Caring For The Defenders

A Time for Thanksgiving

[This is an annual repost from 2005.  It's still appropriate...Javier Alvarez is Someone You Should Know]

Randy sends this email, a must read if ever there was one, that he received from Captain James Eadie today:

A Time for Thanksgiving
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I eagerly anticipate the plates of turkey and stuffing, the moments of camaraderie around the TV watching football and the sharing of stories amongst friends, but it is the soldiers’ stories of bravery and courage that should be shared on this day of Thanksgiving.

I had the rare chance to talk in depth with one of my CCATT patients on our last flight, a young 24 year old Marine from Camp Pendleton, California. It is Javier’s story hangs with me this day. Javier gave me permission to share his story with you, a true story of heroism, and sacrifice that deserves to be told on Thanksgiving.

On the morning of 16 November 2005, the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment were taking part in operations along the Iraq-Syrian board to clear the towns of insurgents.   

Javier [Alvarez], a strong and sturdy looking square jawed Marine Corporal was on his third deployment to Iraq. He had seen heavy combat in his previous two deployments, and had been injured once before earning him a Purple Heart. On this day he was in command of a Squad of fourteen men. I knew just by talking to him that his men were fortunate to have him leading them into battle. He spoke with clarity and confidence of a man twice his age. In the truest essence, he was a Marine.

On this morning Javier’s Squad was providing tank security (I still don’t fully understand how infantry provides security to tanks, but that’s why I am in medicine).

The morning of the 16th started like many – early. The operation was going well. The Marines were taking some fire, but were successfully clearing the town they had been assigned. Urban warfare is extremely dangerous. Each house must be searched before it can be “cleared.” US and Iraqi Security Forces have taken heavy losses in past urban offenses such as Fallujah. Javier had no intention of letting that happen to his men today. 

As the tanks were rolling down the street they began taking heavier fire. The Squad broke into a brisk jog to keep up with the tanks as they pushed forward into the fire fight. Ahead was a house that seemed to be the focus of the fight. Lying in the doorway to the house was a downed Marine. He laid motionless spread across the sill. Further in there lay another Marine.

The Platoon Sergeant grabbed Javier and told him to send his half of his Squad to the house to pull out the downed Marines. Normally, the Squad leader would stay back to coordinate the assault, but Javier told me ‘I could not send my men into harms way without me.”

Taking point, Javier led his five man team towards the house. Shots rang out around them as they advanced. They could see the downed Marines ahead. A young Lieutenant lay face down outside the house. Javier did not know if he was still alive. They would have to act quickly if they were to save him and the others.

As they approached the house the enemy fire intensified and Javier felt a sudden sting and burning in his right leg. He looked down at his leg. Damn, he thought, “I’ve been shot.” He indeed had taken two bullets to his thigh, but he pushed on.

Undeterred, Javier continued to lead his men towards the house. With increasing fire, they took up a defensive posture against the house wall. Slightly protected there, he began tending his wounds with direct pressure as the others returned fire. He could see several downed Marines only arm lengths away, but they could not be reached safely.  Gun fire continued to rain down on them. Another member of the squad was hit. They were in a bad position.

What happened next was recalled to me by the Medic that they called Doc. During the barrage of fire, with their backs literally up against a wall an enemy grenade was thrown out of a window landing in the middle of the five men. Doc told me “It was amazing. I was applying pressure to one of the injured soldiers when someone yelled out GRENADE. Javier just dove at the grenade.  I have never seen anything like it.” 

Javier grabbed the grenade with his right hand. He told me “I knew I only had three to five seconds before it would go off.” With his body shielding his men from the grenade, he made a valiant effort to heave the grenade away. As the grenade left his hand it exploded.

Javier’s right hand was immediately amputated at the wrist. Shrapnel from the grenade penetrated his left thigh. Others in his group took shrapnel to their arms and legs, but no one lost their life.

Doc told me on the plane that he was convinced that they all would have died if it were not for Javier’s heroic actions.

The fighting continued. As more Marines approached the house to provide covering fire, Javier now with two gun shot wounds to his right leg, shrapnel to his left leg and an amputated right hand worked to get his injured men clear. With the aid of his Platoon Sergeant, Javier and his men walked out of the kill zone to the casualty collection point away from the fighting.

Doc stayed in the fight for a while despite being hit with shrapnel from the grenade. He tended to the downed Marines and at one point crawled into the house to pull out the Marine who lay inside. Unfortunately, most of the Marines they came to help had been fatally injured. There was little that could be done. Doc continued to care for the downed soldiers until others noted his wounds. Doc was finally escorted out of the fight to attend to his injuries.

In all told, Javier’s Squad took heavy injuries. We air lifted out 6 members who had sustained shrapnel injuries and one who lost his leg. Javier clearly took the brunt of the injuries, but miraculously no one lost their life. Javier’s selfless action had saved the lives of many men.

I spoke at length with Javier on the flight to Germany. Perhaps it was the awe that I felt talking with him that kept me coming back, or maybe the fact that his men admired him so much. In the end, I think I was drawn in by him because he was just like you and me. He was real. A soldier who had done everything asked of him by his country. He fought with honor and dignity, and led his men with courage. Above all, he put his men’s life above his and protected them from harm.

He didn’t ask for honors or special treatment. His biggest concern when we were loading him onto the plane was his fellow soldiers. He would not lie down until he had visualized and spoken with all of his troops on the plane.

When I arrived home from the mission, I opened the paper. There before me in simple bullet format read the names of the most recent US deaths in Iraq. I generally do not look at these lists. They are just names with no personal connection. But this day, halfway down there were five Marines listed including a young Second Lieutenant all from the 2 nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment from Pendleton, California who had died on 16 November, 2005. These were the men that Javier and his Squad gave everything to try to save.

I stared at the paper for many minutes, recalling the story Javier and his men had told me. I marveled at the sacrifices they made and felt a tremendous sense of loss for these men whose names now stood out from the paper as not mere records, but as living, breathing men who gave everything their country asked of them.

As I get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving here in Iraq, I have so much to be thankful for. My wife is amazing, we have been blessed with a child on the way, and I feel like I have the greatest family and friends that one could ever wish for, but there is more. I see around me everyday soldiers giving everything they have with the full belief that their actions do make a difference. That their sacrifices are for freedom and will one day improve the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

When I sit down on Thursday to my thanksgiving meal, I will be holding these soldiers and their families close. We as a country have so much to be thankful for.

For me, on this Thanksgiving Day, I will be thankful for Javier. He has given the gift of life to his men and their families. I often ask myself if I was in his position, what would I have done?  I don’t know, but I certainly hope that I could be like Javier.

My warmest wishes to you all for a wonderful Thanksgiving, we truly have a great deal to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving,

James S Eadie, Capt USAF MC

332 Expeditionary Air Evacuation Squadron

Balad, Iraq

Critical Care Air Transport Physician

The men who died that day were Lance Corporal Roger Deeds, Lance Corporal John Lucente, Corporal Jeffrey Rogers, Corporal Joshua Ware, and 2nd Lieutenant Donald McGlothin - all from the Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 13th MEU, 1st Marine Division.

Amazon Smile: Not Just For The Holidays


Amazon has grown to become a major part of our lives, to the tune of more than $88 billion in revenue in 2014.  Think about that number a minute, and then think about the Amazon Smiles program.  This is a program from Amazon that, if you enter Amazon through an Amazon Smile account link, a small percentage of your purchase will go to that charity.  Yes, it is a small percentage, but look at that total revenue and think what half a percent of that would be.  

Right now, small charities -- and I suspect military charities even more so -- are struggling for donations.  Shopping Amazon via an Amazon Smile link costs you nothing, but it can provide much needed funds to the charity you find worthy.  The more who use it, and especially if you use it all year, the more that charity will get.  

While I hope you will consider using the Mission: VALOR Amazon Smile link, I ask you to pick the charity of your choice and use that link now, and all year long.  It's a small way to make a difference, and a potentially large difference at that without you having to fork out a dime.  

New Website Launches on Veterans Day for Veteran Authors

The outlook on life from the perspective of someone who’s comfortable with violence and death makes a book not just a book, but a seminar on what it means to be human.” -Kelly Crigger, President of Graybeard Books, powered by Graybeard Books, will go live today, on Veterans Day. The company is dedicated to giving U.S. military veterans and their spouses an outlet to share their stories and get their works seen by more people than they could have reached on their own.
<...> will provide an website for readers who want to find a book by a veteran, an outlet for authors who want to write their book, and a blogging platform for veteran writers. But beyond providing these services to veterans and customers, BooksbyVeterans and its parent company, Graybeard Books, strive to help veterans navigate the publishing world, which can be daunting. Besides the traditional publishing houses, platforms like Createspace, Nook, Kindle, Lulu, iBooks, and Smashwords offer authors a self-publishing outlet that can be confusing. Every author has the difficult task of figuring out which platform is right for them and how to use it to their advantage...

Go here to read the press release or just go here and visit the site -

The Best Veterans Day Column By The Late, Great (and Vet) Mike Royko

"A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards." - Theodore Roosevelt

Again this year (sort of a Veterans Day tradition), I wanted to offer up my favorite Veterans Day article from the late, great Mike Royko (1932 - 1997) who penned it in 1993.  I don't care if you were a paratrooper, cook, medic, grunt, pilot, or ran the laundry and bath point, you have my thanks for serving our country.

I think Mike's got the right idea about how to celebrate Veterans Day, GI-Style:

I just phoned six friends and asked them what they will be doing on Monday.

They all said the same thing: working.

Me, too.

There is something else we share. We are all military veterans.

And there is a third thing we have in common. We are not employees of the federal government, state government, county government, municipal government, the Postal Service, the courts, banks, or S & Ls, and we don’t teach school.

If we did, we would be among the many millions of people who will spend Monday goofing off.

Which is why it is about time Congress revised the ridiculous terms of Veterans Day as a national holiday.

The purpose of Veterans Day is to honor all veterans.

So how does this country honor them?...

...By letting the veterans, the majority of whom work in the private sector, spend the day at their jobs so they can pay taxes that permit millions of non-veterans to get paid for doing nothing.

As my friend Harry put it:

"First I went through basic training. Then infantry school. Then I got on a crowded, stinking troop ship that took 23 days to get from San Francisco to Japan. We went through a storm that had 90 percent of the guys on the ship throwing up for a week.

"Then I rode a beat-up transport plane from Japan to Korea, and it almost went down in the drink. I think the pilot was drunk.

"When I got to Korea, I was lucky. The war ended seven months after I got there, and I didn’t kill anybody and nobody killed me.

"But it was still a miserable experience. Then when my tour was over, I got on another troop ship and it took 21 stinking days to cross the Pacific.

"When I got home on leave, one of the older guys at the neighborhood bar — he was a World War II vet — told me I was a ----head because we didn’t win, we only got a tie.

"So now on Veterans Day I get up in the morning and go down to the office and work.

"You know what my nephew does? He sleeps in. That’s because he works for the state.

"And do you know what he did during the Vietnam War? He ducked the draft by getting a job teaching at an inner-city school.

"Now, is that a raw deal or what?"

Of course that’s a raw deal. So I propose that the members of Congress revise Veterans Day to provide the following:

- All veterans — and only veterans — should have the day off from work. It doesn’t matter if they were combat heroes or stateside clerk-typists.

Anybody who went through basic training and was awakened before dawn by a red-neck drill sergeant who bellowed: "Drop your whatsis and grab your socks and fall out on the road," is entitled.

- Those veterans who wish to march in parades, make speeches or listen to speeches can do so. But for those who don’t, all local gambling laws should be suspended for the day to permit vets to gather in taverns, pull a couple of tables together and spend the day playing poker, blackjack, craps, drinking and telling lewd lies about lewd experiences with lewd women. All bar prices should be rolled back to enlisted men’s club prices, Officers can pay the going rate, the stiffs.

- All anti-smoking laws will be suspended for Veterans Day. The same hold for all misdemeanor laws pertaining to disorderly conduct, non-felonious brawling, leering, gawking and any other gross and disgusting public behavior that does not harm another individual.

