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.