Monday, December 31, 2007

In Times Square

Message 551

Hidden Baghdad: Paratroopers Find City

"Army News Service SSgt Mike Pryor December 31, 2007"

BAGHDAD - Sgt. Nicholas Hardebeck's platoon was about midway through their afternoon patrol when the sound of explosions began echoing from a nearby street.
Sgt. Hardebeck cocked his head to listen for a moment. "Fire crackers. Just people celebrating," he said casually.
At the beginning of their deployment, the sergeant and the other paratroopers from his unit, Company A, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, might not have reacted as calmly. But after almost a year on the ground, the paratroopers are accustomed to the sights and sounds of Baghdad. What was once alien and strange - and liable to cause overreactions - now seems commonplace.
"We know when something's not right. We know when we need to react and when it's just an everyday occurrence," Sgt. Hardebeck said.
"This is almost like a second home in some ways," said Staff Sgt. Eduardo Ojeda, a squad leader with A Co. "You learn how to operate in your sector just like your city back home."
The hard-won knowledge gained from hundreds of daily foot patrols allows the paratroopers to see a side of the city most Americans don't see on the nightly news.
Staff Sgt. Ojedo described going home on mid-tour leave and having to answer crazy questions about what life in Iraq was like.
"People think it's a day-in, day-out, in-your-face battle all the time," he said.
The reality for the paratroopers of A Co is both less dramatic and more complicated. Several times a day, every day, they roll out of the gates of their base on the Tigris River and head into Suleikh to conduct patrols. When they first arrived, they concentrated on raids and making arrests, but over time, as the security situation improved, their focus shifted. Now they spend most of their time engaging the population, trying to help the people in their area find solutions to the multitude of problems that life in Baghdad presents.
"It's put more of a human side on the Iraqi people for me," Sgt. Hardebeck said. "You realize they want all the same things we want."
A patrol conducted Dec. 21 was typical, although it began on an unusual note. It was Staff Sgt. Ojeda's birthday, so the platoon sang happy birthday for him during the pre-mission briefing.
Once they were out on the street, the platoon began conducting what's called a "soft knock" operation. It's where the paratroopers go door to door, politely asking if they can come in to look around and talk with the owners.
Staff Sgt. Ojeda took his team into one house. It was owned by a woman who lived with her sister and her sister's three children. When he saw the kids, Sgt. Ellis Catchings brought in a large box of candy from his vehicle. Sgts. Catchings and Hardebeck watched laughing as the kids rummaged through the box and taste-tested all the candies and lollipops inside it.
"Sorry. They're probably not going to sleep for days now," Sgt. Catchings joked.
In the other room, Staff Sgt. Ojeda was talking to the woman who owned the house. He was asking her about the family's circumstances. In a roundabout way, it came out that her brother-in-law was living with another woman, and had basically abandoned her sister after the kids were born.
In the next house down, they found an old man and his grown son sitting in their frigid house next to a space heater - a few red coils providing the only warmth - surrounded by shelves holding old photographs and mementos from Iraq's history. The entire house was decorated with heirlooms and antiques. The old man said his father had worked for the king of Iraq, back when Iraq had a king.
His granddaughter started a pot of tea, but the paratroopers had to leave before it was ready. He had been just about to tell a story about the king, and looked upset that they had to leave suddenly.
"You can't stay?" he asked. Briefly he seemed disappointed - he hadn't had visitors in a while - but he quickly hid his disappointment behind a dignified smile.
"Yes, yes. Thank you. Hello," he said as the paratroopers filed out past him.
The Soldiers moved back outside and continued their patrol up the street. At an intersection, their path was blocked by a wedding procession. Cars garlanded with pink and red flowers crept slowly past, with people hanging out the windows waving their hands and throwing confetti. At one point, the cars stopped moving and everyone got out and started an impromptu dance, banging cymbals and drums and blowing trumpets.
Pfc. Alexander Cesario moved into the crowd, shimmying and boogying around to the delight of the partiers. The other paratroopers shook their heads at his antics, but couldn't keep the grins off their faces.
By that point the paratroopers had been out for almost five hours, and it was time to head back to base. Later, Staff Sgt. Ojeda wondered what all the interactions added up to. He thought they meant something.
Young couples getting married, an old man remembering the past, a woman worrying about her sister's love life - these everyday human experiences reveal a city on the mend, as life in Baghdad returns to normal after years of out-of-control violence, Staff Sgt. Ojeda said.
"People back home don't see the milestones that are being set," he said, "but we get to see the progress. Here it is, right in front of us, right now."

Hidden Baghdad: Paratroopers Find City:

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007-- The year in review - Current Article Page: "This was the year that "surge" became part of our national vocabulary. The year that cost more Fort Bragg lives than any since Vietnam. The year that all of the 82nd Airborne Division was gone to war. Thus -- in this year when farms turned to dust, nursing students cried foul and lawmen went to prison -- the unresolved battles in Afghanistan and Iraq remain the biggest story.

In 2007, the number of Fort Bragg deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan topped 100. Tours of duty were extended from a year to 15 months. And the entire 82nd Airborne Division was deployed at the same time.
But the main reason the war dominated the news — and was picked the top story of the year by Fayetteville Observer staffers — was the “surge.”

In a January speech, President Bush ordered a troop increase in hopes of curbing violence and creating a protective bubble around Baghdad for the fledgling Iraqi government. The plan more than doubled U.S. combat power in the capital.
Fort Bragg soldiers were at the heart of the plan.
An advance unit from the 82nd’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team was in Baghdad just after Bush’s speech. The rest of the unit moved from Kuwait into the Iraqi capital days later.
It took several months, but by the end of the surge, there were more than 160,000 American troops in Iraq, including three of the four 82nd Airborne Division’s infantry brigades. At the end of the year, violence had dropped. But the end of the war apparently remains distant."

Our take
Kevin Maurer covered Fort Bragg soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan last year: “It shouldn’t shock anyone that the war was the number one story in Fayetteville. While the surge captured all the headlines, Afghanistan is the most important fight. Let’s not forget that the hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, trained there. Yet the mission in Afghanistan gets little funding and attention from policymakers.”
Your take
Laura Baie, the wife of an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, wasn’t surprised that the war was the top story: “The news likes to report when things go wrong, and that happens quite a lot with any war.”
Jeff Slocum is a retired Air Force chief master sergeant: “I am not surprised because there is so much at stake. But what is at stake has nothing to do with how they are selling the war. I think what is at stake is the health of our democracy.”

Friday, December 28, 2007

America's Freedom Broadcast Radio

"America’s Freedom Broadcast Radio is dedicated to the men and women who carry on the fight for our freedom and liberties and to those that precede them in defense of Freedom and Democracy World Wide. Our goal is to give our Military, their families, Veterans and first responders a place to listen in from any where in the world so they can connect to their loved ones through music and messages of support. Our Staff is dedicated to letting everyone serving this country know we here at home are supporting them and their families, no matter where they are deployed to in the world. May God Bless You All"

America's Freedom Broadcast Radio:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Army Launches Troop-Stationing Web Site

"WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 21, 2007) - The Army has now launched its latest Web site, Grow the Army, to illustrate upcoming troop movements and upcoming unit stationing changes.

The site,, features interactive maps, charts and graphs to show Soldiers and their Families where the Army's new 74,200 Soldiers, six infantry brigade combat teams, eight active-component support brigades, and various-sized combat-support and combat-service-support units will move, grow or activate between fiscal years 2008 and 2013."

More... Army Launches Troop-Stationing Web Site:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Brings Tons of Mail to TF Bayonet

"Christmas Brings Tons of Mail to TF Bayonet
By Spc. Gregory Argentieri, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE FENTY, Afghanistan, Dec. 25, 2007 – Soldiers from 458th Adjutant General Postal Company stationed here run the central mail hub for the entire Task Force Bayonet area of operations and are responsible for handling, sorting, and processing all incoming and outgoing letters and packages through Jalalabad, Afghanistan, for thousands of soldiers.
The holiday season began early for the military postal service on Forward Operating Base Fenty. At the beginning of November, the number of packages and letters being handled tripled and was expected to peak during the days surrounding Christmas. Officials expect the rush continue through the end of January. Mail before the holidays was averaging 3,000-4,000 pounds a day. The mail increased to between 8,000-13,000 pounds a day since November, officials said. “Santa Claus is the little white planes, and we are the elves,” said Army Spc. Tanya M. Runnels, from Jasper, Texas, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne), and part of the FOB Fenty postal team. “We’re working our butts off to make sure the mail gets out to the soldiers. It’s important; it’s Christmas time. That is our job; we’re the mail people.” “We get to supply the mail for all the ‘Joes’ out there, the guys who are really fighting the war. It’s good stuff, and it makes us feel good,” said Army Sgt. Brian R. Boss, from Valliant, Okla., of the 458th Adjutant General Postal Company. “Since arriving at FOB Fenty in February, the 458th has personally handled, carried, either loading and unloading planes, or loading and unloading helicopters, 900,000-950,000 pounds of mail. Before our deployment is over in February, we will have moved more than 1 million pounds of mail.” "

More...DefenseLink News Article: Christmas Brings Tons of Mail to TF Bayonet:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Iraqi Army Soldiers, Iraqi Security Volunteers capture 2 suspected al-Qaeda operatives

"Blackanthem Military News
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi Army Soldiers and local Iraqi Security Volunteers captured two suspected members of al-Qaeda in Iraq in separate incidents Dec. 21 in Baghdad's Adhamiyah District.

In the first event, Iraqi Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 11th Iraqi Army Division conducted a raid in the Tunis neighborhood Friday evening that captured a high-ranking target alleged to be involved in murder and attacks on Coalition Forces."

More...Iraqi Army Soldiers, Iraqi Security Volunteers capture 2 suspected al-Qaeda operatives:

The capture provided another demonstration of the positive impact local security volunteers are having on the security situation in Baghdad, said Lt. Col. David Oclander, executive officer of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team. "Clearly, there is no substitute for local people taking the lead in securing their own neighborhoods," Oclander said.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More troops welcomed home in GJ

Photo: U.S. Army Pfcs. Adam Nunnelly and Cody Boden, both paratroopers from 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, provide security during a search for weapons caches in Al Jabor, Iraq, Dec. 19, 2006.
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Sean A. Foley
It has been busy at Grand Junction Walker Field airport the past several days. Tonight while waiting after a soldier was bumped off his flight and hoping for the next one we had the honor of being there to greet some navy and army personnel that we hadn't had notifications on.
Those we have names for on the most recent welcome homes are Spc Cody Boden, Army, and Tyler Long, Marine.
Tyler had a difficult time making connections and getting a flight out of Phoenix but when his 9:30 flight finally arrived at 1:30 a.m. there were still plenty of us there to welcome him.
Cody was also bumped from his flight but an unknown traveler, resident of GJ, gave up his seat on the next flight. Tyler will be leaving for Hawaii in January and Cody to Alaska. Cody has earned 2 purple hearts.
I feel its a real honor to be able to be there to welcome home our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines -- as A Blue Star Mother, and as citizen.

Merry Christmas Salute to All of you!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Family Adopts Slain Son's Military Dog

" Dec 21, 2007 (10:22p CST)

ALBANY, Ga. - A military working dog wounded in Iraq during a rocket attack that killed its Marine handler was adopted Friday by the slain Marine's family.

Cpl. Dustin Lee's family planned to take home the bomb-sniffing dog - named Lex - on Saturday after the 8-year-old German shepherd was granted early retirement. It was the first time a working dog was granted retirement to live with the handler's family, officials said."

"Nobody can do anything to replace the void in this family," said Col. Christian Haliday, commander of the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, where Lee and Lex were assigned."We hope Lex can bring a small piece of his spirit and help maintain his memory," he said.On hand for a ceremony at the base were the Marine's parents, Jerome and Rachel Lee, his sister, Madison, 16, and brother, Camryn, 12, of Quitman, Miss. News:

Eat the Goat, Drink the Tea

Paul O'Friel has simple advice for his Iraq Provincial Reconstruction Team: 'Eat the goat, drink the tea,' he says. It's O'Friel's way of instilling in his team members the importance of engaging with the local leaders and people in an area of Iraq pulverized not by IEDs, but by poverty and thirst. 'There are some villages here that look like they came out of the Middle Ages,' O'Friel told me in a phone interview from Iraq yesterday morning."

