Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meet the needs of our Wounded Heros - DONATE

The Air National Guard 161st Medical Group is getting ready to deploy to Landstuhl General Hospital in Germany in support of our wounded warriors. They will have extra room on their planes and have been asked to bring as much as they can in the way of donations.

Tucson donations can be delivered to me and I'll get them to Phoenix! Deadline for Tucson is September 22.

Donations can be dropped off at the following locations:

Deadline for this drop location is September 22
Glenn Klassen, Director Wing Family Programs
Phoenix Air National Guard
3200 E. Old Tower Rd.
Bldg 10 Room 221

Deadline for these drop locations is September 15
Lakeview Family Healthcare
2090 N. Smoketree Ave
Lake Havasu City


Dr. Mike Ward, ER
Kingman Regional Medical Center

Here is the list of requested items:
Wheelchairs in good condition.
Video Games (Wii, PS2, PS3, Xbox 360)
Shower Shoes
Disposable Razors
Shaving Cream

Individual (travel sized) toiletries (shampoo, body wash toothpaste etc)
Sewing Kits
Tooth brushes
Travel Pillows
Winter Jackets
Board Games
Black Backpacks
Pajama/work-out pants
AAFES Gift Cards (for purchase of patient duffle bags)
Magazine subscriptions - not magazines. Subscriptions only.

Dish Sets (Microwave safe)
DVDs (New releases, no war related or overly violent please)
MP3 player headphones

Phone cards for emergency use

Kim Sloan
Ladies Auxiliary to Veterans of Foreign Wars
(H) 520-887-8339 (O) 520-577-7800 (C) 520-256-9687

Sunday, June 8, 2008


He'll be in Tucson later today! Thanks to all of you, I made it thru his deployment. God Bless all of you!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Armed Forces Day

The third Saturday every May is Armed Forces Day. It’s a day to celebrate all the men and women in uniform.

The first Armed Forces Day was held under President Harry Truman in 1950. Before then, each branch held a separate day of celebration. Many branches still observe their day unofficially.

Today’s video is a song by Taylor Hicks. Enjoy the video. And share it with someone to thank them for their service.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Good News from Iraq

Refurbished school opens in Salman Pak
By Maj. Joe Sowers, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. PAO

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – The only secondary school for girls in the Salman Pak area opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 24.

Leaders of the Salman Pak Council, the Iraqi Army, the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, gathered in Salman Pak for the ceremony, which marked the completion of a $200,000 project initiated Feb. 28.

Members of the Salman Pak Council brought the decrepit school to the attention of 1-15th Inf. Regt. leadership in January. The school was in disrepair and local leaders’ desire to improve educational facilities matched the goals of the battalion leadership.

“We were looking for a big school to refurbish to make an impact,” said Capt. Matt Givens, from Columbus, Ga., the civil-military operations officer for 1-15th Inf. Regt. “It was the only female secondary school in the area. Before the refurbishment, the school was pretty much falling down. It had no electricity and students couldn’t use the restrooms.”

Givens said the project completely overhauled the building. Iraqi contractors repaired structural damage, erected a security wall, rewired electrical outlets, replastered the outside and repainted the inside.

Two of the most significant improvements were connecting the restrooms to a septic tank and the construction of a concrete courtyard.

“Unpaved courtyards get quite muddy when it rains,” said Givens, who has facilitated 13 different school refurbishment projects during his unit’s 14-month deployment. “School administrators commonly ask for concrete courtyards for assemblies and recreation.”

Givens said these projects make a difference in the community.

“People view it as you’re helping take care of their children and it helps to build trust within the community,” he said. “They are excited when they see you helping their children.”

The 1-15th Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga. and has been deployed to Iraq since March 2007. The 2-6th Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division from Baumholder, Germany, and will soon replace the 3rd HBCT in the Mada’in Qada.
Posted by David Spunt on 04/29 at 09:31 PM

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ryan's 'Thank You' on

i want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for the packages and letters that you have been sending. as luck would have tour has been shortened and i will be going home in about a week!!! it is just more proof that things here are starting to go in the right directions. the changes in this country are not going to happen over night. and it will take years before this country will be able to stand on it's feet. but the people of our country sould be proud that that the guys in the armed forces are willing to fight and die for this country. it is an honor. it is what we do...and we do it well.

thank you all who took time to send me a birthday card on my 30th birthday. i sat here and thought about what i had done in my 30 years of life. i helped to liberate 2 countries from opression. that's pretty damn good. some of my non military friends have finished college, and bought houses....have great careers. i have had to put all that on i could do the military. no degree, no civilian career....but i saved millions of people from genocide. i wouldn't change it for the world.

thank you for all of your support!

until next time.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Afghan school gets new library and science lab for opening day

2008-03-28classroom.jpgBAGRAM AIRBASE, Afghanistan – The first day of school at Jan Qadam Elementary School, Parwan Province, was alive with the throngs of excited children, dignitaries, government officials and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan soldiers who dedicated a new school library and science lab, March 24.
Just after 9 a.m. on Monday, the Head of the District Development Council welcomed everyone to the event, noting the importance of the relationship between the school and all those who helped make it a great place to learn. He specifically thanked the children of Calvert City Elementary School, Calvert City, Ky., for their partnership with the Jan Qadam School.
“The partnership between the schools is a community-based initiative between the people and students of Calvert City Elementary School and the Jan Qadam School and community,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Watson, a member of CJSOTF-Afghanistan.
After the speeches and a prayer, the new school library was dedicated to Afghan Gen. Baba Jan, a retired Afghan commander. Jan donated the land to build the school on and the library is filled with books donated by USAID.2008-03-28present.jpg
The distinguished guests and visitors toured the school and visited the new science lab. It is the only science lab in the Bagram School District, which has 32 schools, including seven high schools.
“School is the factory that produces positive individuals for society,” said Adul the Head of the District Development Council, Adul Waquel.
Jan Qadam hosts more than 1,200 students who are taught in two shifts.
Village elders passed out backpacks to more than 500 students and Calvert Elementary children donated notebooks, pens, pencils, glue and rulers to their Afghan counterparts.
The partnership with Calvert Elementary is only just beginning. In addition to the supplies provided, students from a second grade class there wrote letters to the students at the Jan Qadam School. Calvert students were mostly interested in what Afghan children do at home, during their free time.
“My name is Erin, I’m from Calvert, Kentucky,” one of the letters starts out. “I can’t wait to learn about your culture.”
Most of the Calvert students seemed interested in the differences between Afghan children and American children with most listing their favorite sports and after-school activities.
“It bridges cultures and helps educate future generations about other people who share our world,” said Watson. 2008-03-28speaker.jpg
“We will pass the translated letters out to the Afghan children and send their replies back to the states,” said a Coalition commander. “Some time in the next few months students from Calvert city will travel to Ft. Campbell, Ky., to have a video teleconference with some of the Afghan students.”
“It was a great day for the people of Jan Qadam, the Ministry of Education, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and Coalition forces,” said Watson. “It reinforces our ties and commitment to the community and people of Afghanistan and helps foster an enduring relationship.”
(This article written by the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force- Afghanistan Public Affairs Office)
Written by Bagram Media Center Friday, 28 March 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Brighter Future

Monday, 31 March 2008
By Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky
2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. PAO

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU — Her hands run across his hand, her fingers explore his features. She asks her father: Is he fat or skinny? Tall or short? She is trying to learn about the man she cannot see, the one who strives to end the mystery surrounding him and the world around her.

First Lt. Michael Kendrick, platoon leader of 2nd Platoon, Company D, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, said it is his goal to replace the mental picture young Noor Taha Najee has of her father with the actual image.

Noor, a 5-year-old girl who lives in al Buaytha, has been blind since birth, a condition caused by poorly-developed corneas, said her father Taha.

It is a problem which runs in the family. Taha's brother, Mustafa, also suffers from the birth defect, one that prevents the eyes from registering anything other than light sensitivity.

Although the condition is genetic, it is one that can be fixed through surgery. Kendrick, a native of Phoenix, Ariz., and his unit have been working closely with doctors to try to get something done for the family.

"To have her see her family, her brothers, to put a face to the voice, it would be a blessing," Taha said of the opportunity to help give sight to his daughter and brother.

The Eye Defects Research Foundation, a nongovernmental organization based in Los Angeles, is already trying to schedule a surgery for the girl.

On March 14, the Soldiers took Noor and her uncle to the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad to get an evaluation done on the two, which showed a higher potential for success with Noor.

"We're on standby now, waiting for a doctor in L.A.," Kendrick said.

He said they are now trying to find a local Iraqi doctor who would be willing to travel with Noor and her family to California. An Iraqi doctor is needed who could be shown the necessary follow-up care.

Such a gift would seem appropriate for a girl who is described as very generous and giving by her father.

"She's different from many other kids," Taha said. "She's always sharing. She'll give you anything."

It is a personality trait which has endeared her to the 2nd Platoon Soldiers.

"We've taken a real vested interest in the people here," Kendrick said, adding his Soldiers spend a lot of time on the ground, interacting with residents. "We empathize with the people. It pays dividends winning the hearts and minds. It keeps things quiet."

Noor has developed quite an attachment to Kendrick, Taha said.

"She likes to sit by him, and is always asking me about him and loves it when I tell her stories about him," he said. "She's only like that with Kendrick."

