Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Citrus Students Box Supplies for Troops

"Citrus students box supplies for troops

January 31, 2007

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Citrus Elementary third-grade teacher Sue Fredrickson wanted to send some hometown support to Vero Beach High School graduate Ryan Testa, now serving overseas in Iraq.
She discussed the idea of sending him items with her young students.
But then someone in the class suggested expanding the project to all 50 members of Testa's platoon.
Testa, 27, is a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C., said his mother, Irene Testa, a second-grade teacher at Dodgertown. Fredrickson worked with Irene Testa and has known her son since he was young.
Fredrickson sent home letters about the project and for the past couple of weeks, students in her class collected donations each morning.
'The kids are really into it,' she said.
She said she is surprised at the amount of items being donated and that almost everything is brand new.
'It's very, very heartwarming,' she said. "

Twelve Combat badges awarded to 82nd Airborne Soldiers

"Twelve Combat badges awarded to 82nd Airborne Soldiers
By Multi-National Division - North PAO
Jan 31, 2007 - 5:26:14 AM

Blackanthem Military News, SAMARRA, Iraq - Prestigious combat badges were awarded here Sunday to Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, who have faced enemy contact in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

'There’s no doubt in my mind that this group of [Soldiers] is top-notch,' said Command Sgt. Maj. Brent Hagel-Pitt, the command sergeant major for 2-505th PIR. 'They’re just Soldiers doing what they’re good at. The least we can do is reward them for that.'

Col. Bryan Owens, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division commander, presented each of the Soldiers their badge. 'I am very proud of all of you and of what you do here day in and day out,' Owens said.

Ten Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment from Fort Bragg, NC, and two Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment from Fort Hood, Texas, received the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB), the Combat Action Badge (CAB), and Combat Medical Badge (CMB) in a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Brassfield-Mora.

The CIB is awarded to infantrymen who have faced the enemy in combat. The CAB is awarded to Soldiers in support positions, such as truck drivers, who have engaged in enemy contact. The CMB is designated for Soldiers who are medics, and have performed life-saving procedures while in combat situations."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Paratroopers Go to Combat with More Than Equipment

Spc. Benjamin West, an infantryman with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, fits a piece of colored cloth embroidered with the Star of David into the flap of his body armor. West carries the cloth, sent to him by his aunt, with him on all his patrols. Photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor

"Paratroopers Go to Combat with More Than Equipment
Jan 25, 2007
BY Sgt. Mike Pryor
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division

CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, Jan. 25, 2007) - The Army makes sure that every Soldier going into combat has the best hardware and equipment money can buy. But hidden away somewhere underneath all the gear, most Soldiers also carry an item or two that their supply sergeants didn't issue.

As they readied vehicles and equipment for combat recently, paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, based at Camp Taji, also filled their rucks and pockets with some extra personal items. The items ranged from the obvious, like extra ammo and batteries, to the bizarre, like a lucky Sesame Street doll."

Friday, January 26, 2007

Keeping in Touch

Dallas tries to show me a picture on a very blurry video chat session.

It is great to be able to see him during his short visits to the internet cafe at FOB Loyalty.

This was a screenshot from Wednesday morning (my time).

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

82nd to begin Baghdad ops by February

Army News, Special Reports, Frontline Photos, This Week's Army Times - Army Times: "82nd to begin Baghdad ops by February

By Steven R. Hurst - The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Jan 21, 2007 11:11:12 EST

BAGHDAD — A newly arrived brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, the first of the 21,500-troop buildup ordered by President Bush, will be ready to join the fresh drive to quell sectarian violence in the capital by the start of next month, the American military said Sunday.
The 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne has 3,200 soldiers who will “assist Iraqi Security Forces to clear, control and retain key areas of the capital city in order to reduce violence and to set the conditions for a transition to full Iraqi control of security in the city,” the military said in a statement.82nd to begin Baghdad ops by February

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Defense Meetings

"Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, right, escorts Canadian Minister of Defense Gordon O'Connor into the Pentagon Jan. 23, 2007, for a breakfast meeting. The two defense leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of international security issues. DoD photo by R. D. Ward. (Released)

Photo by: ROBERT D. WARD,
Record ID No. (VIRIN): 070123-D-9880W-003"

1-504 PIR Settling in

Stars & Stripes: "82nd Airborne battalion arrives, doubles FOB Loyalty’s population
Base finally has enough troops to qualify for AAFES store, officer reports

By Lisa Burgess, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Monday, January 22, 2007

Lisa Burgess / S&S
Pvt. Jonathan Duque, 20, of Houston, a member of Company D of the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, sweeps the Kuwait dust out the inside of his Humvee at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in Baghdad, Iraq. Duque and the rest of the 82nd Airborne battalion, have arrived in Iraq this week as part of the increase of 21,000 troops ordered earlier this month.

Lisa Burgess / S&S
Sgt. Johnathan Hamilton, 22, a forward observer for Company B, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, takes some time Saturday to play the video game 'Far Cry' at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in Baghdad, Iraq.

Lisa Burgess / S&S
Spc. Eric Rose, 21, of Tracy, Calif., a member of Company D of the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, sweeps off the bed of his Humvee at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in Baghdad, Iraq.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq — A battalion-sized element of soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived here by helicopter over the past week, nearly doubling the base population.
The soldiers — from the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment out of Fort Bragg, N.C. — are part of the increase of 21,500 U.S. troops ordered by President Bush in early January. The extra troops, whose tour is open-ended, are to help Iraqi forces quell violence in their country, particularly in Baghdad."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

FOB Loyalty

DefenseLINK News: Prison Stands as Testament to Saddam's Evil:
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq, Dec. 17, 2005 – Saddam Hussein, sitting in a defendant's chair, looks harmless and slightly ridiculous. But his deserted facilities at this base are testament to his evil.

The Americans moved onto the grounds of what was Saddam's Directorate of Internal Security. At its center is a prison that could comfortably hold 500. At times, it had 3,000 people jammed into it."

82nd in Baghdad

Khaleej Times Online - At least 20 US forces killed in deadliest day in two years:
21 January 2007
BAGHDAD — At least 20 US troops were killed in Iraq on Saturday, the deadliest day for American forces in two years and at a time of building congresssional opposition to US President George W. Bush’s decision to dispatch of more than 20,000 additional soldiers to the conflict.
The Saturday toll was the third highest of any day since the war began in March 2003, eclispsed only by 37 US deaths on Jan. 26, 2005, and 28 on the third day of the US invasion....

..."A brigade of the US 82nd Airborne Division, part of American buildup, has arrived in Baghdad and will be ready to join the fresh drive to quell sectarian violence in the capital by the first of the month, the American military announced on Sunday.
The 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne consists of about 3,200 soldiers who will “assist Iraqi Security Forces to clear, control and retain key areas of the capital city in order to reduce violence and to set the condWTions fora transition to full Iraqi control of security in the city,” the military said in a statement."

n.b. Dallas called home this morning to report he was alive and well.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Iraq Pictures

82nd Airborne news

U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne quick-reaction force faces possible problem: Full deployment - International Herald Tribune: "U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne quick-reaction force faces possible problem: Full deployment"

RALEIGH, North Carolina: The four brigades in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division usually rotate the role of the United States' "ready" brigade, prepared to leave for anywhere in the world within 18 hours.
But in the latest example of how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are pushing the Army to its limits, the brigade may have to briefly give up its role this summer.
It is possible all four of the 3,500-soldier brigades would be overseas for the first time since Operation Desert Storm in 1990, when they deployed together as a full division.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Its 9 o'clock, do you know where your children are?

This is the tough part. I look forward to the occasional email or phone call -- yesterday they were still in Kuwait-- but by the time we're getting ready for bed here in New Mexico I know Dallas is just starting his day-- and I have no real grasp of what it might entail.
He was in kindergarten, in Grande Prairie, Alberta when he first looked up at me with tear-filled eyes and said the war was over and they didn't wait for him. That was Desert Storm. It was the first I knew of his desire to go to battle but it was not the last. In grade 2 we attended a Tattoo in Lethbridge, Alberta and after watching the demonstrations of the forces he announced his intentions of joining 'something' but at that point he couldn't decide between the Canadian Army, The US army or the Marines.
Fast forward through the years where all his gifts came from military surplus stores and his eventual joining the Rocky Mountain Rangers Cadets. On the morning of 9/11 he sat and watched the news and asked how long it would take for me to get my proof of citizenship and move us back to the US. I watched a change take place that morning as if he had personally been violated. He had made up his mind. He went to school wearing a double US/Canada flag. He logged on to and sent for an information packet. He was going to join the American army and fight the war on terror.
It was really no surprise when my husband and I got home from Iowa last spring we found Dallas had finally received his SSN while we were away and was off to MEPS at Albuquerque. And its really no surprise that when I talk to him on the phone when he calls from Kuwait and mention he sounds eager to get to Baghdad -- he says "I am". And I guess it should really be no surprise that even after his lifetime of preparing me I still have an unsettling feeling every evening because I don't know where all my children are.

