Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Canada's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle arrives in Afghanistan

"KABUL, Afghanistan - December 16, one of Canada's newly acquired CU170 Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles was hoisted off a transport aircraft and brought to its newly erected hangar located at the Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan.

The Heron will be used to help reduce the number of insurgent attacks in Afghanistan by providing intelligence, surveillance, and a precision target acquisition capability. The Heron can be equipped with a variety of sensors and information systems, and will provide persistent surveillance over a large area in support of ISAF operations in Kandahar province. "

More... Canada's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle arrives in Afghanistan:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Baby Boom Hits the Base

"For Fort Bragg soldiers, the send of the surge in Iraq led to an unexpected surge at home. Since the 22,000 members of the 82nd airborne began returning to the states a year ago, the number of births at the base has increased by 50 percent.

The Fort Bragg hospital has been delivering 10 babies a day. The base's hospital started noticing a spike in births over the summer, with nearly 300 a month.
The presence of prominent bellies and babies are ever apparent on base and a sure sign the trend will continue into 2009 as officials expect.
Capt. Jennifer Hernandez admitted she got pregnant the same day her husband returned from abroad. Now, she has trouble finding maternity wear because of the higher demand, and items she purchased are on back order. "

ABC News: Baby Boom Hits the Base:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Feeding a small army

"By John Ramsey
Staff writer
The ovens in the 3rd Brigade mess hall stayed on from Monday night to Tuesday morning, cooking enough food to feed a small Army.
From 6 p.m. until 7 a.m., 22 cooks prepared 823 pounds of turkey, 526 pounds of ham and 319 pounds of pot roast, not to mention the boatloads of gravy, stuffing and all sorts of Thanksgiving fixings. And that was just for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s mess hall, one of several on Fort Bragg that will feed more than 13 tons of holiday feast food to soldiers this week.
Cornucopias in the center of the room — facing a fridge full of pumpkin pies — overflowed with grapes, bananas, walnuts and M&Ms.

In about five hours, officers in their dress blues shoveled mashed potatoes, meats and more onto the plates of about 3,000 soldiers.
Soon after mealtime began at 11 a.m., a line snaked outside and around the corner of the mess hall, a building that may see a lot less traffic come next week. That’s when the 3rd Brigade Combat Team — about 3,500 men and women who make up part of the 82nd Airborne Division — will deploy to Iraq.
Three such soldiers — all in the Brigade Support Battalion, Alpha Company — sat around a table Tuesday afternoon, the food on their plates tipping over onto their green trays.
They said the food was juicier than the usual fare, with more down-home flavor. And seeing the bosses doing the serving was an added treat.
Pfc. William Benis said sharing a Thanksgiving meal with Pvt. Lorne Russell and Pfc. Angela Santos seemed fitting.
“We’ve been in the same place, going through the same stuff for a year and a half,” Benis said. “This is family after a while.”

Staff writer John Ramsey can be reached at ramseyj@fayobserver.com or 486-3574."

FayObserver.com - Current Article Page:

Friday, November 07, 2008

DoD Announces Expansion of the Defense and Veterans Affairs Disability Evaluation System Pilot

"DoD Announces Expansion of the Defense and Veterans Affairs Disability Evaluation System Pilot

The Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today the expansion of the Disability Evaluation System (DES) pilot to 19 installations across the country, representing all military departments.

“The decision to expand the pilot was based upon a favorable review that focused on whether the pilot met its timeliness, effectiveness, transparency, and customer and stakeholder satisfaction objectives,” said Sam Retherford, director, officer and enlisted personnel management, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. “This expansion extends beyond the national capital region, so that more diverse data from other geographic areas can be evaluated, prior to rendering a final decision on worldwide implementation.”

On Oct. 1, 2008, the pilot was expanded to Fort Meade, Md., and Fort Belvoir, Va. The remaining 17 installations will be introduced to the pilot upon completion of site preparations and personnel orientation and training, during a 7-month period from November 2008 to May 2009.

The remaining installations to begin the program are: Army: Fort Carson, Colo., Fort Drum, N.Y., Fort Stewart, Ga., Fort Richardson, Alaska, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas, and Fort Polk, La.; Navy: Naval Medical Center (NMC) San Diego and Camp Pendleton, Calif., NMC Bremerton, Wash., NMC Jacksonville, Fla., and Camp Lejeune, N.C.; and Air Force: Vance Air Force Base, Okla., Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska., and Travis Air Force Base, Calif.

In November 2007 the DoD and VA implemented the pilot test for disability cases originating at the three major military treatment facilities in the national capital region. The pilot is a test of a new process design eliminating the duplicative, time-consuming, and often confusing elements of the two current disability processes of the departments. Key features of the DES pilot include one medical examination and a single-sourced disability rating. To date, more than 700 service members have participated in the pilot during the last ten months.

The pilot is focused on recommendations from the reports of the Task Force on Returning Global War on Terrorism Heroes, the Independent Review Group, the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors (the Dole/Shalala Commission), and the Commission on Veterans’ Disability Benefits."

DefenseLink News Release: DoD Announces Expansion of the Defense and Veterans Affairs Disability Evaluation System Pilot:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Petraeus Assumes Leadership of U.S. Central Command

"By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Oct. 31, 2008 – Army Gen. David H. Petraeus assumed leadership of the U.S. military command charged with helping to build peace in a tough and war-torn part of the world today.
Petraeus took the reins of U.S. Central Command from acting commander Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey in a ceremony here.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates presided over the change of command held at the base’s Memorial Park. “General Petraeus, you are again taking responsibility for our precious sons and daughters,” Gates said. “I have no doubt they will continue to make you and me – indeed all Americans – very proud.” Petraeus now has responsibility for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He must deal with the threat that Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons poses to the region and world. He also must deal with an unstable government in Pakistan. U.S. Central Command reaches from Kazakhstan to Yemen and Egypt to Kyrgyzstan. "

DefenseLink News Article: Petraeus Assumes Leadership of U.S. Central Command:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Painting shows 82nd paratroopers in action :: WRAL.com

"FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The 82nd Airborne Division will unveil a new painting depicting some of its troopers in action in Iraq.
The painting of paratroopers from the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, will be unveiled Thursday at Fort Bragg. The unit, nicknamed the 'Thunderbolts,' established stability in an area south of Baghdad that had been controlled by enemy forces. "

Painting shows 82nd paratroopers in action :: WRAL.com:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wounded N.C. soldier gets new house from fellow vets

"FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. — A veterans group on Monday presented Sgt. Joey Bozik the keys to his new house four years to the day from when he was wounded in Iraq."
A roadside bomb in Iraq injured Bozik. The 26-year-old former sergeant with the 118th Military Police Company from Fort Bragg lost both legs and his right arm when an anti-tank mine exploded under his Humvee.
Paratroopers from Fort Bragg parachuted in Monday with the keys to his new home in Fuquay-Varina.

Wounded N.C. soldier gets new house from fellow vets :: WRAL.com:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Troops Well-Protected Under U.S.-Iraq Agreement, Gates Says

"By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2008 – Servicemembers should not be concerned about the status of forces agreement between the United States and Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.
The secretary told Pentagon reporters that the agreement – now circulating as a draft in Washington and Baghdad – has adequate protections for American servicemembers.

Gates said former Multinational Force Iraq commander Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, current commander Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker have been deeply involved in the negotiations. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, approve of the agreement."

The agreement will allow American forces to continue to operate in Iraq and train the Iraqi security forces once the United Nations Security Council mandate expires on Dec. 31. “Admiral Mullen, General Petraeus, General Odierno and I are all satisfied that our men and women in uniform serving in Iraq are well-protected” by the agreement, Gates said. Gates is consulting with Senate and House armed services committee leaders about the agreement, which does not require congressional approval to become effective. “The four leaders I talked to from the armed services committees were generally positive, but clearly are looking forward to seeing the exact text,” Gates said. White House officials discussed the text of the agreement with congressional staffers this morning. The Iraqis want to assume control of their own security, and the draft agreement includes goals for withdrawal of American troops, if security conditions permit.
Related Articles:Gates Works with Congress on Iraq Status of Forces Agreement

DefenseLink News Article: Troops Well-Protected Under U.S.-Iraq Agreement, Gates Says:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Documents Say Iran Aids Iraq Militias

"WASHINGTON — They wake before dawn, with time to exercise, eat and pray before the day’s first class in firing Kalashnikov rifles.
Over the next eight hours, they practice using bazookas or laying roadside bombs, with a break for lunch and mandatory religious instruction.
There is free time in the evening to watch television or play Ping-Pong.
Lights out at 11 p.m.
Such is a typical day at a dusty military base outside Tehran, where for the past several years members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force and Lebanese Hezbollah operatives have trained Iraqi Shiites to launch attacks against American forces in Iraq, according to accounts given to American interrogators by captured Iraqi fighters.

