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.