Friday, February 29, 2008


This was sent to us tonight and we have to say, all it will take is a few minutes to send an email, or a card to these guys. That is the amount of time it takes you to read an email joke and then forward it on. HELP THESE GUYS. Because this is Taylor's blog, I will not say how disgusted I feel over the betrayal these guys must feel over the article that was written on them in the New York Times. I can tell you how heartbroken Taylor was to read it and the look on her face said it all........
Paratroopers Fighting in Afghanistan Need to Hear from You!Posted By Blackfive
Not too long ago, Blackfive readers, joined by thousands of readers from other blogs, sent over 30,000 emails of support to Marines in Iraq. The Marines had to shut down the email address because you all were causing bandwidth issues with the support we were sending.
Now, as if the Taliban and Al Qaeda, bad weather, and lack of support here at home weren't bad enough, the New York Times has published a one-sided view of the paratroopers tour in Afghanistan.
And so now we have cause to band together again and send massive support down range. Here's why:
Even though spring hasn’t officially arrived the snow line is beginning to move up the mountains in Kunar and surrounding provinces in Afghanistan. The Taliban have already begun attacking the KOP, Firebases and Observation Points where elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team from Bamberg and Schweinfurt, Germanicenza, Ily, are deployed. Almost 4,000 Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne), 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne) and 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry were deployed to Kunar and surrounding provinces in Afghanistan in May 2007 for a 15 month rotation. This region of eastern Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush mountains bordering Pakistan has been designated the most dangerous place on earth for military personnel.

A Paratrooper from 2nd Platoon, Able Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), navigates a steep incline during a patrol to Omar in Kunar province in Afghanistan Jan. 11. Date Taken: January 11th, 2008. Location: Kunar province, AF. Photographer: Sgt. Brandon Aird, Joint Combat Camera Center
This winter has been particularly harsh. Many of the Soldiers are living in mud huts and tents with little or no heat, no running water, intermittent use of generators, supply drops via air to drop zones that require a hike of up to 40 minutes each way in order to retrieve the supplies, 30+ days out on missions at the firebases without showers or daily hot meals before rotating back to the KOP or Camp Blessing for hot showers, hot meals and the ability to communicate with their families and friends.

Photo courtesy of a Sky Soldier
The Sky Soldiers have trudged through up to seven feet of snow on patrols day in and day out often at altitudes of 7,000 feet and higher. Each Soldier carries between 60 and 100 pounds of gear on these patrols. They Soldier-On each day despite the loss of many friends and comrades and substantially high numbers of wounded. Untold numbers of great Americans have provided amazing amounts of support to these Soldiers during this deployment. Public, private and civic organizations have provided direct support or indirect support.
A recent article by Elizabeth Rubin in the New York Times painted one Platoon of this Brigade in a less than favorable light. The article sensationalized the facts in a negative way, which served only to cause undue stress on the Soldiers and family members. The author failed to mention successes within the Brigade such as substantial humanitarian aid (tons of food and clothes) delivered to local villages, medical care for local children and adults, road projects, clean water projects, training of Afghan National Army personnel, distribution of school supplies, etc. [Don't worry, friends, Deebow is preparing a more detailed take down of Elizabeth Rubin. Stay tuned for that.]
Historically, spring is a time of heavy fighting in this region as the terrorists and insurgents emerge from their caves after the harsh winter temperatures and snows. Let’s show these Soldiers how much support they have from home to help them through the spring and the remainder of this long and dangerous deployment., Americaatroopers are in the fight of their lives and they need to hear that America loves them.
Please send an email of support to
Or you can mail cards to:
Leta CarruthP O Box 100Cordova, TN 38088
Due to security reasons in Afghanistan please do not put addresses or phone numbers on any correspondence. All emails will be printed out here in the US and mailed to Afghanistan as they do not have the resources to receive a large number of emails. All letters and emails will be vetted to make sure there are no negative comments. These are letters of support, so please keep them positive and uplifting.
A Huge THANK YOU to the proponents of (and the leaders of) this effort - Tanker Babe and Mrs. Diva!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saying it how she feels

Taylor brought home her work she had to do in class the other day. She had to write about something and she chose to write about how she felt about the war going on. Now mind you, this is coming from a child. Some sentences are in fact, factual. Some, just how she feels in her heart, others that she has read on the internet, through milblogs, or seeing it on the news. Some of it when you read, might not make sense. But in her heart and in her mind, it makes sense to her and I believe in HER sense a heck of a lot more then I believe in some of the so called people that should know better! Once again, we are very proud of her, for having the courage to stand up and say how she feels.

