Thursday, April 27, 2006

A DFW Airport Homecoming

Today, it was my priviledge to witness another DFW Airport Homecoming, as troops are welcomed home. As always, the noise from the cheering, whistles and applause, was deafening. Here are some things that I observed today:
A Lifetime Member of the VFW was there with his own camera taking pictures. Whenever, he saw a soldier greeted by his girlfriend or wife and family, he would ask if he could take their picture. After he snapped the shot, he would reach into his pocket and give them a business card, that I assume he had done at his expense. He would say to the soldier, "If you want a copy of the picture, here's my e-mail address. Contact me and I'll send it to you." All on his time, with his camera and at his expense. What do you do with your free time?
I saw a soldier, who after first hugging his wife, reached out to take the child she held, seeing his baby for the first time.
I saw members of DFW Police, Fire Department and EMS, lined up alongside of everyone else, applauding the troops.
I saw three sisters give out a loud cheer as they saw their brother come through the door, all hugging him at same time.
I saw a mom with her toddler on her hip. He was dressed in a red shirt, and blue pants. The little patriot held his hand out behind him. Each soldier who passed him, shook it. The boy never pulled his hand back. Do you think, that the lessons that he learned today from his mom will beat anything that he ever learns in a classroom?
I saw a woman gasp, with relief and joy, when she saw her man come through the door. With tears streaming down her face, she stood on her toes and threw her arms around his neck, burying her face against his shoulder. She cried all of the way out of the Terminal. I did too.

Monday, April 24, 2006

On my drive home from work......

I noticed these things and thought that I would share.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Best Ranger Competition Update

The nice thing, to me, that I got out of this photo and the accompanying story, is that you have young men coming from a variety of national backgrounds, who aren't just competing against each other, but, are defending this wonderful country as Special Operations soldiers. As they say, "Only in America". As the son of a first generation american, I am delighted to see that the United States continues to be a shining example to the rest of the world. This country continues to be a place where a person is limited only by his or her imagination.
Ranger Captain Peter Kim takes aim on the archery range during the 23rd Annual Best Ranger Competition held at Fort Benning, Georgia on Saturday April 22, 2006.
Photo: Roger Hart/Ledger-Enquirer

Ranger Captain Peter Kim takes aim on the archery range during
the 23rd Annual Best Ranger Competition held at Fort Benning,
Georgia on Saturday April 22, 2006
Nine teams eliminated, so far

17 two-man teams still in race to be named the best

Staff Writer
The remaining contenders in the annual Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning probably wish now that Spc. Mikhail Venikov had gone through with plans to become a firefighter in Sacramento, Calif., instead of an Army Ranger.

Of course, they may also wish that Ivan Venikov hadn't brought his family to the United States from the Ukraine in the mid-'80s to escape religious persecution by the Soviets.

And what if Venikov, 23, hadn't been paired up with Sgt. 1st Class John Sheaffer, 32, last Monday after Sheaffer's original training partner had hurt his back?

Forget the "what ifs."

Venikov and Sheaffer came into Saturday's round of events at muddy Todd Field leading the field of 17 two-man teams -- nine tandems were eliminated in the 18-mile Friday night/Saturday morning road march. Representing the 75th Ranger Regiment, they remained strong throughout a cool, cloudy day in which they climbed, tomahawked and stress shot their way one step closer to the ultimate prize.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Group Donates Home to Wounded Soldier

A good story about a good organization: "Home for Our Troops."

America Supports You: Group Donates Home to Wounded Soldier
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2006 – Three years ago, Army Pfc. Sam Ross Jr. was disposing of munitions near Baghdad when an explosion took his eyesight, his left leg, part of his hearing and, ultimately, his military career.

Last month, the former 82nd Airborne Division soldier moved into a custom-built log cabin specially designed and built for his needs, courtesy of "Homes for Our Troops."

"This is my dream, and it's finally under way," the 22-year-old Ross said as his handicapped-accessible log home started taking shape on a hilltop in his native Dunbar, Pa.

Ross used to play on the lot where his new home stands when he was a child. "He wanted to get back to a place he could see in his mind," Kirt Rebello, director of projects and veterans affairs for Homes for Our Troops, told American Forces Press Service.

