Monday, December 22, 2008

Adopt a Medic AeroCare Raffle

Hi all! The helicopter ride/raffle for the Adopt A Medic mission of Lubbock Marine Parents was a success in its first year. This wonderful opportunity was sponsored by the wonderful folks at AeroCare.
Gary chats with a flight nurse about the helicopter features

I'm proud to announce that the winners were Gary and Iris Caine of Lubbock. They purchased 3 raffle tickets at our 2008 4th on Broadway booth and were extremely excited to hear they had won. On Friday, December 19th, Gary and Iris had a blast taking the 45 minute helicopter ride over the Lubbock city limits, enjoying the Christmas lights. They even got to fly near their own house.

Gary and Iris taxi out the hangar for their ride
I have provided a few pics of them gearing up for their ride. Let me just say that the folks at AeroCare are extremely friendly and professional. They were very knowledgeable about their flight equipment and showed off their airplane which is used quite extensively, but doesn't quite get all of the glory that the helicopters get. These were great folks, indeed. I should mention that this would not have been possible if were not for the suggestion of Brad Bowser, an Adopt A Medic officer and former AeroCare flight medic.
Gary and Iris are about to take to see the lights of Lubbock

Those of us with Adopt A Medic would also like to thank everyone who supported us by purchasing a new raffle ticket. For the folks who didn't win the helicopter ride please note that we will conduct this raffle again next year. Additionally, Adopt A Medic has future plans for more raffles in 2009, including a raffle for a rifle and Wii or a PSP. Be on the lookout for these raffles! Merry Christmas, all!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Great Christmas Present Idea!

We still have some cookbooks from our second printing available. They make excellent Christmas presents. They come with a stand for handsfree cooking and the cover is beautiful. Of course, the best part is all the great recipes.

The cookbooks are $12 each, plus $6 shipping for those of you who need it mailed to you. You can order through the Paypal link in the sidebar or send a check or money order to:
Lubbock Marine Parents
PO Box 64192
Lubbock, TX 79464-4192

The proceeds will be used to send care packs to our troops.

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Meeting

November Meeting

Date: Monday November 10, 2008
Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Location: Home Plate Diner 82nd & Slide
Notes: Come Celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday with the Lubbock Marine Parents. We will meet at the Home Plate Diner on 82nd & Slide in the Dugout Room. Bring your appetite and bring a friend as the Lubbock Marine Parents tie up loose ends for those Christmas and Beyond Packages!!! We Hope to see everyone there!!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Take a Helicopter Ride

Support our troops raffle:
$10 per ticket or 3 for $25.

Winners will take a ride with a friend in a helicopter and see the lights of Lubbock during the Christmas holidays.
Sponsored by AeroCare.

For more information visit our Adopt a Medic page or email

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vote For Us!

City Bank will be rewarding 5 local Lubbock causes with $10,000 each. Please go to City Bank Texas Community Rewards, then cast your vote for Lubbock Marine Parents.

How it works:
City Bank is dedicated to giving back to the community. That's why, during this holiday season, we are asking you to help us choose five local community causes to give back to in a big way. City Bank will reward these five community causes with $10,000 each.

Here's where you come in: Every day you will be eligible to vote for your favorite cause. At the end of December, the votes will be tallied and the winning causes will be rewarded. So let yourself be heard! Vote early, and often.

Lubbock Marine Parents is an all volunteer 501 (c) 3 organization whose mission is to provide loving emotional and spiritual support and encouragement to the parents, families, and loved ones of our military and to support our troops and veterans. We do this with:
monthly meetings,
supportive email group,
care package drives,
helping either directly or through referrals to community resources for counseling and financial assistance as needed for troops, veterans, and families in need,
Adopt a Medic

Vote every day until December 21st!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

October Meeting

October Business Meeting

Date: Monday October 13, 2008
Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Location: Home Plate Diner 82nd & Slide
Notes: This meeting will be to set the time and place for the packing party and get organized with donations for the Christmas Care Packages. Everyone is encouraged to join us for dinner and business.

Check out our list of needed care pack items here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Meeting Tonight!

Please join us for our meeting tonight at 7:00pm. We'll be meeting at the Daybreak Coffee on 82nd. We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Adopt a Medic

Lubbock Marine Parents is pleased to announce our newest mission, Adopt a Medic. Find all the details about AAM at our website.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Meeting Tonight

Please join us for a meeting tonight at 7:30pm at Daybreak Coffee on 19th and Quaker. We have lots to discuss and we need your input!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Girl, 8, organizes parade for Iraq-bound dad

The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Aug 1, 2008 9:44:25 EDT

BLACKMAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Eight-year-old Rylee Dreffs wanted to make sure that her father got a proper send-off before he’s deployed to Iraq.

So she organized a parade in his honor, right in their own neighborhood.

Wednesday night’s procession for Army Master Sgt. Shawn Dreffs went off without a hitch.

A dozen children paraded around the street on foot, bicycle, scooter and Big Wheel. About 50 neighbors, friends and relatives lined the street as Rylee, who stood tallest among the group of children trailing behind the American flag she carried, led the parade.

The Pledge of Allegiance began the 15-minute event and an abridged rendition of “America the Beautiful” ended it before an emotional Dreffs gave his daughter and his 5-year-old son, Connor, a pair of bear-sized hugs.

“I’m just flattered that she did it,” Dreffs, 38, told The Jackson Citizen Patriot.

After 19 years in the Army and National Guard, Dreffs will be eligible to retire from the military when his 400-day tour is completed. He works for Consumers Energy as an information technology analyst.

Rylee had heard last week that a big send-off was planned for a Jackson-based military unit being deployed to Iraq. While her father also was set to leave soon for the war, he belonged to another unit and wouldn’t be a part of that event.

“My mom said that my dad wasn’t in that parade,” Rylee said. “So I thought it would be nice that he could have his own parade.”

So the third-grader decided to plan one to take place on the family’s street in Jackson County’s Blackman Township. Bicycles were decorated, invitations were distributed, neighborhood children practiced singing patriotic tunes and flags were made available — all within a week.

The planning and practicing was done in secret. Dreffs didn’t know about his parade until about an hour before it started.

“We made this up, and we called our dad and he came outside and he’s been happy,” Connor said afterward.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


On July 26th the AT&T Pioneers and Down Memory Lane Scrapbook Store will partner a "Card A Soldier" event.

We'll have supplies and tools available for anyone to come in and make decorated cards to be sent to military persons serving in Iraq. The cards will be mailed to local Soldiers and Marines and also to Chaplains at various camps for distribution to troops. If you have an address for a military person, drop it by and we'll add it to our mailing list. All postage will be paid by AT&T.

There will be drawings throughout the day of gifts donated by various businesses and a grand prize at the end of the day (need not be present at time of drawing to win the grand prize). There will also be a special drawing for a gift basket for one of our military family members attending. A 15% discount will also be offered on any personal store purchases made that day by card makers.

Children are welcome with an adult. We'll have a table set up with supplies especially for them. Don't worry if you think you're not a "crafter", the cards are simple to make and we'll have folks on hand to help. Or come by and write messages on cards already made. We hope you'll drop by, and spend as much time as you like- enjoy visiting and show your support for our men and women serving in the Armed Forces.

Questions maybe emailed to


10:00am to 7:00pm


(Near Mamarita's & the old Albertson's store)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Marines reflect on Myanmar relief effort

By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Friday, July 11, 2008

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Marines of Combat Logistics Regiment 3 departed here for the Cobra Gold military exercise with no idea they would end up helping provide relief to thousands of cyclone victims.

When Cyclone Nargis tore across Myanmar on May 2, the Marines were preparing for the start of the annual Cobra Gold in Thailand.

But it didn’t take the unit’s 240 Okinawa-based Marines — most of whom have returned — long to switch gears from a combat-training posture to relief mode, working around the clock to provide pallets of supplies for the support effort, dubbed "Operation Caring Response."

On May 12, after delays caused by the reluctance of the Myanmar government to accept international assistance, a U.S. Air Force C-130 loaded with relief supplies was allowed to land in Rangoon. It was the first of 200 relief flights delivering more than 3.3 million pounds of much-needed supplies that the U.S. military would send into the country to assist international organizations providing relief.

Much more could have been accomplished, U.S. military officials said. Myanmar denied offers to use long-range helicopters to distribute supplies to the hardest-hit areas of the country and refused the assistance of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the USS Essex Ready Group, which was diverted to international waters off the coast of Myanmar for more than three weeks.

However, the Okinawa-based members of CLR-3 never let politics get in the way.

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Join us for the 4th on Broadway

Join us for the 4th on Broadway street fair tomorrow. We'll have our cookbooks for sale and you won't want to miss them. :)

Have a Happy Independence Day!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Marines, CH-46Es deploy for California fires

By Gidget Fuentes - Times staff
Posted : Friday Jun 27, 2008 21:07:54 EDT

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Four Marine Corps CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters left the flight line at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego on Friday for a short deployment to help fight wildfires in northern California.

The medium-lift helicopters and personnel will be staged at Lemoore Naval Air Station, in California’s central valley, for a deployment expected to last up to 30 days, Miramar officials said Friday.

“Right now, we’re just filling in the request and sending up the birds and the crews,” said Maj. Jay Delarosa, a spokesman with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Miramar.

Each of the helicopters are equipped with BAMBI water buckets.

The air support was requested by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and was forwarded to U.S. Northern Command, which is providing liaisons and coordinators, military personnel and aircraft to the National Inter-Agency Fire Center in Boise.

NIFC “will direct them, and that’s done in coordination with the on-scene commanders at their discretion ... working in support with wherever they need them,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Gary Ross, a NorthCom spokesman at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

The helicopters are expected to join in soon with the firefighting efforts in California, where 32 significant fires had burned more than 271,000 acres as of Friday. Lightning is blamed for sparking many of the fires,

Along with the Marines, NorthCom officials said Friday they are sending two aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, from the Wyoming National Guard’s 153rd Air Wing.

Those aircraft will join four other MAFFS-capable C-130H aircraft from the Air Force Reserve and North Carolina National Guard’s 145th Air Wing and are already deployed to assist with the firefighting efforts. Each aircraft is equipped with a tank holding 3,000 gallons of flame retardant.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Order Your LMP t-shirts

Hurry and order your t-shirts and other Lubbock Marine Parents gear in time for July 4th! Click on the picture to order.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Volunteers welcome troops back at airports

By Martha Waggoner - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jun 20, 2008 12:47:25 EDT

GRAPEVINE, Texas — A few times each month, Karen Marks stands among the volunteers greeting the troops who land daily at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, all on two weeks’ leave from Iraq or Afghanistan.

One recent day was different for her. Somewhere among the few hundred troops was Marks’ son, a 20-year-old Marine lance corporal named Michael.

“You’re over here worrying about the unknown ... [and] when you finally get to see them again, all the love from when you gave birth just comes right back into your heart,” Marks said between sobs of joy.

Even after their own family’s reunion, Marks and husband David remained at their post inside the airport’s Terminal D until the very last service member had walked through the sliding glass doors, hugging and shouting greetings to the troops.

“I’ve seen kids ask for their autographs because these are their heroes,” Marks said. “I know they’re tired and they’re overwhelmed, but it’s just so good for them to know that we care and we love them. For my own son, my heart was going to explode.”

Every day at DFW and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, troops land on their way home for leave from overseas deployments, and every day they’re greeted by flag-waving, appreciation-shouting crowds of volunteers from a program called “Welcome Home a Hero.”

A similar group, the Maine Troop Greeters, has met more than 500,000 service members since 2003 as they passed through Bangor International Airport, where planes carrying troops often stop to clear customs, refuel and change crews for continuing flights.

At the Atlanta airport, United Service Organizations volunteers man a welcome booth most days and lead the applause for arriving troops. They gather troops who are ready to check in for departing flights overseas and march them through the airport’s main atrium before cheering crowds.

Heading the line of cheerleaders in Dallas is Donna Cranston, 50, of Coppell, the volunteer coordinator. She missed the program’s first day in June 2004, but she’s been at the airport most days since.

“What I think I learned early on is it doesn’t matter how routine it is for us. For these guys, it’s their first day back on American soil in months, and they need to know they’re supported and they’re loved and appreciated,” Cranston said. “And it’s one of those things that you never grow tired of.”

Every day, the military calls Cranston with the troops’ arrival times, the same information they post on a hot line for the public. She arrives with small, stapled pieces of paper listing the next flight times, airlines and terminals for major cities.

“What terminal do you need, soldier?” she said recently as the troops dashed by her.

“First bus on the left,” she directed another.

“International or domestic call?” Cranston asked a third serviceman, tossing her cell phone to him.

One of the program’s goals “is to allow people to show their support,” Cranston said. “But our main goal is to get the troops through the line and get them to their flights so they can get home to their loved ones.”

Inside Terminal D, the arriving troops walk through a glass-enclosed catwalk, visible to waiting passengers, before going through customs and picking up their luggage. Every day, there are a few greeters on the floor below the catwalk, cheering and screaming for the troops, who often smile, wave and take photos of their supporters.

Other passengers often applaud, too, standing up as they realize what’s happening around them.

Since the R&R program began, about 224,000 troops have arrived at the airport from duty overseas, while another 217,000 have departed back to the Middle East.

“It opens up a whole new perspective of life, being over there and having everything taken away from you, coming back, seeing loved ones,” said Michael Marks. “It’s a really great moment for me.”

Thursday, June 19, 2008

College lineman trades gridiron for boot camp

The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Jun 19, 2008 7:32:16 EDT

A freshman offensive lineman has quit the Oklahoma Sooners football team to join the Marine Corps.

Britt Mitchell left the team and enlisted last week, sports information director Kenny Mossman confirmed Tuesday.

"He has the coaching staff's full support in pursuing something that has been attractive to him for some time," Mossman said.

Mitchell, a 6-foot-6, 311-pound freshman tackle from Roscoe, Texas, enrolled at Oklahoma in January and went through winter and spring workouts with the team. He had begun summer training with strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt before deciding on a military career.

Mitchell was the least-recruited of OU's three offensive line signees in February.

Way to go Britt!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Fathers Day!

Silhouette of Father and Five-year-old Son Fishing by Kevin Beebe
Father and Son Fishing

Happy Father's Day to all you great dads out there!

Read powerful stories about military dads here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Boy stands up for Old Glory

Jeffrey Sahli noticed the faded, fraying American flag outside Evergreen Middle School soon after he started eighth grade last year.
"I thought the flag wasn't being treated with flag etiquette. I thought I needed to do that," the 14-year-old said. "I wanted to serve my country and I thought, heck, I'll start right here."
With the principal's permission, he began taking care of Old Glory. Every school day he carefully hoists the U.S. and Colorado flags before classes and takes them down before heading home. He folds the Colorado flag into a neat square, the U.S. flag into a triangle, and places them in a cabinet in the office.
He keeps them inside on stormy days.
Susan Roy didn't know Jeffrey but saw him every time she dropped off and picked up her son at Evergreen Middle.
"Jeff would be out there - rain or shine - it didn't matter," she said. "He just wasn't taking it down, throwing it over his shoulders and taking it inside. He was very purposeful about it."
"As simple as it is to some people, it really is a big deal. He doesn't do it for an attaboy.
"He just does it because it's right."
Roy was so impressed that she told a family friend stationed in Iraq about Jeffrey. First Sgt. Timothy Horan serves with the Kentucky National Guard's 138th Fires Brigade.
"You don't hear of kids taking that kind of responsibility, especially with something like that," he said. "A lot of younger kids think it's corny."
Horan bought a flag at the military store and hung it above Camp Liberty near the Baghdad airport on Jan. 30 in Jeffrey's honor.
The next day, he was flown out of the country for emergency heart surgery. Friends sent the flag to Horan this spring. He got it to Roy who gave it to Evergreen Principal Jane Sutera.
Sutera arranged a surprise ceremony Thursday at the school where a shocked and grateful Jeffrey received the flag and a certificate from the Army recognizing his patriotism.
"I've never been recognized for doing something as simple as that," he said.
"It was one of the best feelings I've had in my life."
He said he wasn't embarrassed by the attention because he wants people to see what he stands for.
"I stand for duty, honor, God and country."
Jeffrey doesn't come from a military background, though he hopes to attend West Point.
He wears a cross and a dog tag on a chain under his shirt. The bands on his braces are red, white and blue.
Outside Evergreen Middle School, the flag is clean and bright.
Jeffrey said the flag reminds him of the soldiers serving in Iraq.
"When they're coming home, I wanted them to see the flag flying high." or 303-954-2361
Subscribe to the Rocky Mountain News

Friday, May 23, 2008

Marines Provide Relief to Community

May 22, 2008
Marine Corps News|by LCpl Daniel R. Todd
KORAT, Thailand - To help improve the standard of living in a small, poverty-stricken community in Korat, Thailand, service members participating in Cobra Gold 2008 and Thai officials organized a charity event May 12.

