Friday, March 30, 2012

‘Miracles on Mountainside’ for Disabled Vets

Jon Engles, who lost his right leg and most of his right arm in a 2000 motorcycle accident, experiences his own personal miracle climbing a rock wall and skiing at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. DOD photo by Donna Miles

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo., March 28, 2012 – Ralph Gigliotti of the Veterans Affairs Department’s Rocky Mountain Network had warned about 400 disabled veterans gathered here for the annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic to expect miracles to unfold in the days ahead.

“Tomorrow, each of will start chasing your miracles on the mountain,” he told the veterans as they prepared to kick off a six-day clinic jam-packed with sporting events designed to push them to new heights and enhance their rehabilitation.

Midway through the clinic, even some of the skeptics say they’re experiencing firsthand why the popular event, now in its 26th year, has come to be known as “Miracles on a Mountainside.”

Anthony Jeffries admits he resisted coming to his first clinic this year. A Marine Corps veteran rendered a quadriplegic during a 2007 car accident, he said the staff at his VA treatment facility in California “practically beat me with a stick” to get him to participate. “It was the fear of the unknown,” he said.

But on the clinic’s opening day, Jeffries accomplished something he never dreamed possible, skiing down Snowmass Mountain on adaptive skis. “I don’t smile much, but I was smiling a lot then,” he said. For Jeffries, the run down the mountain was the springboard to a whole new world of opportunity. Now he’s looking forward to the clinic’s trapshooting event, which he hopes will be a foray to his longtime love of hunting.

Jeffries’ mother, Nancy Barrington, said she’s seeing the change in her son since arriving here. “He’s starting to open up,” she said. “He’s seeing that there are still things he can do.”

Jeffries agrees. “I figure that if I can ski down a mountain, I can probably do a lot of other things that I thought I would never be able to,” he said....

MUCH more, and more pictures here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Omar Khadr transfer to Canada imminent

From CBC:

A "frustrated" Omar Khadr could be back in Canada by the end of May, with both Ottawa and Washington poised to approve his transfer from Guantanamo Bay, where the convicted war criminal has been held for almost a decade, The Canadian Press has learned.

A source familiar with the file said U.S. Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta was expected to sign off on the transfer within a week.

"It's on his desk, it's ready," the source said Wednesday.

"The U.S. has no concerns about (Khadr)."

Much more here.

All I have to say on this? "Boo-frickin-hoo" and the usual Brat editorial non-verbal comment.

Previous column on Khadr. Yes, I have written on him more than once. For other columns here, just put his name in the search thing at top left.

USS New York on first deployment

on Mar 28, 2012

NORFOLK (March 27, 2012) U.S. Navy Sailors, assigned to the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), and U.S. Marines, assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24 MEU), depart for a regularly scheduled deployment. New York and 24 MEU are deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (IWO ARG) to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Betsy Knapper/Released)

The USS New York is close to many hearts. It is no under-statement to say that it carries within its bow the hearts of many.

Previous column on the USS New York, and an inkling of why it is so special.


PRT medic: for the Afghan kids


NG Marathon Team runners in desert to honor Bataan Death March

By Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Leisa Grant
National Guard Bureau

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army National Guard Spc. Rachel Walter, a member of the All-Guard Marathon Team and Maryland National Guard, marches through the desert between miles 20 and 21 during the 23rd Annual Bataan Memorial Death March near White Sands, N.M., March 25, 2012. Walter completed the most grueling of all categories--Military (Heavy) Marathon--which means she carried a 35-pound rucksack the entire 26.2 mile distance. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Leisa Grant)

WHITE SANDS, N.M. (3/28/12) - Members of the National Guard’s All-Guard Marathon Team hit the desert landscape of New Mexico running and marching in the dry heat for the 23rd Annual Bataan Memorial Death March here Sunday.

The march serves as a way to remember the sacrifices made by those who were part of the Bataan Death March in the Philippines in 1942, which included members of the New Mexico National Guard. More than 1,800 members of the state’s 200th Coast Artillery deployed to the Philippines in 1941. Only 987 survived.

“When I brought [the march] onto the team schedule, I wanted to pay respect to our military,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mike Hagen, the team coordinator and Nebraska Army National Guard member.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the team right now,” Hagen said. “With Lincoln [marathon] so close, this was a personal sacrifice for everyone who did this.”

The Lincoln National Guard Marathon, scheduled for May 6 in Lincoln, Neb., is the only annual event for which National Guard members can qualify to join the team. Current members are also required to try out for the team each year.

Hagen said the Bataan event is challenging enough with the conditions alone, but with a short window of time between it and Lincoln, many team members opt out of the march.

“Sometimes you’re freezing or cold in the beginning, roasting toward the end and doing it all on unforgiving terrain,” he said, adding that the recovery time would be short in between now and Lincoln.

Spc. Rachel Walter, a current team member and budget analyst with the 58th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade of the Maryland Army National Guard, was the only team member who competed in arguably the most difficult category – Military (Heavy) Marathon. This required her to wear her full Army Combat Uniform and a 35-pound rucksack – almost exactly one-third her body weight – for 26.2 miles.

“Friends back in Maryland told me not to do it because I might injure myself before Lincoln, but I realized this is what I needed to do,” she said. “If I don’t qualify for the marathon team because I don’t recover from this event in time, I’m more than fine with this.”

Typically the team runs half-marathons, marathons and ultra marathons – primarily on paved roads or trails – throughout the year; however, this event offered participants several options. Two other members competed in the Military (Light) Marathon category.

Nine team members ran the full marathon in the Civilian (Light) Marathon category, which means they wore regular running attire – lightweight shirts, shorts or running pants, and running shoes – without a mandatory additional weight requirement. This allowed them to move through the course more quickly than most of their uniformed comrades.

Col. Troy Frost, a current team member and commander of the 120th Mission Support Group, Montana Air National Guard, ran the event for the first time and placed sixth overall out of the nearly 7,000 runners and marchers.

Frost said the course was challenging, but nothing like what Bataan marchers had to endure in the Philippines.

“We only got a small taste of real suffering,” he said. “As a military member I think it’s important to honor those who served before us, especially heroes like those who gave their lives or suffered incredibly during Bataan.”

Others on the team shared the same sentiment.

“Soldier to Soldier, I wanted to express my appreciation for what they endured,” Walter said. “The 26.2 miles I did pale in comparison to what they went through.”

Bataan Memorial Death March results for All-Guard Marathon team are listed below.


  • Spc. Rachel Walter, Maryland Army National Guard, 7:55:25, 1st in class, 100th overall out of 434 male/female MHM finishers


  • Sgt. 1st Class Trent Sinnett, Illinois Army National Guard, 4:37:31, 1st in class, 5th overall out of 457 male/female MLM finishers
  • Chief Warrant Officer 4 Art Dechent, Virginia Army National Guard / 274th overall out of 457 male/female MLM finishers


  • Col. Troy Frost, Montana Air National Guard / 3:35:08, 2nd in class, 6th overall out of 1,858 total CLM finishers
  • Tech. Sgt. Ronald Ebert, Colorado Air National Guard / 3:49:45, 4th in class, 17th overall out of 1,858 total CLM finishers
  • Sgt. 1st Class Mike Streff, South Dakota Army National Guard / 3:58:20, 7th in class, 25th overall out of 1,858 total CLM finishers
  • Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hagen, Nebraska Army National Guard / 3:58:23, 6th in class, 26th overall out of 1,858 total CLM finishers
  • Capt. Marie Fritza, South Dakota Army National Guard / 5th in class, 46th overall out of 1,858 CLM finishers
  • Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mei Gentry, Pennsylvania Army National Guard / 4th in class, 47th overall out of 1,858 total CLM finishers
  • Staff Sgt. Amy Wieser Willson, North Dakota Army National Guard / 4:32:26, 8th in class, 89th overall out of 1,858 CLM finishers
  • Staff Sgt. Amanda Panek, Minnesota Army National Guard / 4:40:10, 9th in class, 117th out of 1,858 CLM finishers
Maj. Apolla Benito, Hawaii Army National Guard / 5:14:14, 14th in class, 203rd overall out of 1,858 CLM finishers

(c) NG

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Some Gave All: Sergeant Luke Taylor and Lance Corporal Michael Foley

Sergeant Luke Taylor and Lance Corporal Michael Foley killed in Afghanistan

A Military Operations news article

28 Mar 12

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of Sergeant Luke Taylor, of the Royal Marines, and Lance Corporal Michael Foley, of the Adjutant General's Corps (Staff and Personnel Support), in Afghanistan on Monday, 26 March 2012.

Sergeant Luke Taylor, Royal Marines, and Lance Corporal Michael Foley of the Adjutant General's Corps [Picture: via MOD]

The two men were serving as part of Task Force Helmand when they were shot and killed at the main entrance to Lashkar Gah Main Operating Base in Helmand province.

Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond MP, said:

"I was very saddened to learn of the deaths of Sergeant Luke Taylor and Lance Corporal Michael Foley, brave and committed British servicemen who died in the most tragic of circumstances whilst on operations. They died in the service of their country; they were in Afghanistan to protect Britain's national security.

"Both men were known to their colleagues for their professionalism and military qualities, but outside of their careers, it is clear that both were also true and devoted family men. My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with all those left behind."...

Go and spend time with those who know and love these Fallen Heroes the most, here.

Always honoured.

Syria: UN says Assad targets children

From the Beeb:

Syrian authorities are systematically detaining and torturing children, the United Nations' human rights chief, Navi Pillay, has told the BBC.

Ms Pillay said President Bashar al-Assad could end the detentions and stop the killing of civilians immediately, simply by issuing an order.

Syria has accepted a peace plan, amid scepticism about its intentions.

Most opposition groups have now agreed that the Syrian National Council will formally represent the Syrian people.

Navi Pillay, in an interview with the BBC before Syria accepted the plan, said the Syrian leader would face justice for the abuses carried out by his security forces....

This is no news to any of us who pay attention. Neither is the *news* that Assad has agreed to 'talks' again. SSDD.

However, read the rest of this one here.

NASA: Lighting the Sky

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NYPD and FBI fights a common enemy

The msm has been highlighting stories about muslims of New York complaining that the NYPD is giving them 'special' attention. As the NYPD focus on those who may wish to harm law-abiding citizens, the muslim community is up in arms (loudly, as usual) insisting that all muslims are peace-loving - this despite historical evidence to the contrary; but I digress!

Homeland Security News Wire has two MUST READ columns in recent days that examine the relationship between agencies whose job it is to protect NYers, and by extension, all of us, from harm..

