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Monday, December 18, 2006

Send Your Holiday Wishes!

As part of this year's Christmas Day post,
I'd like to include messages for our Heroes.

Please send your messages to me at
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Help make this year's post special - send your message today!

Portsmouth, Va. (Dec.16, 2006) - Sailors assigned to repair locker 7, don protective proximity gear during a shipboard firefighting drill aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman is currently conducting a planned incremental availability (PIA) at Norfolk Naval Shipyards (NNSY) Portsmouth, Va. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist Seaman Joshua A. Moore

Mailroom Gears Up for Holidays

Spc. Tammy Wasinger and Staff Sgt. Nathan Brasel of the 747th Adjutant General Company Postal, a Reserve unit from Helena, Mont., sort mail at the Forward Operating Base Warrior post office. The post office is expected to handle 50 percent more mail over the holiday season. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Tuttle

Soldiers create new sorting system to help process holiday mail.

By Sgt. Michael Tuttle
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

KIRKUK, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2006 — Soldiers work at a world-class pace to sort and prepare packages at the Warrior Post Office here during the holiday season.

While mail arrives by plane to Forward Operating Base Warrior four times a week during the rest of the year, the post office, which occupies a former dining facility for Iraqi Olympic athletes, now sometimes receives mail twice a day.

The troops of the 747th Adjutant General Company Postal, a reserve unit from Helena, Mont., sort and distribute the mail to 23 units on FOB Warrior and other surrounding forward operating bases. The units include other military services and civilians who work on the bases.

“We normally receive about 40,000 pounds of mail per week,” said 2nd Lt. Malise Hamper, postal officer in charge. “That’s expected to increase by 50 percent over Christmas.”

The Warrior Post Office provides all the same services that a post office in the United States offers, Hamper said. They also work extended hours to ensure units traveling from other forward operating bases are able to pick up mail for their soldiers.

None of the reservists were postal specialists before their current deployment. However, they have combined their previous military and civilian experience to create a more efficient sorting system than the one they took over in September.

Just in time for the rush season, they are near completion on a new mail bin system patterned after a commercial express mail deliverer.

Staff Sgt. Nathan Brasel, postal operations noncommissioned officer in charge, designed the new sorting system.

“There was a lot of wasted space in the old shelving structure,” Brasel said. “The overflow mail ended up on the floor and had to be sorted again, delaying soldiers getting their mail."

The new system, built by the Warrior Post Office soldiers, includes an additional 36 square feet for each bin, ensuring that each unit’s mail is able to be organized in one spot as it comes in.

“All the mail is important,” said Master Sgt. Brett Hardcastle, post office noncommissioned officer in charge. “But … there are official documents, pieces of mail that may affect a soldier’s career. It’s important to get that out as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

To help get mail out quicker, extra hands from around the base pitch in to assist with sorting. Volunteers, including a regular group of Warrior firefighters, show up at the post office every time a delivery comes in.

“We would get the sorting done, but without their help, it would take four or five times as long,” Hardcastle said.

For a long time, deployed soldiers have counted on the lift in spirits that receiving mail delivers. That touch of home is more imperative during the holidays.

“E-mail is one thing. But a letter that your spouse or family has touched is special,” said Brasel. “You can’t measure the morale boost and the contribution to the mission after soldiers receive that mail.”

BUHRIZ PATROL — U.S. and Iraqi army soldiers conduct a patrol in Buhriz, Iraq, Dec. 10, 2006. U.S. Army soldiers with the Military Transition Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Division, and Iraqi army soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, are conducting a cordon search in the region for weapon caches in addition to building familiarization with the local population. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elisha Dawkins

In Today's News - Monday, December 18, 2006

Quote of the Day
"Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can."
-- Samuel Adams

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Colin Powell Casts Doubt on Iraqi Troop Increase
Red Crescent workers taken in Baghdad
Red Crescent halts Baghdad work after abduction
Saddam trial shown govt memos about gas attacks

