Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday Hero 06/30/2010

First Lieutenant Randall Lee Ashby
First Lieutenant Randall Lee Ashby
Second Platoon, Company B, 317th Engineer Battalion, 2d Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized)
U.S. Army

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to First Lieutenant (Corps of Engineers) Randall Lee Ashby, United States Army, for gallantry while serving as the Platoon Leader of Second Platoon, Company B, 317th Engineer Battalion, 2d Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized). First Lieutenant Ashby consistently demonstrated valor in executing his engineer missions as the lead sapper platoon leader for Task Force 2-69 Armor. Serving with Team ASSASSIN, he voluntarily executed dangerous missions in order to contribute to the engineer's success. First Lieutenant Ashby's personal bravery and selfless actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Third Infantry Division "Rock of the Marne," and the United States Army. NARRATIVE TO ACCOMPANY AWARD: For gallantry in connection with military operations against a hostile force in the country of Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. First Lieutenant Ashby distinguished himself while serving as Platoon Leader with Second Platoon, Company B, 317th Engineer Battalion, and attached to 2d Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized). First Lieutenant Ashby exhibited extreme gallantry on multiple occasions in over 25 days of continuous combat operations. He spearheaded engineer movement for the Division for roughly 200 kilometers to OBJ CLAY, the Highway 1 Bridge across the Euphrates located to the west of An Nasiriyah. On the night of 21 March 2003, First Lieutenant Ashby led the engineer effort at OBJ CLAY under Team Assassin by providing the first reconnaissance of this key bridge as elements of the Iraqi 11th Infantry Division defended the area. First Lieutenant Ashby, while under fire, conducted a difficult classification mission and ensured the safe passage of an armored company onto OBJ CLAY NORTH. Moreover, after the Task Force had established a tactical assembly area to the west, First Lieutenant Ashby returned to OBJ CLAY to reconnoiter a construction bridge adjacent to the Highway 1 Bridge amid enemy artillery fire from the northern shore. Later, as Team Assassin conducted a dangerous linkup with elements of 3-7 Cavalry south of the city of Al Kifl, First Lieutenant Ashby directed his platoon's emplacement of vital blocking obstacles to prevent enemy penetration of the company's sector for more than seventy hours of continuous enemy contact. In addition, under his leadership 2d Platoon destroyed 300 pounds of TNT intended by the enemy for use on the Al Kifl Bridge. In southern Al Kifl, his platoon gained entry using demolitions to a water-bottling factory with a water supply greatly needed by both the Task Force and the local populous. First Lieutenant Ashby again distinguished himself on 1 April 2003 by emplacing explosive obstacles along RTE VENEZUELA to the east of the key city of Karbala at OBJ LEE. He led the emplacement with Team Assassin under fire from Saddam Fedayeen RPG ambushes and T-62 tanks. On 6 April 2003 again with Team Assassin as the lead element of the Task Force's attack into the Taji region north of Baghdad against Republican Guard and Saddam Fedayeen units, First Lieutenant Ashby personally destroyed with, MK-19 fire, eight enemy RPG teams and dismounted enemy soldiers over a 55 kilometer attack to OBJ MONTY. He displayed calm leadership following a fatal enemy RPG strike on one of his M113 armored personnel carriers, providing stability for his men as they treated two other soldiers wounded in action. While escorting a D9 Dozer, a Division high value asset, to OBJ MONTY, First Lieutenant Ashby protected the dozer from an enemy vehicle intent on ramming them. First Lieutenant Ashby's personal bravery as the lead sapper platoon leader for Task Force 2-69 Armor are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Third Infantry Division "Rock of the Marne," and the United States Army.

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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

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Thanks to Christopher Lee for his dedication to our heroes!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Oak...

A mighty wind blew night and day,
It stole the oak tree's leaves away.
Then snapped it boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark.
But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
'How can you still be standing, Oak?'
The oak tree said, 'I know that you
can break each branch of mine in two.
Carry every leaf away,
Shake my limbs and make me sway,.
But I have roots stretched in the earth,
Growing stronger since my birth.
You'll never touch them, for you see,
They are the deepest part of me.
Until today, I wasn't sure
of just how much I could endure,
But now I've found, with thanks to you,
I'm stronger than I ever knew.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
To all the families, friends and supporters of our Military...
these words say it all.
May each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine feel like an Oak.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Baby Girl!!!

Thirty years ago at 4:26AM, after only four and a half hours of labor...I met my Baby Girl. I fell into complete unconditional love at first sight! She was beautiful. As the years passed by, I grew to love her in a way which simply has no words.

On February 2, 2009...following 24+ hours of labor, I kissed my sweet girl as she was being wheeled away to bring her daughter into the world.... I kissed my daughter and told her...."Now you will know how very much I love you!"

On Thursday, I spent the day with my daughter and her one point Marie looked at me and told me that she just loved her daughter....all I could say was, "I know".

Oh Marie, I love you so very much. I am ever so blessed that God chose to give you to me as a gift. How thankful I am that you have a daughter and finally have some idea how very much I love you!

Happy Birthday, Marie!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my Dad's birthday.

One of my favorite memories of my Dad is my 18th birthday!
Back in the day, turning 18 was when you could legally drink alcohol. My Dad thought it would be fun to celebrate my 18th birthday in a VFW Hall, with a Polka Band! He wanted to share my first legal beer with me. (yep, there were a couple of illegal Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill nights, perhaps those days will be written of in another post). So back to my most memorable 18th Birthday Extravaganza... Me, my folks, some of their friends, a VFW Hall and a real live Polka Band playing, yep you guessed it...Polka Music. My Dad loved to dance. My Dad never shyed away from a dance floor, even though he was born with two left feet! I kid you not, anyone dancing with my Dad needed to tie up a pair of steel tips, before taking the dance floor! But he loved to dance. In my mind, I can still see him jiggling around...even with the tempo very slow! My mom would ask me to dance with him, to give her toes a chance to recover from the trampling! Truly, these memories of him bring a smile to my heart!

Garth Brooks sings a song titled, The Dance

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared beneath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known you'd ever say goodbye
And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I'd of had to miss the dance

I'm so grateful for my dances with my Dad. Those moments are forever imprinted on my heart.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


We need to rally our prayer support for General McChrystal, as he sits with President Obama today.

Each and every one of our soldiers are in need of our prayers, constantly.

Join me in an extra prayer for this particular soldier today.....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's a Good Start!

Army looks to cut combat deployments to nine months

The Army is working on plans to cut combat zone deployments to nine months and increase dwell time to three years, but such a rotation schedule will take years to implement, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told the Army Times.

During an exclusive interview earlier this month, Casey said that 12-month tours are too long and that repeated deployments have taken a toll on the Army’s troops and families.

“We’re actively studying right now the timing and the possibilities of going to nine-month deployments as a standard,” Casey told the Army Times. “Fifteen months is too long. Twelve months is too long to sustain indefinitely. Six months is too short.”

However, the Army is unlikely to fully implement the nine-month deployment plan until 2014, Casey said.

Twelve-month deployments have been the standard for the Army for most of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007, the Army extended deployments to 15 months as part of a troop surge in Iraq.

The Army also has struggled to ensure that soldiers get sufficient time to recuperate. Frequently, troops have been forced to deploy with less than two years at home.

Expanding dwell time to 36 months should help soldiers better recover from the rigors of combat, Casey told the Army Times.

“We’ve done these mental health assessment team studies for six years now — between nine and 12 [months] is where a lot of the stress problems really manifest themselves, where the family problems really manifest themselves,” Casey said.

Stars and Stripes
Published: June 22, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's Friday!!!!

...and B is coming home!

God is great!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Does Anyone Care?

I realize we are in the midst of a horrific event taking place in the Gulf.
My heart is heavy for the families who are facing the loss of family businesses, it is difficult to see the oil covered birds and know that fish are dying.

But, God help me....we lost thirty American soldiers in Afghanistan so far this month.

Our news is saturated with the events of the oil spill....have we forgotten we are still at war?

Have we forgotten that we have Service Men and Women serving in a country far from home?

Will somebody please give me 5 minutes on the CBS Evening News to remind America our Nation is still at war? 5 Frickin' minutes...please!

C'mon, Folks....I'm a Blessed Mom! My sons are both Stateside...for now!

I just need to know.....does anybody care?