FBI questions its relationship with the NYPD, pt. 1

26 March 2012

The split between the the FBI and the NYPD continues to grow, as the NYPD Intelligence Division takes on a far-reaching and aggressive role in intelligence gathering

After the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and details emerged about the bits and pieces to the puzzle that were held by the different intelligence organizations within the U.S. government, calls for information sharing began to grow.

Culminating in the report of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, intelligence agencies at the federal, state, and local levels began to develop liaison programs to share information.

The most recent development in this move toward cooperation has been the establishment of Fusion Centers, fully equipped information centers, staffed by intelligence officials from the federal, state, and local levels.

The function of these Fusion Centers has been to house all these intelligence officials under one roof, indeed, in one large, fully equipped hall, in close proximity to each other to facilitate rapid transfer of information, spotting of developing trends and coordination of approach to the potential threat....

Read the rest here

FBI questions its relationship with NYPD, pt. 2

27 March 2012

In the first part of this article, we reported that the FBI’s relationship with the NYPD Intelligence Division has become strained, and as a result information exchange has been impaired as the FBI and other jurisdictions have objected to some of the actions NYPD has taken; today, we report on the NYPD’s view

Jose Pimental with attorney Joseph Zablocki at his arraignment // Source:

The New York Police Department is generally considered to be the premier police department in the United States, if not the world.

The NYPD dwarfs most other U.S. police department in sheer numbers, divisions of specialization, and language capabilities, along with a strong team of officers working overseas, an ability that many in the intelligence community have criticized.

These criticisms have not been limited to one intelligence official. In the first part of this article we pointed out a quote in an AP report of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who said: “They think their jurisdiction is the world. Their jurisdiction is New York City…. My concern is this kind of obsession that the NYPD seems to have that they’re the masters of the universe.”...

'Masters of the universe'??? Since the threats we all face today ARE universal I, for one, am more than okay with the NYPD - or any other agency - watching those whose stated goal is to kill us all. That's just me. Read the rest of this one here.

Pay attention, America.

NO smoking: Even in your own home (if you live in Sacramento)

Via European Union Times:

Nanny State On Steroids: City Plans to Outlaw Smoking in Apartments

Kurt Nimmo
March 25, 2012

Few argue that smoking is bad for you. However, in Elk Grove, outside of Sacramento, California, government bureaucrats are ready to exploit this fact in order to outlaw people from smoking in their homes.

The Elk Grove city council will take up the ban this week, according to CBS Sacramento. The ordinance would outlaw smoking in all apartments in the city. CBS quotes people who favor the unwarranted expansion of state power over the individual. “I think it’s a pretty good idea,” one apartment resident told the television station. ...

You KNOW there's more - with video - here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

STOP the presses! Obama is STILL outraged and demands justice! (part deux)

Not on major news media in America, but a British newspaper is reporting about an elderly (white) couple in Oklahoma who were victims of a home invasion- and murder - by a (black) man.

From the Daily Mail:

By Nina Golgowski

An 85-year-old woman was sexually assaulted and battered to death by a home invader who also shot her 90-year-old husband in the face with a BB gun.

Nancy and Bob Strait, who had celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in December, were discovered by their daughter at their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Both the pensioners were rushed to hospital where Mrs Strait, who was nearly blind, died from her injuries....

And the arrested suspect? Take a look:

Suspect: Tyrone Dale David Woodfork, 20, was arrested a day after the attack on complaints of first-degree murder, burglary, assault with a dangerous weapon and two complaints of armed robbery

Suspect: Tyrone Dale David Woodfork, 20, was arrested a day after the attack on complaints of first-degree murder, burglary, assault with a dangerous weapon and two complaints of armed robbery

You can read more on this disgusting event here.

I must have missed BHO and various other politicians hogging the mic as they rush to denounce this depraved act, and demand justice for this elderly couple. I am searching for the announcement that a DoJ investigation is underway.

I am still waiting for Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson to publicly stand with this couple's grieving family, as the New Black Panthers mobilise thousands of their 'brethren' to take to the streets demonstrating against this suspected murderer.

Oh wait! That was what happened after a black man was killed by a mixed race man (who hasn't been arrested, by the way) Watch BHO on that one:

President Obama has weighed in on the Trayvon Martin case, calling it a tragedy, urging cooperation among law enforcement and "soul searching" among all of us.

"If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," the Commander-in-Chief said, underscoring how the issue affected him on a personal, and not just a political or legal, level.

Of what Martin's parents are suffering through, Obama said:

"I think they are right to expect that all of us are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and we are going to get to the bottom of what happened."

I believe that Bob and Nancy Strait's family - and all of us - are right to expect that the thuggery, at the hands of a black man, which caused THEIR loved one's death, be given the same serious attention, and yes, outrage from Sharpton, Black Panthers et al, as is being given to a case where NOBODY has been arrested, and an investigation is still ongoing.

The President turns a blind eye to the ongoing violence and murders committed by black people, and I don't expect the media to be reporting the murders of innocent white people like Nancy Strait. If the President doesn't think such deaths are worth noting then the media falls into step with him, and ignores such tragedies. Therein lies the REAL tragedy of 'post-racial' America, under the auspices of the *great uniter*.

America, I weep for you.

STOP THE PRESSES! Obama is outraged and demands justice!

From the BBC:

Nato troops killed by gunman in Afghan army uniform


Two troops have been killed in southern Afghanistan by a gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform, Nato has said.

The shootings took place at an international military base in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, on Monday.

Nato said the attacker was shot dead by International Security Assistance Force soldiers. The nationalities of the dead troops have not yet been released.


An official in the Afghan defence ministry told the BBC that the gunman was an Afghan soldier.

A spokesman for the governor of Helmand said the shooting followed a "verbal clash" between Afghan and Nato soldiers, and that the Afghan involved was from Kunar province.

Lt Col Jimmie Cummings, the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) spokesman in Kabul, told the BBC: "An individual wearing an Afghan national army uniform turned his weapon against Isaf force service members in southern Afghanistan today, killing two of our service members.

"The individual who opened fire was killed when coalition forces returned fire, and right now a joint Afghan and Isaf team are investigating this."

The Taliban have claimed that the gunman was "their man"....

Read the rest here.

I am waiting with bated breath for Obama and Karzai, and General Allen, (of course!) to go before the media cameras and apologise and yep, DEMAND swift and certain justice for these latest so-called 'green on blue' murders.

Oh wait - never mind.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

RIP Retired MWD Lex

I have written about Lex and his Fallen Hero partner Cpl Dustin Lee a few times. For any of my previous columns, put "MWD Lex" in the search thing top left. The most recent about them both is here.

Today, this:

12 December 2000 – 25 March 2012
It is with a heavy heart that I pass along this sad news……Today at 2:02 p.m., Retired Military Working Dog K9 Hero Lex has crossed over and is now with Dustin.
My heart is breaking. There is nothing any of us can say to make this any better or easier for you my friend. I still remember the first trip you made to Texas I was in disbelief that you & Lex were at our house. What an HONOR it was to meet such a HERO in person and have the opportunity to bond with him. Lex & Dustin’s story will live on forever and now Dustin & Lex are guarding heaven together……………FOREVER ON WATCH!

I give you this one thought to keep,
I'm with you still. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glistens on the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of the soft winds blowing Through the brush.
I am the soft stars that shine at night
And The Morning Light.
Do not think of me as gone
I am with you still, in each new dawn.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand there at my grave and cry For
I am not there, I did not die
I Am With The creator In The Sky.


That from the FaceBook page "Angels For Lex."

I absolutely believe that Dustin met Lex beyond the Rainbow Bridge, and that they are reunited - together, forever.

Thank YOU for your service, Lex.

*Paw Salute from Bratdog*

Medal of Honor Day

The first formal system for rewarding acts of individual gallantry by the nation's fighting men was established by General George Washington on August 7, 1782. Designed to recognize "any singularly meritorious action," the award consisted of a purple cloth heart. Records show that only three persons received the ward: Sergeant Elijah Churchill, Sergeant William Brown, and Sergeant Daniel Bissel Jr.

The Badge of Military Merit, as it was called, fell into oblivion until 1932, when General Douglas MacArthur, then Army Chief of Staff, pressed for its revival. Officially reinstituted on February 22, 1932, the now familiar Purple Heart was at first an Army award, given to those who had been wounded in World War I or who possessed a Meritorious Service Citation Certificate. In 1943, the order was amended to include personnel of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Coverage was eventually extended to include all services and "any civilian national" wounded while serving with the Armed Forces.

Although the Badge of Military Merit fell into disuse after the Revolutionary War, the idea of a decoration for individual gallantry remained through the early 1800s. In 1847, after the outbreak of the Mexican-American War, a "certificate of merit" was established for any soldier who distinguished himself in action. No medal went with the honor. After the Mexican-American War, the award was discontinued, which meant there was no military award with which to recognize the nation's fighting men.

Early in the Civil War, a medal for individual valor was proposed to General-in-Chief of the Army Winfield Scott. But Scott felt medals smacked of European affectation and killed the idea.

The medal found support in the Navy, however, where it was felt recognition of courage in strife was needed. Public Resolution 82, containing a provision for a Navy medal of valor, was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on December 21, 1861. The medal was "to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and Marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war."

Shortly after this, a resolution similar in wording was introduced on behalf of the Army. Signed into law July 12, 1862, the measure provided for awarding a medal of honor "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldierlike qualities, during the present insurrection."

Although it was created for the Civil War, Congress made the Medal of Honor a permanent decoration in 1863.

Almost 3,400 men and one woman have received the award for heroic actions in the nation's battles since that time.

(Courtesy of DoD)

From 2009: Remember these Names(GO read)

Fort Campbell’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team Honors the Valorous on National Medal of Honor Day

By | March 25, 2012

3rd BCT Public Affairs, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT)

RakkasanFort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne Division

Fort Campbell, KY – While facing insurmountable odds with their backs against a wall and their comrades’ lives at stake; brave men and women, without hesitation, place the well-being of others before their own. Today we remember these brave and courageous warriors.

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill creating the Medal of Honor. The distinguished award was designed to recognize those whom displayed valorous actions while serving on the battlefield, “The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, presents this unique award.

Today, March 25th, marks the 149th anniversary of the first presentation of the medal in 1863.

On that day back in 1863, six soldiers were given the award for their bravery during the Great Locomotive Chase in 1862.

Since the medal’s inception, there have been 3,458 recipients, 19 of whom were double awardees.

Some of the most recognizable and distinguished recipients include:

Yep - another MUST READ here.

