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Monday, July 10, 2006

Pacific Ocean (July 7, 2006) – A Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) launches from the aft Vertical Launching System (VLS) aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG 77). The launch was part of a live fire exercise while participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2006. Eight nations are participating in RIMPAC, the world's largest biennial maritime exercise. Conducted in the waters off Hawaii, RIMPAC brings together military forces from Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist Third Class Marcos T. Hernandez

In Honor of Charles

All our troops are special - but to all of us Angels, "our" Heroes are even more so. Based on our Heroes' branch of service, we become Marine Angels or Sailor Angels, Army Angels or Airmen's Angels (I've been all of those). We note our "officials" and "unofficials" in our email signatures, and proudly speak of our adoptees when talking with family and friends. We "Mamma Bear" our spouses when they grab the junk food - "No, Honey - that's Soldier Stuff!" We become rabid when we hear people malign the troops - they're talking about OUR Hero!

Those of us who are new to military jargon search the Internet so we know what that alphabet soup of a military address means, what the heck those abbreviations mean.

We light up when we see "free mail" in the box, or a familiar military email address in our Inbox.

We worry when we hear of action in their area.

We rejoice when they return home.

And sometimes, we mourn.

And although our grief cannot compare with that of a family member, a Hero's loss is keenly felt by his/her Angel(s). It is the ultimate in tragic irony to have a Hero return from war, only to lose his or her life when they are "safely" home. Sadly, such was the case with Charles, a very special Hero to Dea and her family.

The reality of being an Angel is that unless the Hero specifically requests and initiates post-return contact, our communication with our adoptees ends when they are redeployed home. And, so, we may not receive any word after that point.

Sadly, Dea and her family received an update on their returned Hero that they could not have predicted, and would never have chosen:

Dear Soldier's Angels,
It is with a heavy heart that we share the following news with you:

Sgt. Charles Higgins
LISBON - Charles William Higgins, 24, of state Route 518 passed away Friday morning, April 14, 2006, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Lexington, Ky. Mr. Higgins was born March 17, 1982, in East Liverpool, the son of Charles T. and Hope (Lilly) Higgins.

Chuckie had attended school at Southern Local and had worked as a jack operator at Freshmark in Salem.

After high school, he had enlisted in the U.S Army where he achieved the rank of sergeant. He was recently discharged from active duty after serving a year n Iraq and had begun serving in the Army Reserves.Mr. Higgins was also a member of the American Legion, loved to fish, and he enjoyed horses and horse racing. In addition to his parents of Lisbon, he is survived by his sister, Jacqueline "Rosie" Higgins of Lisbon, and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 19, 2006, at the Eells-Leggett-Stauffer Funeral Home. Burial with full military honors will follow at Bethel Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Friends may call 2-4 and 6-8 Tuesday at the funeral home.

Dea added,
He made it all the way to Iraq and back, only to lose his life at home. Tragic.

Our family would like to thank you and your organization for giving us the opportunity to get to know this wonderful young man and Soldier during his brief stay on earth. We will never forget him, and he will forever be in our hearts.

Dea Lyn O------- & Family

And Dea was kind enough to send along an additional note. Rather than remembering Charles for the way he died, Dea and her family will remember this very special Hero for how he lived:

...I thought that I would share some more information with you regarding our Soldier, Sgt. Charles Higgins, who passed away from injuries in an automobile accident in April. I had contacted the local newspaper in Charles' hometown of Lisbon, Ohio, and requested a copy of the obituary. The editor-in-chief was so moved by our story that she has asked us to speak with one of her reporters tomorrow morning, and they are planning to write a story. The paper is planning to contact the Higgins family and focus the story on the two families, 3,000 miles apart, who have never met but have been brought together by a wonderful American Soldier. We really want Soldiers Angels to know how grateful we are to you for bringing us together. I thought I would share what I wrote to the newspaper with you, so below is what I wrote to the editor regarding our relationship with Charles:

Our Charles
Our family "adopted" Sgt. Charles Higgins in February 2005, from a the website, which posted names of American Soldiers who had expressed an interest in being a part of the "adoption" program. He was a member of the 463rd Engine Batallion, which was serving in Iraq at the time. We were matched with Charles completely at random - but there was something about his information that reached out to us from the very beginning. As we corresponded, we grew more and more fond of Charles, and as we shared bits and pieces of our lives and stories about our families and friends with one another, he became our good friend. Charles especially developed a close bond with our 19 year old daughter, Christa, who, by default of age, shared the most commonalities with him. Although he had a sister, he treated Christa like she was also his sister. The two of them would correspond through MySpace messages and cell phone conversations, and they would talk about everything - his family, his dreams ... and he would often give her advice about the crummy boyfriend she had at the time (she eventually took Charles' advice and dumped the guy). Although we had never met face to face, our whole family liked Charles, and we loved it when we would get a letter or an email message from him. We would gather around to hear whomever was reading the letter, and we would pass around the card or photo that he sent, admiring every detail. The card had pictures of lots of Army tanks on it, as well as a lone Soldier holding a sign that said, "Many Tanks". Inside the card was completely filled with a handwritten message. Charles thanked us for a shirt that we sent to him, as well as writing about the weather (it was 115 degrees in Iraq), and how because of the heat tires would be popping off the Army vehicles and the Soldiers would be going to split shifts. At the end, he thanked us again - not only for himself, but for his comrads, his section, and the entire Army. This was typical of the type of correspondence Charles sent to us, and we sincerely appreciated it.

Christa told me just today that when she talked to Charles he told her that he was planning to come visit California sometime around the end of this year. She said he told her that he'd been to Iraq, but that other than that he had never really been out of Ohio. We would have loved to have met him in person. We feel horrible that we didn't learn of the accident sooner, but I doubt that anyone in Ohio even knew that we existed. We adopted Charles (to us, he always went by Charles) when he was in Iraq, in the midst of his tour of duty. We sent him care packages full of junk food and fun little games and things. Christa spent time burning CDs of his (and her) favorite music for him to listen to. Charles used to write to tell us how much he loved everything we sent to him. He even sent us pictures of himself and other members of his Platoon enjoying the things we sent. He didn't know it, but we would have "Charles shopping sprees", where the kids and I would spend a day shopping the local stores solely for the purpose of finding special things to package up and ship to Charles! We did our best to try to keep his spirits up while he was deployed, and we always ended our messages to him with "Stay safe".

We were so glad when he returned home last fall. At Christmas, even though he was home, we sent him a package - just to let him know we still cared. Since Christmas time we hadn't communicated much, although Christa had kept in touch and sometimes talked with him by cell phone. In fact, she recalled that they last spoke the week before the accident. But shortly after that conversation Christa's cell phone had been stolen - and it had Charles' phone number stored in it - so she had lost his number. She wondered why she hadn't heard anything from him in such a long time, even after she posted a message on his MySpace page in May. Only after one of Charles' other MySpace friends contacted Christa, did she learn why. Coincidentally, it was the 4th of July.

We were all thinking of Charles and saluting him and all of our Servicemembers, as we were celebrating the 4th of July. At that point, we did not yet know the information that we would learn about later that evening. Independence Day has deep meaning for our family. Patriotism is important to us, and we are deeply proud to be living in the United States of America. Whenever our flag is unfrurled, we stand to honor it. Whenever the national anthem is played, we sing - even if off key. And no matter what some may think about the war in Iraq, we support the men and women who are there, working hard and making the ultimate sacrifice to defend what so many Americans take for granted - freedom. Adopting Charles was our way to feel like we were contributing, however small, toward making one Soldier feel like someone else in this great country - perfect strangers, cared about what he was doing, and that he was there. You can only imagine that we feel so sad knowing that Charles made it all the way to Iraq and back, only to lose his life here at home shortly after his return. And what began yesterday as a day of celebration for us, suddenly became instead a time for mourning. Our hearts go out to all of Charles' family and friends.

