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