The War in Iraq

Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have been abused or killed in Iraq by insurgents. Thousands of men were forcefully oppressed into the Iraqi Army Regime. They had to worry about their wife and kids being tortured or killed with no reason at all. Their families would be killed for speaking their minds, or stating their opinion. Entire families would be beheaded even for something as stupid as the way a woman wore their turbans over their face. It is WRONG the way that the Iraqi people were forced to live. The terrorists have killed hundreds of thousands of their own people as well as our own troops and our own innocent civilians on the home fronts of America during 9/11. Do you think that it is our duty to America as well as Iraq to help free and liberate the Iraqi people from these awful criminals who spread terror across the nation, and to have a sense of mind that we put a stop to the terrorism and hatred? I do. Don't you want the bad guys locked up and or killed for their actions so we know they will never do this again? I do. This war is not about revenge, but I sure do believe that we have a purpose over there, and that is why I am here today, to talk about the war in Iraq.

I am for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am for what our troops are doing in those places. I don't just believe, I KNOW we are an essential role in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are making slow but sure progress. It is my personal opinion along with many others, that if we pull out now, it is a sign to the terrorist that they could get away with their ways and with 9/11 and can attack again, and say that they defeated the United States of America on the battle front. I don't want this to happen.

The tide in Iraq is turning and here is proof. Just a few short months ago, the situation in Ramadi, Anbar Province was unstable to the point where going outside was dangerous. But the U.S. military in cooperation with the Iraqi Army have improved security significantly and can now go to work to improve the quality of life in the area. In addition, USMC Sgt. Brody Zeigler of the 3rd Battalion 7th Marines wants to provide for local children by giving them school supplies, food and athletic equipment. There are now over 2,500 renovated schools and 32,000 certified teachers. If we could all send care packages to our troops with something in it for the kids, it will be much easier to liberate and win trust of the Iraqis. How do you do that you ask? You talk to families that have people serving, you get on the web and find military websites, you use What to send? Well, even if it is a beanie baby, it will make a difference to those children who have had to go through so much. Hard candies, chocolate in the winter are favorites as well (ONLY and I mean ONLY send chocolate in the winter, otherwise you would have some chocolate milk and not the cold kind!) Some of the troops even share their own things that were never meant for the kids, but they share them. Notebooks, pencils, pens, even chalk can make those kids happy. They are Iraqis future.

My second reason for the war in Iraq is that the top military commander in Iraq said that violent attacks in the country had fallen by 60 percent. 60 PERCENT!! That is amazing. Even compared to a short couple of months ago, when attacks were the norm, however, he said that the security gains were tenuous and fragile. In addition, there has been fewer numbers of IED attacks in the past three months. The secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, says that the direction in Iraq is headed in a significantly more positive direction.

My third by not last reason is, the top Marine General told reporters that fatalities cause by insurgency was steadily declining. John Burns of the New York Times recently braved the notoriously dangerous Haffia street in Baghdad, but found signs for sure of the tide shifting. He noted encouragingly that two Iraqi battalions were patrolling the area. It is the first time that any homegrown brigade had secured a combat zone. These are no longer the sweaty, overweight Iraqis of Gunner Palace. Now they are ready to fight. General David Petraeus has said there are over 200,000 Iraqi Army troops on duty and patrolling and securing. I think that is very good and promising progress.

I admit there has been death. There has been bloodshed and there has been hard times. But if you look at previous wars, like WW2, we lost 291,557 troops. The valiant actions in Vietnam cost the lives of 60,000. We can't pull out for the 3,900 that have died in Iraq, they can't be lost in vain. They gave their lives for the good of other people.