Always remember. ALWAYS HONOUR.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Some Gave All: Captain Rupert Bowers

Captain Rupert Bowers killed in Afghanistan

A Military Operations news article

22 Mar 12

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Captain Rupert William Michael Bowers was killed in Afghanistan on 21 March 2012.

Captain Rupert William Michael Bowers [Picture: via MOD]

Captain Bowers, of 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) (2 MERCIAN), was attached to 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 RIFLES), operating as an advisor to the Afghan National Army.

Captain Bowers commanded a small team responsible for the training and development of the Afghan National Army based in Forward Operating Base Ouellette, in the Mirmandab region of Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand province.

On 21 March 2012, Captain Bowers was leading a patrol to clear a position from the threat of insurgents when he was killed by the explosion from an improvised explosive device.

Captain Rupert William Michael Bowers

Captain Rupert Bowers was born on 29 July 1987 in Wolverhampton, and after studying at The Old Swinford Hospital and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he commissioned into 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment in April 2007.

After successfully passing the Platoon Commanders' Battle Course in Brecon he joined his regiment in Afghanistan in 2007 where his actions during a complex insurgent ambush resulted in him being ‘Mentioned in Dispatches'. Upon return from Afghanistan he deployed on exercises in Jamaica and later to Kenya, as a Fire Support Group Commander after qualifying as a Machine Gun Specialist.

He leaves behind his beloved wife, Victoria, and his newly-born son, Hugo, as well as parents, Patrick and Jane, and sister, Juliet. The thoughts and prayers of the British Army are with Captain Bowers' family at this very difficult time.

Lieutenant Colonel Colin R Marks, Commanding Officer, Combined Force Burma, 2 MERCIAN, said:

"Captain Rupert Bowers joined his battalion in Garmsir, Afghanistan in 2007 during Op HERRICK 6. A gifted officer, he excelled in the field and was happiest when leading men in battle. Possessing the heart of a lion, he was Mentioned in Dispatches for gallantry on this, his first of three tours of duty. Returning to Helmand for a second time in 2009, he served as a member of A (Grenadier) Company, 2 MERCIAN, under command of the Light Dragoons Battle Group during Operation HERRICK 10.

"Already proven in battle, he continued to lead from the front and was wounded in action. During Operation HERRICK 15, he was a natural choice to lead an advisor team embedded within an Afghan National Army Tolay (Company) operating in an area in the north of Nahr-e Saraj, heavily contested by insurgents. Although officially attached to the Brigade Advisory Group, he spent his entire tour attached to 2 MERCIAN and was among his closest friends and comrades right to the end. The bravest of the brave, he died as he lived, leading from the front in the face of the enemy.

"Full of character, Rupert was fun to be around all the time and I enjoyed his company very much. We talked for hours about his love of piano music and he always made me feel happy because he was such a sincere and fun-loving person. His brother officers loved him dearly and we will remember him for his infectious smile and wicked sense of humour.

"Married to his beloved Vicky, their son, Hugo, was born while Rupert was home on leave in February 2012. I know he was looking forward to rejoining his family later this month when his tour was due to finish. As well as Vicky and Hugo, our thoughts and prayers also go out to his father, Patrick, mother, Jane, and sister, Juliet. Rest easy brother, your duty is done. You will live in our hearts forever and we will never forget you."..

Go here to learn more about Captain Bower.

Rest In Peace, Sir.

USAF TSgt flies high on American Idol

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Blaire Sieber sings during an “American Idol” performance. Courtesy photo

Face of Defense: Loadmaster Soars on ‘American Idol’

By Air Force 2nd Lt. Ander Bowser
439th Airlift Wing

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass., March 21, 2012 – For one aspiring singer here, her 15 minutes of fame stretched out over weeks as a contestant on the Fox singing competition series “American Idol.”

Millions of viewers watched Air Force Tech. Sgt. Blaire Sieber’s opportunity to live out her dream.

"It's really hard to describe the experience," the 337th Airlift Squadron loadmaster said in a telephone interview. "You feel like you're on top of the world."

Sieber, from Medford, Mass., received marks of approval from the “American Idol” judges: singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, rock legend Steven Tyler and Grammy Award-winning producer Randy Jackson during her bid to be a finalist in the show’s 11th season.

The first step was her audition in Savannah, Ga.

"I wasn't sure that I was going to make it, so I turned it into a vacation just in case," she said.

But the audition process was no vacation, she said. Potential contestants endure at least three sets of cuts. The number of people who show up to audition can exceed 10,000 in each city, but only a few hundred make it past the first preliminary auditions. Those who are chosen then sing in front of producers. After another cut, contestants audition in front of the judges, which is the only audition phase shown on the show.

Those selected by these judges are then sent to Hollywood for the start of the process that yields the finalists who compete for audience votes when the competition starts in earnest.

Sieber said her experience consisted of many long days.

"It's the first round that takes the longest. I got there at 5 or 6 in the morning," she said. "I don't think I auditioned until 4 in the afternoon, and some people might not have auditioned until 2 the next morning."

The odds of being selected are slim. Anywhere from 10 to 60 of the thousands who audition in each of several cities make it to the Hollywood round.

"We all put “‘American Idol’ on a pedestal, because it has been going on for so long," Sieber said. "You feel like you're on this rollercoaster that is perpetually moving."...

Much more here.

Operation Purple Camps time!

When you hear "Operation Purple camp" you should think: Kids Serve Too! The National Military Family Association's Operation Purple camps are a time for having fun, making friends, and reminding military kids that they are the Nation's youngest heroes.

The Operation Purple program was created in 2004 in response to the call from military parents to "help us help our kids." The mission of the Operation Purple program is to empower military children and their families to develop and maintain healthy and connected relationships, in spite of the current military environment. We do this through a variety of means, including the healing and holistic aspect of the natural world. The program is joint or "purple"— and open to children and families of active duty, National Guard or Reserve service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or the Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service and NOAA.

Since its creation in 2004, the Operation Purple program has grown to serve approximately 45,000 military children and teens. The Operation Purple program also includes family retreats at national parks and specialized family camps geared to address the needs of children and families of our nation’s wounded service members.

2012 camp applications available now!

Click here for camp details and apply today.

Donations for Operation Purple camps should be directed to

Questions regarding the Operation Purple program should be directed to

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

One of America's Best: Sgt. Jamie Jarboe Rest In Peace

Sgt. Jamie Jarboe is most certainly an example of all that is good and right about the United States of America.

For the last few months this wounded warrior's wife Melissa has been sharing the journey she and her husband are travelling since he was wounded in Afghanistan in April 2011.

From around the world strangers have become attentive 'family' as we have held them all in prayer. I have struggled to find the appropriate words to share their story here, and been inadequate.

Today, from The Unknown Soldier comes this:

By His Side

Image courtesy: Melissa Jarboe

It's been almost a year since Army Sgt. Jamie Jarboe was shot by an enemy sniper in a tiny southern Afghanistan village.

Today, Sgt. Jarboe, who was paralyzed by the terrorist's bullet, is still in the middle of a monumental battle.

"Jamie is alive and fighting for his life," his wife, Melissa Jarboe, wrote to The Unknown Soldiers on Mar. 20....

Last month, I authored a newspaper column about the Jarboes. In recent days, however, some rumors began floating around about whether the wounded warrior was still alive. Wednesday morning on the Prayers for Sgt. Jamie Jarboe Facebook page, Melissa set the record straight...

I still have no adequate words to share to do justice for them, so go over here and read more on this amazing family.

If you are of the praying persuasion, add your prayers to the global prayer circle.

One thing I have learned in this lifetime, is that we can pray all we want for what WE think we need, but ultimately it IS out of our hands, so my prayer for this amazing family?

"Thy Will be done.."


From their FaceBook page:

May we please ask for a moments silence for Sgt Jamie Jarboe whom took his last breath this morning and was called to serve higher purpose. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Penwell Gabel funeral home in Topeka KS where Sgt Jarboe will be laid to rest on Saturday March 31, 2012. We will always remember "If you ain't Cav, you ain't shit!" Rest in peace soldier, you are loved and lifted in prayer by an entire nation and world supporting you!

(And because I still have no adequate words):

Rest in peace soldier, you are loved and lifted in prayer by an entire nation and world supporting you!

Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Michael

Capt. Joseph McConnell
Capt. Joseph McConnell
32 years old from Dover, New Hampshire
39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing
January 30 1922 – August 25 1954
U.S. Air Force

At the age of 28, Joseph McConnell was considered too old be a jet
pilot in Korea, but he wouldn't let that stop him. He persisted and
was assigned to 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 51st
Fighter-Interceptor Wing in 1952 and was credited with shooting down
16 enemy planes in a four month period and became America's first
Triple Jet Ace when he shot down three of those planes in a single

You Can Read More About Capt. Joseph McConnell here and

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 Wednesday Hero. For more information about
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go here.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sweet Caroline: For Keith

On this day in 2002, Keith was found in the debris of the Twin Towers, and brought home to be laid to rest..

(We were all young 'uns back then...)

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined
To believe they never would
Oh no no

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Sweet Caroline
I've believed they never could
Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good

(Sing whatever lyrics *you* know Keith really sang to this.....)

For more on Keith from those who love him, go here, here and more on that terrible day, go here.

Going home, going home,
I'm just going home.
Quiet-like, slip away-
I'll be going home.
It's not far, just close by;
Jesus is the Door;
Work all done, laid aside,
Fear and grief no more.
Friends are there, waiting now.
He is waiting, too.
See His smile! See His hand!
He will lead me through.

Morning Star lights the way;
Restless dream all done;
Shadows gone, break of day,
Life has just begun.
Every tear wiped away,
Pain and sickness gone;
Wide awake there with Him!
Peace goes on and on!
Going home, going home

Always remembered. Always honoured. ALWAYS missed....

Monday, March 19, 2012

President George W. Bush on March 19, 2003

"We will accept no outcome but VICTORY."

President George W. Bush announces the beginning of Coalition military operations in Iraq on March 19, 2003.

Always remembered. ALWAYS honoured.

Royal Navy Medics hone their skills

From the MoD:

Navy medics in major exercise at sea

A Training and Adventure news article

19 Mar 12

150 Royal Navy personnel have been taking part in a major medical exercise off the UK's south west coast on board Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessel Argus.

A mock casualty is transported at speed

A mock casualty is transported at speed through RFA Argus by a stretcher team
[Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Rob Gillies, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

Wearing white anti-flash overalls and face masks, as if at war, the hospital unit and crew of the ship rehearsed taking on board and treating casualties of bombs and enemy fire.

Exercise Medical Endeavour 2012 sees Argus operating in her main role as the Royal Navy's primary casualty-receiving ship. The training involves a series of exercises on board Argus where casualties airlifted to the ship are taken to a hospital like that in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, which has similarities to an acute district general hospital.

Using skills honed in Iraq and especially Afghanistan the exercise also sees the doctors and nurses and stretcher-bearers from the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Scotland put on a war-footing for 24-hour days while air and warship attacks are simulated and battle-wounded casualties taken on board from ashore and within the ship.

The exercise graphically demonstrates to primarily naval personnel, but also airmen and soldiers, that giving top-level medical care to severely ill patients with burns, smoke inhalation, head injuries and blast and firearm injuries at sea is a far cry from working in Plymouth's Defence Hospital Unit at the Derriford NHS Hospital, let alone the battlefield hospital at Camp Bastion....

Much more here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Enhancing NATO's Missile Defence

on Mar 12, 2012

Despite being faced with defence cuts, the Netherlands is still investing in new and state-of-the-art technology for its navy. The Dutch are modernizing the radar systems of four frigates so that they can be used as an early warning system for NATO's Missile Defence.

Video: I'm a Military Working Dog

The 379th AEW produces video stories from the men and women in Southwest Asia. Here’s the perspective from a 4-legged military member. Kichi- 379th AEW Military Working Dog. Voiced by SSgt Brandon Durham, 379th AEW, Dog handler. Produced by TSgt Lisa Carlson, 379th AEW/Public Affairs.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Blood Price of Afghanistan

From Daniel Greenfield:

The alleged attack on Afghans by an American soldier in Kandahar, where 91 soldiers have been murdered last year alone, is already receiving the full outrage treatment. Any outrage over the deaths of those 91 soldiers in the province will be completely absent.

There will be no mention of how many of them died because the Obama Administration decided that the lives of Afghan civilians counted for more than the lives of soldiers. No talk of what it is like to walk past houses with gunmen dressed in civilian clothing inside and if you are fired at from those houses, your orders are to retreat.

Air strikes are for days gone by. The American soldier in the ISAF is expected to patrol and retreat, to smile and reach out to Afghans while they shoot him in the back. After risking his life to hold back the Taliban, he is expected to take it calmly when his government announces that it is trying to cut a deal with the Taliban. As he waits out the final months until withdrawal, seeing his friends lose their limbs and their lives, knowing that the enemy has won, that he has been betrayed and is being kept senselessly on the front line for no objective except the diplomatic position of a government that hates him, that is taking away his health care, his equipment and his job; how does he feel?

The Panjwai district, where the shootings happened, is the cradle of the Taliban. Smiling civilians plant IED's and children serve as lookouts. Obama's Surge pushed hard into Panjwai and the Taliban pushed back. American soldiers were caught in the middle, dying for a handful of dusty towns where the inhabitants took their presents and shook hands with them, and then shot at them from cover.

The Montreal Gazette tells us that Belanday, one of the villages where the shootings took place, was a model village. What it omits is that Belanday was a key Taliban base, the houses were used for IED factories and it served as a transit route on the way to Kandahar City. The model village concept was supposed to change all that, but it didn't change the sympathies of the local population...

GO, read the rest of this here.

(H/T Mike)

Mrs. Dempsey urges spouses to share 'Amazing' stories

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Deanie Dempsey, wife of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, urges a group of military spouses to share their "extraordinary" stories with the American public while speaking at's 2012 Military Spouse Summit in Arlington, Va., March 3, 2012. (DOD photo by Elaine Sanchez)(Released)

ARLINGTON, Va. (3/13/12) - Military spouses have amazing stories that all Americans need to hear, the wife of the nation’s top military officer said here March 3.

“I want all of America to see what I see -- this is a group that can be an incredible source of good,” Deanie Dempsey, wife of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, told a group of military spouses attending’s 2012 Military Spouse Summit.

This past decade of war has challenged military families in ways no one could have anticipated, Dempsey noted. Yet, spouses have remained steadfast -- serving and sacrificing alongside their service members.

“As Marty and I have traveled around, we have been personally touched by your commitment and your sense of service to your country,” she told the spouses.

As a nearly 36-year military spouse who has moved 21 times, Dempsey said, she understands spouses’ challenges, whether it’s health care, education or employment. She’s also a military mom -- all three of her children served in the Army, and her son remains on active duty....

Much more here.

Wednesday Hero

Maj. Britt Reed
Maj. Britt Reed
U.S. Army

Maj. Britt Reed reads a Dr. Seuss book to children during a celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday at Fort Rucker Primary School March 2.

Photo Courtesy U.S. Army Taken By Angela Williams

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

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Army to Consolidate R&R Operations: DFW last R and R Flight March 14th

The Army announced today it will officially close the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Personnel Assistance Point (PAP) with a ceremony on March 14th, marking the arrival of the last Rest and Recuperation (R&R) flight that will use that airport as a hub for service members returning from theater on R&R.

