color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: December 2005

Saturday, December 31, 2005


As we should, the end of the year brings me to reflect on this year as it comes to a close. Dang! It was one heck of a year!

The Dearest Husband officially retired from his second career and we began to settle in to our new home and new life.
We sent one son by birth off to Iraq along with a whole bunch of other sons whom we love and cherish like our own. I am proud our son calls them brothers. We worried. We fretted. We prayed. We shopped. We mailed. We worried and prayed some more.
We were priviledged to witness the marriage of the last of one brother's three daughters (the 3rd wedding for them in 4 years!) We joked what they'd do with all that money now that all three were out of college and married... and they laughed and said "Grandchildren!" Finally got to see the first two grandnieces and a grandnephew... the first three of many (there's already another on the way).
Had two sisters' families up and move from their long-term abodes to new digs in new states and traveled to help unpack and ask God's blessings on them in their new lives. For the first time since our oldest brother died in 2000, I actually saw every one of my five living siblings this year.
Went to some baseball games in our new state. Despite all my cheering, however, my beloved Yankees didn't win the World Series (but neither did Boston, so that's something.)
Managed to see some concerts this year: Little River Band, Eagles, Toby Keith, Nazareth...
We had a daughter and a nephew each start medical school this year and finish their first semesters with flying colors. We had one son find a love and ask her to spend the rest of her life with him in the New Year... and a niece that wears the ring of her betrothed as well. We had a son receive his college degree and take a new assignment aboard a new Navy ship which may set sail for an extended cruise this year...
Had the phone call from hell in August and that trip to Germany... and then to Fort Benning. We aged ten years in ten days... it took us months to breathe normally. But we met folks along that journey that we cherish and hope will be life-long friends. We received prayers and encouragement from those who until that day were complete strangers but will never have that title again. We were blessed that our son's injuries were not so severe as originally feared and that the injuries are healing and that his future looks so bright!
We had friends die tragically and too many young soldiers die much too young. We mourned with their families and we begged the Lord to thrust open the gates of Heaven to receive our Heroes. We prayed for our elected officials. We prayed for the Iraqis. And we prayed for Peace as hard as we have ever prayed for anything.
I had another year coddled in the love and caring of my wonderful husband... and the company and affection of our children and our siblings and their children. We enjoyed the laughter and companionship of our friends.
We celebrated birthdays and holidays. We reveled in the fellowship of our new community.
I thank all of our new friends (that would be you!) for coming by and reading... for your encouragement... for your contributions. I hope to meet many more of you this year!
Today I reflect on just how lucky I am... how lucky we are. I believe we have ended this year better people than we began the year. An admirable goal. A remarkable achievement. One I intend to repeat each year in the future.
To the members of our Armed Forces we thank you. To those deployed far from your families and friends, you are remembered all year through. To all those that serve and are in harm's way, we wish you safety, a successful mission, and a speedy journey home.
To all those that pass by here, I wish each of you and all of you a Wonderful, Happy and Healthy New Year full of Love, Contentment and Success. A Year in which there is Peace.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Sgt. Hook: This We'll Defend has this great link to the Army's Call to Duty: The Year in Photos 2005. Like a Rock, indeed!

HOOAH to the Men and Women who have answered the Call to Duty!


I know it will sound odd to some people (but perfectly normal to others), but I'm feeling a bit down about the Guys coming home (which is really soon... days.) I'm not down because they're coming home, but because I'm not going to be there to see it... for any number of reasons. Won't be there to hug My Guys.

First, it's nearly impossible to know when the Guys will be home since families are getting little advance warning. Families get "a date" -- which is really a time frame of about a week or so of the target for them to leave Iraq and head over to Kuwait... where they wait for availability of transport... anywhere from one to four days.

Families back here get 12 to 24 hours notice when their soldier gets on the plane. For those that live near the base, that's fine. But for families much further away -- it's a problem.

Then there's the expense: Airfare. Hotel. Car rental. Meals.
And they won't all be coming back together. A few guys from unit A, some from unit B... throw in a few from unit C, D, E... you get the picture. Finally, once they're back at their base, the Guys get an initial 48 hour pass, but then they have to get back to work (ok, half days!) for the next few weeks until the big block leave (a month off!)
Don't get me wrong -- if Noah were coming home from Iraq, NOTHING -- absolutely nothing -- would keep me from that airfield. I'd sleep in that rental car. I'd even camp out (this from a woman who thinks "roughing it" is a hotel without room service.) But our son's already back on US soil and the rest of my Guys told me not to come because they were going to [describing what they planned for those 48 hours involving booze and babes...] and they didn't want me "to see them that way"... [amid great laughter -- something about tainting the all-American Hero image they want me to have intact and more laughing.] Some will come visiting during their vacation. So that's what we agreed... but I'm feeling a little let down as the day to their return gets closer. After all, I have spent much of their deployment fantasizing what the Homecoming would be like... so it's a bit sad that it's not happening that way.
Oh, Noah will be at the airfield -- since none of Our Guys' families will be there to greet them -- Noah will be their official welcoming committee and he promised to take his camera and send me pictures to post up of the happy arrivals... and he'll have his cell phone and the Guys promised to call as soon as they were BOTG (that's boots on the ground.) Still, it won't be the same.
I wonder if I will get the same sense of "closure"? After all, I have been here chronicling the entire deployment and it seems somehow unnatural to not be there for the final chapter. Like reading a novel all the way through but skipping the last chapter to read the epilogue.
But don't worry about me. I just know I'll get over it the minute I hear that "Hey, Ma! There's somebody here that wants to talk to you..."
We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway
And I wonder if I’m really with you now
Or just chasing after some finer day.
Anticipation, anticipation
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting
Lyrics and Music: Carly Simon
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Milbloggies: Best Military Blogs Contest

