Monday, October 31, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
I love Halloween. I spent many years dressing up and going trick-or-treating WITH my kids! I remember my daughter when she was about 13 or 14 thinking I was a nut and telling me that I was embarassing her LOL. Oh well, I liked to go too! But Eric always liked it when I went with them. I really miss doing that. Maybe one day I will have some grandkids to take trick-or-treating with me so I can dress up with them again, that is until I start to embarass them HAHA. Yes I am just a big kid at heart!______________________________________________________
I have a true ghost story to tell today in honor of Halloween. Most of my family has heard this story at least once and everytime I even think about it I get goosebumps. There are unexplainable things that happen and I did live through one. Without further ado .. here is my ghost story.
I lived in Tennessee many years ago in an apartment complex that was converted from an older building in southwestern Tennessee. As a matter of face, that apartment building was where I met Eric and Crystal's father who I married about a year later. Anyways, I shared an apartment at that time with an old friend from the midwestern town we both grew up in. About 4 or 5 others from our old crowd had joined us there in the same town and spent a lot of time in that 2 bedroom apartment with us just hanging out like we did back in Indiana.
They kept trying to convince me that the place was haunted. Now these were people I had known for quite some time and they KNEW that it was not an easy thing to fool me, but I thought that was what they were trying to do. I admit there were a few odd things happening, but nothing that you couldn't explain away with a little applied science. Things like strange noises in the walls (from the apartment next door?) that sounded like pool balls clacking together. I heard these also when we KNEW there was no one next door. I just wrote them off as being from the old building settling. All the light bulbs in the ceiling would work loose. Not over a long period of time but in just a couple of days. You would have to go around and twist them all back in. Well, another settling issue? It was weird but not a ghost surely! Then the fellow that I shared the apartment with had an unsettling experience. I know him well enough that he was indeed freaked out. He was fixing the door handle on the front door and had it all apart on the floor. Went out to his car to get a tool and when he came back, the darn thing was all the way back together and worked fine. It was maybe a five minute trip out to the parking lot to get the tool. I believed he THOUGHT that was what happened but it made me worry about him. I ended up that night telling him just before he left for work that I was afraid he was crazy if he actually thought a ghost put a door handle back together LOL. Yes I was laughing at the so-called ghost. Well, he went on to work and I settled in the tub for a long hot bath. While I was leaning back in the tub I heard .. drip ... drip .. drip. So I sat up and looked at the floor and saw water dripping onto the floor where a small puddle had accumulated. So I looked up at the ceiling to see what was leaking. No leak. So as my eyes traveled back down to the puddle of water I actually saw a drop FORM in the middle of the air about 4 feet off the ground and drop into the puddle. I continued to watch and sure enough, water drops were forming ON THEIR OWN in the middle of the room and dropping into that puddle.
OMG .. I was FREAKED .. I got out of the tub, all the time apologizing to the ghost for doubting his existence and edged around that puddle, put on my clothes and left that place!! I didn't spend a single night there alone again before I moved out. It still gives me the creeps to think about it. There was NO scientific explanation for what I SAW with my own eyes that night.
There were a couple of other things that happened there before I moved that I refuse to talk about to this day. But I didn't stay there much longer.
I later did a little research and found out that the building was converted into apartments from an old bar/pool hall that was located in a rather bad part of town at that time. There were several murders committed in it, everyone that went there came armed until it was shut down by the city.
Do I believe in ghosts now? You bet your fanny I do and I try hard not to make any of them I might encounter MAD hahaha
So HAPPY HALLOWEEN and Semper Fi and God Bless us all!
Saturday, October 29, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tribute to Cpl. Jonathan Spears (promoted to Cpl. posthumously)______________________________________________________
PENSACOLA - Lance Cpl. Jonathan Spears, who shed some of the weight that made him a formidable football player before the Marines would let him enlist, is the first service member from the Pensacola area to die in Iraq.
The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that Spears, 21, of Molino, a rural community north of Pensacola, was killed by small-arms fire Sunday in Ar Ramadi. He had been with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Regiment of the 1st Marine Division based at Twentynine Palms, Calif.
"He was one of the best sons a daddy could want," his father, Timothy Spears, said Tuesday as tears rolled down his cheeks. "He gave his life doing what he believed in, and he served his country proudly."
A 6-foot-1, 265-pound offensive lineman at Tat High School, he was too big and too bulky for the Marines. He worked at a home improvement store and attended Pensacola Junior College while dropping nearly 60 pounds.
By the time he came home on leave last month, he was down to 180 pounds.
His former football coach, Charlie Armstrong, didn't even recognize him. He told Armstrong he was unsure if he would re-enlist, thinking it might be time to pursue his plans of becoming an FBI or Secret Service agent.
"He was a great kid," Armstrong said. "He had to work for everything he got, but he was very motivated, very dedicated."
Family members said Spears, known as J.R., was a shy, polite young man who answered "Yes, sir" or "Yes, ma'am" long before he became a Marine.
When Spears joined the Marines in 2003, his father and mother, Marie Spears, pushed aside their fear and supported his decision.
"He loved his country, and he wanted a sense of purpose," uncle Edward Spears said. "The other services, he didn't say anything against them, but it was the Marines or nothing for him."
Spears told family members in an e-mail that his duty in Iraq fulfilled a search for purpose by helping ensure democracy for people who had never known it. He closed, as he always did, with a message for his mother: "Don't worry, Mom. I'll be fine."
Lance Cpl. Jonathan R. Spears, 21, of Molino, Fla. , died Oct. 23 from enemy small-arms fire while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
*NOTE: I just recently found out that "Lance" Cpl. Jonathan R. Spears was posthumously promoted to Corporal Jonathan Spears. That is how I am listing him in the tribute section. Marines only get promoted past Lance Corporal by merit. Jonathan Spears earned his promotion.
I watched the flag pass by one day,
I looked at him in uniform
I thought how many men like him
How many pilots' planes shot down?
I heard the sound of Taps one night,
I wondered just how many times
I thought of all the children,
I thought about a graveyard
Thursday, October 27, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
I don't think that most people really KNOW how bad it is for the troops we send to Iraq. I know a constant complaint where my son is at, is that it just plain STINKS. Physically nauseatingly smelly, all the time, everywhere. They keep their camps, of course, military clean (which isn't near as bad as the little list belows indicates it is), but the odours of Iraq waffs over them continuously ... nonstop. Its a curious mixture of excrement, urine, rotting garbage and animals that never goes away. As well as some smells that Eric tells me they can't identify. He says that those are the most unsettling. In a capitol city of 400,000 people, they have raw sewage running through the streets and no garbage pickup. That is one of the things that makes the IEDs (explosive devices set off at a distance, normally electronically) that has taken so many lives so dangeroous. There is garbage lying everywhere on roadsides unattended. One of the things the soldiers are doing is providing trash cans to the Iraqi people and trying to teach them how to keep things clean under the miserable circumstances they are being forced to endure. It is helping, but its too little sometimes to keep our guys safe.______________________________________________________
So, in honor of this post I give you the following which was sent to me by a mother that has her Marine son home and safe with her now. He spent two tours in Iraq with the battalion Eric is currently in. And though the following may be funny, it is also sadly true.
Semper Fi and God Bless us all.
How to Prepare for a Deployment to Iraq
1. Sleep on a cot in the garage.
2. Replace the garage door with a curtain.
3. Two hours after you go to sleep, have your wife or girlfriend whip open the curtain, shine a flashlight in your eyes and mumble, "Sorry, wrong cot." Repeat in two hours.
4. Renovate your bathroom. Hang a green plastic sheet down from the middle of your bathtub and move the shower-head down to chest level. Keep four inches of soapy cold water on the floor. Stop cleaning the toilet and pee everywhere but in the toilet itself. Leave two to three sheets of toilet paper. Or for best effect, remove it altogether. For a more realistic deployed bathroom experience, stop using your bathroom and use a neighbor's. Choose a neighbor who lives at least a quarter mile away.
5. When you take showers wear flip-flops and keep the lights off.
6. Every time there is a thunderstorm, go sit in a wobbly rocking chair and dump dirt on your head.
7. Put lube oil in your humidifier instead of water and set it on "HIGH" for that tactical generator smell.
8. Don't watch TV except for movies in the middle of the night. Have your family vote on which movie to watch and then show a different one.
9. Leave a lawnmower running in your living room 24 hours a day for proper noise level.
10. Have the paperboy give you a haircut.
11. Once a week, blow compressed air up through your chimney making sure the wind carries the soot across and on to your neighbor's house. Laugh at him when he curses you.
12. Buy a trash compactor and only use it once a week. Store up garbage in the other side of your bathtub (see #4).
13. Wake up every night at midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a saltine cracker.
14. Make up your family menu a week ahead of time without looking in your food cabinets or refrigerator. Then serve some kind of meat in an unidentifiable sauce poured over noodles. Do this for every meal.
15. Set your alarm clock to go off at random times during the night. When it goes off, jump out of bed and get to the shower as fast as you can. Simulate there is no hot water by running out into your yard and breaking out the garden hose.
16. Once a month, take every major appliance completely apart and put it back together again.
17. Use 18 scoops of coffee per pot and allow it to sit for five or six hours before drinking.
18. Invite at least 185 people you don't really like because of their strange hygiene habits to come and visit for a couple of months. Exchange clothes with them.
19. Have a fluorescent lamp installed on the bottom of your coffee table and lie under it to read books.
20. Raise the thresholds and lower the top sills of your front and back doors so that you either trip over the threshold or hit your head on the sill every time you pass through one of them.
21. Keep a roll of toilet paper on your night stand and bring it to the bathroom with you. And bring your gun and a flashlight.
22. Go to the bathroom when you just have to pass gas, "just in case" every time.
23. Announce to your family that they have mail, have them report to you as you stand outside your open garage door after supper and then say, "Sorry, it's for the other Smith."
24. Wash only 15 items of laundry per week. Roll up the semi-wet clean clothes in a ball. Place them in a cloth sack in the corner of the garage where the cat pees. After a week, unroll them and without ironing or removing the mildew, proudly wear them to professional meetings and family gatherings. Pretend you don't know what you look or smell like. Enthusiastically repeat the process for another week.
25. Go to the worst crime-infested place you can find, go heavily armed, wearing a flak jacket and a Kevlar helmet. Set up shop in a tent in a vacant lot. Announce to the residents that you are there to help them.
26. Eat a single M&M every Sunday and convince yourself it's for Malaria.
27. Demand each family member be limited to 10 minutes per week for a morale phone call. Enforce this with your teenage daughter.
28. Shoot a few bullet holes in the walls of your home for proper ambiance.
29. Sandbag the floor of your car to protect from mine blasts and fragmentation.
30. While traveling down roads in your car, stop at each overpass and culvert and inspect them for remotely detonated explosives before proceeding.
31. Fire off 50 cherry bombs simultaneously in your driveway at 3:00 a.m. When startled neighbors appear, tell them all is well, you are just registering mortars. Tell them plastic will make an acceptable substitute for their shattered windows.
32. Drink your milk and sodas warm.
33. Spread gravel throughout your house and yard.
34. Make your children clear their Super Soakers in a clearing barrel you placed outside the front door before they come in.
35. Make your family dig a survivability position with overhead cover in the backyard. Complain that the 4x4s are not 8 inches on center and make them rebuild it.
36. Continuously ask your spouse to allow you to go buy an M-Gator.
37. When your 5-year-old asks for a stick of gum, have him find the exact stick and flavor he wants on the Internet and print out the web page. Type up a supply request and staple the web page to the back. Submit the paperwork to your spouse for processing. After two weeks, give your son the gum.
38. Announce to your family that the dog is a vector for disease and shoot it. Throw the dog in a burn pit you dug in your neighbor's backyard.
39. Wait for the hottest day of the year and announce to your family that there will be no air conditioning that day so you can perform much needed maintenance on the air conditioner. Tell them you are doing this so they won't get hot.
40. Just when you think you're ready to resume a normal life, order yourself to repeat this process for another six months to simulate the next deployment you've been ordered to support.
If you read all of this and did not laugh then something is wrong with you, and yes all good humor has its basis in truth.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am just not much in the mood to blog. We lost another Marine from my son's battalion on Oct. 23rd. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Lance Cpl. Jonathan R. Spears who was only 21 and from Molino, FL. I will be doing a tribute to him soon.______________________________________________________
Eric is doing okay as far as I know. No news from him since the call a couple of weeks ago. And as always, no news is good news for us.
Here's a little item that touched me earlier today. Its one of those emails that gets passed around but its so true in my eyes.
Today, we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend. Mr.. Common Sense.
Mr.. Sense had been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm and that life isn't always fair.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not kids, are in charge).
His health began to rapidly deteriorate when well intentioned but over-bearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Mr.. Sense's mental state declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student, but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Finally, Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense finally gave up the ghost after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a bit in her lap and was rewarded with a huge financial settlement.
Mr.. Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility, and his son Reason.
He is survived by two stepbrothers, My Rights and Ima Whiner.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you remember him; pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.
Sometimes I truly wonder if anyone notices Common Sense is gone? It makes my heart ache for the world :(
Semper Fi and God Bless you all.
Friday, October 21, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
I believe it is a good time for a re-blog. Yes I am going to bring back one of my original blogs because my friends, there are sometimes when you just have to turn your backs (or talk to the hand, whichever you prefer).______________________________________________________
Semper Fi and God bless us all.
I recently met with several other Marine Parents (mostly moms) in Chicago for Armed Forces Day on Navy Pier. It was a blessing and joy to meet these people that I have been conversing with on the messageboards at MarineParents.com since that fateful day last October when my youngest son, Eric, left for the Marine Corps. They are strong, uplifting and fun-loving people each and every one. We were running about Navy Pier like madwomen and men trying to see everything (okay ... the red white and blue tiaras some of us were wearing may have had something to do with that impression ), and I got the chance to meet Gold Star Parents by the names of Roy and Georgette.
During our travels around the Navy Pier that day I was honored to spend a little time with and listen to the stories that Roy and Georgette had to tell about their wonderful son, Phil, who gave his life during duty as a Marine in 2003. You could tell how much they loved and admired their son everytime they talked about him. I don't know how I could ever handle a loss like they did and still show the joy that this couple seems to be infused with. They both have an inner peace lighting their faces when they tell stories of their fallen hero that I find enlightening and frightening at the same time. I know that Georgette told us that they still spend time putting together condolance books for other families that have lost a beloved Marine. To be able to look past your own pain and try to enhance the life of someone else living with the same pain is maybe the best medicine that they could have found from the way they both speak of the son they so admired that is now lost to them.
Now I believe that everyone should be able to enjoy freedom of speech since this is one of the things that our Marines put their lives on the line for everyday they are deployed, but we should NOT blame our men and women in the service like certain groups that protest the current conflict overseas. Our Service men and women joined to protect everyone's rights. We should always support them save for the few and far between that actually make the Armed Forces look bad. There are always going to be a few bad eggs unfortunately.
In any case this situation could have turned bad, but God Bless little Georgette, she stepped up between the mothers and the protestor and told the Marine moms that he was not worth arguing with, that "he did not even exist". This tiny little Gold Star mother managed to get everyone to turn away from the protestor with a few words. Then glory behold ... everyone was facing the young Marines in the tent and in a clear, slightly wavering, but strong powerful voice Georgette starting singing 'God Bless America'. Everyone joined in and there we all were ... our backs to the war protestor facing the young Marines with our arms entertwined and singing about our land of the free and brave. Facing while we were singing, what most of us consider our Heros, the young Marines stationed at the recruit tent. Of course more than half of us had tears running freely down our cheeks by this time. I still get goosebumps and tears just thinking about it. I have to say that may have been close to being one of the most enlightening, moving moments of my life. I want to thank Georgette for being the wonderful woman she is, and thank all of the other parents for being there when I need to talk. I love you all.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
I truly wish I understood why some people that are opposed to the US and allies occupation of Iraq at the moment feel that they can impose their ideals on the families of the military and have us embrace what they say without a thought in our heads? It seems that someone who I will not name has been going to the military wives and trying to impose just such ideas upon them. And not being very nice about it either. Now... if someone came to you and told you that your husband, or son, or daughter was a killer and doing so without thought of how that is affecting the people they are supposedly killing, how would you react? Why I would hope, if you knew the person they were accusing as a good, loving, kind and patriotic person, that you would defend them.
That is presicely what is happening.
