Sunday, July 31, 2011

Every Day Hero: WELCOME HOME!

Royal Navy frigates return to Portsmouth

A History and Honour news article

28 Jul 11

Sister ships HMS Iron Duke and HMS Richmond returned home to Portsmouth 28 July 2011, where they were met by cheering crowds of families and friends, having spent more than six months at sea.

Royal Navy frigates HMS Iron Duke and HMS Richmond sail in to Portsmouth on 28 July 2011
[Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Gary Weatherston, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]

HMS Iron Duke has spent almost seven months east of the Suez Canal, and finished her deployment supporting operations in Libya, where she used her firepower to destroy a gun battery outside the besieged town of Misurata. She also supported NATO aircraft by firing star shells into the sky, illuminating for them Gaddafi forces' rocket launchers, fuel dumps, ammo stores, artillery batteries and command and control centres.

Before her Libya tasking, HMS Iron Duke had covered nearly 38,000 nautical miles, visiting eight countries, and working directly with more than 250 vessels from countries across the world.

Iron Duke's primary role after leaving Portsmouth in January was on Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR – working with international navies to combat smuggling and human trafficking in support of counter-terrorism....

Go here and read the rest.


Music and Me

My latest favourite!

Shine your light down on me
Lift me up so I can see
Shine your light when you're gone

Give me the strength to carry on, carry on

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Last 2 days!!! Gabe #1 Hero Needs Your Vote

I have written about Gabe many times, both whilst he was deployed in Iraq, and since he has been retired with partner/dad Chuck. Go here, here, or here. Gabe is in the running for a Hero Dog Award. Yes, those of us who have followed him have always considered him a hero, BUT if you go here, you can vote for prize money that will be put towards helping other retired military working dogs.

Gabe is listed under Military Dogs here. You do have to register your email address, but you will not get any spam mail, AND you can vote once a day until the end of July...

One of my all time favourite Gabe pictures!

Thank you!!!

Mars:Rock Layers in Gale Crater

Friday, July 29, 2011

Helmand Memorial Honours Fallen Gunners

Helmand memorial honours Royal Artillery fallen

The Royal Artillery memorial in Camp Bastion
[Picture: Flight Lieutenant Liz Price, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]

A History and Honour news article

28 Jul 11

A new memorial to the fallen gunners of the Royal Artillery was dedicated at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, last week.

On Monday, 18 July 2011, members of the Royal Artillery's 29 Commando Regiment gathered at Camp Bastion in Helmand province, to witness the dedication of the first memorial to the Royal Artillery's fallen gunners.

During the ceremony, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Smith, Commanding Officer of 29 Commando Regiment, read aloud the names of the seventeen Royal Artillery gunners who have lost their lives in Afghanistan; six of whom were from his own regiment.

"The battle groups had their own memorials, but there was never one place that collected together all the members of the Royal Artillery who have fallen during the campaign here, so it was right and proper to bring them together in a single place," said Lt Col Smith.

29 Commando Regiment currently heads Task Force Helmand's Joint Fires and Targeting Group. They say the greatest tribute to comrades who have died is an improving security situation....

Read much more here.

Rest In Peace.

I'm a (tacky) pisser!

I speak - and write - English, not American! I have ongoing discussions with American friends about the common language we share, with amusement on both sides of the divide at the idiosyncracies to be found in the American English and the British English as she is spoke..Honestly, some days I would swear - in my best accent, of course - that Brits and Americans speak totally different languages. It seems I am not the only non-American English speaker who has noticed this.

Then I find this on the BBC online:

Viewpoint: Why do some Americanisms irritate people?

US flag and Union Flag

British people are used to the stream of Americanisms entering the language. But some are worse than others, argues Matthew Engel.

I have had a lengthy career in journalism. I hope that's because editors have found me reliable. I have worked with many talented colleagues. Sometimes I get invited to parties and meet influential people. Overall, I've had a tremendous time.

Lengthy. Reliable. Talented. Influential. Tremendous.

All of these words we use without a second thought were not normally part of the English language until the establishment of the United States.

The Americans imported English wholesale, forged it to meet their own needs, then exported their own words back across the Atlantic to be incorporated in the way we speak over here. Those seemingly innocuous words caused fury at the time.

The poet Coleridge denounced "talented" as a barbarous word in 1832, though a few years later it was being used by William Gladstone. A letter-writer to the Times, in 1857, described "reliable" as vile....

There is more here. Apparently after that column appeared, the readers weighed in, and the results are hilarious (to my warped sense of humoUr, anyways.) Take a look:

Americanisms: 50 of your most noted examples

The Magazine's recent piece on Americanisms entering the language in the UK prompted thousands of you to e-mail examples.

Some are useful, while some seem truly unnecessary, argued Matthew Engel in the article. Here are 50 of the most e-mailed.

1. When people ask for something, I often hear: "Can I get a..." It infuriates me. It's not New York. It's not the 90s. You're not in Central Perk with the rest of the Friends. Really." Steve, Rossendale, Lancashire

2. The next time someone tells you something is the "least worst option", tell them that their most best option is learning grammar. Mike Ayres, Bodmin, Cornwall

3. The phrase I've watched seep into the language (especially with broadcasters) is "two-time" and "three-time". Have the words double, triple etc, been totally lost? Grammatically it makes no sense, and is even worse when spoken. My pulse rises every time I hear or see it. Which is not healthy as it's almost every day now. Argh! D Rochelle, Bath

4. Using 24/7 rather than "24 hours, 7 days a week" or even just plain "all day, every day". Simon Ball, Worcester

5. The one I can't stand is "deplane", meaning to disembark an aircraft, used in the phrase "you will be able to deplane momentarily". TykeIntheHague, Den Haag, Holland

6. To "wait on" instead of "wait for" when you're not a waiter - once read a friend's comment about being in a station waiting on a train. For him, the train had yet to arrive - I would have thought rather that it had got stuck at the station with the friend on board. T Balinski, Raglan, New Zealand

7. "It is what it is". Pity us. Michael Knapp, Chicago, US

8. Dare I even mention the fanny pack? Lisa, Red Deer, Canada

9. "Touch base" - it makes me cringe no end. Chris, UK...

