14, 2004, Volume 1, Issue 57
Index of Articles
Note: Topics below
are now bookmarked! Click on the underlined topic below to link to the pages on
Iraq Duty Deters Re-enlistment
National Guard and Reserve
Mobilized as of April 14, 2004
LA National Guard Activated
Kansas National Guard puts 1,100 on Alert
75 Guard Members In Duluth May Be Deployed
Easter Reunions as Troops Return Home
Guard Unit Is Set to Return
National Guard’s 957th Back on U.S. soil
Guard’s 161st Arrives Friday
A Welcome Home for Wounded GIs
National Guard Unit Returns to Families and to Fanfare
W.Va. Army National Guard Members Return
Most College Costs Paid for National Guard Members
Phone Card Gifts Make it Easy for Americans to
Show Deployed Troops They Care
Legislature Looks to Aid,
Bolster National Guard Ranks
Politicians Push For Bill to
Protect Guardsmen and Reservists From Discrimination
GUARD IN IRAQ……………………………………………………………………………… 23
Utah National Guardsman Awarded the Bronze Star
Mark Lyons is a Pilot of a C-130
They Save Lives Amid Hell of War
Memorial Service Honors Soldier Who Served With Two Sisters in Iraq
For Guard Unit’s Kin, No End to the Grieving
National Guard Deployment Could Cause Firefighter Shortage
Extended Tours in Iraq Dash Hopes and Raise Fears Among Troops’ Families
Army Ignores Illness Complaints
TRIBUTE TO OUR FALLEN HEROES……………………………………………… 36
National Guard Video Honors Sacrifices in War on Terror 29
Colorado Guard Forms Alliance With Kingdom of
CAS3 to Merge with Officer Advance
Bush Fulfills Vow to Injured GI
TRICARE website for
Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) contains
Militarystudent.org is a website that helps
article, announcement, or website that you’d like to share with the National
Guard Family Program Community? Send
your suggestions in an e-mail to [email protected].
By Dave Moniz
WASHINGTON — The
number of soldiers staying in the Army is falling just as the demand is
increasing in Iraq.
Through March 17, nearly halfway through the
fiscal year, the Army fell about 1,000 short of meeting its goal of keeping
25,786 soldiers whose enlistments were ending or who were eligible to retire.
That works out to a 96% retention rate.
Last year, the retention figure was 106% because
more soldiers stayed than the Army had planned. The retention goal assumes that
not all eligible to stay will remain.
Military personnel experts have warned that
full-time soldiers and members of the Guard and Reserve could begin
leaving this year because of the strains of service, including longer and more
frequent overseas missions. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged
Thursday that the Defense Department will extend duty in Iraq beyond one year
for 20,000 soldiers. Their time in Iraq will grow as much as 90 days.
“We regret having to extend those
individuals,” Rumsfeld said. “The country is at war, and we need to
do what is necessary to succeed.”
Helen Powell’s husband, Sgt. 1st Class Arnold
Powell, 47, was scheduled to come home at the end of the month. “I have
something from every holiday he’s missed,” said Powell, 44, of Fort Polk,
La. “I’ve got stale Easter candy in this basket. I know it sounds stupid.
That’s just something I do for me to cope.”
The extension comes after two weeks of violence
in Iraq, including the kidnappings of 40 people and a series of deadly attacks
on convoys and U.S. troops.
Apr 14, 2004
National Guard and Reserve Mobilized as of April 14, 2004
This week all the services reported
a decrease with the exception of the Coast Guard who remain unchanged in
support of the partial mobilization. The net collective result is 1,728 less
reservists on active duty than last week.
At any given time, services may mobilize some units and
individuals while demobilizing others, making it possible for these figures to
either increase or decrease. Total number currently on active duty in support
of the partial mobilization for the Army National Guard and Army Reserve
is 150,289; Naval Reserve 2,654; Air National Guard and Air Force
Reserve, 13,035; Marine Corps Reserve, 5,086; and the Coast Guard Reserve,
1,586. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve on active duty
to 172,650 including both units and individual augmentees.
A cumulative roster
of all National Guard and Reserve who are currently on active duty can
be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Apr2004/d20040414ngr.pdf.
April 15, 2004
LA National Guard Activated
Reported by KPLC Staff
A Louisiana National Guard brigade with about
four-thousand soldiers has been activated for overseas service and about
three-thousand Fort Polk-based soldiers will remain in Iraq longer than
One squadron of the Fort Polk-based Second Armored Cavalry
recently returned from Iraq, but the Pentagon says the rest of the unit will
Members of the Lafayette-based 256th Infantry Enhanced
Separate Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard been activated.
The units are set to train at Ford Hood, Texas, for deployment
in support of the Iraq war.
April 15, 2004
Kansas National Guard puts 1,100 on Alert
Citizen-soldiers may be sent to Iraq
By Chris Moon
Terresa Hoke watches the news about Iraq from time to time.
She has been so busy, she said, it is difficult to catch the
daily dose of television clips.
Hoke, of Lawrence, does know about the escalating violence in Iraq — she says
the media tend to focus on that more than on the “positive news”
coming out of the country. It is something she has kept in mind as one of about
1,100 Kansas Army National Guard soldiers who were told this week they
may be headed for Iraq.
has that initial fear,” she said. “But some of these soldiers have
been training for 20 years to do their jobs.”
Hoke, a captain, is commander of Topeka’s 74th Quartermaster
Company, a unit of about 100 citizen-soldiers who are trained to run facilities
that store and issue water, food, fuel, construction materials, clothing and
equipment. The unit can support up to 18,500 soldiers.
It is one of five Kansas Army National Guard units,
with mostly support and transportation duties, that were put on alert Monday.
News of the possible mobilizations was released Wednesday.
“Alert status” means mobilization orders could come
later this year as part of a third rotation of soldiers into Iraq. Monday’s
alert was the largest involving the Kansas National Guard since the war
started last year.
“We don’t have any time, dates or locations right
now,” said Hoke, a 13-year member of the Army National Guard. “All we
know is we are on alert.”
The following units also were alerted:
• 778th Transportation Company (Heavy Combat), headquartered
in Kansas City, Kan., with detachments in Manhattan, Emporia and Council Grove.
• Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 169th Corps
Support Battalion in Olathe.
• 891st Engineer Battalion, headquartered in Iola with
companies in Pittsburg, Coffeyville, Cherryvale, Fort Scott and Chanute.
• 137th Transportation Company (Palletized Loading System),
headquartered in Olathe with a detachment in St. Marys.
The 137th returned in January from serving in Operation Iraqi
Freedom. The unit served in Fort Bragg, N.C., although about 20 of its members
were sent to Iraq.
“The soldiers of the Kansas Army National Guard
always stand ready to answer their country’s call,” said Maj. Gen. Tod M.
Bunting, the state adjutant general. “If they are mobilized, I am
confident that these guardsmen will continue that long and proud tradition of
of Wednesday, nearly 173,000 National Guard and Reserve forces were on
active duty, many in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.
Currently, about 600 Kansas Army National Guard soldiers are deployed.
Topeka’s 74th Quartermaster Company first started training in
January 2000. It is one of the younger units, made up mostly of people in their
Most of its members are married. Many have children. One of
the unit’s members gave birth a few days ago, and another is due next month.
Members work an array of jobs, from teachers to construction
workers to police officers to full-time guardsmen.
Hoke is one of the latter. She works full time coordinating
training for Olathe’s 169th Corps Support Battalion, another unit put on alert
It means the 31-year-old has double-duty of sorts, as her own
unit and the 169th prepare for a possible deployment. For the past three days,
she said, she has been running over checklists in her mind, making sure her
unit has done the drills, completed the training, is ready for duty.
Hoke said she is satisfied it is. Unit members operate
forklifts, able to maneuver supplies sitting on pallets to items as large as a
They know their equipment, and they know how to protect
themselves, she said. For now, they must get their families, finances and jobs
squared away as they prepare for a possible deployment.
Hoke said the transition has been made easier by the fact her husband,
Josh, is a recruiter with the Kansas Army National Guard in Lawrence. He
spent four years on active duty and knows the drill. The Hokes don’t have
Still, that is the difficult part — “leaving my family
for what could be up to two years,” Hoke said. “My husband is my
stabilizing factor, and I won’t be able to call him five times a day.”
And despite the swirl of controversy surrounding the war in
Iraq — as the 2004 presidential election begins to center on the conflict —
Hoke remains resolute. She joined the military after watching her older brother
serve in the first Iraq war.
It sounded exciting, she said, and this was a way to give back
to her country.
But her current hometown of Lawrence has as much anti-war
sentiment as any Kansas community. Hoke, however, said she has gotten nothing
but support from her neighbors.
“I joined the military and signed my name on the dotted
line,” she said matter-of-factly. “I will do for my country what is
required of me.”
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has participated in numerous
activations and send-offs of Kansas National Guard soldiers since taking
office in January 2003. She said the ongoing war and a recent memorial service
for five soldiers from Fort Riley who were killed in one attack heightens her
concern for the soldiers’ safety.
“My thoughts and prayers are with these soldiers who may
very well be sent into harm’s way in the near future,” Sebelius said.
“Each and every soldier leaving their family, their job, their life to
serve deserves our respect and support.”
Nine Kansans — none from the Kansas National Guard —
have died in Iraq since the start of the war.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
April 16, 2004
Members in Duluth May be Deployed
By Chuck Frederick; News Tribune staff writer
About 75 Minnesota National Guard members from Duluth
are among 890 placed on alert for possible mobilization, the guard announced
Duluth’s D Company, an electronic maintenance unit, is part of
the 434th Main Support Battalion. Based at Camp Ripley, Minn., other Minnesota
434th companies also placed on alert include Austin, St. Cloud, Long Prairie
and Cottage Grove.
It’s not known where the 434th will be deployed or whether it
will be activated.
“There’s no certainty,” said the Minnesota
National Guard’s Col. Denny Shields. “It’s likely they’ll be
mobilized. But we don’t know for sure. It could be anything from none of them
to all of them being called up.”
Giving the part-time military members notice of a possible
deployment allows them to arrange time off with employers, arrange child care
and take care of other personal issues.
“This is a prudent measure to ensure that these soldiers
are prepared,” said Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, adjutant general of the Minnesota
National Guard. “This alert will enable our soldiers to have
predictability in order to prepare their families, employers and schools.”
More than 1,800 National Guard soldiers and Air Guard
members from Minnesota are on federal active duty. Many are serving in the war
on terrorism and in Iraq.
Duluth’s Company D drills this weekend at the National Guard Armory on Airpark Boulevard. Members at the armory Thursday declined to
comment about their alert status.
About 35 members of D
Company had been activated in February 2003. They stood guard and helped
protect fighter jets at the Duluth Air Guard base.
April 12, 2004
Easter Reunions as Troops Return Home
nerve-racking year in Iraq, soldiers happy to be out of danger
By Meredith May, Delfin Vigil
About 120 members of the California National Guard returned home Sunday after a year working as prison
guards and military police in some of the most dangerous hotspots in Iraq.
Soldiers were euphoric
to be out of the danger zone as they greeted relatives after stepping off
chartered flights at the San Francisco and Oakland airports.
Even the trip back to
California was an ordeal for 90 members of the 870th Military Police Company
based in Pittsburg. Scheduled to leave Iraq six different times, the troops
finally left for Kuwait in mid-March, flew to Washington state last week on
Monday and finally arrived in Oakland about 7 a.m. Sunday.
Tearful Easter reunions played out on the tarmacs.
In Oakland, Spc. Dionicio Arevalo Jr. of Hollister, who spent
the past year as a gunner on a humvee, saw his son Dionicio III for the first
“I had a dream about him before he was born, and he looks
just like I imagined,” said the 31-year-old father.
His wife, Rosse, said she played a recorded tape of her
husband’s voice to her baby during her pregnancy. Later, she held the phone to
her baby’s crib when her husband was able to make a call out of Iraq, and she
also showed Dionicio photographs of dad.
“He got used to his father’s voice, because he’d smile
when he heard it,” she said.
Dionicio III let his
father hold him, and he stared intently at his father as he spoke.
“I think he recognizes my voice,” the elder Dionicio
Bagpipe players performed “Scotland the Brave”
behind Terminal One. Nine-year-old Darren and his 5-year-old sister Phoenix
scanned the crowd for their mother, 27-year-old Heather Zongker of Oakley.
Phoenix spotted her
and ran into her mother’s arms.
“It’s such a relief,” said Zongker, a supply
sergeant who kept the military police stocked with uniforms, water and boots.
Darren said he’s glad
mom is back — he missed her pancakes.
