color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: August 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

We Saw Noah!

Arrived in Germany Wednesday afternoon and Noah was waiting for us at Fisher House! He couldn't hug back all that well, and we were careful not to make his injuries worse (really wanted to hug the stuffings out of that boy... ) He's clearly hobbled and uncomfortable... frustrated... We all understand that.

The Fisher House and the people so dedicated to managing it are exceptional people... supremely dedicated to our soldiers and their families. A truly worthy cause of your attention and support! (I'll post pictures when we're back in the U.S.) Have met the families of some of the other wounded soldiers and there is no awkwardness -- just that bond of why we're here... More in a later post.
We have met briefly with Noah's medical liaison and hope to meet further with him today...
Access for posting limited. Thank you for your continued prayers and good wishes.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Noah's Not Coming Home...

We learned this morning that Noah will be in Germany for at least another week, so we leave for Germany in the morning.
Thank you to all of the wonderful people at Soldiers Angels who continue to be there for us every step along this journey!! The Army only pays for travel to Germany if the soldier's injuries are considered life threatening, so Soldiers Angels is helping absorb some of the costs, but please consider donating to Noah's Wounded Warrior Fund.
Please keep us all in your prayers... and thank you all for those prayers and good wishes!
The journey continues...
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
Stacy, I hope Katrina's fury passed you by!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Noah Coming Home!!??

Back in January of this year, just a week after our son, Noah, deployed to Iraq, I wrote Every Parent’s Nightmare in which I said

I believe that it is every parent's nightmare that something will happen to their child and that they can't get there. My sleeping and waking nightmare is hearing any of my children crying out for me and I'm not able to get to them… I could not bear the thought that there might be an emergency and I would not be there when my child needed me.
And, of course, that call on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 confirmed that nightmare tenfold!! This has been a truly taxing and nerve-racking experience – and we’re just 5 days into the journey!
We have been blessed that Noah’s injuries were far less drastic than originally thought, and his Command called to tell us that Noah might be shipped back to the U.S. this next week to an Army medical facility to continue treatment and rehabilitation!! (We know he won’t be especially happy with returning stateside – principally because we know he is adamant that he get back with his unit. Be that as it may…)

We have not yet heard what the diagnosis is, what the prognosis is, what the treatment may be and how long his expected recovery might be. (Willie and Mary Ann from Soldiers Angels did visit with him today and they tell me "he is doing fine.") Whatever the details of the Army's “plan,” I (and probably other family) will travel to wherever Noah’s final destination is and stay as long as I/we can be useful to him.
We have had many inquiries of how people can help... Soldiers Angels has information for those that would like to donate to defray the costs of our upcoming travel and stay to be with Noah while he mends and with other expenses that may arise in connection with Noah's continuing care... Any funds not used will be donated to Soldiers Angels and other organizations that support our soldiers.

Many have asked where they can send cards and letters to Noah:
Noah P Wounded Warrior
We thank you all again from the bottom of our hearts for your prayers and compassion and affection. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support...
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Saturday Update

Mrs. Greyhawk visited with Noah yesterday and she called me a few minutes ago to let me know she had spoken with Noah today (how awesome is that woman, huh??) He had just gotten his test results back and told Mrs. G that the MRI showed no spinal fractures (whoohoo!) although he does have some spinal swelling... and no brain swelling (whoohoo!). They have prescribed some new meds and changed some meds and they are weaning him from the cervical collar (which apparently pleases him.) He has more tests and appointments Monday. He is spending time at the bedside of his friend who was seriously wounded in the same attack. Stay tuned...
Thanks to Stacy for "sucking it up" and taking that ride on her soldier son Michael's motorcycle before he returned to Iraq from R&R and dedicating the ride to Noah... stop by and send regards -- she's re-adjusting to having Michael back in the Sandbox... and a big HOOAH to Dan -- Military Mom's son -- Dan and his guys are taking the battle to the enemy and giving them hell for Noah!!!
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Spoke with Noah... He arrived early today in Landstuhl, Germany. He had a preliminary evaluation and they looked at the x-rays and tests from Balad and don't think he fractured any vertebrae (that's what those good people in Balad said!). He's scheduled for an MRI and additional spinal x-rays tomorrow morning and then he has to make appointments to see various doctors. Says he has been having difficulty sleeping since the attack (me, too!) The terrible pain in his neck persisits (I will not comment about payback LOL)... it's constant and the worst of his pain, although he says his back is also painful... a little ringing in his ears and slight hearing loss in one ear, some tingling and some transient numbness in his arms and feet.. but his headache is mostly gone (I'm sure the pain meds are helping that!) Until he sees the doctors, and they evaluate the test results, etc., and make a diagnosis, he won't know if he's staying there or for how long or if he will be sent elsewhere...

So we won't know anything more really until probably some time next week. Frustrating for him (and the rest of us)... But for him -- he's never been sick or injured before and has not had to deal with "these things take time". I wish I could be there to run the gauntlet of medical personnel with him (it's a Mom thing)... we talked about my traveling to Germany but Noah said to wait until he has some idea of the timeline and destination (in case he's sent elsewhere). They issued him new DCU's (desert camouflage utilities/uniform), boots and PT clothes (shorts/t-shirts). He sounded ok... tired... very hoarse (he says from the neck brace). The pain meds make him drowsy but not sleepy... He's bummed because -- if it weren't for the pain meds -- he could be having a beer LOL

We are so very grateful that the initial reports of his injury were exaggerated, that he is receiving care, and that we have finally had an opportunity to talk somewhat at length.... and that (at least for the moment) he's not in Iraq. I know that there's a good chance he'll return at some point (especially if he has his way) but for now, it is the tiniest of comforts to me. He said he'll call again soon.