As the title says, this is a list of 50, so go and read the rest here. While you are there, be sure to read an American's spiel in the right sidebar about the 'shifting nature' of language. All edumacational.

The headline of this post really does describe me, apparently. I recently was told "You're a real pisser!" (The 'tacky' was added on during a later conversation.) When I first heard that pisser comment, I was almost offended because where I come from, that would be considered rude and insulting. However, being me, I asked what the name-caller meant, since I couldn't imagine that this particular person had enough reason to be that rude to me..Turns out that being a pisser is a GOOD thing, if you are from New York, at least. And yes, when I was told I am tacky - by the same person, I might add - I proudly claimed that too, but corrected them with "You mean I am a tacky pisser!"

So it is: I may not speak with an American accent, but I AM a tacky pisser. 24/7. It is what it is.


From Rafairman's Blog : An RAF Airman's Blog(an MOD blog)

It’s Not Just What You Wear, It’s Why You Wear It…

The heat out here is something else. It’s hard to express how hot it gets. And how hot you get as an individual in it. When the ambient air temperature is greater than body temp…that’s wrong. It means that at times it’s physically impossible to get cool. I have seen people purposefully jump into an irrigation just to get some relief from the heat. It’s not advisable to do so…the smell alone can often put you off and you never know WHAT might be in there…remember we are in a countryside without sewers…

Most of the time though, we are NOT on a patrol. People in the PBs and CPs can relax and try and find a way of getting cool. People sit outside their tents in shorts. Some of the more enterprising ones have had paddling pools sent out from home which they fill up with water from the well. Most of the time you wear shorts and a tee-shirt.

The other day we had a visit from a General. And because Generals can’t see people in shorts for some reason, our relaxed dress of wearing the issued Multi-cam shorts and sandals with some sort of military tee-shirt was stiffened up to mean we had to wear trousers, socks and boots. Thankfully we could still wear our normal tee-shirts, but the difference in the comfort level when in long trousers to when in shorts is amazing.

Here’s a bit of a secret. It’s so hot that most people out here don’t bother with underwear when cutting around camp. It just gets hot and sweaty…But of course, once you go out of the gates on a patrol things change. Obviously you can’t bomb around Afghanistan in a pair of flip-flops and some beech shorts. As soon as you go out, you are fully dressed up in all the gear you need to keep you safe. All that kit has a dramatic effect on you in the heat and the level of effort you have to put in to move about. It raises the very serious risk of heat injuries. Whilst in the base you are safe to get your flesh out. You go out almost virtually covered. Helmet and body armour is the obvious. But then there are the gloves you need to wear. The eye-protection. Hearing protection. A big pair of boots. Bomb pants.

Whoa…Bomb Pants? What? I hear you ask. Well. ..

Yes, there's much more here.



NORFOLK (July 27, 2011) Damage Controlman 3rd Class Marc Cendejas holds his four-month-old son for the first time, along with his daughter, after returning from a deployment aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Mason deployed to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility and is the final ship of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group to return home to Naval Station Norfolk. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kayla Jo Guthrie/Released)


Canine Police team trained for drug, explosive interdiction

Written by Maj. William Mott, STT, 1st Bn., 12th Cav. Regt., 3rd AAB, 1st Cav. Div. Wednesday, July 20, 2011

BASRAH, Iraq - The police working dog program for the Iraqi police here in Basrah is expanding with assistance from Stability Transition Team Enforcer, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

The police have started to maximize the use of these highly trained and skilled canines. They currently have seven dogs trained for detecting explosives and drugs, and plan to add five more to the team.

“These dogs are extremely exceptional.” said Maj. Kevin Kreie, a military police officer with the STT who works with the canine team trainers. Kreie, witnessed their capabilities during a recent visit for an assessment of the canines and their handlers. He further explained that the dogs are able to respond not only to explosive materials that are present, but can alert the handler of an odor indicating a residue of a cache that was moved.

This canine team is another weapon against terrorism and explosive smuggling through the 55 checkpoints in Basrah. ..

Go read more, here.


IGFC photographers, videographers graduate Public Affairs Course Written by Spc. Paul Holston, USF-I Public Affairs Monday, July 25, 2011

Six photographers and videographers from Iraqi Ground Forces Command Public Affairs graduated from the United States Forces – Iraq Advanced Public Affairs Course July 23 at Camp Iraqi Hero.

The course, held from Jan. 15 to July 16, was a continuation of a basic public affairs course organized by the previous public affairs sections.

“The goal of the current USF-I Public Affairs Office was to take its counterparts’ accumulated training one step further, as well as to train the students to serve as trainers and instructors so that the training could continue after U.S. Forces redeploy from Iraq,” said Maj. Kristian Sorensen, director of the Advanced Public Affairs Course with USF-I and XVIII Airborne Corps Public Affairs Office.

“Seven months ago I was assigned a task to continue a mission in assisting the public affairs section of the IGFC with a training program,” said Sorensen addressing the students. “I understood that this was not the first time that you had American service members coming to your location to show you how we accomplish our public affairs mission.”

Not only were course requirements met by the students, but the six who attended the course were consistently asking for more training, hands-on experience as well as training materials. The USF-I Public Affairs Office decided to extend the course even further by adding three additional classes to meet their requests.

Graduates of the course demonstrated proficiency in advanced photography, advanced video production, video editing, camera maintenance, ethics in journalism, Photoshop skills, creating media advisories, preparing for an interview, conducting an interview, writing a feature story and writing photo captions...

