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January 08, 2005

God is in this place

USMC Captain Shannon Arnwine is a Supply Sgt. serving at Camp Fallujah. Here's an e-mail he sent to his parent in Sonora, Texas:

Hey Mom and Dad,

I am doing well. It was good to hear your voices yesterday. Thank God for technology. Y?all had said that you might have a letter of mine printed in the paper, or read at church. I would like at least the people in Sonora to understand what is really going on over here, not what they hear on the news.

My first taste of the Middle East was when I landed at Kuwaiti International. I thought: What a dirty, hot, disgusting place. The wind was blowing extremely hot, and when I arrived on station here at Camp Fallujah, it was even worse. How could God be in this place?

Then I met the people of this land. They stunk. They were uneducated. We have to constantly watch them because some are thieves. I thought again: How could God be in this place?

If you watch the news, especially CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC or CBS ? they all show you the death and destruction that is happening over here, soldiers and Marine dying daily ? one would think that we were losing this war.

Just like the Vietnam War, the public thinks we are losing. But just like the Vietnam War, we in truth are winning. We have won every conflict, every skirmish, every firefight, but the media wants the great American people to believe this is a losing cause. It isn?t.

Today, I was able to go to church. It was held at the base theater. With a laptop computer, a projector, two speakers and a microphone, the chaplain played some praise music. I sat there and watched ? watched the Marines, soldiers and sailors walk in and greet each other, all different ranks from a Navy captain all the way down to a Marine private, and all perfect strangers but all brothers and sisters.

As I listened to the music, I began to notice an awesome presence. I have been in a church where I felt the presence of God, but not like this. I fought back the tears, can't have the young warriors see a Marine captain cry. Overtaken by his presence, I began thinking about all the info y'all see on the news and what the newspapers tell you about this place.

I was wrong. God is in this place. The beginning of life, so close to the land of milk and honey, and what is it? A war zone. Rockets, mortars, small arms fire, IEDs; how could this be? Is this where it all began?

This is why we are here. These people are good people; they are our brothers and sisters. They were so brutalized by Saddam Hussein?s regime that, when I walk by them, they cower from me. Yes, some are thieves, but they try to steal out of necessity. These people need us and want us here; they have told me this themselves.

Because we are here, they have jobs again, they get paid, they put food on their tables, their schools are open and children are learning, their hospitals are open and working, their infrastructure is up and running. Do you see this on the news?

We are helping our neighbors. These young Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen are doing wonders over here. I am in complete awe of them.

This cause that we are fighting and dying for is a worthy cause; what we are doing over here is the right thing to do.

You have paid with your own flesh and blood. Shane Folmar died a hero, on his feet, facing the enemy. He gave his life so that this battle would be fought here, not at home.

God bless you all and God bless America. Pray for us. Semper Fi.

PFC Folman, also from Sonora, was eulogized by his brother Marines following his death on September 24, 2004 as a result of hostile action in Ramadi. Here's what they said about this fallen hero:

"We come here to seek closure and try to understand why a friend, a fellow human being has been lost," said Lt. Col. Randy Newman, commanding officer, 2/5. "We try to understand and respect the fact that he was dedicated to his duties, executed them as a Marine flawlessly and paid the ultimate sacrifice because he understood his call to duty here in Iraq."

Folmar, a Senora, Texas, native, was known through his platoon for his sense of humor work ethic and always striving to improve himself.

"Shane was a good friend, with a great personality," said Lance Cpl. Jose Osornia, a rifleman with Company F, 2/5. "He would never complain and he could always make you laugh. His platoon and company will miss him."

While Folmar's peers recalled the man, his commander remembers the Marine.

"He never complained, he never fell out and he never quit," said 2nd Lt. Robert Jones, a platoon commander with Company F, 2/5. "He never wanted to let anyone down, that was the type of Marine he was."

Folmar was killed doing his duty by advancing and engaging the enemy, and he will be remembered as a true warrior.

"When he died, this Marine was taking the fight to the enemy," said Cpl. Widener, a squad leader with Company F, 2/5. "He would never let up, he would never quit, he was a true spirited warrior. We will continue the best we can, but it will be hard to fill his place. He will be deeply missed by me, his squad and platoon."

Photo by Lance. Cpl. Graham Paulsgrove

Pfc. Timothy Shane Folmar will never be forgotten by his brother Marines. Here, Sgt. Ryan Schulze, 2/5 Marines, F Company, pays his final respects during a memorial service held Sept. 28, 2004 at Combat Outpost.

Posted by Deb at 07:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 07, 2005

Family Values

Duty and honor.

LA Times photo

39 years after he left for Viet Nam, Kendall Phelps is returning to the front. This time, he'll serve with his 34 year old son, Major Chris Phelps.

"I'm a father and a Marine. I can't separate the two," said Phelps, 57, a clarinet player who runs the music program for Silver Lake's schools. "I need to be there with Chris." On Friday, Kendall Phelps will get his wish.

Father and son have been assigned to the same unit. At the end of this week, they will leave for Camp Lejeune, N.C., to meet up and train with the 5th Civil Affairs Group. They are scheduled to arrive in Iraq in March for a seven-month tour of duty in the Al Anbar province west of Baghdad, where snipers and suicide bombers have become routine.

Godspeed, father and son.

Posted by Deb at 01:08 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 06, 2005

New Year's greetings from CSSB-7

Christmas Eve mail delivery for CSSB-7

LtCol Drew T. Doolin, Commanding Officer for CSSB-7 reports from the Al Anbar Province of Iraq:

Happy New Year! Our battalion area was quite festive for the holidays. Folks from around the U. S. sent Christmas cards and decorations, which adorned our work and living areas.
One of our welders, LCpl Tara Taylor, made a steel Christmas tree that is positioned in front of our Command Post. Religious services were available for those who wanted to attend. All in all, it was a joyous holiday, as we spent this special time with our “Marine Family”. Of course, our families and friends at home were constantly in our thoughts and prayers during this holiday season.

Your Marines and Sailors continue to excel in everything that they do. They remain highly motivated and are setting new standards of providing logistics support in combat. For example, our Truck Company has been averaging over 230,000 cumulative miles driven per month. For any given vehicle, we are averaging about 1,600 miles driven per week. That puts an incredible strain on the equipment as we put year’s worth of mileage on it in just a matter of months. We have great mechanics that keep these vehicles operating.

A topic of much media interest lately has been armor on vehicles. Rest assured that all of our military vehicles that go “outside the wire” beyond the base where we live and work are armored and have ballistic glass. On the occasion when we must use non-military vehicles to deliver supplies that require special handling that cannot be accomplished with military vehicles, we take special care to protect these vehicles within our convoys. We are not suffering from the shortages that were reported in the media.

. . .

Thank you for your untiring support.


Drew T. Doolin

Posted by Deb at 03:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Honor, courage and commitment in action

When recent MCRD-PI graduates Pfc. William Patnode, Pfc. Charles Meskunas, Pvt. James Stewart and Pfc. Gregory Lafountain spotted a fiery crash on New York's Interstate 87, they didn't hesitate. Here's why they were 2 hours late to Recruiter's Assistance training, as related by Sgt. Pamela Shelley

The Marines pulled their vehicle to the side of the road, and all four Marines instinctively leapt into action to help.

“As we approached the vehicle we noticed two females standing there. We asked them if there was anybody inside the vehicles, and they said they didn’t know. With the heat, the flames and the tires blowing, we looked at the fuel truck, and we didn’t know if it was empty,” said Lafountain. “Since there was no cell phone service, Patnode and I drove about a half mile in order to call 911. We still couldn’t get through to 911, so I called my dad. He’s a Captain with the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations, he was able to get us aid.”

While Lafountain and Patnode went for help, Meskunas and Stewart, with the help of an unidentified truck driver, pulled the 57-year-old Cornelius J. Mahar from the burning vehicle. After the unidentified truck driver used a knife to cut away Mahar’s seatbelt, the Marines carried him on a sleeping bag to a spot about a quarter mile away and applied basic first aid to Mahar while waiting for emergency assistance.

Assemblymen Chris Ortloff, who was also on his way to Albany, pulled over to help and photograph the Marines life-saving steps.

“I was on the ledge trying to get the attention of drivers in the northbound lanes to call the troopers,” said Ortloff to the Press-Republican. “ When I looked back the Marines were trying to get the guy out.” That’s when Ortloff captured the Marines’ actions with his digital camera.

When help arrived, the Marines continued doing their part at the scene of the accident by directing traffic and assisting with emergency vehicles.

“They were working on him when we arrived,” said Westport Fire Chief, Jim Westover to the Press- Republican. “They grabbed gear from the ambulance and kept working. They were incredible.”

Mahar was listed in critical condition at Fletcher Allen Healthcare in Burlington, Vt. The driver of the tractor-trailer, 36-year-old Gloria Morgan, sustained only minor injuries, according to State Police.

Two hours late, the foursome reported in for their class here. After the Marines told Sgt. Maj. Andrew L. Yagle, sergeant major RS Albany, about their ordeal, Yagle recognized their adherence to the Marine Corps’ ethos.

“They definitely displayed their honor, courage and commitment,” said Yagle. “The purpose of my class here is to remind them of the positive image and roles they need to portray here on the home front. They did just that, they set a good example, and we’re proud of them.”

"(Lafountain) came down here with all the tools, especially maturity. We just chipped away the rough edges and transformed him," said Staff Sgt. Robert L. Lytle, Senior Drill Instructor of Platoon 3110, India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. " He was an outstanding recruit who has obviously turned into an outstanding Marine."

All four Marines credited their life-saving action to the training they received from Senior Drill Instructors Staff Sgt. Norman, Staff Sgt. Collinson, and Staff Sgt. Lytle during recruit training at Parris Island, S.C. They said that training gave them the ability to handle a situation this critical.

Posted by Deb at 03:29 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack


Captain Heffner, 1/2 Marines, Bravo Battery, reminds those who are sending care packages to their Marines:

Alcohol is a contraband item for Marines in Iraq. Those Marines possessing alcohol risk non-judicial punishment or court martial. We have not had an incident involving alcohol in the battery, however I have confiscated a few small bottles of alcohol that have been sent via U.S. mail. In this case the Marine voluntarily surrendered the alcohol. I view the action as a credit to that particular Marine's character. Our duties require our attention 24 hours a day. Alcohol would impair our ability to attack the enemy and protect ourselves. Please support your Marine by not sending alcohol which could hurt his ability to perform his duties or his ability to protect himself from attack. Thank You.

Posted by Deb at 01:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 05, 2005

He's given it for you

Marines from 2nd MARDIV's Small Craft Company said goodbye to fallen hero, LCpl Brian Parello in a memorial service held on the shores of Lake Habbaniyah in the Al Anbar province of Iraq on Jan. 4, 2005. He was killed in action on New Year's Day while conducting operations against anti-Iraqi forces in Iraq's Al Anbar Province.

Photo by Sgt. Luis R. Agostini

LCpl Parello served as a small unit riverine craft coxswain and took part in a number of riverine security patrols while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and also earned the Combat Action Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal.

Photo by Sgt. Luis R. Agostini

This poem was read during his memorial service:

In a crowd you see him,
standing so very tall.
Not too much impresses him,
He's seen and done it all.
His hair is short, his eyes are sharp,
His smile is a little blue,
And it's the only indication of hell he's been through.
It belongs to sacred brotherhood always faithful to the end,
Walked right into battle
And walked back out again.
Many people think him foolish for having no regrets,
But having lived through things that others would like to forget.
He's First to go last to know,
Never questions why,
Or whether it is right or wrong,
But only do or die.
He walked path most won't take,
And lost much along the way.
He takes a lot of freedom,
But it's small price to pay
He's chosen to live a life off of the beaten track,
Knowing well each time he goes, he might not make it back.
So Next time you see a devil dog be grateful of all he's given,
He's given it for you.
Don't go up and ask him what it's like to be in war,
Just thank God it's your country he's always fighting for.
Thank him, too, for all the hell he's seen in cammie green,
And thank him for having the courage to be a United States Marine.

Condolences to LCpl Parello's family and the Marines with whom he served.

Posted by Deb at 07:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

how to write to the wounded

From Diana Hartman, Marine spouse living in Germany, suggestions for writing letters to wounded troops. She visits Landstuhl regularly and carries letters from folks who send along their greetings to injured Marines.

i know most people aren't letter writers per se and concern themselves with writing something of substance, something comforting, something that will really matter...

and that's all good and fine, but it's not that complicated...

in the end, what the wounded like is what distracts them and entertains them...
the reason the guys like the kid's letters is because kids write off the cuff...they say things like "we're so proud of you" and "you're our hero", sure...they also talk about themselves and ask a lot of questions and these are the things the guys enjoy the most...

one of the kid-cards i received to take up there read "Thank you for dying for our country. Get well soon!"...

the kids talk about school, their friends, their family members, their pets, their favorite places to go out to eat, and some even talk about their problems like a bully picking on them or not doing well in math...

the kids are a good guide...

tell the wounded about yourself, things about your hometown, your friends, etc...

the thing is with the kid's letters is that they're so distracting for the wounded person reading it...for a brief moment, their wound and the war is out of their minds...big people have the potential to distract a wounded person for several minutes...use your sense of humor...be very descriptive of your work or your family...talk about things in the future like a family reunion or a promotion...
another thing the kids write that the guys love is gossip...it doesn't matter that the kids are writing about people the wounded will never meet and don't know...we all like dirt on others and there's nothing more distracting than "I was supposed to get a puppy for my birthday but my mom and dad couldn't buy one after my older sister came home pregnant with a big baby. Do you have a sister? Don't get one. They are stupid."...

the guys think these kinds of things are hysterical and will read them aloud to their roommates and hospital staff...

don't stress over what to write, just write...

if you're more comfortable with it, write in microsoft word or in your email program and then print it out in a font that looks like handwriting or handprinting**...

this will give you plenty of leeway and room for error...

of course we want to keep things appropriate, but focus on what you think are the little things in life, the things you might think aren't worth mentioning as these are the very things that interest them most...

this same guide applies to letter writing for those in combat, deployed, or away at school...

you don't have to be so very clever and witty, just be yourself


** fonts that resemble handwriting/printing:
bradley hand ITC
comic sans MS
kristen ITC
lucida handwriting
monotype corsiva
rage italic
tempus sans ITC
viner hand ITC

Posted by Deb at 03:33 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

24th MEU update

Col. Johnson sends this update from the front. His caution on operation security regarding deployment information is worth noting:

Remember back to June and July, as the whole deployment lay ahead of us? Remember thinking to yourself how much happier you'd be once Thanksgiving arrived? And that once Christmas came, we'd be home free? Well, we're just about there.

It's been another busy month, the highlight of which was the VTC we enjoyed with you. It was easily the best 60 seconds of the deployment. I will tell you that grown men were crying upon seeing their newborn children for the first time.

We continue to remain extremely busy in our area just south of Baghdad. Operation Plymouth Rock - our way of celebrating Thanksgiving -- was a huge success. We took 200 more bad guys out of action and found 11 more of their weapons stockpiles. Sadly, we have suffered casualties. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We will never forget them or the difference they made in the world.

While still very volatile, the situation here in Iraq is getting better, and we are proud of our accomplishments. They owe in large measure to the love and support we get from you. We cannot thank you enough for the boxes, packages, emails and letters that keep us going strong each and every day.

We know that thoughts of us coming home are surely going through everyone's minds, not least our own. But as the anticipation grows, I would ask that we temper our excitement with the reminder that war can bring unforeseen consequences. Although we remain on schedule, we must prepare ourselves for any eventuality.

Speaking of our homecoming, please permit a reminder about the importance of protecting information that might be useful to our enemies. We're all full of anticipation and excitement about reuniting with loved ones. But please be very selective with the information you discuss in your phone conversations and e-mails. What may be common knowledge to all of us can be very valuable intelligence to the enemy.

You can play an important role in safeguarding critical information concerning the MEU. Information that directly or indirectly can be used to determine unit movements, redeployment dates, arrival and departure times for aircraft, ships and convoys, and the number of people that make up the various elements of the MEU should all be protected.

Rumors are now rampant. Please avoid contributing to the confusion by passing on information that may not be true. Each element of the MEU will probably be coming home separately. You may feel that you are doing others a favor by passing the word, but I ask that you refrain until you hear from us officially. Handing this information over to our enemy through phone calls and e-mails can jeapordize everyone's safety. Today we add a twist to the old World War II watchword: Loose lips and fingertips sink ships!

Soon we look forward to being in your arms again and feeling the relative safety of our homes. But until then, we must remain vigilant in order to combat the dangers that we face hourly. We will not relax just yet. There can be no reprieve for those who would do us and the innocent Iraqi people harm. We will stay in the attack so as to deny the enemy the upper hand.

I could not be prouder of the Marines and Sailors of the 24th MEU. And since they depend so heavily on their loved ones to sustain them, I could not be prouder of you. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, as we will keep you in ours.

Semper Fidelis,
Colonel, U.S. Marines

Posted by Deb at 01:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 04, 2005

Starting 2005 on the right note

I hope this is true:

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, whom the US occupation authorities declared to be the "target number one" in Iraq, has been arrested in the city of Baakuba, the Emirate newspaper al-Bayane reported on Tuesday referring to Kurdish sources. Al-Zarqawi, leader of the terrorist group Al-Tawhid Wa'al-Jihad, was recently appointed the director of the Al-Qaeda organisation in Iraq.

The newspaper's correspondent in Baghdad points out that a report on the seizure of the terrorist, on whom the US put a bounty of 10 million dollars, was also reported by Iraqi Kurdistan radio, which at one time had been the first to announce the arrest of Saddam Hussein.

Nothing official yet. But if this pans out, note that it was Iraqi police who made the arrest.

Posted by Deb at 08:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Task Force Wolfpack reports from Ramadi

LtCol Steve Dinauer, Commanding Officer of the 3d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion/Task Force sends this report from the Al Anbar province:

To the Families and Friends of Task Force Wolfpack: As always, I hope this note finds you all in good spirits and health. I must keep this note to the point and brief. I am at a camp just west of the city of Ramadi with a little over half of Headquarters and Service Company and Company C. We also have a unit from one of our fellow infantry battalions under our tactical control. I expect we will stay here through the elections on 30 January 2005. Ramadi is the capital of the Al Anbar Province, so it is critical we keep the security situation stable for the elections. The city of Ramadi is a dangerous place, but it is not at all like Fallujah was before it was taken back in November. We are primarily operating in the rural areas outside of the city. The living conditions aboard this camp are the best we’ve had in Iraq from the excellent billeting to the great chow hall to the Post Exchange.

Speaking of Fallujah, the Battalion performed superbly in accomplishing our mission of isolating the city from the west on the peninsula. We went in a day before the major assault began to secure the bridges across the Euphrates and the main hospital. We had casualties, to include one Marine killed in action. The enemy was a bit more persistent in attacking us once they figured out we were there to stay. We turned the enemy’s persistence on him, however, and killed quite a few when he tried to take us on. The Marines’, Sailors’, and soldiers’ (yes, we had some Army units under our control) morale has never been higher than after this fight. We came off of the peninsula on Thanksgiving Day and enjoyed a fine meal in the chow hall after 18 days in the field. We also mourned our loss at a very heartfelt memorial service. A bunch of mail was waiting for us, as was a small ration of beer and rum courtesy of the Commanding General of the I Marine Expeditionary Force and Budweiser. There was no drinking age observed.

The remainder of Headquarters and Service Company, and Company A are still at Korean Village essentially continuing our former mission out there, but at a higher tempo since the rest of us are not there. The artillery battery that worked for us at the border crossing points recently had two of their Marines killed, and our hearts and prayers are with them. Company D is also still in the west working for one of our fellow infantry battalions near the city of Hit (pronounced “Heat”). The Commanding General’s Jump Command Post crew is still doing what it does. They are right across the river from us near Ramadi.
Except for handful of our folks, the mailing addresses have not changed. However, since we’ve been moving around a bit, the mail catches up to us in big batches. Since I expect to be here in Ramadi for a bit, mail should be more consistent.

. . .

As I write this note, I have seen or heard nothing to indicate that the
Battalion will be extended here in Iraq. . . .

Once back, we will have a 96-hour pass, and then wait a week or two before sending everyone out on leave. I encourage all the families to come see their warrior return home. Be advised, however, that flight schedules are notoriously flexible, so when the time comes for us to fly, you may only get a three-day window for our exact return. We will have a system to publish the time changes as they become known.

This Nation is in a global war and deployments can always be modified to meet wartime requirements.

For anyone interested in reading about what combat veterans face upon
returning home, I highly recommend the book Odysseus in America, by
Jonathan Shay, M.D., PH.D. While the book is based on Dr. Shay’s work with Vietnam veterans with acute psychological combat trauma injuries, it offers a timeless view on combat veterans and their emotions as they return to the civilized world.

Have a Happy Holiday season and prosperous New Year. God Bless the soul and family of Lance Corporal Justin D. Reppuhn, Marine, killed in action against the enemy on the night of 10-11 November 2004, west of Fallujah. A son of Michigan, his father’s boy and mother’s baby, he shall be missed by all. His name is forever woven into the Battalion’s Battle Colors and legacy.

Semper Fidelis,
Steve Dinauer
Lieutenant Colonel, Marines

Posted by Deb at 08:14 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 03, 2005

Landstuhl Christmas

Diana Hartman sends this report:

a major army deployment returned to the germany area at the height of christmas package arrivals through the post office (hundreds of soldiers mailed stuff home that wouldn't fit in duffle bags) so many packages to families were delayed and didn't arrive until after christmas to include some of the packages of cards...

many american families in this area had two christmases -- one on the 25th, and one on the day all the packages came in...

we are all military families who are used to celebrating christmas on another day, so the extra day of opening gifts was quite special...this same specialness was shared with the wounded at landstuhl who had a party on the 17th to include pizza and a card shower, celebrations on the 25th, and another card shower this last thursday on 30 dec...whoever was here on the 17th would've been stateside by the 25th...whoever was here on the 25th would've been stateside by the 30th...between the marine liaisons and the families of marine forces europe, we were able to provide celebrations for whatever marines were in the hospital on each of those days...bethesda and walter reed also held celebrations so while the guys got at least one party, they celebrated in two different places...

this latest visit to the wounded coincided with my husband, robert, dr's appt...he suffered an injury in iraq last year and has had work done since then...this last thursday was the appt where he had the pins in his toes removed and hopefully this means he will be able to walk without pain for a good long while although he will still wear a boot for a few more months...he was getting impatient with his doctor as he wanted to visit the wards with us as he does with his every appointment but just not this latest time...he was able to hang out with the outpatients in the marine liaison's office though so that was a good time for all of them...

my 18 yr old daughter and her boyfriend justin (usmc cpl, camp pendleton) were able to fly in for christmas so they went with us and toured the wards as well...as a mother, it was hard for me to have my daughter with me as there were many burn victims, some facial burns...i must've done something right when i raised her cos she got over her initial shock very quickly and had the guys smiling and laughing in no time...i was so proud!

as is always the case when robert visits with us, justin and the wounded marines had lots to talk about and were quite the chatterboxes...it's funny when there are more than 2 marines in a room because they seriously just yak and yak like old women at the fenceline and no one else is going to get a word in edgewise...justin and robert were in iraq last year for the same 7 months, and justin will be going back in february for 9 months...

as usual, the cards and letters from kids were the biggest hit with the guys...i've learned to keep tape with me as inevitably the guys will ask me to hang these cards and letters up on their wall or the door of their room...one room had 4 marines in it and they all wanted their things hung up on the door -- that was one decorated door -- and they insisted that the door stay open so they all could see the cards and letters...in that particular room the wall was textured and tape wouldn't stick so we hung the rest of the cards on the light covers behind their beds...i also provide each of them with a gallon-size ziploc bag so they can store their cards in them when they leave...no one leaves their cards behind and this gives them a way to keep them so they don't get mangled in their baggage...

the dec 17th party was a great success...many marines from (marforeurhq) marine forces europe headquarters here in stuttgart drove up to help set the whole thing up for their wounded brethren...donations allowed them and the marine liaison's office to set up a feast of american food in the chow hall for all the outpatients and those marines on the wards who were mobile enough to get there...by "feast" i don't mean turkey or ham and the fixin's...i mean the wounded were set up with what they requested: pizzas, hot dogs, meat and cheese platters with sub bread, and all the soda they could handle...i sent a lot of card packages down with the marforeur marines who helped out with that...my husband, who was still on crutches then, attended the chow hall party...

a female gysgt and i took stuff to the guys on the wards who were unable to get to the chowhall party...the chowhall didn't have a cart for us to tote stuff so one of the marine liaisons commandeered a wheelchair for us...we hauled 11 large pizzas, plates and napkins, goody bags, and card packages up to the wards...we piled the pizzas up in the chair part, hung the bags off the handles, and used the footrests as drink holders for the six packs of soda...we were quite the sight!...the soda had been chilled beforehand and was still cold by the end of the tour...we had one vegetarian pizza that had no takers til we got to the last guy who loved vegetarian pizza so he got the whole thing to himself...much to his delight, the nurses put the other half of his pizza in the fridge for him to eat later and he was most tickled that he would have pizza for breakfast for the first time in over a year...

i really appreciate your having taken the time and having made the effort that made so much difference for these guys...they love hearing from those in the states especially in the form of mail as everyone loves mail!

thank you so much for your support!

Posted by Deb at 09:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Happy New Year, part II

Here's how my son celebrated New Years Day. I took out the details of a raid, but his e-mail ended up with:

Nothing like spending New Years in a hostile city. Well God bless the Commandant. He ordered all Marines to get one shot of Bacardi and 2 beers so weve got a fridge full of beer in the hooch.

Seeing as how he turns 21 next month and told me that sending him alcohol would get him in more trouble than it would be worth, this will have to do. However, he's also instructed me to make reservations at The Palms in Las Vegas for his 96-hour liberty. This will be the first time I'll be able to buy my son a beer - one beer, I'm a mom after all - and I'm looking forward to it. I imagine we'll have a few more Marines with us to join in the fun and I really hope they won't mind me joining them. It's like they're all my sons and I am so proud of all of them.

Posted by Deb at 09:07 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 02, 2005

Tsunamai Relief

The United States acted swiftly after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Dec. 26 off the coast of Indonesia causing tsunami waves that have affected 12 countries. In addition to pledging $350 million which is the entire U.S. foreign disaster assistance budget, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said yesterday Congress will work to pass emergency legislation to go "well beyond" that figure, possibly to billions of dollars. In addition, thousands of troops have been sent to the region. Lt. Smash notes "the irony that the USS Bonhomme Richard, the same ship which Navy deserter Pablo Paredes refused to board, has been directed to the area to provide humanitarian aid. ".

And, President Bush issued this statement:

The disaster around the Indian Ocean continues to grow both in size and scope. I have been monitoring closely the developments and our recovery and relief effort underway. I also look forward to the detailed report of the official delegation led by Secretary Powell and Governor Jeb Bush that will travel to the region very soon.

The United States has already provided an initial, substantial effort through existing emergency response resources, the formation of the core group, and military assets. To help coordinate the massive relief effort, disaster response officials are on the ground, and we have established a Support Center in Thailand that is manned and operational. More than 20 patrol and cargo aircraft have been made available to assess the disaster and deliver relief supplies. Many of those aircraft are on the scene. We have dispatched the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, the Maritime Pre-positioning Squadron from Guam, and an amphibious ship carrying a Marine Expeditionary Unit. They will soon be in position to support relief efforts to include the generation of clean water. We are leading an international coalition to help with immediate humanitarian relief, rehabilitation, and long-term reconstruction efforts. India, Japan, and Australia have pledged to help us coordinate these relief efforts, and I am confident many more nations will join this core group in short order. Reports of strong charitable donations are also very encouraging and reflect the true generosity and compassion of the American people.

Initial findings of American assessment teams on the ground indicate that the need for financial and other assistance will steadily increase in the days and weeks ahead. Because of this information and based on the recommendation of Secretary Powell and Administrator Natsios, I am today committing $350 million to fund the U.S. portion of the relief effort. Our contributions will continue to be revised as the full effects of this terrible tragedy become clearer.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this epic disaster.

Predictably, there were some who reacted with outrage, sputtering that only they had the moral authority to manage this crisis. Former British International Development Secretary Clare Short had this to say:

“I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up,” she said.

“Only really the UN can do that job,” she told BBC Radio Four’s PM programme.

“It is the only body that has the moral authority. But it can only do it well if it is backed up by the authority of the great powers.”

Ms Short said the coalition countries did not have good records on responding to international disasters.

She said the US was “very bad at coordinating with anyone” and India had its own problems to deal with.

“I don’t know what that is about but it sounds very much, I am afraid, like the US trying to have a separate operation and not work with the rest of the world through the UN system,” she added.

Well, duh. The "UN system" is one of graft, corruption, and utter inefficiency. Although it has recently been included after a conversation between Colin Powell and Kofi Annan, this is a clear signal and challenge from the United States to the United Nations. About time.

Ed from Captain's Quarters correctly points out that "it's the Clueless Clares of the world who sacrifice the downtrodden of the world to the brutal and incompetent clutches of the UN for the greater purpose of having a single world government. The idea that Short can make this kind of assertion with a straight face shows the depth of corruption on the radical Left. I say bravo to George Bush for bypassing the grifters and rapists of the UN."

Here are a few images of how American troops are helping:

U.S.A.F. photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard Freeland
Airman Autumn McHam of the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, helps cover an aircraft pallet of MREs to be sent to Southeast Asia as part of the disaster relief effort.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Justin Sturn, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron loads cases of MREs.

U.S.A.F. photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard Freeland

U.S.M.C. photo by Cpl. Jonathan K. Teslevich
U.S. Marines load a pallets of prepackaged dehydrated meals onto a C-130 Hercules aircraft on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 30, 2004. The Marines are loadmasters assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152. The meals, along with support supplies, are being sent to Utapao, Thailand, the hub of U.S. Pacific Command's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
Aerial view of a devastated Sumatran landscape from a Navy SH-60F helicopter, Jan. 1, 2005. The sailors are assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 2, taking part in during humanitarian relief operations on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

U.S.N. photo by Seaman Patrick M. Bonafede

U.S.A.F. photo by Staff Sgt. Cohen A. Young
.S. Air Force crewmen, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base, Japan, unload water from their C-130 airplane after landing at Phuket Airport in Thailand, Dec. 31, 2004.

A Marine father reports that care packages for Marines headed to the tsumai relief effort should include disposable surgical masks and oil of peppermint. Masks can be purchased at larger drug stores, and oil of peppermint can be found in the spice aisle at the grocerery store. Vick's VapoRub will help too - rub a bit under the nose. They'll be issued gloves and protective gear but the masks and aromatic oil willl help mask the smell of death.

And if you're still wondering how you can personally help, Cassandra from Villainous Company suggests:

In a way, it's like Chaos theory - a butterfly's wings beating on this side of the world can start a mighty wind half a world away: your small $10 donation may save a human life.

Or you could go buy a six-pack of beer at 7-11.

$10 isn't much but the final effect of cumulative $10 donations adds up. Amazon contributions so far have totalled over $12 million with an average contribution of approximately $80. All contributions reach the American Red Cross.

Scott Ott at Scrappleface also has a list of Christian relief organizations who will put your contributions to good use. And, Hugh Hewitt recommends World Vision. If the page is slow to load, you can make a phone donation at 1-800-777-5777 or 1-888-562-4453.

Finally, click here for a comprehensive list of international aid organizations.

$10. If each of us donates just that much, the final magnitude of the effort would save many lives.

Posted by Deb at 11:08 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack