Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday Hero

This post was suggested by Pet

Sgt. Maj. Charles Morris

Sgt. Maj. Charles Morris64 years old from Fancy Gap, Virginia
503rd Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade
December 29, 1931 - August 22, 1996


From then S/Sgt. Morris's Medal Of Honor citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Seeing indications of the enemy's presence in the area, S/Sgt. Morris deployed his squad and continued forward alone to make a reconnaissance. He unknowingly crawled within 20 meters of an enemy machinegun, whereupon the gunner fired, wounding him in the chest. S/Sgt. Morris instantly returned the fire and killed the gunner. Continuing to crawl within a few feet of the gun, he hurled a grenade and killed the remainder of the enemy crew. Although in pain and bleeding profusely, S/Sgt. Morris continued his reconnaissance. Returning to the platoon area, he reported the results of his reconnaissance to the platoon leader. As he spoke, the platoon came under heavy fire. Refusing medical attention for himself, he deployed his men in better firing positions confronting the entrenched enemy to his front. Then for 8 hours the platoon engaged the numerically superior enemy force. Withdrawal was impossible without abandoning many wounded and dead. Finding the platoon medic dead, S/Sgt. Morris administered first aid to himself and was returning to treat the wounded members of his squad with the medic's first aid kit when he was again wounded. Knocked down and stunned, he regained consciousness and continued to treat the wounded, reposition his men, and inspire and encourage their efforts. Wounded again when an enemy grenade shattered his left hand, nonetheless he personally took up the fight and armed and threw several grenades which killed a number of enemy soldiers. Seeing that an enemy machinegun had maneuvered behind his platoon and was delivering the fire upon his men, S/Sgt. Morris and another man crawled toward the gun to knock it out. His comrade was killed and S/Sgt. Morris sustained another wound, but, firing his rifle with 1 hand, he silenced the enemy machinegun. Returning to the platoon, he courageously exposed himself to the devastating enemy fire to drag the wounded to a protected area, and with utter disregard for his personal safety and the pain he suffered, he continued to lead and direct the efforts of his men until relief arrived. Upon termination of the battle, important documents were found among the enemy dead revealing a planned ambush of a Republic of Vietnam battalion. Use of this information prevented the ambush and saved many lives. S/Sgt. Morris' gallantry was instrumental in the successful defeat of the enemy, saved many lives, and was in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

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, April 28, 2014

Remember Them: A Poem for our Fallen

 My regular readers know the name of Wendy Hayward-Miskiewicz.  Wendy is the mother of Canadian Fallen Hero Cpl James Arnal.  Wendy continues to make her son proud of her, as she works tirelessly to honour his Sacrifice.  If her name is unfamiliar to you, go read: Wendy Hayward-Miskiewicz : The mothers also serve

Wendy has continued to write and be a voice for all our Fallen.  She graciously gave me permission to share one of her poems here..  Fair warning:  it will rip your heart out, as she speaks so eloquently as only those who have Sacrificed all in defence of our freedoms can. 

Of this poem, Wendy says:

I wrote this poem after I lost my Mom when I was in KAF. I was inspired by her favourite song and comforted knowing she was with Jim. My Mom married a career soldier, Jim's grandfather to which he was aptly named. My Mom supported the troops till the day she died ... unwavering and true dedication. It was her dream that I serve Tim Horton's to the troops, I could not have done it if not for her love and encouragement.

