Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Celebrity Chefs cook Thanksgiving Dinner for SF in AFG


Bryant Jordan - Nov 30, 2011

Celeb Chiefs Cook for Special ForcesGovernment officials often don’t disclose the details of special operations missions until they’re all over – if ever – and one last week was no different.

An elite team of chefs dropped into Afghanistan in time for Thanksgiving, the Army said, to prepare holiday meals for as many as 2,000 troops, including Army Special Forces soldiers and Navy SEALs. The official goal was to boost morale for the troops and give some pro tips to food service workers with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, but the chefs said they got as much out of it as anyone on the ground.

"I’ve cooked for celebrities, politicians and statesmen – a variety of important people," chef Andrew Hunter told "But this clearly was the most rewarding experience."

Hunter’s view was echoed by Amy Sacco, known as the "Queen of New York nightlife" and founder of the city’s Bungalow 8 nightclub and restaurant.

"It was probably the single most important thing I’ve done in my life – to take a trip like that," she said. "People were thanking me, but I was thanking them for letting me do this."

The cooking mission was the brainchild of retired Army Special Forces Master Sgt. Jeffrey Hinton, who has himself become a chef since leaving the military.

"Every time I went on a mission, I always thought about what I'd do when the mission was over – get a hot shower, a beer and some great food," Hinton said, explaining why he assembled the team. "The idea came to me while I was in culinary school. I thought it would be nice if I could give the guys some great food while they are downrange on their mission."

Hinton began planning the Thanksgiving deployment several months ago, working with Army Special Forces to make it happen...

Much more about this great mission here.

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl: US Army (Prisoner of War): Day of Action & Prayer-Nov 30

Every week on WOTN, the top name on each Moments of Silence - our call to honor and remember our Fallen Heroes - Sgt Bowe Bergdahl is the first name listed. Sgt Bowe Bergdahl of the US Army went missing on June 30, 2009 under mysterious circumstances while deployed in Afghanistan. He is a POW/MIA.

Bergdahl is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. Since Bergdahl went missing, the Taliban has released three videos showing him in captivity. The Taliban have demanded $1 million and the release of 21 Afghan prisoners and Aafia Siddiqui in exchange for Bergdahl's release. They have threatened to execute Bergdahl if Siddiqui is not released. Most of the Afghan prisoners are being held at Guantanamo Bay.

At the time of his capture, Bergdahl's rank was that of Private First Class (E-3). In June 2010, he was promoted to Specialist (E-4) during his absence. On June 17, 2011 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant (E-5)

Sgt Bergdahl is still missing. In the ensuing months and years since his disappearance, Bowe Bergdahl has been written about - both in the msm and by the milbog community.

We have not forgotten Sgt Bergdahl.

In April 2010, in a video released by his captors, Bergdahl said:

"The very last thing is, just let me go. Get me to go, just -- release -- get me to be released because it's -- this war isn't worth the waste of human life that it has cost both Afghanistan and U.S. It's not worth the amount of lives that have been wasted -- the amount of life that has been wasted in prisons -- Guantanamo Bay, Bagram -- all those places where we are keeping, you know, prisoners. I'm a prisoner. I want to go home. You know, the men -- the Afghanistan men who are in our prisons, they want to go home, too. It's -- just let me go. Get me to come home. Release me. Get -- you know -- every day I want to go home. The pain in my heart to see my family again doesn't get any smaller. Get me -- release me. Please. I'm begging you. Bring me home. Bring us all home, back to our families, back to my family. Please. Bring me home. Please. Bring me home." -- Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl

Sgt Bergdahl is still missing.

In May 2011, Bowe's father released his own personal message to his son's captors:

An international group on a major social media site is calling for today to be a Day of Action and Prayer on behalf of Bowe Bergdahl.

Since the day Bergdahl went missing in action, many around the world have joined in prayer, and today, as well as prayers, is contact information of politicians who need to be working to expedite the return of Sgt Bergdahl to American soil, where he belongs:

Sergeant Bowe Robert Bergdahl, United States Army (dob 28 March 1986) of Hailey, Idaho, was captured in Afghanistan in June of 2009 by a Taliban allied Afghan insurgent group called the Haqqani Network. As of 30 November 2011, he will have been held captive by the enemies of America for 2 years and 5 months.
In remembrance of the June 2009 capture of Bowe Bergdahl, please contact your United States Congressional Delegation and tell them that obtaining the release of Sgt Bergdahl must be a priority. Remind them that America must not forget Bowe & that you expect the United States government to work tirelessly to bring him home.

