Friday, October 30, 2009

Search and Rescue

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy were searching early Friday for as many as nine people off the Southern California coast following a collision between a Coast Guard plane and a Marine Corps helicopter, officials said.

The crash was reported at 7:10 p.m. Thursday, about 50 miles off the San Diego County coast and 15 miles east of San Clemente Island, Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Allyson Conroy said.

A pilot reported seeing a fireball near where the aircraft collided, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said, and the Coast Guard informed the FAA that debris from a C-130 had been spotted. Seven people were on board the plane, a C-130, and two people were aboard the helicopter, he said.

Cpl Michael Stevens, a spokesman for the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, said the AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter was on a training mission when it went down. The Cobra and its crew are part of Marine Aircraft Group 39, based at Camp Pendleton, and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, which is headquartered at Miramar, Stevens said.

The missing Coast Guard plane and its crew are from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta Disco. Crews from the Sacramento Coast Guard station fly search-and-rescue, law enforcement and logistics missions, Disco said.

The Coast Guard planned to search through the night, having sent three cutters and diverting an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to the area to search for survivors. The Navy, meanwhile, sent four vessels and multiple helicopters.

"The search condition are ideal for tonight," Lt. Josh Nelson of the Coast Guard told XETV in San Diego. "We've got a clear sky, the winds are calm, the seas are calm, and we have a lot of assets out there."

San Clemente Island is the southernmost of the eight Channel Islands located 68 nautical miles west of San Diego. The Navy has owned and trained at San Clemente Island since 1934, according to the island's Web site. Naval Air Station, North Island is responsible for the island's administration.

Earlier this week, it was an AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter that collided with a UH-1 helicopter over southern Afghanistan, killing four American troops and wounding two more, a Marine spokesman said.

Friday, October 30, 2009
Associated Press

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My prayers are lifted for these nine brave Service Members and the families who love them so.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

If Only......

Op-Ed Columnist

The Peace (Keepers) Prize


Published: October 10, 2009

The Nobel committee did President Obama no favors by prematurely awarding him its peace prize. As he himself acknowledged, he has not done anything yet on the scale that would normally merit such an award — and it dismays me that the most important prize in the world has been devalued in this way.

It is not the president’s fault, though, that the Europeans are so relieved at his style of leadership, in contrast to that of his predecessor, that they want to do all they can to validate and encourage it. I thought the president showed great grace in accepting the prize not for himself but “as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”

All that said, I hope Mr. Obama will take this instinct a step further when he travels to Oslo on Dec. 10 for the peace prize ceremony. Here is the speech I hope he will give:

“Let me begin by thanking the Nobel committee for awarding me this prize, the highest award to which any statesman can aspire. As I said on the day it was announced, ‘I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize.’ Therefore, upon reflection, I cannot accept this award on my behalf at all.

“But I will accept it on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century — the men and women of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, to liberate Europe from the grip of Nazi fascism. I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers and sailors who fought on the high seas and forlorn islands in the Pacific to free East Asia from Japanese tyranny in the Second World War.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American airmen who in June 1948 broke the Soviet blockade of Berlin with an airlift of food and fuel so that West Berliners could continue to live free. I will accept this award on behalf of the tens of thousands of American soldiers who protected Europe from Communist dictatorship throughout the 50 years of the cold war.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers who stand guard today at outposts in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan to give that country, and particularly its women and girls, a chance to live a decent life free from the Taliban’s religious totalitarianism.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American men and women who are still on patrol today in Iraq, helping to protect Baghdad’s fledgling government as it tries to organize the rarest of things in that country and that region — another free and fair election.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the thousands of American soldiers who today help protect a free and Democratic South Korea from an unfree and Communist North Korea.

“I will accept this award on behalf of all the American men and women soldiers who have gone on repeated humanitarian rescue missions after earthquakes and floods from the mountains of Pakistan to the coasts of Indonesia. I will accept this award on behalf of American soldiers who serve in the peacekeeping force in the Sinai desert that has kept relations between Egypt and Israel stable ever since the Camp David treaty was signed.

“I will accept this award on behalf of all the American airmen and sailors today who keep the sea lanes open and free in the Pacific and Atlantic so world trade can flow unhindered between nations.