More...Eat the Goat, Drink the Tea - Real Clear Politics - Mid Term Elections - Elections 2008 - TIME: "

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fort Bragg Set to Get More Soldiers

"Fort Bragg Set to Get More Soldiers
American Forces Press Service

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Dec. 20, 2007 – Fort Bragg will receive about 1,400 more soldiers as part of the Army's 'Grow the Army' stationing plan, base officials announced yesterday.
The Army is using the president’s January 2007 plan to increase the Army by 74,200 soldiers, and Fort Bragg will receive an additional 1,405 soldiers by the end of fiscal 2013.

The Army is adjusting its global footprint to support accelerated growth and force structure realignment and to improve readiness while complying with 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law, sustaining current global commitments, and preparing to meet future challenges, Army officials said."

more...DefenseLink News Article: Fort Bragg Set to Get More Soldiers:

Fort Carson gets more soldiers

KKCO - HomePage: "Fort Carson, Colo. (AP) -- The Army will put two newly-formed brigade combat teams at Fort Carson, bringing about 7,000 more soldiers to the post under a plan released on Wednesday.Fort Carson, Colo. (AP) -- The Army will put two newly-formed brigade combat teams at Fort Carson, bringing about 7,000 more soldiers to the post under a plan released on Wednesday.
The Army is adding four other brigade combat teams, two each at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Stewart, Georgia, plus eight support units at other posts.
The additions are part of a plan to expand the active-duty Army by about 65,000 soldiers.
Members of Colorado's congressional delegation praised the decision. They said earlier Wednesday that they were told about one of the new brigades, and said it was expected by 2011.
Republican Senator Wayne Allard has said the expansion would mean some $50 million yearly in government funding, plus about $500 million in construction."

Invasion of Panama / Opn Just Cause -

Invasion of Panama / Opn Just Cause - The Dropzone: "18 years ago on 20 Dec, 1989 elements of the 82nd ABN DIV (1-504 PIR, 2-504 PIR, 4-325 AIR) & the 75th Ranger Regiment conducted parachute assaults as part of Opn Just Cause. Please have a drink to these men and say a prayer for the families of the men who gave their lives in that brief conflict."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Red Cross to Deliver Holiday Cards to Wounded

"WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2007 – This holiday season, the American Red Cross will make sure holiday greetings generically addressed to wounded servicemembers at military medical facilities around the country will find a home.
With help from Pitney Bowes Government Solutions, and the support of the Defense Department and Walter Reed Army Medical Center here, the American Red Cross will collect, review and distribute holiday greeting cards to wounded military personnel."

“So many Americans want to show their support and gratitude by reaching out to wounded servicemembers at Walter Reed and other military medical centers during the holiday season,” said Neal Denton, American Red Cross Senior vice president for service to the armed forces. “With the support of the Department of Defense, Walter Reed leadership and Pitney Bowes, we can bring a little cheer to these brave men and women.”

More...DefenseLink News Article: America Supports You: Red Cross to Deliver Holiday Cards to Wounded:

Send cards to: (No Packages)

We Support You During Your Recovery!
c/o American Red Cross
P.O. Box 419
Savage, MD 20763-0419

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Northern Disclosure:

Northern Disclosure:: A personal account of an Infantry Squad leader in training and combat. Takes place with the train up at Fort Lewis and follows them around the U.S., the desert sands of Kuwait and ends in Mosul, Iraq. SFC Toby J. Nunn is a Canadian Citizen earning his citizenship for the United States of America.

"Sometimes, we get a break in the routine to experience something new or different from what we have been doing and it is so refreshing. The last week I have been living in a small combat outpost along the main route that our guys travel and work on to see things from another perspective and to share information and experiences. I was pleased with the group I got married up with first, SSG Strachan and his squad were a professional group of Paratroopers that brought credit upon their unit and country. They performed their duties with high levels of proficency and were respectful to the local nationals."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Artist Gives Music, Time to Troops

DefenseLink News Article: America Supports You: Artist Gives Music, Time to Troops: "America Supports You: Artist Gives Music, Time to Troops By Fred W. Baker III American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2007 – Johnny Ondrasik turns 8 years old this Christmas Eve, but he isn’t asking for any presents on his birthday -- at least not for himself.
...When finished, the musician will give away some 200,000 free CDs for U.S. troops, compliments of Ondrasik and some 13 superstar friends who partnered to make a “thank you” music disc for servicemembers. The contributing artists include Billy Joel, the Goo Goo Dolls, Brooks and Dunn, Melissa Ethridge and even actor Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band.

...CD available for download on AAFES site"

1-504 near al-Mutanabi

"A U.S. Army Soldier with the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment conducts a patrol near the al-Mutanabi Street Book Market in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 8, 2007.
The Soldier is providing security for Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq (MNC-I), and MNC-I Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola during their tour of the area.

DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Curt Cashour, U.S. Army. (Released)

Record ID No. (VIRIN): 071208-A-2224C-204
This item is cleared for public release "

Image Gallery Screen Resolution Image 071208-A-2224C-204:

Iraqi Army receives new equipment through FMS

"By Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq,

Public Affairs Office, Phoenix Base

Dec 11, 2007 - 3:22:43 PM

Blackanthem Military News

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi Army Gen. Nassir Abadi, deputy chief of staff, and U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Robin Swan, Coalition Military Assistance Transition Team commanding general, held a press conference at Old Muthanna air base to announce the delivery of more than 200 HMMWVs, 40 5-ton cargo trucks and 5 Rough Terrain Container Handlers and other types of support equipment that were purchased though the Foreign Military Sales program."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Eighty Deuce On The Loose In Iraq

"Im 25 years old and Im a team leader in an Infantry line squad with the 82nd Airborne. This is my first experience in Iraq, and being inspired by another blogger from before I joined, I decided to keep a record of my experience; a perspective of the war from boots on the ground. "

Eighty Deuce On The Loose In Iraq:

Paratroopers on Toy Jump

Paratroopers donate toys for kids
12/07/2007 06:51 PM
By: Ilin Chen
FORT BRAGG -- Christmas can be quite the international affair on Fort Bragg. Hundreds of soldiers on the base are fighting for a good cause for the chance to jump with some of their foreign counterparts.
With dolls in hand, soldiers at Fort Bragg waited in line Friday, not to see Santa Claus but rather to be Santa by donating a brand new toy to a child in need.
"I always like to make the holidays a little bit better for somebody that's less fortunate than I am because I'd like to think that growing up, I had a lot of privileges that kids didn't always have,” said Capt. Tara Kaiser, 16th Military Police Brigade. “I’m honored to be a part of something that helps bring a smile to a kids face."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