American officials have long cited Iranian training and weapons as reasons for the lethality of attacks by Shiite fighters in Iraq. Iranian officials deny that such training takes place.
Now, more than 80 pages of newly declassified intelligence documents for the first time describe in detail an elaborate network used by Iraqis to gain entry into Iran and train under Iranian supervision. They offer the most comprehensive account to date to support American claims about Iranian efforts to build a proxy force in Iraq. "

More...Documents Say Iran Aids Iraq Militias - NYTimes.com:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Iraq Fact Check: Responding To Key Myths

  • Iraq Fact Check: Responding To Key Myths

    MYTH: The Iraqi Government is sitting on billions of dollars in oil profits while the American people pay for reconstruction and security costs in Iraq.

    FACT: The Iraqi government is taking over reconstruction funding – Iraq's 2008 budget for large-scale reconstruction projects exceeds that proposed by the U.S. by more than 10 to 1 and the U.S. military expects that Iraq will soon cover 100 percent of such expenses.

    Since 2003, the Government of Iraq (GoI) has appropriated $85 billion for reconstruction and security costs. The U.S. appropriated $50 billion and has not appropriated any funds for major reconstruction since 2005.

    The U.N. and U.S. are focused on providing Iraqis with technical assistance to keep Iraq's economy growing and improve budget execution.

    The GoI increased its budgets across the board in 2008 – a base budget followed by a supplemental passed in August of this year brought the total to $72 billion, a substantial increase from 2007's $41 billion. The capitol budget which pays for reconstruction projects increased to $21 billion.

    FACT: Iraq's security ministries will pay for more than 80 percent of the annual cost of the Iraqi military and police under the 2008 budget.

  • Last week, the GoI took over responsibility for paying the salaries of about 51,000 Sons of Iraq serving in the Baghdad area.

    · FACT: The GoI's budget execution has picked up in 2008 – the total GoI expenditure through June 2008 was $19 billion, compared to $10 billion through the same period last year.

    · FACT: The GoI does not have $79 billion from oil profits sitting in the bank. Iraq's year-end surplus for 2008 is expected to be about $30 billion. Combined with the previous 3 years, the surplus is expected to be about $60 billion.

    MYTH: Iraq has made little progress on the political front.

    · FACT: Since September 2007, Iraq's parliament has passed significant legislation dealing with reconciliation and nation building, including:
    Ø A Provincial Elections Law enabling elections to be held in Iraq before January 31, 2009.
    Ø A pension law
    Ø De-Ba'athification reform
    Ø An amnesty law
    Ø A provincial powers law
    Ø A 2008 budget and a supplemental budget that includes record amounts for capital and security expenditures

    · FACT: Recently passed legislation is already having an affect – Iraqis held under detention for non-series crimes have been released under the Amnesty law.

    · FACT: The national government is sharing oil revenues with provinces despite the absence of a hydrocarbon and revenue-sharing law.

    · FACT: Iraq's neighbors are re-establishing diplomatic relations – Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, and the League of Arab States have all named Ambassador's to Iraq. The U.A.E. became the first Arab nation to post its Ambassador to Baghdad and give 100 percent debt relief to Iraq of approximately $7 billion.

    · FACT: Regional leaders are traveling to Iraq to pursue productive dialogue – Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, King Abdullah of Jordan, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit have all visited Baghdad.

Source: Office of Public Liaison - Military Affairs - whitehouse.gov

Monday, October 06, 2008

DoD Revises Purple Heart Eligibility Criteria To Allow Award To POWs Who Die In Capivity

DefenseLink News Release: DoD Revises Purple Heart Eligibility Criteria To Allow Award To POWs Who Die In Capivity: "DoD Revises Purple Heart Eligibility Criteria To Allow Award To POWs Who Die In Capivity

The Department of Defense announced today it has expanded the Purple Heart eligibility criteria allowing prisoners-of-war who died in captivity to receive the award.

The revised department policy presumes, for service members who die in captivity as a qualifying prisoner-of-war, that their death was the 'result of enemy action,' or the result of wounds incurred “in action with the enemy” during capture, or as a result of wounds incurred as a “result of enemy action” during capture, unless compelling evidence is presented to the contrary.

The revised policy allows retroactive award of the Purple Heart to qualifying prisoners-of-war since Dec. 7, 1941. Posthumous award will be made to the deceased service member’s representative, as designated by the secretary of the military department concerned, upon application to that military department.

Each military department will publish application procedures and ensure they are accessible by the general public. Family members with questions may contact the services: Army: Military Awards Branch, (703) 325-8700; Navy: Navy Personnel Command, Retired Records Section, (314) 592-1150; Air Force: Air Force Personnel Center, (800) 616-3775; Marine Corps: Military Awards Branch, (703) 784-9340. For further information, media representatives should contact Eileen Lainez, (703) 695-3895, eileen.lainez@osd.mil."

Sunday, October 05, 2008

N.C. troops' role in Iraq to grow

"Jay Price, Staff Writer Comment on this story In Washington, on the campaign trail and in Baghdad, there has been talk for months about cutting the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. For North Carolina-based troops, though, 2009 is shaping up as another big year there -- maybe the biggest since the war began in 2003."

The Pentagon formally announced last week that three more major units from the
state are to be sent to Iraq in 2009 -- two combat brigade teams from the 82nd
Airborne Division at Fort Bragg and the headquarters unit of the 2nd Marine
Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune.

That makes a total of seven major units and more than 25,000 troops from North Carolina scheduled to be in Iraq at some point in the coming year.

more... newsobserver.com N.C. troops' role in Iraq to grow:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sen Barack Obama Requests Delay in Troop Drawdown

"WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence. According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July. "

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Iraqi Surge Was Keystone to Success in Iraq

"At the end of 2006, Iraq seemed on the verge of a civil war. Al-Qaida was inciting divisions between Sunni and Shiia Iraqis. The newly elected government seemed ineffectual. Militia groups roamed neighborhoods and intimidated those who did not agree with them.
More than 100 U.S. servicemembers per month were being killed in fighting in the country. Today, that number has dropped dramatically, thanks largely to the troop surge and a new strategy that senior military officials credit with laying the groundwork for success throughout Iraq."

The first of the surge brigades arrived in Baghdad from Kuwait in January
2007 – the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team. The soldiers went
almost immediately into combat operations. Between then and June, four more
brigades, a Marine expeditionary unit and two Marine battalions deployed to
Iraq. Thousands of “enablers” – combat service and combat service support
servicemembers – also deployed.
“The surge allowed us to get control of areas, maintain control using Iraqi troops and police, and pump money and jobs into the economy,” the general said. “It helped us link up with the sheiks and tribal leaders and push the Awakening process along.”
In many parts of Baghdad today, markets are operating, doctors are practicing, children are learning and fathers are working. That would have been inconceivable in 2006, Campbell said.
“I saw the surge in the beginning, and when I left in December 2007 I had seen it turn Baghdad around,” he said. “The surge was very successful and I could see the results. I would have told you maybe halfway into my tour that I would not have felt good about leaving. But later, I saw all the benefits. I thought we really gave the Iraqi people a fighting chance.”

Iraqi Surge Was Keystone to Success in Iraq:

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dems trash U.S. flags at DNC convention

Dems trash U.S. flags at DNC convention: "Following their national convention in Denver last week, Democratic organizers heaped up thousands of unused U.S. flags and threw them away, but the McCain campaign has since salvaged the Star-Spangled Banners and intends to use them at a rally in Colorado Springs.
A Denver Post blog reports that a worker at Denver's Invesco Field discovered the discarded flags following Barack Obama's nomination speech at the mile-high stadium last week."

According to Fox News, McCain is planning a scathing chastisement of the
Democrats for defiling Old Glory and plans to have veterans distribute the flags
in a symbolic, recyling gesture at the Colorado Springs rally.

The Post blog reports an estimated total of 12,000 small flags and one, full-size 3'x5' flag were discarded.

Update from Denverpost.com 9-6-08
Update: I just spoke with the person at Invesco who found the flags. He thinks both sides are exaggerating a bit. He claims the majority of the bags with flags were near the trash and it was probably an "oversight" by the Democrats rather than a nefarious plot against the flag, but he doesn't believe anyone was coming to get them. "The flags were there for a week and a day and no one came looking for them," the person said.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

War On Terror News

"Step back in time with me to the Kunar province of Afghanistan, back to July 13, 2008, courtesy of SFC Rice. -MsMarti

This is the story you won't hear on our news media back home. All you heard was of the worst loss of life in Afghanistan since the war began and that Afghanistan is turning into a quagmire. I was there, it's not a quagmire, never has been, never will be. I was part of several attacks and we dominated the enemy so bad every time I actually felt bad for them. This is the story you need to hear and tell your friends about. These men are heroes! Fighting terrorists on foreign soil so Americans remain safe at home. This is why America is the greatest country in the world, men like this!!! Always Remembered, Never Forgotten!"

War On Terror News: 9 Funerals for 9 Warriors:

9 Funerals for 9 Warriors

I'm sure you heard about 9 soldiers being killed in Afghanistan a few weeks ago. As AP reported it, it was a "setback", the "newly established base" there was 'abandoned' by the Americans. That, of course, was the extent of their coverage. Steve Mraz of Stars and Stripes and Jeff Emanuel tell the rest of the story. Emanuel, who went out and dug into the story sets the enemies force at 500 while AP sets it at 200. Frankly I'm much more inclined to believe Emanuel than AP.
July 13, 2008 was the date, and Jeff Emanuel, an independent combat reporter sets the scene: Three days before the attack, 45 U.S. paratroopers from the 173d Airborne [Brigade Combat Team], accompanied by 25 Afghan soldiers, made their way to Kunar province, a remote area in the northeastern Afghanistan-Pakistan border area, and established the beginnings of a small Combat Outpost (COP).
Their movement into the area was noticed, and their tiny numbers and incomplete fortifications were quickly taken advantage of.
A combined force of up to 500 Taliban and al Qaeda fighters quickly moved into the nearby village of Wanat and prepared for their assault by evicting unallied residents and according to an anonymous senior Afghan defense ministry official, "us[ing] their houses to attack us."
Tribesmen in the town stayed behind "and helped the insurgents during the fight," the provincial police chief, told The Associated Press. Dug-in mortar firing positions were created, and with that indirect fire, as well as heavy machine gun and RPG fire from fixed positions, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters rushed the COP from three sides.
As Emanuel notes, the odds were set. 500 vs. 70. Even so, Emanuel entitled his article, "An Alamo With a Different Ending." The 500 terrorists apparently didn't realize they were attacking US Army paratroopers. The unit in question was 2nd Platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, led by 1LT Jonathan Brostrom.
The first RPG and machine gun fire came at dawn, strategically striking the forward operating base's mortar pit. The insurgents next sighted their RPGs on the tow truck inside the combat outpost, taking it out.
That was around 4:30 a.m.
This was not a haphazard attack. The reportedly 500 insurgents fought from several positions. They aimed to overrun the new base. The U.S. soldiers knew it and fought like hell. They knew their lives were on the line. The next target was the FOB's observation post, where nine soldiers were positioned on a tiny hill about 50 to 75 meters from the base. Of those nine, five died, and at least three others -- Spc. Tyler Stafford among them -- were wounded.
When the attack began, Stafford grabbed his M-240 machine gun off a north-facing sandbag wall and moved it to an east-facing sandbag wall. Moments later, RPGs struck the north-facing wall, knocking Stafford out of the fighting position and wounding another soldier.
Stafford thought he was on fire so he rolled around, regaining his senses. Nearby, Cpl. Gunnar Zwilling, who later died in the fight, had a stunned look on his face. Immediately, a grenade exploded by Stafford, blowing him down to a lower terrace at the observation post and knocking his helmet off.
Stafford put his helmet back on and noticed how badly he was bleeding. Cpl. Matthew Phillips was close by, so Stafford called to him for help. Phillips was preparing to throw a grenade and shot a look at Stafford that said, "Give me a second. I gotta go kill these guys first."
This was only about 30 to 60 seconds into the attack.
Kneeling behind a sandbag wall, Phillips pulled the grenade pin, but just after he threw it an RPG exploded at his position. The tail of the RPG smacked Stafford's helmet. The dust cleared. Phillips was slumped over, his chest on his knees and his hands by his side. Stafford called out to his buddy three or four times, but Phillips never answered or moved.
"When I saw Phillips die, I looked down and was bleeding pretty good, that's probably the most scared I was at any point,"
Stafford said. "Then I kinda had to calm myself down and be like, 'All right, I gotta go try to do my job.' The soldier from Parker, Colo., loaded his 9 mm handgun, crawled up to their fighting position, stuck the pistol over the sandbags and fired. Stafford saw Zwilling's M-4 rifle nearby so he loaded it, put it on top of the sandbag and fired. Another couple RPGs struck the sandbag wall Stafford used as cover. Shrapnel pierced his hands.
Stafford low-crawled to another fighting position where Cpl. Jason Bogar, Sgt. Matthew Gobble and Sgt. Ryan Pitts were located. Stafford told Pitts that the insurgents were within grenade-tossing range. That got Pitts' attention. With blood running down his face, Pitts threw a grenade and then crawled to the position from where Stafford had just come. Pitts started chucking more grenades. The firefight intensified. Bullets cut down tree limbs that fell on the soldiers. RPGs constantly exploded.
Back at Stafford's position, so many bullets were coming in that the soldiers could not poke their heads over their sandbag wall. Bogar stuck an M-249 machine gun above the wall and squeezed off rounds to keep fire on the insurgents. In about five minutes, Bogar fired about 600 rounds, causing the M-249 to seize up from heat.
At another spot on the observation post, Cpl. Jonathan Ayers laid down continuous fire from an M-240 machine gun, despite drawing small-arms and RPG fire from the enemy. Ayers kept firing until he was shot and killed. Cpl. Pruitt Rainey radioed the FOB with a casualty report, calling for help. Of the nine soldiers at the observation post, Ayers and Phillips were dead, Zwilling was unaccounted for, and three were wounded. Additionally, several of the soldiers' machine guns couldn't fire because of damage. And they needed more ammo. Rainey, Bogar and another soldier jumped out of their fighting position with the third soldier of the group launching a shoulder-fired missile.
All this happened within the first 20 minutes of the fight.
Platoon leader 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom and Cpl. Jason Hovater arrived at the observation post to reinforce the soldiers. By that time, the insurgents had breached the perimeter of the observation post. Gunfire rang out, and Rainey shouted, "He's right behind the sandbag." Brostrom could be heard shouting about the insurgent as well.
More gunfire and grenade explosions ensued. Back in the fighting position, Gobble fired a few quick rounds. Gobble then looked to where the soldiers were fighting and told Stafford the soldiers were dead. Of the nine soldiers who died in the battle, at least seven fell in fighting at the observation post.
The insurgents then started chucking rocks at Gobble and Stafford's fighting position, hoping that the soldiers might think the rocks were grenades, causing them to jump from the safety of their fighting hole. One rock hit a tree behind Stafford and landed directly between his legs. He braced himself for an explosion. He then realized it was a rock.
Stafford didn't have a weapon, and Gobble was low on ammo. Gobble told Stafford they had to get back to the FOB. They didn't realize that Pitts was still alive in another fighting position at the observation post. Gobble and Stafford crawled out of their fighting hole. Gobble looked again to where the soldiers had been fighting and reconfirmed to Stafford that Brostrom, Rainey, Bogar and others were dead.
Gobble and Stafford low-crawled and ran back to the FOB. Coming into the FOB, Stafford was asked by a sergeant what was going on at the observation post. Stafford told him all the soldiers there were dead. Stafford lay against a wall, and his fellow soldiers put a tourniquet on him.
From the OP, Pitts got on the radio and told his comrades he was alone. Volunteers were asked for to go to the OP.
SSG Jesse Queck sums up the reaction to the call: "When you ask for volunteers to run across an open field to a reinforced OP that almost everybody is injured at, and everybody volunteers, it feels good. There were a lot of guys that made me proud, putting themselves and their lives on the line so their buddies could have a chance."
At least three soldiers went to the OP to rescue Pitts, but they suffered wounds after encountering RPG and small-arms fire, but Pitts survived the battle.
At that time, air support arrived in the form of Apache helicopters, A-10s and F-16s, performing bombing and strafing runs. The whole FOB was covered in dust and smoke, looking like something out of an old Western movie.
"I've never seen the enemy do anything like that," said Sgt. Jacob Walker, who was medically evacuated off the FOB in one of the first helicopters to arrive. "It's usually three RPGs, some sporadic fire and then they're gone .... I don't where they got all those RPGs. That was crazy."
Two hours after the first shots were fired, Stafford made his way -- with help -- to the medevac helicopter that arrived. "It was some of the bravest stuff I've ever seen in my life, and I will never see it again because those guys,"
Stafford said, then paused. "Normal humans wouldn't do that. You're not supposed to do that -- getting up and firing back when everything around you is popping and whizzing and trees, branches coming down and sandbags exploding and RPGs coming in over your head ... It was a fistfight then, and those guys held ' em off."
Stafford offered a guess as to why his fellow soldiers fought so hard.
"Just hardcoreness I guess," he said. "Just guys kicking ass, basically. Just making sure that we look scary enough that you don't want to come in and try to get us."
Jeff Emanuel summed the fight up very well:
"Perhaps the most important take away from that encounter, though, is the one that the mainstream media couldn't be bothered to pay attention long enough to learn: that, not for the first time, a contingent of American soldiers that was outnumbered by up to a twenty-to-one ratio soundly and completely repulsed a complex, pre-planned assault by those dedicated enough to their cause to kill themselves in its pursuit.
That kind of heroism and against-all-odds success is and has been a hallmark of America's fighting men and women, and it is one that is worthy of all attention we can possibly give it."
Of the original 45 paratroopers, 15 were wounded and The Sky Soldiers lost 9 killed in action in the attack. They were :
1LT Jonathan Brostrom of Aiea, HawaiiSGT Israel Garcia of Long Beach, CaliforniaSPC Matthew Phillips of Jasper, GeorgiaSPC Pruitt Rainey of Haw River, North CarolinaSPC Jonathan Ayers of Snellville, GeorgiaSPC Jason Bogar of Seattle, WashingtonSPC Sergio Abad of Morganfield, KentuckySPC Jason Hovater of Clinton, TennesseeSPC Gunnar Zwilling of Florissant, Missouri
Of the 9 that were lost, Sgt Walker says:
“I just hope these guys' wives and their children understand how courageous their husbands and dads were. They fought like warriors."
They fought like warriors.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Grand Valley 'gunnies' unite for McCain