So that's the news...

We thank all of you for all your calls, emails and messages of support and caring for us and your prayers and good wishes for Noah. And I again would like to thank
Patti and Willie and all the wonderful people at Soldiers Angels for their dedication and devotion to our soldiers -- especially to our wounded soldiers and their families. Please consider visiting their site and donating (hey -- tax deductible!) or volunteering -- even if just to write letters to those soldiers who need the support from those still back here! This is an exceptional organization and group of people about whom I can not glow or crow enough.

Thank you all again. You can't begin to know how shocked and awed we are (I couldn't resist!) at the overwhelming support and caring you have all shown.
2:00PM I have turned "on" the word verification feature in the comments as the comments were getting spammed and porno spammed ... Unbelieveable! I hope you will continue to post comments as they are precious to us...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thank You!! And While We're Waiting (Part I)

This post is published in The Blog of War: Front-Line Dispatches from Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan by Matthew C. Burden (Simon & Schuster, 2006).
Since the purpose of my blog is to share the experiences of a mother with a son at war, I thought I'd start with what these last 24 hours have been like... while we're all waiting for other news...

First, let me say that I have always believed in the power of prayer (especially before we need something) and now believe more than ever!! When they called yesterday, they said "serious spinal injury" and "in surgery in Iraq" and today no surgery, maybe some damage to some cervical vertebrae but maybe just substantial bruising and swelling?? It's prayer (and the Lord's good Grace upon us!) Thank you! Thank you! Thank You all so very much for your thoughts and prayers... Almost 4,000 people have visited this site in the last 20 hours, and more than 200 left best wishes and prayers... We know that they have made a difference and they mean a lot to us. I can not begin to convey how deeply touched we are by the outpouring of compassion, care and prayers for us. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

So here's how the tale begins:
DH and I were just about to sit down to dinner... and the phone rang... caller ID said the name of the Fort where my son is stationed when he's not in Iraq. (Note to self: If the caller ID says, "Fort Benning", do not answer phone -- IT'S BAD NEWS. Of course, I didn't have that thought... and the Rear Detachment (they're the guys that stay behind and make sure things are going good back home) and I have the following conversation (as best I remember but forever seared in my brain)
RD: Hello is this _________?

Me: Yes... (tentative)

RD: This is Sgt. F with the Rear Detachment.

Me: Yes... (still tentative)

RD: I'm calling about your son, Noah...

Me: Yes.... (quiver in voice)

RD: Your son has been injured in Iraq

Me: Yes (sob) (grabbing kitchen counter)

RD: He was injured by an IED...

Me: (gasp, sob, sob) (laying across counter)

RD: he has a serious spine injury...

Me: Oh no, no (gasp, sob, sob)

RD: and he's in surgery.

Me: OK... (fighting pure hysteria) Where is he? Germany?

RD: No, he's in Iraq.

Me: OK, so my son has been injured by an IED, he has a serious spinal injury and he's in surgery in Iraq.

DH: Oh, Noah!

RD: Yes, ma'am.
[I think it was in here I asked if I should make arrangements to go to Germany and he advised that it would be premature to make those plans, something about the Army discouraging family members from going to Germany before all the details are worked out... and I think my response might have been a guttural "uh, huh" and the RD saying something about when they called back they would discuss those arrangements... but I was really reeling at this point and fighting desperately to maintain some semblance of control...]

RD: I'm very sorry to have to call you to tell you this.

Me: When will you know something more (gulp, gulp, whimper, sob, gasp, sob)

RD: I don't know ma'am, but I'll call you as soon as we know anything.

Me: Yes (gulp), please call (sob) me as soon as you (sob, gulp) know anything.

RD: Again, I'm very sorry to have to call you with this news.

Me: Yes, thank you. Please call me.

At some point, DH thought I was about to "go down" and he had stepped close and put his arm around my shoulders, and I quickly flip around and dissolve into gasping sobs, all punctuated with "No! No! No! No!" All the words I wrote eight months ago in Every Parent's Nightmare was upon us!

Almost immediately, I knew that there were things we needed to do, but couldn't get my brain to stop screaming long enough to know what they were. I knew that we needed to call Noah's two brothers and sister... we had to call his aunts and uncle... We made those calls... with healthy periods of wailing (on my part) during and between these calls. Our dogs were beside themselves because I was crying and began barking and had to be put in the garage so that we can hear ourselves think (but we're really not doing much thinking... more like a mental game of bumper pool -- lurching from task to task and bouncing from thought to thought.

I pull out a suitcase and begin packing clothes. I know we'll have to travel somewhere... but where? When? We talk about whether both DH and I should go to Germany at the same time or should I go and based on what's happening there, DH should come later? We decide that this will all depend on what the Army tells us when next they call. Who makes the travel arrangements? Do we do that? Does the Army do that? Questions not asked in the confusion that engulfed me during that call.

We answer calls on our cell phones from family and friends as word spreads and people offer their prayers and ask what can they do?? We don't know what to say because we don't know what we're supposed to be doing ourselves! My twin sister calls to say her bags are packed and passport is ready and she's going wherever I'm going no ifs, ands, or buts (none from this sis.)

I pull out our passports... I ask DH whether he thinks I'll need the power of attorney I have from our son. I get it out, too. I ponder for a moment whether I think I'll need the official Army record/file that Noah gave me before he deployed. I decide I'd rather not lose the file somewhere and if I need it, it can be overnighted. Although this seems like a logical string of actions, in reality they are herky-jerky tasks strung together by time and episodes of gasping sobs and crying... and praying to God to please, please let our son be OK. I'm not really praying, I'm begging God to please spare my son. I'm bartering... I'm badgering...

