Friday, May 31, 2013

Fundamental Differences of Government

The Obama administration is busy working on delivering the 'change' they promised in two election campaigns in the US, and not everybody is impressed with the over-reaching of all levels of the American government.

As usual, SOME are paying close attention, and as usual War On Terror News lays out the details and the danger within those changes being wrought as the abuse of power within the political regime continues at breakneck speed. Read on:



From the MoD:

Inverness welcomes Scots Guards home

30 May 2013


The 1st Battalion Scots Guards (1SG) paraded in Inverness today, Thursday 30 May, to mark their return from a 6-month tour in Afghanistan. 

 The 1st Battalion Scots Guards march through Inverness


The Battalion spent their tour in the Upper Gereshk Valley in Helmand province.
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Howieson, Commanding Officer 1SG, said:

It is a great honour to be marching through the streets of Inverness today. The Guardsmen are very proud of their work and they are humbled to be able to parade in front of the people of Inverness.

The Battalion has had a challenging 6 months in Afghanistan and today’s parade recognises its achievements. It also gives their friends and families an opportunity to celebrate their safe return and accomplishments of the last few months.

We are extremely grateful for the support we received from the local community all through the tour,” he continued.

Each week we would receive a helicopter-load of letters and parcels from well-wishers across Scotland. We were sent everything from woolly hats to chocolate and board games. It was very touching that we were being thought about at a time we were so far from our homes...

GO read the rest of one of my most favourite stories here.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Afghan Interpreter's family killed

Sayed Shah Sharifi worked as an interpreter for Canadian combat Troops and was one of the many in both Afghanistan and Iraq who risked death threats to himself and his family as he worked alongside our coalition Troops.

From CBC:

Sayed Shah Sharifi hoped his family would be safer with him gone. 

 Sharifi is a young Afghan we've spoken to several times. He worked as an interpreter for Canada's soldiers during the combat mission in Kandahar.

 Afterwards, that work led to death threats. Canada set up a special visa program for Afghans at risk because of their work alongside our troops. Mr. Sharifi applied, but was rejected. Twice. Immigration Canada couldn't find what they called "a consistent threat narrative. 

 Then the Toronto Star dug up Mr Sharifi's story. 

Other journalists followed suit, and, last year, Mr. Sharifi got his visa. He arrived in Toronto, last summer, full of hope.

 Then, last week, he got the news from Kandahar. Five members of his his family were dead. 

From the Toronto Star:

Afghan interpreter’s family killed by Taliban near Kandahar

Sayed Shah Sharifi fought to come to Canada, saying the Taliban threatened to kill him and his family because he was an interpreter for Canadian forces. This month, five of his relatives were killed by a roadside bomb. Three were children.

Unfortunately, Mr Sharifi's story is not unique as it appears that the very countries these brave Afghans and Iraqis have worked for,  have reneged on their promises to guard them and their families in return for their commitment to our Troops and their mission. 

As It Happens has done a few interviews over the years with both Mr Shafiri and indeed some of the Canadian Troops who, upon their return to Canada, have lobbied tirelessly to have governments uphold their promises to ensure safe passage and a new life in our countries they have served so selflessly.

 I remember a few years back getting a phone call from a US base in Iraq. One of my deployed American Soldiers had called me - as he often did - because his interpreter had insisted he wanted to talk to a British/Canadian who supported the American Troops. The Iraqi thought this was amazing - and hilarious! 

What followed was an hour long conversation with a young interpreter who daily risked his own life, and that of his young wife and children, because he believed in helping our Americans in their goal of making Iraq a better place for fathers and mothers to raise their children in peace. Amidst all the laughter - and yes, there was lots of laughter as we talked together - this articulate Iraqi, whose English was better than a lot of native English speakers, shared the hazards of his life as he worked in the US base. We covered all manner of topics, not least of all was the danger he and others like him faced every day, as they knew they were on death lists because they chose to help us help them.  BUT what came through loud and clear to me was his belief in a brighter future for his country, and he was determined to continue serving alongside our Troops - at great personal expense - towards a freedom previously unknown under the Saddam regime.

 This young man had NO intention of leaving his own country and taking up a government offer to resettle in the US, but did propose that I become his #2 wife and move there so I could teach his young wife my western wisdoms. I had to demur, of course, telling him I was SURE nowhere in Iraq was ready for the likes of me.  A whole  'nother story for another day.

Be that as it may, over the years I have watched with great interest (and increasing alarm) as our governments have mouthed empty platitudes about their commitment to these brave interpreters who have risked all - and yet, I am sure that Mr Shafiri's tragedy is not unique.  I have no doubt there are many other Shafiri's we never hear about, who have been killed because they chose the cause of freedom over the boot of tyranny.

And still the empty rhetoric from western governments continues.

From the BBC:

Afghan interpreters to get right to live in UK

British troops on patrol in southern Afghanistan  
More than 2,000 interpreters have served alongside British troops since the war began

Up to 600 Afghan interpreters who worked alongside British troops are to be given the right to live in the UK.

The plan marks a climbdown from ministers who had decided they should not get the same UK resettlement rights as interpreters in the Iraq conflict.

A five-year visa will be offered initially to those who worked on the front line for a year or more - covering around half of interpreters.

But there were concerns that a large number of them could be excluded.


Many of the interpreters who will be helped say they have received serious threats to their lives, while some have already fled to the UK to claim asylum.

"One of my colleagues was captured, held for months and killed by the Taliban. They returned his body to his family in exchange for ransom," one former interpreter told the BBC.

"Ahmad" - who worked alongside British forces at Camp Bastion - said he had grenades thrown at his house and had to leave the job because the Taliban threatened to kill him.

Much more, with other interpreters' first person accounts included, here. 

At that last link is a sidebar story, published back in February:

Is the UK abandoning its Afghan interpreters?

File image of British soldiers in the Kajaki area of Helmand province, Afghanistan, in January 2007  
British troops rely on Afghan interpreters - but will they be left behind?

The American who has just relinquished command of all Nato forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, says: "We have an obligation to look after them". But the Afghan interpreters who work for the British, often in battle and always in danger, feel they have been abandoned, reports BBC Defence Correspondent Jonathan Beale. 

They interpreters are young men like Abdul, who is now in hiding. We arrange to meet him at an agreed location near Kabul. 

As well as carrying his old Nato credentials he holds a folder with the death threats he says he has received. Fears for his own safety and that of his family have forced him to give up his job. 

He shows the letters from the Taliban accusing him of spying and warning that he'll be punished. He says he received a similar telephone call the night before. 

Abdul tells me that when the British leave he and the other interpreters who have worked for them will be the first targets. "They will chop our heads off," he says. 

He has shown the same messages to the British authorities in Kabul, but so far he says his requests for asylum have been rejected. He asks: "What kind of proof do they need?" When he's dead, he says, it will be too late. ...

Read the rest here.

As the governments glibly declare the end of "combat missions" in both Afghanistan and Iraq, these interpreters have legitimate reasons to fear their fate at the hands of the terrorists. They have also more than enough reason to doubt the moral integrity of our governments who have agreed to ensure their safety in return for their unwavering service.

After years of talk talk talk it is more than overdue for our governments to fulfil their moral obligations.  Our governments MUST step up, cut the bureaucratic red tape, bafflegab and bs, and repay the loyalty of the brave men.  It is now more than imperative than ever that our governments keep their word and pay back on the loyalty these interpreters have earned, before more of them pay with their lives.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday Hero

Capt. Barry F. Crawford , Jr.
Capt. Barry F. Crawford , Jr. U.S. Air Force 
 The President of the United States of America awarded the Air Force Cross to Captain Barry F. Crawford, Jr., for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States as Special Tactics Officer near Laghman Province, Afghanistan, on 4 May 2010. On that date, while attached to Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha and their Afghan partner force, Captain Crawford conducted a helicopter assault into Hendor Village. Upon landing, Captain Crawford received reports that multiple groups of armed enemy were maneuvering into prepared fighting positions in the high ground around the village. As the assault force initiated clearance operations, they began to receive a high volume of accurate machine gun and sniper fire from an enemy force well over 100 fighters. As the assault force was attacked, Captain Crawford took decisive action to save the lives of three wounded Afghan soldiers and evacuate two Afghan soldiers killed in action. Recognizing that the wounded Afghan soldiers would die without evacuation to definitive care, Captain Crawford took decisive action and ran out into the open in an effort to guide the helicopter to the landing zone. 
Once the pilot had eyes on his position, Captain Crawford remained exposed, despite having one of his radio antennas shot off mere inches form his face, while he vectored in the aircraft. Acting without hesitation, Captain Crawford then bounded across open terrain, engaged enemy positions with his assault rifle and called in AH-64 strafe attacks to defeat the ambush allowing the aid-and-litter teams to move toward the casualties. While the casualties were being moved the team's exposed position once again came under attack from two enemy trucks that had moved into the area and were threatening the medical evacuation landing zone. As one of the aid-and-litter teams was pinned down by enemy fire, and the medical evacuation helicopter took direct hits from small arms fire, it departed with only four casualties leaving one wounded Afghan soldier on the ground. Captain Crawford developed, coordinated, and executed a plan to suppress the enemy, enabling the helicopter to return to the hot landing zone to retrieve the last casualty. 
While Captain Crawford's element exfiltrated the village, the assault force conducted a two kilometer movement over steep terrain with little to no cover. During this movement the ground force commander and Captain Crawford's element were ambushed and pinned down in the open from multiple enemy fighting positions, some as close as 150 meters away. Without regard for his own life, Captain Crawford moved alone across open terrain in the kill zone to locate and engage enemy positions with his assault riffle while directing AH-64 30-mm. strafe attacks. Continuing to move the team further over 1.5 kilometers of steep terrain with minimal cover, Captain Crawford again engaged the enemy with his assault rifle while integrating AH-64s and F-15E's in a coordinated air-to-ground attack plan that included strafing runs along with 500 and 2,0000-pound bomb and Hellfire missile strikes. Throughout the course of the ten hour firefight, Captain Crawford braved effective enemy fire and consciously placed himself at grave risk on four occasions while controlling over 33 aircraft and more than 40 airstrikes on a well-trained and well-prepared enemy force. His selfless actions and expert airpower employment neutralized a numerically superior enemy force and enabled friendly elements to exfiltrate the area without massive casualties. 
Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Captain Crawford has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
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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Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day: Remember With Honor

Memorial Day is the one official day set aside to REMEMBER and HONOR all Troops who have paid the ultimate price in service to America.  Last year, I was honored to share with you all a column written by Robert Stokely, proud dad of SGT Mike Stokely, who gave his life in Iraq on August 16, 2005.  As always, Robert's words echo the hearts of other Gold Star Families I am so privileged to know and love.

Robert begins:

It is a day we have the opportunity to stop, even for a brief moment, and Remember With Honor the 1,000,000 or so men and women who gave their lives on the field of battle to found, protect and preserve our freedoms and American way of life. A high price was paid by each one of these men and women.

Some gave their tomorrows for us to have a new today each and every day. To say they were all in is an understatement. Those who had no children committed the tomorrows of future unborn generations who will now never be born.

And their families have paid a never ending price as well....

GO - read the rest - here. 

The fact is,  on this day many Families honour and remember their own loved ones who gave their all in service to an ideal greater than self.  These lives, these loves rest in peace in cemetaries across America and around the globe, and yes, while every one of them is known to God, even those of us who love and respect our Troops - and their families - cannot know every one of them.

The National Moment of Remembrance is at 3 pm wherever you are. The National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress (Public Law 106-579), asks Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day, to pause in an act of national unity for a duration of one minute. The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday. The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather, it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died in service to the United States. Each year at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day, Americans unite in a National Moment of Remembrance which honors America’s fallen and their families.

I promise you dear soldier
to remember what you've done
all the sacrifices you have made
in battles lost and won.

I promise you dear soldier
that you will not have fought in vain
even when the years have come and gone
and only your tombstone does remain

I promise you dear soldier
a poppy I will wear
to show the world I'm proud of you
and that I will always care

I promise you dear soldier
to teach my children well
so that they will always remember
and to their children the stories tell

To you I make this promise
an oath straight from my heart
to never, ever forget you
and that in my life you have a part.

Lest that we forget
the terror that is war
and all that has been given
by those who fought before

written by Maria Sutherland
November 2000

(H/T E-Pals for Heroes)

Today, especially, my heart remembers with gratitude and respect the lives - the loves - of our Fallen Heroes and their families who have made the ultimate sacrifice. For them,  EVERY day is Memorial Day. 

 Will you Remember With Honor?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Question

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rest In Peace: Drummer Lee Rigby

From the Ministry of Defence:

Drummer Lee Rigby, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers


Drummer Lee Rigby killed in Woolwich incident

23 May 2013
It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that the soldier killed in yesterday's incident in Woolwich, South East London, is believed to be Drummer Lee Rigby of 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (attached to the Regimental Recruiting Team in London).

 The soldier’s details are being released pending formal identification from the Metropolitan Police Service.

Drummer Lee Rigby
Drummer Lee Rigby or ‘Riggers’ to his friends was born in July 1987 in Crumpsall, Manchester. He joined the Army in 2006 and on successful completion of his infantry training course at Infantry Training Centre Catterick was selected to be a member of the Corps of Drums and posted to 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (also known as the ‘Second Fusiliers’ or ‘2 RRF’).

His first posting was as a machine gunner in Cyprus where the battalion was serving as the resident infantry battalion in Dhekelia. Having performed a plethora of tasks while in Cyprus, he returned to the UK in the early part of 2008 to Hounslow, West London. Here, Drummer Rigby stood proudly outside the royal palaces as part of the battalion’s public duties commitment. He was an integral member of the Corps of Drums throughout the battalion’s time on public duties, the highlight of which was being a part of the Household Division’s Beating Retreat – a real honour for a line infantry Corps of Drums.

In April 2009, Drummer Rigby deployed on operations for the first time to Helmand province, Afghanistan, where he served as a member of the Fire Support Group at Patrol Base Woqab. On returning to the UK he completed a second tour of public duties and then moved with the battalion to Celle, Germany, to be held at a state of high readiness for contingency operations as part of the Small Scale Contingency Battle Group. 

In 2011, Drummer Rigby took up a recruiting post in London where he also assisted with duties at the regimental headquarters in the Tower of London.

An extremely popular and witty soldier, Drummer Rigby was a larger than life personality within the Corps of Drums and was well known, liked and respected across the Second Fusiliers. He was a passionate and lifelong Manchester United fan.

A loving father to his son Jack, aged 2 years, he will be sorely missed by all who knew him. The regiment’s thoughts and prayers are with his family during this extremely difficult time. ‘Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier’.

 Much more on this Hero at the MoD here.

  From the BBC:


Drummer Rigby's family issued a statement on Thursday, saying: "Lee was lovely. He would do anything for anybody, he always looked after his sisters and always protected them. He took a 'big brother' role with everyone. 

"All he wanted to do from when he was a little boy, was be in the Army. 

"He wanted to live life and enjoy himself. His family meant everything to him. He was a loving son, husband, father, brother, and uncle, and a friend to many. "

My heart is with all who know and love this fine young Hero.. Always remembered. ALWAYS honoured.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Hero

This Post Was Suggested By Kathi

Paul Gleason
Paul Gleason 
Not everyone who could be considered a hero has fought for their country. Paul Gleason, a retired history teacher, has never worn the uniform but in 1965 he wrote his first letter to a soldier, a student of his that joined the Army, and has since written more than 10,000 letters. He can been seen at Burger King just about everyday writing three letters, 15 handwritten pages, to active duty and veterans.
You can read more about Paul Gleason here and 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.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Armed Forces Day 2013

From the DoD:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Issues Armed Forces Day Proclamation 

 American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has marked Armed Forces day by expressing gratitude to service members, military families, and veterans who keep this nation strong and safe.

 Here is the text of his proclamation: 

Armed Forces Day is an opportunity for all Americans to express their gratitude to service members, military families, and veterans who keep this nation strong and safe. In 2013, we mark the twelfth consecutive Armed Forces Day with our nation at war – the longest period of sustained combat in our history, fought entirely by volunteers who made the courageous choice to answer the nation’s call. 

President Harry Truman, who proclaimed the nation’s first Armed Forces Day, once said:  “America was not built on fear.  America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” 

 That courage, imagination, and determination comes from ordinary citizens like you who have stepped forward to do extraordinary things throughout our nation’s history. 

To all our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen: take pride – not only on Armed Forces Day but every day – in the uniform that you wear and the patriotic duty you perform.  You are striving to make a difference and leading purposeful lives. You are part of a force that is admired and respected both at home and abroad. Remember that there is no challenge that cannot be met through the shared determination of the world’s greatest military. 

 To the husbands, wives, sons, daughters and loved ones of our service members: Armed Forces Day is also a day to recognize the considerable sacrifices you make every day, and for this nation to reaffirm its commitments to you.  You too have made our nation stronger and safer. 

To our nation’s veterans: thank you for the service you gave to this country and for the support that you give our men and women carrying on your legacy today. As Americans take this Armed Forces Day to reflect on what the military has meant for this country, I hope they also find new ways to show their admiration and respect for all those in our military family. Words of thanks and support will never be enough to repay the debt that this nation owes its patriots.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Captain Nichola Goddard: Always Remembered

 On May 17, 2006, Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard gave her life while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. Aged 26 and from Calgary, Alberta, a proud member of the 1st Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (Shilo, Manitoba), the captain was killed during a ground offensive in Afghanistan.   She was the first Canadian female soldier killed in combat.