And why is it that just because someone, mainly myself, who supports our troops by sending them packages from home and letters and encouragement that they will make it through this ordeal alive and come home to their families is branded a 'Bush supporter'? Have I ever on this blog deemed myself so? Have I ever led anyone to believe that I think the Bush administration was right in using their defunk 'WMD theory' to invade Iraq? I have made several friends amoung Iraqis that use the web to communicate and yes, I have, on my own, come to the conclusion that Saddam Hussein was a sadistic leader. I decided this with the help of the Iraqis I talk to that feel his downfall was the best thing that could have happened. But that doesn't mean that I want us to remain in Iraq. I want my son HOME. But many many Marines that I talk to tell me that if they leave now, its with a job half done and Iraq will fall into civil war and probably end up with another sadistic leader who would put Saddam's exploits to shame. The Marines, at least, want to finish what was started, whether or not they feel it is right to stay there. They (the Marines) do talk to the Iraqi troops, who do you think is training them?
Now of course, everyone has their own opinion on things and I believe in the right to freedom of speech, therefore opinion away. But if you leave opinions on someone's blog it is also their right to delete them. And if they delete them, why go back and leave more? Its like spitting in the wind. You are spitting in the wrong direction!
In any case it is very seldom (or actually never) that I comment on opinions that I have decided to delete, I actually delete very few. But when someone is attacking my friends you better believe that I will stand up for them and support them. If you don't like us .. just go away .. and bug the people that maybe can change whatever it is that you think is wrong with the world. Neither I, nor the women and children waiting patiently and hopefully for their family members to return to them safely, need the grief right now. We have enough of our own.
I did make the erroneous statement to go pick on Bush supporters, in that maybe I was not thinking clearly. Many of these wives and families do support Bush in that he is our president and therefore, in some people's eyes if you respect your country you have to support him. In that sense I guess I do support him because I have to say that I PRAY daily that he will make the right choices because for now, I am stuck with him.
But the whole gist of the matter is, if you post a comment on someone's blog and they delete it, be kind enough to NOT go back and post more. Live and let live, obviously you are not going to change their minds.
Thank you, God Bless and Semper Fi.
NOTE: The same woman left a comment here again on my spaces blog (check the link to the right to read it). It is there to read and I think it speaks for itself. At least she didn't accuse my son of being a killer like she did on the military wives sites. I particularly love this and I quote from her comment. [If they truelly are good soldiers then they should perhaps go after the real enemy.] Our soldiers are taught to follow orders, thus that is what they do. Not much choice there. In a perfect world maybe war wouldn't be neccesary. But since little Miss University is not religious (i.e. doesn't believe in God?) she won't be there to see the 'Perfect World' when it does come. Ohh the humanity!!
In any case let's presume that the USA and allies DID pull out of Iraq. Do you honestly believe all the insurgents, who by the way, for the most part are not Iraqis, are going to leave and quit killing honest Iraqis that simply want to live a free life? You do realize that most of the people being killed in Iraq are not Americans right? They are Iraqi. Now what could these insurgents want? Could it be oil? Hmmm .. btw ... I don't see where America is benefiting from Iraqi oil. Last time I bought gas it was almost twice as much as it was last year this time. Interesting huh? Also, because the aforementioned lady believes she is better (umm, smarter?) than someone that hasn't been to college, most of us that actually do use what brains we have know that it doesn't take intelligence to graduate from any college anywhere. When I was there, there were a LOT of dumb people passing their classes, for the life of me I don't know how! Okay .. I promise I am done ranting myself. Sorry but sometimes you just have to state the obvious.
Monday, October 17, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
Knowing my son played a major role in allowing everyone to vote, I read this article with pride:______________________________________________________
Shiite election workers say danger worthwhile
By Sabrina Tavernise
New York Times News Service
Published October 16, 2005
RAMADI, Iraq -- Clutching net bags of overnight essentials with boxes of ballots under their arms, about 700 poll workers climbed aboard giant armored trucks Friday and rode along one of Iraq's most dangerous highways to voting sites all over this city.
The workers--mostly poor Shiites from southern Iraq and slums in Baghdad--came to run polling stations in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province and the center of Iraq's violent insurgency. The pay was low ($300 for 10 days) considering that the risk was high (as of 7 p.m., U.S. Marines had found at least six roadside bombs in the western part of the city alone).
Even so, the workers could barely suppress their joy.
"Before, we faced danger that was not useful," said Khalid Hassan, a 53-year-old government employee from Diwaniyah in southern Iraq, referring to the wars fought under Saddam Hussein. But since the Americans arrived, he said, "the danger, it has a purpose."
Divides between Iraq's largest sects are sharply defined in Anbar, a Sunni Arab province west of Baghdad. Shiites broadly support the document, which gives them promises of new powers. Many Sunnis, who were once the ruling class, oppose it. An important part of the battle will play out in Anbar, the only province in Iraq where Sunnis are the overwhelming majority.
The fact that Shiite election workers have come to this province puts a strange new wrinkle in Iraqi history. Hassan recalled referendums in the time of Hussein, when members of the Baath Party, often Sunni, would busily prepare ballots and polling stations and Shiites would dutifully vote although they already knew the outcome.
"Before, the elections were fake, and they were pushing it on us," he said. Now Shiites are the organizers. The difference, he explained, smiling, is that "now there is no pushing."
"People did not come here for the money," said Osama Majid, 31, a medical resident from Baghdad. "They came because there's a fire inside them."
On Friday, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the gymnasium where Hassan was working.
"Peace has not yet broken out in Ramadi," said Capt. Phillip Ash, commanding officer of Company K of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.
Sunday, October 16, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lance Cpl. Sergio H. Escobar, 18, of Pasadena, Calif. , died Oct. 9 from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. Escobar was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).______________________________________________________
Thus we lose another of our precious children to this fight. Below is a tribute to LCpl Escobar who dies so young, so that we can maintain our right to be free. My heart is breaking for his family and my prayers are with them. Bear in mind, I couldn't write this. Writing things for each one of these lost young men is tearing me up. I hope that I can write for them, but for now this will have to do.
Tribute to LCpl. Sergio H. Escobar
stands tonight guarding a sleeping town
worries tonight - another chopper down.
has caught a plane to a distant land,
is worried tonight - this isn't what she'd planned.
worries tonight, Mom, Dad or a sibling at war,
worries tonight about that child afar.
is fighting tonight, it is a living nightmare,
is crying tonight, and whispering a prayer.
weeps tonight, feeling unloved and alone,
frets tonight, about the problems at home.
is hurt tonight and some wounds we cannot see,
worries tonight for a child she cannot see.
wishes tonight to be free from the danger of harm,
wishes tonight that child were back in her arms.
has helped someone realize they can finally be free,
And Somebody's child
has paid the price, because freedom isn't free.
By D. Soger
Friday, October 14, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
Good and bad will sometimes collide in our lives. That's pretty much the way the last few days are for me.______________________________________________________
The good is that Eric called me and we talked for about 45 minutes. He was offically promoted to PFC now (I remembered to ask him) so OORAH Eric!! He should be going up to Lance Corporal within a couple of months if they don't lose his paperwork this time!!
He actually said he is having a blast (his words) there using his training. Everyone but him was in the hooch sleeping but all in all he sounded great! That makes me feel so much better. Also, he did buy a PSP before he left and he has it, although he only has one game for it so that makes it a lot easier for me because all I have to do is buy him games. Other than that and books he really said he doesn’t need much. I have been trying to figure out a way to buy one (PSP) for him so at least I don't have to worry about that at the moment.
I told him about one of the moms I have talked with on the phone and who her son is (they are in the same platoon) and he said "Ohhh .. her son is a squad leader" and he was going to go to Will and tell him that "My mom talks to your mom haha" lol. He is so silly.
He also wants me to say a BIG HUGE thank you to everyone that sent him a birthday card and/or message. Some of them are handwritten and he said that getting those cards and letters is so great he just loves them, but there is so many he can't answer them all personally.
While we were talking I heard a couple of bangs and he said "Ooo that isn’t good" and I was like what was that? He said someone was shooting rifles somewhere, probably just having a good time (yeah right, sure I believe that uh-huh). He was telling me that when he got back he would probably jump at every pop or bang he hears of course. He said a while back a jet flew over the camp real low and he thought was hilarious because they heard a 'whoosh' and he said everyone in the whole camp hit the ground fast. Sometimes I wonder about this boy!! The sound of the rifles shooting had brought him to his knees. Like I told him, fast reflexes are liable to help keep you guys alive sometime so they are a good thing!
I could go on and on .. but I just wanted everyone to know that he called. I told him we were all praying specially for them this weekend with the elections in Iraq coming up tomorrow. He, in an offhand kind of way, confirmed that we do need to keep them in our prayers, especially through this weekend.
LOL .. I also told him that I met and got a hug from LT.Gen (rt) Mutter at the Indy 'Support Our Troops Rally' I attended Sunday and he said "ooooo … you know, you could make friends and cozy up to her and then maybe I could get a little extra boost or help in the Marines" , you had to hear the way he said it .. he had me cracking up. He was kind of disappointed when I told him she was retired LOL.
Now the bad. We lost another young man out of Eric's company. I will be putting a tribute to him up here sometime this weekend. Please pray for the family of Lance Cpl. Sergio H. Escobar, 18, of Pasadena, Calif. who we lost to an IED on Oct. 9
Semper Fi and God Bless you all.
Thursday, October 13, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
THIS IS A GREAT STORY....... Tampons to the rescue in Iraq!! Don't worry, it's a good story - and worth reading - it's even humorous in parts.
It's from the mother of a Marine in Iraq. NOTE: I actually found out that this is a TRUE story. This info came from one of the Houston moms who states that, yes, this really did happen. Isn't that GREAT!!
My son told me how wonderful the care packages we had sent them were and wanted me to tell everyone thank you [us Marine Moms send a LOT of care packages]...
He said that one guy we'll call Marine X, got a girl care package and everyone was giving him a hard time. My son said, "Marine X got some really nice smelling lotion and everyone really likes it, so every time he goes to sleep, they steal it from him."
I told my son I was really sorry about the mistake, and if he wanted I would send Marine X another package. He told me not to worry about Marine X because every time I send something to him, Marine X thinks it's for him too.
He said when my husband and I sent the last care package Marine X came over to his cot picked up the box, started fishing through it, and said, "What'd we get this time?"
My son said they had the most fun with Marine X's package. He said he wasn't sure who we were sending the pack to, but the panties were size 20, and he said one of the guys got on top of the Humvee and jumped off with the panties over his head and yelled, "Look at me, I'm an Airborne Ranger!!!!".
One of the guys attached the panties to an antenna and it blew in the wind like a windsock. He said it entertained them for quite awhile.
Then of course, they had the tampons.
When he brought this up, my imagination just went running, but he continued. My son said they had to go on a mission and Marine X wanted the ChapStick and lotion for the trip. He grabbed a bunch of the items from his care package and got in the Humvee.
As luck would have it he grabbed the tampons too, and my son said everyone was teasing him about "not forgetting his feminine hygiene products".
He said things went well for a while, then the convoy was ambushed and a Marine was shot. He said the wound was pretty clean, but it was deep. He said they were administering first aid but couldn't get the bleeding to slow down, and someone said, "Hey use Marine X's tampons".
My son said they put the tampon in the wound. At this point my son profoundly told me, "Mom did you know that tampons expand?" "Well, yeah!"
They successfully slowed the bleeding until the guy got better medical attention. When they went to check on him later the surgeon told them, "You guys saved his life." If you hadn't stopped that bleeding he would have bled to death.
My son said, "Mom, the tampons sent by the Marine Moms by mistake saved a Marine's life."
At this point I asked him, "Well what did you do with the rest of the tampons?" He said, "Oh, we divided them up and we all have them in our flak jackets, and I kept two for our first aid kit".
I am absolutely amazed by the ingenuity of our Marines, and can't believe that something that started out as a mistake then turned into a joke, ended up saving someone's life.
My sister said she doesn't believe in mistakes. She believes God had a plan all along. She believes that female care package was sent to Marine X to save our Marine. Either way ladies, our efforts have boosted the morale of many Marines, provided much needed items for our troops, AND saved the life of a Marine!
God bless every one of you for your efforts and hard work, and God bless our Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force, and every one!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA AND KEEP IT SAFE
Semper Fi !
Tuesday, October 11, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
Okay .. this is a lazy blog entry. But I really wanted to share with everyone that comes here the story of one Indiana Congressman's recent visit to Iraq. It's long .. but well worth the read. It makes you realize how devoted these young men and women are to all of US.______________________________________________________
Semper Fi and God Bless you all.
Below is the full essay written by U.S. Congressman Mike Pence on his recent trip to Iraq.
Two Days In Iraq
Our two days in Iraq began with a prayer and a brief reading from Psalm 91. After a short delay caused by an engine failure, we lifted off in the cargo hold of a C-130 aircraft filled with soldiers and materials returning to Operation Iraqi Freedom. On the faces of the soldiers we met aboard the aircraft, most of whom were returning from leave, was the evident anxiety of men returning to battle and sober determination. I overheard one soldier tell a colleague, "I'm here for my family, my kids and my grandkids…so they don't have to deal with these guys."
Upon arriving at Baghdad airport, we donned the helmets and body armor that would be our wardrobe for the duration of our stay and climbed aboard a Blackhawk helicopter, destination Phoenix Base, Green Zone, Baghdad.
The copters moved fast and low across the landscape of this city of several million. Different from my visit to Baghdad in 2004 when the streets were barren, the city sweeping past me below our helicopter was filled with people bustling about and large roads filled with traffic. The city of Baghdad is no longer the deserted war zone I saw before. Despite the violence of insurgents, Baghdad is alive again.
We landed at Phoenix Base in the Green Zone and attended meetings with the American Commander and the American Ambassador for situation reports. In our previous meetings in Qatar, the diplomatic and military authorities spoke of steady progress and a determined enemy, but there was no hint of defeatism or pessimism. As we learned of over 100 Iraqi Battalions deployed with American forces, schools, basic services, agriculture, one is left with the sense that our folks in Baghdad have a plan and are working the plan 24/7. As one soldier told me, "defeat the enemy, rebuild the country and give it back to the Iraqis."
From our meetings with American leaders, we boarded our motorcade for meetings with the Prime Minister of Iraq and the Ministers of Defense and Interior, three of the most important leaders to the present and future of Iraq.
Prime Minister Jaafari greeted us in a formal setting and spent the first 15 minutes expressing the heartfelt condolences of the people of Iraq for the loss of life in Hurricane Katrina. He seemed most determined to convey that the insurgents engaged in violence do not represent the feelings of the people of Iraq. I asked him, "Who is the enemy?" and he replied with a litany referring to Beirut in 1983, 9-11, Sharm El Sheik, as all the work of "the terrorists." He actually seemed slightly indignant about the question…as though anyone, with any common sense, would see that the enemy in Iraq is simply "terrorists."
In our meetings with two government leaders, two moments stood out. The Minister of Interior, a studious, bearded man, said the greatest challenge he faced was "changing the culture of authoritarianism" that followed the repressive history of Iraq. As we walked out, he and I spoke further about this point and I was moved by his ambition for his people to live under a just system of law and not of men.
The other moment came when another Congressman asked the Minister of Defense, "what neighboring nation represents the greatest challenge to peace within Iraq" to which he replied, "all of them" then added, "Kuwait is ok." It was an illuminating moment. I will never forget that this new Iraq is, with one exception, floating in a sea of authoritarian regimes with long histories of association with terror among their people and their governments.
Our helicopters set us down at ground zero for American forces in Baghdad: Camp Liberty-home of the legendary 3rd Infantry Division under the Command of General Mark O'Neill. As we learned earlier, most of the terrorist violence in Iraq is taking place in 4 of the 18 provinces...all 4 are in the area under the control of the 3rd ID. But Gen. O'Neill, a thick-necked warrior with the mind of a CEO, said, "Hey, it's what we do sir and we're glad to do it…we gotta stop these guys right here."
After getting an update on action and progress, we headed to dinner with the troops including Evansville native Sgt. Dave Newland. Dave is part of force protection for the 3rd ID and is approaching 20 years and retirement but, from what he told me, there is no place he'd rather be. When I asked about the mission, he replied with a smile, "We need to be here sir." We spoke of home, of his plans to move to Washington, Indiana and work for Crane. We spoke of the White Steamer, a diner in Washington, which turned out to be his Dad's favorite stop and one of mine. For that time we were not what we are doing (soldier/congressman), we were just a couple of Hoosiers swappin' stories from home. I told him everybody back home was praying and was proud and he said quietly, "I know that, sir."