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DOD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device June 7 in Konar, Afghanistan. They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Killed were:

Sgt. Joshua A. Lukeala, 23, of Yigo, Guam;

Spc. Matthew R. Catlett, 23, of Houston, Texas;

Spc. Charles S. Jirtle, 29, of Lawton, Okla.; and

Spc. Blaine E. Redding, 22, of Plattsmouth, Neb.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday Hero 06/16/2010

Tech Sergeant Victor R. Adams
Tech Sergeant Victor R. Adams
20th Special Operations Squadron
U.S. Air Force

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Technical Sergeant Victor R. Adams (AFSN: 13533712), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force while serving as a UH-1F Helicopter Aerial Gunner of the 20th Special Operations Squadron, Nha Trang Air Base, Vietnam, in action near Duc Co, Republic of Vietnam, on the night of 26 - 27 November 1968. On that date, Sergeant Adams' aircraft was shot down by hostile ground fire and crashed in dense jungle. Disregarding his own injuries and the imminence of hostile activity, he assisted the co-pilot from the burning helicopter and returned to rescue the trapped personnel. He succeeded in pulling another man from the wreckage, before the severity of the fire and subsequent explosions forced him to abandon further rescue efforts. Through his superb airmanship, aggressiveness, and extraordinary heroism, in the face of hostile forces, Sergeant Adams reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

All Information Was Found On And Copied From

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

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Warmest thanks for Christopher Lee's dedication to all our heroes...past and present!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Talking Tuesday

B's coming home on Friday!!!!

Is it possible for a mom to greet her son at the airport... and not cry?

God is great!

Your turn........

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flag Day, 2010

Our American Flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with 6 white.

The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the Union.

The colors of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.

You're a Grand Old Flag
by George M. Cohan

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Young Hearts....

ZOR MASHUR, KANDAHAR PROVINCE - JUNE 09: Spc. Carlos Rivera of Augusta, Georgia, with the 1-71 Cavalry sits as two curious Afghan children try to talk with him while on patrol June 9, 2010 in the village of Zor Mashur, south of Kandahar, Afghanistan. Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division have fanned out in the vast area south of Kandahar. They are a part of a counterinsurgency strategy aimed at protecting Afghan civilians and legitimizing the government of Afghanistan in the minds of the rural local populace.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, John!


What can a mom say, when her baby boy turns 21?

Music comes to my mind.... I think of Savage Garden singing, "I loved you before I met you, I think I dreamed you into life".... I think of Blake Shelton singing, "I don't care if you're 80, you'll always be my baby". I think of you standing beside me in a Chapel at Lackland, AFB listening to the song by Mark Schultz, "Letters From War" and how you cheered when we sang the words, "He said "mom I'm following orders. From all of your letters. And I've come home again"... John, your mom cried.

Twenty-one years ago, I met you, my son. I remember waking that morning, knowing you would enter my world. We went clear across county for your sister's soccer game...and there I went into labor.

At 6:10 on 6/10 you entered my world. My baby. My littlest guy with the smiling eyes.

It matters not the roads you travel, forever you are in your mom's heart. I love you so much more than I could ever even try to attempt with words.

You are my baby.

I love you so!

Happy Birthday, John!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Talking Tuesday

I caught a hit on the Internet, stating that 7 American Soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Monday. As I searched for the story, it was not easy to locate. FOX NEWS did not have the story on the front page. CNN did have a feature on their front page.

Where has it all gone so wrong? Many people have searched for stories about Gary Coleman's death, don't our Soldiers deserve front page? We heard for months about how much we were helping Haiti; there were celebs speaking out and concerts to help raise money...what have we done to help our brothers and sisters in the Gulf Coast area, who are dealing with this oil spill? Where are the celebs now? Other than the artists who perform with the USO, where are the concerts honoring our fallen soldiers and supporting their families? Why has it all gone so wrong? Why are our precious resources not being delivered at home first? How can we turn it around?

May Almighty God bless our Brave Seven Warriors and may God bring comfort to the families who love them so!

(CNN) -- Ten troops -- including seven Americans -- were killed in Afghanistan on Monday, making it one of the deadliest days for coalition forces since they entered the country in 2001, officials said.

Also Monday, an American citizen and another person died in an attack on a police training center in Kandahar, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said.

The 10 slain troops included three NATO-led service members killed in southern Afghanistan. Two of them died after a roadside bombing attack and another was killed in small arms fire, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.

In eastern Afghanistan on Monday, an improvised explosive device killed five NATO troops, according to an ISAF news release.

In a separate operation, a service member was killed by small arms fire in eastern Afghanistan, and another was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan.

An ISAF spokesman said seven of the 10 slain NATO troops were Americans.

In the attack on the police training center in Kandahar, one suicide attacker driving a Toyota Corolla struck the center's tower and two suicide attackers who attempted to enter the center detonated themselves at the facility's gate, the Afghan Interior Ministry said. All three attackers were killed.

"Our sympathies go out to those who lost loved ones in this callous attack. The United States will continue to stand with our Afghan partners to fight terrorism and help the Afghan government provide security, safety and prosperity to its people," the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Fun for Military Families...

WASHINGTON – Active duty servicemembers and their families will gain free access to hundreds of museums throughout the nation this summer, thanks to a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and Blue Star Families.

More than 600 museums in 50 states and the District of Columbia have signed up so far to participate in Operation Appreciation: Blue Star Museums. The program offers active duty servicemembers -- including activated Guard and Reserve -- and up to five of their immediate family members free admission to participating museums from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

“The Blue Star Museums initiative is a tangible expression of appreciation to servicemembers and their families,” said Barbara Thompson, director of the Pentagon’s office of family policy, children and youth. “It warms our hearts to see how other federal agencies and local communities can think creatively to recognize their sacrifice and contribution to the nation.”

People can visit for a complete list of participating museums, which run the gamut from children’s and fine arts to history and science museums. Participating museums include the Art Institute of Chicago, Dallas Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and all of New Mexico's 14 state-run museums and historic monuments.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for servicemembers and their families to enjoy the cultural experiences that might have otherwise been inaccessible because of cost,” Thompson said. “We truly appreciate the generosity of the National Endowment for the Arts and the participating museums.”

While admission is free of charge, some special or limited-time exhibits may not be included in the program, according to a Blue Star Museums news release. People should contact the museum directly for specifics.

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

Sunday, June 6, 2010


We must never forget the sacrifice of more than 9,000 Soldiers who were killed or wounded on this day, June 6, 1944.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Single White Rose

Five years ago today, my Dad went to Heaven.

Every single day, I miss him.

For years, my Dad and I worked together...I was often called his PitBull. He's the kind of guy who would give the shirt off his times when running a business the reigns needed to be pulled, so that was my job. He offered the mailman, the UPS driver, the FedEx driver a glass of ice water each day...or if it was lunch time, he'd fix them a sandwich to take on the road. Nobody left my Dad's house thirsty or hungry. He truly enjoyed food and encouraged the six of us to take a taste of everything. I have yet to meet a more determined man. He was determined to have a lung transplant before his 65th birthday (the cut-off age) and he had that transplant just months before his birthday. He was determined to live right up to the end, and he gave it a damn good shot.

I'll go to the cemetery today and leave a single white rose at his grave. He knows my heart, he knows how much I miss him and most of all he knows how much I love him.

I love you, Dad...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Why He Ties His Boots....

I was sitting here typing a post... sharing some random thoughts on what it's like to be the mom of two warriors.

................then my cell phone rang.

My youngest son called to let me know he may be deploying in September for six months to Afghanistan. He told me 'it's why he ties his boots.'

The post I was writing, has obviously evaporated. Perhaps, those thoughts will reappear on a new day.

Prayers are lifted....Thy will be done.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Defending The Perimeter: In Their Own Words

6/1/2010 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- The early morning attack on Bagram Airfield May 19 may seem like a long time ago to some. After all, the airfield is one of the busiest in the world and the nerve center for much of what moves in and out of Afghanistan.

But for members of the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron both on and off duty it was a day for which they trained and prepared, but hoped would never come.

"We hope for boring days," said Staff Sgt. Curtis Wynn, 455th ESFS, element and fire team leader. "We actually look forward to them."

Sergeant Wynn, deployed from Misawa Air Base, Japan, was on a mobile patrol on the western perimeter of the airfield the morning of the May 19 attack, when enemy combatants tried to breach the perimeter of Bagram Airfield.

"When I heard the initial explosions, I began to do a sweep around the sector," he said. The Detroit, Mich., native was looking for a potential point of impact and indirect fire attack. He stopped his vehicle in a position to gain a clear view of his local area.
Then he called one of the tower guards who notified him of individuals moving towards the perimeter fence. "The Airman asked me if he could engage the enemy positions and I told him to go ahead."

