Saturday, December 15, 2007

Merry Christmas from Iraq

This is Debbie Siefert's son Ryan Johnson!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Patriotic Christmas Parade!

Even with the bad weather Saturday, the turnout for the Christmas parade was spectacular. Lots of families and everyone in the Christmas spirit. I think I speak for everyone when I say we had a great time. Our banner illicited several positive comments. A big THANKS to the VFW Women's Auxiliary for allowing us to team up with their float with the Patriotic Christmas theme.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Patriotic Christmas Parade!!!

VFW Auxiliary
Location: Staging Area for Parade South of
200 S. 6th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701 US
View Map | Find a Hotel |
When: Saturday, December 8, 6:00PM
Please join us for a "Patriotic Christmas" entry in the 13th annual Tucson Downtown Parade of Lights.

We will be meeting at a place to be determined and caravan toward the starting location. So, if you would like to meet early and carpool, then email Vicki.

Otherwise, meet us at the starting location. n.

The parade starts at 6 p.m., but we will need to be in place no later than 5 p.m.
Our theme is "Patriotic Christmas," and the float is red, white and blue christmas lights and flags. Please feel free to wear Patriotic Santa Hats if you have them (It will be cold so bundle up in your patriotic christmas outfit). Also, remember it is a light parade, so if you can, purchase a glow stick or glow necklace from the dollar store. :)

THANK YOU and we look forward to seeing you THERE!

Go to for a parade map and festival guide.

As a entry, we will line up on one of the streets East of

6th Ave (13 St-17th St). We will be in place by 5 pm.

*FREE* Live entertainment, food, and children's activities at Armory Park (4-9 pm). This is near where the parade starts and where it ENDS.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Minutes from 11/27/07 meeting

Blue Star Mothers Meeting

November 27, 2007

Debbie Seifert welcomed everyone and called to order at 6:35pm. Debbie led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Minutes of the October 30th meeting were read and approved as corrected. The Treasurer’s Report was given as follows: October balance of $859.00 and expenses of $164.85 for the banner and $170.05 to mail 19 boxes for our Troops. There was a deposit of $34.00 leaving a balance of $533.10.

DebbieS welcomed our guests –

Letty would like to join GSM. Her son is in the Army in Iraq. She works for KGUN9 and may be able to help with publicity.

David Hampton who deals with PTSS, some of troops returning stateside. He thanked the BSMs for their support.

Old Business –

  1. Banner – Turned out very nice and was carried in the Veteran’s Day Parade. Linda Cagle had to redraw the logo as the emailed copy was not clear enough. The cost was $170.05 not $121.00 quoted by Fast Signs. Barbara League has the banner rolled on pvc piping. Barbara’s husband, Russell, suggested purchasing a larger diameter pvc pipe to go over the rolled banner to protect it. Russell also suggested using an length of electrical conduit pole to carry the banner as it is sturdier than pvc pipe.

ACTION: Vicki Payne will locate the original quote and contact Fast Signs regarding the price variance.

ACTION: Barbara will purchase the pvc pipe, electrical conduit pole and submit a bill to the Treasurer.

NOTE: Per DebbieS, the National By-Laws state that the official BSM logo can be used on a banner but cannot be used on a flag.

  1. Veteran’s Parade, November 11th – Everyone had a good time at the parade and got wonderful media coverage. Linda will “capture” the media coverage from the new website and add it to the BSM website.

ACTION: Linda will add media coverage of parade to the BSM website.

  1. Wild Oats on Speedway, November 3rd – There were 20-30 people attending. About 50 boxes were packaged and sent to at $8.95 per box. Postage for the 50 boxes was donated by a local neighborhood. When additional monies are available the remainder of the items will be packaged and sent.

  2. Avon Sales – Bonnie Hall turned in an order to Kimberlee at Avon.

  3. Nominating Committee – National says officers can hold office for 1-2 years. Linda made a motion, Barbara seconded, that the current officers remain in office through 2008. The motion was approved. Barbara made a motion, Linda seconded, that a Nominating Committee be chosen in September 2008 to select candidates for office in 2009-2010. Motion was approved.

  4. Dues – Dues in the amount of $10.00 are due prior to January 1, 2008. $5.00 of the dues goes to National and $5.00 to our Chapter.

  5. Holiday Parade, December 8, 6:00pm – Entries must include the use of lights, glow sticks, etc. Parade starts at 17th Street and 6th Avenue and ends at Armory Park. Mayor Walkup will light the tree at 5:45pm. Diane of FRG (Family Readiness Group) said they may add lights to and use the same float used in the Veteran’s Day Parade.

ACTION: Vicki will contact Diane to see if we can follow their float.

  1. Holiday Party, December 11th, 6:30-8:30pm – The Party will be at the Golden Corral at 715 E. Wetmore Road. Spouses, significant others and children are welcome to attend. Attendees will pay for their own dinner on arrival. Participation in a $10.00 grab bag will be restricted to BSM members.