As a father of two young girls himself – Presley, 3, and Parker, 1, – Kendrick said he knows the importance of family and providing for them.

While she may not be able to see what the Soldiers are doing for her, Taha said Noor can definitely sense the good will of Kendrick's platoon.

"Love begins in the mind, not the eyes," Taha said.

Friday, March 28, 2008

After year in Afghanistan, battalion welcomed home

The Arizona Republic
Mar. 28, 2008 12:00 AM

They were part of the largest deployment for the Arizona National Guard since World War II. They had been in Afghanistan for a year.

This week, they came home.

About 100 members of the 1st Battalion, 158th Infantry Regiment began returning to Arizona on Thursday.

The rest of the unit will be home over the next several days.

The group, known as the Bushmasters, aided in a February rescue operation after a helicopter carrying Sens. John Kerry, Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel made an emergency landing.

Two members of the unit were killed in action while deployed: Staff Sgt. Charles Browning of Florence and Pfc. Mykel Miller of Phoenix. An additional 24 soldiers were wounded in action.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Five minutes of your time

Hit play, and watch this video and $1 goes to Operation Homefront to support military families.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blue Star Mothers Meeting

March 25, 2008

Debbie Miller and Debbie Seifert were not able to attend the meeting. Those BSM’s in attendance held an informal meeting wherein the time was spent caring, sharing and discussing as follows:

  1. Resignation –
    1. Bonnielee Walsh’s resignation as Co-Vice President was announced.
  2. “Middle” Meeting, March 11th
    1. Vicki Payne informed everyone about the talk given by the D-M Speakers at the March 11th meeting and information on deployment, etc. One of the things they talked about the soldiers’ returning stateside and re-entering normal life. It takes between 3-12 months for the soldier to become acclimated back into stateside life. The suggestion was made that they be invited to speak at another meeting and that their talk be taped. The next “middle” meeting will be April 8th at the VFW.
  3. “Middle” Meetings –
    1. Obtaining speakers for these meetings was discussed.
  4. –
    1. Link has been added to the BSM website.
  5. Easter Eggstravaganza –
    1. Was discussed.
  6. April 8th “Middle” Meeting –
    1. Barbara Lutgendolf will be speaking. Barbara is a teacher in Marana whose son was a Naval Medic for the Marines.
  7. April 29th Meeting/Potluck –
    1. Barbara League and April Bolt will ask their sons (Matt and Gareth) to speak at the April 29th meeting. Debbie Miller’s son was in the same group. Discussion/decision to have a potluck that evening from 6:30-8:00pm and have the business meeting from 8:00-8:30pm. A potluck sign-up sheet was passed around.
    2. Vicki Payne will check with Kim Sloan regarding having food in the VFW meeting room.
  8. Pima County Fair –
    1. Decision was made to NOT have a table at the Pima County Fair. The table would have to manned every day for 10 days from 11:00am-9:00pm.
  9. Memorial Day –
    1. Lois Spangenberg will check to see if Tucson has anything in the works.
    2. VFW has a cookout for Memorial Day, May 26th.
  10. 4th of July/Mt. Lemmon –
    1. Helen Quigley volunteered to obtain details on the Mt. Lemon 4th of July Celebration. She participated for the BSM’s in 2007.
  11. 4th of July/Marana –
    1. Barbara League volunteered to obtain details on having a table at their celebration.
  12. 4th of July/Oro Valley –
    1. Linga Cagle volunteered to contact Oro Valley regarding having a table at their celebration.
  13. D-M Spring Air Show –
    1. Lois Spangenberg volunteered to get info on having a table there.
  14. Adopting a Highway –
    1. Suggestion was made to look into this, i.e. cost, what is involved and how often.
    1. There was a lot of discussion on the BSM’s original formed to be a support group and having lost a lot of the people who attended the first meetings because their need for support was not being met.
    2. Suggestion was that we need to reduce the time spent on business and to go back to being more of a support group.
    3. It was also suggested that a group e-mail be sent to those that have attended the BSM Meetings in the past to let them know that the meetings are going to revert back to lean more toward support than business.
    4. Doing “FUN” things was also suggested –

i. Getting groups together to go to –

1. Gaslight Theater.

2. Baseball games.

3. Reid Park Zoo, Music Under the Stars.

4. Sabino Canyon hikes.

5. Riverfront Park, Oro Valley.

6. Catalina State Park.

7. Etc.

Respectfully submitted,

Charli Greenlees

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Adopting a four-legged veteran

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Mar 23, 2008 10:01:23 EDT

Benny was declared “excess” by the military and scheduled to be euthanized by January, according to his military medical records.

Today, Benny — a spry German shepherd — is anything but excess to Debbie Kandoll, who found him during a determined search to adopt a retired military working dog.

Even at the advanced dog age of 10, with degenerative bone disease, Benny has become an integral part of the Kandoll family since he was adopted from Langley Air Force Base, Va., on Jan. 4.

Kandoll, the wife of an Air Force Reserve officer currently on active duty, wants to get the word out to other military families and civilians that retired dogs are available for adoption at military working dog facilities across the country, as are some younger dogs who may have washed out of the program.

She has launched a Web site that includes phone numbers for 125 military working dog facilities.

The idea of supporting the troops, said Kandoll, who lives near Goldsboro, N.C., “should apply to all veterans, not just the human ones.”

Kandoll said she thought at first that she could adopt retired dogs only through the Defense Military Working Dog School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

“People should check with regional facilities to see what is available,” she said.

As for Benny, he’s thriving and his mobility has improved, she said — partly because he now gets to sleep on comfy pillows instead of concrete.

Although Benny is no longer on military patrols and sniffing for drugs, he is anything but retired. He visits hospitals, including the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Durham, N.C., as a certified therapy dog.

Kandoll and Benny make appearances at local events to raise awareness and encourage more civilians to adopt retired military working dogs.

Last year, 360 retired military working dogs were adopted or transferred to law enforcement agencies, according to officials at the Defense Military Working Dog School, with the 341st Training Squadron at Lackland.

Of those, 103 were transferred to law enforcement agencies, 139 were adopted at Lackland and the remaining dogs were adopted elsewhere, many likely by former military working dog handlers.

Under a law passed in 2000, dogs declared “excess” by the Defense Department can be adopted by law-enforcement agencies, prior military handlers and the general public.

“A lot of people still don’t know they can adopt dogs,” said Ron Aiello, founder of the U.S. War Dogs Association and a former military dog handler in Vietnam. “They don’t know dogs were used in Vietnam and that they are being used now. I’d like to see more veterans adopt military working dogs.”

Aiello said he works closely with Kandoll to provide information to people who want to adopt dogs. Interest has come from a number of Vietnam veteran dog handlers, many of whom had to leave their dogs behind in Vietnam.

He and Kandoll think adopting the dogs can be therapeutic for veterans.

To adopt a military working dog, prospective owners fill out a basic application with questions about their experience with dogs, other pets in the household, yard size, fencing and children in the household, officials said.

Once a match for a prospective adoption is made, an agreement is signed for the transfer of ownership, in which the new owner releases the Defense Department from liability.

The dogs are free, but the new owners must pay all costs, including transportation.

Officials at the Military Working Dog School said they have not had to euthanize any dogs for lack of someone to adopt them. In fact, they’ve had to establish a waiting list because there are not enough dogs to meet the high demand for them in the community and with law-enforcement agencies.

Kandoll’s dream is to build a Web site that connects people to working dogs. “These people at Lackland go above and beyond to place dogs in a home,” she said. “But it’s such an overwhelming job. The problem is that the word hasn’t gotten out that after the handlers and law enforcement, civilians can adopt the dogs.

“That’s why the kennel master had this smile in his voice when I called and asked if he had a dog available for adoption on the afternoon of Nov. 29,” she said.

“He said, ‘Yes, I do. ... His name is Benny, and he’s a great big goofball.’”

Kandoll had checked with Lackland officials earlier in November, but Benny was not in their database of dogs available for adoption, although he had been declared “excess” — ready to be retired — in October.

“If I hadn’t had the military connection, I would not have known how to contact these other facilities,” she said.

She and her husband drove to Langley Air Force Base on Jan. 4 and picked up Benny.

As part of the adoption process, Kandoll received Benny’s military medical records.

She quickly noticed that on Nov. 29, Benny officially had been scheduled for euthanasia in December or January. Nov. 29 was the same day Kandoll had made her 20th phone call — the one that led her to Benny.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Good News from Iraq: 4 Mar 2008

From MNF-I, Youth Sports Club Opens, Child Athletes have Place to Compete.

SULEIKH — As security improves in this Baghdad neighborhood, Iraqi citizens are focusing more attention on the quality of life in their community.

Several Suleikh area residents and leaders, Iraqi Army and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers attended the grand opening celebration of the Suleikh Club, a youth sports center, March 1.

A procession of area athletic teams, including soccer, basketball, wrestling and martial arts groups, opened the festivities. The different squads marched in, proudly displaying colorful uniforms and team signs. The center will provide a place to practice and compete in their individual athletic disciplines.

Several community leaders including Fikrat Kareem, the neighborhood advisory council leader for the area, and Iraqi Army Lt. Col. Yeheya Rasol, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 11th Iraqi Army Division, spoke during the event.

“The opening of the club was beautiful,” Fikrat said through an interpreter. “Many citizens came to the (event). They are excited. Life is returning to normal.”

The club, which was originally built in 1957, is again a place where young people can participate in different sports, said Lt. Col. Wilson Shoffner, the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, currently attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B.

The club was shut down in 2005 due to criminal activity in the area.

“We had a couple of different insurgent groups operating here, some of them actually using the Suleikh Club as a base of operations. Obviously, with insurgents operating out of the club, that drove away the reason for its existence,” said Shoffner, a Lawton, Okla., native.

As the Iraqi Army and the local security forces in the area began to work together with Coalition forces, the area’s safety improved.

“The Iraqi Army and Sons of Iraq work together now,” said Yeheya. “We do our duty together to kick all of the terrorists out of Suleikh for the future (of the community).”

The Iraqi Army, the Suleikh neighborhood council and Coalition forces have been working to renovate the club during the last five months, said Shoffner.

The increased safety encouraged area leaders to focus more on reconciliation efforts.

“This club is the beginning of reunification in the area,” said Fikrat.

The youth sports center will connect several different neighborhoods in the area including Rabee’a, Suleikh, Tunnis, Shababkur and Qahira, he added. The youth sports activities bring the different groups in the area together for a common cause.

As reconciliation efforts continue, community centers, such as the Suleikh Club, will have a lasting impact on the Iraqi citizens.

“It was appreciated by the people here,” said Shoffner. “I think it will continue, long after the Coalition forces are gone, to be a place where people come to focus on youth sports center activities.”

Friday, February 29, 2008

Blue Star Mothers Meeting 2/26/08

February 26, 2008

Debbie Seifert welcomed all members. The meeting was called to order at 6:40pm. Debbie Seifert led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Minutes of the January 29th meeting were posted on the website for review and approval. The Treasurer’s Report was given as follows: January balance of $902.10.

Old Business –

  1. Dues/Membership Applications – Dues in the amount of $10.00 are due and payable to our Treasurer Linda Cagle along with the new Membership Applications.
    1. Team/Committees – There were no Team Committee reports.
  2. Fundraising –
    1. Debbie Seifert is continuing with fundraising efforts by contacting local businesses. She also e-mailed Peter Max, patriotic artist, regarding soliciting one of his paintings to be used in a fundraising raffle.
    2. Certificates are being sent to those individuals and companies who have donated to BSM’s. (Jim Click, Dr. Weiss, Wild Oats Market, VFW and gentleman who donated the certificates.

New Business –

  1. Caring and Sharing Meeting – This new meeting was held at VFW Post #10188 on the second Tuesday in February in order to meet the emotional and informational needs of our Mothers, Grandmothers, etc. The next meeting will be on March 12th. Tracey Cantor from D-M will be the guest speaker and speak on Base Resources, Military One Source, Mental Health issues, etc. or contains helpful links.

  1. Catastrophic Event Fund – There was discussion on setting up a catastrophic event fund for a plant, cheese tray or whatever would be best for the family suffering the event and the amount per event. Helen Quigley made a motion, seconded by Barbara League, for the amount per event not to exceed $50.00. Motion passed.
  2. Pima County Fair – There was discussion on manning a booth at the Fair to let those military mothers, grandmothers, families, etc. in need of support know that we, the BSM’s, are here to help. The rental on a booth is 10ftx10ft is $50.00 and must be manned during Fair hours and have flyers, information packets available. If the booth is left untended for a short period of time, passersby would at least be able to pick up information of BSM/s. Vicki Payne will contact the Fair for more information on hours and to see if we could reserve a booth at “no charge” since BSM is a non-profit, service organization. A suggestion was made that we share the booth with the VFW, VFW Ladies Auxiliary and/or the FRG’s.

Barbara League made a motion, seconded by Crissie Harlan, that a committee be formed to discuss what visual aids, etc. will be needed/used if we have a booth; i.e. BSM banner, bulletin board, laptop with patriotic music and BSM website information, etc. Motion passed. Linda Cagle volunteered to set up the laptop if appropriate information is sent to her. A committee comprising Barbara League, Crissie Harlan, Debbie Miller and Debbie Seifert will meet via e-mail or in person.

This issue was tabled until the March 25th meeting when more information will be available.

ACTION: Vicki Payne will call the Pima County Fair for more information, hours, etc. on BSM’s having a booth at the Fair.

ACTION: Debbie Miller will send a group e-mail to see who would be willing to man the booth.

ACTION: Pima County Fair Committee Members meet via e-mail or in person regarding a booth at the Fair.

ACTION: Linda Cagle will set up laptop with appropriate information for Pima County Fair exhibit.

ACTION: Crissie Harlan will approach the VFW Ladies’ Auxiliary and FRG’s would like to share the booth.

  1. Air Force Reserve Unit – They will be leaving March 5th or 6th. Per Vicki, Kim Sloan would like to know if BSM’s want to team up to see them off. There was discussion on what this would involve; i.e. refreshments, games for children, etc. Vicki will obtain more information from Kim Sloan.

ACTION: Vicki Payne will contact Kim Sloan regarding deployment send-off for Air Force Reserves leaving March 5th or 6th.

  1. Care Packages – Debbie Miller still have lots of items for care packages. Crissie suggested sending a care package to the son of Sherry, a lady both Crissie and DebbierS have been in e-mail contact with. The Post Office now has a new size, one-price box (12x12x5.5) which can be sent to any military address for $10.95. Debbie S made a motion, seconded by Crissie, for BSM’s to send 4 care packages per month. Motion passed. Crissie made a motion, Vicki seconded, to send Shirley’s son a care package. Motion passed.

ACTION: Crissie will e-mail Sherry’s son’s address to Debbie Miller.

ACTION: DebbieS will e-mail Marine Mother’s website to Maria Caria and Vicki.

ACTION: Vicki will add the Marine Mother’s website to the BSM website and send the link for the BSM website to Maria Caria.

  1. Publicity – Discussion on how to inform the public about BSM. Corporate sponsorship was also discussed. No decisions were made.
  2. Easter - The Easter Eggstravaganza sponsored by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary Veteran’s and Family Support Group and led by Kim Sloan was mentioned by Crissie. The Group plans events for basically deployed soldiers but includes others. The Group meets the first Monday of each month from 6:00-7:00pm. Anyone can join and there are no dues. Suggestion was made that BSM’s might want to have a booth at the event which will be held at Reid Park on March 15th. Vicki and Linda will try to attend the next meeting.

ACTION: Vicki and Linda will attend Veteran’s and Family Support Group meeting the first Monday in March if possible.

  1. SHARING –
    1. DebbieM’s son is back in the States and will be attending flight training in Phoenix.
    2. Charli and Mike Greenlees’ son, Jason, who is in the Oregon National Guard, broke his leg March 22nd. Jason returned from Afghanistan in May 2007 and works for the National Guard in Oregon.
    3. Helen’s son may be a month late getting stateside from Afghanistan. Helen’s other son may be deployed but is supposed to be mustered out in October.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30pm with the Serenity Prayer.

Respectfully submitted,

Charli Greenlees

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Soldiers Give Backpacks to School Children

Story by 1st Lt. Myles Frohling
3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs

FOB KALSU — If you were to walk down the streets of Jurf as Sahkr during a school day, you would see a large number of children walking to and from school. One thing you would not see is many children carrying school bags.

Seeing the need, Soldiers of Company A, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, recently distributed school bags to students in the area.

First Sgt. Wayne Lawrence, from Carsville, Mo., first sergeant for Company A; Staff Sgt. Michael Navarro, from Clifton, N.J., a squad leader in 2nd Platoon, Co. A; and Spc. William Johnson, from Bellevue, Wash., a medic with 2nd Platoon, handed out school bags to children near the Tharir primary school in Snadeej.

“There is nothing better than working with our ISF (Iraqi security force) counterparts and making Iraqi children smile with a simple backpack,” Navarro said.

While school bags were being handed out, 1st Lt. Ryan Daly, from Woodbridge, N.J., 2nd Platoon leader, spoke with local residents in the area. The general consensus is that security is good in the area, said Daly.

“Events like this help me realize how important it is for us to be here to protect the children in the area and build their trust in the CF (coalition forces),” said Pfc. Danial Taylor, of Rialto, Calif., a gunner with 2nd Platoon, Co. A.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dozens of Air Force reservists from Tucson to deploy next week

About 80 reservists stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base will head to the Middle East for more than a year

By Aaron Mackey

Dozens of U.S. Air Force reservists based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base are scheduled to deploy next week.
About 80 reservists with the 943rd Rescue Group, which specializes in combat search and rescue, are scheduled to deploy to the Middle East, says Master Sgt. Shawn McCowan, a unit spokesman.
The 943rd will deploy along with members of its parent unit, the 920th Rescue Wing, for more than a year, McCowan says.
McCowan wouldn’t say when the unit would leave or exactly where the reservists would be sent because of security concerns, which is standard military procedure.
The deployment is the first in a series for the unit, he says.
The unit will deploy other reservists in early June and again in October, he says.
The 943rd, a tenant unit at D-M, was activated in February 2005 and is equipped with six HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, according to a military fact sheet.
The 943rd is the only reserve combat rescue unit in the Southwest, the fact sheet says.
The unit was established to provide search and rescue capabilities in support of combat operations abroad and can also respond to natural disasters that occur in the United States.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Valentines's Day!

She hadn't expected him home until April, but last night, Elizabeth Penn cried tears of joy as she embraced her father, David Penn, a New Hampshire Army National Guard soldier home from Iraq on a two-week leave.

A freshman at Keene State College, Elizabeth had just walked into a semi-formal dance at Holloway Hall when the song "Hero" by Mariah Carey started to play.

Her friends, who had all kept the secret for weeks, turned and looked toward the door. That's when Elizabeth saw her father, dressed in fatigues, carrying a bouquet of flowers and a stuffed animal. The two embraced, and the tears started to flow as Elizabeth's friends and family encircled them, capturing the moment forever on cameras and video.

"I'm just shocked," said Elizabeth, wearing a black gown with rhinestones. "I don't know what to say. I'm shaking."


Dave Penn of New Hampshire Army National Guard's 34th RAOC Unit surprises his daughter, Elizabeth Penn, 18, at a Keene State College dance last night. (KRISTEN SENZ)

A Manchester resident, David Penn is a member of the Army National Guard's 34th Rear Area Operations Center Unit, a security force of 30 soldiers currently stationed in Mosul in northern Iraq.

"I miss my family a lot," said David, who was deployed last July and hasn't seen his wife, daughter or twin sons since. "I miss my kids."

"She'll always be my little baby," he said of his daughter.

Donna Penn, David's wife of more than 20 years, orchestrated the Valentine's Day surprise for Elizabeth. She said the two have always had an extremely close relationship.

"They're like peas and carrots from the Forrest Gump movie," she said.

The surprise reunion was Donna's Valentine's Day gift to her family.

"It was exciting," she said. "It was heartwarming. I was nervous, because I know how close they are. It was heartwarming, and that's Valentine's Day. We're very lucky to have this day with him."

When she was able to catch her breath, Elizabeth said seeing her father "was like a burst of energy, because I haven't seen him for so long."

The Penn family planned to spend the weekend together at a bed and breakfast in Troy.

"We just want to regroup, get to know each other again and just be a family again," Donna said.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Good News From Iraq. 15 Feb., 2008

From MNF-I, Adwaniyah Residents Look to Brighter Future, Normalcy.

Capt. Douglas Hoyt, from Columbus, Ohio, commander of Troop A, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. and leaders of Adwaniyah have worked hard to establish trust and confidence within the community to improve the security and economic situation for the town.  Photo by 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs.
Capt. Douglas Hoyt, from Columbus, Ohio, commander of Troop A, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. and leaders of Adwaniyah have worked hard to establish trust and confidence within the community to improve the security and economic situation for the town. Photo by 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs.
— Last year, the community of Adwaniyah witnessed the worst of what the insurgency brought to the people of Iraq.

There were reports of kidnappings and murders. Members of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) were said to have forced residents out of their homes. Soon, Adwaniyah residents realized that life under AQI would be a step backward and they began to work with Coalition forces to rid their community of AQI.

Adwaniyah citizens Hazim Shaker Ahmen and Riyah Yas Khudayr, both former Iraqi Army officers, began working with Coalition forces and started ‘Sons of Iraq’ (SoI) programs last October.

In mid-November AQI mounted an offensive against U.S. Soldiers, Iraqi Army and Sons of Iraq. At the time, Troop B, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division was the Army unit patrolling Adwaniyah. Troop B and the SoI repelled the offensive and since then AQI members have either been detained or fled the community.

Now, Troop B, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. controls the battle space and the future of Adwaniyah is bright.

“The local leadership, the Sons of Iraq and Iraqi Army all played an important part in making this a success and they continue to do so,” said Capt. Douglas Hoyt, Troop B, 6-8th Cav. Regt. commander, from Columbus, Ohio. “The willingness to make a stand, to sacrifice and work hard has paid off.”

In December, a SoI headquarters was set up and a town council was established.

By January, word began to spread that the community was safer. Residents began moving back into the city and businesses started re-opening.

“The situation has gone from bad to better,” said local SoI co-founder Ahmen. “The task has begun to improve the security, economic and employment situation and the relationship with the central Government of Iraq.”

Assisting with the improvement in security, Troop B, 6-8th Cav. Regt. established Patrol Base Dolby in the community to help keep residents safe, rebuild the infrastructure and try to boost the economy.

(Story by 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Soldiers See Need

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU — Despite nerve damage in his legs that confined him to a wheelchair, 7-year-old Yasser Mahmed was always in good spirits, waving to Soldiers passing through his neighborhood in Arab Jabour. The Soldiers of Company D, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division noticed the little boy, who relied on the legwork of his 12-year-old cousin, Ahmed Sluman, to propel his chair around.

The boys’ teamwork inspired Soldiers of Company D to reach out and make a difference. On Feb. 7, the Soldiers gave Yasser a new wheelchair, one with rugged tires to help better navigate the terrain.

"I am grateful for the assistance," said Mahmed's father, Yasser Mahmed Hussen. "I would like to say thank you more than one time."

Sluman said that family is very important to him and caring for his younger cousin comes naturally. "There are strong relationships in Iraqi families. We rely on our families," he said.

The Soldiers hope that through small acts of kindness like this, they can build trust in the community.

"The overall goal is to build trustful relations between us and the community," said 1st Lt. Bryan Deminico, platoon leader, Company D. "Little things done at the community level show we are here to help."

Friday, February 8, 2008


The mission statement of Blue Star Mothers:
We are a non-profit (501[c]3) service organization supporting each other and our children while promoting patriotism.

As we begin a new year, I have been pondering on what we can do to meet the needs of Blue Star Mothers. After speaking to some mothers who are no longer attending our meetings, it has come to my attention that we are not meeting the emotional needs of many of our mothers. I realize that we are all working full time jobs, we have family responsibilities, and quite frankly no one wants to sit through another fundraising meeting time after time after time.

I have spoken with the commander of the VFW, and have been granted permission to use the meeting room at the VFW on the 2nd Tuesday of each month as well as the 4th Tuesday of the month. So on the 2nd Tuesday of each month we will have a meeting that is for emotional support, caring and sharing. We have mothers out there who are hurting and no where to turn, Well, from this point on, there will be a place that they can go and get the support they need.

We will continue to have our business meetings on the 4th Tues of each month. If there is time I would also like to have time for emotional support on these nights as well.

Please feel free to attend one or both meetings each month. We will begin with the additional meeting next Tues, February 12. This meeting will only be emotional support, no business meeting. We only want to meet the needs of all our members.

Another thought was to have pot lucks for this meeting each month or, a dessert bar, or,e healthy items like relish trays etc. A spaghetti dinner would also be fun and easy. Please feel free to email me or Vicki Payne on your ideas.

I want to personally invite and welcome each and everyone of you to please attend one of the meetings, give us a chance, and if ever there is anything that you feel needs changed or if you feel we are not meeting your needs, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will see what I can do to make a change. Only you know how you are feeling and unless those feelings are shared, we can't help one another. The mission statement for Blue Star Mothers is to support one another.

I hope to see everyone on Tuesday, Feb 12, 630-8:30 PM, for our new and improved meeting. We all have big shoulders and we all have had the same cares & concerns at some point. Let's be there for each other.

You are all a great bunch of ladies. Remember without mom's there would be no military persons serving our country. So you are very very important. Thank you for all you do.

Thank you
Debbie Seifert

Thursday, January 31, 2008

January Meeting

January 29, 2008

Debbie Miller welcomed all members and guests. The meeting was called to order at 6:38pm. Vincent, Debbie Miller’s son led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Minutes of the November 27th meeting were posted on the website for review and approval. The Treasurer’s Report was given as follows: November balance of $558.10. There were deposits of $234.00 for dues, donations and bracelets resulting in a balance of $792.10 on January 29th.

Old Business –

  1. Dues/Membership Applications – Dues in the amount of $10.00 are due and payable to our Treasurer Linda Cagle along with the new Membership Applications.
  2. Team/Committees – Teams were explained for the benefit of our guests and new members. Each Team should meet on a monthly basis either in person or via email. A Team report should be submitted at the BSM Monthly Meeting.
    1. Courageous Tigers – Fund Raising.
    2. Flying Eagles – Letters and correspondence.
    3. Gentle Lambs – Emotional/moral support.
    4. Industrious Ants – Community service.
  3. Fundraising –
    1. Debbie Seifert received a donation of $100.00 from Jim Click and plans to contact other auto dealerships in the Tucson area regarding matching that donation.

ACTION – Debbie contact local dealerships regarding matching Jim Click donation.

New Business –

  1. Publicity – Discussion on how to inform the public about BSM. No decisions were made.
  2. Homecoming of 285th – Some of the troops should arrive at Pinal Air Park on January 31st. Additional troops should be arriving on February 2nd. If you can, please plan to go early, around noon, to help with the displaying of banners and flags.
  3. Fallen or Wounded Soldiers – Discussion was on how to and/or whether to set up some sort of fund to send cards, deliver food, etc. to those current or past BSM members who have a soldier who is killed or wounded. Support is the main issue. National has no rule for anything of this sort. They do receive information on any casualties and do send that information to the local BSM Chapters. Suggestion was made that the Gentle Lambs meet to prepare a proposal for submission to the next BSM Monthly Meeting.

ACTION – Gentle Lambs meet to prepare a proposal for submission to next Monthly Meeting regarding fund to be established for bereavement support.

Chrissy Harlan’s son, Daniel, joined the meeting to discuss his experiences in Afghanistan and answered many questions of concern to the BSM members and guests.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Charli Greenlees