color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: May 2005

Monday, May 30, 2005

We Honor You

On this Memorial Day, I personally honor and thank the soldiers, marines and sailors in my family:

My Dad - who left high school at 17 and joined the Army – 82nd Airborne – and lost his left arm above the elbow at the close of WWII. As children, we called that my Dad’s “broken arm”. HOOAH, Dad.

My dear husband – from a small farming community in central Illinois who enlisted in the Navy at age 19 and spent the next 24 years in the Navy. He earned his wings, served two tours in Vietnam and was spit on, ridiculed, called foul names but still considers his years in the Navy to be the epitome of what life is about: duty, honor, country. BRAVO ZULU, dear husband!

To Gary H., John W. and John J., my high school friends (and still friends to this day) who each served their country and its citizens… I’m honored to be counted among your friends…

My sister Paula who was a BAM – a broad-assed Marine – who joined in the mid-1970’s when women didn’t join the military – let alone the Marines! At the time, she told us all that she was one of the “the few, the chosen” but we attributed that to “brain washing”. Now we know different! She was an avionics technician and one who led the way for other women in the services. OORAH, Peeps!

Our oldest son, who decided in his mid-20’s to join the Navy and has recently accepted orders to a new boat… an amphibious assault ship… and is waiting the results for Chief…. who recently received a special commendation and medal for his service accomplishments… BRAVO ZULU, J!

Our middle son who joined the Navy days after high school graduation, did his time and decided it wasn’t for him… but now is thinking Army… (sigh). BRAVO ZULU, E!

Our nephew (by marriage) who serves as a fighter jock in the Air Force and is currently stationed overseas with his beautiful wife and their darling baby son… and who will deploy in the Fall… and can’t imagine doing anything else with his life. (What’s the AF cheer?), to S.

V., R., K … my son’s battle buds who call me “Mom” even if I’m not their real one and have got my son’s back… and when thanked for their service say "proud to do it"... and M. who’s wife decided to wait until he got to the Sandbox to call it quits and does his job just the same… and who has the empathy and support of all his brothers… and us… HOOAH, my guys!

And, not least, our youngest son, willingly and proudly serving… who can’t imagine doing anything else with his life for the moment… who loves his Army brothers as much as he loves his birth brothers and his civilian brothers… and sees the opportunity to serve as a personal honor... who will never know just how proud we are of him… or how we worry… until he has a child deployed. HOOAH, N!

To each of these family members, and to everyone else in the military family who has served, THANK YOU. We honor you because you have honored us with your service. God Bless you all, no exceptions.
From the Army message to our troops:
“On this day we pause to reflect upon the extraordinary men and women who understood the nobility of service to country, answered the call to duty, and made the ultimate sacrifice. They came from all walks of life, from every state across America, and they pledged to cherish and protect our country from all enemies. In each conflict throughout our history, they stepped forward in the Nation's time of need, prepared to sacrifice their life in service to our Nation.

Memorial Day is set aside so that one day each year we may formally give thanks to the servicemen and servicewomen who paid the price of our liberty with their blood. It is a solemn day when we recognize that we live in a great Nation where brave men and women have fought and died to preserve freedom for all of us. It is our duty to protect that freedom through our own honorable citizenship and service.

American Soldiers march through time in a ghostly column from Lexington to Gettysburg, from the hedgerows of Europe to the islands of the Pacific. In cemeteries around the world, rows of white marble headstones mark the final resting place of our comrades. Their lives were cut short, and we mourn with their families. Yet we celebrate their spirit, for they placed service to our Nation above personal safety. Their sacrifices to protect freedom embody the noblest attributes of humankind.

Today we are again involved in a struggle against the forces of extremism and violence. As Soldiers, you have answered the call to duty, and you are performing magnificently. America supports you as you go in harm's way. You reflect America's values as you serve our society, and are the best citizens our Nation has to offer. Remember each day as you do your duty that you stand on the shoulders of those who served before you. The legacy of our fallen comrades lives on through your actions.

God bless each and every one of you and your families, and God bless America.”
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

House Drops Women In Combat Bill -- WhooHoo!


House Drops Women In Combat Bill
Associated Press May 26, 2005

WASHINGTON - House Republicans abandoned their own plan Wednesday to curb the role of women in combat zones after it ran into opposition from the Pentagon and lawmakers from both parties.

Instead, the GOP-controlled House decided to let the military continue determining which jobs women can hold, as long as defense officials give Congress advance word on any changes. The provision was included in a $491 billion defense bill that the chamber approved by a 390-39 vote.

