Thursday, April 29, 2010

From the Front: 04/29/2010

In today's From the Front: (Click on link to read stories highlighted below) This post is courtesy of The Thunder Run.


Bouhammer: Afghanistan Report making waves
Family Matters Blog: Spouse Looks Forward to Husband’s Return
Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: 3 YORKS' soldiers return from Afghanistan
Bruce R: On PowerPoint rangers
Home From Iraq: Friends Old and New
IraqPundit: It Doesn't Look Good
Kit Up: Kit Up! is Going to the 'Stan
Bill Roggio: Taliban strike in North Waziristan and Peshawar
Loving A Soldier Blog: Catch up
One Marine's View: Sandwich ninja
Red Bull Rising: A Minority Report: "Death to PowerPoint!"
Sketchpad Warrior: What We Do
Joan D'Arc: The Army has done it again... -
Texas Music: Pom Poms
The Torch: Afghan detainee docs decision: When the law is no longer applicable
Unambiguously Ambidextrous: Afghans Must Think We’re Insane
Wings Over Iraq: It begins...
Nathan Hodge: Drone Pilots Could Be Tried for ‘War Crimes,’ Law Prof Says
Army Live: Caring for our Warriors
Andrew Lebovich and Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: TTP chief alive: Pakistani intelligence
Loving A Soldier Blog: Walk the Walk...
The Captain's Journal: Marine Corps Distributed Operations in Afghanistan
From My Position - On the Way!: Recognizing the Best Military Spouse

News from the Home Front:
Report Notes Afghanistan Developments, Challenges
Report: Still not enough troops for Afghanistan operations
Joint Base Lewis-McChord airmen to receive Silver Stars, other medals Thursday
Joey Caron's dedication to country "remarkable," commanding general says
Army Releases 2010 Modernization Strategy

News from the Front:

Human Rights Watch interviews detainees from Baghdad secret prison
Dangerous Games
Allawi's Iraqiya bloc seeks caretaker to safeguard election results

Afghan MP Says U.S. Troops Raid Home, Kill Relative
Afghan Lawmaker's Relative Killed in Night Raid
On a Holiday for Afghans, Tight Security and Violence
U.S. Questions Karzai’s Anti-Corruption Zeal
U.S. seeks to prop up Kandahar governor, sideline troublesome power brokers
Pentagon says instability in Afghanistan has 'leveled off'
Pentagon Sees Pakistan Shift, Downplays Afghan Impact
Pakistan Taliban Chief Believed Alive
Nad 'Ali 'Super-Shura' Attracts More Than 1,100
Afghan-international Force Kills Armed Individual in Nangarhar
IJC Operational Update, April 29
Hundreds protest death of Afghan lawmaker's kin in NATO raid
Afghan support for Karzai govt low, says Pentagon
Taliban key commander killed in N. Afghanistan
Taliban guns down outspoken Afghan tribal chief
Prince Harry is trained enough to take on the Taliban
Kandahar security plan ready
Officials slam education ministry
More Aussie police due

The Thunder Run's From the Front is a daily series that highlights news and personal dispatched from the front and the home front.

Taps: Pam Murphy, the widow of WWII hero Audie Murphy

Pam Murphy, the widow of Audie Murphy, was involved in the Sepulveda VA hospital and care center over the course of 35 years, treating every veteran who visited the facility as if they were a VIP. Pam Murphy died last week at the age of 90.

After Audie died, they all became her boys. Every last one of them.

Any soldier or Marine who walked into the Sepulveda VA hospital and care center in the last 35 years got the VIP treatment from Pam Murphy.

The widow of Audie Murphy – the most decorated soldier in World War II – would walk the hallways with her clipboard in hand making sure her boys got to see a specialist or doctor — STAT. If they didn't, watch out.

Her boys weren't Medal of Honor recipients or movie stars like Audie, but that didn't matter to Pam. They had served their country. That was good enough for her.

She never called a veteran by his first name. It was always "Mister." Respect came with the job.

"Nobody could cut through VA red tape faster than Mrs. Murphy," said veteran Stephen Sherman, speaking for thousands of veterans she befriended over the years.

"Many times I watched her march a veteran who had been waiting more than an hour right into the doctor's office. She was even reprimanded a few times, but it didn't matter to Mrs. Murphy.

"Only her boys mattered. She was our angel."

Last week, Sepulveda VA's angel for the last 35 years died peacefully in her sleep at age 90.

"She was in bed watching the Laker game, took one last breath, and that was it," said Diane Ruiz, who also worked at the VA and cared for Pam in the last years of her life in her Canoga Park apartment.

It was the same apartment Pam moved into soon after Audie died in a plane crash on Memorial Day weekend in 1971.

Audie Murphy died broke, squandering million of dollars on gambling, bad investments, and yes, other women.

"Even with the adultery and desertion at the end, he always remained my hero," Pam told me.

She went from a comfortable ranch-style home in Van Nuys where she raised two sons to a small apartment - taking a clerk's job at the nearby VA to support herself and start paying off her faded movie star husband's debts.

At first, no one knew who she was. Soon, though, word spread through the VA that the nice woman with the clipboard was Audie Murphy's widow.

It was like saying Patton had just walked in the front door. Men with tears in their eyes walked up to her and gave her a hug. "Thank you," they said, over and over.

The first couple of years, I think the hugs were more for Audie's memory as a war hero. The last 30 years, they were for Pam.

She hated the spotlight. One year I asked her to be the focus of a Veteran's Day column for all the work she had done. Pam just shook her head no.