Remember when …
They stood guard for me and
Time stood still … love was all
we knew.
They weren’t the first for you or I
But war raged on left us to cry.
Remember them …

Remember when …
They swore an oath, they
walked the talk
Gave their hearts…in the
sands, bled on the rock.
They fought and died we
brought them home
Grief and sorrow ... it did roam.
Remember them …

Remember when …
Pride surged with every loss
 … lives were changed
Disassembled, re-arranged.
We came together so far apart
A country full of broken hearts.
Remember them …

Remember when …
They soldiered on, did what
they dared
Support our troops … showed
them we cared.
We still worried, day to day
Vowed we’d never walk away.
Remember them …

Remember when …
Souls they did touch, now
looking back
We ask … was the cost too
To where we are from where
we’ve been
The price is worth the win.
If we … remember them …

Remember when …
We vowed that war would
When our children … die for
freedom and peace.
We will be sad but we’ll be
For all the heroes that we had.
And we’ll … remember them …

(c)  Wendy Hayward

I promise you, Wendy, I will always remember AND honour your son and all who love him.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Some Gave All - Five British Troops killed in Lynx Crash in AFG...

From the MoD:

Captain Thomas Clarke, Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner, Corporal James Walters and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas killed in Afghanistan

27 April 2014

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed the names of the five service personnel who lost their lives following the crash of a Lynx helicopter in southern Afghanistan on 26 April 2014.

They are: Captain Thomas Clarke Army Air Corps; Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan Royal Air Force; Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner Army Air Corps; Corporal James Walters Army Air Corps and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas Intelligence Corps.

Group Captain Richard Maddison, Station Commander RAF Odiham said:
I am extremely saddened to hear of the loss of Captain Thomas Clarke, Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters, all who served at Royal Air Force Odiham. My deepest sympathies are with their families and friends at this most difficult time, and also with the family of Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas, who was not from Royal Air Force Odiham but who was also on the Lynx aircraft.

It was only a week before the accident that I visited their unit in Afghanistan, and flew in a Lynx with Captain Clarke, Warrant Officer Faulkner and Corporal Walters. It was an absolute pleasure to fly with them and to discuss their work; it was also incredibly reassuring to meet such professional and enthusiastic members of their Unit. While on the ground at their base I also spent time with Flight Lieutenant Chauhan, who was the same consummate professional that so many of us at RAF Odiham had come to know. As with all losses of personnel in Afghanistan, we mourn the loss of our most capable and dedicated personnel, who served without complaint and in full understanding of the risks associated with their roles. They were fine ambassadors for their Unit and for Defence as a whole, and we shall not forget them.

 Captain Thomas Ellis Clarke, Army Air Corps


Captain Tom Clarke, from Cowbridge, Wales, was 30. He was born in Cardiff on 19 February 1984. After studying for his A-Levels, he gained a degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Birmingham in 2006. He enlisted as an Army Officer in May 2007, undertaking Officer Training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He graduated in April 2008, commissioning into the Army Air Corps as a Pilot.

He completed a short tour of Afghanistan prior to commencing flying training in July 2008. He completed his helicopter pilot training in May 2010 and was posted to 661 Squadron and subsequently 652 Squadron to fly the Lynx.

Captain Clarke was posted to RAF Odiham in October 2013 and has deployed on numerous occasions in support of training exercises. An ambitious and competent young officer, he had a very bright and promising future in the Army.


His family has paid the following tribute:
We cannot express enough our devastation at the loss of a truly wonderful husband, son, brother and friend. Tom brought so much happiness and love to everyone he knew with his sparkling blue eyes and cheeky smile. He had an absolute passion for life and was the best part of us; we are all poorer today without him. ‘We carry your heart, we carry it in our heart’.

 Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, RAF Odiham

No photo has been released

Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan was born in Birmingham on 3 February 1985. In February 2008 he commenced Officer Training at RAF Cranwell. Upon commissioning into the RAF’s Intelligence Branch he underwent further training at the Defence School of Intelligence at Chicksands in Bedfordshire, serving at RAF Waddington, RAF Marham and in Afghanistan. Flight Lieutenant Chauhan deployed to Afghanistan for his third tour on 13 February 2014 as an Intelligence Officer in support of the UK’s Armed Forces deployed on Op HERRICK. 


Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan was born in Birmingham on 3 February 1985. In February 2008 he commenced Officer Training at RAF Cranwell. Upon commissioning into the RAF’s Intelligence Branch he underwent further training at the Defence School of Intelligence at Chicksands in Bedfordshire, serving at RAF Waddington, RAF Marham and in Afghanistan. Flight Lieutenant Chauhan deployed to Afghanistan for his third tour on 13 February 2014 as an Intelligence Officer in support of the UK’s Armed Forces deployed on Op HERRICK.  

Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner, Army Air Corps

Warrant Officer 2 Spencer Faulkner was born on 15 December 1975. He joined the Army as a Royal Engineer, Geographic Technician in September 1992. Selected for employment as aircrew in 2005, he completed his initial flying training prior to streaming on to the Lynx helicopter. He completed his conversion training at Middle Wallop in February 2007 and was subsequently officially re-mustered to the Army Air Corps as a pilot. An experienced aviator, Warrant Officer 2 Faulkner deployed to Afghanistan on numerous occasions, often at short notice, in support of UK Armed Forces. 

A true Army Warrant Officer in bearing and professionalism, he was liked and highly respected by all who worked with him.


His family said:
Spen was a loving husband to Cally and devoted father to Natasha and Jack, and will be greatly missed. A huge gap has been left in our hearts forever. He has been tragically taken away whilst serving his Country, a job he loved. God rest his soul.

Corporal James Walters, Army Air Corps

Born on 11 January 1978, Corporal James Walters joined the Army in March 1996 as a Driver. He subsequently moved to 668 Squadron at the School of Army Aviation at Middle Wallop where he completed additional training before being posted to 5 Regiment, Army Air Corps in Northern Ireland in 1998. In April 2001, he moved to 4 Regiment Army Air Corps at Wattisham and undertook training to become ground crew on the Apache helicopter. He subsequently moved to 3 Regiment Army Air Corps completing an operational tour in Kuwait during the conflict in 2003. 

Operating with the Lynx helicopter force he proved to be a highly competent crewman, deploying to Afghanistan on numerous occasions in support of UK Armed Forces. 

A highly respected Junior Non-Commissioned Officer, he was a consummate professional and an example to all who served with him. 


His family paid the following tribute:
We cannot begin to comprehend the tragic loss of a beautiful and loving husband, daddy, son, and brother. James has left a huge hole in all our hearts.

Lance Corporal Oliver Matthew Thomas, 3 Military Intelligence Battalion, Intelligence Corps

 Lance Corporal Thomas was born on 5 September 1987 in Brecon, Powys. He joined the Army Reserve in June 2011, and after moving to London he joined 3 Military Intelligence Battalion in July 2012. He volunteered to be mobilised from the Army Reserves for deployment to Afghanistan and arrived on 11 December 2013 to be part of the United Kingdom’s contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). 


His family paid the following tribute:
Oliver was a truly amazing person, living his life to the full, while fulfilling some of his many dreams and adventures. He was very much loved and will be greatly missed by his grieving family and friends....


There is much more about these Fallen Heroes here.   

My heart goes out to all who know and love them. 

ALWAYS remembered.  ALWAYS honoured...

Israel Holocaust Memorial Day

Israel gears up to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day

The theme of this year's opening ceremony at Yad Vashem is “Jews On the Edge 1944: Between Annihilation and Liberation,” where 6 survivors will light torches.

CHILDREN AND an old woman on the way to the death barracks of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. Photo: GERMAN FEDERAL ARCHIVES
On Sunday evening and Monday Israelis will mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day with memorials across the country. The commemoration of the six million European Jews murdered by the Germans will commence with torch lighting ceremony attended by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and other senior officials at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem....
Go read more on the Jerusalem Post.

Via AP, comes a report of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning the world.  He says, in part:
"In this place I have said many times that we must identify an existential threat in time and act against it in time and tonight I ask 'why in the years before the Holocaust did most of the world's leaders not see the danger ahead of time?' In hindsight, all the signs were there," he said.

"Has the world learned a lesson from the mistakes of the past? Today we are again faced with clear facts and before a real danger. Iran calls for our destruction, it develops nuclear weapons."

NEVER AGAIN???  Only we can decide if we really mean that, and what we are prepared to do to walk the walk of:  NEVER AGAIN..

9/11 Responders Remembered Flag Dedication Ceremony

MARK your calendars:

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Two former Popes to be Canonised

This Sunday, for the first time in history, two popes will be canonized on the very same day. Millions of people are expected to go to Vatican City for the momentous occasion.

Pope John XXIII was the oldest pope elected since 1670 and is most revered for convening the Second Vatican Council in 1962. Pope John Paul II was the longest serving pope of the past century and is credited with igniting the end of Communism. He will hold the record for the fastest saint to be canonized in the history of the Catholic Church.


Video: Ronald Reagan - "Informed Patriotism is what we want"


Mar 18, 2008
“But change would not mean
rejection of the past. Like a tree
growing strong through the
seasons, rooted in the Earth and
drawing life from the Sun, so, too,
positive change must be rooted in
traditional values—in the land, in
culture, in family and community—
and it must take its life from the
eternal things, from the source of
all life, which is faith. Such change
will lead to new understandings,
new opportunities, to a broader
future in which the tradition is not
supplanted but finds its full
flowering. That is the future
beckoning to your generation.”
-Ronald Reagan

Friday, April 25, 2014

Red Shirt Friday - for the Aussies

Australian Flag - Fact Sheet

Eric Bogle - The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

ANZAC Day 2014: Remember and Honour Them

The poster features two images.  One is the memorial of the Bullecourt Digger which stands in the Australian Memorial Park in France, commemorating the 10,000 soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force who were killed or wounded on the nearby Hindenburg Line of the Western Front in April and May 1917. The background image depicts members of the ADF taking part in an Anzac Day commemoration at Tarin Kot, Afghanistan.

Alongside the images are four words recognising the importance of commemoration:

honouring, remembering, thanking and renewing.

The Australian Government - Department of Veterans Affairs - has a site that has lots of information about, and for,  our Aussie Veterans.  Check it out. 

Australia remembers: Thousands gather for Anzac Day services

Tens of thousands of Australians have attended services around the country to commemorate Anzac Day and pay tribute to the men and women who have fought and died in war.

While crowds build in Turkey ahead of the traditional Gallipoli memorial later today, local services have been well attended across Australia, and marches are now taking place.

In Canberra, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a late decision to attend the national dawn service outside the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

As always, the service attracted a large crowd, likely to exceed 20,000.

Presenting the address, Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith said Australia was emerging from its longest war which claimed the lives of 40 soldiers.

He said these were men like their forefathers believed that our safety, freedom and way of life were more important than their own suffering and loss.

".... proud willing and capable men who did what needed to be done," he said. [emphasis mine]

 The cenotaph is seen during the Anzac Day dawn service in Sydney. Credit: AAP

 Many more details here.

There are many events scheduled across the country and you can find information here.
There is a special event being held in America, honouring Captain Paul McKay. Capt McKay was an Aussie on holiday in New York,  who went missing,.  His body was found two weeks later.

From Press Republican:
April 21, 2014
Saranac Lake to honor Australian soldier on ANZAC Day

SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake is planning an April 25 tribute to Capt. Paul McKay for ANZAC Day.

The remembrance holiday, referencing the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), is meant to honor war heroes who died serving those countries, much like Memorial Day does in the United States.

But the tribute in Saranac Lake will celebrate a soldier born thousands of miles away who ended his life here near the summit of Scarface Mountain.

Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau said the idea came of a simple request.

“One of Paul McKay’s friends asked if I would lay a single poppy in a place of honor for Capt. McKay on ANZAC Day. I decided I would do that on Scarface. So, about six or seven of us are ascending Scarface on April 25 in a private tribute.

“I thought that it would be appropriate to have our village also acknowledge ANZAC Day and post-traumatic stress. We don’t call it a disorder,” the mayor said....

Many more details of the planned memorial events here.