Earlier, the House approved on a 428-1 vote a watered-down provision that lets the Pentagon decide military jobs for women as long as it gives Congress 60 days notice - twice as much time as is currently required.

"There will be no restrictions in statute for how the Army can assign women in the military," said Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M. The only female veteran now serving in Congress, Wilson was a leading opponent of the plan that was dropped.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Vote on Women in Combat

The following is from Rowan Scarborough’s article today in THE WASHINGTON TIMES:

Democrats and Republicans have staked out positions on women in combat pending an expected House vote on legislation that would, by law, prevent the military from moving women into ground combat units. That vote might come as early as today.

The legislation promoted by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, California Republican, would also freeze the number of ground-operation positions for women to those currently open.

The House Armed Services Committee's senior Democrat, Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, said, "This [Hunter] provision will limit the roles women may serve under the guise of increased congressional oversight. By limiting women to only those jobs they perform today, it will be more difficult for commanders to adapt their forces to the changing needs of current operations around the world."

Congressional staffers said late yesterday that there was talk among Republicans of offering a new amendment to replace Mr. Hunter's in a bid to get more votes. Republican Reps. Heather A. Wilson of Arizona and John Shimkus of Illinois sent out a "Dear Colleague" letter urging support for the amendment they offered along with Mr. Skelton. It would strike the Hunter language and order the Pentagon to do a comprehensive study of women's roles in the military.

"With over 100,000 Americans engaged in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, now is not the time to create confusion about how commanders in the field can use their people," said Mrs. Wilson, an Air Force Academy graduate, and Mr. Shimkus, a U.S. Military Academy graduate. Mr. Hunter's legislation is stirring the first congressional debate on military women's roles since 1994. Then, the Pentagon opened air and sea combat jobs to women, but retained barring them from ground combat units such as infantry, armor and artillery units. The policy also bans women from support units that collocate, or embed, with ground combat units. Mr. Hunter wants to turn the policy into law.


OK, so I called Congressman Rick Renzi’s (R-AZ) office this morning and told him that we wanted to be sure he knew that we did not in any measure support Hunter’s proposed legislation and “wanted Congress to butt out and let the military do its job” (my exact words). So time to get on the horn or email your representatives in the House of Representatives and let them know how you feel about this (yeah, even if you don’t agree with me, go ahead and call (sigh)).

Find contact information:

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Howdy & Hurl News

Two of my favorite milbloggers, Howdy & Hurl... have been incommunicado for a few days... their web sites temporarily unavailable. These are two rotorheads (helicopter pilots) blogging from Iraq with intelligent, compelling and current news of the war on terrorism! Not to mention they are also articulate and witty as well. I think they are powerful and positive voices of our presence in the ME. I miss them!!
Well, H&H tell me "that the blogs were shut down... Not sure yet if it will be temporary or permanent. Some higher-ups felt that OpSec [operational security] had been violated, and H&H have been working to "calm the storm a bit" and "convince them [them being chain of command] that all operational info... posted was several days after the events, as well as available in the press." Hurl "thinks we (Howdy and myself) may be up soon.... "
Hurl continues, "My hope is that people will see that we are not merely getting attacked and beat-up all the time, but we are taking the fight to them and winning. But there is a cost..."
So here's hoping that my #2 and #3 most favorite whirly boys (naturally, the Dear Husband is #1) are back on the blog scene real soon. Hurry back guys!
And you can check to see when they're back at
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Sons, Saddam, Women & Pepsi

A Wonderful Son
Been traveling… visiting the oldest son who graduated from college this weekend SUMMA CUM LAUDE (WHOOO HOO!) while fulfilling his fulltime duties in the US Navy, including a few short-term deployments… and selling his house… and getting ready for a PCS (permanent change of duty station) this week… He’s an amazing son… and sailor. We’re so very proud to call him son, and the Navy is lucky to have such a dedicated defender! Bravo Zulu Sailor!

The Son in Iraq
It’s been nine days since we heard from the Army son. I received an IM from one of his buds – one of “my guys”… just a “Hi, Mom.”
So I respond, “Everybody OK there?”
Soldier: Yeah, everyone’s cool mom… your son hasn’t been on lately 'cause he’s been away.
Mom: Away? Good or bad away? Like jail away LOL? or a mission away?
Soldier: I saw him today and he seems like he’s doing good… he loves the guys he’s with so I’d say good… good away LOL
Mom: a perm re-assignment or temp?
Soldier: just temp… he’s just helping another plt [platoon]… and R… they needed more man power
Mom: kk [OK]... he sure likes going out... I know... you do too... well if you see him, tell him to check in when he can... we worry (of course LOL)
Soldier: he'll be back in a few days and I’m sure getting on the internet will be the first thing he does LOL you know how he loves his technology! LOL

I think I’m glad I didn’t know he was outside the wire or I’d have been crazy with extra worry at every news report… Now I only have to be extra worried for a few days. I won’t sleep now until I know he’s safe.

The Saga of Saddam
Leaving aside the Geneva Convention issues… Let’s see if I’ve got this right: Saddam is the guy who had men, women and children raped, maimed, tortured and butchered and had it all filmed so that he and his sons and henchmen could view it later for their enjoyment? And some people are outraged about a couple of pictures of Saddam in his undies? Not me. Fully clothed or in his undies, he’s still a vile, ugly cuss.

Women At War
I am a WILD WOMAN about this! What century is Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) living in? The House Armed Services Committee Chairman pushed through legislation that would require the Army to prohibit women from serving in any unit that provides support to combat battalions. While not retroactive, the measure, if enacted, will block the assignment of women to thousands of positions that are now open to them. This simpleton’s justification for this Neanderthal inspired legislation? "The American people have never wanted to have women in combat and this reaffirms that policy.” I have news for you: he’s not speaking for this American, Kemo Sabe.

Then we get this: Subcommittee Chairman John M. McHugh (R-N.Y.) said the legislation is aimed at enforcing a "no women in combat" policy, and denied it is a "Neanderthal initiative to keep women out of the Army." Deny all you want, sweetheart… it’s Neanderthal.

There was a day not so long ago when any woman that wanted to serve in the military could be a clerk/secretary or a nurse. All other career options were off limits. Then the military – under pressure from women – slowly opened other career paths to women. Not only have women filled positions as pilots, mechanics, avionics technicians, cooks, truck drivers, fuel handlers, supply officers, medics, and military police (to name but a few), but they have done so brilliantly, honorably, bravely – hell, heroically! They will tell you that they want and need to be there. They train just as hard as the men. They work just as hard as the men. They make it possible for MALE soldiers, sailors and airmen to do what they do. They don’t just serve the military – they serve the American people.

To exclude or prohibit women from filling these 22,000 positions (just 2% of the military force) would not only be a great disservice to the men in our armed services, it would be a great wrong to the people of this country – not just the women. The positions these women now fill so skillfully not only support the defenders of our country, they provide these women with skills that in the civilian world pay significantly better than traditional female positions.

As we all know, not everyone that joins the military does so as a career. Many soldiers come in to serve and to acquire training (marketable job skills) or money for education, or both and stay just long enough to earn those benefits. To deny women these support positions denies them the opportunity afforded male service members to make a decent living post-service. These women aren’t blind to the fact that they will serve in dangerous situations. Terrorists didn't discriminate at the World Trade Center, they don't discriminate on the basis of sex as they wage war on civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places in the world, and neither should we discriminate in the war on terror.
Is there a possibility these women could be killed? Yes. Since the Iraq war began two years ago, 35 U.S. women have died and 271 have been wounded. But should we protect and care about these soldiers more because they have ovaries? What about the 1,763 men killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do Messrs. Hunter and McHugh portend to tell mothers that their sons' lives are worth less? Or just that women’s lives are more valuable? No one wants any of our soldiers to die… men or women.

There are courageous women in this world who want to be soldiers. They volunteered. We should not go back to a time where we felt that women needed to be “protected” from the world… Congress should butt out and let the Army and the rest of the military do their jobs.
Pepsi V. Coke
The people in my family have always been Pepsi people. In fact, when my dear mother died, she was buried with a can of Pepsi – her constant companion. We won’t be drinking Pepsi again for a long time, nor will we be buying any other Pepsi products as a result of PepsiCo’s President and CFO’s unpatriotic -- and IMO anti-American -- remarks at the commencement of Columbia Business School last week. If you haven’t read those outrageous remarks look here: . To read the story further and what’s been happening check out THIRDWAVEDAVE

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Cool Videos... and Bubbles!