  2. Team/Committee Sign-ups – Sign-up were as follows:

    1. Courageous Tigers – Fund Raising.

Bonnie Hall – Chair

Carol Herndon

Debbie Seifert

    1. Flying Eagles – Letters and correspondence.

April Bolt

Roxanne Peroldo

Helen Quigley (2nd Choice)

Bonnielee Walsh

Debbie Miller

    1. Gentle Lambs – Emotional/moral support.

Linda Cagle

Deb Davila

Barb League

Bonnielee Walsh

    1. Industrious Ants – Community service.

Bertha Topar

Helen Quigley (1st Choice)

  1. Fundraising –

Bonnie Hall –

    1. Foothills Mall – Lady there was in favor of doing something with a tree where people take a name. She will supply a table that we can decorate for the holiday and where we can display our banner. Helen Quigley suggested “Adopt a Box” as our theme where people can make donations to send boxes to our Troops. Motion was made by Linda, seconded by Barbara, to hold this fundraiser on December 9th from 12n-5pm. Receipts would be given for income tax purposes.

ACTION: Linda – Buy a receipt book and give receipts for future donations.

    1. New Life Health Food – Information was sent to our contact there. Waiting on reply.

DebbieS –

  1. Said she thought 25% of all fundraising should go to National. If we are raising money for our care packages, we may be able to get around this requirement.

ACTION: DebbieS will do more research on this requirement.

  1. Talked with Tucson Mall and Park Place Mall re fundraising booth/table. They said they do not do anything like that.

  2. Will try to contact Jim Click re donations.

ACTION: DebbieS – Contact Jim Click re donations.

New Business –

  1. DAR/SAR – Charli Greenlees read an short article in the California SAR Magazine about a California BSM speaking before the Thomas Jefferson Chapter of the SAR. Offered to act as liaison to the El Presidio DAR Chapter in Tucson after the first of the year and to notify them of our service to our current Troops.

ACTION: Charli will talk with El Presidio DAR Chapter re BSMs after first of year.

  1. Yellow Ribbon Bracelets/Support Our Troops Key rings – DebbieS has them for sale at $1.00 each. The total revenue made from the sale of these items will be donated to BSMs.

  2. Community Calendar – Letty said she would check to see if KGUN9 had something of this sort.

ACTION: Letty will check with KGUN9 re community calendar.

General Discussion –

  1. New BSM Shirts – Mike Greenlees displayed the new BSM shirts available from Tee Time.

  2. VFW Auxiliary – Helen attended a meeting where Kim Sloan and ladies were filling stockings to be sent to our Troops.

  3. “Operation Message” – Channel 4 called Barbara regarding the low turn-out for the Red Cross tapings of messages for Troops for the holiday.

  4. Avon – Kimberlee delivered Bonnie’s order and passed out books for 2 new campaigns. She said we could contact her direct with out orders.

  5. Great News! – Helen’s son will be home on December 15th for his two weeks R&R.

  6. Packaging Boxes – Bonnie mentioned that DebbieM was talking about packaging more boxes on December 1st.

  7. Coffee Get Togethers – These were held on an impromptu basis for a while. Suggestion was to get them going again.

Cares & Concerns –

April Bolt – She is slowly mending after being hit by a car.

California Connection, a PBS Affiliate –

Linda shared a video about 4 injured soldiers and their struggle to regain control of their lives. One of the soldiers is Linda’s son, Eric. (Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.)

The meeting adjourned at 8:40pm after the Serenity Prayer.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Troops give thanks in southern Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Across the United States, most families celebrate Thanksgiving with their families with turkey and football.

Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Falcon in southern Baghdad celebrated as well, with the only family they have while deployed -- each other.

Spc. Desiree Iversen, an intelligence analyst with Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 610th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Cottonwood, Calif., said spending Thanksgiving dinner with her section was a pleasant proxy to spending the day with her family.

"It was nice. Even though we work together, we don't socialize and we work on different shifts," she said. "I got to spend some time talking with them. You kind of adopt a new family when you're out here."

Sgt. Charles Patton, a multi-channel transmission systems operator with Company C, 4-1 Brigade Special Troops Battalion from Monroe, La., said he tries to keep his head up while away from his wife and son on the holidays.

"I'd much rather be spending it at home with my family, but we're here and I'm trying to make the most of it," he said. "I think that's how a lot of guys feel about it, they'd rather be at home, but you're here so you have to make the best of things."

For Patton, who is celebrating his second Thanksgiving holiday in Iraq, being away doesn't get easier.

"Some people get used to it, but I don't," he said. "You just have to make the best of it and keep a positive attitude. That's what I try to do."

Iversen, who hasn't been home for a 'Turkey Day' since being in the Army, felt differently.

"The first year, I was devastated, it was really hard. Every year, I was with my family," she said. "But last year was a little easier and this year, I don't feel anything really. It's just another day."

To Spc. Ahmed Ahmed, a linguist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th IBCT from Buffalo, N.Y., it was not "just another day" as he celebrated his first Thanksgiving as a citizen of the United States.

"It's kind of special because it's my first one as a citizen and I don't have to worry about getting my citizenship," the former Yemeni said. "This is my first time having the full joy as a citizen. It's a special day for me.

