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.

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.

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