“Finally, I will accept this award on behalf of my grandfather, Stanley Dunham, who arrived at Normandy six weeks after D-Day, and on behalf of my great-uncle, Charlie Payne, who was among those soldiers who liberated part of the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald.

“Members of the Nobel committee, I accept this award on behalf of all these American men and women soldiers, past and present, because I know — and I want you to know — that there is no peace without peacekeepers.

“Until the words of Isaiah are made true and lasting — and nations never again lift up swords against nations and never learn war anymore — we will need peacekeepers. Lord knows, ours are not perfect, and I have already moved to remedy inexcusable excesses we’ve perpetrated in the war on terrorism.

“But have no doubt, those are the exception. If you want to see the true essence of America, visit any U.S. military outpost in Iraq or Afghanistan. You will meet young men and women of every race and religion who work together as one, far from their families, motivated chiefly by their mission to keep the peace and expand the borders of freedom.

“So for all these reasons — and so you understand that I will never hesitate to call on American soldiers where necessary to take the field against the enemies of peace, tolerance and liberty — I accept this peace prize on behalf of the men and women of the U.S. military: the world’s most important peacekeepers.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

53 Stars Have Turned From Blue to Gold

As of this morning, 53 American soldiers have been killed this month.

53 Stars Have Turned From Blue to Gold.

53 families have broken hearts.

53 brave men have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.

Think about it.

Imagine 53 people you know all in a room.

Imagine the room now empty.

53 of our Soldiers are gone.

The place they held in their family, in their community is now empty.

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

Monday, October 26, 2009

Deadliest of Days

14 Americans Killed in Afghan Chopper Crashes
KABUL — A series of helicopter crashes killed 14 Americans in insurgent-wracked Afghanistan on Monday, the U.S. military said. It was one of the deadliest days of the war for U.S. troops.

In the first crash, a chopper went down in the west of the country after leaving the scene of a firefight with insurgents, killing 10 Americans — seven troops and three civilians working for the government. Eleven American troops, one U.S. civilian and 14 Afghans were also injured.

In a separate incident in the south, two other U.S. choppers collided while in flight, killing four American troops and wounding two more, the military said.

U.S. authorities have ruled out hostile fire in the collision but have not given a cause for the other fatal crash in the west. Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmedi claimed Taliban fighters shot down a helicopter in northwest Badghis province's Darabam district. It was impossible to verify the claim and unclear if he was referring to the same incident.

U.S. forces also reported the death of two other American troops a day earlier: one in a bomb attack in the east, and another who died of wounds sustained in an insurgent attack in the same region. The deaths bring to at least 46 the number of U.S. troops who have been killed in October.

Earlier this month, insurgents killed eight American troops in an attack on a pair of isolated U.S. outposts in the eastern village of Kamdesh near the Pakistan border. That was the heaviest U.S. loss of life in a single battle since July 2008, when nine American soldiers were killed in a raid on an outpost in Wanat in the same province.

"These separate tragedies today underscore the risks our forces and our partners face every day," Col. Wayne Shanks, a spokesman for the NATO-led coalition, said Monday. "Each and every death is a tremendous loss for the family and friends of each service member and civilian. Our grief is compounded when we have such a significant loss on one day."

This has been the deadliest year for international and U.S. forces since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban. Fighting spiked around the presidential vote in August, and 51 U.S. soldiers died that month — the deadliest for American forces in the eight-year war.

The deaths come as U.S. officials debate whether to send tens of thousands more troops to the country and the Afghan government scrambles to organize a Nov. 7 runoff election between President Hamid Karzai and his top challenger from an August vote that was sullied by massive ballot-rigging. President Barack Obama's administration is hoping the runoff will produce a legitimate government. Another flawed election would cast doubt on the wisdom of sending more troops to support a weak government tainted by fraud.

U.S. military spokeswoman Elizabeth Mathias said coalition forces had launched an operation to recover the wreckage of the helicopter that was downed in the west.

She said the aircraft was leaving the site of a joint operation with Afghan forces when it went down.

The joint force had "searched a suspected compound believed to harbor insurgents conducting activities related to narcotics trafficking in western Afghanistan," NATO said in a statement. "During the operation, insurgent forces engaged the joint force and more than a dozen enemy fighters were killed in the ensuing firefight.

Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium — the raw ingredient in heroin — and the illicit drug trade is a major source of funding for Taliban and other insurgent groups.