You can use the following site to find info on where to contact your specific members of Congress.

You can also use the following lists to direct inquiries to members of the:

United States Senate Armed Services Committee -

United States House Committee on Armed Services -

Please take time on Wednesday, November 30th, to lift Bowe up in prayer, asking that he would be protected, strengthened and that he would be immediatedly returned home alive and well.

Let us NEVER FORGET those who have honorably served America in the United States Armed Forces.

No soldier left behind.


Previous columns - and more info, plus videos:

Pfc. Bowe Robert Bergdahl: DUSTWUN

Remembering Bowe Bergdahl

SPC Bowe Bergdahl: No Soldier Left Behind

For more information on today's Day of Action and Prayer:

PLEASE NOTE: A Week of Action and Prayer is being coordinated with the Congressional calenders for both the House and the Senate so it will occur while both are in session. America's politicians must know that America will not forget Bowe Bergdahl. Dates/times are January 24, 2012 at 12:00am until Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 11:30pm

This is a public event. To join the event

UK Embassy in Iran closed, Iranian diplomats thrown out of England

My regular readers KNOW what my response was as I watched this story unfold yesterday. Today, I wrote on War On Terror News:

UKflag burning

In the aftermath of 'hardline students' attacking the UK Embassy in Iran, British Prime Minister David Cameron warned of 'serious consequences.' Today's reports give the UK's response.

From VOA News:

Britain has ordered the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London and has closed its embassy in Tehran, following a mob attack Tuesday on British embassy compounds in the Iranian capital.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced the decision in parliament Wednesday. He said Iran's diplomatic staff has been ordered to leave the United Kingdom within 48 hours.

He added that Britain's response is not an indication it is severing ties with Iran. However, he said the action reduces relations with Iran to the “lowest level consistent with the maintenance of diplomatic relations.”

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Iran faced “serious consequences” for failing to defend the British compounds from protesters who smashed embassy windows and ransacked offices as police looked on.

The Iranian protesters had gathered in a reflection of government anger at British financial sanctions imposed on Iran last week.

Britain, the United States and Canada announced coordinated sanctions in response to Iran's pursuit of a nuclear program that U.N. experts say appears designed to build weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Wednesday that Iranian police tried to maintain calm during the

assaults in Tehran. However, the attacks drew more international criticism Wednesday.

More here.


Blue Star Mothers help others in need

This is the last day of the official Military Families Month in the US, and this story is a great reminder (not that *we* need it, of course!) that the families ALSO serve:

To the rescue: Blue Star Mothers help others in need

November 23, 2011

By Spc. Paul A. Holston, XVIII Abn. Corps PAO

Photo Credit: Spc. Paul A. Holston, XVIII Abn. Corps PAO
Ann Provencher (Left) and Barb Linn (Right) are both a part of the Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc., an organization of mothers who have, or have had, children serving in the nation's active, Reserve, or National Guard Armed Forces. Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc, founded on Jan. 22, 1942, is also a non-profit Veterans' service organization, supporting military children, and each other, while promoting patriotism.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Nov. 23, 2011) -- When a family is separated because of a deployment, it's normally the spouses back home worrying about their loved one in harm's way.

The last thing anyone deployed expects is for their family back home to be killed only months before redeployment. Unfortunately, for Tech Sgt. Donald Ramsey, these were the circumstances he was coming home to.

On Oct. 17, Ramsey, an Airman with the Oklahoma Air National Guard, returned to the U.S. along with the first main body of XVIII Airborne Corps Soldiers returning from Iraq to Fort Bragg.

Normally he would be reunited with his family instead, he returned on emergency leave, to face the tragedy of both his wife and daughter being killed in a motor vehicle accident.

Fortunately for Ramsey, there are those who show selfless service and help those, no matter the circumstance. Ann Provencher and Barb Linn would be there for him when he most needed it.

Provencher and Linn, both with Blue Star Mothers, an organization of mothers who have, or have had, children serving in the nation's active, Reserve, or National Guard. They have experience to it comes with the military lifestyle.

Provencher and her husband are Army veterans, who have two children who are currently in the Navy and Army respectively, with one currently deployed...

Go read more here.

The families also serve

Wednesday Hero

Spc. Joseph A. Graves
Spc. Joseph A. Graves
21 years old from Discovery Bay, California
110th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade
July 26, 2006
U.S. Army

Spc. Joseph Graves's dream was to work for the FBI and he saw that joining the Military was a way to help me do that. Joseph Graves enlisted in the Army at 17 and surprised his family when he went to jump school soon afterwards. "This was a kid I could hardly get to ski down a ski slope, because it was too intimidating," said his father, Kevin. "And now he's jumping out of airplanes." Spc. Graves was the lone casualty when his convoy was attacked by insurgents near Baghdad on July 26, 2006.

You can read more about Spc. Graves here

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 Hero.
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, November 29, 2011

Tim Hortons is closing today!

Tim Hortons is closing - in Kandahar! A fixture on the Boardwalk, Timmy's has been a favourite of all the coalition troops. Today is the last day any of our troops will be able to get their Timmy's fix.

Timmys opened in Kandahar on Canada Day 2006:

Tim Hortons brings a taste of home to troops in Kandahar

First outlet opens at a deployed mission

OTTAWA - Troops serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, received a taste of home Canada Day morning when the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency (CFPSA) officially opened the first Tim Hortons outlet at a deployed mission.

At 10 a.m. Kandahar time, (1:30 a.m. EST), men and women of the Canadian Forces, along with military from other nations, joined CFPSA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Major-General Doug Langton, Commander of Task Force Afghanistan (TFA) Brigadier-General David Fraser, and Tim Hortons Director of Business Development Doug Anthony on the Boardwalk at Kandahar Air Field (KAF) for the official opening ceremony.

Gathered around the 40-foot trailer for the ribbon cutting, troops were treated to words of encouragement, appreciation, and Canada Day wishes while enjoying coffee and donuts.

"This is about serving you as you continue to do the outstanding job Canada asks of you," MGen Langton said to the soldiers. "We hope this little piece of home will make your lives in Afghanistan just a little bit easier.".. (Tim Hortons)

A very interesting first person account by Jennifer Jones, who worked at the KAF Timmys (a job I seriously considered applying for!!!) :


Not an average job

This is no ordinary Tim Horton's. I work on the Kandahar military base in Afghanistan.

The store is roughly in the middle of the base. In the centre is a large sand-and-gravel field where the Americans play football and the Brits play cricket. There’s a ball hockey rink right outside our store where we watch the Canadian troops play enthusiastic games of hockey in the sweltering heat. Other food outlets and stores line two sides of the boardwalk in the sand.

The store is actually a trailer and in the mornings, with six people behind the counter, it’s a busy place. We rush about in a practiced ballet of coffee and doughnuts, calling out orders and dodging the bakers as they come to fill up the showcase. Sometimes I marvel that we don’t crash into one another.

The usual

We can often tell what someone will order just by looking at the uniform. The Canadian troops usually just want a double-double, known as a NATO Standard over here. Sometimes we tempt them into an apple fritter.

The Americans prefer honey dips with a regular coffee, whereas the Brits can’t turn down a Boston cream or a Canadian maple. They’re also partial to French vanilla cappuccinos. When the cappuccino machine is temporarily out of service, we almost have a mutiny on our hands.


‘We’re prone to rocket attacks’

Of course, we’re the only Tim Horton's where the majority of customers come in fully armed. But by now I’m used to the sight of a soldier with a rifle in one hand and a coffee in the other. We’re also prone to rocket attacks on the base, and when the alarm sounds, we have to get all the customers out of the store and sit in the back until the all clear sounds. There’s a heavy thud, a feeling of impact and then the eerie wail of an old air-raid siren. That’s the signal to get to a bunker, or to the back of the store, if I’m working...

This is a MUST READ - honest! Go here.

The end of an era for Timmys in Kandahar.

Radical Islam in Africa

From Radical Islam:Link

North Africa may not come to mind immediately when one thinks of the threat of Radical Islam. However, an increasing number of violent jihadist militias have seized power in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, including Al Qaeda that have seized control of Libya , al- Shabaab who are fighting for the control of Somalia, or Nigeria’s Boko Haram. In this week’s newsletter, Clarion Fund’s Senior Fellow Clare M. Lopez takes a closer look at the disturbing violence that is taking hold in Nigeria.

Boko Haram Wants to Put Nigeria Under Islamic Law

by Clare M. Lopez

The armies of Islam arrived in the Nigerian kingdoms as early as the 9th century. The forcible conquest of North Africa including present day Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco imposed Islamic law (shariah) according to the Maliki school of Sunni jurisprudence over this vast swath of territory. Over subsequent centuries, relentless jihadist raids (razzias) as well as the penetration of Muslim merchants, scholars, and traders into areas of the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa eventually succeeded in subjugating Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and the entire northern half of the modern country of Nigeria to Islam. Today, Nigeria is a large and populous West African country of some 160 million people, about half of whom are Muslim and half Christian and animist. Nigeria is comprised of 36 states, 12 of which have implemented shariah in the northern half of the country. As the renowned political scientist, Samuel Huntington wrote, “Islam's borders are bloody and so are its innards.” Islam in Nigeria, as in every other place on earth where it establishes power, has shown itself aggressive and violent.

Shariah commands Muslims to jihad to spread the faith and, especially throughout the second half of the 20th century, Nigeria’s Muslims have obeyed: wars of domination against non-shariah-adherent Muslims like the Hausa exploded into jihad against non-Muslim tribes like the Yoruba and the Ibo (Biafra) leaving as many as a million dead. Shariah Implementation Committees drew up detailed plans to establish Shariah Courts, train and hire shariah judges, create a Religious Affairs Ministry, set up a Zakat Board, codify the Islamic penal code (hudud punishments like amputation, lashing, and stoning), and make the educational curriculum shariah-compliant. ...

There is much more here, and it IS a must read for a background of the history of Islam which IS shaping the future. .

Are YOU paying attention?Link

Last Thanksgiving Dinner at Camp Liberty

Soldiers treated to final Thanksgiving meal in Iraq

By Army National Guard Sgt. Scott Raper
Kentucky National Guard

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Johnson of the Kentucky National Guard's 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade pours gravy on the plate of a Soldier as Army Col. Scott Campbell, 149th MEB commander, observes at Victory Base Complex, Iraq, on Nov. 20, 2011. The meal celebrated Thanksgiving for the remaining troops on VBC and was also the last hot meal served before the dining facility closed. (Army National Guard photo Sgt. Scott Raper) (Released)

VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq (11/23/11) – A final meal at the dining facility at Camp Liberty is a sign of the times – a sign that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is shrinking and Victory Base Complex is not what it used to be. And also a sign of the holidays, as the meal celebrated Thanksgiving a bit early here Sunday.

Soldiers of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade continue to draw down VBC, but took time to come together and be thankful.

“It’s our opportunity to talk with the Soldiers, and to look everyone in the eye and thank them,” said Army Col. Scott Campbell, the 149th MEB’s commander. “We can reflect on our families and the holiday. And while we are apart, they are still in our hearts and minds.”

With all dining facilities closing, the effort was made to serve one last prepared meal to the remaining troops at VBC as the holiday approached. Although was held a few days prior to Thanksgiving Day, the food and festivities were still appreciated by the Soldiers. With amenities disappearing quicker than people from VBC, Soldiers were grateful for the opportunity to celebrate a holiday, even if away from home....


Read the rest here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Gave All: Rifleman Sheldon Lee Jordan Steel

Rifleman Sheldon Lee Jordan Steel killed in Afghanistan

A Military Operations news article

28 Nov 11

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Rifleman Sheldon Steel, from 5th Battalion The Rifles (5 RIFLES), who was killed in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on 27 November 2011.

Rifleman Sheldon Lee Jordan Steel
[Picture: via MOD]

Rifleman Steel was taking part in a foot patrol to disrupt insurgent freedom of movement and to reassure the local population in Babaji, in the Lashkar Gah district, which is in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) area of operations, when he was caught in the blast from an improvised explosive device (IED). He was airlifted to the field hospital at Camp Bastion where he was declared killed in action.

Rifleman Sheldon Lee Jordan Steel

Rifleman Sheldon Lee Jordan Steel, aged 20, from Leeds, joined the Army in November 2009, and underwent his combat training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire. Rifleman Steel passed out of basic training in April 2010 and shortly afterwards joined 5th Battalion The Rifles, based in Paderborn, Germany.

During his time with the Battalion, Rifleman Steel had achieved a great deal. He arrived at a busy time in the Battalion's calendar and was immediately thrust into further training, learning the intricacies of the Warrior armoured fighting vehicle, while developing the closest of bonds with those whom he would later deploy to Afghanistan with. This training culminated in a six-week, vehicle-mounted exercise in Canada in late 2010. Throughout this testing period, Rifleman Steel demonstrated that he was quickly developing into a skilled, robust and intelligent soldier, in keeping with the Regiment's tradition of the 'thinking, fighting Rifleman'. This early promise was honed through Afghanistan pre-deployment training in the first half of 2011.