The Rest of the Story

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Poor Lad

Poor Lad (a poem)

A mother weeps with tears that burn,
From her son’s death will she not learn?
Will she then honor what she lost,
Pay tribute to his personal cost?
Or will she use his death to preach,
Perched on his coffin will she screech,
And damn the cause her dead son served,
Her special spot in hell reserved?

There are those many who agree,
This mother has a voice that’s free,
To vent her anger scream her sorrow,
Remind us all of death’s tomorrow.
But what of those men fighting there?
Must they this mother’s anger bear?
Mad mother questioning what they do,
Who disrespects our valiant few.

I’m tired of her public pass to grieve,
From the media world, she now should leave,
And give her son’s poor soul some rest,
Stop undermining our bravest best,
Who fight to let this woman speak,
To let her scream, to let her shriek,
Her misguided hatred of her nation.
And the very ones give her salvation.

Oh, Cindy please fade into night,
And cease your rage against the light,
That illuminates your dead son’s goal,
The saving grace that guards his soul,
Which sadly you can’t seem to see,
What he sought most is victory;
A victory that his buddies won,
Now they, not you, salute your son.

How tragic that a soldier’s death should be so poorly used;
Poor lad, so sad, so tragically, by his mother so abused.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division Vietnam 65-66

Best Ranger Competion

If you ever have a chance to attend the Best Ranger Competition or watch it on one of the cable channels, you should do so. These SpecOps soldiers are superbly conditioned. Seeing how tough they are in a peaceful competition will help you to sleep better at night, when you know that these same men are out hunting down the terrorists that wish you harm.

Favorites to sit it out
Injury leaves favored pair sidelined

Staff Writer

Watching from the sideline Friday as 26 two-man teams begin the Best Ranger Competition at Malvesti Field will be the tandem many considered the favorites, Master Sgt. Matt Wilson and Sgt. 1st Class John Sheaffer.

"I'm sorry to hear they won't be competing," said Corbett McCallum, who teamed with Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Nelson to win the 2005 competition. "They'd have to be considered one of the teams to beat."

But a recent back injury to Wilson, an ultra-marathoner, will keep the Wilson-Sheaffer team, second in the 2004 Best Ranger contest, out of the competition.

"Injuries happen," said Sheaffer, himself a distance runner. "I've missed time with an Achilles problem."

The Rest of the Story

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Family, Heroes, Knights Bid MoH Recipient Farewell

Another warrior passes. Rest in Peace.
American Forces Press Service Marie Schult April 14, 2006

Arlington, VA. - Six Medal of Honor recipients and the Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights, were among those gathered at Arlington National Cemetery here yesterday to pay their last respects to retired Army Chief Warrant Officer Michael J. "Mike" Novosel, a Medal of Honor recipient and former Golden Knight.

"It was an honor and a privilege to pay homage to an American hero who served in this unit," said Army Sgt. Maj. Mike Eitniear, Golden Knights sergeant major. Novosel was a pilot for the team following his return from Vietnam in 1970.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery and tenacity during the Vietnam War. On Oct. 21, 1969, Novosel received word of wounded South Vietnamese soldiers pinned down by a large enemy force. Flying without air cover, he encountered ground fire so intense it forced him away six times.

Despite the ground fire, he completed 15 hazardous extractions. On the last, just as a wounded soldier was pulled into the aircraft, the enemy unleashed a hail if fire directly at Novosel. Wounded, he momentarily lost control of the aircraft, but recovered and flew to safety. In all, he saved 29 men, according to the Medal of Honor Web site.

The Rest of the Story

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Month of the Military Child

I am ashamed to say, that I wasn't aware that this was the Month of the Military Child. I hope that this post makes up for it, in some small way.

Video Greetings from Troops to Their Children

Organizations for Youth

Chairman's Letter Salutes Military Children

I want to take this opportunity to recognize the extraordinary contributions of our Nation’s military families, who have faced many challenges—from family separations to frequent moves—with great courage. I would especially like to acknowledge a special source of inspiration: children of military families.

You are patient and understanding when duty calls and your Mom or Dad cannot attend a soccer game, music recital, birthday party, or other important family or school activity. You are heroes in a quiet, thoughtful way, and I am grateful for the unconditional love you give your Mom and Dad. Many of you have experienced the sad and sometimes frightening experience of having your Mom or Dad far from home, serving around the globe in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Through your personal courage and support, you serve this Nation too – and I am proud of you!