"I will remember this for the rest of my life. I had my Thanksgiving for the first time as a citizen, I was in Iraq and I was serving my country."

For all, whether it's the first holiday or one of many, the day is about giving thanks.

Patton said he was most thankful for his loved ones.

"I'm thankful for my family most of all. My family's really supportive of me. They understand I'm in a position where I do what I have to do," Patton said. "That's part of being a Soldier. You have to go out there and take care of business."

Ahmed was thankful to get the chance to serve his new nation, but he looks forward to the future.

"I'm thanking God that I'm still alive; we're actually doing a good job. That's what makes today a special day," he said. "But my next Thanksgiving is going to be even better because I'm going to be my wife in the states, celebrating as an American."

Iversen, the mother of a little girl and wife to a husband who is currently deployed with the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, said she is grateful for her child and her husband's well-being.

"I'm thankful for my daughter. I'm thankful my husband's okay. I just hope he comes home safe and able to see our little girl grow up."

Spc. David Schubert, a chaplain's assistant with the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kan., digs into his Thanksgiving Day turkey at the Forward Operating Base Falcon dining facility in southern Baghdad Nov. 22. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nathaniel Smith, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. PAO)

Sunday, November 18, 2007


This Thanksgiving, the Department of Defense is partnering with major cell phone providers so that you can send "thank you" text messages to the troops fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. It is called "The Giving Thanks Campaign."

A couple of seconds of your time, and your kind words will reach American troops free of charge. When you text your message of thanks to "89279" (TXASY) between November 17th and 22nd, you'll receive a special thanks in return.

We will all sit down to our dinner on Thursday in freedom because of the job that they do, and their honorable and extraordinary commitment to our the security of our country. Frankly, most of us will thank them in our blessing prayers; it would be wonderful to let them know how important they are directly.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

VETERAN'S Day 2007

It is the
VETERAN , not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is
the VETERAN , not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN , not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN , not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN , not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the VETERAN , not the politician, Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the
VETERAN , who salutes the Flag,

It is the VETERAN who serves under the Flag,


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Mail Call


At 41, after serving an entire adult life in uniform, I hope I can offer some thoughts.

Mail, few things bring home closer than mail. Few things are more important. Even in the instantly gratified world we live in, the feeling of getting mail is indescribable. I can recall the feeling of at the end of the day, walking the mile or so to the MWR tent to check the mail list (in the Air Force the mail clerks would post a handwritten list of who had mail to save the questions), and the gloom that resulted from having no letter form my family. I remember the day I got 27 cards from my daughters, most containing only one word, but there were 27 of them. They weren’t big cards, all hand made, but they were for me, and there were 27 of them.

Because it’s not really a letter, you’re sending. It’s a taste of home, a reminder that someone knows your there, and a distraction from the endless routine. Getting a package of candy from a stranger is a strange wonderful feeling that can pick you up by the boot straps at a time when you need it most. Remember, it’s not the bombs or bullets that are the greatest danger, its stress and depression.

So what to send? A card, a letter, a picture of something other than sand. It doesn’t have to be big, small is okay, although contents you can eat are a plus. A book to read and pass on, home made cookies. I could go on for hours on a fruitcake I got in Korea (thanks Mom).

Movies are great also. In short anything sent is great, just make it personal.

While I’m not a Marine or soldier and take a lot of ribbing for being a wingnut, I was “down range” hauling explosives over the highways in decrepit trucks wearing less than perfect body armor. And I would never miss mail call.

And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
~W.H. Auden

Friday, November 2, 2007

Minutes from Oct. 30, meeting

Blue Star Mothers Meeting

October 30, 2007

Debbie Seifert welcomed everyone and called to order at 6:40pm. Debbie led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Minutes of the September 25th meeting were read and approved. The Treasurer’s Report was not given.

Old Business –

  1. Banner - After discussing several quotes on having a banner made and whether or not to purchase it in time for the Veteran’s Day Parade, a motion was made by Helen Quigley and seconded by Barbara League to order a 3ftx6ft banner from Fast Signs for a price not to exceed $200.00. Barbara will email the Official Blue Star Mothers (hereinafter called BSMs) Logo to Vicki Payne who will order the banner imprinted with the Official BSMs Logo in red and blue, Blue Star Mothers in blue and Arizona Chapter 2 in red.+
  2. Veteran’s Parade, November 11th – The VFW float is 7ftx17ft. Those Blue Star Families who wish to join the VFW on the float or walk with the float should meet at the VFW before 8:30am on Monday to carpool to the parade site. Bring a dish to share is you wish to participate in the VFW Open House.
  3. Wild Oats on Speedway, November 3rd, 10:00am-12:00noon – Call Kelly Prust, Manager of Wild Oats, to let her know you will be there to help pack boxes to send the our Troops. Wild Oats is also taking care of all the postage.
  4. Committee Sign-ups – Sign-up sheets were passed around and attendees were urged to sign-up for one or more of the following committees:
    1. Courageous Tigers – Fund Raising.
    2. Flying Eagles – Letters and correspondence.
    3. Gentle Lambs – Emotional/moral support.
    4. Industrious Ants – Community service.

