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.

Military Mom's Thoughts on Iraq War

"Not everybody thinks a quick withdrawal of American troops is a good idea. Some feel the U.S. has to keep troops on the frontline there until the situation in that country changes. And some of the people saying that have a personal stake in the war. Chere Pedersen is a proud mom whose pride and joy is seen in pictures all over the house. 'He joined during the time of conflict. He's been in since he was 17 years old and he felt very strongly about it, as do most of our children. So, I support his decision and I support him,' Pedersen said. This military mother's son, 20-year-old Army Specialist Alastair Addie has already come home after a one-year deployment. In January, he's going back to Iraq for 15 months.
Pedersen continued, "He wants to go. He's thinking he is going to be attached this time to the tanks, which he thinks is thrilling."
But it's less than thrilling for Pedersen. She admits her brave face is a front.
"I'm not too happy about the long-term deployments, or too many of them. I think it's hard on them, hard on their families, hard on the kids, but it's really hard on us moms when they are gone that long," she confided.
But Chere says despite her fear, supporting the war in Iraq is a must, not only for her son's sake, but for the safety of those back here in the States. She says all of the negativity by anti-war groups asking for the pull out of troops is hurting our men and women overseas and giving the enemy strength.
She said, "We need to come out victorious. We need to send out a statement that we're not going to let them come over here. "I think the generals know what they are doing."
Pedersen says it's not easy to sit at home and watch coverage of what's unfolding overseas, especially knowing her son is in the middle.
But this mom, who has every reason in the world to want to pull out troops, says if it wasn't for troops like her son, terrorists would be an even bigger threat to us than they are now.
Pedersen is the president of the Blue Star Mothers of America in Southern Nevada. There are 72 mothers in her organization with children overseas.
She says though all may not feel exactly like she does, their group is pro-military. "

More...Las Vegas Now - Breaking News, Local News, Weather, Traffic, Streaming Video, Classifieds, Blogs - Local Military Mom's Thoughts on Iraq War:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Honorable homecoming

"Soldier returns home to enthusiastic welcome
By Dorothy Nobis
The Daily Times
Article Launched: 09/08/2007 12:00:00 AM MDT

FARMINGTON — The tears and hugs of a mother, the obvious pride of a father, the excitement of a sister — and the cheers of countless friends and relatives greeted Spec. Jeffrey Rogers when he entered the terminal at Four Corners Regional Airport on Friday afternoon
Rogers, 21, arrived home after being wounded June 12 south of Baghdad. The Army vehicle Rogers was in was hit by six explosively formed penetrators (EFPs). Rogers' injuries were serious and included the loss of his right arm. He also had shrapnel hit his right leg.
Rogers was flown to Germany, then to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where he has undergone treatment for his injuries, said his parents, Barbara and Read Rogers.
Members of the Aztec VFW; the Blue Star Mothers; Sgt. Jerald Tryhane, the local Army recruiter; Mike Colson, the local Navy recruiter; and representatives from the city of Farmington and San Juan County were on hand to celebrate Jeffrey's homecoming.
"It's important he understand how much the entire community appreciates him and is proud of his sacrifice and service," said San Juan County Commissioner Tony Atkinson."

More... Farmington Daily Times - Honorable homecoming: Soldier returns home to enthusiastic welcome:

New Mexico Army National Guard

U.S. Army Soldiers of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 200th Infantry Battalion, New Mexico Army National Guard provide cover fire as another Soldier manuvers over an obstacle during individual movement techniques as part of mobilization training at Fort Dix, N.J., Aug. 7, 2007.The unit is preparing for an upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika)

U.S. Army Soldiers of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 200th Infantry Battalion, New Mexico Army National Guard fire their weapons during individual movement techniques as part of mobilization training at Fort Dix, N.J., Aug. 7, 2007.The unit is preparing for an upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika)

A New Mexico Army National Guardsman maneuvers around an obstacle during individual movement techniques training at Fort Dix, N.J., on Aug. 7, 2007. Guardsmen of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 200th Infantry Battalion, are at Fort Dix as part of mobilization training for an upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika, U.S. Army.

My Watch Tonight

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Modesto Moms son in the News

Just wanted to write to tell you guys that I would love for my family and friends to see a little of what I'm doing over here in Iraq. I left Modesto to serve my country and help protect my family and friends. The New York Times has been out here with us because of our success in Baghdad. I'm in the 82nd Airborne Division and have been in Iraq for 13 months so far. I just want the people of Modesto to know that we are doing our part. Thanks for just hearing me out!
Hope Mills, N.C.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Ignacio Bike Week a Success

Pine River Times News Paper - Bayfield Colorado:
Ignacio Bike Week organizers at first were worried, not knowing if bikers would show up for the first rally planned entirely by the volunteer work. But an estimated 33,000 did show up, and then Ignacio was ready for them. “Ignacio Bike Week 2007 was a greater success than we could have ever hoped for,” said Emily Meisner, president of the Ignacio Chamber of Commerce. “This is benefiting our entire county.”"

...Among the 65 vendors who set up booths along Ignacio’s downtown were non-profit groups, including the Blue Star Mothers, which supports members of the armed forces serving in combat with care packages and other reminders of home. Meisner said that Bike Week visitors contributed more than $1,200 to the Blue Star Mothers over the course of the weekend, through a coordinated ride to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Farmington and in donations to the Blue Star Mothers booth during the rally.

Rotations Are Way to Cut Troops in Iraq

" By LOLITA C. BALDOR – 4 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — As military units move in and out of Iraq over the next six months, the planned rotations provide commanders with opportunities to reduce troop levels. One chance could come as early as January. Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, has yet to lay out his recommendations for a future war strategy. But improving security conditions in western Anbar province could allow a brigade or Marine unit there to head home after the first of the year without being replaced."

More... The Associated Press: Rotations Are Way to Cut Troops in Iraq:

The 15 combat brigades now deployed to Iraq on regular rotations are:

_1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

_2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood.

_2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

_2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Schweinfurt, Germany

_3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

_3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

_3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

_3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood.

_4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood.

_2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

_4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

_1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

_1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg.

_2nd Marine Regimental Combat Team, Camp LeJeune, N.C.

_6th Marine Regimental Combat Team, Camp LeJeune.

The five combat brigades ordered to Iraq as part of Bush's 30,000-troop buildup are, in order of their deployment:

_2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg.

_4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

_3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart.

_4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis.

_2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Blue Star Banner

Mom is no match for new daughter at Marine's homecoming


last updated: September 06, 2007 08:27:21 AM

Bonnie Bise of Modesto traveled to Twentynine Palms to welcome her Marine son home on Aug. 24.
Cpl. Christopher Alexander, 21, was coming home from Iraq, where he had been stationed in Fallujah.
Bise had it planned so she could get an early hug. She had Grandpa, Patrick Alexander, hold 6-month-old Riley Alexander, the baby Christopher had never seen.
"I figured if he saw the baby, I'd never get a kiss," Bise said. The best laid plans of grandma went for naught. "

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Soldiers Mom video

new Angela Lashley song and video -- A Soldiers Mom

Angela Lashley songs, including So Brave, available here.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Clinton MA teen wins excellence award

Worcester Telegram & Gazette Digests:
"CLINTON — Kurt Kosewski, a Clinton High School junior this school year, has received the “Accepting the Challenge of Excellence” Award from the Clinton Exchange Club. Kurt, 16, is a member of the school’s Excel Club, a high school version of the Exchange Club. His award-winning project was “Operation Soldier Recovery,” which involved gathering supplies such as toiletries, clothing, and other items for recovering soldiers in combat hospitals in Iraq, Germany, and the United States. According to Dan Young of the Exchange Club, the supplies were eventually distributed by Blue Star Mothers, a nonprofit organization. Mr. Young said the criteria for the award is starting a project that reaches beyond a student’s own community and helps others less fortunate or those not being aided. Kurt, the son of Tom and Monica Kosewski of Clinton, plans to start a different project each year. At the award dinner, Mr. Young said, Kurt decided to give back his winnings from a 50-50 raffle, to be put toward a local program that gives school backpacks to needy children. "

UCO and Blue Star Mothers support troops with goodies

"Josh Krawczyk, director of the Volunteer and Service Learning Center, wanted to add a special project to Stampede Week and that's how 'The Broncho Difference' was born. He wanted a project that would be a signature event for their office like The Big Event or Alternate Spring Break. 'We wanted a project that everyone could get behind, one that had wide appeal,' said Krawczyk. For this year's Stampede Week, the VSLC will be partnering with Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. to collect and put together care packages for U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. is a non-partisan, non-political service organization comprised of mothers who currently have or previously had children serving in the military. Vickie Behenna, president of the Edmond Chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. organization has a more personal tie to the project. 'I have a son who graduated from UCO in May 2006 and is set to be deployed in September 2007,' she said. 'I wanted to do something to help him and his fellow troops.' The care packages will be assembled at 7 p.m. on Aug. 21 in the ballrooms in the university center. The packages will contain toiletries, food and recreational items such as playing cards, crossword puzzles, batteries and books. "

More... UCO and Blue Star Mothers support troops with goodies - News:

Aaron Reed benefit slated at OU-C Saturday

"The third annual Aaron Reed Veteran Awareness Benefit and Flags of Honor Ceremony will be from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Shoemaker Center on the Ohio University-Chillicothe campus. The event will include live music, food and beverages, veteran exhibits, guest speakers, a cornhole tournament, Texas Hold 'em tournament, auction, car giveaway and door prizes.
Chillicothe native Reed, a 21-year-old Marine, was killed Aug. 3, 2005, in Iraq. He was a former OU-C student. Proceeds will benefit the Aaron Reed Memorial Scholarship Fund, Lima Company Memorial, Blue Star Mothers, Habitat for Humanity and Honor Flight. Among the bands scheduled to perform are: Tom Ingham, Zac McFadden, Davenporte, Stone Johnson & The Blues Review, Goodbye Rose and the Waverly Boys. A blood drive will be conducted for U.S. service men and women. Pre-registration is available at"

Chillicothe Gazette - - Chillicothe, OH:

Congressional members fighting for health care benefits

"Foster never gave up his fight for benefits, even when times were extremely difficult. “I was evicted from my apartment in Ohio and also from a home I rented in Ohio because of garnishments for child support of my daughter, Alicia — who was being raised and lived with me. I continued fighting the VA for the next several years with many days of missed work and trying to maintain a home for my daughter without much income, even though I was working sporadically,” Foster said. His hope is that all veterans who deserve benefits receive them, which keeps him seeking legislation from New York senators and representatives. Foster would like to start his own chapter of the DAV in Westfield.
His family would also like to do more to raise awareness to promises that have been broken to veterans. “My mother and my wife, who are both mothers of servicemen, would like to start a Blue Star Mother's of America Chapter in Chautauqua County because there are many mothers in our county of active duty, reserve, guardsmen and veterans. The mothers of our wonderful county want to change things for our servicemen and servicewomen — now,” Foster said. “They want the promises made to our country's veterans kept because it is all of America's promise.”"

Medic collecting gifts for Iraqi children

"Soldier asks friends, family to send toys to be handed out
Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

Spc. Diana Sokol takes vital signs of a soldier.Spc. Diana Sokol is first and foremost an Army medic. 'Goodwill ambassador' isn't part of her job description. But that's exactly what the Plano, Texas, native has become since she and the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, shipped out to Iraq. Oddly enough, before even stepping foot on Forward Operating Base Rustamayah, where a portion of the 2-69 is attached with the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Sokol figured out what her secondary mission would be for her 15-month deployment. She's heard stories from soldiers who had been to Iraq that children would beg them for soccer balls, toys and other kids' items. She remembers seeing photos of Iraqi kids with virtually nothing but the clothes on their backs. She began her goodwill mission even before she left Fort Benning in March. Though it's difficult for her to personally pass out the gifts she's collected over the past five month because her duties as a medic keep her on the FOB, she makes sure others distribute the soccer balls and toys."

More... 08/31/2007 Medic collecting gifts for Iraqi children: