Daily Life of a Marine Mom

A Piece of My Heart is home from Iraq


Friday, April 28, 2006

United 93 - Unsung Heroes

As I truly believe that all our military men and women are heroes. Also do I think that the people that stopped Flight 93 (or United 93) from hitting the capitol building are true heroes. There is a difference though in that these people KNEW they would not survive this. I can't imagine how brave they had to be to do what they did. If you get a chance soon, be sure to hit the movie theater and pay tribute to the heroes of United 93 by watching their story.

You can visit the website that tells more about the movie .. by clicking here (United 93)

God bless their familes .. and Semper Fi.

Just wanted to put a quick note on here thanking everyone for your kind words and prayers. They are all very much appreciated. If anyone left a comment that I didn't respond to .. please forgive me! I do appreciate all of YOU!

I do try to visit and respond to everyone that comments here. If I have missed you for some reason, PLEASE return and comment again! One thing I really wish they would do here at Spaces (are you listening MSN?!?!) is give us an option page to just see COMMENTS. Since they only show you the last 4-5 comments you have to go back to each individual blog to read comments to them if there are more than 4 or 5. Unfortunately for me, living in the true boonies as I do, I only have DIAL-UP access to the internet () . It makes blog surfing to read comments past the last 4-5 very hard. I can't get the local wireless access because I am like 5 miles too far from the dishes, I can't get DSL because the phone lines are not good enough, and of course they don't provide cable out where I am at! I am not willing to pay the outrageous cost of satelitte internet access (which isn't much better than standard dial-up) when I HOPE that within the next year the county I live is promising to provide county-wide WIFI (please please please).

Enough with my problems there.

I did want to let everyone know that I added a couple of new lists on my MSN Spaces edition of this blog (lots more graphics and info there). You can access it by clicking the link to the right on this page or go to http://spaces.msn.com/faefyre/ . If you look up at the top left there, there is one called special requests. At the top of that list now is a request for Ben. Please fellow bloggers .. pass the page address on and let's get Ben and his family some much needed help. Thank you in advance for that too!

The second new list is in the righthand column and I am going to be adding many helpful links there for Marine families and their Marines. Since the Marine Corps and the sites pertaining to the Corps are what I know .. that is what I will post there. Especially for the parents of new recruits, some of the information there is VITAL to know. Please check it out. And ... if you run across a good site, don't be afraid to let me know about it! Networking is the backbone of how Marine families survive!

Thank you all and Semper Fi.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I am sorry to say that my finacee's father lost his long fight to recover after his heart surgery this morning (he had the surgery about 6 weeks ago). We got word that he passed away peacefully about 8am. They don't really know why he died yet but he wasn't feeling well last night when Rick went to see him. I am still at work but Rick and his brother and sisters are with his mother right now. Its harder on them now because he had started to get a lot better and was up and moving around at the rehab center they had sent him to when they let him out of the hospital. Rick thought he was trying harder to get ambulatory so he could go home. Please keep Rick, his mother Rosie and the family in your prayers as we all deal with his loss for the next few days.

Thank you and God bless.

I did get some uplifting news from Jamie today about Ben. I am sharing this email with you (below my post in blue) but I since I don't have permission to share this particular Angel's name I have removed names from the post.

I think it is important to first update you all a little about how Ben came to be hurt. Just a couple of weeks before 3/7 Weapons Co (Ben's company) returned from this deployment in Iraq, a Humvee that Ben and his buddies were riding in took a direct hit with a mortar which pretty much destroyed the Humvee. Ben was one of the lucky ones, he walked away with minor cuts and bruises, but the mental toll of sitting on the side of the road after that attack with one of his fellow Marine brothers and friend brains leaking into his hands (Ben's words to his mother) took on a whole different aspect of the anguish a Marine can suffer for Ben. He not only lost that particular friend to this attack but another of his friends died from the injuries he received at the same time too.

This was the second HARD deployment in a row for Ben. After the first deployment, where he also lost brothers and friends, he was hard hit and it was tough for him to bounce back to the loving kind person he was. More than likely he suffered from the all too common PTSD to a certain extent (although I don't think he was ever actually diagnosed or treated for it). His mother had a hard time too, seeing the changes that war and death had wroth in her oldest son but she stood by him and he was ready to go back for this second deployment.