"GRAND JUNCTION — Former Grand Junction Mayor Gene Kinsey is proud to be a “gunnie.”

Kinsey said Wednesday he thinks Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s voting record on preserving second amendment rights to own guns will allow him to stay a “gunnie.” So he’s voting for McCain.

“I’ve often wondered why I should vote for a candidate if he can’t trust me to own a gun,” Kinsey said. “We’re not all single issue voters, but the second amendment is a touchstone. It’s a window into what the candidate thinks.”

The second amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” McCain has said, “I believe the second amendment ought to be preserved — which means no gun control.” Obama’s Web site does not include a stance on gun control."

More Grand Valley 'gunnies' unite for McCain GRAND JUNCTION — Former Grand Junction Mayor Gene Kinsey is proud to be a “gunnie.”Kinsey said Wednesday he thinks Republican presidential candidate Joh GJFreePress.com:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Strong Military in a Dangerous World

John McCain 2008 - John McCain for President: "In a dangerous world, protecting America's national security requires a strong military. Today, America has the most capable, best-trained and best-led military force in the world. But much needs to be done to maintain our military leadership, retain our technological advantage, and ensure that America has a modern, agile military force able to meet the diverse security challenges of the 21st century.

John McCain is committed to ensuring that the men and women of our military remain the best, most capable fighting force on Earth - and that our nation honors its promises to them for their service."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Byrd says No

... "“Lt. General James Thurman, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for operations, has said that he hoped, but could not promise, that if the demand for troops stabilized at around 15 combat brigades, the use of the ‘stop loss’ could be ended by the end of Fiscal Year 2009, or the beginning of Fiscal Year 2010 – in September or October of 2009, more than a year from now. ‘But demand exceeds supply right now,’ he stated."

More...West Virginia Headline News and Talk Radio:

Friday, June 27, 2008

VFW says Thank You for new GI Bill

"WASHINGTON, June 26, 2008 – The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is saluting Congress for the overwhelming passage of a new GI Bill for the 21st Century. The bill, S. 22, the 'Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act,' was attached to the war funding supplemental that the House passed June 19 and the Senate is predicted to approve this evening. President Bush is expected to quickly sign it into law."

S. 22 will pay the highest in-state public tuition rate, and provide for
books, fees, and a living stipend. It eliminates the $1,200 enrollment fee,
extends the use-or-lose benefit requirement from 10 to 15 years, and greatly
enhances the amount paid to Guard and Reserve members. The new GI Bill
automatically adjusts itself as tuitions increase, and provides a
dollar-for-dollar tuition match for private colleges and universities who choose
to participate in the program. A new provision added to the bill allows
reenlisting servicemembers to transfer their educational benefit to their spouse
and/or children. The transferability provision – which is endorsed by the
Defense Department – was proposed by Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Lindsey Graham
(R-SC), an Air Force Reserve colonel, and John McCain (R-AZ), a Vietnam veteran
who was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) :: News:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Local soldier returns home

KJCT8.com - Grand Junction, Montrose - Weather, News, Sports Local soldier returns home: "

After a 15 month tour in Iraq, a hero returns with a warm welcome from his family. They're thrilled to have their son and brother back home on the Western Slope.

Specialist Antonio Martinez is back for 20 days after serving 15 months in northern Baghdad. This is the first time the army has granted him a leave to visit his family.
Specialist Martinez was part of the 82nd Airborne Unit, one of the first battalions that spearheaded the surge into Iraq.

He's happy to be on American soil and ready to relax.
Martinez's grandmother traveled all the way from Arizona to see him. He'll spend his 20 day vacation at his family's home in Hotchkiss. "

Friday, June 06, 2008

Military briefs

Military briefs Stafford County Sun: "Stafford brothers return from duty
Sgt. Richard Carnicom and Specialist Derek Carnicom have returned from Iraq and from Afghanistan, respectively. The brothers are both graduates of North Stafford High School and are serving in the United States Army stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 82nd Airborne Division.
Richard Carnicom’s unit, the first of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, served in Baghdad from January 2007 through March 2008 as part of a 15-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Richard Carnicom earned the Combat Action Badge during this tour. Derek Carnicom’s unit, the second of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, served in Afghanistan from February 2007 thru May 2008 as part of a 15-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Derek Carnicom earned the Combat Medical Badge during this tour. Jeffrey and Roxanne Carnicom of Stafford are extremely proud of their son’s accomplishments and relieved to have them back home safe. Both Jeff and Roxanne Carnicom, as well as Roxanne’s father, Richard Clark of Stafford, were at Pope Air Force Base as Richard landed on March 12, 2008 and as Derek landed on May 12, 2008. Richard Carnicom was also there to welcome his brother Derek home. "

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Surge brigade to get new leader

"The 82nd Airborne Division brigade that spearheaded the surge into Iraq is getting a new commander.
Col. B. Don Farris will pass command to Col. Christopher Gibson during a ceremony Wednesday at Fort Bragg. Farris' brigade deployed days after receiving emergency orders in January 2007. The brigade spent 15-months restoring order to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and was instrumental in bringing violence in the city to its lowest level since 2004.
During a mission in May 2007, Farris was seriously wounded by sniper fire. He recovered and returned to Iraq months later to finish the deployment.
Gibson served with the 2nd Brigade from 2004 to 2006."FayObserver.com - AP Article Page:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Palisade mother welcomes son home from Iraq

"GRAND JUNCTION (KJCT)- A Palisade mother welcomed her son home from Iraq today after seven long months.
Twenty one-year-old Justin Aysse is a Field Lineman with the U.S. Marines.
He's from 29 Palms California... And his mom, Julie Dominguez, says it was the first time they've been separated for this long.
She says they communicated by e-mail, but sometimes she wouldn't hear from Justin for weeks.
Julie says not a day went by when she didn't cry... worrying about her son."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Northampton Commons renamed for Dembowski

