Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Operation Aces High: Saturday, June 3

I just wanted to remind everyone that we have an event coming up and why we are doing it.

Operation Aces High: Poker Run for the wounded troops kicks off this Sunday, June 3, 2007 at the Overland Park American Legion Post 370. Details can be found on our side bar or by clicking here.

There will be a barbecue, a silent auction, a great ride and great camaraderie among riders and supporters of our troops. There will be opportunities to send written and other messages to our troops.

What will it benefit? All proceeds will be used to purchase First Response Back Packs for our wounded.

What are they and why do they need them?

Read this from Soldiers' Angels

Wounded in Iraq. What happens next? You’re transferred to a Combat Support Hospital with just the clothes on your back. Recognizing the situation, Soldiers’ Angels founder Patti Patton-Bader (grand-niece of General Patton) teamed up with for a solution – get troops clothes and toiletries the moment they arrive.

According to Patti Patton-Bader, when troops are injured, “The medical treatment and transportation occur with such speed that the soldiers often arrive in Germany wearing the same uniform that they were wearing when they were wounded. The soldiers' gear and personal items rarely catch up with them.” So, Soldiers’ Angels created the First Response Backpacks. A $50,000 donation from The Military Order of the Purple Heart helped to purchase the newly designed digital camouflage backpacks embroidered with the Purple Hearts and Soldiers’ Angels logos. The backpacks provide a full set of travel-sized toiletries and accessories (such as toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, shampoo, and soap), calling card, change of clothes, and a hand-made blanket by one of the Soldiers’ Angels volunteers who participates in the Blankets of Hope project. Each backpack contains sweatpants with velcro or zippered sides, as well as zip-hooded sweatshirts with the Soldiers’ Angels logo.

Not just wounded from Iraq, but from everywhere our men and women are deployed, serving our nation.

It makes a huge difference:

After a military bloggers’ conference in Washington D.C. this May, a group of Soldiers’ Angels visited the wounded at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. The first person they saw was a Marine wearing one of the brand new Soldiers’ Angels sweatshirts. Asked if an Angel had brought it to him at the hospital, he replied, “No ma’am, I was evacuated from Baghdad, and was cold, and was given this sweatshirt.” Minimus had received, packed, and shipped the new sweatshirts, recently added to the backpack, and that they were already in use. The soldier’s mother was with him and asked if he could have a second sweatshirt since he had been wearing his for six days straight, refusing to take it off.

We hope you want to make a huge difference, too. Please join us this Sunday for Operation Aces High: Poker Run for the Wounded Troops.

We're looking forward to seeing you there.

- May no soldier go unloved

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Soldiers' Angels Talks About Why We Do What We Do

Help Soldiers' Angels support our men and women, wherever they are, as they continue to defend our nation.

- May no soldier go unloved

Monday, May 28, 2007

Remember Them - Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. Today we remember all those who have served our nation and made the final sacrifice on behalf of our nation, in defense of freedom.

Today, we will eat barbecue and watermelon, drink soda, and enjoy a fantastic day with our families and friends. This unique freedom was purchased for us with the blood, sweat and tears of millions of men and women in uniform for over 230 years. In another place, our men and women are still at war. In places around the country, families, friends and loved ones will be grieving for our fallen.

While we enjoy this day, please give a moment of thought to those who never made it home and those whose names you will never know, but purchased this day for you with the utmost love and devotion.

The following is an original song, written and performed by me. I don't claim to be a professional singer (or one at all) and Jimi Hendrix may be turning over in his grave from my guitar playing, but it comes straight from the heart in hopes that you will remember to "Thank a Vet".

We remember Sgt. Ian Anderson, Prairie Village, Kansas who died in Iraq

We remember Cpl. Lucas Frantz, Tongonoxie, Kansas who died in Iraq, whose parents were friends of my family

We remember Sgt. Donald Walters, Lee's Summit, Missouri who died during the invasion of Iraq and fought until he ran out of ammunition. First Kansas City area death.

We remember Spc. Benjamin Ashley of Independence, Missouri who died in Iraq

Family and Friends

I remember Pvt Babe Howard, US Army, WWI, great, great uncle

I remember S1C Leroy Henry, USN World War II, grandfather and the best history teacher I ever had

I remember AA Leon Henry, USN Korean War, great uncle, great friend

I remember S2C Lonnie Howard, USN, great uncle

I remember PFC Fred Bratcher, US Army, WWII, great uncle

I remember Pvt Floyd Bratcher, US Marines, WWII, great uncle

I remember Sgt Fred Waters, US Army, WWII friend of family

I remember TC1 Donald Kuehl, US Army and Air Force, Army of Occupation Germany and Korean War, uncle and beloved brother to my mom

I remember Sgt. Lewis Henry, US Army, Vietnam, favorite uncle who taught me to love history and ride motorcycles

I remember them.

Castle Arrggh Remembers

- May no soldier go unloved

Thursday, May 24, 2007

FYI: Soldiers' Angels on 1190 Disney Radio Kansas City

Friday morning, Marcia Conley, Regional Manager for Soldiers' Angels Kansas City, will be on radio station 1190 AM, Disney Radio, in Kansas City.

Listen Live on the internet

- May no soldier go unloved

Honor the Fallen and Pray for the Families: Missing Soldier Found

U.S. military IDs missing soldier's body

BAGHDAD - A body recovered by Iraqi police from the Euphrates River south of Baghdad was identified as one of three American soldiers abducted in an ambush claimed by al-Qaida, the military said Thursday.

Military officials told the family of Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr. that a commanding officer identified the remains recovered from the river, but that DNA tests were still pending.

"They told us, 'We're sorry to inform you the body we found has been identified as Joe,'" the soldier's aunt, Debbie Anzack, said Wednesday. "I'm in disbelief."

Anzack, 20, vanished along with the two others after their combat team was ambushed May 12 about 20 miles outside Baghdad. Five others, including an Iraqi, were killed in the ambush, subsequently claimed by al-Qaida.

"We can confirm that we have recovered the remains of Pfc. Anzack," Lt. Col. Josslyn Aberle, a military spokeswoman, said Thursday.

Aberle also denied reports that a second body had been found and was being examined to determine if it was that of a second missing soldier.

"The reports of a second set of remains being found is a false report," she said.

Soldiers' Angels prays for the families and the safe return of all of our men and women.

- May no soldier go unloved

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wednesday's Heroes

Pfc. Joseph Allen Jeffries
Pfc. Joseph Allen Jeffries
21 years old from Beaverton, Oregon
Army Reserve’s 320th Psychological Operations Company
May 29, 2004

Below is all the information that could be found on Pfc. Joseph Jeffries.

Pfc. Jeffries was killed with two fellow soldiers, Capt. Daniel W. Eggers and Sgt. 1st Class Robert J. Mogensen, and an unnamed sailor, when their vehicle drove over an IED in Kandahar, Afghanistan. All four service members were attached to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife, Betsy, and his parents Mark and Linda Jeffries.

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. To find out more about Wednesay Hero, you can go here.

Two Marines Receive Silver Stars: All Hell Broke Lose

LCpl Adam Camp: Then he heard yelling from inside the vehicle. It was Pfc. Christopher Dixon, 18, of Obetz, a member of Camp?s fire team. Camp knew his voice. He crawled back into the vehicle to save him.

"He was my friend," Camp said.

Camp banged his leg, felt pain and noticed for the first time that he had taken shrapnel in his right thigh. He kept going. The heat was cooking off ammunition all around him. Bullets flew. He tried to keep low.

He grabbed Dixon with his burned hands, but he was weak. He kept telling Dixon that he was going to have to help him.

Then there was another explosion. Camp fell back out of the vehicle, on fire again. Once more, he put himself out. Dixon was still inside.

"I got back up. I crawled back in the trac," he said.

You definitely want to read the rest of this story.

Sgt. David Wimberg: About 45 Marines, including Wimberg?s squad and Lima Company?s commanders, walked in a column down a road, patrolling early that morning. Altieri heard what sounded like a bolt being back pulled on a gun. He turned to find a man holding an assault rifle aimed at the Marines. Altieri fired.

"All hell broke loose," he said.

It seemed the column was being fired on from everywhere, but most of the shots were coming from a house to the left, about 35 feet away. The Marines were exposed. It was an ambush.

"Cover me," Wimberg yelled at Altieri. Altieri fired in the direction of the house, and Wimberg ran and jumped over the wall just in front of it.

And this one, too

Hat tip: Soldier's Perspective

Father and Son in Al Anbar

COMBAT OUTPOST RAWA, Iraq, May 22, 2007 — While on a site survey mission visiting sailors and contractors in the Al Anbar region of Iraq, April 25, Navy Capt. Garry Mace saw his son, Lance Cpl. Joshua Mace, for the first time in more than 16 months.[snip]

Father and son have kept in routine contact over the phone and by email and had speculated about how interesting it would be to finally see each other in Iraq.

“It certainly was a surprise,” said the younger Mace. “It’s not like everybody gets to see their Dad in Iraq.”

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Shropshire: Silver Star

Shropshire was attached to an Army unit operating in the area of Abu Sukhayr, just south of Baghdad, when his convoy ran into one of the largest sandstorms in nearly four decades – a situation compounded by intense rains. “It was basically raining mud,” Shropshire said. Suddenly it was also raining bullets, as enemy forces cut off Shropshire’s team from the rest of the convoy.

Visibility hovered between terrible and non-existent – forcing Shropshire to rely on technology to “see” through the thick, muddy air and call in air support against an advance of enemy tanks. As enemy forces closed in, he had to switch between his radio and his rifle. But it still wasn’t enough: He had to stop the advance – even though he had little ammunition, little visibility, and was already under heavy enemy fire.

Marine Corps Maj. Armando Espinoza: Distinguished Flying Cross

As Espinoza’s team flew over the Tigris River toward the palace, they began receiving small-arms and RPG fire. Espinoza and his wingman maneuvered through the attacks and approached a seemingly impossible landing zone: There was only room for one helicopter to land beside a swimming pool surrounded by large palm trees. Espinoza put his helicopter down amidst sniper shots from the rooftop and small-arms fire from numerous other directions. His corpsman quickly identified four injured Marines and loaded them onto the helicopter. After stabilizing them, Espinoza started the flight back to the casualty point, ordering his gunners to fire back at the enemy as he weaved through a maze of gunfire.

Four more times that day, Espinoza and his team returned to retrieve wounded Marines. He dodged bullets, landed under enemy fire, and his gunners helped suppress the large enemy attack. That night his team also ran a re-supply mission, dropping off much-needed ammunition, water, and equipment to Marines on the ground. On his final trip, Espinoza and his team returned to the combat zone to evacuate Iraqi civilians caught in the line of fire.

Help us support our heroes at Soldiers' Angels

I wanted to start a new tradition on Wednesday with the addition of "Home Front Heroes" highlighting some of the great work our citizens are doing for our heroes and their families.

Since I love to read and I know many service members who like to read to pass away the time, I chose the first organization to be -

Barnes and Nobles: America Supports You

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md., May 18, 2007 – Bookselling giant Barnes and Noble opened a new chapter in its history today by announcing a donation of 300,000 items to America Supports You home-front groups.

“It’s such an honor for Barnes and Noble to provide books, games, and toys to members of the military community as a way to say thank you for all their services,” Marie Toulantis, chief executive officer of, said at a news conference during the Joint Services Open House here. “We’re very thankful to … all those involved in the America Supports You program for helping us get our gift to military members.”

The donation totaled $3.4 million and has benefited nine America Supports You home-front groups and military-affiliated nonprofit organizations.

I'll add my own little "Hooah!" since I have routinely shopped at Barnes and Noble for all of my book reading needs because they have always had the best and biggest selection. This just seals the deal for me.

On to of that, if you bike your books from this Barnes and Noble website, 5% of all sales go towards America Supports You programs. Stop buying from Amazon and start buying from the best to support the best.

- May no soldier go unloved

Tijuana Flats Supports the Troops with Soldiers' Angels

- May no soldier go unloved


- Donation to Support Deployed Armed Forces and their Families -

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 22, 2007) Known for its mouth-numbing hot sauces and community initiatives, Tijuana Flats today presented Soldiers'™ Angels with a $35,000 donation collected from in-store and online sales of the restaurants™ "Smack My Ass & Call me Santa!" holiday hot sauce during the 2006 holiday season (from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, 2006). The Tijuana Flats Just in Queso Fund® donation will support the Soldiers'™ Angels commitment to continually provide aide and comfort to deployed soldiers and their families by sending care packages and messages of hope.

"We chose Soldiers'™ Angels as last year's holiday charity as a way to support our troops," said Camp Fitch, Tijuana Flats president and chief executive officer. We had been searching for a way to help out our armed forces for a long time, and our partnership with Soldiers' Angels granted us the opportunity. We're extremely proud to serve our nation's heroes.

With 100 percent of the donation serving to assist wounded troops, the majority of the Just in Queso funds will support the Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT program, which provides voice-controlled software and laptop computers to wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries or amputations at major military medical centers. The voice-operated laptops allow wounded heroes to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the Net and communicate with buddies still in the field without having to press a key or move a mouse.

Another of Soldiers' Angels programs that will benefit from the Tijuana Flats donation is the First Response Backpack initiative, which was developed to provide comfort to wounded heroes. The First Response Backpack is a backpack stuffed with personal items, which are necessary to the physical comfort of the soldiers while recovering at an off-site hospital. A typical First Response Backpack contains toiletries, articles of clothing and undergarments to provide the soldier some relief from the airy hospital gowns and a phone card to call their family and loved ones while they recover.

Also, each Backpack includes a blanket, dubbed a "Blanket of Hope," handmade by Soldiers' Angels volunteers and accompanied by a note of well wishes for each soldier. Soldiers' Angels is an all volunteer run organization that started in June 2003. Their mission is to provide aide and comfort to any of the armed forces and their families. By sharing a common vision of service, the volunteers of Soldiers' Angels send care packages and messages of hope to deployed soldiers and their loved ones at home. This initiative has grown to be an Internet community with thousands of people worldwide and the addition of new members every day. For more information about Soldiers' Angels, visit

Tijuana Flats Just In Queso Fund® was designed to help people in the restaurants
communities build a better tomorrow by providing resources in times of need and by making donations to other human service programs that help families in the communities the restaurant services.

About Tijuana Flats

Established in 1995 in Winter Park, Fla., Tijuana Flats is a unique, fast-casual Tex-Mex dining experience featuring superior guest service and fresh, made-to-order food. Tijuana Flats has locations in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The restaurants are typically found in high-traffic areas and average 2,200 square feet. Known worldwide for their own brand of hot sauces, Tijuana Flats Hot Foods Inc., a separate company, provides the restaurants specialty products, hot sauces and condiments, including one of the hottest sauces in the world, Smack My Ass and Call Me Sally! The Slap Heard Around the World. Another of the company’s famous hot sauces, the mango-flavored “Just in Queso sauce, supports the Just in Queso Fund®, a year-round, not-for-profit reserve to aid people and programs in their time of need. Tijuana Flats offers gift packages for sale both in its restaurants and at

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Operation Aces HIgh: Volunteers Needed and Fun to Be Had

Aces High is June 3rd. We are planning to have over 200 motorcycles, a big BBQ, prizes and another chance to send our troops another message via pictures and video. Don't miss out on a chance to have some great times, great memories and great service to our wounded.

Message from the Committee:

Dear Angels,

We are in need of angels to fill some volunteer spots for our Poker Run fundraiser for transitional backpacks for wounded.

We are also in need of cookies/brownies/bars to serve with the BBQ, Beans, and potatoe chips which have been donated for riders after the Poker Run. if you can help please bring 2-3 dozen on a disposable plate to American Legion Post #370 7500 W. 75th St. by 3:00 PM on June 3rd. The volunteer spots are below:


8:00 (9:30 possibly)- 1:00 PM- Two dealers for the Lawrence stop which is the first stop on the run. The advantage to this stop is the riders should be through by 1:00 PM or earlier, you would need to be at the American Legion in Lawrence by 9:30, one of the volunteers would need to return to ALR #370 to return the 2nd copy of what cards have been drawn. Ronda is offering another training session for dealers at 11:00 AM on June 2nd at ALR post #370 in addition to being able to train the morning of the run at 8:00 AM.

8:45-11:15- 1 volunteer to sell 50/50 tickets at ALR post #370 in Overland Park
2:00-5:00- 1 volunteer to sell 50/50 tickets at ALR Post #370 in Overland Park
1:45-5:00- 1 dealer to assist with last drawing at ALR Post #370 in Overland Park

We appreciate your help in making this event a success, we are anticipating 200 riders in our event, pray for good weather.

The Poker Run Committee
KC Area Soldiers' Angels

I am already committed to the Ozawkie, Kansas Post out near Perry Lake and I'll be taking a ton of cookies. With at least 200 bikers, we will raise some great funds for our wounded.

Be there or be square.

- May no soldier go unloved

All the Way Home

Shelle, our great PR manager at Soldiers' Angels sent this piece from a Chaplain in the Minnesota National Guard.

It Takes Communities To Bring Soldiers All The Way Home

I am watching the growing furor over the shortcomings in the Veterans Administration system and the fallout from Walter Reed Army Hospital with growing alarm. I am concerned that we are going to fix the crisis and forget the problem.

The problem is how to help warriors, and their families, successfully reintegrate back into our communities, and their homes, after combat. A portion of that problem is health care related. For a majority of combat vets, however, only a small part of their reintegration challenge has to do with health care for physical injuries. Behavioral and mental health are bigger issues. And for most, the biggest challenge is relational: rebuilding marriages, reconnecting with children, rejoining friends,
rejoining the global economy, getting back to the communities of faith we left, etc.

The problem with focusing on the VA is we may well fix the VA only to convince ourselves that the reintegration of our combat veterans is a government program, not a community process. If we expect the government to take care of everything, we will have failed our combat veterans and their families as well as ourselves.

We have sent our precious men and women to war. The VA can't bring them home. Only we can. We have a moral obligation to insure that all of our combat veterans come all the way home to their families, their jobs, their schools and their communities.

A government program can't do that. A community can.

That means each of us needs to roll up our sleeves and do more than castigate the VA. It means the following:

If you are a health care provider in Minnesota, do the right thing: Become a Tricare provider. Tricare is the insurance the government issues to mobilized reservists and guardsmen.

Two-thirds of Minnesota health care providers are not Tricare providers. The result: We do not have an in-patient chemical dependency treatment center in Minnesota that is a Tricare provider. We have a dire shortage of behavioral mental health providers who are Tricare providers. The VA can't fix this … we can.

If you are an educator, sign up for an Operation Military Kids workshop and learn about the daunting challenges our 7,000 Minnesota military kids face when their parent marches off to war, and when they return. Help our children while we are at war. Parent educators, we need you to offer classes in every school district in Minnesota, for military families. We need your help in learning how to parent our children again.

If you are a member of the clergy, learn all you can about the toll combat takes on marriages, families, mothers and fathers of military personnel. You don't have to support the foreign policy to pray for us while we are in harm's way and to visit our parents, our spouses and our children while we are gone. When we come home, we need your help in putting our marriages, families and lives back together.

If you are an employer, please give my spouse some grace. She or he is juggling a job, a family, a home and a huge heartache. There are no laws to protect them while we are at war, as there are to protect my job when I come back. They struggle mightily and may need some special attention and some extra time off. Do the right thing — help them.

If you are a social service provider, learn all you can about combat operational stress, the challenges of reintegration for combat veterans and the impact of war on the family system. You are our "first call for help;" don't fail us because you choose not to invest in your professional development.

If you are a politician, don't politicize the shortfalls in the VA or the military medical system. We aren't pawns in an election cycle; we are your constituents, and we are counting on you to fix the problems. Energize the community on our behalf to do right by us. We're not asking for showy programs. We are asking for tangible signs of support in terms of services offered.

If you are our neighbors, and you are, don't "victimize" us. Most combat veterans come home without PTSD, mental disorders, physical wounds or destroyed lives. We generally readjust well and go on to live productive lives. Expect great contributions to society from us. We won't disappoint you. Challenge us to greatness; we know how to serve.

Watch over our families while we are gone. Extend a warm welcome home when we return. Walk with us through the months of readjustment, and make a place for us in the community.

If we are among the tragic few who come home physically or mentally wounded, help us by connecting us to local, county, state and federal resources.

Certainly, address the problems with the VA, the military medical system and other systemic issues that face us.

But, above all … bring us all the way home.

A program can't do that. You can.

Major John Morris is a chaplain in the Minnesota Army National Guard. For more information about his and others' ground-breaking work on reintegrating returning soldiers, go to and look for the "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" link.

- May no soldier go unloved

Soldiers' Angels Texas and the Grill Instructors

- May no soldier go unlovedHELLO ALL!!!

Last weekend, May 19th - Soldiers' Angels of central Texas joined forces with Grill Instructors to serve 1000 people at the VA hospital in Waco, Texas. We invited all in-patients, out-patients, families and employees. We also invited people from the local VFW's, PGR and some local contacts.

It was a HUGE success Thanks to all who donated and helped to get donations! Thanks to all who helped out with this!!! The Grill Instructors were also KEY in making this happen. We couldn't have done it without you guys!!! THANK YOU!!!! PGR showed up with a huge amount of donations,and a local contact from the American Legion Auxiliary - Bryant Oliver Post, came and brought a large donation of items. The Grill Instructors showed up with 2 big screen tv's they had donated to give to the VA facility! We had all the Pepsi products we could drink and all the chips we could eat from Frito Lay - Thanks Stephanie! We also had 1100 sm cups of Blue Bell Ice Cream donated by Blue Bell - Thanks to the Grill Instructors for that also! We had 2 very generous grants, one from Salute America's Heroes, and another from Impact Player Partners, BIG THANK YOU on those!

The patients and employees at the VA Hospital were overwhelmed by the out pouring of love and support they were receiving. It was such an honor to be able to serve our veterans a meal they will never forget! The food was superb!

I put some of the pictures that I have on a slide show for everyone to enjoy, and I expect more pictures later.

Link to slide show:

I just wanted to share with everyone and tell everyone that made this happen THANK YOU!!!! From the Depths of my HEART!!!!!


Toni Laird
Soldiers' Angels
VA National Team Leader

Our Soldiers on the front lines today, will be our veterans tomorrow!!! Thank a Vet Today!!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Heard of MTV? Here's MMV...

...Military Music Videos

Hey Ya! The Sun Kings and Outkast

Pump it! The Sun Kings ride again.

Our Allies at Work: Bohemian Rhapsody

Don't think it's all Navy

US Army: Iraq Dance Party

MP Very Vanilla Ice

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Lazy Ramadi

- May no soldier go unloved

Saturday, May 19, 2007

If You're Reading This...

I saw Tim McGraw on the ACMs sing this song. My brother recorded it for me so I could watch it on TIVO. I was looking for the video or song to post. Finally, Shelle Michaels from Soldiers' Angels, emailed it to me.

Tim McGraw honors families of fallen heroes. If You're Reading This...

- May no soldier go unloved

Healing Invisible Wounds

Soldiers' Angels in North Dakota keeps giving, even when they are home - Healing Invisible Wounds:

Just returned from a tour of war duty in Afghanistan with his North Dakota National Guard unit, Sgt. 1st Class Greg Kaiser has the typical adjustments back to civilian life, he told pastors and social workers and parish nurses Thursday.

But even more, he has a father's worry about a son, who struggled himself to adjust from a bloody tour in Iraq and now is poised to go back for a second tour.

Kaiser, East Grand Forks, took part in a seminar, “Caring for Military Families,” Thursday in United Lutheran Church downtown. About seven pastors from the community, social workers and parish nurses listened to advice on what the effect of war duty can have on soldiers, their families and the community.[snip]

Ben Lunak, USMC

Emily Custer, vocalist (no, I don't think her name is a coincidence)

One of the little aggravations for soldiers in that theater is hearing civilians say, “Well, at least you weren't in Iraq,” Kaiser said. There are fewer U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan than Iraq, but it's just as dangerous, he said. It just doesn't get as much news coverage.

“We had 150 guys,” in the 188th SECFOR unit from Grand Forks. “We lost four soldiers,” Kaiser said. [snip]

Three years ago this month, Jamie Kaiser was in a vehicle right behind his best friend, Spc. Philip Brown of Jamestown, on patrol in Iraq when a roadside bomb hit and killed Brown. Shrapnel wounded Kaiser in his right hand. He was awarded a Purple Heart.

But as Bernadette Ternes, a licensed social worker, told the pastors and others Thursday in United Lutheran, “Some wounds are not visible.”

Greg Kaiser said his son came back from war a changed man.

“When he came back, he was a whole 'nother character,” he said. Jamie was a good athlete and scholar at Sacred Heart Catholic High School, very “directed,” and focused, Kaiser said. “He came back without direction, spent a lot to time searching,” he said. [snip]

“It does make me nervous, as a dad, to hug him again at the airport, saying goodbye,” Greg Kaiser said.

What Jamie Kaiser and his father, are going through is very typical for citizens asked to become soldiers, then warriors, then come back and be regular citizens again, Ternes told the audience of about 30 that included pastors, Guard members and others.

That's part of the reason Shelle Michaels of Grand Forks helped organize the seminar at United as well and brought the “Talking with Heroes,” live Internet radio show from the Empire Arts Center on Thursday evening.

Several veterans of the war on terror spoke on the program hosted by Bob Calvert of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Paul Goodiron, father of Cpl. Nathan Goodiron, 25, of Mandaree, N.D., who was killed in November in Afghanistan, said he “felt honor” for his son by the presence of the soldiers and the idea that thousands of people were listening via Internet radio.

He said his son and all of the soldiers still there and back home “were champions of freedom.”

Read the rest here

Soldiers' Angels
Talking with Heroes

- May no soldier go unloved

Friday, May 18, 2007

LTC Patrick Turner Update from Iraq May 16th

Providing packages and support for Iraqis and CMOC (civil military operations):

From time to time, SoldiersAngels volunteers ask me what to send to us here for the Iraqi children and so forth. Note the email below that answers the questions you may have on this:

A cohort of mine, Captain Sheila Corcoran is a Team Chief for what is known as a Civil Military Operations Center ( CMOC ). A CMOC's mission is to serve a community at large. Her particular CMOC has, as part of their mission, a health care clinic and assist in finding "displaced persons"( these are people that have been separated from their families for one reason or another).

During a visit, I asked her what are the items that she needs the most that would benefit the community that she serves.

Here are the items the she requests in this order:

1) School supplies such as pencils, "Big Chief" tablets, erasers, etc...

2) Books in Arabic please, remember where we are. Hopefully your book stores will assist in finding them for you. Consider asking a local Mosque for help.

3) baby formula

4) diapers

5) baby wipes

6) Children & Adult vitamins

7) Children's clothes ( all sizes)

When purchasing these items please be "culturally sensitive" remember, our intent is to put an "Iraqi face" on what we do. No squirt guns, anything that looks like a weapon or a gun is not compatible with our mission here. Let's not get an American Soldier hurt accidentally.

I noticed, but forgot to ask, that there were no TOYS in evidence that they are asking for so cease fire on those.

LTC Patrick Turner
Camp Liberty

If you would like to support the CMOC and LTC Patrick Turner's project, please drop me an email at kehenry1_at_hotmail_dot_com for his contact info.

- May no soldier go unloved

Thunder Run Correspondent in the Sand Box: The Hug

Thunder Run Correspondent says that he is "dusted in" due to a sand storm so he has a few moments to write another dispatch:

I think we’ve all had that sixth sense that something is missing. You may be walking in the woods and realize that there is something different. The birds have stopped chirping, or there is a lack of background noise. Well, I just realized that I’ve been here for several days now, and I have heard very few complaints.

Now I have an honorable discharge from the Navy and an honorable discharge from the Army. I can say that I have heard a wide spectrum of truly unique and creative complaints. I’ve heard people who would win gold in world class complaining. We used to have a saying in the Navy that if the bitching stops, prepare for a mutiny.

The secret weapon in today’s arsenal against complaining is - (drumroll please) “The Hug.” It is also known as “Da Hug.” I’ve seen it once.

Read the rest here.

- May no soldier go unloved

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thunder Run Correspondent in the Sand Box: Your Support Is Important

Update from Thunder Run's Correspondent.

On his experience with our soldiers:

One of my first escorts was a young kid (just a boy really) who came down with the Kuwaiti Krud, so they assigned us T. She's a petite soldier from North Carolina. I tested her, a little, by asking when she had been to the range, to which she replied, "Well, we're going again Thursday." That's one tough lady.

During one of our stops, I stepped out of our SUV to snap a picture. I guess I forgot where the Hell I was, because I moved off the road to get a better shot. Then I moved closer to the object to get an even better shot. When I turned around I almost ran into her. She was like my shadow, and had been covering me the whole time. I apologized to her for acting like a frickin' tourist.

On your support for our troops:

I've heard from several people that your blog is - and I quote: "a breath of fresh air." Whether you realize the full impact or not, you are doing a tremendous job for morale. We need what you provide. On a larger scale, your readers need to do what they do best. Whether it is to support the troops with mail or donating computers, or whatever it is - IT IS WORKING!!

That's right, regardless of what the television is saying, it is working! So don't stop! Many years ago, an old gray sergeant once told me, "Damn it soldier, don't fix it if it ain't broken." Truer words were never spoken.

I know it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks (and I'm an old dog). There was a time when we were young, and thought that we were immortal. We were what you call door kickers. Now it is time for NEXT GEN. Tell your readers this ... You want to do something this very moment? You want to do something that makes all the difference? Take a knee and pray for our troops. They deserve it.

- May no soldier go unloved

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

David from Thunder Run has got an inside into the Sandbox. He just arrived in Kuwait.

What am I doing in Kuwait? I have travelled here to provide support to an Expeditionary Medical Facility as they switch into sustainment mode. Most of my 20 years in the DoD have been in the support role. I think I have one of the best jobs in the world. My customers are also my heroes.[snip]

Dave, you oughta see it. This place is covered with highly motivated Americans (military, civilian, and contractor). These people have this place running as smooth as glass. They support what is going on up north, and I have never seen more talented and "switched on" people. They are the NEXT GEN. The up and coming generation. These people have their game faces on and they exercise their free will and initiative... to America's advantage. I met with Chief N from Maryland. He was very protective of his people. During a "dog and pony" walk through, I saw him slow down three times and fix three problems on the spot. He was unashamed that he gave non-standard, out-of-the-box solutions right in front of us "representatives from BIG NAVY." I believe he would have bit someone's ass if they had let the system fail. There is no playing games here. I saw no Mickey Mouse crap.

Read the rest and then stay tuned for updates.
- May no soldier go unloved

Wednesday Heroes

This Weeks Soldier Was Suggested By Cindy

Lance Cpl. Steven Chavez
Lance Cpl. Steven Chavez
20 years old from Hondo, New Mexico
2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
March 14, 2007

Tears ran down cheeks and strong men choked back emotion as the city of Hondo, NM payed tribute to fallen Marine, Steven Chavez. LCpl. Chavez lost his life on March 14, 2007 in a non-combat incident in which he was accidentally shot.

Chavez enlisted in the Marine Cops. right after he graduated in 2005. "You pray and you pray that the day never comes, and then it does," said Novelda Chavez, Chavez's mother. "Your emotions are mixed — it’s not true, it’s a bad dream, a bad dream you never wake up from."

In a letter Chavez wrote before he was sent to Iraq, he wrote:
"First of all I would like to thank everyone for your support. When I'm home on leave and when I'm away. That is so important to me. Thank you for your kind, supporting words in your letters and for the packages I've received. Those are awesome.

I've been through some pretty hard times, in the short time I've been in the Marine Corp. None harder then what I'm about to face. Yes I'm scared; nothing is scarier than the uncertainty of what your future holds for you. I'm prepared to face whatever lies ahead.

I put my life in the hands of the Lord. And pray that He guides my fellow soldiers and I down a safe path, that He will calm our fears, and give us the strength to do the job we have been trained to do, and to do that job well.

There are many lonely nights, when you're lying in your bunk thinking of family and friends, wondering what they are doing at that very moment. Wondering what mom is cooking for supper. I can almost taste the tortillas on the griddle.

I want to say to all of you tonight, I wouldn't change one thing about my life.

I've never been more proud of the choices I made in my life than the day I graduated from basic drill instructor placed that Anchor, Globe and Eagle Pin in my hand I knew then I was a UNITED STATES MARINE!

I'm Proud to protect and serve My Country

I'm Proud to protect and serve My Community

I'm Proud to protect and serve you

Thank you so much for your Support. Keep those letters coming. Mail is a precious commodity when you're so far from Home.



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. To find out more about Wednesay Hero, you can go here.

Fallen colonel led by inspiring (video on page)
Fort Leavenworth remembers officer slain in Afghanistan as an expert and a friend.

Army Col. James W. Harrison Jr. had planned to retire. But Harrison pulled back the retirement paperwork recently when it was clear his expertise was needed.

It was a classic example of his commitment to leadership, friends said Monday at a Fort Leavenworth memorial service for Harrison, who was killed May 6 in Afghanistan by a mentally ill Afghan soldier. He was buried in a private service at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.[snip]

“Always take care of your soldiers,” Braden said, quoting his father. “It will bring them together as a team and may one day save their lives.”

Those who worked with Harrison said he was constantly looking out for his soldiers. Many called him a friend and mentor.

Army Maj. Isaac Johnson said Harrison took the time to talk to Johnson’s young son. Harrison recognized that a soldier’s family was important and critical to his or her success, Johnson said.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Ed Healy, a West Point classmate of Harrison’s, said that his friend took time to write an e-mail from Afghanistan. Harrison wanted to make sure Healy’s son, who was attending Virginia Tech, was safe after the shooting there last month.

“He has friends all over the world,” Healy said.

Perhaps the most poignant moment came when a letter was read from an Afghan brigadier general whom Harrison had been training. The words were especially touching because although the brigadier general had weathered the deaths of family members, friends and many others during battles with the Russian military and the Taliban, he said Harrison’s death had struck him deeper than any before. He described Harrison as a brother.

“I truly wish that I was killed instead of him,” he wrote.

He said the pain of Harrison’s death was felt by every Afghan soldier who knew the colonel. The Afghan soldiers shot and killed the gunman.

Patriot Guard Mission Complete AAR

Slide Show of Mission

Sgt Darrell Griffin

He didn't say much about why he had joined the Army—for all the reasons printed on the recruiting posters, he offered. He'd been a rebellious kid, the kind that his junior high school assistant principal was happy to see move to high school so he could stop sticking him in detention. Griffin ran away from home several times, too, once waiting a month to call his father, telling him he was living in the attic of a martial arts studio. He met his wife while he was jogging in Pasadena, Calif. ("I know it sounds corny," he told her, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk, "but you look really beautiful.") They were married in 1994. Looking for excitement, he became a paramedic in the not-so-nice parts of Los Angeles, where he was shot at for the first time. But it was in the military that he found a new purpose and direction; he joined the National Guard in 1999 and, finding that too slow, went on active duty in July 2001.

In his first Iraq tour, Griffin spent time in Mosul and Tal Afar. He earned his chops kicking down doors and chasing bad guys, adventures that he documented in a journal on his laptop. He even won a Bronze Star with V for valor for saving the lives of three American and two Iraqi soldiers after an ied attack in Tal Afar.

Read the rest here. Sgt Griffin wrote about the day for which he received a bronze star with V:

When I got to the top of the vehicle, I saw Sgt. Gordon's right leg hanging on by skin only ... As we were still taking heavy small-arms fire Doc and I were pulling out our First Sergeant, whose legs had both been broken by the powerful blast. As soon as we handed him down we began to treat Sgt. Gordon by applying a tourniquet to his nearly severed leg and then handed him down. When I climbed down from the vehicle to assess PFC Rosenthal, I noticed that his face had been severely burned, so I thought, but it was merely the soot from the blast. As soon as I knelt down to cut his pants off to assess his wounds, asphalt began chipping all around us due to the small-arms [fire] getting closer ... Once at the front of the vehicle, we began taking heavy fire from a mosque off to our east and there was just nowhere else to take cover. Luckily, our Commander's vehicle approached the wreckage and we immediately loaded all the casualties and they were brought back to [Forward Operating Base] Sykes.

In watching a video interview with Sgt. Griffin, he highlighted the complexities of his service. He said it was the most honorable, most violent, most terrible and greatest service he had ever done in his life. He wanted the story to be told, not for our government or for the al-Mahdi army, but for the Iraqi people who have suffered and for whom he felt deep compassion. (Video Interview)

The Fallen Lion - Doug Zembiac

It is with tears and a heavy heart that I inform you that Major Doug Zembiec was killed this week. We have lost a true lion, a warrior without peer, a Marine among Marines...from his Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device:

"On two occasions, Captain Zembiec coordinated the actions of the Marines from atop a tank while rocket-propelled grenades and enemy small arms fire impacted all around him. Wherever the battle raged with intensity, Zembiec could be found inspiring Marines to aggressively repel the enemy's determined assault..."

He was already wounded badly before he jumped on that tank. And from the Comments of that long-ago post here, Marines spoke up about Doug:

I served with Capt Zembiec. I was a Scout/Sniper that was with him and Echo Company. I was awarded the Silver Star for my actions in Fallujah. I would Die for this man. I only wish people could see what this man did for his Marines. - Ethan Place

Blackfive also has a follow up, Remembering the Lion

I'm Sgt Maj Bill Skiles and I was Doug's 1st Sgt in Echo Co. in 2004 in Fallujah. I would like to tell you the Doug Zembiec that you won't read about in papers. I shared a hooch with this man for the 7 months and we would talk about everything from his marines to what it will be like to be married. Doug is known for his tremendous warrior spirit and his physical strength. He was a physical specimen but he had a heart of gold. The qualities that I still live with thanks to him are humility and sincerity, Doug would be the first to hug a PFC and tell him it's OK, not put him down for being weak. He would be the first person to stand up for you if he felt you were being treated unfairly. When he told someone he will do something, he did it and made sure you know the results and if you didn't he wouldn't sleep until you understood what was happening.

Army Maj. Ryan L. Worthan

Then-Capt. Worthan was on his second deployment with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan at that time. As the sun rose, it seemed like it would be an ordinary day of patrols and maybe occasional contact with the enemy. But then, shortly before 6 a.m., a platoon on patrol received a barrage of fire from AK-47s, RPGs, machine guns, and mortars. This was not an isolated rocket attack or sporadic gunfire – this was a well-orchestrated offensive, the beginning of a pitched battle that would rage for 12 hours.

Capt. Worthan quickly provided fire support from the base, but when the platoon took casualties, Worthan exited relative safety and made his way to the front line of the battle. Assessing the battlefield, he directed the evacuation of casualties and marked enemy positions and directed fire toward them. He led one platoon through a 150-meter deep, 500-meter wide wadi even as he continued coordinating attacks on the enemy forces. From the other side of the wadi, his men fought from ridge to ridge as enemy fire continued to come from different directions. All the while, Worthan continued marking enemies and calling in their positions to air elements. As evening fell, Worthan finished clearing his areas before coordinating the return to Shkin Fire Base.

Throughout the battle, Worthan provided firm leadership under intense fire – saving countless lives and eliminating numerous enemies. For his actions and leadership, Worthan was awarded the Silver Star on June 15, 2004.

Please join Soldiers' Angels in supporting our men and women in uniform. They are our heroes, our friends, our neighbors, and our family. Make them yours.

- May no soldier go unloved

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Things That Angels Do

As I am still working on the over all design of this site and my personal blog, personal observations are slow so I am going to point you to others that write about what Angels do to support the troops.

Listen, around 4 minutes in, this is the panel at the Milblog Conference 2007: Support - More Than Just a Bumper Sticker

Soldiers' Angels in Kansas City just sent over 10 boxes of clothes and hygiene items to Landstuhl for our wounded troops and the closet that MaryAnn talks about in the video.

The first recipient of a Project VALOUR IT voice activated laptop for our injured troops talks about his experience with Soldiers' Angels:

The long and short of it is, Chuck wrote a blog from Iraq. One day while on patrol, Capt. Chuck Ziegenfuss (now "major") was blown up by an IED. His wife got the keys to his blog and wrote a message that he was injured and she would say more later. Soldiers' Angels was there when he arrived in Germany and then again at Walter Reed. Many comments were posted at his website from supporters and general readers (including me) praying for his recovery, giving pep speeches, talking with his wife and generally, just being there.

His wife posted what soon became regular updates on Chuck's recovery. She read him the comments from the blog, even when he was unconscious. She believes, even today, that this connection helped keep Chuck's spirits up even through the worst parts of recovery and rehab. She also used the computer to keep in touch with family who were taking care of the kids and those that could not come to be with Chuck or stay throughout his recover.

Soon, Chuck was able to stay awake long enough to want to get back to using the computer. He wanted to email the men he had left in Iraq, keeping in touch with them and following the situation. They were his men after all and he felt he had left them. He also felt disconnected from the people and organization that had become his family. He wanted to write in his blog and talk to all the people who had supported him.

Just a few problems: Chuck had severe soft tissue damage to his hands and arms. He would need many months (almost two years now) of surgery and rehabilitation. In the meantime, he could not use a conventional keyboard to type on the computer. Soldiers' Angels arranged to have a laptop donated to him with voice activated software. Chuck wrote his first post with it shortly after and his readers responded with more encouragement.

Then one day, one of the readers, Beth from Fuzzilicious, suggested that this experience could be and should be repeated for the many more injured with amputations and wounds such as Chuck suffered.

The rest, as they say, is history. Soldiers' Angels delivered its 1000th laptop on May 6th at Walter Reed where it all began.

Solders' Angel from New York writes about this presentation and event: Sunday at Walter Reed

There are so many angels doing great work with visiting our wounded and doing whatever they can to provide whatever aid and comfort. But I never saw myself in that role, in fact I felt very uncomfortable at the thought. At one point during the weekend prior to this visit I said to MaryAnn, "I don't think I could do what you do." She reassured me that I could. But I was still apprehensive about going to Walter Reed. Why? Well, I guess because I felt I would be uncomfortable there, that I would say the wrong thing, or more importantly make them feel uncomfortable. I felt that it was better that I don't go at all rather than go and perhaps do or say the wrong thing. Everybody has their own interests and giftings and I didn't think visiting the wounded was one of mine.

Soldiers' Angels Holly Aho was also there. She talks about other things that Soldiers' Angels does for our troops.

Let me give you an example. While at Walter Reed this past Sunday for the BBQ Soldiers' Angels threw for our wounded soldiers there, one soldier refused to leave his room and join the party. Crying in his room, he refused to come down. Patti found out about this soldier and immediately called his room. Speaking in mono-syllables he wasn't very chatty, despite Patti's attempts to cheer him up and coax him down to the BBQ. Finally Patti asked him, "What can I do to put a smile on your face?" He replied that he missed his wife. Fast forward about 20 minutes and the soldier is down at the BBQ, laughing and smiling, having a great time, knowing that he and his wife will be spending 3 days together in a hotel shortly - tickets and hotel paid for already.

Sometimes need doesn't fit nicely in a box, sometimes emergencies don't come planned in advance (really!), sometimes waiting for aid approval just isn't good enough. I know as we give to a charity or special cause we the donors would like a neat list of where our money is going - who exactly will it benefit? And charities move to meet that requirement, creating specific criteria for help, often becoming too stringent with the rules for beneficiaries. What then, for loneliness? What then, for those unable to speak? What then, for those unable to find the courage to ask for help?


Helps Soldiers' Angels support our troops, one laptop, one letter, one visit, one smile at a time.

- May no soldier go unloved

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to:

*All those in uniform who struggle every day to balance your service to your country and to your family. You are always in our hearts, however long and however far you are away.

*All those who stay behind and become both the mother and the father. You take care of the car, the kids, the lawnmower, the bills and somehow make it through. Here's to all you do.

*All those who raised their sons and daughters, saw them through adulthood and watched them get on the bus for basic training. Now you wait for them and pray for them. We Pray for you and thank you for raising them.

Happy Mother's Day to you!

- May no soldier go unloved

We're Under Construction

Please excuse the changing layouts and missing links to some of your favorite sites. We are under construction. Hopefully, we'll have this cleared up in the next 24 hours. We also hope that you enjoy our new layout and upgraded features.

Please make sure that you are check out Soldiers' Angels and see how you can support our troops.

- May no soldier go unloved

Friday, May 11, 2007

Wednesday Heroes on Friday

My bad, again. Things seem to fly by and I am not honoring my committment to honor our heroes every Wednesday. So, we'll make an extra effort today. Double posting about our heroes.

We still have graphics problems. We'll get them fixed, but don't let it take away from the experience of reading about some great heroes.

First up, our traditional post:

Melodye -

Spc. Josiah H. Vandertulip
Spc. Josiah H. Vandertulip
21 years old from Irving, Texas
2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division
October 14, 2004

Louise Vandertulip fussed at her son about his spending. He bought wild, overpriced hats that had flames on them or horns coming out of the top, she said.

While in Army basic training, he bought portraits of himself. His mother told him to save his money.

She's glad he didn't listen.

The hats and the pictures are all a part of her memories now.

Spc. Josiah H. Vandertulip was killed in Baghdad when his patrol came under small arms fire.

Josiah Vandertulip joined the Army right after his graduation from Irving High School in 2002. He spent a year in South Korea before being stationed at Texas' Fort Hood in February. Against his mother's advice, he volunteered to go to Iraq. She told him to wait, to go to college.

"When he was determined to do something in his heart, he would do it and hell or high water couldn't keep him from it," she said

By going, he knew someone else with a young family could be saved from serving, relatives said.

He always had the important things right, Louise Vandertulip said.

"There's a lot of rest in knowing that he died doing what he believed in and doing what he thought was right," she said.

"We have a much more real sense of the cost for the freedom that we enjoy now," said his father, Robert Vandertulip.

"Josiah was the first brand new soldiers I recieved as a dismounted team leader in Korea. He was one of the Best soldiers I have had the honor to train and work with. He loved being a soldier as much as any guy I have met. He was a great leader in the absence of his superiors. I could always count on him to make sure the mission was accomplished. I watched him change over the year I had him from a goofy kid, to a hard charging soldier."
Sgt. Nickolas Faul

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. To find out more about Wednesay Hero, you can go here.

From Blackfive Someone You Should Know - PFC Stephen Sanford

In late November, 2005, during an assault on a house in Mosul, Iraq, filled with terrorists, PFC Stephen Sanford of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, was hit in the leg. The house erupted in rifle fire and grenades. Soldiers were hit and dying on the first floor of the house.

Though wounded in the leg, Sanford charged back in with his team, laying down suppressive fire while his team mates evacuated the wounded.

On the second evacuation of wounded, Sanford again (bleeding) kept the terrorists at bay while the wounded were evac'd. While assisting the last wounded soldier out of the house, a terrorist shot the soldier assisting the wounded troop. The soldier dropped to the floor - shot through the neck.

Sanford ran back and began performing first aid, then CPR trying to keep the soldier alive.

He received the Distinguished Service Cross. Read the rest and watch the video further down. It's about 28 minutes, but it highlights many heroes from the war on terror.

Also, from Blackfive, a Silver Star recipient, Maj. Jim Gant

Al-Qaeda had planned an elaborate running ambush in which they hoped to destroy the unit that had been their nemesis for more than a month. They had prepared three separate ambush sites along a four kilometer stretch of road. Gant and his commandos were forced to run a gauntlet of machinegun fire, mortar attacks and IEDs. The story of Gant’s, fight that day is an amazing tale of heroism, filled with scenes you would expect to see on the silver screen. Gant repeatedly risked his life to save others. The insurgents had planted IEDs hoping that an explosion would force the embattled convoy to stop.

Gant ordered his driver to drive straight for the first IED. As they rolled within twenty feet, the device detonated. Miraculously, Gant’s HMMWV was unscathed. Gant kept the column moving through a vicious gun battle. Another IED lie only five hundred yards ahead. Again, they went after the planted explosive and, again, a thunderous explosion failed to disable Gant’s vehicle. Almost clear of the ambush, Gant noticed a third IED. He continued to push forward, bringing his convoy safely through the torrent of fire. Had Gant hesitated, good men would have died.

Speaking about the Iraqi men that he knew and fought with, Maj. Gant said:

If you knew them as I do, you would not be so quick to want to leave. If you could see with your own eyes the evil that is perpetrated on innocent men, women and children here on a daily basis, you would not be so quick to call it quits.

Colonel Dhafer, you and brave men like you are the hope and future of your country. I wish I were the hope and future of my country. Because if I were, I would not leave you until this job was done. No matter the sacrifice. No matter the price.


Centcom brings us a story of another unsung hero, the one that detonates the IEDs that don't wound or kill our men and women; the ones that you never hear about on TV because no one bleeds or dies. Except, sometimes they do and it is but a two sentence at the bottom of a report that lists the dead and wounded of the day.

Staff Sgt Albietz, Air Force EOD

Albietz was the leader of an explosives team at Kirkuk Regional Air Base in Iraq, and was tasked with locating and disarming or destroying homemade bombs throughout a 42,000-square-kilometer area. As a result, Albietz was often caught in dangerous situations, with insurgent attacks always looming. In total, he was involved in more than 110 combat missions.

In one such mission, Albietz and his team were called in to disarm a bomb that was blocking a logistical convoy trying to pass through the area. As the enemy fired from multiple locations, Albietz’s team successfully disabled the bomb.

That is 110 bombs that did not kill or wound a single soldier or civilian. And, they often did it under fire or direct threat; above and beyond the possibility of losing life and limb from the explosive.

How about some more "unsung heroes"? You know, the folks that are doing some really hard work in the shadows, beyond the fame and adrenaline of combat, are the engineers and civil affairs folks.

Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Southern Iraq – Progress Toward Independence

Dr. Anna Prouse, team leader for the Dhi Qar PRT, said it was challenging at first when no one from the provincial government wanted to meet. She said as time went on, however, the local officials began to trust them and now they are having the Provincial Reconstruction Development Council at least once a week.

" Iraq is small steps, it's relationships," she said. "If the governor does not believe in me, if the chief of police tries to blow me up every time I get out of that gate, then I will never be able to build anything. So the first months were just, work hard and show them that you really have enthusiasm, and that the whole team really believes in this."

Prouse has been in Iraq since 2003, so she is very familiar with what success will take and what it will mean for the Iraqis. She spoke about what her current team was doing to help ensure the Iraqis have a better future.

"'Reconstruction' is sort of [a] misleading word, because I'm not actually here to rebuild," she said. "I'm not here to do the 'brick and mortar' thing. Iraqis can do it, and they probably can do it much better than I. I'm here to build capacity, build this country from the roots, and the roots is the minds, the roots is the education, the health system. Not just put in a clinic, and don't care whether doctors, whether nurses exist, [but] whether they actually know how to maintain a hospital.”

Since we're on the subject of unsung heroes, don't forget that Friday is Military Spouse Appreciation Day! In that honor, I would like to point you to a great blog run by, you guessed it, military spouses: Spouse Buzz

They bill themselves thusly:

SpouseBUZZ is your virtual Family Support Group, where we can celebrate and embrace the tie that binds us all -- military service. This blog exists because of you. We have authors and contributors to keep the conversation going here, but we need you to become an active participant. Submit your comments, questions and suggestions for topics you would like to see our authors address. SpouseBUZZ will make you think, make you laugh and make you cry. Most of all, we hope you feel instantly connected to the thousands of other spouses with whom you share a common experience

At the milblog conference last week, Sarah from trying to GROK said this about being a military spouse:

...I pointed out to my husband something that every servicemember needs to remember when he thinks of his family back home. We’ve never been to Iraq or Afghanistan. We don’t know what it’s like. We imagine the worst, and our mental war zone would probably seem cartoonish to you. But we simply can’t fully grasp what war is like. And while you know when you’re safe or bored or having a slow day, we don’t. Many times you can see danger coming if you have to go on a mission and you can emotionally prepare yourself to let slip the dogs of war; we have to stay emotionally prepared for the entire deployment, never sure of when your mortality is on the line. Your deployment is filled with the ebb and flow of adrenaline; your life is monotonous days punctuated by moments of anxiety or excitement; our adrenaline is always half-on, since every moment that we’re not on the phone with you is a moment when you’re possibly in danger. Such is the life for those on the homefront, those who stand and wait. Such is the life my husband can’t begin to understand, any more than I can really understand his...

A recent post at Spouse Buzz seems to call to mind exactly what is required of a military spouse: Keeping the Home Fires Burning

Over the years, hubby and I have worked on stoking those fires extensively, trying many things with many different results. Snap, crackle, pop is not only about Rice Crispies.

The amount of time hubby and other "Super-Suits" are gone, though present some very unique situations. On the one hand, I appreciate him more than I ever could if he were always home. I am well aware of what I am missing when he is gone, and I'll move Heaven and Earth to make sure coming home is always a good experience for him, and something to look forward to and long for. On the other hand, it's very easy to get caught up in the daily grind of homeschooling four children, keeping my house clean, mowing the back yard, and trying to plan nutritious yet tasty meals that appeal to the Chicken Nugget generation; the end result of this being that sometimes when hubby is gone for a few weeks I forget to shave my legs with any regularity.

And then, of course, there is also the dreaded and yet somewhat unavoidable irritation at having to focus so much of my work on someone else and occasionally feeling like I wish someone would focus that much attention on me. I have been known, on occasion, to consider advertising for my own wife.

Yeah, you'll want to read the rest.

Someone from Soldiers' Angels KC Myspace network sent me this story of an RAF Officer who received the Military Cross. From Soldiers' Angels Europe story of a hero from our allies:

In one firefight he left the protection of his vehicle and forced his way to the front line without regard for his personal safety. In another attack, the fire he directed from the air was on a Taliban target only 30 metres from his position. But the risk was essential given the ferocious weight of fire coming in, which would otherwise have resulted in significant casualties.

In a further incident he was part of a force being dropped off by helicopter at night to capture a high-value Taliban leader, but the Chinook pilot had to take off after just 20 seconds with Flt Lt Carter still onboard due to sudden incoming fire.

Without regard for himself Flt Lt Carter jumped out of the Chinook from 15 ft (4½ metres), landed in a ditch and instantly began directing fire onto Taliban positions. He gallantly and repeatedly risked his life during all contacts with the enemy.

And he's very handsome, too.

Since a soldier just returned from Afghanistan sent a message saying that he and his buddies were forgotten, I thought I'd make special mention of some of their deeds:

Operation Achilles - Break in the Fight

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - After spending more than 45 days on-mission, most Paratroopers would be happy with a shower and a few days to rest before regrouping and heading back out to fight the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. The Paratroopers from the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, are no different.

“It is just great to be able to get a bath, haircut and a shave,” said Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Hall, 1/508th PIR battalion communications chief.

Catamounts receive awards of valor for endeavors during deployment

FORWARD OPERATING BASE FENTY, Afghanistan — Soldiers of 2nd Battalion 87th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, were awarded medals of valor by the 3rd Brigade Combat Team commander in ceremonies held at Forward Operating Base Orgun-E and FOB Tillman May 4.

Army Col. John Nicholson, Task Force Spartan commander, travelled to the TF Catamount area of operations to personally present awards of valor to the Soldiers.

The Catamounts have worked under 4th BCT, 82nd Airborne Division, since TF Spartan’s extension in Afghanistan. The infantrymen were the only part of the 3rd BCT to remain in the southern sector of Regional Command-East following the extension. The work of 2-87 in the south has been impeccable, a point of pride for Nicholson and subordinate brigade leaders.

“This battalion has always risen to the occasion in all aspects of the battle,” said Nicholson.

Awarded during each ceremony were the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, the Purple Heart and the Silver Star for valor.

“Every one of these medals is significant,” said Nicholson. “They are tangible reminders of the fact that you cared for your country, your duty and your fellow comrades more than you cared for your own life.”

Catamount Commander Army Lt. Col. Chris Toner accompanied Nicholson and awarded medals to his Soldiers. Toner has led the Catamounts through a very successful rotation in Afghanistan. Even in the face of the brigade’s sudden extension, Toner and his Soldiers remained vigilant and continued to hold the enemy at bay.

“We have become very familiar with the territory,” said Army Sgt. Shane Ruiz, a team leader for Alpha Co., 2-87 who has received an ARCOM, AAM, Combat Infantry Badge and a Purple Heart. “We have continued to crush the enemy on all fronts. We continue to delay their major operations, surprising them with our knowledge and our force.”

The battalion will continue to distribute medals to its Soldiers as they return to the states. The paths the Catamounts have blazed have paved the way and set a strong example in the southern sector. Their accomplishments will remain long after their departure.

And don't miss this story from January about two women medics who have earned the respect of their fellow soldiers and the Afghan Kandak they work with. A little taste:

In another incident, 3rd Kandak soldiers were ambushed by insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms during a patrol. An ANA general was in the convoy and bravely exposed himself to fire to direct his troops. Stapleton jumped from his Humvee to guard the general as he continued to give orders. Turner drove her Humvee into the firefight with another soldier manning the crew-served weapon in the turret. The ANA respected the medics even more when they saw that Turner was not afraid or hysterical. She didn't hesitate to take care of her brothers in a firefight.

"The ANA guys treat us like family now," Turner said. "They call us mother and sister."

Oh, yeah, you'll want to read the rest of this one, too.

It's a difficult thing for many medics to postpone treating casualties until a firefight is over. But they have been taught that no one is safe, including their patients, until the enemy threat is neutralized. Even the best medical care won't help a casualty if they are subsequently injured in further fighting.

"If we have to lay hot lead down range and then treat casualties, that's what we do," Ivanov said.

These are just a few of our heroes. No one tells you about them. They are quiet behind the media lines that only know the names of the dead. But, we at Soldiers' Angels support heroes like this every day. Help us support these heroes and more. Join us at Soldiers' Angels. It doesn't take much but a few words in a letter and a stamp to be a soldiers' hero. Be one.

PS...Military Spouse Appreciation Day is here. Forgot to something for Home Front Six? You can support the troops and show her or him that you appreciate them with a gift certificate from spa emergency. And don't forget, Mother's Day is Sunday. Give your hero a day at the spa.

- May no soldier go unloved