color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: September 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005

They Are All Our Guys... Our Heroes

So Katy at The Dirty Days (who hosts self-portrait Fridays) wants to see our front porches? Well, I only have one picture of me on my porch (I'm always the one TAKING the pictures!) and that's with the handsome milblogger Sgt. Chris Missick, but here is our "porch" and the view from our porch (that was last winter in a rare snowfall).

Noah update: Doing better every day. His neck is feeling much better and the lower back is doing ok... His hearing is the most frustrating for him -- comes and goes... It will take time.

He's gotten a taste of the disconnect in information that all of us with deployed soldiers endure day in and day out... and he hates it!! Yesterday the news reported the death of a number of soldiers in an IED explosion in the area in Iraq where he was injured, but no additional information was available... and he had to wait until the Rear Detachment could tell him it wasn't his unit. He told me in an instant message, "THIS F**ING SUCKS! if we lost 5 guys I'm gonna loose it so bad, ma -- its not even gonna be funny..."

So I told him, " I know son... but you need to hold it together... if it's your Guys, their families will need the support of the brothers... but I do know how hard the waiting is... and of course there's the comm blackout which makes it even harder... you just wait here in silence... try to keep busy until you know something..."

But it was not his unit, but a Marine unit... Our hearts go out to the families of those Marines. I can not convey how my heart aches with every death... They are all Our Guys... all... Prayers and tears for our Heroes..

Update: They weren't Marines after all... Army... a NG unit from Pennsylvania who has lost 5 of her sons...

The Department of Defense announced today the death of five soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on Sept. 28, in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, where their M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle was attacked by enemy forces using indirect fire. The soldiers were assigned to the Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, New Milford, Pa.

Killed were:
Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Arnold, 27, of Montrose, Pa.
Staff Sgt. George A. Pugliese, 39, of Carbondale, Pa.
Sgt. Eric W. Slebodnik, 21, of Greenfield Township, Pa.
Spc. Lee A. Wiegand, 20, of Hallstead, Pa.
Pfc. Oliver J. Brown, 19, of Carbondale, Pa.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Come to his assistance, All you Saints of God...

Staff Sergeant Jason Benford

Kimberly & Jason Benford

I received this email on Tuesday and although I learned the name through a soldier, I couldn't post it Tuesday because the name had not been officially released to the media... And while a family blog may not qualify as "media", I prefer to respect the family and allow them time to grieve privately and contact family and friends before the name of their loved one is so publicly displayed. The emails from the Rear D with the special caption always take my breath away... we only receive these notices for someone in the Company -- the immediate family.

From the email:

On the 27th of September, I was notified by ... (3rd Brigade Rear-Detachment Commander) that our Battalion had suffered the loss of one of our heroes from A Company, 2-69 Armor. This hero was killed by a sniper while conducting combat operations.

The next of kin of our fallen hero has been notified.

3rd Brigade and 2-69 Armor Rear Detachments will conduct a Memorial Ceremony to honor this American Hero on Tuesday the 4th of October at 1100 hours at the Kelly Hill Chapel.

I ask for your prayers for this Panther hero and his family.
This hero was SSG Jason Benford. Our son "sat left seat" for the Sgt. on many occasions and was going to gun for SSG full time until our son was wounded... Noah said, "He was such a f*king awesome person, Ma... I wish you got to know him, especially like I did." I didn't know what else to say except, "Me, too, son. I know this is very hard for you... and I'm very sorry for the loss of another of your brothers." I wish there wasn't going to be another Memorial Service.
At 1:30 this morning, Noah called to say that he had just gotten off the phone with his good friend SPC R who called from Iraq as soon as the communications blackout had been lifted. The Guys wanted to be sure that Noah knew about their friend SSG Benford and R. shared some of the details of the incident with Noah. R. said the guys were just getting ready to go out big time... and Noah said how much he wanted to be there -- with his brothers. Noah then spent the next 20 minutes of our early morning conversation telling me a number of stories of the Sergeant -- how he'd tell them about how much he missed his wife and children... how he would dance around to the tunes on his mp3 player -- and how they'd all groan and laugh when he'd make them listen to hip hop... and how he'd always remind the Guys how pretty he was... how he could make them all laugh in the direst of situations... how much they liked him... how much they'd miss him...More From the Columbus GA paper and from the Department of Defense.
We ask for your prayers for this American hero and his family.
COME to his assistance, All you Saints of God! Meet him, you Angels of the Lord. Receive his soul, and present it to the Most High. May Christ who called you, receive you; and may the Angels lead you into the bosom of Abraham. Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.
Into your hands, O Lord, we humbly entrust our brother. In this life you embraced him with your tender love; deliver him now from every evil and bid him enter eternal rest.

The old order has passed away: welcome him then into paradise, where there will be no sorrow, no weeping nor pain, but the fullness of peace and joy with your Son and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Operator, operator, I'm so glad you found me home...