n.b.On Wednesday morning, at about 8:20 Dallas phoned from Iraq to let me know where he is.

photo by Staff Sgt. Bronco Suzuki,

Sunday, January 14, 2007

82 Airborne Medics Get Blessing

82nd Airborne Medics Get Blessing Before Moving Into Iraq
By Sgt. Mike Pryor, USA Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait, Jan. 14, 2007 – Soldiers throughout history have marched into battle fortified by the prayers of their spiritual leaders. But the healers who care for those soldiers when they fall got a special blessing here Jan. 12 as they prepare to move with their 82nd Airborne Division into Iraq.
The 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team held a service here to bless the brigade's medical personnel before they deploy. The 2nd BCT is expected to deploy into Baghdad soon to help reclaim neighborhoods controlled by insurgents. Paratroopers from the 2nd BCT's 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment say they are ready for that fight, but that the constant training they are receiving here is helping ensure they stay prepared. Maj. Jeffrey Hawkins, the brigade chaplain, said the event was planned to honor and support the medics and strengthen the bond between the 2nd BCT's chaplains and medics. "There are special bricks that get put in the rucksack of a caregiver. They carry a burden that not everybody has," he said. "We wanted to honor that." The blessing took place at the post chapel on a bitterly cold, rainy night. Some of the medics who attended had just come from training in the field, and were still wearing their wet, muddy body armor. But the atmosphere inside the chapel was warm and friendly, with handshakes, backslaps and hugs exchanged freely. The service was short. After prayers and the recitation of the Medic's Creed, the lights were dimmed and, in the flickering candlelight, Chaplain Capt. Rodney Gilliam gave a benediction to the assembled group. "It just gives them a little spiritual ammunition to go with their ballistic ammo," Hawkins said afterwards. After the service, the medical personnel who attended said they were proud and grateful to the ministry team for including them. "It's always nice when people can stop and recognize what the medics do," said 1st Lt. Erin Crofford, a medical evacuation platoon leader with Co. C, 407th Brigade Support Battalion. Crofford said it was logical that the chaplains and medics should come together, since they often work closely in combat. "Wherever you find medics, chaplains are close by," she said. Pfc. Timothy Schilz, a medic with Co. C, 407th Brigade Support Battalion, said he was glad for the opportunity to share a special moment with the team. "There's nothing better than chaplains and medics coming together. There is a bond there," Schilz said. (Sgt. Mike Pryor is assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Divison Public Affairs.)

Visit the Defense Department's Web site "America Supports You" at, that spotlights what Americans are doing in support of U.S. military men and women serving at home and abroad.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Kuwait to Iraq

DefenseLink News Release: DoD Announces Force Adjustments: "DoD Announces Force Adjustments

As a result of the President’s Iraq strategy review, the Department of Defense announced today an increase of 20,000 U.S. military forces for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Specific decisions made by the Secretary of Defense include:

The 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., and currently assigned as the call forward force in Kuwait, will move into Iraq and assume a security mission there."

82nd Airborne -- Kuwait

82nd Airborne: "82nd Arrives in Kuwait, Ready for Action
CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT – The 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team began arriving in Kuwait [1/2/07] to assume the role of quick reaction force for Multi-National Force-Iraq. The Fort Bragg, N.C.-based Falcon Brigade will remain in Kuwait on stand-by status, ready to immediately deploy into Iraq to support coalition operations."
“The 82nd Airborne is America’s strategic response force. Within days of being alerted, we’ve moved an entire brigade combat team by strategic airlift to Kuwait, and we are prepared to respond to any contingencies that the combatant commander directs,” said Col. B Don Farris, the 2nd BCT commander.
The 2nd BCT is particularly suited to the role of strategic response force, Farris said. Its long-standing mission has been to deploy world-wide on short notice and conduct full-spectrum combat operations. Paratrooper training stresses readiness and adaptability to a variety of different mission sets.
“Paratroopers possess an expeditionary mindset. It’s a lifestyle. It’s our culture. Paratroopers know they must be ready to go at a moment’s notice,” said Farris.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bush to order about 20,000 more troops to Iraq | Top News |