Operation Enduring Freedom
Blast hits NATO convoy in Afghanistan

Homeland Security / War on Terror / Hamas-Hezbollah Happenings
U.S. military rehearses terror hearings
Fatah, Hamas Break Hours-Old Cease-Fire Deal (What a surprise...)
Abbas insists will hold elections, truce strained - Video
Two explosions hit Nigeria's oil industry

Troops on Trial
Military Recruiters Busted in FBI Cocaine Sting

Other Military News
Gates sworn in as defense secretary
Former Spy Chief Gates Set for Pentagon Takeover

Worldwide Wackos
Ahmadinejad Allies Stumbling at Iranian Polls
Iran vote "decisive defeat" for president: reformers
Castro not terminally ill, said unlikely to govern
U.S. lawmakers in Cuba hear Castro is OK
North Korea wants U.N. sanctions lifted
N.Korea brings laundry list of demands to talks - Video

Homegrown Moonbats
Vt. woman is an unlikely peace activist

'Tis the Season
Ohio Judge Gives Holiday Gift of Jail to 23
Chubby children in London plan lean Christmas

Politics / Government
Bush to sign U.S.-India nuclear cooperation law
Indian PM says tough talk ahead on U.S. nuclear deal

In the Courts / Crime and Punishment
U.K. Cops Arrest Suspect In Ipswich Hooker Slayings
Spotlight thrown on unsolved cases

Science / Nature
New Clues in Mount Hood Search
One Climber Found Dead in Second Snow Cave on Mount Hood
Mt. Hood body in snow cave identified
Dr. Manny on Avoiding Hypothermia
South Korean team produces three cloned dogs
Astronauts ready for space walk to fix solar panels
Quake in Indonesia kills 7, injures 100

13-Foot Pet Boa Strangles Owner in Ohio
Jakarta hotel puts $110 hamburger on menu
"Macaca" named most politically incorrect word
100 Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Washington State
Seven Dead of Mysterious Causes - Bodies found in northeast Missouri duplex

Other News of Note
Report: $10m Worth of Polonium Used to Kill Litvinenko

Fox News
Gasoline Prices Inch Two Cents Higher

Reuters: Top News
Russia airlifts enriched uranium out of Germany
Matsushita to mass-produce heatproof batteries
NEC says 2 desktop power units caught fire in Japan
Doctor wages war on childhood obesity
Brain can repair alcohol's damage
New Orleans writers struggle to pen rebirth story
Satellites orbit "Departed," "Dreamgirls"
Indexes rise on takeover news
Realogy surges after Apollo deal
Caremark jumps, Express Scripts slips
TurboChef up following Barron's mention
Citigroup up after upgrade, GDB news
Procrastination no key to retail success
Allure of dividend stocks seen rising
Harrah's nears buyout deal with Apollo, TPG: sources
Express tops CVS with $26 bln offer for Caremark
Private group to invest up to $3.4 bln in Delphi
Biomet to be bought by private equity group
Home Depot faces shareholder proposal on strategy
Current account widens in third quarter

AP World News
U.S. trade deficit soars to record
Sunday Finale: Yul Kwon wins 'Survivor'
Tomlinson has record-shattering night
Episcopal parishes in Va. break away
Retailers profit from unused gift cards
Seinfeld working on animated 'Bee Movie'
'Happyness' pays off at box office
Garcia rallies Eagles past Giants 36-22
Family of 4 killed in Ohio plane crash
Gates, Hewlett foundations team up
Colleges helping students pick majors
AP: Few rules govern propane checks
Express Scripts bids $26B for Caremark
Op-ed: Into Iraq's Quicksand
Defense Tech: Tricycle of Death
A Military Aviation Crisis Looming
Advisors: Home Alone for the Holidays
Podcast: Philpott on Benefits 2007

CENTCOM: News Releases

USJFCOM’s new super computer to enhance joint experimentation, training - podcast
Command surgeon hosts joint task force medical seminar - podcast

Department of Defense
Iraqi Soldiers Kill Enemy Fighter, Detain 14 Insurgents - Story
For Top News Visit DefenseLink

'Ironhorse' Troops Serve as Escorts - Story
Fallen Engineer Missed Not Forgotten - Story
Power Transfer Over Multinational Corps Iraq - Story
Baghdad Counts on Local Improvements - Story

Iraqi Police Return Home
Ceremony Focuses on Stryker Brigade Journey
'Arctic Wolves' Honor Fallen Comrades
Field Activities Create Cohesion, Raise Morale
Avionics Marines Give Harriers 'Pulse' at Al Asad
Soldier's Ultimate Sacrifice Earns Silver Star
Joint Operations Combat Insurgency in Diyala

Patrol Trucks to Increase Security in Afghanistan
Flight Surgeons Certify Afghan Army Aviators
Military Policemen Prepare for Return to States
Afghan Farming Communities to Receive Tractors

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
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
1118 - Alfonso van Aragón occupies Saragossa on Almoraviden
1352 - Etienne Aubert elected as Pope Innocentius VI
1603 - Admiral Steven van der Haghens fleet departs to East-Indies
1621 - English parliament accept unanimously, Protestation
1774 - Jews expelled from Prague, Bohemia; Moravia by Empress Maria Theresa
1777 - 1st national Thanksgiving Day, commemorating Burgoyne's surrender
1783 - English king George III fires government of Portland
1787 - New Jersey becomes 3rd state to ratify constitution
1796 - 1st US newspaper to appear on Sunday (Baltimore Monitor)
1799 - George Washington's body interred at Mount Vernon
1813 - British take Fort Niagara in the War of 1812
1832 - Charles Darwin visits Vurland
1839 - 1st celestial photograph (the moon) made in US, John Draper, New York NY
1849 - William Bond obtains 1st photograph of Moon through a telescope
1859 - South Carolina declared an "independent commonwealth"
1862 - Battle at Lexington TN (Forrest's Second Raid)
1865 - 1st US cattle importation law passed
1878 - French SS Byzantin sinks after collision, 210 killed
1890 - Lugards expedition to Mengo/Kampala, Uganda
1899 - Fieldmarshal Lord Roberts appointed British supreme commander in South Africa
1917 - Soviet regiment (Stalin/Lenin) declares Finland Independent
1920 - 1st US postage stamps printed without the words United States or US
1923 - International zone of Tangier set up in Morocco
1935 - Edward Benes becomes President of Czechoslovakia
1936 - Su-Lin, 1st giant panda to come to US from China, arrives in San Francisco
1939 - Finnish army recaptures Agläjärvi
1941 - German submarine U-434 sinks; Japanse troops land on Hong Kong
1944 - Destroyers Hull, Spence & Monaghan sink in typhoon (Philippines); Nazi occupiers of Amsterdam destroy electricity plants
1945 - Uruguay joins the United Nations
1948 - Indonesia begins its 2nd political election
1956 - Japan admitted to the United Nations; Israeli flag hoisted on Mount Sinai
1957 - Shippingport Atomic Power Station, 1st nuke plant to generate electricity
1958 - 1st test project of Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment; Niger gains autonomy within French Community (National Day)
1960 - General Meeting of United Nations condemns apartheid
1961 - India annexes Portuguese colonies of Goa, Damao & Diu
1964 - During services held for Sam Cooke, fans caused damage to Funeral Home
1965 - Borman & Lovell splash down in Atlantic ends 2 week Gemini VII mission
1966 - Dr Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" airs for 1st time on CBS; Britain abolishes death penalty
1971 - People United To Save Humanity (PUSH) forms by Jesse Jackson in Chicago
1972 - US begins its heaviest bombing of North Vietnam
1973 - Soyuz 13 launched into Earth orbit for 8 days
1976 - "Wonder Woman" debuts on ABC; Soviet dissident Viktor Bukovski exchanged for Chile CP-leader Corvalan
1980 - Dutch 2nd Chamber accepts minister Van Agts abortion laws; IRA's Sean McKenna becomes critically ill, ends hunger strike; Vietnam adopts constitution
1985 - UN Security Council unanimously condemns "acts of hostage-taking"
1991 - DeForest Kelly (Dr. McCoy on "Star Trek") gets a star in Hollywood; General Motors announces the closing of 21 plants
1994 - Socialist Party (ex-communist) wins Bulgaria parliamentary election
1996 - TV industry executives agree to adopt a ratings system

1709 - Elizabeth, empress of Russia
1803 - William Allen (Representative/Governor-OH)
1811 - Alexander Sandor Asboth, Union Brevet Major General
1816 - Alfred Elzey Jones, Confederate Major General
1825 - Charles Griffin, Union Major General
1826 - Mercer Brooke John, Confederate Navy
1835 - George Dashiell Bayard, Union Brigadier-General
1856 - Joseph John Thomson, English physicist, discovered electron (Nobel 1906)
1863 - Franz Ferdinand, archduke of Austria (Sarajevo/WWI)
1888 - Robert Moses, power broker (built Long Island; NYC parks & roads)
1890 - Edwin Howard Armstrong, radio pioneer inventor (FM)
1913 - Willy Brandt, (Herbert Frahm), German chancellor (1969-74, Nobel 1971)
1927 - Ramsey Clark,US Attorney General (1967-69); Saddam Hussein's attorney
1930 - Theodore C. Freeman, astronaut
1934 - Boris Valentinovich Volynov, cosmonaut (Soyuz 5, 21)
1942 - William HAF, English prince/grandson of George V
1945 - Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, King of Nepal (1972-2001)
1946 - Stephen (Steve) Biko, South African anti-apartheid activist
1947 - Steven Spielberg, director (ET, Close Encounters, Jaws)
1951 - Andrew S.W. Thomas, Ph.D./astronaut (STS 77, STS 89/91)
1956 - Reinhold Ewald, cosmonaut (Soyuz TM-25)

0468 - Huna Mari bar Mar Zutra, rabbi, executed in Pumpedita
1290 - Magnus I Ladulås (Barn Bolt), King of Sweden (1277-90)
1505 - John IX van Horne, prince-bishop of Lieges, executed
1651 - Francisco the Melo, Portuguese/Spanish earl of Assumar, dies at 54
1737 - Antonio Stradivari, renowned violin-maker, dies in Cremona Italy at 93
1829 - Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck, French nature investigator, dies at about 85
1862 - Johnson Kelly Duncan, architect/Confederate Brigadier-General, dies at 35
1897 - Carlo A. Alfieri, Italian Member of parliament, dies at 70
1919 - John Alcock, pilot (1st non-stop over Atlantic), dies in crash at 27
1931 - John T. "Legs" Diamond, US gangster, murdered at 35
1932 - Eduard "Ede" Bernstein, German marxist/revisionist, dies at 82
1935 - Juan V Gómez, general/dictator of Venezuela (1908-35)
1980 - Alexei N. Kosygin, Soviet PM (1964-80), suffers a fatal heart attack at 76
1981 - Mehmet Shehu, PM Albania (1954-81)/"US-Russian spy", commits suicide
1992 - Mark Goodson, TV game show producer (Goodson-Toddman), dies at 77; Richard H. Ichord, US leader of House Un-American Activities Committee

Reported Missing in Action
Barras, Gregory I., USAF (MS); A1H shot down - remains returned, ID'd December, 1998

Hildebrand, Leland L., USAF (WI); F4 shot down (w/Wells), released by DRV March, 1973 - alive and well as of 1998

Wells, Kenneth, USAF (WA); released by DRV March, 1973 - alive and well as of 1998

The following USAF personnel reported MIA when their B52G was shot down:
Certain, Robert G. (MD); navigator - released by DRV March, 1973 - retired as a Colonel - alive and well as of 1998

Ferguson, Walter L. (MI); gunner - remains returned March, 1973

Johnson, Richard E. (CA); radar navigator, released by DRV March, 1973 - retired as a Lt. Colonel - alive as of 1998

Rissi, Donald L. (IL); pilot/commander - remains returned August, 1978

Simpson, Richard T. (SC); electronics warfare officer - released by DRV March, 1973 - retired as Lt. Colonel - alive and well as of 1998

Thomas, Robert J. (FL); co-pilot - remains returned August, 1978

Other MIA's in 1972
McElvain, James R., USAF (CA); F111 shot down (w/Ward)

Ward, Ronald J., USAF (OK); F111 shot down (W/McElvain)