After giving his Airman the green light to fire, Sergeant Wynn proceeded up the tower to give his Airman support and gain a better view of events unfolding on the fence line.

"Once I got in the tower, I immediately began to engage targets," said Sergeant Wynn. He saw three individuals on the fence line and three individuals providing support fire with rocket-propelled grenades.

Both were firing at U.S. Army Apache helicopters that had arrived on station and he added, "We engaged until we were sure all of the targets in the area were neutralized."
Sergeant Wynn was on duty, patrolling the area when the attack occurred, but many of the responders were not.

Senior Airman Andrew Van Arb awoke to the sound of gunfire in the early morning hours.
"Originally, I thought it was the aerial gunnery range." Said Airman Van Arb, deployed from Beale Air Force Base, Calif. "As I listened, I realized it was a little too close to be the range."

Shortly after Airman Van Arb, a Desert Hot Springs, Calif. native, heard an Airman run down the hallway of his dorm yelling, "Get up, and get out of bed. Let's go. We have been recalled. We are under attack."

Airman Van Arb and his roommates all threw on their personal protective equipment and took off downstairs to a bunker area where other ESFS Airmen were meeting to organize and assist the perimeter defenders.

"The first sergeant came around the corner with an M249 machine gun and asked, 'who can use this?'" said Airman Van Arb. "I replied that I could and he handed me the weapon and it was already loaded, so we came around the corner and they began splitting us into teams to get out to the perimeter."

Once Airman Van Arb was split into his team they grabbed an up armored vehicle and took off to the northern perimeter of the base to render assistance to their fellow Airmen.

"As we proceeded around the north end of the runway the sun was cresting over the mountains," said Airman Van Arb. He spotted four individuals rising from a prone position and getting ready to run. "When they saw our High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, one of them turned and fired at us so I sent two three round bursts in their direction and saw one of them go down.

"We turned around after we had engaged and passed the remaining three individuals who had fired at us before," he added. Airman Van Arb engaged them again.

Once his team got to a nearby tower, Airman Van Arb provided over watch as the others moved up the steps into the tower. They then provided cover for him as he moved into the tower and set up his M249 preparing for another attack.

For Tech. Sgt. Joshua Behm, 455th ESFS, assistant sector flight chief, the scene on the southern perimeter was much like those on the northern and western perimeters of the airfield, busy.

"We had just completed our change over," said Sergeant Behm, deployed from Andrews AFB, Md. "It was probably about 3:30 a.m. or 3:45 a.m. when we heard the initial RPG attack."

Once they heard the initial attack and some additional small arms fire in the area, Sergeant Behm, a Reading, Pa. native, and members of the section who were in the area grabbed their gear and moved to a rally point near their operations center.

"When we got there, we began breaking into small fire teams," said Sergeant Behm.
"Once we were broken into teams, we began to push out to support our towers and sweep the area."

Sergeant Behm and his team moved towards a nearby tower to support the Airman there who had a visual of four enemy combatants in the area. The Airman in the tower had already engaged two of the enemy combatants and as Sergeant Behm and his team moved into the tower, they gained a visual on the second two combatants and engaged them, neutralizing both.

With the threats neutralized, Sergeant Behm scanned the area for about an hour and moved to two other areas of the airfield to assist and provide security.

At the end of the mornings activities 16 enemy combatants were neutralized and the 455th ESFS had only received minimal injuries.

"I believe this was the first time a complex attack has been attempted on an airfield since Vietnam," said Capt. Jason Williams, 455th ESFS sector officer-in-charge. "They (enemy combatants) were a well armed force coming to do business and we eliminated them."

Captain Williams, deployed from Keesler AFB, Miss., added, "They tried to hit us from all sides and we showed them we (ESFS) could defend the airfield."

A native of Asheboro, N.C., Captain Williams said he was most impressed with his
young Airmen, most of whom are under the age of 23, for performing their duties under fire and his noncommissioned officers on scene who stepped in and controlled their areas and ensured the Airmen were engaging the right targets, in the right areas, at the right time.

"We train constantly," added Captain Williams. "We conduct battle drills all the time so our guys know what to do when a threat like this arises.