Bush to order about 20,000 more troops to Iraq | Top News | "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush will tell skeptical Americans on Wednesday he will send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq as part of a long-delayed new plan for the unpopular war, setting up a confrontation with Democrats.
The fresh infusion of troops will join about 130,000 already in Iraq. Senior administration officials said 17,500 would go to Baghdad and 4,000 to volatile Anbar province.
The first wave of troops are expected to arrive in five days, with others coming in additional waves. Under the plan, the Iraqi government will deploy additional Iraqi troops to Baghdad with a first brigade deploying February 1 and two more by February 15."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Army All-American Bowl: Las Vegas soldier to be honored at football game

Army All-American Bowl: Las Vegas soldier to be honored at football game: "Las Vegas, N.M., native Shawn Sedillo, who is returning to Iraq 'real soon' for his third tour of duty, will be honored at today's Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

The 31-year-old Army sergeant is one of 88 'soldier heroes' selected for a pre-game show before the all-star high-school football game, which will be broadcast nationally.

Sedillo, who joined the Army 12 years ago after graduating from West Las Vegas High School, won a Bronze Star for his actions during his most recent tour of duty in Tal'afar, near Syria.

'It was basically looking for a fight every day,' he said in a telephone interview Friday. 'You kind of just drive around waiting for somebody to shoot at you. That's how we did it. It's kind of like fishing. The fish are biting us, you know.'

Sedillo estimated his unit captured 400 insurgents during his last tour of duty, from March 2005 to February 2006. A typical mission, he said, began with Iraqi informants identifying 'bad guys.' Then, Sedillo said, his 10-member section would approach a house before daylight, break down the door and capture the occupant."

Thursday, January 04, 2007


HERO Act expands IRA eligibility for deployed servicemembers: "This tax season, another question will likely be high on a Soldier's list: What is the HERO Act, and how can it work for me?

The HERO Act
The answer, according to the Internal Revenue Service, is that members of the military serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat zones can now put money into an individual retirement account, even if they received tax-free combat pay.

Under the Heroes Earned Retirement Opportunities Act, signed into law on Memorial Day, servicemembers can now count tax-free combat pay when determining whether they qualify to contribute to either a Roth or traditional IRA. Before this change, military members whose earnings came entirely from tax-free combat pay were generally barred from using IRAs to save for retirement. "

New Years "Dec 31, 2006 7:19 PM
Subject:New Years
Body:just want to say happy new years to everyone, i love every single one of you guys and gals, and i hope this next year brings you good luck, great times and better relationships.
i know i haven't kept in touch too well, but its a busy life with the 82nd, and its about to get busier. I ship overseas soon, so my next message may be from iraq.

love you all, and happy new years


Note from Dallas

Date: Jan 3, 2007 7:50 AM
Subject: overseas travel
Body: well, my first overseas trip, just touched down in germany. jst spending an hour or so here before we head off again.

"wuff_the_fluff" on MySpace

n.b. Dallas has since landed in Kuwait where he found a phone and called home at 3 a.m. my time.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Heather Martin - When Are You Coming Home

From a sister to a brother -- very touching.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Gates Approves 82nd Airborne Division Deployment to Kuwait

Gates Approves 82nd Airborne Division Deployment to Kuwait: "Gates Approves 82nd Airborne Division Deployment to Kuwait
Dec 27, 2006
BY American Forces Press Service

82nd Airborne to Deploy
The 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team received orders today to deploy to Kuwait in early January to become the theater command's 'call forward' force, Defense Department officials announced today.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates approved the request from Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, yesterday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters.

About 3,500 members of the 'Falcon Brigade' headquarters will replace the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit as CENTCOM's forward-deployed on-call force, ready to respond quickly to a full range of contingencies, he said."

The 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army was constituted in the National Army as the 82nd Division on March 5, 1917, and was organized on March 25, 1917, at Camp Gordon, Georgia. Since members of the division came from all 48 states, the unit was given the nickname “All-Americans. This is the basis for its famed “AA shoulder patch. Famous soldiers of the division include Sergeant Alvin C. York and General James M. Gavin. Photo by

U.S. sends elite force back to Mideast

United Press International - Security & Terrorism - U.S. sends elite force back to Mideast: "U.S. sends elite force back to Mideast
WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army is sending 3,300 paratroopers back to the Middle East only weeks after bringing some of them home.
The move appears to be a response to increasing pressures for ground forces capable of operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.
'More than 3,000 paratroopers -- some of whom returned from Iraq only two weeks ago -- will be in Kuwait by mid-January in an 'on-call' capacity for duty in Iraq or Afghanistan,' the Army Times reported Wednesday. "