Tuesday, January 23, 2007

So much news, so little time!!

January has been packed full of news and going's on's! I promise I'll write more when I have the time, but here's the month in review or what I like to call, "AMH's Best Month Ever!"

The Old Man was Baptised, received Holy Communion, and was Confirmed Catholic!

My parents and sister made a two and a half week long visit that we're all happily drained from all the excitement, but what we call in our family energized after spending time with each other.

The Old Man is back from rotation, doing really well, and rested up to go again soon.

I'm starting Hopkins Wednesday then traveling to NYC for work on Thurs and Fri and we all know business trips are an really just an extended meeting due to the necessity of happy hour or I mean team building.

The Old Man and I put a bid on a condo in Alexandria tonight that we found on Sunday. (we find out if we get it no later than Wed so pray for us!)

It finally snowed this winter and it was gorgeous!

The president of Jarhead Red sent me three replacement bottles after hearing about my traveling fiasco!!!! (read more about that below)

The Old Man sent me the most thoughtful gifts over the past few weeks like flowers (our 6 month wedding anniversary), an awesome book, and the cutest thing ever- he went online grocery shopping for me and had them delivered to my door!

And the best news of it all, the Old Man's deployment is only postponed one month instead of three!!!! Weeee!!!!!!!!!!!!


With no reason other than for my peace of mind, a few weeks ago I ranted about US Air lifting my prized Jarhead Red Wine prior to my bags being checked. I'm still surprised, and grateful, and shocked at the response I got! Not to mention super excited to finish the bottle mom and I cracked open during her visit last week!

I got this email two weeks back and my three replacement bottles shortly after that.


A reader of your blog (actually my old CO) forwarded your posting of the misguided TSA agent lifting your bottles of Jarhead Red , 3 each. Kindly furnish an address such that I might have those replaced. This winegrower stands behind our products, even with the intermeddling of over-zealous airport screeners.

Second, thanks for the link and passing the word on the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. It is a most worthy – and needed – organization.

Strength to you,
Semper fidelis,

Adam Firestone


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fun quotes about the Corps

There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.
-Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army

Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share.
-Ned Dolan

We signed up knowing the risk. Those innocent people in New York didn't go to work thinking there was any kind of risk.
-Pvt. Mike Armendariz-Clark, USMC; Afghanastan, 20 September 2001

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A letter to the 1/6 family and friends from the Chaplain

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

Yes just as we were celebrating a huge success here in Ramadi, just when we were about to shift gears to thinking transfer to the next battalion, we get the news we have been extended. I know this weighs heavy on your hearts. I know you have given so much and waited patiently for us to return. We too are saddened by not being able to come home to you. This past Sunday I preached on the text in John where Jesus turns water to wine. Jesus did not do this for the mere sake of performing a magic trick, but to draw attention to him and what he is able to do for them and us. By turning water to wine Jesus was able to turn the wedding celebration that quickly headed south due to a lack of wine, into a sacred event. I also believe for those of us who feel this extension is like running out of good wine, Jesus through his grace and love offers us new wine. I am certain this wine will manifest itself differently in each of us. Maybe in the form of good friends who remind us we are not alone, maybe in the form of recognizing the success we have had here, and knowing we are still needed a little longer. Maybe this new wine will come in the way of a new purpose or involvement for those of you back home. I do know this, the best wine is in God’s promise of eternal life in this hope I am certain we can get through this with proud hearts and our heads hung high. As I walk around and listen to our guys, they are impressed with how much you love them and how you continue to believe in what we do, even if it doesn’t always make sense.

The other day I went and sat with one of our lookouts in the city. As I gazed through a large piece of bullet proof glass I saw a lot of people walking, men, women, and children. I think some of the children were heading to school. This was amazing for me to watch, since this type of freedom is new to this area. So we will continue to make better this piece of Iraq. We will continue doing what we are called to do. We’ll do it knowing you are behind us, eagerly awaiting us to come home. So until then grab a good glass of wine and remember God promises to us. Soon we will be home to thank you for all you have done to make this possible.

Chaplain Jamie

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Can I pull up a futon in church???

I'm learning a lot about myself and our marriage throughout this deployment. Sounds like an intro to a Thursday Thirteen, huh? hahaha Darn it, it's official. I'm addicted. I've had a three majorly traumatic events that I can recall, this being one of them, but I've realized in all of them I have a pattern of reactions.