Lt. Michael Drayton of
Sacramento hadn’t held his son, Jacob, since the day the boy was born only a
few hours before Drayton shipped out to serve as a volunteer commander of an
870th military police unit.
On Sunday, Drayton said, “We’re both kind of shocked.
We’re both looking at each other like, ‘Who’s this?’ “
In Iraq, he had guarded areas in Karbala, Najaf and the Abu
Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad. He’s proud that his unit was the only National Guard company to return
without a casualty.
“We were under mortar fire every day,” he said.
“We were in the holiest cities in Iraq, and it was very tense. There’s
nothing you can do in that situation but just take it.”
It was much the same across the bay in San Francisco, where
about 30 members of the 2632nd Transportation Company, based in San Bruno, were
John Edwards of Vallejo fought back tears as he and his
7-year-old daughter, Jonelle, greeted her mother, Sgt. Shannon Alvarez.
“We made mommy promise to stay home for a long
time,” Edwards said.
Not all of the returning soldiers had big welcoming
“We’re the lonely people,” said Cpl. John Uyeda of
Fresno, standing next to Spc. Katherine Borden of San Diego.
They were among the few soldiers who did not have family
members able to greet them at the airport. But they were still smiling.
“Tonight, I’m going to have a steak,” said Borden, a
20-year-old San Diego City College student.
Guard Unit Is Set to Return
The 160 soldiers in the 253d
Transportation Company are in Kuwait, waiting to depart.
By Associated Press
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE N.J. – New Jersey’s first Army National Guard unit deployed to
Iraq will soon head home after a year of duty with Operation Iraqi Freedom.
As the 253d Transportation Company, based in Cape May Court
House, prepares to return, 300 members of the New Jersey National Guard’s 114th
Infantry – based in part in South Jersey – are getting ready for a tour in the
Middle East beginning next month.
The mobilization includes companies from Woodbury, Mount
Holly, Burlington City and Freehold. Some are expected to be deployed to the
Arabian Peninsula and others to the Sinai Peninsula.
The 253d Transportation Company’s 160 soldiers, meanwhile, are
in Kuwait awaiting departure for home, said retired Sgt. Maj. Michael Hughes, a
family-support coordinator for the unit. No arrival date has been provided.
Some relatives have been planning celebrations, while others
are contemplating quieter welcomes. Plans were dashed twice before when the
unit’s tour of duty was extended.
“You’re waiting for him to come home, and he doesn’t come
home,” said Veronica Perez of Hammonton, referring to her husband, Luis.
“They got out just in time, because now there is so much more
The 253d, which was mobilized in February 2003 at Fort Dix and
arrived in Iraq last April to carry out supply missions, suffered no
casualties. Its return is part of a major rotation of 125,000 U.S. troops.
April 15, 2004
National Guard’s 957th Back on U.S. Soil
Members of the North Dakota National
Guard’s 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company returned to the
United States on Tuesday, after a year of duty in the Middle East.
It’s awesome to know that you’re home,” said Kayla Gartner, a member
of the unit.
and about 170 other soldiers flew into an airport near St. Louis around 6:30
p.m., and were en route to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., by bus late Tuesday night,
Guard spokesman Capt. Dan Gaffney said.
group of about 30 North Dakotans, including Maj. Gen. Mike Haugen, the Guard
state commander, greeted the troops when they stepped off the plane.
Gaffney said the soldiers were thrilled to be back on American
“They were pretty excited to see a drinking fountain with
cold water,” he said.
unit will spend a little less than a week in Missouri going through
outprocessing, before flying back to North Dakota.
“If things go as planned, we might be able to get these
guys out of here and back home on Sunday,” Gaffney said.
The unit specializes in building bridges to move troops and
equipment over water. Three members of the unit were killed in Iraq, and
another four were injured.
The 957th arrived in the Middle East in April 2003. The
soldiers’ return this week was briefly put in doubt when the unit and several
others preparing to return to the United States were put on hold last weekend
because of the recent heavy fighting in Iraq.
“Sunday night, they called us together and said we were
going home, and everybody started cheering,” said Brackston Mettler, a
member of the unit.
The 957th left Kuwait the following day.
April 16, 2004
161st Arrives Friday
Arrival time set for
between 8 and 9 a.m. at armory on Museum Drive in Spring Hill
By George Werneth, Staff Reporter
than 100 members of the 161st Area Support Medical Battalion are scheduled to
return to their home armory in west Mobile between 8 and 9 a.m. Friday after
spending a year overseas in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Hundreds of family members and well-wishers are expected to be
on hand for the arrival of the unit at Fort Hardema McLaughlin National Guard Armory, also known as
Spring Hill Armory, at 720 Museum Drive.
The soldiers – who had been stationed at camps in Iraq,
Kuwait, Qatar and Dubai – will be making the 500-mile-plus last leg of their
journey home in buses from Fort Stewart, Ga., which is near Savannah. The 161st
arrived at Fort Stewart on Friday to be processed out before returning home.
Gary Raymond, a member of the 161st involved in coordinating the battalion’s
arrival in Mobile, asked that area residents line Spring Hill Avenue between
Interstate 65 and McGregor Avenue to greet the Guard members Friday morning.
Raymond also requested that residents decorate the fence
around the armory with welcome home signs, yellow ribbons and balloons to show
The 161st provided medical care, laboratory services,
optometry services, dental care, medical logistics, mental health services and
other care for coalition troops and civilians in the four Middle East nations.
They treated nearly 230,000 troops and provided tens of thousands of
immunizations to people who otherwise would not have been immunized, a
“We would like to have an outpouring of support along
Spring Hill Avenue by people waving flags and saluting the sacrifice” the
Guard members have made, Mobile City Councilman Steve Nodine said. Nodine is
the District 7 representative, and his district includes the home armory for
the battalion headquarters.
The 161st left Mobile on Feb. 1, 2003, for Fort Stewart and
arrived in Kuwait two months later.
number of unit members are police officers, firefighters and emergency medical
technicians in civilian life, and their absence put a strain on area
public-safety agencies. The primary mission of the battalion is to provide
combat health support.
About 7,800 members of the Alabama Army and Air
National Guard have been mobilized since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks on New York and Washington. Alabama Guard spokesman Norman Arnold recently
reported that about 4,000 of them remain on active duty, including 2,000
stationed in Iraq.