Each Committee’s Mission and long and short range goals should be chosen. Committee Meetings should be held on a monthly basis prior to the scheduled Blue Star Mothers Meeting. Committee reports will be given at the regularly scheduled BSMs Meeting.

New Business –

  1. Events Calendar - Vicki will add an “Events Calendar” to our website. Linda Cagle will e-mail the the BSMs requesting information to add to the Calendar.
  2. Membership and Dues - Dues of $10.00 are due by January 1, 2008. Debbie Miller will have renewal forms at the November meeting.

ACTION: Review “mass” email list and remove those emails that are not “paid” members of BSMs.

  1. Fund Raising - Bonnie Hall has “Support Our Troops” magnets to purchase for $3.00 each.
    1. New Life Health Food Store – Talked to Asst. Manager who suggested calling Wednesday, October 31st to speak with the Manager regarding donation of gift certificates for BSMs.
    2. Dr. Weiss, Dentist, has dental floss and toothbrushes to donate to our Troops.
    3. Bonnie also talked with lady in Service Department at Foothills Mall about setting up a booth to hand out brochures informing the public about who we are and what we are doing. Bonnie should know more on this on Wednesday, October 31st.
  2. 285th Homecoming in January/February 2008 – Kim Sloan said FRG would like have people line the street from the Pinal Airport Exit off I-10 all the way to the Armory to greet the Troops. There will be some type of food, something for the children to do while waiting. More information will be available at a later date.
  3. Thank you cards and Certificates - Barbara League received a donation of 20 certificates from Chris Jaeger, Quikprint.

ACTION: BSMs still does not have official “thank you” cards. A thank you card should be sent.

  1. Holiday Parade and Festival, December 8th – Parade of Lights. More on this in November.
  2. Election of Officers, January – A Nominating Committee will be chosen in November.
  3. Christmas Party, No December meeting – Golden Corral and Hometown Buffet were suggested. Golden Corral has free postcards to send to our Troops.

ACTION: Debbie Miller will email a survey to everyone for their thoughts and/or recommendations. Discussion and decision on party will be made at the November meeting.

Guest Speakers – Barbara and Kimberlee from Avon -

Avon has been in business for 123 years and is in 143 different countries. Their goal is to support and be there for women. Barbara and Kimberlee spoke on several types of fundraisers with Avon. BSMs elected to do catalog fundraising and earn 10% of the cost of trademarked items and 40% of the cost of Avon products, i.e., a $15.00 purchase of Avon products by 10 buyers equaling a total sale of $1,500.00 would earn $600.00 for BSMs. Catalog orders are submitted every two weeks or at the end of that campaign.

Kimberlee (829-5800) offered to attach special labels to the catalogs informing prospective buyers of the purpose of the fundraiser.

Barbara (407-6023) said if we need a lot of a particular item quickly to let her know and she will contact Avon’s Pasadena Office to expedite the shipment.

DebbieS thanked Barbara and Kimberlee for the box of lip balm Avon donated for our Troops.

Carol Herndon volunteered to coordinate the Avon purchases. Use the following email to send your orders to her – Please let Carol know you’re with BSM.

Donations –

  1. Roxanne received a donation of several boxes of handmade felt/fabric Western-style boots each filled with lip balm, eye drops, etc. for our Troops. The boots were made by an 11-year old girl named Haley Roberts (Ron Roberts – Cell 269-3498, Home 225-0590). Haley also wrote a letter to enclose with the boots which Roxanne copied to go in each box.

Roxanne will give Crissy Harlan a copy of the letter.

ACTION: DebbieS asked that a thank you card be sent to her.

  1. Helen Quigley received a donation of about 20 frisbees from the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center, Grand Canyon Association, P.O.Box 399, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, (928) 643-7298.

ACTION: A thank you should be sent.

  1. Bonnie Hall volunteers at the Oro Valley Library and after their recent book sale the Library donated leftover books to be sent to our Troops.

General Discussion –

  1. Carol Herndon displayed several patriotic “travel” mugs. The ceramic mugs are available for $15.00, $1.00 of which will be donated to the BSMs.
  2. Vicki Payne mentioned T-shirts that can be imprinted with your soldier’s photo and verbiage of your choice for only $7.00 for the transfer. You supply the T-shirt. See Vicki for more information.
  3. Debbie Seifert mentioned the Gift Emporium as a possible fund raiser. If BSMs shop at any of the stores listed on their website, they donate a portion of the sale to BSMs organization.

ACTION: DebbieS send Gift Emporium link to Vicki.

  1. Kim Sloan – Dollar Tree stores are putting boxes out November 1st for donations to send to our Troops for the Christmas Holiday. VFW will be meeting November 18th at 10:00am at the Valencia Armory near Pima Air Museum for a potluck and to pack 1,000 stockings to be shipped to our soldiers and their units. There will be cards to decorate as well as turkeys to be delivered to needy military families.
  2. BonnieLee’s students are sending boxes to BSMs soldiers and to
  3. “Operation Message”, November 13th and 14th - The Red Cross is making appointments in 15-minute increments and will make a video for families/friends to send to their deployed soldier. Ask for Cheryl Bender and she will transfer your call to the appropriate party. They are also doing cards for Troops if you donate blood.
  4. Lynn Jones had a block party and got over $800.00 in donations from her neighbors to buy things for the Troops. She is planning to be at Wild Oats on Saturday, November 3rd.