I usually joke around for a while denying the whole thing, then I'll cry a bit, maybe throw in a few times when I get my undies all in a ruffle at someone (as the Old Man likes to call it). Then I'll usually ignore the phone and emails for a while, get mad at myself for being mad, then snap out of it, make my rounds of calls and get on with myself... Thank God I'm pretty good about keeping the Old Man out of it. Until I wrote this at least. Hopefully, this isn't too far from the norm and I'm not even sure exactly why I wrote all this just now, but I do know I feel better for writing it. At least I can see it all on paper so I know what to expect and to take extra precaution. :) Maybe if I throw a few extra trips to the day spa that'll suit well. It's an idea, right? Oh, and I'm not completely crazy. I do keep occupied and stay busy. But staying strong 24/7 9 months long is sometimes a lot to ask for...

So I'm already into phase 1. Not to lessen the intensity of what's going on, but I really wanted to change my Happy New Year graphic to some sort of stay strong or keep on keeping on sort of thing. So far, I haven't had any luck. (Hopefully my google search is in no way any indication of what's to come.) Anyway, I thought it might crack a few smiles to see what I did find in my google search...

My personal fav...

A little awkward...

An overwhelming feeling of guilt to what I wish I could still do...

OK, this one's OK...

What the???

In case you were wondering something about chickens...

Interesting, yet provocative...

The one thing that's constant for me is gettin' my cup of Jesus, as my sister says. Going to church does such wonderful things for my sanity and my well being that I can't even begin to explain. Especially since I don't have a lot of family in the area (thank God for Jason and Francie). It brings me such peace to sit there and talk to God for a while and pray for my husband and our families. I sincerely hope everyone has this sort of inner peace within themselves because I'll tell ya, from road rage to deployment depression, it helps all around. Sometimes I'll find myself going before I go to work, after work, on Saturdays, or even on Sundays too. Sometimes I wish I could ask God if he'd mind that I pull a futon up in church. I could sit around during mass all day then fall asleep comforted all night... Oh well, I guess living right down the street will have to do.
Stay strong friends and families of 1/6!!!

Do over!!

I'm pretty sure we all heard the news by now. Our boys are extended for at least 60 more days... I have a countdown on my google page that was coming down to around 89 more days. Then I added in the extension and felt a swift kick in the stomach. Back to 150 +... It's like a do over. Remember when we were young, when something didn't go quite right all we'd have to do is scream, "Do over!!!" Then bam. Clean slate. We started around 150, got a few behind our belt then the President screamed, "Do over!!!!" And the countdown re-began. (Is that even a word?) Only this time it's not as fun...

I got a call from the Old Man at about 3 am last night breaking the news. (He's going to try to call or email family, but as you can imagine, the phone lines are probably insane.) Immediately after he told me, my first reaction was to make sure he's holding up OK. As always, he's amazing. His main concern was me. Of course he's disappointed beyond belief, but I'm at a total loss for words to describe how completely incredible he is and how he's taking this. Just in case I don't tell the Old Man's family enough, you guys really did a good job with this one. :)

From what I understand from the other wives, girlfriends, and the Old Man, all the 1/6 Marines are just as admirable. The President sure is lucky to have such an amazing group of Marines.

A letter to the 1/6 family and friends from the 1/6 Commanding Officer

Dear Families and Friends of First Battalion, Sixth Marines,

Immediately following the President’s speech this evening, I was notified that1/6 and all our attachments would be extended. The anticipated extension is approximately 60 days to 90 days. I know this may come as difficult news as you were planning to welcome yourMarine or Sailor home in early April, but now that we have received official notification we can put the speculation and rumors to rest and focus on the challenges that this news brings. As I have said many times before, your continued support is crucial to our mission. This is true now more than ever as we meet this challenge as a family. I ask that you assist me in ensuring our Marines and Sailors remain focused ontheir mission, one that they continue to perform in an exemplary manner on adaily basis. I assure you that I will keep you informed. You have my utmost appreciation andrespect for your patience and perseverance.

In your service,
W. M. Jxxxxx Lieutenant Colonel
U.S. Marine Corps Commanding Officer
1st Battalion 6th Marines

Important news!

Hopefully you have heard from the Old Man or your Marine after the President's speech by now. If not, please remember it's possible they didn't have a chance to call because the phones lines were out the door...

Please call the 1/6 Information Hotline 1-800-230-8762 then dial 2,1 for extremely important news.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

President's Address to the Nation The Library

To see the speech online Click here!

President's Remarks

9:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror -- and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.

When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together, and that as we trained Iraqi security forces we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.

But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq -- particularly in Baghdad -- overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause, and they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra -- in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.

