color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: July 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm fed up with Congress (and I'm not going to take it anymore)

Attention Congress: Go and read all about REAL PROGRESS IN IRAQ from LT Fishman via Uncle Jimbo writing at Blackfive. Everyone should be sure to read the piece in the NY Times "A War We Just Might Win" citied in the opening of Uncle J's post authored by two (historically wildly critical) Brookings Institute scholars who just returned from Iraq that concludes,
How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.
They (and you) should also read Peter Wehner's "General Petraeus Needs Time" in the The Wall Street Journal (July 28, 2007) (requires subscription) in which Wehner states,

Sen. Reid is now in the position of having to deny facts on the ground in order to sustain his bleak judgments. And his job is getting more difficult all the time.
Wehner (deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives) also tells us,
Since the start of the year, Baqubah, al Qaim, Haditha, Hit, Ramadi, Habbaniya, Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, and Arab Jabour have all been liberated from al Qaeda control. Arms caches are being found at more than three times the rate of a year ago. Intelligence tips are sharply up. We are also seeing signs of normalcy return to Baghdad, including soccer leagues, amusement parks and vibrant market places. More than half of Baghdad is now under the control of coalition or Iraqi Security Forces.

and asks

What, then, explains the fact that some critics of the war are unwilling to hear good news of any sort -- and get visibly agitated and disdainful when we see (and cite) signs of progress? Why won't they acknowledge empirical evidence of progress by the American military? And why are some critics of the war frantically attempting to make a final judgment on the war even before Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker provide their assessment in September?

It is as if some critics of the new strategy have decided that the war shouldn't have been fought, cannot be won, and therefore defeat is now written in the stars -- and since surrender will eventually happen, let's get on with it.

I figure none of the "there's no points in it for me if we win" crowd will actually read these stories because they are long and take some concentration (although none of the words seem too big for elected officials to understand.) They won't read the multitude of stories in Uncle Jimbo's post because they are proof positive that all the efforts of our military -- including the recent "Surge" -- are working and that the Iraqis are helping and supporting our efforts.

How pathetic is it that the Iraqis (finally) "get it" and people in our own Congress do not?? No, the anti-Bush (it's not about the war) Democrats and Republicans won't read these stories because they absolutely refute the "boondoggle" and the "we've lost" pronouncements of these politicians who don't know shite from shinola these days... It's so much about the "I me mine" factor and hasn't been about "we us ours" in way too long.

I am all on board when Blackfive says in What Happens to the Democrats If They Bet on the Wrong Horse?", "Personally, I think Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would throw the Iraqis and our soldiers under the bus for a Presidential victory."

I agree with Wehner when he says,

Perhaps this attitude is rooted in war weariness. The Iraq war has been a long and difficult struggle. Mistakes and misjudgments have been made, false summits have dashed early hopes, and more than 3,600 American military lives have been lost, causing unspeakable grief for families and friends of the fallen. Yet tragically, more often than not, this is the nature of war, which involves unexpected costs and awful sacrifices.

There comes a point in many wars, maybe in most wars, where the single most important issue is whether a nation can summon the resolve and courage to see a good cause through to the end. We are now at that point in the Iraq war. We have in place the right team, pursuing the right strategy. The thing Gen. Petraeus needs above all else, he says, is time.

Spread the word. Coalition efforts in Iraq are working and we need to be sure that General P. and our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors are given the time and resources they need to complete their work... and that come September funding for these efforts is not held hostage to the political aspirations of the people in Congress. You just need to remind these people that they work for you.

In closing, I share this from a soldier quoted in the latest dispatch from Michael Totten in Baghdad:

“I wouldn’t say it’s the worst decision I ever made,” he said. “It’s hard for soldiers. We all want to go home, of course. But we also want to stay and make sure our buddies did not die for nothing.”

And I want to be sure that my son and the other wounded know that they have not and will not suffer for nothing. I want those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families -- and the families of those who died -- to know that it was not in vain.

I'm fed up with Congress and I'm not going to take it anymore.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Well, HEL Yes!!!


US arms and aerospace manufacturer Boeing announced on Friday that it had landed a contract to develop truck-mounted laser cannons for the US Army.

As part of the Army's High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD) project, Boeing will produce a "rugged beam control system", which will be mounted on a monstrous 20 tonne Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck.

Sounds good to me... What seems to be the problem?

If you have time this afternoon at 1400 (2PM EST), I'm going to be chatting with military wives & moms on a Blog Talk Radio Show called Diva Moms Radio and hosted by Tammy aka Household6. We're going to be talking about -- what else -- our affiliation with the military! Stop on by!! And if you miss it live, tune in any time and listen from the archived link!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


As most of you know, the fair treatment of wounded warriors -- active duty and Veterans -- has become a personal mission of mine. In that vein, here is the text of an email sent to our Congressman:

Dear Congressman _____________:

We have grave concerns about the relative funding priorities in legislation recently approved by the Veterans Affairs Committee.

We are especially concerned that H.R. 760 would significantly increase U.S. veterans' benefits for Filipino veterans, including non-US citizens living in the Philippines, who fought with Allied Forces in World War II and that H.R. 23 would authorize a $1,000 monthly annuity to anyone who served any time with the Merchant Marine during World War II, or to such person's survivor if the person has since died.

While we certainly do honor those individuals' wartime service, we believe there are a number of other serious inequities that should be addressed first. If approved, compensation for a single month of Merchant Marine service in World War II would exceed that of many wounded, disabled, and career military World War II combat veterans and their survivors:

  • A 20-year veteran who retired as an E-5 in 1955 receives $900 in retired pay.

  • The military pays a "Forgotten Widows" annuity of only $212 per month to widows of World War II vets who served 20-30 years and died before 1974.

  • The VA pays only $901 a month to vets with a 60% service-caused disability.

  • The House of Representatives, in the FY2008 Defense Authorization Bill, acknowledged the inequity of current law that deducts more than $1,000 a month from SBP payments to survivors of members who died of service-connected causes, but indicated it could afford only a $40 monthly payment to such widows as a first step toward reversing that penalty.

  • We believe strongly that Congress has a fundamental responsibility to establish relative priorities, put first things first, and ensure that there is better proportionality between compensation and service and sacrifice rendered.

    As the parents of a 22-year-old disabled U.S. Army soldier who faces a lifetime of inadequate compensation for his sacrifice, we say fix the current inequities before Congress creates others.


    Feel free to cut & paste and send to your Congressperson (obviously, you should change the last descriptive sentence to suit your own situation.) You can find the names & addresses of Congressional Reps HERE.

    h/t MOAA

    Also, if you use TRICARE (if you don't know what that is, you're not affected) be sure to check out this information on POSSIBLE TRICARE DATA COMPROMISE.


    Thursday, July 19, 2007

    Thank you, Tony.

    Thank you, Tony. The bolded text is my added emphasis.

    Opposing view: Victory in Iraq is vital

    President has weakened al-Qaeda, made USA safer from attack.

    By Tony Snow
    USA Today

    Politics sometimes manages to muddle the obvious. The war in Iraq, authorized by three-quarters of the Senate, was launched in response to Saddam Hussein's refusal to abide by 17 United Nations resolutions — and by the fact that Saddam clearly supported terror movements around the world. We never argued that he played a role 9/11; political opponents manufactured the claim to question the president's integrity.

    Politics has muddied another fact: Our enemies started fighting long before 2001. Terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. They hit the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, U.S. Embassies in East Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole in 2000. All the while, Osama bin Laden was advocating war against the United States and building a terror network from camps in Afghanistan.

    The most astonishing argument is the claim the United States (or the Bush administration) is responsible for this terror wave. Terrorists are responsible for terror, period.

    The al-Qaeda of 2001 no longer exists. We've killed or captured two-thirds of its senior leadership. The new National Intelligence Estimate says our nation has become a tougher target. That's because our government has adopted aggressive measures to gather intelligence, protect Americans and strike enemies before they can strike us.

    Al-Qaeda doesn't have the strength it had six years ago, but it remains committed to killing Americans. It also wants to find a safe haven, as it had in Afghanistan. It sees Iraq as its best hope. It wants to topple Iraq's emerging democracy and establish a base of operations in a land with vast oil reserves.

    More than anything, al-Qaeda wants the United States to leave Iraq and hand victory to the terrorists. But it will not succeed. Recent military action has inflicted serious damage on al-Qaeda in Iraq and has inspired a growing number of Iraqis to fight al-Qaeda. That vindicates the president's faith in liberty as a common inheritance of mankind.

    Iraq and Afghanistan are theaters in the fight against terror that has spread through Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. To deny al-Qaeda victory in Iraq sends the message that terrorism will fail and democracy prevail. Victory in Iraq will mark the beginning of the end of the war on terror.

    Tony Snow is White House press secretary

    And if you want or need visual aids, go to
    Terrorism Watch and watch the graphic display of the expansion of Islamic Terrorism in the last 30 years.

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    More Dishonesty from the NYT

    To the NYT Editor:

    Ian Urbina's "As Loved Ones Fight On, War Doubts Arise" story on families "turning against the war" was just so much tripe. There are ten times as many family members of organizations that SUPPORT the mission in Iraq than those organizations mentioned. Why weren't these organizations' members quoted??

    I draw to your attention:

    The story mentions a group called 'Iraq Veterans Against the War', which was started in 2004 and boasts 500 members, but it failed to mention Vets for Freedom, which was started in 2006 (two years later) and already has over 5,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans members who believe in the mission. (

    The story mentions a group called 'Military Families Speak Out', which was started in 2002 and boasts 3,500 member families, but it failed to mention Families United for our Troops and Their Mission, which was started in August 2005 and already has 37,000 members who believe in the mission. (

    The story mentions a group called 'Appeal for Redress' which was started in September, 2006 and boasts 2,000 members, but it failed to mention the Appeal for Courage, which was also started in 2006 and already has over 3,300 members who believe in the mission. (

    Why were none of these oganizations contacted or quoted to give a balanced view? You need not wonder further why your circulation has dropped so precipitously: NYT DISHONESTY in journalism. Your job as journalists is to report facts on BOTH sides of an issue or story and allow readers to form an opinion for themselves. However, the NYT publishes information that supports the reporter's or the NYT's opinions as if it were fact and the only fact. You shame the honored history of your publication -- and sully true journalists everywhere. SHAME ON YOU.


    Of course we families want our husbands, sons and daughters home -- but when the MILITARY says the mission is complete -- not when the politicians decide there are more points in defeat than in victory.

    We want to be sure that when Our Guys come home, they NEVER have to go back.

    I support the troops AND their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I have already called my two US Senators to be sure they know our position on the War. I encourage everyone to do the same. Participate in your government. HERE is the Senate contact directory.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    This Is For The Soldiers

    Those of you that come by regularly (or even occasionally) know that my soldier son was wounded in Iraq and that while his body (mostly) healed, there is a wound inside that resists. He has chronic PTSD as a result of his combat service in Iraq. With therapy, he is better than he was... but he is not cured. We say that he is one of those that left the battlefield, but brought the battle home.

    Noah is one of the "lucky" ones. He overcame the stigma and the attitude that "real men" don't need help... they can do it themselves... that time and brothers would be all he needed to heal. It has been a long and difficult road -- one he will travel for some time to come. We -- parents, brothers, sister, aunts, uncles, friends -- will walk with him... and with all his brothers who serve and have served.

    Now we're asking all of America to join the band Drowning Pool to sign a petition asking that H.R. 1354, The Lane Evans Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act of 2007 receive the attention in the Congressional Committees that Veterans' Mental Health Care deserves.

    In my opinion, the Bill has some serious flaws and, as currently drafted, is exceptionally broad and would be extremely burdensome for the already overburdened and woefully underfunded Veterans Administration (for example, it would require mental health evaluations within 30 days for every veteran who requests it and would require "hospital care, medical services, nursing home care, and family and marital counseling for any mental health condition identified pursuant to such evaluation, notwithstanding that there is insufficient medical evidence to conclude that such condition is attributable to such service." However, this and other flaws in the Bill could certainly be addressed and rectified in Committee and/or by amendment...