Frequent moves are a way of life for the military child. It is never easy to say goodbye to friends and familiar routines, to begin again in a new school, a new neighborhood – and sometimes a new country! But your resilience and self-confidence are strengths that others admire, including your parents.

Growing up in a military family offers some challenges, but it also provides some special rewards. You can be proud of your Mom and Dad for their brave defense of this great country. Your love and support sustains them. So thank you for being there for Mom and Dad. You are American patriots and role models for us all.

General, United States Marine Corps
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Follow up on 'Pat's Run'

Race raises $350,000 for Tillman charity
Associated Press

Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer was one of more than 8,000 people who participated in the 4.2-mile "Pat's Run" Saturday in Tempe, Ariz., raising $350,000 for the foundation established to honor Pat Tillman's memory.

The race finished at the 42-yard line of Sun Devil Stadium, where Tillman wore No. 42 as a Sun Devils linebacker. He also played in the stadium as defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals, wearing No. 40.

Plummer was joined by Grey Ruegamer, Derek Smith, Steve Bush and Juan Roque, all of whom played on the 1996 Rose Bowl team with Tillman.

"It was great to have Jake and so many of those players who were part of those teams with Pat," race director Perry Edinger said.

Tillman, 27, died on April 22, 2004, in a friendly-fire accident in Afghanistan that is still being investigated. He walked away from a $3.6 million NFL contract to volunteer for the Army Rangers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The race raised $100,000 more than last year's inaugural event. Proceeds go to the Pat Tillman Foundation, which funds the Leadership Through Action program at Arizona State.

Donny Boy

The latest from the pen of Russ Vaughn

Donny Boy
(With a tip a’ me hat to the gent who penned the original)

Oh Donny boy, the snipes, the snipes are bawling,
From spin to spin, some generals now decide,
The war’s all wrong and for your head they’re calling,‘
Tis you, ‘tis you must go, they want your hide.

But guard your back from those now in the meadow,
From starry pundits claim they told you so.
To hype their books, they snipe you from the shadow,
Oh Donny boy, oh Donny boy, they hate you so.

And if you run when all the media’s lying,
Then truth is dead as dead the truth may be.
They’ll howl and hound you ‘til you are a’ dying,
And spiel an evil epitaph for thee.

And they will sneer no matter what befalls thee,
At all your dreams of sweetest victory,
For if you win they’ll still not ever love thee,
You’ll see no peace until Bush cuts you free.

Oh Donny boy, the snipes, the snipes are bawling,
From spin to spin, they’re crying for your hide.
Your war is lost is what the media’s calling,
‘Tis you must go, they want ol’ Rummy fried.

Russ Vaughn

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

When Our Troops Come Home

If your local newspaper carries Parade Magazine, tomorrow's edition has an interesting story on returning military. It's worth reading.

When Our Troops Come Home

Dr. Joyce Brothers examines the psychological challenges faced by soldiers returning from Iraq, and the impacts on their families.

Read, print and e-mail the full text of this article on starting Wednesday, April 19

Friday, April 14, 2006

Paying Attention to Detail

All of my life, I've tried to follow a lesson that I learned from observing my father. I try to pay attention to the little details in nature. Not just the broader canvas. But, the brush strokes that God used to paint the scene before us.

So it was, that on my drive home today, I noticed and stopped to photograph a clump of Indian Paintbrush. I'm sure that many of my fellow commuters wondered what must be going through my mind.

I thought about how nice that it would be to saddle up that tall, beautiful bay horse with the white blaze on it's forehead, that I once owned, and ride out with my best friend beside me, through the waving prairie grass blanketed by Texas wildflowers, feeling the spring sun against our faces and the soft breeze at our backs.

I felt warm, good. All because of a clump of flowers that made me think of Dad and my best friend and thoughtful, about how sad my life would have been without having known them.

I wondered why I was the only one to notice.

More wildflower pictures here.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pat's Run

Pat's Run entrants break runner's mold
Cameron Eickmeyer
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 11, 2006 11:45 AM

It's fitting that the race to honor Pat Tillman is composed of people who don't fit the stereotypical runner's mold.

Tillman's enigmatic life, which included a surprising leap from the NFL to the Army Rangers, was everything but standard and Saturday's second annual Pat's Run features many runners who don't normally work out.

