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, September 09, 2005

Day 231 - Reel Life

Thirteen Mississippi National Guard soldiers serving in Iraq with the 155th Brigade Combat Team have not heard from their families since before Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29.

The following soldiers had received no information about their families earlier this week:
• Staff Sgt. Terry Seals of Poplarville; hasn't heard from his wife or his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H.B. Seals, also of Poplarville.
• Spc. Travis Hisaw of Pass Christian; hasn't heard from his wife.
• Staff Sgt. Stanley L. Peters of Sandy Hook.
• Spc. Billy T. Smith of Tylertown.
• Sgt. Arron M. Waldrop of Tylertown.
• Spc. Roderick B. Duckworth of Wiggins; hasn't heard from his wife, Chalesha, or his father-in-law, Shelby Kennedy.
• Pfc. Forest Reynolds of Long Beach.
• Sgt. Freddie J. Cagle Jr. of Gulfport.
• Sgt. Robert B. Hance of Pascagoula.
• Spc. Kimberly E. Garrett of Collins.
• Sgt. Paul Decoronado of Ocean Springs.
Anyone with information for the soldiers can call the American Red Cross at (877) 272-7337 or the Hattiesburg American at (601) 584-3111 to have information forwarded to the soldiers. (We posted the list on several discussion boards as well as Outside the Beltway "Traffic Jam.")

After a year of duty in Iraq, the soldiers of Louisiana’s 256th should be looking forward to a joyous homecoming. Now, because of Katrina, many of the soldiers may be coming back to find their homes and their jobs washed away by the hurricane. Officials said the Army intends to keep the soldiers activated as a way of providing support for individuals who lived in the storm-damaged region.

An official explained this process will provide affected soldiers with housing or housing stipends. Soldiers whose homes are standing and who have jobs to go back to will be released from active duty.

A similar arrangement may be made for the soldiers of Wayne’s group, the Mississippi National Guard's 155th Brigade Combat Team, due to rotate back to the United States in early 2006.


Sunday night, September 11, at 8 p.m. CST, park your family in front of the television for Discovery Channel’s presentation of The Flight That Fought Back. Blogger Arthur Crenkoff says the story of Flight 93 is extraordinary, not to be missed.

"You simply cannot miss it," he continues. "I never type in capitals to make a point, but you can take it that I am now. Extensively researched and drawing on some previously unpublished information, The Flight That Fought Back provides the most complete and comprehensive recreation of events onboard Flight 93. It's a stunning, immensely moving production…."

"The film, part re-enactment, part interview with family members, fleshes out the stories of those ordinary men and women who had found themselves in a situation that was far from ordinary, and who performed, too, in a way that was far from ordinary...
This is the reason why the Islamofascists cannot win - because ordinary people, our brothers, sisters, parents, children, friends - can and will rise up to the challenge when the circumstances call.”

Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette agrees. “This is a story with power, it will move you, and I think after watching the film you'll find yourself in the state I'm in, unable to find any words that can express the experience."

Check your local listings to confirm air time. Until then, if you're close enough to get to Hot Springs this weekend, check out the 2005 Hot Springs Jazzfest! We're hoping a lively outdoor festival with great music will help our Katrina friends from south Louisiana feel a little better!