The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people -- and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.

It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq. So my national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review. We consulted members of Congress from both parties, our allies abroad, and distinguished outside experts. We benefitted from the thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. In our discussions, we all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq. And one message came through loud and clear: Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States.

The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.

The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis. Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.

Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have. Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work.

Now let me explain the main elements of this effort: The Iraqi government will appoint a military commander and two deputy commanders for their capital. The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort, along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations -- conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.

This is a strong commitment. But for it to succeed, our commanders say the Iraqis will need our help. So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them -- five brigades -- will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.

Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents, but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. This time, we'll have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods -- and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.

I've made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people -- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: "The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."

This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace -- and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.
To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.

America will change our approach to help the Iraqi government as it works to meet these benchmarks. In keeping with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, we will increase the embedding of American advisers in Iraqi Army units, and partner a coalition brigade with every Iraqi Army division. We will help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped army, and we will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq. We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance. We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen the moderates, and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance. And Secretary Rice will soon appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq.

As we make these changes, we will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar Province. Al Qaeda has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. A captured al Qaeda document describes the terrorists' plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad.

Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists. So I have given orders to increase American forces in Anbar Province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to keep up the pressure on the terrorists. America's men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan -- and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq.

Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

We're also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence-sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.

We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government. We endorse the Iraqi government's call to finalize an International Compact that will bring new economic assistance in exchange for greater economic reform. And on Friday, Secretary Rice will leave for the region, to build support for Iraq and continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.

The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy, by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom, and to help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.

From Afghanistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories, millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence, and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children. And they are looking at Iraq. They want to know: Will America withdraw and yield the future of that country to the extremists, or will we stand with the Iraqis who have made the choice for freedom?
The changes I have outlined tonight are aimed at ensuring the survival of a young democracy that is fighting for its life in a part of the world of enormous importance to American security.

Let me be clear: The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are without conscience, and they will make the year ahead bloody and violent. Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue -- and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties. The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe that it will.
Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. But victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world -- a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people. A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them -- and it will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and our grandchildren.

This new approach comes after consultations with Congress about the different courses we could take in Iraq. Many are concerned that the Iraqis are becoming too dependent on the United States, and therefore, our policy should focus on protecting Iraq's borders and hunting down al Qaeda. Their solution is to scale back America's efforts in Baghdad -- or announce the phased withdrawal of our combat forces. We carefully considered these proposals. And we concluded that to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear the country apart, and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale. Such a scenario would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer, and confront an enemy that is even more lethal. If we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.

In the days ahead, my national security team will fully brief Congress on our new strategy. If members have improvements that can be made, we will make them. If circumstances change, we will adjust. Honorable people have different views, and they will voice their criticisms. It is fair to hold our views up to scrutiny. And all involved have a responsibility to explain how the path they propose would be more likely to succeed.

Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my administration; it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress. We can begin by working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the Armed Forces we need for the 21st century. We also need to examine ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas, where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny.

In these dangerous times, the United States is blessed to have extraordinary and selfless men and women willing to step forward and defend us. These young Americans understand that our cause in Iraq is noble and necessary -- and that the advance of freedom is the calling of our time. They serve far from their families, who make the quiet sacrifices of lonely holidays and empty chairs at the dinner table. They have watched their comrades give their lives to ensure our liberty. We mourn the loss of every fallen American -- and we owe it to them to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.

Fellow citizens: The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed. Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can, and we will, prevail.

We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours. Thank you and good night.

END 9:21 P.M. EST

Monday, January 08, 2007

A letter to the 1/6 family and friends from the 1/6 Commanding Officer

Dear Families and Friends of First Battalion, Sixth Marines,

I know everyone is getting anxious about the talk of extending troops in Iraq. I have always been honest and up front with you and provided you with dates and information. This time is no exception. What I can tell you is that "right now" anything you have heard about our battalion being extended is speculation and/or rumor. Nothing has been communicated officially or unofficially to us about a change to our deployment. If and when it does, you can make sure I will pass the information.

Let me again reassure you that your loved ones are doing a tremendous job over here. I am amazed everyday at their courage and commitment. Progress is most definitely being made in the area we are responsible for and these Marines have much to be proud of.

Please know your continued support is crucial to our mission. I ask that you remind your loved one to stay focused these last few months. Everyday is game day and I need their head 100% focused on the mission at hand. Block leave dates, homecoming flight windows, and Hawaiian vacations can't be their focus while walking the streets on patrol and providing security for each other. I know you understand this and I want to thank you for helping all of us maintain this most important focus.

