Sunday, December 31, 2006

Huckleberry supports the USMC!

This is Kimmy and Jeremiah Flynn's little one. Isn't he adorable!!!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas card to Osama

This is from my Aunt Carol and Uncle Don. It's hilarious!

Lttle Melissa comes home from first grade and tells her father that they learned about the history of Christmas. "Since Christmas is for a Christians and we're Jewish," she asks, "will God get mad at me for giving someone a Christmas card?

Melissa's father thinks a bit, then says "No, I don't think God would get mad. Who do you want to give a Christmas card to?"

"Osama Bin Laden," she says. . . . .

"Why Osama Bin Laden," her father asks in shock. . .?

"Well", she says, "I thought that if a little American Jewish girl could have enough love to give Osama a card, he might start to think that maybe we're not all bad, and maybe start loving people a little bit. And if other kids saw what I did and sent cards to Osama, he'd love everyone a lot. And then he'd start going all over the place to tell everyone how much he loved them and how he didn't hate anyone anymore."

Her father's heart swells and he looks at his daughter with new found pride. "Melissa, that's the most wonderful thing I've ever heard."

"I know," Melissa says, "and once that gets him out in the open, the Marines could blow him all to hell."

Meaning of "Oorah"

Oorah (ooo-rah), adj. U.S. Marine Corps Slang. Referring to, or meaning anything and everything except "no." Generally used when at a loss for words. Also:

1. Good copy, solid copy, roger, good or great; message received, understood.
2. Glad to meet you, welcome.
3. I do not know, but will check on it, I haven't the vaguest idea.
4. I am not listening.
5. That is enough of your drivel--sit down.
6. Stop sniveling.
7. You've got to be kidding.
8. Yes.
9. Thank you.
10. Go to the next [briefing] slide.
11. You have taken the correct action.
12. I don't know what that means, but am too embarrassed to ask for clarification.
13. That is really neat, I want one too.
14. Amen.

-Author unknown

Friday, December 29, 2006

New addition to a field first aid kit

I found this article on Marine Moms. It's a cute story.

July 03, 2004

The Marine Moms in Houston are an amazing group. They have sent off hundreds of care packages and letters to Marines in the middle east. Given the scope of their effort, a few glitches are to be expected. Here's an e-mail sent by one of those moms:

To top off my son's email he was able to call yesterday!!! I've just been in absolutely the BEST mood. Not only did he call, but we were able to talk for a long time and it was so wonderful. He shared so many stories and had my laughing so hard. He wanted me to thank all his "Moms" and to let ya'll know that he and his fire team received their care packages and they were a wonderful morale booster. He said all of them had the Channel 11 footballs in their care package and they were out in the open area throwing the footballs around and other Marines were asking, "Hey where did ya'll get the footballs?" My son said at first they would all respond, "The Houston Marine Moms!" He said after awhile they were all laughing and they would just say "Our Moms".

He said they call the footballs their WMD's. I asked why and he said that when the lights go out at night they all throw them really hard at each other and just have the best time. He was laughing so hard sharing these stories with me. He had me rolling.

He told me how wonderful the care packages were and wanted me to tell everyone thank you. He said that one guy we'll call Marine X did get a girl care package and everyone was giving him a hard time. My son said, "Marine X got some really nice smelling lotion and everyone really likes it, so everytime he goes to sleep they steal it from him." I told my son I was really sorry about the mistake, and if he wanted I would send Marine X another package. He told me not to worry about Marine X because everytime I send something to him Marine X thinks it's for him too. He said when my husband and I sent the last care package Marine X came over to his cot picked up the box, started fishing through it, and said, "What'd we get this time?"

My son said they had the most fun with Marine X's package. He said he wasn't sure who we were sending the pack to, but the panties were size 20, and he said one of the guys got on top of the humvee and jumped off with the panties over his head and yelled, "Look at me, I'm an Airborne Ranger!!!!" He said one of the guys attached the panties to an antenna and it blew in the wind like a windsock. He said it entertained them for quite awhile.

Then of course, they had the tampons. When he brought this up my imagination was just running wild, but I let him continue. My son said they had to go on a mission and Marine X wanted the chapstick and lotion for the trip. He grabbed a bunch of the items out of his care package and got in the humvee. As luck would have it he grabbed the tampons, and My son said everyone was teasing him about "not forgetting his feminine hygiene products". My son said things were going well, and then the convoy was ambushed. He said a Marine in the convoy was shot. He said the wound was pretty clean, but it was deep. He said they were administering first aid but couldn't get the bleeding to slow down, and someone said, "Hey use Marine X's tampons." My son said they put the tampon in the wound. At this point my son profoundly told me, "Mom did you know that tampons expand?" "Well, yeah!" They successfully slowed the bleeding and got the guy medical attention. When they went to check on him later the surgeon told them, "You guys saved his life." If you hadn't stopped that bleeding he would have bled to death. My son said, "Mom, the tampons sent by the Marine Moms by mistake saved a Marines life." At this point I asked him, "Well what did you do with the rest of the tampons?" He said, "Oh, we divided them up and we all have them in our flak jackets, and I kept two for our first aid kit."

I am absolutely amazed by the ingenuity of our Marines, and can't believe that something that started out as a mistake ended up saving someone's life. My sister said she doesn't believe in mistakes. She said that God had a plan all along. She believes that female care package was sent to Marine X to save our Marine. Either way ladies our efforts have boosted the morale of many Marines, provided much needed items for our troops, AND saved the lives of a Marine! God bless each of you for your efforts and hard work, and God bless our Marines!

The Mis-Adventures of Captain Poopy: Christmas Day-a little belated

To see a few more Christmas pictures, go to my sister's blog. The Mis-Adventures of Captain Poopy: Christmas Day-a little belated.

Pressured to craft

Lucky for you while the Old Man is on rotation, you get to read posts about me until he gets back and gives me some of the good stuff to write. :)

1/6 is fortunate enough to have an online chat group that can be good and evil. It's great to get the support, ideas, and info on other 1/6 Marines from the families. It's not so great reading through the other posts from the wives and mothers suggesting these fantastic, wonderful, elaborate things they've made and sent to their Marines that leave you scrambling to put something together just as nice and thoughtful. Well, maybe I'm the only one scrambling, but boy do I.

One of the little things that I found myself pondering is if the stuff I'm sending is as grand and well received in comparison. From what I gather, we all do whether we mean to or not. The last thing I'd want is the Old Man running around making fun of me lifting things up one by one going, What the? because the very first package I sent was full of stuff that didn't make any sense, but seemed like a good idea at the time...**big sigh** Not that that's happened.

So you couple this with the pressures of being a brand spankin new wife and what do you have? The Pressure to Craft. My sister and I outbursted in Michaels as I'm scouring the aisles past the foam nativity sets and scrapbooking supplies as we realized I'm scouring because I'm Pressured to Craft!! Who'd have thought?! I'm lifting up foamy wreaths and cardboard cones going, "Hmmmm...what can I make this into?" Then beating myself up because I'm not quite as creative and my one big try to make a few dozen jar cakes ended up in a few dozen undercooked jars of cake batter and two burnt hands. Lucky for me a few days ago, I found an all inclusive box with ingredients to make the 5 Layer Bars of Joy we both like.

Ohhh, The Pressure to Craft. I title this because it's this phenomenon that goes on within military families back home who are running low on ideas or wanting to make the best of that flat rate box. And damn it, Aunt Carolyn, you've got it down pretty darn good, but my one saving grace with you is that you've had that all along. I once posted my grand idea of making the Old Man a countdown calendar with pictures, special dates, and the days remaining till he gets home in the chat room. By the way, the only thing resulting from the calendar idea was a pile of guilt from not finishing it up. Sometimes I wish I could be like one other 1/6 wife who after I made my grand suggestion says, "What? I don't have time for that crap. I work for a living!" At the time it seemed a little harsh, but oh how I envy her strength!

I'm a little more fortunate time wise since we don't have children and I delayed grad school one semester, but give me all the time in the world and the best I can do is a puff painted T-Shirt. Last time I checked, those went out with high school pep rallies. I decided to get a list together of things that would make cute little thoughtful gifts to the Old Man and his Marines since he pretty much has everything he needs.

