January 29, 2005
Marine Corps Families
When tragedy strikes, families pull together and the Marine Corps family is no different. On discussion boards and through e-mail, via phone calls and knocks on the door, with tears and smiles and hugs, emotional support is offered and burdens shared.
Here's a note of condolence sent by Earl Hinz, Corporal, USMCR, Mag-21, EWA, Dec. 7, 1941:
My condolences to the families of the Marines and the Sailor lost in the January 27th helicopter crash in Iraq. I feel like it was only yesterday that I was a Gyrene but it is 63 years. I grieve with you.
And, Cassandra writes of the incredible bond that extends the motto, Once a Marine, Always a Marine to Once a Marine Family, Always a Marine Family. It's true for the newest Marine families and as Mr. Hinz's post demonstrates, those bonds do not diminish over time.
The night before last at dinner, I listened to General Mattis speak of another helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Desperate for a replacement, he contacted Washington and obtained one from the command back home. Later he learned that, that evening, the young widow of one of the men who died in the crash, seven-months pregnant, showed up with fresh-baked brownies to bid farewell to the outgoing crew as it headed out to Afghanistan.
Right now, the families of the fallen need our support and other Marine families - and Navy families, Army families, civilian families, and others - are reaching out. Their bravery and commitment to this country, and to those struggling for democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, deserves our utmost respect, honor and gratitude. They are heroes to all us us and as Mr. Hinz stated above, we send our sincerest condolences to their families - both the family they were born into and the family that was brought together by military oath. And we will continue to pray together during this difficult time.
A Marine needs help
From the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in 29 Palms:
A Marine veteran recently returned in September from a successful combat tour in Iraq only to begin a battle for his own life in the United States.
Lance Cpl. Christopher R. LeBleu, a native of Lake Charles, La., is currently in very critical condition in Loma Linda University Hospital, Calif., for an unexplained complete liver failure.
The Marine came back Sept. 9, 2004, from Iraq where he conducted support and stabilization operations as a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. The month after his return to the United States, he married his hometown sweetheart, Melany.
The 22-year-old is not expected to last past than the next 48 hours. He may recover if a complete, not partial, liver donor is found. A complete liver donation has to come from a deceased donor.
A liver donor is desperately needed to save LeBleu. Julie Smith, LLUH public affairs, said that the donor must have a matching blood type. LeBleu is O –positive.
If you believe you know of someone who could be a donor, we urge you to contact the transplant donor network immediately at 1-800-338-6112 or via the Web site http://www.llu.edu/llumc.
Please help spread the word.
January 28, 2005
More prayers, more tears, and blessed assurance
Yesterday's helicopter crash that claimed the lives of 30 Marines and one Navy Corpsman marked the largest loss of Marines in a single incident since the Oct. 23, 1983 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon when 241 U.S. Marines were killed when a explosives-laden truck driven by terrorists crashed through a checkpoint and into the barracks where they slept. Reports from Iraq have said the Marine helicopter was flying in a sandstorm - an unavoidable condition in a war zone.
I have heard from so many anxious parents who are waiting for word of their child's safety. Here are words of wisdom from a proud Marine dad, Tony M. who has endured his share of sleepless nights:
Folks, let me give you a good word ...
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these Marines who were all veterans of the successful Battle of Fallujah in November 2004 - they will forever be remembered as the heroes they were. Information on each fallen hero can be found here.
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif
- Capt. Paul C. Alaniz, 32, of Corpus Christi, Texas
- Capt. Lyle L. Gordon, 30, of Midlothian, Texas
Staff Sgt. Dexter S. Kimble, 30, of Houston
Lance Cpl. Tony L. Hernandez, 22, of Canyon Lake, Texas.
1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Hawaii
- 1st Lt. Travis J. Fuller, 26, of Granville, Mass.
- 1st Lt. Dustin M. Shumney, 30, of Vallejo, Calif.
- Staff Sgt. Brian D. Bland, 26, of Weston, Wyo.
- Sgt. Michael W. Finke Jr., 28, of Huron, Ohio
- Cpl. Timothy M. Gibson, 23, of Hillsborough, N.H.
- Cpl. Richard A. Gilbert Jr., 26, of Montgomery, Ohio
- Cpl. Kyle J. Grimes, 21, of Northhampton, Pa.
- Cpl. Nathaniel K. Moore, 22, of Champaign, Ill.
- Cpl. Nathan A. Schubert, 22, of Cherokee, Iowa
- Cpl. Matthew R. Smith, 24, of West Valley, Utah
- Cpl. James L. Moore, 24, of Roseburg, Ore.
- Cpl. Sean P. Kelly, 23, of Gloucester, N.J.
- Lance Cpl. Gael Saintvil, 24, of Orange, Fla.
- Lance Cpl. Michael L. Starr Jr., 21, of Baltimore
- Lance Cpl. Joseph B. Spence, 24, of Scotts Valley, Calif.
- Lance Cpl. Darrell J. Schumann, 25, of Hampton, Va.
- Lance Cpl. Hector Ramos, 20, of Aurora, Ill.