At some point, I decide that I have to let dear friends know and ask for their prayers, so I draft the 21 word email that became my last post and send it to the "Noah Network" of friends and family that have been devoted and loving since he left for Basic training almost 2 years ago. I decide I have to call his closest friends Mike and James and Nick and Mish and Veronika... they have all been friends since second grade... Inseparable whenever Noah is around and when he isn't -- well, he's mostly who they talk about -- especially since he went to Iraq.

Mike -- who was just here with Noah when he was home on R&R -- just about falls apart but promises to call the "kids" and let them know... none of the others answer their phones, but Mike knows how to find out where they are and locates them all... who then in turn, call us on our cell phones wailing and crying... some conversations taken over midway by weeping parents... This does not help me get control of my crying at all. I am wishing we hadn't retired and moved away from them all because these wonderful creatures are my physical link to my now injured son -- a link to the son who ran, played football, crewed (rowed), danced, bounded through the house.... and now had "a serious spinal injury." I told God it didn't matter to me -- just bring him back to me, we'd deal with everything later.

I was overcome on more than one occasion throughout the night by thoughts of my beautiful son being in pain and wondering if someone was there to comfort him and tell him it will be ok (which sends me into spasms of weeping). I know that there are nurses (angels in scrubs) and am truly comforted knowing that these angels will do whatever it takes to give our son comfort and care like no others. Oh, and did I mention that every 15 minutes or so after every episode of crying -- either collapsed in DH's arms, talking on the phone, seeing Noah's R&R suitcase still packed on the closet floor -- great waves of nausea would overtake me and I'd throw up? (Sorry for the visual.)

At some point (a detailed timeline is mental mush today) I decide that my Military Mom friends and Military Wife friends would want to know and I email them... They get to work and put out the call for prayers... they go all out soliciting God's love and mercy for my son. I putter on my desk... Michael's Mom Stacey calls and she and I cry a little and she offers me love and encouragement... I unpack the suitcase... I repack the suitcase... I look at pictures of my son... I cry some more. I try to eat some toast (nope). My head is all stuffed up from crying, my eyes burn and my head is splitting... I figure more prayers can't hurt and the people I know that can mobilize the military "family" (those in it, near it or grateful for it) for prayers and good thoughts are Blackfive and The Mudville Gazette, so I email them with the same 21 word email as it's all I can manage before I dissolve back in tears. In the meantime, I'm answering instant messages from Noah's friends but have nothing more to tell them. I stare with looks that could kill trying to will the telephone to ring with news.

I speak with Patti Bader (a true Saint on Earth!) from Soldiers Angels who gave me more information and comfort in the span of a 10 minute telephone conversation than I have ever experienced. She has mobilized (along with Blackfive) the Soldiers Angels worldwide network and tells me things that will happen, things to do, what the Army will do and what we (they) will do to help... that a Soldiers Angel will be in Germany to meet our son, comfort him, bring him necessities and a message of love from his mom... and another Angel will be waiting if he comes to Walter Reed Army Medical... they'll do whatever they have to in order to bring comfort and aid to our soldier -- to ALL our soldiers -- their motto is "May No Soldier Go Unloved." I tell you honestly that I could not have made it through last night without the assurance and calm of the Angels. (Go to their site right now and GIVE! GIVE! GIVE! Money, time, services, miles, volunteer...)

As you can imagine, I was an ugly blubbering momma for a good part of last night... Many people urged us to try and get some sleep because it was unlikely we would hear anything for a number of hours, we would need to have all our wits about us and our strength for Noah. So about 11:00PM (yes, all this activity happened in 5 hours!) I swallowed a few sleep aids and laid down, but sleep was elusive.

I slept off and on but tossed and turned a lot. About 3:50AM, my cell phone rang... once. I try to redial the number and a voice announces that it was a prepaid service and could not be reached that way. Noah! It must be Noah! Now I'm actually talking out loud, "Please call back... please call back." 4:00AM "Hey, Ma!" and voila! Sunshine where before there was darkness. No two more beautiful words than, "Hey, Ma!" Except that he told me the details of the incident in which he was injured, the results of our conversation are in the update to my last post.

We believe he left Iraq about 3:00PM Pacific time (which is 1:00AM Iraq time) but are still waiting for someone to tell us officially that he has left (maybe there is no "official" in these cases?), when he'll arrive, the nature of his injuries, how long he'll be there and whether he'll be moved some place else or returned to duty. We will now have to wait to see what the doctors in Germany think... he could be sent to Washington, DC if they think he has an injury that requires treating OR they could hold him there in Germany and see if the swelling and tingling in his extemities (from being thrown into a wall by the force of the explosion) subsides on its own (and then go back to Iraq) OR who knows? That's the phone call we're waiting on...

We hate that he may go back... All of us with loved ones deployed can't help but occasionally think about getting the call... it's unavoidable especially when we see and hear and read about others who got the call and such thoughts evoke repulsion and sadness... but imagining last night's phone call can not begin to approach the actual horror of it -- and now that I have experienced that, I'd prefer to not experience it again (been there, done that!) I know the nightmares generated by that call will be a part of me for all of my days.

We are otherwise hanging in there... suitcase and passport at the ready to travel wherever they are sending or keeping him. Waiting, waiting...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Son Has Been Injured

in a VBIED attack... a serious spinal injury... being operated on in Iraq. Please pray for my son.

He is SPC. Noah P.