Thus .. when Ben returned from Iraq this time he immediately did what many of our returning Marines do and he got together with his buddies and they proceeded to drink away their sorrows, try to drown the bad memories and celebrate being back on American soil once again. For returning soldiers from Iraq .. it is VERY important that they stay somewhere safe till they acclimate back to being in the states. Unfortunately for Ben and his family (and us as his extended family), it is policy at their home base to allow the returning Marines a 96 hour leave during which time they can be with their friends and family and leave the base. Then they go back to base for a 2 week acclimation period before getting post-deployment leave. You have to understand that while they were in Iraq they are taught to NEVER stop moving. A standing target is just that .. a target with a big red circle on it. So when they get back they are still in that survival mode that has kept them alive for some many months (this is especially true for infantry Marines since they are on the front lines).

Ben had only been back on American soil for hours when something happened that made Ben run into the highway in front of the hotel they were at. I won't get into specifics ... but it was just a senseless and horrible accident, and this is the important point, that was precipitated because of what he was used to doing in Iraq to stay alive. Ben was used to things in Iraq being much different, Marines NEVER have to stop for anything, everyone else in Iraq stops for THEM. I truly believe that this accident was caused by his time in Iraq as surely as if he had been injured there. So just because he was hurt near his home base ... he is just as much an injured American hero as our soldiers that are injured during deployment.

Now .. on to the GOOD news! Prayers are WORKING for Ben! Below is the email that Jamie received recently from one of the Soldiers' Angels that is visiting Ben and keeping Jamie updated on his progress. Thank you Jamie for giving me permission to pass on this good news!

Hi [from Ben's Soldiers' Angel] !

I saw Ben this afternoon. He was heavily sedated. Apparently he is very agitated this mornings and they doped him up to keep him calm. (Must be much easier for the nurses that way... )


He blinks in response to a question. He really does! I told him you needed to know if he could blink in response to a question.

I said "Ben, I need you to blink if you can understand what I am saying" and he did.

Then I waited for a while and told him to do it again and he did.

Eventually after about 15 minutes, he got tired of playing and dozed back to sleep but we played for a while.

EVERYTIME I asked him to do it, he would do it.

Someone else can try it, but he was looking at me out of the corner of his eye and following my directions to the letter.

He also turned his head away when he didn't want the nurse washing his face anymore. Nurse admitted that was a participatory movement.

Okay, you know how I told you sometimes when I am talking to Ben about you he tries to say something...Does what I call his 'Elvis' lip curl that would be the beginning of a word if you were heavily sedated....

He about came out of the bed when Jim arrived. And he moved his mouth in a way different from how he does when I think he's trying to say 'Mom' or 'Race'......I think he was trying to say 'J'......he ended up having a coughing spell (who knows what he could say if the Trach wasn't in there??!!)

but it was just waaaayy toooooo spooky for that to be random....there's NO way that was a coincidence......he knew someone (someone important to him) was in the room and absolutely reacted...he was like a different patient...then he fell back to sleep...

Ben really likes Jim. Jim is WONDERFUL FOR HIM!!

He isn't as overheated anymore, his lips look alot better, his abrasions are healing, his hair needs cutting or something, and Jim is involved with Ben's feet....I see big differences because I don't go everyday....

Tomorrow the neuro nurse we talked about is coming.

I definetly saw responses today. I can also tell he likes some people and not others....he won't bother with some and will for others...must be tiring any ways...I think he works for me 'cause he knows I talk to you....he works for Jim 'cause he likes him (you can't NOT like Jim - he's just one of those people) but Ben ignores the nurses....that's why they don't see anything....

[End Email]

I want to say a big thank you to the Soldiers' Angel that is taking the time to go and visit Ben AND keep Jamie in the loop on Ben's progress. This is probably one of the hardest things for Ben's mother since he is so far away from her and she needs to be at home to care for Ben's much younger (preschool age) brothers and sister. In any case Ben is showing definite improvement. Thank you God! Hopefully there will be a website set up for Ben and his family later this week for anyone that would like to make a donation. The donations will be mainly to help Ben's family spend more time with him for the present I believe. He has five brothers and sisters, the three youngest are very young with the baby just turning six months old. Ben's mama has her hands full all the time.

Keep Ben and his family in your prayers if you pray. They need all the help they can get and I am positive that the prayers for Ben are working!


Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Busy Busy Busy! We all had a GREAT time at the homecoming/slash birthday party this weekend even though a couple of us came away slightly injured LOL (the birthday was for my brother who was home from Texas for a week). I promise to get some pics up today! Although most of the pics are actually video for the party. Maybe I can actually add some of that here. We are hitting the local niteclub tonight to play some pool with the family since my brother and his girlfriend, Ginger, have to go back to San Antonio tomorrow. My kids are wearing me out but I love it! I feel like a mother again lol .. no sleep, constantly on the run, lots of hugs and 'love yous'!! Anyone who is a mom can certainly relate to that!

Here's a few pics of Eric's first night in the local niteclub with us where we played some pool and just re-connected. Since he just turned 21 while he was in Iraq this was the first time we could actually spend time together in an environment like this. I don't neccesarily want to promote going out and drinking (although I do occasionally myself, especially since I like to play pool .. but when I do .. it is SAFELY with a designate driver) but hey .. we live in the middle of rural Indiana surrounded by corn fields for 50 miles in every direction and there just ISN"T a lot else to do around here at night! Cow tipping ?? Doesn't really happen, cows DO NOT tip easily or willingly LOL. The 'cow tipping' story is more like a 'snipe hunt' than anything else . Okay .. unless you live in the country you may not know about 'snipe hunting' either! If you have a question about it add it to comments and I will explain hehe.

Be sure to check out the pics at the bottom of the blog too that I didn't post up here. Too bad that the only single female there that wasn't related to Eric was working the bar hehe! She's the dark haired one, Traci.

Eric, his sister and sister-in-law

Eric, the bartender Traci and his sister-in-law DeeDee

Crystal (my daughter), Eric, DeeDee (my daughter-in-law),
Ginger (my brother's girlfriend from San Antonio) and
Jeff (my brother that lives in San Antonio)

Boy am I ever glad that he KNOWS not to drink and drive!

Hmmm ... my son-in-law and daughter appear to be having a good time.
Where did that beer glass come from!! At least the driver was sober!

Okay ..more pics later I promise.

Ben update: Ben has been moved out of ICU but is still considered comatose, although ... the Soldiers' Angels group (I will talk more about that group later, they visit wounded soldiers) that have been visiting him on a daily basis all claim that he IS making purposeful movement and responding to simple commands (like wiggle your toes) so OORAH for Ben. I still have faith (as does his family) that he will make a purposeful recovery from his devasting injuries.

Also ... Justin, whose Aunt Patricia has a blog dedicted to him on MSN Spaces, (click here to visit and leave Justin a message) had surgery recently and came through it well. Justin has made an amazing recovery from injuries he received in Iraq and his doctors were not optimistic either! It just goes to show you, you can't keep a good Marine down! OORAH Justin!

Now here is a great little story I wanted to pass on to all the military spouses. We DO recognize how hard and how much YOU sacrifice too to support our military. A big huge Thank You to every one of you!!

The Difference
By Retired Lt. Gen. Edward J. Heinz

Over the years, I've talked a lot about military spouses...how special they are and the price they pay for freedom, too. The funny thing about it is most military spouses don't consider themselves different from other spouses.

They do what they have to do, bound together not by blood or merely friendship, but with a shared spirit whose origin is in the very essence of what love truly is. Is there truly a difference? I think there is. You have to decide for yourself.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference.

Other spouses get married and look forward to building equity in a home and putting down family roots. Military spouses get married and know they'll live in base housing or rent, and their roots must be short so they can be transplanted frequently.

Other spouses decorate a home with flair and personality that will last a lifetime. Military spouses decorate a home with flair tempered with the knowledge that no two base houses have the same size windows or same size rooms. Curtains have to be flexible and multiple sets are a plus. Furniture must fit like puzzle pieces.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference.

Other spouses have living rooms that are immaculate and seldom used. Military spouses have immaculate living room-dining room combos. The coffee table got a scratch or two moving from Germany, but it still looks pretty good.

Other spouses say good-bye to their spouse for a business trip and know they won't see them for a week. They are lonely, but can survive. Military spouses say good-bye to their deploying spouse and know they won't see them for months, or for a remote, a year. They are lonely, but will survive.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference.

