color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: March 2006

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Noah's Finally Getting His Purple Heart!

Tomorrow morning 0900. Ft. Benning, GA
Of course, he only found out late this afternoon so there is no time for me, his Dad or anyone else to get there to witness it. Ggggggrrrrrr. Is it of so little consequence to the Army that this could not be planned and announced in advance? Could it really be that someone just decided today that they should do this tomorrow? I would hate to think that Purple Hearts are so commonplace that the Army can't be bothered to honor their wounded appropriately...
I told Noah to have one of the guys call me if they can just before he gets it so I can listen... and to give someone his camera in case they can actually get a picture. I hope the Army has an official photographer. And yes, you could say I was just a little bit ticked about this... After all, it has been SEVEN MONTHS since he was wounded and 10 weeks since his unit got back. I thought the Army was all about planning and precision. Oh, that must be the Navy.
And I had another of those calls... this time from the middle son (the Navy vet) who works for a landscaper (which means he doesn't work much in the winters). They have been back to work just a few weeks. His boss was up in a bucket truck cutting a tree and bumped a high voltage line and was electrocuted... 3 times. The electrical shock apparently shorted out the truck and they could not lower the bucket... and the electric company didn't have a crew in the area to de-energize the line. It took a few hours to get the crews there and get his wonderful boss down from the lines. He's alive, but barely. My son stood there helpless with the police and ambulance crews until the electrical company got there. He is so distraught. He really loves this 67 year old man. And there we were in Every Parent's Nightmare in which I wrote:
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.
There's not much I could do in this situation, but I could have been there instead of here. I could have consoled him better in person rather than over the phone. I have said how much I love to hear my children laugh and I love to see them smile... but there is no anguish greater for a parent than to hear their child cry in such distress.
What was as upsetting for my son and for me was that he was the one who should have been in the bucket, but his boss sent him for sodas for the crew and went up in the bucket himself. My son had just returned to the job site when the accident happened. I shudder to think how close to death two of my sons came this year... and thanking God for sparing them.
Please pray for this wonderful man, Joe.
Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 27, 2006


There are few words to tell you, Noah, how much we love you and how proud we are of you!! You know how much I love birthdays and how I believe birthdays are the one day every year that the rest of the world gets to tell you how happy they are they you are in it... and so we say to you, "We are so happy that you are a part of our world!!"

Have a happy day. Be safe. Be sure you have a DD. And remember that the hangovers once you're 21 are worse than the ones before. We don't know why it is. It just is.

All our love -- always. Mom & Dad

The emotion that came with this birthday are so intense this year for me. Perhaps it is because he is the youngest. Perhaps it is because he is so special. Perhaps it is because of what he has been through this year: Deployed... Wounded... the loss of 19 of his friends and fellow soldiers... the memorials... escorting his friend home... the funerals... the families left behind... The thought that had he been there that October day, he probably would have been in that HUMMV with Tommy and Tim and Jeff and Rich and Sgt. Summers...

Although is he changed... and he has been trying as best he can to adjust to his world, there is nothing else to say except that we are so grateful that he is still in our world. We are exceptionally proud to call him our son. Our soldier. Our hero.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Marking Time

"Hey, Ma!" First thing this morning. I can tell from the sound of his voice that everything is OK with the world today.
"Go out and pick up the new issue of Time magazine." I shudder. I hate that rag... er, mag. "There's a big picture of my platoon inside."

"OK. I'll go pick it up later." "Well, I can't talk now, Ma. I'll call you later. I gotta go [CTI?] [MTI?] [CIT?]. I got all my gear back from Iraq. Hey, you should see my IBA [Interceptor Body Armor]! The vest is just covered in blood, Ma. I mean covered... not a spot of green left on the front." The image flashes through my head of the last time I saw him in the vest the January night he deployed and I remember the green camouflage vividly. I conjure up an image of what it looks like now. I tell him, "Take pictures. You'll want them later. And I'm sure your Dad and brothers will want to see." I know I'm not really wanting to see it.
"Love ya, Ma. Gotta go." And like a lightning bolt the image of the "sry ma igtg" [Sorry, Ma, I got to go] from a hundred instant messages when he and Our Guys were in Iraq just two months ago flashes across my brain.