UPDATE: 4:30AM (AZ time):
I just spoke with my son from Iraq!! He is waiting evac from Iraq to Germany for further evaluation of his spine... All the prayers worked BIG TIME as they determined that they did not have to operate in Iraq and will await further tests in Germany... He is in significant pain on any movement of the upper spine (C1,C2,C3) and pretty bad pain in the lower back ("that morphine stuff is good sh*t, Ma!")... and his brain's been rattled a bit (took him 10 minutes to remember his birth date) and he says he has lots of shrapnel lacerations on his head... mostly small deep wounds not requiring stitches... though he has some stitches... he still has some tingling in his hands and feet... ringing in the ears... but he tells me not to worry, he says he's still "pretty" and he even got some girls' phone numbers while at the CSH... He says he will be in Germany for a while but the damn soldier says he wants to get back to his unit asap!!
The outpouring of love and prayers has been overwhelming... and I can't thank you enough for your support. I do plan to go to Germany if they aren't sending him stateside... I haven't had any additional contact from the Army yet...
Thank you all for your caring and your compassion, but mostly thank you for your prayers... they DO work!
I'll put up some of the details of the attack that injured my son at a later date.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Somewhere Out There

Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight
Someone's thinking of you and loving you tonight
Somewhere out there someone's saying a prayer
That we'll find one another in that big somewhere out there
And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star
And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we're sleeping underneath the same big sky
Somewhere out there if love can see us through
Then we'll be together somewhere out there
Out where dreams come true

(Somewhere Out There by James Horner, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil
From An American Tail (1987))

Thinking of you tonight, son... and hoping that when you look up at that same moon you know that we're thinking of you... and how much you are loved and missed by us all.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

The World Trade Center Memorial Should Honor Those Who Died on 9/11. Period.

I worked in Manhattan and was there the day the World Trade Center was attacked and 2,800 people were murdered. The day it became Ground Zero. Our Navy son had come home to the United States from his duty station overseas on Navy business just days before the attack, and he insisted that he needed to be a witness to the aftermath of this unprovoked attack before he returned overseas. Like most New Yorkers, DH and I had no intention of visiting the site of the attack, but acquiesced to our son's wishes and visited the ruins of the World Trade Center with our three sons.
It was a stunningly beautiful early October morning, much like the spectacular September morning of the attacks. As we traversed the perimeter of the site, I kept repeating "Oh my God!" "Oh my God!" at the pile of rubble ten stories high. Every inch of the surrounding buildings were caked in the heavy dust and debris that just days earlier was a part of America and the people that lived here.
The site, being guarded by the New York National Guard, was being viewed by thousands that morning and we all walked through the neighborhood in almost complete silence and reverence. Conversations were conducted in whispers. There was no laughing or other conversation... just silent overwhelming sadness and outrage. Most of those present that morning, myself included, shed tears of grief and horror at the carnage.
EVERY DAY for more than 14 months after that date, there was a column in our local suburban newspaper with the title, "WTC Remains Identified" and began, "The following remains of victims at the World Trade Center have been identified..." and listed the names of the mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, brothers murdered that day. In our small county just over the Hudson River from Manhattan and home to many firefighters and police, there was a funeral for a victim virtually every day for more than 6 weeks.... many days, more than one victim was buried.
It was and remains my opinion after seeing the site that, had it not been for the need to recover the bodies of those slaughtered in that attack, we should have left the rubble and ruin there until every American and supporter of democracy worldwide had an opportunity to view it. It was truly that horrific and no image captured in photographs or film can convey the magnitude. I would like to have seen it left untouched for the same reason the Nazi concentration camps were left standing: to bear witness to those who perished and to be a testament that we can never let either event happen ever again.
The attacks of September 11, 2001 were THE events responsible for many joining our military to defend our country against future attacks. It was the event that cemented our youngest son's lifelong desire to be a soldier.
As I have written before (June 8 and June 9, 2005), there are individuals who want to share their "vision" and have us all believe that we brought this atrocity upon ourselves. They intend to turn the Memorial at Ground Zero into a statement on human rights atrocities in the world. It will not be a Memorial to the American citizens, firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel and non-Americans who were murdered that day. They want it to be a multi-media extravaganza of man's inhumanities to man: the Nazi Holocaust, Native American Genocide, Soviet gulags, the KKK...
Now, the body responsible for this proposal is taking advice from a consortium of foreign "museums of conscience" that the memorial at Ground Zero not feature the American point of view because it might offend non-Americans. Come again? Yes, the American tribute to its dead in an American museum on American soil might offend non-Americans!
A global network of human rights museums is urging the International Freedom Center to downplay America in its exhibits and programs at Ground Zero, the Daily News has learned.

The outrageous request is the latest controversy to torment the Freedom Center, whose leaders have tried to dispel the perception that it would be a home for America bashers.

"Don't feature America first," the IFC has been advised by the consortium of 14 "museums of conscience" that quietly has been consulting with the Freedom Center for the past two years over plans for the hallowed site. "Think internationally, where America is one of the many nations of the world."
I must absolutely agree with Jack Lynch:

"I can't think of a greater insult than to invite museums from other countries of the world to come and exploit what should be America's memorial," said Jack Lynch, who helped carry the body of his firefighter son Michael, 30, out of the rubble.

"If you're going to explore slavery, the Holocaust or women's rights, you should do it at Chelsea Piers or on the East River waterfront - anywhere but Ground Zero," said Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles, 51, was the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
Also read the common sense editorial of the Daily News on Making a Mockery of Ground Zero


There is also a Take Back the Memorial Rally at the WTC site on September 10, 2005. My son's friends intend to be there and to represent our son who can't be there because he is busy fighting to keep such an event from happening again.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Our Heroes

ok, Katy and the gang, I'm a little late today on this one, but truthfully this is the only stress in my life at the moment... all the other is just little sh*t... If our son can do what he does, I can handle the rest... Stop by
The Dirty Days and see who else is stressin' these days...

Here's a great video from the people at Grouchy Media... Our Heroes TURN THE SPEAKERS UP!

And check out all the other very cool videos at
GrouchyMedia... especially check out "HeloThunder" and the "Pararescue" videos... (language alert for the Pararescue soundtrack).
I have been a frequent visitor to Grouchy Media, but a big h/t to A North American Patriot for the reminder.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cindy Sheehan Doesn't Speak for Me Tour

Supporters of U.S. Involvement in Iraq Plan Caravans to Texas

Deborah Johns' son William is a Marine stationed in Iraq. She sympathizes with Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war protester who lost her son to enemy fire 16 months ago. However, Johns believes a pull-out now would negate what troops are fighting for in Iraq. She takes exception to Sheehan's protest and plans to do something about it.

Read more and watch the video at ABC News10:
Cindy Sheehan Doesn't Speak for Me Tour

You can read more at Move America Forward and here's the Tentative Caravan & Rally Schedule. You can join the caravans (there's an email address to give your location so you can coordinate and link up with others) or if you can't join the caravans, you can help defray the cost of this project!

Deborah Johns -- YOU ROCK!

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Update: Ronald R. Griffin is the father of Spc. Kyle Andrew Griffin, a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star, who was killed in a truck accident on a road between Mosul and Tikrit on May 30, 2003. He writes passionately and honestly in the must read
She Does Not Speak for Me
He concludes with:

Those who lost their lives believed in the mission. To honor their memory, and because it's right, we must believe in the mission, too.

We refuse to allow Cindy Sheehan to speak for all of us. Instead, we ask you to learn the individual stories. They are glorious. Honor their memories.

Honor their service. Never dishonor them by giving in. They never did.


One ringy-dingy (snort). Two ringy-dingys (snort snort.) 8:00AM and "Hey, Ma!" WHOOOHOOO!

He says, "Have you been watching the news?" Ummm, yeah. I got news for soldiers in Iraq: your families may be going about their lives (somewhat), but we are consumed by your existence 24 hours a day. We live and breathe all the news we can get. I didn't have the heart to tell him that the MSM doesn't give a rat's ass what's happening over there if it's good news and shows that we are defeating the terrorists.
He says they have been very busy and he tells me some of the details of a recent mission... on a hotel (not at or in a hotel, but ON a hotel) in the city where he is deployed. He and his platoon got a bunch of the bad guys. I tell him, "Good job!!"
He's getting care packages and the food is what's keeping them alive (LOL). He got the boots but they're a little big so he's gonna get them wet... he received his new rank insignia... the fan has already burned out and he and Dad have a discussion on amps or volts or whatever. We'll try again. He hasn't gotten the socks yet, but he has gotten a few boxes from people he didn't know (he wrote down the names but forgot the list on his bunk). I rattle some names but he just can't remember (so that must be you girls!!!) He got some of the packages Aunt L. has sent...
They aren't actually at the camp listed in their mailing address but are, rather, at a "Combat Outpost". He characterizes the meals they get as the main camp's leftovers and, no, they are lucky to get 2 meals a day... He says to send spaghettios, Oreos, ready to eat soups, and cereal bars. That's the things they really like. He's sharing with his old platoon and his new platoon.
He asks if we are looking for that specific truck (Toby Keith would be proud) and we say there are tons around 'cause with gas prices so high, everyone is getting rid of big cars and trucks.... When I tell him gasoline is approaching and in some areas over $3.00 a gallon, he actually turns to his comrades in line for the phone and tells them -- which results in a whole chorus I can hear of "No shit!" "Holy shit!" and a few "WTF"s. So much for going to war for the oil, huh? And he says, well maybe he'll have to look for something a little more economical...
I say we haven't seen him online... My technology-addicted but patience-challenged child has not been online because the internet is so slow that they usually cannot even access their email and it's why their IM sessions are so short -- the connections are unreliable and transient.
He asks that I send some college catalogs and he asks if when he moves back in, can we rebuild the lower level of our home to his apartment? His Dad pales, but I say we'll look into it (it's a Mom thing). He says he wants to have a big family reunion next summer and can we rent a house in Sandbridge, VA where we had some exceptionally memorable vacations over the years? I say we could probably do that... and he says it better be a big house 'cause he's bringing... and he lists half the US Army! (That's our son: affable, friendly and very free with other people's money LOL). I say, "You know your brothers are all welcome...
All too soon, he says he's "gotta go" because he only has a few minutes before he has to give up the phone and he wants to call V., a girl back in New York. We tell him to call as often as he can even if it's just for a few minutes. He tells us he loves us, says thanks for everything... We tell him we love him and to stay safe. "Bye, Momma. Mmmwahs." And silence.
If my knees were 20 years younger, I'd do cartwheels! Instead, I exuberantly thank the Good Lord for the call and our son's continued safety. There is no better high in the world than his voice these days -- Heck, even cleaning the windows and washing the floors today will not dampen my spirits!!
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
11:30AM: If you haven't already seen Matt Lauer (and the MSM) get "zinged" by a US Soldier on air this morning during Lauer's unannounced trip to Camp Liberty in Iraq, mosey on over to the NewsBusters site... Be sure to watch the video and read the story! Good one!! h/t BLACKFIVE And if you want to see the whole video of that segment go

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Put Silver Wings On My Son's Chest

My son's wings

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 16, 2005, as National Airborne Day. I encourage all Americans to honor those who have served in the Airborne, and I also call upon all citizens to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
My Dad who lost his left arm while in the Army (1945)
(you can see his wings there on his left chest)

One of my favorite t-shirts (the front is above)

I got to pin his wings on!! (2004)

The day I got to pin those silver Airborne wings on my son, was one of the proudest days of my life. I was concerned (but not worried) about his split lip, the bump and gash on his forehead, and the even larger gash and goose egg on the back of his head... and the soldier I saw with stitches from lip to ear. I say to him, "Geez, jumping out of those airplanes sure is dangerous." And he says, "It's not the jumping, Ma. It's the quick stop." (Apparently, an old Airborne line... but priceless all the same!) And he says, "Ya know, it's not like they broom sweep the LZ." (sorry... Landing Zone)

So here's to my Dad and to my son (and -- BLACKFIVE) and those other Hunters from the Sky: Airborne! We thank you! We honor and salute you!

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Seen But Not Heard.

Our Soldier
No word from our son, but there has been a sighting! At 3:30AM I was still awake – plagued by anxiousness about not having word from him… Keeping me awake was that same feeling I got as a kid when my father would drive fast over a rise in the road and our stomachs would float… that flutter of panicked gargantuan butterflies in my gut. About 3:40AM, a pack of coyotes that, for the most part, have been silent all summer, began to carry on madly outside… So I got up, got some water and, while passing by the closed office door, decided to check and see if any of the Guys were online. Lo and behold – Vsoldier had at that minute signed on! After pleasantries, he said he had just seen our soldier son “a few mikes ago” and he was OK! … things there are very active, extremely intense… a little dangerous (“eh, a little” he says… that’s like KINDA being preggers.) He was thrilled that more packages were on the way… sends love. I head back to bed and am instantly asleep (magic!)

As those of you who read regularly know, I don’t promote products here, but knowing that lots of folks who ship to soldiers stop by here, I want to mention that we found these very cool (very small) 13.5oz. containers of liquid Tide for $1.00 at our local Fry’s supermarket and bought the last two… but the store manager is ordering more just for us and he was DELIGHTED to be of assistance! I also found hefty-sized microwavable plastic bowls ½ price for just 25 cents (to cook all the food we send)!! I can’t wait to send off the next packages to the Guys!
[Note: For those stopping by for the first time or who haven't read back that far, part of our son's Army company moved a month ago to a camp that has limited shower facilities (i.e., cubbies with a very limited supply of water heated by the sun); no laundry facilities (laundry is washed in buckets); no kitchen facilities (what purports to be food is prepared elsewhere and trucked in twice a day if they're lucky); they arrived to a mess hall with mortar holes in the roof and sides -- nicknamed the "hole-y mess" but it's now under reconstruction thanks to the ingenuity of the soldiers); and no PX to purchase the basic necessities. So soldiers' families and friends send food, detergent, body soaps, shampoos, cigarettes, toilet paper, etc. to keep them going.]
Symbols of Faith
When our son was leaving for Iraq, I gave him the small gold cross my mother had given me many years ago. I have meant to replace it since then but put it off and when I looked could not find the “right” one. Yesterday while DH and I were out meandering I found the perfect one…
and the fact that the first contact in a week (albeit just a sighting) came the same day? Mere coincidence (big smile)...
Replacement Body Armor
So according to press reports they’re replacing soldiers’ personal body armor (PBA) and 70% of the soldiers have it. Despite the panic stimulated by headlines screaming that someone had screwed up again, the armor is actually in response to the lessons we have learned from terrorist attacks against our troops in Iraq. Apparently, the new PBA panels are being produced at just four factories at the rate of 20,000-25,000 per month but the technically demanding process of producing the armor is slow going -- taking the same care as producing heat tiles for the NASA shuttle. But I have a few thoughts on this:

1. Hope the geniuses that set the shipping priority are shipping the PBA to those soldiers experiencing the highest incidents of contact with the terrorists (which would include my Guys!). I’m only hopeful because this would make the most sense… which we all know isn’t necessarily the main concern of some bureaucrat or clerk sitting at a desk somewhere deciding alphabetical order works for them (snicker).

2. Hope the old plates are going to the IPF (Iraqi Protection Force) in those same areas… Of course, that, too, would make sense. (But I am ever the optimist.)

Iraqi Women
Wishing the draft Iraqi constitution had been done on time because every delay heightens the danger our troops and the Iraqis face from the terrorists… but was also glad to hear that the extension was a unanimous vote. I hope the drafters do not abandon the Iraqi women who are the strength and honor and spirit of Iraq… these women who must raise and protect their families under the direst of circumstances and are the hope with their children of the new Iraq and the Middle East – women who went to the polls in parity with Iraqi men. It would be distressing to me and many others I’m sure, if their legal standing was LESS under the new government than Saddam.

However, despite the assertions of the MSM and the liberals – this is IRAQIS driving this – not Americans. While our ambassador and consultants can exert some pressure, it is up to the Iraqis themselves to assure that they HONOR their women and their role in Iraqi society and history. You cannot hope to join the 21st century if your women are forced to return to the 5th century.

This piece in the Washington Post (shudder):
“Meanwhile, Kurds and Shiites, whose interests are aligned on many issues, remained divided over the role of Islam in determining Iraqi law. Shiite leaders said they believed they were close to persuading more secular Kurds to accept Islam as "the main source" of the constitution along with a requirement that no laws be passed that contradict sharia , or Islamic law.
"That position was strongly opposed Sunday by a few dozen female protesters concerned that deference to Islamic law would leave them vulnerable, particularly in the area of family law, where most interpretations of Islam accord many advantages to men. The protesters packed the convention center in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone Sunday afternoon, waving signs and chanting, ‘Our rights for our votes.’”

I am at a loss as to why, if the Iraqi Constitution must include some reference to Islam, why they cannot simply declare in the document or the preamble that the official religion of the country is Islam, but provide for the free exercise of other religions or no religion at all… and that all Iraqis (men and women) are created equal under the law? They are a few of my favorite parts of our Constitution and Bill of Rights…

Time for more than just a “few dozen” (if that description is to be believed) to stand up, be visible, be heard. I would hate for the Constitution to not be approved in October, but if it diminished MY rights, I’d vote against it, no question. Ironic since the symbol of the new Iraqi democracy recognized around the world is a woman just out of the voting booth!