My phone rang at 6:30 yesterday morning. It was Noah. He forgets that there are 3 hours difference in the time between him and us. In the old days (that would be pre-deployment), I would have been miffed that my sleep had been disturbed… but since those days when news from the front was so sparse and the calls few and far between, I thank the Lord every day that my son is here and I can talk with him at length and almost at will. I have written many times about the wait for these contacts... here... here... here... And Stacy and Military Mom focus on these transient contacts often...

I think back to the days before he was injured and was still in Iraq. Each hour that we didn’t hear -- whether the instant messenger was silent or the phone didn’t ring – one drip from a faucet into a million gallon bucket – not fast enough, not soon enough, not often enough. It’s a bucket that can never be filled. And we suffer these terrible addiction-like responses, too – you crave and demand and NEED to hear from your soldier. And when you hear that voice or get the beep or moooo, you get butterflies in your stomach and your heart soars – and the adrenalin rush is second to none and you sometimes actually give a “whoohoo” right out loud. You feverishly talk or feverishly listen -- whichever mode your soldier is in – afraid they will have to sign off or hang up before you are ready (and you’re never ready.) Hearing from them means they are ok, they’re safe and the reports of injured soldiers or worse can not be your soldier, your Marine, your son, daughter, your spouse. Then open the drain on that bucket and the slow drip begins again as the wait begins anew… and the ache returns until you hear the ring, the beep, the boop, the mooo. It's a vicious cycle that wears on you, but one you accept if grudgingly. You don't want your soldier to worry and I'm sure they can never fully know how those calls, emails, IMs affect us and how very much they mean to those back home...

From the first day of the deployment you realize that even if they called or contacted you once a day or twice a day, it would never be enough because the need to know they are ok -- and that they are thinking of you as you are thinking of them -- is ever present. It doesn't matter what you talk about -- even the most mundane information about their day -- their existence -- is treasured... You're like a sponge soaking up details and names and events and descriptions of where they are and what they do and what they need. What they said in the last contact plays over and over in your head, the questions to ask in the next contact in the front and then the back of your mind. You perpetually watch the clock and the calendar calculating how long it has been since you last heard from him or her and how long it might be until you hear again. You get into a rhythm of when they are typically online or the time you have arranged to speak. But when that time comes and goes and now the worrying is added to the anticipation. You reason in your head, “It’s a war. Wars do not have schedules.” When hours stretch to days and weeks without hearing, you console yourself with, “No news is good news” and as other military moms reminded me often, “and bad news travels fast.”

You move your pc to some place you can hear those noises when they logon; your IM and house phone are forwarded to your cell phone and your cell phone becomes your constant companion – on 24 hours a day and when not attached to your hip, it’s being charged. If you happen to not be online when your soldier comes online, you might even get a call from another soldier’s mom to tell you… You check the web site of the brigade or the FRG (family readiness group) for news and newsletters… for pictures that might include your soldier. You make conscious efforts to distract yourself, but it becomes torture waiting for the beeps and boops or moo. Those drips of passing time into that massive bucket that will never be filled. The other people in your household share in your anxiety, but you’re certain that couldn’t possibly understand why you are like this. The Moms know, the wives know, the husbands know. Even if you hear today, there will be tomorrow.

So here’s hoping that you all get that call… or the beep, the boop, the mooooo…
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Operator, operator, I'm so glad that you rang my phone

Operator, operator, I'm so glad that you found me home
I can hear my long gone lover
I've waited such a long long time
So please, operator Put him on the line,
I want him on the line
I want him on the line
I wanna talk to that long gone lover of mine

Operator, operator, there is static in my line
Did he say that his love was true?
Did he say that his love was mine?
Did he say he was coming home?
Did he say where he has been?
I can't hear a word he's saying If you keep buttin' in
You keep buttin' in

I wanna know if he's comin' home again
It shouldn't take this much time
To clear my mind, ease my mind

Oh operator, please get straight
It's unfair to make me wait any longer
My curiosity is stronger
Don't you know that it's wrong, oh so wrong

Operator, operator, this is very strange
What is the holdup here?
Doesn't he have the change
Oh please operator, if he don't have another dime
Reverse the charge to me
Put him on the line, I want him on the line
I want him on the line

(“Operator” by Mary Wells)

Welcome The Mudville Gazette Readers. Please check out my Sept. 28th post on the passing of another American Hero.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