If you go to Iraq, you see people waving the Iraqi and American flags. The violence has gone down, I don't need to tell you that. We haven't found Osama Bin Laden, that is true, but he has to constantly move because we are still hunting for him. We will find him. It is the duty of the United States of America to finish off the bad guys that came and hurt us in unimaginable ways. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec 7, 1941, we went into immediate action and defeated the Japanese. If we could do it then, we can surely do it now.

In our day and age, we are concerned about where we are going to eat or what we are going to watch on TV and not for our troops overseas. That needs to change!!!! Our troops need our support and morale so they can fight for you and for the innocent people of Iraq. If you want the world to be a better place, then help out the troops. They will make it happen. You look at history and we can and will prevail. All we need to do is pull together and make this happen. It is our troops that make this a free country and a safe country. We need to respect that.

I do not think people in congress should take our troops out of Iraq. It is the troops on the front lines that make the difference. The troops who are getting down and dirty and sweaty and fighting, know what is going on over there. Not some person in a suit, working behind a desk in an air conditioned room.

Even though there are over 200,000 Iraqi troops, they cannot be trained over night, just like our troops can't be trained over night. That is why the Iraqi troops are not ready to defend and fight for their country, they are not ready and they still need training. It is up to us to train them so that they can really fight for what is right. We can't just pull out now, because they can't fight, then there will be another dictatorship and we will just have to go back anyways.

I don't know what more I have to say to make you guys realize that our troops are not criminals, they are not monsters and they are not wrong doers, they are just like you and me. They have family and friends. They fight for our country and for freedom. In fact, I hope that you can see they are kind and caring. I cannot stress how important it is to support our troops. They need morale boosters. It is not hard to send a letter to say THANK YOU. A letter to a Marine or soldier can make a big difference. It shows you care. Just support our troops, it is that simple.

Here are some great things from the war in Iraq. The whole international community has pledged 38 billion dollars for schools, health care and infrastructure. That will go a long way for make the schools a better and safer environment. Also, there are more up to date hospitals with better trained nurses. The Iraqi civilians who are hurt by the insurgents can not get proper medical care. A UN resolution will move Iraq towards self government. If Iraq can govern itself, than all we need to do is train the Iraqis, help the Iraqis provide security and do humanitarian work. NATO will help train and equip Iraqi forces to a greater level. More Iraqi security means less of our troops would have to be on the front lines. We could then focus on humanitarian aid. Food and electricity and now evenly distributed across the country. Nearly all of Iraq has food and electricity. Nearly 2,500 schools has been renovated. Just think, those kids can now go to school without consequences. 32,000 teachers in country, teaching can open up jobs and get this country off the ground. After all, the mind is the greatest tool. Health care spending has increased 30 fold since liberation. That means there is more money in the health care system. 2.5 million barrels of oil are being shipped all over the world and that means big bucks for the nation and that helps out everyone in the long run. Free press is one of the most important freedoms. While under Saddam, no one had a right to speak their mind, or do anything really. There was not a whole lot of information being passed around. Knowledge is the greatest thing to have and now they are gaining more and more. Small businesses are starting to thrive. Getting more businesses going would help us get out faster to. Iraq's currency is getting more stable, where as when Saddam was in charge, there wasn't even bartering going on. So you see, all of these are great stepping stones to the beginning of a new nation.

My call for action is to support your troops and support the war in Iraq. We need to help those people over there. We are doing this for the better good of the United States and for Iraq. We are now going to send our troops more heavily into Afghanistan and do what we are now doing in Iraq. I think this is going to be a long war, it already has, but if you look at our name, The United States of America, you see united. We as Americans need to unite and support our troops so they can get the job done!! I hope that you all have learned something from this. I know I have. Our troops are doing a heckuva lot more good then most people think. Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A story about an American Hero

This past weekend, I took Taylor to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. She just loves the old war planes and we decided to make a day of it. Do you believe in fate? I DO!

