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 - 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. ("

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. - 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... 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.) " 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: