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.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Day 210 - Sole Mates

Yesterday, we received this email from Wayne thanking everybody who collected and sent shoes for the Iraqi children:

Please tell Mrs. Wagner the last box of shoes we got was from a family in MO. I think their last name was Wheatley. Either way, the shoe drive has been nothing less than a huge success. I bet we've passed out nearly 1000 pairs of shoes from everyone that has sent them.

You have no idea how much the efforts have been appreciated, not only by the kids and families receiving them, but also by us as Americans in a not-so-welcoming place. These shoes give us a reason to interact with the locals and show them that we are not here to harass them, but to help them. So thank you to everybody who has participated in this incredible event.

When the phone rang this morning, we were thrilled to hear Wayne’s peppy voice on the other end.

“I don’t know when I’ve slept so much,” he chirped. “If I’m not working, eating or working out in the gym, I’m sleeping—-just to make the time go by faster until I come home on leave!”

Nearly everything he said this morning made me laugh. It was good to hear Wayno-Wayno in such fine form.
“I’ve got two mottos,” he concluded, “Life only gets better and I’m full of surprises…Let’s just say that living with mortars and IED’s pretty much puts everything in perspective.”
Choosing to smile has benefits, according to Malcolm Gladwell. In his latest book, Blink, Gladwell says, "What (Silvan Tompkins) discovered is that (facial) expression alone is sufficient to create marked changes in the autonomic nervous system."

Wanna smile right now? Check out the online yodeling course I found right after Wayne’s call.

Claiming the pastime is healthier than yoga or jogging, scientists at Graz University found yodeling eases tension and stress by releasing endorphins, and gives lungs a healthy workout, to boot!

Listen to this!!