Again, thank you for your support of our 1/6 HARD Marines and Sailors.

In your service,W. M. Jurney
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps
Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion 6th Marines

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Happy Valentines Day!

OK, so it's really not Valentines Day. Or really not even close...but get your packages in the mail soon so they get there on time!

US Air took my Jarhead Red!!!

This is my rant for the month...after many stress relieving activities, I can finally put this past me! hahaha

I went to FL for Christmas. This was my third time going home since the Old Man left. I always find comfort in visiting my family, but I think I’m just about to give up on the whole traveling thing.

The first time was heartbreaking. As I sat on the plane nearly having a panic attack from the thought of really interacting with anyone since the Old Man left, I overheard the worst conversation ever. Of course out of everyone on the entire plane, I sat behind the one and only piercing voice telling her thoughts on the military and the war to her fellow passenger. For the sake of trying to keep the blog apolitical, I’ll just tell you, they weren’t good…

The second time was a doosey. I sat in the middle of a young college kid and a man of intellectual sorts in his 30s. Before the plane took off, I pasted a few things in my journal and explained to both of them that my husband was in Iraq, yada, yada, yada…answering all their questions during the conversation that they initiated. 30 mins later, I closed my eyes and overheard the two of them telling each other their thoughts on the war. The entire way home and yet again, none of which were good. I was boiling knowing that they both knew full well about my situation and at that point it wasn’t about sharing their opinion, but about common courtesy. Is it me, or do people not even debate things like religion or being gay this freely and why is this any different? ! Anyway, this was one of the many times my IPod came to the rescue. I curse myself for not ever speaking up, but that’s just not my style. The only saving grace this ride was that soon after I realized I probably just witnessed a genuine love connection. From the physical attraction, alllll the way through to the making of future plans together! The best of luck to them both. ;)

This time, Oy Vey! (and I have permission to say that from my Jewish friend) At this particular airport, US Air has their own staff who conducts the security screenings for the lucky winners of the checked baggage security screening extravaganza! In my checked bags (and I bold this because they were CHECKED!) I had three of my favorite Christmas gifts, Jarhead Red. I was sooo excited about giving this away. I found it on base and it had a really fun Marine Corps label, the proceeds of my purchase went to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (I have info about this in a post below), and I just knew everyone would have loved it! I would have bought myself a bottle, but I took the last four off the shelf.

With the new security regulations, and I didn’t think I was breaking any, we all know any liquids you bring on the plane have to be 3 oz or less. Which is why I checked my Jarhead Red. Apparently that wasn’t good enough. Apparently, I couldn’t have any liquid whatsoever and apparently, the US Air security man was having a bad day because he confiscated all three bottles of my prized Christmas presents!!!! As I begged and pleaded with him to not throw them out or leave just one for me to keep or for him to keep them so at least someone could enjoy them, he was Mr. US Air No Nonsense and threw them away. No questions asked.

I sat there on my third plane ride home with yet another traveling fiasco, crushed, and in a pinch for last minute Christmas gifts.

Ohhh, the irony…

I recently found the website to buy the fun stuff, which I've actually heard is pretty good. I can say now that I'm not so bitter about it anymore. Just in case you're interested, Click here!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Old Man and I's New Years resolution

(My TT is below)

In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Wear spandex every other day.

Get your resolution here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hey get me, over here, my turn!

I've been tagged and I finally understand what it means! Captain Poopy called me out to tell you 5 things you may not know about me.

1. I went through a vegetarian phase once. For a whole year and a half! I had no real reason or purpose, it just felt right at the time. Although, I did eat ham. I was especially a fan of the cubed ham that you find on buffets. I've since added meat and poultry to my diet. And I still eat cubed ham. In fact, I think I could live on cubed ham.

2. I can NEVER guess the ending of a movie when I'm watching it in a movie theater. I feel like sometimes I get my blonde thinking cap on cause when I'm at the movies, there's not much going on up there! I like to think I'm one with the movie. I get so consumed with what's going on right at the exact point that I'm seeing that I don't think I'm capable of thinking farther ahead. The last accurate guess on record was some Lifetime movie about a woman leaving her rich, abusive husband after falling in love with a hot 30 something construction worker, but who wouldn't have seen that coming? I secretly marvel at my sister and Gena who have the ending in the first two minutes!

3. I once accidentally knocked down an entire table of cakes stacked 3 high and 10 long at Kash 'N Karry. Then panicked and ran out laughing so hard I almost piddled. Then blamed it on my friend. Sorry Amanda.