- It will be a treasonable offense for any spouse or live-in girlfriend (or boyfriend, if it applies) to utter the dreaded words: "What time will you be home tonight?"

- Anyone caught posing as a veteran will be required to eat a triple portion of chipped beef on toast, with Spam on the side, and spend the day watching a chaplain present a color-slide presentation on the horrors of VD.

- Regardless of how high his office, no politician who had the opportunity to serve in the military, but didn’t, will be allowed to make a patriotic speech, appear on TV, or poke his nose out of his office for the entire day.

Any politician who defies this ban will be required to spend 12 hours wearing headphones and listening to tapes of President Clinton explaining his deferments.

Now, deal the cards and pass the tequila.

- Mike Royko

Amen, Mike, Amen.

Now, where is that tequila?

Troop/Veteran Employment in Indianapolis/Indiana

Post previously pinned
Indy Hub Handler Flyer

The FedEx hub in Indianapolis is looking to hire a large number of people (I've heard up to 500).  This is part-time work, but comes with full-time benefits including medical, dental, vision, 401k and pension plans, tuition reimbursement, and more.  There are opportunities to move up to a variety of other positions (nationwide even) after six months.  I will note that the FedEx recruiter Mission: VALOR is working with is a Reservist, and we would like to see as many of these jobs as possible go to our troops and veterans.  Please help us spread the word!  

National Airborne Day 2015


The first official Army parachute exercise was conducted on August 16, 1940.  The Army Test Parachute Platoon convinced "the powers that be" that forcible entry or mass vertical envelopement - or whatever you want to call dropping thousands of pissed off paratroopers to take and hold ground until reinforcements arrive - was possible.  On August 15, 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division was re-purposed and renamed...well, you know damn well what they were renamed...AIRBORNE!


This led to the creation of a force of airborne soldiers that included the 11th, 13th, 17th, and 101st Airborne Divisions.  

These men knew, as do Airborne men and women of today, that, in the air and certainly upon landing, will be outnumbered by the enemy, surrounded, and have to fight like hell until they are reinforced by heavier ground many cases, surprising and quickly killing the enemy is the only way that they will survive.

In November of 1942, just a few months after the unit was formed, those paratroopers would perform the first combat jump into North Africa.

AirborneAirborne 1943 - Troops of the 82nd Airborne Division jump en mass, during a demonstration at Oujda, French Morocco, North Africa, on 3 June 1943, shortly before the Sicily invasion. (World War II Signal Corps Collection).  Photo courtesy of SOCOM.

In 2001, President George W. Bush proclaimed that August 16th was National Airborne Day.  In 2002, he issued this proclamation, which more or less, has been designated by Congress.  That means that you Legs have to deal with our glorious egos for one whole day.

Here is the first proclamation from President GW Bush:

The history of airborne forces began after World War I, when Brigadier General William Mitchell first conceived the idea of parachuting troops into combat. Eventually, under the leadership of Major William Lee at Fort Benning, Georgia, members of the Parachute Test Platoon pioneered methods of combat jumping in 1940. In November 1942, members of the 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, conducted America's first combat jump, leaping from a C-47 aircraft behind enemy lines in North Africa. This strategy revolutionized combat and established airborne forces as a key component of our military.

During World War II, airborne tactics were critical to the success of important missions, including the D-Day invasion at Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, the invasion of Southern France, and many others. In Korea and Vietnam, airborne soldiers played a critical combat role, as well as in later conflicts and peacekeeping operations, including Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm, Haiti, Somalia, and the Balkans. Most recently, airborne forces were vital to liberating the people of Afghanistan from the repressive and violent Taliban regime; and these soldiers continue to serve proudly around the world in the global coalition against terrorism.

The elite airborne ranks include prestigious groups such as the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, "Sky Soldiers," 82nd Airborne Division, "All American," and the "Screaming Eagles" of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Airborne forces have also been represented in the former 11th, 13th, and 17th Airborne Divisions and numerous other Airborne, glider and air assault units and regiments. Paratroopers in the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps, the 75th Infantry (Ranger) Regiment and other Special Forces units conduct swift and effective operations in defense of peace and freedom.

Airborne combat continues to be driven by the bravery and daring spirit of sky soldiers. Often called into action with little notice, these forces have earned an enduring reputation for dedication, excellence, and honor. As we face the challenges of a new era, I encourage all people to recognize the contributions of these courageous soldiers to our Nation and the world.

Now, therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 16, 2002, as National Airborne Day. As we commemorate the first official Army parachute jump on August 16, 1940, I encourage all Americans to join me in honoring the thousands of soldiers, past and present, who have served in an airborne capacity. I call upon all citizens to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-seventh.

George W. Bush


Today, Airborne forces of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force serve around the world.  Not only did they volunteer to go into harm's way and be tired, cold, wet, and hungry, they also volunteered to be delivered to that fight by a very violent and risky means...


Today is the day that we honor those who have honored that commitment - past and present.



In Time for Father's Day! - BlackFive readers get 10% off on MuzzleShot glasses


Now this is cool...shot glasses and rocks glasses crafted in the form of an A2 Flash Hider. We don't really need an excuse to drink, but our friends at have offered us one anyway - Blackfive readers get 10% off everything for the Father's Day holiday. The Muzzleshot Shot Glass and Middy Rocks Glass are hardcoat anodized, aluminum ballistic barware so head over to and check it out.

Use promo code BLACKFIVE10 for 10% off through Father's Day!!!

Thank you,!

Daily Beast: Wounded Warrior Project Fights - to Get Rich

The Daily Beast's Tim Mak reports...

[Stephen] Nardizzi is an advisory board member of the Charity Defense Council, an outfit with lofty ambitions. The organization wants to remake the entire charitable sector to be more permissive of high overhead and high executive compensation,explicitly citing as its model the oil industry’s efforts to rehabilitate its public image.

This is because Stephen Nardizzi is the CEO of Wounded Warrior Project and was paid $473,000 by WWP in 2014.  FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!

Then there's this tidbit:

Nardizzi’s group not only engages in the selling of donor information, but he’s apparently proud of it, brazenly arguing in its favor.

So if you want your name and address sold to other entities, keep donating to WWP.

Read Tim Mak's whole piece at the Daily Beast.


Fallen US Marines Identified After Crash During Relief Effort in Nepal

The Marines and Nepalese soldiers who perished in the crash in Nepal have been identified.  Even in peace, undergoing rescue and humanitarian operations, our troops are at risk...


This morning, the Chicago media is reporting about Cpl. Sara A. Medina, a 23 year old Marine from Aurora, Illinois, who perished in the crash and was engaged to be married to another Marine.

And the Marine Corps Times has short profiles on each Marine including this piece about their relief efforts filmed right before the crash...:

Capt. Dustin R. Lukasiewicz, from Nebraska, served as a UH-1Y pilot and aviation safety officer with HMLA-469.

Lukasiewicz received his commissioned on March 28, 2008. He deployed to Afghanistan, with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and to Nepal.

Lukasiewicz was featured in a Marine Corps video about relief efforts in Nepal posted days before the helo accident. He described how they delivered rice, potatoes and tarps to remote areas devastated by the earthquake.

Dear Mom, I'm okay...

I love you momFrom Marine Corps Mom's

Back in 2012 I spoke with a wounded soldier's mother [edit. note: not the Marine in the photo above], and she told me a heartbreakingly funny story about how her son told her of his injuries (double leg amputee) - the Mom only knew that he'd been wounded and was inbound to Landstuhl.  At Landstuhl, he used a Soldiers' Angels phone to call home - the Angel dialed the phone and held it for him - and the Soldier started out with, "Hi Mom, I'm okay!  Doing pretty good here in Germany..."

It took him a few minutes before he told her that he was a lot shorter now...great sense of humor.  Great mom and family.  And they are all doing well today.

And please - all you Jarheads, Doggies, Zoomies, Coasties, and Squids - don't forget that Mother's Day is fast approaching.

BlackFive, out.