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.

Monday, December 31, 2007

A Unique Way to Start the New Year

Years ago, Mary Weeks and I shared a conference hotel room in Houston. While there, a housekeeper severely damaged my cello when she accidentally dropped a heavy iron onto the instrument’s soft-sided case. Mary bought me a first-class hard-sided case to prevent that from happening again. Every time I open the case to play my cello, I remember Mary’s generosity. She’s been an instrument of goodwill to lots of other folks, too.

Mary and I haven't seen each other for a long, long time; but she was a regular reader of Wayne's World while he was in Iraq.
Last year she started her own battle:
Mary Weeks-Ayala, 44, has endured 18 months of chemotherapy to adequately reduce the number of tumors in her liver to make her eligible for surgery. Already part of an elite three percent who survive Stage IV colon cancer past 12 months, Mary now needs money for two operations to keep her alive.

Click here to read Mary's story in her own words.

The short version is side effects from intial surgery and ongoing treatment to reduce the number of tumors in her liver forced Mary to give up her job as an accounting professional. To make matters more difficult, her husband recently lost his forest-products related job.
Their only insurance is an expensive COBRA policy.

At the end of her blog post, Mary and her husband humbly ask for our help now. They need 4,500 people to purchase one gift album from RIBBONS FOR MARY, the online store they set up to earn money to pay for two operations Mary needs to save her life.

Buy a gift. Save a life. Here's how you can help:

1. Click here or copy and past this link into your browser window.

2. OR, if that doesn't work, Click here .
- When the new window opens, click the "General Collections" tab in the top left corner to choose your album.

Thanks for your patience and your compassion.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas from the Wests

Wayne, Lauren and Trey thank all of you for the love and support for the last two years.

Click here to watch their touching Christmas video.

(If the above link doesn't work, try to copy and paste this: )


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tell Them Thanks

Kathy, a regular contributor to our 150th BCT family chat room, introduced us to the "Tell Them Thanks" campaign. Watch this short video, to learn an easy, unintimidating sign to signal your support and to say thank you, whenever and wherever you want to.

This weekend, Myron and I are saying thanks to SSGT Wayne West and his wife, Lauren, for sharing their son, Trey, with us.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Days of Infamy

Within the living memory of Americans are two deadly surprise attacks against the United States: Japan's assault on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Both times, the Library of Congress sent people out to record the voices of ordinary Americans as they reacted to a changed world.

Listen to voices of these Americans reacting to each incident, as produced by American RadioWorks. (Note: This content may require the latest RealPlayer, which is not available on Windows 95, Mac OS9 or Linux systems.)

[A portion of this post has been removed by the author.]

Death is difficult, even under the best of circumstances. One 13-year old boy seems to understand it better than most of us. Listen to Logan's phone call to a local radio station.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Taste of Dixie Thunder

In the wake of Operation Iraqi Freedom, one journalist and one photographer from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal spent 30 days in central Iraq with the 155th Brigade Combat Team to bring everyone back home a taste of Dixie Thunder. We remember well.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Prayers for Sgt. Grayson "Norris" Galatas

While most soldiers attached to the 155th ponder news of their alert status, Sgt. Grayson "Norris" Galatas is still fighting for his life, two years after returning with our brigade.

Sgt. Galatas was wounded April 19, 2005, when the 10-ton Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) he was driving exploded after running over a 155mm artillery round.

Today's email from a concerned 155th aunt asks us to pray for his healing:
SGT Norris Galatas has yet another infection, and now is facing surgery #21! This time his buttocks wounds are infected, not the abdomen, where he just had surgery to clear out an infection there. He has got the staph infection that is going around the country... He has a long road to recovery and still walking it in faith! Please pray for him and his wife, Janis.

If ever I start to feel pressured by the busy-ness of the holidays, I promise to pray for Sgt. Galatas and other wounded warriors instead.

155th Brigade Alert Hits News

Online family discussion boards were active yesterday with news the 155th Brigade Combat Team has been put on alert for possible mobilization in 2009.

In this article, published by the Commercial Dispatch in Columbus, Miss., Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross points out the Department of Defense order is an alert, not a mobilization order - which would mean deployment is imminent. The alert does, however, direct more money and equipment to the unit for training, he says.

Meanwhile, Wayne is now living in Minden, La., completing final exams for his next-to-last semester of college at LSU-Shreveport. He is a Finance major.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

2007 Nutcracker Parade

The 24th Annual Nutcracker Parade is now in formation. One by one, soldiers are snapping to attention, mustering memories as they march to the beat of a distant drum.

Each Christmas since Wayne was born, our family has bought a nutcracker to guard the coming of a new year. Stationed in a position of honor, he heralds our hopes and defends our dreams. In staunch silence, he protects what we hold dear.

Two years ago, our nutcracker parade featured a soldier of honor dressed in army camouflage to welcome Wayne home three days before Christmas.

Today begins a new round of waiting. The phone has rung again. All is quiet, very quiet, on the home front...except for our prayers.