Monday, August 20, 2007

Veterans can Salute the Flag

July 26, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today praised the passage by unanimous consent of his bill (S.1877) clarifying U.S. law to allow veterans and servicemen not in uniform to salute the flag. Current law (US Code Title 4, Chapter 1) states that veterans and servicemen not in uniform should place their hand over their heart without clarifying whether they can or should salute the flag. “The salute is a form of honor and respect, representing pride in one’s military service,” Senator Inhofe said. “Veterans and service members continue representing the military services even when not in uniform. “Unfortunately, current U.S. law leaves confusion as to whether veterans and service members out of uniform can or should salute the flag. My legislation will clarify this regulation, allowing veterans and servicemen alike to salute the flag, whether they are in uniform or not. “I look forward to seeing those who have served saluting proudly at baseball games, parades, and formal events. I believe this is an appropriate way to honor and recognize the 25 million veterans in the United States who have served in the military and remain as role models to others citizens. Those who are currently serving or have served in the military have earned this right, and their recognition will be an inspiration to others.”"

United States Senator James Inhofe : Press Room:

Bryan David Kynast

"Staff Writer Article Launched:
08/19/2007 12:00:00 AM MDT
Bryan David Kynast Sept. 3, 1977 - Aug. 16, 2007

Bryan David Kynast, 29, of Farmington, passed from this life Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007. He was born Sept. 3, 1977, to Richard Andrew and Virginia K. (Armitage) Kynast in Farmington. Bryan graduated from Farmington High School in 1996. He served his country in the Navy for eight years, earning 2nd Class Petty Officer with the Seabees. He is an Iraq War Veteran. Bryan is survived by two sons, Issac Alan Kynast and Isaiah Andrew Kynast; mother of his sons, Heather Britt; parents, Richard and Ginna Kynast; sisters, Jennifer White and Dawn Kynast; grandmother, Roselle Armitage; and numerous family and friends that will always love and miss him. He is preceded in death by his grandparents, Karl and Doris Kynast, and James H. Armitage. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007, at St. Jude's Catholic Church, located at 4200 College Blvd. in Farmington, with Very Rev. Fr. James Moore, O.S.F. as celebrant. "

More... Farmington Daily Times - Bryan David Kynast:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Christopher C. Johnson

"Thursday, August 16 2007 @ 07:08 PM EDT
Contributed by: River97 Views: 105
The Detroit News -- ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Christopher C. Johnson had looked danger in the eye many times before as a Green Beret, but it was his dream of flying for the armed services that led him to train to become part of a helicopter crew. The 31-year-old pilot, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich. and graduated from Tri-Unity Christian School, accomplished his goal and was doing what he loved when he was killed Tuesday near Anbar province in Iraq. His CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during a routine post-maintenance test flight, killing all five on board. Charles and Mary Johnson of Gallup, N.M., were informed of their son's death Wednesday morning. 'I found out a helicopter crashed yesterday when I was on the computer and saw a news flash. I clicked on it and saw that it was a Chinook and it was about the area that we knew he was in,' Mary Johnson said in a telephone interview Wednesday. 'He always promised to call or e-mail when there was a crash so that we knew he was safe,' she said. 'After a whole night of not hearing from him, we knew something was wrong.' Johnson, a member of Task Force Dragon, had been in Iraq for less than a month, his mother said. "

More... The Iraq Page - Christopher C. Johnson:

More Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles Shipped to Middle East

U.S. Air Force airmen load a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle onto a C-5 Galaxy aircraft Aug. 16, 2007, at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. Air Mobility Command assists with the movement of MRAP vehicles to U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility as directed by the National Command Authority, the Joint Staff and U.S. Transportation Command. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson, USA

"By Sgt. Sara Wood,

USA American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2007 – U.S. troops serving in Iraq will have a little more protection soon, as two of the military’s newest armored vehicles are on their way to the theater. Two Buffalo Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, known as “MRAPs,” were loaded onto C-5 Galaxy aircraft last night at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., to be shipped to Iraq. This latest shipment is part of the Defense Department’s push to get as many of the new vehicles to troops in combat as quickly as possible. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has been pushing the production and delivery of MRAPs, which boast a V-shaped hull that deflects bomb blasts and protects troops inside better than the military’s current vehicles. The Defense Department awarded two more contracts for the vehicles the week of Aug. 10, which brings the number of vehicles on contract to 6,415. An estimated 3,500 MRAPs are expected to be shipped to Iraq by Dec. 31. "

More... DefenseLink News Article: More Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles Shipped to Middle East:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Car bomb wounds 3 Iraqis in eastern Baghdad

"By 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs
Aug 16, 2007 - 1:58:32 PM

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq - Three Iraqis were wounded and 38 vehicles destroyed when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated in the second floor of a parking garage in Rusafa Square in eastern Baghdad Aug. 16.