Much more here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

HERRICK 14 - The Royal Marines

MWD Nero honored in memorial, remembered by Airmen

Nero, a 21st Security Forces Squadron military working dog passed away earlier this year and was honored in a memorial service on Peterson Air Force base July 21, 2011. Various 21st Space Wing members gathered together to remember Nero and his service, which spanned nearly a decade. Many Airmen on Peterson AFB remember Nero from around base for his long fur and lovable demeanor. Military working dogs are considered not just animals, but vital partners to their human comrades. The loss of a working dog is similar to the loss of any other member of the unit. (U.S. Air Force photo)

by Lea Johnson

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

7/25/2011 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Nero was born in October 1999. Through an academy at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Nero completed both a patrol school and explosive detector school, and arrived at Peterson Air Force Base ready for duty less than three years later.

Nero, a military working dog, was honored at a memorial service July 21 at the Peterson AFB auditorium.

On the stage was a display honoring the bond between Nero and his handlers.

"The leather leash and chain represent the everlasting bond between dog and handler," said Staff Sgt. Tony Carter, 21st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler and ceremony narrator. "The empty kennel where he once slept represents the life he gave to protect us, our brothers and sisters, and our freedom. The inverted bucket reminds us that Nero is no longer here to fulfill the need for food and water in a life that asked for no more in return than our companionship and our affection."

Maj. Ryan J. Millay, 21st SFS commander, remembered Nero as a loyal and constant companion to the squadron.

Nero was trained to detect commercial dynamite, tovex, TNT, syntax, smokeless powder, detonation cord, C-4, sodium and potassium chlorate. When he indicated the presence of these odors, he was rewarded with a toy called a Kong ball.

Nero conducted more than 4,200 explosive detector sweeps at Peterson AFB and along the Front Range, Millay said. He also deployed twice to support overseas contingencies operations.

"Without a doubt, Nero's contribution to base defense while deployed deterred terrorist efforts, fortified our installations, and ensured our success of our flying mission," Millay said...

Much more here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

NASA: Driving on the Moon

Driving on the Moon

Wednesday Hero

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael McEvers & Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew McEvers
Warrant Officer 4 Michael McEvers & Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew
U.S. Army

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael McEvers, left, of Troop F, 1st
Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment and his twin brother, Chief Warrant
Officer 3 Matthew McEvers of Troop D, 1st Sqdn., 17th Cav. Regt. Task
Force Saber, pre-celebrated their 40th birthday by flying together in
the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, the helicopter the brothers have been flying
for 10 years together.

Photo Courtesy U.S. Army Taken By
Abbie Bennett

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives just so
others may get to enjoy freedom. For that I am proud to call them
Those Who Say That We're In A Time When
There Are No Heroes, They Just Don't Know Where To Look

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, July 26, 2011

The Children Also Serve

From the DoD, a great article about the children of our military families:

Family Matters Blog: Explaining War to Our Children

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2011Guest blogger Stephanie Himel-Nelson is a social media consultant and the communications director for Blue Star Families.

By Stephanie Himel-Nelson
July 25, 2011

Explaining war to kids is always hard, but when you’re part of a military family, the task is even more difficult because it’s so personal. When my sons were little, their father was in the Navy Reserve as an intelligence officer with the Seabees, the Navy’s construction division. The boys understood what the military was in a very hazy “It must involve a ship, Daddy going away, and a large yellow bee” kind of way. But because their father wasn’t directly in harm’s way, I was able to gloss over hard questions about war and just concentrate on the fun parts of having a dad in the military from a toddler’s perspective — serving the country and wearing really cool hats.

When my brother, a soldier in the Ohio National Guard, went off to Kuwait three years ago, that explanation no longer seemed sufficient. While Uncle Bryan wasn’t hunting Taliban in Afghanistan, our family still worried about him and his safety. To keep the boys connected to their uncle, we checked his unit’s Web page with photos posted for family and friends, looking for that familiar face. On one night, my son asked to see a photo of an “Army truck” and I found him a few Humvee photos. On the back of each vehicle was a large placard with two stop signs and a message in Arabic and English. It read “DANGER STAY BACK.” My 3-year-old wanted to know why they had signs on the trucks. I tried the standard, “Well, cars and people could get hurt by that big Army truck if they get too close.” He wasn’t buying it, pointing out that tractors are bigger. So I said, perhaps rashly, “Sometimes bad people try to get too close to the trucks and blow them up.”

I’ll never forget the look on his face. The idea that someone might want to hurt his uncle was incomprehensible to him. I believe it was the first moment he realized that bad things don’t just happen in nightmares...

Much more - and a must read - here.

Portraits of Honour - The Faces

From ThankASoldier

The Faces - Written by Dan Gray
Video - Courtesy of the Canadian Heroes FB page
Music - Instrument version of My Hero by Foo Fighters

Mr Obama? Hello?

President Obama on July 25, 2011 - official White House transcript.

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure...Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.” Senator Barack Obama, March 16, 2006.

More here or here.

"Leadership failure"??????

And BHO in an April 2011 tv interview: "...that was just a example of a new Senator, you know, making what is a political vote as opposed to doing what was important for the country. And I'm the first one to acknowledge it..."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Parachuting In To Drive The Insurgency Out: Covering The Progress In Northern Helmand

July 25, 2011
by ukforcesafghanistan

Major Alastair Macartney is a Pashto speaker working hand-in-hand with the Afghan media.

A National level skydiver and Captain of The Royal British Legion’s Extreme Human Flight Team, Jump4Heroes, he has traded in his wings to work with Afghan Nationals to develop their independent media capability.


Major Macartney working with Afghan Media.

