Wednesday, December 28, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tribute to 3/7 Marine Cpl. Samuel Tapia
Marine killed in Iraq buried in hometown
THE FINAL INSPECTION
The Marine stood and faced God, Which must always come to pass. He hoped his shoes were shining, Just as brightly as his brass.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
I hope everyone had a merry and safe Christmas. Mine was good because I finally got to talk to Eric for five minutes at least on Friday. It was great to hear his voice. He still sounds like my Eric so I am happy about that.______________________________________________________
There is a lot going on in my life right now that I may get into later here, but for now I wanted to post a positive slant to news from Iraq. I found the following article lurking in USA Today. Enjoy.
By Caspar Weinberger and Wynton Hall
Tue Dec 27, 7:23 AM ET
This season, 155,000 of our men and women in uniform will spend the holidays fighting in Iraq. Though this period is traditionally a time for celebration and hope, our U.S. troops are being confronted with a message of a different sort emanating from the home front - news stories on the hyper-politicization of the mission to which they have been called.
One wonders what our men and women in uniform must feel when they flick on the TV at their base camp or log on to American newspaper websites only to be greeted by a seemingly endless barrage of negative news stories and opinion polls questioning a war in which they're putting their lives on the line each day.
The stories of extraordinary heroism in Iraq, some of which have been published, are being overshadowed by the mostly partisan name-calling and finger-pointing in Washington.
Were it possible to brush aside some of these clouds of ideologically driven negativity over the war on terror, the distraction from the bravery of our troops whose valor in Afghanistan and Iraq matches that of "The Greatest Generation" of World War II would come into fuller sight.
Alive by 'the grace of God'
Meet Master Sgt. William Calvin Markham, a combat controller from Waukesha, Wis., whom history will record as the first member of the Air Force to set foot on Afghan soil in the war on terror. Just one month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Markham, 37, part of a 12-member military team, was among the first U.S. special operations forces to enter Afghanistan.
"The Taliban would unleash everything at us," Markham recalls. "We took enormous amounts of fire: small arms fire, tank rounds, you name it. They also had ZSU 23s, an anti-aircraft weapon, and turned them on us, sending what looked like large, flaming footballs at our position."
Asked how he and his team survived the enemy's wall of fire, the 6'1", 250-pound Markham replies, "It was the grace of God. It was like we had a bubble over us."
When the smoke cleared, Markham's Silver Star citation credited him with directing 175 sorties that resulted in the elimination of 450 enemy vehicles and the killing of more than 3,500 Taliban fighters in a little more than a month.
Today, however, his greatest source of pride is the golf tournament he hosts each year, the Whomper Stomper Open, to raise funds for the children of fallen U.S. special operations forces.
When asked whether barbs by the naysayers of the war bother him, Markham says, "When I hear that kind of thing, honestly, it makes me glad because it means those individuals have the freedom to think and say what they wish."
First Sgt. Justin D. LeHew feels similarly. LeHew was an amphibious assault platoon sergeant in Iraq and was one of only 10 individuals to receive the Navy Cross, second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. Moving into Nasiriyah, his column of 12 amphibious assault vehicles came under extreme fire by a massive Iraqi force that had burrowed itself inside buildings. When one U.S. vehicle took a hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, LeHew raced toward the fiery scene.
"The first thing I see on the ramp is the leg of a Marine. ... From what I could tell, everybody in the back was dead - at least that's what I thought at the time. As I was crawling through all that stuff into the center, I stepped on something and actually heard someone gasp for air. ... So I started digging around and underneath, bent in a V-position, was a live Marine."
That Marine's name is Cpl. Matthew Juska. He is alive today because LeHew refused to give up his search for fellow Americans, even as enemy fire pelted the flaming vehicle.
LeHew says the only thing he asks from war critics is that they support the men and women who safeguard their right to dissent. "You can say that you feel that this war is unjustified or whatever, but you support the home team, the American servicemen in the fight."
This humble plea - to stand with those who fight for us - is the one echoed by the 2.4 million men and women in our armed forces. And yet, even as the voices of those who oppose their efforts get louder, the voices that carry our heroes' stories remain but a whisper.
Bring on the good news
Those waging the war on terror this Christmas season are proud of the work they're doing - and we should be, too. Our nation would be well-served if we saw more images and stories about the positive and heroic work they are doing.