It Was A Pretty Good Day

DH got home safely from a week long trip to the Chicago area (and I sure am glad he got home... I missed him so much!!)
Had a call from Noah's Team Leader Sgt. F from Iraq who was calling to check to see how Noah was doing. We had a brief chat -- lots of stuff happening where they are, but all in Noah's unit were safe (whew!) Gave him Noah's cell number.
Although I missed them, I had an IM from Our Guys and they, too, are all ok but very busy and very tired... We hadn't heard anything from them in almost 2 weeks!
Noah spoke with Sgt. F who told him all the latest happening back in Iraq and all the gossip and scuttlebutt.. and that they've packed up and are shipping all of Noah's personal belongings back to the States... and they tell Noah that the investment he made in the metal case for his Sony PSP (PlayStationPortable) really paid off because while the case is beat to hell (they dug it out of the rubble of the building), the PSP apparently survived the VBIED!! (Hey, Sony -- wouldn't that make a heck of a commercial??)
And the postal facility over there finally got whatever paperwork they needed and the multitude (what the Guys refer to as "a whole sh*tload") of packages from kith and kin that had arrived for Noah after he was wounded have finally been re-delivered and distributed to the Guys in his Company! Apparently just in time, too! So it was like Christmas in September (LOL).
So, all in all, I'm feeling it was a pretty good day... and we'll take all those pretty good days whenever we get the chance!
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.


This is Support the Troops Weekend... it started last night... Andi has some pictures up of the patriots out at Walter Reed Army Hospital with the banner of the comments people left in support of the troops!

Get out and support OUR troops -- and don't forget to Thank a Soldier or Sailor or Marine or Airman!! Look for activities near you... take the time to say we believe in you AND your mission. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Messages for the Troops - NOW!

Get on over to Andi's World and leave your messages for the troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center... Andi will be there tonight and will deliver all the messages to our Soldiers!!! You don't have much time... so go their NOW! (then come back and finish reading!!)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Houses That Are Homes....

When the Rear Detachment for our son's unit called to tell us that Noah had been wounded in Iraq, one of the first questions we asked was whether we should make arrangements to go to Germany where we know seriously injured are sent first before being returned to the U.S. When we made our arrangments

to go to Germany, we went to the Fisher House website and then called to see if the Landstuhl Fisher House could accommodate us. I cannot begin to describe for you the comfort and care we received from Kathy Gregory, the manager (who we discovered is a resident of the same small Arizona town we live in!!) and the rest of the staff and the many volunteers at the Landstuhl Fisher House -- and how welcomed we were and how great it was to be with other families going through the same anxiety and worry that we were... and how incredibly uplifting it was when our crisis had passed to offer help and encouragement to other families with more critically ill soldiers than ours... FH was the island of calm in the middle of a horrible event that tested our mettle...
The mission of the Landstuhl Fisher House (and all Fisher Houses) is to provide a "home away from home" for families of patients receiving medical care at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. Families served are from the U.S. European Command (including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom), U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, and 72 Embassies in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Of the almost 3,000 families served by the Landstuhl Fisher Houses, more than 450 families were of service members involved in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Fisher House Foundation is a separate fund that builds these wonderful Fisher Houses and donates them as gifts to the various military services to operate but once donated, the Houses do not receive any government funding and donations are a significant portion of their income to cover operating costs (and nominal room fees which are waived for OEF and OIF families). There are two Fisher Houses at Landstuhl -- each with 19 rooms and they have nearly 100% occupancy year round and each provides a kitchen, food, meals (cooked by volunteer organizations locally), computer for keeping in touch with families back home but mostly a place to offer comfort and share the fellowship of others...
The estimated operating budget for the two Landstuhl Fisher Houses is $218,000 annually of which more than $155,000 must be raised through donations given by organizations, clubs and individuals.
Towards helping support Landstuhl Fisher House, marathon runner Norm Raynal (a 64 year old, 2-tour Vietnam Vet and the father of a 3rd ID soldier who served in OIF I) is walking a series of five marathons between May and November 2005 to raise money for Landstuhl Fisher House -- and is seeking pledges for the total 210 kilometers he plans to walk. To learn more, visit Norm's website.
I know that much attention is focused on charitable giving for the victims of Hurricane Katrina (Fisher House is working there, too!), and with Hurricane Rita bearing down on the Texas coast, there is certain to be charitable need there as well... but I ask that you consider giving to this truly worthy cause and supporting the Landstuhl Fisher Houses (or a Fisher House near you).
Give in honor of your soldier(s), in the name of your parents, in honor of someone's birthday or anniversary, the birth of a grandchild, put it on your Christmas list -- or give just because it is such a worthy cause!! If you are not in a position to give personally, perhaps you know of church or charitable or veterans organizations (Lions, Kiwanis, VFW, VVA, etc.) in which you have a membership that would consider such a request... Your donations directly and immediately assist wounded soldiers and their families in their hour of greatest need.
Donations may be mailed to
Landstuhl Fisher House
CMR 402, Box 669
APO AE 09180

And a brief update on Noah: He tells me today that he's moving much better although not without pain -- but he says he is improving!! Thank you all for your continued prayers and thoughtful support!!

And to my dear BIL and SIL and their/our family and friends and to all others in the path of Hurricane Rita, our thoughts and prayers and love are with you all.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thanks to Holly from Soldiers Angels filling in for Mrs. Greyhawk at The Mudville Gazette for the mention.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The More Things Change...