Picture: Sgt Alison Baskerville RLC/Crown copyright 2011

It started at 0700, stood at the front gate, waiting for the Afghan journalists to arrive. Flights were only confirmed at 2100 the night before and I had emailed the start time to Zahidi, the head of the Helmand Press Association and a journalist for Salam Watander Radio.

I had really wanted to talk to him but that wasn’t an option; the Taliban shut off the mobile phone towers at night. So I could only hope that the message had got through. It hadn’t.

At 0725 my phone started working again and, after some frantic calls, the journalists were speeding towards our camp and we boarded our Merlin helicopter just in time.


Major Macartney working with the Afghan media. Picture: Sgt Alison Baskerville RLC/ Crown Copyright 2011

My role is a Communications Officer providing media support and mentoring to the Afghans. I spent the last 15 months learning to speak Pashto before deploying to the Provincial capital of Helmand, Lashkar Gah.

Being able to speak the language is absolutely vital. My day to day role involves me speaking and liaising with local nationals and being able to do so in Pashto opens doors and really helps build and substantiate the important relationships that I have to create.

Unfortunately the Pashto that we were taught prior to deployment was very different to the local Helmandi language.

“It’s like being taught Shakespeare English and then being thrown into the thick of it in Newcastle. So the learning curve has been huge. But then the challenge keeps things exciting.”


Afghan media conducting interviews.

Picture: Sgt Alison Baskerville/Crown Copyright 2011

I was heading to Washir, a district in the north of the Helmand, with Zahidi and his colleagues Rahimi, a TOLO TV reporter, and Watanyer from Reuters.

The 1st Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 215 Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA) had recently conducted Op AFGHAN WARRIOR to clear the insurgents from the area and we were heading there to report on the development of the area. But we had little to compare it to- no journalist had been to Washir for a number of years.

We transferred from our Merlin and jumped on a US C130 to fly into Delaram- the home to 8 Regimental Combat Team from the US Marine Corps (USMC). The next morning we set off in a convoy of USMC MRAP vehicles with an ANA Route Clearance Company leading the way.

Having crossed back in to Helmand Province, the vigilant 1stSgt providing top cover in our vehicle noticed a suspected IED. It was off to the side and so we marked the position and reported it for further investigation and potential destruction.

We spent the next two and a half hours driving off-road. The heavily armoured vehicles provide reassurance but the suspension, bouncing across the bleak and hardened Afghan desert, struggles to cope.

“The result is a pretty traumatic experience strapped in the back of this randomly gyrating metal monster with 48 degree heat radiating down. Eventually we arrived at Washir Town, the capital of Washir Province, but not before Rahimi, the TOLO TV news reporter, had decorated the inside of his MRAP with vomit!”

Less than 20 days ago there was no ANA or coalition presence in Washir. They now have a small Patrol Base consisting of not much more than a secure perimeter and some tents.

Patrolling through the compound to the Governor’s office we remained vigilant; IEDs had been found within the compound on a number of occasions.

The journalists interviewed Governor Dawood Noorzai before he then accompanied us to the local bazaar, keen to illustrate that life goes on. Just 3 weeks previously the bazaar was completely deserted; a desolate collection of vacant ramshackle buildings.

But now it really highlighted district life. The insurgents had been driven from the area and it was here, talking to the local population, that we were able to really understand their desire to re-build their lives.

Despite lots of work still to be done there are clear signs that Op AFGHAN WARRIOR was a success. Now the security must be maintained, local forces must be mentored and development must begin.

(c) MoD

Sunday, July 24, 2011

NASA: The end of an era

The End of an Era
Thu, 21 Jul 2011 23:00:00 -0500

Workers measured and marked in bright red the letters "MLG" at the spot where space shuttle Atlantis' main landing gear came to rest after the vehicle's final return from space. Securing the space shuttle fleet's place in history on the STS-135 mission, Atlantis safely and successfully rounded out NASA's Space Shuttle Program on the Shuttle Landing Facility's Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Main gear touchdown was at 5:57:00 a.m. EDT, followed by nose gear touchdown at 5:57:20 a.m., and wheelstop at 5:57:54 a.m. On the 37th shuttle mission to the International Space Station, STS-135 delivered more than 9,400 pounds of spare parts, equipment and supplies in the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module that will sustain station operations for the next year. STS-135 was the 33rd and final flight for Atlantis, which has spent 307 days in space, orbited Earth 4,848 times and traveled 125,935,769 miles. F Image Credit: NASA/Kyle Herring

Every Day Hero

Award winning Gurkha back on the frontline in Helmand

July 23, 2011

by ukforcesafghanistan

A Gurkha soldier who received a Mention in Dispatches (MID) for bravely holding off an insurgent ambush on an Afghan National Police patrol two years ago, is now back in Helmand once again working alongside the ANP.

Cpl Tilak, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurka Rifles (2RGR). Picture: Crown copyright/MOD 2011

Corporal Tilak, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (2RGR) deployed to Afghanistan in the summer of 2009 for Operation HERRICK 10. As a member of the Police Mentoring Team, he fought alongside the Afghan patrolmen against insurgents in the Nad-e Ali district.

One May morning, Cpl Tilak’s team were moving along a canal in Chan Anjir when they were ambushed by 10 insurgents who emerged from a compound just 60 metres away.

Despite heavy incoming fire and accurate rounds pounding the patrol’s vehicles, Cpl Tilak held his nerve and position and returned fire with a General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG).

For 15 minutes, he fought off the insurgents, suppressing their fire and attempted attack until they eventually gave up and fled. His actions that day earned him a MID.

Cpl Tilak, 2 Battalion The Royal Gurka Rifles. Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

Two years later, Cpl Tilak is back in Helmand and working as part of the Police Advisory Team based near Babaji in the Nahr-e Saraj (NES) district which is just to the east of Chan Anjir.

When he arrived in theatre in April, the AUP quickly recognised the famous ‘Cpl Chan Anjir’ who had helped them at their time of need.

The name has stuck and whenever Cpl Tilak visits the Checkpoints which have been handed over to AUP control, there are cheers from those inside who welcome him in and start sharing stories....

Much more - with pictures - here

Thank you for your service, Sir.

Music and Me

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Peanut: Proof of the Power of Love

Remember Peanut?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Prayers for Peanut

Please pray to whichever God you believe in for precious Peanut. God knows the need.. (IsabellasAngels)

What a strange and wondrous journey it has been for Peanut and those who love her.

Today, the picture at the beginning of this post is our girl Peanut that comes with the latest update.:

Who could foretell that when a precious little angel came into our lives in January 2007, events would unfold that for the next 3 1/2 years would change our lives forever. It was a time where our strength, faith, courage, and commitment, were tested and challenged, causing us to change and grow in so many ways, while at the same time making us laugh and cry, and cause so many amazing and wonderful people, not just locally, but around the world to join together in unity, first to pray for a little girl on the brink of death to survive, then, to seek God's help in
returning her to us, fulfilling our hearts desire to come together in love as a
new family, giving this dear and very special little girl a loving home,
providing the love and support she needs.

At long last our journey to love, cherish, and make this precious child our daughter is finally over. The dust has settled, the battle won. We stand, healing from the wounds of battle, exhausted, yet victorious. With renewed faith, and the lessons learned in this journey, we humbly stand strong, with the love of God and with the love and support of many new and wonderful friends who joined us in this battle coursing through our veins, we heal. What we were told was impossible, has been made
reality! Thanks be to God, and to the many, many tears, prayers, and the
unconditional love and support of so many, and in so many ways, Antonia will now be our daughter, not just in our hearts and in God's heart, but now, in the eyes of the law, forever.

And who is this precious Peanut in the process of becoming? Some of Rob's update:

Our family continues to change and grow, as we adapt to Peanut's growth and advancements. And boy have there been a LOT !!! It's amazing to watch this little angel grow! She is 4 1/2 now, turns 5 the end of September...


She, like I said is in school, starts special ed kindergarten in a few weeks, and one of the many surprises she whoops on us is that she just loves going back & forth to school on the bus! Go figure! We were encouraged to let her ride the bus, and she goes ½ days, which means she gets picked up around 0730, and gets home roughly 1100-1130ish. I can't believe she likes riding on the bus. The driver & aide are wonderful, and play with the kids the whole time. Even going on the lift to get in the bus doesn't bother her, but gotta tell ya, dad was wired tight the first few times he watched her go on & off the bus!

She is growing like a weed. She is 4½, and wears sizes 6-8. She's a BIG girl. And is the most flexible kid I've ever seen! UC Davis Medical Center gave her botox injections in every joint when she was there a number of times and massaged every joint after the botox was injected to prevent her extremities curling up and growing rigid. And she can get in the darndest positions! She literally does flips in her crib! It's like her personal jungle gym, she just gets crazy in that thing!LOL

She is still wheelchair bound, but gets therapy at school, and after school, and these folks are amazing. She is working hard, but smiles almost 24hrs a day. Hardly ever cries, and loves to pull her legs up to her face and around her head! Gumby baby! She still rolls around on the floor, not crawling yet, but I think things just need to wire up topside and then we'll be running to catch her!

She is jabbering up a storm. No words, but seems like she wants to talk. Therapists are going to work on trying to develop a sign language with her so she can communicate with others while they continue to work on her speech development. They are angels! The other day, she started laughing. Not a surprise, as she has been laughing more & more recently, but no joke, she laughed ALL DAY! I wish I'd a taped it. It was incredible! I guess some wires in the laughter department finally wired up together...

So that's pretty much a quick & dirty update as to the family & our beloved Peanut! Oh by the way, did I forgot to mention that I have a SUPER SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT to make.

But maybe I'll save that for a day or two, so if anyone's interested, they can read through this world record post!

Stay tuned for a special announcement! I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming

And here's the fantastic news that Rob was talking about:

On July 26, at 9am in Sacramento, CA, Peanut will be officially adopted by Robert and Katrina..

We pray & request your presence that you would stand with us in witness, as we finalize the adoption of our new daughter: Antonia Theodora Catherine

For those of you who are new to the story of love and faith and Peanut:


Every Day Hero BONUS

B*N*S*N(with a great Peanut video.)

That is just a few of the posts on Peanut, but one of my favourites? From September 2009:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Peanut is HOME

Update from Don:

...Peanut is home where she belongs......with Rob and Kat. She arrived last Friday afternoon and I was there to meet her as were Rob's parents.

She is doing quite well and seems to know that she is finally where she is loved. She is a big hit with the three dogs of the house, even Gus the Beagle who had not met her before. In fact he either sits or lies at her feet watching over her. Animals just seem to know don't they.

Rob and Kat are working out the kinks and getting her settled into her new home. She will be going to work with Rob until they get a home nurse in place. They came home from Sacramento with a truck full of equipment and medical and feeding supplies to tide her over......

Anyway a dream has been realized and prayers have been answered and our little girl is with the people that love her so very much....


Anyway a dream has been realized and prayers have been answered and our little girl is with the people that love her so very much....

That right there is testimony to the power of prayer and love, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I won't be at the official legal adoption ceremony next week in person, but I most surely will be there in spirit, as always cheering on this most amazing child and the family who loves her unconditionally..

Keep on flying, Peanut. FLY!

BHO and officials on DADT - and an UNofficial response

From War on Terror News yesterday:

Obama Certifies Military Ready for ‘Don’t Ask’ Repeal

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2011 – Based on recommendations from military leaders, President Barack Obama has certified to Congress that the U.S. armed forces are prepared for repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

There is a 60-day waiting period before the repeal goes into effect, so the law will officially come off the books Sept. 20. After that date, gay service members can be open about their sexual orientation.

The president signed the certification and delivered it to Congress today.

Congress passed the repeal law in December. The legislation gave the military time to prepare the force and said repeal would happen only after the president, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified the force as ready for repeal.

The Defense Department chartered a repeal implementation team to coordinate the necessary changes to policy and regulations, and to provide education and training to service members....

At WOTN here, you'll find the rest of the official responses, including Adm. Mike Mullen's Statement and Secretary Panetta’s Statement.

What you will not find is a public response from any of the boots on the ground; you know, the troops that will be most affected by any policy change. However, I was given permission to share with you what a US Military Senior NCO has to say. Unofficially, of course! Read on:

DADT Repeal "Certified"

The greatest lie perpetrated on the American people and our troops was presented to Congress today.

"The President, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I have certified that the implementation of repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the armed forces. This certification decision was carefully made after receiving input from the service chiefs, service secretaries and from all the combatant commanders, who stated their views that the force is prepared for this change," said newly appointed Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta today in a statement.

President Obama released a statement saying the certification removes a policy "that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality."

Funny that we had no problem winning all the nation's wars BEFORE the repeal. I fail to see how the policy undermined anything, especially readiness. If the President were so concerned with "fairness and equality" he'd allow males and females to room together. If he were so concerned with "fairness and equality" he wouldn't be targeting rich people to bail him out of his extremist spending.

In speaking about us, he said "Today’s action follows extensive training of our military personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that our military is ready for repeal."

I'm sorry. WHAT EXTENSIVE TRAINING? We haven't been "trained" on anything. The military and civilian leadership was supposed to certify that repeal of DADT would ensure " military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the armed forces." Not one iota of this "training" focused on ANY of that. As a matter of fact, the training wasn't training at all, but a briefing on what the law means. There was never even an attempt to ascertain how the troops would be affected. There was no discussion on how to handle issues. It was a "the law has changed, shut up and suck it up" briefing.

Anyone that says the military has been "trained" is misleading the American people on what the "training" entailed. I'm not afraid to call out the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness when he says "training was being well-received, and there were no issues or barriers arising." Either he was lied to or is lying to the American people. The reason no "issues or barriers" arose was because they didn't permit any to arise. NO DISCUSSION WAS ALLOWED DURING THIS "TRAINING!!"

During a question an answer session earlier today, the following took place:

Q: OK. The other question was, at the time that you guys did the survey, the big concern was unit cohesion, disruption of unit cohesion. In the process of training, which we've heard has gone swimmingly and had no problems, has there been any indication that -- you know, separate or different from what you thought coming out of that survey, once we get past training, and we get past the repeal and this really starts and open service is allowed that there will be unit cohesion going all the way down to the combat units, it's a big worry that everyone has.

GEN. HUMMER: The -- as the service chiefs have received information from their leadership, their chains of command, to include combat areas over the last six months, there have been no distractions from unit cohesion that have been reported. So it's been very, very positive, the information that's come from them, through the leadership in this building.

Again, keep in mind that Soldiers aren't allowed to express their disagreement or the "distractions" that repeal will cause. The briefing was very specific in that it was a one-way conversation. So, naturally, no distractions would be reported when we aren't allowed to report any! Leadership is NOT stifling opinions and just forcing people to accept immoral behavior. Regardless of our disagreements, most Soldiers will always treat everyone with respect regardless of feelings on any particular topic. So the assumption that we need special training to be professional or respectful is a strawman.

Yes, in a statement that goes unquestioned by our fawning pro-gay agenda media, Gen Hummer even says what I've been trying to get people to understand for months:

Q: OK. Thank you. For those of us not familiar with the training, I was told it was anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes in groups of 50 to 250. Is that accurate?

GEN. HUMMER: That's pretty accurate. The training was made up -- and I think most people know of a -- kind of a one-way presentation, like a PowerPoint presentation --

Q: Was that in every case, the PowerPoint --

GEN. HUMMER: I'd -- yes. I'd say yes.

Now, my natural follow question would be, "wait a minute. You just said the training was a one-way presentation, but that no distractions were reported. How can Soldiers express what the distractions would be if the training was only one-way?" I mean, that's what I would ask! Instead, Gen Hummer goes on to spout more inaccuracies:

And then as part of that were the frequently asked questions and the vignettes, and that's where you get the dialogue going. So it depends on the leadership how they're going to present, what level is being prepared or being trained or educated, and how long those discussions go.

Perhaps we didn't get the correct training, but there was no dialogue during our "training." Soldiers at other bases I've spoken with relayed the same frustrations.

This briefing also gave us a look into what was to come. Not only is it just about allowing gays to serve. Once the repeal is confirmed and finalized, the next phases of legitimizing homosexual activity will be initiated, including overturning DOMA and obtaining benefits for same sex couples not married.

MS. PENROD: When we looked at the plan for implementation of the law, our priority was to develop the training and ensure that the force is trained. And looking at that priority, we realized the benefits, although very important -- that we would wait until repeal before we decided to look in the benefits; which we will do upon repeal.

Finally, I want to leave with this little interesting tidbit that the media also didn't follow up on. My question is obvious, so I'll just end it with this.

Q: And could you just fine tune that statement that was made earlier about how there was unanimous support?

MR. WILSON: There was unanimous support for implementation of repeal at this time, that the conditions had been met.

Well, yeah! That's why Gates had to go!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Atlantis Welcome Home

Space shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) touches down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) in Cape Canaveral, Florida, completing its 13-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program. Overall, Atlantis spent 307 days in space and traveled nearly 126 million miles during its 33 flights. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

VOA News

'Mission Complete' for Shuttle Atlantis

The U.S. space shuttle Atlantis has landed for the final time, marking the end of the shuttle era.

"Nose gear touchdown. Having fired the imagination of a generation, a ship like no other, its place in history secured, the space shuttle pulls into port for the last time, its voyage at an end," the NASA announcer said.

With the landing of the space shuttle Atlantis before sunrise at the Kennedy Space Center, the 30-year-old space shuttle fleet ended its service.

Astronaut Chris Ferguson was the shuttle commander for this 135th and final shuttle journey.

"Mission complete, Houston," he said. "After serving the world for over 30 years, the space shuttle has earned its place in history, and it has come to a final stop."

With the landing of the space shuttle Atlantis before sunrise at the Kennedy Space Center, the 30-year-old space shuttle fleet ended its service.

Ferguson was one of four astronauts aboard Atlantis on the resupply mission to the International Space Station.

"You know, the space shuttle has changed the way we view the world, and it has changed the way we view our universe," he said. "It is a lot of emotion today, but one thing is indisputable - America is not going to stop exploring."...

More here at @ WOTN.

More on STS 135..

Casino Night Fundraiser to aid Nassau firefighters' exhibit

Event to aid Nassau firefighters' exhibit

July 18, 2011 10:01 PM


Photo credit: Handout | Plans for an exhibit in Woodbury, which will honor the 18 Nassau County volunteer firefighters who died on 9/11.

A Casino Night to raise funds for an exhibit to honor the 18 Nassau County volunteer firefighters who died on 9/11 is set for July 27 in Woodbury.

The $75,000 exhibit will be on display at the Nassau Firefighters Museum and Education Center in Uniondale from late August through early November.


The goal of the 5,000-square-foot exhibit is to "remind Long Islanders of the sacrifices" of the 18 active Nassau County volunteer firefighters who died in the terrorist attacks, and of "the impact the events of that day had on our entire region -- especially the fire service," said Alana Petrocelli, the museum's executive director.

Franklin Manchester, a Carle Place volunteer firefighter : "This [exhibit] is about all of those who made the extreme sacrifice on 9/11, as well as their friends, family and loved ones [and] those who continue to serve and would once again put their lives at risk to protect and serve others."

The $100-a-plate event will run from 6 to 11 p.m.


For more information on the July 27 event, call 516-224-8184.

Information from Long Island Newsday here.

H/T Diane

Plebes get wet

BALTIMORE (July 15, 2011) Plebes in the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2015 are sprayed from a simulated leak at the Navy Operational Support Center Baltimore as part of their "wet trainer" evolutions during the 2nd week of Plebe Summer. Plebe Summer is a 6-week training regimen designed to develop the 4th class midshipmen physically and mentally with various academic, athletic, and technical challenges. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Danian Douglas/Released)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

America's Best: Homefront Heroes

America's Heroes:

Some Gave All: Corporal Mark Anthony Palin

Corporal Mark Palin
[Picture: via MOD]

Corporal Mark Anthony Palin killed in Afghanistan

A Military Operations news article

19 Jul 11

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Corporal Mark Anthony Palin from 1st Battalion The Rifles was killed in Afghanistan on 18 July 2011.

Corporal Palin deployed to Afghanistan in April 2011 with B Company, 1st Battalion The Rifles, as the second-in-command of a twelve-man multiple. He was based at Checkpoint Jeker in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

On the morning of 18 July 2011, whilst guiding a patrol, he was killed by an improvised explosive device. He was on an operation to clear and exploit a cache of nearly complete improvised explosive device components that had been discovered late the night before.

Corporal Mark Anthony Palin

Corporal Palin was born on 12 November 1978 in Plymouth, and enlisted in the Army in 1996, joining the 1st Battalion the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment in Paderborn, with whom he went on to serve in Northern Ireland and Iraq, the latter as a mortar fire controller.

Displaying his versatility and enthusiasm for soldiering, he deployed to Afghanistan this year as part of a Rifle Company, following a posting training recruits at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate. Corporal Palin's affable and straightforward approach put those around him at great ease, and he settled into B Company immediately.

Corporal Palin was a prominent Battalion personality; nicknamed 'Maldoon' by friends, he was widely known and extremely well liked by everyone who had the pleasure of serving with him. His self deprecating humour and quick wit held him in high regard with his peers, superiors, and the Riflemen alike. In a tight spot it would be Corporal Palin's humour keeping the morale up; few men have been so highly respected and appreciated.

Corporal Palin leaves behind his loving wife, Carla and his young son Lennon. At this tragic time the thoughts of the Battlegoup are very much with them, along with his father Paul, brother Matthew and sister Louise.

Corporal Palin's family paid the following tribute:

"Mark was unique, one in a million. He was loved deeply by all his family and friends. He was a devoted family man who adored his son and was so looking forward to the birth of his daughter. He will be deeply missed by all his family, friends and everyone who knew him."

Lieutenant Colonel James de Labillière DSO MBE, Commanding Officer, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"Corporal Mark Palin was a Battalion personality through and through. He thrived on the friendship of many, and was generous to a fault in the friendship he gave in return. Indeed this was the very essence of the man; always putting others first, and taking huge enjoyment in making others smile and laugh, no matter how difficult the circumstances.

"He died leading from the very front, as was his way. He had a fearless bravery with which he just made things happen. And he was always restless and eager to help. In so doing he made himself the pivotal part of the team. He was hugely respected by his Riflemen and greatly relied on by his Commanders. A more selfless man you could never meet.

"But 'Maldoon' as he was known, will always be remembered for his passions. Passion for his family, passion for his football and a passion to be with his Riflemen on operations. For his Riflemen he overcame injury through dogged determination to be with them on the tour. And their patrol base is testament to his industry; rustic furnishings made by his hand, a team who are quite evidently bound by his enthusiasm, and a small poignant memorial he made for a fallen comrade, with whom he now joins, both never to be forgotten.