He's a winner -- and doesn't like it

He's a winner -- and doesn't like it
Army sergeant who was wounded in Iraq receives Purple Heart
McClatchy Newspapers"
WASHINGTON --Staff Sgt. Benjamin Dellinger got an award he never wanted Friday.
The Purple Heart was presented to the 25-year-old infantryman from Denver, N.C., and five others recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It is given to any service member injured or killed by enemy forces.
The Army had tried to give him the medal at earlier monthly ceremonies, but he resisted.
"I think it's embarrassing," Dellinger says. "... I always thought I was better than the bad guys. It's kind of humbling in a sense that I don't like.
"Just because you get a Purple Heart doesn't mean you're a hero. It just means you had a bad day."
He says he'd rather be back in Fayetteville, where he was stationed at Fort Bragg with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. But he doesn't think he'll get approval before March, because the Army wants to be sure he can get the same level of treatment he's getting at Walter Reed before releasing him.

More...Charlotte Observer 12/01/2007 He's a winner -- and doesn't like it:

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday at the Pentagon

McClatchy Washington Bureau 06/20/2007 : "Here's Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the Web-log of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for America Web site."

...These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years."

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Blue Star Moms with Leslie Family
Grand Valley Blue Star Mothers of Grand Valley waited with the Leslie family and friends and the PGR for Spc Marcus Leslie to arrive.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Photos : Abu Nuwas grand reopening celebration

Photos : Abu Nuwas grand reopening celebration:
"Photos : Abu Nuwas grand reopening celebration By Spc. Courtney E. Marulli, 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs Nov 27, 2007 - 1:23:58 PM

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Soldier Welcomed Home -

"Posted on November 27, 2007

by:Keira Bresnahan

It's home sweet home for a Palisade High School graduate whose been fighting on the front lines in Iraq. Emotions were running high as U.S. Army Spc., Marcus Leslie walked off the plane at Grand Junction Regional Airport tonight. He was met with great fan fare from friends and family. Leslie returns home after a 15-month deployment in one of the most dangerous areas of Baghdad. It was a deadly tour, nine troops from his unit died during their stay in Iraq. Leslie graduated from Palisade High in 2004 and immediately enlisted in the army. He will be on leave through the first week of January. "

Spc. Marcus Leslie walks with his comrades after landing Sunday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Photo Ben Bloker / S&S.

Hewlitt Packard Employees to Help Colorado Families

"America Supports You: Hewlitt Packard Employees to Help Colorado Families American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, Nov. 27, 2007 – Military families in Colorado whose major breadwinners are deployed to the Middle East are getting help with seasonal yard tasks from an unexpected source.
From raking leaves to hanging Christmas lights, Hewlett Packard Co. employees will pitch and help three military families Nov. 29 through a partnership with the Minnesota-based Project EverGreen Foundation. "The HP employees are going above and beyond," said Den Gardner, executive director of the foundation, which matches volunteers and lawn or landscaping firms with military families in need of outdoor help. "In addition to helping the families clean up their yards, they are helping hang up Christmas lights and even helping one military family paint the walls inside their house." The foundation is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad. "

More...DefenseLink News Article: America Supports You: Hewlitt Packard Employees to Help Colorado Families:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Traditional Holiday Meal Will Replace Field Rations for Many Troops

DefenseLink News Article: Traditional Holiday Meal Will Replace Field Rations for Many Troops: "Traditional Holiday Meal Will Replace Field Rations for Many Troops By Samantha L. Quigley American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2007 – When troops stationed in the Middle East sit down to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, the turkey won’t come in a brown field rations pouch.
Thanks to the efforts of the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia’s efforts, troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Dubai and Djibouti will enjoy a traditional holiday meal. “Historically, Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most family-oriented meals that there is,” said Ray Miller, director of subsistence for DSCP, the agency that supplies meals to the military worldwide. “When you are deployed and you’re not with (family), … it’s a taste of home wherever you are.” Hundreds of thousands of troops will dine on turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, assorted pies and more. While this all sounds very “Norman Rockwell” normal, there’s nothing normal about the amount of food needed to feed that many troops. The employees sent 342,382 pounds of turkey alone. More than 15,000 containers of stuffing mix and about 13,000 containers of white potatoes will join nearly 120,000 pounds of shrimp and a combined total of 249,357 pounds of ham and beef, as well. “It would be like 100 tractor-trailers pulling up outside your house to deliver Thanksgiving Dinnerdinner,” Miller said, describing just how much food was sent to the Middle East for the dinner. And at the back of the very last tractor-trailer would be the one thing needed to finish the meal in fine holiday tradition: nearly 163,500 pies. "

Thanksgiving Blessings to all of our troops. God Bless You -- and
Thank You

Wounded Fairfield soldier 'good to go'

"FAIRFIELD -- An Army soldier from Fairfield told his parents Tuesday via the Internet that he will be 'good to go' soon after being wounded in a mortar attack Sunday in Baghdad. Spc. Brock Denis, 23, a 2003 graduate of Lawrence High School, suffered shrapnel wounds to his leg, ankle, chest and head during an attack on his mess hall in the heart of the Iraqi city, his father, Paul Denis, said. 'He's got some of the shrapnel still in him in his chest, his head -- his left forehead, two inches from his eye,' Paul Denis said Tuesday by telephone from the family's home in Fairfield Center. 'He was in the mess hall and three mortars came in; the third one came through the wall and he was standing there. 'He was standing in line waiting for some eggs.' Paul Denis and his wife Kim said they got a telephone call from their son at 5 a.m. Monday. 'Luckily it was him himself who called us,' Paul Denis said. 'The telephone ID said U.S. government -- they don't call you if it's something good. They call you if it's something bad.' Another soldier from a different battalion was also injured in the attack, but Denis' injuries were the most severe, his mother said."