These people run or walk the 4.2 miles (Tillman wore jersey number 42 at Arizona State University) more to honor Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2004, than to exercise.

"As long as people are showing up, they are showing up for Pat Tillman," said race director Perry Edinger, who added that the race is long enough to challenge serious athletes.
I hope that people always show up for Pat and his comrades-in-arms.

The Rest of the Story

Pat Tillman tribute

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

North Texas Wildflowers

Supporting Troops, Anytime, Anywhere

TACPs: Supporting Troops Anytime, Anywhere
Air Force News Lisa Terry McKeown April 06, 2006

Pope AFB, N.C. - Under the cover of night, he maneuvers through the brush, getting just close enough to spot his target. He takes his measurements … triple checks them … and calls in the strike. If his measurements are correct, the troops who called in for help should have the relief they need in the form of a close air strike on the enemy.

Their missions sometimes sound like scripts out of "Mission Impossible." But their importance continues to be proven through their everyday assistance in the war on terrorism. They are few in numbers, but large in impact.

They are tactical air controllers.

The Rest of the Story

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Belated Honor

Army Master Sgt. Henry F. Biernacki's children never gave up seeking recognition for their dad. Finally, Master Sgt. Biernacki is being honored April 18 at the Vietnam Wall Memorial in Washington. D.C.
A parents true legacy is in the way that his or her children conduct their lives. I am glad that Master Sgt. Biernacki will be honored in an official ceremony. But, he has been honored all of these years by the people who most count in anyone's life, his family.
His place in history
Lost soldier honored at last at Vietnam wall

Heading into the fourth year of the war in Iraq, Americans have become all too familiar with the military rituals of death - the uniformed officers going to the family home to break the sad news, the flag-covered coffin and the dignified funeral, complete with honor guard and three rifle volleys in salute of the fallen.

It wasn't always this way. Turn back the clock to March 15, 1962.

A Lockheed Constellation airliner with 93 soldiers aboard lifts off from Guam and heads west over the Pacific, aiming for a little-known country that has become a battleground in the war against communism - South Vietnam. Among the soldiers on board the Flying Tiger charter airliner is Army Master Sgt. Henry F. Biernacki, a 31-year-old veteran of the Korean War, where he was awarded the Silver Star for bravery in combat.
But on March 15, 1962, the Flying Tiger Constellation disappeared from the sky. Somewhere between Guam and Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, it went down into the Pacific. U.S. officials launched a search-and-rescue mission but not even debris was found. Sgt. Biernacki and the other soldiers on board never even got to see the war they died in. Back home in Colorado Springs, the Biernacki family learned the terrible news when a telegram came to the door. That was all. A telegram dated March 16, 1962.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Flying my Country's flag upside down

Is wrong!
It is ungrateful and rude! Just when I think I might be a little sympatico, you go and do something this rude to the country, where you work to support your familia. Why can't you be just a little more respectful?
Eso está equivocado. ¿Usted vive en este país y usted lo falta al respeto volando la bandera al revés?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Higher Education

Higher Education
Inspired by the Sean Hannity interview with Ward Churchill

We send our kids to college,
To get an education;
We send them there for knowledge,
Not to learn to hate their nation.
The billions that we pay,
These high priced institutions,
Should pay to teach our kids a way,
To seek life’s best solutions.

But Sixties losers from the Left,
Have seized the ivory towers,
So now our kids must sit bereft,
Absorbing agitprop for hours.
They hear not the words of Winnie,
A true Churchill of distinction,
But some phony Indian ninnie,
Who prophesies their extinction.

And while your kid can’t get in Yale,
Can’t make the grade or cut,
They admit a turbaned, Taliban male,
A terrorist from a hut.
So now he learns at our expense,
And no woman dare sit near,
How to worm his way past our defense,
Undermine all we hold dear.

What fools they are who claim to be,
The brightest in our nation;
Not even smart as you and me,
Despite their lofty station.
No common sense do they possess,
Or they’d teach our kids what’s right;
Their Marxist minds a muddled mess,
They’re fools won’t see the light.

Someday our warriors will return seeking higher institutions,
Should not surprise those so unwise, they may face retributions.

Russ Vaughn

Thursday, April 06, 2006

DFW Airport Welcomes Soldiers Home

This short video show soldiers being welcomed home, 4/6/06, at DFW airport. It isn't close to how long or how loud the welcome is. It was the same welcome for a single soldier who walked through the door. It is my priviledge to work where I can be a part of this kind of support for our military.

Powered by Castpost
There was a couple waiting close by. They were flying to Germany to see their son, before he deployed to Iraq. I persuaded them to wait until the first soldiers came through. I didn't tell them this, but, I wanted them to see how this country feels about their son's service. So, that they could tell him. When I left, I said goodbye to the mother. By then, she was standing in line, waiving a small American flag and crying. Do you think that maybe she'll hug her son a little harder? I hope so.

The camera didn't do it justice. These volunteers do this over and over. They never seem to grow weary of it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Finding Beauty in the Smallest Things

 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mothers Day-Send your message through Stars and Stripes

Military Photographers on the Frontlines

Military Photographers on the Frontlines
“The assignment... simple. The objective... illusive. The cost... immeasurable. We are the men and women who go through great risks to get the shot. We extraordinary videographers and photojournalists train with the best, operate in the worst and get noticed the least. Our mission is to be there when history happens. Ever notice that photo or video clip in the news, book, or documentary? Well, someone had to be there. Someone had to get the shot. Someone had to tell the story. We are that someone.”
Courtesy of U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Ansarov

‘It’s all about the patriotism’

Yes, it is brothers and sisters. Yes, it is. My son is stationed at Ft. Lewis, where this benefit ride was held. Thank you, Freedom Riders!

‘It’s all about the patriotism’

First it was a distant buzz. Then a rumble.

And finally, when all 168 motorcycles rolled through Yelm, the roar of two-wheeled Harleys, Suzukis and Hondas was so loud it turned heads at the gas station, and prompted the curious to peer out their windows.

Called the Freedom Ride, Sunday’s motorcycle tour through Pierce and north Thurston counties was a benefit for the soldiers and family members of the Fort Lewis-based 1st Special Forces Group.

Bikers paid an entry fee and could buy raffle tickets, food and T-shirts to support the cause at Northwest Harley-Davidson in Lacey – the start and finish point for the ride.

The crowd of leather-clad men and women gathered at 11:30 a.m. for a quick safety reminder, prayer and thanks from the commander of the Special Forces Group.

“You being out here today speaks volumes not only of your love of the road, but of your country,” said Col. Rick Thomas.

The Rest of the Story

Do all Democrats look as scary as Hillary, Ted and Cynthia McKinney?

Congresswoman McKinney alledgely struck a Capitol Police officer. If she is innocent, it should have been enough for her to say so, without throwing the 'race card.' Me'thinks she doest protest to much.

Welcome Home!

Twenty four years old, forever.

Remains Found in New Guinea of WWII Pilot

SUFFOLK, Va. (AP) - Human remains found in the wreckage of a World War II bomber in New Guinea have been identified as a 24-year-old airman who disappeared on a stormy night in 1943.

The remains of Charles 'Buddy' Feucht were identified through DNA testing.
His sister Fern Lord, who had submitted a vial of her blood for DNA comparison, got the news Thursday.

"It's been so long,'' said Lord, 83. "Every day, you wake up and wonder if this is the one.''

Feucht, a bombardier aboard a B-24 Liberator, was part of a formation looking for Japanese ships during a violent thunderstorm when his plane separated from the others to take a closer look at the water below. He and the rest of his nine-man crew vanished.

The Rest of the Story

Is this the way women are supposed to react?

This bathroom is supposed to be a real confidence booster! I've just never seen any of those reactions before.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

You tell 'em like it is, Sister

This woman has, as we say here in Texas, cajones!

"During my last night in captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video. They told me they would let me go if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. I agreed," she said in a statement issued Saturday.

"Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not. The people who kidnapped me and murdered Allan Enwiya are criminals, at best. They robbed Allan of his life and devastated his family. They put me, my family and my friends - and all those around the world, who have prayed so fervently for my release - through a horrific experience. I was, and remain, deeply angry with the people who did this."

A German security guard, speaking for himself, said it all for the rest of us.

Before turning to leave, the burly guard hesitated. "Welcome back home," he said, eyes brimming with tears.

The Rest of the Story

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