While our soldier son is home (unexpectedly) from Iraq, we still have the rest of Our Guys to worry about... Sent off packages late last week and have a few more ready to go... but this is in the news today from the AP on the MSNBC site:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military said Tuesday that four U.S. soldiers died in two roadside bombings near the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi and a fifth died in a blast north of Baghdad...
and we haven't heard from any of the Guys since last Monday when they called and spoke with Noah.. they haven't even been online so I'm worried... but since we haven't received any "Velvet Hammer" emails (notifications of a casualty in Noah's unit)... no news is good news ('cause bad news travels fast) so I'm just figuring they're plenty busy there...
Started receiving the truckload of Christmas catalogs we get each year and have been scanning for just the right Christmas tree to send the Guys... and looking for gifts that will be useful and fun for them... and decorations that will survive the journey... and calculating how far in advance I will have to bake the Christmas cookies and treats so that they get there in plenty of time... and we've decided that Noah should still get his deployment tree so the hunt for the perfect tree is now back on...
Yes, the more things change...
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Noah Had A Good Day

The first time since August 23 that he has had a good day (ok, it's probably the first good day since August 22.) When he called today he said he had actually fallen asleep last night for the first time in many weeks and had stayed asleep through the night. He made it through his physical therapy session today without what he called "screaming" pain and he didn't think his one leg and lower back hurt as much today as they did yesterday, so he didn't think he was gimping as much today... although his one knee is still giving him trouble (the pain in his right leg and lower back makes him favor the right side which puts stress on the left knee.) He also got his Army online information straightened out for the first time in almost two years (!) and had access to all his files... It was the first time I didn't detect anger or frustration in the conversation... he actually sounded -- um, encouraged? (maybe just less discouraged?) His phone is back on so I think he's feeling pretty good getting to talk to all his buds... So he said he thought it was a good day. I wanted to remind him that every day might not be as good as today, but not to let it discourage him, but didn't. Yeah, Noah had a good day... so that means I had a good day, too! And hoping for many more of these good days to follow.
Welcome Mudville Gazette readers!
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

This Story Shall the Good Man Teach His Son...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005, Fort Benning, GA

Kelly Hill at Fort Benning is the usual home of some of the 3rd Infantry Division.
It is a sprawling complex of buildings and barracks, parking lots and narrow roads usually swimming with thousands of soldiers; but now with the Division deployed to Iraq, this sprawling complex is home to a few Rear Detachment soldiers and dozens of National Guard units in training or preparing to deploy somewhere in the world. It is eerily deserted and quiet.

Just beyond the post office and adjacent to the medical clinic sits the Kelly Hill Chapel. The memorial service for Sergeant Bohling was scheduled to begin at 11:00AM, but we arrive early. The chapel is starkly cool compared to the thick, hot oppressive air so routine in the South ‑‑ brilliant sunshine peaking in through the windows at the top of the brick walls and through the open doors at the back.

At the end of the nave, sitting just in front of the altar steps atop a display box is the all too familiar warrior’s memorial: an inverted rifle, boots at the lowered edge of the bayonet, helmet (kevlar) perched on the top of the weapon’s butt, dog tags hanging from the helmet… the tradition of displaying a soldier’s helmet atop his rifle originated on the battlefield, where they marked the location of the fallen soldier. In front of this memorial is a large portrait of the handsome, smiling
Sgt. Matthew Bohling dressed in the desert camouflage of the war, with sand behind the softly smiling image as far as the eye can see and for as much as the camera can capture. I notice how young he is, the sparkle in his eyes, the tousle to his hair as if he had just run his hand through the short dark brown tufts.

At first there are just a few soldiers present – all from the Division’s Rear Detachment... and Noah, handsomely dressed in his newly cleaned dress uniform, his shoes shined to glass… He’s talking softly in the front few pews with these other soldiers also smartly dressed in their Class A uniforms out of respect for and to honor their fallen comrade.

Soon, Sgt. T arrives. Sgt. T is just home from Iraq on leave to attend the birth of his second child – a boy that should have been born yesterday. He arrives dressed like the others in his dress uniform holding the hand of his very pregnant wife. Although they had greeted each other yesterday in an accidental meeting, Sgt. T and Noah clasp fists and then forearms in the way that brothers do. Later my son would say that they had talked about the time Noah and Matt were put on “AHA duty” – 24 straight hours of guarding ammo -- and how Matt had spent part of the night trying to play some song by ear on his harmonica. Sgt. T was in -- is in -- Sgt. Bohling’s platoon. He was gunning in the vehicle Matt was driving when they hit the IED. He was there with Matt when he died.

A few minutes later, my hobbled son lurches on stiff legs from his pew to warmly greet Sgt. N. who was with Noah that day in late August when the VBIED shattered much of the building they were in. Sgt. N is clearly excited to see Noah – not having heard much news on his condition before the Sgt. departed Iraq for his R&R leave and has been pleasantly surprised by Noah's presence here. The manly embrace is repeated again and Sgt. N, Noah and Mrs. N walk forward to the third pew. After the service, the Sgt. and the Mrs. will depart for their vacation delayed by the desire to attend today’s service.