Following the 9:30 a.m. attack, troops with the 4th Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division and Company A, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, attached to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, rushed to the scene and cordoned off the area. The wounded were transported to Medical City for treatment."

More... Car bomb wounds 3 Iraqis in eastern Baghdad:

Coalition Forces Kill Three, Detain Six, Capturing a High-Priority Special Groups Weapons Smuggler

Aug 16, 2007 - 2:25:36 PM
Blackanthem Military News, BAGHDAD, Iraq - Coalition Forces captured a highly sought Special Groups weapons facilitator before dawn Thursday northeast of Baghdad. Coalition Forces conducted a raid to capture a known weapons smuggler and distributor connected to various Special Groups. The captured high priority individual was responsible for smuggling explosively formed penetrators (EFP), Katusha rockets and other weapons from Iran into Iraq. The target was also responsible for the distribution of those weapons to Special Groups and extremist militants operating throughout Baghdad. The weapons smuggler had direct ties to senior militant leaders and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force. On the approach to the objective, Coalition Forces were fired upon by three armed gunmen. Coalition Forces returned fire, killing the three gunmen. Five others detained during the raid are suspected of distributing weapons smuggled into Iraq from Iran. Four of the detainees tested positive for explosives residue. One of the buildings searched during the raid produced money and questionable documents that were confiscated for analysis and evaluation. "

More... Coalition Forces Kill Three, Detain Six, Capturing a High-Priority Special Groups Weapons Smuggler:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Congratulations to All Iraqis!

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class David Quillen
August 14, 2007
A member of the Iraqi National Police Force at a checkpoint in East Rashid, Baghdad, shows a copy of the "Baghdad Now" newspaper to a Soldier that proclaims the victory of the Iraqi national soccer team in the Asia Cup, Aug. 6. The newspaper is put together by the U.S. Army's Detachment 1080, 318th Psychological Operations Company.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

America's Army to Launch New Game

"America's Army to Launch New Game
Aug 13, 2007
BY Elizabeth M. Lorge

Washington (Army News Service, Aug. 13, 2007) – America's Army will declare war on the fictional country of Ganzia Sept. 27 when it launches "True Soldiers" for X-Box 360, the latest evolution of the popular Army-sponsored computer game. Players create a Soldier, go to basic and advanced weapons training, then deploy to Ganzia, an American ally overrun by a rebel militia. Each mission comes complete with a set of battle orders providing background information, objectives and intelligence. True to its name, "True Soldiers" accurately depicts the Army, from the smallest unit patch to the shadow of a Raven unmanned aerial vehicle. Players can even give each other "coins" for saving a battle buddy and receive awards for valor. "

More... America's Army to Launch New Game:

Raid Kills Four, Nets Eight in Baghdad's Sadr City

US soldiers rush into a house during a search operation in Baghdad, 09 August 2007. US and Iraqi troops launched massive raids across Iraq as part of a sweeping operation to reign in militants ahead of the start of the holy month of Ramadan.(AFP/US Army/File)

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2007 - Coalition forces killed four terrorists and detained a Jaysh al-Mahdi militia leader and several of his operatives during a raid in the Sadr City section of Baghdad early this morning.
The eight men detained are suspected of coordinating and conducting attacks against coalition forces and moderate Iraqis within the Baghdad area. These militants threaten the stability and security of areas within Baghdad, military officials said. They also are known to have ties to materials being smuggled from Iran. After searching three buildings, coalition forces confiscated miscellaneous documents, photographs and identification cards. As their vehicles were departing the area, they were attacked with two improvised explosive devices and small-arms fire from multiple locations. Helicopters fired warning shots to allow the ground forces to break away from the extremists. Coalition ground forces also returned fire, killing four armed gunmen. There were no coalition force casualties during the operation. "Coalition forces continue to gain momentum in attacking the extremist networks that employ improvised explosive devices, especially explosively formed penetrators, which are smuggled from Iran to attack the Iraqi people and the security forces that protect them," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "We will continue our operations against these extremists to expose, disrupt and destroy the supply networks of lethal materials and aid flowing into Baghdad."