Captain Goddard arrived in Afghanistan in January 2006, and had been serving with Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry as a Forward  Observation Officer at the time of her death; her parent unit was the 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.

A Lament for Captain Goddard 

The firefight in the Panjwaye District was part of a joint two-day operation between Canadian and Afghan troops, to secure Kandahar's outskirts after a rumor of Taliban preparations to launch an assault on the city. As troops were moving into a mosque to capture 15 alleged Taliban members, several dozen hidden militants began firing from neighbouring houses. 

As a crew commander, Goddard was standing half-exposed in her LAV III, which was hit by two rocket-propelled grenades early in the battle. The battle lasted most of the day on the 17th and into the night, and ended shortly after an American B-1 Lancer dropped a 225 kg bomb. In the end, the two-day operation saw Goddard, an Afghan National Army soldier, and 40 Taliban killed, as well as approximately 20 Taliban captured. 

The Legacy of Nichola Goddard.

 Nous nous souviendrons d'eux

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Hero

This Post Was Suggested By Katie
Lt. Alan Wood
Lt. Alan Wood 90 years old from Sierra Madre, Ca. May 3, 1922 - April 18, 2013 U.S. Navy Alan Wood didn't run into a burning building to rescue someone. He isn't credited with charging into the line of fire or piloting a damaged plane to save the crew. But he did play a role in what has become one of the most iconic images of all time. 
After nearly a month of heavy fighting U.S forces were able to capture the island of Iwo Jima. A flag was raised to seal the victory. When asked is anyone had a larger flag it was Lt. Wood who was able to provide one and a picture that has come to symbolize the sacrifice and heart of the military was taken. On April 18, Alan Wood passed away at the age of 90.
You can read more about Lt. Alan Wood 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.
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Video tribute to SFC Jared Monti:"I Drive Your Truck"

Jared Christopher Monti (September 20, 1975 – June 21, 2006) was a soldier in the United States Army who received the United States military's highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan.

Monti was deployed with his unit when they were attacked by a group of enemy insurgents. When another soldier was wounded, Monti attempted to rescue him and was killed in action. The President signed the authorization for Monti to receive the Medal of Honor and the medal was presented to his family in a ceremony at the White House in 2009. He was the sixth person from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Read more on SFC Monti's selfless bravery here. 

 Courtesy of Gold Star Mom Mickey, I came across a video made in tribute to this Fallen Hero:

From Lee Brice's site:

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Lee Brice celebrated his #1 song, I Drive Your Truck, with a party in Nashville yesterday afternoon with some very special guests. The song was written by Connie Harrington, Jessi Alexander and Jimmy Yeary, inspired by a story that Connie read about a family who lost their son Jared, who was killed in Afghanistan while trying to save a fellow soldier. When they asked the dad how he coped with the loss of his son he said he drove his truck. The writers had never met the family and weren’t sure if they’d ever be able to track them down, but just recently they did. They called Jared’s father, Paul Monti, and recorded the conversation, which Lee heard later. When they called they introduced themselves and told Paul about the song they had written. He was very familiar with the song and told them, “We feel like this song is just right out of our story.” That’s when they revealed to him, “Well, it is you. It’s your son.” Lee says it was such a powerful moment, just to hear the father realize that the song was his story. The family had connected with the song on such a personal level but they had no idea it was written about them.

Once they were in contact with the family, Lee said they thought it would be so special to fly them to Nashville for the #1 party. “We got ‘em plane tickets and a hotel and we flew in the parents of Jared, he was the guy that got killed in the song. He was the guy that they were getting in his truck and driving around, the actual guy and so we’re gonna give them some plaques and let them see how big their story really became.”

 At the ceremony at the White House honouring SFC Monti, POTUS said in part - and reported here by the US Army:

“Duty. Honor. Country. Service. Sacrifice. Heroism. These are words of weight. But as people — as a people and as a culture, we often invoke them lightly. We toss them around freely. But do we really grasp the meaning of these values? Do we truly understand the nature of these virtues? To serve, and to sacrifice. Jared Monti knew. The Monti family knows. And they know that the actions we honor today were not a passing moment of courage. They were the culmination of a life of character and commitment....

Go there and read the rest (and look at the many pictures) about a man who embodied  "Duty. Honor. Country. Service. Sacrifice. Heroism."