On Sunday, Karzai and his rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, both ruled out a power-sharing deal before the runoff, saying the second round of balloting must be held as planned to bolster democracy in this war-ravaged country.

Meanwhile, security forces in Kabul fired automatic rifles into the air for a second day Monday to contain hundreds of stone-throwing university students angered over the alleged desecration of a Muslim holy book, the Quran, by U.S. troops during an operation two weeks ago in Wardak province. Firetrucks were also brought in to push back protesters with water cannons. Police said several officers were injured in the mayhem.

U.S. and Afghan authorities have denied any such desecration and insist that the Taliban are spreading the rumor to stir up public anger. The rumor has sparked similar protests in Wardak and Khost provinces.

On Sunday, the students in the capital burned Obama in effigy and chanted slogans such as "down with Americans, down with Israel" as they marched from Kabul University to the parliament building, where riot police turned them back.

Monday, October 26, 2009
Associated Press

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America welcomes you to participate in our annual laying of the wreaths effort at Arlington National Cemetery on December 12, 2009 and over 380 Remembrance Ceremonies world wide. Ceremonial wreaths for each branch of the military will be sent to all of the participating State and National cemeteries along with many local town cemeteries. Wreaths will also be provided for 24 offshore cemeteries, including Normandy Beach and a large Veteran’s commemorative wreath will be sent to each state’s State House.

Please take a few moments and visit their website: and join me in sponsoring a wreath!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Update...

I've been out of the Blogosphere for a little over a month now. It all began with the birth of my youngest grandgirl, Belle. She is a beauty. But she is deeply in need of prayer.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that she had been hospitalized for tests. The doctors felt as though they had her on a path of healing with medication and a different formula. She is not responding as well as they had hoped and more testing will be done on the 2nd. At her one month visit yesterday, a couple other issues were discovered...none all too serious, but they do exist and must be addressed.

I'm asking for continued prayer for not only Belle, but for her parents as well. Not to mention her two big sisters. This young family is in a tough place right now. It's difficult enough to have a 3 year old and 2 year old in the house with a newborn, but add medical issues on top makes it all the more challenging. It is a blessing to see the strength J & K pull from prayer. I know they are beyond exhaustion, both physical and emotional.

It's funny to listen to people gripe, in the course of a day... oh the woes of so many, who truly are not suffering at all. Oh my, a Weeping Cherry tree died in their yard or they have some scale on a Rhodo or we did not install their Leylands within 2 weeks and they are furious...screaming like a Banshee. Get a grip. Deal. Your life is damn good. Give thanks. I look at these people and chuckle under my breath. I'd like for them to hold my grandgirl, this tiny little person who is unable to keep food in her body.

Let's all try a little harder to keep life in perspective. What do we have to complain about? What are our hardships? To those of you I know live with genuine troubles, I will remain your prayer warrior. For the rest who have difficulty with the slightest bit of adversity...D-E-A-L!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wounds of War

Some wounds of war
Are never seen
They're buried deep within
No open wound
No Purple Heart
No blemish on the skin
But these are wounds
That leave a scar
Upon our very soul
They tear our hearts
Cause misery
And take a heavy toll
Our bloodless wounds
Cause us to ask
Oh GOD,what was it for
We go through life
Not knowing why
We have these
Wounds of War

Friday, October 16, 2009

October Death Toll at 25 Already!

4 Americans die in Afghanistan blast

KABUL (AP) -- Four more American troops died in a bombing in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Friday, as a U.N.-backed panel completed most of its investigation into whether the level of fraud in the August presidential election would require a runoff.

Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States says he expects a second round vote will be required.

Rising death tolls and the political crisis brought on by a fraud-marred election have prompted the Obama administration to review its entire Afghanistan war strategy.

Two of the U.S. service members were killed instantly in the Thursday blast and two others died of their wounds, the U.S. said in a statement. No further details were released.

The deaths bring to 25 the number of American service members killed in Afghanistan this month, according to an Associated Press count.

Elsewhere, four Afghans, including at least two civilians, died during a firefight Friday between militants and a joint international-Afghan force in Ghazni province. There were conflicting accounts of the gunbattle.

The NATO-led coalition said two militants fired from a two-story building and troops returned fire, killing a pair of gunmen. "When the joint force entered the building, they discovered two civilians who subsequently died from their wounds," the coalition said in a statement. "It is unclear if the enemy militants or the joint force are responsible for the deaths."

Ghazni police chief Gen. Khail Buz Sherzai said the dead were all civilians from the same family. A native of Mangor village, Mohammad Sarwar, said the operation began late Thursday when U.S. and Afghan forces raided several houses overnight, blowing apart doors and window with explosives. He also said four civilians were killed in the operation and several were beaten.

Insurgent violence has increased across Afghanistan this year, coinciding with a boost in U.S. military numbers. President Barack Obama is now considering whether to commit still more American troops to the about 65,000 already here.

The White House is considering various options, including a sharp increase in the number of U.S. troops or shifting the focus to missile strikes and special operations raids against al-Qaida members hiding in neighboring Pakistan.

Obama is not expected to decide until after the Afghans determine whether they must hold a runoff election between President Hamid Karzai and his top challenger, Abdullah Adbullah.

Preliminary results from the Aug. 20 poll had put Karzai in the lead with 54.6 percent of the vote compared to about 28 percent for Abdullah. The fraud rulings could eliminate enough Karzai votes to push him below the 50 percent threshold to force a second round.

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Complaints Commission said the panel has completed the bulk of its investigation but commissioners are still analyzing complaints and calculating figures before deciding on a runoff.

Investigators late Thursday completed an audit of 3,377 polling stations that returned unlikely results showing 100 percent turnout or a single candidate receiving 95 percent of the vote, said Nellika Little, a commission spokeswoman.

But the panel is still investigating individual fraud complaints. "We are still working on the numbers," Little told The Associated Press. "We haven't figured out a percentage."

An announcement is widely expected Saturday, after which the country's Independent Election Commission will announce final results and whether a runoff is needed. Any runoff is supposed to be held within two weeks, but many fear winter snows and insecurity could make the vote difficult or impossible.

In Washington, Karzai's ambassador to the United States, Said Tayeb Jawad, said Thursday that a runoff vote was very likely. He was the first official from Karzai's government to predict publicly that the challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, will have enough support to force a runoff.

Jawad said all sides should work hard to hold the runoff vote swiftly - ideally within a month.

A two-week deadline mandated in the country's constitution is "impossible," Jawad said. He worried that if the deadline slipped far into November, the weather will be too cold in parts of the country. Voters in Afghanistan, a country of great distances and few roads, often must travel long distances and spend significant time outdoors.

Jawad spoke at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and afterward with The Associated Press.

Citing anonymous sources it said were familiar with the results, The Washington Post reported Friday that Karzai's share of the vote had dropped to 47 percent. Little disputed that report, saying the commission's decisions were not completed, so no percentage was possible.

Uncertainty over the election outcome has eaten away at Karzai's legitimacy, leaving Afghanistan in limbo as the Taliban-led insurgency in the countryside deepens and the Obama administration debates its strategy in a war that has become increasingly unpopular in the U.S.


Associated Press Writer Rahim Faiez contributed to this report.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Military Recruiting Hits Historic Highs

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon's personnel chief said Tuesday the military has completed its best recruiting year since 1973, meeting all its goals and bringing in a better educated group of young people.

The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps met goals for active duty and reserve recruiting during the budget year ended Sept. 30 - the first time that has happened since the all-volunteer force was established, said Defense Department head of personnel Bill Carr.

He told a Pentagon press conference that it's partly because of department spending on finding recruits, even as fewer civilian jobs were available due to the nation's economic problems. He also cited increases in military pay.

For the active-duty force overall, Carr said 96 percent of recruits had a high school diploma, the best showing since 1996. For the Army, it was about 95 percent, up 11 percentage points from the previous year. And 73 percent of Pentagon recruits scored above average on the military's math and verbal aptitude testing, the best showing since 2004, Carr said.

The military spends about $10,000 per recruit, taking into account advertising, recruiter time and office leases for recruiting stations, he said. Recruits are in the 90th percentile of earners for their education and time in the workplace, Carr said.

He said studies show that those born between 1978 and 1996 "are more inclined toward service to society. That's a good thing, because that means we start off stronger with a given group of young people."

There also are factors that limit the pool from which the military must draw roughly 300,000 recruits each year. Some 70 percent of American high school students go on to college now, compared with only half in the 1980s. And one in four in the prime recruiting age of 17 to 24 are obese, raising fitness questions, compared with one in 20 in the 1980s, Carr said.

October 14, 2009
Associated Press

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold

Minnesota Guardsman from Walker killed in Afghanistan
By VINCE TUSS, Star Tribune

A Minnesota National Guardsman died Saturday in Afghanistan after he was wounded in an attack, the Pentagon said Monday.

Specialist George W. Cauley, 24, of Walker, died in Bagram, Afghanistan, according to a statement from the Defense Department. He was hurt Wednesday in Helmand Province when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

Cauley was a member of the Guard's 114th Truck Company, based in Duluth. The company had 187 soldiers mobilized in June, said Maj. Patricia Baker, a public affairs officer for the Minnesota Guard. The one-year deployment included training in Indiana before leaving for Afghanistan, Baker said.

The mission was moving supplies by ground throughout Afghanistan and providing convoy security, according to a statement from the Guard in April, when the deployment was announced. The company uses a Palletized Load System, a kind of heavy truck, to move large amount of cargo, Baker said.

The investigation into Cauley's death continues in Afghanistan, Baker said.

It comes a week after the death of a Guardsman in Iraq from noncombat injuries. Maj. Tad Hervas, 48, of Coon Rapids, died in Basra. He was assigned to the 34th Infantry Division, based in Rosemount.

In July, three state Guard members were killed by rocket attack on their base near Basra, Iraq. Specialist Daniel Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury; Specialist James Wertish, 20, of rural Olivia, and Specialist Carlos Wilcox IV, 27, of Cottage Grove were members of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division and assigned to the 34th Military Police Company, based in Stillwater.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I happened upon this article on "Stars and Stripes". Unnecessary is the only word which comes to mind...

In 2008 Afghanistan firefight, US weapons failed

By RICHARD LARDNER Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It was chaos during the early morning assault last year on a remote U.S. outpost in Afghanistan and Staff Sgt. Erich Phillips' M4 carbine had quit firing as militant forces surrounded the base. The machine gun he grabbed after tossing the rifle aside didn't work either.
When the battle in the small village of Wanat ended, nine U.S. soldiers lay dead and 27 more were wounded. A detailed study of the attack by a military historian found that weapons failed repeatedly at a "critical moment" during the firefight on July 13, 2008, putting the outnumbered American troops at risk of being overrun by nearly 200 insurgents.
Which raises the question: Eight years into the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, do U.S. armed forces have the best guns money can buy?
Despite the military's insistence that they do, a small but vocal number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq has complained that the standard-issue M4 rifles need too much maintenance and jam at the worst possible times.
A week ago, eight U.S. troops were killed at a base near Kamdesh, a town near Wanat. There's no immediate evidence of weapons failures at Kamdesh on Oct. 3, but the circumstances were eerily similar to the Wanat battle: insurgents stormed an isolated stronghold manned by American forces stretched thin by the demands of war.
Army Col. Wayne Shanks, a military spokesman in Afghanistan, said a review of the battle at Kamdesh is under way. "It is too early to make any assumptions regarding what did or didn't work correctly," he said.
Complaints about the weapons the troops carry, especially the M4, aren't new. Army officials say that when properly cleaned and maintained, the M4 is a quality weapon that can pump out more than 3,000 rounds before any failures occur.
The M4 is a shorter, lighter version of the M16, which made its debut during the Vietnam war. Roughly 500,000 M4s are in service, making it the rifle troops on the front lines trust with their lives.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a leading critic of the M4, said Thursday the Army needs to move quickly to acquire a combat rifle suited for the extreme conditions U.S. troops are fighting in.
U.S. special operations forces, with their own acquisition budget and the latitude to buy gear the other military branches can't, already are replacing their M4s with a new rifle.
"The M4 has served us well but it's not as good as it needs to be," Coburn said.
Battlefield surveys show that nearly 90 percent of soldiers are satisfied with their M4s, according to Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, head of the Army office that buys soldier gear. Still, the rifle is continually being improved to make it even more reliable and lethal.
Fuller said he's received no official reports of flawed weapons performance at Wanat. "Until it showed up in the news, I was surprised to hear about all this," he said.
The study by Douglas Cubbison of the Army Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., hasn't been publicly released. Copies of the study have been leaked to news organizations and are circulating on the Internet.
Cubbison's study is based on an earlier Army investigation and interviews with soldiers who survived the attack at Wanat. He describes a well-coordinated attack by a potent enemy that unleashed a withering barrage with AK-47 automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.
The soldiers said their weapons were meticulously cared for and routinely inspected by commanders. But still the weapons had breakdowns, especially when the rifles were on full automatic, which allows hundreds of bullets to be fired a minute.
Cubbison acknowledges the high rates of fire during the two-hour battle may have led to the failures. But he says numerous problems occurred relatively early in the engagement.
He also said the enemy forces were "experienced, numerically powerful, highly skilled, adequately equipped (and) tactically accomplished."
The platoon-sized unit of U.S. soldiers and about two dozen Afghan troops was shooting back with such intensity the barrels on their weapons turned white hot. The high rate of fire appears to have put a number of weapons out of commission, even though the guns are tested and built to operate in extreme conditions.
Cpl. Jonathan Ayers and Spc. Chris McKaig were firing their M4s from a position the soldiers called the "Crow's Nest." The pair would pop up together from cover, fire half a dozen rounds and then drop back down.
On one of these trips up, Ayers was killed instantly by an enemy round. McKaig soon had problems with his M4, which carries a 30-round magazine.
"My weapon was overheating," McKaig said, according to Cubbison's report. "I had shot about 12 magazines by this point already and it had only been about a half hour or so into the fight. I couldn't charge my weapon and put another round in because it was too hot, so I got mad and threw my weapon down."
The soldiers also had trouble with their M249 machine guns, a larger weapon than the M4 that can shoot up to 750 rounds per minute.
Cpl. Jason Bogar fired approximately 600 rounds from his M-249 before the weapon overheated and jammed the weapon.
Bogar was killed during the firefight, but no one saw how he died, according to the report.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Prayers for Belle

My youngest grandgirl, Belle was hospitalized on Friday.
She is only 3 weeks old.
Please join me in prayer.
May God heal this sweet little baby.
May God give strength to my daughter and son-in-law as they travel this challenging road.
May God watch over the two big sisters as they try so hard to cope while their Mommy, Daddy and baby sister are away from home.
May God guide the doctors who lay their hands on my youngest grandchild.

Almighty God in Heaven, help us all.

Friday, October 9, 2009

If You have Seven Minutes To Spare....

I happened upon this video on YouTube.
Warning: it's a bit rough around the edges, in other words-homemade...but well worth the time to view.
The video is a dad making a speech, as his son leaves for Afghanistan.
Let me know what you think......

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I had the honor of welcoming home our troops at BWI yesterday. It was off the chart special, since a friend of John's was returning from the Middle East. I've been attending Operation Welcome Home Events for over a year and a half now. .. this is the first time, I have been looking for one particular soldier.

I've never met this Airman, only spoken with him briefly on the phone. It's actually a cute story... John purchased a 1989 pickup truck to tinker with and go 'mudding'. The truck required a lot of work; Wright-Patt has some rather amazing garages, so John has been having a good time working on his vehicles. Quite a while back, I had a voicemail from John asking I call him when I get off work. I dial his number, and hear "Hey, under the truck." I reply with my usual, "Love you, call me later". A short while later, John returns my call and says, "Mom, do you know that you told 'M' that you love him?" I told John that I thought I was talking to him, since I dialed his number. John then says, "oh, so you DON'T love 'M'?" He then hollers to 'M', "My Mom doesn't love you!" Geez.......

Needless to say, since has been a running joke. When I was making a Welcome Home sign for 'M', I contemplated whether or not to color a huge red heart with this Airman's name on it! In the end...I made a 'respectful' traditional, yet patriotic sign for my son's friend.

It was fun to look for him, I had the small group around me looking for his name badge on his ABU's as well. I had never seen a photo of him and he had never seen a photo of me. This was our first time to meet. It was such an awesome moment, I knew him right away...very strange in a very cool way. Being mom, I greeted him with a hug and tears. We exchanged coins. He gave me a coin from his mission and I gave him a gratitude coin (special thanks to ShaysMa for mailing it to me!) He was exhausted from his 48 hour voyage home. I am thrilled that I was able to meet him, and welcome him home!

We shook the hands of over 230 soldiers yesterday. 230 faces. Most of these faces wore smiles, some could not hold back the tears from being so overwhelmed. We are a loud bunch, as we welcome home our heroes. As I leave the airport my voice is strained from hollering and my hands are red and stinging from the clapping. Truth is, I have seen thousands of soldiers walk our 'parade' line. Thousands of faces. If I were to ever be in a room of world leaders, it would not hold a candle to the awe of seeing and shaking the hands of our service men and women. My heart fills with such intense gratitude each time I attend an OWH event.

So many faces....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Terrible Word...Deadliest

I love our English language.
I love vocabulary.
I'm not as fond of usage...but that's another post.

This being said; there are certain words which take my breath away. 'Deadliest' is one of those words. With a heavy heart, I share this article with you....

8 US troops killed in fierce Afghan fighting
By ROBERT H. REID and RAHIM FAIEZ Associated Press Writers

KABUL (AP) -- Hundreds of insurgents armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades stormed a pair of remote outposts near the Pakistan border, killing eight U.S. soldiers and capturing more than 20 Afghan security troops in the deadliest assault against U.S. forces in more than a year, military officials said.
The fierce gunbattle, which erupted at dawn Saturday in the Kamdesh district of mountainous Nuristan province and raged throughout the day, is likely to fuel the debate in Washington over the direction of the troubled eight-year war.
It was the heaviest U.S. loss of life in a single battle since July 2008, when nine American soldiers were killed in a raid on an outpost in Wanat in the same province.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, plans to shift U.S. troops away from remote outposts that are difficult to defend and move them into more heavily populated areas as part of his new strategy to focus on protecting Afghan civilians.
U.S. troops used artillery, helicopter gunships and airstrikes Saturday to repel the attackers, inflicting "heavy enemy casualties," according to a NATO statement. Fighting persisted in the area Sunday, U.S. and Afghan officials said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. NATO spokesman Brig. Gen. Eric Tremblay said the assailants included a mix of "tribal militias," Taliban and fighters loyal to Sirajudin Haqqani, an al-Qaida-linked militant based in sanctuaries in the tribal areas of Pakistan near the Afghan border.
Afghan authorities said the hostile force included fighters who had been driven out of the Swat Valley of neighboring Pakistan after a Pakistani military offensive there last spring.
"This was a complex attack in a difficult area," U.S. Col. Randy George, the area commander, said in a statement. "Both the U.S. and Afghan soldiers fought bravely together."
Details of the attack remained unclear Sunday and there were conflicting reports of Afghan losses due to poor communications in the area, located just 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the Pakistani border and about 150 miles (230 kilometers) from Kabul.
A NATO statement said the attacks were launched from a mosque and a nearby village on opposite sides of a hill, which included the two outposts - one mostly American position on the summit and another mostly Afghan police garrison on a lower slope.
NATO said eight Americans and two Afghan security troopers were killed.
An Afghan military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security issues, said three Afghan soldiers and one policeman had been killed in two days of fighting. He also said at least seven Afghan army soldiers were missing and feared captured.
In addition, provincial police chief Mohammad Qasim Jangulbagh said 15 Afghan policemen had been captured, including the local police chief and his deputy. Jangulbagh estimated that about 300 militants took part in the attack.
"Kamdesh is one of the most dangerous areas of Nuristan province," he said, noting that the area is across the border from parts of Pakistan where al-Qaida-linked militants operate.
Jangulbagh said that after Pakistani forces drove militants from most of the Swat Valley five months ago, militants "received orders to come to Nuristan and destabilize the situation."
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said militants overran both outposts, but U.S. spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias said U.S. troops were holding the outposts Sunday. She also said a roadside bomb killed a U.S. service member southwest of Kabul on Saturday, bringing the U.S. death toll for the month to 15.
The fighting occurred in a region where towering mountains and dense pine forests have long served as a staging area for Taliban and al-Qaida fighters who move freely across the Pakistani frontier.
The region was a key staging area for Arab militants who fought alongside Afghan warriors during the U.S.-backed war against the Soviets in the 1980s and is one of the few parts of South Asia where Muslims follow the hardline Wahhabi sect of Islam.
Associated Press Writers Rahim Faiez and Lori Hinnant in Kabul and Noor Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.