Men such as Master Sgt. William Calvin Markham and 1st Sgt. Justin LeHew couldn't care less about generating headlines; they're professionals who radiate humility. Besides, they don't consider themselves heroes.
The reason their stories should be retold is not for their benefit but for ours. Our heroes have much to teach us, if only we could clear away the fog that cloaks them.
Note: Caspar Weinberger is a former secretary of Defense and the chairman of Forbes. Wynton C. Hall, an author and speechwriter, is writing with Weinberger, Home of the Brave: Honoring the Unsung Heroes in the War on Terror.
Semper Fi and God bless you all.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sometimes I wonder how I am going to endure this another three or four months. Eric has reached the halfway mark or close to it as far as this deployment goes. But I still haven't gotten any call or letters from him for over six weeks now. That is making it harder for me because when I don't hear from him, I worry about his state of mind. I know though that they have been extremely busy and I still try to remember NNIGN. At least I can ask some of the other Marines moms if their sons have seen him and they tell me that he is fine. I did actually break down and tell them to tell their sons to tell mine to call me! Now .. if you understood that (the writing) you are doing better than me at the moment.______________________________________________________
Then .. I think what am I complaining about. At least I know he is okay right now. We lost another Marine out of 3/7 Weapons Co a couple of days ago. He was so very young :( His name was LCpl. Samuel Tapia. It was his daughter's first birthday on the day he went to the Lord. He was 20 years old and married and had a daughter. He was from the Texas Valley. My prayers are with his family as they are with all of our Marines, especially the 3/7.
Remember our Marines over this holiday season. Remember that they and their families are suffering so that they might do good in the world and for our nation. What they are doing, they do for us all.
Bless Those Serving Our Land
I'll Be Home for Christmas
Miles away on a lonely post,
A soldier sits alone;
Dreaming back to days gone by,
Now, it's Christmas away from home.
Somewhere on an ocean blue,
A Sailor wipes a tear;
Duty calls, but still he yearns,
For the joy of bygone years.
And there among the ones who serve,
A woman thinks of home;
In service to her country,
This year, she is alone.
Away from friends and family,
The memories of home are clear;
When life was oh, so simple,
With loved ones gathered near.
Somewhere in a prison camp,
A heart cries out for home,
Where quiet desperation speaks...
"Did they leave me here alone?"
There in the lonely silence,
Soft and sweet and low;
A Christmas song begins to play,
And tears begin to flow.
For in the soft, sweet melody,
The memories start to stream;
Of, "I'll Be Home For Christmas,
If Only In My Dreams."
So, bless the sailor across the blue,
And the soldier who serves our land;
With Christmas dreams to fill their hearts,
Till they come home again.
Allison Chambers Coxsey
Semper Fidelis to you and Merry Christmas. Please show all your appreciation and love to your family and friends this holdiay season.
Thursday, December 15, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
OORAH to all of our Marines and our other armed forces in Iraq for their hard work and dedication. They have made freedom possible for the Iraqi people. Semper Fi!______________________________________________________
redstatesusa: E-Day In Iraq
By: Oliver North
RAMADI, IRAQ -- The defeatists back home didn't think it could be done. But today, the Iraqi people, only recently liberated from a repressive dictatorship, held their third election in the space of a year. After first choosing a transitional government in January, they returned to the polls in October to approve a constitution. In both cases, they turned out in great numbers under the threat of violence. Today, millions of those same Iraqi citizens trekked to one of thousands of polling places around the country to vote for candidates who will form a 275-member National Assembly that will take office on Dec. 31.
On election day, I was with the Marines of 3/7 atop an outpost in the heart of one of the most vicious neighborhoods in this very violent city of Ramadi. It was once a stronghold of the Sunni terrorist movement, but thanks to these Marines, it no longer is.
But imams, sheiks and local leaders urged people to get out and vote, and because they did, the turnout was dramatic. One local imam told his followers, "God will bless you with a great life if you go out and vote." That and similar messages were broadcast from mosques all around town.
At the end of this historic day, there was not a sound of gunfire, but instead, as the polls closed, there was a call to prayer. It was even an occasion for celebration as the neighborhood children were out in the streets, after dark, playing soccer with equipment that was given to them by Americans in uniform.
Capt. Brian Grant told me the turnout was "an overwhelming success." Indeed it was -- there were lines that wrapped around the block and extended for hundreds of people. 10 polling places ran out of ballots and had to send out for more. The safe environment provided by the Marines, with the help of Iraqi security forces and local religious leaders, gave citizens the added confidence to go to the polls without worrying about their personal safety.
It is nothing short of remarkable. Because here in Ramadi, which is the capital of Iraq's largest province and the heart of the Sunni Triangle, there has been tremendous opposition from the jihadists who did everything they could to prevent this election from taking place. In fact, in this area during the last election, less than five percent of the people turned out to vote.
The violence is caused mostly by the IED -- a terrible thing which remains the terrorists' weapon of choice. The Marines were confronted with several earlier in the week, but the good news is that the security situation in Ramadi is a great deal better today than it was just a few months ago when I was last here.
It is better, in part, because there are now a lot more Iraqis providing security in this area, which was not the case during my last visit to this region. In fact, only a few months ago, there were no Iraqi areas of responsibility in this city. Today, there are Iraqi Army troops operating right next to soldiers and Marines. Now, they have their own areas of operation with some logistic support from the Americans.
As Lt. Chad Cliver told me, the Marines of 3/7 "work very closely with Iraqi Army troops as well as Iraqi police." Over the past several months, they have spent time training the Iraqis who are making a lot of progress -- so much so that Cliver says, "before we leave here we will have turned over most of Ramadi to the Iraqis themselves."
But it is that kind of steady, persistent progress that American troops are making over here that accounted for the successful election today. Throughout the week leading up to E-Day, numerous Marines with whom I spoke expressed confidence that the day would be a success.
I asked Lt. Col. Roger Turner, the commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines when I first arrived here, if he thought the terrorists could be held in check and that the elections would actually take place. Turner was confident, saying, "I think it will take place [because] the people of Ramadi very genuinely want to participate in elections." He explained that though the terrorists are desperate to disrupt the day, their violent tactics are backfiring on them and they are being "overtaken by events and the momentum that the democratic process starts to gain here."
Tuesday, December 13, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
TRIBUTE TO CORPORAL JOSEPH BIER
I have spent several days debating the best way to honor and pay tribute to our lost Marine, Cpl Joe Bier. I have had the pleasure of knowing his mother as she is an integral part of our group, Dandelion Sisters. This group is an accumulation of family members (mostly moms) of the Marines in 3rd Battlaion, 7th Marines so our sons know, protect and work with each other.
The loss of Cpl Joe hit me hard. I have heard how many of our guys loved him and I know the whole of 3/7 is mourning with his family the loss of this fine, loving young man. I decided that the best way to pay tribute to Joe was to let you know how loving his whole family is.
First, a poem that I wrote, that I hope shows what Joe meant to his family. He and his family are all truly showing us a lesson that I wish we would take to heart:
I held you in my arms,
- written by Marine Mom
Joe’s father, Wayne wrote something that I want to share in Joe’s honor.
By Wayne Bier
Joseph Phillip Bier
He makes me ask myself, "What am I doing? What should I be doing? Am I fulfilling my God-given life?"
I spoke to his recruiter an hour ago and reminded him to live in joy and fullness. Few men live a life they love and die doing what they love among friends and brothers they love.
We have been overwhelmed by friends and family (made by Joe – our Marine family). We have much to be thankful for as Americans and parents: a family with two Marines (Joe's brother Dan is also in the Corps). We have been adopted by this fine community.
America, you owe so much to your service men and women. It is a small community with which we have been blessed. Our nation would not exist without these fine people and the sacrifices they have made for us over the last couple of centuries.
I ask all of you to support our troops and their families left behind. These people live in your communities.
I ask that you all view life with joy and exuberance; live fully; thank God daily and look forwards always.
Turn from evil and support our freedom and the well being of our neighbors here, in Iraq and elsewhere. We are Americans and that is what we have done well and will continue to do so to the honor of our past and present citizens.
About five months ago Joe called and asked, "Should I re-enlist? My Gunny has papers!"
I told him he should talk to God for guidance. I told Joe he should ask himself; did he love what he was doing? Would he rather be selling produce at Safeway (my job for 25 years)
Three days later he called back with great enthusiasm and said, "Dad – I love what I am doing."
In Ramadi, Iraq, on the 230th birthday celebration of the Marine Corps, (it's a Marine thing) Joe was sworn in to his second enlistment – a wonderful and proud moment.
Gone to be with his maker, we wait the day when we too will be with our Lord and be reunited with our departed ones in the Lord.
And Joe’s mother Carol, who is an inspiration to us all in the Dandelion Sisters recently sent us this loving note. Carol, you left me speechless, thank you so much for being the loving person you are.
Good morning, dear ones -
Saturday I plugged it back in. I will leave it shining 'til all your sons come home and it will be a reminder to pray for them and you, daily.
Some Gold Star parents came to our house yesterday. Incredible people. We learned that at homecoming, after the guys have had a bit of time, there is a memorial service for their comrades that have been lost. We will be going to that. And we will thank your sons for their service as we remember ours and his.
God bless you all,
My heartfelt prayers, sympathy and thanks go out to the family of Cpl. Joe Bier. And thank you once again Joe, Semper Fi and God Bless.
Thursday, December 08, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
Once again I sit here with my heart breaking for the family of a Marine that we lost this morning from my son's company. His mother let us know a little bit ago that they received a visit from two Marines early this morning who told them that their son was now with the Lord (her words). She ended her email to us with "God is Semper Fi". Forever faithful. This is an amazing lady who had an amazing son. What a loss we have to endure now.______________________________________________________
Now I also worry about how many others I may be hearing about since he died due to an IED (improvised explosive device). I pray that any that may have been hurt are doing well and that we lost no more, even though one is too many to lose. [Latest news is that there were several other Marines hurt in this incident. I continue to pray for them.]
This young man's mother is such a strong lady, I know she has spent a lot of time helping other moms in her area that lost their Marines. I sincerely hope those families are there for her and her family now. How do you help someone that you know but who lives 3000 miles away from you? I feel a little useless emailing and saying "Is there anything I can do?" , which I admit to doing before. But if there were anything I could do to help this family, I would in a heartbeat. Anyhow, I may not know what to do that would really help but I will write a tribute here for her son soon.
For now, my prayers are with Cpl. Joe Bier's family and his brother Marines that he left behind. I want to say Thank you to Joe as we all should ... we owe him a debt that we can never repay. For as the saying goes (although I am writing this from memory so forgive if it is not perfect), no greater gift can a man give than to give his life for another. Joe gave his life so that we might be free. For that, he is indeed, a hero that I will never forget.
Semper fidelas Corporal Joe Bier
Wednesday, December 07, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
In Memory of all our lost soldiers and veterans, I wish you would go and visit this website that honors many of the heros from that day of infamy, the Pearl Harbor attack of Dec. 7, 1941. A Tribute to Henry is something every American should read.______________________________________________________
Semper Fidelis Henry!
I think I am entering hibernation. Its been a dismal week with temps only in the low 20s and dropping to the nether regions at night here lately. Its about 0 out right now and I am feeling it. Since I can't get my brain in gear to write much right now here I thought I would pass on a cool little contest I found here: An experiment in normality. Here's the deal directly from Normality's post:
Competition! 1oo word story
I read an entertaining post on a blog I visit Ben's Coffee House Nov. 18th post .
This prompted me to propose a little Christmas Competition. Now, I don’t have a huge readership, so I hope you’ll all enter (both of you, hehe).
I promise a present from England for the winner (if you trust me with your address) and intend to also have a reader’s vote in case the consensus differs from my own. The competition is as follows:
I will give you the beginning of a very short story, and you have to finish it! Don’t worry, you have to use only – 1oo words maximum. That’s it! Surely everyone can manage that! If you can bring a Christmas theme into it, so much the better!
Here’s the start:
It was the quietest night Hank could remember. Even the two strange things in the cellar were silent. Snow was falling again and the only way to get out of the house was through the ice tunnel he’d dug the week before. He hoped that Mimi had made it through the trees and reached the village to bring help, but surely it had been too long. Opening the fridge he surveyed the remains of his food – one chicken leg, half a tuna sandwich and a tub of something green that Elspeth had brought back from the forest. Action was needed…
There. That’s a hundred words. You only need to add one hundred more. Can’t be too hard can it?
You have until the 10th of December to enter!
And here's my entry to Normal's contest.
It was the quietest night Hank could remember. Even the two strange things in the cellar were silent. Snow was falling again and the only way to get out of the house was through the ice tunnel he’d dug the week before. He hoped that Mimi had made it through the trees and reached the village to bring help, but surely it had been too long. Opening the fridge he surveyed the remains of his food – one chicken leg, half a tuna sandwich and a tub of something green that Elspeth had brought back from the forest. Action was needed…but the pain of his broken leg dulled his thinking.
(as an alternate Christmas theme ending ... replace the italicized paragraph above with the following, I have to admit that I like the one above better though:
He hobbled over to the cellar door and opened it. The Christmas lights they had bound Elsbeth and the other with to keep them still twinkled in the dark.)
Well .. not much you can do with just a hundred words ... but what do you think? Join in the fun and enter the contest by clicking on Normality's link.
Semper Fi and God bless you all.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
[See updated info concerning this post at bottom]
I know ... I have been neglectful on posting here. But facing another Thanksgiving and Christmas without Eric here has gotten me a bit depressed. Let's not even go into the fact that I haven't heard from him in over five weeks. NNIGN (you know, no news is good news). I do hope everyone is having a happy holdiay season though!
I did attend an ABATE (American Bikers Aimed Toward Education) Toys for Tots party last weekend and donate toys and some money to them to help others this holiday season. I also got together some phone cards and sent them to Walter Reed Medical Center for our wounded soldiers that are there. But all in all my holiday cheer or spirit seems lost this year, especially with the loss of ten of our Marines in Fallujah last week. My heart and prayers go out to the families of those we lost. I know one local mom in my area who has a son in the 2/7 (the Marines lost and hurt were members of the 2/7) and her son is okay, but all the losses they have endured lately have saddened him greatly. Several of his friends have died, with each one he loses, his resolve to make sure that they HAVE NOT died in vain strengthens. He told her that the news reports were not accurate about the ambush last week near Fallujah where we lost those young men (ages 19 to 29). So far I haven't heard what the inaccuracies were but if I do get that info I will pass it on. Scott, my prayers are with you and the rest of the 2/7 also, I know how hard this is on you from what your mom tells us. Its tearing her up too.
For those of you that want something simple to do to help our troops, how about sending a phone card to Walter Reed? Its easy, here's the info I have on that.
Date: 1 Dec 2005 11:04:21 -0000
Subject: File - Phone Cards
This is from Dave Chung, head of one of the Committees forVeterans Affairs in D.C.
Yellow ribbons tied around trees and red, white and blue stickers on the backs SUVs saying "Support our Troops" are things that make civilians feel good but do nothing for the men and women actually in uniform. So please consider the following:
The number ONE request at Walter Reed hospital is phone cards. The government doesn't pay long distance phone charges and these wounded soldiers are rationing their calls home. Many will be there throughout the holidays. Really support our troops -- Send phone cards of any amount to:
Medical Family Assistance Center
Walter Reed Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001
They say they need an "endless" supply of these -- any amount even $5 is greatly appreciated. Walmart has good prices on AT&T cards, Sams Club is even better, if you are a member.
I am sure doing this will lift your spirit!
Semper Fi and God bless you all.
NOTE: Reuters Update on the ten Marines we lost in Fallujah last week. Scott was right .. the news didn't report it correctly. I just received this info and it makes this loss even sadder than it already was if that is possible.
By REUTERSPublished: December 6, 2005
BAGHDAD, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Ten U.S. Marines killed near the Iraqi city of Falluja last week had been at a promotion ceremony and were not on foot patrol as initially reported, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.
The Marines were in a disused flour mill on the outskirts of the city to celebrate the promotion of three soldiers, a military statement said.
As the ceremony ended, the Marines dispersed and one of them is thought to have stepped on a buried pressure plate linked to explosives that caused the devastating blast.
The death toll was the largest suffered by U.S. soldiers in Iraq in a single incident since August.
Eleven Marines were wounded in the explosion, which the military initially blamed on "an improvised explosive device (IED) fashioned from several large artillery shells".
The attack was particularly ill-timed for the Americans, coming just a day after President George W. Bush had given a speech outlining his strategy for Iraq and saying he would settle for "nothing less than complete victory".