The Milbloggies: Best Military Blogs

Just a reminder that the MilBloggies are just days away and your votes would be appreciated. If you haven’t registered and voted for my blog yet, go HERE, register for FREE and add this site to your favorites (not into your browser, just on the site). It’s free and doesn’t require signing up for anything or giving money or credit info or watching pop up ads... You just type in your email address and a password... they send you a confirming email... you return to the site and vote. It's that simple.

So please go on the site, register, then activate your registration when they send you the email... Search for "SOLDIER'S MOM" and hit the little button that says "Add to Favorites".


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Spirit of a Christmas Past

She was a stunning auburn-haired 21-year-old nursing student; he was a dashing and handsome black-haired 24-year-old disabled World War II vet when they married. He’d lost his left arm just above the elbow at the age of 18 just as the war ended and had spent a few years in Army rehab programs learning to use the plastic arm and the hooked claw that became his one hand. He spent a few years after that bouncing around...

Their first children came while he was enrolled on the G.I. Bill in a major midwestern university and completing his accounting degree in 2-1/2 years. By the time she was 30 and he was a partner in a major accounting firm, they had seven children. His drinking and violent temper worsened, they divorced, and he moved from one job to another until there was only his drinking; then he disappeared... physically and financially.

She had returned to work a few years before the divorce and now worked two jobs in the same hospital: 7:00AM until 3:00PM in the ER and 3:00PM until 11:00PM in the OR. The children – the oldest just 11 and the youngest 5 – learned to cook and clean in between the homework and athletics. There was no extra money for babysitters so they learned to care for each other. Even the double wages of a nurse with seven children to feed, clothe and shoe could not also cover the mortgage payments of the big, beautiful home in the quiet suburban neighborhood they had bought when he was the principle breadwinner, and soon the home was foreclosed.

No one wanted to rent to a woman with seven children, and she certainly couldn’t afford much rent. After a long search, she found empty law offices above an empty storefront on a major commercial street on the south side of the city. She and her children spent weekends that November hauling out the garbage and tearing out the extra walls in the old offices to create living space. There wasn’t much she could do about the hole in the bathroom floor, the rotted floor at the rear door or the live electrical wires that hung in the room that would become the dining room. She put a board over the hole, forbad the children from the room with the rotted floor and put caps on the wires.

They moved in the week before Christmas. She needed the money so she worked that Christmas – double shifts in the ER. What little money she had was spent on moving costs, and there had been no money for Christmas presents. Gone along with the big house were the Christmases the children would awaken to gifts piled so high that you could barely see the white flock tree covered in big gold ornaments that stood in the large picture window in their living room – the dolls, microscopes, pianos, record players, bicycles…
Amongst themselves that Christmas, the seven had decided that they would each choose a name from a hat and each would give their most precious possession to one of the other kids. The presents were wrapped in newspaper and tissue paper. One gave the small statue of the angel with a rosary tray in the bottom that she had received when she made her first communion; another gave the small ceramic dog they had crafted at the arts and crafts program at the local park the last summer there. They told her when she got home from work late that night. She hugged them all and later that night she wept.

The next year in that place went fast, but finances didn’t improve with the two oldest now in a prestigious academic high school; even if they were on scholarship, there were the costs of transportation, meals and uniforms. And there were the continuing costs of rent, food, utilities, and clothing for the other five. She had tried as hard as she could to put away little bits here and there, but there was always some emergency – a flat tire, a tooth to be pulled.

Still, that Christmas Eve, rushing home from work to the local department store, and arriving just an hour before closing, she began to walk up and down the aisles looking for things she could give her children – perhaps ice skates for the daughter who the year before had worn her mother’s size 10 skates on her size 5 feet to win a speed skating competition, a baseball glove for a son who wanted to play but was too embarrassed because he didn’t have a mitt… She couldn’t bear the thought of her children having another Christmas without at least one present under the tree. But as she wandered the aisles, she came to realize that the little money she had would not be enough to put a present for each of her children under the tree and she leaned on a display in an aisle and began to cry.

She could hardly speak when a manager approached her; after a few minutes, he took her to his office and offered her a cup of coffee. When she calmed, she explained her situation and continued to cry. He told her to just stay until she could compose herself while he closed the store.

When the manager returned just after 6:00 that Christmas Eve, she rose to leave and thanked the man for his kindness. The man took her by the arm and escorted the tired woman around the store and helped her choose one gift for each of her children. As they chose ice skates, a baseball mitt, a doll, she wiped away the tears and thanked him with each gift. He stayed and helped her wrap each present and helped her carry them to her old dilapidated car. She tried to give him what money she had for the gifts, but he refused and told her Merry Christmas. It was a very happy Christmas...

I miss you, Mom. Thank you for teaching us all how to count our blessings.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.
Words: Isaac Watts, 1719 Music: Lowell Mason, 1848



Merry Christmas to all Our Guys... hurry home!
And Merry Christmas to all of you!!
Peace on Earth, Good Will towards Men.
Thinking of you J, G, E, H, J, and N!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Lunch With a Fellow Milblogger...

Had a delightful lunch and visit with Sean from Doc in the Box who is here in town with his son Colin visiting family and friends... and missing his wonderful new wife, Heather (yes, Tragic -- he really, really is missing you!)
Pop on over to Doc's and see all the pics!!
Sean, thanks for coming by -- it was just wonderful meeting you! We look forward to your (and Heather's) next visit! Safe travel.

I'm Ready for Santa... and Our Guys

a new ornament for Noah... I just can't resist any of the Noah's ark things... this ornament is painted on the INSIDE

on the fireplace mantel... it's an ornament -- but you'd have to have one hardy tree to hang that bear on! we put Noah's name and the year on the back of the kevlar... I'm looking to add a little bandaid, too...

we are thinking of lots of people this Christmas... we added stockings for all Our Guys....
and this dang song still is making me tear up every time I hear it (which seems to be at least once a day)

I'll be home for Christmas;
You can count on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love-light gleams.
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.

Written by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent, and Buck Ram

but Our Guys tell me they got their dates... tentative dates -- but they have their RETURN DATES!! WHOOHOO! Soon (not soon enough) but soon!

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Noah Update... and THANK A SOLDIER WEEK

I realized that I haven't given a Noah progress report in a while... so here goes.

Noah is doing great for a guy that was blown up 15 weeks ago. He recently received his medical release -- that is, returned to duty -- with a few restrictions including not returning to his unit for the balance of their deployment (whew for me!) His back & neck are better but he's not pain free nor completely healed yet. He has most of his hearing in one ear, but far less than normal hearing in the other. They're hopeful all that will be resolved with time. As long as he keeps up with the exercises for his back/neck he should continue to gain his strength back. He recently was ok'd to begin running again with a rucksack and he's working on improving his stamina... but it will take two days for every day he was away from his training to get his physical conditioning back, but he's determined to do it. It's very odd as a parent to celebrate that your child is now eligible to return to fighting the war -- oh, I know his Division is coming home (OUR GUYS ARE COMING HOME!!) and that Noah isn't going anywhere soon where people will be shooting at him or trying to blow him up (again)... Still, it's odd to have those Mom nerves cranked up that one little notch.

Right now, he's just anxious for the rest of the Guys to get home. That's been a whole adjustment in itself -- the being away from people you worked, trained and lived with for about two years... He just wants the brothers HOME (don't we all... and I'm sure not more than they want to get here!) In a short instant message from one of our Guys Saturday, they said so!

Mentally, I think Noah will be better once the Guys get home (we can only hope so.) He's trying to adjust to all that's happened in the past year (Lord! A Year???) Has been a hard, hard year for Noah... and all Our Guys. Hopefully, time will allow them all to heal...

(Stacy, I am keeping my fingers crossed and saying a prayer!!)



December 19-25, 2005 is THANK A SOLDIER WEEK. Go
HERE to send a message of thanks and support to our soldiers. And pass the word... The men and women of our Armed Services can not be thanked enough.

Please go over to this entry at The Mudville Gazette and read this father's tribute to his fallen son. God Bless you, Mr. Stokley.
And Michael Yon says TURN UP THE VOLUME !! Visit his site for the link to a terrific video relating to the Iraqi election... very cool.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Special Request for Our Wounded Soldiers

Sending along this special request... there is still time to get a card (or two or more) in the mail... Please show our wounded soldiers that they are not forgotten.


DSN 684-9000 X3312
COML 603-627-6308 X3312


I have a special request. I'm sure many of you are currently writing cards to friends and family. If you can, please send an extra one (or 10, or 20) to our American military heroes who are recuperating from wounds this Christmas Season. Please enclose a short note thanking them for their service and personal sacrifice. They are the protectors of our freedom, we must let them know.

Your small act of kindness will be greatly appreciated.