- Lance Cpl. Rhonald D. Rairdan, 20, of San Antonio
- Lance Cpl. Mourad Ragimov, 20, of San Diego
- Lance Cpl. Saeed Jafarkhani-Torshizi Jr., 24, of Fort Worth, Texas
- Lance Cpl. Brian C. Hopper, 21, of Wynne, Ark.
- Lance Cpl. Jonathan E. Etterling, 22, of Wheelersburg, Ohio.
Naval Medical Clinic Hawaii, Marine Corps Units Detachment, Pearl Harbor
- Petty Officer 3rd Class John D. House, 28, of Ventura, Calif.
Petty Officer House had been a father for less than a month and had seen his son only through pictures - James was born to his wife Melanie on Christmas Eve. In an interview with the Ventura County Star, his parents described his relationship with the Marines he served with>
"In one of the letters he wrote, 'I know all of them ... even in the dark, by their mannerisms,'" Susan House of Simi Valley, Calif., read, choking back tears. "'I don't know how I am going to deal with losing any of them. It is my job to take care of them and keep them safe.'"
Petty Officer House extended his deployment because of a shortage of Navy corpsmen. There will be a special place in heaven for him - for all our heroes.
January 27, 2005
A day of prayers and tears
Yesterday, Marine families all over the world held their collective breath as they heard of the tragic helicopter crash which claimed the lives of thirty Marines and one Sailor who may have been a corpsman assigned to save their lives in case of injury. Thirtyone families are forever altered and our hearts and prayers reach out to them.
Twenty-seven of the Marines are from Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay. Marine brother Liam sends along this request:
I just wanted to ask if y'all could pray for my brother James and his marine brothers from Hawaii. They just lost 27 of their men and prayers are needed now more than ever. If you could pray for them that would mean the world to us.
The Oursler family sends along their condolences to the larger community of Marine families:
I can't find another website with which to send both my and my families condolences on the horrific crash which claimed twenty nine marines and one naval seaman. I am an army wife whose husband is serving his third tour. I have cried on and off all day and cannot imagine the sorrow your community must be feeling. God Bless you and your community: the wives, children, mothers and brothers, fathers and sisters and granparents who are greiving. It is beyond words and we are praying for you.
I know just how she feels - it's the same way Marine families felt when the Mosul dining tent was bombed. We all grieve together.
And, Major General Natonski, CG for 1MARDIV sent this message to the families of the troops under his command yesterday (thanks, Carrie):
The 26th of January 2005 was a tragic day for the Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the 1st Marine Division. Thirty-one of our brothers in arms perished in a helicopter crash while conducting security and stabilization operations in the Al Anbar province. Although our mission is dangerous and we understand the risk associated with our task, losses of this magnitude remind us all of how fragile life is. Our Division has reflected on the sacrifice of these brave warriors and said a prayer for their families and friends. Although our hearts are burdened by this loss, we continue to march toward our goal of a free and democratic Iraq. We will honor their sacrifice with our deeds. The first free election in Iraqi history will occur in no small part due to the efforts of the members of the 1st Marine Division who have sacrificed for this historic day.
Don't mess with Texas Marines
Lorraine Gonzales, proud Marine supporter passed along this picture of currently deployed 2/14 Marines, a reserve unit out of Grand Prairie, Texas, who replaced their traditional desert covers with something a bit more festive for this picture taken last month.
LtCol John M. M. Caldwell, Sr., Commanding Officer of 2/14 Marines, sends this update:
Marines and Families:
January 26, 2005
Planting Seeds of DemocracyLt. Cmdr. Louis Rosa, 24th MEU Chaplain, sends along this account of a recent visit to the Regional Democracy Center in Al Hillah.
Recently, I had the privilege to visit with a group of Marines the Regional Democracy Center. The center, about 95 kilometers south of Baghdad, is designed to provide a gathering place for Iraqis of all backgrounds to discuss principles of democracy and develop programs aimed at empowering their own groups and civil society initiatives. The center's founder Sayyed Farqat Al Qizwini's vision is that from the center all Shi'ia, Sunni, and Kurd start building a new democracy in Iraq. He hopes the center will be filled with all Iraqis, especially including women for a united Iraq. For 35 years Iraqis didn't know about democracy. Now the center is teaching its people about it. The Center provides a place for sheikhs, tribal leaders, community leaders, men, women, and students to promote democracy throughout south central Iraq, an area that includes 12 million people. It is refreshing and extremely hopeful to participate in the educational opportunities of the Regional Democracy Center. The Marines had an outstanding opportunity to hear and see the dialogue of democracy in its full bloom. Inclusive to the excitement is the chance many of the Marines have to engage in discourse with citizens of this nation which they so bravely fight for to have the right to Democracy and Freedom. The four pillars of the Center's philosophy are: Equality, Justice, Liberty, and Peace. The members of this center know that the key to the future are it's children so it is expanding activities to reach the children in its region. Children are the promise of each future generation. Like the many Palm trees growing in the desert here, the key to success is deep roots and lots of flexibility. The Regional Democracy Center is in the planting business. Plant ideas, ideals and lots of hope and the future will reap a bountiful harvest of freedom!
". . .don't get me wrong, being mortared is not fun"
Major Holton from 2/24 Golf Company sends this late January update:
Dear Golf Company Families,
January 25, 2005
Academic freedom . . . from common sense
Yes, I'm from Oregon and I fully recognize that not every Oregon resident is a barking moonbat. Whoever directed a University of Oregon employee to remove the Support the Troops yellow ribbon from his work vehicle meets that definition however. Here's the scoop, via Michelle Malkin who credits Kevin McCollough.
A yellow ribbon sticker that says "Support The Troops" has created a big stir at the University of Oregon.
Well, yes. Supporting troops has nothing to do with politics. It's something we all should do. However, the University responded with this statement by President Dave Frohnmeyer regarding decals on state-owned vehicles. :
The University has many alumni, students and staff serving in the military in Iraq and other places. Of course, we support them and have great concern for their well being, as we do for all U.S. troops.
So should this decision also be interpreted to mean that the University should not allow any personal stickers, magnets, or any other persuasive material on any state-owned property? I think so. This would include bulletin boards, office doors, or other state property and I look forward to my next trip to Eugene when I'll wander through a few halls of higher learning making sure that President Frohnmeyer's logic is carried through to the appropriate conclusion. I'll be back. And if anyone has pictures in the meantime, feel free to send them along to me. I'll be happy to post 'em.
In the meantime, I've sent this note to the University of Oregon President and Provost. I'll post any response I receive - form letter or not.
Dear President Frohnmeyer and Provost Mosely; I am the mother of a United States Marine who is currently serving in Iraq. My son, Lance Corporal Shane Conrad, spent his 21st birthday last Friday near the Syrian border, protecting innocent Iraqi citizens who want nothing more than to live without fear - rights that we enjoy in a democratic society. He could have gone to any college or university in the state of Oregon and I would have happily paid his tuition. He chose instead to delay his formal college education so that he could help ensure, as generations of Marines have, the freedom of your students to study as they choose and the freedom of college employees to complain about a non-partisan message of troop support affixed to a state vehicle. How do you think most of your students spend their 21st birthdays? I imagine that their goals for reaching that magical age of majority are a bit different than my son and his fellow Marines - to simply stay alive and continue protecting the lives of the innocents living in that Syrian border town. My son would lay down his life to protect you and your students. I'm sorry that you feel that a simple expression of support for his dedication is proscribed by Oregon Department of Administrative Services, Fleet Administration Operating Policies Section 107103-5. And, it's a damn good thing that my son's mother (me) does not get to choose who he protects and defends. University of Oregon employees would rank fairly low on my list. Does this prohibition against personal opinions on state vehicles extend to other state property? For example, are employees and faculty allowed to post statements of personal belief on bulletin boards, office doors, or other areas paid for with public funds? I will be very interested in your reply.
January 24, 2005
So You Say You Support The Troops?
Russ Vaughn has a way with words . . . and here are some worth reading.
It's so easy to say you support the troops, regardless of which side you come down on in the issue of the War in Iraq itself. Yeah, you can send care packages and put yellow ribbon magnets on your car to make you feel all warm and fuzzy that you're doing your own small part. You can do as I do and use forums such as this one to expound the viewpoint of the folks we send in harm's way, hoping that someway, somehow, someone who can make a difference may read your rant and actually do that something that makes a difference.
January 23, 2005
". . . they will have to kill me to keep me from voting"
Ronald Wassom, a retired AF Colonel is in Iraq working with the U.S. Army Corps Engineers. Here's a column he recently sent to his hometown newspaper from his current base at Al Ramadi.:
The construction of border forts along the Syrian, Jordanian and Saudi Arabian borders was a failure three months ago. The forts were built but there were no Iraqi National Guards or border police to protect them. As a result, they were looted, the air conditioners, hot water heaters, light fixtures, even the copper wire were stolen and then they were vandalized. One was booby-trapped so that the next group of looters who haplessly wandered in stumbled over the detonator to a 105 MM improvised explosive device and they and the newly constructed fort were blown to kingdom come.
January update from Apache Nation
Capt John F. Griffin, RCT-1, 2d LAR Bn, Apache Company, Fallujah, Iraq describes life in Fallujah for his warriors:
Happy holidays and happy New Year to all the family and friends of the Apache Nation! We hope that everyone enjoyed his or her holidays - all things being relative, we did as well. All of the platoon positions were covered in holiday cheer from all of our loved ones back home. Myself, the 1stSgt and merry bunch of camouflaged elves, in a green armored 7-ton truck went to each platoon CP to serve chow. The 1stSgt wore a red hat that day. Pretty festive although I thought a green fuzzy costume with a small dog and big moose horns would have been more appropriate for him. But getting him to wear something that is not in keeping with the Marine Corps uniform regulations was a big win nonetheless. We probably received 100s of Christmas cards and letters from numerous children and schools across the nation. The children's honesty, innocence and sincerity were heart felt and quite often - just down right humorous. One card in particular was adorned with patriotic symbols and colors as well as Christmas cheer with two simple sentences - "Merry Christmas. I hope you don't die." I can say across the board - we agreed.