Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Talking Tuesday

"Let me say this as plainly as I can: By Aug. 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end," Obama told U.S. Marines in a speech at Camp Lejeune, N.C. February 27, 2009.

So tell me... How does the United States properly exit Iraq?

Should we increase the number of troops for a faster and easier exit?

Should we let the Iraqis take care of their own country?

Should we pull out completely by the end of 2011?

Will setting a permanent date and then not meeting the date, carry diplomatic consequences for the United States?

British troops are officially beginning their pull out effective today, will this affect the U.S. pull out?

It's your turn.............

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Springtime: Here and There

It has turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous Sunday afternoon in Poolesville. Our sliding glass door is open, allowing a warm breeze to slightly move the curtains. I can see the Willow Tree budding and the Forsythia taking on it's yellow hue. The white, puffy clouds are beautiful against the blue sky backdrop. Our Dove couple have returned for the fourth consecutive year, so the cooing can be heard. It appears that Spring has finally arrived in Poolesville.

On the other side of the world, we have Springtime in Afghanistan. The spring thaw signals the start of the Afghan "fighting season". I've read numerous articles telling the story of Canadian and Australian soldiers killed recently. Roughly 65,000 international forces are in Afghanistan, more than half from the United States.

A U.S. Marine carries supplies from a helicopter on March 27, 2009 to a remote Marine camp in Golestan in southwestern Afghanistan. Marines in the area have seen a spike in Taliban attacks in recent days with the onset of the traditional spring "fighting season."

As we enjoy the many pleasures which Spring holds, let us not forget our Airman, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.

Friday, March 27, 2009

American Widow Project

The women of the American Widow Project, an online support network and nonprofit organization dedicated to unifying a new generation of widows, are far from traditional. They surf, skydive and now road-trip to honor their husbands, who died serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Widows Taryn Davis and Nicole Hart, both 23, will spend most of the next few months driving cross-country, sleeping in campgrounds and knocking on doors. They are traveling to military towns, offering understanding and hope to an ever-growing band of sisters.

"I really believe if we can lessen the pain and lessen the grief that just one widow can go through, then we are accomplishing our mission," Davis told ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff.

Davis and Hart are traveling in a black RV custom-painted with the names of more than 4,000 of the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan, including their husbands, Cpl. Michael Davis of San Marcos, Texas, and Sgt. David Hart of Lake View Terrace, Calif.

"We really just hope to, if anything, not have them disappear," Davis said.

Stacey Markham was one of the first women to find her husband's name, Sgt. Jonathan Markham, on the list. "It is amazing that everybody's name is up there," she said. "Wherever this RV is at, people will be reminded, not just, 'Oh, we lost another soldier today, but look at all these families that have suffered this loss."

Davis and Hart launched the road trip last month in San Marcos, Texas, where Davis met and fell in love with her husband. In a moving ceremony, surrounded by widows and veterans groups, San Marcos' mayor Susan Narvaiz presented the widows with the key to the city.

More than 30 Patriot Guard Riders -- a national organization of motorcycle riders who honor the sacrifice of the military and their families -- stood with flags and wearing leather jackets as the widows spoke, ready to escort them on the first leg of their journey.

Putting the large RV in reverse, Davis said, "All righty. Let's do this."

'We Regret to Inform You'

It was nearly two years ago that two soldiers in Class-A uniforms approached Davis' home with devastating news.

"One of them had his head down and the other one was shaking," Davis said. "And then the words that I think are burned into every widow's and widower's mind: 'The secretary of defense regrets to inform you your husband, Michael Davis, was killed.'"

Many widows have shared their memories of those words with Davis.

"I heard the dogs bark and I looked out the window and I saw a white van and there were two soldiers in it and I knew," said Nina Carr, widow of Sgt. Robert M. Carr. "Like my heart dropped to the floor." Csilla Lyerly, widow of Capt. Sean Lyerly, said, "I just fell to the floor and I was just screaming, `No, no, no, no.' And I paused, and I looked at them, like, `Ma'am we regret to inform you.' `No, no, no, no,' I am just screaming at the top of my lungs."

"I said, `now what do I do?'" recalled Jessica Ardron, widow of Sgt. Brian Ardron. "And, he said, `Well, we are going to have a casualty officer call you.' And, I said, `No, what do I do with my life?'"

Read the entire story HERE

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A special thank you to my friend, Karen who passed this amazing story along to my attention!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Common? I think not!

~ Author Unknown

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion telling stories of his past
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies~~they were heroes, every one.

And tho' sometimes to his neighbours, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke
But we'll hear his tales no longer, for old Bill has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer, for the soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary, quick and uneventful life
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way
And the world won't note his passing, tho' a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great,
Papers tell their life stories from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

In the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
One guy breaks his promises and cons his fellow man
But the ordinary fellow, who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country and offers up his life.

A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives
While the ordinary soldier who offered up his all
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps a pension small.

It's so easy to forget them, for it was so long ago
That the old Bills of our country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys
Who won for us the freedom that our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger with your enemies at hand
Would you want a politician with his ever~shifting stand
Or would you prefer a soldier who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and country and would fight right to the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin
But his presence should remind us we may need his likes again.
For when countries are in conflict then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honour while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday Hero 03/25/2009

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Elena

Chief Master Sergeant Paul Wesley Airey
Chief Master Sergeant Paul Wesley Airey
U.S. Air Force

"Chief Airey was an Airman’s Airman and one of the true pioneers for our service," said Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff. "He was a warrior, an innovator… and a leader with vision well ahead of his time. His legacy lives today in the truly professional enlisted force we have serving our nation… and for that we owe him a debt of gratitude."

Chief Airey was born in Quincy, Mass., on December 13, 1923. At age eighteen, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December, 7, 1941, Airey quit high school to enlist in the Army Air Forces on November 16, 1942. He later earned his high school equivalency certificate through off-duty study. During World War II he flew as a B-24 radio operator and additional duty aerial gunner. On his 28th mission, then-Technical Sergeant Airey and his fellow crewmen were shot down over Vienna, Austria, captured, and held prisoner by the German air force from July 1944 to May 1945. During his time as a prisoner of war he worked tirelessly to meet the basic needs of fellow prisoners, even through a 90-day forced march.

Chief Airey held the top enlisted from April 3, 1967 to July 31, 1969. During his tenure he worked to change loan establishments charging exorbitant rates outside the air base gates and to improve low retention during the Vietnam Conflict. Chief Airey also led a team that laid the foundation for the Weighted Airman Promotion System, a system that has stood the test of time and which is still in use today. He also advocated for an Air Force-level Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy. His vision became reality when the academy opened in 1973, becoming the capstone in the development of Air Force Senior NCOs. Chief Airey retired August 1, 1970. He continued advocating for Airmen’s rights by serving on the boards of numerous Air Force and enlisted professional military organizations throughout the years. He was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Airmen Memorial Museum, a member of the Air Force Memorial Foundation and the Air University Foundation.

On the north wall of the Air Force Memorial in Washington D.C., Chief Airey’s thoughts on Airmen are immortalized, "When I think of the enlisted force, I see dedication, determination, loyalty and valor." The Air Force Association honored Airey with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Chief Airey passed away on March 11, 2009 at his home in Panama City, Florida

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold

Sgt. Christopher P. Abeyta, 23, of Midlothian, Illinois, was killed last week while serving in Afghanistan. Sgt. Abeyta and two other soldiers who were with him, Sgt. Robert M. Weinger and Spc. Norman Cain III, were also killed when the vehicle they were riding in was struck by an IED.

Sgt. Abeyta ran a military blog from Afghanistan called The Chronicles of Butters! and according to a news story Sgt. Abeyta had kept a journal since he was 11-years old.

The SouthtownStar reports:

"Sgt. Abeyta had survived a year in Iraq and was on his second deployment in eastern Afghanistan, in the region that borders Pakistan, when the vehicle he was riding in hit an improvised explosive device set by the Taliban..."

The SouthtownStar story also shares his passion for writing:

"While deployed, he wrote entries in his ever-present journal, stories on two blogs and letters to his family. His mother held tightly Tuesday to one from November, which she read aloud on her back patio, demanding that his grandmother, Elvira Abeyta, and local veterans gathered around her know the man she raised.

