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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

An Iraqi Army unit prepares to board a Task Force Baghdad UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter for a counterinsurgency mission in Baghdad. Photo by Spc. Ronald Shaw Jr.

On the 4th of July... Oregon NG Soldier lost his heart in Heidelberg, Germany!

On July 3rd Mary Ann, Natalie, Rudi, and I were at Kleber Barracks in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Our Swiss Angel Natalie came with us for the first time. She lives near Landstuhl Hospital. Here's Maryann’s story about our visit.

While sitting at the picnic table outside Kleber Barracks, I noticed a soldier standing nearby in BDUs who seemed to be listening intently to our conversation. A few minutes later I had to drive off post with another soldier to the gas station to buy something. When I got back a lot of the soldiers were hungry so I was busy for a while unpacking our picnic baskets. We had a lot of German food with us: Rudi's special noodle salad, a delicious Bauernbrot (farmer bread), housemade sausages (means Wurst), canned liverwurst, Blutwurst (blood sausage), and more.. ( .

When I was done I sat down again to eat something myself and noticed I was sitting next to that soldier in cammies. When I looked on his left arm I saw his unit patch - WOHOW I thought!

A snake! And the first thing I thought of was the Snake River and Oregon and Matthew Braddock's Purple Heart ceremony! So I asked the Soldier, "that a snake?" He answered, "Yes Ma'am it is! I am from the National Guard. The 2nd Battalion, 116th Armor Cavalry, was originally constituted on 4 March 1920 in the Idaho National Guard as the 1st Cavalry. It organized between March-November 1920 in the valley of the Snake River."

And I said, "I am Willie! I was in Oregon in April 2005 at Matthew Braddock's Purple Heart ceremony." And he said, "Me too!" WOHOW! Sgt. Calvin J.S. then said, "We met there but I wasn't sure if it was you, so I didn't say anything! Great to see you again -- wow, small world! I’m in Matthew’s unit. I’m going back soon to my guys in Iraq. They’re waiting for me. It’s not good that I’m here and my guys are in Iraq.”

We talked about Matthew how he has now learned to walk without crutches and so on...Here is the story about Matthew.

Heidelberg is a charming city in southwestern Germany and its world-famous Castle (mainly 14th-17th century) sits high above the city and the picturesque Old Town is breathtakingly beautiful! Heidelberg is one of the most impressive historic landmarks of Germany. The castle is called the "red-walled castle" and is an old, partly destroyed Schloss located in the hills on the eastern side of the old university city of Heidelberg. Steeped in tradition, this town is home to seemingly contrasting worlds. This makes it exciting and keeps it "young at heart." It stands both for Germany's oldest university and modern research facilities. It also stands for historic streets and a lively university atmosphere and the longest and one of the most attractive pedestrian zones in Europe. Heidelberg is a place you must see!

Isn't it a nice place to relax! About only 45 minutes from the Kleber Barracks.

So, since I had the next day off work I asked Calvin, “Would you like to go to Heidelberg? I would like to show you something from my wonderful country!” And he answered quickly, “Yes that would be great!” Rudi said to him, “My wife can you pick up at 11 am at the South Gate.” But Calvin answered, “Too late - at 7am! The days are so short here.” We finally agreed on 9am, which was still pretty early for me because I need 1.5 hours to drive to Kleber during the morning rush hour.

We met at 9am at the gate, although I was a bit late due to all the traffic. Calvin was waiting at the gate. As I drove up with my red Nissan 240 SX he called out, "Is that you?" And our wonderful day began!

So we went to Heidelberg. It was so hot that day I cannot tell you. On the way there in the car I told him something about our wonderful Pfalz-Rhineland region. For more Information about the Rhineland see:

Calvin kept saying, "It looks like Oregon here! I feel at home! No one will believe this! The green hills and fields! So far from my home in Oregon!" He told me, "I’ve never been to Germany or Europe. I have never visited a castle! I’ve never sat outside a sidewalk café with a cup of coffee…" Before Calvin and I enter the castle grounds, we had to walk around the gardens to the hill, go through the stone gates, and then on the side of the castle is a lookout where we could see all the way down the Neckar river. Heidelberg is the headquarters from the US Army Europe, too.