The Army announced in January it would consolidate operations with the Atlanta PAP by April 1, 2012. The consolidation is a response to a decrease in the number of deployed service members traveling between the United States and theaters of operation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The USO facility at Dallas-Fort Worth will remain open and provide assistance to service members and their families traveling through the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

Commemoration began earlier in March to recognize the tremendous support provided by the Dallas-Fort Worth community and thousands of volunteers who welcomed and supported deployed soldiers and civilians traveling there between the United States and theaters of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(c) DoD

Monday, March 12, 2012

Law firm 'dumps' 9/11 victims

From NY Post:

March 11, 2012


The law firm that reaped more than $200 million in fees and expenses in the city’s court settlement with 10,000 Ground Zero workers now says it won’t represent those filing compensation claims under the federal Zadroga Act because rules forbid them to further bill the same clients, The Post has learned. [emphasis mine]

“By preventing us to be paid for our overhead and services, it essentially precludes us from representing the interests of our litigation clients” in the new Victim Compensation Fund, says a letter from Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern.

John Feal, an advocate for 9/11 responders, called it “disturbing and appalling” that the firm had repeatedly led clients to believe it would represent them.

“This firm made over $200 million from the mass tort — you would think there would be a moral obligation to represent those sick and dying under Zadroga pro bono,” he said.

Nothing in the Zadroga law prevents the firm from keeping the clients. But lawyers who already collected a 25 percent fee in the $680 million city settlement cannot charge the same clients any more. Other lawyers can charge a 10 percent fee.

And yes, there is more here.

Retired 9/11 firefighter Vincent Concannon gets justice

Andrew Savulich for the Daily News

Vincent Concannon, a retired New York City firefighter, has been granted his benefits after medical board denied him.

A BROOKLYN judge slammed the FDNY medical board for engaging in “pure speculation” when it denied a cancer-stricken retired firefighter full 9/11 pension benefits.

Quoting from the Gettysburg Address, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack blasted the FDNY medical board for saying Vincent Concannon’s melanoma could have been a recurrence and not the result of his work in Ground Zero.

President Abraham Lincoln could have been prophesizing about WTC first responders” when he said in 1863, “The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract,” the judge wrote this week.

Concannon, 45, beat melanoma in his upper back in early 2000.

Even while fighting the disease, he was saving lives. He was honored by the Daily News as Hero of the Month for carrying a mother and her 1-week-old baby to safety in a smoky Greenwich Village inferno in December 1999.

"Rescues are just part of the job,” Concannon, who joined the FDNY in 1994, told the paper back then. “But it always feels good.”

The firefighter responded to the Sept. 11 attacks and later spent months in the smoldering Pit. In 2008, he was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in his left lung.

The medical board, which decides on eligibility for 9/11-related disability under the World Trade Center Presumption law, unanimously approved three-quarters pay for the rest of Concannon’s life and continuing pension payments to his family if he died of the disease....

Much more here.

Afghanistan Still Worth Winning

From War On Terror News:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Afghan civilian shootings: Everybody is sorry, everybody is investigating

From DoD:

Officials Condemn Afghanistan Shooting, Offer Condolences

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2012 – President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and International Security Assistance Force leaders all condemned a shooting incident in Southern Afghanistan, and pledged to work with Afghan authorities in fully investigating the incident.

“This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

Panetta spoke with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to offer his deepest condolences and profound regret for the tragic incident in Kandahar province. The incident resulted in the loss of life and injuries to innocent Afghan civilians, including women and children.

ISAF Commander Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, who is here to testify this week, issued a statement today saying he was “shocked and saddened” to hear of the shooting incident.

“I offer my profound regret and deepest condolences to the victims and their families,” Allen said in his statement.

In a Facebook post, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey offered his condolences to the victims of the attack and their families.

“I’m confident that General Allen and his staff are taking the appropriate steps to quickly and thoroughly investigate the circumstances of this incident,” Dempsey said.

Allegedly, an American service member left his base in Kandahar province, entered homes in the area and shot the inhabitants. Karzai said in a statement that the service member had killed 16 and wounded at least five others.

“I condemn such violence and am shocked and saddened that a U.S. service member is alleged to be involved, clearly acting outside his chain of command,” Panetta said. “I told President Karzai that the American people share the outrage felt by President Karzai and his fellow citizens. This tragic incident does not reflect the commitment of the U.S. military to protect the Afghan people and help build a strong and stable Afghanistan.”

“I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorized ISAF military activity,” said British Lt. Gen. Adrian J. Bradshaw in a written statement. Bradshaw is deputy ISAF commander.

The service member is in ISAF custody and will remain there as ISAF and Afghans conduct an investigation, Allen said. Those wounded in the incident are receiving care from ISAF medics. “I am absolutely dedicated to making sure that anyone who is found to have committed wrong-doing is held fully accountable,” Allen said.

Panetta gave Karzai his assurances that U.S. officials will bring those responsible to justice. “We will spare no effort in getting the facts as quickly as possible, and we will hold any perpetrator who is responsible for this violence fully accountable under the law,” he said in his statement.

The incident happens just weeks after rioting over the accidental burning of Qurans at Bagram Air Field.

Both Allen and the American embassy spoke of the partnership between the United States and Afghanistan.

“This deeply appalling incident in no way represents the values of ISAF and coalition troops or the abiding respect we feel for the Afghan people,” the general said. “Nor does it impugn or diminish the spirit of cooperation and partnership we have worked so hard to foster with the Afghan National Security Forces.”

An embassy statement reiterated that the United States is committed to “an enduring partnership with Afghanistan to obtain greater peace and security in the region, which is our common interest. We deplore any attack by a member of the U.S. armed forces against innocent civilians, and denounce all violence against civilians. We assure the people of Afghanistan that the individual or individuals responsible for this act will be identified and brought to justice.”