Sunday, July 19, 2009

A New Soldier...

...has been assigned to me by Soldiers' Angels. While I cannot tell you his name, I can say that he is assigned to B Trp 3-61 CAV 4BCT 4ID COP Keating. COP Keating is a Combat Outpost located in eastern Afghanistan only about 15 miles from the Pakistani border. For more Information see: It sounds like one heck of a hellish place to be stationed, so my bet is that this soldier sees too much combat.

There is a fly in the ointment with this assignment for me. My soldier has no email address listed with Soldiers' Angels. That means I cannot be in rapid contact with him to find out anything about his needs and wants for a care package for him and his fellow troops. He did put down a list of some items with Soldiers' Angels such as toiletries and cigarettes and dip (smokeless tobacco) since his base has no PX. I imagine I will start shopping in the next day or two. If he is still assigned to me at Christmas you can expect solicitations from me to you for help once again. Although I have a donation button posted on the upper right side of my blog I probably will not really pester anyone before then unless he and his buddies have some special needs that I cannot cover financially. Of course if you want to you can always help out by donating money to my PayPal account using the donate button I just mentioned.

All the best,
Glenn B

Are They On Your Mind - Or Have You Forgotten?

I was away in Tucson, AZ for the past 4 months. Over that time I did not have a lot of time to blog. Yeah I got some done but not as much as usual. I did have a lot of time to think though and one of the things I thought about often was that when I returned home I was going to have to contact Soldiers' Angels to sign up for a new soldier to whom to send care packages and with whom to keep in touch by email. That thought was prompted over and over again as I realized that most people in the USA do not seem to remember that we are at war on two fronts right now - one in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan. I saw, everywhere I went, that we act normal during time of war. That is not normal for the people of a country unless they have in essence forgotten the war or have not been affected by it. I think there is a combination of both and an add on of the fact that we have gotten used to being at war. Of course there is the fact that the media is not blasting President Obama anywhere as near as they did President Bush (is that media bias). There is little to nothing in the news each day about how many soldiers died this day or that day, there is little reminder that we are up over four thousand dead and tens of thousands wounded, there is little to report on how successful we are in Iraq or Afghanistan, the reports of fighting are few and far between - yet our military men and women keep on getting killed despite our current president promising to bring them home in short order once elected.

It is a shame that so many of us have seem to forgotten that we are at war whether it be because it does not affect us as much as it should or because it is convenient not to mention it such as in the lesser amount of media coverage it currently receives. Of course there are those who do not forget. They who are there on the front lines have not forgotten. They who are here at home who have sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends or lovers in the midst of a war do not forget. They who have their loved ones return without being able to say goodbye - they do not forget either - and for them the memories will never fade. There are also some others of us who do not forget; as you will see the folks in rural GA certainly remember that we are at war and what it means to be an American and how important it is to honor our troops.

A few lines below this you will find an embedded video of a procession bearing the body of fallen Army National Guardsman Sergeant 1st Class John C. Beale from a small airport just south of Atlanta to his home in McDonough, GA. SSGT. Beale was killed near Kapisa, Afghanistan on June 4, 2009; two other National Guardsmen fell with him that day - Maj. Kevin M. Jenrette and Spc. Jeffrey W. Jordan. All three suffered fatal wounds due to improvised explosives and small arms fire. (As to John C. Beale please note: I have given his rank as Sergeant 1st Class and as Staff Sergeant because I have seen it both ways in reports of his death and because I do not know if there is a distinction.)

Apparently a notice was placed in local town newspapers about the date and time of when the procession would likely take place. Those notices apparently had some great effect, much like the force to topple the first of thousands of dominoes. I never saw this on the television news - but maybe it was reported on, I never heard about it on radio talk shows - but maybe they covered it, I never heard a word about it - not until I received an email from a friend of mine today who had a link to the video. Maybe you have seen it, maybe not. If you have not seen it - watch it and be humbled, maybe even shamed. If you have seen it before, watch it again.

Damn it folks, if tears did not start flowing down your cheeks, or at least well up in your eyes, then there is something wrong with you. If those tears did flow, then there is something you need to do as an American. You can contact a group like:
Soldiers' Angels, A Million Thanks, Email Our Military, Tell Them Thanks, Hero Box, Operation Dear Abby, or another one that helps to get you in touch with our troops and start an email/letter writing and care package sending campaign to help keep their spirits high. As for the above, I can only speak about Soldiers' Angels, Email Our Troops and Operation Dear Abby by way of personal experience since I have used those three to contact our troops. With Dear Abby and Email the Troops I never got a reply from the troops but that was okay - supposedly they forwarded my emails to them. With Soldiers' Angels - well that is a different story. You see I 'adopted' a soldier from them twice. They give you privileged information about a serviceman or servicewoman serving our country overseas. Then it becomes your responsibility to stay in contact with, and send care packages to, that person for the duration of his or her deployment. I can tell you this - the soldiers appreciate it very much. Luckily, both of the soldiers that I 'adopted' came home alive and well as opposed to how Sgt. Beale arrived back home. The thing is that Sgt. 1st Class Beale was honored for his sacrifice and I wonder, if while he was in Afghanistan was anyone here among us or among the throng of people who honored his posthumous return home thinking of him then - was anyone thinking of what you, I, we could have done to make his day better while he was still alive and fighting for us over there? I certainly hope that was the case - I hope that at least he knew some of us back home remembered and cared that we had troops in harms way fighting a war many of us seem to have forgotten - I hope someone let him know that by way of sending him a letter now and again, and sending him a care package chocked full of goodies, goodness and hope.