    But, of course, just making this "law" does not ensure funding. We already have lots of mandates on the books for Veterans' care -- but unless and until the Congress gets SERIOUS about committing the funds necessary to ensure staffing and facilities to provide these services, care for our Veterans will remain inadequate and substandard in terms of its availability. Underfunding or outright failure to fund these mandates and allowing sufficient time to implement them are the very reasons our Veterans' and active duty medical facilities cannot provide the care our veterans and military service members need NOW (and organizations like IAVA know -- or should know -- this if they are serious about supporting our Troops and Veterans.)

    All that being said, I applaud -- AND LOUDLY -- any effort to focus attention on the needs of our servicemen and women and all those who have served. War wounds all who serve: for some, the wounds are invisible and never truly heal. So please click the banner above -- which also has a headbanger Drowning Pool track "This is for the Soldiers" and a video. H.R 1354 isn't perfect -- but it's a start.


    Text of Petition to Congressman Robert Filner, Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.

    Dear Congressman Filner,

    1.5 million people have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Almost one-third of them will have a serious mental health problem – like depression, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. That’s why I’m supporting IAVA and Drowning Pool’s “This is For the Soldiers” campaign to make sure the mental health needs of our troops are a top priority.

    We know you’re a strong supporter of the troops. You co-sponsored the crucial Lane Evans bill, which would get veterans the counseling and support they need. But without your leadership, this bill will continue to just sit in committee.

    We hope you’ll join us and bring this bill before the committee. With your help, we can get this bill moving and get troops the care they deserve.

    Thanks (again) to my friend Andi (hope that whole PCS thing is working out for you... groan) for bringing this campaign to my attention. For those who would like to spread the word on your blogs or web pages, there is a code for the banner/link beneath the petition that you can insert on your sites.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    Welcome to The Club, Mary-Jo

    I read over at my friend Andi's World about a Marine's mom who wrote an OpEd piece about her son's upcoming deployment to Iraq. Ms. Cooney gives us a small glimpse of her son's younger days and then provides the obligatory bashing of President Bush and the "this war would never have happened if it was your child" meme. (Sigh).

    So as a mother who has actually sent a child to war, I'd like to answer this mother.

    Dear Mary-Jo:

    Welcome to membership in a very elite club -- one you did not ask to join but one in which you should take immense pride: Mothers of those in the military. Imagine, Mary-Jo -- less than 1% of this country's population serves in the military -- so that sets you -- and us and our sons and daughters -- apart from most others. It is never more true when they say "You did not enlist, but you still serve."

    We are an extremely diverse group: young and old, rich, poor and in-between. We are bankers, lawyers, stay at home moms, scrub women and some of us are retired. We have every skin color that God put on this Earth and some we made for ourselves.

    We practice every faith, some practice no particular faith and some have no religious beliefs at all.

    We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents while some have no political affiliation at all.

    Some of us are married, some widowed, some divorced, some just single. We live border to border, coast to coast, and some live beyond our borders.

    Some of us support the mission in Iraq and others, like you, do not. There is a very large group who do not care how or why we got there, but we have skin in this game and we want to be assured that when our sons and daughters come home -- when the military and not the politicians say the mission is complete -- that they never have to go back. And all of us never want to have to fight the enemy here. I suspect that your son shares these last two goals. I suspect that he supports the mission in Iraq as well.

    While we may be a diverse group, we have a few common threads that run from and to and through each of us: we love our children and we worry when they are in harm's way. There is no group more united in its anti-war core for we know better than any other the price of those wars... but most of us understand that sometimes war is necessary. Lastly, while we may be divergent in our locations, faiths, economic standards, our races.. we mothers are a sisterhood like no other and we will support you while your son is deployed. We will be "here" for you while he is "there". Nothing else matters to us except that your child is serving. Through this club your son has become our son, and we hope our sons will be yours.

    I hope Ms Cooney will revel in every minute of the pre-deployment leave she has with her son -- making memories that will last until he is home again... and then gone again.

    I hope she will read
    So Your Child is Being Deployed for some practical advice about things she can or should do before he leaves and also while he's gone.

    I hope she will take the time to read
    Thoughts of a Soldier's Mom in a Time of War in which I said (among a number of other things),

    We mothers joke that we would go over and cook, clean and do laundry for our sons and daughters, but the truth is, we would trade places with them in a heartbeat to keep them safe. To keep them from being hot, cold, hungry, tired, sore and from being shot at or being blown up. I have never had more enthusiastic agreement from military moms than when I say that sending a child to war really is the most counterintuitive thing a parent can ever do. We spend the first 18+ years of their lives making sure they are not too hot or too cold; making sure they are protected from biting bugs and making sure no one is shooting at them. And now we are called upon to wave and smile as they leave for places that are always too hot, too cold, they have bugs the size of small dogs and people are shooting at them all the time.

    I know this is exactly how she feels... how I feel... how we feel... Welcome to The Club.

    The burden of having a loved one at war is without a doubt one of the heaviest burdens a mother can bear... but we will be here with you and for you, Mary-Jo to help you through until he is home again.

    Sunday, July 08, 2007

    Ummmm... We Were Here First

    I get email... and it seems Maj. Gen. Lynch of the 3ID has ruffled a few feathers of a unit in his AO that would like to remind him that they have been there fighting the fight for quite some time...

    Lynch said this week:

    The lack of Iraqi security forces remains a pressing issue for Maj Gen Lynch. There is "a significant shortage of Iraqi security forces," particularly police, he said. The Arab Jabour region has essentially been ignored by the Iraqi government and Coalition forces for the past three years, and the local police collapsed. The rebuilding of the local security forces and the movement of federal security forces into the region will take time.
    So, this soldier says this:
    [T]here is one concern that I've got that is REALLY bothering my guys. I would never ask this as a personal favor, but for the sake of every member of [my] Troop, 1/40th Cavalry I really wish someone would set the record straight about these 2nd BDE, 3ID... who have shown up in our area as a part of the overly publicized Marne Torch operation. It's no secret that we... have been [here] the last 9 months and we've got over 30 purple hearts and 2 KIA to show for it as well as -- and this is just my platoon -- having covered 731 kilometers completely dismounted. Now, if these 3ID guys showed up in an area their Commanding General claims has had "zero American presence" since the beginning of the war, how did we accumulate those hard statistics? Never mind the multiple dozens of detainees we've brought in and caches destroyed. Never mind the absolutely priceless intel we've gathered only to hand over to the big bad 3ID...

    All I'm saying is that with all these NYTimes and Washington Post headlines about The Marne Thunder rolling into town, it's a disgrace to my men and the other men in this unit who have been here fighting, sometimes for our lives, in this area for almost a year already. Unsupported by vehicles. Unsupported by 120mm SABOT and HEAT rounds. Unsupported by aircraft unless we're in contact. Unsupported by anyone but ourselves.

    Sorry to dump all that on you like this, but, as you can tell, it's a rather bitter point of contention between us and them as well as the press for ignoring us.

    So, here you have it. I know the goal is the same... but let's give credit where is credit is due. So here's a big


    for the 1/40 CAV... for gittin' 'er done before the New Guys In Town... and for taking the fight to the enemy.... for putting it on the line every day and in every way.

    A BIG THANKS to this unit (and you know who you are) for the work you do.

    Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    Celebrating Independence Day

    This is how I am celebrating Independence Day:

    I'm going to wake and go to my full pantry and select one of four brands of coffee in our pantry -- four of at least 15 brands available in the five fully stocked and overwhelmingly large grocery stores within 5 miles of our home. I will celebrate the bounty and resounding economic freedom we enjoy.

    I'm going to read the newspaper that arrives at my home daily -- one of 3 or 4 available and one that I selected. Congress shall make no law respecting...or abridging the freedom... of the press...

    I may dash off a letter to the editor in response to some opinion piece or someone else's opinion and it may be either supportive or critical of a local, regional, state or federal government person, policy or decision. Congress shall make no law respecting... or abridging the freedom of speech... or the right of the people... to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    If he announces his candidacy, I'm going to write a check to my (at the moment) favored Presidential candidate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed...

    I will access the internet and read the views of 20-25 people and the news from 10-15 news sources and I may work on a blog post. Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press...

    I will write letters to a number of soldiers currently in Iraq and an email or two to a few others currently serving. A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state... shall not be infringed. (I will joyously and exuberantly celebrate the willingness of my fellow citizens and others to raise their hand and swear, "This I'll defend.")

    I will take one son to the shuttle to the airport for a flight to another large American city where he will attend the 07-07-07 wedding of his closest (since grade school) friend... now a NYC policeman. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

    I will make my way to the town square to listen to people read the Declaration of Independence from the steps of our cherished court house, wave the flag of my country and pledge my allegiance to it, profess my love for the Greatest country in the history of the world and sing patriotic songs honoring this Nation and all the Freedom and Liberty, Prosperity and Justice for which She stands. Congress shall make no law... abridging... the right of the people peaceably to assemble...

    I will pay tribute and openly thank the men and women who serve day in and day out protecting me and mine -- those who put it on the line for me every single day. A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state... shall not be infringed. (and the police, fire and medical personnel who serve as well!)

    I will stand with hundreds, thousands -- millions -- of others as we bow our heads and ask God -- by whatever name and by every name we call Him -- to bring Peace to our world -- wherever we are and however large or small our world may be... I will pray for Peace... Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech... or the right of the people peaceably to assemble...

    And I will pray for Victory... pray for Victory over those who would kill me and mine and you and yours because you do not believe as they believe... just because you have these Freedoms... and because you enjoy these Bounties.

    On this day, I celebrate the Greatness of these United States of America... and am ever grateful that we stand free and independent of the control of any other nation.

    I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, One Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.

    Monday, July 02, 2007

    Off Is Not Really Off...

    From the friend of a family member... Next time you think you're having a busy day at the office...

    A Day in the Life of an Air Ambulance Team

    This article is a brief synopsis of a day in the life of a US Army Forward Support Medical-Evacuation Team (FSMT) in Iraq. The team has sixteen soldiers and three helicopters. The soldiers are eight pilots, four mechanics, and four medics. The pilots are all commissioned officers or warrant officers. The mechanics and medics are enlisted personnel; mostly sergeants. The flying machines are Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawks. Each can carry up to six litter patients, or four litter patients plus four ambulatory patients. In the summer heat of Iraq, where 110F is the mid-day norm, the Hawks fly at about 130 knots (twice as fast as your family car on the highway).

    The duty cycle for our team is 1st Up, 2nd Up, Chase, Off. Each of these is a 24-hour period, so we are on duty for 72 hours then off for 24 hours. Off is not really off as we have housekeeping chores and home improvement projects going all the time. Currently, we're filling and stacking sand bags around our housing trailers to protect us from near-miss indirect fire attacks such as incoming mortars and rockets. The Anti-Iraqi forces lob a few of these missiles at the base every week.

    The base is Forward Operation Base (FOB) Alpha. It is located in the Diyala Province near the Diyala River. The river flows to the Southwest toward the provincial capital of Baquba. The river bottom land between these two towns is agricultural land and known as "The Bread Basket". FOB Bravo is outside of Baquba. Our FOB and Bravo anchor the US military campaign in the Diyala Province.

    The people of Diyala are diverse; about 40% Sunni Arabs, 40% Shiites Arabs, 10% Kurds, and 10% Christian Arabs and others. There are over 25 separate tribes and over 100 clans that further divide these people.

    The following is a description of the events of June xx, 2007.

    3:45 AM: The Cavalry Tactical Operations Center (TOC) tones an alarm and announces over the team's walkie-talkies "MEDEVAC, MEDEVAC, MEDEVAC. Nine-Line follows". The Nine-Line is a mission request with map location, radio frequency, unit call sign, landing zone markings and security, patient numbers and types, etc. First Up and Chase crews scramble out of bed, mostly dressed already, pull on boots, pick up weapons and Night Vision Goggles (NVG's) and run for the aircraft.

    The patient is at the Battalion Aid Station (BAS) just a few hundred meters frorm our helipads. A ten year old Iraqi boy has a gunshot wound (GSW) to his head and has had a breathing tube inserted by the doctor on duty. This boy is the intentional victim of terrorist insurgents. The boy is brought to the helipad by humvee ambulance just as the rotors are up to full speed. With the patient loaded, the flight of two Hawks lifts off and speeds toward the Combat Support Hospital (CSH) 45 miles away. The boy survives the trip but his prognosis is not good.

    5:15 AM: The mission is over for both crews of four. The medic and one pilot fill out reports. The other pilot and the mechanic fill out the log book and do a post-flight inspection of the machine. Then it's time for morning personal hygiene and breakfast at the chow hall.

    8:00 AM: All four mechanics (including the one who's off duty) perform daily inspections of all three helicopters. The pilots check weather, intelligence, moon illumination data, and update maps (and drink coffee).

    9:00 AM: Crews meet at the aircraft for daily pre-flight inspections, crew briefs, and run-ups. Run-ups are starting up the helicopters and testing out all systems, topping off fuel if necessary, and then shutting down again to stand-by for the next 24 hours.

    10:00 AM: The 2nd-Up aircraft has been grounded since yesterday. After a mission, during shut-down, the tail-rotor gearbox seized up, stopping the rotors. A team of three mechanics was dropped off yesterday with parts and special tools for this major repair. The 2nd Up mechanic is assisting them in the already broiling sun.

    10:22 AM: The TOC calls by telephone. A Bradley Fighting Vehicle (Light Tank) has rolled over into a canal. The crew of three is injured but not drowned. They are being brought to the FOB by regular humvee. We wait for them to arrive at the BAS for assessment and initial treatment by the MD or PA on duty there. The "Docs" will determine if there is a need for air medical evacuation in this case.

    10:36 AM: Nine Line. The three tank crewmen have either head or spine injuries or both. Off we go again to the "Cash" (CSH).

    1:00 PM: Late lunch for 1st Up and Chase crews.

    All afternoon and early evening are quiet. Crew members nap in the air conditioning, work out, play computer games, watch DVD's, listen to CD's, study, talk and joke amongst themselves in operations or in the smoking area (too many young soldiers use tobacco). Dinner time comes and goes uneventfully. We like this as it means we are not out flying and at risk, and that no one has gotten severely hurt. Around 9:00 PM the team members start going off to bed in their quarters.

    11:40 PM: The day is not over yet. Nine Line. This will be a Point Of Injury pick-up on a road 4 kilometers south of the town. There are possible enemy troops in the area and an Air Weapons Team (AWT) of AH-64 Apache Gunships has been dispatched to watch over 1st Up and Chase. The patient is a Suspected Insurgent (used to be called Enemy Prisoner of War). He made the mistake of attacking a Bradley armored vehicle with an AK-47. One lower leg has been traumatically amputated below the knee by a US machine gun bullet. This mission is more challenging because it is conducted under NVGs and the Landing Zone (LZ) is an unfamiliar road-side location with telephone and power line wire obstacles surrounding it. Also the rotorwash will kick up a blinding dust cloud around the helicopter. 1st Up makes the reconnaissance, approach, landing, pick-up, take-off and departure without a hitch, while Chase circles a safe distance away. The AWT circles right over the LZ looking for trouble. Off to the Cash goes the Med-Evac team again.

    12:00 AM: The med-evac flight is sitting on the helipad at the hospital, off-loading the patient and his two US cavalry trooper escorts. We always get escorts for bad guys. The crews will be back at the FOB after midnight. Refueling. Post-flight inspecting. Cleaning up the blood in the cabin. Re-stocking medical supplies. Filling out reports. Washing up and hopefully getting into bed by 2:00 AM the next day.

    So it goes, day after day...

    Written by: (a National Guard Chief Warrant Officer and Master Army Aviator)
    [xx] Forward Support Medical-Evacuation Team
    Air Ambulance Company
    General Support Aviation Battalion
    Combat Aviation Brigade

    FOB Alpha, Diyala Province, Iraq
    June xx, 2007