Thursday, July 26, 2007

Things To Read, Watch or Listen To

We haven't done this in awhile, but, every so often, we like to point our readers to information that they may not get on their nightly news. Some are from commanders giving reports. Others are soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who are serving on the front lines. They range from broad overviews to day to day life. They may help you understand what it is like "over there".

If you read enough, you will find out that the experiences of some in one sector do not reflect those of others. One district or province may be very active with contact with the enemy. Another district may be quiet and focusing on rebuilding basic infrastructure, developing good governance and economics. This is true for both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Please enjoy reading these posts. Some are rather long, but they wouldn't be here if they did not provide the best information possible.

Richard's Deployment

Richard is in Afghanistan and posts a weekly update. He is at FOB Salerno where our favorite dustoff medic is stationed. He posts pictures of the progress as they build a new, permanent hospital. Right now, they work in tents with raised floors. Last week they suffered a flood and had to rebuild. They've been treating a young patient, Azad who is six, for several months. Today he was moved to the Afghan Surgical Hospital:

There was one landmark today; Our longest-stay patient, Azad, has moved to our Afghan surgical hospital. He's doing very well and his family is visiting him now. His youngest sister in 17 days old. His family is looking forward to going back home. Their gratitude is overwhelming. The gratitude of all our Afghani patients is overwhelming.

Read more about Azad, the flooded hospital tent and the continuing progress to build a permanent hospital here (pictures)

Soldier OnBackground on Azad's story and this little bit about being away from home:

Most of us spend an inordinate amount of time planning our redeployment, our return home. No matter how many times the Chaplain tells us not to idealize things back home, we do it anyway. When you are separated from home and family it's easy to remember everything through rose-colored glasses. It's great for getting through the deployment, but it can make things harder when you actually get home. Despite the fantasy, life goes on at home just as before; children grow up, spouses become independent, coworkers and friends move on. As we idealize life back home, and as life goes on back home, the gap between the fantasy and the reality grows larger and the transition becomes more jarring. It's all just part of the hidden stresses of war. Not all wounds are visible. Not all pain is obvious. Not all casualties of war are Soldiers.

JAG Officer in Mazar-e-sharif Afghanistan (pictures)

More here: JAG Officer in Mazar-e-sharif Afghanistan (pictures)

JAG Officer: Kandahar

Kandahar is just as hot as I thought it would be. I think it’s been around 105+ degrees every day. It can get up to 115 and even hotter but fortunately it hasn’t gotten there yet.

Our first day of class as I was proposing the schedule, which included afternoon sessions, the Afghans immediately protested. They said that they would rather start early and end by noon to avoid the heat in the class room. This week we’re teaching in ANA land so the buildings have no AC. So it was agreed that we would start at 0700 every day and end by noon. It’s actually worked out OK.[snip]

Here on Camp Hero there is a huge area that is surrounded by a covered boardwalk. In the center is a soccer field, small roller-blade arena, and volleyball pit. On the boardwalk are various fast-food places; a Canadian donut shop - "Tim Hortons" aka "deadman's donuts", Korean snack bar, Pizza Hut, Subway, and Burger King. There are also several Afghan shops selling various items, a sew shop, embroidery shop as well as a restaurant just off the boardwalk. It’s actually pretty nice.

The base even has it’s own waste reclamation plant. The first night we were here I asked Paul what that terrible smell was and he said it was the “poo pond” or “bamboo pond.” It’s the water/waste reclamation plant that has bamboo growing in it and it’s about 100 yards or so down the road from his room – where we’re staying. He offered to take us down to see it but of course we declined. The smell was enough of a tour.

This part of the country is the “hot spot” in terms of Taliban fighting. This is the area where Scott Lundell was killed, where road side bombs are a regular occurrence as well as small arms fire. Paul says that when they first got here there were regular rockets being fired over the camp but none that actually landed inside the wire. (continue reading:
JAG Officer: Kandahar

JAG Officer continues with a great overview of life in Kandahar including the people, the food and the buildings: Last Days in Kandahar

We were there during the workers lunch and it was interesting to see what they were eating. Their main course was a watery soup of yogurt and green onions with a few cooked vegetables and naan (bread). They use the big loaves of naan as plates and then eat the bread around the things on top of the bread. They were very gracious and invited us to join them, but of course since we had just eaten we declined.

And this is Matt Sanchez in Afghanistan (formerly in Iraq). He has some great videos including interviews from enlisted and officers on their work there, conditions and progress.

Getting ready to go to Shura

Food Time in Afghanistan (an excellent quick view of food and eating traditions)

LTC Gilhart Provincial Reconstruction Team Afghanistan on progress and projects

Other videos from Matt Sanchez in Afghanistan

On to Iraq where the experiences can vary even more greatly from area to area.

Jack Army: Typical Patrol

It is real easy to get complacent when you go on patrol after patrol like this one. Nothing happens, nobody challenges you, nobody pushes the envelope, everything is just quiet, business as usual. That is one of the things that is so hard about this job: fighting the complacency. I haven't been in constant, days-long combat, but I imagine that it is easier to stay alert during that sort of activity because you have to. Of course, I'm not eager to test that theory!

A couple of notes about some of the things you see in the video.

Jack Army: Giggles

Since I've figured out how to embed video, I'm able to give you a couple of more. Next up is a video from a visit to a town outside our area. This town gets almost no notice from anybody, good or bad. It's just a quiet town doing it's own thing, but security there is good, services are getting better, and the townsfolk are very supportive of the government and the Coalition.

We started our visit to a small pre-school where we handed out toys and played with the kids for a few minutes. Some of the children were a little shy.

See the rest of Jack's patrol and a little video of the kids enjoying a little "giggle fest" here.

Acute Politics: Militias

I have written previously about some of the major distinctions in the structure of the Iraqi Security Forces. Over the course of the last year, I have had the opportunity many times to see various Iraqi units in action. The Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police have greatly increased in number- there were few of either evident in Ramadi last October, and they are everywhere now. I like to see IAs and IPs; I like to see that Iraqis fighting for their own country. However, the guys I really like to see are the PSF and Neighborhood Watch fighters.

I have witnessed the appearance of local fighters in an area several times- an advent that is normally followed quickly by relative peace.

Militias are a mixed bag. In some areas, they have been extremely helpful in decreasing the violence and securing neighborhoods. These are most closely associated with neighborhood watch or policing programs. In others, like Sadr City, they continue to be dangerous for the people and coalition forces.

An example of how working with the shiehks and creating a locally staffed security force improves security and living conditions can be seen in this report at Badgers Forward:

Raider Commander Update on Ramadi

Security here in Ramadi continues to improve as the Iraqi police and army forces work daily to keep the population safe. When we arrived in February, we were averaging 30 – 35 attacks per day in our area of responsibility. Now our average is one attack per day or less. We had an entire week with no attacks in our area and have a total of over 65 days with no attacks. I attribute this success to our close relationship with the Iraqi security forces and the support those forces receive from the civilian population. The Iraqi police and army forces have uncovered hundreds of munitions caches and get intelligence tips from the local population every day.[snip]

Some of our most recent successes have been in the areas of reconstruction and governance. The city government didn’t exist before April of this year, but has grown steadily over the past few months, and is now providing essential services to the population. In areas that were battlefields only a few months ago, city electrical employees are now repairing transformers and power lines. Sanitation workers are fixing sewer leaks caused by hundreds of buried IED’s [improvised explosive devices]. The Iraqis now have repaired the electrical grid in about 80 percent of the city and about 50 percent of the rubble has been removed. We expect to have all rubble removed in the next 90 – 120 days, which will allow for many parts of the city to start rebuilding.

Read the rest of the report at
Raider Commander Update on Ramadi. Ramadi is in the Al Anbar Province, once considered the hotbed of the insurgency in Iraq. It still has a high attack rate, but this is because the small corner of Al Anbar overlaps Baghdad and a southern "suburb" or "Mahala" called Ahmadiya. There is also an area north east of Baghdad between Camp Taqqadum, Tikrit, Mosul and Kirkuk where the routes for smuggling money, weapons and fighters follow the main highway and river system. It is also the area where the tribes most loyal to Saddam hold the land. In fact, the al Tikriti tribe is the family or tribe of Saddam. It is these small areas where concentrated attacks drive up the average in the whole.

On the odd variances in conditions in different parts of Iraq, we have two reporters:

Violence ebbing. Wealth returning. Can this be Iraq?

For there are two Iraqs in evidence these days: not just the one where weddings are bombed and young women murdered in reply. The other Iraq is harder to dramatise but it is equally real. It is a place where boring, ordinary things take place. And in taking place become extraordinary in the context of conflict.

Last week it was the opening of a new $20 million government centre next to Tal Afar's ancient ruined fort. The day before Jamil detonated his explosives' belt, the sheiks and dignitaries came in and crowded through the building's corridors, muttering approvingly as they examined its new painted walls, the photocopiers, printers and computers - some of them still wrapped in plastic - sitting on the brand new desks.

From Michael J. Totten, veteran reporter who has traveled and reported from the Middle East: In the Wake of the Surge (pictures included)

Just to the right of my knees were the feet of the gunner. He stood in the middle of the Humvee and manned a machine gun in a turret sticking out of the top. I could hear him swiveling his cannon from side to side and pointing it into the trees as we approached the urban sector in their area of operations.

This was all purely defensive. The battalion I’m embedded with here in Baghdad hasn’t suffered a single casualty – not even one soldier wounded – since they arrived in the Red Zone in January. The surge in this part of the city could not possibly be going better than it already is. Most of Graya’at’s insurgents and terrorists who haven’t yet fled are either captured, dormant, or dead.

A car approached our Humvee with its lights on.

“I can’t see, I can’t see,” said the driver. Bright lights are blinding with night vision goggles. “Flash him with the laser,” he said to the gunner. “Flash him with the laser!”

A green laser beam shot out from the gunner’s turret toward the windshield of the oncoming car. The headlights went out.

I'll warn you now, this is long, but it is Gen. Petreaus giving a very detailed interview on the ground situation in Iraq: Interview with Petreaus

HH: Welcome, General. You took over command of the multinational forces in February of this year, February 10. In the past five months, how have conditions in Iraq changed?

DP: Well, obviously, we have been surging our forces during that time. We have added five Army brigade combat teams, two Marine battalions, and a Marine expeditionary unit[ed...that's our Fighting 13th that we need additional support for], and some enablers, as they’re called. And over the last month, that surge of forces has turned into a surge of offensive operations. And we have achieved what we believe is a reasonable degree of tactical momentum on the ground, gains against the principal near-term threat, al Qaeda-Iraq, and also gains against what is another near-term threat, and also potentially the long term threat, Shia militia extremists as well. As you may have heard, that today, we announced the capture of the senior Iraqi leader of al Qaeda-Iraq, and that follows in recent weeks the detention of some four different emirs, as they’re called, the different area leaders of al Qaeda, six different foreign fighter facilitators, and a couple dozen other leaders, in addition to killing or capturing hundreds of other al Qaeda-Iraq operatives.


We were sitting out at one of the check points and there is this house a little ways away from where we stage our vehicles. They are always standing outside the house waving at us. I just so happened to have some hard candy in case I was near any kids, so I got out of the truck and started walking over. One of the sergeants went with me. I stood a little way back and waved a them, and then kind of shook my bag of candy. They started to walk toward me, two of them holding hands with their father, so I started walking toward their house.

I stuck my hand out and said “assalaam alaikum” to the man, which means “peace is upon you.” The man said it back and then asked me how I was doing. It turns out that he is a teacher at the school in the village and he spoke English. I told him I had some candy I would like to give to his kids, and asked if that would be okay. He approved, so I gave some to each of the three kids. They loved it and were all smiles.

We got in to a conversation with the man, just trying to find out a little bit about him. We all introduced ourselves and he introduced his kids (I forgot everyone’s name in about two seconds…) He told us that he loves the American troops here. He said that the IPs at the check point were doing a good job. One of his concerns though was getting shot at. At night, because they don’t have air and because it is so hot, they sleep in the grass outside their house. Gunshots are a pretty normal thing, and he told us he was “weary” of his children getting hurt from stray bullets. The sergeant I was with said that he would try to talk to the IP and the guys at our patrol base to notify them of his concerns and see if there was anything that could be done as far as getting them some sort of wall put up.

Another read from Badgers Forward on support from Military Spouses: Ladies of Lakedaemon

Right now I am reading Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire, an ode to the Spartan martial spirit, but I was really struck by this passage, a short soliloquy from one of the Spartan officer's wives:

The wives of other cities marvel at the women of Lakedaemon. How, they ask, can these Spartan wives stand erect and unblinking as their husbands' broken bodies are borne home to a grave or, worse, interred beneath some foreign dirt with nothing save cold memory to clutch to their hearts? These women think we are made of stauncher stuff than they. I will tell you, . . . we are not.

Do they think we of Lakedaemon love our husbands less than they? Are our hearts made of stone and steel? So they imagine that our grief is less because we choke it down in our guts?

So too of today's "milspouses." People ask Mrs. Badger 6 how she does this, as if dealing with deployment is a superhuman task. She does it because she loves me and she believes in me and our task and purpose. I see the same resolve in other milspouse blogs and as I talk to Soldiers about their wives at home. (And occasionally husbands.)

They are not super-human. Quite the contrary. They are everyday people who decided they are going to get through this - that they and their marriages will come through this. Everyday people just deciding to make it through this. And that is far more impressive than being super-human.

Speaking of spouses and children on the home front, My Life as a Military Spouse, reports this interesting part of deployed family life: Out of the Mouths of Babes

I constantly battle with my children over their asking mommy to help with everything. Yes, daddy is gone a lot, but when he is here, he can help, just like mommy normally does. My children don't seem to understand the concept, or so I thought. I have been raging about this issue for several days now and this morning S3 came to me and we had a conversation that went like this:

S3: Mommy, I would love to have some watermelon, but it is not appropriate for me to touch the knifes.

ME: You are right honey, you are not allowed to touch the sharp knives, I will be there in just a minute to help you.

S3: Mommy, I know I can ask daddy things too, but he is not here, he is at work. Remember? He is out with the tanks and his soldiers. Remember?

ME: Yes honey, I know daddy is not here. I appreciate you remembering that you can ask daddy to help you with things too, when he is here of course.

S3: But mommy, we ask you for things because we love you. We don't want you to forget that we love you, so we have to ask you for things. You are the bestest mommy and I love you over and over again.

Read the rest of Out of the Mouths of Babes

Minnesota Red Bulls Home

After a bit of a snafu, our two buses were joined by escorts from the State Patrol, and a couple of dozen motorcycles from the Patriot Riders and the American Legion. As we crossed every county line in Minnesota, we picked up a new escort from the local sheriff. Just outside of Owatonna, our procession turned into a parade with hundreds of motorcycles leading us, and thousands of people lining our route. Our luxury coach bus included tinted windows, so I'm not sure if the folks we passed saw us waving back, or how many of us had to turn away as we were overcome with emotion.

Video of the Welcome Home Red Bulls

Most of these reports and many more can be found on the Dawn Patrol at:

- May no soldier go unloved

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

3000 Marines: Update

According to our adoption committee, we still have over half of the original 3000 Marines left to adopt. The response to our calls for support has been great, but we need to keep spreading the word. Over 1500 marines are still looking for support.

Find out more about the marines and how you can help by going here: Urgent Call for Support of 3000 Marines.

- May no soldier go unloved

Monday, July 23, 2007

Over the Weekend: Soldiers' Angels Around Kansas City

Soldiers' Angels Kansas City was busy this past week continuing to spread the word about Soldiers' Angels and show our support for our troops.

On Thursday, we were invited to a small town "Music in the Park" in Bonner Springs, KS. The City Band played old time favorites, well known pieces from musicals and famous marches. The evening started out with the National Anthem being sung by a local man who had a fantastic baritone. Everyone stood, the men removed their hats, the veterans saluted and the rest of the people placed their hands over their hearts. That's something that you just don't see at urban events. True respect and appreciation for our nation's freedoms and struggles to maintain them seem to come more easily to those who enjoy them at their simplest level. Or, maybe it is because, in small communities, everyone knows someone who has sacrificed to maintain that way of life. People know the names, the families and often the people whose names are carved in the monument in the square. They were never strangers to them. They feel the price more keenly.

People bought ice cream sundae's provided by the local Luthern Church to raise money for their local charity project. Pastor Borroughs from Emaus Luthern Church in Bonner Springs spoke to Mayor Clausie of Bonner Springs and asked him if we could have a few moments. Mayor Clausie agreed and introduced us after a rousing rendition of a medley of songs from "The Music Man". We told the audience of about 100 how much our troops needed their support and how they could help by adopting a service member and writing or sending care packages. I told them about the 3000 marines who has asked for this support. As usual, whenever I read a letter from one of our troops, the people are very quiet and then there was wild applause as hands went up all over the audience for our flyers and business cards.

The letter that always seems to inspire people the most is the one from a young man who wrote that he was excited to receive letters and care packages from home because he knew it came from great Americans. He said he did not mind the fight knowing he was defending such wonderful people. One young school teacher asked for contact information directly so that she could arrange a project with our organization. We are looking forward to hearing from her. I think it is wonderful that teachers are showing children about civic pride and honoring those who defend. There has certainly not been such efforts to honor the soldiers' since World War II.

Friday morning we got up bright and early to send off the 35 ID Kansas Army National Guard. This event was truly inspiring. The reserve band played some great music and we met many wonderful people. Soldiers' Angels and the Patriot Guard formed a flag line into the auditorium for the ceremonies. As we waited several soldiers thanked us for the efforts. Then, the ranking two star general came up and shook the hand of everyone in the line along with a captain from the unit. As he thanked everyone for being there, I heard the people on the flag line continue to tell him and the captain, "No. Thank you for your service." It was definitely mutual appreciation.

Several soldiers took pictures of the event for mementos. We were unexpectedly asked to go into the auditorium as part of the ceremony. We lined up behind the podium as the guest speakers were presented. The ride captain presented a flag signed by all of the PGR and Soldiers' Angels attendees that read "We Support Our Troops!" After a few moments of applause, the commanding officer thanked us for "standing behind the soldiers, no matter what the mission." Then the officers and dignitaries on the podium and the audience of soldiers and their families turned around and gave us a standing ovation. It was very heartening to know that your support is appreciated.

Finally, Saturday morning, we got up early once again to Welcome Home Sgt Van Ness from Iraq. Sgt Van Ness drove up from Louisiana where he landed with his unit two days before. His uncle is in the PGR down in Louisiana and asked the Kansas Guard to welcome him home. After a few moments of chatting with him in the parking lot of a local park, Sgt. Van Ness said what many have said on return: it is great to come home and see the green, green grass and trees. In fact, Sgt Van Ness was so impressed with it, the first thing he did when he got home was get out the lawnmower and cut the grass.

His family put out a tent in the front with chairs and provided water, soda and snacks. Everyone stood around for awhile and talked. Sgt Van Ness' cousin had recently returned from AIT (technical school) where he was learning to be an electrician to work on the electronics of jets. I had a few moments to talk to his grandfather who was wearing a hat indicating he was a World War II vet who had served with the 20th Army Air Corp which was now the 20th Air Force. Sgt Van Ness was carrying on the family tradition and was serving in that unit. We gave his grandfather a "Thank You for Your Service" card and an angel pin.

Sgt. Van Ness' step-mom asked for information about Soldiers' Angels. She really wanted to get involved so we gave her some information and a business card. We hope to hear from her soon.

It was a wonderful weekend showing our support for our troops. We are looking forward to continuing with these events and spreading the word about Soldiers' Angels. We want to tell everyone about these activities and the joy that it brings to the soldiers, their families and to those who support them. You can't beat it.

- May no soldier go unloved

Friday, July 20, 2007

Make That 3000 Marines

Reading the forums, the number of marines submitted from the Fighting 13th was updated to 3000 by the end of the day. That would be the entire unit.

Please help us support these troops. Nothing is too big or impossible when the will and strength of many work together. Go to the original post here to find out how you can help support these men and women.

Update: We still have over 1500 Marines left to adopt not including our daily influx of a hundred or more soldiers, sailors, air force and marines from other units.

Please find out how you can help by going here: urgent request for assistance for 3000 marines.

- May no soldier go unloved

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One Thousand Two Hundred Marines: Urgent Alert for Massive Support

Just in to the forums on Wednesday afternoon:

One Thousand Two Hundred Marines (yes! 1200) [no! make that 3000 as of Thursday afternoon] from the Fighting 13th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) have been submitted to Soldiers' Angels for support.

The Marines may be looking for a few good men, but we are looking for a lot of great citizens who are willing to help support these men and women. Some of these marines are on the fifth deployment in defense of our nation.

We need Angels to adopt as many marines as possible. We need many more patriotic citizens to sign up to become Angels to adopt some fine marines. Please help us support these men and women.

To read more about these Marines, please click here: Fighting 13th MEU

Sign up to be a Soldiers' Angels and adopt a marine by clicking here: Adopt a Marine.

Or donate money or supplies by clicking here: Donate

If you have any questions about how to adopt a marine or make a donation, please email Soldiers' Angels

Or call, (615) 676-0239.

Update - Soldiers' Angels thanks the following websites for their continuing support for our mission:

The Conservative Grapevine

Rightwing News

Update: We still have over 1500 Marines left to adopt not including our daily influx of a hundred or more soldiers, sailors, air force and marines from other units.

Please keep spreading the word so we can give these Marines our full support.

- May no soldier go unloved

Why I Became an Angel: The Phone Call

There are certain conversations that you never want to have with someone you love. One of those conversations is about the possibility of dying and what that person wants to happen with their money, property and burial. Normally, that's something that you associate with the elderly or the very ill when they are nearing the end of their life. Those conversations are hard enough. But, when you are talking to your brother who is a year younger than you and is in the prime of health, that conversation takes on a whole different context. It brings things home to you about mortality. In this case, it brings the war home to you.

About three years ago, my brother called me, out of the blue, during the work day. That was pretty unusual. Usually, we talked about every two weeks on a Saturday or Sunday. We would catch up on what the family was doing, how is kids were, his wife, what we were doing here. All the usual things that families do when they live so far apart. On this day, we did the same.

He told me about going to a military funeral with full honors for a man who had served long and unexpectedly died at home from a heart attack. He was asked to be part of the honor guard. He wore full military dress in the blazing heat of an early summer day in the desert. He talked about sweating so badly he had to have his uniform dry cleaned immediately. Then he said something odd, "If something happens to me, that's what I want." I asked, "Really?" Because I always thought my brother was pretty laid back regardless of his career. He replied, "Hell, yes! I want those SOBs to sweat like I had to. Maybe they'll remember!" I thought that was an odd statement, but I laughed a little and told him he was going to be a pain even after death.

After we had a few more laughs and harassed each other a little, as siblings are want to do, he said, "I'm deploying in three days." Just like that. It is not melodramatic to say that for a moment everything stops and your mind goes blank.

We had been at war in Afghanistan for two years and Iraq for almost exactly one. The possibility of deploying was always there, but it is not something that you dwell on. Life still goes on here, even as it does there. I wanted to know all the things that everyone wants to know, but I knew better than to ask: where? how long? why? What I really wanted to know was when he found out. It is not really usual to find out only three days before hand.

He had known for over two weeks. His response was that he was dealing with his wife, the kids, the paperwork, preparation for deployment, etc, and, well, "you know how mom will be. And, Dad, well..." My parents are both proud of my brother and his service, but having your child deploy to a war zone, no matter how old, no matter how proud, is an emotional roller coaster at best. He hadn't told either of them yet. I knew because, if he had, my mom and dad would have called me already. Not that I didn't understand why he waited. I realized that he was getting himself ready and felt that he was not ready to deal with that emotion.

To make matters more interesting, my brother's unit was not deploying. He had volunteered to go as an individual replacement for someone who had been killed several weeks earlier by a mortar attack. His wife was not enthused by his decision. She didn't understand why he would want to volunteer to go. His general response to all inquiries:

"I am no one special. There are men and women there right now who are away from their families for years at a time. Some of them are young and have not even had much of a life with their families. I have had a great life. My family is well provided for. If I go, someone else may not have to. Someone else can be at home with their family, at least for awhile longer. Maybe, they never have to go."

That was my brother? The younger brother who I had fought with as children? The brother I had competed with for grades, for friends and for the coolest car? The brother that would tell me the wild things that he and his military friends got up to while they were stationed in South Korea? Suddenly, I was no longer the mature, wiser, older sibling. Suddenly, my younger brother was my hero.

Then he said the words that no one wants to hear from their younger brother, "I want you to do something for me." I knew without his asking what it would be and, at that moment, I felt the most proud, the most honored, the most privileged and the most wretched I had ever felt in my life.

We started talking in euphemisms: "if something happens." Neither of us were actually willing to say what the final "something" might be, but it had to be discussed. He said he thought that, "if something happened", his wife, our parents, would be a mess and unable to handle it. We went through his life insurance, the property, what he wanted for his family, what he wanted for himself. I remembered our earlier conversation and that part where he said, "Maybe they'll remember."

Remember him. Remember that war is serious business. Remember that they did not join the Boy Scouts, but a dangerous occupation. Remember to do everything possible to come back alive and bring your men back alive so that your widow was not sitting there crying and your friends would not be standing there sweating in the desert heat. Remember.

When we hung up the phone, I sat there for a long time doing nothing. My mind kept going over what I would need to do. I had wanted to go down and be with his wife and kids when he deployed, but he told me to save my days off, "just in case." I knew that, soon, my mom would call and my dad would call and I would have to be strong and supportive. I would have to tell them the same thing, over and over again, that my brother had told me: he volunteered because he wanted to do it. I was going to support him every way I could while he was away so he could do his job and come home.

Before, the war had been on television. The people there were somebody else's sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. They were not "my family". They were not people that I knew. They were the "others" with barely any connection to me. Now, I wanted to know everything. In two days, I read more books, more newspapers, watched more news than I had ever done in such a short time. I started thinking about all the others that were there. I realized that the conversation I had with my brother must go on hundreds of thousands of times as men and women were deployed to each theater of combat.

I wondered if they had a family like ours. I wondered if they had to worry about their family back home. I wondered if anyone called, or wrote or sent a little something to let them know that someone cared that they were there. I've never been the kind of person to sit back and do nothing. I didn't want to just wait until "something happened". I needed to do something now. But, what?

In an odd twist of fate, my brother was not deployed. Another man with the same rank, who had "been there", had all his shots and all his paperwork in order had put in and been accepted for the billet first. My brother was disappointed. There were no other billets open at the time for his MOS (military operations specialty). When he called on the day he was to deploy and told the family, I could feel the big sigh of relief that came out of everyone. It was like letting the air out of an over inflated balloon. When I spoke to my brother, I could tell that he was not relieved. I knew some of what he was feeling. This man, whose name I still do not know, went and my brother did not. I don't know if he had a family. I don't know what ever happened to him. What I know is, he did what my brother was going to do. He went and someone else did not have to.

I realized that, just because my brother didn't go, it didn't mean that there weren't thousands of men and women who needed support. They were no longer the "others". They were somebody to someone. They were people that we knew. They were OUR people. So, I decided I still had to do something.

I continued to look for organizations that provided support. I went on line and found the "milblogging" community. Military men and women, serving and veterans, who had websites and personal journals. One of those websites was He wrote about an organization called Soldiers' Angels. They did direct support for the troops including care packages and letters. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to personally show our troops that they had someone here pulling for them, someone who cared.

I wrote once that I wish I could answer "no" to the inevitable question I am asked when talking about Soldiers' Angels: "do you have someone in the military". I wanted to be able to talk from the position of a civilian with no military connection in hopes that it would resonate more with the public. I was completely wrong. I will never answer "no", even if my brother retires someday. I do have "someone" in the military; a lot of "someones". Those that serve are "our" people, they are "my people" and they always will be.

Please help Soldiers' Angels support our troops. Adopt a soldier, sailor, airman or marine today. Let them know that they are somebody's someone.

- May no soldier go unloved

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

You're Attention Please: New Event Calendar

Soldiers' Angels Kansas City has added a new feature to our blog. Please look at the left hand side bar under "Scheduled Events and Fund Raisers". A calendar is now available indicating upcoming events and projects. This calendar will be updated as often as information is available.

We will still place updates in our regular posts on the main page here to let you know what is happening in our area. Please check the calendar regularly for opportunities to support our troops and volunteer with Soldiers' Angels.

Next Event - Bonner Springs, KS Music in the Park, June 19, 7pm

Thursday, June 19, Bonner Springs, Kansas Music in the Park will provide an opportunity for Angels to meet and greet local dignitaries and citizens. Event begins at 7pm. Ice Cream social will be held and then music starts at 8:30pm. Event will be held at the Kelly Murphy Park 1 block west of Oak on 2nd Street, Bonner Springs, Ks.

Soldiers' Angels will be given approximately 10 minutes on the music stand during opening ceremonies to talk about Soldiers' Angels to the general public. Several local charitable and volunteer groups will be putting on an "ice cream social" at the event. We will also be allowed to walk around and talk to the general public, hand out cards and/or fliers. Any angels in the general area who would like to stand on the band stand with me and show "presence" or walk among the crowd to answer questions and hand out cards would be welcome. Angels will meet at the Thriftway 112 Oak St Bonner Springs, KS 66012 (corner of Oak and Front St, just after the Dairy Queen) between 6:30 and 7pm we will make our way to the park at 7pm.

Bring your kids, stick around for the free ice cream social provided by the local charities and enjoy the music.

- May no soldier go unloved

Wednesday's Heroes

Every Wednesday, we highlight the bravery and heroic actions of our men and women in uniform. These are people and stories that you will not hear on your nightly news or read in your papers. These are the stories that will inform our next generation what courage and sacrifice in the face of adversity means.

Camaraderie, Patriotism, Pride Spur On Troops in Combat

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2007 – Each day, as the nation’s volunteer military men and women perform their mission in Iraq and Afghanistan, they know the enemy they’re up against employs uncommon tactics and weapons. They know that a simple misstep could cause disfigurement or death.[snip]

On behalf of these wounded and fallen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace honored four Purple Heart recipients, one from each service, at an evening parade at the historic Marine Barracks here.

Pace said Army Cpl. Mathew Murray, Marine Sgt. Nicholas Wahle, Navy Senior Chief David L. Hall and Air Force Senior Airman Michael Fletcher also represent those who serve around the world protecting America’s way of life.

“Another 2.4 million Americans just like them serve our nation tonight so we can … live the lives we want to live, enjoy our families, pray where we want to pray – or not pray – and just live our lives as Americans,” Pace said. “To each of you and all those you represent, thank you.” [snip]

Marine Sgt. Nicholas Wahle

In November 2005, during his third deployment in Iraq, Marine Sgt. Nicholas Wahle led his squad in combat in Ramadi. During an attack on an observation post by indirect rocket-propelled-grenade and small-arms fire, he was struck in the face by shrapnel. Despite his injury, Wahle exposed himself to enemy fire as he delivered vital ammunition to all posts.

In January 2006, Wahle observed enemy activity and, anticipating an assault, assembled the reaction force and forward air controller. During the attack, he coordinated his post’s response and told the forward air controller where to lay down fire. By foreseeing the attack, he enabled the post to gain fire superiority and defeat the attack.

Wahle, who received a Bronze Star Medal for the courage he demonstrated, said he was honored to represent the Marine Corps’ warriors. (read the rest of their stories)

Airman 1st Class Charity Trueblood: Bronze Star with V Device (valor in combat)

Trueblood, 22, earned a Bronze Star with “V” for her actions during that attack during a convoy mission outside Balad, Iraq, 18 months ago.

The airman first class was driving an up-armored Humvee near the middle of the 30-vehicle convoy when the lead vehicle spotted what looked like a roadside bomb.

Her unit had encountered snipers and bombs in the area in the past and anticipated a possible ambush. When shots rang out from the darkness as they slowed to examine the bomb, they reacted instantly.

“You just go,” she said. “As soon as the attack starts, you return fire and get out of their range. I moved the [Humvee] towards the side of fire to block the unarmored ones, but we all started moving.”

Two of the contractors’ trucks she was trying to shield were riddled with bullets as they sped away. Trueblood said the first had a tire blown out, sending sparks across the asphalt as the vehicle bounced down the highway on a rim.

The second truck caught on fire after being hit, and the troops forced it to a stop as soon as they got out of the shooters’ range. When they opened the truck door they found that the shooters had also hit the driver, contractor Robert Martin.

Her crew pulled him from the burning car, threw him on the hood of the tightly packed Humvee, and crept away from the growing fireball.

“He said I had a good Humvee-side manner,” said Trueblood, who was promoted to senior airman after her efforts that day.
(read the rest of Sr. Airman Trueblood's rescue of Rob Martin)

Arizona's "Triple Deuce" truckers happy to be alive

"We were scanning our sectors and everything," Buckley said. About two hours into the drive, he was sitting on the edge of his seat, looking out the window as the truck cruised at about 55 mph.

"Everything looked perfectly fine," he said. "Without warning, boom. Everything just went silent. My door was blown off. The front of the truck was on fire. All along my door, where the frame is, that was just burning. The tires were destroyed. The front axles were gone. The truck was facing to the left. We were seeing the side of the road while the trailer was still straight. My driver here, Sgt. May, kept it upright. I've never been in a jackknife before. I thought we were going to flip it. I scooted over towards him. I'm holding on. It was a crazy ride. It was like being on an old wooden rollercoaster."

Fumes stung Buckley's eyes and sinuses. "It was miserable," he said. "I smell something burning now and it makes me nauseous."

The Soldiers say the IED may have been made from a 155 mm artillery round laced with an accelerant, buried beneath the road surface and detonated remotely.

"Somebody out in the desert, just timing, hit the jackpot," May said. "Nothing personal."

"I heard a thud, and the next thing I know everything I saw was orange," he said. Knowing they would roll if he went off the road into a drainage ditch, May fought to control the truck. (read Triple Deuce)

Army Sgt. 1st Class Raymond E. Bittinger Hometown: Chicago, IL

It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach – when you know something is wrong. For Staff Sgt. Bittinger, that feeling came on April 9, 2004, as his troops approached the small town of Behriz, Iraq. Military intel and a recent attack suggested insurgents were planning actions against U.S. forces in the area. And now Bittinger and his team found themselves in what appeared to be a ghost town: not an Iraqi in sight and no security visible.

Suddenly, the men spotted movement in the palm groves; insurgents unleashed a torrent of RPG and small-arms fire. During the battle, as enemies directed their fire toward specific targets, Bittinger weaved in and out of the line of fire, protecting his comrades by drawing gunfire to his own vehicle. As they fought, Bittinger’s gunner took a hit, and fell from his seat. Bittinger quickly removed his flak jacket, used it to pressure the wound, and then jumped behind the gun and kept firing. (read Bittenger)

Help Soldiers' Angels support our heroes. Donate or adopt a soldier, sailor, airman or marine and remind them that someone on the home front is thinking of them.

- May no soldier go unloved

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Soldiers' Angels and Avalanche Ranch VBS

There is something really enjoyable about going to small town America and talking to people about Soldiers' Angels and supporting our troops. It is in small towns that the military and those that serve are closer to home. Not necessarily because, as some people believe, the military is full of people from rural America looking for a way out. A large percentage of our armed forces come from urban and suburban areas. The difference is, in small town America, everybody knows that Chad or Joe or Diane joined the military and is stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan or many other places around the world. In urban and suburban America, most people don't know their neighbors very well, much less whether their son, sister, brother, or father is in the military and fighting in the war.

Because of this reality, it is small town America that is more likely to show their patriotism and support, unashamed and unbowed by politics, news or other's opinions. It is, after all, members of their community and in these communities, everyone knows somebody and everyone is important. And, in that way of small communities, no one is a stranger. Even if it is a group of soldiers they never met before. Because the town has men and women in the military and many veterans, these soldiers become a part of their family, too.

Monday, July 16, Soldiers' Angels Kansas City was invited to the Peculiar United Methodist Church in Peculiar, Missouri for their annual Avalanche Ranch Vacation Bible School. Every year, the vacation bible school performs a mission. These missions include providing for the underprivileged and the elderly. These missions teach the children the joy and satisfaction of giving back to their community. This year the church was looking for a new mission. Some soldiers newly arrived in Iraq were looking for support. Soldiers' Angels provided the perfect match.

After a brief introduction, Soldiers' Angels showed pictures and talked to the children about what it was like for deployed soldiers: how they lived, where they slept, how hard they worked and what it was like to be far away from home for a long time. The children were asked if they had been away from home and did they miss their families. Of course, they did, so they understood that the soldiers missed their families, too. Then they were asked if they had someone far away who would send them cards or letters. How did it feel to open the card and know someone was thinking about them? One little girl replied, "Happy!" That's exactly how the soldiers feel when they get mail.

At the end of the presentation, all the children got together and sent the soldiers a big "Howdy" for the video that will be included in the care packages. Then everyone went to their classes and each group, from pre-school to fifth grade, wrote a message or drew a picture to send to their adopted troops. A brief message and short list of items, including toiletries and snacks, were sent home with the children to give to their parents. These items will be collected throughout vacation bible school and over the next Sunday. The church is requesting a "love fund" on Sunday, June 22, to pay for the shipping of the care packages and to let others in the church know about the collection of items if they wish to contribute. Soldiers' Angels and Peculiar United Methodist Church will hold a packing party on June 28 to prepare the items for mailing.

Soldiers' Angels
thanks the Peculiar United Methodist Church and the wonderful children of Avalanche Ranch Vacation Bible School for their fantastic support of our military men and women.

If you would like to show your patriotism and appreciation, please join Soldiers' Angels in supporting our men and women by going to our website,, and checking: adopt a soldier.

If your organization is interested in a similar program or would like more information about Soldiers' Angels, please email us at

Peculiar United Methodist Church put up this Soldiers' Angels display in their foyer giving basic information about Soldiers' Angels and shows a sample care package put together by Angel Christy.

Barbara from Peculiar United Methodist Church put together the display and provided many decorative touches throughout the church for their "Avalanche Ranch" theme.

Children writing messages of love and support to the troops during "missions and crafts" at Peculiar United Methodist Church "Avalanche Ranch" Vacation Bible School.

One of the children holds up a picture that they drew on the back of their letter for the soldiers at the Peculiar United Methodist Church "Avalanche Ranch" Vacation Bible School.

Angel Christy makes a new friend at the Peculiar United Methodist Church "Avalanche Ranch" Vacation Bible School.

- May no soldier go unloved

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Soldiers' Angels 101: Getting Started

After you've signed up and received your official adopted soldier, sailor, airman or marine, the first thing you should do is to join the forums and go to Angel Boot Camp. Angel Boot Camp isn't strenuous and there are no tests, unlike the extreme boot camps that our service men and women attend. However, it is very helpful in providing the basics to getting started supporting your adopted service member.

Other "veteran" Angels browse the forum through out the day and answer questions or post suggestions, ideas and news that is important to supporting our military. At Angel Boot Camp, a newly minted Angel asked an important question: What do I write to someone I don't even know?

For some people, that is the scariest part of all. What do you write to a complete stranger?

The first thing you want to do is to write an introduction letter to your adoptee just like you were introducing yourself to someone you want to be friends with. This letter might include basic information like your name, where you are from, what you do for a living, something about your family, local events, the weather or anything else you might exchange when first meeting someone.

There are no maximum or minimum pages that need to be filled out. The important thing is the letter itself that lets your adopted soldier, sailor, airman or marine know that somebody back home cares about them and appreciates their service. As one Angel recently said:

I try to remember that it is the little thrill of having your name called at mail time (just like summer camp) that is the biggest morale boost.

I am a brand new angel as well and I just wrote my first couple of letters, I sent my first letter just as a basic introduction of my self, a little about my family and why I joined.

Now that you've got that first letter out of the way, what do you write in your next letter and the next and the next?

I became an angel yesterday. I sent the deployment pack with snacks from SA, I wrote my first letter introducing myself and my family, and I filled out a few postcards to send in the next few weeks. I cannot wait to get to Walmart to select things for the next package. My problem is I am having trouble knowing what to write. I do not know where my soldier is stationed or where he is from. Does he care about our lives? Plus I feel bad writing too much about good stuff, for example will talking about a July 4th picnic make the soldier homesick?

Our veteran Angel replied with some very good advice:

Well I've been in this org. for a while now and 1st off, for the most part, yes most of them do care, if not all of them. Most of the time I hear it helps them "get away" for a moment from everything that is going on over there. Also, if they are pretty lonely and have no one else that writes to them, your letter will definitely make their day. Come on, we all LOVE to get mail that doesn't include junk or bills. Them knowing for a fact that someone back home cares helps them to make it through. As for making them homesick with things that you write about, to be honest, I think the same thing when I start writing a new soldier. Matter of fact, I thought it last night because I just adopted a soldier. I'm sure that they do SOMETIMES get homesick reading our letters, but that doesn't take away from how much they enjoy receiving them. So NEVER feel like it's not worth it. As for what to write about, just go on about how your day went, or something funny that happened to you or someone else. Maybe something out of the norm that happened that day or just something you saw. I usually just write about what I am doing at that very moment.

Another Angel replied:

I pretend I am writing to some one I have known all my life and I just heard back from my adopted and he said the letters were great he enjoyed hearing about my day and all the things going on in my town.

The last and best advice:


Your support IS priceless. Help us support our men and women in uniform. Join Soldiers' Angels and send a piece of America to our troops; send them our support.

- May no soldier go unloved

Friday, July 13, 2007

Letters From the Front: Update from LTC Turner

LTC Patrick Turner is in charge of the Army Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES) for CentCom. This is the group that supplies the PXs on bases. This includes convoys or helo supplying remote FOBs where the AAFES shows up once a month and allows the soldiers to buy toothpaste, shampoo, batteries, deodorant, etc. Of course, if they are out on a mission that week, they are out of luck unless a buddy back at base is tasked with purchasing necessary items.

While LTC Turner and his group try hard to provide for our men and women on the front lines, the realities of distance, supply, mission and resources of those on the base can mean that some do without. One pick item that is consistently asked for are sheets and blankets for the beds. This is one reason that Angels go out of their way to send regular packages to our folks "in the sandbox". There are the "wishes" and the "realities" and the realities mean some do without while others are living well.

There is a distinct disparagement between the central, large FOBs in Baghdad and Kandahar versus some little COP (combat outpost) in Iraq or remote FOB in Kowst Afghanistan. While some might wonder why that should be in this day and age, it is important to remember that this reality has always existed between those on the "rear echelon" and those in the field. Plus, as LTC Turner later notes, there is a distinct danger driving or flying supplies to such locations.

That's where Soldiers' Angels come in. We send packages through out the month that arrive there much more frequently than the PX AAFES folks since mail is considered (and is) essential to the morale and mission of the forces. Thus, mail is delivered just like here in the US: rain, shine, sleet, snow, dead of night, etc, etc, etc. We don't just think that mail is essential to morale, we know it is by the other letters from the front we received on a regular basis thanking us for reminding them that people care.

Please read LTC Turners' Update:

TO my friends and family:

Yes I know it's been over 60 days since my last email to most of you all but duty called. A number of you sent us in the cell here some items we are grateful to receive and share so it is truly heartwarming the level of support we get from our great American citizens. Examples: DVDs and books and magazines and some candies and so forth.

Received a great book from sister Maryrose called "Team of Rivals" about Lincoln during the War. It was sooooo good as I have a new respect for Lincoln-as if we all did not need one. Working on my diet and controlling other intake as always. My master sergeant went on a 4 day pass to Qatar which turned into a 9 day pass as his plane broke down. I was able to play in a scramble golf tournament where you hit off a green pad onto a "green" (a blanket" about 130 yards away. Problem was if you
hit the dirt in between it was one tough hole but I prevailed. Good citizens have sent me (fortunately) hundreds of golf balls I hit into Victory Lake near Al Faw Palace here in Baghdad. Even Toby Keith the C&W entertainer showed up for a hour long "concert" and I got a pretty good seat. [snip]

On 25 May it got up to 117 degrees and it was the hottest so far in the

On the 27th of May I was directed to go to Afghanistan and conduct assessments of various logistical processes going on there for 33 days or so. To get there, you have to fly to Kuwait first which is always a bummer, wait, then fly into Bagram, Afghanistan. Had two planes have mechanical problems in 110 degree heat at Baghdad Intl and spent 10 hours sitting there so by the time I got to KUW, was pretty well worn out but set a personal record for water consumption. With only a day wait, flew the 3.75 hours from KUW to Bagram which is the home of the 82d Airborne Division. [snip] The C17 plane was almost full and got there just before midnight. Was able to meet the next day the Command Sergeant Major of the 82nd ABN to get an idea of what they were doing there the next day.

A lot of the so called culture in AFG is different than Iraq. Bagram is at 4700 feet, on a relative plateau and is surrounded by mountains. A10 Thunderbolt planes and Prowlers seem to be continually screaming over the base and it's crowded in my opinion as they over 13,000 people there. I lived as you can see in the initial pics in what is called a "B Hut" which is all wood except for a corrugated roof but it felt like a fire trap so I made sure the fire detector worked. The weather was down to 70 degrees almost every night initially and did not get into the 90s during the day until I left on 1 July. A massive difference from Iraq, at least in the northern section unlike down south in Kandahar I later found out.

Was asked to join a "Pilferage Working Group" at Bagram, AFG since sooooo much is stolen enroute by Afghanis and Pakistanis. It is remarkable how much thieving goes on, from fuel siphoning, to door removal and seal removal, you name it. A regular cottage industry. We have lots of products coming in from the ports in Pakistan (Karachi) and their inventiveness at stealing is only seemingly exceeded by their love for Allah, I guess.

I attempted several times to get to Kandahar from Bagram but the planes always seemed to be full so instead I flew on a helo to Jallalabad as a side trip. This is a about a 45 minutes helo ride and it is very warm. The ride I must say was quite spectacular as you start out in the desert, go up and down mountains about 300 feet off the deck, go over fertile valleys and water and return to the desert. If you were on a vacation you would pay serious money for this helicopter ride, believe me. Jallalabad was 111 degrees at 1130 hours so it was mighty warm. This is the home of the 173rd ABN Bde and these guys are fighters & killers which we need more of. The son of the unit's Command Sergeant Major had been killed in action the week before so the morale was kinda sorta down. Like in Bagram, all the Soldiers live in wooden B huts but they all have box air conditioners and the food was good. Able to even attend religious services that evening. The next day, flew back to Bagram on a short takeoff 2 engine fixed wing that could get to 25,000 feet which was fine by me as the temp went to 117 degrees and waiting in that heat is soooo oppressive. And I am not getting any younger.

A week later we went on a mission to deliver some PX goods via a CH47 double rotor helo to a unit out in the middle of absolutely nowhere as far as I could tell. They are helping build a road to somewhat I gather as they are engineers. Their spirits were good and it was nice to talk to these young men and there were several young women there also. [snip].

Drove in a motor convoy to Kabul from Bagram during the 30 some days I was there. [snip] This is a about a 40 minute ride as fast as you can drive and you see everything from women from Burkas over their face up and down mountains into the crowded city of Kabul. Since I am the only guy that is armed with a weapon in the vehicle I am what is called the Shooter. Its almost like some cartoon, weaving in and out of traffic, honking like crazy and again, going as fast as you can without rolling over. Rule number 1 is NEVER STOP. Rule number 2 is read rule 1 10 times and I can assure you I did not ignore the rule. As we got into Kabul, and I have a pic or two driving down to Bagram, there is a Afghan guard there at the gate named "Rambo". Rambo is known for diving into a car at that gate when a suicide car bomber was attempting to initiate a bomb and stopped him by punching him out. So he is a legend. Now he stands guard at the gate with an American baseball bat. The same day a convoy just west of us had a suicide bomber and killed two and the next day a bus got lit up and killed some 25. So I decided to helo the next day out of Kabul back to Bagram as its faster and safer-I think.

Needed to get to Kandahar but always could not get transport so I decided with my Major to fly to there thru Kyrgyzstan (Manas) and was able to do it successfully, being only 5 people on a huge C17 plane eventually to Kandahar. "K stan" is a strong supporter of the USA in spite of the fact that everyone there is Muslim and a lot of our employees come from there. In Kandahar it was 111 degrees at 0800 and ultimately it got to 126 degrees which is probably as warm as I care to have it. Was invited to a "Fallen Comrade" service at the base wherein 3 Canadian Soldiers were KIA and their caskets were escorted onto a C130 plane on the ride home and I was able to get one pic of it all. [snip]

I met the Base Commander there and NATO is soon "taking over" Kandahar so there was a lot of business to discuss as to the equipment and so forth. In our attempt to get back thru Kyrgyzstan, suddenly with all the combat and weather issues going on, I was forced to stay at Manas for 5 full days. Could not go off the base because I was a "transient" and had to sleep in a tent which lowered my morale for sure but these tents nowadays.

Finally flew to KUW from Bagram on 1 July and tried to fly to Baghdad on 2 July. I felt the trip was successful in that no military guys had ever engaged Command on issues that were important to my "client". I know a lot about equipment (rolling stock) and was able to organize it in short order after conducting a lot of technical inspections, meeting the Command and so forth. In short I tried to be a doer and not a consumer and looking back upon it we had some success but it will always require
follow-up. Well, in attempting to get from KUW to Baghdad, I had literally four planes go down on maintenance (or so they told us) in one day. Had to get up at 0430 and not get to bed until 0200 the following day and all I did was get shuffled from one place to another with little result as it turned out. Whoever said life was fair? On the 3rd of July however able to get to Baghdad finally and am almost caught up from my mission.

Scheduled to go on a pass to Qatar XXXXXXX 4 days and that will be my first time off since I started this tour in January. Am looking forward to playing some golf as they allegedly have two courses there and just chilling out and reading a lot of the books and magazines people send us here.

Thanks again to all those support us here in Iraq and Afghanistan.

LTC Patrick Turner
AAFES Military Operations Senior LNO
Camp Liberty, Iraq

- May no soldier go unloved