What I am getting at is that if you have a conscience, if you love your country, if you believe in freedom and democracy and our way of life, if you truly want to support our troops, then you had best be thinking of certain things that you can do to help after having watched that video. You had best remember that we are at war, that people like Staff Sergeant John C. Beale serve and die for our country and for us all to regularly while fighting it, that too many of us seem to have forgotten that or just do not care, that it is not one of life's trifles but is an important thing in the line of many that keeps us a free nation, that there is something you can do to help even if you are here sleeping safe and sound in your bed each night, and that it is truly up to you - to us - to get it done.

So get to it now - right now - click on those links over at the right side of my blog under the Support Our Troops header and start supporting them yourself. Having the war or the troops on your mind does not get it done. Saying "I support our troops" or displaying a banner or bumper sticker that says likewise does little to really give them support. Do something tangible to not only show your support but to actually bolster them up and do it now. It will not only benefit our troops and America it will be good for your soul - believe me on that one.

There have been 77 other military personnel who have died while at war (the info at this link is humbling indeed) since the day SSGT Beale was killed in action.Yes folks the war is still going on - our soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines are still fighting and dying for us - have you remembered that lately? Have you done anything to support them?

All the best,
Glenn B

Departure Was Exigent Not Imminent...

...and I am home already. As it turns out, right after I made my last post to my blog page, I found out my wife had pneumonia. With her already having Swine Flu I figured I had best get on a plane faster than a speeding bullet. So I called my boss at about noon on Friday and told him the situation and he said "get outta here" or something to that effect. I drove into the office, got some necessary job related paperwork done, made a flight reservation, handed in stuff that had been temporarily assigned to me and was off to do some quick shopping before leaving. Shopping included a trip to a store or two to pic up some gifts of chocolates for hotel staff at the front desk and in the kitchen. The staff was great except for the maids, and one higher up. The maids sucked at cleaning or speaking English so no sweets for them. Then it was back to the hotel for packing. That was a whirlwind affair about as wild as a roller coaster ride in a tornado - but I only forgot one thing, a small pair of scissors. I also cleaned up any food I had in the room, and after just about 4 months of staying at a hotel you have as much packed into the tiny fridge as you can, or at least I did; likewise for my pantry or the drawers that served as a pantry. After I was done there it was back shopping, this time at the mall. I was too wired to really shop and did not get a thing for anyone back home. Luckily I had already bought some small gifts but not many. I had been planning on shopping yesterday but that was out. When done with everything I returned the G-ride back to the lot at work. Another agent gave me a ride back to the hotel and since he was remaining on the temporary assignment I gave him my stash of beer. I figure that was about 8 Heinekens, 10 Coronas, and 12 or more Bud-lights (no I do not drink Budwiper of any sort if I can avoid it; they were left overs from a party). Then it was to bed for me. I hit the hay at about 11:15 PM on Friday night and had to get up at 3:15 AM on Saturday. I slept all of 3 hours and tossed and turned the rest.

At 4:00 AM I was off to the airport in a limo/cab. It was really a Crown Vic. The driver was from Russia so that made me feel closer to NYC than I had for months - there is a large Russian population in Brooklyn. Nice guy and when I tipped him he was happy. Check-in was a breeze. No one from TSA even looked inside my shotgun case. (They did look in my suitcase and I do think a K-Bar knife is missing; I have to do inventory tonight.) My flight departed on time at 6:10 Am, and I flew into Atlanta where I connected to another flight to LaGuardia in NY. Both flights got in early. When I landed I called my son - he had not left home yet to come to get me. I told him to turn on that engine and get rolling. As it turned out, just as I got all of my luggage, he called and said he was waiting outside - perfect timing. Julia, his girlfriend accompanied him as did our Chihuahua Pepe. The ride home was nice as was getting there. My wife actually seemed happy to see me and I was happy to see her. may not last long but take it for what it is worth because I am doing so.

Thankfully she is doing okay - not good - but okay. We go to the doctor tomorrow and that is when I start asking questions about why she was not hospitalized after first being diagnosed with Swine Flu, and then several days later with pneumonia.

So as it turns out - I had no choice to make about whether or not to try to hike up to the top of Mt. Wrightson at Madera Canyon or if I should go back to Tombstone instead to see the Courthouse Museum. Something else decided for me what I should do, and I knew I had better get home quick to make sure the Frau was okay.

All the best,
Glenn B