161st arrived back in the United States shortly before the Department of
Defense announced it was going to extend the deployment of thousands of U.S
troops in Iraq. The extensions were a result of increased violence by
insurgents and because a number of experienced units were scheduled to return
A Welcome Home for Wounded GIs
Gonsalves knew last year that her husband was “on a mission” to do
something to help wounded U.S. soldiers.
But she didn’t know what he had in
mind until November, when John Gonsalves, 37, called her at work and told her
to look at a Web site he’d created: homesforourtroops.org.
“I said, ‘Oh, my gosh,
honey.’ I was very shocked,” she recalls. “I had no idea it had gone
John Gonsalves, a
construction supervisor in Wareham, Mass., had decided to create a charity to
raise money to build houses adapted for servicemembers badly wounded in Iraq. The project
became a reality in March and has brought in $60,000 in five weeks.
“Our motto is, essentially,
‘Homes for our troops,’ ” John Gonsalves says. “It’s not a
(politically) left thing, it’s not a right thing, it’s the right thing. As
Americans, we have a responsibility to these soldiers and their families.”
Gonsalves was looking for someone
who could use the help. In local news reports, he found Sgt. Peter Damon, 31,
an electrician and member of the Massachusetts National Guard from
Injured in tire explosion
Damon was changing a tire on a
Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq on Oct. 21 when the nitrogen-inflated tire
exploded. He lost his right arm above the elbow and his left hand and wrist.
Another soldier, Pfc. Paul Bueche, 19, of Daphne, Ala., was killed.
Gonsalves first approached Damon
in a series of telephone calls that began in December. “He was a little
skeptical,” Gonsalves remembers.
As Damon recalls: “I got a
message that a guy called and said he wanted to build me a house. And I said:
‘What’s up with that? This guy must just be a little bit overexcited or
In February, Gonsalves visited
Damon at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where the soldier
was being treated. Gonsalves showed Damon the legal papers that established the
non-profit organization to prove that it was real. Damon then accepted
Gonsalves’ offer to help build him a house.
“This is a huge burden lifted
off my mind right now, if we can get it done,” says Damon, who is married
and has two children.
Gonsalves got the idea from news
reports out of Iraq about soldiers losing limbs from explosions and enemy
attacks. “I just remember watching it, wondering what happens to a guy
from there on,” he says.
In fact, the Department of
Veterans Affairs can help disabled soldiers obtain up to $50,000 to help adapt
a house to meet their needs or to assist in the purchase of a home. Most young
soldiers, Gonsalves learned, can’t afford to buy a house and instead rent.
His dream was to generate money
that would help disabled GIs finance a house and then help them build it with
his construction experience.
of grant money they have to build a house, we want to be able to fund the
rest,” Gonsalves says.
He has no military background, but
his grandfather was killed in Normandy during World War II.
When Gonsalves visited at Walter
Reed, he discovered many soldiers who had lost limbs in Iraq and even more
inspiration for this charity. And he dreams big.
“We really need to raise, I
think conservatively, $20 million. We’ve got soldiers all over this country
that have been pretty badly injured. If we’re looking at around 4,000 guys
injured (in Iraq), I’ve got to assume that there are several hundred who have
been really badly injured,” Gonsalves says. “If we’re going to build
hundreds of homes, it’s going to take millions of dollars.”
For the past few months, he has
been working on his charity full time, living off family savings and his wife’s
income. She works for Talbot’s, a clothing store chain. His effort has gotten
media attention, and that is beginning to change life for him, his wife and
their 4-year-old son, Hunter.
“I think part of my job is to
keep us grounded,” says Sherri Gonsalves, 40. She concedes that she
worries about their future finances as her husband launches this charity.
Bringing in donations
They have been moved by the
response. Local hardware and home-furnishing businesses have been donating
kitchen cabinets, flooring and windows for Damon’s house. Children in the
Wareham area are donating money from lemonade sales or in lieu of birthday
gifts. An elderly woman sent $2 with a letter praising Gonsalves’ idea.
He is looking for a piece of
property to buy or receive as a donation so construction on Damon’s house can
begin. Gonsalves is accepting contributions mailed to Homes for Our Troops
Inc., P.O. Box 615, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532.
“This is really a true
calling. He’s so passionate about it,” Sherri Gonsalves says. “My
husband was very changed after 9/11, and he always absolutely felt like there
was something that he needed to do. And so I think that it kept eating away at
Guard Unit Returns to Families and to Fanfare
By Jill P. Capuzzo
DATELINE: FORT DIX,
N.J., April 17
Sgt. William Gaskill lost 89
pounds. Sgt. Michael Sherno became a first-time homeowner. And Specialist Kelly
Wiest’s daughter went from being an infant to a toddler.
These and dozens of other changes were revealed Saturday as
hundreds of relatives and friends welcomed home New Jersey’s first National Guard unit to return from
Iraq, after serving there for the last year.
The 160 soldiers of the 253rd
Transportation Company flew from Kuwait, landing at McGuire Air Force base
Saturday morning. From there, they were bused to Fort Dix, where they were
greeted by hand-painted posters, flags, and brigades of relatives wearing
T-shirts bearing the soldiers’ names and pictures.
They marched in formation though
the sea of well-wishers, and after a short speech by Gov. James E. McGreevey,
they were released to their families, and hugs and tears became the order of
the day. Their commander, Col. Charles Harvey, said proudly that they had
driven 1.4 million miles with no serious injuries.
Toni Presnall continued to squeeze
the hand of her 20-year-old son, Specialist James Presnall, an hour after his
arrival, shaking her head in disbelief that he was actually standing beside
her. Like almost everyone in the room, the Presnalls spent the last week
monitoring rumors that the unit might be called back for an extended duty, as
had been the case with two other units whose troops thought they had finished
“On Friday, the members of our
family support group were saying it was 90 percent sure they were coming, but
still, it is the Army, and they can make changes any time they want to,”
said Specialist Presnall’s father, Howard.
A transportation unit, the 253rd
Company, based in Cape May Court House, felt particularly vulnerable to being
recalled. So until their airplane left the ground Friday evening, most of the
soldiers refused to believe they were coming home.
While the soldiers said it was nice
to be back, some, like Sergeant Sherno, 24, admitted it was a little
“overwhelming,” an understandable reaction considering a contingent
of 30 relatives, all wearing tan T-shirts with his name on them, were on hand
to welcome him back.
“I have mixed feelings.
