Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Day 134 - Only 72 More Days Until Leave!

 Posted by Hello
SGT Wayne West

Online Family Discussion Boards are full of excitement about husbands and sons coming home on leave. Wayne chose to come home later in the rotation to have less time to serve when he returns to Iraq until his tour of duty ends in January 2006.

His leave begins August 11.

Can't wait to see that smile in person again!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Day 133B - Message from 155th INBN Commander

To the Families and Friends of the 1-155th IN BN (Mississippi Rifles):

We mourn the loss of our fallen comrades from C Company,
1-155 Infantry Battalion:
SPC Bryan Barron
CPL Audrey Lunsford
SPC Daniel Varnado
SSG Saburant "Sabot" Parker

Their platoon was conducting a combat patrol in a hostile area
northeast of Iskandaryiah, when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED)
detonated underneath their up-armored vehicle. Other members of the
platoon rushed to their aid but were unable to rescue them.

These four heroes upheld the highest traditions of the combat infantryman. They operated in hostile areas and regularly conducted combat patrols outside of safe confinements. They faced constant danger and risked their lives everyday while waging war against the enemy. Yet if given the choice, they would not have wanted it any other way. They didn't do this for fame or fortune; they did it because of who
they were and what they represented.

The Infantry lives by a code that cannot be purchased by money or learned from an institution. You have to experience it in order to understand it. These four brave warriors understood the meaning of fear, hardships, and sacrifices, but yet they continued their mission and asked for nothing in return.

I am honored to have served with such outstanding infantrymen. These four heroes will be remembered in many ways, but to us they will always be Mississippi Riflemen. They will continue to live through us, and we will always "STAND FAST" in their honor.

A Memorial Service was held for our four brothers-in-arms on
May 25, 2005.

I cannot go into much detail, but several individuals involved with of this attack have been captured. We should gather more information from these insurgents, so all of those responsible are brought to justice. We will continue to keep pressure on the insurgency and will patiently strike at the opportune time.

We are so thankful that SFC Ellis Martin was able to come home for a visit this week. We were thrilled to see his picture in the Clarion Ledger when he arrived in Jackson and heard about him on WLBT's story This was a special occasion to of us in the Mississippi Rifles.

We thank all of you for the outpouring support. We receive numerous packages and letters from Family Support Groups, schools, churches,and other organizations. I personally receive a package of school supplies every week from an organization back home. It is comforting to know that we are in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you again for your continued support.

John M. Rhodes
1-155 IN BN

(Read Kevin Kelly's account of Memorial Day service on base, including two Purple Heart pinnings.)

 Posted by Hello

Day 133 - Memorial Day 2005

Soldiers from the 155th praying before a recent mission.
Photo by SFC Kevin Kelly

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

Memorial Day Tribute

Honor the Fallen
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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Day 132 - With Liberty and Justice for All

It is the Soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us Freedom of the Press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us Freedom of Speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us the Freedom to demonstrate.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer,
Who has given us the right to a fair trial;

And it is the Soldier--who salutes the flag,
Who serves the flag, and
Whose coffin is draped by the flag--
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

By Charles M. Province

"Now the Lord is that Spirit:
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is liberty."
1 Corinthians 3:17

America is one of the greatest nations in the history of the world; it is also the world's longest ongoing constitutional republic. Although this original form of government has endured well over two centuries, America's longevity is only as stable and secure as her foundation.

So what is the foundation of America?

One Nation Under God

 Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Day 131 - He Makes Me Lie Down in Green Pastures

Over the centuries, millions of people have found solace and peace in the psalmist's words.

As you experience the power and comfort of the 23rd Psalm in this audiovisual devotional, pray for our soldiers' safety this weekend.

The 23rd Psalm

 Posted by Hello

Friday, May 27, 2005

Day 130 - Healing Hands


Soldiers of the 155th Brigade Combat Team, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) provided health care to more than 150 Iraqi adults and children during a six-hour Medical Civic Action Program Saturday in Najaf, Iraq.

Soldiers treated patients with a variety of conditions, including gunshot and shrapnel wounds, birth defects, asthma, skin irritations and arthritis.

Being able to treat any part of the local populace goes a long way toward strengthened relations between the local community and coalition forces, said Colonel J. C. Ottenbacher, a doctor in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

"I am pleased with the care and supplies that the Soldiers were able to provide and the biggest contribution will come from future MEDCAP missions."

Many of the supplies were donated by U.S. organizations and medical agencies. Donations included vitamins, hygiene products, and wheelchairs.

(Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Day 128 - Tribute to the Fallen

We extend our prayers today to the families of these fallen soldiers from the 155th who were traveling in a Humvee alongside the Marine II Expeditionary Force when a bomb exploded near their convoy Monday, according to AP.

� Spec. Daniel Varnado, 24, from Gulfport, MS
Pfc. Bryan Barron, 26, also from Gulfport,MS
Corp. Daron Lunsford, 29, of Sardis, MS
Sgt. Saburant "Sabe" Parker, 43, of Foxworth, MS

To all our soldiers still serving around the globe, we honor you.

Armed Forces Tribute

 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Day 127 - Prayers for Families

The phones and internet were quiet again. We had hoped it was just a power glitch.

Four soldiers from the 155th were killed Monday when a bomb exploded in Haswa, 30 miles south of Baghdad.

The soldiers identities weren't released, but officials did confirmed they were assigned to the 155th Brigade Combat Team, Second Marine Expeditionary Force.

At least nine 155th soldiers have been killed since January. Two soldiers from Mississippi in the combat team were killed by roadside bombs and another three died in vehicle accidents.

Another car bomb exploded Tuesday near a Baghdad junior high school for girls, killing six people.

The American deaths raise the total to 12 reported since Monday. Those reports came as insurgents carried out a string of explosions, suicide attacks and drive-by shootings around the country that killed 49 Iraqis.

We extend our prayers and sympathy, not only to the families of the fallen American soldiers, but also to the families of innocent Iraqis who were killed.

(from Grenada Daily Star and WLOX - Biloxi)

 Posted by Hello

Monday, May 23, 2005

Day 126 - One Wrong Turn Leads to a Mother

One cow, left horn hanging down, stares at the American soldiers who have arrived in the Iraqi village of seven houses to search for weapons and insurgents. Anther cow, running in circles, races faster as a woman pounds it with dirt clods.

A three-legged dog barks incessently, tripping and falling each time he runs toward the men.

Ten baby chicks follow dutifully behind their fearless, featherless mother, strutting past the strangers.

"She looked like she'd already been plucked to eat," snickers SFC Kevin Kelly, "except I think she got away."

A herd of 30 sheep run toward Kelly and a local villager, interrupting their conversation.

Dozens of children clamor for not enough candy in the soldiers' pockets.

Kelly says he and his team were preparing to search another group of houses when a mother and her seven year-old son appeared in the doorway to their home.

"They were saying something, but we weren't paying close attention until the father reached down and pulled up his son's gown (I don't know what the gown thing is called). I saw a horrific sight: the little boy had no penis and his bladder was hanging out."

Sensing the young boy's embarrassment, the soldiers pulled the gown back down while they talked through an interpreter with the boy's parents, who explained details of the birth defect.

"After we assured them we would bring a doctor back to the village, they agreed to let us take a picture to show Doc (MAJ) Leewood," Kelly recounts. "I know that this might make my land navigation skills sound bad, but we had actually taken a wrong turn 200 meters before our scheduled stop that day. If we hadn't stopped in that particular village, though, we never would have met Mohammad."

Yesterday, Kelly announced U. S. troops have escorted Mohammad and his father to Baghdad, where the youngster is scheduled for surgery.

"When we took them to the HUMVEE to put them inside, we told the father we hated to do this, but we would have to blindfold him until we got to our base. He said he understood. Still, it felt kind of weird having to use a blindfold while we were helping them; but it was the right thing to do."

"We took them to the aid station (medical tent) at the base to wait for the helicopter," he continues. "I had to go put up my body armor and a few other things before I could go back and check on him. When I got back, people were coming in and out to greet them and to see the boy everyone had been talking about. I brought him a coloring book someone had sent for the kids. SFC Arthur brought him some matchbox cars. Others brought toys, food, Gatorade, food and even money. It was like Christmas for the little boy. We finally ran everyone out to give them a little break. Since it was going to be a while before the helicopter got there, I decided to eat breakfast and go to church first."

After hearing a sermon from Acts 2 on "Living with the Certainty of Christ in Your Life," Kelly returned to check on Mohammad, still waiting for the helicopter to arrive.

"He was eating a sucker and watching The Polar Express on someone's laptop," Kelly shares like a proud uncle. "He would always look up at me and then shy away and look back down. I slid over to him and showed him a picture of my own son. He loved the soccer one. Then I slid back to where I was before to watch the movie with him."

When the helicopter arrived, LTC Robinson greeted Mohammad and his father.

"I handed him his back pack full of little green apples and all the other stuff everyone had given him," Kelly recalls. "He just kind of threw up a hand and waved. That was all the thanks we needed. The bird took off, and our little boy was headed to Baghdad for surgery."

As the helicopter lifted from the ground, SFC Arthur commented, "If that doesn't get to your heart, something is wrong with you."

"I couldn't agree more," Kelly concludes. "I'll let you know more when we hear something. It could be tomorrow or it could be weeks. Thanks for all the prayers, though."

I can only imagine Mohammad's mother, waiting patiently now in the village where U. S. soldiers mysteriously arrived two weeks ago to bring hope and healing to her son.

"Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood--being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2 AMP

 Posted by Hello

Day 126-B - Mohammad Meets Big Bird

Little Mohammad, accompanied by his father, is escorted by troops from the 155th BCT to the helicopter which will fly him to Baghdad for life-changing surgery. Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Day 124-B - A Tradition of Heroes

In 1949, all military forces were united under a single Department of Defense. The first Armed Forces Day announced the theme, "Teamed for Defense."

In a speech announcing the formation of the day, President Truman praised the work of the military services at home and across the seas, saying, "It is vital to the security of the nation and to the establishment of a desirable peace."

An excerpt from the Truman's Presidential Proclamation of Feb. 27, 1950, reads:
Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America's defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.

Other purposes of Armed Forces Day are to:

· To expand public understanding of the role of the military in civilian life
· To showcase state-of-the-art equipment used to protect our population
· To honor and acknowledge the people serving in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

Armed Forces Day is now celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May.

Here's a scarey thought: When I said "Happy Armed Forces Day" to a twenty-something year-old man this morning, he replied, "I don't think I've heard of that one before." Posted by Hello

Day 124 - Abroad Mind

Frances, Sophie and Kay Fleischner Posted by Hello

The Fleischners and Susan, Soren and Grace Nyberg of Hot Springs, AR, packed school supplies yesterday to send to Sgt. Wayne West's unit in Iraq. Alpha Company will distribute the supplies to children attending a local school adopted by the soldiers.

Identical kits are pre-packaged according to instructions from 150th's Captain Cager.

Purchased at Office Depot's online prices, the net supply cost for each kit is $12. Adding an additional $3 for flat-rate priority shipping (2 kits per box), brings the cost for one kit to $15.

Want to help? Post your comment to today's entry or email me. We'll give you the details.

(More information is available on Day 119.)
 Posted by Hello

Friday, May 20, 2005

Day 123 - Tatum Connor McCormick

Welcome the latest addition to the McCormick clan, Tatum Connor McCormick, pictured here in the arms of his "Poppy."

