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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Supporting Our Troops - Some Kids that Get It (Part II)

You'll remember I posted a few days ago about these great kids, and the wonderful letters they sent to some troops. Here's the rest of the story:


The students at San Jose school in Jacksonville. Fl made 173 cards in 3 days. I mailed them to my Hero at Camp Al-Taji last Friday. Some photos are attached of the 7th and 8th grade cards. That group worked for 2 days several periods on the cards which were beautiful. The 3rd grade wrote letters some of which I sent to you. 2nd grade made cards. They messages were ALL outstanding!
Happy Holidays.

Lisa M----

"Thank you soo much for being brave and protecting our country. You Rock!! Have a very Merry Christmas"

Don't you just love it?

Honoring the Honorable

Passed along by Seamus

Dec 12, 2005
by Congressman Joe Wilson

Dear Servicemember,

Teddy Roosevelt once said, "far and away, the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

As a member of the United States Armed Forces, your work is making a difference daily in the lives of millions of people throughout the world. You have volunteered to take on an incredible responsibility, and you continue to exceed our expectations. For centuries, U.S. soldiers have protected American families, guarded our coasts, saved our cities, and paved the way for our children and grandchildren to enjoy the same freedoms we cherish today. The work you are doing today is furthering the greatest spread of freedom and democracy in the history of the world. While most people cannot claim they risked their lives for something that is greater than themselves, you have earned this honor.

Tremendous responsibility rarely comes without great sacrifice. As you fight the War on Terrorism by land, air, and sea, I can only imagine how much you miss your family, your friends, and the comforts of home. American families are now celebrating the holiday season, and your absence is felt in your communities. While we continue to enjoy the blessings of living in our great nation, we will never forget that the American way of life is made possible by your service. You remain in the thoughts and prayers of every American.

Since our country was attacked on September 11, 2001, you have played a critical role in spreading peace through strength. Where a brutal dictator once ruled in Iraq, a new democracy has now begun to flourish. Where women were dominated by an oppressive regime in Afghanistan, they now play a critical role in their country and are enjoying the rights and privileges of democratic societies. Where terrorists once seeped through the borders of Pakistan, they are now being captured by American and Pakistani forces. Where murderers once plotted disastrous attacks against innocent civilians, they are now detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Where terrorists once found safe haven in the Horn of Africa, they are now on the run and unable to access the critical support they need to carry out their fanaticism. In country after country, you are stopping terrorists and ultimately protecting American families.

As a member of Congress, I have had the unique opportunity to visit your battlefields and witness your many successes. Each week, you are capturing terrorists, rebuilding communities, and giving people around the world the chance to experience opportunities that only exist in free nations. Although the media rarely reports your victories, I strongly believe that the American people recognize that you are making tremendous progress. The threat of terrorism is not temporary and your service will remain essential for years to come. We will continue to stand behind you and to entrust you with the duty of protecting our country and our families. As you resolve crises and destroy the enemies of democracy throughout the world, you reflect precisely why we must prevail in this war. You are the definition of decency, the embodiment of excellence, and the meaning of strength. Your presence abroad is securing our safety at home.

Thank-A-Soldier Week provides Americans with an outstanding outlet to personally express our appreciation to you, the brave men and women who make our freedoms possible. As the father of three sons serving in the military (including one who served for a year in Iraq), I fully understand how important it is for you to know that we support your mission. I am sure Americans throughout the world would agree with me when I say that we have never been prouder of our men and women in uniform.Although I will never be able to fully express my gratitude, I can guarantee you my unwavering support. As you continue to work for the best prize that life has to offer, never underestimate your contribution or forget how much your efforts mean to the American people.

Congressman Joe Wilson is Co-Chair of the Victory in Iraq Caucus and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He has visited Iraq 5 times and served in the National Guard for over 31 years.

Copright © 2005

Group Brightens Season in Baghdad

CHECK THIS OUT - Soldiers' Angels hits the DoD news!

