color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: October 2005

Monday, October 31, 2005

Specialist Timothy Watkins

Noah has been moving barracks rooms every few days down at his base... They have started cleaning and refurbishing the barracks in preparation for the 3ID homecoming in 2006... so he moves what seems every few days so that one crew or another can work in the room he just left. Because of this, I know that Noah doesn't have regular access to the internet. He has also been busy with his medical routine and with visiting and assisting the families of the soldiers of his unit... so I figured he wouldn't see my post on the protest planned for Tim's funeral. Wrong.
Noah called me just spitting fire about Phelps -- wanting to know who was he? how dare he protest at a good man's funeral? what did Tim's death have to do with that guy's agenda? and some of the language he used was less than politic and certainly less than polite. He wanted to hop on a plane and go there and pop the guy a good one (see, Melinda, Andi and Stacy... I told you that would be his first response!) I assured him that I was trying to get the word out and that I hoped it would be successful in getting people out to counter the imbecile.
He said, "Write about Tim, Mom. People should know about Tim."
Tim's favorite movie was "Blackhawk Down" and he and Noah watched it together every chance they got... because Noah wants to be a Ranger and Tim wanted to fly helicopters.... Tim looked forward to meeting Noah's Dad who had flown helicopters in Vietnam.
Tim had gotten everyone into the nutty medical comedy "Scrubs"... He had picked up the first season on DVD at the PX (when they still had access to one) and he was hooked and insisted that everyone watch the episodes... then they were all hooked. "He had a great laugh, Ma. We loved to listen to Tim laugh.
I asked what kind of music Tim listened to... "All kinds -- you know just like everyone else -- whatever was playing right then." Noah says that Tim would talk about religion with the guys -- not just his religion but religion in general, his belief in God. When others doubted, Tim was there to console and convince them that there was hope. In assessing Tim's faith, Noah said, "He was always inviting everyone to go to services with him whenever they didn't have a mission... and even when others didn't go, Tim went. "He wasn't there to convert anyone, but he was a real Believer." Even though they knew that Tim's dad was a minister, Tim was still just one of the guys...
And a good soldier. "He's one of the reasons I'm alive today, Mom. If it wasn't for Tim and G., I think I would have been killed rather than just wounded that day." He tells me that when the VBIED went off collapsing part of the building they were in, they were taking secondary fire from the terrorists, and Tim and the other soldier brought a .240 [machine gun] up to Noah's position and together they took out a few tangos...
As Noah says, when you think that Phelps is here and Watkins is gone, it makes you doubt... but I tell him that this is just the situation where you have to put your faith in God's greater plan... He gave a short laugh, "Yeah -- that's just the kind of thing Tim would have said."
Tim, you fought the good fight. You kept your faith. You finished your course. We'll see you on the other side. Go with God... you have earned your Reward.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 28, 2005


SPC Timothy D. Watkins was one of the soldiers from Noah's unit killed in an IED attack in ar Ramadi on October 15, 2005. By all accounts Tim Watkins was a devoted Christian, a dedicated soldier and a good son. From the San Bernardino Sun:

"His executive officers tell me he would invite others to go to church with him any Sunday he wasn't on a mission," he said.

His faith was his passion, and he was fervent even in the midst of war. People were drawn to that, his father said.

His other passion was learning to fly. That was among the reasons he decided to join the military, Rob Watkins said. He had wanted to fly helicopters.

But he was equally passionate about serving and helping the people of Iraq, Rob Watkins said.

The young man had been passionate about his beliefs since childhood, his father said. He was converted to Christianity at age 5. He carried that through his entire life.

Tim Watkins was heavily involved in the church, taking part in school theatrical productions and working with children at Ironwood Christian Camp in Newberry Springs.

He was part of the ministry of Pacific Baptist College in Pomona and sang with a worship group.

"Tim died for a great cause, and we're proud of him," Rob Watkins said. "We miss him terribly. I'm just thankful for assurances we'll be together again."

A pretty remarkable young man.
But I have just discovered that the cretin Fred Phelps intends to protest at the funeral of SPC Timothy Watkins. This has upset me many times in the past, but this has left me distraught over the thought of the pain this imbecile intends to inflict on the family and friends of a hero who died in defense of our freedoms (and yes, Phelps freedom to be an idiot). I really hate how this guy blasphemes in God's name and I'm pretty sure I know what the Lord's response to Mr. Phelps will be come Judgment Day...
Many bloggers have written about the blasphemous and outrageous carnival rantings of Phelps, including Greyhawk at The Mudville Gazette, Banter in Atlanter, Assumption of Command... For anyone not familiar with this moron (and I'm sure there are many of you although not in Fred's mind) Phelps is the founder of a "Baptist" church (and I use that term loosely) in Kansas that contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. (Sometimes you just can't make this stuff up.) The church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Phelps children, grandchildren and in-laws. They carry the meanest, most vile and outrageous signs and shout at those attending the funerals of the soldiers...

I am calling upon all available citizens, veterans and military in the area of the Calvary Baptist Church in Yucca Valley, California on Tuesday, November 1st (Phelps plans to be there from 9:00AM-10:00AM) to counter this demonstration by whatever method works for you...
In Tennessee, the townspeople chased these loonies away. In Oklahoma, church ladies held up bed sheets with patriotic sentiments to block the view of protesters and VFW motorcycles drowned out protestors. In Indiana, the citizens came out to counter-protest. In Idaho, as The Stupid Shall Be Punished reported, the local police department ensured the safety of the wacko protestors by limiting contact with the ever-dangerous members of the general public by confining the protesters in an area down the block and around the corner from the funeral site while the local fire department was there to be sure there was ample fire protection for mourners and stationed themselves around the corner and down the block as well (loved that one!), and (thanks Blackfive) in Massachusetts, the bagpipers came out to drown out the fools. I'm sure there are any number of ingenious ways to shield the family from these servants of the devil.
I am not suggesting by any means that anyone personally engage these imbeciles, just that there be a presence to let the family and friends of SPC Watkins know that no one believes these cranks.... KNOW THAT THESE PEOPLE MAKE THEIR LIVING BY INCITING PEOPLE AND THEN SUING THEM FOR DAMAGES!! As Blackfive posted back in August, the advice given for military members if encountering these evil-doers at funerals and which is good advice for anyone wishing to counter-protest:



And I'm asking that this get passed around the blogsphere and emailed to as many people as you think might be willing to counter such ill will and send a clear message to that publicity whore Phelps that soldiers' funerals are not the time or place... and allow the Watkins family to bury their hero with the love, dignity and the respect that he deserves.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
Welcome to those arriving via...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I'll Still Conquer

This story will show you the spirit of our American soldiers... made me laugh... made me cry... made me proud...
By KATE WILTROUT, The Virginian-Pilot © October 27, 2005

WASHINGTON — They are proud, but that isn’t what they told Jon Bartlett on Wednesday as he left Walter Reed Army Medical Center after 13 months.

No congratulations. No “job well done.” No pats on the back for keeping his chin up when his spirits were down.

The mentors, nurses, therapists and prosthetists who coached Bartlett to his feet after he lost both legs during combat in Iraq had parting thoughts of a different sort for the young infantryman.

As Bartlett went to say goodbyes in the physical therapy lab on the hospital’s second floor, where he had spent countless hours sweating, grunting and putting 50 pounds of muscle back on what had been his 6-foot frame, Jack Farley stopped him.

“I’m expecting big things from you,” said Farley, a retired federal judge who lost his right leg in Vietnam. It was a message Bartlett heard throughout the course of his last day at the hospital.

As Farley continued down the hall, he kept talking about the 20-year-old graduate of Norfolk’s Maury High School.

“He’s got tremendous strength, tremendous drive,” said Farley, who has spent the past year at Walter Reed, visiting Generation X combat amputees. Farley said Bartlett always seemed to be upside-down in the physical therapy lab: hanging from a pull-up bar, or doing push-ups, in a handstand position, on the parallel bars.

The retired judge said he knows Bartlett will survive, even thrive, in whatever he does. But Farley is concerned about Bartlett’s transition to civilian life, away from the cocoon of soldiers and caregivers at Walter Reed. Bartlett will officially leave the Army next month.

“Patients here, they’re in a womb,” Farley said.

If so, Bartlett is ready to be reborn and move away from the confines of Walter Reed. Since last November, he has lived in Mologne House , a government-run hotel on the campus of the Washington hospital.

He has the highest praise for the specialists who treated him and the typical criticisms about institutional food. But he’s tired of calling a standard hotel room home and looks forward to buying a car with hand controls. He hopes to work part-time at a Norfolk radio station, and in January wants to start classes at Old Dominion University .

His education will be paid for by the Veterans Administration and his GI benefits.
Two and a half years after leaving home with a five-year commitment to the Army, Bartlett is apprehensive about returning to the family nest.

The family’s house experienced surgery of its own after Bartlett was injured in September 2004 on a dirt road south of Fallujah . Last November, local businesses donated labor and supplies to add a first-floor bedroom and bathroom to the house off Little Creek Road. They also redid the kitchen and added a porch and wheelchair ramp.

The former track athlete said he wouldn’t be shy about closing his door when his family gets to him. “I’m going to pimp that thing out. It’s going to be nice,” Bartlett said about his bedroom, sounding like a typical 20-year-old.

Other times, Bartlett seems far wiser than his years.


“The thought of failure never crossed my mind,” Barlett said his last night in the capital. “The thought that I wouldn’t be able to walk again never crossed my mind.”

He was not one to question why it happened to him or to try to make bargains with God. “I always saw that as weakness,” Bartlett said.

He attributes his survival from the homemade bomb blast – so strong it threw a steel plate attached to his Humvee’s door more than 500 yards – to three things: 21st century medicine, his comrades’ quick thinking and a strong heart.

“I refuse to believe that my destiny is in any hands but my own,” he said.

He will miss being an able-bodied infantry grunt – “Oh, I love playing soldier,” he said – but plans to soldier on in different terms.

“Soldiers conquer, right?” he asked rhetorically. “But as a soldier, you do someone else’s bidding. Businessmen do their own. I’ll still conquer.”

Read the whole story... here

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

But We In It Shall Be Remember'd... We Band of Brothers

From this day to the end of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother....

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of five soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on Oct. 15, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle during combat operations. The soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, GA.

SPC Jeffrey W. Corban, 30, of Elkhart, IN. Also read here.
SPC Corban was buried at Ft. Benning, GA earlier today.

SPC Richard A. Hardy, 24, of Newcomerstown, OH. Also read here.
SPC Hardy will be buried in Ohio on Friday.

SPC Thomas ("Tommy") H. Byrd, 21, of Cochise, AZ.
SPC Byrd will be buried in Arizona at a later date.

SPC Timothy D. Watkins , 24, of San Bernardino, CA.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared that flags at the state Capitol will fly at half-staff in honor of Watkins.

SSG Vincent E. Summers, 38, of South Haven, MI.
Staff Sergeant Summers will be buried this Saturday in Killeen, TX, the home of Fort Hood.

Josh Groban sings this beautiful tribute
(even if you don't usually listen to
Josh Groban... the song is poignant)

Remember, I will still be here,
As long as you hold me, in your memory
Remember, when your dreams have ended,
Time can be transcended,
Just remember me
I am the one star that keeps burning, so brightly,
It is the last light, to fade into the rising sun
I'm with you,
Whenever you tell, My story,
For I am all I've done
Remember, I will still be here,
As long as you hold me, in your memory,
Remember me
I am that one voice, in the cold wind,
That whispers,
And if you listen, you'll hear me call across the sky
As long as, I still can reach out, and touch you,
Then I will never die
Remember, I'll never leave you,
If you will only,
Remember me
Remember me...
Remember, I will still be here,
As long as you hold me,
In your memory
Remember, When your dreams have ended,
Time can be transcended,
I live forever,
Remember me
Remember me,
Remember... me...

Blessed Mother Mary, Wrap your arms around our sons and intercede on their behalf with Our Father, and hold them in your loving and tender embrace as we would hold all our sons here on Earth. Amen.

COME to their assistance, All you Saints of God! Meet them, you Angels of the Lord. Receive their souls, and present them to the Most High. May the Lord who called you, receive you; and may the Angels lead you into the bosom of Abraham. Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Into your hands, O Lord, we humbly entrust our brothers. In this life you embraced them with your tender love; deliver them now from every evil and bid them enter eternal rest.

The old order has passed away: welcome them then into paradise, where there will be no sorrow, no weeping nor pain, but the fullness of peace and joy with your Son and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

Welcome, THIRDWAVEDAVE readers...

* "Remember" (from the sound track of the movie "Troy") lyrics by Cynthia Weil, music by James Horner

Mourn With Those Who Mourn - Update

I spoke with Noah... He told me how deferential and respectful everyone had been during his travels... How the airline crews handling Tommy's casket had stopped to pay respects... An escort must be present whenever the casket is loaded and unloaded from vehicle to plane, from plane to plane, to vehicle... and as they changed planes twice, the loading and unloading occurred frequently and he mentioned how gently everyone involved handled the casket and how respectful they had been... How nice the flight and cabin crews had been.
Since he was traveling in his Class-A uniform through two airports, many people stopped to thank him, talk with him. He could not discuss why he was traveling, but people were polite and encouraging all along the journey just because he was a soldier. These people were genuinely grateful for his service, and Noah was genuinely touched by the show of support. He mentioned that he will miss the funeral for another of his comrades which will take place on Tuesday while he travels back, but he will be able to attend the memorial service for the five soldiers on Thursday. It's important to him.
He called at nearly midnight our time -- 3:00AM back at his base... He had just gotten to his hotel after finishing at the mortuary and completing the tasks and paperwork required of him. He sounded good, if tired. I know the staff from the AF base in Delaware picked Noah and a few other escorts up at 0600 this morning, so I'm sure he's exhausted. He heads back to the airport for the return flight tomorrow (this) morning with a layover at DFW, so one of his aunts that lives nearby is going to meet him between flights even though the layover is just an hour (that's assuming the flights are on time). I told my sister that she didn't have to try to get out there with such a short layover, but this former Marine had not been able to see her nephew before he deployed and said, "If he was within 100 miles, I'd be there for just 5 minutes to hug the stuffings outta that soldier!" So if all goes well, Noah will get a big hug tomorrow. And a hug from one of my sissies is almost as good as a hug from Mom...
And I heard from one of our Guys via instant message just briefly this evening... He said they missed Noah but were glad he was here and not there... they were so exhausted... that the mail deliveries are now pretty irregular where they are (as are food deliveries) because of the risk of IEDs so they were more grateful than ever to have the packages when they got through... they need everything, so the call is going out to Noah's network of friends and family to load up for the Guys... they were hurtin' for the loss of their friends, but otherwise their morale is high -- they're "gittin' it done". I closed with my usual "eyes up & a$$ down" which got a LOL laugh. Sometimes, it's so sad, ya just gotta laugh...
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mourn With Those Who Mourn

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15)

From the Rear Detachment Saturday:

On the 15th of October, I was notified by (3rd Brigade Rear-Detachment Commander) that our Battalion had suffered the loss of five of our heroes from A CO 2-69 Armor.

These heroes were killed by an IED while conducting combat operations.

The next of kin of our fallen heroes have been officially notified.

The delay of this [notification] was due to awaiting the official notification of our fallen heroes families which was complete on the 21st of October.

3rd Brigade Rear Detachment will conduct a Memorial Ceremony to honor these American Heroes on Thursday the 27th of October at 1100 hours... The site is tentative. Official site location will be confirmed on the 24th of October.

I ask for your prayers for these Panther heroes and their families.


Note: Although there have been some newspaper stories of Tommy's death, I am not at this point using Tommy and Mychel's surname as the DoD has not yet officially released the name(s) of the deceased soldiers and I want to afford the families just a few more hours of anonymity... The info will come soon enough


Noah checked in with us yesterday morning from the first airport on his four city airport odyssey to receive the body of his friend, Tommy and to escort him on his final journey home. It will be a very long two days for Noah. Longer than just hours and minutes.

We talked a little about Tommy and how the picture Noah has of him forged in his brain is of Tommy sitting behind the wheel of the Bradley grinning like a big old Cheshire Cat... Noah would gun and Tommy would drive... Noah sounded in control and resolute today -- firm in this sacred mission. He said, "I know this is a real honor, but it's so hard, Mom -- the hardest thing I have ever done." I tell him how sorry I am that he has to undertake this responsibility at 20. In my mind I ask God to make this the hardest thing he will ever have to do for the rest of his life.

I remember him telling me when he first told me that Tommy and the others had been killed, "You would really have liked him, Mom. He was just like me." He says absolutely everyone loved Tommy. He tells me that when they all went off to war, they promised each other that they would bring each other home. "This isn't how we thought it would happen, Ma." I detect such emotion in that statement that it is hard for me not to weep. I can not fathom the pain of such memories... or the love and loyalty that inspired such promises.

We talk briefly about some of the arrangements and last minute snafus and the tentative schedule for his travel, his duties, the funeral date and location, his schedule for returning to his base. At some point while we're talking, one of those random thoughts crosses my mind -- that his cousin's 16th birthday is tomorrow (today)... and can it be just four years ago that we celebrated Noah's 16th birthday and the image of him strumming his new electric guitar flashes in my head. Can it be just two since we all celecrated his high school graduation? It seems a whole lifetime has passed in these last 10 months since he and his buddies deployed... and come to this sad task for our son.

We talk, as we have over the past week, about Tommy's young widow. Noah speaks so highly of her and how hard this is for her, how shocked she is, how brave she's trying to be -- and succeeding. I have never met Mychel (pronounced Michael) personally, but my heart is so heavy for this woman and all that she must be going through, all she must absorb, the decisions she must make... She and Tommy were high school sweethearts... Tommy turned 21 while home on leave in August. Mychel will turn 19 in a few weeks. Just after she buries her husband. I can not even begin to imagine...

In an article about her husband in their home town paper that describes the wrestler with the spirit and heart of a champion and the all around All-American boy, she says, "It's no wonder he joined the military where he was proudly serving his country. He was a brave man and he was full of joy and love and he did what he did because he wanted to protect everyone... he just was very proud of the job he did... and he just had this huge heart of gold."

She is surrounded by her loving and supportive family -- and her military family. After the memorial for her husband and the other four heroes later this week, she and her family will return to their home town and together with Tommy's family will bury him close to where she will live and mourn.

And we mourn with those who mourn.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.


Probably Wouldn't Be This Way (video)
Got a date a week from Friday with the Preacher's son.
Everybody says he's crazy, I'll have to see.
I fin'lly moved to Jackson when the summer came.
I won't have to pay that boy to rake my leaves.
I'm prob'ly going on and on,
It seems I'm doing more of that these days.
I prob'ly wouldn't be this way, I prob'ly wouldn't hurt so bad.
I never pictured every minute without you in it,
Oh, you left so fast.
Sometimes I see you standing there: Sometimes it's like I'm losing touch.
Sometimes I feel that I'm so lucky to have had the chance to love this much.
God give me a moment's grace, ' cause if I'd never seen your face,
I prob'ly wouldn't be this way.
Momma says that I just shouldn't speak to you.
Susan says that I should just move on.
You oughta see the way these people look at me,
When they see me 'round here talking to this stone.
Everybody thinks I've lost my mind,
But I just take it day by day.
I prob'ly wouldn't be this way, I prob'ly wouldn't hurt so bad.
I never pictured every minute without you in it,
Oh, you left so fast.
Sometimes I see you standing there: Sometimes I feel an Angel's touch.
Sometimes I feel that I'm so lucky to have had the chance to love this much.
God give me a moment's grace, ' cause if I'd never seen your face,
I prob'ly wouldn't be this way.
I prob'ly wouldn't be this way.
Written by John Kennedy and Tammi Kidd.(© Irving Music.)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Updates - Our Guys American & Scottish

Finally heard from one of our Guys... when we returned from our mini-trip I had an IM waiting... some small requests for things... some general news about our Guys... and at the close:

hi mom... sorry I haven't talked to you in a while... thanks for all the packages... let me know if there's anything I can do for ya... Mom, tell Noah he has my deepest condolences...
Noah had already called earlier in the day to let me know that V. had called him and that they had spoken at length about everything that has gone on... and that V. has transferred to Noah's platoon... but the rest of our Guys are staying in their current platoon (which doesn't go outside the wire as often as the other platoons). Ratchets up my worry for V. a notch or two (or three).

We (well, actually DH) has had a number of phone conversations with Noah over the past two days relating to protocol, regulations, etc. regarding military burials... long story. Still working through the details. This is very hard on the very young widow of Noah's friend -- the tensions that can arise in these situations between the families of the deceased soldier and the military establishment and regulations that might have served a purpose at some point... I can't (and won't) post the details, just to say that someone should really listen to what the widow, family and soldier's friends say and sh*tcan some regulations or at least allow for compromise (and there IS a compromise -- it just isn't provided for in the regulations...) Be that as it may... We're hoping the U.S. Senators and Congressmen from their home state can help sort this out...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Had a wonderful time in Vegas... the concert was fabulous (they rocked!) and we met up with our old friends Nazareth -- what a great time catching up on their families and ours!!

Lee Agnew (drums, backing vocals)

Pete Agnew (bass and vocals)

My big bro, me, Pete, DH

I called a younger sister just as the concert began and she and her two boys got on the phone just so they could feel like they were there with us (my 15 year old nephew is a HUGE fan --

Dan McCafferty (vocals and the bagpipes)

and all on his own and not because his ma is a fan and a friend!) We all can't wait to see the guys (Scottish) again... although they have such a heavy touring schedule for the next 11 months in Europe we just might have to go there to see them!! Hey -- sounds like a family road trip to me!!

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Sent two big duffel bags back to Noah today... These two large Army duffels had been shipped from his base to our home just days before he and the Guys deployed to Iraq. Soldiers are issued all kinds of equipment and gear -- not all of which is used or useful in Iraq -- but they are still responsible for this Army-issued equipment even while deployed. So Noah and some of the other Guys sent their duffels and boxes of "stuff" to us and we have stored it in our attic. I remember thinking how long 15 months seemed when we hoisted it up there... Now I'm looking forward to shipping the rest of the Guys' things back when they redeploy!! We have already been told the tentative dates, but I'm not jinxing it!
We haven't heard from any of Our Guys in quite a while... nor has Noah. And they haven't responded to emails... just a little worried. I know that where the Guys are stationed is really hopping at the moment... and (unfortunately) we know there is a blackout on... and there have been two other blackouts since last weekend for their area... although we know their unit was not the reason for these newest blackouts. We still don't know when Noah will be escorting the body of his friend for burial yet... In the meantime, he and Dave have been helping the families with errands and paper work and just being there... Just having other soldiers and the wives around brings comfort... to the families and the soldiers. Noah is continuing with his physical therapy and some further medical evaluations... He continues to improve but the plateaus are tough...

Light blogging for the next few days... driving up to Las Vegas to see one of my favorite heavy rock bands -- Nazareth. DH and my brother and I are looking forward to the concert, seeing old friends -- and I'm looking forward to dancing with a few one-armed bandits, as well!
Remember to keep our soldiers and their families in your thoughts and prayers. They are the reason we can blog and you can read what we write... and go to any concert, church, temple, mosque, political debate or forum... or not.
Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. This we humbly ask you, Heavenly Father.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Angels' Tears for Counted Sorrows

It's raining here in Arizona. It never rains in October in Arizona. I decide it's not really raining, it is the Angels' tears for all of the counted sorrows our world suffers...

Noah called this morning. He attended the memorial service for two soldiers from a unit attached to his unit in Iraq and I recall
Matt Bohling's service and tears come to my eyes. Noah said it was really hard and what made it especially difficult on him and the others there from his unit was that they knew the next memorial services will be for the soldiers from their squad -- guys they ate with, worked with, laughed with, one slept in the bunk below Noah's.

I tried to gently talk with Noah about how there must be some greater Plan set in motion by God in all this -- that while he has been wounded, he is the lone survivor of his original Bradley crew and perhaps he was spared because there is a task he has been chosen for -- even if he can not see it at this moment... he says he knows that God has both a left and a right hand and says he's pretty tired of the Left hand... but he quickly says he doesn't want to talk about God today... he's angry with God for the moment. There's not much you can say.... Haven't we all been angry with God at least once or twice?

He says he is rethinking about whether to re-enlist -- he feels perhaps he should make the military his career, become an officer so that he can lead and protect his men... A hand grabs at my heart but I say, "You know whatever choice you make, son, we'll support you 100%." "I know, Mom." No value in arguing or trying to reason him out of it at the moment. As with all of our grown children, we know that if he wants advice, he'll ask. (That's the hardest part of being a parent -- letting them make their own choices even when your heart screams, "Don't do it!") We've been there, done that with our other two sons and with
this son and his military service.He's strong and capable of making choices and, more importantly, of living with the choices he makes.