And now a little bit of history about Heidelberg castle. It was Prince Elector Ruprecht III (1398 - 1410) who had the first representative building as a regal residence in the inner courtyard built. The exterior of the building, divided into a ground floor made of stone and framework upper levels, seems quite unpretentious today. Another regal building is located opposite to the Ruprecht Building: the Fountain Hall. Prince Elector Philipp (1476 - 1508) is said to have arranged the transfer of the hall's columns from a decayed palace of Charlemagne to Heidelberg. The Prince Electors of the 16th and 17th century turned the fortress into a castle and added two representative palace buildings to the complex. The two dominant buildings at the eastern and northern side of the courtyard were erected during the rule of Ottheinrich (1556 - 1559) and Friedrich IV (1583 - 1610). Today, they are considered to be two of the most important buildings in German architectural history. Under Friedrich V (1613 - 1619), the main building of the westside was erected, the so called "English Building".

The Castle and its gardens were destroyed, however, during the 30 Years' War. Later, it was rebuilt by Prince Elector Karl Ludwig (1649 - 1680), only to be destroyed once again by French troops. Prince Elector Karl Theodor who resided in Schwetzingen tried to restore the castle to make it inhabitable once again, but in vain: Lightning struck the Castle in 1764. In the centuries that followed, the Castle was misused as a quarry - castle stones were used to build new houses in Heidelberg. This was stopped in 1800 by Count Charles de Graimberg who made any effort he could to preserve the Heidelberg Castle. In spite of its Gothic interior, it was not before 1934, that the King's Hall was added. For more information see

As we walked around we visited the castle's Otto Heinrich wing houses where there is a large pharmaceutical museum. Later, in the cellar of Heidelberg Castle we saw a barrel, containing the famed Heidelberg Tun, a wine vat with a capacity of 220,017 liters (58,124 gallons). Can you imagine you that full of wine? The present day barrel was constructed in 1751 from 130 oak tree trunks. It is 8.5 meters across and 7 meters high with a dance floor on top. It was built under Karl Theodor, and a baroque plaque bears his initials.

Calvin kept saying "what a beautiful and breathtaking place to visit." It was great, and the old castle really is amazing!
Anyway, one of Calvin's dreams was to sit in a café. So after we visited the castle we sat at the small Castle Café just outside the South gate under a large old tree. Here he tried his first strong German coffee with a German apple pie (gedeckter Apfelkuchen). He loved it. After our stop we went into the old town just below the castle to soak up the surroundings. When we arrived at the Korn Marketplace we visited Old Town Heidelburg with its small shops, old church and wonderful coffeehouses. We had to stop there at another café and order a second strong coffee. It really is a wonderful experience, just to sit on the sidewalk, watch the people, talk and relax! Suddenly, the weather changed dramatically! A thunderstorm was coming. So we moved inside the café. After the rain stopped and we went to the car to drive further to Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, and Bad Dürkheim.

Bad Dürkheim is located in the mildest climatic zone north of the Alps. Situated only 30 minutes from Heidelberg, this historic health resort, which can trace its history back well over a thousand years, nestles in the area where the eastern hills run into the Palatine Forest, one of the largest nature parks in Germany. Today the spa town and is one of Germany's largest wine-growing districts. It offers not only Mediterranean climate with southern flair, numerous castles and fortresses, but also the proverbial cheerful nature of people from the Palatinate. The town is situated on the German "Weinstrasse", or wine trail.

Finally we were in Bad Dürkheim. We had lunch here in the wonderful old Restaurant Dürkheimer Faß (Faß means Barrel). I ordered us both a typical German meal: A paar of Rhineland Palatine fresh pork sausages (Bratwurst) with Bratenjus, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes. When Calvin tried it he said, “What a delicious flavor!”

Normally you need a doggy bag at this restaurant, but we both licked our plates clean! After lunch we drove back through the rain to Kaiserslautern.

Fortunately I had backpack for Calvin with a blanket (the transport airplanes are so cold), a sleep mask and earplugs! It also contained underwear, socks, Tshirt, personal items, candy, and get well cards.

We both had a wonderful time - and one of our Heroes had a wonderful day, a wonderful Happy 4th of July 2005!

If you would like to help us provide Transitional backpacks for our next visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany please send me an e-mail: In the past 4 weeks we brought 40 backpacks to Landstuhl and fulfilled a request for phone cards from a Major from the Army National Guard Liaison Office. In Kleber Barracks the soldiers can use free Internet and make free phone calls from the common rooms. But in the Landstuhl Hospital the wounded who cannot leave their beds need calling cards in order to call their family and loved ones! Phone cards are really needed for the soldiers in Landstuhl!

Angels here in Germany Manfred, Rudi, Willie and Irene!

If you would like to donate phone cards or other items for the backpacks please email Willie for the shipping address. Please include your first and last name and your home address on the e-mail. This way we know who sent things.

In the Kleber barracks from left:
Therese, Nita, Kathy Gregory, Fisher House Landstuhl, Mary Ann and Irene

If anyone would like to help MaryAnn prepare our next visit in the Kleber Barracks contact her by email

What Have We Accomplished in Iraq?

Seamus passes along the answer:

Subject: Did you know...?

Of course I didn't know. How could I?

Did you know that 47 countries have reestablished their embassies in Iraq?

Did you know that the Iraqi government currently employs 1.2 million Iraqi people? Did you know that 3100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been built in Iraq?

Did you know that Iraq's higher educational structure consists of 20 Universities, 46 Institutes or colleges and 4 research centers, all currently operating?

Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States = in January 2005 for the reestablished Fulbright program?

Did you know that the Iraqi Navy is operational?! They have 5 100-foot patrol craft, 34 smaller vessels and a naval infantry regiment.

Did you know that Iraq's Air Force consists of three operational squadrons, which includes 9 reconnaissance and 3 US C-130 transport aircraft (under Iraqi operational control) which operate day and night, and will soon add 16 UH-1 helicopters and 4 Bell Jet Rangers?

Did you know that Iraq has a counter-terrorist unit and a Commando Battalion?

Did you know that the Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 fully trained and equipped police officers?

Did you know that there are 5 Police Academies in Iraq that produce over 3500 new officers each 8 weeks?

Did you know there are more than 1100 building projects going on in Iraq? They include 364 schools, 67 public clinics, 15 hospitals, 83 railroad stations, 22 oil facilities, 93 water facilities and 69 electrical facilities.

Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations?

Did you know that 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary school by mid October?

Did you know that there are 1,192,000 cell phone subscribers in Iraq and phone use has gone up 158%?

Did you know that Iraq has an independent media that consists of 75 radio stations, 180 newspapers and 10 television stations?

Did you know that the Baghdad Stock Exchange opened in June of 2004?

Did you know that 2 candidates in the Iraqi presidential election had a televised debate recently?



Instead of reflecting our love for our country, we get photos of flag burning incidents at Abu Ghraib and people throwing snowballs at the presidential motorcades.

The lack of accentuating the positive in Iraq serves two purposes. It is intended to undermine the world's perception of the United States thus minimizing consequent support, and it is intended to discourage American citizens.

Above facts are verifiable on the Department of Defense web site.
PORT CALL — A rainbow arches over the guided missile destroyer USS Gonzalez as it pulls into the Port of Mombasa, Kenya, for an overnight port call, July 6, 2005. The visit marks the first time a U.S. Naval ship has visited Mombasa since 1999. Gonzalez is currently deployed to the Fifth Fleet area of responsibility as part of the Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group and is participating in coalition maritime security operations. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Wes Eplen

How To Support our Heroes

From Seamus comes the story of a Boy Scout who has found one heck of a way to earn an Eagle Scout designation:

Take a Marine to the Movies!