"I know you don't enjoy the path I have chosen for myself but trust me it's so very rewarding," she read. "You know I know it bothers you that I am here. ... but what kind of person would I be, Ma, if I didn't try to make this better.

"OK?" she said at the end. "That's my son."

My prayers and thoughts go out to the family, friends of Sgt. Abeyta and all of America’s fallen and wounded. If you’d like to make donations, according to another SouthownStar story:

"The Abeyta family has requested donations be made to a fund for the family of Spc. Norman Cain III, 22, who died with Abeyta in the same explosion and left behind a wife and two children..."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sgt. Abeyta's blog can be read here

Monday, March 23, 2009

MudPuppy needs YOUR help!

MudPuppy is doing well! I heard from him this weekend and he is fine!
He would like to write a post for us, but is suffering from some Writer's Block. I told him that I would put his plea out there and forward your responses.
Sooooo....what do you want MudPuppy to tell us? For those of you who have read his blog, I'm certain you recall his 'entertaining' writing style. For those of you who have yet to read his words, please don't be shy!
MudPuppy is a soldier in our United States Army. He is currently serving in Afghanistan, at least for the next 162 or so days (not that AirmanMom is counting). MudPuppy's first blog, "Embrace The Suck" was one of the first blogs I followed, upon entering the Blogosphere. He wrote of his days, prior to his deployment. Soon after arriving in Afghanistan, he felt it best to take his blog private.
The picture below is one I have recently posted, but I do believe it captures the MudPuppy I have grown to know. He has called me his 'Virtual Mom' and honestly, I could not be more proud to call him my 'SoldierSon'.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nuclear Submarine Damaged in Collision Near Iran

A nuclear submarine was damaged in a collision with another U.S. Navy vessel off the coast of Iran early Friday, leaving 15 U.S. sailors injured and 25,000 gallons of fuel spilling into the Strait of Hormuz.

The USS Hartford, a nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, was fully submerged Friday when it collided with the transport ship the USS New Orleans, according to a Navy official in the 5th Fleet. Seas were calm but visibility was low as the incident occurred around 1:00 a.m. local time.

No official reason has been given for the accident but a Defense Department official told FOX News that "it appears the two vessels were not in communication before they collided."

Fifteen sailors aboard the Hartford were slightly injured but able to return to duty. No injuries were reported aboard the New Orleans, according to the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. It was the Los Angeles-class submarine's first deployment.

There was no damage to the nuclear reactor powering the Hartford, said Lt. Nate Christensen, spokesman for the 5th Fleet, but the collision ruptured one of the many fuel tanks of the USS New Orleans. Officials say there are no real plans yet for cleaning up the 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel that have spilled into the Persian Gulf.

Both ships were heading to port when the incident occurred. Navy officials said it did not appear that the sub was surfacing at the time of the incident. Officials could not say how deep the water was at the point of impact.

Both vessels are currently operating under their own power and heading to port for repairs and evaluation, but Christensen said that following standard security procedures he could not say where the vessels were heading.

The Navy said both ships were on regularly scheduled deployments to the region and conducting security operations.

Oil prices rose after news of the collision which happened in a busy shipping route.

As much as 17 million barrels of oil a day went through the narrow strait in the first half of 2008, or about 40 percent of all seaborne traded oil or 20 percent of all oil traded globally.

The Hartford is based in Groton, Conn. and the New Orleans is based in San Diego, Calif., the Navy said.

FOX News' Justin Fishel and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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

This story is an important piece of AirmanMom's life; since my Hubster will be involved in the follow-up of this accident. May Almighty God fully heal those who were injured.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


War in Afghanistan (2001-present)

Name: Michael P. Murphy*
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Place of action: Kunar Province, Afghanistan
Date of action: June 28, 2005
Unit: SEALs SDV Team 1
Notes: Led a reconnaissance patrol in a fight against superior numbers, exposed himself to hostile fire in order to call for help.