"After seeing the little kids without clothes, light, electricity or food we decided that this was the best place to do a community relations project," said Master Chief Petty Officer Jay Stuckey, the U.S. Navy senior enlisted member for Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Forces Pacific, Camp Smith, Hawaii.

The group delivered more than 200 hygiene kits, which included hand sanitizer, soap, antibacterial wipes and other hygiene products. They also handed out toys, including stuffed animals and soccer balls, to the children.

Boy Scout Troop 248 from Aeia, Hawaii, provided the hygiene kits that were collected during an Eagle Scout project. Service members participating in Cobra Gold donated the money.

The people cheered loudly while welcoming the service members with flowers and hand-made necklaces, a gesture that the service members said brightened their rainy day.

A few service members said the pouring rain was unpleasant, but as soon as they saw how happy the people were, it took their mind off of everything else. They all agreed making the people smile and bringing a little joy to them was worth bearing the rain storm and getting a little dirty.

The service members also said the resilient nature of the locals left an impression on them.

"It was a very humbling experience to see how happy the people can be with so little," said Master Sgt. Henry Sutton, postal chief with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Forces Pacific.

"It really made me appreciate what I have a lot more and showed me how blessed I truly am."

For Petty Officer 2nd Class Christian Montano, an aviation electronics technician with Fleet Readiness Center Northwest, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Washington, the experience was an eye opening one. He said he never thought that a small plastic bag containing a few hygiene products could make such a big impact on people.

"Coming here and having this opportunity to bring joy to these people really made me realize how much I should appreciate the little things in life," Montano said. "I think everyone should jump at an opportunity like this if they ever have the chance. It is just an overwhelming experience."

© Copyright 2008 Marine Corps News

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Website

Lubbock Marine Parents now has a new website! Come by and visit us at We will eventually move the blog over, but for now we're staying right here.

We've also added a new program called Adopt a Medic (and added a new 2nd VP in charge of that program). Look for more info to come.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Meeting Tonight!

Please join us for our meeting tonight at 8:15pm at Daybreak Coffee on 19th and Quaker Ave. We'll be discussing Adopt a Medic, Operation Recruiter Appreciation, cookbooks, and the 4th on Broadway. Even if you've never been to one our meetings before, you are welcome to stop by.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Marines Far Surpass Recruiting Goal

May 13, 2008
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Marine Corps far surpassed its recruiting goal last month and could eventually be more than a year ahead of schedule in its plan to grow the force to 202,000 members.

All military services met or exceeded their monthly recruiting goals in April, with the Marine Corps signing 142 percent of the number it was looking for, the Pentagon said.

The Army signed 101 percent of its goal, recruiting 5,681 against a goal of 5,650. The Navy and Air Force met their goals - 2,905 sailors and 2,435 airmen.

The Marine Corps enlisted 2,233 recruits against a goal of 1,577.

"The Marine Corps, if they continue to achieve the kind of success they have had, could meet their growth figures more than a year early," Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters. That would mean by around the end of 2009.

Stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon last year recommended that the Army be increased by about 65,000 soldiers to a total of 547,000, and the Marines be increased by 27,000 to 202,000.

Recruiting is easier in a slow economy, which limits other job possibilities that are available. But officials also noted that the Army and Marines have added recruiters as well as bonuses and other special benefits to attract more recruits in the midst of the unpopular war in Iraq.
© Copyright 2008 Associated Press

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Mother's Day Picture

This is for all the mothers of more than one son. These "good" sons are trying to take a nice picture for Mom on Mother's Day. Well, it's the thought that counts, right?

Dutch troops train for Africa at Camp Lejeune

By Trista Talton - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday May 7, 2008 9:46:59 EDT

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Sgt. Erwin Spil could see his Marines’ arms slightly shaking, fierce concentration marking their faces.

Firing live rounds in close quarters kept the Dutch marines on their toes. Hard to say what’s around a corner or who might be standing on the other side of a wall, said Spil, an instructor with 11th Company, 1st Marine Battalion.

Training in the shoot-house at Camp Lejeune’s mobile military operations in urban terrain facility was among the highlights for the Dutch marines, here on a three-week stay at the base.

About 120 of the Korps Mariners — the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps — have been hosted by 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, and granted access to places such as the mobile MOUT and live-fire ranges peppered throughout the base.

“This kind of facility, like the shoot-house, in the Netherlands, we don’t have that,” Spil said.

On a warm April 29 morning, outside of the shoot-house, a small group of the Dutch marines suited up in their flak jackets and helmets, patterned in brightly colored green-brown-black camouflage. The protective gear stood in contrast with their woodland cammies, similar to those Marines wore before “digital” camouflage was introduced, and was provided courtesy of the Dutch army.

Like their U.S. counterparts, Dutch marines are considered a part of “the few.” The Royal Netherlands Marine Corps is about the size of a standard Marine regiment, about 3,000 Marines. But the group’s history spans back long before the first Marines pledged an oath at Tun Tavern. Korps Mariners formed in 1665, during the Anglo-Dutch Wars.

Camp Lejeune is a spiritual home of sorts for Dutch marines, who came to the base in 1944 after their homeland fell under Nazi control. Reorganizing completely at Camp Lejeune, the foreign troops settled in the Hadnot Point and Montford Point areas of the base to model their newly reformed corps after the American troops, according to historical records of the Montford Point Marines Association.

Members of the Dutch brigade practiced amphibious operations alongside their American counterparts, used the same base exchanges and facilities, and even modeled their uniforms on the U.S. pattern, according to the records. The units left the base in 1945.

Today’s Dutch marines have live-fire ranges of their own, but have less freedom when they conduct live-fire exercises because range control, not individual units, is in charge of exercises. They have access to two MOUTs, which are shared by all of the Dutch military, roughly 70,000 troops.

At Lejeune’s mobile MOUT, which is designed to resemble an Iraqi village, the Dutch marines tackling the shoot-house were reminded that communication in close quarters is important.

“You forget to communicate,” Spil said.

Lt. Maarten Van Der Hoek, 1st Platoon commander, 11th Company, said using live rounds makes a difference in their training.

“We’re used to working with blanks,” he said. “Now we have live rounds. You can see the tension in their faces.”

Several miles away at a live-fire range, another group of Dutch marines with 11th, 13th and 14th companies, prepared to walk the line.

As the Dutch marines fired their M16s, Marines with 3/8 watched their Dutch counterparts narrow in on targets.

“They’ve done well,” said Capt. Dan O’Brien, an exchange officer and officer in charge of a Dutch marine company-sized attachment. “That’s pretty competent basic gunnery they did and, two weeks ago, they couldn’t do that.”

Dutch marines don’t often have to train at ranges where they shoot into the sand, which helps shooters see where they’re hitting, O’Brien said. Dutch marines have even less access to machine-gun live fire in the Netherlands and they do not get as much ammunition.

Cpl. Stephen McGarry, a machine-gunner with 8th Marines, was one of two U.S. Marines working with Dutch marines firing their machine guns on the same range.

“They’re all really eager to learn,” he said. “The guys have been shooting real good the past couple of days.”

Dutch marines taking part in the training at Lejeune are preparing to deploy this fall to Chad in central Africa, where they will provide aid to Darfur refugees from the neighboring nation of Sudan.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Parents of dead GI sue anti-war shirt maker

By Paul Davenport - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Apr 24, 2008 11:58:06 EDT

PHOENIX — The parents of a Tennessee soldier killed in Iraq are suing an Arizona online merchant who included their son’s name on anti-war shirts that list names of troops killed in the war.

The lawsuit filed by Robin and Michael Read of Greeneville, Tenn., accuses Dan Frazier of Flagstaff of intentionally inflicting emotional harm by including Spc. Brandon Michael Read’s name on casualty lists printed on “Bush lied — They died” T-shirts without permission and by ignoring a demand to remove their son’s name.

The suit seeks $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages. It also asks that Frazier be permanently barred from using Brandon Read’s name.

Frazier’s free-speech rights ended when he used Brandon Read’s name for profit and any reasonable person would consider Frazier’s actions outrageous, said the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tennessee.

Read, a 21-year-old member of the Army Reserve, was killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq on Sept. 6, 2004.

The family’s attorney, Francis X. Santore Jr. of Greeneville, said local court rules prohibited him and his clients from discussing the case beyond a statement in which the parents discussed their son and asked to be left alone while they let the courts “resolve this highly personal situation.”

Frazier did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

However, his company’s Web site says it continues to sell the shirts despite laws passed by Arizona and other states “because we believe the message is important.”

The Arizona law was enacted last year, making it a misdemeanor to use dead soldiers’ names for commercial purposes without permission.

The law’s criminal section was put on hold by a federal judge in Phoenix pending a final ruling on a challenge filed by Frazier on First Amendment grounds.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake acknowledged that Frazier’s use of the names of casualties may increase the hurt of loved ones but said the shirts are political speech.

Though the law permits Frazier to use casualties’ names if he obtains permission from designated family members, that amounts to a flat prohibition “given the difficulty and cost of finding, contacting and obtaining consent from the soldiers’ numerous representatives,” Wake said.

Several states, including Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, have enacted similar laws.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Construction begins on USS Jason Dunham

By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Apr 21, 2008 7:57:14 EDT

A lot has changed for the parents of the late Cpl. Jason Dunham since he died in 2004, after saving two other Marines by throwing himself on an insurgent’s grenade in Karabilah, Iraq.

They visited the White House, where President Bush presented Dunham’s parents with his Medal of Honor on Jan. 11, 2007. They witnessed the naming of the post office in their hometown of Scio, N.Y., in his honor.

And they watched as their three other children continued to grow up, with one getting married, another starting college and the third becoming a teenager.

On April 11, Dan and Debra Dunham honored their hero son again, traveling to Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, to help as their two sets of initials were ceremonially welded into the keel of the future Navy destroyer Jason Dunham. The ceremony took place three days short of the fourth anniversary of the blast that claimed the Marine’s life.

“Even though we lost him and it still hurts, there’s a lot of pride,” said Debra Dunham, from her home after the ceremony. “The gift that he gave his brothers was truly that, a gift.”

The ship bearing Dunham’s name, DDG 109, will be an Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer. One of two boats awarded to Bath in a $953 million contract, it will stretch 511 feet long, with room for 380 service members.

Deb Dunham, the ship’s sponsor, said the visit to Bath was uplifting, though she wishes dearly her Marine son could have lived past 22 and attended himself.

“The Marine Corps is a very tight and warm family, but Bath Iron Works had the same feel to it,” she said. “We went away with a sense of commitment and pride and warmth from what they’re doing.”

That warmth remains strong between the Dunham family and the late corporal’s comrades in Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. Several are in touch regularly, including the two other Marines who sustained serious injuries in the blast, Deb Dunham said.

Sgt. William Hampton, a lance corporal when Dunham died, got married and now has a baby girl. Kelly Miller, a private first class at the time, left the Corps and is in college, Deb Dunham said.

“I think it’d be fair to say we’ve adopted them into the family,” Dunham said of Kilo Company. “There’s not a guy that I couldn’t call, and they’d drop what they were doing and come and help us out.”

Several Marines recently offered her husband good-natured advice when they learned Dunham’s little sister, Katelyn, 15, had her first boyfriend, Deb Dunham said. The suggestion: Leave a gun in plain view to let him know who’s boss.

“They’re just as protective of my daughter as they would be of their sisters,” the mother said with a laugh. “They gave Dan a lot of suggestions to let her new boyfriend know that she had more brothers than he was probably aware of.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

Seaman acts to aid man in peril

Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, April 19, 2008

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A USS Kitty Hawk sailor was recognized this week for jumping onto train tracks to rescue a Japanese man who was having a seizure.

Seaman Phillip Simmons was waiting for his train at Yokosuka’s Kenritsu Daigaku station April 8 when he saw a Japanese man start shaking, according to a Navy release.

The man fell off the platform and onto the tracks below, Simmons said in the release.

“I saw him start shaking, and start to lose his balance,” Simmons is quoted as saying in the release. “Another Japanese man tried to catch him, but he fell over into the tracks, so I jumped down to him and tried to get him up.”

Simmons pulled the man to safety with help from other people at the station, the release said. The volunteers then pulled Simmons off the tracks just seconds before the train arrived, he said.

“I could see the train coming and just kept thinking, ‘Oh [no], I need to get back up,’” Simmons said in the release.

Once back on the platform, Simmons continued to care for the man, who continued to suffer seizures, while a station attendant called an ambulance, he said. When the man came out of the seizure, he tried to run from the people trying to restrain him, Simmons said.

Another sailor, Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Dennis, witnessed this and was quoted in the release as saying, “Simmons was just trying to keep him calm.”

“If Simmons wasn’t there that morning, that guy would be dead,” Dennis said. “He’s not the type of person to stand by and watch if someone needs help.”

After a Japanese official confirmed Simmons’ story — the incident caused the sailor to arrive late for work in the enlisted barber shop — Simmons’ chain of command nominated the sailor for an award based on his actions.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Packing Party

Please join us for our packing party Saturday, April 12th at 1:00pm at the Elk's Lodge located at the intersection of 34th Street and Milwaukee Ave.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

First Osprey squadron in Iraq to return home

By Trista Talton - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Apr 9, 2008 15:52:24 EDT

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – The towering billboard says it all.

“Welcome Home VMM-263,” it reads. “Congratulations on a job well done.”

Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, the first MV-22 Osprey squadron sent into the fight, is coming back home to Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. The squadron, pictured in a massive photo stretched across the billboard less than a mile from the air station’s main gate, is wrapping up a seven-month deployment at Al Asad air base in Iraq.

Cpl. Brandon Gale, a New River public affairs officer, confirmed Wednesday that the squadron is returning, though he did not have an exact homecoming date.

The 12 aircraft the squadron operated will remain in Iraq, said Maj. Eric Dent, a Headquarters Marine Corps public affairs officer. Ten Ospreys sailed on an amphibious assault ship to get to Iraq last fall, with two additional tiltrotors joining the squadron last month.

Leaving assault support aircraft in the field and rotating aircrews and their support is fairly routine, he said.

The squadron will be replaced by VMM-162. About 175 members of that squadron deployed to Iraq late last month, Gale said.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Life insurance premiums to drop July 1

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Apr 8, 2008 9:59:59 EDT

Troops will pay less for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance as of July 1, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which manages the program.

Monthly payments for the maximum coverage of $400,000 will decrease by $2, to $26 from $28. The additional $1 per month for severe traumatic injury coverage remains the same.

SGLI coverage is available in multiples of $50,000, up to the maximum of $400,000.

The change will not affect Family SGLI premiums, which decreased two years ago.

However, premiums for Veterans’ Group Life Insurance for veterans ages 30 to 64 will decrease from 4 percent to 12 percent, also July 1. That age group makes up about 85 percent of the population insured under the program, which is available for those who want to convert their policies from SGLI to VGLI after leaving service.

Officials said the VGLI premium rates for those under age 30 “are already competitive.”

VGLI rates vary by age of the policyholder. New rates and charts will be available on the VA’s insurance Web site in the near future, but information was not immediately available about when the site will be updated.

VGLI coverage is available in multiples of $10,000 up to the amount of SGLI coverage a service member had before separating.

SGLI premiums, currently 7 cents per $1,000 of coverage, will decrease to 6.5 cents per $1,000. The reduction is possible because claims for non-combat deaths have dropped, and investment earnings on money held in the program has increased, officials said.

The reduction in VGLI rates is a result of fewer claims being filed, they said.

“The reduction in SGLI premiums makes life insurance even more affordable for today’s men and women in uniform,” Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake, said in a prepared statement. “Lower VGLI premiums will allow more veterans to provide this low-cost financial security to their families.”

SGLI rates increased two years ago from 6.5 cents to 7 cents per $1,000 because the amount of premiums being collected was not enough to cover the cost of peacetime claims. The cost of wartime SGLI claims is paid by the services, not through premiums paid by service members.

More than 2.4 million people participate in the SGLI program, and another 433,000 in VGLI.

Peake said the premium reductions should result in increased program participation, and with increased enrollment, VA may be able to reduce rates further in the future.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Video site offers historical military films

By Seamus O’Connor - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Mar 31, 2008 6:43:08 EDT

The military has used motion pictures for training and entertainment since the dawn of the medium. Now the age of YouTube has brought a Web site dedicated to the sharing and preservation of military films from World War I to the present.

Http:// is the brainchild of retired Air Force Capt. John Corry, who served as a combat cameraman from 1986 to 1990. Corry was involved in the production of numerous military documentary shows for the History Channel after he left the service. In creating each show, Corry made copies of hundreds of old military films, transferring film reels and other former standards onto Beta SP tapes, the longtime broadcast standard.

“These are very engrossing to people that have never seen them before, especially the old ones, the World War II films,” Corry said. “They really take you right back.”

With the onset of widespread Internet access, Corry said, he began “fantasizing” about an online archive of all the films he had collected over the years, a conduit for sharing them with the world.

That dream became a reality Thursday with the launch of the site. Corry and a small staff in Los Angeles spent most of the last year converting the Beta tapes into digital files, then uploading them to the site.

There are about 650 films available on the site, and Corry says he has another 1,200 films digitized that he will upload as he’s able. The films are categorized by time period and subject matter, including a section of formerly classified materials. Some of the films are gory, including the execution of German Gen. Anton Dostler, while others are entertaining for their primitive perspectives on topics like sexual diseases and foreign cultures.

Corry said that the military continues to offer him its full cooperation, and he continues to add modern and historical films to his collection.

In its first day, Corry said, the site got about 1,000 hits, with viewers staying on for an average of 14 minutes.

“Ideally, we’d like to hook up with a bigger portal” like AOL as a future revenue source, Corry said. For the time being, he is counting on press releases and word of mouth to generate traffic for the site. Corry also hopes to allow for downloading and embedding of the movies on separate sites, but doesn’t yet have the bandwidth, he said.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Former Marine, 84, foils robbery attempt

By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Mar 27, 2008 20:10:48 EDT

An 84-year-old former Marine stopped a teenager brandishing a knife in a robbery attempt Wednesday with a kick to the groin, police said.

The former Marine, whose name was not released, was walking on a Santa Rosa, Calif., sidewalk with a grocery bag in each arm when he was approached by the teen, said Sgt. Steve Bair of the Santa Rosa Police Department. The alleged incident occurred at 2 p.m.

Bair said the teen, described as a white male about 15-16 years old, threatened the man, saying, “Old man, give me your wallet or I’ll cut you.”

The former Marine responded by telling the teenager he had fought in three wars and faced knives and bayonets in the past, Bair said. The Marine placed his grocery bags on the ground and said if the teen came any closer, he’d be sorry, police said.

Bair said when the teen took a step toward the former Marine, the man kicked him in the groin. The leatherneck picked up his groceries, walked home and arrived at the police department 45 minutes later to report the attempted robbery, police said.

The incident marks at least the second time in a year that an attempted robbery was foiled by a former Marine in his golden years.

In June, Bill Barnes, 72, foiled a pickpocket attempt at a Grand Rapids, Mich., store, landing six or seven punches on a would-be thief, 28, before a store manager intervened. The thief, Jesse Rae, received a six-month jail sentence in January after pleading guilty to assault with intent to commit unarmed robbery.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Vietnam Veterans Memorial opens online

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Mar 27, 2008 6:37:27 EDT

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, one of the most visited sites in the nation’s capital since its opening in 1982, has gone virtual.

The memorial is now posted on the Internet with a searchable database of National Archives files that provides more than just the names of the 58,000 veterans whose names are etched in black marble on “the Wall,” located near the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall.

The “virtual wall,” with features that include allowing visitors to post photographs and comments, was produced by a for-profit company,, under an agreement with the National Archives, which keeps the military’s historical records and photographs and makes them available to researchers and other visitors at an archives facility in College Park, Md.

Justin Schroepfer,’s marketing director, said access to the virtual Vietnam Veterans Memorial and to linked historical records and photographs is free, but people will have to pay to use some features on the Web site.

Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, said the Vietnam Memorial is one of the most visited sites not only in Washington but in the nation, and interest increases each year among people seeking to look at historical files of the war held by the National Archives. Putting the Vietnam memorial on the Internet, and providing ways to search by name, age, hometown, state, service, unit and other factors, makes the records available to even more people, Weinstein said.

James Hastings, the Archives’ director of access programs, said he is not troubled about having a for-profit company use government-owned records because the information is available for free to archives offices, which are scattered throughout the U.S.

Putting the information online “expands access by incalculable magnitude,” he said. For example, the Web site will soon include Vietnam War photographs in the Archives’ possession that include captions identifying who is in the photo, making it easier to locate a photo of a particular person that might have been almost impossible for a family to find on its own.

Schroepfer said the interactive feature allowing photographs and comments to be posted by visitors will be a big draw to the Web site. Comments will not be reviewed before they are posted, he said, but the Web site requires registration to post a comment, and other visitors can “flag” comments they think are inappropriate. In that sense, he said, the site “polices itself.”

Registering also gives visitors the opportunity to exchange comments, such as allowing families to contact someone who served with one of the service members whose name is on the Wall.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Marine Mom Adopts Platoon

Tissue warning!

Bikers rally in Berkeley to support Marines

The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Mar 23, 2008 14:36:28 EDT

BERKELEY, Calif. — Organizers of a weekend pro-military protest in Berkeley say they want the city to know how much a boycott in support of a contentious Marine recruiting station is costing.

Hundreds of leather-clad bikers rolled into town on Saturday to rally behind the Marines, whose downtown office has long been targeted by anti-war demonstrators.

Protest organizer Doug Lyvere of the group Eagles Up said he will present a stack of receipts to Berkeley business leaders on Monday to show how much money his group didn’t spend in the city.

Lyvere said the bikers will boycott Berkeley until the City Council apologizes or is recalled for telling Marine recruiters in February they weren’t welcome.

Council members eased their stance weeks later but did not apologize.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Marines conduct census in Akashat

Sgt. Jesse Ramirez, who is the platoon sergeant for Green Platoon, Company H, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, plays with a little boy who lives in the town of Akashat, Iraq, March 9. Marines have noticed a significant difference in the attitude of the community of Akashat from when they first arrived. The Marines recently conducted a census in Akashat to get general information on the residents and to deter insurgent activity.

March 15, 2008; Submitted on: 03/19/2008 09:34:42 AM ; Story ID#: 200831993442

By Lance Cpl. Paul M. Torres, 1st Marine Division

AKASHAT, Iraq (March 15, 2008) -- One of the insurgents’ most formidable weapons is their ability to hide among the people they oppress.

Collecting information has always been important to the war on terror. This is why Marines with Hotel Company, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, conducted a census in the town of Akashat, Iraq, March 9.

“The census is us just getting information, and it helps us build a relationship with the community,” said Sgt. Manuel A. Callejasrodas, 26, from Lynbrook N.Y., who is the platoon commander for Green Platoon, Company H.”

Marines with Green Platoon have been patrolling the town of Akashat block by block, talking to the residents of each house.

The man of the house is asked to provide basic information on the residents who live there.

“The census will give us a general idea about where people work, how many people live in each house and what it is they do,” said Callejasrodas. “Plus it gives us better eyes-on within the community.”

Marines with Company H first took command of Akashat and the surrounding areas from the Army at the beginning of March.

“The information will let us know if any possible insurgents try to stay in one of the houses, we will know if someone doesn’t belong there,” said Sgt. Jesse Ramirez, 22, from Modesto, Calif., who is the platoon sergeant for Green Platoon, Company H.

The community of Akashat has not always been friendly to Marines on patrol.

“When we first rolled through the city, the (children) would throw rocks at us,” said Callejasrodas. “The people were very intimidated at first, but the atmosphere has changed a lot.”

The smallest things often make the biggest differences, and for the Marines in Company H, it has been their connection with the children.

“An older man in the city stopped us and told us that as we got in good with the (children), we will get the families to like us, and it is working,” said Ramirez. “It feels good to see that we are making a difference, and you can tell their attitude has changed,” said Ramirez.

