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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Weekend Plans: Gettysburg or Bust!

Well, I'll be driving my Mini, but hopefully the banner in this picture will make it back from Texas (signed by my mom's 5th graders) in time to motivate folks participating in this event. Folks like Chuck.

I'll be there along with other volunteers to hang banners, cheer the riders, and do whatever else needs to be done to make sure the event goes off without a hitch.

If you live between DC and Frederick, MD, look for riders on Saturday - stop and cheer them along if you're able. Do the same between Frederick and Gettysburg on Sunday.

Say a prayer for some cooperative weather, too, huh?

Plus, you can still make donations to help defray the expenses of participants who are members of our armed services. Go HERE, or see more about Chuck's effort HERE. You can make a donation to any one of the teams participating to help them reach their fundraising goals.

Benefits of Being An Angel

For me, there are a lot of intangible benefits to being a member of Soldiers' Angels. Being a part of one troop-support organization or another simply seems the right thing to do. Sometimes it's just a good outlet when war coverage is frustrating -- at least I can let one or two soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines know how grateful I am for their service and how impressed I am with what they've accomplished around the world, regardless of what others are blathering on about at the moment.

Then there is something as grin-worthy as getting hooked on the Kellogg's Protein Bars that you'd been sending to your soldier in Iraq. Figure-friendly, reasonably priced, and the easiest way I've found yet to eat "well" for breakfast and lunch.

Thanks, T!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Greyhawk on Yon

Duh. I can't believe I forgot to link to Greyhawk's review of Michael Yon's new book.

His review of Yon's "Moment of Truth in Iraq - How a New 'Greatest Generation' of American Soldiers is Turning Defeat and Disaster into Victory and Hope" was published in the New York Post and can be found on-line HERE.

Order an autographed copy of the book HERE, or, for the budget-conscious, order HERE.

P.S. For those new here, Greyhawk rocks. Literally, too (go have a listen).

Medal of Honor for Spc. Ross McGinnis (HT: Badger 6)

Early word is spreading that Spc Ross McGinnis will be the next recipient of the highest valor award for actions in combat, the Medal of Honor.

Badgers Forward has more and a link to the story in the Army Times.

More on Spc McGinnis's story from a 2006 post at Blackfive.net (of course).

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"Warriors...in their own words" (HT: Marty)

I hadn't seen anything about this yet.

The trailer for the documentary is powerful. Go have a look **HERE**.

Why did they make it? From their website:

"Help build our project to change the way America sees our Warriors - not as victims, but as intelligent, honorable, and brave people they are, standing in the way of the free worlds demise. Help us help our wounded warriors."

I'm in.

A DVD and a book to be released May 24th. I just pre-ordered mine.

P.S. *Tissue alert* for the trailer...
P.P.S Wouldn't you like to be an Angel to a warrior like this? Go HERE.

Put this at the top of your "Must Read" list

Michael Yon's New Book, Moment of Truth Available Now!

Want to know how things are going in Iraq? Want to get an idea of what Iraqis think of how we're doing in Iraq? How they view our soldiers?

Michael Yon, an independent reporter and photographer, has been reporting from Iraq on these kinds of questions for the last few years. He's been on the ground with our troops, dodging bullets and photgraphing the ongoing battle. Over the last year he's been in a lot of those same places and seeing the progress that's been made. In particular, he has given us a view inside the "non-military" solutions for Iraq... and shows you the role that our troops are still playing in that "non-military" solution. I linked to a couple of his stories over the last year, one here about Muslims asking to Michael to get the message to their former neighbors -- Christians who had fled persecution -- to ask their neighbors to come home now that things had improved so much.

He wrote about the cajoling of Iraqi officials to jump start food delivery and the bolstering of local officials in solving the simple problems of everyday life like trash pick-up and re-building damaged neighborhoods.

You may or may not have followed Michael Yon's reporting over the last few years, though he has shown up in major newspapers and magazines, on TV, on the radio, and all over the web.

Either way, I think you'll get something new out of his book: Moment of Truth in Iraq. He draws on previous reporting and adds more to give you an idea of where Iraq stands today.

I ordered one of the early autographed copies ("Michael Yon, Mosul, Iraq 2008" - cool, huh?), and just finished reading it early Friday morning. Whether you agree with all his analysis and assessments or not, he ends with this important message and question (p. 227):
"The war isn't over yet. Victory remains in question. The
choice is ours, the time is now - for a moment of truth in Iraq.