Here's the address...

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001

If you would, please forward this message to your email friends.

There is still time to get a card (or two or ten) in the mail and have it there by Christmas! Thanks!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Iraqis send Jack Murtha and Howard Dean a message.

From Opinion Journal... today...


Mission (Partly) Accomplished
Iraqis send Jack Murtha and Howard Dean a message.
Friday, December 16, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

President Bush has done better at explaining his Iraq policy of late, but the most eloquent rebuttal to American defeatists came from the millions of Iraqis who voted yesterday for a new parliament. They are now practicing the democracy that the U.S. promised when it deposed Saddam Hussein. This is a great achievement.

Voter turnout was reportedly high across nearly all regions of the country, including such former no-go zones as Fallujah and Tal Afar in the Sunni Triangle. Terrorists managed only scattered attacks, far fewer than in the first round of elections in January.

The rap on January's vote was that Iraq's Sunni Arabs didn't participate, but this time they did and in huge numbers. The rap on October's referendum was that most Sunnis opposed the new Iraq constitution, but this time they voted to have a say in writing any changes to that charter.

Jordan's King Abdullah and other neighboring Sunni leaders complain that Iraq's Sunnis are mistreated. But the truth is that yesterday's vote gave Iraq's Sunni Arabs a far larger voice in shaping their government than average Sunnis have in Jordan or Syria, Saudi Arabia or Egypt.

Read it all HERE (requires a brief registration to immediately view today's article)

I submitted a response (don't know if they'll use it) but I said:

If I had been voting yesterday, I would have inked another finger for the defeatists and naysayers who wondered what the purpose in Iraq is... So now they know.

We need to support the Iraqi people -- militarily, economically, politically -- until there is a consensus among the Coalition (including the new Iraq) that such support is no longer needed. To do less would be dishonorable.

Now perhaps the rest of the international community (including the Arab world) will join us in this noble endeavor.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Congratulations Iraq!!

Broadcast from a Sunni mosque:

God will grant you a long and prosperous life if you only go out and vote.
Congratulations, Iraq!
One step (OK, a BIG one) for Iraq, one giant leap for mankind.
Now in our next elections (local, state or national) -- if Americans will only remember the same... That God will grant you a long and prosperous life if you only VOTE.
And I hope those naysayers who say there is no purpose to our being in Iraq -- I hope you LISTENED to the Iraqi voters -- who spoke and attested to the HOPE they now have... and who proved by going to the polls in massive numbers that there is a purpose --a noble purpose -- and our soldiers have not died in vain.
And THANK YOU to our wonderful military who have worked so hard and tirelessly and have given so much to this effort -- and to those US politicians who believed and still believe that we must stay the course in Iraq.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Day for Happy Tears

It has been a long year... a long year... sometimes, I feel like I've aged 10! I have had excited emails from a number of 3rd Brigade moms and wives -- even a girlfriend or two. They do not make a meter that can measure this excitement as it builds. Last week the mood was a little blue about the Guys not being home for Christmas, but this week, this letter was posted on the Brigade's website. As I read this letter, tears sprang to my eyes... THE DAY is really coming.... A Day for Happy Tears!
3BDE [3rd Brigade] Commander Letter
Happy holidays! I was pleased to announce on 1 December that the Sledgehammer Brigade has nearly completed its mission and is scheduled for redeployment in January. We are in the final weeks of what has proven to be an extraordinarily successful operation in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Your soldiers have spent the last year working tirelessly to keep America safe and to help rid the world of terror. While there is still much to be done, I can assure you that much has been accomplished. The Soldiers of the Sledgehammer Brigade have worked hard and have sacrificed to ensure democracy in Iraq, and to make our future more secure. Your Soldiers and this team have become the model for success in the Iraqi Theater of Operations.

Our redeployment begins on December 18th when a “torch” party of about 30 Soldiers will leave Iraq to help the Rear Detachment set the conditions for a smooth redeployment. About 1 January, an advanced party or “ADVON” of about 100 Soldiers will leave Iraq to make final preparations for the Brigade’s return. From January 5th through the 15th the main body will flow back to Ft. Benning in groups of 200-500 per day. [whooohooo!!!] On some days no one will arrive, and on other days over 600 Soldiers will arrive. Aircraft availability will determine the exact dates and numbers. Finally, on the 28th of January, the Brigade’s trail party will come home. [well yes, someone has to be last -- just hope it's not our Guys!] We will redeploy as a Brigade and not by individual companies or battalions, so each returning aircraft will have soldiers from different battalions and companies.

Most Soldiers do not yet know the exact day they will leave Iraq, and when they do leave, it will take about 4 - 6 days for them to get back to Georgia. We are redeploying on a program called Single Ticket Express. That means our redeployment will work the same way R&R leave worked. Individual soldiers from every Battalion will move from Iraq directly to the United States with only a few short processing stops along the way. As we get exact departure dates we will inform your Soldier and the rear detachment.

When your Soldiers arrive, they will turn in some equipment [we can only guess LOL], fill out a few forms [one will be too many!] and we’ll hold a very brief welcome ceremony.[define "very brief" to a husband or wife who have been apart so long!] From there, your Soldier will be released for at least the next 48 hours! When the 48 hour pass is complete, everyone will begin 10 days of reintegration training. We’ll have weekends off and most duty days will end by 1500 hrs. 30 Days of Block Leave will begin on February 4th.

Your greatest concern is probably how you will find out what day and time your soldier will arrive. [you betcha!!] The short answer is that the Rear Detachment will tell you. On December 12th, LTC D will begin conducting reunion briefings that should answer all of your questions. During the reunion briefing, LTC D will address a number of important topics. He will explain how and when you will be notified of your Soldier’s arrival and he will explain in detail what will happen when your Soldier’s plane lands. I encourage all of you to attend this very important briefing. The best way for you to stay informed is to call the 1-800 phone number for your battalion’s rear detachment.

Our return has been long awaited and eagerly anticipated and I know each and every one of you is immeasurably proud of your Soldier. [damn straight!] Your pride is well founded! God Bless you and our great Sledgehammer Soldiers. [HOOAH!]

Sledgehammer! Rock Of The Marne!
Hammer 6
Lord, Please protect our troops and see them home safely to those who love them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Let Them Go to Hell!

So I'm watching a Fox News story on Iraqi expatriates in the U.S. voting in the Iraq elections in Michigan... and the reporter is interviewing Iraqis who have voted and they are 100% unanimously elated and delighted to be able to vote -- and so desperately proud of their purple fingers!

And they are showing pictures of the Iraqis who are taking their children to the polls because they want their children to be part of history!
Then they are interviewing a 77-year-old Grandmother -- an Iraqi who fled Iraq when Saddam took power -- and she tells the interviewer in no uncertain terms that she thanks the Americans because if it wasn't for the Americans, they wouldn't have this chance today. And then she says -- wagging her finger at the camera,
Priceless. Absolutely priceless.
Here's the print story from Fox -- you can not deny the glee or optimism -- the HOPE of these people in going to the polls! GO IRAQ! GO!
God (by all the names the people of the world call you), please hold the Iraqi voters and all the soldiers and police protecting them in your loving hands. God, let all those who love and yearn for peace prosper in this election. Let Freedom ring (and Our Guys all come home!) Amen.
Welcome Mudville readers!
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Tagged... Five Weird Habits

ArmyWifeToddlerMom tagged me... and I'm supposed to describe Five Weird habits I have... Hmmmm, I don't think I have 5 weird habits (at least they're not weird to me...) but I'll give it a shot.
  1. My pantry always has to be filled to overflowing. I know this comes from growing up poor and hungry.
  2. I have to have "noise" in a room I'm working in -- TV, radio, stereo -- but I can not have a single noise in the room when I'm sleeping.
  3. I cannot go visit at someone's home without taking a gift or an offering (wine, beer, cake, cookies, flowers.) I know this has fallen out of fashion, but it was so ingrained in me as I grew up that I can't shake it now (I still say it's good manners!)
  4. I can not be late for anything. I would rather sit outside someone's house because I'm 10 minutes early rather than be late. I'm one of those nuts that's showered, made up, hair done, dressed and watching the clock until it's time to leave.
  5. I make a wish whenever the main part of my necklace (for instance, my cross) meets up with the catch on the chain (these days it's always, "I wish all my kids will be safe today.") Someone once told me when I was quite young that every time that happens you get a wish... and I've never forgotten it -- or missed the opportunity to make that wish. Hey -- why tempt fate? You just never know!

Well, they didn't say to tag 5 more people... but I think I'll put a spin on this one and tag 5 soldiers/sailors and see what kind of weird habits these guys have...

Doc In the Box

Major K

Doc Smith at J. Barne's Coffee Shop

Sgt. Hook (This We'll Defend)

From My Position...

[and still no direct word from the Guys... but Noah (who is now attached to the Rear Detachment -- what a contradiction in terms: attached to a detachment)... has occasion to speak with his unit in Iraq and he says he spoke with one of his comrades yesterday. In preparation for the election, the Guys -- one of the busiest units in Iraq -- are doing even more missions. They are just incredibly busy and hectic night and day. He says not to worry (there's that phrase again!)

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

My 70,000th (Official) Visitor

I didn't put a site meter on for a few months after I started blogging... but at 7:22pm (Eastern Time) today someone on from Columbus, Ohio was my official 70,000th visitor! Not in the Blackfive or Mudville Gazette league, but at least it means someone's reading it!
Thanks to everyone for visiting!!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Winning Iraq: The Untold Story (Fox Cable) Second Showing

Just want you to know that Fox News Channel intends to re-broadcast this terrific special on the GOOD news and success in Iraq. It will be re-broadcast on Sunday, December 11 at 9:00PM and 12 midnite (Eastern Time).
If you didn't catch this last weekend, make an effort to see it this week. It was a very good rebuttal to the naysayers out there... Read about the show here...

Thursday, December 08, 2005


[updated 11:00PM... from comments] and be sure to check out the comments - there are a lot of experienced voices talking there!
I have had a number of emails from parents asking for advice about their child being deployed and what can they expect? (and most of this goes for spouses, too!) If you have other things to share, feel free to put them in the comments!

Well, here’s what we learned and pass on to those of you with recently deployed or about-to-be deployed soldiers (marines, sailors, airmen):

Take nothing for granted. So you think your child knows you love them? Tell them anyway and every chance you get. They’ll get miffed and frustrated at times telling you, “I know [Ma] [Dad]!” Ignore them. Tell them anyway. No one has ever said, “Gosh I wish I hadn’t told him or her one more time how much I loved them.”

Get paperwork. Get multiple copies of their power of attorney. Make sure it covers the types of transactions you’ve agreed to be responsible for – banking, insurance, property transactions. Get separate POAs that cover different situations if you need. Make sure you either have or know where all the rest of his/her papers are (car title? lease? Will?) Oh -- and a copy of their deployment orders... some vendors require these to discontinue service without a penalty (cell phone companies, for example) or to cancel a lease. Be sure to remove ALL of the social security numbers from the copy you send to anyone (I put a piece of paper over that column when I copied the orders.)

Deployment is one big roller coaster ride. Hang on – it’s going to be one hell of a ride! They’re leaving. They’re delayed. They’re leaving. They call. They don’t call. They’re in Kuwait. They’re leaving for the AO (area of operations). They arrived. They email. They get internet. You have a pc camera. The internet is down. The phones are down. Everything’s down. They’re going on a week’s mission. They’re back. They’re getting R&R. It’s not for 6 more months. UpDownUpDownUpDown. It's a long year.

If you don’t already have one, get a passport. We will all pray you will never need it except for vacations, but it can save you a day or two in travel time while someone tries to arrange this for you if you need it later. Be aware, that very few families have to travel outside the U.S. even when their child is injured. It is only the rarest of circumstances in which you might need to travel.

Communication is key to their mental survival. Send mail. Get their friends to send mail. Aunts, Uncles, cousins. Send postcards. Send cards. Send pictures. Send newspapers. Send their high school or college newspaper. Email. They might not respond as frequently as you write (or as often as you’d like) – but don’t let that stop you (after all, they are fighting a war). Your letters and cards take a measley 37 cent stamp. Include pre-addressed post cards and envelopes to make it easier for them to write you (they do not need stamps -- they mail letters and cards for free). And remember, if there are breaks in communications (no email or IM suddenly) repeat after me: No.News.Is.Good.News.'Cause.Bad.News.Travels.Fast.

And since you’re reading this, you have a computer, but if you don’t have it yet – get one or more instant messenger programs (download them free from AOL AIM, MSN, Yahoo...) and learn to use it! Your soldier will have access to computers and most have a number of instant messenger programs (a real-time conversation via typing.) It’s the way you and the soldier will most often communicate more than any other. You can program sounds to signal whenever he (or his buddies) are online. Even if you don’t want to jump up and have a conversation in the middle of the night (you say that now…), you will be able to determine that they were online while you were asleep or out and it will give you some peace of mind (really). And you can forward it to your cell phone or other wireless device (like a Blackberry). You never have to be out of touch with your soldier.

From Melinda and Stacy: absolutely invest in a WEBCAM for you and your soldier (they really aren't that expensive). Stacy says it's absolutely priceless to see your soldier's smiling face -- LIVE! and Melinda also says that's a must (and these are two women I would absolutely believe!) Melinda further says "a mini-tape recorder with the microcassettes are small & easy to pack as well as durable" because there is nothing like a soldier hearing voices from home and for those at home to hear their daddy's (or son's or hubby's) voice... and she says making movies of the family and sending are fun for all the soldiers and not just your soldier.

Send STUFF. Send packages. Send their favorite food. Send books, comic books, magazines, DVDs, music, games, and their favorite things. Ask what they need, but even when they say they don’t need anything, send something. Send happy stuff -- you know whatever makes them laugh or feel good. [We recorded our son's favorite television shows (with commercials -- they love the commercials!) and those DVDs got passed around to everyone -- it was a part of home.] Be sure to learn the mailing rules – no porn, no pork, no alcohol. Don’t worry about sending too much – unfortunately, they have brother soldiers who rarely get any mail and your soldier will share. Go to your Post Office and ask for FLAT RATE BOXES and CUSTOMS FORMS. Get to know your postal clerks -- they are on their third or fourth deployments and they are a wealth of information!