Everybody’s so different,” he said, looking a bit dazed. He will get to
see the new house his parents bought for him in Cape May next weekend.
For Specialist Wiest, 22, the year
abroad was particularly difficult, having to leave behind her 9-month-old
daughter, Madison. Specialist Wiest’s mother cared for the baby, who is now 21
months old, sending a steady stream of pictures and video images abroad.
When they signed up for the National Guard, many of the unit’s
members said, they did not think they would see active duty, let alone spend a
year in a war zone.
Sergeant Gaskill, 39, said several
soldiers in his platoon asked what they were doing in Iraq as National
Guardsmen, to which he replied: “This is what we’ve been training for.
It’s time to earn your pay.”
In fact, this was Sergeant.
Gaskill’s second tour of duty. A member of the National Guard for 22 years who lives in Lincoln, Del., he also
served nine months in the Persian Gulf war of 1991. Despite the constant
attacks on his unit — 22 in one day, he said — and dropping from 319 pounds
to 230, he seemed to have taken his latest tour of duty in stride. Not so his
wife, Lisa, who was home with their three children.
“It was pure hell. Every minute of it,” she said.
“In the beginning, it didn’t bother me, but as time went by I got more and
more worried that he wouldn’t come back.”
The soldiers will spend the next
week at Fort Dix, getting physicals and being debriefed and processed out of
the active army and back into the National
Guard. As for being called back to active duty in Iraq, Colonel Harvey
said, the chances were “slim to none.”
“They’re working their way
across the country. We’d have to have a bunch of new missions added to be
called again,” Colonel Harvey said. “But then again, I never say
National Guard Members Return Sunday
More than three dozen members of the West Virginia Army National Guard returned to Charleston
The soldiers, members of the 156th
Military Police Law and Order Detachment based in Logan, spent a yearlong deployment
in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The soldiers, most of whom are police
officers in their civilian lives, helped train more than 5,300 Iraqi police,
fire and corrections personnel in Mosul and Dohuk, focusing on defense tactics,
ethics, religious tolerance, Iraqi law and other training.
The soldiers supervised the
transfer of the training program to Iraqi instructors before they left.
Family and friends waited anxiously
at the West Virginia Air National Guard
facility in Charleston Sunday for their return.
“This is awesome to be
home,” Maj. Scott Fuller told WCHS-TV. “I’ve been waiting for it for
Also arriving back in West Virginia
Sunday were about 40 soldiers with the 99th Regional Readiness Command’s 261st
Ordnance Co., 1st Platoon, based in Cross Lanes. The unit, which was mobilized
in February 2003, stored, inventoried, inspected and shipped ammunition for the
for the joint task force’s use in the Kuwaiti theater of operations.
About 45 members of the 321st
Ordnance Battalion, who also had been in Kuwait, are scheduled to return home
April 15, 2004
Most College Costs Paid for National Guard
LITTLE ROCK (AP) — More Arkansas Army National
Guard members are applying for college grants now that they can attend for
nearly no cost.
Before this year, they could count on at least 75 percent of
tuition and fees up to $4,000 from a federal grant. Now, a new program has
encouraged seven Arkansas campuses to waive the rest of the tuition.
The Tuition Assistance Partnership Program, created by the
2003 Legislature, authorizes colleges and universities to waive 25 percent of
tuition for guard members.
Since October, 411 soldiers have applied for the 75 percent
funding for the spring semester and smaller courses. At this time last year,
577 soldiers had applied, but that group included students who have since been
deployed with the 39th Infantry Brigade Enhanced, which makes up one-third of
the Army National Guard in the state.
Lt. Brandan Robbins, education services officer for the Arkansas
Army National Guard, said schools use the waiver to attract more students.
For soldiers, he said, it’s a great opportunity to improve their skills both on
and off duty.
want people who can communicate what they see, what they hear and what they
want you to do,” Robbins said. “You need to communicate with other
people. Going to college does that for you. It helps you become a well-rounded
So far, seven schools have chosen to use the waiver: Southern
Arkansas University, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Pulaski
Technical College, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, Arkansas State
University in Newport, North Arkansas College in Harrison and the University of
Arkansas at Fayetteville.
University Technical College in Camden is planning to waive the cost starting
The waivers apply to members of both the Arkansas Army
National Guard and the Air National Guard. But only Army National
Guard members can get the 75 percent funding, which pays for three-fourths
of tuition up to $200 per credit hour and three-fourths of fees up to $500 per
Airmen are given money to attend classes on Air Force bases.
Because they don’t receive the 75 percent funding when they attend public or
private colleges, the state gives them higher preference for state grants of
$1,000 per fall and spring semester.
In addition to those scholarships, the GI Bill pays $282 each
Mike Leach, public policy program director for the nonprofit
Good Faith Fund in Little Rock, said financial aid is important in Arkansas,
which has relatively low levels of college-educated adults.
“We would like to see more colleges participate in the
program because not every college that can is participating at this
point,” Leach said. “One of the biggest barriers to higher education
from Good Faith Fund’s perspective is affordability … The more financial aid
we can make available, the greater access people can have to higher education
and, of course, that’s good for Arkansas.”
Phone Card Gifts
Make it Easy for Americans to Show Deployed Troops They Care
DALLAS – Any American can now help troops in contingency operations
telephone call home. The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is now
authorized to sell prepaid calling cards to any individual or organization that
wishes to purchase cards for troops who are deployed. Up until now, those
wishing to lend a helping hand had no other alternative, but to purchase other
retailer’s prepaid cards that, in many cases, were not designed for affordable
international calling. Now, anyone (even those not in the military) can help
troops in contingency operations call home from one of the many AAFES call
centers in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF).
Many of the prepaid cards available to the
general public from retailers other than AAFES offer much higher rates and
connection charges. For service members to receive the best calling rates from
OIF/OEF, senders should take advantage of the savings and purchase the Military
Exchange 550 Unit Prepaid Card as it offers the best value when calling home
with minutes that never expire and no hidden charges or connection fees. And
senders don’t even need to know the names or address of deployed personnel to
provide the great benefit of a phone call home.
Helping service members stay in touch with
friends and family has never been easier. Anyone can log on to www.aafes.com <http://www.aafes.com> and click the “help our troops call home” link.
From there, those wishing to pay for troops to call home can send a prepaid
calling card to an individual at his or her deployed address or to “any
service member” deployed or hospitalized. AAFES will coordinate distribution
of donated cards addressed to “any service member” via the American
Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society or the Fisher House Foundation.
AAFES currently operates 31 call centers in
Iraq, 19 in Kuwait and four in Afghanistan. All of these locations stay busy
playing a critical role in keeping the lines of communication open between
deployed troops and their loved ones.
AAFES officials hailed the Department of
Defense’s foresight in allowing it to offer phone cards to the general public.
“A phone call home can make a Soldiers day,” said AAFES’ Chief of
Communications LTC Debra Pressley. “This initiative allows any American to
make a direct impact on the morale of deployed troops around the world. We hope
everyone takes advantage of this opportunity to purchase a phone card that will
make a connection between the front lines and the home front.”
In addition to the ability to send phone cards, individuals
and organizations can further extend support to deployed troops with a
“Gift From the Homefront” gift certificate. This innovative
initiative allows anyone to help deployed troops purchase merchandise in one of
54 contingency stores. “Gifts from the Homefront” can also be
purchased 24 hours a day by logging on to www.aafes.com <http://www.aafes.com> or by calling 877-770-4438, seven days a week, everyday of
the year. From there, the “Gift from the Homefront” can also be sent
to an individual service member (designated by the purchaser) or distributed to
“any service member” through the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid
Society or Fisher House.
Reports from Iraq indicate that the certificates
distributed most recently are being used for the latest CDs and DVDs, comfort
items such as snacks and beverages and phone cards for those all-important
calls home. “Gifts from the Homefront” certificates are available in
denominations of $10, $20 or $25 and are subject to a $4.95 shipping and
handling processing fee. As is the case with Military Exchange Prepaid Phone
Cards, “Gifts from the Homefront” can be purchased by anyone with a
U.S. credit card or check, but only authorized military customers can redeem
them at AAFES facilities throughout the world, including 54 locations in
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service
(AAFES) is a joint command of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, and is directed
by a Board of Directors who is responsible to the Secretaries of the Army and
the Air Force through their Chiefs of Staff. AAFES has the dual mission of
providing authorized patrons with articles of merchandise and services and of
generating non-appropriated fund earnings as a supplemental source of funding
for military Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs. To find out more
about AAFES’ history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit
our Web site at http://www.aafes.com/pa/default.asp.
As troops on the ground know, the 550 Unit Global
Military Exchange Prepaid Card offers the best value when calling from
Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) back to the U.S as they. This
and other Military Exchange prepaid cards are now available to all
non-identification cardholders who wish to help our troops call home.
April 17, 2004
Legislature Looks to Aid, Bolster National Guard
By John Milburn, Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: PITTSBURG, Kan.
Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Smith’s job of recruiting National Guard members is made a little
easier by the great location of his small office.
Smith works in the local
armory, a tan brick building near Lincoln Park, where Pittsburg residents spend
spring and summer playing baseball, softball and golf. Scores of young people
drive past the armory on their way to games, often taking Walnut Street because
it has fewer stoplights than other thoroughfares.
Now, legislators in Topeka are
aiming to make Smith’s job even easier.
Through proposals creating new incentives and benefits,
legislators are seeking to boost recruitment and retention of Kansas National Guard soldiers and in a small
way thank them for serving their state and country.
The effort in Topeka couldn’t come
at a more stressful time for Army and Air Guard members and their families.
Recently, approximately 1,100 Kansas Guard soldiers were put on alert that they
may be mobilized for duty in Iraq, where several hundred of their comrades are
already on the ground.
“A question that is often
asked is, ‘If I sign up, will I have to go fight?”‘ Smith said.
“Anytime you sign that bottom line, that is a possibility.”
The package of bills, awaiting
legislators’ attention when they reconvene April 28 following their spring
– Give National Guard members who are mobilized or deployed an income tax
credit to offset the property taxes they have paid on their vehicles – and
refunds if the credit is larger than the amount of income tax they owe.
– Expand the Kansas National Guard tuition assistance
program, funded in part from sales of special Kansas Lottery tickets.
– Provide support services for
families of deployed Kansas National
– Grant free hunting and fishing
licenses and access to state parks to Guard members.
– Give preference for state jobs to
Guard members, similar to the credit that veterans receive in seeking federal
Legislators do not know how much
the package would cost the state, but House Speaker Doug Mays said the service
of men and women in the Guard is “invaluable” both home and abroad.
“At a time when many of our
men and women are deployed abroad to protect our freedom, we must ensure that
adequate benefits are provided for them,” Mays, R-Topeka, said in an
About 600 Kansas National Guard soldiers are currently
deployed, either overseas – including 351 members of the 2nd Battalion, 130th
Field Artillery from Hiawatha sent to Iraq in January – or on homeland security
assignments in the United States, such as those providing guard duty at Fort
Riley and Fort Leavenworth.
Smith has been in the Guard for 16
years and recruiting soldiers since October 1996. His primary focus is on
filling the ranks of the 891st Engineer Battalion, especially Company A based
“Our retention is as good as
it’s always been. There’s no difference with the war going on or without
it,” said Smith, adding that interest in the Guard is up among those with
prior military service.
Lt. Col. Lee Tafanelli, who is
commander of the 891st Engineer Battalion and a Republican state representative
from Ozawkie, said anything the state can do to encourage men and women to join
the National Guard would help.
“It’s a tremendous sacrifice.
It’s important that we have the next generation of Guardsmen for a state or
national emergency,” Tafanelli said. The 891st also has been mobilized
following floods and tornadoes.
Tafanelli, who chairs the Legislature’s Select Committee on
Kansas Security, said it is important to provide the right mix of incentives
and benefits to encourage recruitment and retention.
To Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, state
adjutant general, the incentive package reflects legislators’ realization that
Kansans may be asked at any time to give up to 18 months of their lives
separated from family, friends and employment.
Incentives help soldiers adjust
once their mobilizations are complete, easing the fiscal strains incurred
during deployments, Bunting said.
Tuition assistance and free
recreation licenses may sound simple, but Bunting said they are significant
gestures of appreciation. And they make the state an example to other employers
by taking care of soldiers’ needs, he added.
Bunting said mobilizations could
continue at the current level for several years, placing a renewed importance
on reserve forces.
“This is big stuff,”
Bunting said. “Soldiers have to start making plans right away. We’re very
cognizant that we’re asking a lot. There is only a finite amount that you can
Push For Bill to Protect Guardsmen and Reservists From Discrimination
By Don Babwin, Associated Press Writer
As more Illinois National
Guard troops and Army reservists are ordered to stay longer in Iraq, state
officials are pushing legislation to protect them and their families from job,
housing and financial discrimination at home.