The meeting adjourned at 8:35pm after the Serenity Prayer.

Cookies and Coffee for our Troops!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

FOB Hammer

Good News from Iraq: 1 Nov 2007

From MNF-I, Four-legged Soldiers keep their noses to the ground.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER — The German shepherd trots from rock to rock, ears pricked upward and nose pointed towards the earth, intent on his mission.

Several feet away, his handler, Sgt. Richard Miller, from Floresville, Texas, a military policeman with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, silently watches as the dog gets closer to the C4 explosive he has hidden under some rubble.

The specialized off-leash search dog looks back at his handler and sits down beside the hidden explosive.

"Good boy," Miller says, walking toward Gabriel. "Good job, Gabe."

The dog's tail swings back and forth as his trainer approaches. His mission accomplished, the dog eagerly awaits his reward.

Miller focuses the dog on the explosive while he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a worn-out orange cong. He tosses it in front of the dog and watches as he snatches it up and runs back to his handler.

The next few moments are filled with praise as Miller tosses the cong and Gabriel retrieves it.

"That's the whole reason the dog does what he does," explains Sgt. Timothy Kinsey, from Pueblo, Colo., a military policeman with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. "We work to get paid. The dogs work for their reward. Gabriel is very focused on his reward. He'll do anything for those congs."

The 3rd BCT has three working dogs and they've been extremely busy since their arrival at Forward Operating Base Hammer.

"They are doing a good job," said Sgt. 1st Class Tommy Jamison, from Elmira, Ore., the provost sergeant for the 3rd BCT. "I've had to learn about them, but they have been great assets."

Jamison explained that the battalions in the 3rd BCT had to learn how to use the dogs on combat missions.

"They were skeptical at first," Jamison said. "The Soldiers had their TTPs (techniques, tactics, and procedures) and those needed to be changed to accommodate the dogs, so that caused some friction. It was hard to explain to leaders that the dogs needed air conditioned vehicles and tents to rest, but once they saw the benefits, everyone accommodated them."

Kinsey explained that there are limits to what the dogs can do.

"Some Soldiers have a hard time understanding that the dogs have the mentality of a four year old," Kinsey said. "When a dog is tired, they are tired. I can't tell them to suck it up and drive on. They love what they do, but they have limits."

The dog's sense of smell makes them perfect for detecting hidden contraband that Soldiers can overlook.

Miller explained that a dog can register and discern 10,000 - 40,000 scents at one time.

"The best way I can explain it is that if you were to walk into a fast food place you would smell the meat cooking on the grill and the mop bucket they are using to clean up a spill," Miller said. "A dog will smell the fat in the burger charring, the meat cooking, the sesame seeds on the buns, the pickle juice, the type of perfume the cashier is wearing and a thousand different other scents all at the same time."

That sense of smell allows dogs like Gabriel and Jim to smell a coil of detonation cord under a pile of rubble from 10 feet away.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More from Debbie's son, Ryan.

Here is another picture from the patrols that I do. As you can tell, I like to hang out with the kids alot. They can smile though anything. They don't have electricity, very poor living conditions, not to mention that baghdad is war torn...yet the smile though it in the streets...
they're great
hope you enjoy!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thank a Soldier.

There are many ways to show our gratitude to the men and women of our nation's military. Unfortunately, it isn't shown often enough. Show your gratitude today and say "Thank You!" to those special people!

Show your support with a high quality, personalized t-shirt or sweatshirt! Available in toddler, youth, ladies and adult sizes with more customized products in the future.

25% of every sale will be donated to organizations who help our injured combat veterans and our military families who are in need.

Please take a moment and go to Thank a Soldier and choose your favorite branch of service (Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines). The Army and Air National Guards as well as the U.S. Coast Guard are also included. You can personalize your choices with phrases such as "Thank My Son".

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Patriotic Pumpkin Party at the Park

Saturday, the 27th of October, our VFW Post held a Halloween Party for the kids of those serving in the military, complete with a Haunted House! The kids were throughly entertained and lots of prizes were won at the different booths. In addition to an obstacle course, face painting and a bean bag toss, the playground provided the little ones with hours of fun. The VFW hosts a great party and the Arizona Chapter of Blue Star Mothers were represented!

L-R April Bolt, Elizabeth Guerra, Bertha Topar, Vicki Payne, and Debbie Miller.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Volunteers Prepping for Veteran's Day Weekend Kick-Off

2007 Holiday Drive Gears Up
By Carolyn Blashek
Oct 25, 2007 - 9:36:41 AM

Volunteers Prepping for Veteran's Day Weekend Kick-Off

Dear Friends,

Courtesy image.
Volunteers are in full prep mode for the 2007 Holiday Drive, which kicks off over the Veteran's Day Weekend, November 10 -11! Our goal is to send 60,000 care packages by the end of December, and the excitement is growing as we prepare to assemble and ship Operation Gratitude's 300,000th package on December 15th!

"This is our 5th Annual Holiday Drive--and will be the largest yet!" exclaimed Carolyn Blashek, Founder of Operation Gratitude. "The holidays are a particularly difficult time for our troops to be away from their loved ones, so it is all the more important that Operation Gratitude reach as many Service Members as possible to let them know they are appreciated and cherished by the American people," she added.

"I am a soldier currently deployed to Iraq who received a package from you folks recently. Thanks so much for your morale boosting box of goodies -- your packages clearly were the result of experience, planning, and labor-intensive love. We troops appreciate all that you do. Keep up the outstanding work. Take care." Very Respectfully, SPC C.K. Y.

"Once again the call goes out to the thousands of volunteers and donors who graciously join together to express their admiration and respect in this tangible way," said Cheryl Zerah, Operation Gratitude's Corporate Secretary. "We are so grateful to each and every supporter who participates in our mission. We could not accomplish this Herculean task without them!" added Supervisor Carol Sweet.

School service clubs, church groups, Scout Troops, business owners and individuals of all ages have found creative and fun ways to collect and donate the items needed to make each treat-filled box extra special. Operation Gratitude care packages are loaded with a wide assortment of non-perishable foods, entertainment items, personal care products, and heartfelt messages of support. We encourage every American to express their appreciation in their own unique way with Operation Gratitude!

Related Link : Operation Gratitude

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Meet Debbie Seifert's son, Ryan!

SSG Ryan Johnson
1-168 INF
Iowa National Guard
Stationed at Camp Slayer, Baghdad, deployed June '07, returning home June '08.

According to Debbie, Ryan loves the kids and said that they make the mission easy. They're always loving and are happy to see the troops.

Take a moment to enjoy!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Good News!

Debbie Miller reports that she's prepared 19 boxes to ship! The lucky recipients are soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines chosen from The contents of these packages are donated items from many sources.

In addition to packaging and mailing these boxes, Debbie spent Sunday at Wild Oats on Speedway promoting Blue Star Mothers. In August and September Wild Oats was kind enough to make a box available for donations, and has chosen Blue Star Mothers, Arizona Chapter 2, as one of their "Wooden Nickel" charities. For every grocery bag a shopper brings into the store, Wild Oats offers them a Wooden Nickel. The shopper then drops it in the box of their favorite charity and we get a check! Cha-Ching!

Stay posted, Wild Oats will be hosting another charity drive to include some Christmas mailings, soon.

Be sure to let the management at Wild Oats know that you appreciate their support!

An addendum from Bonnielee:

Great news for our chapter's Blue Star Moms! On October 18th, The Living Word Chapel in Oracle packed 40 care packages for our troops ... and I do mean "our" troops. Because I attend that church, the pastor, his wife, and the members are very much aware of my WRITE ON! project. The Ladies' Group members asked me for the list of pen pals my students and I write to. As you know, many of our pen pals are YOUR sons and daughters. The old saying "what goes around comes around" is certainly true here. While our group was readying care packages for "any soldier," our church was readying packages for OUR service members. Sunday I was asked for a second copy of the list so the group can pray for each member on our list. God is good--all the time!
One very proud
Marine Wife and
Air Force Mom,

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Good News From Iraq

From MNF-I, Tips lead to arrests in Salman Pak.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – After receiving tips, Coalition Forces detained three people in Salman Pak Oct. 11 during Operation Belleau Wood, a raid to find insurgents linked to al-Qaeda cells operating in Iraq.

Soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, detained the men after they were identified as al-Qaeda members responsible for improvised explosive device placement along a road frequently used by the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. The Soldiers also cleared 13 houses during their search.

Maj. John Cushing, the 1-15th Inf. Regt. Operations officer from Rochester, Mich., believes the recent organization of Concerned Local Citizens in the Salman Pak area has helped residents feel safer, and therefore more likely to come forward to identify insurgents and their activities.

“Local Iraqi sheiks, in very dangerous areas, are coming forward and are willing to provide critical information concerning extremist activities in our area of operations,” Cushing said. “Local sheiks and Coalition Forces are working together and doing what it takes to improve security in insurgent-infested neighborhoods.”

“Belleau Wood was great for Hardrock (Company A) and 1-15,” Cushing continued. “As a result of this operation, three extremists were detained which further disrupted an IED cell along a major route that Coalition Forces travel each day.”

The 1-15 Inf. Regt., is assigned to the 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Minutes from Sept. 25, 2007 meeting

· The meeting began at 6:30pm

· Group picture taken by Jon – Foothills/Oro Valley Magazine for November article on Blue Star Mothers

· Pledge of Allegiance

· Reading of previous months minutes – Approved by All

· Treasurer Report – $859.00 in checking account

· Old Business

o Shirts – Bonnielee Walsh - We now have a new printing company for our BSM shirts.

· Tee Time

· 3755 N. Runway Drive, #D, Tucson

· (520)291-1688

· Contact: Jim Rockwell

o Thank You Certificate – Barb League – Original design was too grainy and the designer will play with it a bit to make it look more crisp & clear. Barb will follow up and report back at the November meeting.

· New Business

o Letter from Rose – She has resigned as Secretary of BSM due to personal reasons. We will need a new volunteer to take her place. Motions were made for Barb League or Charli Greenlees. Charli agreed to be Secretary, with Barb as a back up. Approved by all. Charli will not be at the Nov. meeting so Barb will cover minutes for that meeting.

o Teams/Committees – Roxanne has come up with an idea for four sub-committees, each designated to handle a certain aspect of our group.

· Courageous Tigers – Fundraising Committee

· Flying Eagles – Letter & Correspondence

· Gentle Lambs – Emotional Support/Grief

· Industrious Ants – Community Service/Involvement

o At the November meeting, we will have “sign ups” for each team/committee.

o Family Fun Day at Wild Oats – Debbie S. – November 3rd from 10-12 at Wild Oats Market on Speedway Blvd. We are partnering with Wild Oats (marketing manager Kelley Pruest) to have a care packing party and card making event for the troops.

o Charity Emporium – Debbie S. - – this organization has various stores on its website. A portion of what you buy is donated to your organization. It doesn’t cost us anything, just a matter of signing up for it. All agreed that it sounds like something we should at least try.

o Email from Carolyn – Debbie S. – Carolyn Kneppel is a mom from the Phoenix area that is on our email. She has been emailing Debbie back and forth about issues she is having regarding her son, who has been in the military service before.

o The idea of having a “generic” type business card was brought up. Debbie M. will make up a few samples and bring them to the next meeting.

o Set up Yahoo account – Lois suggested we do this in order to make communication more effective for the group. She is willing to take on getting that set up.

o Cookbooks – Debbie S. – a company produces cookbooks as a fundraiser and the cost is very minimal. They are great gifts for family and friends. We could submit our soldier’s favorite recipes. The company puts together the whole book from the recipes you send it. Each recipe is on its own page to make it easier to read and follow. All agreed it sounds like a great fundraising idea.

· Announcements

o Oct. 27th – Patriotic Rally – Jacobs Field from 11am-3pm.

o Nov. 3rd – Wild Oats Family Fun Day from 10am-12pm.

o Nov. 12th – Veterans Day Parade

· Closing: Serenity Prayer

· Meeting adjourned at 8:40pm

· Next meeting Oct. 30th, 6:30pm

· Minutes reported by Debbie Miller

Thursday, October 11, 2007



When: Saturday, October 13, 1:00PM

Join us in making/decorating stockings for the soldiers.
The stockings will be used when the VFW meets on Sunday Nov. 18 to fill them and they will be sent to all the soldiers from Southern AZ - That includes the 1/285th!!

If you have decorating supplies to share, or material to make additional stockings please bring them.

Also you can bring snacks to share!

If you can't come but want to make some stockings contact Diane or Andrea and we can get you the pattern.

Questions Contact Diane Sotelo -

Monday, October 8, 2007

Good News from Iraq

Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342

RELEASE No. 20071008-08
October 8, 2007

Local citizens assist Soldiers in decreasing violence
Multi-National Division – Center PAO

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Local Concerned Citizens brought a large cache to a 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment combat outpost east of Baghdad Oct. 5.

The citizens brought a cache consisting of 21 mortar rounds, one 57mm projectile, two 100mm projectiles, one 122mm rocket warhead, three PG-7Ms, four PG-7s, and one rocket propelled grenade to Combat Outpost Cashe and turned the items in to Soldiers of Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, currently attached to 3-1st Cav. Regt.

The cavalry regiment officials estimated that more than 1,000 rounds of small arms ammunition and 60 pounds of TNT were turned in, as well.

Concerned Citizens groups are local volunteers who are committed to cooperating with Coalition Forces to decrease violence in their communities, much like a neighborhood watch program. Soldiers from Company D have been working to establish Concerned Citizens groups in Jisr Diyala, a town southeast of Baghdad, since July. Currently, two Concerned Citizens groups total approximately 300 volunteers.

Also in the 3-1st Cav. Regt. area of operation on the same day, local citizens informed Iraqi police of a potential improvised explosive device along a major road.

Iraqi police were able to remove the road side bomb and Soldiers from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team secured the explosive for proper disposal.

The 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment is assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Benning, Ga.


FOR QUERIES, CONTACT THE MULTI-NATIONAL DIVISION – CENTER PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE AT: MND-CENTER_PAO@IRAQ.CENTCOM.MILThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it OR BY PHONE AT DSN 318-822-7482 OR COMMERCIAL 912-767-4114.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Thanks to Xerox!

And Chrissy Harlan for this:

If you go to this web site,
you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services.

How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! This is a great site. Please send a card.
It is FREE and it only takes a second.

This is an easy way to let our soldiers know they're appreciated.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Good News From Iraq

RELEASE No. 20070927-01
September 27, 2007

3rd IA Soldiers seize large cache
Multi-National Division – North PAO

TAL’AFAR, Iraq – Iraqi Army Soldiers discovered a significant cache while conducting security operations in western Nineveh province Sept. 24.

Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division found the cache in an abandoned house northwest of Tal’Afar while searching near Alo village.

Among the items found were more than 140 mortar rounds, nearly two dozen AK-47 assault rifles with dozens of loaded magazines, two SVD sniper rifles, 50 hand grenades and a ready-made improvised explosive device in a 5-gallon bucket. In addition to the munitions, four full IA uniforms, six tactical vests and four fake license plates were seized.

“This is the second significant cache discovered based on information provided by four enemy fighters who were captured on Sept. 20,” said Maj. Mufutau Taiwo, executive officer of the 1-9 Cavalry. “The IA soldiers out here are doing an exceptional job of finding and removing these large stockpiles of enemy weaponry before they can be used in attacks against the citizens of Nineveh and Iraqi and Coalition Forces.”

All of the weapons and equipment found were removed by the IA forces and transported back to their base for reallocation (rifles and ammunition) and destruction (mortar rounds and explosives).



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Supporting the Troops at the Freedom Walk 9/11/07

Here are some faces you might recognize!

The Freedom Walk began in 2005 when U.S. Pentagon employees desired to commemorate the attack on the Pentagon and remember the precious lives lost on September 11, 2001. As a result, an overwhelming 15,000 participants walked from the National Mall to the Pentagon on September 11, 2005 during the first organized walk. Today, the Freedom Walk is a national tradition and continues in communities all across the United States. The Arizona Freedom Walk is a non-partisan and non-political event. In Tucson the event was at Gene C. Reid Park followed by a patriotic concert by The Tucson Pops Orchestra.

America Supports You is a U.S. Department of Defense program recognizing citizens’ support for our military and communicating that support to members of our Armed Forces and their families, at home and abroad. The program’s homefront groups have organized Freedom Walks in every state in the Union and in over 130 cities across the nation. For more information about the program, visit:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Good News From Iraq

Ramadi has changed so drastically from the terrorist-infested pit that it was as recently as April 2007 that I could hardly believe what I saw was real. The sheer joy on the faces of these Iraqis was unmistakable. They weren’t sullen in the least, and it was pretty obvious that they were not just pretending to be friendly or going through the hospitality motions.

“It was nothing we did,” said Marine Lieutenant Colonel Drew Crane who was visiting for the day from Fallujah. “The people here just couldn’t take it anymore.”

What he said next surprised me even more than what I was seeing.

“You know what I like most about this place?” he said.

“What’s that?” I said.

“We don’t need to wear body armor or helmets,” he said.

I was poleaxed. Without even realizing it, I had taken off my body armor and helmet. I took my gear off as casually as I do when I take it off after returning to the safety of the base after patrolling. We were not in the safety of the base and the wire. We were safe because we were in Ramadi.

Read these two articles (here and here) by Michael J. Totten on what he calls the Anbar Awakening.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Minutes from August 28, 2007 meeting

    • The meeting began at 6:30pm
    • Pledge of Allegiance
    • Treasurer Report – $772 in account - $500 designated for postage for care packages
    • Old Business
      • Chapter 1 vs. Chapter 2 – Debbie Miller explained that we are officially chapter 2. There is another chapter in Lake Havasu that began before ours. There is also a chapter 3 just starting to form in the Phoenix area. Those who purchased and paid for shirts will receive replacement ones with the chapter 2 on them at no charge. A donation was made to cover the cost of the replacement shirts.
      • Bonnielee – calling tree – the sign up sheet went around asking for a cell phone number or an emergency number – from that, she will form a calling tree and email to us all so that, in the event of an emergency, we can contact everyone in a matter of minutes
      • Bonnielee – still has pins, bears & shirts available to purchase
    • New Business
      • Bylaws & BSM Handbook can be found at – scroll to the bottom of the page. The bylaws are listed as 3 separate parts to view
      • Subject of Thank You cards for those who have donated was brought up-suggestion was made to get a template for some sort of certificate-Barb L. will check with a friend of hers in the printing business
    • Fundraising
      • Debbie S. talked about wanting some volunteers to form a committee. Some possible fundraising events are the Wooden Nickel program from WildOats, booth at the Pima County Fair, Silent Auction with donated items from local businesses. Would be nice to have a BSM brochure available at these events also. Debbie M. to check into that. Having a banner for our booth or table was also mentioned.
    • Announcements
      • April Bolt – Tom wants every mom to have a bracelet he made at no cost
      • Sept. 8th, 6:00AM – Rummage Sale at VFW Hall to benefit 1/285th FRG
      • Sept. 11th – Operation Homefront 2007 Freedom Walk – Reid Park – registration begins at 5:00, candlelight walk begins at 6:30
      • Sept. 21st, 6:00PM – POW-MIA Ceremony & Dinner at VFW Hall
      • is a good website for blue star magnets
      • Grantham University ( offers a free blue star flag as well as information on free tuition for military and their families
    • Guest Speaker: Rick Rodriquez
    • Closing: Serenity Prayer
    • Meeting adjourned at 8:35pm
    • Next meeting Sept. 25th, 6:30pm
    • Minutes reported by Debbie Miller