Thursday, April 30, 2009

Exit Iraq: British troops...out of Basra

(snapshot profiles of the fallen here)

A ceremony has been held in Basra to mark the official end of the six-year British military mission in Iraq.

UK combat operations ended as 20th Armoured Brigade took part in a flag-lowering ceremony with a US brigade.

Gordon Brown said the operation in Iraq had been a "success story" because of UK troops' efforts.


Mr Brown, who held talks with Iraqi prime minister Nouri Maliki in Downing Street, said: "Today Iraq is a success story.

"We owe much of that to the efforts of British troops. Our mission has not always been an easy one, many have said that we would fail.

"Britain can be proud of our legacy that we leave there."

Mr Maliki said: "There are people in Iraq who want the government to fail but our army and armed forces are ready to face these challenges."

(source: BBC here)

UK combat operations end in Iraq

In Britain's past, foreign occupations and outposts of empire have ended with a bugle and a simple ceremony.

It was that way on Thursday in the searing heat of Basra.

Flag lowering in Basra
Britain is pulling its troops out of Iraq a month ahead of schedule

The lowering of the regimental flag of the 20th Armoured Brigade signalled an end to all British combat operations.

The remaining task for Britain's forces is to pack and return home.

This most controversial of conflicts ended in a corner of the Basra airbase surrounded by concrete blast-proof walls.

"There are still people out there who would like to kill us," Col Richard Stanford had reminded us.

As the temperature soared into the upper 40s, a British flag party marched forward and lowered and folded the flag. Command passed to the Americans.

Their commander praised the British and said: 'We are brothers in arms."

Then Brig Tom Beckett shook hands with Col Henry Kievenaar and, with that handshake, the British mission was over. (here)

I think when the history is written of this campaign, they will say of the British military: 'We did a superb job'
John Hutton - Defence Secretary

I am sure there will be much debate and mudslinging for years to come over our mission in Iraq. For me, the over-riding thought is that our British troops have done an amazing job, and should hold their heads up proudly.

We WILL remember them. With gratitude and pride. Always.

Memo to Obama: Hamas Army Preparing for New War

As we hear that Obama is ready to welcome Hamas leaders to the White House, comes this out of Israel:
Hamas Army Preparing for New War

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu


The defacto Hamas government in Gaza is re-training its army and changing its tactics in preparation for what it believes will be another war with Israel, according to Iran and Hizbullah are advising Hamas on how to overcome its failures against Israel in the IDFs Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign earlier this year.

Hamas tactics in the war backfired. It told its fighters to dress in civilian clothes as a ploy to raise civilian casualties, but the IDF surprised it by pinpointing its attacks and warning civilians to leave areas before they were bombed.

Hamas has used the ceasefire, which Israel declared on condition that international monitors would be positioned along the Egyptian border to stop smuggling, to bring in advanced weapons through new tunnels that have been built. Two Arab smugglers or workers were killed Thursday morning in a tunnel collapse underneath the border at Rafiah.

The Hamas army now includes anti-aircraft missiles that have been provided by Iran. Israel Air Force planes were equipped with devices to deflect anti-aircraft missiles during Operation Cast Lead, but the newly-smuggled weapons are more advanced.

During the next war, Hamas’s army will remain in uniform and will use hit-and-run tactics instead of directly engaging Israeli troops.

Hamas has dismissed 40 commanders of its forces, which it is re-building with more discipline. It also is developing improved communications systems to protect senior leaders, many of whom were targeted by Israel.

One tactic that worked to a certain extent was the deployment of its army in schools and hospitals, which also were used as weapons depots, forcing the IDF to delay attacking unless it could be proven beyond a doubt that the facilities no longer were functioning for civilian purposes. [source: Israel National News ]

Calling Mr Obama! How's that open hand working for you?

Lt. Col. Chessani: Semper Fi

April 29, 2009

Marine LtCol Chessani Wins Another Round

ANN ARBOR, MI – Yesterday evening, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA), sitting in Washington DC, denied without comment the government’s motion for Reconsideration. Government prosecutors had asked that the unanimous ruling in favor of LtCol Jeffery Chessani, USMC, by a 3-judge NMCCA panel be reconsidered by all 9 judges. A majority of the 9 judges would have had to agree to take the case. ...

