Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Army paratroopers share thoughts on surge

"Tuesday, 29 May 2007
By Sgt. Michael Pryor
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division

U.S. Army Spc. Antonio Garcia, from San Angelo, Texas, a paratrooper with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, pulls security while his platoon leader talks to the owner of a house during a cordon and search operation in Sha'ab, Baghdad, May 10, 2007. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Pryor."

More... Multi-National Force - Iraq - Army paratroopers share thoughts on surge:

Monday, May 28, 2007

Update from mom

Most of what has been posted here recently is from DOD Press releases or other online sources.

Here are a few notes of PFC Wuff's activities.

  • Top of the list, take note it is now PFC

  • Spent 3 nights and 2 days in the green zone on a pass where he enjoyed "a large theatre, an xbox room, 3 pool tables, 4 large screen tvs to watch movies on, a pool with a 10 meter diving other kick ass things to enjoy. ...and civilian clothing"

  • "It's an FOB but it really is a club med"

  • Managed to shoot a few videos and we are waiting on an upload of those.

  • Comrade and buddy Rob Dembowski was killed on patrol while Wuffy was on leave.

  • The boys had a memorial for him today -- fitting, on Memorial Day

  • not much else to report on other than the boredom

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Indy 500 Festivities Include Military Tributes

By Samantha L. Quigley / American Forces Press Service

Indy 500 fans hold America Supports You cards to let servicemembers attending the race know that the country is behind them. Several thousand cards were available for fans to display at the Indianapolis 500 on May 28. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley

INDIANAPOLIS, May 28, 2006 - Today's opening ceremonies for the 90th Indianapolis 500 carried a special message for servicemembers and their families: America Supports You.
Troops were greeted with thunderous applause and cheering when they rode around the two-and-a-half mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway track as part of the speedway's Military Recognition March. Just before they reached the only bricks remaining of the original track, 6,000 fans flashed placards bearing the America Supports You logo. The red heart and blue ribbon logo has become synonymous with the program's message of support for America's military men and women. "It feels good to know that we've got people behind us," Army Spec. Robert Houston, with the 433rd Personnel Division here, said. Also during the days events, five servicemembers representing each service performed the National Anthem, while a color guard presented the U.S. and Indiana flags. Later the color guard presented the colors as an Army bugler played "Taps."
Army Gen. Richard Cody, Army vice chief of staff, also addressed the crowd. "You look around to the left and right and in front of you, and you see over 300,000 great American fans getting ready to watch one of our greatest sports," Cody said. "That's the same number of soldiers we have deployed in 120 countries today defending you and I. "Thank you for your support of all our servicemen and women," he added.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Two Healing Words

By Jim Moeller

Written May 26, 2007

Although Memorial Day is a day set aside in respect for those who have lost their lives in protection of our freedoms, the day has evolved to also include a "thank-you" for all who are currently serving.

I remember that for my dad, a WWII veteran, Memorial Day included a visit to all of the local cemeteries to put American flags on the graves of all that gave the ultimate sacrifice.
It is with Memorial Day as the background that I want to share a story, a healing story, that took place a couple of weeks ago.
Needing new glasses, I visited the location of my old eye doctor to find he had moved on and had taken all of the files with him. So, I needed a new eye doctor.
Several days later I was shopping at the newly opened Costco and discovered that they had an eye doctor. The following Saturday morning I called the doctor's phone number and was pleasantly surprised when she answered the phone. In a gentle healing voice she told me I could come in any time I wanted that day.
I did.
She again greeted me with courtesy and kindness that is seldom seen in today's world. During the exam we continued small talk as an internally driven voice started to interrupt my thought pattern. The voice told me to, "Ask her about her background. Ask her where she is from."
As she continued her exam the voice grew louder. "Ask her...Ask her."
The more I denied the "politically incorrect" voice, the stronger the voice became.
"Ask her."
"Ask her."
Again I mentally argued back, "No!"
"Ask her."
"Okay. Okay."
As she finished the exam I finally started to put together a sentence that I hoped would not sound insensitive.
"Can I ask you what your ethnic background is? You know, your family background."
She first seemed hesitant as if digesting my words and my motive.
"I'm Vietnamese. I am from Vietnam."
I hesitated and then moved my head to acknowledge her information.
"You weren't born in Vietnam, were you?"
"Yes, I was."
I then took a deep breath and brought up a subject I seldom discuss. The Vietnam War.
I told her that I had never set foot in her homeland, but as a military jet pilot flying off an aircraft carrier I had seen her country many times.
Not sure why, I went on to explain that I was over Saigon during the last days of the war. As if she was naive, I explained that we were protecting the exit of American troops and American civilians. In addition, we were helping the South Vietnamese civilians who had worked for our government to escape. Their staying would have been certain death under the hand of the Viet Cong.
As I completed my history lesson I could see her eyes had filled with tears.
"Mr. Moeller, on those final days of the war, I was 7 years old and my family and I were some of the people you were protecting as we were airlifted out."
By now her growing tears were rolling down her cheeks.
She then spoke saying only two words. "Thank you."
By now the tears were also flowing down my face as I responded to her comment. "You're welcome."
Anyone who served during those times of Vietnam knows how the experiences, as well as our hostile homecomings, were stuffed. And then here, in the most unlikely moment, this young woman not only unlocked all the pain from a troubled time; she healed it as well with just those two words.
I only wish that all of the struggling veterans of that era could have experienced that "thank you" with me.
We talked a bit more about our recollections from a time so long ago. She told me of the advice given her by her father. "For as long as you live, do something for an American each and everyday. They have given us so much more than we can ever give them."
On that Saturday morning I was the recipient of her father's suggestion.
Finally, on the lighter side, I told her that I did not believe that she looked old enough to have been born in Vietnam.
She replied, "Your eyes must be bad. Now we know for sure that you need new glasses."