4. I have huge secret crushes on Nicolas Cage and Vin Diesel. One isn't the most physically attractive actor and the other isn't the most gifted actor, but I just love, love, love them!

5. I was 'let go' once- from a bank. Ironic, right? (I work at the Treasury Dept now) It was one of the best jobs I ever had too. I was 16 and made 15 bucks an hour! Thank God I was about to leave soon to move to DC, so my boss never recorded it as such. And I was never told if I was scammed or just was terribly off with my math skills. On the record, I left one week early due to a relocation..

Thursday Thirteen #9

Thirteen positive contributions the 1st Battalion 6 Marines have made in Iraq
This list came straight from the Lt. Col. himself (you can see his letter in a previous post) and directly from the boots on the ground. Although it has been a tumultuous journey, there has been great progress in Iraq. Here are a few examples of positive contributions 1/6 has made over the past 4 months. Their successes in these and other areas continue everyday. Too bad these positive stories are not on the 5'oclock news...

1. 1/6 Marines improved national security. Four new security stations have been opened in the city, including one Iraqi Police station 100% manned and operated by local cops who are motivated and enthusiastic.

2. 1/6 Marines provided hospitalization and first aid services to the Iraqi citizens despite the cause of injury.

3. 1/6 Marines assisted in opening schools that have been closed for years so the children can attend class.

4. 1/6 Marines initiated construction and emergency response projects. Over $250k in new projects are now working in the city.

5. 1/6 Marines detained countless numbers of known terrorists and Iraqi’s on the national threat list.

6. 1/6 Marines provided humanitarian assistance. They delivered 6,000 pounds of food to a local mosque when it was found the residents of the area were in need.

7. 1/6 Marines and local workers have worked to clean up the cities. Previously destroyed vehicle hulks strewn about the city are now being removed and the streets are being cleared from debris.

8. 1/6 Marines shared toys, school supplies, and candy everyday to boost the morale of the Iraqi children.

9. 1/6 Marines built strong political relationships. They have noticeably gained the trust and confidence from key tribal and civilian leaders regarding their Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).

10. 1/6 Marines delivered tons of medical supplies to the Ramadi General Hospital and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital through the combined efforts with the ISF.

11. 1/6 Marines distributed heaters and warm clothes to locals who had no source of heat for the winter.

12. 1/6 Marines trained ISF forces. They have formed a solid partnership with the ISF and are incrementally transitioning over responsibilities to them.

13. Last, but certainly not least, 1/6 Marines and the ISF have made the citizens feel secure enough to express national pride. Iraqi flags now fly down the main roads throughout the nation.

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A letter to the 1/6 family and friends from the Chaplain

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

Let me begin by saying thank you all for the wonderful Christmas you provided us with. Amazing how we can be so far away and yet you still touched us with your care. Of special mention are the 1200 stockings that on Christmas Eve made their way onto concrete walls awaiting each young Marine to awake and take it to their bunk. If just for a brief moment you brought us back home to our living rooms where we would normally meet around tree as family and friends.

On another note we are past the half way mark, and after living for forty years now, I know 3 months is chump change in the whole scheme of things, and soon we will be home annoying you. However with that being said, while saying a little prayer asking God to make time go by quickly, the little voice inside of me said, “You complained for years to come do what you are doing, now you want to go home”. Well God is right, and here is where we are called, so let us together embrace our callings these next three months. I suspect this will serve our hearts well, as they fill with pride as we talk of all we did when we get home.

Please continue to draw near to those who have lost loved ones this deployment. Help them in your own special way to remind them they are not alone.

Please know we love and miss you all very much, continue to send those prayers high, we do see the result of them out here daily.

Chaplain Jamie

Happy New Year!!!

Here was us ringing in 2006. Man, how this year flew by!

Monday, January 01, 2007

An update on the Old Man

Say it with me...Stress free, that's me! Well, that's my motto at least. We can all take a big, well deserved sigh of relief, our boys are almost home!!!!

My nephew has these funny things my sister calls laugh cry's and I think I've inherited them. I was finally able to talk to the Old Man for longer than 10 minutes in I don't know how long and I didn't know whether to laugh at some of the funny stories he told me or cry since I was so happy to talk to him. I did both. At the same time. Thinking about it now makes me laugh if that counts!