So if you're Pressured to Craft or just want to do a few hands on things (esp with Valentines Day coming), hopefully these simple projects show you the light at the end of the tunnel...Even better, leave me a comment or two with some ideas to ease my worries!

Countdown calendar. Print out pictures for the top half and a calendar for the bottom. Word has a calendar wizard that lets you import pics, specialize dates, and customize almost everything else.

Love letters. I found a mini tin mailbox in the Target dollar section with foam letter stickers. Fill it up with love letters or little one line memories. One for everyday he's deployed until he gets home.

Marine Corps scrapbook. Another thing on my list of to do's. This one is the nicest one I've seen and it's about $40 bucks at Michael's. You can often catch them half off if you keep checking out the Sunday ads. Marine Corps Album

CD. Burn a quick CD with music that reminds him of you, family, or the top songs out right now. I'm pretty sure these never get old.

Picture CD/DVD. Copy/paste pictures to a CD/DVD of you throughout your normal day to send over.

Old fashioned heart cards. You know the ones from construction paper with stuff glued all around the edges? So this isn't the most manly thing to send, but I'm sure he'd like it.

Personalized puffy hands. I'm telling everyone my fantastic idea only because I think it'd be hilarious if the 1/6 families welcomed our Marines with a sea of puffy hands. You can pick up little foam fingers at Michael's for $1.50 and mark them up with whatever you want!

Puffy paint t-shirt. I stand by this. It'll be cute for the kids to do and for everyone to wear when your Marine comes home. Or if you're a real pro, they have those iron on do hickeys that you run through your computer printer for pictures.

Pipe cleaner people. I have two of those little gumby-picture head things of me and the Old Man as a bride and groom. These pipe cleaner people are sort of the same. OK, maybe not...I'm all out. Maybe you should stick to consulting the pros and ignore this post altogether!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Priceless...Merry Christmas

This is cute!

For more comics about life as a military spouse visit,'s a spouse thing!

Letter from the wife of the 1/6 Commanding Officer

(My TT is below :)

To the families and friends of First Battalion, Sixth Marines;

This holiday season seemed like the perfect time to stop and thank you all for your continued support of the Marines and Sailors in 1/6. They are doing a tremendous job and continuing to make a difference every day. FOX news reported our Marines as saying "they are there to win."

The Marines take pride in taking care of their own and I must say it is obvious among you all that Marine families take care of Marine families. I applaud each member in this battalion and on this chat for taking care of one another. Some commands shy away from having a chat site attached to their home page. Chat sites do have the potential to create various problems, but really, it is what the members make it and you all have made it an incredible support network! Thank you for doing such!

I thank you too for the generosity you have shown us throughout this deployment. Our stockings were filled faster than Santa could have done it himself! The Marines will enjoy having them on Christmas day. Thanks also to those of you purchased our 1/6 "Chow Time" Cookbooks. They are beautiful and will be "a great piece of gear" to have in the kitchen not to mention a nice keepsake for 1/6 families. (We still have plenty more if you would like to have one!) I also thank those of you who have contributed to the "Hearts and Flowers" fund. We are using that money to send flowers to the families of the fallen Marines and Sailors. Any left over monies will be used to have their portraits framed for their families which will be given at our battalion Memorial Service. Thank you again for your generous contributions.

Here's wishing each of you a Happy Holiday. It is a special time of year but a tough time as well having to spend it separated from our loved ones. I ask that each of you continue to support each other through the holidays and throughout this deployment. Let's remember too the families of the wounded and fallen Marines and Sailors and strive to lead our lives in such a way that we honor the sacrifice
of those who gave their own for us.

God bless you and yours during this holiday season and into the New Year!



An interesting read

I want to share this post by Michael Yon. Michael Yon: Online Magazine.

Really look at how he concludes the article.
"...This war is strange. I never hear soldiers worried about their own morale sagging. Contrary, the war-fighters here are more concerned to bolster the morale of the people at home...The morale at war is higher than I have ever seen it at home; makes me wonder what they know that most Americans seem to be missing."

Thursday Thirteen #8

Thirteen things to send the Old Man and his Marines
He never asks for much, but I know that opening anything from anyone makes him happy. No matter how big or how small. I read once that the number one worry from a deployed Marine is what's going on on the homefront so making sure they know we're thinking about them helps a million different ways! (If you want addresses or names to send things, leave a comment or go to my profile and send me an email.)

1. Computer games. Many Marines brought their laptops to use on their downtime.
2. Instant coffee. They live on this.
3. DVDs. The Old Man says he watches tons of movies and TV series to pass the time.
4. Sports equipment. Any thing like this is always a hit. I sent those velcro ball and hand mit things and apparently they were fighting over them!
5. Anything baked or homemade. The Old Man says they are getting tired of canned foods and the same old thing at the Mess hall. Cookies, brownies, breads, and Jar Cakes (I have the recipe in an October post) usually keep if you freeze them prior to mailing.
6. Single serve powder mixes to bottled waters.
7. Baby wipes. They use these when they don't have access to showers. (which is often)
8. Just add water anything. Keep an eye out for these types of foods. They're often better than the stuff they're given to eat.
9. Themed care packages. Send things that are all from one ethnic background, one activity like fishing, about one holiday, or things native to one area. Get creative!
10. Reminders of home. Send news articles, pictures, personalized CDs, etc.
11. Books. Anything on the best seller lists or in the humor sections will probably win them over.
12. Letters to say thank you!
13. Smoked sausages. Just kidding on this one. I had to write it cause I asked the Old Man what he needed, suggesting hickory farms thinking I was the first with this brilliant idea and he screamed, "NO SMOKED SAUSAGES!!" Apparently, everyone thought of this and they have smoked sausages out the wazoo. Thinking about him yelling this at me makes me laugh every time!

To get free labels, flat rate boxes, and packing supplies from the USPS Click here!

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Welcome to Thursday Thirteen! Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Merry Christmas!!

After subconsciously ignoring Christmas all season, boy was I doused with it when I went home! My sister is the Christmas spokeswoman, my parents are the merriest couple you'll ever meet, and Babyfest 2006 continued! I had a wonderful time. Even during my 'moments', my family banded together and I felt like yelling, "Wonder-twin powers activate!!!" (The first sign of tears I had all weekend, my dad immediately jumped on the computer and bought tickets for my mom and him to visit. Less than a second later, Christie bought hers too!) It'll be a Hill-O'Sullivan family vacation in DC in just a few weeks now, which ironically suits well. That weekend is our 6 month anniversary so I'll need the pick me up!

Unfortunately, the Old Man wasn't able to call while I was home. Not even on Christmas Day. I think that's what made it even more difficult. I knew he was probably pacing and miserable all day over there... He gets back from rotation shortly so he'll be able to make his rounds on the phone. I hear through the grapevine he's doing well and staying safe. Often, no news is good news...

I keep laughing as I'm writing this thinking of how chaotic it always is when I go home trying to fit everything into three days. In a fun way, of course. We had birthdays, a baking marathon, a high school reunion, Grandma's cocktail hour, Christmas Eve happy hour at the Swartz's, last minute shopping, and of course a visit from Santa Claus on Christmas Day! God bless my dad...being around four loud, silly women all day makes him a candidate for sainthood! :)

Company no Longer Selling Humvee Pinata

Here's todays useless knowledge of the day. This is so ridiculous that it's kinda funny... December 22, 2006

Online merchant Oriental Trading Company is no longer offering a piñata shaped like a U.S. military Humvee in the wake of a significant public outcry.

“We have received a lot of negative feedback about the item and we are no longer selling it as a result,” said Dave Steffensmeier, a supervisor at Oriental Trading Company. When asked what the company’s motivation was for offering the product in the first place, Steffensmeier said, “Our marketing team thought it might appeal to the military audience.”

“Seriously, what were they thinking?” asked Xeni Jardin on the blog BoingBoing. “Is this supposed to be for kids' GI Joe parties, or anti-American rallies?”

The Oriental Trading Company’s original marketing impulse is curious, at best. The piñata is khaki-colored and has drawings of the helmet-covered heads of military personnel in each of the vehicle's windows. The natural uproar over the product stems from the fact that piñatas are designed to be struck with a stick until they burst, releasing the candy inside of them.

Reacting to the product’s removal, BoingBoing bloggers wrote: “{For now} you’ll just have to go find supplies for your jihad slumber party somewhere else.”

To see the story on click here!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Grab your walking shoes!!!

Two weekends ago, AC came to visit and we walked the streets of DC leaving no tourist attraction undiscovered! We laughed, we cried, we walked and walked, and laughed some more as we kept walking! :) It was a well needed weekend and we had a ton of fun! Although, I dropped the ball big time when I picked her up from the airport. For the life of me, I couldn't remember the infamous singer she blasts every time she picks up the Old Man. Instead, I drove up in my not so clean new car blasting the latest on the top 40, Fergalicious. And we all know that no one actually likes that song...

We have the best families ever!!!

The Marine

We all came together, both young and old.
To fight for our freedom, to stand and be bold.

In the midst of all evil, we stand our ground.
And we protect our country, from all terror around.

Peace and not war, is what some people say.
But I'll give my life, so you can live the American way.

I give you the right, to talk of your peace.
To stand in your groups, and protest in our streets.

But still I fight on, I don't complain, I don't whine.
I'm just one of the people, who is doing your time.

I'm harder than nails, stronger than any machine.
I'm the immortal soldier, I'm a U.S. MARINE!

So stand in my shoes, and leave from your home.
Fight for the people who hate you, with the protests they've shown.

Fight for the stranger, fight for the young.
So they all may have, the greatest freedom you've won.

Fight for the sick, fight for the poor.
Fight for the cripple, who lives next door.

But when your time comes, do what I've done.
For if you stand up for freedom, you'll stand when the fight's done.

By: Corporal Aaron M. Gilbert, US Marine Corps

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I'm giving in- I want to rant a little bit. Lately I've been getting a lot of feedback about this blog. I'm always very grateful for every comment and email, especially those with words of encouragement and support. I now see that I have quite a lot of people reading this, which I love, so I want to say a little something about my comment about the 'whiny people' a few posts ago. And I'm sorry but yes, the people opposing the war are whiny and it's just plain annoying... We're all entitled to our opinions, yada, yada, yada- no hard feelings, because this is what I think!

I try very hard to avoid posting anything political and to stay as positive as I can because I feel that it is imperative to keep a positive attitude regardless of my political views. In fact, I know it is. Not for me, but for my husband and for his Marines that are fighting in Iraq. I see how much influence I have over him in our quick conversations. If one of us is upset, we carry it with us. That's human nature. I put my worries aside when the Old Man calls because he is the one who is sacrificing everything to rebuild and stabilize a country and it is him who needs my words of encouragement when he and his Marines lives are tough and they're faced with obstacles. And their lives are so much tougher than ours.

I'm in the political capital of the world. I walk by citizens protesting and asking me to sign their petitions to impeach our political leaders every day. You can cut the tension with a knife. I can't go anywhere without someone seeing my yellow ribbon and offering their opinion whether or not I've asked or have the time... But every time I ask someone if they have served or have a loved one who served in Iraq, struggling to get what I think can then be an honest and educated opinion, I have yet to be told, "Yes, I have and this is what I think..." That is very frightening to me.

If there's anyone who believes in our rights as citizens, it's me. I've dreamed of working for the government and for the American public. I love being in the civil service. We all have our rights to vote and our rights to free speech, which includes the right to challenge political decisions, but if you haven't done your part in becoming an educated citizen on the subject, please know who it is you may be affecting or don't say anything at all. If you are going to say anything, make sure you can make that judgment wisely.

I have to say, if you are complaining about the course that our country has been on for quite some time now, think about how each negative comment you make may be influencing others and even larger scale things like the media. Our men and women may be miles away from home, but that doesn't mean they are totally out of the loop with things on the homefront. More importantly, with every negative attitude, you may be adversely affecting someone who is fighting to give you that right to protest. Every negative thought they have is a distraction from their mission and those distractions cost lives...Attitudes about the war are very powerful things.

With that, I say God bless Mr. Oliver North, Andrew Carroll, and the many other journalists and influential political leaders who are struggling to tell the real opinions of our men and women overseas. May they continue producing positive stories that give our troops and their families hope and shed light to those who unknowingly protest. It is our stories that should be told. We need to give our heroes the reassurance that they are supported and keep their spirits up. If they believe and say we are 'winning this war', then we are winning this war.

It isn't in the American spirit to give up. For those of you who think we're losing our grip in Iraq, which means that our men and women are failing their missions, remember the obstacles America overcame before our great country was formed. And just so you know, I KNOW my husband is good at what he does. Remember who it is that can truly speak to the progress or lack thereof in Iraq and think a little again about giving up, pulling out, or losing. You don't even have to change your mind; just have a little more poise when you speak...and remember who is around you listening.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An update on the Old Man

Yay!!! The Old Man called! It's about time! It was great to hear from him. Even better was when I got home. I got a letter from him with tons of fun pictures!!!

He sounded really homesick. I'm pretty sure that we were both low on energy because it's been so long since we've last talked. Even longer for him to have talked to anyone in the states. We were both sappy fools...not that he would ever admit to that. I think by now he got everyone's Christmas packages. (thank you!!!)

He said that he's been working hard, of course, and the challenges continue. His Marines are doing well and getting along. The place they are staying is one of the main casualty assistance centers for the Iraqi citizens. The Old Man has been providing a lot of first aid services to the Iraqi's and told me a cute story. A young boy came in the other day screaming his head off from a third degree burn he had received. He was able to treat his burn then played with him for a little bit to calm him down. He sent the boy on his way with candy and coloring books and the little guy was so grateful. They've been interacting a lot with the children lately. The Marines are allowed to pass out things like candy, toys, and school supplies which is great for the kids and the Marines. It's humbling and gives all the big, bad Marines warm and fuzzies. (Not that they'd admit that either, but that's what he was getting at...)

He said he misses everyone a lot and is super excited to come home. He's counting down the days already! I gave him the updates on everyone and we talked a little about what's going on here in DC, but like I said, we said more 'I love you's' than telling each other any important news! I'm such a wuss...I couldn't help but burst into tears when the phone rang so we were laughing about that. :)

Here are a few more pictures!! (You can double click on them to make them bigger.) I love pictures!!!! Merry Christmas!!!!

Thursday Thirteen #7

13 things that are getting me through this deployment
I'll tell ya, this whole deployment thing is rooough! This list could go on to 100 and maybe I'll do another in hindsight when the Old Man gets home, but for now these are the things I absolutely can not live without knowing, having, or doing over these long months. Not counting my husband of course, who even in Iraq, is still my rock and my heart.
And these are in no particular order...
1. My sister. Good lord is Christie a Heaven sent! She always calms me down, makes me laugh, and distracts me all exactly when I need it. While I'm on the subject, our whole entire family is absolutely incredible. I don't know where I'd be without you all. I draw on your strength and love every single moment of my day. You are what helps me keep going when times get tough. The Old Man and I are so blessed in this way that it's overwhelming.
2. Reruns. Weekends are the most difficult times. Many are fun, but no matter what I do or don't do, they're not the same... TBS reruns or movie reruns or Seinfeld reruns are countless hours of mindless fun on those curl up on the couch in sweats days. Any sign of familiarity during this deployment is therapeutic.
3. My IPod. I have the perfect playlists that motivate me or let me be all emotional and girly. It's also perfect for tuning out all the negative politics hanging in the air. Love it.
4. Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul. This book is amazing. It's inspirational, it's happy, it's sad, it's fun, it's real. And it isn't sappy or cheesy. The Old Man bought it for me and it's perfect.
5. Motomail. Thank god for this! Although I overwork the poor motomail staff, I can't describe how much this is keeping our marriage connected and our minds sane. Being able to write whenever I want, even though I don't get an instant response, and knowing I can 'talk' to him whenever I have something to say is so comforting.
6. For the people that I talk to about my husband being deployed who's initial reaction is, "Really, that's not that long!" Thank you.
7. Myspace. Yes, this is a necessary evil. It's one of the silly things in Annaland that make me happy. Being able to catch up with all my really good friends from back in the day is wonderful.
8. My journal. I love my journal. I put pictures in it, quotes, thoughts, feelings, letters... Everything. One day, I'd like to publish it or give it to other deployed spouses.
9. For the following quotes: (and these could be the the last four on my list, but I'm lumping them cause I have more to add! :) If God brings you to it, he'll bring you through it. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14. "He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear." Ralph Waldo Emerson. "We either make ourselves miserable or make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Casteneda.
10. My church. Getting my weekly cup of Jesus helps a ton and knowing that our lives are on a greater path makes me thankful for everything I have and everyone I know.
11. Sophie. Our cat is the cutest thing in the world. I swear she knows my emotions and I love remembering the day we picked her out. The Old Man wouldn't put her down the whole time and it was the cutest thing.
12. For my parents telling me that maybe I've been preparing for this my whole life. I think about this all the time. My parents painted the picture of how everything I've done and accomplished has prepared me to handle this situation gracefully. And the way they put it just makes so much sense. I love my parents.
13. Writing. I write everywhere. On here, in my journal, in my tiny notebook that I carry in my purse, on Myspace, in letters to the Old Man, on my therapy wall behind my front door (yes, I have that). I always feel better when I get my thoughts out and can take a second to look back on things.

