Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

From SGT Mark M. Middlebrook:

   Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start of summer and indeed it probably is.  Today across this vast and beautiful country of ours backyard barbecues are being put to good use, friends and family are traveling near and far, and bathing suits are being donned.  While Memorial Day has become a treasured holiday to finally shrug off winter and welcome summer we must not forget the day’s true meaning.  Memorial 
Day is not a day for our honorable veterans; Memorial Day is instead a day when we honor those no longer among us.  It is a day to honor those who answered a far off call and never returned home.  They answered the call knowing they may lose their lives but did so in order to preserve something that they love, something much greater than any one individual.
            We take time to remember this nation's fallen sons and daughters but we must also remember their families.  They all lost a piece of themselves the day they each received the terrible news brought to them from a foreign land.  They are left here in this life forced to bear the pain and continue the memory of a fallen patriot.  They must never be forced to bear such a burden alone.  The ones they lost did not give their lives solely for their families; they gave their most precious possession so that torch of freedom could continue to illuminate the world.  They gave their lives for each and everyone of us who knows what it means to be free.  So I ask that all who hear or read these words take a moment and remember those valiant men and women as well as their families.  Take a moment so that we may all share the burden that is the cost of the American way of life.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Red Falcon deployment from April 2010

FORT BRAGG, N.C. – The 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Division Ready Force one of the Global Response Force has received orders to deploy to Afghanistan in May in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
This deployment is the ninth deployment for a 2nd BCT unit since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
For the past 19 months, the 2nd BCT has been the forcible entry component of the Nation’s Global Response Force. The Battalion recently participated in Operation Unified Response, providing humanitarian assistance in Haiti following the devastating earthquake that struck there in January.
The battalion will take part in the International Security Assistance Force effort increasing the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces and improving security for the Afghan people.
The remainder of the BCT will continue to serve as the Army Component of the GRF, prepared to deploy on short notice contingency operations anywhere in the world.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

End of an era: Atlantis

Photos by Mike M.

Space shuttle Atlantis on its last mission. I was hoping to go but was still dealing with the after effects of radiation therapy. Maybe in November.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Our patriotic dogs on Armed Forces Day

Olustee (left - named after a Civil War battle) and Glider (right- named after 1st battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Prayer request

This is from one of the class of  Leadership Jacksonville 2010:
One of my classmates from JU, Andy Conrad, former Naval Aviator and now a Delta pilot, has a 20 year-old nephew from Jacksonville who was grievously wounded by an IED in Afghanistan late last week.  His name is Tyler Southern and he has lost both legs and one arm, and may still lose the other.  He arrived at Bethesda two days ago via Germany where he is just starting to come out of consciousness.
A couple of things have happened since I learned this from Andy.
  • I alerted one of my former Navy bosses, Rear Admiral Kevin Delaney because he is on the board of the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) which is based here in Jacksonville, but serves injured combat veterans all over the country.
  • He in turn alerted the WWP Bethesda team who actively and personally assisted the family upon Tyler's arrival from Germany.
  • One of Tyler's former high school classmates now apparently works for the new Jacksonville Sharks Arena Football League team, and tomorrow night the Sharks are playing a home game at 7:35 PM and originally intended to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to Tyler to aid in his recovery.
  • Tyler's family has unselfishly asked that those proceeds instead be donated to WWP so that even more injured veterans will benefit.
  • Since the immediate family is bedside in Bethesda, my friend Andy will accept the donation at mid-field (mid-arena?) on behalf of the family and WWP.
I am asking you to join me tomorrow night at the game, or at least alert your friends that tomorrow (Friday, May 14) is Military Appreciation Night for the Sharks game and that with their attendance they will be supporting a local hero and a great cause.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Military calendar for Jacksonville

UP-COMING EVENTS—For your calendar:
May 17—USS Stark Memorial Service—NS Mayport—10 a.m.
May 18—Northeast Florida Veterans Council Meeting—7 p.m. City Hall
May 22—Honor Air Flight to Washington, DC for WWII Vets
May 31—Memorial Day Observance—Memorial Wall—10 a.m.
May 31—Memorial Day Observance—Jacksonville National Cemetery—2 p.m.
June 5—Never Quit Beach Festival—Jax Beach Pier
June 5—Battle of Midway Dinner
August 7—Purple Heart Ceremony
Oct 21-24—Jacksonville Salute to the Sea Services and National Navy League Convention
Oct 23-24—NAS Jacksonville Blue Angels Air Show
Nov 10—Marine and Navy Corpsmen Memorial Service—Evergreen Cemetery

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

I haven't properly thanked the leaders of our Family Readiness Group. Not only did they have their own family to attend to but they had to attend to young wives and horror-filled parents of soldiers on deployment....while their own husbands were deployed. We would have never made it without them.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

And have a Happy Mother's Day. You've earned it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Military Appreciation Day - PGA Tour

Top: Branch colors.
Bottom: an Anhinga salute

Wednesday was Military Appreciation Day put on by the PGA Tour for The Players Championship. Northrup-Grumman sponsors a Patriot Outpost, in which active duty or retired military are treated free food and drinks and some relief from the heat.

Gayle and I dropped by to connect with the Wounded Warrior Project to drop off a donation from our Internet brother Abnpoppa.  The Project staff was out coordinating events for wounded vets but the PGA Tour volunteers let us in for lunch and place to sit.

The day also included a concert by Tim McGraw and a fly-by from the Blue Angels. It was a wonderful day and those of us who are "accidental" military families were greatly appreciative.
Mark and I finally connected with the Wounded Warrior Project and the donation was made.

(Pops, your card is on the way)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Military Appreciation Day - my neighborhood

For the last few years, my neighborhood celebrates our veterans with a Military Appreciation Day ceremony. Here are some pictures from this year's event:

Our neighbor Chuck Ellis who is a Pearl Harbor survivor