Iraq War (2003-present)

Name: Paul R. Smith*
Service: Army
Rank: Sergeant First Class
Place of action: near Baghdad, Iraq
Date of action: April 4, 2003
Unit: B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion
Notes: Held the enemy at bay allowing for the wounded to be carried out.

Name: Jason Dunham*
Service: USMC
Rank: Corporal
Place of action: Iraq, near Syrian border
Date of action: April 14, 2004
Unit: 3rd Battalion 7th Marines
Notes: Fought hand-to-hand with the enemy and hurled himself on a grenade to protect fellow Marines

Name: Michael A. Monsoor*
Service: Navy
Rank: Master At Arms Second Class
Place of action: Ramadi, Iraq
Date of action: September 29, 2006
Unit: SEAL Team Three, Delta Platoon
Notes: Saved the lives of his fellow SEALs at his sniper position by diving on a grenade.

Name: Ross A. McGinnis*
Service: Army
Rank: Specialist
Place of action: Iraq
Date of action: December 4, 2006
Unit: C Company, 1-26th Infantry
Notes: Saved the lives of four soldiers by diving on a grenade while inside HMMWV

The * next to the name indicates that the Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously.

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

A special thank you to my dear friendHeart for sharing this important information.
May Almighty God Bless each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine! May Almighty God comfort the hearts of those who love these heroes!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold

FORT BLISS, Texas -- A Fort Bliss soldier died in Iraq on Monday of wounds sustained when an explosive device struck his vehicle, Department of Defense officials announced.

Cpl. Gary L. Moore, 25, of Del City, Oklahoma, died in Baghdad. He was assigned to the 978th Military Police Company, 93rd Military Police Battalion, in Fort Bliss.

Friends tell ABC-7 the soldier was engaged to a woman back home. He has no family here.

Fort Bliss officials said Moore entered the Army in January 2007 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was appointed to the rank of corporal in January and was previously stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

The associate pastor at his Eastside church said Moore was a faithful member of the church, a blessing to be around, with a good spirit and good attitude. He said Moore was friendly and always smiling and shaking hands.

He said they have a lot of soldiers in their church and that this one hits close to home.

Moore's awards and decorations included the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

This is the second death from the 978th Military Police Company during their deployment, which began in June 2008. Cpl. James M. Hale was killed in Baghdad on Aug. 13.

A memorial ceremony in honor of Moore will be coordinated and announced at a later date, Fort Bliss officials said.

by ABC-7 Web Producer Annette Arrigucci

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday Hero 03/18/2009

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Kathi

Kevin Baker
Kevin Baker
U.S. Navy

Kevin George Baker, a disabled Navy veteran, had been riding his hand-propelled bicycle from his hometown through Washington, D.C. and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to Marseilles, Illinois to support a new flag designed to honor fallen members of the military. His trip began at his home on Saturday, March 7 and sadly ended on March 13 when he passed away in his sleep. Baker, who is unable to use his legs due to a neurological impairment, was flying the Honor and Remember Flag from his bike and encouraged people along the way to sign a petition urging Congress to adopt the flag as a new national symbol by passing HR Bill 1034.

You can read the rest of Baker'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.
Wednesday Hero Logo

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

An Irish Prayer

May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

Monday, March 16, 2009


There were protesters on the train platform handing out pamphlets on the evils of America.

I politely declined to take one.

An elderly woman was behind me getting off the escalator and a young (20-ish) female protester offered her a pamphlet, which she politely declined.

The young protester put her hand on the old woman's shoulder as a gesture of friendship and in a very soft voice said, "Lady, don't you care about the children of Iraq?"

The old woman looked up at her and said, "Honey, my father died in France during World War II, I lost my husband in Korea, and a son in Vietnam.

All three died so you could have the right to stand here and bad mouth our country.

If you touch me again. I'll stick this umbrella up your arse and open it."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How often?

How often do you stop to think...

There are real men,

who are real soldiers,

fighting a real war?