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commented, “This case has turned into a government vendetta against a patriotic Marine combat officer who loyally served his nation for over 20 years. We must also remember the sacrifices made by his wife and children while he left them to defend us during 3 tours of duty in Iraq, and during the First Persian Gulf War, and in the Panama Canal.”

Thompson continued, “The lengths to which our own government will go to persecute one of its most loyal officers are outrageous. Every war needs a scapegoat, and it seems the government is intent on making LtCol Chessani that very thing. The Thomas More Law Center won’t let them.”...

The insanity continues. Don't look for front page reporting on this in the msm. Read more here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday Hero

This Week's Post Was Suggested & Written By Mary Ann

sgt. Kenneth G. Ross
Sgt. Kenneth G. Ross
24 years old from Tucson, Arizona
7th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment
September 25, 2005
U.S. Army

"He believed in serving his country," said Ross' father, David C. Ross. Gary Anderson, Ross' best friend and an Army infantry veteran who served nine months in Afghanistan and 11 months in Iraq during his active duty stint, was a classmate of Ross at Marana's Mountain View High School. "You know, I heard this news of Ken and I broke down and cried hysterically," said Anderson, now a firefighter for the Ak-Chin Indian Community in Maricopa. "He loved everyone; everyone who came in contact with him loved him. He'd always help everyone out that he could."

A 1999 graduate of Mountain View, Ross played drums in the marching band and orchestra, his father said. Ross enlisted in the Army right after graduation. "He just wanted to take part in history," Anderson said.

At the time of his death, he was a helicopter mechanic — acting as a door gunner on his last mission, his father said. SSgt. Ross was killed when his helicopter went down southwest of Deh Chopan, Afghanistan. Also killed in the crash were Sgt. Shawn A. Graham, Warrent Officer Adrian B. Stump, Sgt. Tane T. Baum, Chief Warrent Officer 2 John M. Flynn and Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart.

Along with his father, SSgt. Ross is survived by his mother, Mary Ross, 57, and his sister, Stephanie Ross, 30. "I know his last thoughts were for everybody else and not for himself," Anderson said. "I know he wanted to make sure everybody was safe and would go home."

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

100 days, 100 mistakes

From the New York Post:

April 25, 2009

1. "Obama criticized pork barrel spending in the form of 'earmarks,' urging changes in the way that Congress adopts the spending proposals. Then he signed a spending bill that contains nearly 9,000 of them, some that members of his own staff shoved in last year when they were still members of Congress. 'Let there be no doubt, this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business, and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability,' Obama said." -- McClatchy, 3/11

2. "There is no doubt that we've been living beyond our means and we're going to have to make some adjustments." -- Obama during the campaign.

3. This year's budget deficit: $1.5 trillion.

4. Asks his Cabinet to cut costs in their departments by $100 million -- a whopping .0027%!

5. "The White House says the president is unaware of the tea parties." -- ABC News, 4/15...

It gets 'better'. Go read the rest of this here.

H/T Michelle Malkin

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Every Day Heroes

Air Force Chaplain (retired Lt. Col.) David Sparks counsels a fellow Port Mortuary team member at Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs at Dover Air Force Base, Del., April 21, 2009. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace

Face of Defense: Chaplains Comfort Families of Fallen

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace
Special to American Forces Press Service

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del., April 24, 2009 – The night sky looked calm and tranquil from a gently soaring aircraft, miles above the Eastern Seaboard towns below. However, there was nothing tranquil or calm in the hearts of one family on board, traveling to Dover Air Force Base to witness the dignified transfer of their son’s remains.

Their son, their Marine, their hero had paid the ultimate sacrifice in the mountains of Afghanistan only the day before. The staff at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center would carefully prepare his remains for transfer to his final resting place.

As the family arrived at the Dover flightline, the mother’s tear chalice overflowed and her emotions began to stream from her eyes. Her husband quickly comforted her with his embrace as a Port Mortuary chaplain swiftly made his way over to console the grieving couple.