More...Wounded Fairfield soldier 'good to go':

Military Says Bill Sent To Wounded Veteran Was A 'Mistake'

"Military Says Bonus Letter Was A 'Mistake'
Reporting Marty Griffin
MT. LEBANON (KDKA) ― A KDKA investigation is getting national attention and results for a wounded soldier from Mt. Lebanon and perhaps thousands of others. The Army ordered Jordan Fox to return thousands of dollars in bonus money because his injuries prevented him from completing his tour. When in Iraq, Fox survived machine gun battles and a roadside bomb that knocked him unconscious and blinded him in his right eye. The injury forced the military to send him home. A few weeks later, he received a bill from the Department of Defense. He owes the military nearly $3,000 from his original enlistment bonus because he couldn't fulfill his tour." - Military Says Bill Sent To Wounded Veteran Was A 'Mistake':

Monday, November 19, 2007


Click on the link for a Thanksgiving presentation -- and give thanks. Thanksgiving

Friday, November 16, 2007

Artists Create CD to Thank Troops

"By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2007 – Just in time for the holidays, 13 major recording artists have created a musical “Thank You” for the troops. "
“CD for the Troops” will be available for anyone with a valid military identification card to download at no cost from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Web site,, beginning tomorrow. “We’re thankful to all the artists who have agreed to lend their name and talent to this special CD,” said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and community liaison. “To have ‘CD for the Troops’ produced and dedicated in special honor to our active-duty military members and veterans is just another demonstration of the support so many people in our nation have for our troops.”

More...DefenseLink News Article: America Supports You: Artists Create CD to Thank Troops:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Soldiers fighting for U.S. become citizens

"Posted: November 13, 2007 1:00 a.m. Eastern
Matt Sanchez
Editor's note: Reporter Matt Sanchez, currently embedding with military units throughout both Iraq and Afghanistan, has been providing WND readers with a glimpse into the Iraq war most Americans have never seen.
By Matt Sanchez © 2007
Photo : Matt Sanchez
At Airbase Anaconda in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Gregory Couch pondered the irony, 'We're swearing in new American citizens in one of Saddam Hussein's theaters, a place that was accustomed to a different type of spectacle.' For Veteran's Day 2007, 178 U.S. military men and women serving in Iraq became citizens of the country for which they are fighting, the United States. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff made the trip to Iraq's largest airbase to preside over the legalization ceremony of servicemen and women who traced their birthplaces to more than 53 nations scattered around the globe. ...

... One applicant, Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Brownie with 82nd Airborne, 2nd Brigade out of Fort Bragg, N. C., was born in Alberta, Canada. After middle school, high school and now the Army, Daniel has lived in the United States for most of his life.
But how did this Canadian national feel about being in Iraq and serving a country where he did not have the right to vote?
"I support our mission, I signed up for this," said Brownie. "I wanted to be a part of something greater than myself."
It's a little publicized fact many Canadians crossed the border to enlist in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.
Of course, joining the American military meant the possibility of serving in a combat zone. Why not stay in Canada and join that service?
"I couldn't stand up tall and tell people 'I'm in the Canadian Army,'" he said. "I didn't even know they had an army."
Canadian military action is poorly viewed by a French and English-speaking public that gets nosebleeds just reading about the American military. So, how did Brownie come to have a different opinion about the American military machine?
"I love to be able to say I'm a part of the strongest military in the world."
The staff sergeant actually re-enlisted on the 4th of July this year.
When asked his opinion on the current illegal immigration debate, he was straight-forward. "I work in the Army and I have to go through the system, everyone else should go through the system too."
The general opinion of the men and women who finally arrived at their destination after a long journey is that citizenship is something to be earned.
During the initial press conference before the naturalization ceremony, a reporter from Newsweek asked, "Has there been any evidence of people joining the military just to get citizenship?"
Chertoff and most of the members of the military in the room openly laughed.
"There are far easier ways of doing it," Brig. Gen. Couch said.
He's right. Those who serve and risk their lives for a country not entirely their own have taken a harder test to naturalization than anyone else. Many servicemen killed in action have been posthumously granted citizenship.
"It's a privilege to become an American," said Brownie."

More... WorldNetDaily: Soldiers fighting for U.S. become citizens:

Monday, November 12, 2007

Zak/Xak/Zack's Journal

Zak/Xak/Zack's Journal: "Monday, November 12th, 2007 12:24 pm

C Co. 1/504 PIR

This is to the men who can't shed the sand. This is to the men who know what falling out of a rack at 0330 feels like. This is to the men who remember what it is to fear, and have the strength to put it past themselves. This is to the men who will stand and fight, giving what they can so that American remains Free and Proud. This is for the Specialist from Oklahoma. This is for the Private from New York. This is for the Sergeant from the 173rd who taught me be brave.

God Bless, Soldiers.

Drive On, Devils."

A Pittance of Time - Video

A Pittance of Time - Video

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I am that Woman


I'm the woman standing behind you in line at the grocery store, eyeing the newest Support Our Troops magnet. The look on my face is unworried but my thoughts are miles away on some military base I've never seen.

I'm the woman in the next car with the windows rolled up. The radio is playing "My Wish". But you can't hear it because you're talking to a family member or friend on your cell phone. You see the U.S. Armed Forces sticker on the back window of my car but you don't know that by the end of that song I am fighting back tears and missing my baby boy.

I'm the woman who visits the Air Military One Source web site at odd hours of the day and night to find some kind of comfort for that lost feeling that has been a part of my life everyday since my son left for basic training.

I'm the woman who has fought an inner battle, trying to accept the path that the son I love has chosen.

I am the woman who said a tearful "good-bye" to a boy on his way to join the Army.

I am the woman who knows that her boy is now a man.

I am the woman who spends hours on the Internet learning everything she can about the Military and the life that her son has chosen.

I am the woman who finds herself crying and not really knowing why.

I am the woman who looks at the calendar to see how many days must pass before her son comes home on leave.

I'm the woman who swells with pride every time she sees her son standing tall and proud in his uniform.

I am the woman who cried real tears of pride and joy on the day her son graduated.
I'm the one who spots a US Military sticker, license plate, or flag and feels some sort of connection with its owner, knowing that I'm not alone in this bittersweet situation.

I am the woman who carries her cell phone with her everywhere she goes.

I am the woman who is proud every time that cell phone rings and it is her son taking time out of his new life to say "I love you Mom."

I am the woman who tries her hardest to go about her everyday life.

I am the woman secure in the knowledge that she has raised an awesome son.

I am the woman who has found a new relationship with God.

I am the woman who hates going to bed at night while her son is not in his room but rather in a JSS many miles from home.

I am the woman who tries not to miss her son, the woman who tries not to cry whenever she hears his name or even the mention of a soldier.

I am the woman with a new found love for her country and its flag.

I am the woman who now cries when she hears the National Anthem.

I am the woman that is embarrassed that she didn't "get it" until her son took his oath to serve our country.

I am the woman who wears her Blue Star Mother pin with pride…everyday… because her son is in the United States Armed Forces …everyday.

I am the woman with a small red and white banner with a blue star in the middle of her front window.

I am the woman who never wants to cover the blue star with a gold one.

I am the woman who was terrified when her son was sent off to war.

I am many things.

A mother, A wife, A daughter, A sister, A friend

But now, I am also the proud mother of a United States Soldier.

I did not compose this, nor do I know who did. It arrived as an email forward and had several edits and crossovers. I have cleaned up some of the typos and present it here -- because I am that woman.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

keeping in touch

I was lucky enough this morning to get online with my soldier son. He was using the satellite so the web cam worked a lot better than from his laptop connection. Shortly after talking to him I had to head downtown for the Veterans Day parade. Our newly formed chapter of Blue Star Mothers was in it -- two of us ;) but we had extra help holding the banner and passing out brochures.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Army Achievement Medal

"The Army Achievement Medal (AAM) was established by the Secretary of the Army on 10 April 1981. The AAM is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States, or to any member of the Armed Forces of a friendly foreign nation, who while serving in any capacity with the Army in a noncombat area on or after 1 August 1981, distinguished himself or herself by meritorious service or achievement of a lesser degree than required for award of the Army Commendation Medal.
The AAM will not be awarded to general officers. T
he approval authority for the AAM is LTC and above. Subsequent awards are denoted by bronze and silver oak leaf clusters.
Description: A bronze octagonal medal, 1 1/2 inches in diameter, with one angle at the top centered. On the obverse is a design consisting of the elements of the Department of the Army (DA) plaque and the date '1775' at the bottom. On the reverse, in three lines, are the words 'FOR MILITARY ACHIEVEMENT' above a space for inscription and below there are two slips of laurel.

Decoration, set: NSN 8455-01-127-7338 Decoration, regular: NSN 8455-01-128-2438 Decoration, miniature: NSN 8455-01-128-2439 Ribbon: NSN 8455-01-128-2440 Lapel Button: NSN 8455-01-128-1849"

Our congratulations to SSG Cage and PFC Lundy on earning this

Congratulations also go to all the soldiers recently honored at the
battalion award ceremony and to the 2 new E5s, SGT Packer and SGT McCafferty.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Families prepare for deployment

"11/3/2007 7:33 PM
By: Web Staff
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The New York Army National Guard is preparing to mobilize 1,700 soldiers to Afghanistan, and their families are also preparing. Volunteers and military family support programs held a gathering in Albany to give information, advice, and most of all, support to those whose loved ones who serve in the National Guard.
Family Readiness Groups include the Blue Star Mothers of America, which is made up of parents whose children are either deployed or have served. There are also groups for kids, as they try to deal with their parents being gone. Organizers say the information fair helps bring everyone together.
'A lot of people don't understand what its like to be in a military family. It's a completely different experience,” said Katy Moody, President of Capital Region Chapter 2 NYS Blue Star Mothers of "

More... Capital News 9 24 Hour Local News HEADLINES Families prepare for deployment Families prepare for deployment:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Paratroopers return home

" By Kevin Maurer Staff writer

About 200 Paratroopers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team returned today from Iraq. The white Continental charter plane landed at Pope Air Force Base about 8:30 a.m. The paratroopers were greeted by cheers from more than 100 family members. The 3rd Brigade left in August 2006 to the Salah ad Din province north of Baghdad.
All four combat brigades in the 82nd Airborne Division have been deployed. The 3rd Brigade troops are the first to start coming home. “This is a surreal feeling,” said Col. Bryan Owens, the brigade’s commander. “Words can’t describe how I feel.”
Owens was joined by brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Bryant Lambert, Lt. Col. Scott Harris, commander, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and Lt. Col. Viet Luong, commander, 2nd Battalion, 505th."
More... - Current Article Page:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Father of slain Marine wins case against funeral protesters --

"Pa. man awarded nearly $11 million in compensatory and punitive damages
By Matthew Dolan Sun reporter
5:54 PM EDT, October 31, 2007

The brokenhearted father of a Marine killed in Iraq won a long-shot legal fight today after a federal jury in Baltimore awarded him nearly $11 million in a verdict against members of a Kansas church who hoisted anti-gay placards at his son's Westminster funeral. The jury's announcement 24 hours after deliberations first began was met with tears and hugs from the family and supporters of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, whose March 2006 funeral was protested by members of the Westboro Baptist Church with signs including 'Thank God for dead soldiers.' Snyder's father, Albert, won on every count of his complaint, as well as $2.9 million for compensatory damages and $8 million for punitive damages."
More... Father of slain Marine wins case against funeral protesters --

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Iraqi Army at Besmaya Installation Support San Diego Fire Victims

U.S. Army Col. Darel Maxfield (center left), Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq, receives the check from Iraqi Army Col. Abbass (center right) at the Besmaya Range Complex Thursday for the San Diego, Calif., fire victims. BAGHDAD, Iraq -

"Iraqi Army Support San Diego Fire Victims
By U.S. Army Sgt 1st Class Charlene Sipperly,
Multi-National Security Transition Command -
Iraq Public Affairs Oct 27, 2007 - 5:43:06 PM
Blackanthem Military News

Members of the Iraqi Army in Besmaya collected a donation for the San Diego, Calif., fire victims Thursday night at the Besmaya Range Complex in a moving ceremony to support Besmaya's San Diego residents. Iraqi Army Col. Abbass, the commander of the complex, presented a gift of $1,000 to U.S. Army Col. Darel Maxfield, Besmaya Range Complex officer in charge, Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq, to send to the fire victims in California.
The money was collected from Iraqi officers and enlisted soldiers in Besmaya. In a speech given during the presentation, Col. Abbass stated that he and the Iraqi soldiers were connected with the American people in many ways, and they will not forget the help that the American government has given the Iraqi people. Abbass was honored to participate by sending a simple fund of $1,000 to the American people in San Diego, to lower the suffering felt by the tragedy. "
More... Iraqi Army at Besmaya Installation Support San Diego Fire Victims:

Friday, October 19, 2007

First Wave of Paratroopers Back Home

"First wave of 82nd paratroopers back home this morning

By Henry Cuningham Military editor

Wives, parents and children cheered, whistled and applauded at 7:20 a.m. as an airplane carrying the first large group of 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers home from Iraq touched down at Pope Air Force Base. The 267 paratroopers mostly belonged to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s support and special troops battalions. The paratroopers spent the past 15 months in Salah ad Din Province north of Baghdad. “Today is the start of the flow of over 15,000 paratroopers to Fort Bragg,” said Lt. Col. Rob Campbell, the brigade executive officer. Some of the families waited for two hours at Pope this morning. They had driven from as far away as Florida and Michigan to welcome the soldiers home." - Current Article Page:

Perry Danos

sings his original song Free in tribute to all those who are and have been fighting to make us Free

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blackwater training some Canadian troops

Blackwater training some Canadian troops: "Blackwater training some Canadian troops David Pugliese , CanWest News Service Published: Saturday, September 29, 2007 OTTAWA -- The Canadian Forces are using a controversial private security firm to train some of its troops sent to Afghanistan. Select Canadian soldiers have been sent to Blackwater U.S.A. in North Carolina for specialized training in bodyguard and shooting skills. Other soldiers have taken counterterrorism evasive-driving courses with the private military company now at the centre of an investigation into the killings of Iraqi civilians and mounting concerns about the aggressive tactics of its workers in the field. Critics of Blackwater label the firm as a mercenary organization and question why a professional military such as the Canadian Forces can't do its own training in specialized areas."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Silly String finally heads to Iraq

After months of frustration, a mother of a soldier in Iraq has found someone to ship about 80,000 cans of Silly String to the troops, who use the foamy substance to detect trip wires on bombs.
Marcelle Shriver plays with Silly String as 80,000 cans of it are loaded for U.S. troops in Iraq.
"I am so happy right now, I am shaking. I just think it's awesome that it's finally going," Marcelle Shriver said as boxes were loaded into a truck Monday afternoon.
The thousands of cans of Silly String are boxed and addressed to individual servicemen and servicewomen in Iraq. But since the string comes in an aerosol can, it is considered a hazardous material, and only certain companies can ship it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Software Giant Lends Support to Troops

"America Supports You: Software Giant Lends Support to Troops American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2007 – As part of its continued commitment to honoring troops and their families, software giant Microsoft Corp. announced today that it has become a corporate supporter of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program."
More... DefenseLink News Article: America Supports You: Software Giant Lends Support to Troops:

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Domenici & Limbaugh: Two Good Men

By Rich Galen
"US Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) has announced he will not run for re-election because he is suffering from a disorder known as Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration which is a disorder of the brain leading to a 'group of progressive dementias that result from decline in brain cells which control behavior, thinking and communication.'
Pete Domenici was first elected to the US Senate in 1972. Just to remind us how long ago 1972 is; here is an entry from the 'Information Please' website:"
"Five men are apprehended by police in attempt to bug Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.'s Watergate complex-start of the Watergate scandal (June 17)."
..." The Senate, which is receding in support among Americans under the leadership of men like Harry Reid (D-Nv) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), will be weakened by the loss of Pete Domenici - a man of principal, courage, intelligence, and above all patriotism."...

More... & Limbaugh: Two Good Men::By Rich Galen -- Anchor:

Friday, October 05, 2007

ConocoPhillips Makes Donation for VVM Center

Center Will Honor Those on The Wall, as well as All Veterans
Washington, D.C.— ConocoPhillips has pledged $2 million to help fund the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, an educational facility being built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., said Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Memorial Fund. The donation puts the Memorial Fund at around $14 million in pledges for the Center, which is estimated to cost between $75 million and $100 million. The Memorial Fund received a lead gift of $10 million from Time Warner in 2006. “ConocoPhillips is proud to help in the funding of this Memorial Center to honor Vietnam veterans, their families and all those who have served in America’s armed forces,” said Jim Mulva, chairman and chief executive officer of ConocoPhillips. “In 1982, ConocoPhillips recognized the importance of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and made donations to make that treasured national monument possible,” said Scruggs. “Now, 25 years later, they still recognize the importance of teaching America’s youth about the Vietnam War and remembering the Americans who answered their nation’s call at that divisive time. I am pleased that ConocoPhillips is joining us to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center.”"
more... Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund - ConocoPhillips Makes Donation for VVM Center:

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Its the little things

I got a call from Kuwait today -- from a very excited soldier who was thrilled about his 2 hour stop in Ireland but mostly about the VIP treatment he got in Albuquerque, NM before he left. He was amazed at how many people he had to deal with that went above and beyond for him -- and then he got an upgrade to first class for his flight to Dallas. Yeah to that American spirit and the show of support for our troops!
And he picked up a t-shirt at Shannon! :)

Legion honors Blue Star Mothers

East Side American Legion Post 201 of Worcester honored two Blue Star Mothers — Sharon Bouchard, president, and Tina Veves — at its meeting Sept. 10. The Blue Star Mothers organization was created in 1942 to provide support to families that have children serving in the military. The post donated $300 to the organization to provide injured or recovering soldiers with backpacks filled with donated supplies. "
Worcester Telegram & Gazette News:

Vets and families take the hill 09/27/07

"By Brian Bresnahan

On September 18th nearly 250 members of Vets for Freedom and 450 members of Families United For Our Troops and Their Mission gathered on Capitol Hill. These pro-mission veterans, Gold Star, and Blue Star families let their Senators and Congressmen know there are plenty of Americans who believe in persevering in the war on terrorists.

I had the honor of joining other veterans and these families in this endeavor. After breakfast on the White House lawn with the President, First Lady, Vice President, Secretary of State, and the Secretary of the VA, another Marine veteran from Nebraska and I headed to Capitol Hill for our first appointment, at Senator Hagel's office. For nearly an hour, we met with his Chief of Staff, the Senator's military legislative assistant, and the Senator.

