Thursday, March 18, 2010

Anniversaries

We've got a big one coming up, but not one that requires much celebration - Mark's departure from our house to his military adventure. We hit five years in May. Five years......

I diligently kept a journal during most of his military career and still do today. So I will probably pull some of  the entries out for The One Percenters.

Five years.

Of course, we were lucky:
  • Mark made it back from two tours alive and in one piece.
  • He was assigned to a unit that, if not the best, is among the best in the Army. Well-trained and led by officers and NCOs who made the right decisions in the most difficult of circumstances and brought every one home...twice.
  • We have met some extraordinary people during the journey and we are better for it. 
  • And somehow we ended up with a house full of delightful but gaseous Aussies.
My youngest is now making noise that he might follow in his brother's footsteps. I have mixed and selfish emotions on how to advise him because the last five years took 10 off of our life times.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Airborne dog and his brother

Glider, the big Aussie, is visiting his little brother Bounder while Mark and his girl friend are out West on spring break. Bounder has been with us now for a week and has settled in nicely with the rest of the critters.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Red Falcons on their way home

By Joint Task Force-Haiti Public Affairs

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – More than 700 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, will depart Haiti March 5-6 after completing their relief missions in support of communities impacted by a 7.0 earthquake Jan. 12.

The paratroopers arrived in Haiti Jan. 17 and operated principally in the densely populated Port-au-Prince metropolitan areas of Cite Soleil, Tabarre Commune and Croix de Bouquet Commune, where they provided much needed relief aid to local residents and manned two food distribution points.

In preparation for their redeployment to Fort Bragg, N.C., the unit transitioned its distribution points and security responsibilities to Brazilian and Jordanian battalion forces, who will continue to support international relief efforts in the area

During the deployment to Haiti, the paratrooper unit, also known as the Red Falcons, distributed more than 250,000 liters of water, 345,000 meals, 12,000 tarps for shelter, and treated, more than 7,000 patients.  The unit also completed approximately 650 humanitarian missions.

“The Red Falcons along with their USAID and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners contributed immeasurably to the success of the mission here in Haiti,” said Lt. Gen Ken Keen, commander, Joint Task Force-Haiti. “They worked in one of the most challenging and difficult areas in the country and should be extremely proud of what they have accomplished and the Haitian lives they touched daily.”

The unit also supported several major humanitarian aid missions during more than 40 days in the country, including assisting the World Food Program with the distribution of more than 3.5 million rations to Haitian citizens.  The unit’s medical personnel also treated earthquake survivors and other patients throughout the Port-au-Prince area.

Presently, numerous NGOs are conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities to assist area residents, including the Samaritans Purse, Good Neighbors, Glow Ministries and Baptist World Aid.

Many of the medical facilities in these communities are now managed by local physicians with support from NGOs.  These facilities are also largely self-sufficient and not exceeding their capacity.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Airborne dog

Glider, named for the 1-325th Glider Infantry Regiment (WWII), receives a haircut in celebration of his first birthday.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Telling The Story Of 'The Hardest Hit Unit In Iraq'

From NPR:

Journalist Kelly Kennedy embedded with Charlie Company's 26th Infantry Regiment for several months in 2007. She spent hours with the soldiers out on patrol, and now relates their worst and best days in her new book, They Fought For Each Other:The Triumph and Tragedy of the Hardest Hit Unit in Iraq.

Charlie Company lost 14 men in Iraq, including nine soldiers who were killed when their Bradley fighting vehicles were hit by IED's. Before Kennedy's arrival, another solider — 19-year-old Ross McGinnis — died after he threw himself on a grenade to save four of his friends. Kennedy talked with many of McGinnis' fellow soldiers about the incident and describes what happened to Terry Gross.

"On December 4, they were out on patrol and the grenade came in right in through Ross's turret — he was the gunner — and he sees it and he tries to catch it — he's chasing it around the turret and he's yelling 'Grenade' trying to get the guys out of the truck and no one really understood what was happening," Kennedy says. "They didn't have time to react but Ross knew what was going on ... and then one of the other guys saw the grenade and watched as Ross threw himself against it and took the brunt of the force of the grenade and died instantly — but saved four of his friends."

McGinnis received the Medal of Honor and one of the soldiers he saved — Staff Sgt. Ian Newland — promised "to never waste the gift" he received that day, as Kennedy wrote in the Army Times. Her series for the paper, called Blood Brothers, followed the 26th Infantry during their time in Iraq — as well as the issues they faced after arriving home.

The first chapter of the book can be found here.

Monday, March 1, 2010