Tribute to Pfc. Robert H. Dembowski, 20

Members of the Airborne Division carry the flag draped casket of Pfc. Robert H. Dembowski, Jr., out of the funeral service. Funeral for Pfc. Robert H. Dembowski, Jr., at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Richboro. Dembowski, a 20-year-old soldier, died in Baghdad, Iraq on May 24, 2007 when his unit came under small arms fire. Video news report

A crisply folded flag stands for Valor and for Honor.Its stripes are not decorations, they represent courage under fire. Its stripes mark the passing of a son, of a daughter.

Pfc. Robert H. Dembowski, 20, of Ivyland, Pa., died May 24 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

The Associated Press

FORT BRAGG - An 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper died of injuries sustained
from enemy small-arms fire during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq, earlier
this week, the Defense Department said Friday.
Spc. Robert Dembowski Jr., 20, of Ivyland, Pa., was a company radio transmitter with 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
"Spc. Dembowski was a highly dedicated paratrooper," said Capt. Aaron King, the rear detachment commander for Dembowski's battalion. "He was dedicated not only to his profession but also in serving this great nation."
Dembowski, who was killed Thursday, joined the Army in January 2006. He completed infantry one station unit training and the basic airborne course at Fort Benning, Ga., in April 2006. He was assigned to his current unit when he arrived at the 82nd Airborne in May 2006.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.
Dembowski is survived by his parents, Robert Sr. and Frances Dembowski, and his sister, Janice Dembowski, all of Ivyland, Pa.

I went to see the soldiers, row on row on row,

And wondered about each so still, their badges all on show.

What brought them here, what life before Was like for each of them?

What made them angry, laugh, or cry,

These soldiers, boys and men.

Some so young, some older still, a bond more close than brothers

These men have earned and shared a love, that's not like any others

They trained as one, they fought as one

They shared their last together

That bond endures, that love is true

And will be, now and ever.

I could not know, how could I guess, what choices each had made,

Of how they came to soldiering, what part each one had played?

But here they are and here they'll stay,

Each one silent and in place,

Their headstones line up row on row

They guard this hallowed place.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

War Funding Bill Expected  to Pass in US House of Representatives

Norman Rockwell
Let's Give Him Enough and On Time
1942 U.S. Army poster
Oil on canvas 42 x 50
in.U.S. Army Center of Military History

"Bush Applauds War Funding Bill Expected to Pass in US House of Representatives
By VOA News
24 May 2007

U.S. President Bush holds a press conference in Rose Gardent at the White House in Washington, 24 May 07
President Bush has applauded a war funding bill that is expected to pass in the House of Representatives Thursday.
The president told reporters at the White House Thursday that the measure provides the funds the troops need, while requiring progress to be made in Iraq.
He also said American troops are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government and they would withdraw if asked to do so by the Iraqi government. But he said he believes a withdrawal of American and coalition troops would be catastrophic.
Democrats have dropped their demands to include in the bill a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq, a move that has angered some in the party."