"Honor them, not me," she said, pointing to a group of veterans down the hallway. "They're the ones who deserve it."

The vets disagreed. Mrs. Murphy deserved the accolades, they said.

Incredibly, in 2002, Pam's job was going to be eliminated in budget cuts. She was considered "excess staff."

"I don't think helping cut down on veterans' complaints and showing them the respect they deserve, should be considered excess staff," she told me.

Neither did the veterans. They went ballistic, holding a rally for her outside the VA gates.

Pretty soon, word came down from the top of the VA. Pam Murphy was no longer considered "excess staff." She remained working full time at the VA until 2007 when she was 87.

"The last time she was here was a couple of years ago for the conference we had for homeless veterans," said Becky James, coordinator of the VA's Veterans History Project.
Pam wanted to see if there was anything she could do to help some more of her boys.

H/T Mike

" Angry, hateful, violent, extremist ..."

From Washington Times:

EDITORIAL: Angry, hateful, violent, extremist liberals

Unlike Tea Parties, the left really is uncivil

Imagine a group of angry demonstrators toting swastika-festooned protest signs calling politicians Nazis, shouting obscenities and racial remarks and throwing rocks and bottles at police officers sent to keep order. No, these are not Tea Partiers. They are the mob that turned out last week to protest Arizona's new immigration-enforcement law. This group of liberal rowdies has been dubbed the Tequila Party.

For the most part, liberal media coverage overlooked all the leftist violence. Typical headlines described the protest as "mostly peaceful," with media outlets avoiding details about why they had to use the qualifier "mostly." Reporting a near-riot by the opponents of the Arizona law doesn't fit the dominant media storyline.

Some of the editorial bias is blatant. An Associated Press story about the Arizona immigration law quoted a 13-year-old Hispanic boy saying, "We can't be in the streets anymore without the pigs thinking we're illegal immigrants." The Washington Post sanitized the boy's views towards law enforcement by replacing the word "pigs" with "[police]." If a Tea Partier used a slur of any kind, it's doubtful it would be given the square-bracket treatment. It would probably be a banner headline....

Media bias? *gasp*..Read the rest here.

Are YOU paying attention?

H/T Dean

And yes, some ARE paying attention. THIS just in from the Media Research Center:

The double-standards and hypocrisy of the liberal media have reached shocking new levels!

It's more obvious than ever that the way the media cover stories depends on whether or not they are sympathetic to that specific cause.

We are witnessing one of the most obscene examples of this right now as we compare media coverage of the Tea Party movement to the coverage of the protests taking place in Arizona over the new immigration laws.

The MRC's Special Report "TV's Tea Party Travesty: How ABC, CBS and NBC Have Dismissed and Disparaged the Tea Party Movement" details the systematic media attacks on the tea party movement since is started. Reporters routinely describe tea party rallies as "very ugly" and refer to protestors as "un-American", "hateful" or "racist" even though there have been no reports of violence or arrests at these events.

Yet, despite compelling video footage depicting arrests of protestors in Arizona throwing bottles at police, the media largely excuse their behavior as "mostly peaceful." This didn't escape the attention of our researchers at the MRC....

Get informed. Start here.

Just One State--Repost

From Radarsite:
Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just One State--Repost

In light of the legislation passed this week by the State of Arizona (and soon in Texas), I am reposting this oldie from July 2008 originally by Roger Gardner. Even in the 2 years that has passed since this article was first written, the facts in it are the same. They have even gotten worse in some cases.



Just One State
This is only one State...............If this doesn't open your eyes nothing will !

From the L. A. Times

1. 40% of all workers in L. A. County ( L. A. County has 10.2 million people)are working for cash and not paying taxes. This is because they are predominantly illegal immigrants working without a green card.

2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.

3. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.

4. Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal , whose births were paid for by taxpayers.

5. Nearly 35% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally

6. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.

7. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the bo rder.

8. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.

9. 21 radio stations in L. A. are Spanish speaking.

10. In L. A. County 5.1 million people speak English, 3.9 million speak Spanish. (There are 10.2 million people in L. A. County. )
(All 10 of the above are from the Los Angeles Times)

Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops, but 29% are on welfare. Over 70% of the United States' annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida , and New York) results from immigration. 29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens.

We are a bunch of fools for letting this continue...

File under: The more things change. [Find this and more at Radarsite here]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday Hero

This Post Was Suggested By Mark Bell

Capt. Ed W. Freeman
Capt. Ed W. Freeman
November 20, 1927 - August 20, 2008
U.S. Army

For The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, for numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on 14 November 1965 while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), action against enemy aggressor forces at LZ X-Ray, Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam, on 14 November 1965 As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. The infantry unit was almost out of ammunition after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force. When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone due to intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his own life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water, and medical supplies to the besieged battalion. His flights had a direct impact on the battle's outcome by providing the engaged units with timely supplies of ammunition critical to their survival, without which they would almost surely have experienced a much greater loss of life. After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area due to intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing life-saving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers -- some of whom would not have survived had he not acted. All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements. Captain Freeman's selfless acts of great valor, extraordinary perseverance, and intrepidity were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers. Captain Freeman's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

In 2002, Capt. Ed "Too Tall" Freeman was portrayed by actor Mark McCraken in the movie "We Were Soldiers". Capt. Freeman passed away in 2008 due to complications of Parkinson's.

Here is a great article on Capt. Freeman and his award ceremony.

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.
Wednesday Hero Logo

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

From the Front: 04/27/2010

In today's From the Front: (Click on link to read stories highlighted below) This post is courtesy of The Thunder Run.