Sweden suspends Iraq flights

Associated Press Writer
Tue Aug 14, 6:20 AM ET
STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Sweden has suspended commercial flights to and from Iraq after an apparent rocket attack against a passenger jet as it took off from the northern city of Sulaimaniyah, the Nordic country's aviation authority said Tuesday. "

Sweden suspends Iraq flights - Yahoo! News:

Monday, August 13, 2007

New Partnership Results in Home for Wounded Soldier

"By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

FORT COLLINS, Colo., Aug. 13, 2007 – A troop-support group and a national home-building company launched their new partnership with a surprise announcement during an Aug. 11 event here. John Gonsalves of Homes for Our Troops (left), Tracy Keil (center), Gabe Lopez of Pulte Homes and Army Sgt. Matthew Keil (seated) are all smiles at American Military Family's 'Hoedown for Heroes' event Aug. 11, 2007 in Fort Collins, Colo. Defense Dept. photo by David Evans (Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available. Homes for Our Troops and Pulte Homes announced their intent to build an adapted home for Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Keil and his wife, Tracy, during the “Hoedown for Heroes” charity event put on by another troop-support group, American Military Family. "

DefenseLink News Article: America Supports You: New Partnership Results in Home for Wounded Soldier:

Half of NM Guard could be in Iraq in 2010

"The Associated Press Article Launched: 08/11/2007 01:00:00 AM MDT
Staff and wire report
Half of New Mexico's National Guard is slated to be sent to Iraq in 2010 well above the deployments agreed on by the Guard Adjutant Gen. Kenny Montoya and Gov. Bill Richardson. The Department of the Army plans for New Mexico's Guard deployments to total 1,600 members in 2010, or half the force, Montoya said. Montoya and Richardson have said only 25 percent of the Guard should be deployed overseas because troops might be needed to deal with natural disasters in the state. 'It's not the best situation,' Montoya said. 'If the Army tells us to do it, we will follow orders and do it. ... But we are taking a risk back here at home.' Richardson said he's concerned the deployment level will affect the ability to respond to emergencies at home. Nearly 2,000 members of the New Mexico National Guard have deployed since 2001, but officials said 75 percent of the Guard has always remained in the state despite that. By this fall, about 600 members of the state Guard will be deployed or be preparing to deploy to Iraq, said Maj. Ken Nava, Guard spokesman."

More... Silver City Sun-News - Half of NM Guard could be in Iraq in 2010:

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Troops Shelter an Unlikely Survivor in Baghdad

Johan Spanner for The New York Times
Staff Sgt. David D. Highsmith took his turn with little Fatima, who was found under a metal sheet after her mother was killed.

Published: August 13, 2007
BAGHDAD, Aug. 12 —

Fatima Jbouri should be dead. Nine months old, underweight, malnourished, fatherless and half Sunni, half Shiite, she already had enough deadly handicaps growing up in Saydia, a battlefield suburb that has become one of the worst sectarian killing zones in Baghdad. On July 25, a death squad shot her mother and uncle — each three times in the head — in their dilapidated half-finished squat. E.J.K.’s, in American military shorthand: extrajudicial killings.
Fatima’s 7-year-old brother fled and flagged down a joint patrol of the Iraqi National Police and American soldiers. The Iraqis found the bodies and collected up Fatima’s siblings from neighboring houses. But the 7-year-old kept asking, “What about my sister?”
Outside, in the garbage-strewn yard, they found the whimpering baby, hidden under a metal sheet in 120-degree heat.
Fatima survived. She is in the American military’s 28th Combat Support Hospital in the Green Zone in Baghdad. Nurses say she weighed less than half the normal weight of a 9-month-old, but she is recovering well. "

Troops Shelter an Unlikely Survivor in Baghdad - New York Times:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

World War II Navajo Code Talkers Visit Pentagon

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left, meets with five Navajo Code Talkers and their family members at the Pentagon, Aug. 10, 2007. The Navajos served as U.S. Marines in World War II and helped develop a communications code based on their language. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen

"By Gerry J. Gilmore American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2007 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today met here with a group of Marine veterans who used their native Navajo language to baffle the Japanese during World War II. "

DefenseLink News Article: World War II Navajo Code Talkers Visit Pentagon, Meet With Pace:

Friday, August 10, 2007

1 - 504 PIR

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment provide security for their patrol in the Rusafa market area in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 6, 2007. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Bronco Suzuki, U.S. Army. (Released)


"Over the Top" Baghdad Style

1-504 PIR Soldiers from the Iraqi army and 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, take time between missions for some real international relations and partnership at Forward Operating Base Rashid in eastern Baghdad July 21. The "Red Devils," based out of Fort Bragg, N.C., went undefeated, but the Iraqis demanded a rematch.