Connor was born Thursday, May 19, 2005, in Dallas to Heath McCormick and his sweetheart, Sherlyn. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces, and was 19 inches long. Doctors pronounced him healthy and rarin' to go!

Online baby name dictionaries define his names like this:

Tatum = From Old English origin, meaning "cheerful bringer of joy."

Connor = From Celtic origin, meaning "wise, brilliant, desire, and wolf or hound-lover." (Wolf-lover? Uh, no. Hound-lover? Maybe.)

Ours is just one of many family events soldiers miss while they are deployed. We miss their sharing with us, too.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Day 122 - Animal Planet Iraq

Yesterday, a couple of guys killed this wannabe intruder trying to sneak into their building on base in Iraq.

Sand viper
Cerastes vipera

Description: Usually uniformly very pallid, with three rows of darker brown spots

Characteristics: A very small desert dweller that can bury itself in the sand during the day's heat. It is nocturnal, coming out at night to feed on lizards and small desert rodents. It has a short temper and will strike several times. Its venom is hemotoxic (causes blood poisoning).

Habitat: Restricted to desert areas.

Length: Average 45 centimeters, maximum 60 centimeters.

Distribution: Northern Sahara, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, Chad, Somalia, and central Africa.

Sergeant Kevin Kelly said, "I'm trying to keep my feet off the ground right now when I'm on bunk. I don't like snakes to begin with, so I really would prefer them not being in my bunk."

Hey, Guys! Since your backyard already seems to be a wildlife paradise, maybe you could be on Animal Planet's new show, Backyard Habitat, airing this summer!

Do you have what it takes to be a survivor? As your personal survival handbook, SurvivalIQ provides information, resources, strategies and techniques you need to know whether you're preparing for a back country camping trip or the 155th BCT!

 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Day 121 - Maggots on the Menu

I always get a kick out of Kevin Kelly's humorous descriptions of food served in the chow hall on base. My favorite so far was the boiled chicken dusted with sand.

Kevin, I think these folks have you beat today!

A German restaurant claims to be fully booked for weeks after adding maggots to the menu.

Dishes at the Espitas restaurant in Dresden include maggot ice cream, maggot salads and maggot cocktails.

The restaurant is importing the "nutritious and extremely tasty" maggots from Mexico.

Espitas owner Alexander Wolf said: "We are the first in the world as far as I know to start importing them.

"What started out as a bit of a joke has exceeded all expectations. We started serving them about a month ago, and now we have guests spreading the word to their friends, and we are now fully booked for weeks ahead.

"Most are disgusted but try them out of curiosity or for a dare, and are actually amazed at how good they taste. Many people come back again, and usually bring more friends with them.

"We serve maggot salads, fried maggots with cactus and corn, maggot desserts such as maggots in ice cream or chocolate sauce, and of course maggot cocktails.

"The maggots have proved to be such a success, that I now preparing my next project: a delicious traditional Mexican dish of ant eggs and grasshoppers in several variations."

Teenager Sarah Azubi, 17, said: I had them deep fried, they were crunchy like chips and tasted a bit like nuts, with a soft juicy bit in the middle around a crunchy shell."

Copyright © 2005 Ananova Ltd

Read Kevin's other good stuff at http://

 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Day 120 -MS Native Named Brigadier General

Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard, has announced the U.S. Senate confirmation of Col. Augustus L. Collins for promotion to brigadier general.

Collins, a Booneville native, is in Iraq as commander of the 155th Brigade Combat Team, comprising more than 3,000 state Army National Guard members.

"Brig. Gen. Collins epitomizes the spirit of the Mississippi National Guard and has risen through the ranks continually training himself and soldiers for duty in combat," Cross said.

Collins, a 23-year veteran of the Mississippi National Guard, has previously commanded at the platoon, company and battalion levels, Cross said.

As commander of our troops deployed with the 155th Brigade Combat Team, Brig. Gen. Collins is one of the leaders we pray for God to grant wisdom, strength and courage.

For all of our military, we suggest this guide from "Pray for Our Nation," published by Harrison House:

"Thank you, Lord, for the men and women of our armed forces. Protect them as they protect us. Defend them as they defend us. Encourage and strengthen their spirit, soul and body in the execution of their duties and responsibilities. May they be mentally and physically strong when required to face the challenges of combat. Undergird them with Your spirit and might when they are called to endure hardships of battle.

We pray that nothing would take them by surprise, but that they would be aware of all potential aggression. Enable them to curtail hostile actions before they start.

Reveal to military leaders the strategies and plots that enemies would wage. Give leaders wisdom and insight in all decisions. May response to any aggression by enemies of this nation be swift, accurate and effective.

Lord, give our military favor with the governmental agencies of this country, especially that they would have sufficient funds to keep our nation's military preeiminent in the world.

Thank you for providing America with a well-trained and fully equipped military force. Fill them with the Gospel of Peace.

Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done. Amen."
 Posted by Hello

Monday, May 16, 2005

Day 119 - Mind Games

In the May issue of the 150th Engineer Battalion Family Support Group newsletter, we learned Wayne's unit has adopted a school in Iraq.

According to Cpt. Cager, the most efficient and effective way to help Iraqi children is to create sets of School Supply Kits, which will be distributed to each student.
"Each Kit contains basic, badly-needed items that can make a world of difference to a child heading to school," he explains. "Assembling standardized Kits ensures that each child receives the same number of the most needed items, facilitates customs clearance, and relieves our volunteers and soldiers of the time-consuming and labor intensive process of sorting and allocating random donated items. Kits are wildly popular among Iraqis, who often request them."

Capt. Cager suggests each Kit be assembled according to the following list of items. Please enclose NO additional items, and be sure that all items are new and unused. Pack only the listed supplies in a in a 2-gallon sized zipper seal plastic bag.

· One pair of blunt-end scissors (#337642 - $.87 ea)

· One 12-inch ruler with metric markings (#133507 - $.37 ea)

· 12 new pencils with erasers (#107580 - 12/$.68 or #733601 - 72/$2.98)

· One small pencil sharpener (#501833 - $.68)

· One large eraser (#485185 - 3/$1.59)

· One box of colored pencils (Crayons melt in Iraqi heat!) (#274984 - 12 pencils for $2.78)
· One package of notebook paper (#589483 - 150 sheets/$1.20)

· One composition book (#588268 - 100 pages/ $1.74)

· Three folders with inside pockets (#433664 - 10/$3.18)

· One zippered pencil pouch (#434357 - $1.76)

These items, priced from Office Depot's web site, ,can be assembled for about $12. Add $3 for postage, and the kits run about $15 each.

If you would like to participate, please send me an email, post your email address as a comment on today's blog entry, or call 501-318-8222 for details how to donate.
 Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Day 118 - Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow

Every morning, I wonder how to keep scores of deaths from becoming just so many numbers. How can we read the names without thinking, 'At least it wasn't one from our unit'? How do we appropriately honor these sacrifices without sacrificing our own sanity?

Cheri Fuller, writing for Focus on the Family, makes the following suggestion how to pray for our troops:

As the violence in Iraq escalates, it is more important than ever to pray for our soldiers on a daily basis.

Consider gathering a group at your church or home to pray. One church in Washington state has a specific time each month for military families to pray for their husbands, sons and daughters who are deployed. Usually, 60-80 other people show up. Stateside families are deeply grateful somebody cares enough to pray and help them carry the burden they feel for their loved one.

Pray with your children for the soldiers in war zones.

A wonderful way to pray for a soldier is to use "Five Blessings."

Think of the word BLESS to cover a soldier with prayer.

B stands for BODY. Pray for physical protection, safety and health.

L stands for LABOR. Pray for them to do their job well, with skill and wisdom.

E stands for EMOTIONAL Pray for their emotional health.