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

Like Father, Like Son

(left to right) Sgt. 1st Class Marion Klinghard, the Ground Support Equipment Platoon Supervisor for 776th Maintenance Company, 419th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, and his son Spc. A.J. Klinghard, a generator mechanic, both of Summertown, Tenn., serving together on their second deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq --1st Sgt. Demetrius Steel, B Co. 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion (left) and his son Sgt. Dante Steel, 319th Military Intelligence Battalion deployed together in 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. Steel represents the fourth generation of Steel’s to serve in the Armed Forces. (Photo courtesy of the Steel family)

TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq - An Arkansas father and son team is part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' massive rebuilding efforts in Iraq. Denver and Eric Gillespie, both Navy veterans and ACE employees, soon will complete their six-month tours. What made the deployment so special was meeting, working with and getting to know the Iraqi people, they said.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Weekend Thoughts.....


To me, this is probably the saddest of all words, we know in the English language. According to Webster, the definition of Suicide is ‘the act or an instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind’.

While John was home, he shared that in the month of February two Airman committed suicide at his base. My mom told me of a local veterinarian who killed himself just a week or so ago. How sad it must be, to feel your life is so hopeless.

Many years ago, I was in a very sad place. Reflecting on that chapter, I don’t believe I even realized how sad I felt deep in my heart. After a prolonged amount of time of feeling rundown, I went to see the family doctor. I told him I felt as though I couldn’t shake the Flu (although, I knew I did not really have the Flu). Each day I woke feeling more tired, than the night before when I went to bed. Every time I tried to eat a meal, I just knew it would not go down. My interest in daily routines, was fading. The doctor informed me that I was suffering from Depression. I told him he was mistaken, not me! Depression could never touch me, I always have loved a good laugh and to dance in my kitchen. It was explained to me that Depression is a chemical imbalance of the brain. I learned that depressive episodes have triggers; unwelcome life change such as financial hardships, relationship troubles or the loss of a loved one can easily become a trigger. Things that make you go ‘Hmmmmm’. I was referred to a Psychiatrist and was put on some anti-depressants. After a short while, I became “Me” again!

Sadly, many who are affected by Depression are not as fortunate. Sadly, many times the symptoms of Depression go undiagnosed until it is too late. Nearly one million people in the United States attempt suicide every year. Every 16 minutes!

On December 4th, I wrote a post regarding PTSD and the holiday season. There are many signs for us to look for in loved ones. Knowledge is power! Please click the box on my sidebar, ‘National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’ or visit NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health). We are living in times when jobs and finances are all in jeopardy. These times can be a trigger for any one of us.

We are living in times when our heroes are returning home. Home is not always a safe place. Home is not the same place, our heroes left when they went to defend our country! Home can be extremely difficult for our soldiers to return to!

It’s your turn……

Friday, March 13, 2009

Well Deserved Break...

Staff Sgt. Clayton Hendricks, a combat engineer from Placerville, Calif., assigned to the 731st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, takes time away from searching for bombs with the EOD technicians to say, “Hi” to a friend March 3, in Baghdad.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Some Sad Stats

Corps Sees Dramatic Spike in Suicides

While the Army fights a high-profile battle against suicides, the Marine Corps is quietly upping its effort to combat the malaise following the worst year for suicides in more than a decade.

Forty-one Marines committed suicide in 2008 while another 146 tried but failed. If all had been successful, that's pretty close to an entire infantry company trying to take its own life.

"This is the highest rate of suicide since 1995 and reflects an unacceptable loss of life for the Marine Corps," Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos said in a recent Marine Administrative message. "Each and every Marine is critical to our Corps and our mission."

In response to its spiking suicide rate, the Army had called for a force-wide stand-down day in which suicide prevention training will take center stage.

The Corps, meanwhile, has directed all Marines to participate in a service-wide training sometime this month.

"We are actively engaged in prevention measures and early identification of problems that may increase the risk of suicide. Leaders at all levels are concerned about the increase in the number of suicides," the Corps' chief suicide prevention officer, Navy Cmdr. Aaron Werbel, said in a prepared statement forwarded to Military.com.

The Army numbers are staggering: 138 suicides last year and possibly up to 42 in the first two months of 2009 pending investigations.

The Marine Corps numbers are not as harrowing, but show the time away from the range is warranted.

The number of suicides in the Corps increased for the second straight year in 2008, and for the first time since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began the majority of those who killed themselves had served downrange.

"While this may simply be due to increasing proportions of total Marines with a history of deployment, further investigations into possible relationships between these factors are ongoing," Werbel said. "Analyses to date have not demonstrated any actionable findings between suicide and deployment history."

The number of Marines who killed themselves while serving in a combat zone tied the previous high set in 2004 at seven.

And it's happening across the Corps.

Only two of the 41 suicides were females, but the trend cut across other barriers. Fifteen noncommissioned officers and two officers took their own life.

The majority of suicides were gun-shot wounds, but 12 Marines hung themselves last year. Most were white, but two black and four Hispanic Marines also committed suicide.

For the first time since 2001, the number of suicides in the Corps is roughly equal to the average among civilians at 19 per 100,000.

Marines, however, are far more efficient at killing themselves. For every three Marines that attempt suicide, one proves successful while the number is at least eight to one for civilians.

The recent spike is especially troubling for the Corps after it experienced a steady decline in suicides from 1997 to 2006. Three years ago, the Corps saw a suicide rate of roughly 14 per 100,000.

That was during some of the fiercest fighting Marines had experience in decades as the Corps struggled with insurgents and terrorists in Iraq's Anbar province.

The last three months of 2006 alone saw 288 American troops killed in Iraq, according to online statistics.

Today, Iraq is preparing for a drawdown of American troops and the Army has more soldiers killing themselves than dying in combat. The Corps is implementing updated training hoping it doesn't follow the same path.

Part of the required training is a slide show that educates Marines on the warning signs of suicide and how to look out for their fellow leathernecks.

Werbel said many of the factors leading to suicide are uniform across the services: problems in romantic relationships, physical health, performance and job dissatisfaction, and pending legal or administrative action.

All Marine commanders ranked colonel and above are required to produce an instructional video to be shown to their commands alongside the Corps-provided slide show.

Werbel acknowledged that refreshing the Corps' suicide prevention training and partnering with outside organizations with expertise in combating suicide might not be the quick fix some hope to see.

"Suicide prevention does not lend itself to a quick or easy solution," he said. "There is no single answer or action for suicide prevention."

March 11, 2009
Military.comby Bryan Mitchell

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

Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Military One Source 1-800-342-9647

Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline - 1-800-984-8523

National Suicide Hotline - 1-800-SUICIDE

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday Hero 03/11/2009

Spc. Brian K. Baker
Spc. Brian K. Baker
27 years old from West Seneca, New York
2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry)
November 07, 2004
U.S. Army

Near his hometown, the flag flew at half-staff outside the East Concord Volunteer Fire Department where Baker had been a junior firefighter. He joined the Army shortly after graduating from Springville-Griffith Institute in 1996 with the goal of making it his career, friends said.

"You might say it was his calling," said Lori Ploetz, a longtime family friend. "He was great at what he did. He was respected by his peers."

Spc. Brian Baker was killed when a vehicle-borne IED detonated near his security patrol in Baghdad. He leaves behind his parents, his wife, Amy, and two daughters who were born after his death.

All Information Was Found On And Copied From MilitaryCity.com

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Talking Tuesday

I heard from my oldest son, B that he is enlisting in the Reserves for another two years. GodSpeed, my son!

John has served one year active service and has five years left to serve our country.

Several times over the past year, I have been asked how I could 'let' John enlist, when I already had one son serving in the military. My response (not in a disrespectful manner) has been that "My sons serve, so that your sons will not be drafted".

I remember when B enlisted in 1999. He was a Senior in High School. B is brilliant! He is smart, witty and one of the finest men I could ever know. Back in 1999, he was unsure of his direction and out of the blue...he asked me one afternoon what I was doing on a certain day at a certain time. I told him it sounded as though he had plans for me. It was then that he told me that he had an appointment with a Recruiter and wished to join the U.S. Air Force. He was 17 years old and needed parental permission. I went to see the Recruiter, watched the video and knew right away this is where my son belonged. B graduated from High School in June and departed for BMT in July, 1999.

I am so deeply proud of my sons. My heart is filled with so much gratitude for all the men and women who sacrifice for our country. These men and women give up so many of the daily freedoms we take for granted.

Each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine is my hero.

So my question to you..... if a family member were to tell you they wished to join our military, how would you react?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Excellent Weekend!

John came home on Wednesday night!

It was so nice to have him home for a long weekend. This is the first time he has been home since Thanksgiving, but it seems like it was a much longer time span. When he was home Thanksgiving weekend, there was such a whirlwind of activity; between Thanksgiving Dinner, Black Friday shopping and the baby shower...we had only a couple hours to visit. I was going to make certain this weekend was not a replay!

Thursday afternoon was spent with E and the baby. It's hard to believe the youngest member of our family is already a month old! She is getting so big and is very alert! Uncle John enjoyed holding his littlest niece. Here is a great picture of the three of them.

John and I went over to my mom's for lunch on Friday. It was such a pleasant afternoon.

John was able to catch up with friends on Saturday and Sunday. He also went by to visit with J&K and the two sweet girls. The weather could not have been more perfect, we had high temperatures in the 70's and beautiful skies.

I am so very proud of the man he has grown to be. The military has certainly built his confidence and maturity. However, he still has a sparkle in his eyes and the best smile in the world.

Forever my son, forever my baby!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Instant Friends

It would have been wiser for me to title this post, "Friday Night, Part II"...but this will simply have to do!

To recap yesterday's post; on Friday night I had the honor of welcoming our troops home at BWI. As I have stated many times, attending an Operation Welcome Home event is always no less than amazing! To be in the presence of our heroes and shake their hands is an honor. They truly deserve so much more than the welcoming we offer...however, I feel blessed to be able to do this much for them!

Allow me to briefly describe an event: We meet in the International Terminal, approximately half an hour before the plane is scheduled to touch the ground.
With lots of enthusiasm; a human conveyor belt line forms, and we fill goodie bags with items such as granola bars & packaged snacks, bottles of water, and handmade 'Welcome Home" cards which are made by children from various schools and Churches. The hosts of the function then make a few announcements; introducing new volunteers and special guests. We then say the "Pledge of Allegiance" and then in proper military tradition...we wait. Once the call comes in that the plane has touched the ground we form a welcoming line, directing our soldiers out of the International Terminal. The clapping, hollering and cowbells make quite a ruckus when the first of our soldiers come through the doors. This celebration continues until the final soldier has come through our welcoming line.

Friday night, while waiting for the plane to touch down; I wandered over to a group of ladies who were wearing Blue Star tee shirts. Oh my goodness, this is my Maryland Chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America! I recently transferred to this chapter, after the folding of the virtual chapter. This was so cool! Six brand new Instant Friends! By the end of the OWH event, we had shared laughs, tears and hugs. We are proud Blue Star Mothers, there to support each other.

Each and every one of these moms, understand me and I understand them. We have a child (or children) in the military. Our children who not so long ago were in our arms, are now holding an M-16. Our children not so long ago, walked into their first day of school; they now have been through Basic and Tech Schools. Our children who not so long ago were ours to hold tightly during a thunder storm or bad dream, are now protecting our nation. Our children who at any moment we would lay our life down for, will now place themselves in harm's way for our country.

We are still their moms.

We will always love them so.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sandstorm Season

It's Sandstorm Season in Iraq!

Pray for our soldiers as they endure these storms!

Although everyone of us find it a challenge during this economic crisis, it is so very important to continue to send packages to our soldiers. They need, no I take that back....they DESERVE our support! Take a few moments and visit SoldiersAngels. Please make the commitment to one soldier; write a letter and send along some of the items we easily remove from a linen closet or medicine cabinet. I have addresses for MudPuppy and Zachary, two heroes I have featured on my blog numerous times. If you need ideas of what to send, please e-mail me!

Last night, I attended an Operation Welcome event. My friend KD and her sister joined me, for they heard of a soldier who was returning home. This Airman is the friend of a friend, so all we had was a name to look for! We found him! We hugged him, it was a surprise to him that we would be there to greet him! Last night over 800 heroes returned home! It never ceases to amaze me, how these men and women thank us! They thank us! It just blows me away. Shaking their hands, is by far the greatest honor of my life. I could not imagine being in the presence of anyone else in this world, and feel more privileged. From the moment we see the first soldier walk through the doors, to the final soldier walking through our welcome line...my eyes remain filled with tears.