Later that night, an aircraft landed at Dover and an advance team boarded the jet to inspect and pre-position the transfer case. An honor guard of Marines reverently transported the fallen Marine from the aircraft to a specialized transfer vehicle waiting nearby. Among the few airmen and Marines respectfully performing their duties on the aircraft was a familiar face – another Port Mortuary chaplain, the counterpart of the chaplain who comforted the parents earlier that evening.

The Marine’s remains are meticulously prepared for their escorted delivery and final interment in a family plot in his hometown. Once the remains are prepared, a fellow Marine arrives at Dover to escort his comrade on the journey home. Before departing on this solemn mission, the escort receives a briefing from his Marine liaison team with Port Mortuary chaplains present.

The Port Mortuary chaplain staff consists of Air Force Chaplains (retired Lt. Col.) David Sparks, (Lt. Col.) George Ortiz-Guzman, (Maj.) Klavens Noel, and Master Sgt. Timothy Polling, a chaplain’s assistant. Throughout the dignified transfer process, they provide humble counsel to the family, Port Mortuary staff and escorts, and pray over the remains of the fallen hero. This process has been repeated thousands of times over the past several years, as the nation’s fallen continue to make their way back home through the Port Mortuary at Dover.

“As a chaplain, comforting grieving families and watching over the remains of those heroes who keep me safe is the greatest calling I could answer,” said Ortiz-Guzman, who added that he is humbled and honored to “serve those who serve.”

Working at the Port Mortuary can be horrific and overwhelming. Constant exposure to the fallen takes a mental toll on the mortuary staff, as they know well that it could be them or their brother’s or sister’s remains waiting to go home. The chaplains work the same processing system as the rest of the staff, but must remain strong during those distraught times.

“Remaining strong and sane for the sake of the mission is a defense mechanism humans use to perform amongst all that horror,” Ortiz-Guzman said. “But we try to be as real as we can with our troops. They know when you are ‘snowballing’ them. We cry with them and laugh with them. We are part of the team and they all know it.”

Chaplains must continue to convey the rock, and that rock is beyond any chaplain – the rock is God, Ortiz-Guzman said. When a chaplain begins to have difficulty dealing with the situation and cannot show his emotions to the troops, he bounces his feelings off a fellow chaplain in private, and relies on his faith, keeps his spiritual focus and draws on the support of the 436th Airlift Wing chapel staff, he added.

Chaplains use these resources to keep themselves spiritually ready to help others.

“I have the greatest admiration for these loyal chaplains,” Air Force Col. Bob Edmondson, commander of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center, said.

Go read more about these special Every Day Heroes here.

Carpe Diem

Life is a dance (c)

As I stood on the beach this morning – it hit me. Life really is a dance. We may not always choose the physical music that reaches our ears, but we always choose if we want to dance or sit that one out.

And yes – of course, Garth Brooks The Dance came into my mind as I thought that. Love that song! So, although my thought was not totally unique, I started thinking about all the times when my life has been different kinds of dance. London in the late 60’s, (gasp!) when we all danced to a frenetic rhythm. And the music fitted, reflected our times. And the smorgasbord of dance partners fitted my place in the journey, taught me many lessons.

Then the dance of life that was my time at university. Strange, exhilarating times, as new horizons opened. Many fewer dance partners – kinda hard to dance with a text book in your hand! But - the dance of studying. Being engaged in the music of learning, of the mind expanding, exploring new horizons. A dance, a specific beat that lasts an entire lifetime, and then some.

Aaaaaaaaaah the unique dance of motherhood (if you are not too sleep deprived!) But that dance has a very sweet, tender beauty all its own. And yes, what mother has NOT danced with a newborn in her arms, and watched as the baby giggles gleefully at the motion, the rhythm of safety in those arms? The dance of motherhood always, always has a special cadence to it.

To me, dance is the expression of my soul. And I don’t need exterior music to dance the soul dance. My soul song echoes loudly within and I dance. Yes.. I DO a mean imitation of Tina Turner – mini skirt and all (never mind!)