More... VOA News - Bush Applauds War Funding Bill Expected to Pass in US House of Representatives:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Soldier's Letter

"Shift news to successes in Iraq, soldier urges

May 23, 2007

Chief Warrant Officer Jim Funk, an Iowa National Guard
Black Hawk helicopter pilot from Ames, has been serving
in Iraq since October. He wrote a letter to friends and family
blasting American media coverage of the war.

A tired and disgusted Iowa soldier fired off an e-mail a few days ago, telling family and friends how things are going in Iraq.

A Blackhawk helicopter pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Jim Funk has flown more than 80 combat missions since he arrived there in October.

He described his Boone-based unit's successes after 5,000 hours of flying out of LSA Anaconda, a huge American base north of Baghdad. He talked about the tragedies he and his fellow Iowans have witnessed and his worries of becoming complacent as he goes on mission after mission.


'We're treading water,' the Ames man told the people closest to him. 'We continue to kick butt on missions and take care of each other, even though we know the American public and government DOES NOT stand behind us.

Ohhhh, they all say they support us, but how can you support me (the soldier) if you don't support my mission or my objectives. We watch the news over here. Every time we turn it on we see the American public and Hollywood conducting protests and rallies against our 'illegal occupation' of Iraq.'

His greatest frustration? The performance of the people who deliver the news to the American people.

I'll let him say it, in his own words, in the letter, which found its way to me:"

Carry the Flame

"Carry The Flame, Inc. conducts an annual coast-to-coast motorcycle ride to raise money in support of Veterans' families, Veterans' issues and to increase awareness about America's POW/MIAs from all wars.

The 2007 Run will begin in Long Beach, CA and joins Rolling Thunder® XX in Washington, DC for Memorial Day Weekend activities. Rolling Thunder® is the largest one day motorcycle event in the world.
Pictures from Cuba, NM

2007 Itinerary
May 12-14 – Friday-Monday - Long Beach, CA
May 14 - Monday - Barstow, CA
May 15 - Tuesday - Kingman Flagstaff, AZ
May 16 - Wednesday - Tuba City and Kayenta, AZ
May 17 - Thursday - 5th Annual Navajo-Hopi Honor Run - Window Rock, AZ
May 18 - Friday - Cuba, Bernalillo, Angel Fire, NM
May 19 - Saturday - Texline, Amarillo, TX
May 19 – Saturday – Armed Forces Day “Celebrating Freedom & Honoring Service”, Amarillo, TX
May 20 - Sunday - El Reno, OK
May 21 - Monday - Muscogee Creek Nation, Conway, AR
May 22 - Tuesday - Bumpus H-D , Memphis, TN
May 22 - Tuesday - RT®TNV, Memphis, TN
May 23 - Wednesday - Knoxville H-D West, TN
May 24 - Thursday - Shenandoah H-D, Staunton, VA
May 25 - Friday - Candlelight Vigil at Vietnam Memorial Wall - Washington, D.C.
May 27 - Sunday - Rolling Thunder® Ride for Freedom XX

RTAA/OCTF Riders begin Memorial Day Weekend events by escorting participating members of American Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Wives of America and Blue Star Mothers of America to The Wall during the Candlelight Vigil on Friday evening. On Saturday, a variety of patriotic activities are available throughout the Nation's Capitol and surrounding areas. Rolling Thunder® XX begins at dawn on Sunday when motorcycles stage in the Pentagon Parking Lot for the Rolling Thunder® Demonstration."

Operation Carry The Flame and Rolling Thunder roared through Window Rock in 2005
for the annual Navajo Hopi Honor Run, taking bikers across the Navajo Nation.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Airmile Matching for Memorial Weekend

"Mile for Mile Matching this Memorial Day Weekend!
This weekend, the participating airlines will match your donation mile-for-mile, from 6 AM, Friday, May 25th through 11:59 pm, Monday, May 28th. Now is the time to donate those unused miles in your frequent flyer accounts!"

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Long Beach flags at half staff for soldiers


May 17, 2007, 9:16 PM EDT

Saying he was frustrated with the public's fascination with low-grade celebrities in a time of war, the city manager of Long Beach ordered Thursday that city flags be flown at half-staff to honor soldiers who died in Iraq.

City Manager Edwin Eaton said he consulted informally with the five-member City Council before issuing the order, which will remain in effect until further notice. 'Obviously, not forever,' Eaton said.