Ninety-nine years ago, thousands of brave young men went ashore on a foreign beach in a far distant land. In a display of courage, determination and mateship, these Australians and New Zealanders created a legend which, when retold today, evokes pride and passion in a new generation of Australians.

The Anzac spirit of courage under fire, selflessness and unwavering loyalty, tenacity and mateship was forged in the battles at Gallipoli. The legend of our Anzacs has transcended time to become a symbol of what we value as Australians.

On Anzac Day, we stop to remember and reflect on the sacrifice of men and women who serve and served our nation in times of war and peace. Veterans  of the past proudly display their medals, soldiers of today boldly wear their uniforms. Families of veterans who have since died honour their memory by wearing medals awarded when the battle was over.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of participation on Anzac Day. Many more people, young and old, are rising early to attend Dawn Services and honour our Anzac tradition.

Today we see the faces of living heroes; not just veterans of war, but those who proudly wore our uniform and served in times of peace. We honour them and the families who supported them. We remember their service for our nation.

More here.

A Tribute to  Australian Troops

Honouring. Remembering. Thanking.

Memorial tablet in cemetery near Kupang, West Timor, where a number of Australian Second World War soldiers are buried.

In most ceremonies of remembrance there is a reading of an appropriate poem.

One traditional recitation on Anzac Day is the Ode, the fourth stanza of the poem For the fallen by Laurence Binyon (1869–1943). Binyon was the assistant keeper of prints and drawings at the British Museum, and the author of several volumes of verse. For the fallen was first published in the London Times in 1914 and later in many anthologies of war verse. It was selected in 1919 to accompany the unveiling of the London Cenotaph and, like so many memorial traditions, passed into common use across the Commonwealth. Its use on Anzac Day might have originated with the Queensland Anzac Day Commemoration Committee, which printed the poem on the cover of a collection of sermons and addresses for Anzac Day, published in 1921. Binyon’s poem was also read at the laying of the Inauguration Stone at the Memorial in 1929.

The most well-known lines are:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

MUST READ: Schindler's List survivor Eva Levi's story

These days, as evil stomps and murders on every continent on the planet, it is easy to be overwhelmed and forget there will ALWAYS  be good and decent people among us.

Found this story on IDF Blog:

The Youngest Holocaust Survivor from Oscar Schindler’s List, Now 75, Tells her Story

Pakistan: 'Honour' killings continue - in the hundreds

From Jihad Watch:

Pakistan: 202 women murdered in the name of honor in Sindh last year

Robert Spencer
 22 April 2014

This article, like most about honor killings, never once mentions Islam (although Sindh is 91% Muslim). This steadfast and universal refusal to identify the root cause of honor murders only ensures that there will be more of them.

Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide. A manual of Islamic law certified as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy by Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, says that “retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right.” However, “not subject to retaliation” is “a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring.” (‘Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2). In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law.

The Palestinian Authority gives pardons or suspended sentences for honor murders. Iraqi women have asked for tougher sentences for Islamic honor murderers, who get off lightly now. Syria in 2009 scrapped a law limiting the length of sentences for honor killings, but “the new law says a man can still benefit from extenuating circumstances in crimes of passion or honour ‘provided he serves a prison term of no less than two years in the case of killing.’” And in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament voted down on Islamic grounds a provision designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that “Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values.”

“202 women murdered in the name of honour in Sindh last year,” by Peer Muhammad, Express Tribune, April 21:

ISLAMABAD: In 2013, as many as 202 women were murdered in the name of Karo-kari (honour killing) in Sindh, Special Home Secretary Sindh informed the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Monday.

The secretary also stated that at least 28 honour killing cases have been reported in 2014 thus far....
NO honour here.  Much more here.

Ukraine: "Then they came for the Catholics..."

From Politichicks:
Ukrainian Catholics in Crimea Forced to Register…Goes Unreported 

April 23, 2014

Recently there was worldwide upheaval upon hearing that Jews were allegedly being forced to register in Eastern Ukraine. There were mixed reports that followed, including reports that it was all a hoax; of course, it’s difficult to know the truth when dealing with Russian news sources.  However less-reported stories are leaking out that the Catholic Church in Crimea has been driven nearly completely out of the region by their new Russian handlers. This Catholic cleansing has gone relatively unreported and undeterred, causing many of Ukraine’s Greek Catholics to fear a return to the days of the underground church which existed from 1945 until 1989.
 During the time of the Soviet Union’s rule of Ukraine the laws of the state refused to acknowledge or grant permission for practicing or promoting beliefs to any religious groups other than the state run church....

Much more here.

From the Catholic News Agency, more insights:

Ukrainian Catholics experiencing 'total persecution' in Crimea
By Sonya Bilocerkowycz and Sofia Kochmar
.- As the Russian president signed a bill to annex Crimea Tuesday, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the peninsula has been experiencing what a Church official calls “total persecution.”
“At this moment all Ukrainian Greek Catholic life in Crimea is paralyzed,” Fr. Volodymyr Zhdan, chancellor of the Stryi eparchy in western Ukraine, told CNA March 18.

From 2006 to 2010, Fr. Zhdan served as chancellor of the Odesa-Krym exarchate, which encompassed both the mainland port city of Odesa and the Crimean peninsula.

Since late February the peninsula has seen the emergence of pro-Russian troops, who have taken control of its airports, parliament, and telecommunication centers.

Referring to the kidnapping of three Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests in Crimea by pro-Russian forces over the weekend, Fr. Zhdan stressed that one such case could be called a mistake, but that “multiple kidnappings are not an accident.”

On March 15 Fr. Mykola Kvych, a naval chaplain stationed in Sevastopol, was detained immediately after celebrating a “parastas,” a memorial prayer service for the dead. The following day Fr. Bohdan Kosteskiy of Yevpatoria and Fr. Ihor Gabryliv of Yalta were also reported missing. ...


UK: Farewell Parade for 47 Regiment Royal Artillery

From British Forces News:

47 Regiment Royal Artillery have said goodbye to their home of 25 years in spectacular fashion, with a march to honour St George's Day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

US Troops to 'exercises' in Poland

I guess VP Biden took his red crayon on that trip to the Ukraine.

From DoD:

U.S. Troops to Arrive in Baltic Region for Exercises

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 – A company-sized element of the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team -- about 150 soldiers -- will arrive in Poland tomorrow to begin a bilateral infantry exercise with Polish troops, the Pentagon press secretary said today.

In the coming days, about 450 additional soldiers from the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd ABCT will arrive for similar exercises in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
The exercises are the first in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in the Baltic region scheduled to take place this year and possibly into next year, he said.

“Russia's aggression in Ukraine has renewed our resolve to strengthening NATO's defense plans and capabilities, and to demonstrate our continued commitment to collective defense in reinforcing our NATO allies in Central and Eastern Europe,” Kirby said.

The troops will be in place in all four countries by April 28, he said, noting that the exercises will last about a month. “But then we will rotate fresh troops in for more exercises,” the admiral added.
The intent is to develop a persistent rotational presence through the exercises, Kirby explained.

Discussions are ongoing about expanding the bilateral exercises into other countries in the region, he said. Discussions regarding the establishment of combined exercises involving other NATO member and partner countries also are taking place, Kirby said.

“It doesn't have to be either/or,” he said. “I think we're looking for a broad swath of ways that we can help reassure our allies and partners, and it doesn't all have to be through the alliance.”

Since Russia's aggression in Ukraine began, the admiral said, the United States has been constantly looking for ways to reassure its allies and partners of the nation’s commitment to the collective defense principles in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty....

Much more here

FOX' take on this latest response to the troubles in Ukraine.

Are YOU paying attention?  You should be!

Related:  Europe and Ukraine: Past and future

US sends message to Putin as Troops arrive in Poland  (video)

Wednesday Hero

This post was suggested by Michael

Lt. Col. Jerry Coleman

Lt. Col. Jerry Coleman89 years old from San Diego, California
VMSB-341, VMA-323
September 14, 1924 - January 5, 2014
U.S. Marines
Not only was Jerry Coleman a pro-baseball player, playing for the Yankees from 1949 to 1957, but he was also a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marines. Coleman postponed his entry in to the MLB to join the Marines. He flew 120 missions in WWII and Korea and earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and thirteen Air Medals.
You can read more about Lt. Col. Coleman 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, April 22, 2014

Yemen: US Drones kill 55

From Homeland Security News Wire:

U.S. drone attacks kill at least 55 al-Qaeda militants in Yemen

22 April 2014

 A series of U.S. drone strikes Sunday and Monday killed at least fifty-five al-Qaeda militants in Yemen. The operation focused on al-Qaeda operation basecamps in the rugged mountain of the central and southern provinces of Yemen. 

Yemeni government sources to say that the first series of attacks, carried out on Sunday, killed three prominent al-Qaeda operatives. Al-Qaeda made gains in Yemen during the chaos which accompanied the 2011 popular uprising against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was driven from power a year later. In the last two years, the United States and the new Yemeni government have escalated the fight against the Islamist militants.

Yemen’s interior ministry said that the first strikes on Sunday lasted for several hours and claimed the lives of three prominent figures as well as dozens of other militants. It identified the three as Mohammed Salem Abed Rabbo al-Mashibi, Fawaz Hussein al-Mahrak and Saleh Said Mahrak.

The Washington Post reports that Yemeni security officials noted that the sprawling base was one of the few permanent facilities al-Qaeda was operating in Yemen....

I am amazed that there was 55 left to kill, since Obama assured us a while back that they were 'on their heels.'  However, there is more on this here...


Ukraine: Biden irony alert

In case you missed it, VP Joe Biden is in Ukraine right now, because...and is quoted as saying:  

Russia must "stop talking and start acting" to defuse the Ukraine crisis.

Go read more of the BBC's take on  the latest White House talking tour here...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Nigeria: Murder of Christians continues

From Jihad Watch:
Nigeria: Islamic jihadists murder 75 with rush-hour jihad bomb at bus station
19 April 2014

“We are in your city, but you don’t know where we are.” That is true of many more cities besides just Abuja. But to pay too much attention to such matters would be “Islamophobic,” and neither government and law enforcement authorities nor the general public have yet caught on to the fact that every resistance to jihad terror and Islamic supremacism is ipso facto “Islamophobic,” and the whole point of charging “Islamophobia” is to clear away all obstacles to the advance of jihad terror.

“Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamic extremists claim massive blast that killed 75 in Nigerian capital,” by Michelle Faul, The Associated Press, April 19 :

LAGOS, Nigeria – Islamic extremists Saturday claimed responsibility for the massive rush-hour explosion earlier this week that ripped through a busy bus station in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, killing at least 75 people and wounding 141.

“We are in your city, but you don’t know where we are,” Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Boko Haram terrorist network, says in a new video that threatens more attacks.

“Yes, we are the ones who carried out the attack in Abuja,” he says in Nigeria’s Hausa language in the video, which was received through the same channels as previous ones....

Read more here.

And then there is this:
Nigeria: Jihadists burn church on Easter Sunday, murder over 150
April 20, 2014

“In response, the youths of the Wukari communities – were said to have organized themselves – and had reacted to attack a Mosque and burn it down. The youths were reported to join the attack against the Boko Haram jihadists.” If that reaches the mainstream media, it will be reported as Christians attacking the mosque out of “Islamophobia,” with no mention of the Muslims burning down the church. Note also that “the acting governor” is a “Boko Haram sympathizer.”

“Police and Boko Haram Massacre Over 150 Dead,”, April 21:
Information reaching indicates that another Boko Haram offensive have taken place again – only days after the massacre that took over 200 lives in Nyanya, Abuja federal capital territory.

According to the information, unknown gunmen launched attack at select communities of Wukari local government area in Taraba State. The attack began at about 1:30am on Sunday Easter morning and continued till 3pm Sunday Easter afternoon. The police image maker confirmed to that the attacks began in the middle of the night in a manner resembling that of Kaura community [Kaduna] attacks by Fulani herdsmen. According to the police, the attacks initially was thought to be Fulani herdsmen but as the attacks progressed, it became obvious that the attackers were most likely Boko Haram jihadists.

It was confirmed that a church was burnt down during the attack – Christian Church of Nigeria – along with many homes belonging to non-Muslims. Eyewitness account indicates that fifteen corpse were seen littered on the streets – within the line of fire....

Yes, there is more here.

Israel: No peace from terrorists

From IDF Blog: 

Gaza Terrorists Attack Israel during Passover Holiday

More related links here.

Boston Marathon Security and DHS - One year later

Lots of headlines about the Boston Marathon today - one year after the terrorist attack that killed three and injured hundreds. 
From CBC:

Boston Marathon under tight security 1 year after bombing

36,000 runners will jog along the 42-kilometre course

The Associated Press  Apr 21, 2014

 About 36,000 runners are registered to run this year's Boston Marathon - one year after two bombs killed 3 people and wounded more than 260 others at the annual race. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

For years, state and local officials have conducted a "tabletop exercise" before the Boston Marathon, a meeting that allows them to study a map of the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Boston's Copley Square and plan for emergencies that could arise during the race.

So many new people needed to attend the session this year that they moved it from the state's emergency bunker in Framingham to the a convention centre in the city. The crowd grew from what usually is about 100 to more than 450, according to Boston Athletic Association executive director Tom Grilk, who is in charge of organizing the race....

More here. 

In the lead up to today's Run, a report was issued last week about lessons learned from that atrocity. 

From Homeland Security News Wire:

Report details first-response lessons from Boston Marathon bombing

17 April 2014

Last Thursday, DHS released a 19-page report titled “Boston One Year Later: DHS’s Lessons Learned,” detailing three topics which were a focus of attention in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. The report discussed the “importance of partnerships,” the “need for effective and reliable communications,” and the need to further boost anti-radicalization efforts.

ABC News reports that immediately after the bombing, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) National Targeting Center “re-vetted” all flights that departed earlier in the day from Boston, New York, and Newark airports to identify potential suspects. A review of DHS’s “name-matching capabilities” found a misspelling of “Tamerlan Tsarnaev,” the older of the accused Boston bombers, allowing him to return unnoticed to the United States after a trip to Russia despite previous alerts from Russian intelligence. DHS has now improved its ability to detect variations of names derived from a wide range of languages.

Boston police chief Ed Davis said he was not notified about Tsarnaev before the attacks despite previous FBI investigations of Tsarnaev, but now DHS has improved its system of sharing information with local officials about potential threats.

Since 2002, Massachusetts has received roughly $1 billion from twenty-two DHS grant programs, including $370 million for the Boston urban area....

Many more interesting details here.  Go read.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Video: Easter Sermon at St Paul's Cathedral

Published on Apr 20, 2014 The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, gives the sermon for the Mattins service held at St Paul's Cathedral on Easter Sunday, 20th April 2014.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Donetsk: "First they came for the Jews..."

Donetsk leaflet: Jews must register or face deportation 

 Fear replaced communal atmosphere in Donetsk's Jewish community as armed men handed out a leaflet Passover eve calling on Jews register their religion and property with the interim pro-Russian government or face deportation and loss of citizenship. 

Michal Margalit 
A leaflet distributed in Donetsk, Ukraine calling for all Jews over 16 years old to register as Jews marred the Jewish community's Passover festivities Monday (Passover eve), replacing them with feelings of concern.

The leaflet demanded the city's Jews supply a detailed list of all the property they own, or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated....

More details, with other information links, here.

NEVER AGAIN rings hollow yet again. 

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