I just keep thinking that he's just 20 years old... and 20 should be fun.... We, of course, worry about the strain... 40 years later his Dad recalls the losses of his friends and fellow soldiers in Vietnam... memories he says you try to lock in a room somewhere in your brain and you try not to open that door, but occasionally -- like now with the death of Noah's friends -- that door opens and you remember. We wonder if being in a war wasn't stressful enough, as if being hit by a VBIED wasn't more trauma, how will this ordeal of the deaths of so many of these closest of friends affect him? How can you possibly cope with going from house to house to comfort the grieving spouses, their children, their families? Noah admits he's hurtin', but insists he can carry on (and perhaps I have learned the real meaning of the phrase "soldiering on"?) We worry. As I wrote early in this blog, as a parent,
You Always Worry.

Noah then told me that he has been given the honor of accompanying the body of one of his friends on that Hero's final journey home. I know my son is deeply honored by this... as
Blackfive said, "It's about Valor, Honor and Respect." We talk very briefly about what this entails and we ask him to let us know the funeral arrangements if he gets the opportunity. I email him the very emotional and moving description of this painful process reported by Blackfive "Taking Chance Home." (Major tissue alert.)

Please continue to pray for our soldiers, for the families of our fallen Heroes, for our leaders and those that must send or command our loved ones in harm's way.

Please God, grant our dearly departed Peace in your Kingdom, and please grant the rest of us Peace on Earth.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 17, 2005

MSM Anti-war Bias - What Milbloggers Have Been Saying All Along!

The Media Research Center says the coverage by ABC, NBC and CBS is biased against the war and the soldiers and doesn't tell the good news! I think I mighta heard that somewhere before...
From the MRC Executive Summary:
TV’s Bad News Brigade
ABC, CBS and NBC’s Defeatist Coverage of the War in Iraq
... are network reporters giving the public an inordinately gloomy portrait of the situation, as some critics charge? Are the positive accomplishments of U.S. soldiers and Iraq’s new democratic leaders being lost in a news agenda dominated by assassinations, car bombings and casualty reports?

The answer to both questions is: Yes.
This conclusion is based on a Media Research Center study of broadcast network news coverage of the Iraq war so far this year. MRC analysts reviewed all 1,388 Iraq stories broadcast on ABC’s World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News from January 1 through September 30. (In 2006, the MRC will release a similar analysis of cable news coverage of Iraq.) Among the key findings:

■ Network coverage has been overwhelmingly pessimistic. More than half of all stories (848, or 61%) focused on negative topics or presented a pessimistic analysis of the situation, four times as many as featured U.S. or Iraqi achievements or offered an optimistic assessment (just 211 stories, or 15%).

■ News about the war has grown increasingly negative. In January and February, about a fifth of all network stories (21%) struck a hopeful note, while just over half presented a negative slant on the situation. By August and September, positive stories had fallen to a measly seven percent and the percentage of bad news stories swelled to 73 percent of all Iraq news, a ten-to-one disparity.

■ Terrorist attacks are the centerpiece of TV’s war news. Two out of every five network evening news stories (564) featured car bombings, assassinations, kidnappings or other attacks launched by the terrorists against the Iraqi people or coalition forces, more than any other topic.

■ Even coverage of the Iraqi political process has been negative. More stories (124) focused on shortcomings in Iraq’s political process — the danger of bloodshed during the January elections, political infighting among politicians, and fears that the new Iraqi constitution might spur more civil strife — than found optimism in the Iraqi people’s historic march to democracy (92 stories). One-third of those optimistic stories (32) appeared on just two nights — January 30 and 31, just after Iraq’s first successful elections.

■ Few stories focused on the heroism or generous actions of American soldiers. Just eight stories were devoted to recounting episodes of heroism or valor by U.S. troops, and another nine stories featured instances when soldiers reached out to help the Iraqi people. In contrast, 79 stories focused on allegations of combat mistakes or outright misconduct on the part of U.S. military personnel.
Here's the Full Text PDF Version of the report.
I can't wait to see the cable news study results -- those will be interesting (I'm betting the results will be about the same except for one cable network... )
(Hat tip to You Must Be Kidding)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Helplessness in the Face of Tragedy

I originally posted this earlier this morning but took it down as I wanted to be sure that the families in Noah's unit had been notified and that sufficient time had elapsed for the families to contact extended family as I know many of them now read my blog... I would not want to be the source of any more pain for these families...

I felt it once before -- on a very personal basis -- when Noah was wounded. He was there... we were here and the feelings of helplessness were like no other. Completely powerless to do anything in the face of unspeakable fear and tragedy.

Noah called this morning in great despair and again I was overwhelmed with these feelings. Five soldiers in his unit were killed in an IED attack last night. Fox
news infers that they were Marines. They weren't. They are Army.