Photographer: Maj. Sean Ryan

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Care packages may contain tainted cans of chili

"By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, August 8, 2007

WASHINGTON — A shipment of more than 100 care packages sent to Iraq and Afghanistan contain cans of chili that may be contaminated with botulism, charity officials warned this week.

Members of the Los Angeles Blue Star Mothers Chapter 5 are asking troops who receive the boxes of food and supplies to throw away the chili immediately, to make sure no one gets sick from the treat.

“We are just heartsick that we sent this stuff out to our military, because the last thing we wanted to do was send them food poisoning,” said Gail Chavez, vice president of the group.

The chili, which is Cattle Drive brand, is part of a massive recall of canned food announced last month by Castleberry foods. Company officials said a processing problem at their Georgia plant lead to contamination of several product lines.

So far, no human cases of botulism have been linked to the problematic cans. But the illness can cause double vision, muscle paralysis, respiratory failure and death, according to health officials. The company and Centers for Disease Control are instructing anyone with the cans to dispose to them.

A large portion of the Blue Star Mothers’ care packages were mailed to Camp Rustamiyah and Phoenix Base near Baghdad, but Chavez said other shipments were mailed to various locations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

She said the items usually take about two weeks to arrive overseas, meaning troops will probably receive them in the next few days if they haven’t already.

“I am going to mail each soldier we had an address for a letter informing them about this recall, but I don’t know if I can reach them before the boxes get there,” she said.

Despite the problems, Chavez said her group is already planning another care package drive to help resupply the troops who were sent the bad food.

“We are absolutely not going to be discouraged by this minor setback,” she said. “There is so much support for the troops here in California, it is an absolute joy.”
More...Stars and Stripes: Care packages may contain tainted cans of chili, charity says:

Twenty Iraqis Injured in Bus Bombing

"Twenty Iraqis were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near a bus Aug. 6 in the Rusafa District of eastern Baghdad.

Soldiers with Company B, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, attached to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, responded to the attack and sealed off the area. The wounded were transported to Medical City for treatment.
Source: Multi-National Force-Iraq"

Twenty Iraqis Injured in Bus Bombing:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ignacio soldier killed in Iraq

"By Nick Martin
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 08/07/2007 02:50:41 PM MDT

Corporal Jason K. Lafleur, from Ignacio, was killed in a car bombing in Iraq. (U.S. Army)

Corporal Jason K. Lafleur of Ignacio and two other paratroopers were killed Aug. 4 in Iraq when a make-shift bomb exploded near their vehicle.
Lafleur was on patrol with Sgt. Dustin S. Wakeman and Specialist Jaron D. Holliday near Hawr Rajab, Iraq.
The three were stationed in Fort Richardson, Alaska with the 25th Infantry Division.
Lafleur, 28, was a Cavalry Scout who joined the Army in May 2005. "

The Denver Post - Ignacio soldier killed in Iraq:

On Patrol

" Taken in Iraq (See more photos here)

U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Burke provides security during a patrol in the Rusafa area of Baghdad, Iraq, June 16, 2007. Burke is assigned to Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bronco Suzuki) "

iraq on Flickr - Photo Sharing!:

Artist Creates Giant Rendition of Purple Heart Medal

Thirty Terrorists Killed, 12 Detained During Iraq Operations

"American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2007 –

Iraqi and coalition forces killed 30 terrorists and detained 12 suspected terrorists during operations today in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, military officials reported.
The individuals detained and the terrorists killed during the raid are believed to be members of a terrorist cell known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq into Iran for terrorist training. "

DefenseLink News Article: Thirty Terrorists Killed, 12 Detained During Iraq Operations:

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Servicemembers Volunteer to Convoy Supplies to Needy Afghans

Members of the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan unload a truck full of donations from the U.S. at a refugee camp outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi

"By Staff Sgt. Julie Weckerlein, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP EGGERS, Afghanistan , Aug. 4, 2007 – Every other week, servicemembers from all branches of the military conduct convoys from this base to deliver clothing and supplies to needy Afghans in the surrounding areas. But they're not doing it because they have to. They're doing it because they want to help."

More... DefenseLink News Article: Servicemembers Volunteer to Convoy Supplies to Needy Afghans:

Iraqi Soldiers Host Luncheon for Troops

U.S. soldiers break bread with Lt. Col. Audil, center, the armor battalion commander for 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, at a luncheon, Aug. 1, at Forward Operating Base Rustamiyah in eastern Baghdad. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Courtney Marulli

"Iraqis thank American counterparts during change of command.