Then I'm up and out doing errands, including tracking down the Time Magazine. And, sure enough, there in the March 27, 2006 issue on pages 26-27 is a huge picture of 3rd Platoon standing in the mess hall (or rather what's left of it) in ar Ramadi. Of course, Noah's not in the picture; he was already home WIA. It bothers me a little that it's the poster for Time's "Was It Worth It?" story (Dear Time: Did you think to ask any Iraqis whether they thought it was worth it? I digress.) The guys in this picture were the recipients of 18 dozen of Melinda's (Most Certainly Not) world famous chocolate chip cookies this past holiday season.

An hour later with magazine in hand, Toby Keith is singing "American Soldier" from my cell phone. Noah's off work, I'm sitting in the parking lot of the local Barnes & Noble Bookstore and we finally have an opportunity to catch up on important topics:

He was on live television in Columbus, GA yesterday for about an hour with his Team leader Sgt. F for a televised Welcome Home Ceremony. Some General had asked that they be there along with others and then the General didn't even bother to show (No, I'm sure the General has a perfectly good reason...)
No, they haven't set a date for the medal ceremony yet. (GRRRR...)
Yes, he has invited someone to the Battalion Ball in April, but she's in college and has to see if she can get away. He has a backup plan, too.
He has volunteered to assist at the Special Olympics and he has a meeting tomorrow to find out what that entails. I tell him that his volunteering is wonderful because it takes someone special to deal with the developmentally challenged. He tells me he's looking forward to it. [Have I said yet today how proud I am of him??]
He thanked me for sending on the email from the widow of one of his sergeants killed in Iraq who will be at the Welcome Home Ceremony as well as the dedication of the Memorial to the 3ID fallen with her children tomorrow.
Yes, of course, he will search her out at the dedication of the Memorial to the Fallen and, yes, he figured there would be a "mom hug" in there somewhere.

He has fallen behind on some of his college class work because he hasn't been able to get computer online time, so he's now getting internet access in his room. We discuss his class selections, degree requirements, career paths, and at some point he says, "You know, Mom, I'm probably in this for the long haul." (He means the Army) and I say, "Well, you're 20 now and if you live to 90, you got 70 years ahead of you. Might as well fill it with good stuff."

We talk about the upcoming promotion boards, the benefits of being in one platoon over another, how each of Our Guys is doing. I tell him his brother has been selected as Lead Petty Officer on his boat, but when he asks I can't tell him what the Army equivalent is.

Yes, he plans to attend his brother's wedding in Virginia in June. He says he also has a wedding in New York in July. He's still waiting to hear if his and a few other soldiers' requests for 4-day passes in May will be approved. They want the passes so that they can attend the wedding in Alaska of one of Matt Bohling's best friends who has invited the guys to come in honor of their mutual friend who was killed in Iraq since Matt won't be there with her. She connected with Noah and Matt's other Army friends via my blog. She emailed me, I emailed the guys.

Noah has a block leave (vacation) coming up in the summer and we talk about his desire to spend it in Virginia Beach -- the scene of many happy family vacations in the past and near where his oldest brother is currently stationed. I tell him what a rental house costs for a week and I hear an "Oh." Then we review what it costs to jet ski, deep-sea fish, eat meals... and I hear another, "Oh." But then he mentions that maybe he can stay with his brother or with close friends of the family that live in the area. I suggest a trip out West so we can go riding and shootin' and stuff. We'll see.

He says he's contemplating a switch of cell phone companies as the one he has now charges him for every incoming call as well as outgoing and staying in touch just with his Team leaders and the others in his Company is costing him a small fortune. He's considering returning to the company that has a direct connect capability and we talk about one-year contracts versus two years and the approximate cost savings.

It was great to have a long, relaxed conversation with him when one of us wasn't doing something else or calling on the fly. I miss him. We haven't seen him since Tommy Byrd's funeral in November. I'm regretting a little not putting out the [big] bucks for an extra trip to Fort Benning for the Welcome Home 3ID bash tomorrow. It would have been nice to see the Guys, laugh and party and dote on them again, but I keep telling myself that I'll see them all WHEN THEY GET AROUND TO HAVING THE MEDALS CEREMONY...… ggggrrrr.

Update: This was the Sledgehammer Soldier Salute from last night in Columbus, GA which was broadcast and hosted by WTVM. I didn't see Noah anywhere on first watching although he was there somewhere. The 2/69AR is covered at 21:30... and our good friend Lt Joe Walker is at 22:30 of the tape (he's the PLT leader for the guys that got the cookies)... at 32:00 the regimental commanders discuss MSM coverage of the war... at 35:20 when asked to describe their most memorable experiences of the deployment, 2 Lt. Cols. say it was the Iraqi people... at 44:00 on the tape, they cover the 29 dead of the 3 Brigade... the first soldier at 44:10 is Sergeant First Class David Salie, the soldier pictured above with his two youngest children... almost the full minute from 45:07 to 45:57 are the guys from Noah's platoon, including the 5 in his squad that died in the IED explosion in October. The 2-minute blackouts in the video where commercials were in the original broadcast are annoying, but at least you can manipulate the cursor to fast forward.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Milblog Conference Update

This pic is for my blogson Sean... Just a reminder of Home Sweet Home before he leaves for the Sandbox (his 3rd trip). And Sean, it's snowing here again (whoohoo!)
Conference update over at Andi's World. Seems Deb from Marine Corps Moms is joining the Family panel (that would be the panel I'm on). And Col. Hunt will be moderating the "Blogging from Theater" panel. I have been watching Col. Hunt's insightful commentaries on Fox and other channels for a while now and am excited to have the opportunity to meet him!
If you haven't registered yet, now would be a good time to do it!
Thanks to the VFW and Andi for all the hard work of getting the conference together.
And if you can't be there but would like to contribute to defray the costs of the conference -- every little bit helps, $2, $5... $10. It's all appreciated.
Make a contribution to the MilBlog Conference. Proceeds will pay for expenses for holding the conference (venue/hosting). No money goes to the panelists or the people organizing the conference. All contributions will be used to defray real costs. AND all contributions will be requited with gifts as they are made available (downloads etc.). GO HERE for the Paypal button.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

That Dang Pesky War in Iraq

Three years. Sigh.

I have been watching the coverage of the 3rd anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. I’m already weary of the Democrats pummeling away that “72% of the soldiers think the troops should come home.” That’s really a misleading statement and the numbers are wrong. 100% of the soldiers think we should leave Iraq. And 100% of the wives, parents and friends of those that serve whether they are in Iraq now, have been there, might be going there, or will never serve in Iraq. We all -- they all -- want the soldiers home.

I have said it many times before and in many forums: There is no one that wants our soldiers home more or wants them home sooner than I (and soldiers’ wives, girlfriends, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, neighbors and friends) do. Those soldiers cannot come home soon enough or fast enough for the military community and those that support it. It's only the timing that's open for debate. And I often wonder if those people that think that our soldiers are dying for "nothing" ever stop to think that what they are saying is that they think themselves so above the plight of the Iraqis that the Iraqis are worth nothing? And that it would be OK to leave Iraq now and leave the country vulnerable to attack by all enemies foreign and domestic? THAT would make it all for nothing. There is a job to do and the soldiers will be home when it is done.
Do I want us to be in Iraq? No.
Do I think US troops will be coming home? Yes.
Do I think that is now? No.
Do I think it should be now? No.
Do I think the Iraqis need to get their act together? Emphatically.
Do I think that day is coming? Absolutely. I’m sure most Iraqis know that, too.

It’s just that I think there are those (including most Democrats) that can’t seem to accept that it will happen and those that do accept that the day is coming are way crazy that they don’t have control over that date. More to the point, they HATE that George W. controls that date because they hate all things Bush. I say, whatever that date is, it cannot come soon enough for me. And the sooner the better. I never want my son or any other American soldier to have to go back. Ever.
And to Charles Barkley, stick to talking basketball for you know nothing of war. American soldiers stepped up and did something you have never done: they put their lives on the line every day to defend this country. Keep your pity. Don't feel sorry for us (the military families). And after your little anti-Bush rant, you didn't even have the decency to THANK the soldiers for defending your right to be wrong and for the right of brainless twits like you to shoot their mouths off. American soldiers have not died needlessly, although I will agree that Iraqis have died needlessly -- at the hands of terrorists and at the hands of Saddam. Do you think dying for freedom is needless, Charles? Shut up, Charles, you pompous ass. Your ignorance is showing.

Then there are those that keep vomiting up that “We were misled on WMD”. So here are just a few of my favorite quotes (note all are from BEFORE the war):

December 8, 2002: "We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction." - Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL)

January 23. 2003: "Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real..." - Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA)

February 5, 2003: “Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations.” -Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)

As for slanting the interpretation of the intelligence, the membership of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as of February 2001 and throughout the period through 2003 consisted of 7 Republicans and 7 Democrats.

As for those that claim President Bush somehow bypassed the checks and balances of our form of government in sending our troops to Iraq, it is good to remind those who espouse such poppycock that in 1998 (that would be before George W. was elected!) the entire Congress passed “The Iraq Liberation Act” (P.L. 105–338) which states, “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.”

