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Monday, July 17, 2006

Meet Zach Baker - A True Soldiers' Angel

click the picture for larger version - more photos here)

To Whom it may concern,
It is my pleasure to introduce an angel that lives in my home. My son Zach Baker, is a 13 year old amazing young man. Zach is the oldest of five children and is a caring, thoughtful, and incredibly compassionate child and brother. Zach is a very service oriented person. He is involved in a myriad of service projects. Zach belongs to the National Junior Honor Society and the Renaissance organization (academic and service organizations) at his school, Molasky Junior High School. He also participates in church activities, is an incredible pianist, and is a remarkable student with a voracious appetite to learn and understand the world around him. Zach is going to be an eighth grader at Molasky Junior High School in August 2006. He has been in student government, serving last year on the student council. He is a straight "A" student and also participates in all accelerated classes, is in the advanced mixed choir, and is a member of the drama club at Molasky Junior High School.

Zach began participating in cub scouts at the age of eight and began Boy Scouts of America at age 11. On June 4, 2006, he turned 13 years of age. In the Boy Scouts of America, young men have until their 18th birthdays to earn scouting's highest the rank of Eagle Scout. Zach will be one of the youngest Eagles I have ever heard of. Zach has earned 29 merit badges so far in his two years in scouting and is currently a Life Scout.Zach found out about the dire need for wheelchairs and help needed for the Iraqi children after I told him about e-mails I had exchanged with Richard Davis, a friend of ours, who is a U.S. Air Force Major and orthopedic surgeon, who was stationed in Balad, Iraqi. According to Major Davis, Zach learned that many Iraqi Nationals are fighting for their country alongside the U.S. and Coalition Forces. The hospital Major Davis was a surgeon at is the largest hospital in Iraq. Zach learned that there are not enough wheelchairs for everyone that is injured. Zach also learned that U.S. Soldiers notice that most of the Iraqi children in Bagdad and other cities do not have shoes or socks and that there was a great need for both wheelchairs and shoes and socks.

Zach wanted to help those that could not help themselves. Many people that Zach initially spoke with about pursuing such a lofty goal, including scouting leaders and committee members, advised Zach that he may be getting in over his head and that perhaps he should look for any easier task for his Eagle Scout Project. Zach decided that even if it was too difficult or too complicated to get approval for the idea as an Eagle Scout Project due to the distance of Major Davis etc, that he would still pursue the effort to help the people of Iraq and the soldiers, and perhaps choose another project for his eagle. Zach always believed that this project was so very much worth any effort it would require.

Back in March of 2006, Zach began his efforts by contacting the Public Affairs Office at Nellis U.S. Air Force Base, and with their help, found Nevada Soldiers Angels. Through many telephone conversations, he found that they were willing to assist in shipping the donated wheelchairs and shoes and socks to Iraq at no charge to us. Zach finally received approval from the scout organization to begin his project.

Zach began by spending several hours researching and calling local medical supply businesses and hospitals, along with shoes stores and Wal-Mart and Target Stores in an effort to see what support was available to gather donations for the supplies needed to ship to Iraqi. Zach made numerous personal presentations to businesses and to his various church organizations as well. Eventually, Zach was able to have fellow scouts, people from our church and the business community get behind this worthwhile project.

Zach worked for over four months planning and contacting members of his church and the medical and business community to carry out his plan to help injured Iraqi Policeman and Soldiers as well as Iraqi children. Zach's original plan was to try to come up with 5 wheelchairs and 50 pairs of children's shoes to be given to Iraqi Nationals by our U.S. Military as a goodwill and humanitarian gesture.

Over the last few months, Zach led 40 individuals in donating time and resources that enabled him and others to end up gathering 23 wheelchairs, 4 walkers, 266 pairs of shoes and 243 pairs of socks. The project took over three months to prepare for July 15, 2006, that day Zach and Nevada Soldiers Angels were finally able to have Fed-Ex pick up and the shipment of the items and send them to Iraq. Zach and others expended over 124 total hours of effort on the project. A total of over $2,000 in donations was raised by private donors and businesses provided over $400 in contributions. Many people also donated used wheelchairs and purchased shoes on their own and then donated these items to Zach for his project.

I have never been more proud of Zach in all of his 13 years and that is really saying something, as there has never been a moment that he has ever disappointed his mother or I. Zach is the epitome of all that is right with America's youth and exemplifies the ideals of Boy Scouts of America. Although, Zach would never ask for or try to garner any limelight for this great accomplishment, I hope that he can get some recognition and congratulations on a job well done.

Michael B. Baker
Zach's father

Related Links:
Soldiers' Angels
Soldiers' Angels Nevada


HOOOAAAAHHHHH to Zach for going above and beyond to help our Heroes help others. You are an exceptional Angel, a credit to the Boy Scouts, and a remarkable individual. Job very, very Well Done!

Be sure to visit the
Nevada Soldiers' Angels blog to leave your messages for Zach!
CORDON AND KNOCK PATROL — U.S. Army soldiers, from 4th Platoon, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team based out of Fort Wainwright, Ala., search a house during a cordon and knock patrol in the northern section of Nineva in Mosul, Iraq, July 12, 2006. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock

David over at Echo9er likes this picture, too.

America Supports You: 'Angels' Provide Wounded Troops with Laptops

A servicemember poses with "Soldiers Angels" volunteers after receiving a laptop courtesy of Project Valour-IT. Project Valour-IT provides wounded troops with voice-activated laptops to use during their recovery. Courtesy photo

By Ashleigh Covington
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2006 – An Internet community of support for troops overseas has arisen from one mother's concern that some of her son's fellow servicemembers were not receiving mail or the support they needed from home.

More than 80,000 "angels" now are registered all over the world, not including the many schools, churches and other organizations that participate as communities.

Soldiers' Angels' main goal is to provide all soldiers with the supplies and support they need in order to serve and protect the country from harm. The group is a member of the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program, which showcases Americans' efforts to support servicemembers and their families.

Committed to the motto, "May no soldier go unloved," the organization provides services to cater to the needs of active troops as well as those wounded in combat. One such mission, "Project Valour-IT," provides wounded troops with laptops to use from their homes and hospital beds. Since its launch in August 2005, the organization has presented 500 computers to wounded servicemembers all over the country.

Inspired by Capt. Chuck Ziegenfuss, who was wounded serving as a tank company commander in Iraq in June 2005, Patton-Baden felt to the laptops would serve as a therapeutic tool for troops as they recovered.

During his deployment, Ziegenfuss kept an Internet blog, capturing his experiences in Iraq for many loyal readers. But after his return home, serious hand injuries prevented him from posting more updates during his recovery. That left him no way to communicate with his unit still in Iraq.

"He wasn't Chuck, the aggressive talking Army man we knew, and I thought we just can't go on this way. So we got him a laptop, and he contacted a company and got the voice-activation software," Baden said. "As soon as he got it, he was up and blogging. He called me within 24 hours, and his voice was clear and he was excited. He was a whole different Chuck."

The laptops are delivered personally by registered angels, and contain special software suited to each servicemember's needs. Project Valour IT's initial goal is to give all wounded troops it "adopts" the opportunity to receive a laptop to use during their recovery.

The project's members have teamed up with DoD's Computer Assisted Purchasing, or CAP, program, which provides software and voice recognition and adaptive keyboards to soldiers, said retired Lt. Col. James Riley, program director. "We have partnered with them in order to get software loaded on some of the laptops that we have or to provide them with a modified keyboard."

The laptops help wounded servicemembers keep in touch with their comrades and report on their conditions and give them the incentive to go back to school.

"Primarily, the soldiers want to get online and log in to the (Army Knowledge Online) site and e-mail their buddies back in Iraq and Afghanistan or their friends back home and tell them what's happening and what's going on," Riley said. "A lot of them use the computers to go back to school, and it helps them get back in school, and it starts them on a new career path."

Each laptop, including shipping and handling costs $660. All the money donated and raised for Project Valour-IT goes directly toward the computers, and the program receives many generous donations daily.

"These programs are important to remind troops that they are loved," Riley said. "Their patriotism and sacrifice have not gone unnoticed."

Related Sites:
Project Valour-IT
Soldiers' Angels
America Supports You

HOOOAHH! to all that work with Project VALOUR-IT, and of course to Patti and my fellow Soldiers' Angels!
A Soldier from the 101st Airborne Division takes cover during a gun battle with insurgents in Salah Ad Din Province, Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika.

In Today's News - Monday, July 17, 2006

Quote of the Day
"He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign."

-- Sun Tzu

News of Note
Israel at War
Hezbollah Rockets Rain on Haifa
Photo Essay: Mideast Meltdown
Videos: Has Hezbollah Been Underestimated?
G8 Urges Restraint
Does Iran Want War?
Israel Bombs Palestinian Foreign Ministry Again
Video: Tunnel Destroyed
Iranian Minister: Cease-Fire, Prisoner Swap Fair
Evacuation Planned for 25,000 Americans Living in Lebanon
Video: Eyewitnesses Report
Lebanon Accuses Israel of Using Banned Weapons
Major Damage to Infrastructure
Bush, Blair Call for Action Against Hezbollah
G8 Leaders Agree on Statement About Mideast Fighting
Putin Defends Hamas Meeting
Mideast crisis drives Bush to colorful language - Video
Oil falls $1 on report that assault may end
Blair, Annan call for troops in Israel
Strains Emerge as US Supports Israel's Campaign

Operation Iraqi Freedom
Iraq Market Attack Kills 41; U.S. Soldier Killed
Military Leaders Foresee Iraq Exit in 2016
In an About-Face, Sunnis Want US to Remain in Iraq

Operation Enduring Freedom
Coalition forces kill 4 al-Qaida suspects
Afghan Forces Maturing

Homeland Security / War on Terror
Homeland Security urges heightened vigilance

Troops on Trial
U.S. military fears outcome of rape trial

Other Military News
Three Rescued After Hours in the Pacific

Worldwide Wackos
Report: Japan Mulls Sanctions as N. Korea Nixes Resolution
Bush, Putin concerned Iran has not responded - Video

Politics / Government
Arkansas Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller dies

Hurricane Season / Wild Weather / Mother Nature
Indonesian Tsunami Kills 20
Storms May Spark Calif. Fires
Temperatures hit upper 90s coast to coast

News from My Neck of the Woods
Commuters delayed by Big Dig ramp closure

Two guys really miss the boat
Guy confuses sumo with American TV wrestling
Irish face fine for dropping chewing gum

Other News of Note
Shuttle Discovery makes safe landing in Florida
Foreign companies buy U.S. roads, bridges
Cowboys safety Keith Davis shot twice

Fox News
Three University of Wyoming Students Found Murdered
Hooters CEO Found Dead
Stocks to Watch: Citigroup
Small Plane Crashes Into Three Oregon Homes

Reuters: Top News
G8 give trade a push amid strains over MidEast - Video
Trade Rep to Geneva to seek Doha breakthrough
Wildlife shares NASA launch site
Intel to introduce long-delayed chip: report
HP Labs touts tiny wireless chip
Amsterdam clinic offers gamers path back to reality
Directors tell Gen X'ers to grow up
Campaigners say G8 AIDS pledge not enough
Key to stem cells lies in their power
Death no obstacle for Johnny Cash
Citigroup profit rises 4 pct on trading, fees
Global growth strong and broadly based: G8
Airbus announces relaunch of A350 mid-sized jets
Citigroup profit rises 4 pct on trading, fees
Mattel posts quarterly profit, boosted by movie toys
Dutch TV firm in hunt to buy 'Millionaire' rights
McDonald's shares rise on Inet
Apple shares up on Inet - Video
Business Objects shares fall on Inet
Infineon to supply phone chips to LG Electronics
Acambis up as patent transcripts look favorable
Worker shortage sends companies to middle school
To inflate or appreciate, that's China's question

AP World News
'Pirates' becomes year's top-grossing film
Mets hit 2 slams in inning, rout Cubs
Mets, Cardinals post impressive wins
New data may yield clarity for investors
Teen sues L.A. after decade in foster care
Obituaries in the news
Crazy Horse expanding donor base
Civilians Mull Whether to Follow Base Jobs
You're Still That Little Girl
Islamabad Seeks to be Energy Hub
India Demands Pakistan Rein in Terrorists

CENTCOM: News Releases



Department of Defense
Coalition, Iraqis Capture, Kill Terrorists - Story
For More Top News Visit DefenseLink

Soldiers Destroy Terrorist Safe-route - Story
Marines Beef-up Operations in Habbaniyah - Story
Iraqi Forces Assume Security Responsibility - Story

Tactical Operations Center Runs 24/7
Soldiers Recall Actions After IED Detonation
New Yorkers Take Over Helicopter Squadron
Air Force Security Forces Complete Tour
Jazz Club Offers Solace for Combat Marines

'Ammo' Airmen Arm Bagram's Warfighters
Troops Coordinate Delivery of Supplies
Reconstruction Team Molds Afghan Police


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 KutAn Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul


Today in History
1549 - Jews are expelled from Ghent, Belgium.
1775 - The first military hospital is approved.
1850 - Harvard Observatory takes the first photograph of a star (Vega).
1861 - Congress authorizes paper money.
1862 - The U.S. Army is first authorized to accept blacks as laborers.
1863 - Battle of Honey Springs, largest battle of the war in Indian Territory.
1864 - CSA General Joe Johnston is replaced by John Bell Hood.
1879 - The first railroad opens in Hawaii.
1897 - The first ship arrives in Seattle carrying gold from the Yukon.
1898 - The Spaniards surrender to the U.S. at Santiago, Cuba (Spanish-American War).
1917 - The British Royal family officially changes its name from Hanover to Windsor.
1938 - Infamous aviator Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan leaves NY bound for LA - he ends up in Ireland.
1944 - In Port Chicago, CA, two ammunition ships explode, killing 322.
1946 - Resistance leader Mikhailovich is executed by the Tito regime.
1948 - The Republic of (South) Korea adopts its constititution.
1954 - For the first time in major league baseball, the majority of a team is African-American (the Dodgers); construction begins on Disneyland.
1955 - Disneyland opens its doors in Anaheim, CA.
1959 - Dr. Leakey discovers what was then the oldest humanoid skull (600,000 years old); Tibet abolishes serfdom.
1962 - Robert White flies to X-15 to a record-setting altitude of 108 km (354,300 ft); the Senate rejects medicare for seniors.
1964 - Don Campbell sets a record for a turbine vehicle, at 429.31 mph.
1966 - Pioneer 7 is launched
1968 - In Iraq, the Ba'ath party (which advocates a single Arab Socialist nation) seizes power, with Saddam Hussein playing a key role in the coup (Revolution or National Day).
1972 - The FBI's first two females begin training at Quantico.
1975 - Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 make the first US/USSR space link-up.
1980 - Ronald Reagan formally accepts the Republican nomination for president.
1984 - Soyuz T-12 carries three cosmonauts to the Salyut-7 space station.
1990 - Saddam Hussein's Revolutionary Day speech claims that Kuwait stole oil from Iraq.

Iraq - Revolution Day / National Day (1968)
South Korea - Constitution Day (1948)

1487 - Esma'il I, shah, converted Iran from Sunni to Shi'ah Islam
1744 - Elbridge Gerry, 5th VP, Governor of MA, invented gerrymandering
1763 - John Jacob Astor, richest man in US/banker/fur trader
1900 - James Cagney, actor ("Yankee Doodle Dandy")
1920 - Bill Monroe, NBC-TV newscaster ("Congressional Report")
1934 - Donald Sutherland, actor ("M*A*S*H")

- Mexican president Álvaro Obregón Salido, assassinated by a Roman Catholic seminary student
1946 - Draja Mikhailovich, anti-Soviet resistance leader, executed by the Tito regime
1959 - Billie Holiday, blues singer, of liver failure at age 44
1961 - Ty Cobb, Detroit Tiger hall of fame baseball player
1975 - Modoc the elephant, the oldest known non-human mammal, dies at age 78

Reported Missing in Action
Copeland, H.C., USAF (TX); F105 shot down, released by DRV March, 1973 - alive as of 1998

Cross, Ariel L., USMC (IA); EF10B shot down, presumed KIA, body not recovered.

Cassell, Harley M., US Army (VA); captured by Cambodia after LCU 1577 (Sunset Strip), took a wrong turn;Released December, 1968

Chevalier, John R., US Army (NJ); captured by Cambodia after LCU 1577 (Sunset Strip), took a wrong turn;Released December, 1968

Crowe, Winfred D. US Army (GA); captured by Cambodia after LCU 1577 (Sunset Strip), took a wrong turn;Released December, 1968 - alive as of 1998

Grigsby, Donald E., US Army (OH); captured by Cambodia after LCU 1577 (Sunset Strip), took a wrong turn;Released December, 1968 - alive as of 1998

Henry, Lee D., US Army (LA); captured by Cambodia after LCU 1577 (Sunset Strip), took a wrong turn;released December, 1968

Kramer, Terry L., US Army (WI); captured by Cambodia after LCU 1577 (Sunset Strip), took a wrong turn; released December, 1968

McCullough, Ralph, US Army (GA); captured by Cambodia after LCU 1577 (Sunset Strip), took a wrong turn;released December, 1968 - deceased

Parra, Lionel, Jr., USMC (CA) - EF10B shot down, presumed KIA, body not recovered

Price, Donald E., US Army (OH); captured by Cambodia after LCU 1577 (Sunset Strip), took a wrong turn;released December, 1968

Simms, Harold D., US Army ; captured by Cambodia after LCU 1577 (Sunset Strip), took a wrong turn;released December, 1968

Wilmoth, Floyd A., US Army (NC); released December, 1968 - alive as of 1998

Zupp, Klaus H., US Army (NY); captured by Cambodia after LCU 1577 (Sunset Strip), took a wrong turn - released December, 1968

Brown, Wayne G. II, USAF (WA); F4D shot down (pilot was rescued)

Haas, Leon F., USN (NJ); A7B crashed, killed, body not recovered