Rifleman Steel's skills as a marksman, coupled with his mature approach and calm, focused demeanour were harnessed on the Sharp Shooters' course, which he passed with ease. A highly professional soldier he had proven to be one of the stars of his company. He was focused on his career, rightly ambitious, and showed great promise.

He leaves behind his mother Victoria, sisters Cody and Carys and brother Kameron.

Rifleman Sheldon Steel's family paid him the following tribute:

"Sheldon was loving, caring and affectionate with his family and we all heard from him regularly. He loved being in the Army from when he was in the Army Cadets to joining 5 RIFLES. He was very fit and ran a marathon in June this year. He won prizes for his soldiering both in training and in a Regimental competition. He had a good sense of humour and frequently joked with us all.

"He was a big lad - all 6 foot 4 in of him - with a big heart. His Nanas had to stand on the wall outside the house to kiss him 'goodbye'. Words cannot explain how much he will be missed by us all.

"We have already received a lot of support from family, friends and work colleagues and we really appreciate this. "

Ashleigh Craig, Adam Thomas, Paul Bone and Sam Hall - all former Army Cadets with 'C' Company Yorkshire North and West Army Cadet Force and friends of Rifleman Steel - said:

"Sheldon was a good mate and we couldn't have wished for a better friend. He was always ready for a laugh. He was so keen to better himself and be good at his job. He was kind and had a very honest approach to life. Every time he came back on leave he went mad on fitness and part of him was back with the Regiment. He was so brave and we are all so proud of him. We will miss him a lot." ...

Go here and read more about this Fallen Hero, from those who know and love him the most.

Rest In Peace, Sir. Always remembered. Always honoured.

Australian WW2 Pilot identifed

From Royal Australian Air Force:

WWII Spitfire pilot formally identified

Sergeant William James Smith and his spitfire aircraft were discovered last month in Hardifort, Northern France.

(copyright Commonwealth of Australia)

Sergeant Smith (24) was lost on 9 May 1942. His Squadron had been escorting a bombing mission to Bruges, Belgium.

The squadron had engaged approximately 20-25 FW190 aircraft on its homeward journey.

Sergeant Smith was last seen near the coast of France engaged in a dogfight with an enemy aircraft at 20,000 feet over the English Channel.

Photos of recovered artefacts

Courtesy of the RAAF.

From the Australian Herald Sun:

Remains found of Australian war pilot William James Smith

William James Smith

Sgt William James Smith vanished during a dog fight over the English Channel on May 9, 1942. Supplied

THE remains of a WWII spitfire pilot found in wreckage in northern France last year have been identified as Victorian airman William James Smith.

Sgt Smith vanished during a dog fight over the English Channel on May 9, 1942.

Found last year by a film crew making a documentary about the war, the 24-year-old was identified with war records and personal items including his uniform and a disc etched with his name and identification number.

Sgt William James Smith was originally from Whittlesea and was posted to RAAF Number 457 Squadron, attached to the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II...

More here.

Rest In peace, Sergeant Smith.

Moments of Silence

Moments of Silence #MoS to #HonorTheFallen

US/Pakistan relations hit all time low

Pakistan is blocking a supply line for coalition troops in the aftermath of a recent drone strike that is reported to have killed 24 Pakistan troops. Will there be reprisals? Read on:

From War on Terror News:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Afghans take the lead

From the MoD:

Afghan forces to take on security lead for Nad 'Ali

A Military Operations news article

28 Nov 11

Afghanistan's own forces will take lead responsibility for delivering security in a number of new areas across the country, it was announced yesterday, including the Nad 'Ali district of Helmand province where British forces operate.

Afghan soldiers in Nad 'Ali pose for a photograph following the successful completion of Operation TORA GHAR 15, their first major independent operation, which took place in March 2011 [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]

The latest phase of the transition process, announced on Sunday 27 November 2011 by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, demonstrates continuing progress in the development of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Training the Afghans to lead on security across the country is now the main effort of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops.

Building up the ANSF capability so that they can prevent Al-Qaeda from operating freely in Afghanistan and posing a threat to us and to our allies around the world will allow British combat forces to draw down gradually.

Across Afghanistan, the announcement means that Afghan forces will soon have lead responsibility for the security of almost half of the country's population. All of Afghanistan will have begun the process of transition by the end of 2013 and the ANSF will be leading on security operations in all provinces by the end of 2014....

Much more on this latest progress here.

NASA launches MSL

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Every Day Heroes: Military Wives

From MailOnline:

Army wives who made Britain's heart sing: How one man's inspiring love of music turned lonely and terrified women into a choir tipped to top the charts this Christmas
Jenny Stocks

26th November 2011

As Samantha Stevenson stared out from the stage of the Royal Albert Hall, the 28-year-old mother of two watched in awe and astonishment as the audience slowly rose to their feet and unleashed a cacophony of applause.

From the royal box, the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla smiled down warmly.

Along with the 100 women standing beside her in elegant black evening wear, she tried to stop the tears from falling. Tried — and failed.

United in song (from left): Samantha Stevenson; Nicky and George Scott; Hayley and Ade Bowles; and Emma and Gavin Williams

United in song (from left): Samantha Stevenson; Nicky and George Scott; Hayley and Ade Bowles; and Emma and Gavin Williams. BBC2's The Choir: Military Wives has changed their lives

If you had told the Scottish housewife nine months ago that she would be singing a solo in front of not only the Royal Family but an audience of 2.65 million viewers on national TV, she would have dismissed you as deranged. For by her own admission, she is a woman whose whole life has been led behind the scenes.

Samantha is a military wife and, like thousands of others in her position, she’d long ago accepted that she was not the ‘star’ of the family. The uniforms, the risk-taking, the cheering crowds and royal salutes, that was for husbands like hers — the heroes who fight overseas — not for the wives left behind to quietly get on with the day-to-day business of raising a family. Not that Samantha minded.

‘A lot of the focus is on the men, and rightly so,’ she says. ‘But we wives and children do get forgotten about. When our husbands are in Afghanistan, it is hard for us, too. We have to be single mothers and try to keep strong for our kids.’...

Much more on these Military Wives - Heroes every single day - here

Music and Me: Wherever You Are

From the Royal Albert Hall, The Military Wives Choir. A MUST WATCH!! (My latest favourite)

Uploaded by on Nov 23, 2011

Being Released as a single for purchase/download on December 19th 2011. Chris Evans has got behind it and been promoting it on his radio 2 breakfast show. Lets make it a Special Christmas and get it to No1.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sex Crimes in the Military

From War On Terror News:


Insects as First Responders?

Interesting article from Homeland Security News Wire:

Cyborg insects

Insects to become first responders, aid in search and rescue

25 November 2011

Researchers are finding ways to harvest energy from insects, holding the promise of using insects to aid in first response and search and rescue, and monitor hazardous situations before sending in humans

Beetle prepared with sensors and energy-harvesting devices // Source:

Research conducted at the University of Michigan College of Engineering may lead to the use of insects to monitor hazardous situations before sending in humans.

Professor Khalil Najafi, the chair of electrical and computer engineering, and doctoral student Erkan Aktakka are finding ways to harvest energy from insects, and take the utility of the miniature cyborgs to the next level.

Through energy scavenging, we could potentially power cameras, microphones and other sensors and communications equipment that an insect could carry aboard a tiny backpack,” Najafi said. “We could then send these ‘bugged’ bugs into dangerous or enclosed environments where we would not want humans to go.”...

Much more, and it IS fascinating, here.

Friday, November 25, 2011


U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Nannette Cordell receives her Thanksgiving turkey from the vendors of the Navy Commissary in Imperial Beach, Calif., Nov. 17, 2011. This year, about 300 active duty military members stationed at Naval Base Coronado received free gift baskets. Cordell is a hull technician. U.S Navy photo by Seaman Amanda Huntoon

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Military Kids Enjoy School’s Critical Support Structure

From DoD:

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

American Forces Press Service

GROTON, Conn., Nov. 22, 2011 – Transition can present a multitude of challenges to service members as they prepare to move from one location to another -- sometimes from country to country. Children uprooted from the home, school and friends they’ve known must adapt quickly to a whole new set of circumstances.

Tamar Stearns works with her first-grade students at Dr. Charles G. Barnum Elementary School during class in Groton, Conn., near Submarine Base New London, Nov. 18, 2011. School officials have developed a strong support program for military children, who make up 90 percent of the student body. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

The nearly 400 children of Dr. Charles G. Barnum Elementary School here face similar issues, but have a distinct advantage thanks to the faculty and other local organizations.

Although Charles Barnum is not a Defense Department school, nearly 90 percent of its student population consists of military children with parents stationed at Submarine Base New London or with smaller units of other services in the area.

With that knowledge in mind, the faculty of Charles Barnum has put together a robust support system to help military children quickly integrate into academic life at the school.

“Our teachers are amazing, in that they recognize our children come and go,” said Catherine Hanson, the community coordinator for the school. “As soon as a child arrives, they are part of the family here at Charles Barnum immediately. I have to say the staff does a great job welcoming these military children.”

Military children face a lot of obstacles, Hanson noted.

“They are uprooted often in their lives, and their education is, therefore, uprooted,” she said. “When you go state to state, different states have different curriculums, so when they bounce around these schools, they have to quickly adjust to the standards which they need to meet. This school does an excellent job acclimating these students, so I’m proud of the staff.”...

Much more here.

The children ALSO serve.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

87th Sapper Company On Patrol

319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment Video by Sgt. Jason Proseus

The 87th Sapper Company, Fort Hood, Tx, Stationed at Multi-National Base Tarin Kot. This unit of Sappers travel the Main Supply Routes of Afghanistan searching for the dangers that insurgents leave to harm Coalition Soldiers and Afghan People. Produced by Sgt. Jason Proseus, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

(H/T Donna...)

5 year old cancer survivor Guard for a day

Donovan Benzin became a Guard member for a day at the 107th Airlift Wing, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Air Force Lt. Col. Gregory Miller showed Donovan how to fly a C-130 aircraft on a simulator. (Courtesy photo) (Released)

Five-year-old cancer survivor reports for duty as a Guard member for a day

By Air National Guard Capt. Elaine Nowak
New York National Guard

NIAGARA FALLS, NY (11/22/11) -- A five-year-old boy who recently battled cancer got the chance to be a Guard member for the day, here Saturday. His day was part of a military-themed experience for the boy that included a bedroom makeover.

Donovan Benzin was selected by a nonprofit charity to receive some special attention. The charity's mission is to "create dream bedrooms for children with life-threatening illnesses." The organization redecorates the child's bedroom in one day and makes arrangements for the family to have a fun time outside of the house while they work. Donovan's wish was for a military-themed room. The charity contacted the 107th Airlift Wing to request a base tour.

"He's totally in love with anything military," said Leah Benzin, Donovan's mother.

Donovan, along with his mother, sister, and great uncle, started their day with a limousine ride to the air base.

Air Force Lt. Col. Gregory Miller, 107th AW pilot, escorted the family around the base. To start, he presented Donovan with a flight jacket, complete with name and unit patches. A flight simulator was available so Donovan could "fly" a C-130 himself. The flight simulator is here temporarily to demonstrate the new cockpit that will eventually be installed in Niagara's C-130s.

Donovan then was able to tour a C-130 aircraft and take a seat in the cockpit. He visited with the flight crew and took it all in.

"He's happy and not thinking about hospitals. He's being a little boy," said Donovan's mother.

Some other highlights of the family's visit were trying out night vision goggles, watching a C-130 practice an airdrop, and a stop in Security Forces.

Donovan said he wants to be a military police officer when he grows up, so he was very excited to visit with the Security Forces members. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam Piedmont showed Donovan the weapon's storage area and allowed him to safely hold a few of the weapons. The boy's face glowed as he touched the M-16 and M-240 firearms.

He was diagnosed earlier this year with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer rarely seen in children. He had surgery and aggressive chemotherapy that required a lengthy hospital stay to beat the disease, which is now in remission. His mother says that he is now cancer free and it is likely that he will live a long life.

"This has been so fulfilling. To see everyone who has been involved in this is just great. Buffalo, for being a small city, has a big heart," said Donald Buczek, Donovan's great uncle and godfather.

What was Donovan's favorite part of his day as a Guard member?

"Getting to hold the guns," he said.


Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Kathi

Wreaths Across America has been profiled before and it will probably be profiled again because they are a great organization. For 20 years they have have laid Christmas wreaths on the headstones of our fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery. And this year, for their 20th year, their goal is to lay a wreath on every headstone, all 220,000, and they need our help. Head over to Help Wreaths Across America Cover Arlington and there you can find information on how you can do that. Whether it's via a donation or just getting the word out, anything we can do helps.

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 Hero.
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.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Show Me The Place"


Aaaaaaaaaah, Leonard!

Some Gave All: Private Thomas Christopher Lake

Private Thomas Christopher Lake killed in Afghanistan

22 Nov 11

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Private Thomas Lake, from 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 20 November 2011.

Private Thomas Christopher Lake
[Picture: via MOD]

Private Lake was taking part in a patrol to reassure the local population in the Jamal Kowi area of the Nahr-e Saraj district of central Helmand when he was caught in an explosion. He was airlifted to the field hospital at Camp Bastion where he was declared killed in action.

Private Thomas Christopher Lake

Private Lake, aged 29, from Watford, joined the Army in November 2009 and passed out of training in May 2010, joining 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (1 PWRR), known as 'The Tigers', in Germany shortly afterwards.

Upon joining the battalion he attended a number of courses - most notably the Infantry Assault Pioneers' Course and the Team Medics' Course, and he recently completed part one of the arduous Snipers' Course in Brecon, Wales.

He joined B Company and deployed to Canada with 4 Platoon in July 2010, and he stayed with that platoon for the rest of his training and subsequent deployment to Afghanistan. While new to the battalion, he was quickly recognised as an extremely competent and reliable soldier by his peers and his chain of command. Fit and confident, he demonstrated the ability to take on all manner of tasks and succeed.

Private Lake leaves behind a loving mother, Carol. He will be missed dearly by his friends and family and all those who knew him.

Private Lake's mother, Carol, said:

"Tom was a wonderful son and I will miss him more than I can say. He had so many friends who will remember him as a loyal, fun-loving action man who was always the first to try anything new and usually excelled at it. Tom loved the Army and was so proud to be a soldier; he died doing something he loved and believed in. I will always be proud of my boy.

"The amount of support, phone calls and flowers I have received pays tribute to the sort of man Tom was and I would like to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and words."

Lieutenant Colonel James Coote, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, said:

"Private Tom Lake epitomised the very best qualities of the British infantryman; he was a true Tiger - ever professional and totally committed to his mates and his battalion, he had an irrepressible smile and an understated manner that together made him hugely respected by all those that had the privilege to serve with him.

"Private Lake packed an almost impossible amount into his two years in the Army, both at work and off duty. Where many soldiers would have sought one specialisation in that time he had three - he was a medic, an Assault Pioneer and was also training as a sniper.

"Equally energetic out of uniform, he represented the battalion at football, easily earning a coveted place in the team in his first season. He also turned his hand with equal ease to skiing and motorcycling and was passionate about sky diving.

"Older than many of his peers, he was often the man that they would turn to for help or advice; maturity and potential abounded and he was fully expected to attend the promotion cadre on his return to Germany.

"Private Lake's untimely death has denied the battalion of one of its brightest soldiers; we are all the worse off for his loss. As ever, the sincerest tribute comes from his friends in his platoon who described him simply as 'our best bloke'. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with his mother Carol and with all those that had the honour to know him. Fierce Pride."...


Read more about this Fallen Hero from those who know and love him the best here.

Rest In Peace Sir.

Mazar After Transition

on Nov 19, 2011

NATO TV visits Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of the northern province of Balkh, seven months after the first round of transition. Since July, Afghan forces have been fully in charge of Mazar's security, with ISAF forces only operating in a supporting role. We talk to local people and the police chief for an update on the security situation.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Royal Navy Medics honoured

From the MoD:

21 Nov 11

A Royal Navy-led team of military medics and ambulance drivers have been honoured by the Ambulance Service Institute for their efforts in treating victims of mine blasts in Afghanistan.

Medics prepare to receive a casualty from a Medical Emergency Response Team delivered by Chinook helicopter to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan (stock image) [Picture: Corporal Jon Bevan RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2007]

The Ambulance Response Troop (ART) of Close Support Medical Regiment was presented with the Military Award 2011 by the Ambulance Service Institute in recognition of their work over the last six months.

During their recent deployment to Helmand, the six medics and six ambulance drivers worked as two-man teams manning six ambulances 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, treating and evacuating injured troops, Afghan personnel, civilians and international forces.

As well as blast injuries and complicated trauma, including amputations, the team had to deal with gunshot wounds and also undertake specialist paediatric training to look after local Afghan children.

The ART, made up of Royal Navy medics, Royal Marines bandsmen who work as ambulance drivers, an RAF nurse and a Territorial Army Reservist, were also part of the repatriation ceremonies where they transported soldiers who were killed in action so they could be flown home....

We do LOVE our medics! Go read the rest of this story here.