“It is very important when they come back to America …
that they be treated in a fair way with
respect to the basic things that all of us need in life – housing, jobs and
access to credit,” Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said Sunday at a news conference,
just days after more than 600 Illinois National
Guard troops who expected to return home from the Middle East were ordered
to stay at least three months longer.
House Bill 4371, called the “Citizen Soldiers
Initiative,” would expand the state’s Human Rights Act to include
reservists and guard members. Today, under the act it is illegal to
discriminate based on such factors as race, religion, sex, gender and
The problem, said Quinn and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Chicago, is
that “military status” could be read to include only military
personnel on active duty and not reservists and guardsmen and guardswomen.
“We don’t want any doubt” that reservists and guard
members are also included, said Quinn.
Quinn said the bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Linda
Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, addresses complaints of guardsmen and reservists about
such problems as landlords unwilling to rent them apartments because of the
uncertainty that they may be called up for active duty.
The bill has already passed the House. Quinn and Obama, a
candidate for U.S. Senate, said they expected the bill to be approved in the
Senate this week, and then signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich shortly thereafter.
Obama said the bill will give guard members and reservists the
same avenue of recourse that others who have been discriminated against because
of such factors as race, gender, age and military service.
“It’s more important than ever to make sure that we as a
state are ensuring that the strains on those men and women as well as their
families are minimized,” he said.
April 12, 2004
National Guardsman Awarded the Bronze Star
Utah National Guard
Lt. Matthew Cousins has been awarded the Bronze Star for the discovery by him
and his team of a homemade bomb in the middle of a road outside Baghdad.
The team closed the road and called in the experts.
“There was some close calls – that was one,” said Cousins,
who has returned to his home at Eagle Mountain and is back at work as a
linguist at Camp Williams.
A member of the 142nd Military Intelligence Unit, Cousins led
70 missions from January 2003 until he returned in March. There were no
injuries among his crew of 12.
Cousins said the award is a great honor, but he was just doing
“I am just a guy that is doing my duty,” he said.
“I am not much for awards; I don’t look for these things.”
Sgt. Scott Faddis, a Utah National
Guard spokesman, said the Bronze Star is given for distinguished service or
heroic activities. It is the 10th-highest award a soldier can receive.
“It is a fine achievement and a big deal because it means
they did something outstanding,” he said.
is a Pilot of a C-130
His plane takes the battle to the field
By Larry Lewis, Inquirer Staff Writer
Maj. Mark Lyons’ C-130 lifted off the desert terrain of Iraq
that morning last September carrying one precious flag-covered casket in its cavernous
The plane’s crew, which includes two pilots, a navigator, a
flight engineer and two loadmasters, can be a little irreverent and funny at
times. But not that day.
“It was a pretty
sobering mission,” said Lyons, 37, of Lansdowne. “We didn’t ask any
questions, but the commanders of his unit were with him. He was an Army
Lyons is one of more than 300 members of the Delaware Air National Guard’s 166th
Airlift Wing stationed at New Castle County Airport on active duty since the
invasion of Iraq. They have served rotating tours of duty for more than a year.
operate the C-130 planes that carry troops, supplies, equipment and food into
battle – and carry the casualties out, on what the military calls “human
From the front lines, the short-range C-130 took the body to a
transfer point within Iraq. The casket was placed into a jet-speed,
intercontinental C-5 for the long journey to the military mortuary at Dover Air
Force Base in Delaware.
Lyons, a 1990 graduate of the Air Force Academy, is a pilot
evaluator and the tactical officer for the unit. “It’s kind of a planning
job,” he said.
Much has changed in
Lyons’ life since Sept. 11, 2001, and the war on terrorism began.
He was a pilot for United Airlines flying 767s out of the
Northeast to California on 9/11.
The planes that struck the World Trade Center were hijacked
out of Boston, but the flight crews worked out of New York, Lyons said. “I
could have been flying one of those planes,” he said.
He and his wife, Sarita, 27, had just spent the weekend in New
York City, taking photos of themselves in front of the World Trade Center,
which they developed after the attack.
Lyons wasn’t in the air on Sept. 11 because he had taken a few
days off for training exercises with his Air
National Guard unit. Then, he was on part-time duty.
“We were getting ready for a flight, turned on the
television, and there were the news reports,” he said.
The subsequent drop in air travel after the attacks caused
cutbacks at the airlines. Lyons was furloughed by United in 2002, although he
remains on the callback list. He hopes to resume his commercial career.
In the meantime, he went full-time with the Delaware Air
National Guard. Then the unit was deployed to Iraq and his life changed again.
been there for four tours of duty now,” he said during an interview at
home near Upper Darby High School.
Lyons has been home since February.
He has been preparing for two night-training flights in a row.
One would take him to a drop zone northwest of Atlantic City, where his crew
would toss out sandbags at 1,000 feet and be scored for accuracy by a referee
on the ground. The other would be a test of night-vision equipment.
The overseas missions
have been challenging for his homelife. He managed to make it back briefly for
the birth of his son, Malachi, now 8 months old. But he was in Afghanistan in
December when his wife told him on the phone they were expecting again in
“I said if they keep shipping him over there, we’ll have
a football team,” Sarita Lyons said.
Mark Lyons was a pilot for US Airways when he met Sarita, the
daughter of an associate pastor at Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia.
The switch from civilian to military life has been difficult, she said.
“It’s easy to believe in God when things are going
well,” she said. “This has tested our faith. But we are stronger as a
Lyons, who was in the
Air Force for nine years after he left the academy, has always flown the
“It’s a big
airplane, but you can fly low – 300 to 500 feet above the ground,” he
He flew food to starving citizens of Somalia in 1992.
“There were a lot of Marines on the ground. We would transport them as
well,” he said.
He was in Vietnam in
1996 to help retrieve the bodies of two long-lost soldiers from a war-era
helicopter crash. He said the special fabric of their flight suits was still
He is not allowed to talk about the massive tent city where
the C-130 pilots and crews work overseas, or say too much about the human
But in Afghanistan, he said, “we have gotten them right
from the firefight, in body bags.”
Even in war, he said, there are moments of hope.
He said he and his
crew had flown a young soldier who was badly wounded in combat to a hospital in
time to save his life.