NOTE: If you order things to be sent to your soldier, DO NOT HAVE THEM SENT DIRECTLY TO THE SOLDIER. You will have no way of knowing whether they were ever sent or received (happened a few times). After the first few months, we learned to have things (gloves, goggles, clothing) shipped to us and then we re-packaged it in flat rate boxes to him. And it's my understanding that you CAN get tracking receipts to most of the postal facilities in the "093" zip codes.

Support their efforts. No matter what you read elsewhere or what your feelings about the war are, support their efforts. It isn’t about you. They need to hear that you appreciate their sacrifice and efforts. If you can’t say something nice, say nothing. BE PROUD of your son/daughter. Be VERY proud ‘cause damn they’re good!

If they're not telling, Don’t ask. There are some things your soldier can’t talk about. There are things your soldier doesn’t want to talk about. Don’t push it. When they want to talk, they will. If he’s in the listening mood, you talk. If he’s in the talking mood, listen. Try not to add to their stress. Don’t argue with them. Let them blow off steam – they aren’t angry at you most of the time. If a conversation seems to upset them – get off the subject, change it or agree with them. They have plenty else on their minds and they shouldn’t have to worry about you. You can smack them up side the head for being disrespectful when they get home.

Educate yourself. Don’t believe everything the mainstream media tells you. In addition to reading the news sites and these milblogs, look for specific information from the Army (or Marines or Navy). Most units have an official website while soldiers are deployed with mailing addresses, contact information for the Rear Detachment, the FRG, etc. The sites also usually include newsletters from the unit commanders in the field and the Brigade and Battalion through the course of the deployment. The letters won’t give you detailed information on operations, but they make you feel connected to your soldier and they will tell you generally about their camp (or Forward Operating Base (FOB)) and what they are doing promotions, births, etc. And they usually have some pictures! It will do you a world of good. Really.

Join support groups. Get on the Family Readiness Group (FRG) email list. If you are local to your soldier’s duty station, involve yourself with the FRG. [Look at sites like,,, etc.]There are also private support group websites started and maintained by family members during the deployment. Find them – they are a wealth of information and rumor/myth busting and a hand to hold and shoulder to cry on when you’re down. Keep yourself busy with other things. That will be hard as keeping track of your soldier and trying to communicate with your soldier will consume a lot of your non-working (and in some cases working) time. You will think about them night and day. All perfectly normal, but they want you to have a life. As Noah said, “That’s why we’re here – so you can live normally there.” So do it.

Stacy also reminds us to do a scrapbook... The Society for the 3rd ID had commemorative "Back to Iraq 2005" t-shirts that they sold... and bumper stickers, pins, etc. so I ordered some of those and put them away for him. I have also printed and saved news articles, my blog entries, the battalion and unit newsletters and put them all in 3-ring binders (there are now Volumes I, II and III). They may not appreciate it now, but they will (a) when they have children, and/or (b) they write their memoirs (wink). They will have tangible reminders that they made history...


Try to insist that your soldiers give someone’s name to the FRG so that they have someone getting the emails.

Put out a newsletter regularly (not just occasionally). Yes, we know you’re running a war over there – but these newsletters are a precious link to our soldier and we count on that information. We LIVE for any information about their situation we can get our hands on (and it goes a long way to stopping the rumor mill back home.)

Please show parents the same respect and involvement that you show to spouses. Be sure your FRG includes parents and girlfriends and be sure your single soldiers know they can be included!


Call, write or email often -- but at least every once in a while. Yes, dammmit, we know you’re busy and Yes, dammmmit, we know you’re tired. But we are sitting back here worrying night and day. No, you telling us a thousand times, “Don’t worry” will not make us not worry. Believe it or not, not only do we worry about you, but we are actually interested in how you are and what you’re doing, what you need... We’re not asking for a body count, but we would like to know what you’re experiencing. A simple, “Hi all! We’re doing fine. We’re safe and thinking of you. Going to get some sleep now. Love you all… [insert name here} will do.

Get used to the fact that we (your parents) will cry.
We will cry when you leave. Cry when you come home on R&R. Cry when you leave after R&R. And we’ll cry when you get home. Get used to it. It just is. It's liquid love and it runs from our hearts to our eyes...

Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Different Christmas Poem and New Wheels

Subsunk is writing over at Blackfive today... and he's written about A Different Christmas Poem which you just have to read (tissue alert). Thank you Subsunk... it's a treasure.
And be sure to go over to 365 and a Wakeup and read New Set of Wheels... THIS Ladies and Gentlemen is the U.S. Military... Are you listening, Senator Kerry? Are you listening? This is how we "terrorize" women and children... Thank you Thunder6 for being such a fine example to your soldiers, to all Americans and citizens of the world everywhere...

The Tree is in the Mail

First, as for Saddam's outburst yesterday to us all, "Go to Hell!" I say, YOU FIRST.


Back in July I wrote about the tradition we follow with respect to Christmas trees for the deployed military in our family. It started in 1966 when the Dear Husband was a young Navy pilot deployed to Vietnam and received this tree from his parents.