By U.S. Army Spc. Courtney Marulli
2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE RUSTAMIYAH, Iraq, Aug. 7, 2007 — Iraqis and American troops broke bread together during a luncheon on Aug. 1 when Company C, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment from Fort Riley, Kan., handed over their area of operations in Baghdad’s Al Jadia neighborhood to members of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, based out of Fort Benning, Ga. Both units are currently attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

The luncheon started off with a gathering of soldiers and their Iraqi counterparts in Lt. Col. Audil’s office, where water was served. Audil is the commander of the armor battalion for the 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division."

More...DefendAmerica News - Iraqi Soldiers Host Luncheon for Troops:

Monday, August 06, 2007

Handled with Care

"by Blue Star Moms

Mother forms Preble County branch of organization that helps provide for soldiers

Jayne Jacklin had her heart broken. Then she had a heart attack.
Just two days after the Eaton, Ohio, resident found out her only child, Kevin, 22, was being deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division to Iraq last December, her heart couldn't handle the stress.

'My son is my life,' she said.
Jacklin, a case worker for Children's Services in Preble County, recovered with the help of the Preble County chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America Inc.
The national not-for-profit organization was first formed during World War II, when women were rallied to volunteer and work as they had never in U.S. history. The organization provides support for active duty service personnel and assists veterans' organizations."


Flag program honors troops, families while infusing patriotic pride

"11:20 AM CDT on Monday, August 6, 2007By CHRIS COATS / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

For the city of Allen, patriotism isn't only for holidays. It's celebrated year round with the Blue Star Program that recognizes families of military troops serving overseas. "

More... Flag program honors troops, families while infusing patriotic pride Dallas Morning News News for Dallas, Texas Allen News:

Baghdad Zoo Trip

"...Tells CENTCOM Enlisted Leader Volumes
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2007 – A trip to the Baghdad Zoo was an eye-opener for the senior enlisted leader of U.S. Central Command.
The opportunity came up by chance as Marine Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey A. Morin was visiting a unit based near the zoo in central Baghdad. “The unit wanted me to see the zoo,” he said. “To be honest, I thought it was going to be a waste of time. I’m thinking, ‘Why do I want to go to the zoo to look at some animals?’

“But as soon as I crested the gates and saw what was going on, I knew why they wanted me to go there,” he continued. “And it was not to look at animals.”

The unit wanted Morin to see the interactions of the people at the zoo and what normal life in Baghdad really looks like. “(There were) mothers, fathers, kids, grandparents, extended families all sitting on blankets, playing sports, just like Central Park in New York or like on the Mall here in Washington,” he said. “What a huge sign of hope. You had young couples walking hand in hand.”

Morin said he and an interpreter went to speak with some of the people. One man had driven with his entire family down to Baghdad from Diyala province. “He went through some pretty tough country to get to the zoo, so I asked him why he came,” Morin said.

“He told me it was worth the risk,” Morin recounted, “because, ‘When I come here I feel free.’ He said, ‘Look at my family. They can play here, and we can enjoy ourselves here. So the couple of hours we can spend is worth the trip down here, to see my kids smile.’”

“To see his kids smile,” Morin repeated. “Hope is there. This guy understood that, and he wants that to happen where he lives.” "

DefenseLink News Article: Baghdad Zoo Trip Tells CENTCOM Enlisted Leader Volumes:

Surge Making Progress

DefenseLink News Article: Top Central Command Enlisted Leader Says Surge Making Progress:

"By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2007 – The military surge of additional troops into Iraq seems to be working, U.S. Central Command’s top enlisted leader said. "

"...“In March, the occupancy rates in some of the mahalas was 25, 35 or 40 percent,” he said, adding that markets were closed, schools shuttered, and there were no Iraqi police or soldiers on the streets. "

"...The Iraqi people are looking to the future, Morin said. “They are buying generators -- you don’t buy those unless you have confidence,” he said. “Their families are getting back to normal. You see an old lady gardening, a mom and dad watching the kids play in the street. Mahala occupancy is up to 80 to 85 percent.” "


Iraqi Court Sentences Snipers to Death for Terrorist Acts

"By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2007 – Three Iraqi snipers were convicted and sentenced to death last week after confessing to the deaths of at least two coalition soldiers and the shootings of nine others, a senior law official in the region said today.
Army Col. Mark S. Martins, staff judge advocate with Multinational Force Iraq, said the conviction is part of “small, measured steps” that the Iraqi government is making to establish confidence in Iraqi law. Martins spoke from Iraq via a phone conference with online reporters and “bloggers.” "
DefenseLink News Article: Iraqi Court Sentences Snipers to Death for Terrorist Acts:

Sunday, August 05, 2007

"Blue Star Mothers National convention comes to Albuquerque. "

Hiltrud Ridenour spent the first months of her grandson's deployment to Iraq glued to the 24-hour news channels.
When her son deployed, Linda Jewell would wake up in the middle of the night, look at the clock and calculate the time in Baghdad.
"You just have all this nervous energy running around in you like a cyclone," Jewell says.
Both women found a measure of relief in Blue Star Mothers of America, a group best known for mailing mountains of care packages to troops overseas.
"I'd start talking to other moms and find they were doing the same things I was," Jewell says. "And it gives you a positive outlet."
Plenty of other mothers with similar stories are arriving in Albuquerque this week for the Blue Star Mothers of America annual conference, which started on Aug. 1 and runs through Aug. 5.
About 130 mothers from 20 states are expected to attend, said Jewell, who acts as "Media Chairmom" for the Rio Grande chapter of Blue Star Mothers. The Rio Grande chapter has about 100 members, she said.
Other chapters have sprung up in Farmington, Chama and Rio Rancho.
Karen Stevens, the group's national president, lives in Farmington.
Founded during World War II, Blue Star Mothers now has more than 160 chapters across the country. Mothers of children serving in the military are eligible to join and often display flags with a blue star for each child in the service.
Ridenour said she learned of Blue Star Mothers from a TV spot during one of her news-watching marathons while her grandson Robby, then 18, was deployed with the Army. He has since returned to the United States.
Besides work on fund-raising, care packages, and arts and crafts, Ridenour dedicated herself to personally welcoming home as many returning troops as she could. She estimates she's made about 125 trips to the Albuquerque International Sunport.
The trip she had most looked forward to was to welcome home Joel Dahl, a 21-year-old neighbor who'd lived with her and her husband through his teenage years, and whom she calls her grandson.
Army Cpl. Dahl was killed in Iraq on June 23, days before he was to come home for the birth of his son.
"Of course, he did get his welcome home," Ridenour said. "Just not the one we wanted."
Grief, or at least the possibility of it, is a continual strand running through the group's work. One of the seminars scheduled at this week's conference is on the relatively new Wounded Warrior program, which gives families a checklist of things they can do to be prepared for bad news.
Many families don't have active passports needed to travel to military bases in Europe, where wounded troops are often taken. The State Department can issue passports in a matter of hours, but that requires a trip to Washington, said Jan Downs, Wounded Warrior program chairwoman.
"That wastes your most precious commodity," Downs said. "Time."
More...Blue Star Mothers News : Albuquerque Tribune:

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rekeweg meets with George W. Bush in Oval Office

Story of another Blue Star Mother

Kingwood Area Republican Women President Alice Rekeweg, and her husband, Glen, met with President George W. Bush in the Oval Office on Friday, July 27. “I was just in awe,” said Alice Rekeweg.Photo courtesy of White House photographer Eric Draper

"As Kingwood resident Alice Rekeweg approached the gate to the White House, she was so excited that she suddenly was at a loss for words.

'Finally, I pushed the button and said, 'I have an appointment with President Bush in the Oval Office' and we went through the gate. That just blew my mind,' exclaimed Rekeweg. She and her husband, Glen, their son, David Polyansky, and his wife, Kristen, were escorted by U.S. Congressman Ted Poe through a reception area to the president's cabinet room. 'As soon as we came into the West Wing, we saw all these people walk by,' said Rekeweg. 'A Marine opened the door for us and I said, 'OOH RAH Semper Fi.'' "

More... Houston Community Newspapers Online - Rekeweg meets with George W. Bush in Oval Office:

U.S. Toll in Iraq Lowest in 8 Months

"Tuesday July 31, 2007 6:31 PM
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD (AP) - The U.S. military said Tuesday that a Marine was killed in fighting west of the capital, bringing the American death toll for July to at least 73 - still the lowest in eight months.
An Apache helicopter also went down Tuesday after coming under fire in a predominantly Shiite area in eastern Baghdad, but both crew members were safely evacuated, the military said. "
Female Iraqi police officers practice weapons handling techniques at the Forsan Police Station in Ramadi, Iraq, July 23, 2007. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Kropiewnicki)