Red Bull Rising: Places, Please
270 Days in Afghanistan: Afghanistan Interrupted
al Sahwa: Exploiting the Rift in Taliban Leadership
Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: U.N. shuts Kandahar mission
Bilal Baloch: What's in a name?
Army Blogger Wife: Deployment Question #14--Packing
IraqPundit: Iran's Influence
Family Matters Blog: Reserve Family Programs Receive Recognition
Bill Roggio: Taliban shadow governor killed in Kunduz: Report
Knights of Afghanistan: Friendly Fire?
Loving A Soldier Blog: Celebrate Memorial Day with Children
Manatee's Military Moms: I'm heading to Afghanistan!
The Unknown Soldiers: Justice for Navy SEALs
The Unknown Soldiers: 'A hard charger'
Wings Over Iraq: What's in a Name?
The Kitchen Dispatch: Restrepo: One Platoon, One Year, One Valley. An Interview with the Filmmakers
The Captain's Journal: Counterinsurgency and Water Polo
Greyhawk: War Stories
Bill T: TINS! Taxi Driver...

News from the Home Front:
We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint
Different state, same drill: the 116th Cav is bound for Iraq
Bonds forged under fire
The Afghanistan war, through the eyes of a soldier's wife
Obama Renews Vow Of "New Beginning" With Muslims
DOD Announces Replacement Unit for Iraq Rotation

News from the Front:
Gulf War battle reignites as Kuwait tries to freeze Iraqi Airways assets
Odierno Notes Progress of Iraqi Forces
U.S. ambassador says Iraq must act faster in establishing a new government
Election Ruling in Iraq Favors Prime Minister

Pakistanis Living on Brink, and Often in the Dark
Officials: US Drone Strike Kills 5 Militants in NW Pakistan
Afghan crunch time: Obama must decide whether to talk to the Taliban
Taliban Commander, Advisers Killed in NATO Air Strike in Afghanistan
Air Strike in Afghanistan Kills Senior Insurgents
Karzai's Brother Says UN Should Not Leave South
U.N. Shuts Mission In Afghanistan's Kandahar
U.N. pulls foreign workers out of Afghan city of Kandahar
U.S. training Afghan villagers to fight the Taliban
Government, PRT Work on Development Projects in Pusht Rod
IJC Operational Update, April 27
Afghan Civilians, Government Join Forces to Defeat and Remove Taliban
Pak forces kill six key Taliban commanders in Swat
Afghan Peace Talks Await A Karzai-Obama Confab
Despite mounting death toll, Afghan war barely an issue
Afghanistan: 2 U.S. Soldiers Killed During Search
Three Afghan kids killed in donkey-drawn cart bombing
NGOs urged to help quake victims
RCMP to train police
Three explosions hit Kandahar, two dead
Marines Stabilize Afghan Town Of Marjah
In their own words, Black Watch troops tell of Afghanistan tour

The Thunder Run's From the Front is a daily series that highlights news and personal dispatched from the front and the home front.

Mark your calendar: 'Draw Mohammed Day’

From Family Security Matters:

April 27, 2010

Exclusive: ‘Draw Mohammed Day’ – A Gratuitous Offense or a Legitimate Stand on Freedom of Speech?

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creative team behind the Comedy Central cartoon South Park, were recently “warned” that their lives could be in danger should they continue to poke fun at the Prophet Mohammed, founder of Islam:

We have to warn Matt [Stone] and Trey [Parker] that what they are doing is stupid. They will probably end up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.

Of course, didn’t intend to threaten the pair, but merely let them know about the “reality” of the situation.


Despite claims that they did not seek to invite violence against Stone and Parker, the site also reportedly revealed where the "South Park" creators work, and included a sermon calling for punishments for blasphemy against the Muslim religion.

Er, right.

To read the rest, and find out what day to 'draw Mohammed,' go to FSM here.

Even Eagles Need a Push

H/T Deb K.

Clever crows

Clever New Caledonian crows can use three tools

By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News

New Caledonian crows have given scientists yet another display of their tool-using prowess.

Scientists from New Zealand's University of Auckland have found that the birds are able to use three tools in succession to reach some food.

The crows, which use tools in the wild, have also shown other problem-solving behaviour, but this find suggests they are more innovative than was thought.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The team headed to the South Pacific island of New Caledonia, the home of Corvus moneduloides.

Finding that the crows could solve the problem... was incredibly surprising
Alex Taylor

They are the only birds known to craft and use tools in the wild.

The discovery that they whittle branches into hooks and tear leaves into barbed probes to extract food from hard-to-reach nooks astounded scientists, who had previously thought that ability to fashion tools was unique to primates.

And further research in the laboratory and the field has revealed that New Caledonian crows are also innovative problem solvers, often rivalling primates. Experiments have shown that the birds can craft new tools out of unfamiliar materials, as well as use a number of tools in succession.

Inforgraphic showing tool-use set up
1. String is attached to perch
2. Short stick attached to string
3. Long stick out-of-reach behind bars - can be reached with short stick
4. Out-of-reach scrap of meat - can be reached by long stick

There is more here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax is a HERO

Mr Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax is being described as a "homeless" man who bled to death on a New York street as dozens walked by without stopping to help him.

I had not heard of Mr Tale-Yax until today but, according to news reports, there is a woman in New York who owes her life to him, even as she also had no idea who this hero is.

On April 18, an armed mugger attacked a so far nameless woman. Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax stepped in, and lost his life saving this stranger. The woman whose life Mr Tale-Yax saved, has not been seen since. Nobody seems to know who she is. Police investigating this senseless death have issued a description of both the killer, and the woman whose is alive today, thanks to Mr Tale-Yax:

Police have been searching for the suspect described as 5'6", medium build, who was last seen wearing a green short sleeved shirt and dark pants with a green hat. Cops say he fled the scene armed with a knife.

Investigators are also looking for the female victim who is described as 5'3", thin build, wearing a 3/4 length jacket and a skirt.

Anyone with information about this homicide is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS. The public may also submit tips to the website or text tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577. (source)

Many aspects of this story are so WRONG! I don't care how many psychologists pontificate on the 'reasons' why 25 people walked by this tragedy, without stopping to help Mr Tale-Yax. To my mind, not one of those 'reasons' is worth a spit.

I suppose some Americans will read this story, watch the shocking video, and smugly say something along the lines of 'Oh, that's just New York. Would never happen here.'

Newsflash: This type of behaviour happens EVERYWHERE in Anytown, USA and beyond. Yes, not only is it a jungle out there, but apparently ignorant cowards are also prevalent on street corners other than just at 88 Road and 144th Street.

Apparently, at least one witness to the needless death of Mr Tale-Yax stopped to take a picture on his cell phone. Another passerby stopped long enough to peer into the dying hero's face before he - too - walked on without helping.

WTH is wrong with us? Have we really lost so much of our individual humanity that we can ignore another's suffering, even when it is right in front of us?

I thank God that Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax had enough humanity to step up and save this woman's life. And, where is that woman now? She 'fled the scene.' I don't care who she is, she OWES this hero her life, and should have the decency to come forward and help the police identify this scum.

There is SO much wrong with this story, that I have trouble being articulate. (Have you noticed?) I have no tolerance for any excuses for how anyone responded - or didn't - in this outrageous murder.

Nothing anyone can say or do will bring Mr Tale-Yax back. I would like to think, however, that all those people who walked past him as he lay dying will come forward and assist the police.

These people proved they can't be counted on to do the right thing for altruistic reasons, so I offer one compelling reason why they should do everything they can to identify this murderer who still walks among them. The original victim - who Mr Tale-Yax saved - may have been a stranger to us all. Her rescuer, - the ONLY hero in this terrible event - Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax,
was also a stranger to most of us prior to his death.

Let's suppose for just an instant that all involved in this tragedy were not strangers to you. Let's imagine that the woman, and her hero rescuer, are people you know and love. Would you still just keep on walking by, refusing to get involved?

Fact is, I expect Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax IS loved by someone, just as the young woman who fled the scene is known and loved.

Mr Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax paid the ultimate price for helping a stranger. I have deliberately repeated his name throughout this piece. To me, this man's name is synonymous with hero. We all would do well to learn something from his unselfish actions, and remember his name:
Mr Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax.

Rest in Peace, Sir.

From the Front: 04/26/2010

In today's From the Front: (Click on link to read stories highlighted below) This post is courtesy of The Thunder Run


A Little Pink in a World of Camo: At A Loss
A Little Pink in a World of Camo: Hello, I'm in Delaware
A Major's Perspective: A Good Day
Bouhammer: Why we do it
Afghanistan My Last Tour: (VIDEO) Coming home
Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: 3 explosions strike Kandahar
al Shawa: Lethal Targeting in Iraq; Success on an Unprecedented Scale
Army Blogger Wife: Deployment Question #13--What do you eat?
Army Live: A Little Piece of Home
Bones: Enough
David Bellavia: Marine’s Murder Conviction Overturned
Free Range International: Security For Me But Not For Thee
Bruce R: Disavowed AND promoted
Knights of Afghanistan: Beer, Booze and Bribery
The Gun Line MkIII: ANZAC Day
TankerBabe: Help Us Raise Money for a Great Cause by Purchasing 173rd Airborne Throws
Hellcat Betty: Home At Last
Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: Nad-e Ali hosts “Super-Shura”
Insight of the Moment: May I be humbled
IraqPundit: What To Do Next?
Kudzu's Wandering Through the Vines: Deployments. Flaming Cars… Home
Bill Roggio: US strike kills 8 Taliban in North Waziristan
One Marine's View: One dog, One Marine, One mission
Rajiv Srinivasan: The Bus Stop How to Write About Afghanistan
LTC Rich Phillips: Photos
Sketchpad Warrior: Sharing the Courage
Joan D'Arc: If you have ever lived OCONUS (outside the continental US), I could use your input...
Michael Yon: Battle for Kandahar
Terry Galvin: How The Media Spins Afghanistan
Zach Rosenberg: The Aeromedical Evacuation Shuffle
Wings Over Iraq: Do Aviators Get COIN--A Resounding "Yes"
White Rose Adventures: PGR Mission for KIA SPC Anthony Blount
The Captain's Journal: Counterinsurgency Zeal
Greyhawk: Bad news from Afghanistan
Kings of War: Apaches, Lies and Videotape
Burn Pit: What separates us from them…

News from the Home Front:
Feeling Warehoused in Army Trauma Care Units
It’s the Military, Undergraduate
Some 500 pay tribute to Pierce County soldier, 21, killed by bomb blast in Afghanistan
Charlie Company welcomed home at demobilization ceremony
Navy Names Amphibious Ship for Congressman John Murtha

News from the Front:
Louisiana's Tiger Brigade resumes role in Iraq's history
US soldier apologises for attack on Iraq families
Iraq Panel Wipes Out Votes, Result In Doubt -
Iraq's Sadr clarifies stance on militia's use
Iraqi Cleric Calls on Followers to Defend Against Attacks -
Qaeda Confirms Deaths Of Leaders In Iraq: Statement
Iraqi Insurgent Group Acknowledges Killing of Two Leaders

UN Curtails Operations in Kandahar After 3 Bombs
Afghan Schoolgirls Fall Ill In Suspected Gas Attack
80 Afghan Schoolgirls Fall Ill; Poison Feared
Indo-Pakistan Proxy War Heats Up in Afghanistan
Afghans burn NATO trucks in response to killing of 3 civilians
Fuel Trucks Attacked in Afghanistan
NATO: Joint Force Captures Taliban Sub-Commander in Afghanistan
Elite U.S. Units Step Up Effort in Afghan City Before Attack

The Thunder Run'sFrom the Front is a daily series that highlights news and personal dispatched from the front and the home front.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Upper Big Branch Mine Memorial: Bless them all

The American flag and the Massey Energy Co. flags are seen at half staff, Friday, April 9, 2010, in Rock Creek, W.Va. The flags were lowered for those killed in an explosion at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin wears a ribbon on his shirt pocket to honor coal miners who were involved in the explosion at the Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W. Va. on Friday, April 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

Today there is a memorial service being held to honour all the miners who lost their lives in the recent mine explosion in West Virginia.

The Patriot Guard Riders will not be there, in what has to be a first in the history of the PGR. As most people know, the PGR stands for our fallen, as a show of respect. Yes, the PGR always attends when requested by the families of the fallen, and yes, they were invited by some of the mining families for whom today's service will a sombre homage to their loved ones:

Patriot Guard Riders Won't Be at Miners' Memorial

The Patriot Guard Riders are known for helping to lead funeral processions and standing in silent honor with their American Flags. But they won't be at this weekends Upper Big Branch Mine Memorial.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Patriot Guard Riders are known for helping to lead funeral processions, and standing in silent honor with their American Flags. But they won't be at this weekends Upper Big Branch Mine Memorial.

The ride captain, Pat Hanifin, says he sat down with someone from Gov. Joe Manchin's office. During that discussion, he learned that --because of overwhelming security concerns with high-ranking federal officials -- it was just not logistically possible for them to be a part of the event.

Hanifin says it was tough to hear because some family members of fallen miners had asked for them to be there.

"It is a great disappointment that we are not able to do what we were requested to do," he said. "However, I felt no sense whatsoever either from the Governor's office, or any indication that it would be a problem for the Secret Service, that we were going to be there. It was just the fact that they were challenged with security issues that would not allow us to participate."

Hanifin says they also tried to attend by showing support alongside the road but -- because families were taking a different route and would not see them -- the major effort did not seem practical.

Several members, including Hanifin, say they are truly sad that they won't be at there. But they want the miners' families to know they continue to be in their thoughts and prayers.(here) [And yes, emphasis mine]..

Apparently President Obama will be there, along with VP Biden and who all knows how many other 'dignitaries' and 'important people.' I also read somewhere that a certain 'church' group has plans to attend and share their views. Maybe secret service can show them the error of their ways? Just a thought.

It would be really easy for me to focus on the political in this tragedy, but I'll leave that to the professional politicians. This is neither the time nor the place, in my humble opinion.

The focus for me today is the miners and their families. These men and their loved ones are in my thoughts and prayers today:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Following are the names and ages of the 29 miners killed in last week's Upper Big Branch Mine explosion, according to the state Medical Examiner's Office, which released the identities Thursday:

| Carl Acord, 52

Carl Acord shared a big Easter dinner with family on Sunday and doted on his infant grandsons, 9-month-old Chase and 3-month-old Cameron, said his sister Sherry Cline.

"He was looking forward to riding them around on the tractor this summer," Cline said. "He kept talking about that at Easter dinner."

Acord also enjoyed fishing with his two sons, 24-year-old Cody and 19-year-old Casey.

Even though he was about 6 feet tall, everyone called Acord "Pee Wee" -- which he hated.

"That was his nickname since he was a little tyke. It just stuck," Cline said.

Acord, 52, had worked in mines for 34 years and liked the work, Cline said. But he told his family on Sunday that he was concerned about the mine's roof and worried about going to work Monday.

Miner Carl "PeeWee" Acord of Bolt, WV is seen in an undated photo provided by the Acord family holding his grand nephew Rylan Wilson, left, of Henderson NC and his grandson Chase Acord. Carl Acord is one of the miners killed in Monday's Upper Big Branch mine explosion. (AP Photo/The Acord family) [here]

| Jason Atkins, 25

Jason Atkins was born and raised in Boone County, near the coal mine where he lost his life, said his father-in-law, Rick Withers. The 25-year-old miner and his wife, Amanda, 28, met when they were students at West Virginia Tech and got married in 2008, Withers said. Amanda Atkins could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Withers said he was not sure when Atkins began working at the mine.

"He was an hourly guy," Withers said.

Atkins played second base on his high school and college baseball teams but left West Virginia Tech without graduating, Withers said. He enjoyed golfing.

| Christopher Bell, 33

Christopher Lee Bell Sr., 33, of Crab Orchard, spent most of his time outside of work with his wife, Angela, and four children, Alexis, Meadow, Christopher Jr. and Skylar.

According to his obituary, his hobbies included art and detailing vehicles.

| Gregory Steven Brock, 47

Gregory Steven Brock, 47, of Clear Creek, juggled life in the mines with being involved in his children's activities. He often picked up his 12-year-old son for baseball and basketball games and brought him to a nearby store for soda and pizza, said store operator Glen Duncan.

Brock also has a daughter, two grandchildren, two sisters and two brothers.

"He's just a good, hard-working man and a good daddy," Duncan said.

According to his obituary, Brock had been an electrician at the mine for 10 years. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, NASCAR and spending time on his farm where he grew vegetables and flowers every year. (Washington Examiner: here)

| Kenneth Allan Chapman, 53

Kenny Chapman was a roof bolter in the mines. His second job, it seemed, was making others laugh.

He'd have stories to tell about his hunting and four-wheeling excursions or his fishing trips to Indian Mills, Plum Orchard Lake or Burnsville Lake.

The 53-year-old Fairdale resident's specialty was practical jokes.

"He always would be like he couldn't hear you and he would come up and (grab) people or tell jokes that would always get a laugh," said a nephew, Mike Chapman. "He was somebody that always had a good time."

Chapman has a 13-year-old son, Mikey, with his wife, and three children from a previous marriage.

"He was really close with his family and his brothers," Mike Chapman said.

| Robert Clark, 41

Just a few months ago, Robert E. Clark, 41, came forward and committed himself as a born-again Christian at the Beckley Church of God, his pastor said.

The decision in January offered a degree of solace Wednesday to Clark's churchgoing friends. He leaves behind his wife, Melissa, and a young son.

"It really is a big relief to know that all is well with his soul, that he can go to heaven," said the Rev. F.D. Sexton, who has spoken with Clark's family since the explosion at the mine. On Wednesday, Sexton said he remembered Clark's big smile as the miner left an Easter service at the church.

"Everything was still good with him as far as his soul was concerned," Sexton said.

Raleigh County Commissioner John Humphrey, who knew Clark from church, said he believed the miner had been working in the coal industry for several years.

"When he wasn't working, you'd see him at the church with the family and his in-laws," Humphrey said.

| Charles Timothy Davis, 51

Timmy Davis Sr. loved coal mining -- and when he wasn't doing that, he was out hunting and fishing.

"My dad was the best hunter and fisher you've ever seen. The biggest buck or bear would come to him so he could shoot them," said Timmy Davis Jr. "He's got five or six in here. He's killed a lot of big deer."

Davis Jr. said his uncle Tommy Davis and brother Cody Davis also were at the mine at the time and survived the blast.

Cody Davis and his father were best friends, Davis Jr. said. Cody Davis was on his way in at the time of the blast, said Davis Jr., who works as a coal truck driver.

"He loved to work underground," the younger Davis said of his father, who was from Cabin Creek, W.Va. "He loved that place."

| Cory Davis, 20

Cory Davis played baseball in high school and followed his family into the mines.

The 20-year-old from Dawes, W.Va., worked with his father, Tommy Davis, and cousin Timmy Davis Jr. at a surface mine, but all three were laid off in the past two years. And all three ended up at Massey.

Cory Davis loved the outdoors and would often spend his weekends at a family camp on a mountaintop.

"We'd just run around, build a fire, ride four-wheelers," Timmy Davis Jr. said. "Our life was kind of boring. We're kind of hill folks. We stay up on the mountain."

| Michael Lee Elswick, 56

Coal miners were the 'rock' of their families

Associated Press
04/17/10 11:35 AM EDT

| William I. Griffith, 54

William "Bob" Griffith came from a family of miners, went into the mines as a young man with his father and worked there like his brothers.

"He learned from the best," said Griffith's brother, Mike, who explained how the trade was a family tradition.

William Griffith lived in Glen Rogers with his wife, Marlene, and raised a son and daughter, said James Griffith, another of the late miner's brothers. When he wasn't working, Griffith and his wife were fixing up their 1967 Camaro.

His nephew, Jason Griffith, remembered his uncle's smile.

He was "always laughing, carrying on, joking," Jason said.

| Steven Harrah, 40

Steve Harrah -- known to his co-workers as "Smiley" -- was "always thoughtful and would give you a hand," his father-in-law said.

The 40-year-old enjoyed hunting deer in Pocahontas County, said father-in-law Jack Bowden Jr., who also is director of the Raleigh County Emergency Operating Center. Harrah lived in Cool Ridge, W.Va., with his kindergarten-age son, Zach, and wife of 10 years, Tammy.

His sister, Betty Harrah, said other workers thought of her brother as a good boss.

"He wouldn't ask them to do anything he wouldn't get down in there and do," she said.

"They went to the same high school, and they just knew each other and started dating," said Bowden, who choked up as he spoke. "It's pretty rough."

Harrah was leaving the mine when the explosion happened. The mining company told the family that Harrah was killed instantly, Bowden said.

| Edward Dean Jones, 50

Miners had one last dinner with families

By JOHN RABY | Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 2:41 pm

For the West Virginia miners killed in last week's explosion, Easter dinner was the final time they would spend with relatives.

For Dean Jones, it wasn't his last taste of his mother-in-law's cooking.

Alice Peters said Jones loved deviled eggs in particular, and she fixed a tray of them on April 4. But she forgot to put the eggs on the dinner table. So after dinner she summoned Jones' 13-year-old son, Kyle, to go to the front porch to let his dad know that the eggs were available.

"He said he would take them home with him," Peters said....[...]

After Dean and Gina Jones were married about 16 years ago, he promised Peters he'd take swimming lessons if she would join him.

"Dean didn't know how to swim," said Peters, who had taken lessons with her two daughters when they were growing up.

Having the opportunity to learn how to swim "tickled him to death," Peters said.

After that, the family would put those lessons to use on annual vacations to Daytona Beach, Fla., she said...( Billings Gazette here)
| Richard K. Lane, 45

..."He had a heart of gold," said Schoolcraft, whose husband was best friends with him for more than two decades. "He gave us so much."...

| William Roosevelt Lynch, 59

William Roosevelt Lynch wore many hats, including that of a coal miner.

Over his career, the 59-year-old who went by Roosevelt was a teacher, coached three sports and was about to welcome his fourth grandchild into the world. He also worked in the mines for more than 30 years.

Lynch was among the dead, said his brother, Melvin Lynch of Mount Hope, who also was in the mine at the time.

Roosevelt Lynch was a longtime Oak Hill resident who coached basketball, football and track and taught on the high school and middle school levels.

"A lot of people around town called him coach," Melvin Lynch said. "He would substitute teach, then coach and then work in the mines. He used to have that rigorous schedule."

Oak Hill High basketball coach Fred Ferri said Roosevelt Lynch also competed in a summer basketball league in Beckley.

"He was in excellent condition," Ferri said. "He played last summer. He's out there running with kids. Roosevelt was a heck of an athlete."

| Nicholas Darrell McCroskey, 26

Nick McCroskey was a bundle of energy and devoted sports fan, said longtime friend Shanda Staton.

The 26-year-old Beckley resident "was full of life," Staton said. "I mean, he loved life."

McCroskey graduated from Bluefield State College in 2006 with an engineering degree and loved a variety of sports.

He regularly attended NASCAR events at Bristol Motor Speedway in Virginia also loved to go four-wheeling and dirt bike riding. He was a fan of baseball, water skiing, hunting and fishing and owned a motorcycle, Staton said.

"He was loyal," said Staton, who attended college with McCroskey. "He was sweet and helpful and underneath it all, he was kind hearted."

| Joe Marcum, 57

In addition to being a coal miner for more than 35 years, Joe Marcum of Laurel Creek was a charter member of the Lenore Volunteer Fire Department since 1982. The Democrat known as "Joe Bug" also was a mainstay in Mingo County politics.

Halcy Hatfield of Elk Creek, a longtime friend and former member of the Mingo County commission, said the 57-year-old Marcum owned a trailer near the mine site and sometimes stayed there instead of making the hour-plus drive home.

"He was a tough man. Hard worker," Hatfield said. "He's going to be badly missed by the whole community. A lot of people looked up to him and depended on him and he always came through."

Washington Examiner: here)

| Ronald Lee Maynor, 31

Ronald Lee Maynor of Clear Creek enjoyed hunting year-round. A photo of him hangs above an ice cream freezer at a local convenience store that doubles as a game-checking station. The photo shows him wearing camouflage and holding the head of a freshly shot deer.

According to his obituary, the 31-year-old Maynor helped his daughter, Kaitlyn, kill her first squirrel last year and took her fishing. He also enjoyed tossing a football and wrestling with his son, Hunter, and took him for rides on his all-terrain vehicle.

Maynor and his wife, Helen, were married 11 years.

| James E. Mooney, 50

James "Eddie" Mooney, 51, of Ashford, came from a sprawling family with six brothers and sisters. He and his wife, Sheila, were married for 33 years and have a daughter and son.

According to his obituary, Mooney loved to take his 1978 Corvette for a cruise on the weekends. He was an avid hunter and fisherman and loved to go camping and off-road riding.

(Washington Examiner)

| Adam Keith Morgan, 21

Adam Morgan wore No. 24 on Wyoming East High School's football team in his senior year in 2006 when the Warriors made the state Class AA playoffs.

More than his athletic abilities, Principal Barry Smith recalled Morgan for his manners.

"As a principal you don't remember everyone, but you do remember kids who are nice and students who are polite, and that's what I remember about him," Smith said. "Very cordial and just kind of quiet."

Wyoming East held a moment of silence Monday for Morgan, 21, of Pineville, and three other victims of the disaster — 2001 graduate Nick McCroskey and two miners whose relatives worked at the school.

| Rex L. Mullins, 50

"He really loved West Virginia," said Mullins' brother, Clay Mullins of Pax. "He always had football jerseys and basketball jerseys."

Mullins said his 50-year-old brother regularly attended Mountaineer football games in Morgantown and basketball games during annual trips to Charleston.

| Joshua S. Napper, 25

Josh Napper was a hulking man with a simple claim to fame: He could bench press more than 500 pounds.

"If there was any way he could, he could have moved half that mountain," said Napper's cousin, Timmy Davis Jr. "That's about all he did was lift weights."

The 25-year-old Napper came to work in the coal mines just two months ago after working in the health care industry in his hometown of Rutland, Ohio, Davis said.

"He made decent money in Ohio," Davis said. "He just knew it was more money underground. He came here for the money."

Napper lived in Giles, W.Va., with his grandparents and spent his days off with his infant daughter, Davis said.

| Howard D. Payne, 53

Howard "Boone" Payne was a "gentle giant" in his early 50s with flaming red hair and broad shoulders.

An undated family photo shows Howard
Family Photo / AP
Howard "Boone" Payne

"He would go out of his way to help someone," said his brother-in-law, Terry Wright of Roanoke, Va. "He loved to have fun. He was quiet and loved his family."

Payne began working as a coal miner shortly after graduating high school in 1977. He had worked for Massey Energy for eight to 10 years. Massey told Payne's wife, Debra, about his death at 2 a.m. Tuesday, Wright said.

Wright said Payne never expressed any fears about his profession. As a former coal miner, himself, Wright understands why.

"You know any mistake may be the last day of your life. You know any day you work may be your last. But you just can't think about that. You can't stay in mining and think about that."

| Dillard Earl Persinger, 32

His life outside of work was devoted to his wife, Heidi, and two sons, 2-year-old James and 8-year-old Devin.

"He loved his family," said Janet Reed, one of Persinger's two sisters. "It was his life. It's what he did on his days off. They'd go up and visit (relatives). He'd take them out to eat."

Persinger was a country music fan who especially loved listening to Hank Williams Jr. and George Jones.


"He made you laugh no matter what," Reed said.

| Joel R. Price, 55

Joel R. "Jody" Price, 55, of Beckley was the second youngest of 14 children...


"What he was most known for was his smile," [...]"He was a very compassionate individual who was always willing to help anybody else. He was a family man who cared for his children."

| Deward Scott, 58

Deward Scott met his wife, Crissie, when she was his karate student. The pair loved to go hunting together -- Deward Scott taught her to bow hunt when they first met nearly 20 years ago, she said.

They've been together ever since, usually enjoying the outdoors while hiking, hunting, fishing or gardening. The 58-year-old Montcoal resident had been a miner for 21 years and loved his job. He also was kind and outgoing, Crissie Scott said.

"He was a Christian man who loved to help people," Crissie Scott said, her voice choking. "He's one of those people that once you met him, you wouldn't forget him."

| Gary Quarles, 33

Gary Quarles' life was consumed by his wife and two children.

An undated family photo shows Gary Quarles who died in the  explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Coal Mine in West  Virginia.
Family Photo / AP
Gary Quarles

The 33-year-old from Naoma, W.Va., took trips every summer to Myrtle Beach, S.C., with the kids, ages 9 and 11, as well as his wife. The family often went fishing along the New River there.

"He liked to hunt and spend time with his kids," Janice Quarles said. "That was about it. That's all he did."

He liked to hunt everything from raccoons and deer to wild boar, and he had wanted to stay home from work Monday because his children were still on Easter break, she said.

Janice Quarles said her husband was a quiet, laid-back man nicknamed "Spanky." She was told of his death by a Massey official.

Gary Quarles started coal mining when he was 18. He was among those finishing a 10.5-hour shift when the explosion happened, his wife said.

| Grover Dale Skeens, 57

Grover Skeens found religion later in life and was involved in that extensively, said his brother, Gary Skeens of Dunbar.

Grover Skeens, 57, of Montcoal, was one of five siblings ...[...]

Skeens joined the Marines after the Vietnam War before becoming a coal miner like his brother Gary.

"Mostly, his passion was work," Massey said. "He started out in the coal mines at an early age. He's been working there for almost 30 years."

About 15 years ago Skeens was baptized and has had a strong church involvement ever since.

| Benny Willingham, 61

An undated family photo shows Benny Willingham who died in the  explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Coal Mine in West  Virginia.
Benny Willingham, right, with family
For Benny Willingham, retirement was just five weeks away.

The 61-year-old from Corinne, W.Va., had been a coal miner for 30 years and spent the last 17 working for Massey, said his sister-in-law, Sheila Prillaman. Willingham and his wife were supposed to go on a cruise next month to the Virgin Islands.

"Benny was the type -- he probably wouldn't have stayed retired long," Prillaman said. "He wasn't much of a homebody."
| Ricky Workman, 50

Ricky Workman had an affection for wheels.

... The 50-year-old Colcord resident loved his Harley-Davidson and in the summer drove miniature race cars, ...[...] He and his wife, Annette, have three daughters and seven grandchildren.

Music and Me

Home...hard to know what it is if you never had one
Home...I can't say where it is but I know I'm going home
That's where the heart is

I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on...

[Songs with]

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Economics 101? Don't bank on it

...That's why, when this crisis began, crucial decisions about what would happen to some of the world's biggest companies -- companies employing tens of thousands of people and holding hundreds of billions of dollars in assets -- had to take place in hurried discussions in the middle of the night. That's why, to save the entire economy from an even worse catastrophe, we had to deploy taxpayer dollars. And although much of that money has now been paid back - and my administration has proposed a fee to be paid by large financial firms to recover the rest -- the American people should never have been put in that position in the first place. ...

BHO on Wall Street yesterday. Read the rest here. Oh, and BOHICA! The emphasis above is mine, to remind that most of BHO 'change and hope' has been shoved down Americans' throats under cover of darkness.

But never miiiiiind. Just as you all now own GM, you all also own a piece of the rock which is the banks.

Learn more about

us debt.

Better hang on to your hats, AND your wallets, America! Turn ON the lights!

File under: Guns don't kill people...etc

Things that make you go 'hmmm...':

Pentagon to Adopt Militarywide Gun Rules

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military will adopt a broad policy governing how privately owned guns can be carried or stored at military installations after the shooting deaths of 13 people last year at Fort Hood, Texas.

A disgruntled Army psychologist is charged in the deaths.

Maj. Nidal Hasan had little or no access to military firearms in his job but was able to buy two handguns and bring them onto the base.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered this week that a comprehensive new policy be developed to cover all branches of the military and its bases and offices. The standardized policy would replace or buttress a patchwork of regulations adopted by each service or individual military installation....

Read the rest (and be sure to check out the debate ongoing in the comments) here.