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Welcome to Thursday Thirteen! Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Battlefield's 'Doc' now in a nation's care

Christopher Anderson has saved the lives of many Marines and touched the lives of their families. He is now resting with the angels. Please keep his friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Here is a VERY moving article about Chris' homecoming.

By Jim Sheeler, Rocky Mountain News, December 15, 2006

The skinny sailor sat in the Philadelphia airport terminal in his deep-blue dress uniform, cracking his knuckles, shifting in his seat, waiting for his best friend. A woman from the airline walked over and motioned for him to follow. She saw the nervous look on the sailor's face and stopped.

"Wait," she said. "Is this your first time doing this?" "Yes, ma'am," the 22 year-old said, his voice cracking. "Well, unfortunately, it's not the first time for me," she said. "Not even the first time this week." She led him toward the gate and gave him a soft smile. "You'll do fine," she said.

Inside the airport, the public-address system pumped out Peggy Lee's Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. A nearby group of passengers loaded up their ski clothes, readying for a vacation. Suit-and-tied businessmen with premier privileges watched as the sailor was led in front of them all. None of them knew his mission.

On board the nearly empty plane, a flight attendant was one of the first to shake his hand. "I understand you're escorting today," he said. "Is this the fella from Longmont? I live in Boulder. I've been reading about him in the papers." "Yes, sir," the sailor said in a warbled voice that sounded like an eighth-grader. "I'm sure you'll do yourself and your service proud," the flight attendant said.

After speaking with the crew, the pilot walked over and offered his hand. "I understand he was your friend," the captain said. "I'm sorry." The sailor nodded. He carried his soft, white hat in his hands. The patch on his left shoulder signified his status as a Navy hospital corpsman. The captain then looked at one of the crew members. "Are there any seats in first class? I'd like to bring him up here."

After the sailor stowed his bags, the woman from the terminal walked him back out to the jetway, where he waited as the other passengers boarded the plane. As they filed past, some stole glances at him, some smiled at him, and he tried to smile back.

As the sailor waited, another flight attendant, a Vietnam veteran, walked over. "Hello," he said, grasping the sailor's hand. "Thirty years ago, they didn't say thank you to us. I wanted to say thank you now." The sailor nodded again and managed a grin. Then the chief of the ground crew opened the door to the stairs that led to the tarmac. "OK," he said. "We're ready."

In cardboard box, a casket underneath a whining jet engine near the rear cargo hold, baggage workers lifted the tarp on a cart, and the sailor swallowed hard. He checked to see if the name on the cardboard box matched that of his best friend.

An American flag was printed atop the box, which encased the polished hardwood casket, protecting it during transit from Dover Air Force Base to the airport, and then to Denver, where the box would be removed before anyone saw it. On each end, the box was stamped with a large official seal of the Department of Defense.

The last time Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class John Dragneff saw his friend was the same day Hospital Corpsman Christopher Anderson left for Iraq. They talked endlessly that day, about taking care of each other's families, about taking care in general. That was, after all, what they had in common.

Often in restaurants, the waitperson would ask the sailors, "Are you brothers?" The first few times, they laughed it off. After a while, they started answering without hesitation, "Yes."

The two men had met at field medical training school, and they clicked right away. They soon studied together, went to the beach in Camp Lejeune, N.C., where Anderson surfed, and just generally hung out, talking about where life was headed for both of them. More recently, they spent time talking about what it meant to hold somebody's life in your hands — and to lose it.

Tuesday afternoon, the young sailor stood on the chilly tarmac in Philadelphia. As the casket made its way up the conveyor belt, he snapped to attention, grasping his hands into fists, thumbs at the seams of his pants, trying to squeeze back the tears.
His eyes emptied as he brought his hand to his face in a salute, which he tried to hold steady until the casket disappeared into the plane's belly.

As he turned, the sailor's face melted, and he walked into the embrace of Pamela Andrus, the United Airlines service director. The ground manager took his other side, supporting him. "I'm so sorry," Andrus said.

Together, they walked back up the stairs, into the plane, where a cheery flight attendant came over with several tissues plucked from the lavatory. "You can cry," Christine Sullivan told him. "All of us want to send our love and blessings to you and be here for you. You're going to do great."

Corpsmen have long history
On Dec. 4, Chief Hospital Corpsman Kip Poggemeyer wasn't supposed to be in his office at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. It was his day off, but the 37 year-old was busy trying to finish medical reports that would send another batch of Navy reservists from Colorado to Afghanistan.

Only last year, the Navy corpsman had returned from Marine Corps Air Station Al Asad in Iraq, the closest medical base to some of the heaviest fighting in the country — a base that shook with mortar attacks 26 times during his deployment. Within his first week, he saw massive combat wounds while performing the same job that his grandfather held during World War II, the same job he knew he wanted since he was a little boy.

The history of the Navy hospital corpsman dates back to the Spanish-American War. The Marines needed a field medic, and looked to the Navy to provide one. According to Navy historian and Hospital Corpsman Mark Hacala, the Navy hospital corpsman has provided front-line medical care that has saved countless lives on the battlefields of every conflict since, earning a disproportionate share of accolades and awards and suffering a similarly large percentage of casualties.

Despite both services living under the umbrella of the Navy, Marines and sailors hold an intense traditional rivalry. When new hospital corpsmen are assigned to Marine units, the Marines may tease them as "squids" — or worse. Still, the hospital corpsmen have to learn to think, act and react with the speed of their Marine unit.

When a hospital corpsman is first attached to a unit, the Marines will call them by their last name, or maybe just "corpsman." Eventually — only when corpsmen earn the Marines' respect — they earn the nickname "Doc." "The first time they call you 'Doc,' it's like, 'Yes! I have arrived,'" Poggemeyer said. "It makes you feel like you're part of the team."

Once the fighting begins, the corpsman's duty is usually one of the riskiest — carrying their own weapon along with medical gear. The Marines say they will take a bullet for the corpsman, because he's the only one who can take it out.

"If they yell, 'Corpsman up,' they know Doc is going to be right there," Poggemeyer said. "When the Marines call you 'Doc,' you know you'll never let them down, you'll never leave their side. That bond between a Marine and a Navy corpsman is something that will last forever. We call them 'My Marines' — they call us 'My Doc.' "

Somewhere near Ramadi on Dec. 4, Christopher Anderson's Marines called on their Doc. Details of the attack have not been released by the military, other than the information Poggemeyer received in his office that afternoon.

"They told me it was a corpsman, KIA (killed in action) in Ramadi from a mortar attack. . . . It brought back all the memories," he said. "I had come full circle. I was in Iraq and saw people die. But I had never seen this side."

That afternoon, Poggemeyer and another casualty-assistance officer met the Navy chaplain in Longmont. The chief carried with him a sheet with the name of 24-year-old Hospital Corpsman Christopher A. Anderson — and his parents' address in Longmont.

Together, the sailors drove to the modest home with an American flag flying from the porch, and another special flag in the window. After they parked the government sport-utility vehicle at 5:30 p.m., Poggemeyer saw the blue-star flag, signifying the family had a loved one overseas. "Doc Anderson," it said underneath the star.

"When I saw that, my heart just sank," he said. "My mom and dad had one of those flags up while I was gone. My wife had one up."

Still, he made his way to the door. "I pushed the doorbell," he said, "and I felt like a horse kicked me in the stomach."

Debra Anderson opened the door and saw the men in uniform. "Oh, honey," she said with a smile, calling to her husband. "The sailors are here. The recruiters are here." Rick Anderson came to the stairs and his face paled. A former Navy SEAL, he
recognized the uniforms. "Honey, we need to sit down," he said. "These aren't recruiters."

With service came emotion
In the first-class section of United Airlines Flight 271 from Philadelphia to Denver, the sailor looked through a booklet called Manual for Escorts of Deceased Naval Personnel.

"It's weird. I think back, and I was never an emotional-type person until I joined the military," Dragneff said. "In the past, I've had relatives who died, but I never really cried. I guess that since I've been in, it all means a lot more."

He thought back to one of the last times he saw his friend, Chris, when they went to visit Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, and Dragneff found the grave of a sailor he had trained with.

"When we went out to Arlington, standing there, I just started crying, and I couldn't understand why. I didn't really know the guy that well," Dragneff said. "Chris just grabbed me and hugged me and let me sit there and cry. As we were walking away, a man walked up and shook my hand and said, 'Thank you.' So then, Chris started to cry. So there were just the three of us standing there, crying. "A few minutes later, just trying to cheer me up, he made up some story about a squirrel on crack. Just like that. He could make you smile."

Dragneff was the responsible one, relatively shy, the designated driver who didn't drink or smoke. He was the one happy in a sweat shirt and jeans, while Anderson would change clothes five times before going out, a neatnik who splurged on Armani and Ralph Lauren.

At 6-foot-2 inches tall, with short-cropped, jet-black hair and hazel eyes, the muscular, outgoing 24-year-old never lacked in self-confidence. "Damn, I look good," he wrote on one of the photos displayed on his account. On the Web site, Dragneff posted regular updates about his friend while he was in Iraq. He was also the one to inform them of Chris' death.

"Dec 5 2006 12:56P," he wrote, "Christopher Anderson, you weren't a 'real' brother, but you were still my brother. A person could not ask for a better friend or brother. You will be greatly missed. Love your brother, John. "Rest in peace."

Once back at the home in Longmont, the family talked to the notification officers about their son, breathing life into the name on the casualty list. "We spoke to him on Dec. 3," his father said. "He talked about the Christmas presents he wanted us to buy for a neighbor, and that he wanted us to send out Christmas cards for him."

At his funeral service today in Longmont, the family plans to hand out their son's Christmas cards to everyone who attends. He asked that the card end with a single phrase: "Please Remember Our Troops!!!!"

Fourth-generation serviceman
When Christopher Anderson enlisted in the Navy in 2005, the Longmont High School graduate became the fourth generation in his family to do so. At boot camp, he was voted the "honor graduate" in his class. After that, he wanted to excel in everything.

Before he left for Iraq, Christopher and his father mined military supply shops, looking for any equipment that might help him in the field. He looked for anything that might help him blend in with the Marines, since he knew corpsmen were prime targets.

"I have to be able to do this in the dark," he told his father. In Iraq, he asked to be stationed with the front-line Marines and was assigned to a 12-man unit. One of his first tasks was to memorize each Marine's medical records. His medical expertise stretched beyond his unit to the Iraqi people, who would talk to him "because he was 'the dictor' (as the Iraqis called him).

"There were times that nobody would talk to anyone except him," Rick Anderson said. Once, he told his parents, an angry crowd had mobilized, but it was quashed when a woman recognized the corpsman and stepped in.

"She said, 'This is the one who helped my baby,' " Rick Anderson said, "And that dispersed the group, and everything was OK." After some of his weekly early morning calls home, it was impossible for the couple to fall back asleep.

"One time, he called us at 5 a,m. My wife heard some funny noises and heard shouts of 'Where's that coming from? Where's that coming from?' " Rick Anderson remembered. The Andersons, still in bed, listening with the phone between them, heard gunfire. "I'm going to stay down here," he told them. "I'll just belly-crawl down the hallway so I can talk to you."

In one mortar attack, he was blown across a room, bruising him. Not long afterward, after another attack, he was in the back of a Humvee, his hands covered with his sergeant's blood, speeding toward a field hospital, tying tourniquets and offering encouragement.

"The sergeant told him, 'Tell my wife and kids I love them.' He told him he wouldn't need to do that, while he was pinching off an artery because the tourniquet came loose," his father said.

That sergeant is now recovering at Walter Reed Army Hospital, the family said, and plans to attend Anderson's burial at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 21.

Before he left, Christopher and his father talked about the possibility that he wouldn't return, and Christopher had asked for a burial at Arlington. He had only one other request: "If something happens," he told his father, "I want John there."

Word spreads through plane
At 31,000 feet, the word slowly slipped through the plane about the sailor in first class — and his mission. When the passengers found out, their emotions spanned the debate that continues to split the country. Some cursed President Bush by name. Others cursed anyone who says they support the troops without supporting the war. Despite their political leanings, they all said they appreciated the sailor that most of them called "the kid" in the front of the plane — and, even more, the one in the cargo hold beneath them.

Seat 33F, Patrick Mondile, Philadelphia: "I look at my own situation — I'm 24 years old. I think about, it very well could have been me, if I'd chosen that path. I have friends over there right now," Mondile said. "I don't understand why we're there (in Iraq), but I feel for the families — not just for this soldier, but the thousands who have died."

Seats 8D, 8E, Dave and Lindy Powell, Monument: "To me, it's a sense of honor. We didn't know him, but he's part of the Colorado family. We're from Monument. So he's part of our family, too," Dave Powell said. "Our nephew is a C-130 pilot who's flying into Iraq and Afghanistan. Kids in my Scout troop joined the Marines and went right to Baghdad." His voice broke. "They all came home safely."

Seat 22D, Terry Musgrove, Ontario, Ore.: "If we don't support them, then it's going to embolden the terrorists," he said, fuming as he spoke about a new poll indicating that support for the war is declining. Before the flight took off, he was the only passenger to shake the skinny sailor's hand at the terminal. "It breaks my heart to know that he's on the plane. I had no idea," he said, as he began to cry. "But I'm proud to tell you, I'm proud."

Airline pilot pays tribute
As the plane began its initial descent, Captain George Gil's voice crackled over the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, pardon the interruption, but if I could have your attention," he said, and then paused.

"The great song from Francis Scott Key says that to live in the land of the free, it must also be the home of the brave. Today, we're bringing home two brave men: Petty Officer 3rd Class John Dragneff, and, in great sadness, a fallen hero, Hospital [Corps]man Christopher Anderson."

He asked the passengers to let Dragneff off first to meet the casket, then addressed the escort: "Please know that our prayers and blessings are with you and the family. Thank you for your courage."

A phalanx of pallbearers
As the plane taxied to the gate at Denver International Airport on Tuesday evening, the passengers saw the flashing lights of the police cars, the hearse parked on the tarmac, and they spoke in hushed whispers.

As Dragneff left the plane, a phalanx of pallbearers — three Marines and three sailors — walked toward the plane, for the sailor who died saving Marines. Inside the belly of the plane, ramp workers removed the cardboard box protecting the casket, while sailors arranged the American flag.

The family embraced as the casket was lowered on the conveyor belt. Some of the plane's passengers watched from their windows. Some watched from the windows inside the terminal.

The pallbearers loaded the casket into the hearse, and Dragneff hugged the family before climbing into the passenger's seat. As the motorcade made its way toward Longmont, the three sailors who served as pallbearers jumped into a white van, which pulled in behind the limousines.

As they left the airport, police officers and firemen stood in salutes, bathed in the flashing emergency lights. "This is so cool that they do this," said Storekeeper 3rd Class Ben Engelman. "This is so amazing."

At the Erie and Dacono exit, firetrucks and ambulances, lights flashing, were parked on the overpass. As the procession turned toward Longmont, the lights burned even brighter.

"He deserves this. He was doing good," said Petty Officer Rick Lopez.

On Colorado 66, cars pulled over, along with firefighters, who continued to salute.

Then there was Longmont's Main Street
At 20th Avenue and Main, the flags began. Kids holding plastic flags, Korean War veterans holding worn American flags, bandana-clad Vietnam veterans holding POW/MIA flags.

At 18th and Main, groups held candles and signs. "God Bless Your Son. Thank You." A boy held his candle to his mother's to light it, as the hearse passed.

At 17th and Main, hands over hearts. Hats over hearts. "Dude, this is giving me chicken skin," Lopez said, shivering. "I've never seen anything like this."

At 15th and Main, people came out of a restaurant to watch the procession. Police cars with blue lights and medical cars with red lights shone on the Christmas decorations wrapping the trees of downtown.

Outside, it was about 40 degrees. Still, the crowds continued to line the streets. More children with wobbly salutes. A woman in a walker. A couple that embraced in a hug as soon as the hearse passed.

They drove in silence for a few minutes, then Lopez spoke again. "You know," he said, "sometimes I wish they would do this for us when we come home alive."

A 'smile in his voice'
Inside the funeral home, a few feet from her son's flag-draped casket, Debra Anderson held tight to a single photo. "I had to have my picture of my smiling Christopher," she said, staring at it, then at the casket.

While Christopher was deployed, his parents talked with him at least once a week — mostly for only a few minutes. The last time they spoke, the day before he died, he ended his conversation the way he always did, telling his parents, "I love you."

"You could hear his smile in his voice, you could hear it on the phone," his father said. "He was going back to work, back to do his job, back to doing what he wanted to do."

Inside the funeral home, Debra Anderson leaned into her husband of 26 years, wiping her face with a tissue. "My boy, my boy," she said. "Christopher said he'd be OK. He promised he'd be safe, Rick — he PROMISED me. I miss him. I miss the phone calls. I miss him terribly. I want to talk to him." "Hey," Rick Anderson said softly, "now we can talk to him anytime we want." "Ooooh," she moaned. "My heart hurts. My heart hurts. It was my job to take care of him. I shouldn't have let him go. I shouldn't have let him go." "You were going to stop Christopher?" his father asked. "Since when?" They both managed a smile, and their eyes again fell on the casket.

As the family told Christopher stories from chairs in a corner of the room, Kyle Anderson stood at the foot of the casket, refusing to leave his place, patting his hand on the rough, wrinkled flag.

The brothers had grown up as opposites — Christopher the well-dressed go-getter, Kyle the rebel who shopped at thrift stores. They fought like most brothers fight. Sometimes, they fought worse than most brothers fight. Since his brother's death, Kyle now says, they talk all the time.

As the family continued to share stories, sniffling and laughing, Kyle Anderson refused to move from the casket.

"Why don't you come over here with us?" Rick Anderson asked him. "Why are you
standing there all alone?" Kyle looked at his father, his eyes red, and patted the casket again. "I'm not alone," he said.

More than 16 hours after John Dragneff's day began, the skinny sailor walked into the room, after finishing his final paperwork, and handed Christopher's parents a condolence card.

"Instead of saying, 'I'm sorry for your loss,' I wanted to say 'thank you' for Christopher. We claimed each other as brothers."

"You did good, John," Rick Anderson said. "You did good."

As they sat together in the quiet room dominated by the casket, Debra Anderson grasped the young man's hand and looked into his eyes. "I'm glad you came with him. It's what he wanted. You did a good job. You got him home," she said, gripping his hand even tighter. "Thank you for bringing him home."

To view the story Click here

Monday, December 18, 2006

The War on Christmas is Over!

This is hilarious! Remember to turn off the music on the side of the page.

Yellow Ribbon Christmas

Follow this link to a very nice music video. Click on Window's Media download. Yellow Ribbon Christmas. You might want a few kleenex handy...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Great picture

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Brock Hutzler stops to play with Iraqi children in Al Hamzah, Iraq, during a joint mission with Polish army soldiers from the Polish Civil Military Cooperation to assess the need for improvements on five water pump stations which generate water for the citizens of Al Hamzah and its surrounding area. Hutzler is from the Illinois Army National Guard.

I found this on Marine Corps Moms.

Merry Christmas, My Friend

By James M. Schmidt, a Marine Lance Corporal stationed in Washington, D.C., in 1986.

Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.

I had come down the chimney, with presents to give,
and to see just who in this home did live.

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.

No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.

For this house was different, unlike any I'd seen,
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I'd heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.

And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.

Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan,
I soon understood, this was more than a man.

For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.

They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.

Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
"Santa, don't cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps."

With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still,
I noticed he shivered from the cold night's chill.

So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.

Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.

And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn't want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.

But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said "Carry on, Santa, it's Christmas Day, all secure."

One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.

For the story behind this poem, Click here!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Winning the War

Finally!!! Some positive news!!! Oliver North is really trying to get the military's perspective in his coverage...maybe it'll wake up some of the civilians who are whining about the war!

Oliver North December 14, 2006

Ramadi, Iraq – "We're here to win." That’s how a U.S. Marine corporal put it when I asked him what he was doing in Iraq. He spoke looking squarely into our TV camera – a more intimidating experience for him than the RPG fire he had just faced on the streets of this beleaguered city.

When I pressed this 20 year-old from the heartland of America to tell me what "winning" meant to him, he was straightforward: "That’s when these people don't need me to guard this street so their kids can go to school – when they can do it themselves.”

The young corporal and I were standing outside a small elementary school in this shattered city – capital of the largest province in Iraq. Al Qaeda terrorists had told local authorities – on pain of death – not to allow this female academic institution to un-shutter its doors. Apparently, little girls learning math and science pose a significant threat to radical Islamic jihadists.
Defiant parents appealed to the newly reconstituted Iraqi police for protection from the terrorists – and the police turned to LtCol Bill Jurney, commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. The little school is in his "A/O" – area of operations – in downtown Ramadi – a city of more than 400,000.

Jurney told the police that if they would man a new security sub-station in the same block as the school, his Marines would "back-stop" the cops. Despite murderous threats from Al Qaeda thugs, the police agreed. Aided by U.S. Navy Seabees, soldiers of the "Ready First" Combat Brigade of the 1st Armored Division and the Marines of 1/6, a police sub-station was constructed, literally overnight, in an abandoned building.

When the terror cell that had ruled this neighborhood for months attacked the new Iraqi police post, their battalion commander, Jabbar Inad al Namrawee, led an all-Iraqi QRF – quick reaction force – into the battle. In the ensuing gunfight, Lieutenant Colonel Jabbar was shot through the calf by an AK-47-wielding terrorist. By the time the battle was done, more than a dozen terrorists were dead and the police – who call themselves "The sons of al Anbar" – earned new respect from Ramadi's war-weary civilians.

Now, little more than a week after the fight, Lieutenant Colonel Jabbar is back at work – with fresh scars on his leg. His policemen patrol this neighborhood’s streets, the little school has re-opened and Bill Jurney's Marines are providing pencils, notebooks, and backpacks to the children, as well as kerosene to heat their classrooms.

Opening police stations and girls' schools on the mean streets of Ramadi may not appear to be great victories to the critics of this war. But they are precisely the kind of events that need to happen countless times for the U.S. to claim victory in Iraq. Major Scott Kish, who leads the Civil Affairs Group attached to 1st Battalion 6th Marines, notes that these actions "spawn success" because they "encourage Iraqis to take charge of their own destiny."

Getting the people of Iraq to take charge of their own destiny hasn't been easy. Though the Iraqi people voted in overwhelming numbers in last December's national elections, no one in Mesopotamia – other than exiles who have returned since Saddam's demise – has experienced living in a democracy. Western institutions of civil governance and discourse are as unfamiliar to the people here as the language spoken by their liberators. It has been an especially difficult transition in al Anbar – long a stronghold of Sunni opposition to U.S. forces and more recently, the democratically elected, Shiite-led government in Baghdad.