'While our society and media outlets appear to be consumed by the antics and activities of dysfunctional personalities and the 'glitterati,' we tend to forget that each day Americans are anonymously dying in Iraq,' Eaton said in a memo to city department heads.

'I think it only fair that they be remembered and honored. To achieve that end, we hereby direct that American flags throughout the city be flown at half-mast,' the memo read."
More ... Long Beach flags at half staff for soldiers:

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fort Drum Mourns Its Missing Soldiers

Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.

Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich

Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.

Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nev.

AP 05/16/2007
The Associated Press
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - "Fort Drum soldiers said an ambush in Iraq that left four of their comrades dead and three missing will only work to unite America and strengthen the military's determination.
'If this is a scare tactic to undermine our resolve, they need to realize our soldiers are trained killers and don't scare,' said Spc. Dorothy Drake of Los Angeles. 'This is more incentive to finish the job.
'The Army is family. This will bring us together. It will bring the country together.'"
More... Fort Drum Mourns Its Missing Soldiers :

Army soldiers identified as killed in the attack are: Sgt. 1st Class James D. Connell Jr., 40, of Lake City, Tenn.; Pfc. Daniel W. Courneya, 19, of Nashville, Mich.; and Pfc. Christopher E. Murphy, 21, of Lynchburg, Va. Army soldiers listed as duty status whereabouts unknown are: Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nev.; Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.; Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.; and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich. All of the U.S. soldiers belong to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y. In Iraq, the soldiers came under Multinational Division Center.

Update 5/18/07

The Department of Defense today announced the death of a soldier supporting Operation Iraq Freedom, who was previously listed as Duty Status Whereabouts
Unknown (DUSTWUN).
Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nev., died on May 12 in Al Taqa, Iraq

Update 5/25/07

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2007 – A body found in Iraq May 23 is that of one of three U.S. soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division's 31st Infantry Regiment believed to have been abducted during a May 12 ambush, Defense Department officials confirmed late yesterday.
Iraqi police found the body of Army Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, a native of Torrance, Calif., in the Euphrates River south of Baghdad and turned it over to American officials for identification. A massive search continues for Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich., the other missing soldiers.

Mother's Day

I spent mother's day in Florida at my mom's and was surprised -- extremely surprised -- to find this waiting for me when I got home. Thank you PVT Wuffy! I'm betting it didn't come from Baghdad though ;)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Veteran - Shawn Lee Malueg

Shawn Lee Malueg
June 14, 1982 - May 2, 2007

Shawn Lee Malueg, 24, of Farmington, passed from this life Wednesday, May 2, 2007, in Gunnison, Colo. He was born June 14, 1982, in Grand Junction, Colo. He moved to San Juan County in 2005 and attended San Juan College. Shawn was employed by Sakura Engineering.

He was in the Army from 2001 to 2004, HHC 1st 36th ARMD Inf/1st ARMD Div EU. During his stay in the Army he received Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Driver and Mechanic Badge (Driver-w-Bar), Army Lapel Button, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. His rank was Specialist E4.

Shawn's hobbies were snow boarding, video gaming, repelling, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, camping, boating and running.

He is survived by Fiancee, Jodene R. Bailon; his dog, Peaches; the Bailon family; all of the staff of Sakura Engineering; many friends at San Juan College; and all of his Army family.

Services will be at 9 a.m. Friday, May 11, at Cope Memorial Chapel in Farmington. He thenwill be laid to rest at Memory Gardens Cemetery with military honors by his unit in Iraq and VFW Post 2182.

The family would like to give a special thanks to the Sakura Engineering Company and the Martins for all their support during this time. "

Soldier in Heroic Battle to Receive Silver Star

"By Sgt. Nicole Kojetin
1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

BAGHDAD – “Men, you have one second in your life where you can decide if you are going to be a coward or if you are going to fight. The time to decide is now.

That sentence is something that Maj. James “Jim” Gant, who serves as the chief of the Iraqi National Police, Quick Reaction Force Battalion Transition Team, tells his policemen all the time, encouraging them to fight for what they believe in.

Though most the time he was talking in generic terms, this time he knew the fight was waiting for them. For six weeks his patrol of three armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles and 23 “soft-shelled” national police pick-up trucks had been getting in fire fights with an organized insurgent force in an area between Balad and Baghdad. On Dec. 11, his patrol was finally on their way back home. Gant knew there would be a grand finale.