Park renamed to honor a fallen son.
By Peter Ciferri, Advance Editor

"For future generations, whenever Richboro and Northampton Township residents visit Northampton Commons Park, they will remember Robert Dembowski Jr.That's because this Memorial Day, one year and two days after his death in Baghdad, Iraq, the Northampton Board of Supervisors, area veterans groups, local politicians and community members came together to rededicate the park in honor of their fallen son.
"Northampton Township is home to many veterans and military personnel, who deserve recognition for their service," Northampton Township Board of Supervisors Chairman George Komelasky said. "The rededication of this park is one way that we can all say thank you."
He explained that the Northampton Commons was originally dedicated in early 2001 to volunteers in the Northampton community, who donate their time in a number of roles from firemen to township committee members.
Komelasky went on to explain that in a post 9-11 world, he is happy to rededicate the park to honor all those who protect our nation. "These are our fathers, our brothers, our sisters, our husbands, our wives our sons, our daughters. They are our friends of our community and they call Northampton Township home."
The park was officially rededicated before a crowd of about 150 supporters during an afternoon ceremony on May 26.
Fran Dembowski, mother of Robert Dembowski Jr., was among the afternoon's first speakers. She reflected on the sacrifice American servicemen and women through the reading of a poem she recently penned while visiting Fort Bragg.
Dembowski's father, Robert Dembowski Sr., unveiled the sign officially renaming the Northampton Commons "Robert H. Dembowski Jr. Veterans Memorial Park."
Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8) spoke on the lasting impact Robert Dembowski has left both in the community and with his comrades in the Army.
"Committed to serving his country, Bobby volunteered to make the rest of the world a better place and give back to the country he loved so fiercely," Murphy said.
Dembowski was killed in action on May 24, 2007, when his unit came under small arms fire from enemy forces in Baghdad. Murphy said that while the park is named in Dembowski's memory, it serves to reflect on all those lost in battle.
"By remembering their sacrifices and the lives that they led, in time the wounds of Bucks County will heal," Murphy said. "It will be in Bobby's name, but it will stand for veterans as a sign of our appreciation."
While the two never served together, both Murphy and Dembowski were members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division.
"Today is a solemn day, but a proud one as we honor a hero from our community, and the spirit of patriotism and devotion that Bobby embodied," Murphy said.
State Rep. Scott Petri said it was a "true pleasure" to spend his Memorial Day honoring Bucks County soldiers who stepped forward to serve their nation.
"Memorial Day is not simply a day for picnics and pool openings, parades and speeches, it is a day to reflect on the lives of those who made those things possible for the rest of us through their sacrifice in defense of freedom," Petri explained.
He said Dembowski understood that idea and cited a 2005 speech that the Army Private gave at Newtown's Chancellor Center.
Dembowski, a Council Rock North and Middle Bucks Institute of Technology graduate, joined the Army in 2006 and was the recipient of a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Also speaking was the director of Bucks County Veterans Affairs Dan Fraley and the chairman of the Northampton Township Veterans Advisory Committee Larry Rubini.
Fraley spoke on the important role Gold Star Families have in helping to secure land for veterans memorials and cemeteries, including the Dolington National Veterans Cemetery in Upper Makefield."


Monday, May 26, 2008

Presidential Remarks -- Ft Bragg

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bush to focus on troops and his war policy

If his Fort Bragg speech is an early indicator, the commander-in-chief may be readying himself to end the war Mindy Belz

"President Bush began Memorial Day weekend last Thursday with a speech in Fort Bragg, N.C., to five brigades of the 82nd Airborne Division—the first time in two years all five were assembled for review following extended deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The president saluted a flyover of helicopters, watched as parachuters landed on the field, hugged family members whose husbands and sons have died in the war, and gave the crowd the traditional 'Hooah!'

The event marked the beginning for the president of a week focused on the troops and on his war policy. On Sunday at the White House lawn he will speak to a group of veterans and POW/MIA activists. On Monday he and the first lady will participate in the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, and on Wednesday he will deliver the commencement address at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. "

While flags unfurl this Memorial Day weekend, U.S. combat casualties in
Iraq stand at 16—on track to make May perhaps the lowest casualty months in
years, perhaps of the entire war. It's a good time to remember the lives lost,
and saved, and to contemplate the possibility of bringing this war chapter
to a close.

If the Fort Bragg speech is an early indicator, then beneath the pomp-and-circumstance of this holiday when Americans honor their war heroes is a message from a commander-in-chief who may be readying himself to end the war.
The president outlined four conditions for "success in Iraq":
• a country that can protect its own people
• one that supports itself economically
•a democracy that governs itself effectively and responds to the will of its people
•and a country that is an ally of the United States in the war on terror.
The president acknowledged there remains "tough fighting ahead" and cautioned against "withdrawal from Iraq before we have achieved success." But recent events on the ground suggest—remarkably—that the four-point test can arguably be met:

More...WORLD Magazine Today's News, Christian Views:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Iraqi troops welcomed in Sadr City for first time

"BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces entered Baghdad 's Sadr City in large numbers on Tuesday for the first time since followers of anti-American cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed two weeks ago to let them in.
No U.S. troops accompanied the Iraqi forces. The agreement specifically barred Americans from entering the Shiite Muslim enclave.

"This is entirely an Iraqi-led, planned and executed operation," said Lt. Col. Steve Stover, the U.S. military spokesman for Baghdad operations.
Stover said the latest action was a high point for both Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi government.
"It shows they are committed to unifying their country, ridding their country of criminal and terrorist elements and they're taking decisive action," Stover said.
Residents said Sadr City had returned to relative normality. Weeks of violence had kept residents inside or forced them to flee. On Tuesday, people were in the streets and shopping, and schools were open."

McClatchy Washington Bureau 05/20/2008 Iraqi troops welcomed in Sadr City for first time:

Iraq war deserter faces deportation from Canada

"TORONTO (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier who fought in Iraq before deserting and coming to Canada now faces deportation next month, but says he shouldn't be returned to the United States to face 'unjust punishment.'

Canada is set to deport in June the first of possibly hundreds of American
soldiers who sought asylum to avoid military duty in Iraq, a group backing the
US deserters said Wednesday.(IRBC)

Corey Glass, 25, came to Canada in August 2006 after serving in Iraq as a military intelligence sergeant.
Authorities told him on Wednesday that his application to stay in Canada was rejected and he would be deported in early June, a spokeswoman for the War Resisters Support Campaign told AFP.

According to the group, several hundred Iraq War resisters are currently in Canada, many of them living underground. Glass would be the first of them to be deported, it said."

More...Iraq war deserter faces deportation from Canada - Yahoo! News:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bush Salutes Mothers' Sacrifices in War on Terror

"American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2008 – President Bush praised America’s mothers, especially those who’ve lost sons or daughters during the war on terror and those who gave their lives in service to their country, during his weekly radio address yesterday. An excerpt from the president’s remarks follows:

“On this Mother’s Day weekend, we think of the many mothers who raised the brave men and women serving our country in uniform. And to those mothers, I offer the thanks of a grateful nation."

“Your sons and daughters are defending our freedom with dignity and honor, and America appreciates the sacrifices that your families make in the name of duty. “On this Mother’s Day weekend, we remember the mothers grieving a son or daughter lost in the service to their country, as well as the children who lost a mother in uniform. “We share their pride in these wonderful Americans who have given everything to protect our people from harm. Nothing we say can ever make up for their loss. “But, on this special day, we hold them in our hearts, and we lift them in our prayers. “I wish every mother listening this morning a blessed Mother’s Day, including my own. And I have a message for every son and daughter listening this morning: Remember to tell Mom the first thing tomorrow how much you love her.”

DefenseLink News Article: Bush Salutes Mothers' Sacrifices in War on Terror:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Chrysler Kicks Off Military Appreciation Month

"By John J. Kruzel American Forces Press Service DETROIT, May 5, 2008 – Patriotism was in full gear at the Chrysler headquarters today, as hundreds gathered inside the star-spangled atrium of the automaker’s main hub to honor America’s men and women in uniform.

On the tiered floors of the glass-enclosed plaza here, employees hung over railings to watch while their chief executive kicked off Military Appreciation Month by signing an agreement strengthening Chrysler’s ties to Reserve and National Guard troops, and recognizing past and present servicemembers on the automaker’s roster.

“I just want to thank all the men and women who give of themselves, who are apart from their families, who are enduring tremendous hardship to maintain the freedom the democracy on which this country was founded,” said Robert Nardelli, Chrysler’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We are truly blessed.”

As an expression of Chrysler’s gratitude to servicemembers’ sacrifice, Nardelli today signed a 5-Star Military Support Agreement. The document promises Chrysler’s commitment to continue supporting employees who are called into active military service.

“A lot of times people ask, ‘Gee Bob, isn’t that an expense?’” Nardelli said of the pledge. “But I think it’s an investment. People say, ‘Well, isn’t this a burden?’ I say, ‘It’s a responsibility.’ "

In an event that included remarks from Defense Department and military
officials, local radio personality Paul W. Smith, the master of ceremonies,
listed the names of more than 40 Chrysler employees currently deployed to U.S.
operations abroad.
With each name Smith read, a camo-clad servicemember on
the second story of the circular plaza draped a flag with a blue star over the
railing. A tradition since World War I, the blue flag is a symbol displayed by
family members in remembrance of their loved ones serving in harm’s way. In a
somber postscript to the presentation, the family of Army Master Sgt. William
Balinski accepted a flag embroidered with a gold star.

DefenseLink News Article: America Supports You: Chrysler Kicks Off Military Appreciation Month:

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Army OKs $248M in barracks repairs

"but housing still aging
May 7, 2008 (6:39p CDT)
By KRISTIN M. HALL (Associated Press Writer)

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Spc. Loren Dauterman, who trained at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin last month with the National Guard, found something good to say about the falling-apart floors and ceilings in her quarters.


After a soldier's father posted a video on YouTube last month showing the
dilapidated barracks for paratroopers at Fort Bragg, N.C., Defense Secretary
Robert Gates called those conditions appalling and ordered base commanders to
ensure their troops have proper quarters.

More...Qwest.Live.com News:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Troops in Iraq Kill 22 Suspected Terrorists, Capture 37

"Troops in Iraq Kill 22 Suspected Terrorists, Capture 37
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2008 – Coalition and Iraqi forces killed 22 suspected terrorists, captured 37 others, and seized weapons caches in Iraq over the past three days, military officials said."

...-- Coalition forces found and recovered 12 Iranian-made rocket launchers
south of Baghdad following a tip from a local resident. The rocket launchers,
designed for 107 mm rockets, were discovered near a reported launch site. This
site appeared to be targeting a nearby forward operating base. Initiation wire
attached to the launchers indicated they are of Iranian origin. The same type of
wire has been found at previous launch sites, military officials said.

More...DefenseLink News Article: Troops in Iraq Kill 22 Suspected Terrorists, Capture 37:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pray instead of Protest

Dear Editor,
A few weeks ago, several groups of people banded together to “protest” the death of 4,000 of our soldiers in the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. For several weeks beforehand they watched as the numbers crept up, looking for the death that would signal the symbolic turn to 4,000.
For their protest march, which actually comprised a number of different grievances all gathered for one rally and parade, they placed little crosses in the ground to symbolize each of those lost protecting our freedom.
We support their right to gather, their right to discuss and their right to disagree; after all, it is our sons and daughters who are fighting in every corner of the globe so that they can have that right. What we find unacceptable is the group’s hijacking of our children’s service and memories to promote their protest, a protest that most of us strongly disagree with. Do they have the permission from each of the families of the fallen to use their child’s name and memory? Do they really believe that those families and those sons and daughters want their sacrifices used for propaganda that cheapens what they have given?
No one grieves more than a mother for a child who has made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, and no one has the right to cheapen or waste that sacrifice by using the deaths of our children for their propaganda. Our children are our blessings, our pride and our joy. We are the Blue Star Mothers, the proud mothers of children who have volunteered to serve our country. We have our shared memories of raising our children, we pray for them daily no matter where they are. We are the ones who wait for phone calls, letters and e-mails, and who rush to locations across the country to welcome them home, whether it is safely into our arms, for healing in a hospital or to lay them gently in the ground.
The men and women who serve are not a tool for protests. They are not a number to be discussed and argued over. They are serving a noble purpose. Those who say they support the troops but disagree with the war should change their tactics. Our children will come home when the job is done. Let’s support them to get the job done. Instead of rallies of protest, why not gather cards and letters of support, simple but necessary supplies that our troops need, food items, etc., and bring them to Blue Star Moms to send overseas. Instead of protesting on a corner, hold a car wash and use the money to purchase needed equipment in a rehab facility. Instead of signs of protest, fly signs reminding people of what you are grateful for that our country offers — that will stop traffic! Look for the similarities, not always the differences, that make us the United States of America.
Fly your flag, celebrate that all of us in America have the freedom to choose, and then, please pray for our children who have chosen to defend the freedom for all of us.

Grand Valley Blue Star Mothers, Colorado Chapter #4
Theresa Bloom,
Wendy Hoffman,
Ricki Gavell,
Karol Feltman,
Julie Dominguez,
Patricia Wheeler,
Anne Marie Boden,
Suzanne Daniels,
Sheila Decocq,
Robin Wade,
Juli Ingram,
Kathy Gosselin

Grand Junction Free Press - Letters to the Editor: "Pray instead of protest"

See also Mothers of Veterans take Exception with War protest

Friday, April 11, 2008

Soldier’s Efforts Bring Fresh Eggs to Troops

"By Army Spc. Aaron Rosencrans
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, April 11, 2008 – Through the efforts of a Multinational Division Baghdad soldier, deployed troops can once again enjoy fresh eggs as one of their breakfast options after the nutritious staple was banned from Iraq for a year."

More...DefenseLink News Article: Face of Defense: Soldier’s Efforts Bring Fresh Eggs to Troops:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Major General MacKenzie Interview on the Canadian Military and War on Terror | Mapleleafweb.com

Major General MacKenzie Interview on the Canadian Military and War on Terror Mapleleafweb.com

On the size of the Canadian Armed Forces:
Well, when you’re talking about a military – an Army in particular, which I’m more familiar with – that you can march into the Maple Leaf Gardens and tell it to sit down and there are still 3,000 empty seats. You’re talking about an infantry that is 2,000 smaller than the Toronto Police Services. You’re talking about a minuscule military that requires vision as to how it’s going to be deployed.

This is just a small sampling of what General Mackenzie shared. Make sure to head over and read the full interview.

Major General MacKenzie Interview on the Canadian Military and War on Terror | Mapleleafweb.com

Major General MacKenzie Interview on the Canadian Military and War on Terror Mapleleafweb.com

On the size of the Canadian Armed Forces:
Well, when you’re talking about a military – an Army in particular, which I’m more familiar with – that you can march into the Maple Leaf Gardens and tell it to sit down and there are still 3,000 empty seats. You’re talking about an infantry that is 2,000 smaller than the Toronto Police Services. You’re talking about a minuscule military that requires vision as to how it’s going to be deployed.

This is just a small sampling of what General Mackenzie shared. Make sure to head over and read the full interview.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A show of respect (Montrose, CO)

News : A show of respect (Montrose, CO): "MONTROSE —Military men and women stood proudly at the Montrose Regional Airport Tuesday, knuckles white as they held the American flag. As fellow soldiers walked through the terminal, they cheered and gave thanks, providing them with the welcome many past war service members never received.MONTROSE —Military men and women stood proudly at the Montrose Regional Airport Tuesday, knuckles white as they held the American flag. As fellow soldiers walked through the terminal, they cheered and gave thanks, providing them with the welcome many past war service members never received."
Member of the Blue Star Mothers Anna Boden said she’ll never forget. Her
son joined the military at 20 years old; he was welcomed home just weeks
ago.“It’s my honor to be here for them. It’s the least I can do for what they’ve
seen, been through and will go through,” she said. “There are things they’ll
live with the rest of their life, branded with nightmares. That’s why we should
support them. Whether I agree with President Bush or not, it doesn’t
"Service groups from all over the Western Slope including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Blue Star Mothers and the Patriot Guard Riders, came to show their respect Tuesday as the soldiers departed their plane. People cheered and waved American flags; they hugged, thanked and cried."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

It looks like trouble...

Right Here in River City!


At the End of the Desert...: Anti-war Protestors take to Grand Junction streets and park

BY CRYSTAL COSTASunday night, about one hundred anti-war protestors marched in Grand Junction. They left Lincoln Park at about 4:00.They made their way to protest in front of the Capco Incorporated Building. That's the company who the protestors say, locally manufactures equipment and supplies being used in the Iraq War. They say they want to shine a light on companies that are "making money while blood flows in Iraq."Before the protestors left to march, they spent the afternoon at Lincoln Park. Over 100 people were there to listen to Iraq War Veterans speak. They say they wanted their message heard loud and clear, demanding an end to the war.KJCT8.com - Grand Junction, Montrose - Weather, News, Sports Anti-war Protestors take to Grand Junction streets and park:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

82 Airborne Division All-American Chorus

virginia on Flickr - Photo Sharing!: "U.S. Army Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division's All-American Chorus sing during the USO Metro awards in Arlington, Va., March 25, 2008. The group received several standing ovations and was called back for an encore performance. DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump, U.S. Air Force. (www.army.mil)"

Monday, March 24, 2008

100 Soldiers Expected Home

"100 soldiers expected home: Flight delayed in Greenland"
About 100 paratroopers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team were expected to return to Fort Bragg late Saturday night after being delayed in Iceland.
A spokeswoman for the 82nd said the soldiers were expected to arrive at Pope Air Force Base about 11p.m.
The unit was scheduled to return to Fort Bragg on Friday morning but was delayed after pilots discovered problems with deicers on the plane’s engines.
Then the plane malfunctioned. A C-17 was sent from Europe to pick up the soldiers in Iceland and bring them home, the 82nd spokeswoman said.
Their return marks the end of the two-week return of the 2nd Brigade and the start of another large re-deployment of 82nd paratroopers.
Half of Fort Bragg’s soldiers deployed last year — including all four combat brigades from the 82nd. The majority of the division’s more than 18,000 paratroopers will be back at Fort Bragg next month.
The division headquarters and the 4th Brigade Combat Team are scheduled to return in April. The 1st Brigade Combat Team, deployed to southern Iraq, will return in the fall.
The return of the 2nd Brigade to Fort Bragg drops the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from 19 to 18. Another three brigades are scheduled to leave Iraq by July.
The unit was among the first combat units deployed to Baghdad under President Bush’s troop surge last year. Their return marks an end to the surge that has been credited with reducing violence in many parts of Iraq, especially around Sadr City.
The soldiers will not be replaced in Iraq.

More...FayObserver.com - Current Article Page:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Local Soldier Returns Home After Serving During Surge

"Since January of 2007, Private First Class Dallas Hanson's world has revolved around Iraq. Now, after spending fifteen months in Baghdad, he finally gets to come home and see his family.
"He was just mom, I gotta get down there," said Wendy Hoffman, Hanson's mother. "He would say I gotta get in the army. I know this is what I want to be doing."
Hoffman says since her son was in kindergarten, all he wanted to do was join the U.S. military.
"It's been his whole life, his dream," said Hoffman.
And it's a dream he had to fight for. Hanson is an American-Canadian dual citizen. As such, it took three years before the U.S. Army would accept him. When they finally did, he says he couldn't have been any happier.
"I've gotta say it's been everything I expected," said Hanson.
Just months after enlisting, Hanson learned that his unit would be one of the first to go to Iraq as part of the troop surge ordered by President Bush. When he got there, he says it was unlike anything he'd ever experienced.
"It's difficult," said Hanson. "It's completely different from anything you see around here."
It wasn't much easier on his family. In Baghdad, Hanson's time was spent working as a tower guard and patrolling the streets with Iraqi police.
"That sense of fear, the dread is there all the time," said Hoffman.
But a few weeks ago, Hoffman got the call that put her fears to rest. She found out her son was coming home.
"It was a real sense of relief and it's like okay, he's back," said Hoffman.
For Hanson, the big welcome home was just what he needed.
"Being back here with my family is just incredible," said Hanson.
Although he has to report back to his post in North Carolina early next week, Hanson says he's looking forward to a quiet weekend at home.
"I'm going to relax and enjoy Grand Junction," said Hanson."

Local Soldier Returns Home After Serving During Surge:

Coming home: Last of first Iraq surge unit

"FORT BRAGG - The final planeload of soldiers from the first unit called to Iraq as part of the troop surge last winter is expected back in North Carolina this morning."

Their mission was to boost security in several Baghdad neighborhoods. The
brigade's soldiers captured 1,200 suspected criminals and insurgents in one
neighborhood and cut violent attacks in another by 97 percent, according to Army
statistics. It also spent more than $30 million dollars on reconstruction
projects and renovated nearly 50 schools.

More... newsobserver.com Coming home: Last of first Iraq surge unit:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gen. Petraeus' View Of Battleground Iraq

"I think everybody recognizes that there has been progress in the security arena over the course of the last six to eight months," but no one, Gen. David Petraeus said, is celebrating. "The progress in Iraq is fragile, it is tenuous. There's an enormous amount of hard work to be done to solidify the gains, to build on them, while there is a draw-down of over one quarter of our combat forces." Five of 20 Brigade Combat Teams - a Marine Expeditionary Unit and two Marine battalions - are scheduled to leave by July. Already, two Army brigades have departed Iraq, one based in Diyala province, the other in Baghdad.

The withdrawals are a test.

'They always leave some gap... that has to be filled. Obviously, we have to thin out in certain areas to accommodate that withdrawal,' Petraeus said, referring to the recent departure of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. At the same time, 'al Qaeda remains a very lethal enemy... capable of lashing out at any given time.'"

More...Gen. Petraeus' View Of Battleground Iraq, Top U.S. Commander Tells Cami McCormick Why Progress Isn't Yet Cause For Celebration - CBS News:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Shower at Dallas!

Click HERE to view the shower they give the troops landing in Dallas Airport -- even when its raining!

Troop homecoming: A surge of emotions

They have been in the country since January 2007. Their return marks an end to the surge that has been credited with reducing violence in many parts of Iraq, especially around Sadr City.
Col. Stephen R. Lyons, the acting commander of the 82nd, told the paratroopers that what they did will some day appear in history books. The 2nd Brigade controlled several neighborhoods in the western part of the capital along the Tigris River.
The area includes parts of the city run by the Mahdi Army, the militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr that has been blamed for much of the Shiite-on-Sunni violence in Baghdad.
“You took the toughest section of Baghdad and turned it around,” Lyons said.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Welcome Home Wuffy!

I would have loved to have been there but I feel honored that I had two Blue Star Mothers to stand in for me and give you a great big welcome home. We're all proud of you! And glad to have you home safely. God speed all the 82nd on their travels home. BTW -- hows the rabbit?
And a huge thank you to Barb and Patti.

82nd returns home from Baghdad 3/12/08

"FORT BRAGG (WTVD) -- About 350 members of the 82nd Airborne Division are returning home to their families. The members of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment have spent the past 15 months fighting in Baghdad.Families waited for their loved ones to return from combat at Fort Bragg Wednesday morning.
It was a proud moment for Staff Sergeant Kenneth Butler. He lost his arm fighting in Iraq.
He is a member of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was at the homecoming to welcome his friends home.
"Ah, it's a great relief just knowing that they've come back safe and they're all home together again with their families where they belong," Butler said.
The homecomings are especially special to many of the families.
Sergeant Robert Burnett missed the birth of his child by one month. He said today was the first time he heard his daughter cry in person.
"[I] heard it on the phone but never in person," Burnett said. "It's wonderful. It's a good feeling."
PFC Linwood Battle's mother, Darlene Battle, said her son's deployment was hard for her.
"I'm glad he's home. I didn't cry when he left but I cried when he got back," she said. "So he's safe. I can breathe now."
Another couple of hundred solders are expected to turn to Fort Bragg Wednesday night. In all, about 2,000 members of the 82nd will be home before the end of the month.
(Copyright ©2008 WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.) "

abc11.com: 82nd returns home from Baghdad 3/12/08:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Military Officials in Iraq Praise Soldiers of Redeploying 'Surge' Brigade

"Published 03/10/2008 - 1:33 a.m. GMT (PressMediaWire) WASHINGTON, March 9, 2008 - A military spokesman in Iraq today praised soldiers of an Army brigade that will soon redeploy to the U.S. and mark the first reduction in the number of surge forces sent to stabilize Iraq last year.
Multinational Force Iraq officials announced March 6 that some 2,000 paratroopers from the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, will return to Fort Bragg, N.C., in the next several weeks, reducing the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from 19 to 18."

..."During a news conference today in Baghdad, Smith told reporters that Iraqi security forces and citizens capitalized on efforts the 2nd Brigade paratroopers made over their 15-month deployment. In that time, he said, 125,000 Iraqis joined military or police ranks, and some 90,000 citizens enrolled in volunteer groups. "

..."The 2nd Brigade paratroopers, known as "Falcon Soldiers," established two of the first combat outposts in Baghdad, said Army Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, commander of Multinational Division Baghdad. As a result, attacks in Adhamiyah, a northeast suburb of the Iraqi capital, decreased from 465 to 15 per month since December 2006. "Falcon Soldiers spent $30 million on reconstruction projects including renovation of schools, generators, water pump repair, trash pickup and micro-loans, revitalizing markets (and) making life better and safer for the residents of northeast Baghdad," Hammond is quoted as saying in a March 6 Multinational Force Iraq news release. "

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Easter greetings to the Troops

Mesa Mall sponsored an event for the Blue Star Mothers at the mall this morning. It was the first day of the mall Easter Bunny photo promotion and as a special gift for military families we had an early bird event. With the help of Blue Star Mothers and the VA hospital we rounded up some of our local families for the event.

It started with a continental breakfast and then goodie bags were handed out. After an easter egg hunt, the Easter Bunny arrived and all the kids, big and little, lined up for photos. The mall provided each child with a free 5x7 photo and a disk with the photo on it so they could share the day with their loved one in the combat zone.

Now, in most cases this involved kids sending photos to their absent parent but, as one of the Blue Star Moms involved in the event, I'm doing it the other way around. Here you go kiddo! I did this for you!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

U.S. military says 2,000 troops leaving Iraq | Reuters

U.S. military says 2,000 troops leaving Iraq Reuters: "By Michael Holden

BAGHDAD, March 6 (Reuters) - Some 2,000 U.S. soldiers are being withdrawn from Baghdad as part of a planned reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq, the U.S. military said on Thursday.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was part of the extra 30,000 soldiers sent last year to stop savage sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims that had threatened to tip the country into a civil war.

"I can state that (they) are leaving and there is no replacement brigade combat team coming in," U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Stover told Reuters.Since the 30,000 troops became fully deployed in mid-2007, violence has dropped by 60 percent, prompting General David Petraeus, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, to announce that five of 20 brigades would be pulled out by July 2008.There are more than 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, with about 34,500 deployed in the Iraqi capital.

The drawdown is expected to cut the overall total by about 20,000.Last November, the first brigade, totalling about 3,000 soldiers, was sent home from Iraq without being replaced.Stover said the 2,000 soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team based in northeast Baghdad were also in the process of returning home after a 15-month tour. They included support and service staff as well as combat troops.For operational reasons he could not say whether other U.S. soldiers or Iraqi forces would fill the gap left by the departing brigade.But there were plans to withdraw another brigade from the Baghdad area as part of the planned cutback, he said, giving no details of when that would take place.

"Plans are fluid," he said. "The (U.S. military's intent) is not to give back any part of the city that our soldiers have paid a high price for."Baghdad was the epicentre of a wave of sectarian violence that swept Iraq after the February 2006 bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in Samarra, killing tens of thousands and displacing hundreds of thousands of more.Employing a new counter-insurgency strategy to reduce the violence, U.S. forces moved out of large bases and set up patrol bases in neighbourhoods, making them more vulnerable to attack.

U.S. forces suffered their highest number of casualties in 2007.Petraeus and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates have said there should be a pause after the planned drawdown is completed in mid-2008 to assess the situation. That would leave about 140,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

On Wednesday, Major-General Mark Hertling, commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, warned that further troop withdrawals would have to be halted unless Iraqi authorities moved faster to create jobs and improve basic services over the next six months. (Editing by Ross Colvin)"

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Troop Drawdown Resumes With Army Unit

World news Feed Article World news :
AP Military Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - An Army paratrooper unit that led the U.S. troop surge into Baghdad last year is returning home, marking a resumption of a troop drawdown that will test the durability of recent security gains.
The drawdown began last December with the departure of one brigade, numbering about 5,000 troops, dropping the overall U.S. troop level in Iraq to 158,000. A three-month lull was built into the drawdown plan, during which commanders saw insurgent violence shift from Baghdad to northern Iraq.
Although it has not yet been publicly announced, a senior military official told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the 2nd brigade, 82nd Airborne Division is heading back to Fort Bragg, N.C., in coming days and will not be replaced in the rotation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the movements are not completed."

Monday, March 03, 2008

Lyric: If I Die Before You Wake

"If I die before you wake...

Back home now I know you're probably sleepin'
Over here it's the middle of the day
I finally found the time to write a letter
Sittin' here a half a world away"

Lyric: If I Die Before You Wake:


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuition waivers for combat vets get committee approval

In Oklahoma.......
"City_Press Release_Oklahoma's military combat veterans and their families would receive full college tuition waivers under legislation approved by a House subcommittee today.
House Bill 2896, by state Rep. Richard Morrissettee, would provide full resident tuition-and-fee waivers to members of the military who have served at least one tour of active duty in a combat zone with any military branch as part of the Global War on Terror. Spouses and children of those veterans would also be covered by the bill, which also provides for reimbursement for housing costs and textbooks."
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Sunday, February 24, 2008

PHOTOS: Outpost grooming

"COP APACHE, Iraq - Sgt. Niven Williams, a Tuscon, Ariz., native, has his hair cut at Combat Outpost Apache Feb. 21. A local national comes to the COP to assist the Soldiers in keeping their military appearance. Williams serves as a team leader with Company D, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, currently attached to 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, which is attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad."
PHOTOS: Outpost grooming:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Iraq Surge Provides Window of Opportunity

"Chairman: Iraq Surge Provides Window of Opportunity
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2008 – The surge in Iraq is providing a window of opportunity for other necessary developments in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told military analysts in the Pentagon today.
Mullen spoke about his priorities and the short-term and long-term challenges facing the military."

more...DefenseLink News Article: Chairman: Iraq Surge Provides Window of Opportunity:

Friday, February 15, 2008

U.S-Iraqi partnership helps breed security

Stars and Stripes: U.S-Iraqi partnership helps breed security: "U.S-Iraqi partnership helps breed security
By James Warden, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Iraqi soldiers reported the tip, the 1-504 soldiers investigated and
explosive ordnance personnel were called in to clear the home.

A year or two ago, Iraqi security forces or their partners in the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment might have entered a dangerous east Baghdad home without knowing the danger that awaited.
But when U.S. soldiers went to a home at about 10:50 a.m. Monday morning, the growing partnership with the Iraqis helped them avoid no less than 11 bombs that insurgents had rigged to catch the soldiers unawares.
The Iraqi forces received a tip that the house in Baghdad’s Rusafa Security District had been rigged, said Capt. Warren Withrow, an intelligence officer with 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, the Fort Benning, Ga., unit to which the 504th PIR soldiers are attached."

Special Groups behind Sadr City bombing

"With Muqtada al Sadr's decision to reinstate or drop the self-imposed cease-fire less than nine days away, Multinational Forces Iraq continues to turn up the heat on the Iranian-backed and Sadr-linked Special Groups terror cells. US and Iraqi forces have conducted multiple raids on the terror cells over the past three days throughout central Iraq, continuing the trend that started on Feb. 4. Yesterday's explosion in Sadr City also has been linked to the Special Groups.
The explosion yesterday near an open-air market in Sadr City, which caused the deaths of two Iraqis and wounded 25, was initially thought to be caused by a car bomb attack. But the US Military issued a second press release linking the explosion to the Special Groups."

Since Feb. 12, Multinational Forces Iraq has reported eight raids on Special Groups cells and their weapons caches. During these raids, which were conducted between Feb. 8 and Feb. 12, thirty-one Special Groups operatives, including three cell leaders, were captured. Fourteen explosively formed penetrators, the powerfully deadly EFPs, were seized along with explosives, bomb making material, and weapons. In the recent actions:
• US troops received a tip from a Sons of Iraq fighter (formerly the Concerned Local Citizens) on the location of a large EFP and weapons cache in the town of Jurf Nadaf on Feb. 8
.• US troops captured a cell leader involved in IED and small-arms attacks on US and Iraqi forces in Hurriya on Feb. 10.
• US soldiers captured 25 Special Groups fighters during a series of operations in the Sabak Sur, a neighborhood in northeast Baghdad, on Feb. 11. This is "an area that has recently emerged as a safe haven for Special Groups," Multinational Forces Iraq reported.
• US troops captured a Special Groups cell leader involved in improvised explosive device (IED), EFP, small arms and rocket attacks in the Rashid district of Baghdad on Feb. 11.
• Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured a Special Groups cell leader responsible for IED, EFP, rocket, and mortar attacks against Iraqi and Coalition Forces on Feb. 11.
• US soldiers received a tip from an Iraqi on the location of an EFP and explosives cache in Baghdad on Feb. 11.
• Special Forces arrested a security guard of a Sadrist member of parliament in Hillah on Feb. 12.
• Coalition forces detained two Special Groups operatives in the Suwayrah area on Feb. 12.

More...Special Groups behind Sadr City bombing - The Long War Journal:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Iraq blast kills Alamogordo soldier

Sgt. Caleb Martin of Grants injured in the blast that killed Sgt. Gary Willet

"ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The Pentagon says another New Mexico soldier was killed in Iraq in the same incident that wounded a Grants GI.
Sergeant Gary Willet, 34, of Alamogordo died last Friday when a roadside bomb hit his armored vehicle in the city of Taji.
The same bomb wounded Sgt. Caleb Martin, 22, of Grants. In all four soldiers died and seven were wounded by the blast that destroyed the vehicle.
The Pentagon today identified the other three who were killed as Spc. Michael T. Manibog, 31, of Alameda, Calif., Sgt. Timothy P. Martin, 27, of Pixley, Calif., and Staff Sgt. Jerald A. Whisenhunt, 32, of Orrick, Mo.
The soldiers were members of the Army's 25th Infantry Division based in Hawaii.
KRQE Web Producer: Bill Diven"

KRQE - Albuquerque, New Mexico - News, Video, Weather Forecast, Sports, Community, Health, Homes KBIM - KREZ Iraq blast kills Alamogordo soldier: