border police officer rather than an insurgent who donned the uniform for a day.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying the gunman joined the border police to kill foreign soldiers.

"Today he found this opportunity and he killed six invaders," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement e-mailed to the media.

The shooter opened fire on the NATO troops and then was killed in the shootout, NATO said, without providing additional details.

Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed that the six killed were American. He declined to provide their identities or say which military branch they were from until next of kin could be notified.

Bashary said the incident happened in the Pachir Wagam district of Nangarhar province, a volatile area near Pakistan.

An investigation team has been sent to Pachir Wagam, said Gen. Aminullah Amerkhail, the regional border police commander for the east. But he said information was not coming back quickly.

"The area is very remote," he said. "Even the telephones are not working there."

NATO is still investigating an incident earlier this month in which two U.S. Marines were killed in southern Helmand province, allegedly at the hands of an Afghan soldier.

After two deadly shootings in July, NATO officers said they were re-examining training practices to make sure that such attacks did not happen again.

On July 20, an Afghan army sergeant got into an argument at a shooting range in northern Afghanistan and shot dead two American civilian trainers before being killed. Another Afghan soldier was killed in the crossfire.

A week earlier, an Afghan soldier stationed in the south killed three British troopers, including the company commander, with gunfire and a rocket-propelled grenade in the middle of the night.

In November 2009, an Afghan policeman killed five British soldiers at a checkpoint in Helmand.

On Sept. 29, 2008, an Afghan police officer opened fire at a police station in eastern Paktia province, killing a U.S. soldier and wounding three before he was fatally shot. A NATO official expressed shock at the time that an Afghan officer would betray his NATO partners.

At the time, Col. John "Pete" Johnson, a U.S. forces commander in eastern Afghanistan, predicted it would be "the first incident of its kind."

The recent increase in such shootings suggests that the Afghan security forces may be suffering from growing pains. In the past year, the size of the Afghan police force grew 27 percent from about 95,000 officers to 120,500. The army increased 42 percent from 97,000 soldiers to about 138,200.

There have been also been problems with retention, and even those who stay often are lacking the most basic skills.

Only 11 percent of enlisted personnel and 35 percent of noncommissioned officers in Afghanistan's army and police are literate, according to NATO trainers. And before NATO took over the training mission for the security forces, many Afghan police recruits were issued uniforms and guns and sent out to postings without any sort of training in weapons or law enforcement.

Drug use is also common among the police, though NATO trainers say they are doing a better job of screening for drugs and kicking out addicts. Those testing positive for heroine or other hard drugs are immediately discharged, while those testing positive for marijuana use are put on probation while they kick the habit.


Associated Press writers Elizabeth A. Kennedy in Kabul and Anne Flaherty in Washington contributed to this report.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

...And I Think I'm Struggling???

For almost two weeks, I have been fighting my first Sinus Infection. Ever.
Started out...feeling a bit run down on Tuesday, so I took Sudafed during the day and a shot of NyQuil at night. Thursday, I woke with a burst blood vessel in my eye. Friday, I could barely walk down the steps...but I pulled it together and went to work. Fortunately, a change in the schedule had me off work on Saturday. Saturday morning I woke with my eye literally looking like it was bleeding...so I called the doctor's office (which was closed) then took a ride to a Urgent Care Center. Turns out, I had a blood clot in my eye, and a sinus infection, along with my blood pressure through the roof. Started on antibiotics...called my doctor for a follow up and the name of an opthamologist. I was prescribed a much stronger antibiotic..and went home and slept. For the next three days, I could not stand up for more than ten minutes without feeling like I was going to meet the floor. Equilibrium was totally whacked. Next thing I know it is Thanksgiving...needless to say...a very, very quiet Thanksgiving. Friday...also know as Black Friday...is a tradition my daughters and I have shared since they were teenagers...yep, we were Black Friday Crazy People...before the Craze! I met my daughter and within one hour she was driving me home....so another call to the doctor. Now I am on a high dosage of Prednisone...after three days, it has finally kicked in and I am finally going to try to go to work tomorrow...if only for a little while. I have another follow up with my doctor on Wednesday and an appointment with an opthamologist on Thursday...since this is the 3rd or 4th burst blood vessel in the same eye over the last couple years. As for the high BP, it may have been a combo of Sudafed and NyQuil... or it could be that age is catching up with this not-so-young anymore girl.

So there you go....well..to be honest...this post is more a reminder for me. To remind me how good it feels when I feel well. A reminder of how blessed I am to be able to call a doctor and receive medical treatment. A reminder that there are Soldiers far from home, who suffer illness and must endure their discomfort in a tent. I recovered in my nest...in my bed, on my couch, watching movies and sleeping. I will not take this for granted.

So please take a moment and take a look at this Marine. I don't know him, I have never seen his face before.... but I appreciate him. I will not take him or any of our soldiers for granted.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Twenty-Ten


a United States Marine.


serving his second tour in Iraq.


a real guy, with a real family at home in Connecticut.


I ask that we join together on Thanksgiving to pray for Justin's protection.
Please join me in showing thanks, by writing a letter to this brave Marine.
Just one letter.

May Almighty God Bless and Protect each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine.
May God bring families together, as He wills.
May God heal our Warriors as they return home.
May God comfort families who have paid the ultimate price for our Nation.

Wednesday Hero 11/24/2010

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Beth

PFC Chance Phelps
PFC Chance Phelps
19 years old from Dubois, Wyoming
3 Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
April 9, 2004
U.S. Marines

"I don't think anything can prepare you for two young men standing in the living room telling you your son’s been killed," said Gretchen Mack, mother of PFC Chance Phelps. "It's just surreal. They were crying." The last time she had talked her to son was a few days before his death. "He said, 'Mom, I'm fine.' He sounded great. It was really good to be able to talk to him. It made us feel better."

PFC Phelps was KIA while battling insurgents just outside of Baghdad, Iraq.

Friends recall Phelps as a fun-loving, hard-nosed kid. "He was big but didn't throw his size around to intimidate people", said Jarod Estey. "He was probably the toughest kid I knew growing up in grade school. He was probably the biggest kid, too — well-built and strong. But he was real easy going. He always had a smile on his face."

"He was very in tune politically," said his mother. "He knew what he wanted for this country. ... He told me after 9/11, 'I absolutely have to go. I've got to do something.'" But joining the military isn't anything new for the family. His father, John Phelps, is a Vietnam veteran. And his sister, Kelley, works at the Pentagon and is engaged to an Army sergeant.

"He had an unusual amount of zest," said his mother. "He just possessed this quality that he had to be in the thick of things all the time. He was very, very positive, very funny. ... His main thing in life was making people laugh."

You can read more 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.
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Warm thanks to Christopher Lee as he continue to pay tribute to our Nation's finest heroes.

May Almighty God protect each and every one of our Airman, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

As You Gather With Your Family...

...please remember the brave men and women who give us the freedom to Give Thanks to God.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Hero 11/17/2010

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Cindy

SSgt. Salvatore Giunta
SSgt. Salvatore Giunta
25 years old from Ceder Rapid, Iowa
173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team
U.S. Army

Yesterday, SSgt. Salvatore Giunta became the first living recipient of the Medal Of Honor since the Vietnam War.

From the official citation:

Then-Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself by acts of gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifle team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan on October 25, 2007. When an insurgent force ambush split Specialist Giunta’s squad into two groups, he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade back to cover. Later, while engaging the enemy and attempting to link up with the rest of his squad, Specialist Giunta noticed two insurgents carrying away a fellow soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other, and provided medical aid to his wounded comrade while the rest of his squad caught up and provided security. His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands.”

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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My warmest thanks to Christopher Lee for all he does to recognize our Nations' Bravest Heroes!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Talking Tuesday

I'm sure many of you have seen the story below...
What do you think? Should the Medal of Honor be given to this Soldier?
Your turn...........................

Washington (CNN) -- A 25-year-old Army staff sergeant from Iowa will be the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since three service members from the Vietnam War were honored in 1976.

President Obama will award the nation's highest medal of valor to Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta on Tuesday. Giunta was a specialist serving with the Airborne 503rd Infantry Regiment on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan when his unit was attacked on the night of October 25, 2007.

According to Defense Department documents, Giunta and his fellow soldiers were walking back to base along the top of a mountain ridge when the enemy attacked from their front and their left. Taliban fighters barraged the Americans with AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and Soviet-era large machine guns.

Giunta saw several of his fellow soldiers go down. He ran forward, throwing grenades and returning enemy fire, to help one soldier who had been shot but was still fighting, the documents say. Then he noticed one of the wounded soldiers was missing.

Searching for his wounded friend Sgt. Josh Brennan, Giunta ran over a hill where moments before Taliban fighters had been shooting at him. Now he was alone, out of sight of his fellow soldiers, in an area that the Taliban had controlled just moments before.

Giunta saw two Taliban fighters dragging Brennan away. He ran after them, killing one and wounding the other, who ran off.

Giunta instantly started providing first aid to Brennan, who had been shot at least six times, the documents say. Eventually a medic arrived and a helicopter was called in to take Brennan to a hospital, but he later died of his wounds.

Giunta's action, however, meant that Brennan was not at the mercy of the Taliban, and his parents would be able to give him a proper burial instead of wondering what became of him.

Giunta's quick response to the Taliban attack also helped his unit repulse the enemy fighters before they could cause more casualties, the Defense Department documents note.

Giunta was shot twice, with one round hitting his body armor and the second destroying a weapon slung over his back. He was not seriously hurt.

According to the White House, the Medal of Honor is awarded to "a member of the Armed Forces who distinguishes themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty ... The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life."

Giunta has said he is determined to make the medal, at least symbolically, belong to others.

"It is a great thing," Giunta said after learning he would receive the medal. "But it is a great thing that has come at a personal loss to myself and so many other families."

Giunta said when he first learned he would receive the Medal of Honor, "I felt lost. I felt kind of angry ... just because, you know, this is so big. This is, it came at such a price. It came at the price of a good buddy of mine, not just Brennan. But Mendoza. Mendoza died that night as well."

The squadron's medic, Hugo Mendoza of El Paso, Texas, was caught with the rest of the group.

"These two men on that day made the biggest sacrifice anyone can ever make. And it's not for a paycheck."

Monday, November 15, 2010

His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold

Lance Corporal James Bray Stack, 20, was reported killed during combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan after only one month of his first tour of duty overseas. Lance Cpl. Stack was a rifleman in India Company Third Battalion of the Fifth Marines in the First Division. Helmand is the world’s largest opium-producing region, responsible for 42% of the world’s total production.

The 3rd Battalion 5th Marines (3/5) is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps. The battalion, nicknamed “Dark Horse”, is based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California and consists of approximately 1000 Marines and Sailors. They fall under the command of the 5th Marine Regiment and the 1st Marine Division.

Members of 3rd Battalion are currently conducting operations in the Sangin District of Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As of November 2010, 15 of the battalion’s Marines have been killed in action. Battalions from the 1st Marine Division have been deploying to Afghanistan regularly since 2008 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan (OEF-A).

Lance Corporal Stack was a national champion air pistol shooter in the 2008 Junior Olympics and a member of the Arlington International Airgun Club, based at Christian Liberty Academy. One of the firing ranges is located in the upper deck of Grace Gymnasium.

James Stack also played soccer with Christian Liberty and was named Most Valuable Player on the school’s track team. He was homeschooled with the Christian Liberty Academy curriculum while residing in Arlington Heights.

Lance Corporal James Bray Stack leaves a wife, Katelyn Landeweer Stack, also from Arlington Heights; their 1-year-old daughter, Mikayla; and his mother and father, Linda and Robert Stack.


May Almighty God Bless this brave Marine and may God bring comfort to those who love him so.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Good Earth's Soldier Drive Twenty-Ten

For the second year in a row, Good Earth will be accepting donations for our Soldier Drive. Good Earth is the garden center, where I work. Dave is the owner and I truly appreciate his support in brightening the Holidays for our Troops.

I've set up boxes in both locations, with photos of the Soldiers who will receive our items. I must take a moment to thank Leslie and Diann for coming through for me in a pinch! A couple people at work, made great attempts to get their family members to be our Twenty-Ten Soldier...last minute everything fell through. This year, both Leslie and Diann (two friends of my son, John) scrambled quickly to provide me with the names and photos of Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan! Good Earth has decided to will mail boxes to all of these Soldiers! I'm not sure if my readers recall last year; a Chief from Wright-Patterson AFB was in Iraq. Chief was kind enough to accept our donations and distribute these items to Airmen at different bases.

I've attached the photos. Please keep each and every one of these Warriors in your prayers. If you wish to mail items to add to the boxes, please drop me an e-mail for my address. If you wish to send a Christmas card or a tube of toothpaste! Every token of of thoughtfulness, is so greatly appreciated!

Allow me to introduce Justin, a Marine from CT on his second deployment in Iraq.

This group of Airman are from Wright-Patterson AFB, currently serving in Iraq.

These Airman are in Afghanistan through the Christmas Season. Leslie (front row)is a friend of John's from Wright-Patterson AFB.

May Almighty God protect each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine. May God bring them home safely.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A line of C-130's from the 36th Airlift Squadron taxi out for a mission in Yokota Air Base, Japan. Sweet looking plane!

Friday, November 12, 2010

No Easy Way Out...

I believe if our Soldiers had an easy way out, they would not back down.

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

(Please pause my Playlist on the right sidebar)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day Twenty-Ten

Veterans Day is by far one of my favorite days of the year!

All of America is reminded of our Service members on this day...

yep, perhaps it is Sears sale on power tools or Kohl's half-price sale on sweaters...

But you turn on the TV, and there is the word V-E-T-E-R-A-N

love it.

A reminder.

Oh how I wish we had a monthly Veterans Day. One day a month set aside where the airwaves were filled with the word V-E-T-E-R-A-N. Call it brainwashing, I don't care. America needs constant reminders that men and women for generations have fought in battles (popular and unpopular) so that we can enjoy our everyday freedoms.

Perhaps subliminal messages should appear on every Cable Station that Freedom is not Free! Perhaps all Radio Stations should stop at noon to play our National Anthem.

Well, I'm a mom with a dream. A dream that our Country will always respect and honor those who serve. Past and present.

To my sons, B and John...My heart is overstuffed with pride. I love you both with every fiber of my being.

To my VirtuaSon, MudPuppy...I grew to know you through your words in a blog, I grew to love you more after one baseball game in Chicago.

To my Hubster...for six years you served as a Sailor and even today you work to protect the Sailors on Submarines...I am so very proud of all you do and I do love you!

To my Uncle John who did not survive the attack on the USS Emmons..we never met, but I have always loved you.

To my good blogging buddies, CoffeyPot and Sarge...My heart is filled with respect and gratitude for what you did and all you continue to do for our nation!

To Zach and Diann..you both are John's friends and I thank you for making the choice to be a member of the United States Military.

To Leslie and Jeremy...we have never met, but my prayers are constant for your protection during your deployments.

To Chief...thank you for serving our Country for thirty years!!! May your retirement bring you rest and enjoyment!

To Phil...my brother-in-law, a Vietnam Vet who is now suffering with so many health issues as a result of his service... love you.

To all the Soldiers I have sent packages to, we have never met but I have remained your prayer warrior... My hope is that the box, may have brightened one moment of one day.

To each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine...may Almighty God protect you, may God comfort your families in moments of anxiety and may you be reunited!

My sweet friend, M sent an E-mail containing a list of places who will be offering specials for our Veterans...if you are a Veteran, please take advantage of these specials...if you are not a Veteran, please patronize these establishments and tell them thank you for honoring our Troops!

Restaurant Freebies

Applebee's Restaurant - Free dinners to veterans throughout */Veterans Day November 11th/*; selections will be from a new Veterans Day menu.

Outback Steakhouse - Free Blooming Onion and beverage.

Golden Corral- Free buffet dinner from 5-9 p.m. on */Nov. 16 /*to anyone who has ever served in the U.S. military Staff. In celebration of Veterans Day /_11 Nov 2010_/, Subway is showing its thanks with free six inch subs to all Veterans or Active Duty members.

Krispy Kreme - One free doughnut of any variety.

UNO Chicago Grill- Free entree or individual pizza with an entree or pizza purchase of equal or greater value.

Coushatta Casino Resort - The Louisiana casino and resort is offering a free seven-clans lunch or dinner buffet to veterans or active military.

MarketPlace Grill & Express - Veterans and active-duty military receive free entrees.

Masala Wok - The Northern Virginian restaurant is offering a free entree to veterans.

Hy-Vee supermarkets - The mid-western supermarket chain is offering a free breakfast to veterans.

Abuelo's Mexican Food Restaurants - All veterans and active-duty military receive a free entree.

Carolina Burgers & BBQ - In Matthews, NC is offering a free meal to all service members and veterans.

Retail Freebies

Brides Across America - Provides free wedding gowns to qualified military brides.

Lowe's & Home Depot - Extra 10% off to active-duty military members, National Guard and reserve members, retirees, honorably discharged veterans and immediate family members.

Sam's Club - Over 25,000 Hugo canes will be given away to U.S. veterans in need of mobility assistance. Membership is not required, but supplies are limited, so check with your local store.

Amazon.com - Free "Veterans Day Honor" MP3 album download. The album includes 12 songs by The Bands and Ensembles of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Cabela's Outdoor Store - Offers their employee discount to all veterans, active-duty military and reserves, law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel Nov. 11-12. Discounts vary from 5% to
50%, depending on the item.