By Jim Garamone and Kathleen T. Rhem / American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Dec. 12, 2005 - The package of high-end tea arrived in this dusty, hot city earlier this month with postcards and greetings from people all over the United States. When Army Sgt. 1st Class Elaine Prosa opened the box, the smell of tea and spices infused the room. The postcards and tea came from an organization called "Soldiers' Angels." The motto of the group is "May No Soldier Go Unloved."

Over the past two years, countless servicemembers throughout Iraq and Afghanistan and in military hospitals in the United States and Germany have opened such packages from their own "angels," explained Sara Ehrlich, a volunteer angel in New Jersey. Ehrlich sent the package Prosa received and hundreds more like it -- sometimes up to 15 packages a week, she said. "And when I can't send packages, I can always write letters," she added.

Soldiers' Angels is a nonprofit volunteer group founded by Patti Patton-Bader, whose son, Army Sgt. Brandon Varn, recently returned from Iraq. The group has provided angel packages to deployed servicemembers and to military hospitals and has also helped the families of many deployed servicemembers.

Prosa, an intelligence specialist, explained that she came across a sign-up sheet from the group as she processed for deployment through Fort Bliss, Texas. "When I got here, I sent them the address and the fact that I have 22 people with me."

She received a short note from Ehrlich that "had this cute little stress-reliever rock with an angel on it," Prosa said. Since then, the sergeant and her co-workers have had Ehrlich as their angel in the states. Ehrlich sends Angel packages to Prosa, who then distributes the contents to her fellow servicemembers. Ehrlich said she is impressed that Prosa is dealing with her own stress on deployment, yet still always thinks of other troops, such as those in the motor pool and on guard duty at the embassy.

Ehrlich said she hates to admit it, but she only became involved in troop-support issues when her son joined the Army. "They were off my radar before that," she told American Forces Press Service.

She said she's particularly impressed with people who support military causes even when they have no personal ties to servicemembers. "Many members (of Soldiers' Angels) do not have a direct military tie," she said. "Yet they spend hours and hours and dollars and dollars on packages."

One of Erlich's Angel packages to Prosa contained Christmas decorations. "We will break those out in a bit," Prosa said. "We need to get through the (Dec. 15) elections first."

The group also sends postcards; one Prosa received featured a painting of a 48-star American flag by American impressionist Jasper Johns. On the other side are written greetings, often with an address. Many soldiers write back thanking the folks for their support. "It means a lot," Prosa said. "It shows us we're not forgotten."

It means just as much for the volunteer angels to get the feedback, Ehrlich said. "The angels get so excited when they get a letter back," she said. "They congratulate each other."

She explained that the letter-writing campaign grew out of the care-package project. Many people can't afford or are otherwise unable to send care packages to troops, but they can write letters. Volunteer angels have sent up to 10,000 letters in one month. Letter writers sign up for a certain amount of names per week to start correspondence with. They're only committed to that first letter, unless the servicemember writes back. In that case the group expects the volunteer to maintain some correspondence.

Ehrlich said this system works because volunteers can settle on their own level of involvement. "People can participate at the level that's good for them," she said.

Ideas for supporting servicemembers continue to broaden for the Soldiers' Angels group. Recently the group has begun a program to solicit volunteers to knit or make fleece mittens for wounded servicemembers to wear while being transported from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, in Germany, to the United States. Other volunteers put together backpacks with basic hygiene supplies and clothing items for troops who show up at the hospital with nothing.

"It's a challenge," Ehrlich said, "because everybody wants to address every need, and there's a lot of needs."

Ehrlich's son, Army Sgt. Dan Ehrlich, is assigned to the 313th Military Intelligence Battalion, at Fort Bragg, N.C. She said she got through his recent six-month stint in Iraq by counting her blessings.

"As hard as it was to know that he was over there, he was so much better off than a lot of the soldiers and Marines that I support," Ehrlich said. "He wasn't 'outside the wire.' I came away from that feeling that much more determined to make sure that the guys in worse situations know that we care."

