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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fellow soldiers render a final salute at the memorial of Army Staff Sgt. James M. Wosika. A service was held at the Camp Fallujah Chapel of Hope Jan. 15 to honor the reservist with the 2nd Battalion of the 136th Infantry Regiment - a Minnesota National Guard unit. Wosika was killed in action Jan. 9 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province. He was serving as a team leader for the I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters’ Group Force Protection Company.
Photo submitted 01/16/2007 Taken by Cpl. Lynn Murillo

Operation Valentine Update #2

Hello everyone! Sorry it's been so long since I've been able to give an update on our Valentine Day card drive for troops! What with my college semester starting back last week, and various kids being sick (and now hubby, too, for the second time in a month), life here has been just a little on the crazy side. However, I was finally able to read & count the cards I've received so far.

The official total as of today, January 15, 2007, is 261 cards. I also have a small assortment of candy goodies, as well. Yay! Off to a good start! We've got just about two weeks left... the enormous success of the Christmas card drive leaves me feeling confident that we can EASILY reach the goal of 2,000 Valentine's cards within the next two weeks or so... just need to keep getting the word out as best we can! Thanks everyone for your help... this will mean an awful lot to our deployed troops!

Kat needs 1800 cards to meet her goal - if you can help, please contact her.

Air Force Afterburner thrills monster truck fans at Alamodome
SAN ANTONIO (AFNEWS) -- Afterburner, the Air Force-sponsored monster truck, thrilled 50,0000 Monster Jam fans with car-crushing, high-jumping, raw engine power Jan. 13 at San Antonio's Alamodome.

Cheesecake, Anyone?

Some Vintage "Cheesecake" For The Boys Brings in Funds for Hospitalized Veterans

REDLANDS, CA.--- Gina Elise isn't a soldier. She's never going to go marching off to war. She's not halfway around the world, far from anything familiar, sleeping on hard ground in fear of attack. But Gina Elise has not forgotten those who do or those who did. Because of them, their service and sacrifice, she's made it her mission to bring awareness to America's troops, past and present.

In honor of all military service personnel, this spunky UCLA Phi Beta Kappa graduate put her heart and soul into designing a calendar fundraising project ( that not only would bring in needed funds to support programs that care for ill and injured Veterans, but would also provide a gift of appreciation for these courageous hospitalized Vets, as well as bring a little bit of "the girl next door" in care package gifts to homesick troops deployed overseas.

The 2007 "Pin-Ups For Vets Calendar" is a saucy 1940's style "cheesecake" calendar featuring a blonde, redhead, and brunette Gina Elise (who also serves as the program's Pin-Up-In-Chief ) in a variety of provocative, but classy, poses surrounded by some classic vintage cars and World War II army vehicles. The calendar has been getting loads of positive coverage in newspapers and on legions of military and civilian websites.

"Over the past year, I have heard and read incredible stories about the injured troops returning from military service,"said Gina Elise. "Their hardest battles have just begun, as they attempt to recover in military and Veterans Hospitals all across America. I was touched by each story and knew that I had to try to do something to help our hospitalized Vets. I read recently in a report published by Harvard professor Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz, that for every fatality in Iraq, there are 16 injuries. That means we now have more than 50,000 wounded Iraq war soldiers. There is a growing tide of Veterans who are in urgent need of medical and disability care. Thousands of troops have crippling disabilities, such as brain or spinal injuries and many of them have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. With statistics like this, I was more determined to get my calendar out to the public to try to focus their attention on our hospitalized Veterans, from all wars, past and present. They deserve our attention right now, more than ever. "

Gina Elise, who admits that she has never put together a calendar before, trudged on and encouraged a local American Legion Post ( #360 in Lake Arrowhead, CA.) to co-sponsor her project by lending their name, and then proceeded on to Wal-Mart to ask for funds. The Wal-Mart Foundation came back to Gina Elise and American Legion with a community grant to pay for part of the calendar's printing. She then mobilized all of her talented friends ( photographer, hair & make-up stylist, graphic designer for the calendar) and persuaded them to come on board this project and donate their time to help her beloved hospitalized Veterans. She even secured beautiful classic cars and 1940's military vehicles to help set the retro theme, studied up on those glamorous pin-up paintings and photos from that era, and immediately set to work on the 2007 "Pin-Ups For Vets" calendar fundraiser project.

Gina Elise's official website for the calendar sales received 17,000 hits in the first two weeks it went up on-line. People who have learned about the project are enthusiastically going on to the website to order calendars for themselves, for hospitalized Veterans, or for deployed troops. The calendars are $20 each, with proceeds going to programs that support hospitalized Veterans. Donations will help with, among other things, eyeglasses for Veterans, home health care, recreational therapy, spinal cord injury and amputee programs, substance abuse programs, chapel improvements, homeless Veterans programs, and reading materials. On the website, people will also learn about the need for volunteering in VA Hospitals and about the sending out of care packages to the deployed troops. Gina Elise will also begin posting pictures of her visits to the hospitalized Vets, and she will upload pictures of the troops in the field who have received her calendar, complete with personal notes from the donors.Besides being able to bring donated funds into a Veterans Hospital, Gina Elise is getting many hugs from the Veterans in the hospitals, who are surprised and happy to receive a "Pin-Ups For Vets" calendar along with notes of appreciation from the donors. "Their faces just light up, when they hear the notes of good cheer from the purchasers who have acknowledged their honorable service to our country," says Gina Elise proudly.

The pin-up calendars have been mailed to Navy ships and are packed into care packages to be sent to the deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan---all with personal notes that express a common desire for these service personnel to come home safely. Calendar purchases are also done through the mail, and checks for $20 can be sent to Gina Elise at P.O. Box 14, Redlands, CA 92373. Donors can send along their personal notes for the Veterans or for the deployed troops.

"The on-line websites have been such a wonderful way to spread the word about the 'Pin-Ups For Vets' calendar," said Gina Elise, "Because of the on-line blog world, I was contacted recently by a Marine Captain in Balboa, California. He invited me to come down and visit the patients at the Medical Holding Platoon there. There are 55 patients who were recently injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. I want to bring a calendar to each one of them. I'd like to find fraternal groups and philanthropic groups who can purchase several calendars for me to take on my visits to the hospitals. It's a fun gift that lasts for 12 months, and the Vets love seeing the girl in the photos actually delivering the calendars to them ! It really is an honor for me to do this." Gina Elise went on to say, "The purpose of the pin-ups from the '40's was to boost the morale of the soldiers going into war. The pictures reminded them of what they were fighting for back home. And hopefully the 'Pin-Ups For Vets' Calendar photos will boost the morale a bit for our brave hospitalized Veterans and deployed troops. They are really special people."

To order a calendar, go to :

Keyport, Wash. (Jan. 11, 2007) - Left, Rear Adm. Richard Houk, commander, 13 Coastguard District, and Rear Adm. William French, commander, Navy Region Northwest, signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the Washington State Veterans Affairs. The agreement, signed by 32 organizations is to ensure all service members returning from combat zones can take advantage of benefits available to them. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Angela Grube

Marine Hero Jason Dunham

As most of you are no doubt aware, the President presented a posthumous medal of honor to Marine Corporal Jason Dunham last week:

Bush Presents Medal of Honor to Fallen Marine
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2007 – President Bush today presented the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest decoration, to the family of Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who died shielding his fellow Marines from a grenade blast in Iraq in April 2004.

“With this medal, we pay tribute to the courage and leadership of a man who represents the best of young Americans,” Bush said before presenting the medal to Dunham’s family at the White House.

Dunham, who grew up in Scio, N.Y., was the leader of a rifle squad with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, in Iraq. Dunham’s squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in Karabilah on April 14, 2004, when a nearby convoy returning to base was ambushed. When Dunham’s squad approached to assist the convoy, an Iraqi insurgent jumped out of a vehicle and grabbed Dunham by the throat. As Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground, he noticed that the enemy fighter had a grenade in his hand. Dunham ordered his Marines to move back, and when the enemy dropped the live grenade, Dunham took off his Kevlar helmet, covered the grenade with it, and threw himself on top to smother the blast.

Dunham initially survived his wounds, but died eight days later at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., with his mother and father at his bedside.

“By his selflessness, Corporal Dunham saved the lives of two of his men and showed the world what it means to be a Marine,” Bush said.

Dunham is the second servicemember in the war on terror and the first Marine since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor. His mother, father, sister and two brothers were at the ceremony today, which was attended by Cabinet members, Defense Department and Marine Corps leaders, members of Congress, past Medal of Honor recipients, and members of Dunham’s unit.

Bush spoke about Dunham’s upbringing in upstate New York. Dunham was a star athlete who was popular and a natural leader. His father, a dairy farm worker, and his mother, a school teacher, were devoted parents. “He grew up with the riches far more important than money,” Bush said.