What are we going to do?"

A steal at $13.96 right now at Barnesandnoble.com -- buy yours before they sell out. AGAIN.

Get Michael Yon's book today.

364 (... and counting) Troops Hoping for an Angel

I wanted to update where we are... so I went **HERE**, as you can, to see how many troops have submitted requests for an Angel.

364 is MUCH better than 500+, but...

...in the time it took to type this post, the number went to 365.

Then to 366.

Can you help keep it down?

They'd really enjoy hearing from and really appreciate knowing that folks back home haven't forgotton about them.

Click ***HERE*** to adopt :-)

More details on the previous post below (here).

Come on, be an Angel to a troop!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

500+ Troops Waiting for an Angel!!!

If you were waiting, now's a terrific time.

Click ***HERE*** to adopt one of the wonderful volunteers in our United States military services who need a little support while deployed away from home.

They'll appreciate it, and you'll enjoy it.



When you "adopt" a troop through Soldiers' Angels, you will be provided with the name and address of a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine who is deployed somewhere in the world. By adopting, you agree to send at least one letter a week and at least one or two care packages a month through the length of their deployment. Deployments last 6 to 15 months, depending on the service and deployment location. My current soldier is in Iraq for 15 months -- she'll be headed home about a year from now. She's awesome and a very busy lady. My care packages of late have included white, ankle-length athletic socks, Kelloggs protein bars, and white cheddar cheese popcorn, among other things. I've been fortunate to have been in email contact with her, so I have some guidance on what would really be of extra help or a special treat. If you don't ever hear from your adopted troop (which happened to me once), here are some thoughts on what to send: "Anatomy of a Care Package".

Don't know what to write in a letter? I wrote to my current soldier about this event (and then shared it with you!) and whatever else has kept me busy during the week. There's also a letter like this one, that you might send every once in a while.

So skedaddle. Go become an Angel.

NOTE: there is a new, optional process to get instant approval to become an Angel if you're willing to make a donation - as small as $1! - through PayPal. Using a PayPal account or a credit card via PayPal, Soldiers' Angels can rely on PayPal's process to clear you as a legitimate applicant. Instructions are on the same "adoption" page linked to above. Go, go, go!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Gettysburg Address and My Mom's Grade School Class

Gettysburg is a beautiful place.

It was also an important place, because of what people did there and what someone said there.

I'll be visiting there soon along with some intrepid bicyclists.

So, it just seemed really appropriate to post this video from my mom's middle school class, especially considering some of the other stuff that gets posted to YouTube these days. These kids helped with this Angel project too.

Last year my mom's students and others at her school provided 100+ cards and letters to go in holiday goody bages for sailors deployed to the Pacific. They also signed this banner for last year's Face of America Bike Ride from Gettyburg to Washington, DC:

Good kids, don't you think? I know they have an awesome teacher.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sailor Angel-ing

Okay, two things, wearing my Sailors'Angels hat:

Video of last week's Medal of Honor Flag Ceremony that I "attended", is now posted HERE (HT: my dad!).

I watched it, and it was even better the second time.

Time to write more email letters to troops! (HT: Grim at Blackfive)

This time it's for the sailors on the USS Russell DDG-59.

Once again, letters are being collected by Jim Cannon of "Thinking Right". He'll print them out and send them so that we don't crash their server. Grim [newly home from Iraq!] reminds us that our 20,000+ emails to the Marines caused a bit of an overload last summer...)

Send your messages for the sailors of the USS Russell here: letters@thinking-right.com

And check out the USS Russell's motto, from their website:

MOTTO: "STRENGTH IN FREEDOM." The real strength of our country is that, for over 200 years, Americans have fought and died for the ideals of freedom and democracy. Hence, "Strength in Freedom."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

MOH Flag Ceremony at the Navy Memorial

When I was looking at the Navy’s tribute site for our newest Medal of Honor recipient, Michael Monsoor, I noticed that something called the “Medal of Honor Flag Ceremony” was scheduled for tonight in DC at the US Navy War Memorial. Since I knew the Memorial was in the middle of a plaza between two mid-rise office buildings, I guessed that the event was more or less “open to the public”. I wouldn’t have an assigned seat, but I figured I could sit or stand around the edges, places where I’ve stopped before on walks through town.

