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May 2006

Memorial Day - The Last Letter

Here's a story about a Memorial Day Letter that demonstrates both love of family and country.

Paul Tate's mother is a Master Sergeant in the National Guard who was in Iraq, and his step-father, Randy, was with him at home.  Paul's father, a former SF Soldier, is a contract security officer in Afghanistan.

Randy told me the story about his step-son writing a letter for his parents overseas last Memorial Day.  Here's the messages from Paul:

Hey mom, how are you? I'm doing good, been helping Randy out here and there. Helps me keep an eye on him, lol. Well, I really just wanted to e-mail you, tell you I miss and love you, and none of us can wait till you get home, even for a few weeks. I also wanted to let you know, and ask that you let everyone else over there know, that we are all proud of you. I wrote a letter to you, and anyone else you want to show it to. I love you, mom, and I will write back again soon, I promise. The letter is attached.

Paul Tate
(you can get away with something like "mom", I can't just put "son", lol.)

And here's what Paul wanted to share:

Today is Memorial Day. A day set aside for remembering people, men and women, who have and still do serve our country. All to often, we spend the day enjoying the weather, having barbecues, and generally having fun, without realizing the importance of this day. We forget how important or freedoms are, and just how hard those who came before us had to fight to gain, and then preserve, those freedoms. I grew up in a military home, my parents and even my stepparents all spent time in the military, from Air Force MP to Special Forces, from National Guard to Army medic. Very few people outside of the military have as much respect for the job you all do as I have. Here, we all have pride in our military, but we often fall into the trap that a few people try to set up, downplaying or even vilifying the military and your importance. Sadly, that is the image that is spread around the world, which many people see more than anything else. I want to take the time, right now, to let as many of you as I can know you are all heroes. No matter what anyone says, don’t ever forget that. What you folks do is amazing, and we are all grateful for the fact that you are willing to do it. I myself wish that I could also do the job; sadly, I have a medical condition that prevents me from joining the military. I wrote this, as I said, solely so anyone reading this will know how proud we all are of our military, and I wanted to wish you all a happy Memorial Day, and god bless you all. Thank you.

Paul Tate.

Randy tells me that Paul's mom carried his letter in her pocket during her deployment.  Unfortunately, that's the last letter Paul sent.

He died soon after of a heart attack.  His heart was the reason that he could not serve in the military.

Randy sends an email to finish the story:

...While she was home on emergency leave we buried our son.  The state AG was in attendance.  He took my wife off to the side after the ceremony and offered to keep her home rather than return to duty.  Later that day as we talked and grieved she asked if our daughter and I "needed" her to stay home.  Would we want for her to stay home?  Yes!  But did we "need" her home?  No.  With that, she decided to return to Iraq and finish her tour.  She went back not only for her soldiers, but to show the Iraqis she worked with that US soldiers, regardless of personal tragedy, finish the job they start.  This soldier, wife, mother and grandmother exemplifies the Army ideals every day.  I thank GOD every day for the privilege to have her in my life.  As a nation, we are blessed to have people like her who sacrifice greatly for our freedom.

Never Forget.

Thank you for your time.



SFC Haines - Someone You Should Know

SFC Curtis Haines was nominated for a Someone You Should Know post by ArmyWifeToddlerMom.  Haines gives new meaning for bravery under "fire":

Arkansas Army National Guard member receives Soldier's Medal for bravery in Iraq

By Sgt. Chris A. Durney
Arkansas National Guard Public Affairs

CAMP JOSEPH T. ROBINSON, North Little Rock, Ark (5/20/2006) — To Sgt. 1st Class Curtis Haines of Hope, Ark., being presented the nation's highest awards for non-combat related bravery is a source of pride for his whole unit, and not just himself.

Haines is a member of the Arkansas Army National Guard's Company A, 1-153rd Infantry of the 39th Brigade Combat Team, and he thinks that any one of his fellow Guard Soldiers are capable of the same level of bravery that earned him the Soldier's Medal. "This is for all of you," he said to his unit after Arkansas State Senator Percy Malone pinned the impressive medal on his uniform. "I know all of you characters and I know that if any one of you were in my place at the time, you would have done the same."

Haines received the medal at a ceremony today in the Prescott High School auditorium in Prescott, Ark., where the unit is based. He earned the honor for his actions in the aftermath of a car bomb explosion at a military checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraq, May 6, 2004, while he was deployed with the 39th.

After getting word of the detonation, then Staff Sgt. Haines led his squad to the scene and quickly secured the site. Disregarding his own safety, Haines dove into a burning vehicle to extract an Iraqi citizen who was seriously injured and on fire. Haines pulled the person away from the raging fire and carried him over 50 yards to safety before immediately administering medical aid. He transferred the citizen to more qualified medical personnel, ultimately saving the man's life, and then went right back to work, directing his troops and extending the area perimeter...


Continue reading "SFC Haines - Someone You Should Know" »

The Star Spangled Banner - All Four Stanzas

Because we need them, especially the last:

Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep.
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
'Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation,
Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven - rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto --"In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

"Oh thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand"...

Indeed.  Better men and women than I have stood and paid the price for our freedom...

Blackfive on Pundit Review - Memorial Day Edition

A reminder that I'll be on Pundit Review Radio this Sunday at 9PM EST for my weekly Someone You Should Know segment.

After SYSK, Pundit Review will have a special guest, Patti Patton Bader of Soldiers' Angels.

What is Pundit Review Radio?
Pundit Review Radio is where the old media meets the new. Each week Kevin & Gregg give voice to the work of the most influential leaders in the new media/citizen journalist revolution. Hailed as “Groundbreaking” by Talkers Magazine, this unique show brings the best of the blogs to your radio every Sunday evening at 8pm EST on AM680 WRKO, Boston’s Talk Leader.

When you steal from a MilBlogger

...you're going to get busted.

I believe that many of you will recognize the photo on the cover of Shock Magazine:


That's right.  Stolen from Michael Yon.  When I asked about it, Mike sends:

The publisher, HFM, is one of the largest media conglomerates in the world with over 200 magazines and newspapers in 33 countries.  This is a major launch with an initial print run of 300,000.

Personally, I think Mike is more pissed about the photo being used for some kind of political agenda than getting ripped off.  Then, again, stealing from an SF type is not advised...my new slogan for HFM is below...put yours in the Comments.

HFM - "Stealing the Shock."

Here's the link to Shock Magazine - it is not work safe.

More to follow...

Update:  Someone should *ahem* start calling about this egregious error.  The number for HFM is (212) 767-6000.

Email Shock at [email protected] and [email protected].