To each time in our lives comes different dance tunes, different rhythms. As on a physical dance floor, so in the dance of life; sometimes we choose to dance with many partners, accept all invitations – learn new steps, engage in the dance. Sometimes we may choose to sit out a specific set of notes, and be a wallflower; watch, reflect on the other dancers passing by. We may find a dance partner who recognizes our soul’s music and dance only with them. All are parts of the life, the soul dance. And we get to choose how we will dance our life.

‘To everything there is a season’. Who said that? Whoever it was, it fits the dance of life. No matter where we are on the page, in the sheet music of life, the music plays on…. And it is always glorious., and perfect for where we are at that particular moment in time. Listen to your own soul music…. And dance.

Music and Me

For HP :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Some Gave All: Maj. Michelle Mendes

[Padre Martine] Belanger described Mendes - "Mic" to her friends - as a person who strived to make life more enjoyable for those around her by baking cookies, making cards "or just being there when you needed a friendly ear.

"She always strove to do her best and was respected for her professional knowledge and work ethic," Belanger continued. "The world will be an emptier place without her presence."

Defence Minister Peter MacKay released a statement Friday offering his condolences to the Mendes family, who have asked for privacy but are expected to issue a statement of their own in the coming days.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time," MacKay said.

"The Canadian Forces continue to make an immense difference in the lives of Afghans while protecting and promoting both Canadian and international security. Despite our grief, we will continue our important mission to bring peace and stability to the people of Afghanistan."

Mendes, who was serving in her second tour of duty in Afghanistan, graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada in 2001, he added. "Her hard work and dedication will not be forgotten."

Mendes, who hailed from a small town near Colborne, Ont., east of Toronto, worked in the headquarters of the Canadian task force at the airfield, which serves as the principal base for most of the 2,700 Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of our lost comrade," Maj. Mario Couture said in a brief statement early Friday. "Our primary focus at this time is to provide the best possible support to the family of our soldier and to her colleagues."...(source)

Ottawa, Ontario

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaƫlle Jean, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, issued the following message on the death of Maj Mendes:

“While in Ukraine on a State Visit, my husband Jean-Daniel Lafond and I learned of the tragic death of Major Michelle Mendes, based in Ottawa, Ontario, yesterday in Afghanistan.

“Every day, our soldiers serving there are put to the test, both physically and psychologically. The extraordinary dedication and immeasurable contribution are immeasurable. We are grateful to the women and men of our Canadian Forces who give so much of themselves.

“Canadians everywhere join us in extending our sincerest condolences and sympathies to the family, friends and comrades in arms of Major Mendes. Though we may be an ocean apart, know that our thoughts are with you.” (DND)

Rest in Peace, Major. Rest in Peace.

Birth certificates stolen

News items that make you go "Hmmmmmmmmm"...:



A stack of blank birth certificates has been stolen from the city Health Department's offices, leading investigators to worry that they may have fallen into the hands of terrorists, The Post has learned.

On March 12, an employee discovered that 104 certificates with the agency's stamp on them were missing from the department's offices at 125 Worth St., near City Hall, sources said.

It was the first time in 10 years that blank birth certificates were stolen from the department.

The NYPD and the city's Department of Investigation are investigating.

"It's like hitting the Lotto for a terrorist," one investigator said.

"Forged documents are one of the primary concerns of Homeland Security. After you get that birth certificate, you can get any document you want. This is extremely serious."

The missing documents were in a box of blank certificates that was stacked on other similar boxes.

The employee noticed they were missing because there was a break in the numbers on the certificates.

Investigators believe the theft was carried out by someone who has access to the offices, probably an employee. [source: NY Post]

Music for the soul

Just because

Friday, April 24, 2009


From Bouhammer's:

CJSOTF-A giving a baby a second chance

Kabul, Afghanistan - Members of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan conducted an unusual mission handover on Monday.

Rather than discussing troop disposition and battle status, the soldiers were passing along information about bottle feedings and sleeping schedules.