My name is Patrick O'Keefe. I am a Life Scout working toward Eagle Scout with Troop 1113 in Fairfax City, and I am asking you for help with my Eagle project. I am collecting new and used DVDs, CDs, and Nonperishable Foods to send to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, a U.S. Marine unit currently serving in Iraq. The Marines and sailors would appreciate all sorts of DVDs (action, comedy, drama) and CDs (rock, rap, hip-hop, etc.). Examples of good food are individually-wrapped items like granola bars, non-chocolate candy, slim-jims, trail mix--anything that would not be easily crushed or melted. Also, if you would like to write a letter of encouragement to the troops, feel free to include this.

You can email Patrick for information at:

He's looking to gather donations by no later than August 1, 2005.


And Vicki, a USAF veteran, and the mother of a deployed Marine, has a website devoted to helping our heroes send messages home. Vicki's group provides cassette recorders, tapes, and other materials free of charge to deployed heroes who can then send messages home to their families. Vicki's also got some great pictures up at the site.

Check it out at:

At Work In...

The U.S. Army... Sgt Marvi Holden and Spc. Tom Blalock, from the 155th Brigade Combat Team, search a building for insurgents near Al Tunis, Iraq. Photo by Lance Cpl. Nicholas Lapinski.

The U.S. Navy...
Gulf of Taranto, Italy (June 28, 2005) - The Italian submarine rescue vehicle SRV-300 is launched from the Italian salvage ship Anteo while the Finnish ship Fennica, back left, launches the Royal Navy's LR-5 submarine rescue vehicle during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) submarine escape and rescue exercise Sorbet Royal 2005. Divers from various nations will work together to rescue submariners during the exercise in the Mediterranean. Twenty-seven participating nations, including 14 NATO nations will test their capabilities and interoperability. Four submarines with up to 52 crewmembers aboard will be placed on the bottom of the ocean, while rescue forces with rescue vehicles and systems work together to solve complex disaster rescue problems. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Journalist Dave Fliesen

The U.S. Air Force...

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Tech. Sgt. Cedric Herron maintains an MH-53M Pave Low helicopter. Several aircraft from Hurlburt Field, Fla., were diverted here after an evacuation for Hurricane Dennis on July 8. Sergeant Herron is assigned to the 16th Helicopter Maintenance Squadron at Hurlburt. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Jon Quinlan)

The U.S. Marine Corps...

AL ASAD, Iraq – A military working dog, Fido, a 90-pound Belgian Malinois demonstrates his aggression while his handler, Sgt. Christopher Moulton, a Augusta, Ga., native holds him back during a training session here. The military workings dogs train daily to keep their senses keen throughout their deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.Photo by: Cpl. C. Alex Herron Read Story Associated with this photo

The U.S. Coast Guard
MOBILE, Ala. (July 11, 2005)--A Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station New Orleans conducts an assessment of damage today caused by Hurricane Dennis along the Destin, Fla., shoreline. USCG photo by PAC Veronica Bandrowsky

In Today's News - Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Quote of the Day
"The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem."
--Walt Whitman

News of Note
London Bombings
British Cops: Evidence Points to Four Homicide Bombers
Police hunt possible master bomber

Operation Iraqi Freedom
Homicide Bomber Murders GI, Seven Children in Iraq
Al-Zarqawi blasts mentor for remarks
Suicide car bomb kills at least 25 in Baghdad
Australia deploys troops to Afghanistan, stays put in Iraq

Operation Enduring Freedom
More U.S. Forces to Deploy
Coalition Works to Help Kabul Residents — Story

Fallen Heroes
Hawaii Remembers Fallen SEALs
Photos: Honoring Fallen SEALs

Homeland Security / War on Terror
U.S., Italy Reaffirm Anti-Terror Stance
Singapore, U.S. Sign Strategic Agreement

Welcome Home
Photo Essay: Hickam Homecoming

Fox News
Critics to Bush: Oust Rove
Israeli Troops Reoccupy West Bank City After Mall Attack
Gaza Closed to Nonresidents
Senate Debates Stem Cell Bill