[Adding from the comments because THIS is important:

KIA same battle with Jared SSG Patrick Lee Lybert (Silver Star, Bronze, Purple Heart). During attempts to rescue PFC Brian Bradbury , Medic SSG Craig Heathe fell to his death when the hoist up to the chopper broke while lifting PFC Brian Bradbury off Hill 2610. Both Heathe and Bradbury died from the fall..a tragic night that took the life of four exceptional soldiers....I'm the Gold Star Mother of SSG Patrick L. Lybert . I had his F150 overhauled .."I Drive "His " Truck windows down, tunes blaring as I drive the country roads and fishing holes he grew up with tears streaming.  

Thank YOU for your Sacrifice, SSG Lybert's mom.  I promise you our Fallen Heroes will always be remembered, always Honoured.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chris Hadfield ISS: Come on home

Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to command the International Space Station, is on his way home today, after an awe-inspiring five months.  You can watch it live (follow that link above.)

CBC has more here, with the inclusion of one of my favourite Bowie songs, sung in space by Chris Hadfield...

Safe travels.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

Military Spouses are such a special group whose sacrifices cross all geographical boundaries.

Because the family serves - every.single day.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

VE Day: 'Let Joy Be Unrefined'

 London Celebrates VE Day, 1945

 Besieged on all fronts, representatives of Nazi
Londoners dance in the streets of Whitehall
VE Day, May 8, 1945
Germany signed the surrender documents ending the greatest conflict ever to envelope Europe on May 7 in the French city of Reims. The fighting was to cease at 11:01 AM the next day. Six years of bloodshed were over.

Word of the anticipated surrender had been circling for days. There were two celebratory false starts – one on April 28, another on the morning of May 7. Finally, the official announcement of the cessation of fighting was broadcast on the evening of May 7 and the world erupted in spontaneous joy.

In London, the following day, the streets were filled with people and street parties. Bands played, flags flew and the air was filled with fireworks. At Buckingham Palace, Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared with the Royal Family on a balcony overlooking an ecstatic crowd that packed the square below. The city brimmed with unbridled joy....

A MUST read of an eye-witness to history. 

(Source:  Mollie Panter-Downes' letter was originally published in the New Yorker Magazine on May 19, 1945, republished in The New Yorker Book of War Pieces (1947).

 VE Day 1945: "...Long live the cause of freedom..." 

1945: Rejoicing at end of war in Europe
The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, has officially announced the end of the war with Germany.

In a message broadcast to the nation from the Cabinet room at Number 10, he said the ceasefire had been signed at 0241 yesterday at the American advance headquarters in Rheims.

Huge crowds, many dressed in red, white and blue, gathered outside Buckingham Palace in London and were cheered as the King, Queen and two Princesses came out onto the balcony....(Beeb here)


So many stories of England in WW2 are part of my heritage. As with so many families, the personal recountings have not been written down, but there are first person accounts on sites like the BBC. The Womens Land Army figures large with the home-front women of the 'greatest generation':

The Women's Land Army: We Will Never Forget

by Grace Wallace

17-year old recruit Grace Jackson of Blackpool, Lancashire

The story I am about to tell is not so much about my life, but about a band of women who were seldom recognised, not always appreciated, and soon forgotten. Who were they? The Women's Land Army. Who, did you say? Yes, that is the reaction of most people. 

Another year beginning, the war was still on. I didn't really have a happy home life. I had just been disappointed in love. You may think that at 16-and-a-half years old, I was a bit young to know about love, but we seemed to grow up faster during the war. Everyone seemed to be grasping happiness while they could....


Then, as now, the huge numbers of those from the allies who gave their lives so that others might live free from tyranny, are made up of 'ordinary' individuals who stepped up and stood for freedom, with incredible acts of bravery.

Sgt Major Ken MacKinder. My own soldier angel. Forever.

Lest we forget.

Read the rest of this one, and watch the videos here.


May 8, 1945: "This is your victory."

People were already on the streets celebrating on 7 May, and huge crowds gathered in London on the following day. At 3.00pm Churchill made a radio broadcast. In Trafalgar Square, an eye-witness noted, '...there was an extraordinary hush over the assembled multitude', as Churchill's voice was relayed over loudspeakers: '... the evil-doers lay prostrate before us ... Advance Britannia.'

The King and Queen appeared eight times on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, while the two princesses - Margaret and Elizabeth (the present Queen) - mingled with the crowds. Churchill gave an impromptu speech on the balcony of the Ministry of Health, telling the crowds, 'This is your victory.' (BBC here)

Winston Churchill May 8, 1945:

God bless you all. This is your victory! It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land. In all our long history we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best. Everyone has tried. Neither the long years, nor the dangers, nor the fierce attacks of the enemy, have in any way weakened the independent resolve of the British nation. God bless you all....

 More here..

Wednesday Hero

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Capt. Lance P. Sijan
Capt. Lance P. Sijan 25 years old from Milwaukee, Wisconsin 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron April 13, 1942 - January 22, 1968 U.S. Air Force 
 The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Captain Lance Peter Sijan, United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron, as a Prisoner of War being held in Laos and North Vietnam. 
On 9 November 1967, while on a flight over North Vietnam, Captain Sijan ejected from his disabled aircraft and successfully evaded capture for more than six weeks. During this time, he was seriously injured and suffered from shock and extreme weight loss due to lack of food. After being captured by North Vietnamese soldiers, Captain Sijan was taken to a holding point for subsequent transfer to a prisoner of war camp. In his emaciated and crippled condition, he overpowered one of his guards and crawled into the jungle, only to be recaptured after several hours. He was then transferred to another prison camp where he was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated at length. During interrogation, he was severely tortured; however, he did not divulge any information to his captors. 
Captain Sijan lapsed into delirium and was placed in the care of another prisoner. During his intermittent periods of consciousness until his death, he never complained of his physical condition and, on several occasions, spoke of future escape attempts. Captain Sijan's extraordinary heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Armed Forces.
You can read more about Capt. Sijan 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.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Sgt Danny Nightingale to Face a Retrial


May 2, 2013
Former SAS sniper Sergeant Danny Nightingale will face a retrial for illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition.

Earlier the case was adjourned after secret emails were revealed to the court, which appeared to show the Director of Service Prosecutions consulting the military "chain of command" on whether or not to pursue the case against the soldier.

Sgt Nightingale, was originally sentenced to 18 months' military detention after pleading guilty.

He successfully appealed against the sentence and was released after three weeks.

Judges concluded the original 18-month sentence from November was too harsh and cut the term to 12 months, saying it should be suspended, prompting Sgt Nightingale's immediate release.

The Court of Appeal also quashed his conviction, saying a fresh court martial should be held.

Sgt Nightingale, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, would be expected to plead not guilty at a retrial, his defence team arguing that a brain injury affecting his memory is a critical element in the case.

 *Previous Sgt Nightingale post - with more background.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Some Gave All: Corporal William Savage and Fusilier Samuel Flint

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Corporal William Savage and Fusilier Samuel Flint, both from 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland,  died of injuries sustained in Afghanistan on Tuesday 30 April 2013.

 The soldiers were part of a patrol travelling along Route 611 between Forward Operating Base Ouellette and Patrol Base Lashkar Gah Durai in the Nahr-e Saraj district when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. They were evacuated by air to the military hospital at Camp Bastion, where it was confirmed that they had been killed in action.

Corporal William Thomas Savage, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS)


Born in Irvine on 27 January 1983, Corporal Savage enlisted into the British Army in April 2003. 

After completing recruit training he joined 1st Battalion The Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret’s Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment) in November 2003.

He deployed to Iraq on Operation Telic in 2004 and completed 2 previous deployments to Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 8 in 2008 and Operation Herrick 13 in 2010 with 2 SCOTS. He excelled on the Section Commanders’ Battle Course on 17 June 2011 and was promoted to full Corporal shortly afterwards. Prior to his appointment as a Section Commander in a Rifle Company he had been a member of the Regimental Police.

Corporal Savage deployed to Afghanistan on 11 March 2013. He commanded 3 Section of 1 Platoon in a District Enabling Company composed of Bravo Company Group, 2 SCOTS, part of the First Fusiliers Battle Group. He was based in Forward Operating Base Ouellette in the northern area of Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand province.

Corporal Savage was a keen sportsman who enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities. He was enthusiastic about skiing and was a talented kayak instructor.

Corporal Savage was a shining example of a Scottish infantry soldier and was a rising star in the battalion with an extremely bright future ahead of him. He will be sorely missed by the entire battalion and will always be remembered. He leaves behind his wife, Lyndsey, who is expecting their first child.

Corporal Savage’s wife has made the following statement:

I am completely devastated by this news but extremely proud of ‘Sav’ and everything that he has achieved. He loved being a soldier!

I have lost the love of my life and the father of our son. I know his life will live on through so many amazing memories that we shared together. He will be deeply missed amongst family, friends and the regiment.

Lieutenant Colonel Robin Lindsay, Commanding Officer, 2 SCOTS, said:

We will remember Corporal William Savage as an exceptional soldier, a dedicated leader and a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He was a classic example of a Scottish infantryman: robust, committed and blessed with a fine line in banter. He had made the battalion proud with his excellent recent performance on the Section Commanders’ Battle Course at the Infantry Battle School and he was rightly proud of his well-earned reputation as a tough combat soldier. He had proven his credentials on 2 previous tours of Afghanistan and we considered him a leading light amongst the corporals in the battalion and regiment.

Corporal Savage’s composed and professional approach had a calming influence on his platoon and he was seemingly unaffected by the dangers he faced daily in Afghanistan. He was unflappable and this example inspired his fellow soldiers. In a similar manner his bright personality lifted the spirits of those around him, particularly during difficult times.

Corporal Savage also played a full and vibrant part in wider battalion life; whether it was growing an extravagant moustache for charity or organising social events in the Corporals’ Mess, he was always at the forefront of the fun. He was very popular with us all, but particularly with our junior soldiers because of the compassion and understanding he showed them.

The loss of Corporal Savage has been a hammer blow to the battalion and the regimental family. We are all immensely proud to have known him and we will miss him dearly. He will always be remembered as a brilliant soldier and a remarkable man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Lyndsey and his family at this tragic time.


Fusilier Samuel Flint, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland


Fusilier Flint was born in Blackpool on 19 May 1991 and joined the British Army in November 2011. 

Following his recruit training he joined 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland in June 2012 as they began their Mission Specific Training for their deployment to Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 18. He approached this training in a hugely enthusiastic and motivated manner. He was an extremely fit soldier who, although quiet, was full of humour and popular with his peers.

Fusilier Flint deployed to Afghanistan on 9 March 2013. He was a member of 3 Section, 1 Platoon in a District Enabling Company composed of Bravo Company Group, 2 SCOTS , part of the First Fusiliers Battlegroup. He was based in Forward Operating Base Ouellette in the Northern Nahr-e Saraj District of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Fusilier Flint was a motorsports enthusiast and an avid Manchester City fan. He was dedicated to his family and spent his spare time at home in Blackpool or socialising with friends in Edinburgh.
Fusilier Flint was a vastly impressive infantry soldier and it was clear that he had an extremely promising future ahead of him. His loss has been felt deeply by all who knew and worked with him and he will live forever in their memories.

The Flint-Broughton family have made the following statement:

The whole family is completely devastated. Everyone should know that Sam loved his job and made his whole family and everyone that knew him very proud.

Sam was always the life and soul of the party, a real ladies man, witty funny, the real cheeky chappy. He was a loving son, the protective brother, courageous nephew, the caring uncle, the loyal grandson that anyone would wish to have.

We want to thank everyone for the kind tributes and strong support.
“Always in our hearts and minds, we love you Sam.”

Lieutenant Colonel Robin Lindsay, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, said:

Fusilier Samuel Flint arrived at the Battalion at the very beginning of Mission Specific Training in June 2012 and made an immediate impression as a fit, enthusiastic, motivated and capable soldier who was quick with a smile and a laugh. Despite his young age and relative inexperience it was clear to us all that he was a soldier brimming with skill and ability. He excelled during the many exercises that his Platoon took part in during the build-up to operations and had been identified as a potential Junior Non-Commissioned Officer following the tour of Afghanistan.

Perhaps more importantly, he was quick to form deep friendships with his fellow Jocks and he was always one to help others around him and to give of himself for the benefit of his Section and Platoon. Fusilier Flint was not only committed in military life but revelled in outdoor pursuits and activities such as climbing and mountain biking. He approached everything he did with total motivation and it was clear that his ability matched his ambition. A bright future lay ahead for Fusilier Flint and it is cruel to see that future taken away from him.

We have all been immensely proud to have known and worked with Fusilier Sam Flint and he will forever be in the memory of the Battalion and of the Regiment. We bid him farewell and promise to continue his work in Afghanistan and to commemorate his sacrifice. All of us in the Battalion offer our deepest condolences to Fusilier Sam Flint’s parents, brothers, sisters and wider family during this hard and tragic period, but in particular to his brother David who serves with us in the Battalion.


Go, spend time, learning how these Fallen Heroes lived, in the words of those who knew and loved them the most...

Always remembered.  Always honoured. 


 NEVER forget: The Family ALSO serves - and sacrifices.

Pregnant wife of soldier killed in Afghanistan bomb blast: I have lost the love of my life


[H/T for the link: E-pals for Heroes]