While we were there, Taylor was able to get into the cockpit of a B 25. It was very cool and as she was sitting there, the man that let her up there asked her a few questions like she was a 'little girl'. By the time we got done talking, his jaw was hanging down! She first started telling him what she knew about the B 25 and he was impressed. Then he got a very small scale story about Taylor and once she said she was a GySgt, he about fell out of the plane as he yelled 'A GUNNY? YOU ARE A GUNNY?!' Of course, this always tickles Taylor when she gets that type of reaction. She talked further with the man and told him her all time favorite WW11 planes were the Mustang and the mighty B 17. The man got a bit quiet and told her he had something for her. When we got out of the plane, he told her to walk a certain way and when she saw a man in a wheelchair to stop by and say hi.

So, we wandered a bit and came up on a little old man sitting in a wheel chair. He had on his WW11 veteran hat and he had on a uniform shirt that was just full of ribbons. She shook his hand and thanked him for his service. He talked to her for a few minutes then asked her if she knew anything about the B 17. She told him 'yes sir, that is my favorite bomber'. His eyes settled on her, took her hand and asked her if she would like to talk to him for a bit.

The man that was holding Taylor's hand, was a B 17 pilot, Larry Jenkins. Taylor and I promptly sat right down in the middle of the floor to listen to him talk.

He was just out of high school and was playing cards with a bunch of his buddies when on the radio came word that Pearl Harbor had been hit. He knew then, he was going to go sign up. He wanted to be a pilot and he went through a lot of schooling to become the B 17 pilot.

He told us that he was so excited, he was young, fearless and that at that time, the guys were actually excited to go to war. That was, until his first mission. Once up in the air and they got shot at with the anti air craft artillery came up and was hitting their plane, taking chunks of it off. They landed safely and all marveled at the damage and that they survived. He was very afraid after that, but he couldn't let it stop him from doing his job.

Being a new crew, they usually got the older planes that had issues. On one mission, the plane they got had TROUBLE written across the nose, he knew it wasn't a good sign. They were over enemy territory in Romania with a full bomb load when they lost an engine. They were losing speed and had to turn away from the formation. He knew he had to drop the bombs, so they flew and found some railroad tracks and destroyed them.

They lost another engine and are now flying with only 2 and they were over 300 miles away from a safe zone and all alone. A mountain range was coming and they had to get over it. But the B 17 is massive and heavy and they only had 2 engines. Larry told the crew to get rid of any and everything in the plane, except their chutes. He made them get rid of their guns, ammo, bomb scope. But they kept losing altitude. He got the idea that if they could get rid of the ball turret, which was pretty heavy, they might be ok. While flying on 2 engines, fighting with every ounce he had, he helped figure out how to get the ball turret off. They were still to heavy. He ordered all the doors be taken off as well. Larry had a hard time maintaining speed so that plane didn't stall, but he somehow managed to skim over the mountain range. Once they got back to safety, they had to face a 45 mph cross wind and he had to put the plane down in the middle of a hay field, most of the plane was missing, but he brought his crew back safe. He got the Distinguished Flying Cross for that mission.

His crew finally got a new plane but they stuck out like a sore thumb because it was shiny, it hadn't been painted the drab green yet and they had a bad feeling. On July 16, 1944 on a mission over Austria (they had been here before and knew it was going to be bad), they dropped their bombs and had turned back around over the city to leave and they were hit 2 times, direct hits. It killed his bombardier instantly and wounded his navigator. The #3 engine burst into flames and Larry realized he had been hit. He was blinded and could only see the bright lights from the flames of the engine, but he knew they were spinning out of control. He was still in his seat and somehow managed to get his chute on, but he had to take off his flack jacket to do so. He stood up to get out of his seat and fell. Both of his legs were broken.

He crawled his way back to the bomb bay doors, hoping someone had opened them. They were closed. He tried to push with his legs, that is when he realized how badly his legs were broken, both were compound fractures. He had lost a lot of blood and oxygen. He prayed, Lord, I will be with you soon.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. Everyone had bailed, except one guy, Ray Voss. Ray talked with Larry 33 years later and told him when he got to the bomb bay doors, Larry was unconscious. Ray left and was going to jump and leave Larry because of how severe Larry's wounds were, but at the last minute he couldn't do it, he couldn't leave Larry there.

He opened the bomb bay doors and rolled Larry out, hoping the cold would wake Larry up enough for him to pull his own rip cord. Larry did, but passed out again. He came to as he was being shot at, and hit on his way down. When he landed, he was surrounded by Germans.