Noah and his friend Dave (who was wounded in the same attack as Noah and is just back at their U.S. base as well) called from the car on the way to the home of one of the hero NCOs to help his wife and the other wives of these fallen. Noah and Dave are not just consumed by grief, but by guilt. "I should have been there, Ma. I shoulda been there..."

Noah and Dave were just at Sgt. B's house on Thursday night with Mrs. B, their boys, and some of the wives of their comrades still deployed who were all there to comfort Mrs. B on the loss of her husband... They are already scheduled to attend the memorial services this week for two of their comrades... and now some of the wives who they joined in comfort this week may need comforting themselves... I tell Noah how sorry I am, I know how much he loved those Guys... I tell him that he could not have helped them and that his new mission is to be there -- where he is -- for his friends' families... that the Guys in Iraq must have felt some comfort knowing that Noah and Dave would be there for their families if anything happened... I hope these words are of some comfort to my son... but in my heart I know they are not...

I feel helplessness in not being able to comfort him in this time of great loss for him and his brothers and their wives, their children, their mothers, fathers, girlfriends, siblings... I can not begin to imagine the feelings of powerlessness that Noah, Dave and the others feel to be here and not there... I know there is nothing more I can say or do to make the pain any less for the families or for Noah or Dave or Capt. C., or the soldiers still fighting in Iraq...

I have heard from the mom of a tank driver in the same area who feels guilty because they drove the road just hours before and they didn't see the IED... they didn't capture any terrorists planting the IED... my son and Dave feel guilty because they think maybe if they had been there maybe they would have seen it -- stopped it... I feel guilty because I'm glad my son was not there knowing it could have been him in the driver's seat or in the gunner's place.

Another milblogger asked me, "What can I do?" I asked Noah the same question, "Is there anything we can do?" "No, Ma. There's nothing anyone can do right now." All we can do now is pray for the souls of these departed heros... Pray for strength for their families... Pray for the healing of the spirits of the comrades so helpless in this situation (those here and there)... And pray for the safety of our soldiers until they all come home. Please remember these heroes and their families in your prayers.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Seven Things (I Got Tagged!)

My sweet friend Melinda at Most Certainly Not tagged me... I haven't been tagged in a while...

Seven things I want to do before I die:
1. See my sons and daughter all grown (just about there) and happy (we're getting close), with happy marriages (one down, 3 to go!) and wonderful children of their own.
2. Have great-great grandchildren.
3. Win BIG at a casino or lottery.
4. Give back more than I got.
5. Spend a month or more traveling in Australia.
6. Publish some of my writings.
7. Learn to use a sewing machine.

Seven things I can do:

1. Cook and bake.

2. Garden.

3. Love completely.

4. Play baseball/softball.

5. Write.

6. Worry (about my children, my kidz, my Guys, my siblings, my DH...)

7. Plan and conduct shareholders' meetings for any size corporation.

Seven things I cannot do:
1. Use a sewing machine.
2. Knit.
3. Fly a plane.
4. Golf.
5. Cheer for the Boston Red Sox (sorry to Andi's DH).
6. Watch golf on TV.
7. Imagine a day without my DH

Seven things I say a lot:
1. I love you.
2. Honey, can you come here a minute?
3. Whohoo!!
4. I can't think of anything to write.
5. I'll do it tomorrow.
6. I have to clean this house.
7. Dang!

Seven things I find attractive in a male:
1. Intelligence.
2. A strong laugh.
3. Caring/compassion.
4. Straight carriage (good posture) and a good body.
5. Good manners.
6. Grace.
7. Good grammar.

Seven celebrity crushes (and not in any order -- just as they came to mind)
1. Sean Connery.
2. Tommy Lee Jones.
3. Toby Keith.
4. Matthew McConoughey
5. Bruce Willis
6. Will Smith
7. Liam Neeson

Seven people who have nothing better to do than to get tagged... I can't think of anyone... but if I do, I'll let ya know...

Friday, October 14, 2005


Praying for our soldiers, and the Iraqis on this great day of their constitutional referendum...
From the CNN story...
After decades of repression and dictatorship and more than two years of war and insurgency, Iraqis went to the polls Saturday to vote on a draft constitution that would set up a democratic framework to govern the religiously and ethnically disparate nation.
On the eve of the referendum, insurgents trying to disrupt the process unleashed more violence, including a bomb attack on the main power line into Baghdad from the north, which plunged 70 percent of the capital into darkness Friday night, Iraq's electricity ministry said. The cities of Beiji and Musayyib were also affected.

While the attack left the capital in unnerving darkness, the blackout was not expected to affect the voting process, which is done by paper ballot during daylight hours. Power began gradually returning in the city early Saturday morning.

Also Friday, insurgents attacked four offices of a Sunni Arab party that made a last-minute deal with the country's governing Shiite-Kurdish coalition to support a "yes" vote on the constitution. No casualties were reported.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party, Ayad al-Samarraie, said the attacks would not change the party's decision to support the constitution.