(At the request of some readers with eyes as old as mine, I'm using a larger typeface. )

Thanks to Rightwingsparkle

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Whiskey For My Men...

As those that have read back that far in my blog know, back in January when our Guys deployed (Lord, is it seven months already??!!) their deployment was delayed a week and I was privileged to spend that additional time with these American Soldiers. Since all personal vehicles had been stored or moved home, my rental car became the lifeline for all the last minute chores and errands needed to get the Guys “good to go.”

In the area of their stateside base, the soldiers will tell you that there are only two kinds of music: rap or country… and since country was the only music acceptable to all of the car’s occupants, the Guys would usually pop in Toby Keith’s “Shock and Y’all”. I have said in more than one forum that the indelible image seared in my brain for all time is of these four young soldiers singing with commitment from “American Soldier”, “Oh, and I don't want to die for you, but if dyin's asked of me…” It’s still a very emotional song for me and I tear up every time I hear it.

It was that immersion to Toby Keith’s music – together with the Guys’ pure merriment whenever they sang “Whiskey Girl” or “The Taliban Song” -- that made me a fan of Toby Keith. I have since purchased a number of his other CDs and enjoy all of them. It was a no-brainer for me when I saw that he would be touring through Phoenix and I purchased tickets for DH and me to his concert last night.

We wore shirts I made that said “Damn Proud American Soldier’s Mom" (and Dad) with our son’s picture on it and some info on his Division and unit.
It was gratifying the number of people that stopped us to ask us to thank our son or say that they would keep him in their prayers. We also had soldiers (some just back) stop to speak with us… and wives whose husbands are also currently deployed. The US Marines had a very active recruiting booth set up amongst the beer stalls and TK merchandise.

As expected, it was a crowd looking to have some fun and to be treated to a show – which TK surely provided. Now, I know that Toby does not need any more cheerleaders, but he played for two full hours -- after two opening acts, including a delightful set by Lee Ann Womack -– and it was a kick ass show. The audience ranged from the very young (3 or 4 years old) to the very old (70’s)… and there sure were a lot of pretty young things there with the short skirts, short tops, low-low jeans (welookedlikethatonce, welookedlikethatonce), and, of course, boots and cowboy hats everywhere!! I was fortunate to have a number of other women my age also willing to whoop it up, dance and sing along – with husbands who not only enjoyed the music but were secure enough to enjoy all us wives having a great time… and their daughters seemed only mildly embarrassed that their moms knew all the words and could dance like that LOL. (Note to young men looking for gorgeous all-American girls that know how to have a good time: go to a country music concert.)

Throughout his show, Toby Keith acknowledged and paid respect to our troops – even changing words in songs to salute their sacrifices – and also saluting fire, police and rescue personnel who put it on the line every day to keep us all safe. He performed his “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” and “The Taliban Song” and received huge cheers each time – and he received an especially loud cheer when he reminded the audience passionately not to listen to those nay sayers – “WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS AND DON’T FORGET IT!” He talked of his more than 60 USO tours around the world to entertain our troops and how much he admired the soldiers and reminded the audience that the soldiers were ensuring that they could come to concerts like his and live our lives in freedom. He asks everyone to symbolically raise their glasses to those that keep us safe during “Beer For My Horses” as he (and Willie Nelson via video) sing “We’ll raise up our glasses against evil forces…”
But all night I was waiting for “American Soldier”… and as the encore began and the first notes were played, not only did I tear up, but I began to cry… All my worry of this last month since he returned to that very dangerous place together with the week+ of not hearing from our son poured out my eyes as my DH held me tight and those around me – complete strangers before this night – put their hands in mine or touched my shoulder… I saw the moms in front of me tear up and hug their men. It took me to the last verses to compose myself and enjoy the sheer exhilaration of the audience as they cheered those that stand up and serve to keep us free.

And the very last gesture of his evening was when the four wives of the soldiers we had met earlier in the evening held up their hand lettered sign, “OUR HUSBANDS ARE IN IRAQ” and Toby came to the end of the stage near them (they were 20 rows from the stage on a side angle and about six rows in front of us) and first he saluted them, then bowed and blew kisses. The audience went absolutely wild!

So Toby, hats off to you… You are not only a great showman, but also a true American Patriot. We'll be back to see you again – but next time with one or more of our Guys in tow!
[UPDATE Sun., 8/14/05: and, no, still no word from our son… I’m generally ok ‘cause]

Copyright 2005. Al rights reserved.
[Here's a link to the Yahoo video page for Toby Keith's videos, including "American Soldier" and Toby & Willie's "Beer For My Horses" among many others You need a Yahoo membership (free and quick) to view the videos.]

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hard to Be a Soldier's Mom

As I flew home yesterday from Colorado, I found myself thinking about my Guys... Hadn't yet heard from any of them since late last week, so I was approaching the border between worry and WORRY (which is right before really worried and then there's the REALLY worried). I know the area where our Guys are is really busy right now -- it's all over what little news there is on MSM television. But I had my "Damn Proud Soldier's Mom" t-shirt on (the TSA guys don't hassle me at all when I wear it) and a much older man sitting across the aisle from me asked where my son was stationed and when I told him where his base is in Iraq, he said, "It must really be hard to be a Soldier's Mom right now."
Which got me to thinking that, yes, it is. I hate this. I hate the worry. I hate thinking about the war, my son, our Guys, the other moms, the dads, the brothers and how we worry. The constant friction at news reports that are clearly biased and anti-war/anti-military (are any MSM news reports pro- ANYTHING?) that set my mind on the dark path.
I hate not hearing from them. I hate wondering every time I hear that a soldier has been killed whether it's my son or one of my Guys. I hate wondering whether they're getting our packages and the mail we send. I hate wondering if they have what they need. I hate worrying whether my son is hungry because another supply convoy didn't try the road today 'cause there were too many IEDs. I hate wondering whether they got the air conditioning back up. I hate wondering whether he got the fan we sent and whether it's doing any good...
It's a constant 24 hour a day worry that wears on you, grates on you, weighs on you. It's physically and mentally exhausting. I don't always realize it but sometimes I wonder why I'm so tired some nights or why I can't sleep most nights... It's the worry. The wear and tear of it. It's like the drone of a motor always on or the hum from fluorescent lights... always there... always present... even when you're doing other things or thinking other thoughts... it's THERE. The worry is always there. I know other moms and dads and wives and husbands and sisters and brothers will understand what I mean. It really is very hard to be a Soldier's Mom. At least today.
I did hear from one of my Guys this morning (thank you, Lord)... he was thanking me and thanking me for the packages... Says me and my friends (you know who you are!!) take better care of them than the Army... I tell him it's 'cause the Army's not their Mom! V. says they can't thank me enough for all I do for them and I tell him that's a rare one -- I can't possibly thank THEM enough for what they're doing for me...
When I ask, yes, they need more laundry detergent [done]... and plastic forks and spoons and dishes to heat and eat some of the food... He hasn't seen our son this week (they are in different platoons) but he knows he's ok 'cause (as we all know) bad news travels fast and they haven't had any bad news today. He last saw him Sunday for a "smoke & joke" outside the "hole-y mess" (the dining facility with the two mortar holes in the roof and one in the side... at least they still have their sense of humor!), but son's platoon has been out most of the week. V. says, "He's out gunning more often now in the new platoon." To which I reply, "Yeah, I know (sigh)... How lucky can I get? LOL." He tells me son's in a good platoon and he's as safe as he can be... Why is that so little comfort? Just glad we had some contact (better than nothin' as they say) but it was a really brief IM chat and most of my questions went unasked because the dreaded "sry mom igtg" (sorry mom I gotta go) came up with just enough time to type "stay safe. love ya. mmwwahs" before the xxx signed off at 10:50:43 AM appears...
I have stopped counting the days our son and the Guys have been gone and the days until some real or imagined redeployment date... I have come to live in the day. If we get through today, it's a good day. Tomorrow will be here soon enough. Maybe tomorrow it will easier to be a Soldier's Mom. Lord, I hope so.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
A Thanks to The Mudville Gazette... Welcome TMG readers!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"Over There" -- Episode II

Forget what I said in my last post about this show... Not only should they sh*tcan that stupid song but Bochco and fX should sh*tcan the entire show. Period. It sucks.

Could you portray a more asinine group of people -- that every time they see blood they start screaming like little girls (jeez, and I'm a girl albeit an older girl)? There is no order at the check point... no one has a specific role/assignment... one guy approaches a car and everyone else hides behind the sandbags? No concertina wire? One little sign? One set of lights -- not even aimed up the road but up in the air? Now, I'm not a soldier, but something tells me there's a pretty well-honed SOP for checkpoints. And the only two soldiers manning a CP -- who know that they could be shot and killed every minute of the day and night put their weapons down to have a fist fight? What was that honkey white boy sh*t? Has anyone actually said that since 1971? Could they not have portrayed these men as professionals -- yes, jittery. Yes, intense. Yes, making life and death decisions in an instant. But the only thing I liked about this show at all was the 3rd Infantry Division insignias.
And I'm no doctor or nurse (though I have substantial exposure to the medical field) , but a patient -- gravely wounded, a recent amputee, which would require heavy doses of narcotics -- no bed rails up, rips out his IV, falls to the floor and a nurse (?) in BDU's comes running into the room with a syringe already fully loaded with some medication, and injects a patient lying on the floor?? And this soldier -- who was a victim of a horribly powerful VBIED -- has no other wounds -- no shrapnel, no damage to the other leg -- and heaven forbid the pretty boy should have a nick or wound to his face? And he's sitting up in bed perfectly coherent... (See Captain Z's picture at From My Position.... On the Way ( to see the extent of injuries from an IED.)
Even from someone who only marginally knows how these things work, I'd say this show is off the mark... And I really didn't care for the "dream sequence" and torture of an American soldier... As much as my son wants me to record this show, I'll just have the first two episodes as keepsakes. I won't be watching again.
And, in closing, I've decided that the theme song could possibly be THE WORST song ever ... ok, maybe "MacArthur Park" has it beat, but just by a smidge... but it is certainly is the worst television theme song ever.

Dear Lord, Grant Us Peace, We Beseech Thee

14 Marines, Civilian Interpreter Killed in Iraq IED Attack
American Forces Press Service

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq, Aug. 3, 2005 – Fourteen Marines and a civilian interpreter assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), were killed in action early this morning when their amphibious assault vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device, military officials here reported.

The incident occurred during combat operations about two kilometers south of Haditha, officials said. One Marine was wounded in the attack.

Names of the dead are being withheld pending notification of next of kin. No other details about the attack were immediately available.
O Thou
the Cause and Effect of the Whole universe
the Source from whence we have come
and the Goal toward which all are bound:
receive these souls, who are coming to Thee,
into Thy parental arms.
May Thy forgiving Glance heal their hearts.
Lift them from the denseness of the earth.
Surround them with the Light of Thine own Spirit.
Raise them up to heaven
which is their true dwelling place.
We pray Thee, grant them the blessing
of Thy most exalted Presence.
May their life upon earth become as a dream
to their waking soul,
And let their thirsting eyes behold
the glorious vision of Thy Sunshine.