Over the next few minutes, many military wives unaccompanied by their now deployed spouses enter the chapel, greet each other and take their seats. Soldiers, many with the distinctive striped patch of the 3rd ID on the shoulders of their utilities, arrive and sit closely together. Soldiers from other units around the fort also arrive and join the growing body of soldiers and civilians in the chapel. An organist has arrived and is playing a selection of patriotic songs. I am seated in the almost rear pew – feeling slightly like an interloper in this public yet oh so private service.

Promptly at 11:00AM, the senior officers of the Division not deployed, enter in a line and proceed in a perfectly unisoned march to the front of the chapel and then one by one execute perfect “about face” turns in front of their chairs and as one they are seated. One by one they take to the podium and offer remarks about and prayers for the young
Matt Bohling. The Lt Col., a Captain... speak their own remarks and the remarks of the Company and platoon leaders forwarded from the battlefield -- all telling of the things my son has told me in the preceeding days: what a good soldier Matt was; how Matt loved to play his harmonica. How he spoke so lovingly and exuberantly about his home state of Alaska. How he spoke so endearingly of his family – parents, brother, sister.

A prayer is offered. A soulful performance of Amazing Grace follows by Sgt. D. Then the roll call I dread is upon us. The members of the Company are called to attention and Sgt. T., Sgt. N. and Noah stand sharply with fists unnaturally clenched stiffly at their sides as if holding on to the past, the present, the future… just these three standing among the many assembled. Loudly, Sgt F. standing ramrod straight at the head of the nave stares stone faced out across those in attendance and stridently calls each of the first three names, and each loudly responds their presence.

Then the Sgt. calls out in the quiet of the chapel, “Sgt. Bohling.” There is no response. Louder now, “Sgt. Matthew Bohling.” Again there is no response. Louder still as if this time someone will answer, slowly in a stern barked cadence with a slight pause between each word, “Sgt. Matthew Charles Bohling.” There is only silence in return until the sharp report of the first of three volleys from the rifles shriek through the air from outside the chapel, followed by the ever mournful notes of “Taps” that falter midway as if the bugle or bugler is overcome. The sounds of sniffles and shallow weeping can be heard from all corners of the nearly full chapel. And I think how hard this service must have been on all the Guys of A Co. in the sands of Iraq three days ago when Matt’s other brothers were called to honor and bid farewell to their friend so close to where he had fallen.

The service is concluded. As each pew empties, the civilians turn to the back of the chapel to exit while the soldiers turn out row by row to form an orderly single file to the front of the chapel, each to tap or touch the helmet, boots, dog tags of the fallen hero… to say a final farewell... and I am reminded of the closing words of the St. Crispin’s Day Speech in Shakespeare’s Henry V

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Rest in Peace, Matt… and know that your sacrifice is not unnoticed and that you are not -- and will not be -- forgotten.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
Welcome Blackfive readers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Monday afternoon... we had just picked up Noah's Class A's just off his base and my cell phone rang... Noah answered and the voice on the other end said, "So whatyaknowsh*thead??" Noah sat in stunned silence and said, "Pardon me? Who is this?" "Oh man, your brain must have really got rattled! It's me, P..." And they were off to the races -- the lot of 'em talking over each other and talking so fast even I couldn't understand even one end of the conversation! My AIM away message said where I was for my Guys, and they took the chance that Noah would be with me when they called... (not only handsome, but my Guys are smart, too! LOL)
They hadn't had much word and they wanted to know how Noah was and about their friend Dave M. (injured in the same event as Noah and still up at Walter Reed), and they chatted about other soldiers either in Iraq, Germany or in the U.S. It's still really busy where they are but all are safe this week... They spoke of the memorial for Matt Bohling held in Iraq over the weekend, and Noah told them he was going to the memorial here at their base. They talked generally about what was happening where the Guys are... that they hadn't been successful in getting the dozens of packages waiting for Noah back in Iraq released and they discussed strategy and people to contact to get that done (what do we want the stuff back for?? they NEED it THERE!)... and they closed by telling Noah to focus on getting well, and to have a few cold ones for them!! Then I got a big "HI, MA!!" and the call was done. But it was magic to Noah... to hear from the Guys... to know they missed him as much as he misses them... And to let the Guys know that we remember that they're still there... and that they're in our thoughts and prayers... It sure was great to hear!
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 12, 2005

155th Soldiers Need Help

From my sweet friend Stacy at Keep My Soldier Safe asks the following:

The following Mississippi soldiers had received no information about their families earlier this week:
• Staff Sgt. Terry Seals of Poplarville; hasn't heard from his wife or his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H.B. Seals, also of Poplarville.
• Spc. Travis Hisaw of Pass Christian; hasn't heard from his wife.
• Staff Sgt. Stanley L. Peters of Sandy Hook. • Spc. Billy T. Smith of Tylertown.
• Sgt. Arron M. Waldrop of Tylertown.
• Spc. Roderick B. Duckworth of Wiggins; hasn't heard from his wife, Chalesha, or his father-in-law, Shelby Kennedy.
• Pfc. Forest Reynolds of Long Beach.
• Sgt. Freddie J. Cagle Jr. of Gulfport.
• Sgt. Robert B. Hance of Pascagoula.
• Spc. Kimberly E. Garrett of Collins.
• Sgt. Paul Decoronado of Ocean Springs.

Our guys need our help, so if anyone has any information about the above family members, please contact the American Red Cross at (877) 272-7337 or the Hattiesburg American at (601) 584-3111 to have information forwarded to the soldiers.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sept. 11, 2005... Four Years... and Counting

From Wikipedia

The September 11, 2001 attacks were a series of coordinated attacks carried out against the United States on Tuesday, Spetember 11, 2001. According to the official 9/11 Commission Report, nineteen men affiliated with al-Qaeda, a network of militant Islamic organizations, hijacked four American airliners. Two were crashed into the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City — one into each of the two tallest towers, about 17 minutes apart — shortly after which both towers collapsed. The third aircraft crashed into the U.S. Department of Defense headquarters, the Pentagon, in Arlington County, Virginia. The fourth plane crashed into a rural field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, 80 miles east of Pittsburgh, following passenger resistance.

The 9/11 Commission reports that these attackers turned the hijacked planes into the largest suicide bombs in history and the most lethal acts ever carried out in the United States. The September 11th attacks are arguably the most significant events to have occurred so far in the 21st Century in terms of the profound economic, social, cultural and military effects that followed in the United States and many other parts of the world.

I will not write of my experiences that day in NYC... just to say to those that were not there -- You can only imagine...

So today as you watch the remembrances and ceremonies marking the day, count to 2,986 slowly and reflect that each number represents a family destroyed by those attacks....

Watch closely and REMEMBER the horror and futility and anger we all felt that day and the days following... and remember that the United States of America was attacked in a series of coordinated and unprovoked attacks on that day.

And listen closely to Rudy Guiliani and Bill Bratton and Tony Blair and other security experts who tell you it in not a matter of "IF we are attacked again", but WHEN...

Hold your families close and thank God we live in a free society where these madmen hold no sway over us... and as I sit with my personal hero here today and think of all those other heroes who sacrificed so that I can (we can) be with ours, I will thank God...

And to the idiot of a woman who sat next to me in seat 9B on America West flight 610 from Phoenix to Atlanta yesterday who after seeing my "Proud Army Mom" shirt said (and I kid you not), "Well I thank God that none of my boys want to serve." And my response was, "Well, lady, you ought to thank God that all three of mine do!"

In case there is any doubt about my seatmate's intentions in her remark, it was after she had decided to tell the entire plane that (and I kid you not again) that "9/11 was a result of some big business deal going wrong because no one attacks another country because of religion." I said "idiot of a woman" and I meant it.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 09, 2005


As I have written before, and here and here there is a group of people that want the Memorial at Ground Zero to be anything but a memorial and tribute to those that died at the WTC on September 11, 2001. There is a RALLY AT GROUND ZERO tomorrow September 10, 2005 to show that there are those among us that will not let the Memorial be hijacked and to let those that make the decisions know that the Memorial at Ground Zero must be a tribute to those murdered that day and serve no other cause or purpose -- NO POLITICS!

At the World Trade Center Site (corners of Church and Liberty Streets in front of the stage)

Program will begin promptly at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 10:30 a.m.

Family Member Group members will have a limited number of signs to hand out. Please feel free to bring signs. All signs should reflect the message: No politics where heroes died - The IFC Must Go.
I urge all those in the area of NYC to attend this rally... and those that can not attend, and if you have not already done so, please SIGN THE PETITION at the site.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

War Faces

ok Katy wants war faces for self-portrait Friday... well, I don't have one of me (and I ain't taking one neither 'cause I'm way too vain for that), but this is Georgie at the 3ID deployment ceremony back in January... His Dad said, "Give us your War Face." and he did...

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.


Funny how the mind works... In the more than eight months Noah was in Iraq, I rarely had nightmares. Oh, I had worries, for sure and sometimes my fear and worry kept me awake at night, especially on those occasions when we would hear nothing from the Guys for extended periods. But I don't remember dreaming bad dreams or having nightmares about the Guys.
Since Noah was injured though, I have had more nonsensical nightmares that involved all things military which awaken me and leave those feelings of anxiety that linger for some time after. For instance, last night I had two different nightmares. In the first, everyone was running inside the seats and recesses of a large stadium (I swear it was the Meadowlands in Jersey). People were running and there were soldiers with guns protecting us as we all ran. I have no clue what or whom they were shooting at or protecting us from, but they were protecting us. None of the soldiers were known to me, but they were definitely the Good Guys.
In the second dream there were people in a large office building with lots of doors and rooms and hallways and my DH and I were trying to help an older man who needed to have someone on a stretcher moved down a few flights of stairs... but when we arrived, there were lots of people helping. Again, there were military people around and there was some urgency to the situation... and fear. I remember having fearful dreams while we were in Germany, too although I can not remember any of the details -- just that when I woke, my heart was beating fast and I was anxious.
I'd suspect that these might be subliminal references to the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, but I'm getting my information from print and online sources since television coverage is no longer factual but instead hysterical... And somehow I know these dreams are just all the worry and stress and anguish of the last 18 days bubbling over from those places in our heads that we tuck all those feelings when they would otherwise overwhelm our sanity... and then we have to let them out in small pieces so that they disperse... Yes, funny how the mind works.
And so today I'm going to repair a little... getting my hair cut... maybe ride a horse in the hills... take my dogs for a long walk in the woods and let them chase butterflies and tiny lightning fast ground lizards (which they actually think they can catch - HA!)... and then I'm taking a few days off... off to help a certain soldier get settled into new housing... and we're going to go get his "stuff"... a television, a radio, blankets and pillow... taking him civilian clothing... and a Class A uniform hung so precisely in a closet nine months ago that will be updated with new rank and a Combat Infantry Badge awarded yesterday so that he can wear it to the memorial service next week for a fallen comrade and friend... and when I return, I plan to stay home for a while...
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thursday Update...

We arrived home from Germany late last evening.... Noah left the Medical Center at Landstuhl, Germany on Tuesday and arrived at his original Army base here in the United States some time yesterday via Andrews Air Force Base. They determined that the damage to his back & neck could not be healed in the short time allotted for care at Landstuhl, and so he will be treated at the Army medical facility at the base here in the U.S. While he did not suffer any fractures of the vertebrae or any apparent permanent damage to the spine, he has a long recovery of healing (time) and physical therapy ahead of him to repair the muscles and ligatures in his back and neck... They will be conducting tests over the next few days and weeks to determine whether he has any permanent damage... The doctors are hopeful (as are we) that time & PT will return him to 100%! We realize every minute of every day just how lucky he is and we are that his injuries were not as serious as they had originally thought... I'm convinced it was the prayers!

Thank you all for all your caring and concern and prayers!
Please keep the family of Sgt. Matthew Bohling in your prayers... Matt was 22 and was killed Monday by an IED. My Guys say he was one heck of a guy...
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Round of Applause, Please

We came to Germany under the most stressful conditions imagineable for the loved ones of soldiers... the not knowing. Our lives since August 23 have been forever altered and touched by events and people... and as we prepare to leave, I'd like to tell you about just some of the people...
First, of course, there are the wonderful people of Soldiers Angels -- 40,000+ strong world wide and growing! Especially, Willie who was in Germany immediately for Noah, and Patti who was there for us in the U.S. from the git-go. The goodness and caring in their hearts are unmatched. (Willie, we're coming back as tourists some day really soon and will take you up on your offer to show us around your wonderful country!)
Then there are Kathy and Stacy at the Fisher House here at Landstuhl, Germany who saw to our every need and who provide a first class haven for the families of our soldiers with serious medical needs. As the holidays approach, please consider foregoing just one gift to a person and instead give generously in their name to the Fisher House in Landstuhl (send checks to Fisher House - Landstuhl, CMR 402, Box 669, APO AE 09180, Attn.: Kathy Gregory) or the Fisher House nearest your homes. Their caring and kindness and professionalism is beyond any expectations.
A BIG THANK YOU to LTC B., LT F., SFC Jenny D. and the other case managers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center who not only deal with the needs of the wounded and ill soldiers (like Noah) from the minute they arrive to the minute they leave -- day in and day out -- but who showed us every courtesy and all respect (and are a bunch of really nice people to boot!) Not to mention the caring and gifted medical staff at LRMC. You people are the best! Families of soldiers should rest easier knowing that we have seen first hand the quality of care the soldiers get here and in Balad (we hope you never have to find out first hand, we just want you all to know!!)
SUPER HUGS to Mr. and Mrs. Greyhawk who stopped by to see Noah and then took the time to come by and see us once we arrived... Two brighter, witty and more friendly people you will never meet (don't forget to come visit!!)
Another BIG SALUTE to Capt. Todd F. whom we met in line at Newark Airport boarding our plane to Frankfurt who overheard the airline people speaking with us and offered to get us from Frankfurt to Landstuhl (1-1/2 hours by car) if our shuttle transportation was a no-show because of our extended flight delay... Todd is here protecting our forces everywhere from biohazards -- another soldier caring for your soldiers!
To Holly & PFC Lucas (a very young married couple) now back in the U.S. Lucas was three weeks into his deployment and got tangled up with an RPG on the roof of a building and now has 5 rods in his back but was already planning on how to get back to his unit before they could even get him to sit in a chair! You are in our prayers and thoughts every day... and you'll be hearing from us!!
And to the towering Sgt. Jim S. who was being treated at LRMC for an out-of-control immune reaction (his body was treating his own skin like an infection and it was peeling off in sheets (sorry for the visual)... who pushed Noah's wheelchair for a few days and then insisted (nicely) that Noah get off his butt and walk 'cause it was good for Noah [smile]... was all set to get back to his unit in Afghanistan when word came that his beloved grandmother had passed away suddenly back home in Minnesota and is flying tomorrow to attend her funeral. Our thoughts are with you, too, Jim and we'll be in touch... Give that girl of yours a hug & kiss for us!
And our prayers are with Kevin and his parents B & K... Kev has a serious blood infection which he acquired in Afghanistan and is not responding to treatment... all my friends will be storming heaven for you, K... and us, too!! (ok, start praying!)
And to Sgt. Tom and his wife Debby ... Tom shattered his heel in Afghanistan and walked on it for six days (just thought it was bruised) because there was no way he was leaving his guys... Tom, it's ok to use the crutch... really - it's very manly!
And we don't know the soldier's name, but he is arriving here tomorrow from Afghanistan as he is about to become a father for the first time... but she's really early... IT'S TRIPLETS!!! (We're not sure what's in the water here, but we saw a 6 mos. old set of identical triplet girls today being walked by their Dad!)
And the AF mom who is here with her 5 year old for a brain disorder (Dad's on the ground in Iraq) and will be sent back to the U.S. for a special pediatric surgeon to look at the case... but spends part of her day visiting other parents in need of cheering and who brings her rambunctious son to the beds of soldiers who just need a hug from a kid 'cause they miss their own so much!
And a heartfelt thank you to all of the visitors to this site who have continued to keep Noah and our family in their thoughts and prayers. We have been deeply touched and have had our faith fully restored in the goodness of the human family.
And finally tonight, our hearts and thoughts and prayers and tears are with the family of the soldier from Noah's company that made the ultimate sacrifice yesterday... we only received the notification this evening that we had lost one of our own and that the family had been notified, but no name was given... Since we've been here we haven't been in contact with our Guys... and we dread that the first news that may greet Noah when he makes it back to his home base is that one of his own has perished... This does not get easier.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Take Me Home, Country Roads

We have been in Germany since Wednesday and saw Noah immediately at Fisher House where he had been transported from the Ramstein Medical Barracks very near the hospital. Injured soldiers are permitted to stay in this barrack-style housing directly next to the hospital so long as they have no grave health condition and are mobile or somewhat mobile -- under their own steam, on crutches or in wheelchairs. It's a group that understands that they'd rather be somewhere else... the Air Force personnel stationed in the area volunteer their time multiple nights a week to take the wounded to dinners and shopping, the movies... A night out with comrades in the real world.

Noah's tests late last week turned up no breaks or fractures in the upper or lower back and a brief but intense physical therapy regime was prescribed by the neurologist. He had medical appointments and tests most of the day Thursday, after which the physician determined that they could not make his spine right in the time allotted at Landstuhl, and he would be RHB'd -- returned to home base -- to continue additional treatments and therapies. There is no timetable for a "cure" -- but at the moment it looks to be many months. They will do additional testing for the cause of some of the more significant pain and to determine whether the spinal swelling will result in any permanent damage. He has been unable to sleep for more than a few hours each night (still) and they will try and sort that out at home base. He is disappointed to be going home and hopes that there is a chance he'll get to return to finish what he started. This is sometimes more difficult for him to deal with than the physical injuries.

So, unless Noah gets bumped from the manifest of the next med transport, our Guy will be heading for the U.S. on Tuesday... we'll head for home early Wednesday.

The wonderful people at
Fisher House have been stupendously supportive and this place provides much-needed relief from the stresses of the hospital environment that those with loved ones at the hospital must face. It also provides an opportunity for the families to meet and talk with others in the same situation -- to compare notes, to trade stories, to share information, to share fellowship. I have delighted in showing visitors around the "house" from the Landstuhl community that had not had the opportunity before to acquaint themselves with the generosity of the American people and the Fisher family. However, the Fisher Houses, once built, rely on the continued generosity of the public to continue providing services and the level of caring to soldiers' families. I know in the aftermath of Katrina that needs are great, but please consider supporting Fisher House's relocation of veterans from VA centers in the ravaged areas.

Another worthy cause in the aftermath of Katrina is Soldiers Angels
OPERATION KATRINA SOLDIERS RELIEF FUND which is raising funds for the families of our soldiers serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Many of these soldiers will be returning home in the next few weeks to find that their families have been displaced and their homes and businesses destroyed.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.