Back to this stress free thing. While I was taking my week long hiatus from the phone, computer, and pretty much everything so I could get de-stress after the holidays and get back on my feet for the new year, the Old Man was coincidentally doing some stress techniques of his own. Mistakenly, one of his Marines received a girly care package that included this huge bottle of lavender spray that has stress free and relax written all over the bottle. The Old Man seized the bottle. Every time his Marines get crazy or things get hectic, he busts out the bottle, sprays everyone down, and screams, "RELAX!!!!" He said it works like a charm!

Surprisingly, the Old Man said things in the city were calm the day Saddam was executed and have been ever since. He and his Marines are all doing really well, but they're ready to get back from rotation. (In other words, a few more days and we'll probably all get more calls!) He said that it's been really cold over there and a lot of the Iraqi families don't have heat sources. The Marines have been giving out heaters to as many people as they can. They also had a ton of toys to give away to the children so the kids were excited about that. He's been interacting so much with the Iraqi's that he's been picking up the language pretty quick too. All of his higher ups are impressed by how well he's doing with every aspect of this deployment.

So here's the really good stuff! He was promoted to Sergeant of the Guard!!! He's the third in command from the Capt. It's sort of a within rank promotion, but an awesome achievement! Send him an email or leave a comment to say congrats!

We're over the halfway hump!! Keep praying for their safe return!

Oliver North's New Year wishes

By Oliver North

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For many Americans, it's a week of reflection, these last days of 2006. Some spend that time celebrating the Christmas season with prayer and thanksgiving. Others take advantage of "after Christmas" sales at department stores, buying the junk that was omitted from their stockings. Those fortunate enough to have the means take stock of their stocks and bonds, and others write down resolutions that will command their attention for the first few weeks of January.

However one spends these last hours of 2006, Americans should take care to thank and pray for those who have defended our nation throughout the year -- our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines. Having just returned from Iraq, the Marines with whom I was embedded would obviously like to be home for the holidays with their families, but they forgo a personal comfort to protect our national security. It is true of all our service members, wherever they are stationed this New Year.

Most of them have also missed Easter, Independence Day and Thanksgiving -- not to mention the birthdays, anniversaries and graduations of their loved ones. It used to be said that "if the Marine Corps wanted you to have a wife, it would have issued you one." But those days are gone. Today, roughly half of those serving in uniform are married -- proving that the hearts of even our toughest troops can be pierced by Cupid's arrow. It also shows that military service is as much a family commitment as it is personal.

That's important to remember as our president looks to increase the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps in 2007. In an effort to ease the strain on a force that has had its hands full since the war on terror began, and because our liberty needs to be defended, the president and the secretary of defense will ask more families to step up and accept the challenges and rewards of military life.

As President Bush reminded us last week, "this war on terror is the calling of a new generation; it is the calling of our generation. Success is essential," he said, "to securing a future of peace for our children and grandchildren. And securing this peace for the future is going to require a sustained commitment from the American people and our military."

Those in the Washington press corps who put down the report of the Iraq Study Group long enough to listen to what the president said, scoffed at it. For the word "victory" cannot be found in the playbook of either party right now. The discussion among our craven congressional cranks and the pessimistic pundits is about how and when to surrender in Iraq. These "virtual generals" have played this game too long -- they're tired of it. They can't wait for the policy discussions in Washington to once again be dominated by topics like midnight basketball and school uniforms.

But if we give up in Iraq and give in to Islamic jihadists, the day will come when there will be school uniforms. They won't, however, be plaid skirts and neckties as issued by the Good Sisters of St. Mary's -- and good luck trying to distinguish one little girl from the next.
"We have an obligation to ensure our military is capable of sustaining this war over the long haul, and in performing the many tasks that we ask of them," Bush added. "The advance of liberty has never been easy, and Iraq is proving how tough it can be."

True enough. But there are measures of success. I saw it myself -- Iraqi police are being trained and taking more responsibility for the safety of their neighborhoods. It may not be happening overnight, but it is progress. Saddam Hussein, the former leader who preyed on his own people, has now been sentenced to death and within the month, barring any further legal complications, he will be hanged, and justice -- thanks to the patient confidence of the Iraqi people -- will be done.

As we reflect on things at the end of this year, let us ask ourselves why our confidence to overcome hurdles has eroded and how we can reclaim it. Officials in Washington may not want to admit it, but there is a "long haul" ahead against Islamic jihadists. For that, we need to add to the best-trained, best-equipped fighting force in the world. And for the fact that we did not experience an attack on our homeland in 2006, we need to thank them, as well as the professionals in our homeland security agencies. To all those involved in defending our country, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

To see this story on Townhall.com Click here!