"Our guys did an amazing job," said Sergeant Behm. "Although I think our Airmen do their job and do it well, everyone really came together and everything seemed to flow." He attributed that to personal experience of some of the 455th ESFS personnel, but emphasized that training was a key part to their success.

"You can train for this all the time," said Airman Van Arb. "When it happens for real, the training and preparations make everything second nature and you just do what you need to, sometimes without thinking about it."

The experiences shared by these Airmen are only a microcosm of the events of the morning of May 19, 2010, but the 455th ESFS had a base defense plan in place, they were trained, and understood the very real threat facing Bagram Airfield.

Airman Van Arb added, "I sleep comfortably at night knowing there are 'Defenders' on the perimeter and they are going to do the right thing."

by Staff Sgt. Richard Williams
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

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I am so grateful my son returned to American soil safely, following this attack.
My heart is filled with gratitude for the brave 'Defenders' of Bagram Airfield.
May Almighty God protect each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold

The 1,000th American serviceman killed in Afghanistan was born on the Fourth of July.

Corporal of Marines Jacob C. Leicht died Thursday when he stepped on a land mine in southern Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province. The blast was so powerful that ripped off his right arm.

It was the 24-year-old Texan's second deployment overseas.

While recovering from wound received in battle in Iraq, Cpl. Leicht had begged to return to the battlefield with his brother Marines.

He finally got back to the front lines, but was killed less than a month into the tour of duty he desperately wanted.

When the Marine Corps Casualty Call officers went to tell the parents their adopted son had died in battle, sheriff's deputies had to help navigate them to the 130-acre family ranch tucked deep in the Texas Hill Country.

For Cpl. Leicht, born in a California Navy hospital, the battlefield was exactly where he belonged. He turned his back on a college ROTC scholarship after just one semester because he feared it would lead him to a safe desk job state-side.

"His greatest fear was that they would tell him he would have to sit at a desk for the rest of his life," said Jonathan Leicht, his older brother.

When Jacob Leicht's wish finally came true, it didn't last long. His first deployment was to Iraq in 2007, but he was there less than a month when his vehicle drove over two 500-pound IEDs buried in the road.

One detonated, the other didn't. The blast ripped through the Humvee, flinging the radio into Cpl. Leicht's face and knocking him unconscious. His gunner's face was shredded so badly by shrapnel that Corpsmen couldn't keep water in his mouth.

The terrorist bomb snapped the Corporal's fibula and tibula, and the recovery was an agonizing ordeal of pins and rods and bolts drilled through his bones.

But he wasn't done fighting. He launched a campaign for himself at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, writing letters and making phone calls to anyone who would listen about returning to combat. More than two years later, he was finally strong enough to fight those who would harm innocent men, women and children.

Nine days before his brother stepped on a bomb in Afghanistan, younger brother Jesse Leicht enlisted in the Corps. Using Facebook to reach a friend stationed not far from his brother, Jesse asked the Marine a favor: If you see Jacob, let him know I signed up like him.

"Hopefully," Jesse said, "he got the word."

Wilmington Conservative ExaminerKevin Whiteman

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rolling Thunder!!!!

Sunday was simply amazing!

I met Michelle for the first time! She is Shay's mom. Michelle arranged for us to ride Rolling Thunder. We met at the Blue Star/Gold Star Mother tent, and then we were introduced to our escorts. My escort, Kevin has been riding Rolling thunder for about five years. His brother was killed in Nam, so this is what Kevin does in his brother's memory.

At noon, the bikes started up! BSM escorts were the first to roll out. We had 'VIP' on the windshield. Once we crossed over the Memorial Bridge and saw the enormous crowds, I had goosebummps and my eyes filled with tears. The crowds clapped and said "Thank you", they reached to shake our hands. Kevin kept asking me, "Isn't this amazing?" Truly, it was.

Being the mom of two Airman, has filled me with so very much pride. My sons have made outstanding choices for their lives. My heart hurts some days because of these choices, but I'm able to settle it all down with prayer. It's so very difficult to put in words, what it's like when you see crowds of people who genuinely appreciate our military. I did not see one person protesting the war. My tears of joy ran, because I saw and felt first hand all the love and support from everyday Americans who applaud the moms of our Soldiers!

America will forever remain the land of the free, because of our brave warriors.
America will forever remain the greatest nation on earth, because of the everyday Americans!