In 2002, the House (296-133) and the Senate (77-23) overwhelmingly passed a House Joint Resolution, “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002” (H.J.Res. 114) which states, “The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to… defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq…” That would be a total of 373 votes in favor and 156 votes against.

And finally the ultimate check and balance is that not only was the President elected by the people before we went to Iraq, he was re-elected by 2.6 million votes after our country was at war in Iraq. So much for the President bypassing the checks and balances of our government.

So, I urge those reviewing the "history” of this war to review it well and resist the urge to revise it to suit your political persuasions.

And I can't let the "anniversary" pass without noting the progress. And there is progress. There is good happening. For the good our military is doing in Iraq, go read “Things You'll Never Hear the Mainstream Media Say” at Confessions of a Military Recruiter.

As I said at the start, our redployment from Iraq cannot come soon enough for me. I never want my son or any other American soldier to have to go back. Ever.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

US Military Veterans of Columbia University (NYC)

This veterans organization at Columbia University is attempting to advance civilian knowledge of veterans and military issues on the Columbia campus, and to bring the "other" side of the story to the students and public. I wish them well. I hope the students and those that attend will treat these veterans with the respect and dignity they have earned and that the students take this opportunity to enter into an intelligent discourse on the diverse views of the War on Terrorism and its necessity. Thank you Oscar, Eric, Todd and the other vets for representing so well all our veterans.

EVENT: Through The Eyes of a Soldier: Columbia Veterans Tell Their Stories.

WHEN and WHERE: MONDAY MARCH 20, 8:30-9:30 PM, Earl Hall Auditorium
(117th Street and Broadway, Columbia Main Campus, New York City).

On March 20, the 3rd anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University (MilVets) will hold a special panel discussion with veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

Come hear Columbia student-veterans as they discuss their first-hand experiences with combat, nation-building and other rigours of present-day war. This is your chance to ask questions of classmates and students who have participated in these conflicts at the ground level.

Please join us in the Earl Hall Auditorium on Monday, March 20 from 8:30 to 9:30 PM for a candid and intimate view of war Through the Eyes of a Soldier.

Point of contact is Todd Murphy (tjm2122 at

Eric Chen
Vice President
U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Milblogging Conference Site is Set!

OK, got the plane tix, the hotel reservations and am now just waiting... Looking forward to meeting other bloggers and to discussing the past and future of the most explosive form of media so far in the 21st Century -- blogging. More specifically, blogging by the military community -- Milblogging.

The Milblog Conference will take place on Saturday, April 22 in Academy Hall at the AED Conference Center in Washington DC.

Address of the Conference Center:

1825 Connecticut Ave., NW, 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20009

Go HERE to find out more on the location of the conference, how to get there and where to stay.

If you haven't yet planned to attend or do plan to attend but haven't yet registered, I urge you to go register at the Milblog Conference site HERE. (It will take a few minutes for your name to appear on the list of attendees, so only hit the "submit form" button once or we'll all know you didn't listen when your registration appears five times LOL).

I look forward to meeting old friends and new friends and having a brilliant discourse on milblogging (and having a little fun along the way!)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

'Sup? Of Snow and Purple Hearts

'Sup? (That's short for "what's up?")

We have personally been very busy with my aged mother-in-law, a situation that I fear will not be resolved easily. She is hospitalized once again, the third hospitalization since the first of the year and her sixth in the last year. The balance of her time since the New Year has been spent in skilled nursing facilities first in Illinois and then in Arizona trying to regain her strength and some mobility. Nothing horribly wrong, just a host and series of ailments that come with age, any one of which would be bad, but together a real strain. Just dealing day to day.
Got some time today as we are being significantly snowed upon for the first time this year. Thank you, Lord! When you live in a pine forest and the fire danger is EXTREME three months before the "fire season" you'll take all the "wet" you can get!! And we could get a foot of it WHOOHOO! And it sure is gorgeous, as well!