That was followed in 1998 by a tree sent to the oldest son serving in the U.S. Navy at a Joint Military Task Force in England (sorry no picture.) At last year's Christmas telling of the story of Dad's tree, Noah voiced his acknowledgement that he would be entitled to "his tree" while deployed in support of OIF III.

So back in July we had begun to search online and in stores for the "perfect tree". Then Noah was wounded in that nasty little incident in August and the search for the tree was put on hold. As the time passed into the Fall, Noah's recovery progressed and we could once again focus on the approach of Christmas. We began to think about The Tree again. We knew that Noah had well-earned his deployment tree even if he would be Stateside for Christmas, so we renewed the search for his Deployment Tree.

There are some requirements for The Tree: it must not be too breakable since we hope it will travel with our son for many years. It can not be too big (tough to ship and move around with your possessions) nor too small (what would be the point?) It can not have decorations easily broken or misplaced or that require some high degree of care. It must play music. It's one of those "We'll know it when we see it."

Well, we found it...

Noah, it's on its way to you. Be sure to check the inscription on the bottom. The Tree is in the mail.
Update: This tree is from the San Francisco Music Box Co. This one happens to be the Rotating Victorian Christmas Tree, but they have a number of them... and they'll ship wherever you direct (even APO's!)
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Time Magazine - The View From the Front Lines

In the seven full months that Noah was in Iraq we had many telephone and IM conversations about things happening there, and of course, we spoke about his experiences while he was home on leave and a little since he was wounded. Some of the things he has mentioned raised the hair on the back of my neck, while some worried me, some made me sad. He didn't particularly want to discuss the every day happenings. He (and our other Guys) say, "it's not so bad lately" or "nah, not bad, mom" even when there are reports on the news about heavy activity in their AO. We (the parents) just accept that there are some things they can't talk about and some things they aren't inclined to talk about. Can't. Won't. They often say, "You don't wanna know, Ma." (Well, yes, I do... but that's a whole 'nother story.)
Earlier this week Noah called and told me to pick up the December 5 issue of Time Magazine (it's the Special Issue: The Year in Medicine issue). There's a story starting on p.42 ("Symptoms of Withdrawal") but on p.44 there is a box story on 2/69AR A Co. -- and Noah's 3rd (Blue) Platoon, " The View From the Front Lines". The article also talks about the attack on August 23 in which Noah was injured...

And there's a picture of a soldier in the outpost they call "Hotel" -- which is the building Noah was in when he was wounded...

I'm hardly a fan of Time magazine (and even less a fan of the story's author for that matter who IMO has been blatantly anti-American from Day One of the conflict.) Nevertheless, it is an interesting report on the situation and nice to see that Our Guys are getting a little acknowledgement for the contributions they make... even if it does make the hair on the neck stand on end! A big HOOAH to A Co., 2/69AR.
(And, no... no word yet from the Guys...
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Someday I ain't gonna worry my life any more

I've been worrying my head and heart these last few days with Operation Shank and all that's happening in ar Ramadi..

and I haven't heard from Our Guys in more than a week... very unusual... very worrying. Having experienced the injury and worse of those close to us, I am glued to the reports coming out of the area.... like a moth to a flame. Just because Noah is home hasn't reduced my worrying much. That the clock is winding down does nothing but heighten my worry... So still chanting ""

I've also been a little down that Our Guys will not be home this Christmas. As I've written before, Christmas is my most favorite holiday. Not because of the presents, but because of the extreme sense of family it engenders. And while I haven't been out in the malls and the stores much, it seems the minute I do walk into a store, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" starts to play and it brings tears to my eyes... every time... and I'm thinking about the Guys and imagining their Christmas this year. I know I'll get through it and am hanging tough... I only have to think of Andi and the others who have loved ones just deployed with the holidays upon us, and I am strengthened.

And as for those that believe that our Army is broken and living hand to mouth -- no one and nothing will ever break our military. They are winning this war, Congressman. They are proud and proficient warriors. It is a war with many battles... but our soldiers and marines and airmen and sailors are doing just fine. Are they weary? Do some of them live in pretty austere conditions? Is their equipment well used? Of course to all of the above. That's the life of soldiers at war. This is a war. We should not cut and run. We're winning -- and the saddest thing is that those people don't believe it. Supporting our troops, heh? If there is one lesson you and we should know by now is to give the military what they need when they need it, keep the politicians out of operations and in no time at all, they'll all be home VICTORIOUS.
As for Congressman Murtha's statement, "This war needs to be personalized." Congressman, it just doesn't get any more personal in my world.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Yeah, someday babe,
I ain't gonna worry my life any more.
So many days since you went away.
I've had to worry both night and day.
Yeah, but someday babe,
I ain't gonna worry my life any more.

"Worried Life Blues"
By maceo merryweather