It was an amicable discussion, but they certainly see the war differently than we do. I know we didn't change Senator Hagel's mind, but at least we delivered our message. He listened and shared his thoughts as well. He is concerned with the deployment tempo on the troops and their families.

I believe his concern for the lack of political progress at the national level overcomes his ability to see the success of the surge and the impact it's having on the broader picture. He hesitates to acknowledge any success in Iraq. He cited several shortcomings of the Iraq government, and seems almost solely focused on that aspect of the conflict."

More...York News-Times Vets and families take the hill 09/27/07:

Saturday, September 29, 2007

End of his Leave

I watched my son board his plane today on his way back to Iraq after his 18 days leave.
heading out

airport security TSA

Friday, September 28, 2007

New Rule Limits ‘Predatory’ Loans to Servicemembers

"By Sgt. Sara Wood,
USA American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2007 – The Defense Department is instituting new protections that will help defend servicemembers against high-interest emergency loans that can lead to a dangerous cycle of debt. A new regulation included in the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act limits the annual percentage rate on payday loans, vehicle title loans and tax refund anticipation loans to 36 percent for active-duty servicemembers and their families.
The change takes effect Oct. 1. This is a big change, as the interest rates on these “predatory” loans can run as high as several hundred percent, said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. Troops and their families have often fallen victim to these loans when they come up short between paychecks, and they can lead to serious problems, he said. “It’s a big problem for commanders, because what happens is often these households get themselves in over their heads,” Chu said. “They’re $200 short between now and next payday, but they’re no better off when payday comes, so they need a bigger loan, and it just goes downhill from there.”
The 36 percent limit in the regulation includes all fees and charges, and the rule prohibits contracts requiring the use of a check or access to a bank account, mandatory arbitration and unreasonable legal notice, Chu said. The regulation makes it a criminal offense for lenders to knowingly charge a higher interest rate to servicemembers, so it is essential that military members be honest about their status when applying for loans, he said. "
More... DefenseLink News Article: New Rule Limits ‘Predatory’ Loans to Servicemembers:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stand Ye Steady

"Stand Ye Steady – Songs of Courage and Inspiration Curtain Call Productions returned to West Point January 31st, February 1st and 2nd and completed work on a stunning new 5.1 Digital Surround Sound DVD project entitled Stand Ye Steady featuring the highly acclaimed USMA Cadet Glee Club of West Point with a guest appearance by world-renowned Manhattan Records recording artist Daniel Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez will be featured on the track Into the Fire, a piece he recorded on his first CD The Spirit of America for Manhattan. Also featured are some of New York City’s finest session and orchestra musicians on brass and percussion. Sessions were every evening from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the West Point Chapel. Six tracks were filmed and recorded this past October in the magnificent 100 year old chapel at West Point with the remaining 9 tracks to be completed during the January 31st - Feb 2nd sessions. This DVD showcases inspirational and patriotic choral works specifically arranged for this recording by renowned arranger/composer Don Fraser. Included in the first recorded portion are Via Dolorosa featuring Broadway star and Tony award winner Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Flower Drum Song, the voice of Jasmine from the hit Disney movie Aladdin). A DVD of 11 of the 16 songs is being made available now on a pre-release basis at a special introductory price. Click below to order. "

Curtain Call Productions - Exclusive Audio Loops & Samples:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Iraqi National Police find cache in Rusafa District

A U.S. Army Soldier from 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division walks in front of the remains of a building as he provides security in the Rusafa district of Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 2, 2007. The Soldier is providing security for a visit to the area by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq, and Katie Couric, anchor and managing editor of the CBS evening news. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Curt Cashour)

"By Multi-National Division - Baghdad PAO
Sep 22, 2007 - 1:58:39 PM
Blackanthem Military News

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq - Officers with the Iraqi National Police recovered a weapons cache in the Rusafa District of eastern Baghdad Sept. 15. The officers found a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and nine 120mm mortars. The weapons were turned over to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team's Special Troops Battalion for their explosive ordnance detachment Soldiers to destroy the weapons. The discovery comes as U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces continue to sweep out insurgent strongholds in eastern Baghdad. This includes the establishment of Coalition outposts and joint security stations as part of the Baghdad Security Plan to pacify the capital. "

Iraqi National Police find cache in Rusafa District:

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blue Stars mean something in New Mexico

The News-Bulletin: Blue Stars mean something:
"Father and son
New Mexico Air National Guard Master Sgt. Rick Carbajal and his oldest son, Marine Cpl. Ricky Carbajal II, are being deployed to Iraq soon. An entire community's prayers and best wishes are going with them. While it's difficult for a family with one member serving in Iraq, it must be tremendously difficult to have two loved ones serving in harm's way. So many men and women in our area have volunteered to put their lives on the line; as usual, the people of Valencia County stand up to be counted when their country calls.
There's a new Blue Star Mothers of Valencia County group that held its first meeting recently. It's an organization that dates back to World War II to support the troops and their families. Folks who don't have a child serving in the military may join as associate members. 'As we get started, we will be asking for donations of time, money and items that can be sent in care packages for our soldiers,' the group said in a pamphlet.
'Support for families includes emotional, financial or repairs around the house.' If you'd like to help, call the group at 217-1806. The Blue Star Mothers meet at 10 a.m. the second Saturday of each month at the First Baptist Church of Bosque Farms. Officers are Jean E. Casey, president; Ruth Vollmer, vice president; Gwen Gordon, secretary; and Lisa Agan, treasurer. You can e-mail the group at jbcasey@ or rs.vollmer It's a good way to help. We've been touched way too closely by this war, with seven Air Force and Army members from the county or with ties to it having been killed. We need to support these families."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Aztec Ruins

DJ and Lexi

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Home on R&R

Since this blog was intended to be about my son I suppose I could update on him. He's HOME. Not for very long, just 18 days, but he is here and its been good having him home.
I picked him up at the airport in Albuquerque on Monday and, had he been on the earlier flight as scheduled he would have been welcomed in high style by the Albuquerque Rio Grand Valley moms.
If he had been on his earlier flight as scheduled we would have made it back to Farmington earlier and been welcomed in a big way by the Farmington, Four Corners Blue Star Moms. We made it back at Midnight and were surprised at the wonderful decorations on our deck.
The following evening the crowd all came back and we had a proper welcome home ceremony and a huge cake with the Blue Star Mothers and several other friends.