That began his journey as a POW under some very horrific conditions. He was a POW until May 10, 1945. If you would more details on this time, you can email and I will tell you. The conditions were horrendous and what he and the others suffered through were and are heartbreaking.

Yet, here he sat, in his wheel chair talking so incredibly proud. Taylor never once took her eyes off of him and many times, he looked directly to her as he talked, as if they were the only 2 left.

When he came back to the states, he spent several years at the Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek which is now the Hart-Doyle-Inouye Federal Center.

He told Taylor he had no regrets, none. He asked 2 things of Taylor as he gave her a book that was written about him and he signed his name under one of his pictures. He asked her to take care of his book, his story, forever. The last thing he asked of her, to always remember him, Larry Jenkins, B 17 pilot.

I can't even tell you how profound this meeting was. When we were done, he pulled himself out of his chair and he saluted. GULP, I had tears just flowing. What an amazing man, what an amazing story, what an amazing American Hero!

The best day at the Air Zoo, that is for sure!

Monday, February 11, 2008

LCpl Harper receives the Bronze Star

As most of you know, Taylor spent a week at Camp Lejeune and got to do some outstanding and amazing things. Throughout the week, she had 2 wounded warriors that were able to 'shadow' her and they were able to do the things she did. It was really cool for them and for her to be with them.

Taylor's school library gets the magazine Leatherneck and she always checks it out. She got off the bus this week running wildly to the house. She threw open the magazine and here was a picture of one of the wounded warriors she spent the whole week with, LCpl Harper.

Here is the article: (sorry I have to type it out, but if I try to scan it, it doesn't show up, I am not that computer savy remember?)

Decorated Lance Corporal's Advice:
Don't Panic, Follow Orders, Do What You Are Told.

Lance Corporal Albert R Harper, a vehicle operator with the 3d Battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division, Regimental Combat Team 6, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), was awarded the Bronze Star medal with combat "V" at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug.23, 2007, for heroism and courage while under fire. He also was presented the Purple Heart for wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom Feb. 16, 2007.

Harper was leaving Camp Corregidor, near Ramadi, Iraq, when an 82 mm mortar round hit his vehicle.

"The mortar round struck the roof of the vehicle just behind the driver's seat," Harper said. "It sent shrapnel rounds through the vehicle and through my right shoulder blade all the way to my right arm."

In the attack, the convoy's leader, Captain Todd Seibert, was killed, which forced the the battalion gunner to take charge. After the attack, Harper's battalion gunner assessed the situation and instructed him to take over the controls and drive the vehicle.

Harper drove the vehicle an additional three kilometers through hostile urban terrain to evacuate several remaining injured Marines despite being in tremendous pain and rapidly losing blood and consciousness.

Harper gave advice for Marines preparing to deploy and about facing challening situations. "Remain calm no matter what," he said. "Panic is not the answer. Follow orders and do what you are told."

Brigadier General David H. Berger, assistant division commander of 2dMarDiv, pinned the medals on Harper. "No Marines that get awarded medals of valor or Purple Hearts ask for it," the general explained. "At the right time and the wrong place, they took the right action."

Taylor and I had the great pleasure of being with this young man for a week and he was so nice and kind. He was quiet, but he was wonderful to be around. To LCpl Harper, OOH RAH and Semper Fi from the Gunny!

Free Throw winner again!

Well, Taylor stared her old advisary down and she beat it! The last few years, she has been in a free throw contest and she always got to the next level, but when it came to this last level, she could never win. Mad her so mad to!

This year, she took it on and won! Now, she moves to the next level. We are very proud of her on this. She can't play sports and she is going up against girls that have played all along, as well as them all being twice her size. She had to do her 3 warm up shots and missed. UGH, I kept looking at her dad and saying, she is talking herself out of it. Before hand, she listened to her Marine Corp Hymn again, wore her Marine shirt and thought of her beloved Major B who just arrived in Iraq. She got into a zone and made 19 out of 25! We still are amazed at how she does it, as small as she is and given she has visual spatial issues....

To top it off, her brother and her brought home their report cards and BOTH of them got all A's and B's!! WAY TO GO!