Build-a-Bear Workshop - Members of the armed services including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Reserve Officer Training Corps, will receive a 20% discount Nov.
11-15 on any one transaction at Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Dollar General - 10% discount for all veterans, active-duty military, National Guard and reserve and their immediate families.

Fashion Bug - 20% off all plus-size and misses clothing purchases with a copy of military ID or spouse's military ID.

Entertainment Freebies

National parks, forests and monuments - Admission is free to everyone on Veterans Day.

Knott's Berry Farm - Free park admission to U.S. armed forces personnel and a guest during Veteran's Month, November 1-26.

Colonial Williamsburg - Free admission Nov. 6-11 for active-duty military, guard and reservists, retirees, veterans and their dependents.

San Jacinto Museum of History - Free visits to the Observation Deck, theatre, and special exhibit for veterans, active duty military personnel, and their families.

Historic Jamestown - Free admission to veterans, current Armed Forces members and their family members.

Battleship Cove - Free admission and a special ceremony for veterans, active, duty and reservists.

Vicksburg National Military Park - Free admission for all.

Birmingham Museum of Art - Free admission to the ticketed event "Life and Liberty" on Nov. 10-11 for veterans and active military.

Vulcan Park and Museum- In Birmingham, Alabama is offering discounted admission through November to the park and museum.

Greenbay (WI) New Zoo - Free admission to veterans and their families.

Central Florida Zoo - Free admission to the Sanford, Florida zoo with proper ID.

Strategic Air & Space Museum- Free admission for veterans Nov. 11-14 to the Ashland, Neb. museum.

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum - in Oklahoma City offers free admission to veterans and five guests from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Veterans Day.

Natural Elements Spa & Salon - In Chesapeake, Virginia, will provide free services from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to both active duty and retired military

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday Hero 11/10/2010

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Kathi

Capt. George Vujnovich
Capt. George Vujnovich
95 years old from Queens, New York
U.S. Army

66 years after he was instrumental in the rescue of almost 500 bomber pilots who had been shot down over Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia, Capt. George Vujnovich was finally awarded the Bronze Star in October.

You can read the rest of Capt. George Vujnovich's story 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.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Because of You

Because of You, Unknown Soldier

By Courtney Tanabe

Because of you, I am here

Because of you, I am able to live freely

Yet I do not know you

And I have not done anything for you

But there you stand, ready to fight

And there you are prepared to die

For me

You've fought before

And you'll fight again

For someone you don't know

So thank you Unknown Soldier

Fighting for me

I'm here because of you

And I owe my future to you

Monday, November 8, 2010

His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold

Two days after U.S. Army Specialist James “Chad” Young of Rochester was killed in Afghanistan, his family continued to struggle with the shock of his death.

“You see this every day on TV, but it doesn’t hit home until it hits your house,” Young’s brother, Steven Baptist, said through tears while gathered with other family members at his Auburn home Friday afternoon.

“I never would have thought it would be Chad.”

Young, a 25-year-old Glenwood High School graduate, was fatally wounded when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device Wednesday in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.

He was assigned to the 863rd Engineer Battalion. It was his second tour in Afghanistan.

Young’s family was notified of his death Wednesday, less than two weeks after he had been home for a 15-day leave.

Relatives said Friday they knew Young as a dependable brother, uncle and a friend with a playful streak. They also remembered him as a soldier who accepted his duty head-on.

Young is the son of Brett and Jerry Young of Rochester. His parents and Young’s sister, Katie Robbins, traveled to Dover Air Force Base, Del., Thursday night for the arrival of Young’s body.

Steven Baptist is Chad Young’s older brother by about 10 years. They share the same mother.

Steven Baptist’s two brothers on his father’s side, Bohdon and Chase Baptist, said though Chad Young was not related to them by blood, they considered him family.

“The four of us, we always looked at ourselves as real brothers,” Bohdon Baptist of Auburn said. “We just want Chad remembered. He was a great person. He led a great life so all of his family could live in a free world.”

Chad Young was the baby of the group, but he was the one they looked up to, and not just because of his 6-foot-4 frame.

“He’s the greatest guy,” Bohdon Baptist said.

Young grew up in the Rochester area and attended Ball-Chatham schools, graduating from Glenwood High School in 2003.

Jim Mlinar, an industrial technology teacher at Glenwood High School, had Young in two of his classes. Mlinar recalled him as a tall, lanky kid with a great sense of humor.