Dunham joined the Marine Corps on July 31, 2000. It was in the Marines that he learned honor, courage, commitment and leadership qualities, Bush said. “As the leader of a rifle squad in Iraq, Corporal Dunham led by the values he had been taught,” he said. “He was the guy everybody looked up to; he was a Marine’s Marine who led by example.”

Bush noted that Dunham’s mother called the Marine Corps her son’s second family. Now that family is embracing her and the rest of the Dunham family as they deal with their loss, Bush said.

Since World War II, more than half of those who have earned the Medal of Honor have lost their lives in the action that earned it, Bush said. “Corporal Jason Dunham belongs to this select group,” he said. “On a dusty road in western Iraq, Corporal Dunham gave his own life so that the men under his command might live. This morning, it’s my privilege to recognize Corporal Dunham’s devotion to the Corps and the country and to present his family with the Medal of Honor.”

Department of Defense photographer William D. Moss stopped by the blog the other day, and shared these related links:

Photo Essay: Medal of Honor Ceremony

Story:Medal of Honor Recipient Honored at Pentagon

Photo Essay: Hall of Heroes Ceremony for Cpl. Jason L. Dunham

Photo Essay: Medal of Honor at the National Museum of the Marine Corps

Other Related Links:
Audio Slideshow: Medal of Honor Ceremony for Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham - Stars and Stripes
Jason Dunham Memorial
NPR : Cpl. Jason Dunham's 'Gift of Valor'
Most Inspiring Person of the Year 2004--Nominee Cpl. Jason Dunham --
Marine to receive Medal of Honor for Iraq heroism -
Jason L. Dunham Memorial
Honor the fallen: Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham
Jason Dunham - Wikipedia
Fallen Heroes Memorial: Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham
Jason Dunham: Information from
Jason Dunham - The Wall Street Journal

PRESS CONFERENCE — U.S. Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander, Multi-National Force-Iraq, and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad outline their plans to improve reconstruction efforts and security in Baghdad and beyond during a joint press conference in Baghdad, Jan. 15, 2007. Photo courtesy Multi-National Force-Iraq

In Today's News - Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Quote of the Day
"Courage -- a perfect sensibility
of the measure of danger,
and a mental willingness to endure it"

-- General William T. Sherman

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
UN says 34,000 Iraqis killed in 2006 - Video
Twin Baghdad blasts kill 15, wound 70 - Video
Saudi says backs U.S. plan to stabilize Iraq
Sunnis Blast Hanging of Saddam Aides
Military Members Speak out Against War (20 "Appeal for Redress" members)

Operation Enduring Freedom
Taliban step up cross-border attacks: U.S. military

Homeland Security / War on Terror / Hamas-Hezbollah Happenings
Pakistan Hits Al Qaeda Hideouts Near Afghan Border
Somali government lifts ban, media back on air - Video
Hamas denies Gaza tunnels dug to kill Fatah leaders

Worldwide Wackos
Iran Received Arms From U.S. Military Sales
Ahmadinejad Courts Leftist Allies in Latin America to Bolster Anti-America Stand
Russian missiles delivered to Iran: Ivanov
Gates says Iran sees U.S. as bogged down
Report: Castro in Grave Condition After Failed Operations
Heating Up Controversy
North Korea billed $2 bln for scrapped nuclear deal

Politics / Government
Rice, Saudi king discuss Iraq, Palestinian issue - Video
Thousands in South Korea protest trade deal with US
Are Bill's friends Hill's friends, too?

Immigration / Border Control
FBI Investigates Fatal Shooting of Immigrant at Mexican Border in Arizona
Jurors resume Tuesday in truck deaths

In the Courts / Crime and Punishment
Untainted Pool(Libby Trial)
Chilling Clue: 'How Long Are You Planning to Look for Your Son?' - VIDEO
Bloggers Help Unearth Clues - Surveillance Led to Discovery
Female Teen Bullies Record Beating of 12-Year-Old Girl, Post on Internet
Suspect Arrested in 3 N.Y. Bike Path Murders

U.N. News
UN human rights expert wins nod for U.S. visit

Science / Nature
Ancient Skull Has Both Neanderthal, Modern Characteristics
U.S. Hospital to Try Uterus Transplant
Christians, Scientists Fight Global Warming
Winter Blast Kills 41 in Midwest - PHOTOS
Scientists try to save world's rarest creatures
US planet-monitoring satellites need upgrade: report

News from My Neck of the Woods
In New England, questions swirl over mild winter
Storm blacks out parts of Northeast

Fox News
King Day Message: Long Way to Go - PHOTOS
Kentucky Train Crash Releases Chemicals
Report: Miss New Jersey Ashley Harder Resigns Because She's Pregnant
Lawyer Sues London Hotel, Claims Bedbugs Attacked Him, Wife
Sting May Be Reuniting With The Police
Prince William's Girlfriend Kate Middleton's Lawyers Collect Evidence Against Paparazzi
Stars Shine at 2007 Golden Globes - STORY - Fashion Report - Winners

Reuters: Top News
Dream night for "Dreamgirls," "Babel" at Globes - Video
Macworld declared victor in tech show fight
HP claims advance in semiconductor nanotechnology
New Orleans struggles to keep its black character
Renewed evidence suggests statin/Parkinson's link
HMO fitness program may lower health care costs
Oil falls below $53, Saudi says no need to panic - Video
Stock futures rise on optimism about earnings
NETeller suspends shares, ex-directors held in U.S
Tokyo chip shares up; copper dips - Video
Strong ZEW supports euro, UK CPI knocks sterling
Reuters Global Biofuel Summit
Lining up to invest in India
Pfizer chief may cut jobs: report
HK, Singapore ranked world's freest economies in '07
Centex sees quarterly loss from operations
New York subpoenas research firms, clients - WSJ
OPEC should await Feb cuts before new moves-Daukoru
NETeller suspends shares, ex-directors held in U.S

AP World News
Citigroup to rebrand with shorter name
Netflix to be delivered on the Internet
Sharapova advances at Australian open
Jail term sought for Hyundai chairman
Lakers beat Heat 124-118 in overtime
The Marty Watch begins for Chargers
MLS may move to bring Beckham in sooner
Brown's will drawn up before marriage
Obituaries in the news
Radio transmitters touted to help hikers
TV actress Darlene Conley dies in LA
Boy witnesses parents' slayings in S.F.
Embryo saved after Katrina to be born
Baker panel to release BP safety report
DeGeneres gets cookies from Ohio scout
Check Out our Military Hardware Guide
Audio Excerpt of Norman Mailer's Latest
Play Trivia and Win an iPod
Maximize Your Military Lifestyle
Largest Veteran Job Board in the World

CENTCOM: News Releases


Not your typical reserve position: USJFCOM seeks reserve officers to join Standing Joint Force Headquarters
More about Standing Joint Force Headquarters Core Elements - podcast
Exercise to begin to prepare Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa for deployment
More about the mission rehearsal program
USJFCOM commander discusses importance of personnel recovery - podcast
Campbell takes command of Joint Forces Command Army component

Department of Defense
Victory in Iraq Crucial to Security - Story
Stability & Security in Iraq Report (pdf)
For Top News Visit DefenseLink

Iraqi Police Patrol keeps Tigris River Safe - Story
Medics Get Blessing Before Moving Into Iraq - Story
Group Works With Coalition to Promote Unity - Story
Safety Officer Develops Lifesaving Tool - Story
U.S. Air Assets Support Strike in Afghanistan - Story

Iraqi, Coalition Forces Conduct Major Offensive
Soldiers Use Air Assets to Capture Comb Makers
Hundreds of Ramadi Residents Join the Police
U.S. Army Cavalry Train Iraqi National Police
New Networks Monitor Power Distribution in Iraq

U.S. Air Force Engineer Helps Afghans Rebuild
Afghans Graduate From Agricultural Course
Afghans, U.S. Soldiers Distribute Relief Supplies
277th Named Army’s ‘Top Aviation Battalion’
Panjshir Team Helps to Repair Mosque

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

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar

Ansbach Aschaffenburg Berlin Berlin-Tempelhof Berlin/Schonefeld Bremerhaven
Darmstadt Frankfurt Frankfurt/Main Freiburg/Breisgau Garmisch
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Geilenkirchen Gelnhausen Giessen Kitzingen
Hanau Am Main Heidelberg Mainz Mannheim Nurnberg Stuttgart Trier
Wiesbaden Wurzburg


Agana Agana Heights Agat Andersen AFB Asan Barrigada

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

Kadena Air Base Okinawa Tokyo Yokohama

Baler Radar Site Catanduanes Radar Site Manila

South Korea
Cheju Upper/Radar Chonju Chunchon Inch'on Kunsan Masan Mokp'o
Osan Pusan Seoul Suwon Taegu Taejon Tonghae Radar Site Ulsan Yosu

* If you're deployed, and want to see your location's weather listed here, please email me! *


"Today in History" to be posted later