“We took frequent trips back and forth in the area and the engagements kept getting bigger,” the Las Cruces, N.M., native said. “They knew that we were going to leave. They are a determined enemy force. They wanted to give us a going away present, and we definitely wanted to receive it.”

His actions, during that gift, resulted in him earning the Silver Star, which will be awarded on May 3 at a Iraqi National Police station near Forward
Operating Base Prosperity. The Silver Star is the third highest award given for valor in the face of the enemy. It is given to American heroes.

Gant knows four Soldiers who have earned Silver Stars; two died for them. He said heroes are everywhere, it just depends on if they get the chance to show it.

“There are a lot of very good Soldiers, very brave Soldiers that have never had the opportunity to show it,” he said. “As good as you are, you don’t control the enemy. I have been blessed since 2001, since our nation has been at war to fight with incredible warriors and heroes.”

More... Soldier in Heroic Battle to Receive Silver Star:

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Military Blogs in the War Zones

Posted By Blackfive
"Here are just a few Military Bloggers in war zones worthy of your valuable time:
Eighty Deuce on the Loose (Airborne Sergeant - This rocks!)
Letters from the Desert (Chaplain)
Badgers Forward! (One of my favorites)
Acute Politics (probably the best writer out there)
Michael Yon (the premiere combat blogger and photographer)
Jack Army (Special Forces)
Sand Box Sailor (great writer)
Afghanistan Blog (returning home today)
Dave's Not Here (yes, he is)
From Statehouse to Bunkhouse (Oklahoma Representative called up for duty)
Just Returned:
American Citizen Soldier
American Ranger

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Day at the Fish Market

" By Staff Sgt. Bronco Suzuki

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division and Iraqi contractors are providing security at the Abu Nuwas fish market area in the Rusafa District in east Baghdad, April 23. "

View Slide Show -- A Day at the Fish Market

The Two Sides of Baghdad Barriers

"Walls Save Lives But Also Disrupt Flow of Daily Life
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 30, 2007; Page A12

Sabah Abd reopened his fruit stand in Baghdad's Sadriya market three days after a massive bomb hit a nearby bus depot. The stand is close to a barrier put up around the market by U.S. forces. 'This wall protected us,' Abd said. (By Ann Scott Tyson -- The Washington Post)

BAGHDAD -- Sabah Abd's fruit stand is a few feet from the concrete barrier dividing Baghdad's Sadriya market from a bus depot that was bombed April 18 in one of the deadliest attacks since U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major operation in February to secure the capital.
'The whole world shook,' said Abd, 33, recalling that the blast occurred as workers were crowding into vans and buses to go home for the day, and that it threw him to the ground, splattered with blood.

But only three days after the attack, Abd was back at his stand, charred vehicles still littering the parking area a few yards away. 'My wife said, 'If you go there, I will divorce you,' but what can I do? There is no work outside,' he said."
More... The Two Sides of Baghdad Barriers -

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mortars are a constant presence at FOB Loyalty

By Lisa Burgess, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lisa Burgess / S&S
Sgt. Israel Arroyo, 22, left, of La Puente, Calif., and Sgt. Luke Draper, 25, of Long Beach, Calif., stack sandbags to protect a window shattered during a mortar attack on Forward Operating Base Loyalty.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq — The soldiers were eating their chicken fingers in the chow hall and watching Terrell Owens tell ESPN why the Dallas Cowboys got pounded by the Philadelphia Eagles when the first mortar hit."

More... Stars & Stripes: Mortars are a constant presence at FOB Loyalty
In April 2007 SPC Burnett, Robert; SPC McCafferty, and SPC Podell of Bravo Company were wounded in a mortar attack on FOB Loyalty. The good news is that SPC McCafferty and SPC Burnett were soon able to return to the company and are now back with their platoons. SPC Podell injuries were slightly more serious and he is now in Qatar recovering but is expected to return to the company in the next few weeks.
Update: I have been infomed that at the time of this posting SPC Podell was already back in Baghdad.

Why Congress Should Embrace the Surge

Op-Ed Contributor

Owen West, a Wall Street trader and major in the Marine Reserves, has served two tours in Iraq.

Published: May 1, 2007
How can we reconcile the military reality with the desire by the majority of Americans to reduce troop levels in Iraq? The current surge may provide an excellent opportunity.