Friday, March 30, 2007

Soldiers' Angels Texas: In the News

Soldiers’ Angels recently donated $1,000.00 as well as many comfort items and phone cards to the Sam Rayburn Memorial Veterans Center in Bonham. Martha S. Neyman from Sherman and Twyla Choate from Plano, representing Soldiers’ Angels, presented two $500 donations to Daniel K. Heers, Operations Manager.

- May no soldier go unloved

Monday, March 26, 2007

From the Forums: Urgent Need!

In the forums we have an Angel Challenge. An OIF veteran and family are in need of direct, cash assistance to sustain. We are calling for assistance from the greater Angel and military blog community. The challenge is $10.00 (or more) donation from 100 (or more). We have appx 30 in the forum as of this posting.

Part of the story:

SGT O. (age 41) is an E-5 who has a blended family of five children (ages 17, 11, 9, 6, and 2) and his sixth child is due in early August. His wife doesn’t work due to the large family and a high-risk pregnancy (she is 41). SGT O. has been deployed to combat zones four different times (first time was in 1991 for Persian Gulf War, and the last two have been to Iraq). He is being treated for PTSD, Chronic Type,[snip]

He was in situations where he was fired at and had to fire back. He often had to clean blood and human matter out of damaged vehicles, and subsequently developed more serious symptoms

As you might understand, the family is in serious financial straits. We are looking to provide them with enough cash to sustain for at least two months and put a down payment on a vehicle that will carry the entire family.

We need your help.

Please donate to Soldiers' Angels via Pay Pal. Put "Sgt. O" in the note section for your donation.

Or, you can mail a check or money order to Soldiers' Angels at:

Soldiers Angels
1792 E. Washington Blvd
Pasadena, Ca 91104

Note in the memo section: Sgt. O

Soldiers' Angels thanks you for your support.

- May no soldier go unloved

Angels Through the Eyes of Kids

I only know the names of two angels — "Hark" and "Harold" ...
Gregory, Age 5

All angels are girls because they gotta wear dresses and boys didn't go for it.
Antonia, Age 9

My guardian angel helps me with math, but he's not much good for science.
Henry, Age 8

What I don't get about angels is why, when someone is in love, they shoot arrows at them.
Sarah, Age 7

Angels don't eat but they drink milk from holy cows.
Jack, Age 6

Angels work for God and watch over kids whenever He has to go do something else.
Mitchell, Age 7

Angels live in cloud houses made by God's son, who's a very good carpenter.
Jared, Age 8

I hear angels all the time in my dreams. And I'm sticking with that no matter how many people tell me I'm crazy.
Molly, Age 8

When an angel gets mad, he takes a deep breath and counts to ten. And when he lets out his breath, somewhere there's a tornado.
Regan, Age 10

Angels have a lot to do and they keep very busy. If you lose a tooth, an angel comes in through your window and leaves money under your pillow. Then when it gets cold, angels go north for the winter.
Sara, Age 6

It's not easy to become an angel! First, you die. Then you go to heaven, then there's still the flight training to go through. And then you got to agree to wear those angel clothes.
Matthew, Age 9

My angel is my grandma who died last year. She got a big head start on helping me while she was still down here on earth.
Katelyn, Age 9

Everybody's got it all wrong. Angels don't wear halos anymore. I forget why but scientists are working on it.
Olive, Age 9

Some of the angels are in charge of helping heal sick animals and pets. And if they don't make the animals get better, they help the kid get over it.
Vicki, Age 8

Angels talk all the way while they're flying you up to heaven. The basic message is where you went wrong before you got dead.
Daniel, Age 9

- May no soldier go unloved

Soldiers' Angels Germany: St Patrick's Day

While we were busy with our own St. Patrick's Day, Soldiers' Angel in Europe threw a St. Patrick's Day party for our wounded.

More photos here.

One of the photos references "Achim" who is a German soldier in the Bundeswehr (German Army) who volunteers his time. A big thank you to him and all the European Soldiers' Angels.

- May no soldier go unloved

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Shawn Hlookoff and "Soldier"

A message received by Soldiers' Angels from John Graham, manager of Shawn Hlookoff who partnered with Soldiers' Angels to distribute the song "Soldier".

Dear Angels,

My name is John Graham and I manage Shawn Hlookoff. We are working together with all of you to present the song and video "Soldier" to every soldier, school and student in the country for use for Memorial Day ( To date the work that Shelle and Patti have done along with my group has resulted in e-mails to over 200,000 teachers and on average 30000 downloads of the free DVD a day (and growing).

The purpose is to help student understand the meaning of Memorial Day through contemporary images and song.

We could not imagine being any luckier than we are to have been able to join together with the nations premier soldier support group.....I can't imagine a better group of people to work with. I applaud you.

We also want to thank you for the work you do (outside of our joint effort) it is truly needed in this day and age. If you have not seen the video please take a moment to view it. If you like what you see, feel free to use it or pass it along via e-mail to any local school, overseas and home-based soldier or any friend (we need as much help as there is). We have done this for you and your cause.

If there is anything I can do for you please do not hesitate to ask...

.......I thank you all.

John Graham

You can find the video here
- May no soldier go unloved

Supporting the Troops: Casual Cruelty

Reading in the forums, an Angel says that a special "Support the Troops" magnet was destroyed by vandals:

Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:16 PM

I went to Wal-Mart today and when I came back out to my truck someone had taken my camo support the troops magnet off my truck tore(or cut it)pieces and then left it on my windshield. Why would they do this? You can't fidn the camo magnets down here anymore. I'm just irritated. It wasn't hurting anyone and it didn't belong to them. Why were they touching my truck anyway?

This is from Mandy in Texas. It just goes to show that no state has the market cornered on idiots or supporting our troops. Mandy went on to say that she asked Wal-Mart to check their cameras and they said nothing showed (of course, the Wal-Mart manager there probably just didn't want to take the time to look over something so "minor". The magnet wasn't just any magnet:

I'm telling you I cried because a very special veteran who is no longer with us gave it to me.

This just happened today. This is what our society of spoiled people do who cannot conceive of sacrifice nor comprehend it will be given, even without their gratitude.

Another Angel told her story:

I feel your anger...Some people are so cruel. They don't have a clue as to what these things mean to us.

One afternoon I was rocking one of my grandsons, who was asleep, sitting by my front window. Two teenage girls were walking down the street, I had my car parked on the street. And I watched in horror as they did the same thing to my magnet and then high fived each other and walked on. It's a good thing I was holding Caleb or no telling what would have happened. My son was in Iraq at the time and I was already on edge....

I am almost in tears for you. It's only a little magnet, but your friend gave it to you. Prayers for you...Vickie

Someday, in the future, people will forget or pretend these casual cruelties occured. They will act as if these were all myths from a time of a divided nation. Just as many have tried to debunk the "myth" of the cruelty visited on our returning men and women from Vietnam. The assaults, the spitting, the cruel names, the calls to family members telling them their son or daughter is dead. All of these things occur too commonly and with cruel casualty.

In the future, people will pretend that they never did any such thing, that their opposition to the war was principled and reasonable.

So, I write this down for posterity. Remember it and remember that this is why, we who support the troops, continue our mission, no matter what people say or what congress does because our men and women continue their mission.

