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October 2004

Red Sox Nation in Iraq

This one's for Chief Steve (Red Sox fanatic)...Click on the thumbnails for larger images. These are from Baghdad.

Col. Mark A. Milley, a Winchester, Ma. native and 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Divison commander, watched game two of the World Series from a conference room in Iraq. Soldiers gather as early as 3 a.m. to root their team on. Photo by Pfc. Matthew McLaughlin
Capt. Ryan Leonard, Maj. Rick Smudin and Col. Mark A. Milley, all New England residents, watch game two of the World Series from a conference room in Iraq. Red Sox fans gather as early as 3 a.m. to watch the games and finish sometimes minutes before daily briefings. Photographer: by Pfc. Matthew McLaughlin

Missing (Parts) In Action Team (Some Assembly Required) Takes on the Army Ten-Miler

photo by Sgt. Lorie Jewell
True grit keeps amputees on the run in Army Ten-Miler
By Sgt. Lorie Jewell

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 26, 2004) – They didn’t take home any top awards in the Army Ten-Miler, but the performances of service members who lost limbs in Afghanistan and Iraq was, to many, nothing short of heroic.

Army Capt. David Rozelle, who lost part of his right leg below the knee in a June 2003 land mine explosion in Hit, Iraq, spearheaded the effort to put together a team of amputees from Walter Reed Army Medical Center for the Oct. 24 race, a kickoff to the annual Association of the United States Army meeting.

Dubbed the “Missing (Parts) In Action team – Some Assembly Required” – the group included Staff Sgt. Andrew McCaffrey, Sgt. Ethan Payton, Marine Cpl. Dan Lasko, Navy Corpsman Jose Ramos and Airman 1st Class Anthony Pizzifred. Also running on the team was Lt. Col. Barbara Springer, chief of physical therapy; Capt. Matt Sherer, a physical therapist; and Spc. Harvey Naranjo, a certified occupational therapist assistant.

“It’s important for people to see amputees recovered and back in action,’’ Rozelle said prior to the race start, adding he had no doubts that each would make it across the finish line. The same steely mettle that helped steer them off the battlefield after suffering horrific injuries will carry them through the 10-mile route, Rozelle said.

“It’s guts, nothing but guts. Some may walk, but that’s okay. What matters is that they will finish,” he said.

Continue reading "Missing (Parts) In Action Team (Some Assembly Required) Takes on the Army Ten-Miler" »

Veterans' Day 2004 - Part One

Here's a news alert for Active Duty and Reserves/Guardsmen about a great offer being made (again) this year from Golden Corral Restaurants. It occurs the day BEFORE Veterans' Day:

Golden Corral's Fourth Annual Military Appreciation Monday


(10/27/2004) — Free dinner to our nation's military, past and present. To show our thanks, Monday night, November 15, 2004 from 5-9PM. Veterans' Day honors our military personnel, past and present, for their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. All 400+ Golden Corral restaurants spanning 39 states join together once again to offer these patriots a Free "Thank-you" Dinner Buffet on Monday Night November 15th from 5-9PM.

Reserves and National Guard are included in this special recognition offer.

Once again the Disabled American Veterans Organization with 2.3 million disabled veterans, their families and survivors, will have members in the restaurants to distribute literature, sign up new members and volunteers, and accept donations in support of the DAV.

An estimated 252,000 veterans attended last year helping this event raise over $241,000 for the DAV.

Also, from what I remember, Smith & Wolensky did a similar Veteran's Day dinner last year.

A big THANK YOU to Golden Corral!

Dessie Harlow - A Soldier's Mom And Someone You Should Know

This story is about a wonderful lady and the work she does.

Soldier's Mom Determined to Help
Military mom helps family members visiting wounded sons and daughters at military hospital.
By Tam Cummings
Fort Hood Sentinel News Editor

FORT HOOD, Texas, Oct. 27, 2004 — Three tiny American flags on Dessie Harlow’s desk stand watch from the pencil holder. The only pencil in the container is colored with blue stars and red and white stripes. The framed photo is of the teacher and her youngest son in his desert battle dress uniform, taken the night he deployed from Fort Hood to Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

A third grade teacher at Esparza Accelerated Elementary outside San Antonio, Dessie wanted to “do something, anything, to help” soldiers and their families. The 53-year-old Texan also wanted to do her part to support the Global War on Terror and her son, Lt. Chad Harlow, 3 Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

She figured she could also demonstrate to the 20 students in her class of 8 and 9-year-olds “if everybody does a little bit, it helps.” After all, the third-graders Dessie teaches know all about Operation Iraqi Freedom and what the flag represents and how soldiers are someone’s children too.

Their 3’ x 5’ cloth map of the world has two photos taped to it of Chad’s platoon and a story from his hometown newspaper in Brady, Texas, describing the efforts of the county to send school supplies to the children of Iraq.

“They may not know where Oklahoma is, but they know where Baghdad is on the map,” Dessie laughs. “Knowing about Chad puts a human face on war. They have mailed Chad letters and they use the Web site to keep up with his group.”

Realizing there was more she could do, Dessie contacted Stephanie Johnson and Susan Lowe, the Family Readiness Group leaders for the 3-82nd. She explained her ideas and told the women she had friends and fellow teachers ready, calling themselves “Mommas Care.”

“I told them any Fort Hood soldiers they knew of who were injured and being treated in San Antonio, any family members, anyone they heard of needing help, anyone, let me know,” Dessie explained. “I had just found out, just realized, there were so many wounded soldiers here, and I had no clue. Maybe I just didn’t want to think about it.”

Dessie decided since she lives in San Antonio, she and her friends could assist family members visiting sons and daughters being treated at Brooke Army Medical Center with transportation, lodging, food and a friendly, understanding face.

“I’m really proud of what our soldiers do, but it still scares me,” she explained. “I figured I wasn’t alone. I just wanted to help.”

Wanting to help is a value Dessie said she learned from her father, a World War II veteran involved in seven invasions. He was instrumental in her two sons’ upbringing and ultimately in their career choices. Her oldest son Michael, 34, served with Special Forces until he suffered a “career-ending injury.”

“My dad taught the boys the value of helping others and patriotism,” she explained. So Dessie wasn’t surprised when Chad announced he was joining the Army following the attacks of 9-11, telling his mom, "This is what I need to do."

When the Family Readiness Group called and asked if Dessie would pick up a soldier’s mom from the airport, she quickly agreed. She got in her car to leave, but returned to the house to get a photo of Chad.

“I just thought if I could show the soldier and his mom a photo of my son, they would feel more comfortable. They would know I understood what they felt,” she explained. “And I figured since her son was from Fort Hood and my son was from Fort Hood, maybe they had seen each other on post.”
Dessie laughs when she says that and then continues.

“I know, I know, there are 44,000 soldiers at Fort Hood, but I just thought maybe he’d run into Chad or he had seen Chad eating a burger or doing PT or maybe they had stood next to each other in a line somewhere.”

Dessie stuck the photo in her purse, drove to the airport and picked up Daisy, the wounded soldier’s mom, and took her to the burn center. Daisy’s son Albert had been wounded when he walked out of a meeting with some other soldiers and an rocket-propelled grenade struck near them. Earlier, in that same area, Albert had been delivering school supplies to Iraqi children. The supplies had been donated from a small Texas town.

Dessie didn’t know how Albert had gotten injured and she waited in the hallway while Daisy and Albert hugged and cried and said their hellos. Then Dessie went in to speak with the young soldier, holding the photo of Chad.

“I didn’t realize until I was talking with Albert that he was also in the 1st Cav.,” Dessie says smiling. “So I hand him the photo of Chad and say ‘this is my son, maybe you’ve seen him.’ Albert grabbed the photo and said ‘Hey, that’s my lieutenant. He was standing next to me when I was hit!’”

Dessie stops speaking for a moment and smiles. The school supplies Albert helped deliver came from Chad’s hometown of Brady.

[Read about more people that you should know here]

Photo of the Week - Freedom

We all know that women have suffered under the heel of the Taliban. We know that executions of women in soccer stadiums have stopped with the Taliban gone. We know that girls are being educated for the first time in years.

All because of the United States of America. Click on the image to take a closer look at hope:


Girls of a local orphanage gather to express their appreciation for the supplies and support provided by U.S. soldiers in Laghman, Afghanistan on Oct. 14, 2004. Soldiers of the 360th Civil Affairs Brigade conducted humanitarian assistance missions in the area, with support from paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. J. Antonio Francis

Soldier's Mom Worries About A Kerry Presidency

Deb A. has a son who is a medic in the 101st (Air Assault) Division. He served in Iraq and will probably be back in Iraq, again, soon.

I have a lot of questions about John Kerry right to become President of this country, when his past proves that he will turn his back on his country for what ever gain he may get from that action. This frightens me.

Kerry now speaks with some of the same/similar terms that he used during his speech to Congress (ie)"wrong place, wrong war, wrong time". My son is a medic with the 101st. John Kerrys words are most discouraging to him. My son feels that what he did in Iraq, was for the good. He is proud of what he has done. If you listen to John Kerry, a person would be lead to believe that he is ashamed of our troops and thinks they are lacking intelligents. He is not the kind of Commander and Chief that my son deserves.
I have a hundred of these kinds of messages. Many of them are from mothers of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. Maybe the media is on to something when they discuss the "security moms"...

Veterans, we need to step up to the plate and come out swinging in order to stop Kerry from demoralizing our current generation of warriors. Swift Boat Vets and SF Vets are just the beginning.

Kerry's Terrorist Connections

No, I haven't gone over the edge in my disregard for John Forbes Kerry or tried too hard to get your attention.

There's some work being done on tracing funds sent to Kerry's campaign that came from the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The Clinton Administration and General Wesley Clark had a relationship with the KLA in order to do our work for us in Kosovo - at the time, that was not unusual or illegal. But now some things may have changed with the KLA, like forming ties to Al Qaeda.

And now, it seems that the KLA has been financially supporting the Democratic National Committee and the Kerry Campaign.

Grim of Grim's Hall has been looking into this. Grim is a skeptic, not prone to rumor mongering, and is quick to point out that no one in the US is making these allegations as a last-minute attempt to discredit John Kerry. Most of the questions are coming from Canada and Holland. In fact, he cites the Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia talking with a Serb audience about the KLA's financial backing of the DNC - obviously, this is not exactly something that would be seen in the American spotlight. Grim wants the truth to be sorted out.

So take a look at what he's found. When clicking on the links you may have to scroll down.

While there may not be any substance to these stories from other countries' media sources, but I believe that they are worth checking out. Someone in the Justice Department should be looking into this. Hear me, Mike?

And if you are connected to the media, take a look into this and see what you find. Be skeptical. There may be nothing. Then again...

I Never Thought That It Would Come To This

It's a sad, sad day to see what is happening here in America. You have seen the reports.

The Democrats are using our troops to paint failure. Right now in Pennsylvania, Democrats are printing flyers of a burning vehicle with soldiers looking on - the headline is "Wrong Choices...Less Secure." And returning heroes have been spit upon.

I receive email after email after email from troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can read some of their blogs. They work hard to win the peace with efforts like Chief Wiggles' Operation Give and Sergeant Hook's Operation Shoe Fly. I have many friends fighting overseas. I have lost friends, good friends, too - they all believed in what they were doing. They knew the stakes. The Armed Forces there now know the stakes.

You have read letters that I have posted here from Combat Commanders writing about (1) the media's anti-war and anti-Bush agenda and (2) how a few words from a certain presidential candidate is spurring the enemy to fight on.

In turn, the terrorist bombings fuel the far left's anti-war and anti-Bush fervor. Yesterday, John Kerry said it's a "bigger mess by the day."

I've said it before, "You can't be anti-war and support the troops at the same time." It just doesn't work. The terrorists are encouraged by anti-war rhetoric. And they will keep striking harder as our resolve appears to weaken.

And our courageous men and women just might come home to the same reception that our Vietnam veterans received. I know that almost every single one of you reading this op-ed will do everything that you can in order to prevent that from happening. But it may not be enough...

The cause of this mindset is not the perceived lack of international support. The cause is not the lack of soldiers during the invasion. The cause is not the cowardice and avarice of France and Russia. These might be problems, but they are not going to be the root cause of another downward turn in our nation's morale, our military's effectiveness, and our own security.

The cause, once again, will be John Forbes Kerry.

It's the Mean Season alright, but one candidate is painting failure where success has been found in order to win. Don't get me wrong here. No military campaign is a 100% success and we have had problems. Ask yourself "What has John Kerry done as a Senator in order to ensure victory?"

John Kerry fought in Vietnam for four months, then came home and lied about the courage and valor of our military in order to get elected. And he's doing it all over again in order to win the presidency.

Sure Kerry was in Vietnam. Well, Bennedict Arnold wasn't a coward either.

They both turned against their brothers.

So, renew your committment to supporting our military. Renew your committment to winning the War on Terror. Put one more yellow ribbon on a tree. Find out when and where your local reservists and guardsmen are returning from deployment and be there waving a flag and saying "THANK YOU!". Volunteer at the USO (a wonderful organization that has lifted my spirits more than once). Or donate to causes that support our military men and women AND their families.

While all of those activities are vital to morale, the single most important factor is to ensure that a grateful nation is here when they return.

My Blackfive tagline is "the Paratrooper of Love". Love just might be the only thing that can combat this madness.