After the all-out, U.S.-led fight for Fallujah in 2004, Ramadi became the home base for Al Qaeda, and the call to civil war. Everyone here – Americans, Iraqis and foreign-supported terrorists – know that if Ramadi can be secured, half the battle for the future of Iraq will have been won.

Despite reports in the U.S. media to the contrary – the week we arrived in Ramadi a Washington Post headline blared, "Anbar Picture Grows Clearer, and Bleaker" – the war here is being won. A predominantly Shia Army and the Sunni police now man a Joint Coordination Center with their U.S. Army and Marine counterparts. Terrorists who once engaged in hours-long gunfights with U.S. units have been reduced to planting improvised explosive devices – IEDs – and occasional sniper, rocket and mortar attacks. Ramadi is still a dangerous place but less so today than in any of our five previous trips to this city.

The Iraqis and Americans working together in Ramadi have no doubt that they can prevail in this fight. But privately, they wonder if Baghdad and Washington have that same vision. One U.S. officer told me, "the Iraqi security forces have plenty of courage but some of their troops and cops out here haven’t been paid for three months. Their problems are getting beans, bullets, band-aids and bucks from Baghdad."

Helping the Iraqis overcome those "five Bs" must become a priority for Washington. Brave young American riflemen have shown the Iraqis how to fight and protect civilians. Now the civil leadership in Baghdad needs to be shown how to keep their own troops fed, equipped and paid. Only then can U.S. troops be sure that they really are winning.

For more information, Click here!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

O' Christmas tree...Marine style

He called one last time this morning before they had to bring the sat phone back just to tell me that he got my Christmas tree. He sounded very excited about having a tree in his own room! The funny part is, he wasn't satisfied with the lights that the little old C batteries provided...he brought in an electrician to rewire them Marine style! He said the lights are so bright they could light up the entire quarters! hahaha

Boy is he a piece of work! :)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

An update on the Old Man (and his Old Lady)

The Old Man called!!!!! Gosh, I miss him so much! He's been on rotation for about a week now and has a few more to go. It was so good to hear from him! He sounded great! He was very upbeat and sounded energized. He said that he has his own room and is enjoying the privacy and actually getting time to rest between shifts without distractions.

He said that he is happy about the progress they are making. They are working hand in hand training the Iraqi army and have been successfully finding and detaining insurgents non-stop. His Marines are working together very well and he is confident that they are accomplishing their mission. It was refreshing to hear him so positive.

On another note, the Old Man did mention that there have been a lot of casualties for both American troops working with H&S and Iraqi's. (Remember, casualties are not always the worse case scenario. Casualty reports include major and minor injuries.) He mentioned this to remind me that anything appearing in the news has already happened long ago, so everyone is OK! Then to ease my worries even more, the Old Man reassured me that he and his Marines are well trained and well equipped. These things should be something for all of us to remember.

His thoughtfulness surprises me sometimes. He said that in his spare time, he has been writing letters to us all and thank you notes to everyone who has sent him packages. He even said that he wrote a two page letter to my co-workers for doing the donation drive! The Old Man wanted me to mention that he received Nirmal's package and Peggy's package and loves them both! (He'd write letters, but does not have your addresses with him and can't access the computer until he returns from rotation.) He even managed to buy me a ton of thoughtful gifts before he left. I have received something every day for a week!

As for me, after my Strep-iness, I went to a gathering for 1/6 families in the DC/VA area. It was wonderful! There were a lot of parents there and we had dinner and chatted for hours. I'm excited to say that I met my first Marine Wife friend!! Her name is Cara and her soon to be fiance, John, accepted the same re-enlistment package as the Old Man! She will be relocating to the VA area so her and I will be sticking together for a while. We had a great time. Otherwise, I'm doing well. Although I've had quite a few Old Man-like situations in the past two weeks, ie. giving myself a black eye from hitting my head, getting two flat tires, being awarded an overpriced parking ticket, making specific shopping trips to places that wound up being closed, playing hide and seek with my check card, and it goes on and on...but keep your fingers crossed because hopefully my luck is about to change! ;) I'll keep you posted!

The important thing is that my spirits are up! Sophie is the cutest thing ever laying on my lap right now, I wrote our first married Christmas cards (exciting!!), and I decorated the crap out of my office at work! (that last one is lame, yes, but I didn't get a tree this year so I better WIN the decorating contest!) Even better is that I'm excited to go home for Christmas, super excited about the Old Man getting so many wonderful Christmas presents along with all the support, and incredibly thankful for our wonderful families and my husband's well being.

Keep praying for our Marine! Throw one in there for me too this time. I want to keep this momentum up as we head over the 'halfway hump'! Anyway, he misses us and knows we all adore him! Before the sat phone died, I was sure to tell him how proud we are of him and how much we love him!

Merry almost Christmas everyone!!!

Help our injured Marines and their Families

"The solider above all others, prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." Douglas MacArthur

The Marines of 1/6 have triumphed through many challenges, but with any war, come many casualties. Here are a few charities that assist the injured Marines and Sailors of 1/6 and their families.

You can find various ways to help on each of these websites. These are Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) listed charities and donations may qualify as tax deductible. Also, if you know of a Marine or Sailor brought to the Bethesda Naval Medical Center, please let me know. I am local to the center and will be joining others who frequently visit our heroes and their families. Feel free to pass along messages or packages through me at your request!

Semper Fi Fund

The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund provides non-repayable grants to help with immediate financial needs such as travel, childcare, lodging or problems resulting from lost wages. Assistance is also given for long term needs such as modified homes and vans. The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund has provided more than $7.3 million in assistance to our wounded heroes.

For more information on ways you can help, please visit Semper Fi Fund

Wounded Warriors

Wounded Warriors mitigates trauma to Marines and their families by allowing them to find peace and solace as a family in family-friendly resorts that we provide free of charge.

For more information on ways you can help, please visit Wounded Warriors

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society provides financial, educational, and other assistance to members of the Naval services and their family or survivors. This is done in the form of counseling, loans, grants, various services, and referrals to other community resources.

For more information on ways you can help, please visit Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

Monday, December 11, 2006

State of War

Reporting for Fox News, LtCol Oliver North is embedded with 1/6 for the next two weeks. No one has been told specific times or dates of when his stories will air, so just keep watching! Unfortunately, since the Old Man is on rotation, he won't have a chance to be interviewed, but some of his friends have!

Here is the first story he reported on December 7, 2006.

Ramadi, Iraq – “If everything went as planned, they wouldn’t call it ‘war.’” That was the tongue in cheek assessment of a U.S. Marine Major as to why our helicopter flight from Baghdad to Ramadi had been delayed for half a day. By the time we arrived on the LZ at this outpost of freedom it was the middle of an unusually cold, damp night. A proffered hot cup of coffee was gratefully accepted as the Major helped us load our backpacks, camera gear and satellite broadcast equipment aboard a dust-encrusted Humvee. Just hours later, this widely respected and much admired Marine officer and two brave U.S. Army soldiers were dead, killed by an IED – an improvised explosive device – the insidious weapon of choice for terrorists in Iraq.

The tragic loss of three more Americans in bloody Al Anbar province – like the four who were killed in a CH-46 crash the day we arrived for this, our eighth “tour of duty” in Iraq – will be cited by critics of this war as “proof” that this is a war that cannot be won.

That’s the essence of an exchange earlier this week between Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), soon-to-be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Robert Gates at his confirmation hearing to become the next Secretary of Defense:

Senator Levin: “Do you believe that we are currently winning in Iraq?”
Mr. Gates: “No sir.”
Mr. Gates hastily added that, “we’re not losing either,” but also said that he sees “the very real risk and possible reality of a regional conflagration.” In short, his testimony was seized upon in Washington as yet another depressing appraisal of the war in Iraq.

To the so-called mainstream media and our political elites it hardly matters that President Bush disagrees with such dismal assessments.

White House spokesman, Tony Snow, noted that the President still believes the U.S. is winning in Iraq. “What I think is demoralizing is a constant effort to try to portray this as a losing mission,” Mr. Snow added.

The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines with whom we’re embedded here in Ramadi concur with their commander in chief. Not one of the many with whom we have spoken since arriving here believes that they are failing in their mission. They see the growing effectiveness of the Iraqi army and police as proof of their effectiveness – and evidence that this war is heading toward a favorable outcome for the U.S. that they volunteered to serve – and the people of Mesopotamia.

Unfortunately, the judgment of those with “boots on the ground” doesn’t seem to much matter to the masters of the media and many of the power brokers on the Potomac. Just a day after Mr. Gates delivered his negative prognosis, President Bush tersely announced that he had received the much-leaked final report of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group (ISG). Flanked by committee co-chairmen, former Secretary of State James Baker and Congressman Lee Hamilton, Mr. Bush described the report as a “tough assessment” that he will take seriously in seeking a strategy for the way forward in the Middle East and Iraq.

Eyewitness participants here are understandably reluctant to comment on a report that they have not read in its entirety, but privately many express grave concerns that it appears to be at odds with what those who are fighting this war are seeing. After a single four-day visit to Baghdad the ISG finds the situation here to be “grave and deteriorating” and accused the Pentagon of “under-reporting” the violence in Iraq.

The report calls for a “new” emphasis on training Iraqis to assume greater responsibility for their own security. Yet, it pays scant attention to dramatic improvements in the capabilities of Iraqi police and Army units being wrought by Military Transition Teams (MTTs). One MTT officer who has lived with his Iraqi “counterparts” for months dryly observed, “I wonder what the hell they think I’ve been doing out here?”

As forecast in a stream of pre-release “leaks” the ISG recommended that, “Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively.” And in a strange conclusion ignoring the long-term, global jihad being waged against the west, the committee found a link between a successful outcome in this war to a “right of return” for Palestinians who left Israel since the founding of the Jewish state.

Negative news is nothing new in war– neither Mr. Gates nor the Iraq Study Group are unique in that. In 1944, after the Japanese began making Kamikaze-suicide attacks during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, there were those who suggested that winning the war was becoming too costly. They were wrong then – and they are wrong today. Winning that war was crucial. Winning this one is too if the sacrifices being made today are to be worth anything.

For this story and more information on LtCol North please visit

The day God created the military wife...

Author Unknown

The good Lord was creating a model for military spouses and was into his sixth day of over-time when an angel appeared.

She said, "Lord, you seem to be having a lot of trouble with this one. What’s wrong with the standard model?"

The Lord replied, "Have you seen the specs on this order? They need to be completely independent, possess the qualities of both father and mother, be a perfect host/hostess to four or 40 with an hour’s notice, run on black coffee, handle every emergency imaginable without a manual, be able to carry on cheerfully, even if they are pregnant and have the flu; and they must be willing to move to a new location 10 times in 17 years. And, oh yes, they must have six pairs of hands."

The angel shook her head. "Six pairs of hands? No way."

The Lord continued, "Don’t worry, we will make other military spouses to help them. And we will give them an unusually strong heart so it can swell with pride in their spouse’s achievements, sustain the pain of separations, beat soundly when it is over-worked and tired, and be large enough to say, 'I don’t understand', when they don’t, and say, 'I love you' , regardless. "

"Lord," said the angel, touching his arm gently, "Go to bed and get some rest. You can finish this tomorrow."

"I can’t stop now," said the Lord. "I am so close to creating something unique. Already this model heals themselves when they are sick, can put up six unexpected guests for the weekend, wave good-bye to their spouses from a pier, a runway or a depot, and understand why it’s important that they leave."

The angel circled the model for military spouses, looked at it closely and sighed, "It looks fine, but it’s too soft."

"They might look soft," replied the Lord, "but they have the strength of a lion. You would not believe what they can endure."

Finally, the angel bent over and ran a finger across the cheek of the Lord’s creation. "There’s a leak," she announced. "Something is wrong with the construction. I am not surprised that it has cracked. You are trying to put too much into this model."

The Lord appeared offended at the angel’s lack of confidence. "What you see is not a leak," he said. "It’s a tear."

“A tear? What is it there for?" asked the angel.

The Lord replied, "It’s for joy, sadness, pain, disappointment, loneliness, pride, and a dedication to all the values that they and their spouses hold dear."

"You are a genius!" exclaimed the angel.

The Lord looked puzzled and replied, "I didn’t put it there."

A poem by Geraldine A. Mihalko

In a crowd, you're bound to spot him, he's standing so very tall.
Not too much impresses him, he's seen and done it all.

He's hair is short, he's eyes are sharp, but his smile's a little blue.
It's the only indication of the hell that he's gone through.

He belongs to a sacred brotherhood, always faithful 'till the end.
He has walked right into battle and walked back out again.

Many people think him foolish for having no regrets.
About having lived through many times others would forget.

He's the first to go and last to know, but never questions why.
Or whether it is right or wrong, but only do or die.

He walks a path most won't take and has lost much along the way.
But he thinks alot of freedom, it's a small price to pay.

Yes, he has chosen to live a life off the beaten track.
Knowing well each time he's called, he might not make it back.

So next time you see a Devil Dog standing proud and true,
Be grateful of all he's given, he's given it for you.

Don't go up and ask him what's it like to be in war.
Just thank God that it's your country he's always fighting for.

And thank him too for all the hell he's seen in cammie green.
Thank him for having the guts to be a United States Marine.

Recipe for a military wife

1 1/2 cups Patience
1 lb. Adaptability
3/4 cup Tolerance
1 tsp. Courage
A Dash of Adventure

Combine above ingrdients: Add 2 tablespoons elbow grease. Let sit alone for one year. Marinate frequently with slaty tears. Pour off excess fat. Sprinkle lightly with money. "Knead" dough until payday. Season with international spices. Bake 20 years or until done..... military wives everywhere, who have waved "good-bye: more often than not, who have heated up more dinners than most wives cook, who have missed more anniversaries, birthdays, Christmases and Valentine's Days than they should have, and most important of all have welcomed their husbands home GLADLY.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A letter to the families from the Chaplain

Dear Families, former members, and friends of 1/6,

When I was getting myself ready for deployment I worried about such things as care packages and Christmas Trees. I had in my mind a plan to obtain Christmas trees for the major fobs and one for here at Hurricane Point. Well to make a long story short, this must have been important to all of you also. It seems as I make my way around, there any more Christmas trees and decorations out here than there are at the Yankee Candle factory. The men have done a great job of putting up lights, trees and other holiday decorations. Even though we are here, we know the special day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Please know for those who are of Christian faith will have an opportunity to remember and celebrate the birthday of Jesus. For those of you who have sent wrapped gifts, I can say some of the men have not gotten into their gifts and are waiting for Christmas morning. However for some, well they say thank you early.

As you think, and plan for this holiday season without your husband, I ask you to remember the reason for the season, and that is the joy of knowing we are in love. This holiday season as you might find yourself longing for your loved one, know you are needed and appreciated beyond measure. Please pray for and if you are able draw near to those who have lost loved ones this past year. Help them through this time of grieving and I think you will find a joy that will transcend the loneliness you are experiencing due to the separation from your husband.

As my wife and I communicate about time, we are astounded by how fast this time of separation is passing. I know soon we will be home, I just pray we come home with a brand new admiration for each other, eager to grow deeper in love, so that we will fulfill the whole purpose of a child born to us in a manger.

Merry Christmas.

Chaplain Jamie Stall-Ryan

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I keep stealing pictures from my sister's blog, but I can't help it. Isn't this the sweetest picture! Evan and his mini-me!

A Different Christmas Poem

By Michael Marks

The embers glowed softly and in their dim light, I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest, my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white, transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe, completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep, secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem, so I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near, but I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night, a lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old, perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled, standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear, "Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve, you should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift, away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts...
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light, then he sighed and he said "Its really all right, I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line, that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me, I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December," Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam' and now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while, but my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile."

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag, the red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone, away from my family, my house, and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet, I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another, or lay down my life with my sister and brother...

Who stand at the front against any and all, to ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright, your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least, "Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done, for being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret, "Just tell us you love us and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone, to stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead, to know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough and with that we will trust, that we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

PLEASE, would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S. service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq