Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Iraq War News-from the front 

Back in Kirkuk. A bit of civilization… Although, first night back we made
three bunker runs in 45 minutes. First one was real, the second two were
“malfunctions”. Apparently, the rocket hit, then “skipped” off post, because
it wasn’t found. Then again, it might be lurking around somewhere. It hit
between the K9 compund and the “pool” ( a group of about 15 inflatable
kiddie pools. We have a real pool, but this is for those times whenyou just
can’t wait.

The Iraqi Army base that is being built is what I am working on now. We
drive out every day and have some great security guys from South Africa and
a few Kurdish “shooters”. The shooters ride in the back of the pickup and
smooth the way for us in the Land Rover Defender. Not a bad vehicle, but a
little rough riding. Pierre, one of the S.A. guys drives and always tells us
that "the brakes are bad, the shocks are shot, and the driver is delirious."

Job is interesting and I work some good people – Iraqis and Americans. We
are building bridges of understanding and mutual respect through these
projects and the base and water treatment plant we are also building are
letting the Iraqis know we care about their welfare. Its too bad some do not
see that and focus only on the negative.

Well, that’s about it from here. Thank you all again for your thought and
prayers. They are appreciated.

Kirkuk, Iraq
Camp Cuervo (for a tequila drinker, this is quite ironic)

Iraq War News


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Don't Count The Days 

From Matt at Blackfive

The following is an email from a Marine Staff Sergeant who has been fighting around Najaf over the last two weeks. Kevin is a Reservist from Nashville and one of the most fearsome combat multipliers on the battlefield - he's a Sniper.

Family and Friends, On August 12th my Lt got a phone call from 1st Marine
Division, Gen. Mattis!
Once again he called upon 3/24 Scout Snipers. I get
called into the Col.’s Office around 1400 on the 12th. "Pack your s---"
he tells me? Where we going sir? An Najaf to fight against Sadr's militia.
We are ttached to the 11th MEU, BLT 1/4, Scout Sniper Platoon. By 2200 that
night my ntire platoon was sitting on the runway waiting for our 53 (helo).
We flew from Q to FOB Duke south of TQ. When we landed we had two 46's
(helo) waiting for us ueled and ready.(this is not normal VIP unless the
big dog is in on it). e flew out of FOB Duke headed for FOB Hotel (Forward
Operating Base: FOB) located in An Najaf. On our way in our birds took RPG
attacks from the ground. Thank GOD they are not good at aiming. The .50 cal
gunners opened up and everyone got a charge for action. We landed at 0200.
Linked up with the watch officer and got settled in???? By noon we were on three
vehicles headed into Najaf with 1/4 snipers to attach to 2/7 Cav from the Army!

What a day! I did not have time as you can see to write or call anyone!

Anyhow, we were attached to 2/7 Cav and teams were being inserted by
that night. The fight was on! We were south of the Al-Imam Ali Shrine (Sadr's
location, and the second most holy shrine. Mohammed's nephew is buried here). By
day two we pushed up north several blocks and set up another position. THis
time,being on top of the bldg you could see the Mosque! It is Huge. Gold covered
top, with three towers flanking it. Sadr was injured the day we arrived and by
the second day he was giving a speech at 2300 from the Mosque. The guy is crazy!
Needless to say we were supporting 2/7 Cav and their advancement towards the
mosque. Navy SEAL sniper team came in and operated with our teams. Hell,
every sniper in the service was called upon.

No Callaterial damage to the mosque! What better way to do that. However, everyone of us had the dope on our guns for the damn place! Ha! 18 +3 holding 1 mil. If I am going to take one over here I am knocking off some gold on that damn dome! Ha!

Anyhow, we faught for 6 days straight. We ran out so fast we only had on our backs the uniform we were wearing. as the days progressed, so did our odor.

I had to tie my socks down at night so they would not walk away! Ha! During the day you sweet, During the evening you sweet, and again in the night. We had some
close calls. The 5th day I was sitting manning the radio and a mortar round
landed 12ft from me and another Marine on top of our bldg ledge. It blew the
window glass out and I got some debris blown on my right hand, I was lucky
because one of the Marines had his blouse hanging over my shoulder and it took
most of the glass. I was behind a wall so most of the shrapnel hit the wall. One
of the Lcpl's was setting the radio and took some glass to his head and
face. He had just lowered his head below the wall when it hit so he lucked
out with only a few pieces of glass. I lost some hearing for about an hour!
I'll take that any day. I looked at the impact later that day and it was amazing how close it was!

We loaded up and moved to another bldg. They had registered our bldg with mortars so we did not want to take any more casualties. While we were waiting they brought in 4 civilian boys who were struck by a mortar! It was terrible.

We moved our loaction to the other bldg and at 0300 I finally got some sleep, just to be awaken by RPG's at 0700! Ha! I gave up on the sleep.

These guys started out on the roof tops and by the time day one was over...........you never saw anyone on top of the roofs again! We dominated the roof tops. That was our mission. Tanks rolling in needed cover from the tops. Apache helo's did
HELLFIRE missions right over us. It was amazing. AC 130 did night runs and
the light show was awsome. The only thing lit at night was the mosque. By
day six they had brought in the army SF and SOCOM Snipers. We were no longer
needed for their fight. The boys did well and completed their mission. We
had shots out to 1800m on some Forward Observers. I had a Sgt record a shot
at 1200m with his M40A1. To you who don't know - this is impressive!

We came back to our FOB Hotel and was looking to get some rest before heading
in with the BLT 1/4. Not so, that same night I sent out a team to support
fighting in Kufa! Another town adjacent to Najaf full of radicals. Each night now we have supported the BLT and each night they have been engaged heavily. They return dirty and tired but they get some sleep and head right back out the door.

The boys have earned their spot! When we always arrive they look at us like, "Reservist"? They now want our support any chance they get! It feels good.

You can't tell the Marines are Reservist.......you can tell they are Marines!

So, I sit here outside hooked up to a wire sending a message to all so that you know where I am and what we are doing. Peace talks are useless with these groups. They
have had peace talks the entire time I have been here, and everyday we have
fought? Anyhow, I will be here for about another 2weeks. I will keep intouch
the best I can. Pray for the boys of 3/24 snipers and that we make it back
to our unit safely.

Brian, I read your email today? I did not know we lost a Marine in India company? I will try and find out what happen. I know I was getting ready for the INDOC, but then this came up. I'm sure Lewzader is standing post at my base! Ha! They were flying in the next day for the INDOC. Cpl McCormick? I would have to find out what platoon he was with. I have been gone from the company for so long I don't remember who is who anymore. It is sad to hear and toward the end of the deployment as well. That's why I won't count the days!

Tell everyone I said hello and to pray. Christa, tell Brianna and Kevin I love them and I will call them when I get the chance. I will see them soon.

I will be home soon.

Love Kevin


Thursday, August 19, 2004

A Southern California Packing Party 

August 19, 2004

Hello Angels! I am sure you have all heard by now that we have adopted two new military hospitals in Southern California, Camp Pendleton and Balboa Naval Hospital. With great anticipation of this great and honorable task we have begun to supply our local group of soldiers with necessities such as underwear, socks, paints, and hygiene supplies.

Also included were phone cards, games, DVD’s and other related items. All supplies were gathered and put into welcome backpacks for the incoming soldiers. Last Friday, these packages were put together generously by our Southern California Angels headed by Kara Root and Debe Tomney. All of these Angels were fantastic personally creating each and every package as well as writing their thanks and appreciation.

Thank you for all that attended, and thank you for all of the supplies generosity donated.
No “… Soldier, Marine, Sailor or Airman [will] go unloved” here in the Camp Pendleton and Balboa Navel Hospitals.

Visit Soldiers' Angels today.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Follow Up to Sgt. Galvan 

Sgt Hook:

I didn’t know that SGT Galvan’s dad is a retired Army Master Sergeant, a peer, nor did I know that he reads Sgt Hook. I was deeply moved by his comment and sent him an email asking if he would like that I post his message on the front page to help he and his wife to respond with their gratitude to all of the well wishers, most of whom they’ve never met, or ever will.

Read it all here...


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

U.S. Army troops of the 1st Cavalry Division 

U.S. Army troops of the 1st Cavalry Division prepare to probe defenses on the edge of Najaf's old town, August 17, 2004. Iraqi political and religious leaders trying to end a radical Shi'ite uprising flew into Najaf on Tuesday, where U.S. troops and militia fought pitched battles near the country's holiest Islamic sites. REUTERS/Ali Abu Shish
Yahoo%21 News - World Photos - Reuters


Khaleej Times Online-Iraqi peace mission in Najaf starts as Baghdad blast kills seven 

Iraqi peace mission in Najaf starts as Baghdad blast kills seven

17 August 2004

NAJAF, Iraq - Iraqi political and religious leaders trying to end a radical Shi’ite uprising flew into Najaf on Tuesday, where US troops and militia fought pitched battles near the country’s holiest Islamic sites. In Baghdad, insurgents fired a shell into a busy street, killing at least seven people including two children.

The new violence, especially the challenge from radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, highlighted the massive security headaches for interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi barely seven weeks after he took over from US-led occupiers.

The eight-member delegation landed in Najaf on US military helicopters, hoping to persuade the firebrand cleric and his Mehdi Army militia to call off a rebellion that has hit eight southern and central cities and rattled oil markets.

Iraqis meeting at a national conference on Monday to pick an interim assembly agreed to send the team after Sadr’s weekend peace talks with the government collapsed and the cleric vowed to fight to the death from inside a sacred shrine.

“This is not a negotiation. This is a friendly mission to convey the message of the national conference,” delegation head Sheikh Hussein al-Sadr, a distant relative but political opponent of the cleric, told reporters at a military camp on the outskirts of Najaf.

“We want to change the Mehdi Army into a political organisation and to evacuate the Imam Ali shrine with the promise not to legally pursue those taking shelter there. This is what the government and all Iraqis want.”

As the delegation waited at the camp to be driven in civilian cars to the shrine, US troops fired some 20 artillery rounds at militia positions in the city.

The delegation had put off travelling by road to the southern city after insurgents threatened to ambush them.

Aides to the cleric who is the icon of Iraq’s downtrodden Shi’ite masses have said he welcomed the idea of sending the team but have not said whether he will meet the mission.

Speaking during a trip to Turkey, interim President Ghazi al-Yawar called on the militia to stop fighting.

“We in the government are very keen to save any drop of Iraqi blood ... We are still calling on these people to stop this nonsense and join the political process,” Yawar said.


The attack in Baghdad’s bustling Rasheed street wounded 42 people, destroyed at least five cars and left pools of blood on sidewalks. Some officials said a roadside bomb caused the blast.

It followed a mortar attack near the fortified Green Zone compound where the political and religious leaders were meeting to select a 100-member interim national assembly. Officials said it was unclear if there were any casualties from that attack.

While the rebellion has undermined Allawi’s authority, he is walking a tightrope with passions in the majority Shi’ite country at boiling point over US troops fighting near Najaf’s sacred Imam Ali Mosque and a vast ancient cemetery.

Explosions echoed across the old city and thick smoke rose into the sky as US tanks and armoured vehicles took positions near the holy sites where Sadr’s militia are entrenched.

A Reuters photographer was wounded in the leg while covering the fighting. The photographer, an Iraqi, was treated for bullet fragment wounds at a US combat hospital and later released.

The national conference is expected to select the assembly later on Tuesday to oversee the interim government until January elections, but Najaf has dominated the three-day gathering.

Once appointed, the interim assembly will be able to veto legislation with a two-thirds majority, approve Iraq’s 2005 budget, and appoint a new prime minister or president should either resign or die in office.

Clashes also erupted overnight between the militia and US forces in a poor Shi’ite suburb in Baghdad called Sadr City.

The Health Ministry said 14 people had been killed and 122 wounded in Sadr City in the past 24 hours. Witnesses said two teenage girls were among the dead, killed in US shelling of the slum district where Sadr draws much of his support.

Broadening their uprising from the urban battlefield, the Mehdi Army set an oil well on fire in southern Iraq on Monday, the government said.

The unrest also forced Iraq to keep a main southern oil pipeline shut on Tuesday, reducing export flows by almost half.

The delegation will try to give the cleric a letter, urging him to leave the shrine and turn his militia into a political party.

But the scion of a Shi’ite clerical dynasty, aged about 30 and the most powerful opponent of the United States and the interim government, has shown little sign of compromise.

He has demanded US forces leave Najaf and the government grant an amnesty to his fighters as part of any deal.

Thousands of protesters have joined Sadr in the Imam Ali Mosque, promising to act as human shields in the city of 600,000 people some 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad.

The French fiancee of a US journalist held hostage in Iraq has appealed for his release, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said, adding that Micah Garen’s family had not heard from him since Friday when he disappeared with his translator.

Garen worked for a New-York based production company and was making a documentary on archaeology and the impact of the war.

Khaleej Times Online

Iraq War News
Suspected Militants Kidnap Iraqi Officer-Jazeera: "Suspected militants have kidnapped anIraqi intelligence officer in response to the fighting in theholy city of Najaf, Al Jazeera television reported on Tuesday. (Reuters)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

Journalist, Translator Kidnapped in Iraq: "A Western journalist and his Iraqi translator were kidnapped by two armed men in a busy market in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, police said Monday. (AP)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

Iraq delegates urge al-Sadr to end fight: "The deadly showdown between U.S. troops and Iraqi militants in Najaf dominated Iraq's national conference Monday, with tribal and religious leaders deciding to send 60 delegates to the holy city to persuade a radical Shiite cleric to call off his fighters."

In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Tanks closing in on Shrine in IraqWar.info

Israel may try to break hunger strike: "Israeli jailers may try to break a Palestinian hunger strike with barbecues, hoping the aroma of grilling meat will wear down security prisoners protesting conditions and demanding more access to their families."

In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

2 more Turkish men taken hostage in Iraq: "Armed assailants attacked a convoy of Turkish trucks delivering supplies to U.S. forces in Iraq and took two Turkish drivers hostage, their company said Monday."

In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Israel deports pro-Palestinian American: "An Israeli court ordered a pro-Palestinian American activist deported from the country Monday, the latest move against a foreign group opposing Israeli military activity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."

In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

U.N. official urges political independence: "The United Nations should find ways to demonstrate political independence, regain the neutrality it lost after the Sept. 11 attacks and better communicate with the world's 1 billion Muslims, a top U.N. official said Monday."

In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Isolated clashes in Najaf, national conference delays Sadr mission: "Clashes dragged on in Najaf after delegates from a national conference postponed a trip to the holy city in a bid to coax rebel leader Moqtada Sadr back from the brink before a threatened US-led assault. (AFP)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

Militants Give El Salvador 20 Days to Leave Iraq: "An Islamist grouphas given El Salvador 20 days to pull out troops from Iraq orit would strike inside the Central American country and againstits forces in Iraq, according to an Internet statement postedMonday. (Reuters)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

Iraqi delegates delay mission to coax militia out of Najaf shrine: "At least 50 delegates from a key national conference delayed for a day their mission to persuade militia leader Moqtada Sadr to vacate Najaf's holy shrine as fighting resumed in the central Iraqi city. (AFP)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq







Conflict in Najaf Dominates Iraq Political Meet: "Iraqi leaders met for a second day onMonday to pick an interim national assembly but fighting inNajaf dominated the event, piling pressure on Prime MinisterIyad Allawi to hold more talks with Shi'ite rebels. (Reuters)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

Iraqi delegates prepare to leave to coax militia out of Najaf shrine: "At least 50 delegates from a key national conference prepared to drive to Najaf, confident they could persuade militia leader Moqtada Sadr to vacate the city's holy shrine, said a participant. (AFP)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

Delegates Urge Al-Sadr to Leave Shrine: "U.S. tanks rolled into the Old City of Najaf toward a holy Shiite shrine where militants were hiding Monday as participants at a national conference voted to send a delegation here to try to negotiate an end to the fighting. (AP)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

Militants Give El Salvador 20 Days to Quit Iraq: "An Islamist group has given El Salvador20 days to pull out troops from Iraq or it would strike insidethe Central American country and against its forces in Iraq,according to an Internet statement posted Monday. (Reuters)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq



Monday, August 16, 2004

SGT Galvan- Soldier/Hero 


We’ve all been asked to give of ourselves for this deployment fighting the War on Terror. To give a year apart from our families, to miss our kids’ birthdays, to mark the passing of our anniversaries alone, to imagine the commencements, soccer goals, first words, and so much more for the defense of our nation. We’ve all been asked, and we’ve all answered the call. Some have answered the call by giving more, by making the ultimate sacrifice. SGT Daniel Lee Galvan has given his all.

I attended a memorial service for SGT Galvan earlier today, held in the small base chapel built of plywood and faith. At the front, on the altar was placed a pair of combat boots with the business end of an M4 carbine, bayonet affixed, stuck between the boots and an aviator’s flight helmet perched on the weapon’s stock. Row’s of seats silently filled up with soldiers dressed in desert camouglage uniforms and flight suits while music played softly from the rear of the sparse room. Precisely at 1000z, the music stopped and a young soldier entered the room, stopping adjacent to the shrine of boots, rifle, and helmet and began playing a moving rendition of Amazing Grace on his bagpipes. The Chaplain then gave the invocation as we all rose to our feet and remained standing as two young female soldiers sang the most incredible version of the Star Spangled Banner, a cappella, all four stanzas. It was a beautiful duet and I thought quite appropriate.

Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wiped out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

This was followed by a handful of soldiers paying tribute to their fallen comrade by sharing their personal experiences with SGT Glavan and a fellow crewdog delivered the eulogy through teary eyes and a tight throat. Then, SGT Galvan’s first sergeant stood at the altar, rigid at the position of attention and began calling the roll. He barked a soldier’s name and received the response, “Here first sergeant!” And another, and another. Then he said in a loud, clear voice, “SGT Galvan.” The silence was crushing. “SGT Daniel Galvan.” I could hear my heart pounding. “SGT Daniel Lee Galvan.” The silence hung in the air until it was broken by the retort of an eighteen gun salute being fired outside the chapel. Following the third volley, a lone bugler went right into taps.

Afterwards my mind was full of thoughts. Thoughts about the soldier, the husband, and the father who had died so that people in Texas, New York, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, and elsewhere could enjoy the freedoms we’re so accustomed to. His children gave their dad so that the children of Afghanistan might have a future devoid of war and oppression. And then I thought of my soldiers and their families. Had I trained them hard enough? Am I keeping them focused? Do they have the equipment they need? Are their families cared for? Will the day come when I’ll have to stand up and call the roll? Rest in peace SGT Galvan, you are a true American hero, I’m proud of you.

Sgt Hook out.


Friday, August 13, 2004

Babalu Blog: BlogCuba - Sgt Hook 

Babalu Blog: BlogCuba - Sgt Hook

Pete Martin’s daydreaming was interrupted by the whoosh of an incoming rocket followed by an explosion that rocked his world throwing him from his cot which landed on top of him, he spit dirt from his mouth. His ears ringing, Private First Class Martin reacted instinctively as his training had taught him, running from the tent and tripping over the private who had been assigned to guard him. He was dead. The sound of AK47s firing kept him from dwelling on the dead Soldier at his feet, he grabbed his guard’s M4 and magazines and ran to the HESCO wall of the FOB. A 240B machine gun began returning fire from the observation tower twenty meters to his left. Another rocket hit inside the compound, this time taking out their ammunition supply point throwing dirt and shrapnel everywhere. Pete felt his flesh burn as pieces of hot metal pierced his back. The enemy fire increased on the other side of the wall. The FOB was devoid of people, where the hell were all the Soldiers?

Read more here...

Thanks Hook.


Sunday, August 08, 2004

Need A Laugh? 

Need a Laugh? From our friend Sgt. Hook:

After every flight, pilots fill out a form called a gripe sheet, which conveys to the mechanics problems encountered with the aircraft during the flight that need repair or correction. The mechanics read and correct the problem, and then respond in writing on the lower half of the form what remedial action was taken, and the pilot reviews the gripe sheets before the next flight. Some actual excerpts from said gripe sheets…

(P = The problem logged by the pilot.)
(S = The solution and action taken by the mechanics.)

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Auto pilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S. That’s what they’re there for.

P: IFF inoperative.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you’re right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.

Thanks Doug. Sgt Hook out.

Thanks Hook!!


Thursday, August 05, 2004

Band of Sisters 

Marine Corps Times - News - This Week's Marine Corps Times

RAMADI, Iraq — When Marines on the hunt for insurgents here kick in the door, Spc. Shannon Morgan isn’t far behind. She’s part of “Team Lioness,” a small group of women proving itself in one of Iraq’s hottest combat zones.
Women are serving throughout the war zone, but the soldiers in this band of sisters are unique. They’re joining male Marines and soldiers on offensive ops, taking part in raids, security patrols and vehicle checkpoints.

The women are not walking point or leading infantry squads in the assault, but their secondary role is no less important to the success or failure of a mission here. They accompany the infantrymen to conduct body searches of Iraqi women, allowing U.S. forces to hunt for insurgents while not offending the citizens they seek to win over.

These women are helping to win the peace in this still restive city, but the significance of what they’re doing goes beyond the war zone. By joining men on the offense, they are blurring the traditional lines that have kept women in combat-support roles and out of harm’s way.

But in the counter-insurgency fight now being waged in Iraq, a war with no front lines and no traditional “rear,” just about anywhere outside the wire qualifies as “harm’s way.” And the women here are in the thick of it.

Read more here...


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Two Miracles for Soldier's Family 

Buffalo News - Two miracles for soldier's family

Family of Army Spc. John Pirinelli, shot in Iraq, is hoping for a miracle.

With one miracle behind them, the family of critically wounded Army Spc. John Pirinelli hopes for a second miracle of recovery at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
The 23-year-old soldier from the Niagara County hamlet of Bergholz was shot in the back while on patrol in Iraq last Wednesday. After he was stabilized at a field hospital near Tikrit, he was flown to Europe and is just starting to come out of a drug-induced coma.

It took something of a miracle to get two of four family members from the Buffalo area to his bedside on short notice, and now they are making a public appeal for prayer to save the soldier's life.

"When John's doctor called us Sunday to come to Germany, he painted a horribly grim picture, but now it is Tuesday and his surgeon says, "It's miraculous this boy is still alive,' " Rise Pirinelli, the mother of the soldier, said in a telephone interview moments after leaving her son's bedside late Tuesday.

She said she is convinced that prayer has already helped her son - a giant of a man at 6-feet, 6-inches tall and 230 pounds - survive the trip to Germany.

Read more here...


U.S. Army troops of the 1st Infantry Division stand  

U.S. Army troops of the 1st Infantry Division stand over an automobile engine thrown by the blast of a suicide car bomber, where six Iraqi National Guardsmen were killed and six wounded at a checkpoint outside Baquba, August 3, 2004. Baquba, 40 miles north of Baghdad, has been the scene of numerous insurgent strikes in recent months, including a suicide car bomb last week that killed 70 people. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Yahoo! News - World Photos - Reuters


Up-armored vehicles offer 24th MEU convoys more protection 

Up-armored vehicles offer 24th MEU convoys more protection

Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon
Civilian contractors work to install a gunner's shield atop a humvee from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit at an armor installation facility in Kuwait July 17.

The gunner's shield is part of the new up-armor being placed on the MEU's vehicles. Up-armor offers the Marines in the vehicle 360 degrees of protection by covering the gunner's turret, undercarriage and side of the vehicle.

The MEU is currently in Kuwait conducting training and making final preparations for their deployment to Iraq.

by Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon
24th MEU

CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait (July 18, 2004) -- In a large warehouse outside of Kuwait City civilian contractors from more than 25 countries around the world work in two, 12-hour shifts seven days a week.

They are working around the clock in temperatures reaching 120 degrees to ensure U.S. Marines are protected from improvised explosive devices and small-arms fire during convoy operations by installing new panels, dubbed up-armor, to the gunner's turret, undercarriage and sides of their vehicles.

Beginning July 16, more than 60 Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement seven-ton trucks and humvees from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit have been fitted with the new armor plates.

"Since February we have installed more than 5,000 kits on Marine Corps vehicles," said Chief Warrant Office 2 Eric Gilmer, who hails from Columbus, Ohio, and is a project team leader from Logistics Command, Marine Corps Base Albany, Ga. "The guys in my shop call this 'Operation Armor All.'"

According to Gilmer, the up-armor project began in February when Marine commanders wanted 100 percent side protection on their vehicles. Headquarters Marine Corps sent a request to Logistics Command to come up with a design for the new armor.

Within 28 days of the request, the new up-armor had been prototyped, tested, approved and installed on vehicles headed to Iraq from the I Marine Expeditionary Force.

After being installed, the new up-armored panels and gunner's shield offer the Marines in the vehicle 360 degrees of protection.

"This stuff really works," said Gilmer. "I have gotten a few e-mails from different Marines and they all said it works great. I have also seen photos, and in every instance no one has died - a few have been hurt, but no deaths."

Even the vehicle operators feel safer just having the armor on there.

"It is comforting to know that most anything can't get through it," said Lance Cpl. Jason Williman, 22, a Los Angeles native and motor vehicle operator from 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines. "Now we don't have to use so many sandbags and it feels a lot safer."

Pfc. Ryan Norstrom, 20, a Greenwich, Conn., native and motor vehicle operator from 1/2 agrees. "The new armor makes it pretty hot in there, but you definitely feel more protected, so I think it is a fair tradeoff."

"I would rather feel safe than comfortable," added Williman. " I have a wife to go home to."

The Marines also agreed they felt more protected from improvised explosive devices and heavy machine gun rounds.

"The survival rate with this armor is tremendous," said Lt. Col. Vincent Coglianese, 44, a Spring Lake, N.J., native and commanding officer of MEU Service Support Group 24. "I know the Marines feel more confident with it on there."

Armed with newfound confidence, the Marines of the 24th MEU will soon put their enhanced armored vehicles to the test as they move from Kuwait to Iraq.

Up-armored vehicles offer 24th MEU convoys more protection


BLACKFIVE Has A New Daughter! 

BLACKFIVE: The Grace of God

Congratulations to the Blackfive family on their newest addition, a baby girl named Gracie.

Gracie was born August 2, 2004.

Seven pounds, thirteen ounces. Twenty inches. She was a week early. So far, she
likes it when I sing "Swinging on a Star" to her. She doesn't much care for being wrapped up. And she's got a healthy appetite.

Everyone is healthy, a bit tired, and very happy.

Thanks for all of your prayers and encouraging words.


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Letters To The Troops 

SlagleRock's Slaughterhouse: Letters To The Troops (Help From All Bloggers)

A close personal friend is about to embark on his first deployment to the Middle East. Let’s send him off with some words of inspiration!

Please write a post/letter to the troops and SlagleRock will make sure it gets to them.

Visit SlagleRock today.


Chief Wiggles: Operation Give DESPERATELY needs your help! 

Chief Wiggles: Operation Give DESPERATELY needs your help!

Hey folks. I, Plunge, come before you writing one of the toughest posts I’ve had to write in a very long time. I’m annoyed, frustrated, sad, angry, disgusted and everything in between.

Let me explain.

Not long ago, I wrote a post asking for your help with a problem with the shipping company, Atlas Line, that we have used to ship all of the donated items to Iraq. The response was wonderful! Many of you called Atlas Line, others wrote email and one person even visited them for us. We thought the problem was solved. We were wrong.

In simple terms, Atlas Line has $30,000 that belongs to Operation Give and we want it back! At the end of this post, I’ll go into a bit more detail for those wanting to understand the situation more fully. For now, here are the simple facts.

Help the Chief and get involved today!


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

Blogarama - The Blog Directory

Hewitt Inspired Blogs

Track referers to your site with referer.org free referrer feed.