She related an amusing anecdote from when Dan was deployed. Ehrlich was "chatting" with him online one day when she mentioned she received an engraved glass plaque as a show of appreciation from the 1st Corps Support Command. Dan retorted: "You're going to have more commendations from this tour than I am."

Ehrlich said she wants all Americans to understand there are many ways they can help support the troops. Some members of her community drop off magazines and books after they've been read. Others pack boxes or contribute snack items.

"There's a way for everyone to support our deployed men and women. There's no end to the ways," she said. "If everybody found just one way that worked for them to provide support, it would be a wonderful thing. They're over there and they're in harm's way, and I think most of all they just want to be remembered.

"We need to let them know they'll never be forgotten," Ehrlich said. "That's the most important thing we can send."

(AFPS writer Jim Garamone reported from Baghdad; colleague Kathleen T. Rhem reported from Washington.)
EARLY VOTING — An Iraqi army soldier places his ballot into the ballot box in Hayji, Iraq, Dec. 12, 2005, after voting along with other Iraqi security forces. They will then provide security for local Iraqi citizens to vote on Dec. 15, 2005. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway

Welcome Home!

NAVAL AIR STATION – JOINT RESERVE BASE FORT WORTH, Texas (AFPN) -- Family and friends gather on the flightline wait for their loved ones to deplane. More than 150 301st Fighter Wing Airmen returned from Balad Air Base, Iraq Dec. 11. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Julie Briden-Garcia)

In Today's News - Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Quote of the Day
"Putting people first has always been America's secret weapon. It's the way we've kept the spirit of our revolutions alive -- a spirit that drives us to dream and dare, and take great risks for a greater good."
-- Ronald Reagan

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Bush: Challenges Face Iraq- Video: Bush Speech
Early Voting Begins in Iraq - Torture Charges' Effect Weighed
Prominent Sunni politician shot dead in Iraq
Exiles begin voting in Iraq election
Iraq troop pull-out could begin in 2006: report
Campaigning in Iraq a Tricky Proposition
Embedded With the 101st Airborne
Progress amid decline: Mosul a city of contrasts
Poll of Iraqis reveals mix of emotions
The Iraq vote: Factions at war fight for future
Iraqi prime minister takes aim at police torture

Operation Enduring Freedom
Quake Hits Afghan-Pakistani Border Region
U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Change Tactics

Homeland Security / War on Terror
Judge Clears Way for Border Fence Construction
French Police Bust Suspected Islamic Terror Network
Bin Laden May Not Be Controlling Al Qaeda

Gitmo News
Judge nears decision on fate of 15 Guantanamo detainees
US protesters camp near Cuban checkpoint

Tossed DeLay Charge Appealed

Supreme Court
Supreme Court to Review Texas Redistricting Map
Fight looms if Republicans change Senate rules

Moonbats on Parade
An unflinching pacifist determined to stay course

Man goes wrong way on highway for 11 miles
Man loses bet by staying alive

Other News of Note
Executed - Williams dies by lethal injection

Fox News
Undersea Quake Spawns Tsunami Warning in Fiji
Chicago Construction Accident Kills Two
6.7 Quake Hits Pakistan
Lab Mice Grow Human Brain Cells After Injections
Mistrial in Vioxx Case
Stocks to Watch: Best Buy

Reuters: Top News
Fed set to raise US rates, outlook hazier
No tax refund flood seen after key EU ruling
Gift cards have little impact on holiday sales: report
Smedvig shares leap on Noble Corp. stake purchase
RIM's shares rise on patent-suit settlement hopes
ConocoPhillips to buy Burlington Video
Popeye's parent's shares soar on CIBC upgrade
Myogen vascular drug meets goal, shares surge
UN Council considers action on killings in Lebanon Video
Annan says poor states urgently need WTO deal Video
Israel's Netanyahu takes big lead in Likud race
Bush says he does not live in a bubble
Study pinpoints species facing extinction threat
Mass stranding of whales, dolphins on Cape Cod investigated
Honda's robot grows up, ready for office chores
Microsoft Xbox 360 sales start slow in Japan: study
Swedish supercar not for chickens
Tourists unfazed by bird flu in Asia
High cholesterol may raise blood pressure-study
Car Bomb Kills Anti-Syrian Politician

AP World News
Racial Unrest Spreading in Australia
U.N. Probe Finds New Syrian Tie to Slaying
Iran's President Again Doubts Holocaust
Mexicans Honor Virgin of Guadalupe
At Least 3 Haitians Shot During Protest
Massive Fire in Britain Burns a Third Day
Syria Eyed in Death of Lebanese Editor
Security Tight in Liberia After Clashes
Thai Official Disputes Parents' Claim
Colombian Fighters Surrender Arms, Disband
Croat Pleads Not Guilty to War Crimes
Nigerians Try to ID Kin Killed in Crash
Bolivian Could Be a 'Nightmare' for U.S.

The Seattle Times
Bush estimates 30,000 Iraqis have died in war
Mining legislation reworked by GOP
Foreign Accent syndrome baffles medical experts
Immigration booming
Two die, 70 hurt in Michigan nursing-home fire
Hotel aid extended for Katrina victims
Security key to Iran accord, ElBaradei says
Toxin levels high in Arctic killer whales, study finds
U.N. diplomats now minding their parking
Selling medication sends elderly to jail
Ex-diplomat admits to hiding affair

Chicago Sun-Times
Federal crews wrapping up repairs at Midway
N.Y. Times reporter named in court filing
12% of U.S. population now foreign-born
Appalachian trend: Elderly selling meds to addicts
Officials: Man had 100 bags of coke in belly

Boston Globe: World
No CIA flight requests found, official says
Chinese mourn victims of a land protest
In Britain, a US-bred bobby seeks right to carry a gun
Expanding the Military's Role
Bombings Increase in Afghanistan
War's Trauma Wears on Children
Bush Calls new Abuse 'Unacceptable'
School Renovations Seek Bright Future

CENTCOM: News Releases

Department of Defense
Elections Represent Milestone in Strategy - Story Remarks Video
Bush: Setbacks Part of Path to Democracy
Force Level Assessment Likely After Elections - Story
Reconstruction Effort Changes Face of Iraq - Story
Iraqi General Cites Progress, Challenges

Marksmanship Team Trains Afghan Soldiers - Story
Renovated Schools Benefit Iraqi Students - Story
U.S. Paratroopers Teach Iraqis IED Recognition - Story More Photos
First Iraqi Cadet Class Wraps Up Officer Training - Story

Navy Employee Embodies Seabee Spirit - Story

Memorial to Honor Fallen Troops

3 U.S. Soldiers Killed
Iraqi Helicopters To Be Upgraded
Conditions Set for Successful Voting
Iraqis Have Lead in Voting Security
Poll Shows Iraqis Want to Vote
Win Sparks Celebratory Fusillade
Iraq Daily Update
This Week in Iraq (pdf)
Multinational Force Iraq
Eye on Iraq Update (pdf)
State Dept. Weekly Iraq Report (pdf)
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Iraq Reconstruction

Troops Assist With Hajj Journey
Afghanistan Daily Update

Rice: Democracy Support 'Realistic'
Fighting Terrorists Prevents Attacks
Fact Sheet: War on Terror
Fact Sheet: Terror Plots Disrupted
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Troops Prepare to Fight Terror War
Acquisition Personnel Honored
BRAC Plan on Schedule
Recruiting Rates Up Militarywide
Technology Helps Send Greetings
Rumsfeld Dismisses Rumors
National Guard, Reserve Update

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


National Hurricane Center

Today in History
1294 - Pope Coelestinus V ends term
1570 - Sweden/Denmark signs Peace of Stettin
1572 - Spanish army beats Geuzen fleet under Admiral Lumey
1577 - Sir Francis Drake sets sail from England to go around the world
1621 - Emperor Ferdinand II delegates 1st anti-Reformation decree
1734 - England & Russia sign trade agreement
1759 - 1st music store in America opens (Philadelphia)
1769 - Dartmouth College in New Hampshire received its charter
1774 - 1st incident of the Revolution-400 attack Fort William & Mary, New Hampshire
1816 - Patent for a dry dock issued to John Adamson, Boston
1833 - HMS Beagle/Charles Darwin arrives in Port Deseado, Patagonie
1843 - "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens published, 6,000 copies sold
1861 - Battle of Alleghany Summit, WV
1862 - Battle of Fredericksburg, VA (Marye's Heights); South beats North
1864 - Battle of Fort McAllister, GA
1895 - 1st complete execution of Gustav Mahlers 2nd Symphony
1900 - Battle at Nooitgedacht: Generals The la Rey/Smuts beat Britten
1903 - Italo Marcioni patents the ice cream cone (New Jersey)
1903 - Wright Brothers make 1st flight at Kittyhawk
1906 - German chancellor Bernhard von Bülow disbands the Parliament
1907 - German emperor Wilhelm II visits Amsterdam
1916 - Avalanche kills 10,000 Austrian & Italian troops in 24 hours in Tyrol
1918 - US army of occupation crosses the Rhine, enters Germany; Woodrow Wilson becomes the first to make a foreign visit as President (France)
1920 - F. Pease's interferometer measures 1st stellar diameter (Betelgeuse); League of nations establishes International Court of Justice in The Hague; Netherlands breaks contact with kingdoms of Serbia, Croatia & Slavia
1928 - Clip-on tie designed
1930 - Theodore Steeg forms French government
1938 - Los Angeles freezes at 28ºF
1939 - Battle at La Plata - 3 British cruisers vs German Graf Spee
1941 - German occupiers forbid National Front & Netherlands Union; Lawine battlers destroy Haaraz, Peru; about 3,000 die; U-81 torpedoes British aircraft carrier Ark Royal
1942 - Seyss-Inquart allows Dutch Nazi Anton Mussert to call himself Leader
1943 - 150 US Marauders bomb Schiphol
1944 - Japanese kamikaze crashes into US cruiser Nashville, kills 138
1946 - Léon Blum elected French premier
1947 - Maine Turnpike opens to traffic
1950 - James Dean begins his career with an appearance in a Pepsi commercial
1959 - Archbishop Makarios elected 1st President of Cyprus
1960 - Italy beats US in Davis cup (1st time in 24 years US not in finals); Laos General Fumi Nosavang occupies Vientiane
1961 - Gideon Hausner in Jerusalem demands death penalty for Adolf Eichmann
1962 - Relay 1 communication satellite launched
1964 - In El Paso TX, LBJ & Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz set off an explosion diverting Rio Grande, to reshape US-México border
1965 - Algerian President Boumédienne visits Moscow
1966 - 1st battle for Bijlmer flats Amsterdam; 1st US bombing of Hanoi
1967 - Unsuccessful coup against Greek King Constantine II
1969 - Arlo Guthrie releases "Alice's Restaurant"
1974 - Malta becomes a republic
1975 - Australian Conservatives & Liberals win parliamentary election
1976 - Golden Gate Bridge District starts ferry service to Larkspur
1978 - Susan B. Anthony dollar, 1st US coin to honor a woman, issued
1981 - Polish government declares martial law, arrests Solidarity activists
1982 - Earthquake hits Northern Yemen; 2,000 die
1983 - Martha Layne Collins inaugurated as Kentucky's 1st female governor; British Airways incorporates
1988 - Yasser Arafat addresses UN in Geneva
1989 - Forced repatriation of Vietnamese in Hong Kong
1990 - President De Klerk of South Africa meets with Nelson Mandela to talk of end of apartheid; Heavy earthquake strikes Sicily, 18 die
1991 - Both Koreas sign an accord calling for reconciliation; New York assembly speaker Mel Miller is convicted of federal mail fraud
1993 - Deadline for Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza (they don't); Space shuttle STS-61 (Endeavour 5) lands 1994 - American Eagle commuter plane crashes in North Carolina, killing 15
1995 - Christopher Reeve is released from physical rehab center; US Federal Court votes that Cable companies must carry local stations