I guessed right, and I was really pleased to just be present, a citizen saying thanks. Lots of other people had the same idea. At the end I met a woman who’d had no idea it was going on, but stopped for the hour-long ceremony, deciding that she could walk her dog later. I spoke to several others who’d done the same, most of whom were a little teary-eyed after the song that concluded the program.

One day I’ll get a real camera so that my pictures are better, but I did find a pretty good spot to watch and I’m glad I did. And you can see how folks gathered around to watch:

I don’t know if they presented something like the Medal of Honor flag in the past, but apparently it was only officially authorized by Congress in the fall of 2002. Regardless, it’s yet another wonderful tribute and opportunity to remember. In this case, the flag was presented to the mother of the fallen recipient, Sally Monsoor.

The video of the Flag Ceremony last fall for Medal of Honor recipient and fellow Navy Seal, Lt Michael Murphy, is HERE. You might recall my post that mentioned Lt Murphy, who is part of the amazing story captured in Marcus Luttrell’s book, "Lone Survivor", which I wrote about HERE.

As tonight’s ceremony was breaking up, I noticed that one of the sailors staffing the event was carrying a small stack of programs. Since I knew my pictures weren’t going to show you much, I asked for one, and he happily gave me one. Others lingering nearby were quick to relieve him of the rest. Here are a few pictures of the official program. Another fitting tribute, don’t you think?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Salute and Honor a Warrior: Medal of Honor Recipient Michael Monsoor

Michael Monsoor, a US Navy Seal, died saving the lives of his teammates in Ar Ramadi, Iraq in September 2006. His selfless actions were recoginized and honored today at the White House.

As it should be, there are many web write-ups about Monsoor and today's ceremony at the White House. See Blackfive, FoxNews.com (pictures), and MichelleMakin.com. The Navy's site is appropriately classy...

Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

It looks like there wasn't a dry eye in the room over in DC. I used the last of my kleenex while reading the news coverage at the office. I tear up easily, but it always hits hard when I notice birthdates -- Michael was just a year or so younger than my baby sister, who of course isn't a baby anymore but is former Navy.

Thank you, Michael, and Godspeed.

To be reminded of the company Michael keeps, go HERE or HERE.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Face of America Bike Ride 2008! - Updated

Go HERE for my post-event report about the weekend and HERE for a blog round-up with some terrific pictures!

Were you there last year?

Along with some other Angels, I helped welcome and cheer the cyclists - recovering wounded vets and their supporters - at the finish line of their 110-mile, 2-day bike ride from Gettysburg, PA to Washington, DC.

Go HERE to see what you missed.

Taking point for Soldiers' Angels' support of the event, Angel-in-Charge, LDR, is spreading the word for THIS year's event HERE.

So what are you doing May 3rd and 4th?

If you'd like to ride or volunteer to support the event, go HERE to the World TEAM (The Exceptional Athlete Matters) Sports site for details about the 2008 Face of America Bike Ride:

On May 3rd & 4th, 2008 World T.E.A.M. Sports (The Exceptional Athlete Matters), working with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, The National Navy Medical Center, The Soldiers Angel Foundation, The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, and others will be hosting our 2008 Face of America Bike Ride, a two-day inclusive bike ride from Bethesda, MD to historic Gettysburg, PA to honor and assist servicemen and women who have been severely injured in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and any and all other servicemen and women as well.

If you're an Angel, let World TEAM Sports know!

I'm hoping to help out, so maybe I'll see you there?

P.S. See some of the cool support banners made for the ride **HERE**.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Vote for Patti and Soldiers' Angels Again? Yes, Please!

Thanks to all who boosted Patti into a first place finish for the March "Most Inspirational Mom" context.


BUT - Brandon has upped the ante and nominated his mom again, this time for the April "Most Popular Mom" contest.

Stakes are higher: $25,000 prize for the winner!

So, time to set up that daily reminder thru April 25th to vote for Patti Patton-Bader, founder of Soldiers' Angels, as a America's "Most Popular" mom.

I know she's a favorite mom of our troops, which is good enough for me. She also makes me think of Yoda's line in The Empire Strikes Back: "Do, or do not. There is no try."

So let's do it folks! You don't even have to create a new login and password!

Click **HERE** to vote each day.