Monday, February 28, 2011

Can You Believe It Has Been Three Years???

Three Years ago my youngest son enlisted in the United States Air Force!

I could not be more proud of the man he has become.

John, I love you so!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Hero 02/23/2011

Cmd. David John Sperling
Cmd. David John Sperling
78 years old from Pensacola, Florida
Attach Squadron 153
April 3, 1929 - March 17, 2008
U.S. Navy

From the citation upon being awarded the Silver Star:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Commander David John Sperling (NSN: 0-555189), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action as the Pilot of a jet aircraft while attached to Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE (VA-153), embarked in U.S.S. CORAL SEA (CVA-43). On 25 October 1967, Commander Sperling flew as a major group leader in a coordinated Air Wing assault on the Phuc Yen Air Base near Hanoi, North Vietnam. Being the prime operating base for MiG fighter aircraft, Phuc Yen was defended by the most concentrated and formidable array of surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery and automatic weapons to be found in all of North Vietnam. Courageously leading his group of attack aircraft over 120 miles of hostile territory into this bastion of defensive armor, Commander Sperling exhibited outstanding airmanship and unwavering determination while maneuvering for the highly vulnerable attack position. In spite of the unprecedented barrage of surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft fire, he calmly established the essential bombing pattern and delivered his ordnance with exceptional accuracy on the revetted enemy airplanes to destroy or damage several parked MiG aircraft. His resolute actions and professional skill set the tone for the remainder of his force and succeeded in turning a potentially disastrous situation into a highly successful assault on the enemy. Commander Sperling's gallant and inspirational leadership upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Cmd. Sperling's obituary.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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My heartfelt thanks for Christopher Lee's constant dedication to our finest heroes!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Talking Tuesday


Not sure how many of you are Nascar Fans, but I'll post this anyway.

I'm a fan. Yep... it may be considered a 'redneck' sport, so be it.
At the beginning of every single race, there is prayer.
At the beginning of every single race, Our Nation Anthem is respectfully sung.
At the beginning of every single race, most of the drivers place their hands over their hearts during The Star Spangled Banner.

For those of you who are not fans...go to one race in your life. Honestly. I've been to Dover (a few times), Charlotte and Pocono Raceways. OK...a bunch of grown men climbing into their cars...going fast and turning left for a couple hours. But talk about POWER! The earth moves, the noise is deafening and the excitement from the crowd is craziness!

The Daytona 500 is the 'Super Bowl', the 'World Series', the 'Masters' of Race Car Driving. It is the opening race of a new season (OK, a bit backwards). This past weekend a 20-year old kid by the name of Trevor Baynes won, on the tenth anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's death at this track. I mention this, because those of you who are not fans, don't 'have a driver'. Watch this kid...he will be around for decades to come (God willing).

As a teen, I was a die-hard Richard Petty fan. To the point, I actually aspired to be a Stock Car driver. I witnessed one of the King's final race (yay!) Once he retired, I became a Kyle Petty fan. Yep, me and about four other people on the planet! Now that Kyle is no longer driving, I am a Michael Waltrip fan...primarily because he is such an animated personality. He'll retire soon and I will then root for young Trevor.

Alright...I've done enough talking this Tuesday morning...
So why this post? There's lots of controversy whether or not the Army Car should be in the line up. For those of you not familiar with the sport, each car/driver have a sponsor which funds the team. The Army sees this sponsorship as a recruiting tool. You can read more HERE.

Your turn..............................

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wanting To Disappear

I came across this article yesterday and needed to share it. The human spirit simply amazes me some days.

When the Mom of Airman Austin Gates-Benson received the news that her only child had commited suicide while deployed to Afghanistan, she' pulled the bottom of her shirt over her head... wanting to disappear'.

Dear God in Heaven, no parent should know such pain. Our Airman, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines should not be in such pain, they wish to end their own life.

2/10/2011 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- On May 3, 2010, Joie Gates' boss entered her office and abruptly ordered a co-worker she was chatting with to leave with him.

Three uniformed Air Force officers then entered the room, and Gates knew she was about to get some bad news.

They told her that her only child, Airman Austin Gates-Benson, had died in Afghanistan of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. To hear the news he was dead was shocking enough, but to learn he had committed suicide left her in disbelief.

"I pulled the bottom of my shirt up over my head, wanting desperately to hide from his words, wanting to disappear," she said.

She and Fred Boenig, Gates-Benson's father, traveled here from Pennsylvania to share their experiences with their son's death to about 500 Airmen at the Base Theater Tuesday. Most of the Airmen were members of the 5th Combat Communications Group, the parent organization of the unit to which Gates-Benson was assigned.

In a voice often shaky but never halting, Joie Gates urged the Airmen to consider the impact suicide has on others and seek help when they need it.

"May 3, 2010, is the day that life as I knew it came forever to an end," she said. "Living it first hand is an endless ride of pain and confusion. There are no answers to my questions. There is no day you wake up and return to the way things were before your child dies by suicide."

Much has been said at Robins Air Force Base in the past couple of years about recognizing the warning signs of suicide, but by all accounts, Gates-Benson displayed none of those.

He smiled so commonly that one fellow Airman compared him to a game-show host, said Lt. Col. Donald Cournoyer, commander of the 54th Combat Communications Squadron.

He said Gates-Benson was an outstanding Airman who worked hard, showed initiative, and was thrilled to learn he was deploying to work with special operations troops.

"Throughout all of this, he never let anyone see anything other than that smile and that 'git-r-done' attitude," Cournoyer said. "He didn't open up to anyone."

Fred Boenig, a morning radio host, went on the air the very next day after he got the news. For two weeks, he choked back tears as he gave weather and traffic reports, and he talked about his son's death. His show became a lightning rod for people who had been impacted by suicide.

He recently mentioned on his show he was going to Robins to talk to 500 Airmen.

"In that room, statistically there's one person who is going to die from suicide, and I don't know who that person is," he recalled telling his radio audience, "because if I did, I would go over to that person and say 'Talk to someone.'"

Joie Gates admitted she knew little about suicide on the day she got the news, but she went home that night and started reading about the problem, particularly the high rate among those in uniform. Three days later, she penned a letter to President Obama asking him to address the problem of suicides in the military.

"I will gather the greater forces of love and create a whirlwind to bring what is hidden to life," she wrote in the letter.

Gates' and Boenig's message is also going beyond their talk here. Their talk was videotaped and will be used by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy next week during his presentation at the Air Force Association's Winter Symposium in Orlando.

Cournoyer ended the event by urging all Airmen in attendance to seek help if they need it.
"If you are considering suicide, reach out to someone. There are a lot of people who are there to listen and help you out, no matter what the problem is. It's the fight of your life," he said.

Editor's note: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached at 800-273-8255.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

So Many Blogs, So Little Time.....

I follow so many amazing Blogs!
Some are so beautifully written, they stir my heart.
Some are such a hoot, I find myself laughing out loud at my laptop screen.
Some are so packed full of new information, I walk away with a brain full of new knowledge.
Some are filled with such inspiration, I want to do all I can to become a better person.

To each of you...thank you for taking the time to share your hearts and minds.

From time to time, I stop by to see what is new in the world of Military Blogging. The other day, I hit the JackPot! And of course, when I hit the JackPot....I need to share the wealth! Please take a few moments and check out these Blogs:

TheInvisibleWounded is a blog written by the wife of a wounded warrior. She and her family are on a challenging path, yet she wishes to share her thoughts to make the day better for another such family.

PlayingInTheSandboxAgain is written by Dave who has once again found himself in Afghanistan! P.S. don't send the guy Potatoes!

OurDaughterWearsArmyBoots is Lisa's story. Her daughter, Anna set out in July, 2010 to become a Paralegal. Lisa is one proud Mom!

WhereWillIEndUp excellent question! Sara is the girlfriend of an Army Medic, who departed only two weeks ago for a year long deployment!

MilitaryFamilyConsulting Jen is a gifted writer...this is a 'must-read' Blog!

So there you have it...a few suggestions of words to read in the Blogosphere. Please share some of your faves!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday Hero 02/16/2011

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Michael

Petty Officer First Class Robert R. Scott
Petty Officer First Class Robert R. Scott
26 years old from Massillion, Ohio
December 7, 1941
U.S. Navy

Robert Raymond Scott joined the U.S. Navy in 1938. Was was assigned to the U.S.S. California and was stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On December 7, 1941 the California was hit by a torpedo during the attack. While other personnel were evacuated, Machinist's Mate First Class Scott remained at his station. He didn't survive. For his actions he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. And the U.S. Navy named the destroyer escort USS Scott (DE-214) in his honor in 1943.

From his citation:

For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. The compartment, in the U.S.S. California, in which the air compressor, to which Scott was assigned as his battle station, was flooded as the result of a torpedo hit. The remainder of the personnel evacuated that compartment but Scott refused to leave, saying words to the effect "This is my station and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going."

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Talking Tuesday

An increase in suicides among National Guard soldiers largely in states across the Midwest — such as Missouri and Wisconsin — is responsible for a 24% increase in Army suicides last year, the service reported Wednesday.
Missouri and Texas each reported seven suicides among their National Guard troops in 2010, Wisconsin had six, and there were five each in the National Guard units of Minnesota, Ohio, Arizona, California and North Carolina.

Soldiers, both active duty and on inactive status, died by suicide at the rate of 25 per month in 2010, Army figures show.

"All of us are stunned by it, and we wished we knew why," says Army Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie of the Wisconsin National Guard. "It is especially hard when it's suicide, when it's someone hurting in our ranks."

USA TODAY reported in November that suicides had doubled among National Guard soldiers who were on inactive duty in a year when the Army was seeing a slight decline among active-duty soldier suicides.

The Army released final year-end statistics Wednesday. There were 301 confirmed or suspected soldier suicides in 2010, including those on active duty and reservists or National Guard troops on an inactive status, the Army reported Wednesday. This compares with 242 in 2009.

The Marine Corps reported a decline in suicides from 52 in 2009 to 37 confirmed or suspected cases in 2010.

Among active-duty Army soldiers, there were 156 potential suicides in 2010, down slightly from 162 in 2009.

Among National Guard soldiers on inactive status in 2010, there were 101 confirmed or suspected suicides, more than double the 48 deaths among Guard members on inactive duty in 2009.

Suicides among National Guard troops in Missouri and Wisconsin not only outnumbered such deaths in previous years but were also far more than combat deaths for these units during any year since 2001, says Guthrie and Maj. Tammy Spicer of the Missouri National Guard. As an example, the largest number of Missouri National Guard members killed in combat was three in 2006, less than half the seven suicides in 2010.

Members of the National Guard or Army Reserve who are on inactive duty are civilians much of the time, wearing a uniform only to drill one weekend a month and two full weeks a year.

Army leaders said Wednesday that more must be done to monitor and keep tabs on troops, and section leaders should checking in with them more frequently.

"We recognize we must be even more aggressive," says Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff.

Chiarelli says programs designed to help soldiers deal better with stress, make it easier for them to seek substance-abuse treatment and obtain marriage and family counseling are helping prevent suicides among active-duty troops. Updated 1/20/2011

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This is one article. This is one piece of the truth. We can't know for certain the 'real' numbers. But we do know... even one is too many.

Why do so many of our Soldiers struggle with PTSD when they return home? Can they honestly reach for help and not jeopardize their career? Is the right kind of help available for them? Logic dictates that being in a war-zone will mess with any Soldiers' head. We're all wired differently. Needless to say, reactions will be different. As a prayer for my son and my virtua-son while they served in Afghanistan was they return whole in body and mind. It's my prayer for all who serve our, yesterday and tomorrow.

Your turn................................

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day, Twenty-Eleven

A special day to show how much we care...
Please don't forget our Soldiers!!!

Bundles of fuel are air delivered recently to Forward Operating Base Waza K'wah in the Paktika province of Afghanistan. The fuel was part of a C-17 Globemaster III air delivery to help sustain members of Task Force Currahee, 4th Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, whose only means of re-supply is through air delivery. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

Friday, February 11, 2011

His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold

HELMAND, AFGHANISTAN (WIVB) - US Marine Lance Cpl. Aaron M. Swanson, 21, of Lakewood, died Monday while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan in support of Operation: Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Swanson was a Marine Reservist and a rifleman who was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, in Buffalo. Aaron was in the first vehicle in a four-vehicle convoy when his vehicle was struck by an IED. Lance Cpl. Swanson was rushed to Camp Dwyer, a combined support hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.

Lance Cpl. Swanson's mother, Julie, said Aaron was always family oriented and fun-loving. She said he liked the camaraderie of the military and was devoted to serving his country and making his family proud. Lance Cpl. Swanson was the middle child in a family of five. He graduated from Southwestern High School and still has a younger brother attending there.

Lance Cpl. Swanson joined the Marine Corps on May 18, 2009, and was promoted to his current rank on Dec. 1, 2010. Lance Cpl. Swanson had been a boy scout right through high school. He joined the football team his senior year and was seen as a team player.

Jay Sirianni, Lance Cpl. Swanson's high school football coach said, "I think his goal as a football player was to make his teammates better. He came to practice and played hard to make other people better."

Volunteer coach Pat Johnson said, "He had the right attitude that even though he knew he wasn't going to start, he was going to come to practice every day and be a great teammate."

Lance Cpl. Swanson's father, Gene, owns Swanson's Keystone Garage. The Lakewood family has requested privacy. Lance Cpl. Swanson's mom says she is still "numb" after learning of her son's death on Monday.

Lance Cpl. Swanson’s personal awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and the NATO Medal – International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan.

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May Almighty God Bless this Brave Marine.
May Almighty God comfort his mom's aching heart.
May Almighty God protect each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

MudPuppy's Blog

MudPuppy is writing once again!

Allow me to thank those of you who have taken a few moments to e-mail asking how he is doing. The answers are now in writing.

I have no doubt you too, will read his words with tears in your eyes and a grateful heart.

He's one of my sons.

I've met him. I've hugged him. I've had a few beers with him at a White Sox vs. Orioles game. We've shared a super yummy Chicago Pizza. I've met the most important people in his life...his mom and his brother. And only God knows how many prayers I have lifted for him, since the day I first read his Blog.

We have come to know MudPuppy the Soldier through Embrace The Suck. But those of us who truly care for him, have read deeper to learn of MudPuppy the man. It is this man... I care for, I love and I pray for every single day.

Son, your happiness is so important to me. Your physical and emotional health mean so much. You are a blessing to so many people.

Please stop by Mudpuppy's blog, show him you care.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I found it utterly disgraceful that our National Anthem was butchered at the beginning of the Super Bowl last night. You will not find the 'flubbed up' version on my blog, instead please pause my Playlist and enjoy our Anthem as it should be respectfully sung. May Almighty God Bless our Nation.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday Hero 02/02/2011

Gunnery Sgt. Richard Romo
Gunnery Sgt. Richard Romo
U.S. Marines

Gunnery Sgt. Richard Romo, team chief with Civil Affairs attached to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2, speaks to several Afghans during a patrol through the bazaar in Musa Qal'eh, Jan. 25. During the patrol the Marines inspected the location of an up-coming traffic circle in the bazaar.

Photo Courtesy United States Marine Corps.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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