As for Our Guys? Well, they had a few weeks back at Fort Benning just decompressing and enjoying all that Hooters and America has to offer. They did a lot of sleeping (#1 thing they tell me!), some drinking, more eating (pork chops, ribs, ham...), going to movies (for the first few times they weren't all that comfortable sitting deep in the theater and wanted to be near the doors!), buying vehicles, buying electronics and generally spending their hard-earned money. I am certain the merchants of Columbus, Georgia are ecstatic to have the 3ID home! They also attended mandatory sessions on re-integrating to life in a first world country and how to recognize post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Then they all got the month of February off to do NOTHING but relax and shake off the hellacious year of their deployment. They traveled to be with their families and friends. They slept late, ate some more, drank some more and enjoyed Freedom. They're all back on base now. Some of Noah's unit have new orders and are preparing to PCS (permanent change [of duty] station). So far, Our Guys are all staying put in the infantry unit. Noah's friend Dave who was wounded with Noah has gotten recruiting duty and judging by the response, he didn't put in for it, so he and his wife will be moving soon. Their new location is in a university town in the country's heartland, so it shouldn't be too bad, he says. Noah's up for a few special schools, but I don't want to jinx it until he hears for sure.

I have been following the post-deployment stories of the wives, mothers and girlfriends on a private 3ID website and it seems the number one topic of discussion almost across the board is dealing with some very short-tempered soldiers. We've been told that restlessness, impulsiveness and anger are normal reactions to re-integration and judging by the number of comments about it, the 3ID guys have it in spades. I had a hard enough time dealing with the short-tempered thing with Noah since he's been home -- and that was just on the phone. I'm particularly glad he wasn't living here then. Frankly, I think any of those soldiers that have those big anger problems ought to live on base and let the Army and other soldiers deal with it. The wives, girlfriends and mothers don't deserve to be overwhelmed with it. And there aren't a whole lot of these guys stepping up and saying they need a little help.and anger is only one part of all this -- there's compulsive behaviors, nightmares, depression... major anxiety... Somehow there is little consolation knowing that my son's not the only one.

The next topic getting lots of attention is the two upcoming Homecoming Ceremonies: one at Fort Benning and one at Fort Stewart. The Fort Benning celebration is March 24 at York Field, from 2 p.m. until dark and includes an appearance by
Diamond Rio. I would love to be there to hear them sing (Here in America) "In God We Still Trust" (click to listen).

There will be loads of things for the kids like a petting zoo, those inflatable jumping areas, a carnival and pony rides. Local car dealers have donated a truck and a car to be given away. Of course, food and drink will be in excess.

The Fort Stewart Welcome home is from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. at Donovan Field on March 25 and includes a performance by Jeff Foxworthy and Chely Wright.

Rumor has it that a BIG name country singer that has been featured on my sight in a post or two might make an appearance, but I can't seem to get anyone to even unofficially confirm it. It would make sense to me since he is currently on tour in that area, this performer traveled to Baghdad to entertain the 3ID (part of the performance was broadcast during a music awards show) and I can't imagine how he'd want to miss the big welcome home party for these AMERICAN SOLDIERS. I know the 3ID soldiers and families would be overwhelmed.

I'm not currently planning to attend either of these celebrations although I would dearly love to see all Our Guys, as well as Noah since I haven't seen him since last September when he got back from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and his 21st birthday is just beyond that weekend. I'd also really love to meet some of the 3ID wives and parents I've been corresponding with this past year. I'd especially love to meet the widow and children of the first soldier from the battalion killed in Iraq with whom I have corresponded and of whom I've become extremely fond.

We had planned to go because we assumed that we would get to see Noah receive his Purple Heart and Our Guys receive other medals and awards that they had earned while they fought terrorists in Iraq. However, we have been told that the medal ceremony will not be at the same time as the celebration. In fact, no medal ceremony has yet been scheduled. If it has, they haven't told the soldiers.

It would make sense to have the ceremony and celebration at the same time, but our budget can't handle two trips to Georgia (the only down side to retirement is the "fixed income"), the trip to the
Milbloggers Conference in April and our oldest son's wedding this summer. If I have to pick a trip to visit or a trip to see our son and Our Guys officially receive their medals, it will have to be for the medals. But all I can say is that since many units had their medal ceremonies before their units went on block leave, and it has now been 8 weeks since these soldiers returned home and no medal ceremony has yet been held, this unit better get its act together soon. This is NOT the way to honor our soldiers and it's really starting to annoy the hell out of me. Having a mail clerk hand a brown paper box to a soldier and say, "Oh, this got misplaced," and opening it to find your Purple Heart just doesn't cut it for me. I am desperately proud of our son and these soldiers and I know everyone else is, as well. They deserve a medal ceremony with someone important pinning those medals and lots of people clapping and cheering and they deserve for it to be well publicized with plenty of notice so that family and friends can attend. Grrrr.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.