Daily Life of a Marine Mom

A Piece of My Heart is home from Iraq


Friday, January 27, 2006


Just a warning here... this is a rather intense post discussing some situations that some of the more tender-hearted of you (especially moms) may not want to read. Please .. if you don't want to hear some of the negative things that happen, don't read this because I am talking about life and death situations here and the fact that our Marines are at times required to kill insurgents.

Just wanted to pass on that Eric called me earlier today and he sounds great. Sometimes I wonder about him ... he said that he was having fun. Said he gets to sit in the hooch in the daytime and play xbox with his buddies and then go out at night and shoot a big gun and help blow things up, how much better can life get (his words!!). I guess if you have to be a Marine though that is the attitude to have. I did ask him about that firefight they had with the insurgents last week and he did confirm that he was involved in that. He even said that was awesome (arghhhhhh), but if anyone had gotten hurt he wouldn't have looked at it that way, but God was watching out for them [the Marines].

We talked about some things that have happened at home. One of the guys he was suppose to sign up with into the Marine Corps (and ended up going a year earlier because Eric took an extra year to actually graduate) was honorably discharge from the Marine Corps recently. He actually got out six months earlier than he was suppose to because of the fact that he couldn't bear the thought of going back to Iraq. Apparently he had taken it very hard when he actually had to kill an insurgent during a firefight his first time there (in 2004) and it had affected him deeply. His mother (who is a biker friend of mine) told me that after all ... she had raised him not to kill anybody (she actually said that!) and that was why it had affected him so deeply.

Now I truly don't think she understood what that meant to me when she said it. That was one of those touchy situations that could have become ugly if I had taken offense to what was said. Of course what immediately came to my mind was .. so does she think that those of us that have sons who can deal with the morality of survival better raised them to think it was okay to kill someone?!? Because I sure didn't raise my sweet, generous boy to think it was okay to kill. I did raise him to respect life in all its myraid forms. I also raised him to expect respect from others and to honor his own life and everyone else. But he never held a gun until he was in the Marine Corps. He has always been kind and loving to all people and I don't think that being an infantry Marine is going to change that. But I didn't say anything about her statement back to her because I knew that wasn't really what she meant and she was just trying to rationalize her own son's desire to not return to Iraq (I can't blame him at all, he served a hard year there). Sometimes it is just bettter to not take offense at something someone says because they are not thinking about how it could affect your perceptions, they are only thinking about how it affects THEM. Too bad more people don't realize this about each other. It would save a lot of heartache in some of the internet support groups I belong to! The written word can convey even worse impressions at times that can cause huge battles internally in some of these groups. We will have to get into that some other time though because that is a topic onto itself hehe.

Eric's take on what happens there [in Iraq] is this .. he stated that you have to take it all and put it in a little box in your brain and realize that it is you or them. If you are fighting for your life, you can't take the time to analyze if the other guy deserves to die or not, he (or she) is trying to kill YOU. Eric doesn't seem to have a problem with it when it comes to protecting his fellow Marines which actually is a very good thing because THEY cannot hesitate if they do face a life or death situation. I hope the ones that have his back have the same attitude because it WILL KEEP THEM ALIVE THROUGH THIS. It makes me wonder though, if some time in the future the things they HAVE to do will pile up and try to break out of that little box in their brain where they are being kept. The ideal thing will be if they can let this stuff go when they get home. Just empty out that little box in the great junkyard in the sky. Its what they need to do.

In any case .. his platoon seems to be doing their job and doing it happily. I hope I didn't offend anyone talking about some of these things. Eric has always shared with me and I am sure that he will share much more than I actually want to hear when he gets home!

Semper fidelis and God Bless you all.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Many of you know MomInAmerica2 as a frequent visitor to your own blogs and a staunch supporter of our men and women in uniform. I found a recent article on her blog that deals with one of our injured vets and I want to help. There are many many Eddies out there returning from Iraq and needing our help, so write your congressman and let them know that we, as a country, NEED to take care of our injured Vets. For right now, I am going to find out where to contribute a small amount to help Eddie come home and pass this on to all of you out there in blogland and hope that the word gets out. I did receive some helpful info from one of my friends who knows several Marines. The following organization has grants available to help disabled Vets and soldiers, I am trying to get this info on to Eddie's family:

Contact Information:
National Council on Disability
1331 F Street, NW,
Suite 850
Washington, DC 20004

202-272-2004 Voice
202-272-2074 TTY

UPDATE: Got this info (in comments on MSN spaces) from MomInAmerica2, posting it here so it is visible:

HA! You found it! Okay... best way to get information and make donations to Eddie.... www.helpeddieryan.com Doesn't take a lot but it does take all of us! Thanks for the information! I'm also checking into some other resources for them as well. God bless and let's bring him home! A Mom in America

I did visit the above site where you can donate money to help Eddie Ryan come home. Its easy to make a donation especially if you have a PayPal account (which of course I do!). So hop over there and help this young man even if you can only donate a couple of dollars. Like Nae said in the comments here. It will only take 100,000 of us donating a dollar to enable this young man to continue to recuperate with his loving family! I added $10. It would only take 10,000 of us doing that!

On to the articles (there are 2 different ones) about Eddie, one of our unsung heros. The newspaper that printed these articles is based in Orange County, New York:

By Paul Brooks
Times Herald-Record

Ellenville - Not here. People here will not leave wounded Marine sniper Eddie Ryan with no home to go to.

A story in yesterday's Times Herald-Record reported that Ellenville native Eddie Ryan's home needs $90,000 to $100,000 worth of work to accommodate him once he's discharged from the hospital.

Ryan took one bullet to the brain and a second to the jaw while fighting in Iraq in April. Doctors expected him to die. He's still going, battling through rehabilitation, learning to walk again, improving his halting speech, recapturing his life.

Doctors at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw told the Ryans he might be able to leave in six to eight weeks.

But his family's three-bedroom ranch outside Ellenville needs wider halls and a bigger bathroom. Eddie's dad, Chris, applied to ABC-TV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" in hopes the show would do the work.

It's a long shot at best. And the government is offering only $10,000 to help.

But the family is not alone. Offers of help poured in yesterday from individuals, groups and businesses alike. More are expected. "I'm a carpenter," Gerard O'Donnell of New Windsor said. "I want to see what I can do to help the family out."

Johann Huleatt of the Bruderhof, a religious group with a number of communities in the region, said his organization wanted to help the family. A&E Advertising and Web Design in Monroe is donating a Web site that will be up and running soon. Lan Associates of Goshen offered its architectural and engineering services to the Ryans at no charge. "We want to donate to Eddie," said Colleen Murphy, office manager.

Others offered money. "I will make the first pledge. Five bucks," said Mickey Guarino in an e-mail.

The offers of help surprised Chris Ryan.

"That's beautiful. I can't believe it," he said. "This is Middle America. They work. They pay taxes and they are taking this burden on themselves to help a wounded warrior."

Here is why: "It could easily have been my family," said O'Donnell.

"I don't want anything in return. I just hope somebody would do the same thing if I were in the same situation."

Second Article from the Times-Herald REcord

Injured vet's battle
Quest for housing on wing and prayer

By Paul Brooks
Times Herald-Record

Ellenville - Wounded Marine sniper Sgt. Eddie Ryan will soon be ready to come home, but his home is not ready for him.

The Ellenville High School graduate was shot in the head in a friendly fire incident in Iraq April 13. The two bullets, one to the brain and one to the jaw, left Eddie seriously impaired. He speaks haltingly. He cannot walk on his own yet, though the family hopes that will eventually happen. He gets around in a wheelchair.

Doctors at Helen Hayes Rehabilitation Hospital in West Haverstraw tell the family that Eddie's stay there could end in as soon as six to eight weeks.

Eddie could go to a rehab facility with a lower level of care, but that won't happen.

"I made him a promise that from Helen Hayes, he was coming home," said his father, Chris Ryan. "That's what he wants to do."

But the hallway to Eddie's bedroom is too narrow for him and the wheelchair. The main bathroom in his family's 1,300-square-foot ranch-style home can't accommodate him, either. The living room can't hold Eddie, his mother, Angela, his dad and sister Felicia at the same time, Chris Ryan says.

A contractor who specializes in renovations for the disabled said the family needs an addition to the home on Wintish Road outside Ellenville. At $100 a square foot, the addition carries a price tag of $90,000 to $100,000.

That's a big hit on the family finances, and while the federal government will help out, Eddie is eligible for only $10,000 in aid at this point. The government says another $40,000 is reserved for Eddie's use later, Chris Ryan said.

With time slipping away, Chris Ryan took a gamble. He applied to ABC-TV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." The show descends on a home with a large crew and does home renovations in just a week at no cost to the homeowner.

Eddie filled out an 18-page application and taped a video of the home and of the family at the hospital with Eddie. They submitted it Jan. 10.

"We are just hoping and praying this pans out because it will save us a lot of time and money," Chris Ryan said. "Time is of the essence."

A producer and casting director with the ABC show held out little hope for the Ryans.

"We get up to 15,000 applications each week," said Charisse Simonian. The show has already done three soldier stories, including the kickoff for this season.

"I am not saying we won't do it again," she said. "It just might be a while. "¦ It's kind of a wing and a prayer. I encourage everybody, please don't wait for us. "¦ Do your own Hudson Valley Extreme Makeover. You will be amazed."

Chris Ryan said he is looking at other options, but that there should be more government support for these wounded veterans.

"We are not only thinking about Eddie. There are nearly 20,000 wounded Marines and soldiers, and half cannot return to active duty," he said. "Things have got to change, not just for Eddie, but for all these kids giving their lives and their blood for their country. They are not getting taken care of."

Semper Fi and God Bless you all!


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I promise to try to actually write something soon. We have been dealing with the health problems of my father recently and I have to admit to being very worried about him. Its just makes it hard to concentrate enough to actually sit down and write. Eric hasn't contacted me yet from his failed call to me a couple of weeks ago ... so I am going on the "No News is Good News" adage. In the meantime .. I ran across this story sent to me from one of my Marine mom friends and I wanted to pass it on. It just goes to show you .. the Marine Corps can make men out of boys and working dogs out of ... well ... you just have to read it hehe!

OoRah and Semper Fi !!

Monday, January 23, 2006
Marines To Congress "Bite This"
1/23/2006 - Shelby Trial

Fluffy is a blonde 6lb. female Maltese currently assigned to the 7th Marine Division K9 unit serving in the Iraq Anbar province. Recently she assisted the Marines in the capture of 21 insurgents. Fluffy's handler, CPL Brian Sunland said, "Congress thought they were going to screw us again with their 'kinder/gentler' war bullshit when they sent us Fluffy. "They forget that Marines have a history of making men out of boys and we used that same training regimen on Fluffy", said Sgt. Sunland.

Evidently it works. Marine combat reports show that Fluffy has assisted in the elimination or capture of 65 insurgents since she completed her training in October 2005. "She's a fighter", said a rugged looking Marine. "She may not be the biggest dog in this fight but this little bitch can take care of herself. If she gets a hold on you, then brother your going down", said another Marine.

To save money spent on dog food, frustrated anti-war members of Congress are threatening to send the Marines Chihuahuas to replace their existing large breed K9 corps. The unit's Gunnery Sergeant proudly told me, "I'd rather have just one them 'Yo quiero, taco bell' dogs then 50 of them 'pendejo' congressmen. At least dogs are loyal." "They can send us a gerbil and we'll train it to do night recon. Send us a goldfish and we'll train it to think it's a piranha", said another Marine

The Marines don't care what kind of K9 they get next as long as it's a male. Said one Marine, "Nothing against female dogs, it's just that Fluffy's a lady when she's not on duty and it's hard for her to lift her hind leg to piss on the media or a visiting member from Congress."


Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Talking about Battle Over Body Armor For US Troops

Okay .. seeing this video has almost made me sick. Why aren't our Marines being protected with EXISTING equipment when it IS available? Now this may have changed with the troops being sent over there recently because I did ask Eric if he needed any armor that we could buy for him before he went to Iraq and he said he was doing okay, that they [Marine Corps] had issued them armor that was sufficient to protect them. But ... I do know of Marine parents that DID go out and buy armor for their sons that wasn't provided.

I just hope that this has been rectified to a certain extent, as an American .. I want our troops to be protected as well as possible. Bear in mind that the commanders of the Marine Corps are pushing for more armor for our troops, its our government themselves that have made the desicion on how much armor to issue, not the Marine Corps. Shouldn't our government and politicians take to heart the recommendations of the experts in the Marine Corps? That has to be my biggest question.

I will ask Eric more about this when I talk to him and get his opinion on it.

In any case, click on the link to watch this video report .. and then draw your own conclusions.

Semper Fi and God Bless


Battle Over Body Armor For US Troops

Jan. 9: A secret Pentagon study finds over 80% of Marines killed in Iraq could have been saved with better body armor. Why aren't they getting it? Tonight MSNBC's Joe Scarborough digs into the issue with Brian Hart, father of a fallen soldier.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Sorry I have been silent here the last couple of weeks. Its been a rough start for the new year for me, making through the flu and getting the last two molars pulled that I needed to have out. The flu hit me the day after those teeth were pulled and unfortunately .. it was the stomach flu. BAD TIMING to say the least. But I am finally feeling almost normal again and thought that I should get an update here.

I haven't talked to Eric since just before new year's day but he did try to call me last Wednesday and I missed talking to him by about two minutes!! How does he KNOW when I walk away from my cellphone for five minutes?! I seldom leave that phone out of my reach but Wednesday I ran down to the breakroom at work to heat up my lunch and, of course, when I got back to my office it was beeping its little 'message left' tune :(. I knew right away that I had missed Eric's call. At least he left me a short a message and he sounds like he is still doing fine. He hasn't called back yet though :(.

I want to share a story here that I have checked out for authenticity. It is true. So pass it on if you like!

Semper Fi and God Bless.

[by] Ronnie Polaneczky Here's a Yule story that ought to be a movie

Here's a Yule story that occurred 3 weeks ago ~

It started last Christmas, when Bennett and Vivian Levin were overwhelmed by sadness while listening to radio reports of injured American troops. "We have to let them know we care," Vivian told Bennett. So they organized a trip to bring soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital to the annual Army-Navy football game in Philly, on Dec. 3.

The cool part is, they created their own train line to do it. Yes, there are people in this country who actually own real trains. Bennett Levin - native Philly guy, self-made millionaire and irascible former L&I commish - is one of them.

He has three luxury rail cars. Think mahogany paneling, plush seating and white-linen dining areas. He also has two locomotives, which he stores at his Juniata Park train yard. One car, the elegant Pennsylvania, carried John F. Kennedy to the Army-Navy game in 1961 and '62. Later, it carried his brother Bobby's body to D.C. for burial. "That's a lot of history for one car," says Bennett.

He and Vivian wanted to revive a tradition that endured from 1936 to
1975, during which trains carried Army-Navy spectators from around the country directly to the stadium where the annual game is played. The Levin's could think of no better passengers to reinstate the ceremonial ride than the wounded men and women recovering at Walter Reed in D.C. and Bethesda, in Maryland. "We wanted to give them a first-class experience," says Bennett. "Gourmet meals on board, private transportation from the train to the stadium, perfect seats - real hero treatment."

Through the Army War College Foundation, of which he is a trustee, Bennett met with Walter Reed's commanding general, who loved the idea. But Bennett had some ground rules first, all designed to keep the focus on the troops alone: No press on the trip, lest the soldiers' day of pampering devolve into a media circus. No politicians either, because, says Bennett, "I didn't want some idiot making this trip into a campaign photo op." And no Pentagon suits on board, otherwise the soldiers would be too busy saluting superiors to relax.

The general agreed to the conditions, and Bennett realized he had a problem on his hands. "I had to actually make this thing happen," he laughs.

Over the next months, he recruited owners of 15 other sumptuous rail cars from around the country - these people tend to know each other - into lending their vehicles for the day. The name of their temporary train? The Liberty Limited.

Amtrak volunteered to transport the cars to D.C. - where they'd be coupled together for the round-trip ride to Philly - then back to their owners later.

Conrail offered to service the Liberty while it was in Philly. And SEPTA drivers would bus the disabled soldiers 200 yards from the train to Lincoln Financial Field, for the game. A benefactor from the War College ponied up 100 seats to the game - on the 50-yard line - and lunch in a hospitality suite.

And corporate donors filled, for free and without asking for publicity, goodie bags for attendees: From Woolrich, stadium blankets. From Wal-Mart, digital cameras. >From Nikon, field glasses. From GEAR, down jackets.

There was booty not just for the soldiers, but for their guests, too, since each was allowed to bring a friend or family member. The Marines, though, declined the offer. "They voted not to take guests with them, so they could take more Marines," says Levin, choking up at the memory.br> Bennett's an emotional guy, so he was worried about how he'd react to meeting the 88 troops and guests at D.C.'s Union Station, where the trip originated. Some GIs were missing limbs. Others were wheelchair-bound or accompanied by medical personnel for the day. "They made it easy to be with them," he says. "They were all smiles on the ride to Philly. Not an ounce of self-pity from any of them. They're so full of life and determination." At the stadium, the troops reveled in the game, recalls Bennett. Not even Army's lopsided loss to Navy could deflate the group's rollicking mood. Afterward, it was back to the train and yet another gourmet meal - heroes get hungry, says Levin - before returning to Walter Reed and Bethesda. "The day was spectacular," says Levin. "It was all about these kids. It was awesome to be part of it." The most poignant moment for the Levin's was when 11 Marines hugged them goodbye, then sang them the Marine Hymn on the platform at Union Station. "One of the guys was blind, but he said, 'I can't see you, but man, you must be beautiful!' " says Bennett. "I got a lump so big in my throat, I couldn't even answer him."