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

Thursday, March 5, 2009


This beautiful family of four, will become a family of five in September!

Congratulations, J & K!

I can't wait to meet my 4th grandbaby!

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him
~1 Samuel 1:27

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday Hero 03/04/2009

Sgt. Stephen Howell
Sgt. Stephen Howell

Sgt. Stephen Howell, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Band percussionist, races a student at Palisades Elementary School in Pearl City, Hawaii during an 11-event circuit course Feb. 20. More than 20 Marines assisted local park volunteers with manning the different events.

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

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Talking Tuesday

Most of us know that "The Star Spangled Banner" is our national anthem. We've learned that Francis Scott Key wrote the words in 1814, and these lyrics were later set to the tune of an British drinking song. In 1931, President Hoover signed a Congressional Resolution designating it as our National Anthem.

But....did you know that United States Code, 36 U.S.C. § 301, states that during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (United States National Anthem) when the flag is displayed, everyone except those in uniform should stand at attention while facing the flag with their right hand over their heart. Those in attendance who are not in uniform should remove any headwear with their right hand and hold it at their left shoulder, with their right hand held over their heart. Individuals in uniform should show the military salute during the first note of the anthem and stay in this position until the last note. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. If the flag is not displayed, people in attendance should face the music and respond as if the flag were present. Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention.

So here is our Talking Tuesday topic. Tell me if you place your hand over your heart every time our anthem is played? Gentlemen, do you remove your caps? Why or why not?

Monday, March 2, 2009

His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold

WASHINGTON (Feb. 27, 2009) -- Capt. Brian M. Bunting of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was "something special," his friends and family say.

The captain, a 1998 graduate of Bullis High School in Potomac, excelled academically and athletically in football, lacrosse and wrestling. He was a 2002 West Point graduate in civil engineering.

"Just sitting here thinking about how you measure the true value of a man or a woman -- with Brian you didn't measure it with money or things -- you measured it with heart," said his father, Robert Bunting. "He was something special."

Capt. Bunting, 29, of Potomac died Tuesday, Feb. 24, with three other soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when an explosive device detonated near their vehicle, the Defense Department said Thursday.

The officer was part of the Individual Ready Reserve. In May of 2007 he retired from active duty service, then welcomed the birth of his son in July.

"He loved his wife dearly and his son, Connor, meant everything to him," said his father.

In March 2008, Capt. Bunting received mobilization orders and moved back to Maryland so his wife and son would be close to family during his deployment.

"He was proud to have the job that he did. He always went into it with no reservations," said his older sister, Stephanie Graver.

The captain had been serving in Afghanistan since June, the commander of a 15-man team responsible for mentoring the Afghan National Police. He had just returned to the field, after two weeks of "R and R" with his family in Potomac.

Survivors include his wife, Nicki, and his son, as well as his father, two grandparents and five siblings.

"Family was the most important part of Bubba's life. He had an extremely tight-knit family whose love for one another was truly an inspiration," said his sister-in-law Sue Bunting.

He was popular among both staff and students at Bullis High School.

"Bubba was a true icon in our little Bullis community and grew up to be an All-American hero," said past schoolmate Katie Sugar Scheiner, posting her sentiments on a legacy.com Web page set up in-memorium.

Graver described him as a man of enormous potential, and cited his graduation from West Point in 2002.

"I feel his graduation was one of my parents' proudest moments," she said.

Bunting received three Army Achievement medals, an Army commendation Medal and six additional service medals. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal posthumously.

Richard Varney, a past teacher, adviser and friend during his years at Bullis, posted his thoughts on this loss, hearing echoes of a West Point farewell speech in the struggle.

"It is not possible to rationalize Brian's death and the depth of our sorrow," Varney said. "The words of General McArthur seem most fitting. 'In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give.'"

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Air Drops

Container bundles parachute to the ground to an undisclosed location in Afghanistan after being dropped by a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, Feb. 26, 2009.
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.