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq
Egypt vows to avenge ambassador's death
Israel closes Gaza Strip settlements
Israeli troops reoccupy West Bank city
Israeli forces raid Palestinian town
New Iran president plans new nuclear ideas
Egyptian court orders Sadat assassin freed
Military prosecutor indicts 5 Jordanians
Official watches Iraq police in training
Suicide attacker kills two at Israel mall
Gunmen kill human rights activists in Iraq
Israel to terminate military gov't in Gaza

Department of Defense
Brigade Reflects on Afghanistan Deployment — Story
Vehicle Brings Medical Aid to Remote Regions — Story
Airmen Teach C-130 Operations to Iraqis — Story
Marines Ensure Supplies, Help Iraqi Economy — Story

'Vets' Provide Multiple Missions in Al Anbar
U.S. Unit Helps Bring Water to Iraqi Farmers
Marines Unearth IEDs in Operation Shadyville

Attack on Medical Group Shows Desperation

General Sees ‘Seamless’ Force in Southwest Asia

Navy EOD Divers Train with Kenyans

Army Warrant Officers Share Brotherly Bond — Story

Wounded Make Cross-Country Trek

Supporters Earn Freedom Award
New York City Salutes Seabees
Marines Honor Iraqi Freedom Vets


Iraq Transition of Power

Land Mine Kills U.S. Soldier
Two Marines Killed in Action
U.S. Citizen Released by Coalition
Iraq Reconstruction
Iraq Daily Update
Multinational Force Iraq
Weekly Progress Report (pdf)

Afghan Logisticians to Visit U.S.
Afghanistan Daily Update

Public Reassured of Transit Safety
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Defense Review Looks to the Future
June Recruiting, Retention Stats Up
National Guard, Reserve Update

Defense Officials Identify Casualties — Story

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar


Today in History
1787 - Congress establishes the Northwest Territory, excluding slavery therein.
1854 - U.S. forces shell and burn San Juan del Norte, Nicaragua.
1865 - Horace Greeley advises readers to "Go west young man."; P.T. Barnum's museum burns down.
1868 - Oscar J. Dunn, a former slave, becomes Lt. Governor of Louisiana.
1878 - The Treaty of Berlin amends the terms of the Treaty of San Stefano.
1898 - Guglielmo Marconi patents the radio.
1908 - The fourth modern Olympic games open in London.
1934 - Babe Ruth hits his 700th home run, against Detroit.
1960 - The Democratic National Convention nominates Senator John F. Kennedy for president.
1969 - The U.S.S.R. launches the Luna-15 (unmanned) to the Moon.
1976 - In the U.S.S.R., the courtmartial of Valeri Sablin opens (central figure in the incident that inspired "The Hunt for Red October.")

- Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy
1928 - Bob Crane, actor (Hogan's Heroes)
1934 - Alexei S. Yeliseyev, cosmonaut (Soyuz 5, 8, 10)
1935 - Jack Kemp (Rep--NY)/US Secretary of Housing
1942 - Harrison Ford, actor (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Frantic)
1950 - George D. "Pinky" Nelson, PhD/astronaut (STS 41C, STS 61-C, STS-26)

- James Bradley, 3rd Astronomer Royal
1793 - Jean Paul Marat, French revolutionary, murdered
1955 - Ruth Ellis, hanged for murder (last woman executed in Britain)
1973 - Lon Chaney Jr., actor (Hawkeye, Pistols 'n' Petticoats)

Reported Missing in Action
Sam, Trinh A., Vietnam Commando; released March, 1983 - alive and well as of 1998

Gallant, Henry J., US Army SF (FL); wounded/cut off from ARVN unit during ground combat, presumed dead as of 1973
Taylor, Fred, US Army SF (VA); cut off from ARVN unit during ground combat, presumed dead as of 1973

Hurst, John Clark, USMC (TX); F4B shot down, KIA, body not recovered