It's been three weeks, but the Levin's and their guests are still feeling the day's love. "My Christmas came early," says Levin, who is Jewish and who loves the Christmas season. "I can't describe the feeling in the air." Maybe it was hope. As one guest wrote in a thank-you note to Bennett and Vivian, "The fond memories generated last Saturday will sustain us all - whatever the future may bring."

God bless the Levin's.

And bless the troops, every one.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Eric has called me a few times over the holidays, I actually got to talk to him twice and he sounded like he was doing great both times. Of course when I ask him if he needs anything (so I can send him something) he says just like always ... nope I am fine. So I guess his weekly boxes will just continue to contain little bits of home. I still have a DVD of our Christmas celebrations to burn to send to him. That video camera I bought is paying off there!

I wanted to start off the new year blogging with a BANG .. so I thought the story below was very appropriate!

The Gunny pictured below is simply saying.....I'll return another day! I first heard about this story a few months ago but for some reason or another I don't think it ever made it into my blog. This man exemplifies the heart of our Marine Corp to a 'T' so I thought it was an excellent story to start out the new year with.

You gotta love our Marines!! Semper Fi!!!

Don't be offended by the photo. Please read the article with it. It really epitomizes the never say die attitude of our Marines. and a host of our brothers and sisters in the other services.

The Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant in the picture is Michael Burghard, part of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team that is supporting 2nd Brigade 28th Infantry Division (Pennsylvania Army National Guard). I heard the below story first hand last Saturday during a video teleconference between his Brigade Commander and the 28th Infantry Division Commander. I thought that others should hear it as well, as I think it demonstrates the true spirit of our troops (from my experience). from John

Leading the fight is Gunnery Sgt Michael Burghardt, known as "Iron Mike" or just "Gunny". He is on his third tour in Iraq. He had become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour. Then, on September 19, he got blown up.

He had arrived at a chaotic scene after a bomb had killed four US soldiers. He chose not to wear the bulky bomb protection suit. "You can't react to any sniper fire and you get tunnel-vision," he explains. So, protected by just a helmet and standard-issue flak jacket, he began what bomb disposal officers term "the longest walk", stepping gingerly into a 5ft deep and 8ft wide crater. The earth shifted slightly and he saw a Senao base station with a wire leading from it. He cut the wire and used his 7in knife to probe the ground. "I found a piece of red detonating cord between my legs," he says. "That's when I knew I was screwed."

Realizing he had been sucked into a trap, Sgt Bghardt, 35, yelled at everyone to stay back. At that moment, an insurgent, probably watching through binoculars, pressed a button on his mobile phone to detonate the secondary device below the sergeant's feet. "A chill went up the back of my neck and then the bomb exploded," he recalls. "As I was in the air I remember thinking, 'I don't believe they got me.' I was just ticked off they were able to do it. Then I was lying on the road, not able to feel anything from the waist down."

His colleagues cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there. "My dad's a Vietnam Vet who's paralyzed from the waist down," says Sgt Burghardt. "I was lying there thinking I didn't want to be na wheelchair next to my dad and for him to see me like that. They started to cut away my pants and I felt a real sharp pain and blood trickling down. Then I wiggled my toes and I thought, 'Good, I'm in business.' “As a stretcher was brought over, adrenaline and anger kicked in. "I decided to walk to the helicopter. I wasn't going to let my teammates see me being carried away on a stretcher." He stood and gave the insurgents who had blown him up a one-fingered salute. "I flipped them one. It was like, 'OK, I lost that round but I'll be back next week'."

Copies of a photograph depicting his defiance, taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald, adorn the walls of homes across America and that of Col John Gronski the brigade commander in Ramadi, who has hailed the image as an exemplar of the warrior spirit. Sgt Burghardt's injuries - burns and wounds to his legs and buttocks - kept him off duty for nearly a month and could have earned him a ticket home. But, like his father - who was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in Vietnam - he stayed in Ramadi to engage in the battle against insurgents who are forever coming up with more ingenious ways of killing Americans.

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