1521 - Sixtus V (Felice Peretti/"Montalto"), bishop of Fermo/Pope (1585-90)
1533 - Erik XIV, Wasa king of Sweden (1560-69)
1553 - Henry IV, first Bourbon-king of Navarre/France (1572/89-1610)
1816 - Clement Claiborne Clay MC (Confederacy); E. Werner von Siemens German artillery, officer/inventor
1818 - Mary Todd Lincoln, First Lady (1861-65)
1903 - John Piper, British writer (US Churches in WWI)/official war painter
1906 - Laurens jan van der Post, soldier/explorer/conservationist
1915 - Balthazar Johannes Vorster, Prime Minister of South Africa (1966-77)
1920 - George P. Schultz, US Secretary of State (1982-89); Kaysone Phomvihane/premier/President of Laos (Pathet Lao) (1991-92)
1925 - Henry C. Gordon, USAF/astronaut (Dynasoar)
1929 - Christopher Plummer, actor (Sound of Music, Doll's House)

0838 - Pippijn I, King of Aquitania
1048 - Al-Biruni, Arabic royal astrologer, dies at 74
1124 - Callistus II, (Guido di Borgogna), Italian Pope (1119-24)
1126 - Hendrik IX the Black, Duke of Bayern (1120-26)
1250 - Frederick II, German Emperor (1212-1250), dies at 55
1404 - Albrecht, duke of Bavaria, dies at 74
1521 - Manoel I "the Great," King of Portugal (1495-1521), dies at 52
1574 - SelŒm II Sari the blonde, sultan of Turkey (1566-74), dies at 50
1672 - Jan II Kazimierz king of Poland (1648-68), dies at 63
1814 - Charles Joseph Prince of Ligne, Belgian fieldmarshal/author, dies at 79
1862 - Conrad Feger Jackson, Union Brigadier-General, dies in battle at 49; Maxcy Gregg, Confederate Brigadier-General, dies in battle at 48; Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb, Confederate Brigadier-General, dies in battle at 39
1894 - Sarah Parker Remond, US/Italian abolitionist, dies at 68
1945 - Robert van Genechten, Dutch Nazi (NSB), commits suicide
1958 - Ahmed Mukhtar Baban premier of Iraq, executed; Barhanuddin Bashajan Iraqi minister of Foreign affairs, executed; Rafiq Aref, Iraqi chief-staff Arabs Statenbond, executed
1961 - Grandma (Anna M.) Moses, US painter, dies at 101
1963 - Hubert Pierlot Belgian advocate/premier (1939-45), dies at 79
1969 - Raymond A. Spruance, US Admiral (battle of Midway), dies at 83
1971 - Max Mell, Austrian artillery officer/literary, dies at 88
1975 - Hendrik Kruls, Dutch general/chief military authority (1944-46), dies at 73
1980 - Harm van Riel, Dutch Liberal Party politician, dies at 73
1994 - Antoine Pinay, PM of France (1952-53); Herman W. "Fritz" Liebert, US librarian/Yale-curator, dies at 83
1996 - Charles Edwin Molnar, computer pioneer, dies at 61

Reported Missing in Action
Waters, Samuel Edwin, Jr., USAF (NC); F105D shot down, SRV returned remains to PCOM

Bennett, Robert E., III, USAF (NJ); F4C shot down; parachuted into water and sank before rescuers could reach him

The following USAF personnel lost in the the mid-air collision of a C123K and a B57B:

On the C123K:
Albright, John S. (WV); navigator

Clarke, Fred L. (NC); crew

Dailey, Douglas V. (MI); crew

Donahue, Morgan J. (VA); navigator

Fanning, Joseph P. (NY); co-pilot

Walker, Samuel F,. (PA); crew

On the B57B:
Dugan, Thomas W. (PA);

McGouldrick, Francis J., Jr. (CT)