Other spouses, when a washer hose blows off, call Maytag and then write a check out for getting the hose reconnected. Military spouses will cut the water off and fix it themselves.

Other spouses get used to saying "hello" to friends they see all the time. Military spouses get used to saying "good-bye" to friends made the last two years.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference.

Other spouses worry about whether their child will be class president next year. Military spouses worry about whether their child will be accepted in yet another new school next year.

Other spouses can count on spouse participation in special events...birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, football games, graduation, and even the birth of a child. Military spouses only count on each other; because they realize that the Flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. It has to be that way.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference.

Other spouses put up yellow ribbons when the troops are imperiled across the globe and take them down when the troops come home. Military spouses wear yellow ribbons around their hearts and they never go away.

Other spouses worry about being late for mom's Thanksgiving dinner. Military spouses worry about getting back from Japan in time for dad's funeral.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference.

And I will say that our country asks more of military spouses than is asked of other spouses. And I will say, without hesitation, that military spouses pay just as high a price for freedom as do their active duty husbands or wives.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference.

God bless our military spouses for all they freely give. And God bless America.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

I am soooo sorry I haven't updated everyone since Eric got home! I do promise to rectify that over the next few days. Believe me when I say I have been extremely busy and overwhelmed having my wonderful son with me again!! He is the same sweet guy that left for Iraq so long ago. War hasn't changed him, just provided him with some amazing stories and an appreciation for life that we should all have :), and of course, made him into a man, and what a MAN he is hehe! I have some good stories to tell once I get a chance to sit down and write them out! Here are a pics from the airport when we picked him up. It was VERY late (his flight didn't come in till 12:30am) but two of his friends and his sister did manage to make the ride with me to pick him up. As you can see ... mom is VERY HAPPY to have her youngest son in her arms again !!

Eric's friends, Trevor and Ryan and his sister, Crystal with their happy signs :)

Eric's big sis is happy he is home too!!

But NOONE is happier than MOM!! Yes I was crying happy tears!

There is a story that I want to pass on to you all. I think it emphasizes the difference that being in the military has on our young men and women. I know it has made a HUGE difference in the way my son responds to people.

Eric and I stopped in Walmart last night to grab a few needed things. On our way out .. the greeter (an older lady) said have a good night as always. Eric said (as always when he is spoken to) You too Ma'am. She immediately stops Eric with a hand on his arm and she asks him "You are military aren't you?". Eric - "Yes Ma'am, I am in the Marine Corps and I am on leave after returning from Iraq recently." Greeter - "Oh I just knew it when I saw you at the checkout lanes and I was absolutely SURE when you called me ma'am! Thank you so much for what you are doing for us. Can I hug you?" Eric - "Of Course you can", whereupon he bends over so that she can hug him around the neck (Eric is 6'4"). She tells us that her son-in-law has just been promoted to Lt. Corp in the Army and spent some time in Iraq too. Greeter - "I have a newspaper clipping about him (which she removes from her billfold) and you just have to read it!" Eric takes the clipping and reads every word and tells her "You must be very proud of him!" Greeter - "I am proud of ALL of you." To which I, of course, AGREE that I am very proud of them all, but especially my precious son standing next to me taking the time to talk to her (of course I don't say it that way though hehe)! I tell her to thank her son-in-law and give him a hug from me. She says she will be glad too. As we are leaving Eric asks her if she would like another hug and he hugs her again.

That is the way EVERYONE should greet our military men and women! I know I try too. So hug your military man or woman for ME the next time you see them!

Semper Fidelis and God Bless you all!


Update on Ben: Ben's mom has created a webpage at Caringbridge.org to keep everyone updated on how Ben is doing and it also has a guestbook so you can leave encouragement on there for him and his family. The website addy is http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/lcplbenhardgrove
Please stop in and read Jamie's journal entries on Ben's progress (much more info there than I could pass on) and leave a note in the guestbook. Ben is struggling right now to wake up and he still desperately needs our prayers.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Easter this year is going to be very special for me. Its the first holiday I have spent with my son in the last two years. Talked to him last night and his flight for Saturday is a GO !! WooHOOOO and OORAHHHHH ! Clcik the link below and read a special request for all our troops.

Semper Fi and God Bless you.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Only a few more days till I get to see Eric!! Unfortunately he waited till about last Thursday to tell me he had not gotten his ticket yet and that he needed me to get it because he doesn't have a bank card! Not a problem if he had asked me to that on the SUNDAY before! But since flights were so limited for him to come home by the time he asked me to do this, the flight I could get him doesn't leave the airport till 3 in the afternoon which puts him at our airport at almost 1am. He is going have to wile away the afternoon in the USO I guess (all his friends have flights out in the morning)!

I literally can't wait to see him and be able to put my arms around him! I know I will be bawling and I do so hate to cry hehe but I guess its a good reason.

I will get some pics up tonight of Eric and my daughter-in-law DeeDee and their wild trip to Hollywood last weekend before DeeDee came back home to Indiana. I think she likes California too much!

I wanted to keep everyone who has said a prayer for Ben (our 3/7 Marine that was hit by a car the day of homecoming) informed about his progress also here. His prognosis isn't very good at the moment. They do think he has brain damage from the lack of oxygen to his brain in the hours just following his accident. His mother is dealing with each day as it comes, ups and downs.

We are all hoping for the best though, miracles do happen. As far as I know Ben hasn't actually woken up yet but he is making some movements that seem to be purposeful. Keep him in your prayers if you can and thank you.

Semper Fi and God bless you all.

My question of the week is ... What is the world coming to?!?!

Teacher Makes 5-Year-Old Apologize For Hugging

Parents Looking For New School For Girl

UPDATED: 1:08 pm EDT April 7, 2006

MAYNARD, Mass. -- A Massachusetts family is outraged after their 5-year-old daughter was forced to write a letter denouncing hugging after a classmate embraced her.

Brenda Brier and Michael Marino pulled their daughter, Savannah, out of school early Wednesday. The couple was angry after a meeting with officials at the Greenmeadow Elementary School in Maynard, Mass., where Savannah is in kindergarten. Click here for the rest of the story.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Nothing says your Marine is Home quite like PICTURES!
Dee (the mom of Nate,
the shorter guy in
the sunglasses )
sent me the first photos
I have seen of Eric in
over 8 months!
Thank you Dee!
Of course, I had to
share them.
These guys are
sooooo handsome.
Not that I am prejudiced
or anything though hehe.
I am glad to see them
looking so healthy too!!

Eric (left), Nate (right) and another friend from the 3/7 in the middle.

This is another photo that I felt compelled to share here of homecoming (another Lima Co Marine). One of the Dandelion Sisters (parents of 3/7 Marines) sent this to me. This young Marine became a daddy while he was in Iraq. This is the first time he has ever seen his little son. Can you say "Proud Daddy?" Isn't this just the most precious picture, it made me shed a few tears I can tell you that ! Big tough handsome Marine with a very soft heart for his baby.

First Meeting of a 3/7 Marine and his son

Update on BEN (3/7 Weapons Plt.): Ben (the young Marine that was hit by a car) continues to improve slowly but surely. They don't know the extent of any brain damage yet but they are saying he is young and strong and will continue to get better. Prayers seem to working for him.

Semper Fi and God bless our soldiers.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Eric continues to enjoy his homecoming celebrations (safely I pray!). His sister-in-law just happened to be visiting friends in California about an hour and half from the base so he got a ride there on Saturday and was suppose to stay with them till today. She called me as soon as he got there and was laughing about the fact that she literally flew across the yard and jumped right into his arms and he didn't even stagger. She told me when she called that he is still our Eric which was good to know :). Its great that in the last 4 days I have talked to him twice as much as I did when he was in Iraq! Its so good to have him stateside that I can't even beging to tell you of the relief that I feel. He does go back to work tomorrow so the party has to wind down till he makes it home to Indiana in a couple of weeks hehe! Then we can have our own party for him!

Good news on Ben also. He still has a long road ahead of him for recovery but he continues to improve and his condition has been upgraded (serious last I heard). Because they are keeping him sedated they are not totally sure if there was any brain damage but they are very hopeful that there isn't and that he will make a full recovery. Keep those prayers flying for him though. He's a strong young man but he will need a lot of support to recover. His mom has been with him since Friday night and she is showing that she is a strong lady too. She claims to be drawing her strength from Ben ... but I think it is the other way around whether she admits it or not.

Semper Fi and God Bless you all.

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