As our C-130 took off from Baghdad airport, I thought of the men of the 3rd ID. I thought of the mission. And I thought of Sgt. Dave Newland. By God's grace does this nation still produce men like that.
Day two began at 3:30 a.m. as we headed for a day that would take us to four American bases in some of the most violent sectors of the "Sunni Triangle." First stop, Camp Caldwell, near the Iranian border which is home to the 278th of Tennessee. We were the first delegation of elected officials to ever visit this base and the soldiers seemed delighted to see us…especially Tennessee Congressman Lincoln Davis. When Lincoln presented the command group with a coin bearing the US Capitol and spoke of the time when these Tennessee Vols would "be a'comin home," there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
It being Labor Day, the base had a picnic going on for soldiers off duty, so we made our way over to throw horseshoes and listen to blue grass music. I asked one soldier after another, "What would Labor Day be without havin' a bunch of politicians show up to spoil your picnic?!" While the atmosphere was festive, when I would ask "How ya doin?" or "How's everybody back home holdin' up?" one soldier after another would pause and get that far away look that you would expect from any soldier on a distant frontier. This unit has lost 12 men but defeated the enemy in every engagement. Their effort in training Iraqis has been so successful that their unit actually will not be replaced by American forces when they head home in a few months. Iraqis will take over Camp Caldwell. Mission Accomplished Tennessee.
Our Blackhawk helicopters and their Apache helicopter gunship escorts lifted off from Camp Caldwell at midday for the American airbase at Balad, another region of recent and intense insurgent activity. As we approached the base by air, I took note of a large column of black smoke billowing from the far end of the base. As we learned upon our arrival, at approximately 6 a.m. the base came under mortar attack by insurgents. While some equipment was damaged, as we learned later in the command center from a videotape replay, the enemy fared much worse.
Using our battlefield technology and real time intelligence, our forces identified where the mortar was fired and tracked 10 insurgents evacuating the area. With incredible precision, a hellfire missile scored a direct hit on the enemy as the eerie infrared video replay showed. The professionalism of these forces, young men and women who had to make split second decisions to save American lives, left most of us speechless.
We spent lunch with American soldiers in Balad at a huge mess hall while our colleague from Hawaii, Rep. Ed Case, held his own town hall meeting with the 29th National Guard out of Hawaii.
Our last stop of the day was Ramadi, the new home of the Anderson, Indiana based 138th Signal Battalion under the command of Captain Keith Paris of Marion, Indiana. Capt. Paris and Sgt. Matt Wright of Muncie met us at the landing zone and escorted us to the long, sand colored two story building that these Hoosiers will call home for the next year. Capt. Paris is a determined professional whose patriotism, love of family and God exude from every pore of his body. In a short briefing in his modest 12x12 headquarters office, he explained how A Company was actually supplying all the real time communications for the ongoing battle in Ramadi, a city of some 500,000, that is the provincial capital of the west and a Sunni elite dominated area. Their sandbag reinforced and camouflaged operations are smack dab in the middle of a bustling base filled with moving tanks, armored vehicles and soldiers…and they all depend with confidence on the 138th.
Sgt. Matt Wright of Muncie was an impressive young married man who actually told me that his wedding was to have occurred the day before I arrived, but when word came of his deployment to Iraq, he and his fiancée decided to move it up nine months to accommodate their devotion to each other and our nation.
As we moved throughout the area, I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and warmth of the men and women of the 138th. When I would ask, "Where's home?" it made me proud to hear names of the places I represent…Muncie, Elwood, Anderson. After days of meeting soldiers from across our state and nation, it just felt good to be among the men and women that I serve as our journey came to a close.
I met Sgt. James Davis of Muncie at his duty station manning a critical communications node in a plywood shack. As I walked in, Sgt. Davis stood and greeted me with a hearty handshake. A powerful soldier, Sgt. Davis was a recruiter in Muncie when he was active duty and now is serving with the 138th in the war zone of Iraq. On his simple table, I saw a photograph of his beautiful wife and 3 children, all under the age of six, seated on the grass in the sunshine. It looked for all the world like a dozen pictures I have taken with my wife and 3 small children. The difference is, by the time you read this, I will be back with my family and Sgt. Davis will be on the frontier of the war on terror for yet another year. As I started to leave, Sgt. Davis said, "When I get home, I'm gonna tell everybody that Mike Pence leads from the front!" Sgt. Davis got that one wrong. Mike Pence only has the privilege of serving leaders...and one of them is named Sgt. James Davis.
On the way to the mess hall, we encountered a Marine unit of armored vehicles headed out for maneuvers. As we reached up and shook hands with one soldier after another, I heard a voice from atop a tank yell, "Hey, aren't you gonna say hi to a fellow Hoosier?!" I looked up to see the broad smile of redheaded Cpl. Ty Cotton of Anderson, Indiana. He reached down and shook my hand as a voice cried out, "5 minutes!"… the time the unit would roll to its duties in Ramadi. I climbed up the side of the vehicle so we could talk over the din of engines and troop movements. He told me to say hello to his mom, Marla, back in Anderson and I told him I'd look in on her and tell her how good he looked. As the commanding officer yelled, "2 minutes!" I told him the folks back home were praying for him, proud and grateful for his service. As I climbed down the side of the combat vehicle, Ty smiled and said modestly, "Glad to do it, sir."
Next we stopped by the base chapel, a tent surrounded by 12 feet of sandbags and modestly appointed with folding chairs and a few podiums. Capt. Paris, a man of faith, happily took us in and explained how "this place is always open." May it ever be so. Wars are won in quiet places like this just as much as in the sound and fury of the battlefield.
On our way to the mess hall and dinner with the 138th, I spotted the real evidence of the presence of Hoosiers in Ramadi, Iraq…a heavily worn basketball goal tacked to the outside wall of the headquarters building. If that military HQ had been a barn, it would've almost been like home.
In the mess hall, the young men and women of the 138th joined me for dinner. I don't know what I expected to find among these troops but what I did find was good spirits, high morale, fitness and a matter of fact attitude about the work ahead. I asked about the war and many spoke of steady progress, even in Ramadi. One soldier who had already seen a year in theatre said, "It's gotten way better here in Ramadi from a year ago." They were confident Americans doing a hard job in a hard place, but no complaints.
Mostly they wanted to ask about home. We talked about Indiana's response to Hurricane Katrina. They were concerned about how the country was holding up after such a tragedy. In a war zone, working in 110-degree heat, sleeping behind sandbags and 8,000 miles from Mom, Dad, Wife and kids…and they were worried about us. Where do we get men and women like these?
As our Blackhawk helicopters lifted off from Ramadi, I watched the sun set over this desert encampment on the front lines of the war on terror and I felt humbled by the men and women I saw, especially the Hoosiers of the 138th. I scribbled the names of the men and women I met and purposed to pray for them and their families until they return home…victorious, safe and sound.
And I felt more confident than ever that this war is just, the battle against terror is vital and the enemy can and will be defeated here and now. I believe that not because of the armor, the firepower or the technology that swept beneath me as we passed over one base after another. I believe that because I have looked into the eyes of the men and women fighting this war at every level and their faith and courage has never and will never be defeated.
Rep. Mike Pence
Monday, October 10, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
I had to add this here. One of my regular blog-stops, a blog written by WarriorJason, a Marine in Iraq not only linked to me here, he did a whole blog about me http://warriorsvoice.blogspot.com/2005/10/marine-mom.html. WarriorJason, I am honored. hugs from another MarineMom
I am about to learn about the effects of various tranqualizers I guess. I can't deal with the stress I am under without resorting to meds. I tried but I am willing to admit that I need something to take the edge off. So its off to the doctor for me Friday, soonest they can get me in, good Lord ... what if I was really sick?!? Eric is fine as far as I know. I haven't heard from him since that Monday he called me (what .. 2 weeks ago or 3?) But as you well know by now, NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS.
I am going to try to get some humorous things up here or maybe just imformative things. I need to focus on the positive. I may even talk about how my little melt-down went last Friday!
Also, the fellow in our battalion that was hurt last week took a turn for the worse and ended up on life support this past weekend. But we (the families of the battalion) put on our warrior prayer caps and he does seem to be getting better. Say a prayer for Shawn S. if you are the praying type. He's only 19, dang these are just babies. You see why this deployment has become such a stressful event for me. I see all these guys as my own now.
I hope I hear something from Eric soon. I really need to talk to him.
Semper Fi and God Bless you all
Thursday, October 06, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am sorry to say that we lost another young Marine from Eric's battalion. I am not sure if I am going to be able to keep doing tributes to these young heros. It breaks my heart. but here is his info and a tribute to him:______________________________________________________
Pfc. Andrew D. Bedard, 19, of Missoula, Mont., died Oct. 4 from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. May God be with this young hero's family.
Semper Fidelis and God Bless.
Tribute to Pfc. Andrew D. Bedard
The vaulted cerulan blue skies
For a young man to come
Back home again
To the open windswept spaces
To the family that loves him
And awaits him there.
He comes home
As a hero from abroad.
Serving his country
Was his legacy,
To him it was not
Just a job,
And he did it
With honor and dignity.
Now he comes home in
We send our prayers
May God be with this young man's family.
Monday, October 03, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Jim _______ :
Well ... my daughter is now a Mrs. I wouldn't say the wedding went off without a hitch (hehe) but it was almost perfect besides the fact that her younger brother couldn't be there (we MISSED YOU Eric!)! His picture though had the honor of being in the front row during the ceremony. Anyway at least noone fainted, fell or totally forgot what to do! The one thing that didn't go perfect was that when the pastor started to ask Jim and Crystal to recite their vows, he called her CHERYL .. ARGH ! That's Jim's mother's name lol. Well, he kept going for a second, then he looked at his notes and he said, "oh no, I'm so sorry ... CRYSTAL. That's what the look meant. Well, we can't have Jim agreeing to these vows with his mother now can we!"
And he started from the top. At which everyone got a good laugh and the pastor got her name right hehe. Now when Crsytal gives you 'the look' you had better figure something is wrong! Her eyes get HUGE when she does that lol.
And yes .. she is a lot taller than her new hubby! But he likes it hehe.
I hope you enjoy the pics. I will post an album later but for now I will cover the highlights.
Be sure to check out the little video short clip in the media player today (available only on my MSN Spaces Blog, see link to the right)! And hope that your wedding day isn't like that one LOL. Its called 'The Lost Wedding Ring". I figured we needed some humor here for a change!
The Happy Couple
Ohh .. Wedding Reception Fun (with an open bar!) BTW, the guy that caught the bride's garter (wearing it on his head in this pic) is Crystal's cousin, Wes .. he is still looking for the 'right girl'!
We missed Eric a LOT here at the wedding. You can tell from the look on Crystal's face that she wanted her little brother with her on this happy day. It was about the only thing that marred the celebration. That's Crystal and Eric's big brother Jason on the right. And of course cousin Wes on the left.
Today is Eric's 21st birthday too. I wish you a very SAFE birthday my son. We will just have to celebrate when you get home .
Semper Fi and God Bless.