S stands for SOCIAL Pray for their marriage, the parent-child relationship (deployments are hard on marriages & with parents away for months; the children can feel distant or abandoned and have trouble understanding why dad or mom isn't there.) Pray for God to fill the gaps of the love needed with His love while the parent is away.

S stands for SPIRITUAL Pray for them to know God, put their trust in God, and experience His unfailing love for them even in the great difficulties they face in a war zone, for spiritual renewal for our troops, for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan-and for all of the soldiers to come home safely to their families.

Even if you don't entirely support the strategy or operation in Iraq, there are still thousands of servicemen and women who are daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, moms and dads in need of encouragement, support and intercession.

In Iraq, insurgents have killed at least 440 people in just over two weeks since Iraq's first democratically elected government was announced. This list, released by the Department of Defense, identies recent U. S. Military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, but does not include nine more Marines killed in Operation Matador over the weekend. Consider praying for the families of several of these soldiers each day during the coming week.

* Army Pfc. Kenneth E. Zeigler II, 22, of Dillsburg, Pa., died May 12 in Baghdad, Iraq, when a bomb detonated near his military vehicle.
* Army Sgt. Andrew R. Jodon, 27, of Karthaus, Pa., died May 12 in Samarra, Iraq, when a bomb detonated near his military vehicle.
* Army Sgt. John M. Smith, 22, of Wilmington, N.C., died May 12 in Iskandariyah, Iraq, from injuries from an explosion near his vehicle.

* Army Staff Sgt. Samuel T. Castle, 26, of Naples, Texas, died May 11 in Al Asad, Iraq, in an explosion.
* Marine Staff Sgt. Kendall H. Ivy II, 28, of Crawford, Ohio, was killed May 11 by an explosion while conducting combat operations in Karabilah, Iraq.
* Marine Lance Cpl. John T. Schmidt III, 21, of Brookfield, Conn., died May 11 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, on Jan. 30.
* Marine Lance Cpl. Wesley G. Davids, 20, of Dublin, Ohio, died May 11 from an explosion while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Karabilah, Iraq.

* Army 1st Sgt. Michael J. Bordelon, 37, of Morgan City, La., died May 10 from injuries suffered when a suicide bomber hit his Stryker on April 23 in Mosul.
* Marine Staff Sgt. Anthony L. Goodwin, 33, of Mount Holly, N.J., was killed May 9 in fighting near Al Qaim, Iraq.
* Marine Lance Cpl. Taylor B. Prazynski, 20, of Fairfield, Ohio, was killed by an explosion May 9 in Al Karmah, Iraq.
* Marine Pfc. Stephen P. Baldwyn, 19, of Saltillo, Miss., died May 9 of wounds from an explosion in fighting in Nasser Wa Salaam, Iraq.

* Army Spec. Steven R. Givens, 26, of Mobile, Ala., died May 8 in Balad, Iraq, from enemy small-arms fire.
* Army Staff Sgt. Thor H. Ingraham, 24, of Murrysville, Pa., died May 8 in Khalidiyah, Iraq, when a roadside bomb hit his Humvee.
* Army Pfc. Nicolas E. Messmer, 20, of Franklin, Ohio, also was killed May 8 in the Humvee in Khalidiyah.
* Army Sgt. Gary A. Eckert Jr., 24, of Toledo, Ohio, died May 8 from wounds suffered in Samarra when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee.
* Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas C. Kirven, 21, of Richmond, Va., was killed May 8 fighting insurgents in Alishang, Afghanistan.

* Marine Cpl. Richard P. Schoener, 22, of Hayes, La., also died May 8 in the Alishang fighting.
* Marine Cpl. Dustin A. Derga, 24, of Columbus, Ohio, died May 8 as the result of enemy small-arms fire while conducting combat operations in Ubaydi, Iraq.
* Marine Lance Cpl. Lawrence R. Philippon, 22, of Hartford, Conn., died May 8 from enemy small-arms fire in the vicinity of Al Qaim.
* Marine Sgt. Aaron N. Cepeda Sr., 22, of San Antonio, died May 7 from explosions as a result of enemy action while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province.

* Marine Lance Cpl. Lance T. Graham, 26, of San Antonio, also died May 7 from the explosions in Al Anbar Province.
* Marine Lance Cpl. Michael V. Postal, 21, of Glen Oaks, N.Y., also died May 7 from the explosions in Al Anbar Province.
* Marine Sgt. Michael A. Marzano, 28, of Greenville, Pa., was killed May 7 by a suicide car bomber in Hadithah, Iraq.

 Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Day 117 - Barefootin' It

Here's the latest news from Wayne's Forward Operating Base (FOB):

1. The area had three big sandstorms Thursday.
2. One hour after they were scheduled to perform, the USO show called to cancel.
3. The first phones arrived, but there is no power to run them.
4. Temperature in the tents is 106 degrees.
5. One soldier found a scorpion crawling on the wall of his tent yesterday.
6. A truck driver bringing supplies to the base was killed by an IED yesterday.

Here's the latest news from Wayne:

1. The chow hall has new chairs and tables.
2. The base is getting a new workout area.
3. The Iraqi children need shoes.

"The skin on the bottom of their feet is nearly an inch thick," he marveled. "It has to be, so that the children can walk on the rocks and hot sand. To have shoes is a very big deal. I wish we could collect some shoes."
 Posted by Hello

Friday, May 13, 2005

Day 116B - Chill, Baby.

Good now: Free Jr Frosty at Wendy's. May 13th, 14th, and 15th. No purchase necessary.

 Posted by Hello

Day 116 - Tube Test

I've decided being the family member of a soldier is a lot like being a tube of toothpaste. When the squeeze is on, whatever's inside-good or bad-is coming out!

Reading the 155th Family Readiness Group's chat room posts at least provides the comfort of knowing I'm not the only one who's in the grip of growth these days. Thank God, not everybody screams "Get Over It!" at the same time, although that's a pretty common motto.

Here's some great advice from author Alan Weiss for those times when you are legitimately angry-(a promise not kept, a dangerous behavior, a stubborn pet, etc.).

Immediately apply perspective. Is this life-threatening or
career-ending? If it isn't of that magnitude, then put the incident
in the proper light.

Act rapidly only if you can prevent further harm. If the behavior
is already past, then reflect on what action you should take.

Ask for insights. Go to a few people you trust who you know will
provide candid feedback, and see if there is a commonality or pattern to their advice.

Don't beat yourself up. You're probably not to blame and, even if
you could have prevented the problem, it no longer matters. Deal with the present and future, not the past.

Don't generalize a specific. Failure to meet a commitment does
not equate to difficulty dealing with women, and a poorly chosen word doesn't mean that someone else is out to destroy your career. Separate isolated incidents from repetitive patterns of behavior.

Act logically, not emotionally. Cool down. Leave your ego out of
the decision making process. Take some time. Disagreements are usually about objective differences, but feuds comprise blind hatred caused by emotions run amok.

Learn to apologize, accept apologies, and GET OVER IT (emphasis mine),especially within the family. A thrice-divorced man once asked how my wife and I could have avoided arguing through 30+ years of marriage. His assumption was that, once you argue, things are never the same, which might just explain his personal divorce rate.

Create and/or identify your anger relief outlets.They may include
walking the dog, reading some favorite literature, going to the movies, or working on a hobby. The outlet will channel energy and calm you. (Not recommended: driving, performing surgery, contact sports, or running heavy equipment.)

Look for a positive. Can you be seen as a peace-keeper or a problem
solver? Are you now able to raise an issue that heretofore was off-limits? Can you alleviate some stress? There usually is some silver lining.

Learn something. How can you avoid being in the same position of
causing anger and pain? What's the gift you've been given in terms of preventing this from happening to you or someone else again?

A free monthly newsletter about balancing life, work, and relationships based on the books and popular workshops conducted by Alan Weiss, Ph.D. This excerpt from No. 69, May 2005.

Past copies are archived on his web site:

Copyright 2005 Alan Weiss. All rights reserved.
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Monday, May 09, 2005

Day 112 - When You Least Expect It!

Nashville's Parthenon Posted by Hello

Day 112 - When You Least Expect It!

When the cell phone rang Saturday afternoon, I was seated at the foot of the Greek goddess Athena inside the Parthenon, a structure originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition. This replica of the original Parthenon in Athens is located at the heart of Nashville's Centennial Park and serves as a monument to classical architecture.

Everybody else on the press tour who might have been disgusted at my lack of manners cheered when they found out Wayne was calling his mom a day early to wish her Happy Mother's Day!

Talking to Wayne, I felt like Athena-nearly 42 feet tall! With only 12 inches between the top of her helmet and the ceiling beams, her weight is estimated at 12 tons. She holds a 6'4" statue of Nike, goddess of victory, in her right hand. Nike, holding a wreath of victory, is preparing to crown Athena.

Imagine my surprise when a reporter from Little Rock's Channel 4, KARK, called next to say they had picked up the AP story of Shelia Biffle's coup with Paramount Cards to provide cards for the troops to send on Mother's Day, and would I please wait to open my card on camera when I landed at the airport?

Our thanks to KARK's Melissa and her cameraman, Everett, for the great job they did
capturing long distance love between a mother and her grown soldier son.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Day 107-B - Shots, Schools and Sandstorms

Soldiers from the 155th are currently working to help assess the needs of a nearby medical clinic. According to SFC Kevin Kelly, the clinic is near a school, where the soldiers were able to talk to teachers and interact with a group of students.

"We gave out a lot of toys and tons of candy to the kids. It's amazing to see how receptive they are to us, and it seems to get better every day. Although we are starting to recognize certain kids that are always coming up to us, we still don't let our guard down."

Families and friends of soldiers from Louisiana have set up a great website to collect support their soldiers' efforts to help school children in Iraq. Perhaps someone in our group has this kind of talent.
In other news, the recent combination of sand and water hasn't conjured up images of beautiful beaches in Iraq.

Describing yesterday's new sandstorm, SFC Kelly says, "It started last night and lasted well until this morning. We had people pulling observation post duty in the middle of it and it was pretty nasty for them. At one time, the wind was blowing so hard that it was actually making a TANK shake. I hope you can get some idea of how strong that is. It was also thundering, lightening and raining. During all of this, we heard B Co.'s Tactical Operations Center tent came down on them! I'm sure that was a lot of fun. Everyone spent the day trying to sweep all the dust and dirt out of their living areas."

Any word on getting phones at this location?

"From what I understand," Kelly continues, "Sen. Trent Lott's assistant called the Pentagon to ask why everyone else has phones except for us. I believe the Pentagon is supposed to call her back sometime this week to let her know the status of our requests. Everyone here can only hope that the calling campaing will finally get us some phones here."
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Day 107 - Shelia Biffle, Mother's Day Hero

When Shelia Biffle received 3500 Mother’s Day cards from Paramount Greetings a few weeks ago, she stayed up all night preparing to ship them to Iraq for soldiers to send back in time for Mother's Day.

Not wanting soldiers to have to count cards, Shelia bundled them in groups of 100, ensuring all units would get what they needed. Then she re-boxed the bundles with a cover letter in each box, letting the soldiers know the cards had been donated by Paramount. And then she shipped them out!

The most amazing thing is Shelia's hubby is "former" Guard. She didn't do this for "her" soldier. She did this out of the big heart she has for the soldiers of the 155th and their families!

Here's one mighty grateful mom holding the card her son sent addressed to, "My Momma."

Happy Mother's Day, indeed.
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