“He was just somebody you were happy to see everyday,” he said.

Pirate jokes

Mlinar said Young used to come to class and tell the same pirate joke everyday: “What was the pirate’s favorite letter of the alphabet? Rrrr.”

“After several weeks of that, I started coming up with pirate jokes, like ‘Why couldn’t the pirate get into the movie? Because it was rated Rrrr.’

“For years after that, students were always coming up to me and asking for pirate jokes and Chad’s the person that started that,” he said.

Young was a smart student, Mlinar said, one he described as goofy but always behaved.

“I always think that a student like that, whether they know it or not, is a good role model because they’re not causing problems,” he said. “They’re a leader without knowing they’re a leader.”

Steven Baptist said Young’s high school years were when the two of them became close.

He and other relatives burst into laughter when they recalled Young’s punk style of dress as a teenager, which included cut-off, shredded clothing and plenty of piercings.

“He made his own clothes,” Steven Baptist said.

And though his style drastically changed after he entered the military, Young remained the same fun-loving person, his relatives said.

Young joined the Army in 2004. He served in Korea before deploying to Afghanistan for the first time. He returned in late 2007.

“After he went on his first tour, he went on inactive reserve status and it was a year. And then, he was called back to the active Army,” said Young’s girlfriend, Maria Millburg of Springfield.

Second tour started in June

Young arrived in Afghanistan for the second time in early June.

He was trained as a combat engineer and parts of his deployments were spent in a special route-clearance vehicle called a Husky that would travel in front of a convoy and detonate or defuse land mines, explosives or other obstructions in the road, Millburg said.

“If you heard him talk about it, it was no big deal,” Steven Baptist said.

“He was always the one telling everybody else it was going to be OK,” Millburg said.

Young surprised Millburg and his mother when he returned home for leave earlier than expected Oct. 10.

From then until Oct. 25, Young visited friends and family members, including his three nieces and nephew. He also played some poker, one of his favorite pastimes.

Young returned to his forward operating base in Afghanistan Oct. 29. He was killed five days later.

“I’m just glad we all got to see him before it happened,” Steven Baptist said.

Young’s relatives say they are most proud of his bravery and the way he touched others’ lives, something demonstrated by a memorial Facebook page for Young.

“I’m just glad he didn’t go unrecognized,” Bohdon Baptist said.

Amanda Reavy can be reached at 788-1525.

Fourth area soldier killed in three months

Specialist James “Chad” Young, 25, of Rochester is the fourth soldier with central Illinois ties to die in Afghanistan in less than four months.

Staff Sgt. Josh Powell, 25, of Pleasant Plains was among nine service members who died Sept. 21 in a helicopter crash during combat operations in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. It was his third deployment and second stint in Afghanistan. He was a 2003 graduate of Pleasant Plains High School.

Sgt. Matthew W. Weikert, 29, of Jacksonville was killed July 17 when his unit was attacked by an improvised explosive device. Weikert was a 2000 graduate of Jacksonville High School and had been deployed to Iraq four times before being sent to Afghanistan.

Sgt. Donald “Rocky” Edgerton, 33, a 1995 Riverton High School graduate, died July 10 — the day after his birthday — in another IED attack. Edgerton joined the Army at age 30 after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The State Journal-Register

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just Another Day...

Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) soldiers board a US UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter at Multi National Base Tarin Kowt before an operation in Kandahar province.

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday Hero 11/03/2010

This Weeks Post Was Suggested And Written By Michael

Lt. Wilson W. Brown
Lt. Wilson W. Brown
Company F, 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Dec. 25, 1839 - Dec. 26, 1916

Private Wilson W. Brown was part of "The Great Locomotive Chase" or Andrews' Raid. It was a military raid that occurred April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia during the American Civil War. Volunteers from the Union Army commandeered a train and took it northwards toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, doing as much damage as possible to the vital Western & Atlantic Railroad (W&A) from Atlanta, Georgia to Chattanooga as they went, pursued by other locomotives. Because they had cut the telegraph wires, no warning could be sent to Confederate forces along their route. The raiders were eventually captured and some were executed as spies. Some of Andrews' Raiders became the first recipients of the Medal of Honor, including Pvt. Wilson Brown who was able to escape and later promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. His citation read:

"One of the 19 of 22 men (including 2 civilians) who, by direction of Gen. Mitchell (or Buell), penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train at Big Shanty, Ga., in an attempt to destroy the bridges and track between Chattanooga and Atlanta".

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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