"Those who could not convince people by words, they want to terrify them by these actions," he said.
We hear you Mr. al-Samarraie... We may not all agree about everything -- but on this we agree. They are TERRORISTS not insurgents. They will never convince us and they will not sway us. It is good to see that the fight for freedom (whether on a battlefield or at the polls -- or both) and the will to resist and repel terrorists is now something more we have in common.
God bless us everyone (ok, God Bless the Good Guys!)
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Get Those Calendars Out...

Time to start planning the holiday mail to our soldiers... I'll be posting up some holiday suggestions in the next few days, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share this with you... Note that zip codes 093xx are Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom...
Deadlines Established for Holiday Mail
Stars and Stripes October 13, 2005
Want that special gift to make it back home in time for the holidays? Military mail officials in Central Command have announced mailing deadlines for deployed soldiers to get their packages sent to their home bases in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

The first deadlines — for anything sent by parcel post — will be Nov. 12 for all military mail addresses, officials said. The last deadline — for express mail service — is Dec. 19 for military mail addresses.

For first-class and priority mail, all packages should be sent by Dec. 10, except for military mail addresses that have a ZIP code between 09300 and 09399. Parcels to those addresses need to be sent by Dec. 5, officials said.

Anything sent space-available mail must be mailed by Nov. 26 except for ZIP codes between 09300 and 09399. The space-available deadlines for those addresses are Nov.12.

During last year’s holiday season, more than 4.5 million pounds of mail was processed within the Central Command area of operations, said Air Force Master Sgt. Curt Pruden, superintendent of Theater Postal Operations.

The average delivery time was 10 days, he said. Despite that, to guarantee packages arrive by Christmas Day, they must be sent by the deadlines, he said.

For more information on mailing restrictions, package sizes and rates, check with local postal operations representatives.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Hey it’s good to be back home again

As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn't supposed to ever let you down probably will. You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it's harder every time. You'll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken. You'll fight with your best friend. You'll blame a new love for things an old one did. You'll cry because time is passing too fast, and you'll eventually lose someone you love. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you've never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you'll never get back. Live for today... tomorrow may never come.
We're Home safe. Weather out East was hot and humid and then cold and rainy. Tired. Suprising how weary you can get from sitting doing nothing in cars, planes and airports for the better part of the day. The memorial service was sad, but it was good to gather with her friends and hear the good and funny stuff. And if you want to see some people's true nature just put some money and/or power in the air... Whew. I'll put up some of that soap opera in a future post. (The Will was found but that has led to more drama than even I could imagine... Sometimes you really can't make this stuff up!)
The whole tragedy has sparked some deep conversations between DH and myself about putting things we have told the kids and family in writing so that there can be no misunderstanding between children and siblings (turns out that my friend's sister and mother's idea of a funeral/memorial did not jibe with what the children's understanding of their mom's wishes were -- and that was just the start of the drama... but more some other day.) But just so I'm clear, when that Day comes (Dearest Lord, make it many years from now): donate my usable organs, cremate the rest, bury some of the dust & ashes with DH and make diamonds from the rest ("Oh, what a lovely ring." "Yes, thank you, it's my Mother.") Go ahead and cry if you want. I'll understand, but don't cry too long. When you're ready, have a big party (I'm paying): rent a hotel, say some prayers, then play lots of Toby Keith, Nazareth, Aerosmith, Eagles, Gretchen Wilson, Emmylou, Rob Thomas, B.B., Clapton, Meatloaf... and be sure to play it all LOUD... serve lots alcohol... dance, hug, hold hands... tell funny and bawdy stories about me... laugh a lot and remember how much I loved you.
(For H&Z -- E's children)

Remember, I will still be here,
As long as you hold me, in your memory
Remember, when your dreams have ended,
Time can be transcended,
Just remember me
I am the one star that keeps burning, so brightly,
It is the last light, to fade into the rising sun
I'm with you,
Whenever you tell, My story,
For I am all I've done
Remember, I will still be here,
As long as you hold me, in your memory,
Remember me
I am that one voice, in the cold wind,
That whispers,
And if you listen, you'll hear me call across the sky
As long as, I still can reach out, and touch you,
Then I will never die
Remember, I'll never leave you,
If you will only,
Remember me
Remember me...
Remember, I will still be here,
As long as you hold me,
In your memory
Remember, When your dreams have ended,
Time can be transcended,
I live forever,
Remember me
Remember me,
Remember... me...
"Remember" (from the sound track of the movie "Troy")
lyrics by Cynthia Weil, music by James Horner, as performed by Josh Groban
And back to the reason for this blog: Noah's still progressing -- he's getting back to his sassy self... the Guys called him a day or so ago and things are REALLY heatin' up where they are... no fatalities among the Good Guys with the latest stuff (can't say the same for the bad guys!) but two of our soldiers are headed to Germany and home (none of Our Guys), but close enough for rock and roll... the not being there for his Buds is getting harder on Noah...
And sorry... light on the blogging again this week... a dear Friend is visiting all week from New York and I plan to lift my spirits and do some serious relaxing and showing off all the wonders God gifted to Arizona. (and LET'S GO YANKEES!!!!)
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.