"We will miss him dearly. Corporal Mark Palin was the epitome of the spirit of the Battalion; relaxed, professional, committed, brave. But our loss is nothing compared to that of his loving and close family at this most devastating time. And so to them, to whom he was so clearly devoted, our thoughts and prayers go. His spirit will live on in the Battalion for ever, as will those many happy memories that he has made."

Major Mike Turnbull, Officer Commanding B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"Corporal Palin was one of life's characters. Everybody knew him and everybody loved him. He never ceased to make people laugh - it was one of his greatest gifts. He was a team player in the truest sense. I have rarely seen a man give more for those around him, or a commander care more deeply for his men. It was never 'I', it was always 'us'. He was a good soldier: adaptable, conscientious and determined; it simply wasn't in his nature to do anything by halves. He had fought hard against injury in order to deploy to Afghanistan, and there was no question in his mind of doing otherwise. He brought with him a depth of experience that his men drew deeply on for reassurance, for he never failed them. He was a fine man, a true Rifleman, and we feel his loss deeply."

Captain Bob Atherden, Second in Command, B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"I first became aware of Corporal Palin when his father helped to build an extension to my mum's house; little did I know that a few months later he would arrive in B Company as a section commander!

"Corporal Palin was usually the first man I saw as I got up in Check Point Jeker due to his unusual habit of sleeping outside the front of his tent with little in the way of clothing. There were many things that made Corporal Mark Palin memorable, but I think I shall always remember him for his passion for football which extended even to finding veterans indoor matches on British Forces Broadcasting Service entertaining, something which the rest of us found difficult to understand.

"My thoughts go out to his family at what must be a very difficult time. Our brother Rifleman will be forever in our hearts. Swift and Bold!"

Warrant Officer Class 2 Peter North, B Company Serjeant Major, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"Corporal Mark Palin, also known as Maldoon, joined B Company on return from two years at Army Foundation Collage Harrogate as an instructor. He was a very popular member of the Battalion and Company. He was the type of man who spoke up and loved to be involved in debates and discussions, especially about football. Football was his passion, and he played in the Battalion team and supported Tottenham Hotspur.

"Corporal Palin gained the respect of his Riflemen because he always placed them first. He was a good, hard working soldier, good friend and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his wife and family at this very difficult time."

Colour Serjeant Richie Brown, B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"Corporal Mark 'Maldoon' Palin was without a doubt the untidiest Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) I have ever served with, but a first rate Rifleman and NCO. He was my right hand man and I learnt a great deal from him. He propped me and the rest of the Multiple up when things were tough. I will miss his banter and jokes, but most of all his friendship. God speed."

Serjeant Chris Wainwright, B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"Maldoon was one of the most well known and well liked blokes in the Battalion. A genuinely nice guy who was instantly likable. He leaves a huge void not only in the company but in The Rifles."

Cpl Wayne Fairnington, B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"Rest in Peace my bestest friend. You will be remembered always by those who loved you and knew you. We all miss you so much already. You were always there to help everyone and that's why we all loved you, (except for when Gary and Scott needed a lift back from Newport! We just sat there eating bacon sarnies!).

"I will miss all the laughs we would have! I have so many good loving memories of you Mark and I will treasure them till the day I die. I will never forget you, no-one will.

"Thoughts are with all your family and friends, especially Carla and Lennon.

"We will always be there, so don't worry. Sleep tight my friend, My hero. Love Fadge."

Corporal Dan Cartwright, B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"'Maldoon', 'Stig', Mark. Words can't describe the gap you have left in all of our lives, a loving husband to Carla, a caring father to Lennon, and, most of all, my best mate. From all that knew you from years gone by, a true 'legend', the king of banter can rest easy now Son! There was and only ever will be one Maldoon!"

Corporal James Eastwood, B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"Maldoon - You have left a gigantic hole in our lives. I don't know where to start and definitely don't know where to finish.

"We could start with your dancing while under the influence of alcohol in the community centre, Ballykinler, or we could start at the in depth conversations about your beloved Tottenham Hotspur FC or football in general. I loved your football brain, but more than most, loved the way, when you were around, how you could make us all laugh at you and of course with you.

"The banter was always (most of the time) good and there are so many memories that we will all remember.

"My sincere thoughts are with all the family, in particular Carla and Lennon at this time. You are with your mum and Thomo now, who will watch out for you. Make sure the Stella is cold for when I arrive!

"Rest in Peace pal, Easty."

Corporal Dean Barnett, B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"Maldoon was an inspiration to all that met him and was someone you could look up to. He was without doubt the source of all banter and there wasn't a day that went by where he didn't make me laugh. He will be sorely missed by all."

Corporal Nick Fowler, B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"Corporal Palin was a top bloke who could dish out and take some serious banter. He will be sorely missed, Rest in Peace mate."

Rifleman Ian Turner, B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles said:

"To serve under Corporal Palin was a privilege and an honour. He brought the morale to the table and provided us with much entertainment. He was an awesome leader who looked out for us. He will be sadly missed but never forgotten."

Rifleman Chris Sheekey, B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"Maldoon was one of the top blokes in Battalion and is going to be sorely missed."

Rifleman Alex Ollerenshaw, B Company, The First Battalion, The Rifles, said:

"Maldoon, what a guy, a true legend and a genuinely nice and fun guy to be around. He will be missed throughout not just the First Battalion but the whole of the RIFLES too. Rest in Peace Maldoon."

Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox MP, said:

"It was with great sadness that I heard of the death of Corporal Mark Palin. The tributes paid by his colleagues and commanders speak volumes about the kind of soldier he was - a valued comrade and a trusted friend to many. My thoughts and sympathies lie with his loved ones at this most difficult of times."

(c) MoD

My heart goes out to all who know and love this Fallen Hero.

Rest in Peace, Sir.....