For the past few months, the CJSOTF-A troops have been caring for an Afghan baby boy named Ramazan, who is approximately nine months old. On this day, the troops said good-bye to Ramazan as they transferred his care over to a team of doctors at a medical facility in Kabul.

The wide-eyed baby was first put into the care of the Americans after his father brought him to a Special Operations Forces clinic in Shindand District, Herat Province, in late January....

Go over to Bouhammer's and read the rest of this story that you wil NOT see in the msm. Here.


04/22/2009 - U.S. Soldiers and actor Robert Patrick, from the television show The Unit, cheer while watching actor Max Martini race Soldiers on Combat Outpost Deysie, Afghanistan, April 22, 2009. The two actors are touring the U.S. Central Command area of operations with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen as a part of a USO tour. Mullen is in the area to meet with counterparts and visit troops. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, U.S. Navy/Released)


Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Moy, commander of the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan's Paktia province, speaks with contractors following a bidders conference at the governor's compound in Gardez, April 2, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Andrya Hill

Afghans Bid on Brighter Future

By Army Pfc. Andrya Hill
Special to American Forces Press Service

PAKTIA PROVINCE, Afghanistan, April 23, 2009 - Village elders here, in conjunction with the Paktia Provincial Reconstruction Team, held a bidders' conference at the governor's compound in Gardez this month to give local contractors a chance to compete for construction projects in the area.

In the past, the PRT has selected contractors from a pool of bidders based on pricing and reliability. But Afghan elders expressed their concern that several contractors have not met expectations on various projects, which has initiated a change, Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Moy, PRT commander, said.

"Through this process, we are getting two things done at once," he said. "We are completing the project, which is how people see it is getting better, because they see that the government is capable of getting things done here. We are also enabling the Afghanistan government to build its necessary organization infrastructure, coordination and capacity to do these projects.

"It takes a lot of planning, discussion and meetings for the government to put one of these projects together," he added. ...

Read more here.


California Army Guard bids farewell to Huey

By Lt. Theresa Chrystal
California National Guard

MATHER, Calif. (4/21/09) - The distinctive hum of the UH-1 helicopter faded into the distance Monday as the last “Huey” took off from Mather Air Field in Sacramento on its final flight for the California Army National Guard.

The Huey has been renowned during its 50 years of military service as “the sound of freedom,” the Swiss-Army knife of helicopters and as a symbol of America’s efforts in Vietnam. The California National Guard has retired its Hueys and replaced them with more advanced UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

“This is kind of a sad day for me, but also an important day, as we mark the end of an era for a tremendous machine that has contributed so much for the freedom of the United States and become a symbol of Army Aviation,” said Brig. Gen. Daniel J. Nelan, assistant adjutant general of the California Army National Guard, who has flown more than 3,500 hours in UH-1 aircraft. “The Huey has been the backbone of Army Aviation for a number of years.”

The U.S. military first used the Huey in 1959, and the last Huey rolled off the production lines in 1976. More than 16,000 of the aircraft were produced, including 7,000 that were used during the Vietnam War.

The California National Guard had used the Huey since 1971 for firefighting, search-and-rescue, medical evacuation and other operations.

“This aircraft, the Huey, has been an icon of Army Aviation since the late 50s, definitely an icon of the Vietnam War,” said Chief Warrant Officer Randall Weatherhead, who piloted the California Guard’s last Huey to Fort Hood, Texas, on the helicopter’s final Guard flight. The helicopter will be turned over to Army Materiel Command....

Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Every move you make, I'll be watching you

Remember that song from The Police? Seems that more than your local police are watching you. Read on:

FBI Spied on Tea Parties

surveillance_bigThe Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted a clandestine monitoring operation on last week’s Tea Party protests, filming and cataloging the hundreds of thousands of Americans who acted on their First Amendment right to Free Speech.

The FBI operation reportedly began on March 29 with a single-page memo to the organization’s 56 field offices, mandating data collection on American citizens who were planning the demonstrations. The Special Agents in Charge (SACs) were instructed to verify the date, time and location of each TEA Party within their region and supply that information to FBI headquarters in Washington.

A second directive, issued on April 6, instructed the SACs of each field office “to coordinate and conduct, either at the field office level and/or with the appropriate resident agency, covert video surveillance and data collection of the participants of the TEA parties.” Surveillance was to be performed from “discreet fixed or mobile positions” and was to be performed “independently and outside of the purview of local law enforcement.”...

If you have been paying attention, this comes as no surprise to you. There is more, of course, and you can/should read it here.

H/T Lori

TEA Parties..A New Day in America

Much has been written by some about the day of the Tea Party that swept across America. My regular readers know, that even though the Tea Party is a distinctly American phenomenon, response to current events in the US, some of us outside your borders are paying close attention. Last week I came across the following from Judi at Canada Free Press. SHE 'gets' it.

TEA Parties made it a New Day in America!

By Judi McLeod Thursday, April 16, 2009

God Bless AmericaIt’s a New Day in America!

It’s the day after Tax Day TEA parties, the day when rank-and-file Americans started taking America back.

As Doug in California wrote Canada Free Press (CFP) this morning. “It was a peaceful, horn honking and loud demonstration with nearly 3,000 people in attendance! It showed up as a blip on our local TV station and by reading the Drive-by media accounts, this was ALL influenced by Right Wing Radio!

“Conservative is a way of life!”

Hundreds of thousands of Americans--whose numbers are still being counted--took time out of their day to get out and pay respect to their country.

It took a long winter from January 20, 2009 to April 15, 2009 for American patriots to show for once and for all that even with the White House trying to dismantle it, nothing has changed in America!...

Go read the rest here.

That was one day, and I have to ask: Will America build on the momentum that was unleashed on that day? Will you?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Do you know this woman?

Take a good look at the picture on the left. That is a police sketch of what is apparently the woman in the video on the right. SHE is the woman seen walking away with little Tori Stafford on April 8 in Woodstock, Ontario [OPP release composite sketch of Tori Stafford's abductor (Ontario Provincial Police)] Today, she is the only person who knows what has happened to Tori, where Tori is.

Victoria Stafford's school photo, taken on April 7, the day before she disappeared in Woodstock, Ont. with a woman in a white puffy coat. (Tara McDonald and LifeTouch/Canadian Press)

THIS is the last school picture of Tori, taken just the day before she disappeared on her way home from school. There have been many inexplicable mis-steps in this investigation, and still no trace of this precious child, who seems to have vanished into thin air. No Amber Alert was issued, since - and I paraphrase - Tori was seemingly going along willingly with whoever this woman is. Now, with the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) taking the lead, Tori's disappearance has been called an abduction. Be all that as it may, now is not the time for the "coulda shoulda woulda's"... NOW is the time to find the answers to what has happened. Now is the time to bring Tori home.

The CBC is following the story here.

Wednesday Hero

Operations Specialist 3rd Class Leonel Yanez
Operations Specialist 3rd Class Leonel Yanez
U.S. Navy

Operations Specialist 3rd Class Leonel Yanez (Right), from Huntington Park, Calif., monitors a radar screen in the Combat Direction Center aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis is on a scheduled six-month deployment to the western Pacific Ocean.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

MWD Kevin: Beyond the Rainbow Bridge

These pictures courtesy of K9 Honor Wall.

Ceremony recognizes military working dog's contributions, achievements

BAGHDAD - Military working dog teams from throughout Victory Base Complex came out April 13 for a ceremony at the division chapel to honor one of their own. Kevin, a military working dog, passed away due to complications from cancer. His death was unexpected and left the other half of his team, Staff Sgt. Aaron Meier, in limbo and in mourning.

While in theater, military working dogs are not replaced, so Meier will be reassigned to other duties for the remainder of his deployment. As Meier now turns his attention to new job responsibilities, most of his focus still remains on the loyal partner and friend he lost.

"Kevin was the highlight of my day," said Meier, a military dog handler, from Fairmont, Minn., assigned to Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division....

You all know how much Bratdog and I love our heroic military dogs. Go read the rest of Kevin's story at War on Terror News here.

Rest easy in the plush grasses beyond the Rainbow Bridge, Kevin, until the day when you greet your beloved friend Staff Sgt. Aaron Meier. You will not be forgotten.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

RIP Elisha Ray Nance

A soldier from the 29th Infantry Division overlooks the newly-dedicated National D-Day Memorial as he renders a salute during the playing of “Taps.” (Photo by Maj. A. A. Puryear, Virginia National Guard)

(Courtesy of James Morrison)

Elisha Ray Nance (center) stands with fellow World War II veterans Kenneth Dooley (left) and Roy Stevens at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford. Jim McCann, site operations manager, said Nance visited the memorial more often after Stevens' death in 2007. "I think he was doing what he could to honor the other guys who can't come anymore," McCann said.

The Roanoke Times | File 2001

World War II veteran and D-Day soldier Ray Nance at his Bedford County home with some of his war memorabilia, including a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and a stone from Omaha Beach.

Elisha Ray Nance was one of the Bedford Boys:

Buy *The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice* online

(The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice
Alex Kershaw
Da Capo Press

The end of an era:

Last surviving WWII "Bedford Boy" Elisha Ray Nance dies at 94

Nance was one of 34 soldiers from the Bedford area who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day.

By Courtney Cutright

Elisha Ray Nance died at the Elks National Home in Bedford on Sunday, less than two months before the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

Nance, 94, was the last surviving officer of Company A and the last surviving Bedford Boy. He was one of 34 servicemen from the Bedford area who landed on the beaches of Nazi-held France during World War II in the first waves of the largest land, air and sea invasion in military history.

On June 6, 1944, 19 of the 34 Bedford men in Company A of the 116th Infantry were killed on Omaha Beach. The death toll is considered one of the largest per capita suffered by any American community during the invasion, a fact instrumental in establishing the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.

Nance and the other Bedford Boys were members of the Virginia National Guard. The young men joined the Guard to earn an extra dollar during the years after the Great Depression. Before D-Day, none of the Boys had seen combat.

In Alex Kershaw's book "The Bedford Boys," Nance recounted crawling onto Omaha Beach and facing the corpses of fallen fellow soldiers from Company A that morning. As he scrambled for cover, he was hit in the right foot by enemy fire. He also suffered a shrapnel wound in one hand.

As Nance remembered dodging bullets, he described feelings of hopelessness and despair.

"They [bullets] came so close," Nance said in an interview with Kershaw. "Then, suddenly, when I thought there was no more hope, I looked up into the sky. I didn't see anything up there. But I felt something settle over me. I got this warm feeling. I felt as if somehow I was going to live."

Nance, who trained many of the Bedford Boys and felt responsible for their safety, was plagued by survivor's guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder and frequent nightmares. Despite it all, he maintained a sense of patriotism....(here)

And there is more:

Last “Bedford Boy” dies on Sunday

By Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
National Guard Bureau

...Elisha Ray Nance was one of 34 servicemen from the Bedford area, who landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.

Nineteen of the 34 Bedford Soldiers in Company A of the 116th Infantry were killed on Omaha Beach. The death toll is considered one of the largest per capita suffered by any American community during the invasion.

A National D-Day Memorial was established in Bedford in 2001 for the Soldiers, who fought their way onto the beaches during the first two waves of the great D-Day invasion.

German defenders virtually wiped out isolated Company A of Bedford, Va., in 15 minutes. “Of the 200-plus men of the company, only a couple of dozen survived and virtually all of them were wounded,” wrote the late historian Stephen Ambrose in his best-selling book, “D-Day.”

Other Soldiers in the 116th, however, survived the German’s deadline fire to help secure the beachhead and begin the liberation of France and Europe.

Nance was featured in Alex Kershaw's book "The Bedford Boys." He described crawling onto Omaha Beach and facing the corpses of fallen fellow soldiers from Company A. He was hit in the right foot by enemy fire and suffered a shrapnel wound in one hand....

Nance was the only officer in the company who made it home. He earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service....(here)

Follow the links, spend some time and get to know the last remaining hero of the Bedford Boys. There is also a Guest Book to offer condolences, respect, here.

Rest in Peace, Sir. Rest in Peace.