- May no soldier go unloved
Soldiers Angels

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Camouflage For the Soldier At Home

What to wear when your wife wants you to do a "Honey Do"

- May no soldier go unloved

Rocks and Dirt

Via Thunder Run- Robert Stokely on the Little Things:

People think I am strange, some even think I might have lost my mind, especially since Mike died. They really look at me strange when it comes to my affection for rocks and dirt. But maybe they think so because they don't see it the way I do.

The Bible talks about God forming man out of the clay of the earth and that our bodies will return unto the earth when we die. David slew Goliath with a small, smooth rock, and the Romans attempted to seal the tomb of Jesus with a large stone. Pharoahs are buried in stone pyramids, and in times past, streets of the early towns of America were paved with "Belgium Blocks" - blocks loaded aboard sailing vessels in Europe to provide ballast during the return trip to America. Gold and Diamonds are just a few of the precious rocks man seeks, even to this day, and let us not forget that the difference between a well fed nation and one that starves is fertile soil.

But for me, it comes down to personal that are real experiences in my life. I like to tell stories about Mike growing up because he was so much fun to be around, and it was not a question of if, but when (an usually quite often) he would do or say somethng to make you laugh. He was full of life every waking moment. When he was three, he and I were spending the night with Momma Chris and Daddy Jim Overton. They were "my other mom and dad" and Mike got his middle name from Daddy Jim - "James".

Daddy Jim loved to cook, especially breakfast on the weekend. Mike and I spent the night there a lot qnd one Saturday morning, Daddy Jim fixed waffles and decided to add pecans to the batter. Mike, then 3, sat at a little table in the corner of the kitchen. I took the first waffle off the iron, buttered and cut it up and coated it with syrup - just the way he liked it. He dug in, but suddenly, and indiscrimantly, spit it out with a disdainful exclamation "PHOOEEE - dese things got rocks in em' !!" After we got through laughing till we cried, Daddy Jim and I tried to convince him it was o.k., they didn't have rocks, just pecans. He would have none of it and we had to fix him a waffle without "rocks". He was suspect of anything in his waffles after that.

When our family left Mike at Ft. Stewart GA after the departure ceremony for Iraq, May 14, 2005, I carried away a baggie of sand from where we last stood and embraced in a bear hug of love, as it turned out, for the last time. When we buried Mike on August 27, 2005, I placed a rose with a note telling him I loved him on his casket and kissed it one last time before they sealed his vault. As I walked away, I carefully knelt, scooped up some dirt from his grave and place it the tissue that held my tears. Such is in a drawer I open every morning when I get dressed, and I take a moment to remember, and touch the baggies.In the weeks and months after that, it became an urgency to have a small rock and some sand from the place where he died. I shared that with contacts here and in Iraq. One day, a manilla envelope arrived post marked APO Baghdad. It contained a note saying "from where Mike died" and two baggies, one with sand and one with a few small rocks. It is still a life mission that I go to that spot where Mike died and kneel with respect and touch that ground where he fell. God willing, I shall, no matter how old I might be.

In the last few weeks, I have driven hard to help get rocks for Marcia Kincaid, mother of fallen hero PFC Kenneth "Aaron" Kincaid. Marica is working feverishly on a memorial rock garden in honor of Aaron in her back yard. She wants to have a rock from all 50 states and any other country somebody can get for her. Just a simple rock (grapefruit size preferably, two if you can). She wants to have the garden complete and ready to dedicate by April 1 - Aaron's Birthday. We have ten days and she still needs some rocks - Oklahoma, Deleware, Maryland, DC, North Dakota and Alaska.

Rocks are cheap and priority postage isn't that much, compared to what she has given. My address is 100 Fountainhead Way, Sharpsburg GA 30277 (No need to keep this secret - I am too easy to find anyway). If you want to help, and don't worry if we get more than one from each place, please do so. Be sure to put a note in there so Marcia will know who sent it and can write you back.

Today, someone asked me why this is so important to me.

It just is.

Robert Stokely
proud dad SGT Mike Stokely
KIA 16 Aug 05 near Yusufiyah south of Baghdad

and proud to the dad of Wes and Abbey Stokely

- May no soldier go unloved

USS Jason Dunham

Dan and Debbie Dunham hold a portrait of their son, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, on the back porch of their home in Scio, N.Y., Nov. 15, 2006. Navy Secretary Donald Winter formally announced on Friday, March 23, 2007, that the Navy will name its next destroyer the USS Jason Dunham for the Marine corporal who died after throwing himself on a grenade to save at least two lives during a struggle with an Iraqi insurgent three years ago. (AP Photo/Don Heupe, Filel)

Cpl Jason Dunham lost his life while struggling in hand to hand combat with the enemy.

(CNN) -- President Bush announced on Friday that the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military decoration, will be awarded posthumously to Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham.

In April 2004, Dunham was leading a patrol in an Iraqi town near the Syrian border when the patrol stopped a convoy of cars leaving the scene of an attack on a Marine convoy, according to military and media accounts of the action.

An occupant of one of the cars attacked Dunham and the two fought hand to hand. As they fought, Dunham yelled to fellow Marines, "No, no watch his hand." The attacker then dropped a grenade and Dunham hurled himself on top of it, using his helmet to try to blunt the force of the blast.

Still, Dunham was critically wounded in the explosion and died eight days later at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.

"As long as we have Marines like Corporal Dunham, America will never fear for her liberty," Bush said Friday as he announced that Dunham would receive the award. Bush spoke at the dedication of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia. (Watch announcement of award at museum -- 1:27)

"His was a selfless act of courage to save his fellow Marines," Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Huff of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, was quoted as saying in Marine Corps News that April.

"He knew what he was doing," Lance Cpl. Jason A. Sanders, 21, of McAllester, Oklahoma, who was in Dunham's company, was quoted as saying by Marine Corps News. "He wanted to save Marines' lives from that grenade."

In various media accounts, fellow Marines told how Dunham had extended his enlistment shortly before he died so he could help his comrades.

"We told him he was crazy for coming out here," Lance Cpl. Mark E. Dean, 22, from Owasso, Oklahoma, said in Marine Corps News. "He decided to come out here and fight with us. All he wanted was to make sure his boys made it back home."

"He loved his country, believed in his mission, and wanted to stay with his fellow Marines and see the job through," Vice President Dick Cheney said when speaking of Dunham's heroism at a Disabled American Veterans conference in July 2004.

On Jan 20, 2007, he joined Sgt Paul Ray Smith as a Medal of Honor recipient (video here - life of a hero)in the Global War on Terror.

Acknowledging all service members afterward, the father said "Their names are all attached to this medal. They're all courageous. They all have valor. It's something that I want them all to know: They're part of this medal. It's as much theirs as it is Jason's."

Wall Street Journal reporter Michael M. Phillips, who covered the war in Iraq alongside Dunham's unit, also attended the ceremony. Phillips first introduced Dunham's story to a mass audience with a front-page article published May 25, 2004. He later wrote the unabridged story in "The Gift of Valor; A War Story," which narrates Jason's life and death, from growing up in Scio, to giving his life in service to country, to an eight-day journey home battling his wounds.

On April 14, 2004, in Iraq near the Syrian border, the corporal used his helmet and his body to smother an exploding Mills Bomb let loose by a raging insurgent whom Dunham and two other Marines tried to subdue.

The explosion dazed and wounded Lance Cpl. William Hampton and Pfc. Kelly Miller. The insurgent stood up after the blast and was immediately killed by Marine small-arms fire.

Semper Fi!

- May no soldier go unloved
Soldiers' Angels

Friday, March 23, 2007

Teenage British Army Medic Becomes First Woman to be Awarded Military Cross (England)

A teenage army medic has become the first woman to be awarded the Military Cross, one of the highest honours for gallantry in combat.

Private Michelle Norris braved a hail of sniper and machine-gun fire from 200 insurgents during a pitched battle in southern Iraq in order to give lifesaving treatment to a wounded comrade.

Ignoring the bullets ricocheting around her - one blasting through her rucksack - the young medic clambered on top of an armoured vehicle to help her injured commander.

It was the first time she had been confronted with a casualty on the battlefield.

Read the rest at Soldiers' Angels Europe.

- May no soldier go unloved

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Soldiers' Angels Kansas City and Talking With Heroes

Very exciting news! Bob Calvert contacted Soldiers' Angels in Kansas City to ask us if we would participate with Talking With Heroes.

Talking With Heroes is coming to the KC area May 4.
The event will take place May 4th from 4:00 PM until 6:00 as far as the offcial program goes, but he has the facility until 10:00 PM. It will be held at the Activity Center at Indian Creek Community Church in Olathe, KS which holds 350 people I will look up the address but he said it was 119th and Blackbobish.

Bob Calvert the founder and host, plans to open with a video presentation with some footage of his two recent trips to Iraq, the actual interviews would take place from 5:00-6:00 PM.

He is going to interview a few people involved with troop support in Kansas City. The great thing is, we'll be able to have a booth and invite people to join our organization.

We will be able to set up an informational booth (can you say Poker Run Registration Forms?), there will be another military support group called HUGS there as well and they will be interviewed too.

Bob is looking for sponsors in the Kansas City area. Information on sponosrhsips are available here: Sponsorship levels.

We are looking forward to bringing this fantastic program to Kansas City and let more people in Kansas City know about the great men and women who are serving our country.

- May no soldier go unloved
Join Soldiers' Angels and help us support our great men and women in uniform.

Thank You! From Afghanistan

From a deployed service-member, heartfelt thanks to Soldiers’ Angels

In the waning days of my year-long deployment to Afghanistan, I have begun to reflect on the things that have made a huge difference to me during my tour.

When I started this journey to Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I would be wearing body armor and carrying around an M-16. As a Sailor, I was nervous about what I had gotten myself into. As a service member, I knew that it was my time to answer my nations call. Whatever was needed of me, I would do it.

After getting over the initial shock of being over here, I discovered the America Supports You campaign. I was amazed by how much love and heartfelt gratitude my fellow Americans had for all of us deployed personnel.

After a little web-surfing, I happened on the Soldiers’ Angels network. Little did I know at the time when I put my name in for it what a profound impact SA would have on me and my troops serving “over there”.

Within weeks, I was flooded by countless postcards, letters, care packages, and emails from ordinary, extraordinary Americans who were genuinely concerned about how I was doing. Was I getting enough to eat? Am I cool or warm enough? Do I have a special treat that would make life a little easier? Where was I from?

I was taken aback by so many new friends who were honestly concerned for my well-being and of the troops around me. I was shocked and awed to say the least.

We all get homesick and depressed being on the other side of the planet, not knowing if today was going to be our last day. Whenever I felt a little down in the dumps, I always had an Angel to turn to who lifted my spirits. My Angels were there when I needed them the most, when I felt like there was no one in the world understood what I was going through.

When I was first adopted by what seemed to be every Angel in the network, I endeavored to respond to ever person who wrote to me. I did my best, but there were so many people that cared that I quickly began losing massive amounts of sleep because I was “just trying to get in one last card before turning in”.

I just couldn’t respond to everyone. As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t do my job and be a one-man letter writing campaign also.

I sent out over 230 Christmas cards last year, and I know that I missed a whole bunch of Angels who had corresponded with me. I hate it that I missed some Angels, but I did everything I could to write to everyone who had supported me.

If you didn’t get a card or letter from me, I sincerely apologize. I do hope that each and every one of you understands that there are sometimes not enough hours in the day to do anything but your job and sleep when you can find the time.

With only about thirty days to go until I start heading home, I’m now training the young men and women to do the job that I’ve done for the past 11 months. I hope that they listen to my tips and tricks to keep them safe. Most of all, I hope they take a little time out of their day to understand how much love their fellow Americans have for them.

From the deepest recesses of my heart, I want to personally thank each and every Angel. We couldn’t do what we have to do without having you there beside us, each and every step of the way.

You are all your heroes, heroes.

With warm regards,
Petty Officer First Class Matthew
Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Afghanistan

- May no soldier go unloved
Soldiers' Angels

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wednesday Heroes

This Weeks Soldier Was Suggested By Jenn

Capt. Alan B. Rowe
Capt. Alan B. Rowe
35 years old from Hagerman, Idaho
1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
September 3, 2004

The Perfect Marine. That's how many describe Capt. Alan B. Rowe. Respected and dedicated to the Corps and still able to be a husband and father.

Rowe, who was on his fourth deployment since joining the Corps in 1985, died with two other Marines, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Wilt, 23, of Tampa, Florida, and 1st Lt. Ronald Winchester, 25, of Rockville Center, N.Y., when a remote-controlled explosive device detonated as they returned to their vehicle after inspecting a bridge in Anbar province, near the Syrian border.

"He was a quiet, humble person and extremely polite," his widow, Dawn, recalled from their early days of dating. "He was a traditional type of gentleman. My mom was surprised to meet such a ... perfect-picture Marine." "He did a great job balancing a pretty intense Marine Corps career with also being a great husband and father. He worked extremely hard to balance it." "He was so dedicated to the Marine Corps. He was really driven and believed in what he did. He was a MarineĆ¢€™s Marine. Tall, blond and fit. Kind of the mental image you think of when you think of the Marine Corps."

A week after his death, Capt. Rowe was posthumously promoted to major. He leaves behind his wife and two children.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. If you would like to participate in honoring the brave men and women who serve this great country, you can find out how by going here.

Army Sergeant saves two ANP with quick response

We talk a lot in this culture about heroes and for some reason we think professional athletes are heroes, rock stars are heroes, and movie stars are heroes. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a hero.” That is how one lieutenant described Sgt. Taylor, because Taylor’s modesty would surely prevent him from ever describing himself as a “hero.”

On Feb. 22, 2006, Taylor and his intelligence team headed out to search for roadside bombs in a volatile region of Afghanistan. They had received word that a bomb had exploded in the area the night before, so his team – a combination of Afghan national police officers, Army intelligence personnel, and U.S. military police – planned to gather any information and evidence about the explosion. By studying the bomb’s components, they might be able to determine who manufactured it – and how to protect against similar devices in the future.

They climbed to the top of a ridge to scout the valley below, where the bomb was supposed to be. There were no civilians in sight, which instantly put Taylor on alert. The wooden box supposedly holding the shards of the bomb drew the team’s attention. Yet, instead of pieces of an exploded bomb, the box held a receiver for an anti-tank landmine – and a large rocket. Having hardly any time to think, Taylor grabbed the two Afghan police officers near him and jumped on top of them in a ditch, just as the weapon exploded. The flying shrapnel found its mark with Taylor – but his body armor protected him from serious injury. The Afghans had been wearing only flannel shirts, and so were saved by Taylor’s split-second decision. For his actions, he was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” on Jan. 6, 2007.

Marine saves 10

The Purple Heart on Kent Padmore's chest isn't for the shrapnel from an enemy rocket-propelled grenade that tore a cheek-to-cheek gash across his face. That wound was never documented; Padmore fixed it himself with a liquid suture in the rearview mirror of his Humvee.

Padmore, a Marine reservist, works in civilian life as a City of Miami Fire-Rescue Department emergency medical technician, so he knew what to do. He patched himself up because he didn't want to steal precious time from the corpsmen in his unit, who were busy treating more seriously wounded Marines. Instead, the Purple Heart he wears is for the second-degree burns on his hands and arms he suffered while dragging 10 Marines out of the burning wreckage of a 7-ton truck on June 23, 2005.

Read the rest here

- May no soldier go unloved

Help support these brave men and women by joining Soldiers' Angels

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Baghdad is Burning, Kurdistan Rises from the Ashes

A highly recommended read over at Michael Totten who is currently in Kurdistan (Kurdish Iraq). One of the major, yet barely covered, success of Iraq is the Kurdish north where every day is a day to build, to grow and become the jewel of Iraq.

As Michael's friend and guide put it, "There are no terrorists here." And very few American soldiers. Largely because the Peshmerga (Kurdish Military) and the Kurdish Security Organizations operate a strict, visible, yet relatively unobtrusive, operation. No one comes to Kurdistan without them knowing. No one comes without a strict security overview and several vouchers. While Kurdistan is largely Sunni, they want nothing to do with the Arab terrorists.

Michael has been to Kurdistan last year and he shows, through pictures and interviews, how much has changed and improved even since then.

As he drove us into the city I felt none of the fear and apprehension I experienced the first time I came here. Instead I saw considerable signs of progress. The first time I drove from the airport into Erbil I felt that I had arrived in a dodgy and ramshackle backwater. This time I felt – properly, I must say – that I had arrived in the capital of a serious and rising new power in the Middle East.

Nation-building is a hard and violent slog in the center and south of Iraq, and it might not ever work out. But in Kurdistan, in the north, it already is a reality.

Massive new construction projects are literally everywhere. Most of those that had started when I arrived for the first time are finished, and ambitious new projects are well underway.

Read the rest here

- May no soldier go unloved

Monday, March 19, 2007

Message to the Troops: Best Of

Messages to the Troops

Shout Out to the Troops: You Rock!
North Kansas City Snake Saturday Parade: Shout Out to the Troops
Shout Out to the Troops: Operation Aces High
Shout Out to the Troops: Why I Became an Angel

Cross referenced at the Castle

- May no soldier go unloved

To find out how you can support the troops, go to Soldiers' Angels and find out how you can make a difference

From the Forums: Angel Power

A message thanking Soldiers' Angels for supporting military families:

Thank you to so many
for all the love and support you have shown me and my family while I have been deployed, all the time spent mowing the grass, removing snow, fixing things around the house...the gifts, cards, meals, kind words..or simply checking in on my family to see if they need anything....thanks falls way short but it is the best I can do for now. Collectively, you have made the deployment better for Laura, Blake, Sydney and me....I can never repay all you have done, please know how much it means to all who are deployed, again I challenge any of you to make the effort to support a military family, the little things really do add up.

A thank you from Afghanistan:

Thank you very much for the package you sent. Just knowing we're not forgotten is all we really need. It means alot that caring people, such as yourself, are there for us.

Looking for Volunteers for a new team

I have been contacted by a Master Sgt. at 29 palms who is asking for assistance from Soldiers' Angels. They run a mock FOB to train Marines and Sailors who are preparing to deploy. The heroes spend an average of 30-45 days at this facility preparing for what life will be like in the sandbox. The Master Sgt. wants us to provide packages and such just like the guys/gals will get when they actually deploy. This will also give some great word for SA to heroes who are preparing to head overseas.

Check the forum for details.

Don't forget Angel Alerts for emergency requests.

- May no soldier go unloved
Soldiers' Angels

Soldiers' Angels Around the Net

Soldiers' Angels in Texas held a benefit with the PGR for an Iraq veteran and his family.

It was my pleasure to be able to attend a benfit dinner, auction and dance for Hero Jason McCully and family. Spc. McCully, 33, was in his 11th month of deployment as a forward observer in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, when a mortar landed 10 meters away from him. The vehicle in front of him took the brunt of the impact. Spc. McCully was knocked and was later found to be suffering a closed head injury.[snip]

Soldiers Angels Organization members Stephanie Brown of Waxahachie and Twyla Choate of Plano presented a donation of $1000 to Jason and his family.

Soldiers' Angels Europe points to an article about the wounded

For Capt. Edward Arntson, the worst wounds might be deeper than flesh. They’ve left some painful memories.

One began around noon on New Year’s Eve, while Arntson was leading a patrol east of Fallujah as commander of Able Company (3rd Batallion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment). He’d just stopped to talk to a young boy and his family about what they’d seen in the area.

"His house was right near one of my platoon’s observation posts," recalled Arntson, 26, who’d previously fought in Afghanistan with other soldiers from Fort Richardson.

"And right at the tail end of the conversation with the boy and his mother, as I turned to leave, he was shot through the chest — and the bullet passed through the boy and hit me in the arm."

It came from a sniper hidden from view about 275 yards to the west. The bullet shattered bones as it passed through Arntson’s right forearm. It was fatal to the child.

"My guess is that they were aiming at me, and the only way to get at me was to shoot through the boy," Arntson said.

And this one called "Battle Scars"

For Schank, most stories have no real ending. The Bucks County nurse anesthesiologist treated hundreds of soldiers and civilians during the four months she served at the medical center last year.

She cleaned shrapnel from the brain of ABC news reporter Bob Woodruff after he and a cameraman were caught in an improvised explosive device attack. She cared for suspected terrorists whose deadly handiwork regularly deluged this modern M.A.S.H. unit.

Most were her patients for a day or two. What happened after they left her care is a mystery.

“You never, never know,” she said, before adding, “I don’t know if that is a bad thing.”

Still, all these months later, inside her Holland kitchen, flashes of those many memories summon tears for the longtime U.S. Air Force Reservist. All these months later, the battle scars, the ones Schank wears on the inside, feel like fresh wounds.

Americans can see and read all the news reports about the war in Iraq, which marks its four-year anniversary Monday, but there is no way for them to get an accurate picture of what it’s like.

“How is it ever possible, until you’ve walked that road?” she said. [snip]

Roadside bombs — better known as improvised explosive devices — are the weapons of choice there. The 155-mm artillery shells are buried in the road, in dead animals or humans and triggered by a cell phone, according to the military.

The shells often are combined with shrapnel, such as steel nuts or nails. The worst bombs are those with shrapnel covered in feces or decaying flesh, which increases the likelihood of secondary infections, which require many surgeries and threaten limb loss.

“They want their wounds to be bad,” Schank explained.

Soldiers' Angels New York welcomed home some Marines (pictures and video included)

Today I attended a welcome home for a group of Marine Reservists. Below are pics and video. After hours of waiting, when they finally arrived I was so busy clapping and cheering, I forgot to turn on the video. But you will get the idea. Just sorry I didn't get more of my new friend, Les the bagpiper.

- May no soldier go unloved
Soldiers' Angels

Friday, March 16, 2007

Message to the Troops: Blooper Reel 1

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, a Message to Our Troops blooper reel, complete with Irish accent.

Messages to the Troops

Shout Out to the Troops: You Rock!
North Kansas City Snake Saturday Parade: Shout Out to the Troops
Shout Out to the Troops: Operation Aces High
Shout Out to the Troops: Why I Became an Angel

Cross referenced at the Castle

- May no soldier go unloved

To find out how you can support the troops, go to Soldiers' Angels and find out how you can make a difference.

Meeting Rosie the Riveter: WE CAN DO IT

One of the great things about being a member of Soldiers' Angels and active in the projects and community are the great people that you meet. They are interesting and some are, as my grandmother would say, "characters".

On Sundary, March 11, 2007, I crawled out of bed, groaning a bit in pain because of the long walk during the parade and after at the carnival. I rushed around to get down to the American Legion Post 370 to get to our "Operation Aces High" meeting. Soldiers' Angels in Kansas City are partnering with the American Legion Riders for a Poker Run on June 3, 2007 to raise money to support our wounded troops with First Response Back Packs. After the meeting, where the route, t-shirts and registration was discussed, a very interesting lady from the American Legion Auxillary joined the few remaining folks chit-chatting about our organization and the plans for the run.

I wish I had my video camera running so I could catch her entire commentary, but I will simply have to relay from memory the best I can.

When I first saw her, I realized that she was dressed as "Rosie the Riveter", but I didn't know why. She asked us about our organization and what we did. The American Legion Riders work closely with Soldiers' Angels in Kansas City, but it doesn't mean that all of the members of the American Legion know about Soldiers' Angels. When we explained about our organization, she said, "Oh, God bless you. It's wonderful what you are doing. I remember what happened to our boys in Vietnam. It was terrible, just terrible. It's up to you young people now. It's up to you to make sure it doesn't happen again."

One of our Angels agreed, "Not on my watch." We all agreed that we were not going to let that happen again, though most of us also laughed a bit about "you young people" since I believe we were all in our mid to late 30's standing around. But, it is all relative to the generations as to who are the "young people".

She went on to say that the American Legion Auxillary was not as active as it could have been until recently when they had an influx of "young people". She talked about going to schools and organizations talking to the young women about the history of the American Legion. An important point she made was that reading about it in a book could be dry and uninteresting. The way she got people interested was by going to these organizations and talking about it as a real person, basically bringing history alive.

She said she would start out by asking the young women, "How many of you have an eighteen to twenty year old brother or boyfriend?" Of course, many would raise their hands. "When my husband was eighteen he was sent to fight in Europe against the Nazis. A year later, he was nineteen and a prisoner of war." Then she would talk to them about what it was like to live in that era and the depravations that these soldiers lived through, both while fighting in the trenches and as prisoners of war. She would talk to them about service to our country and remembering the veterans who have defended their freedom.

This lady understood what it meant to be a country at war and how important it is to remember why we have these freedoms. If there is anything we should learn from women like her and our "greatest generation" is that the way forward is to remember our past and learn from it.

Rosie the Riveter represents a time of great social change, where people had to accept ideas outside of the norm: such as women working outside of the home in great numbers. More importantly, she represents the idea that people with a sense of community and common purpose can accomplish anything. She represents the idea that, in times of hardship, if we think outside the box, go outside of our comfort zone, we can make a difference. She represents the idea that every person in our community has something to offer towards the common goal.

The Angel community is just such a community of "doers". From those that take on, create and manage big projects to deliver mounds of services, supplies and moral support, to those that work with their local communities or social groups to send out packages every month, to those who simply write a letter or two every week, everybody has a part to play in making our efforts to support our men and women a success.

Everyday, we have an opportunity to tell people about this common purpose, to share the idea of Soldiers' Angels: May no soldier go unloved. Some of us are great writers, prolific in letters and cards. Others are great organizers who can put together a donation drive or fund raiser. In many ways, Soldiers' Angels takes advantage of our natural inclination to be great shoppers, where we know where to get the best deals or how to talk people into giving discounts on bulk buying. And, there are those connections within our community, whether at church, social gatherings or in common places that allow us to motivate others to do great things for our men and women, serving our country and defending our freedom.

Whoever we are, wherever we are, whatever we do, we are the "Rosie the Riveters" of our generation. When Angels pull together, "We Can Do It!"

Cross referenced at the Castle

- May no soldier go unloved

To find out more about Soldiers' Angels and make a difference in the lives of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, please go to Soldiers' Angels.

A special thanks to Donna at the American Legion for allowing me to take her picture and tell a little bit of her story on our website. Donna and the other ladies of the Auxillary were dressed as "Rosie the Riveter" because the American Legion National Commander was coming to visit their post. American Legion Post 370 is one of the few American Legion Posts that have a female commander, Emery McKimmy seen here in this photo.

The "Commander's Spouse". I was instructed to say that as a little piece of humor regarding the fact that most "commander's spouses" are women and belong to the "Auxillary" (the Auxillary used to be called the "Ladies Auxillary", but that had to go once women veterans became more active in the veteran community and organizations and their husbands could only join as part of the "auxillary")

American Legion Riders provide an escort for the arrival of the National Commander.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Message to the Troops: You Rock!

See other messages Here.

- May no soldier go unloved
Soldiers' Angels

Things To Read and/Or Listen To

One of our fellow Angels in Carrol County interviewed about being a Soldier's Angel. It was a nice little piece in a local paper. Best quote:

“I figure if I make a difference in one person’s life … in one day, then it’s been worth it,” she said.

Just a reminder from yesterday's post, "all politics are local".

Texas Angels and VA Hospitals/None Forgotten gave $500.00 to Sam Rayburn Memorial Hospital in Texas.

A look at the "German Front" of Iraq.

It arrives in the form of a broken man, a body almost completely covered in gauze bandages, darkened in spots, and connected to various machines — he is unconscious. The chaplain at the head of the welcoming committee personally greets the new arrival, just as every new arrival at Landstuhl is greeted personally, whether he is awake, asleep or in a coma. The priest stands next to the stretcher and leans in toward the patient, almost as if he were bowing, and, addressing him by his first name: "Michael", he says, "you are safe now. You're in Germany."

(hat tip: Mudville Gazette)

Also check AWAC: Afghanistan Without A Clue

He received a care package from Soldiers' Angels and had a nice thank you posted. He also has a rather humorous running conversation with his Afghanistan counterpart on all sorts of interesting topics that mostly revolve around cultural differences:

Hamid swung by the hut today to get me for lunch after he had hitched a ride back to Phoenix. I was just finishing up some writing, so I had him come in.

“Remember our conversation about the Snicker’s Bar yesterday?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“Would you believe I wrote about that in my blog yesterday?” I laughed.

“No. Why would you want to write about that?” he exclaimed disbelievingly.

“Wait. I’ll pull it up and read it to you.” After a minute I had the blog up, and started reading the section where Drew and I were trying to figure out what candy bar he wanted. As I read, Hamid stared at be in amazement.

“No, you didn’t write that.”

“Yes I did. I told you I write about our conversations. Let me finish reading.”

As I continued reading, using proper tonal inflections, Hamid started laughing uncontrollably. I actually had to stop reading so he could recover and hear what I was saying.

Once I was finished, and he stopped laughing, he still seemed stunned.

“But who would want to read that? Are people really interested?”

I turned off the computer. “Yes, people really do read this stuff. They love to see what your lives are like, and our interactions with Afghans is interesting, even if we are trying to figure out what kind of candy bar you like. Most blogs are about combat or at least being in a combat unit. But many of us don’t see any combat. Some people enjoy reading about our lives too.”

As well as the on going presentation of "Obscene Amenities" (in reference to an article by William Arkin, military Analyst for NBC and the Washington Post who wrote a scathing article about our soldiers being "mercenaries" living with "obscene amenities" in the war zone and has sparked a rather humorous response from military folks and their supporters).

Obscene Amenity of the day, presented by SSG Carrie Sawyer:

Sir -

I literally stumbled upon yet another obscene amenity. I didn't even realize I had them in my possession until Mr. Arkin so graciously reminded me how lavish I have it here in the 'stan. Please don't hate me because I have amenities. I already feel dirty enough just having them in my hut. Dirty like your LTV after a trip to CMA after an early afternoon snow melt. It's painful, really, I almost can't even look at them.
Strap on the seat belt for the ultimate in amenity status, the shower shoes.

I highly recommend looking at some of the "archives" where you can find other interesting posts (and pictures) about "obscene amenities" in Afghanistan.

And a post about Afghanistan culture and religion (scroll down).

- May no soldier go unloved
Soldiers' Angels

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Don't Miss: Shout Out to the Troops from the Snake Parade

Get your red hot "support the troops" right here.

- May no soldier go unloved

For an Angel, Opportunity Knocks Everyday

The parade was fantastic and it, necessarily, sidelined a number of things like posting about personal experiences, pointing out other Angel activity and generally reminding KC Angels and others who visit about other things to read to get an idea of what is "going on" in different places our men and women are deployed to.

Thus, what I am about to write is a few days old, but emphasizes in a small way the very purpose of marching in the Snake Saturday Parade.

Last week I was supposed to meet the Parkville American Legion manager and the Mayor of Parkville, Kathy Dusenberry for the Sunday Breakfast at the American Legion. I was hoping to discuss how we could do a project together to get the town of Parkville involved in supporting a company of soldiers. It was really their idea that they approached me with and I was just trying to help them make it happen.

For multiple reasons, meeting with them has met with serious set backs. First, my computer went down and I did not have the AL Managers email and no phone number so I could not confirm a date and time. So, I decided that I would just drive the two miles to the American Legion and hope that I could at least give someone my number so that the manager could contact me and we could go over some ideas and, hopefully, I could help push this into something successful for both Parkville and Soldiers' Angels.

I was lucky to find Terri at the American Legion. We sat and talked about a number of things, exchanging personal stories and talking about projects the American Legion had already done and things they wanted to do. Terri tried to get hold of the Mayor to see if she wanted to drive down real quick for a conversation (she lives two blocks away), but found out that the Mayor had surgery a few days before and could not come to have a conversation.

We arranged to meet that next weekend at the next Sunday breakfast, exchanged numbers and I went home, very excited.

Well, difficulties abound and that Friday, Terri called me and said she had to go out of town on an emergency, but I should go see the Mayor at breakfast. I was good with that, I just wanted to make things happen because, as the saying goes, "all politics are local". If you understand that "politics" is a euphamism for "things that interest people" or are important to people, then you understand that a really important aspect of Angeling is making connections in your local community.

It's not really about trying to influence the world (ie, global community). As Maxwell Gladwell indicated in his book, "Tipping Points", massive social change does not occur by itself nor in some mass frenzy out of the blue as if everyone suddenly has the idea beamed into their heads from outerspace that hip huggers or iPods are cool and everyone should wear/use them.

It begins by regular people within a community sharing ideas. He calls them "social epidemics" and they spread like diseases (in a good or bad way depending on the trend). Like how your kids spread measles and chicken pox. It's by contact. Everytime we make a contact, the idea has a chance to spread and infect others. When that idea is taken up by people that Gladwell calls "mavens" (like "fashion mavens" who set fashion trends - think Jackie O. sunglasses or Breast Cancer Awareness pink ribbons, etc), the idea is forced into a public venue. While most of us consider ourselves to be "individuals", we are all still influenced by things and people around us. Once people get the general idea from these "mavens", it starts spreading until it reaches the "tipping point" and, suddenly, everyone is doing it, or wearing it or saying it.

It starts with that one little step outside of our comfort zone and then, WHAM, things start rolling. Like Soldiers' Angels. It is a great representation of Gladwells "tipping point". It started with Patti finding out about some soldiers who had no support. Then she asked some friends to help. Suddenly, there are thousands of soldiers and thousands of people sending their support.

But, it started in a little community of friends and family.

That's why I was trying hard to get something set up with Parkville and the American Legion. Kathy Dusenberry, as mayor, is definitely a "maven" of the community. And, that community draws a huge number of outside people for shopping, dinners, the university and its famous "by the river" festivals.

Of course, all things are not so easy as simply meeting with someone and going forth with an idea. As noted, I was trying to get with Mayor Dusenberry two Sundays ago. Unfortunately, two things happened: Terri went out of town on an emergency leaving me with no number to contact the mayor over the weekend (townhall being closed on the weekends) and Sunday morning I was awakened by a desperate call from my brother who was stranded on the road with his family. The front tire went flat as they were driving down the highway at about 70mph. Needless to say, the tire was shredded. Worse, the spare was flat. So, no way to contact anyone and a family on the side of the road, I had to make a tough choice and that meant not going to the American Legion.

I was very frustrated (and, I imagine that the Parkville folks are as well). Still, I hadn't given up on the idea and planned to contact the Mayor and Terri on Monday with my apologies and an attempt to meet again. Monday morning I got to my office and discovered that I had to fly to Ohio of all places for the week and would not be back until Friday night (the night before the parade). So, I had to give up on the idea of meeting with the Parkville folks once again.

Ohio had its positives. Sitting in the hotel room at night with nothing to do and no one around, I started formulating my plan for video taping the parade. Until then, it was just a vague idea that I would video tape our activities to show others about things they could do in their communities and, hopefully, show our service men and women that we are actively supporting them "over here". While I played with some of our previous video and my digital camera, the news was playing quietly in the background. The usual stuff about who said what, who wanted what and why it was right or wrong.

I've known for awhile that our men and women get cable news fed into their FOBs, had access to the internet and could see what was written. I knew by many accounts, what was said or done could effect their morale. Just the a few days before I had read the despairing letter of a young man whose friend had taken his life and his friend was not even mentioned by anyone but a lonely Soldiers' Angel blog looking for some TLC for this man. One of his comments was that this man had done great things and the only person getting 24/7 coverage was some drugged out ex-supermodel who died due to her own bad choices, yet no one cared about this soldier.

The idea had been percolating in my mind for awhile. All the things that we do with packages and letters must combat, not only the effects of war, but also the effects of society that has its own way of percolating across the oceans and deserts. For about a month now, everytime I was with a group of Angels, I convinced some to give personal or group messages for our troops, not really knowing how we would get the info to them. I also thought that it might inspire people here to "do something". How, I wasn't sure. It takes exposure to get that message across.

But, as that news played in the background, that letter kept going around and around in my mind. We need more than letters and packages. We need more than some 30 second, professional "infomercial" produced by some slick government agency being fed into FOBs by the AFN (armed forces network). Every soldier there must know that is "propaganda". I don't think that it means quite the same or feels quite the same as heart felt communications (like Angel letters and packages) from "real people" in "real places". Basically, we need "pictures" to send to our troops because pictures "speak a thousand words". That's why some upcoming protest that is going to be broadcast from here to the ends of the earth, however few hours it occurs, can have as much impact or more than all the letters and packages we send over the hundreds of days and hours that Angels work tirelessly to support our troops.

That is when I decided that, when I video taped the parade, I was going to "ambush" people and ask them for a message to the troops. I know my community and I know that my community is not represented by a bunch of folks massing on Washington DC for one day of mayhem with dispicable signs and bizarre ideologies (Black Bloc Anarchists - I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone that believes in or has joined that group). I also know that CNN, FOX and the rest of the media were not going to come to my home town and ask strangers on the street how they felt or if they supported the troops. We're just "regular folks" and "regular folks" don't appear on the news unless their neighbor kills somebody, a tornado goes through their house or they win the lotto. I know that "regular folks" have all sorts of opinions, but that "regular folks" still see the military as an honorable occupation taken up by "regular folks" in their community, thus, deserving of our respect.

It may be difficult to reason that out or accept it as the "norm" considering all the noise from the less than "regular folks" that end up on our television sets or get printed.

So, Thursday night, sitting in a Holiday Inn Express (yes, Holiday Inn Express) in Ohio, the idea that had been percolating in my mind for awhile coalesced into a plan: how do we by-pass the media block between the men and women serving overseas and the people back home? Simple: we ask "regular folks" to record a brief message and we send it over ourselves.

I could hardly sleep that night as I kept going over and over in my mind how I could do it and what the possible outcomes were. I know I said, "I know my community", but that is in a general "sense" of the community. It didn't mean I would get the expected outcome.

Finally, Friday arrives and I am leaving Ohio. After being dropped at the Airport, I went to check in, only to discover that my wallet was not in my bag. No ID, no credit cards, nada. I tried calling the person that had dropped me off, but discovered that I did not have the latest phone number. I called three people before I got the latest number. Spoke to the driver, but, no luck: no wallet in the vehicle. I started calling around and discovered that the wallet was setting on the desk at the office I was just at (over an hour away from the airport) because I had taken it out to get money for the soda.

My plane was boarding in 30 minutes and I knew I would not have enough time to get the wallet there and get on board. I started to panic. I had several pieces of our float and signs for our parade. I wanted to video tape the parade. It suddenly seemed like, once again, Murphy's Law had come to roost like an 800lb gorilla on all my plans. I was trying to figure out how to get my wallet and take the next plane out of there (even if it was the dead of night or crack of dawn) so I could get to the parade. Then, the Manager who had my wallet told me to take a deep breath and ask the air line (to be unnamed) if I could get on the plane without my ID. The thought never occurred to me. Especially because the "threat alert" announcement played every five minutes at the airport announcing that the alert level was "orange" (just a step below "do not let any planes off the ground" red).

I had nothing to lose and knew I could go with plan C: somehow get wallet and try to get the next plane (although, I was panicking about that, too since it is Spring Break) to somehow make it to the parade. The long and short of it is, the customer service person from this airline (who will be anonymous for security sake) helped me get on board the airplane after I explained my situation. Of course, I was practically strip searched and my bags turned inside out, but all in a days work to get back so I could support our troops.

I was even surprised to learn that my company had a promotional credit that bumped me to First Class (one of the extremely few times I haven't had to fly economy cramped up in the rear with the other passengers like a bunch of chickens off to the Tyson chicken processing factory). As I sat relaxing in my seat, I watched the other passengers get on. I saw a couple of Navy men get on and go to the rear but I couldn't get the flight attendents attention to see about offering my seat to one of them. As I was about to give up, a third man in semi-dress Navy blues I associated with Chief Petty Officers and Warrant officers, got on board and took the remaining first class seat. The flight attendant was very solicitous and made sure the Corpsman (hospitalman) was comfortable.

For the rest of the flight, the corpsman and the other first class passengers kept up a general conversation. He was married with two kids. His family was in Leavenworth and he was going to visit them. He was just finished with some extra "life saving" training the Navy wanted him to have before he joined his Marine unit (though most of the people didn't totally get the implications, I realized then that the man was about to be deployed and this was his leave before hand). He was an HM2 (hospitalman second class). He didn't give his age, but he mentioned being called "grandpa" by the other 18 to 20 somethings in his training class. He only joined two years ago (that's one of those amazing moments: where do we find such people? In the middle of a long, ugly war, this guy, who could easily sit at home, work a decent paying job at the local hospital and be with his family had chosen to join the military).

An hour later, we were on the ground and everyone was pulling out their bags. I had several Angel business cards in my bag so I pulled it out and handed it to the Corpsman who was surprised to hear me call him "corpsman". I explained about Soldiers' Angels and told him how to get on the internet to sign up. I even explained to him about our support efforts and what we could do for him if he joined. I gave him several more cards and told him to give them to anyone that he knows who is deployed or will be deployed.

He kept looking at the cards as if they were about to disappear out of his hand. Then he looked at me and said, "Thank you. I guess there is a reason for everything." The only reason he was on that plane heading home was because he was flying stand-by and the only seat left was in first class, which he paid extra to take. Maybe I am getting sappy in my old age (wink), but I felt a little misty (again) because he was right. I almost didn't make that plane and I almost didn't sit in first class. I'd missed meeting the Mayor of Parkville and complained quite a bit about having to fly to Ohio when I had so many things going on at home. Yet, through a little Angel power, I met a Corpsman on his way "over there".

Hey, the story doesn't end there!

I told him he was "welcome" and thanked him for his service as he put the cards in his wallet after reading one again. Then it was time to get off the plane. Being in first class, I got to leave first, but I hadn't forgotten about the Seamen in economy. As I waited outside the gate to give them cards, too, a lady with a cane and a "working" dog approached me and asked if I had seen any other Navy people on the plane. She was looking for her son, also returning from from training. I told her that he was in the back and then handed her another card, explaining about Soldiers' Angels. We talked for several moments and I gave her my personal number to call if she had any questions or wanted to know about joining. Her son came out and they had a little reunion.

Just then, I noticed the third Sailor get off the plane, but the press of the crowd kept me from reaching him. Fortunately, he was headed towards luggage so I had a 50/50 chance of running him to ground there. After handing out two cards and talking in general, I was feeling very good and comfortable about just walking up to people and talking to them about SA. Still, when I got to baggage, he was gone and I was disappointed. Then I saw two marines from a different flight waiting by the bag claim. I handed them a couple of cards with the same spiel.

I was feeling pretty good. Then I discovered that the baggage escalator was "stuck" so I went outside to wait and smoke (yes, bad habit - no, Soldiers' Angels does not support smoking). As I lit my cigarette, the Sailor I had missed earlier, came around the corner and asked me for a light.

How fortuitous was that?

Again, I handed out the card and explained about Soldiers' Angels. He wanted to know specifically how to sign up a friend. He walked away and then a few minutes later came back and asked some more information. When we parted, he thanked me several times and called me, "ma'am". "Ma'am" used to bother me not too long ago, but I think I like it from a guy in Navy blues.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The Lord and Angels do work in mysterious ways.

Just goes to show that every situation is an opportunity to talk to people about supporting our troops and Soldiers' Angels.

Post Script: Don't think I've given up on Parkville. The tipping point in our community can only come after we reach the right people and we reach the right number of people through them. This weekend is my birthday and my family asked what I wanted to do to celebrate. I couldn't make up my mind until tonight. I told them I wanted to have breakfast at the Parkville American Legion.

- May no soldier go unloved

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Finally, Snake Saturday Video

For those of you "jonesing" for a, "We Support You" video.

Before I post, I want to tell you that I have enough video to make two or three feature length movies. However, there are limitations to basic computer top publishing so our first "movie" from Snake Saturday is approximately 10 minutes long when viewed together. I may still post some outtakes and other interesting footage.

If you did not make it into this video, don't worry, there is more to come. Some of the Angels and other supporters may not appear because the wind and the bands warming up in the background made the video inaudible. Others is because I simply did not have enough space to include it.

As for "You Tube", it too has its limitations so you will see our lovely video broken into five parts below. All together, it is just 10 minutes, but I hope you will enjoy all of it. The final, final version may have a little more tweaking since CDs are more forgiving in space and download time.

Don't forget, if you click on the "share" button on the bottom right hand corner, you will get an email address that you can put in your emails to friends, family and, most of all, the troops.

I will be burning CDs for those that want one. You can send me an email with your address at kehenry1-at-hotmail-dot-com. If you live outside the Kansas City area, I would like to make a suggestion: send my a copy of a receipt, dated today forward, for a five dollar donation to Soldiers' Angels and I will mail you the CD or send it directly to a soldier, sailor, airman, marine or coastguard that you are supporting (provided you provide me with an APO). Delivery time will depend on the number of requests and rate of speed for burning.

Of course, if your soldier, etc has internet connection, you can just send him a link to this post or an email.

In the meantime, please enjoy.

- May no soldier go unloved

Monday, March 12, 2007

Snake Saturday: We Did It!!!

Soldiers' Angels participated in the Snake Saturday parade, Saturday, March 10. It was a fantastic experience. We had a great turn out of Angels including a Denizen of Castle Arrggh!.

The crowd was great. We took video (which I am diligently editing) and asked people to give a message to our troops. All along the route, when we said we were supporting our troops and making a video message to send them, the crowd went crazy. People were screaming out "Thank you!", "We Love You!", "Stay Safe!" and "God Bless You!". I have so much great video, it's hard to pick out what to keep. Unfortunately, a CD only holds 700mb and we have 1gb (1000mb) of video. Plus, You Tube only allows you to put 100mb per video up. So, you see why it is taking a little longer to get the video up. Please have a little more patience.

In the meantime, here are some great pictures to look at and a little of the story:

Mr. and Mrs. Louthain whose son Derek, currently serving in Iraq, loaned us the truck and trailer. Mrs. Louthain made our T-shirts and Banners. Mr. Louthain drove the truck. Without them we couldn't have done this. A super Thank You! to the Louthain family.

According to (not unbiased) sources in the audience, our float garnered the loudest and longest applause, even though it was simple compared to some. Of course, we had some great representatives of the armed forces riding on our float.

I had taken so much video, I ran out of memory on my 1gb memory card for the digital camera. I ran back to our group and told them I was "out". One of the ladies suggested that I keep acting like I was video taping (since that got the crowd going) anyway. We were coming up to the judges stand. So, I did, and the crowd went wild, not even knowing I couldn't record a thing. It was too bad, because I missed the darnedest things. A little boy about 12 stood up and saluted. Then, one little girl said she wanted to send a message to our troops. She was about 10 and she said, "Thank you for fighting for my freedom."

Next year, I guarantee I will have two batteries and two memory cards! Or, someone else to bring a video camera or two.

I did get other great video, including a little girl who was about 6 and said, "I want to send a message. I hope they all be okay." That was just the cute stuff. Right at the beginning an older gentleman stopped me and said, looking into the camera, "We're proud of you! We're behind you!" and the lady next to him said, "Stay safe!" If I wasn't so busy recording and trying stay caught up with the float, I might have had to stop and have a good cry once or twice.

When we got up to the judges stand, we had not prepared anything to do or say because we thought we were going to be surrounded by "noise making" floats, so we made a chant on the fly: "Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate: soldiers, sailors, air force, marines" and we screamed really loud. The grand marshall came to the podium and said into the microphone, "I was in the Navy." So, we all screamed out (very spontaneously), "Go Navy!" fists pumping.

It paid off because we took 10th place for our float and won $1000 for Soldiers' Angels. I am very sure it was because we were the "crowd pleaser".

For Soldiers' Angels, it was also a great day because we handed out a ton of business cards to people who were really interested in how they could support the troops. As a matter of fact, my legs are killing me because I ran back and forth so many times recording and handing out cards. hahaha. It was great!

They say over 150,000 were at the parade and we really introduced them to our organization. It was grand to hear the people screaming their support for our men and women. I can't wait to finish the video and send it over so our men and women can know that, despite all the talking heads on TV, Congress People talking stupid and the protestors who descend on Washington DC, people really do support them and believe in them.

150,000 people can't be wrong.

All in all, I'd say Kansas City loves our troops!

Stay tuned for the video. I promise I'll have it edited and something ready to view on Tuesday.

Special for the the Castle Denizen

- May no soldier go unloved

Thursday, March 08, 2007

New Sister Angel Blog from Texas

There is a new Texas blog for Soldiers' Angels and they are hopping with their own projects down in the Big D and parts there about. So check it out: Soldiers' Angels Texas. - May no soldier go unloved

Wednesday Hero - Cpl Jenny Parcell

This Weeks Soldier Was Suggested By SJ Reidhead

Cpl. Jennifer Parcell
Cpl. Jennifer Parcell
20 years old from Bel Air, Maryland
Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force
February 7, 2007

Cpl. Jennifer Parcell was petite, but one learned quickly that underestimating her was foolish.

"She was an absolute firecracker," Master Sgt. Jerry Widner said. "Just a go-getting machine."

Her relentless can-do attitude led her to volunteer for Iraq. And then to volunteer for the Lioness Program, which provides female Marines for searches of Iraqi women to respect Muslim cultural mores.

Parcell was killed Feb. 7 in Anbar province when a woman she was searching blew herself up with a suicide vest. Parcell had started doing the searches a week before and was three weeks from going home.

You can read the rest of Cpl. Jennifer Parcell's story here.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. If you would like to participate in honoring the brave men and women who serve this great country, you can find out how by going here.

- May no soldier go unloved

Fort Benning Soldiers Also Need Help

this from Soldiers' Angels Network - New York:

Military tornado victims continue to need help. Please read the following and pass the word. Soldiers' Angels is providing assistance but we need your help to continue to reach those who are asking for it, and who are not getting assistance elsewhere. Read on:

I am writing on behalf of the military tornado victims of Thursday night's storm in Columbus, GA beside Fort Benning. The housing shortages and inadequate housing at Fort Benning causes many military families to look off base for housing. While the base did not receive much damage in this recent storm, many houses of military families off base were impacted.

These families are in desperate need of help and are falling between the cracks in the system. Inexplicably, they are not receiving requested help from the Red Cross, Military One Source, or United Way. Each of these organizations has suggested calling one of the others.

Read the rest and see what we can do to help.

- May no soldier go unloved