We would like to take this opportunity to say "thank you" to Charles' family, for giving us the gift of sharing your son/brother/nephew/cousin with our family. He was a wonderful young man, and it was completely representative of the way he was raised. He was indeed special. It's truly amazing how many lives Charles touched, and how far across the globe his spirit reached. For a young man who "never really left Ohio", Sgt. Charles Higgins will be missed by many more people in many more places than most could ever know. Thank you again for allowing us to share this part of his life. We will never forget "Our Charles".

Dea O--------

And so Angel heads are bowed today, in honor of Charles.

by Lance Cpl. William L. Dubose III
July 7, 2006
A 1st Armored Division Soldier moves cautiously toward a house in Ramadi, Iraq.

In Today's News - Monday, July 10, 2006

Quote of the Day
"If anybody harbors a terrorist, they're a terrorist. If they fund a terrorist, they're a terrorist. If they house terrorists, they're terrorists. I mean, I can't make it any more clear to other nations around the world."
- U.S. President George W. Bush, November 26 2001

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Closing Time (Saddam's trial)
Shiites Kill 41 in Ambush
Bombs blast Shiite area after Baghdad rampage - Video
Lawmakers Cite Shells as WMD Proof

Homeland Security / War on Terror
Suspect in New York Transit Bomb Plot Visited U.S. in 2000
Israel Continues Gaza Push
Olmert Rejects Prisoner Swap
Palestinians Support Abduction
Olmert says will press ahead with Gaza raids - Video
Al Qaeda Link to July 7 Sought

Troops on Trial
GIs Charged in Rape, Murders
Filipino woman hits Marine accused of rape in court

Other Military News
Marines Want Spaceplane
Missing USS Kitty Hawk Sailor Identified

Pol: Bush Intel Briefing Failure May Have Been Illegal

Worldwide Wackos
U.S. Urges China to Pressure North Korea
Japan still pushing for UN resolution on North Korea - Video
U.S. Envoy Arrives in Japan
Important to restart 6-party N.Korea talks: Hill
Japan mulling action over N.Korea missiles
U.S. standoffs with Iran, N.Korea continue
US Warns Iran to Halt Nukes

Hurricane Season / Wild Weather
Tornado touches down in Colorado

Present-Day Wrath of Khan - Photos: 800th Anniversary
Limo driver gets big tip: a kidney
Tongues are big business in the meat trade
62-year-old British woman gives birth

Other News of Note
World Cup Returns to Italy - Photos
Discovery Space Shuttle Cleared for Return Home
Lopez Obrador Begins Legal Challenge of Mexican Election
Slavery reparations gaining momentum
Barbaro has surgery after 'complications'

Fox News
Plane Crashes in Pakistan;All Passengers Dead
Private Memorial for Ken Lay
Siberian Plane Crash Kills 122
China Chlorine Leak Hurts 164
Stocks to Watch: MetLife

Reuters: Top News
World Bank urges global trade breakthrough at G8
Discovery gets clean bill of health
China panda, born to be wild, coping well
EU discusses amount to fine Microsoft on antitrust
Matsushita to sell record 103-inch plasma TVs
Eisai launches snail venom pain drug in Britain
"Pirates" plunders box office
"Dupree" a tired comic tale lamely told
Airbus redesign leaves gap in Q2 jet orders
Kraft buys European unit of United Biscuits: report
Australia's Centro Properties to buy Heritage
TSMC June sales up 36 pct, more gains ahead
Roche files Avastin in Europe for breast cancer
Sanctuary drops legal action against former staff
Nikkei rises after better-than-expected machinery data
Stocks set for higher start, Alcoa eyed
Standard Life shares rise on market debut
Stocks' mantra now earnings
Lions Gate shares ready to rise: Barron's

AP World News
Astronauts to make fixes during spacewalk
U.S., South Korea open free trade talks
Cardinals beat Astros 7-5 in 12 innings
Brakes eyed in deadly Siberia plane crash
Co-pilot suspected of intoxication
Antidepressant used by Yates questioned
ChiSox nip BoSox in 19-inning marathon
Gordon spins Kenseth to win at Chicagoland
Earnings could bring Wall Street relief
Federer tops Nadal for 4th Wimbledon title
Obituaries in the news
Steinbeck's son wins rights to dad's work
Families demand changes for firefighters
Spotlight on Academy Abuse
India Reports a Long-Range Missile Test
Pieces Come Together for Carrier
Cheney Lauds Troops for Aid they Provided

CENTCOM: News Releases





Department of Defense
Enterprise Concludes Ops in Gulf - Story

Marines Reflect on Combat Operations - Story
Troops Coordinate Delivery of Supplies - Story
Reconstruction Team Molds Afghan Police - Story
Marines Raise Morale with Mess Night - Story

Competition Tests Troops' Warfighting Skills
Mechanics Earn Reputation as 'Go To' Guys
U.S. Soldiers Bring Smiles, Toys to Children

Aircrews Drop Treats to Soldiers on Fourth
Engineers Move Mountains to Improve Roads
KC-135 Aircrew Vital Part of Mission Success

Renewal In Iraq
Iraq: Security, Stability
Fact Sheet: Progress and Work Ahead
Report: Strategy for Victory in Iraq
Iraq Daily Update
This Week in Iraq (PDF)
Multinational Force Iraq
State Dept. Weekly Iraq Report (PDF)
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Weekly Reconstruction Report (PDF)
Iraq Reconstruction

Afghanistan Update

Fact Sheet: Budget Request
Fact Sheet: War on Terror
Fact Sheet: Terror Plots Disrupted
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Officials Identify Army 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
1775 - Horatio Gates issues an order excluding blacks from werving in the Continental Army.
1832 - President Jackson vetoes proposed legislation to re-charter the 2nd Bank of the U.S.
1850 - Vice President Millard Fillmore becomes President in the wake of Zachary Taylor's death.
1890 - Wyoming becomes the 44th U.S. state.
1892 - The first concrete-paved street is built, in Bellefountaine, OH.
1918 - The Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic is established.
1919 - President Woodrow Wilson personally delivers the Treaty of Versailles to the U.S. Senate.
1923 - Italy dissolves all non-fascist political parties.
1925 - Jury selection occurs in the in John T. Scopes evolution trial (The "Monkey Trial").
1925 - TASS, the U.S.S.R.'s official news agency, is established.
1926 - An arsenal in Lake Denmark, NJ explodes, killing 21, and causing $75 million in damage.
1929 - The U.S. issues newer, smaller-sized paper currency.
1934 - FDR visits Columbia, becoming the first sitting U.S. President to visit South America.
1940 - The Battle of Britain begins, as Nazi forces are attacked by air.
1943 - U.S. and British forces invade Sicily.
1951 - Armistice talks to end the Korean War begin at Kaesong.
1962 - Martin Luther King, Jr., is arrested during a demonstration in Georgia.
1973 - The Bahamas gain independence after three centuries of British rule (National Day)
1985 - The Coca-Cola Co. announces it will resume selling old formula Coke; French agents sink Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand.

1792 - George Mifflin, 11th U.S. Vice President Dallas
1856 - Nikola Tesla, physicist, developed alternating current
1920 - David Brinkley, NBC News anchor
1920 - Owen Chamberlain, codiscoverer of the antiproton, Nobel Prize winner
1927 - David Dinkins (Mayor-NYC)
1942 - Pyotr I. Klimuk, cosmonaut (Soyuz 13, 18, 30)

1692 - Bridget Bishop, first to be hanged as a witch in Salem, MA.
1863 - Clement Clarke Moore, author of "A Visit from St. Nick" ("Twas the Night Before Christmas")
1910 - Johann Galle, discoverer of Neptune
1927 - Kevin O'Higgins, Irish Free State VP, assassinated
1945 - Robert Goddard, pioneer of modern rocketry
1989 - Mel Blanc, voice of Bugs Bunny and other Looney Toons characters

Reported Missing in Action
Green, Frank C., Jr., USN (TX); A4F shot down, crash site located, no sign of CDR Green