So, if you thought the pictures of that giant sandstorm in Iraq a few weeks ago were awesome, then you are positively going to LOVE this video (be sure to watch it to the end -- it's worth it!) This video really illustrates the magnitude and speed of these sandstorms and what our troops endure in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Then, for a great video of the Army's Year in Pictures 2004, watch this one...
Sure made me proud! Now I can't wait for the 2005 version to see my son and his division and those serving in OIF III !!
Spent the morning at a local flea market... picked up all kinds of useful things for my guys: fly swatters, DCU do-rags with sewn in terry sweat bands for under their kevlars (and the vendor was so excited that they were going to 3ID guys that he gave me 20 at his cost! THANKS CODY!!), neckerchiefs, disposable dust masks, boxes of 1,000 toothpicks, DVDs, CDs... This will be some care package this week!
I missed a few IMs while out but also had a few emails... A few weeks ago I had packed a box full of little squirt guns, nerf balls, and bottles of bubbles (you know, the kind with the little wand to blow bubbles)... It was meant as the "stress reliever" package so the guys could blow off some steam and have a laugh. Apparently the bubbles were quite a hit not only with the guys, but with the IA and IP guys who wanted them for their kids, so they'd like me to send some more... I get such a huge grin just thinking about all these tough guys blowing bubbles at each other and the Iraqi kids!!! I hope someone took pictures!
It's always nice to be able to write about the lighter side occasionally!
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Guys Like Sgt. T

Had a long conversation with my son yesterday morning. Hadn’t heard from him in almost 2 weeks (not even on Mother’s Day), so we were especially glad to hear from him. Due to the situation there (i.e., up tic in operations and recent casualties), there had been a communications blackout. He told me that he and V had been in on a number of the big weapons finds recently (HOOAH!) and then told me not to worry if we didn’t hear from him for a while – there was a chance that they might move out to a different AO in support of ongoing operations. Of course, he wouldn’t say where, but if you watch any news program these days, you know exactly where they might be heading. To a mother, it’s classified in your head as “small-medium-large” amounts of bullets…. And the possibility of his moving from his current “medium” area to the “large” area ratchets up my anxiety…

Sgt T
During this telephone conversation with my son and in another IM chat with another "son" in his unit, talk turned to a recent run-in with Sgt. T. Just the most recent in a long series of incidents with any number of soldiers in the company. Our son (and the other guys) mostly brush these off with a "no big deal" attitude and just suck it up... although some incidents have boiled over to shouting matches and once it got physical. I know that the senior NCOs have dealt with Sgt T on a few occasions, but he's still there.
I remind the guys that sometimes in the Army/Navy/Corps there is no right or wrong -- just rank. But V said, “That’s not true, mom… there is right and wrong and some of the stuff that happens... is wrong. and [soldier] isn't a bait eater... but the stuff he says... and stuff he does is just not right… he (soldier) holds up well through most of it, but sometimes that dam’s gotta break, mom. I was there and Sgt T is just asking for it… he’s provoking everyone… but especially [soldier]… it’s bad." The soldier in question is one of the smaller guys in the company but a good and dedicated soldier. He's a regular target of Sgt T... the guys think because he's the only guy smaller than the Sgt.

Everyone who has ever been in the military or worked at a job for longer than five days has worked for or with a Sgt. T. You know -- a bully with rank. As the guys tell it, Sgt T is regularly abusive and routinely oversteps the bounds. He can be mean to his soldiers and is a master at humiliating them for some imagined slight -- not because a soldier deserved it, but because Sgt T has the rank to do it.

Just to be clear, most of the soldiers here are good soldiers; they are not a bunch of whiney-asses. They have great respect for almost all of the other NCOs even if they're tough and demanding. I do not know the specifics of the most recent incident or incidents (soldiers don't tell). I don’t know who said what to whom about what, but the situation has gone on a long time and I can tell that morale is being affected. They tell me that 1SG and SFC are aware but that they don't care. No one is advocating a "touchy-feely" atmosphere... we're not naive to the military environment or the discipline or the sternness required to maintain order.
The whole Sgt T thing really troubles my husband because as an enlisted sailor he personally experienced the frustration of such a situation, and as an officer knows the effect the situation can have on the troops. He says any NCO or officer worth anything will find the way to teach, lead and support their men without such tactics because they get it back ten-fold in respect, loyalty and hard work… and you can’t lead if you can’t be respected (which he is clear to point out is different than being liked.) Currently he faults the senior enlisted for not dealing with an apparently immature NCO and for letting the situation continue as long as it has.

I learned early in my career and as a military wife that there are two types of people with power: those that wield it because they have to, and those that wield it simply because they can. The first are leaders, the others bullies. We know that there always have been guys in the military services like Sgt. T, but there should be no room in a professional Army for a bully with rank.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

To the Mothers of Iraq

Here in the United States, today is Mother’s Day – a day set aside to honor mothers. Today, I also honor the mothers of Iraq. Please believe me when I say that the mothers in America are with you – even if we cannot be there in person to support you, we are there. We cry for your lost children. Our hearts ache for you… we can only imagine your horror and your grief… we grieve with you. We share in your hope of a brighter tomorrow for your children.

We have sent our sons and daughters to help you. We would rather they were here with us, but we accept that they have a larger mission. We want for you and your children what our children are working towards: a free and safe Iraq.

We want your children…

to have the chance to grow in a place free from terrorists and terrorism… to walk in their country without the dread of being caught in a gun battle or under the wheels of a car laden with explosives… to laugh and play and not worry whether a plane or car will explode and their parents taken… to be able to live without fear.

to be able to practice their religion – any religion or no religion – without interference or discrimination by government or other religions.

to have the right to elect their government… and to change their government by their vote... and to have the right to criticize their government without fear of retaliation.

to be assured of justice in the courts… and be free of the fear of unwarranted prosecution… and unjustified arrest or punishment.

to have the opportunity and the right to an education, to employment, to discover and to grow into responsible citizens of the world.

to live in peace.

to have wonderful lives… to love, to be happy, to prosper, and to grow old.

The mothers of America salute the mothers of Iraq. For their faith, for their courage. Together we mothers really can change the world.
And to all the other military moms out there -- past and present -- I salute you! and thank you for YOUR service.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Zeroing Up... and Other Thoughts

Had a two hour drive today… here’s a smattering of things that I thought about when I wasn't singing along to the radio...

Zeroing Up
When a soldier calibrates the scope (sight) on his weapon, it's called “zeroing up”. They correct even the smallest discrepancy because as the distance to the target increases, so does the error -- and the bullet misses its destination. I don’t know why I began thinking about that, but I mused that it was probably a good lesson to take to every day life: we should all “zero up” once in a while. Make sure we're on track… lest we miss our target (goal) altogether. In our professional lives, our personal lives, in our faith and in our relationships.

Every Relationship Has A Price
I have a theory that every relationship in life – with your parents, your children, your spouse, your friends -- has a price; you just have to be willing to pay the price. And if you’re not willing to pay the price, then the relationship has to change or end. Take for example, your relationship with your mother (or MIL) -- you have to be willing to stay on the phone with her and listen to her tell you the story of Uncle Hal’s 1955 appendix surgery one more time… or the details of all her current ailments after her trip to the doctor, or how appalled she is that you “allowed” your child to mutilate his/her body with a tattoo (sigh). It’s the price of your relationship. Your best friend is late for everything. It annoys the hell out of you, but she’s otherwise a great friend. Tolerating her tardiness is the price of your relationship. Now, if it comes a time that the lateness really starts to weigh on you, you have to decide whether the price of the friendship (always being late to everything) is too dear. Once you accept that IT (whatever IT is) is the price of the relationship, it sometimes helps bring things into perspective and makes it a bit easier to accept flaws. The price of my relationship with my soldier son (as with each of our children) is total commitment and unconditional love. Oh, and weekly care packages.

Running Away
Since when is an adult running away from a wedding a criminal matter? Yes, the phone call claiming that she was kidnapped probably qualifies as filing a false police report… but SHE wasn’t the one that called the cops and said the bride was missing and started the whole search and rescue thing. She bought a bus ticket (not a crime whether it was purchased a week or a minute before she left), she cut her hair (still no crime), she went to Vegas (nope, still not a crime). To hear the MSM talk about it, “We have breaking news!! She may have bought the bus ticket a week in advance!” To the MSM and the police in Georgia: It is not a crime to plan or take a trip and not tell anyone where you’re going! Why she just didn’t call her parents or the cops back in Georgia and tell them she was safe and stop looking and why she had to make up the kidnap story is beyond me, but it’s not a crime to not call home when an adult leaves of their own free will. Mostly, everyone should just leave this poor confused young woman and her family alone. Terrible way to get your 15 minutes.

Of all the colors in the universe, who do you suppose picked red, yellow & green for stoplights? And while we’re on the topic, who do you think thought up the idea of double yellow (solid), and intermittent road stripes to indicate whether you can pass?

Once they invented hotels and room service, who thought camping should still be called “fun”?

God’s Way of Telling You That You Have Too Much Money
Hummers. (Not the little ones.)
Are There Stars In the Sky?
In my most recent letter to my son, I wrote: “We can see a lot more stars here at night than in New York -- but I hear that you can see so many more there because there is no light pollution there… no lights at night... When I am looking at the stars here I wonder if you've looked at the same stars today.” I am hoping he looked up at the stars and remembers that I am looking, too. Sometimes, though, just looking at the stars makes me get teary-eyed because he is ½ a world away from us looking at the sky…

The Meaning of Life
The Meaning of Life is… Family. All the good, the bad, the fun, the worry, successes, failures, the love. It’s all about the love.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.