While conducting the census, children would often come out of their houses and shake the hands of the Marines with smiles on their faces.

“If you show them respect, they will respect you, so we give (the community) updates on what we are trying to do for them in the town,” said Ramirez.


I must pass on an apology. In the story below, I made a mistake with a date. My dad actually joined the Army in 1958 not in 1950. I wanted to make sure I cleared that up because as he said - "I don't want to get credit for something that's not there". Thank you all for you support.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Three Generations - Four Services

Okay…so many things have happened in the past few months, but I would like to go back to Christmas which was the first Christmas that my family has spent together since my son became a Marine. As you can perhaps maybe tell from the picture above, we have a slew of Military Men in the family -- three generations and four services. Since some of the “elders” could no long fit into their respective uniforms, my brother found some covers (a term I had to correct him about) for them to use. I may have to pay dearly for using the following pictures with the blurbs - sorry guys - but I did have to definitely show what a difference a day (or so) makes.

A History of the Generations

On the far right in the picture above is my dad, Gene (Marine grandpa). He is a retired Army Sergeant First Class. He began his career in October 1950 at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. From there he went to AIT at Ft. Gordon, Georgia to train in pole line construction with the Signal Corps. He then went to the Test & Evaluation Command at Ft. Bliss, Texas. From Texas, he made a big puddle jump and spent a few years in Germany doing pole line construction then back to Ft. Polk, Louisiana. Ft. Rucker, Alabama for aircraft maintenance was the next stop on the Army tour then onto Columbus, Ohio. Dad was back at Ft. Bliss, Texas to attend about 6 months of training at the Radar school after which he was reassigned to the Test & Evaluation Command and promoted to E-6 (yeah Dad!). Another puddle jump over to Korea where he worked on electronics at a radar site. Once again, back to Ft. Bliss (they must’ve really liked him) to Test/Evaluation & Research/Development Command. One more hop over to Germany where he was stationed at Kaiserslautern. There he was Platoon Sergeant for five maintenance teams and worked in Communications/Microwave Radio. It was here that he was promoted to Sergeant First Class (another yeah!). The final stop was at Ft. Knox, Kentucky working in Depot Maintenance. Throughout his career, Dad received many Army commendations. After 20 years, Dad retired, moved to Texas and worked for Texas Instruments until his final retirement. He now spends his time learning how the Marine Corps works and hunting deer for jerky for our care packages.

Next to my dad is my oldest brother, Mike (Marine uncle). He joined the Air Force in June 1985. From September 1985 through June 1989, he was stationed at Langley AFB in Virginia where he was assigned to the 94th Tactical Fighter Squadron and the 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron working on the radar and navigation of the F-15. Mike was also crossed-trained in the Communications and Computer Systems career field. He then worked on various computer systems for the 1912th Computer Systems Group; the most notable system of which was the World Wide Military Command and Control System. In January 1992, he was assigned to the 8th Communication Squadron stationed at Kunsan Air Base, Korea where he was NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge) of the Base Communications Center and the Small Computer Repair shop. After a year in Korea, Mike headed over to Misawa Air Base, Japan to join the 35th Communications Squadron. In Japan, he was NCIOC of the Base Communications Center and Data Processing Center. After a couple years in the Orient, Mike was off to Brooks AFB, Texas. While at Brooks AFB, he was assigned to the Office for Prevention and Health Services Assessment which is part of the Air Force Surgeon General’s office. He did computer systems support for medical research doctors and was also the technical lead for a DoD wide program called the Health Enrollment Assessment Review. September 1999 found Mike stationed at Royal Air Force Base in Molesworth, England. There, he was the NCOIC of the Theater System Operation Center which basically provided computer support for over 2,000 intelligence analysts throughout Europe. The final leg if his journey was at Buckley AFB, Colorado. At Buckley, he was one of two Test and Configuration Managers for the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS). The SBIRS detects missile launches around the world. On July 1, 2005, Mike officially retired from the Air Force; however, they could not get rid of him that easily. After retiring, he went back to work on the SBIRS as a government employee doing software logistics support.

My older brother Wayne (Marne uncle) is the next in line. Wayne was a Navy man – joining in May 1984. He did Recruit Training at Great Lakes, Illinois; then went on to Journalism-A School at Ft. Harrison, Indiana. While at school in October 1984, Wayne was presented the award for Youngest Sailor present at the Indiana Navy Ball. In November 1984, he worked as Shipboard Journalist on board the USS Pensacola (LSD-38) in Norfolk, Virginia. Near the end of 1988, Wayne moved over to Italy. He worked as a journalist for a couple years on the Panorama Newspaper at Naval Security Activity in Naples. The next three years, he was stationed at the Naval Security Group Activity in Winter Harbor, Maine. There he was a Base Journalist and won a Chief of Information Award – Third Place for small station newspapers (way to go Bro). In about October 1993, Wayne went back over to Italy. He worked as a Broadcast Journalist for the American Forces Network in La Maddalena. In December 1995, Wayne left the Navy and moved back to Texas where he completed his Journalism degree at Texas Tech University. He did some work for the university radio station and then worked for a local television station. He now lives and works out in California.

Last but not least, on the far left….my pride, my joy, my son, my Marine (yes…I am a little biased here). He is a 2005 graduate of Lubbock High School. While in high school and a member of the Navy Junior R.O.T.C., he had the opportunity to meet General H. Norman Schwarzkopf who was in Lubbock as keynote speaker at the Ethical Leadership Conference. During his senior year, he was part of the Delayed Entry Program for the U.S. Marine Corps. On July 11, 2005, he headed off to Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, graduating in October 2005. What made his graduation even more special to me was that the day he received his EGA was also my birthday. Who could ask for a better present!?! After boot camp and a little visit home, he returned to complete his MCT (Marine Combat Training). The next destination for this Marine was Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. for MVOC (Motor Vehicle Operator’s Course) which he completed in December 2005. In January 2006, he completed LVS (Logistics Vehicle System) training at Ft. Leonard Wood. He then came back to lovely Lubbock, Texas and reported to the Marine Corps Reserve Center. By April 2006, he got word that he would be making his first deployment to Iraq. By early July 2006, he and his unit left for Camp Pendleton for training, and by last August 2006 was in Iraq. It was the first Christmas that we had without him, which is why this one was so great. He returned home in March 2007. He is now readying for his second deployment. He wanted to go on this deployment because he has become good friends with many in his unit. I know they are truly ‘brothers’ because they all joke, hassle and give each other the “what for” all the while watching each others' back. He says when he gets home from this deployment, he would like to go Active Duty and I will stand behind him 110%.

Special Recognition

I know, I know….when am I going to stop? However, aside from the U.S. Government having to deal with this bunch so did a very special person. I could not close without giving a special kudos to the woman who has dealt with so many aspects and services of the military…my mom. Being a Military Wife, she had to deal with the rules and regulations of the Military Spouse and raise three children (hooligans at times) alone while my dad was stationed or training elsewhere; and do it all with grace, understanding and the ability to not totally lose all her marbles. As a Military Mom, she had the joy and pride of watching her sons work their way through basic training and become honorable men. Now as a Military Grandma, she has shared with me the joy and pride as my son became a Marine. She has let me “volunteer” her to do projects for the Marine support groups that I am associated with. She, and of course the rest of the family, have been my leaning pole of strength during my son’s deployments. And yet, through the years and through all the changes the world has experienced, she still manages to handle it all with grace, understanding and the ability to not totally lose all her marbles. I am in awe!

I have always been very proud of my family’s accomplishments and service to this country. Men and women like this are the best thing to ever happen to America. I honor and respect each and every one of them…past, present and future.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

‘Military motherhood’ awards launched

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Mar 13, 2008 21:50:44 EDT

Could your favorite military mom use some recognition and $5,000 in cash?

Operation Homefront and have launched an essay contest, open through March 31, for their inaugural Military Motherhood Award. You can nominate your spouse, friend or yourself, describing why your nominee deserves the Military Motherhood Award.

Eligible are active-duty, National Guard and reserve moms; the spouses of active or reserve component troops; mothers of service members, and others. Nominees might have children, stepchildren, foster children, or have other unique circumstances.

“This is a celebration of motherhood, and there aren’t any hard and fast rules about what constitutes an amazing mother,” said Meredith Leyva, founder of Operation Homefront and

The winning mom will receive $5,000 cash and will be flown to Washington for an awards ceremony May 8.

The essay section on the nomination form accepts up to 3,000 characters — about 500 words.

Operation Homefront will select the top 20 nominations, and allow the CinCHouse community of military wives and women in uniform to vote for the top five. A panel of judges will select the overall winner.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Marine Continues on With One Leg

Marine Corps News | LCpl. Katie Mathison | March 10, 2008
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - He faded in and out of consciousness. He knew his legs were injured, but he did not know to what extent.

Capt. Ray Baronie, the executive officer for the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East, Wounded Warrior Regiment, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, has few clear memories of his hospital stays overseas. One of the things he remembers is watching the doctors cut off his boots, as they talked about amputation.

Baronie, at the time, a liaison officer between the Iraqi Security Forces and the Marines of II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), was on a U.S. Army convoy moving an Iraqi battalion from one side of Ramadi, Iraq, to the other, when his vehicle was struck by a 57 mm anti-tank rocket, Dec. 1, 2005.

"I got knocked out and when I came to, the vehicle had rolled for two blocks," he said. "There were just two Marines on the convoy, Sergeant Delwin Davis and myself. Sergeant Davis pulled me out of the vehicle."

Baronie was free from the vehicle, but far from safe.

"Very shortly after we got on the street, we started taking small arms fire," he said. "It was a weird feeling. I didn't know if I was going to make it. For the first time as a Marine, I felt helpless. It was pretty hectic. I had no control over the situation at that point, but I knew I was in good hands with Sergeant Davis."

Baronie said he knew his legs were injured, but did not know the full extent of his injuries until he woke up in the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md.

"My legs were crushed," Baronie said. "I had 20 fractures in my left leg and 18 fractures in my right. I had close to 40 surgeries."

Baronie found the strength to overcome his injury through the support of his family and the Marine Corps.

"My father and my fiancee were with me," he said. "The Marine Corps did an excellent job of taking care of me. They took care of my girlfriend even though we weren't married. The Marine Corps knew I needed her support and that was very important."

The support he received helped him make the otherwise hard decision to have his right leg amputated above the knee during January 2006, after a year of trying to save it.

The amputation did not stop him from wanting to continue his career, but he was unsure what path he would take until he received a fateful phone call.

"I was in Bethesda when Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Siebenthal gave me a phone call," he said. "He needed a battalion executive officer, and I thought, 'I need to take this position.'"

Being the executive officer of a battalion is hard enough, let alone a brand new battalion still trying to find its place, said Master Sgt. Kenneth Barnes, the operations chief for the battalion.

"He came here and had to drink from the fire hose just like everyone else," Barnes said. "He was wounded, so he knew about half of it. That makes it a little bit easier for him."

His injuries also allow him to empathize with the Marines in the battalion, giving him insight someone without injuries might not have.

"He's great at his job," Barnes said. "His heart is really in it. A Marine can come in with his sob story, and all he has to do is stand up and show them they can get through it. It also makes it harder for someone to pull the wool over his eyes."

The job goes both ways for Baronie. Being able to help Marines with their injuries is also therapeutic.

"Everyone has their own way of dealing with their injuries," he explained. "Sometimes they need a little guidance in the right direction, tough love or to talk one-on-one. My injury gives me credibility with the Marines. It's given me the ability to deal with their individual needs. Working with the Marines and being back to work has greatly helped me. Being in this position has made me forget the fact I am hurt."


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

GI Bill

WWII Posters by Everett Johnson
WWII Posters

Below you will find an email sent to me from a fellow Blue Star Mom who is the state Vice President of the MN Blue Star Mothers of America. We both thought that our Lubbock Marine Parents readers would be interested in reading about this.

There is currently before both the US House and US Senate, a bill that would restore the military GI Education Bill to WWII levels. Meaning that our military veterans would be able to have college totally paid for, books paid for and a monthly stipend for expenses. The bill includes ALL military, including Guard and Reservists. The bills are gaining lots of approval on both sides of the aisle for passage.

As of today, the only MN members of Congress that have signed on to this bill are Representatives Betty McCollum and Collin Peterson.

Please take a few moments and email your congress members, urging them to support this bill.

Our veterans, our Heroes and our kids deserved this!

Below is a copy of the mail that I sent to both of my Senators and to my representative. Please feel free to use this letter, edit how you wish, take out the beginning about being a military mom and my sign off. Cut and paste into an email to the Congress members, if you wish.
To locate contact information for the Senate:
click here
For the House: click here
Thank you for supporting our Veterans and our Military!

I am the mother of a US Army soldier. My son is, right now, preparing for his second deployment. I am also the President of the St Paul Chapter of Blue Star Mothers and the MN State BSM Vice President.

As a military mother, I am keenly aware of issues that concern our military and our veterans. There is a bill now before the Senate(S.22) and the House (HR 2702)regarding the new GI Bill for our veterans. This bill is to restore educational benefits to our US Military to WWII levels.

A veteran of World War II was entitled to free tuition, books, and a living stipend that completely covered the cost of education. Attending college gave veterans time to readjust to civilian life, and prepared them for careers as innovators andleaders. For every dollar spent on the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, seven went back into the economy in the form of increased productivity, consumer spending, and tax revenue.

Many service members enlist in order to earn money for college, but today's GI Bill only covers part of the costs of college. Tuition costs have increased faster than inflation, and many veterans must take out student loans or forego education altogether. Even though 95% of veterans pay the non-refundable $1,200 to participate in the Montgomery GI Bill, 30% never use these benefits.

In a time when we are asking so much of our Armed Forces, paying for college is one of the best ways to show our gratitude as a Nation. S.22 and H.R.2702, a new World War II-style GI Bill, should have your support.

Thank you.
Cindy McLean
Proud Army Mom of Chris, 10th Mountain

Friday, February 29, 2008

Helpful Links

Military Life
MCCS provides a wide range of services to help Marines do everything from developing financial responsibility, to continuing their education, to moving to their next duty station or preparing to return home after completing their obligations.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Of the 25 million veterans currently alive, nearly three of every four served during a war or an official period of hostility. About a quarter of the nation's population -- approximately 70 million people -- are potentially eligible for VA benefits and services because they are veterans, family members or survivors of veterans.

For more than 60 years, we in AMVETS have taken to heart the credo of service set forth by our organization’s founding fathers. In so doing, we endeavor to provide our fellow veterans with the type of support they truly deserve. This outreach effort takes many forms, from the professional advice our service officers offer on earned veterans benefits to our legislative efforts on Capitol Hill to the work done by our hospital volunteers. Other AMVETS members involve themselves in a range of initiatives aimed at contributing to the quality of life in their local communities.

Government Made Easy™ is the U.S. government's official web portal

Emergency Financial Assistance
The American Red Cross works in partnership with the military aid societies including the Army Emergency Relief, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society and the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. This alliance helps to provide financial assistance for emergency travel that requires the presence of the service member or his or her family, burial of a loved one, or with assistance that cannot wait until the next business day such as for food, temporary lodging, urgent medical needs, or the minimum amount required to avoid eviction, utility shut off, etc.

In FY 07, the Red Cross, in partnership with the military aid societies, facilitated access to more than $5.5 million in emergency financial aid to more than 5,000 service members, their families, retired military personnel and widows of retired military personnel.

Marine For Life
The mission of the Marine For Life Program is to provide transition assistance to Marines who honorably leave active service and return to civilian life and to support injured Marines and their families

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Meeting Tonight!

Please join us for our meeting tonight at 7:00pm at the Elk's Lodge at 34th and Milwaukee.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Very Powerful Message From the 1/1 Chaplain

"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." -John 15:13

This past summer I began a new chapter in my life: I became a reserve military chaplain, specifically, a Navy Chaplain. The US Navy Chaplain Corps has been around since the Continental Congress formed it in 1775 to minister to the needs of those serving their country. Navy Chaplains serve not only the Navy, but the Marines and Coast Guard, as well. Why am I telling you this? Because of what I have seen in just my few months as a Naval Officer.

I have been assigned to work specifically with the 1st Division of the 1st Marines Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton. The men and women I speak with, hump (hike) with, ride with, fly with, eat with, and so on, are not Marines because they wish to be war mongers. For the most part, these are kids right out of high school, the same age as the students I walk around the CLU campus with. These young folk are saddled with the responsibility of firearms and hand grenades and tanks and humvees -- and the responsibility of knowing when and when not to use them. One cannot honestly look at the Marine Corps and say that they are about love and peace. But I can look at the individuals who comprise that group and see that for many of them, that is what they are personally about. These Marines joined up not to kill, but to be part of something worthwhile. When I speak with them, they are not about the war on terror, earning medals, blowing up Iraq. They are about each other. When on a hump (hike), if one starts to fall back, their whole team will rally around that person, push them on, not leaving them behind. It is shocking to me that when thinking of what the popular culture sells as "The Marines" --how I thought of the Marines -- how off base I was. It is truly amazing how compassionate and gentle they are with each other. I look at these young men and women and know without any question that they would die for the sake of those around them without a second's hesitation. Greater love has no one than this.

Whether you agree or disagree with "The War on Terrorism", whether you are Democrat or Republican, whether you served in the armed forces or protested the armed forces, whether you are a pacifist or a card-carrying member of the NRA, it makes no difference -- Christ calls us to be about two things alone: God and each other. As disciples of Jesus we have but one example to follow. As apprentices to the Word-made-flesh, we have but one voice to heed. He came down that we might have love and have peace -- who are we to offer anything different to those around us?

AND WE PRAY: Lord God, we pray for all of those who put themselves in harm's way for the sake of others, like our military, our fire departments, and our police. Grant them safety, grant them wisdom in judgment, grant them peace -- true peace. Let all the people of the world become instruments of your love and peace. Start with us.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Marine donates kidney to man he barely knew

By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Feb 23, 2008 7:43:56 EST

Staff Sgt. Darren Smiley was sitting at Thanksgiving dinner in 2006 when he made a decision: He needed to see if he could help a man he barely knew by giving up a kidney.

Within weeks, Smiley, a reservist with Charlie Company, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, started a lengthy testing process that led him to an operating table Jan. 30 at UCLA Medical Center in California. His left kidney was removed and placed in Daniel Haven, 43, an X-ray technician and father of a 4-year-old girl.

Days after the surgery, Smiley, a 31-year-old father of three who has served two tours in Iraq, shrugged off the donation.

“I have a young son myself, and the waiting list is usually seven or eight years,” he said in a Feb. 5 phone interview from California. “I would hope that someone would do the same for me if they had the chance.”

The surgery has brought together two clans that had a familial connection but did not know each other particularly well. Haven and Smiley’s wife, Mylinda, are first cousins, but the two men had met only once or twice, in part because the Smileys live in Plains, Mont., and the Havens in Oxnard, Calif.

“I really got to know [Smiley] for the first time through this,” Haven said in a Feb. 5 telephone interview from his home. “How can you thank someone for the gift of life?”

Haven was born prematurely and diagnosed at 12 with glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys that can cause fluid retention in the body, high blood pressure and kidney failure.

He was also born with hip problems that led to a December 2005 replacement surgery that almost killed him when potassium levels in his blood spiked, said his wife, Yanira.

“He almost flat-lined on us on the [operating] table,” she said. “He ... almost had a heart attack [because of his potassium levels].”

Not long after the hip replacement, Haven’s kidney problems increased, he said. Doctors had told him for years that he eventually would need dialysis, but he hadn’t expected it would begin in March 2006, at age 41.

A near-perfect match
Haven’s O-positive blood type made finding a match particularly difficult because a donor would have to have the same blood type. He was told he would probably have to wait five to seven years for a match and began undergoing dialysis three times per week.

Smiley learned of Haven’s condition while attending Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Haven’s father, Terry. When Terry Haven mentioned that no one in the immediate family was a potential donor, “something clicked” inside him, Smiley said.

“He said all [a donor] needed to be is O-positive, and that’s what sparked it,” Smiley said. “My wife and I prayed about it, and we decided to see if it was at least a possibility.”

The decision did not surprise members of Smiley’s unit, which deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2005.

“He’s a damn good man,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ben Murrell, who has known Smiley for more than five years. “He’s the kind of person who can be a war fighter one minute and be telling you what the good Lord thinks the next.”

In fact, Smiley downplayed what he was doing, asking only for a month off from drill because he had “a doctor’s appointment he couldn’t miss,” said Maj. Allan Jaster, Charlie Company’s commander.

“I casually asked him what was up, and he said, ‘I’m giving my kidney to my wife’s cousin,’ and it was all very matter-of-fact,” Jaster said. “He wasn’t looking for any bonus points.”

Smiley said he sought permission from the Corps before agreeing to donate, and is expecting a clean bill of health.

“I went through the proper channels,” he said. “They said that as long as I knew the Corps wasn’t liable if anything went wrong during surgery, I was free to do it. I felt very supported by the command in my unit.”

Lt. Col. Mark Hashimoto, commanding officer of 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, said that — according to the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery — a leatherneck must only notify the Corps if he chooses to become a living donor.

Hasimoto met with Smiley before the surgery, taking a personal interest in part because his own wife and several members of her family also have received kidney transplants after being diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease.

“When I took over command of this battalion in August 2007, I tried to stress the concept of developing good character and letting your actions speak for themselves,” Hashimoto said in a telephone interview from his Hawaii office. “I thanked [Smiley] for embodying what we are looking for.”

When reached by Marine Corps Times, Smiley was already sightseeing at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs six days after surgery. He returned home to Montana on Feb. 9.

“I’ve been taking little walks and trying to get exercise, but it hasn’t been bad,” he said.

Haven said his new kidney has responded well after being placed in the front right side of his abdomen, above his bladder. Haven still has his original two kidneys, including a nonfunctioning left one.

“I’m tired, but everything is going great at this point,” he said. “Fifty percent of all transplanted kidneys get rejected, but [doctors] can reverse it if it’s caught early with medication.”

Yanira Haven said she and her husband consider the staff sergeant a godsend and feel they have a “lifetime connection” with him.

“After putting his life on the line for his country, he put his life on the line for us,” she said. “He’s one in a billion, I think.”

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why I Like Marines

This is one of those things that no one seeems to know who wrote. It is attributed to a speech given by Admiral Harold R. Stark, USN, 8th Chief of Naval Operations in 1995 which is impossible because Admiral Stark died in 1972. At any rate, I like it and I think you will too.

"The first reason I like Marines: They set high standards for themselves and those around them, and will accept nothing less.

I like the way Marines march.

I like the way Marines do their basic training, whether it's Quantico, San Diego, or Parris Island.

I like the idea that Marines cultivate an ethos conducive of producing hard people in a soft age.

I like the fact that Marines stay in shape.

I like the fact that the Marines only have one boss - The Commandant. And I like the directness of the Commandant.

I like the fact that Marines are stubborn.

I like the way Marines obey orders.

I like the way Marines make the most of the press.

I like the wholehearted professionalism of the Marines.

It occurred to me that the services could be characterized by different breeds of dogs.

The Air Force reminded me of a French Poodle. The poodle always looks perfect. . . sometimes a bit pampered and always travels first class. But don't ever forget that the poodle was bred as a hunting dog and in a fight it's very dangerous.

The Army is kind of like a St. Bernard. It's big and heavy and sometimes seems a bit clumsy. But it's very powerful and has lots of stamina. So you want it for the long haul.

The Navy, God bless us, is a Golden Retriever. They're good natured and great around the house. The kids love 'em. Sometimes their hair is a bit long....they go wandering off for long periods of time, and they love water.

Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean or skinny and mean. They're aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They've got really short hair and they always go for the throat.

So what I really like about Marines is that first to fight isn't just a motto, it's a way of life.

From the day they were formed at Tun Tavern 200 plus years ago, Marines have distinguished themselves on battlefields around the world. From the fighting tops of the Bonhomme Richard, to the sands of Barbary Coast, from the swamps of New Orleans to the halls of Montezuma, from Belleau Wood, to the Argonne Forest, to Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima, and Okinawa and Inchon, and Chosin Reservoir and Hue City and Quang Tri and Dong Ha, and Beirut, and Grenada, and Panama, and Somalia and Bosnia and a thousand unnamed battlefields in godforsaken parts of the globe. Marines have distinguished themselves by their bravery, and stubbornness and aggressive spirit, and sacrifice, and love of country, and loyalty to one another.

They've done it for you and me, and this country we all love so dearly. They asked for nothing more than the honor of being a United States Marine"