“He had his own doctors and nurses assigned to him,”
Lyons said. “They flew right with him, and kept him alive until we got him
Save Lives Amid Hell of War
Wis. medics on front
By Lee Sensenbrenner
the first time Sunday, the clinic that houses part of the 118th Wisconsin
National Guard Medical Battalion was treating casualties from both sides of
a battle at once.
naked on a raised nylon stretcher that serves as a surgery table, a man
believed to be an Iraqi gasped as doctors lightly touched his belly. A bullet
had hit him near the stomach and left his body through his pelvis.
Dr. Patrick Mannebach of Milwaukee, a captain with the 118th,
said the man’s abdomen was filling with blood.
Two grade-school-age boys, said to be the man’s sons, came
with him when he was delivered to the clinic by military police. One boy was
unhurt but the other, who reportedly had been firing at troops, had a gunshot
wound near his elbow.
In another room, Army
Reserve Spc. Gerad Cody had splinters of glass in his lip and face. Cody, who
is from Ellettsville, Ind., was driving the lead truck in an Army fuel convoy
that came under attack close to this base, which is next to Baghdad
International Airport just west of Baghdad.
Cody and others in his convoy said they came under heavy fire
from all sides sometime before noon Sunday. Two U.S. soldiers in the 1st
Cavalry died when their Apache helicopter, sent as part of a rescue, crashed.
Witnesses said it was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade.
felt scared to death,” Cody said after he was treated. “The only
place where those bullets didn’t go in that windshield was right where my head
Four other soldiers in the convoy were evacuated by helicopter
to the area’s major hospital. Cody said he and the others drove on shredded
tires and rims, accompanied by 1st Cavalry members, to get away from the ambush
Army Reserve Cpl. Brian Stewart, a northern Michigan native
who was also in the convoy, said they were attacked over the span of three
miles of highway, and he was told there were more than 200 attackers firing at
Wisconsin’s 118th Medical Battalion arrived in Baghdad in
February, and for weeks, the medics said, it had been a routine schedule of sick
calls among soldiers — headaches, back pain and so on.
would come in every day for the same cough that they’d had for a month,”
said 19-year-old medic Jennifer Frick, of Racine. “I think they just
wanted to get out of duty.”
Added Mike Migazzi, a medic from Mukwonago: “There wasn’t
much difference between a day off and the slow days. The excitement was getting
mail. Or playing video games.”But now their caseload has changed with the
heavy attacks over the last week.
“Lately, all we
have been seeing are major injuries,” said Mannebach, a 32-year-old
pulmonary specialist from Milwaukee. “After this week, it’s been harder to
wind down at night.”
Later Sunday, Mannebach treated a 25-year-old Army flight crew
leader who had tried to kill himself by taking 70 Tylenol pills. It’s a lethal
dose, Mannebach said, and if the man survives he may still be facing a liver
transplant. After initial treatment, the crew leader was evacuated to a major
Lt. Col. Ellyn English, a Madison dentist, removed shrapnel
from an Iraqi man’s gums last week. All her work is done with local
“Taking shrapnel out is a little different
experience,” she said. English was skipping rope outside the clinic as she
spoke, winding down to stay upbeat.
Company B commander Lt. Col. Kenneth Lee, who back home is the
chief spinal cord injury
doctor at the Milwaukee veterans hospital, said it’s essential
for the medics to find ways to stay well while they are treating the victims of
“It is OK to bleed with your patients, but you must stop
the bleeding at a certain point and replenish. You must be able to put an
(emotional) tourniquet on and stop it,” he said. “Replenish and bleed
again, that allows you to be empathetic.”
But lately, even though doctors and medics for the most part
seem to remain in good spirits, the time for replenishing has been brief.
“In the past four or five days, the daily trauma — the
battle trauma that I’ve seen — is quite different,” Lee said. “The
war trauma, the battle trauma. A lot of emotions. All these patients come in
with a lot of emotions.”
He also talked about how the experience is changing him in
some way he couldn’t define, then told of a young soldier who was one of many
recently treated for gunshot wounds.
“A young kid. God, I couldn’t believe how young he
looked,” Lee said. “He had a gunshot wound. That bullet went through
his hand. I was treating his hand and trying to save it, and he’s saying, Hey,
Doc, don’t worry, I’m going to be OK. I’m going to be OK.’ I think what he saw
was the worry that I had. He was assuring me. It was a different kind of
feeling. We see the war through the eyes of the patients.
“When it came time to take him out, I just kind of held
his hand and said, Hey, buddy, you’re going out of here soon. You’re going to
get a helicopter ride.’ He just clamped my hand and wouldn’t let go. He just
wouldn’t let go.”
“I think that’s what’s changing me,” Lee said.
“You see these people going through all these things, and I got nothing to
complain about. Maybe that’s what the change is, I don’t know.
“I’m realizing that there’s more to it than, you know,
simple problems of having a new car versus an old car. Should I redo the siding
on the house or not? That’s the kind of thing I left when I left home.”
Editors’ note: Reporter Lee Sensenbrenner of The Capital Times
will be in Iraq for the next 10 days to tell the stories of Wisconsin soldiers.
He is with the 118th Medical Battalion of the Wisconsin National Guard.
The unit has 63 active members in the Baghdad area, including
physicians, dentists, medics and nurses. Some of their duties include treating
prisoners of war. The main clinic used by the 118th, where Sensenbrenner is
based, acts as an emergency room and as a general health care facility. It is
on a base referred to as Baghdad International Airport, or BIAP, which is
April 15, 2004
Service Honors Soldier Who Served With Two Sisters in Iraq
By, Carrie Antlfinger
Not Long before she was
killed in Iraq, Michelle Witmer gave her twin sister a hug and kiss and told
her that she loved her.
“It was a gift
from God,” Charity Witmer, 20, told more than 600 mourners at a memorial
service Wednesday night. “She was at such a good place when she left this
Michelle Witmer died
Friday when her Humvee was attacked in Baghdad, where Charity and another
sister, 24-year-old Rachel, also serve with the National Guard.
The sisters were
granted leave and returned home Monday. They were still deciding whether to
return to Iraq.
Maj. Gen. Albert
Wilkening, adjutant general of the Wisconsin National Guard, presented Witmer’s
family with a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the National Defense Service
Michelle Witmer, a
specialist with the 32nd Military Police Company, was the first Wisconsin
National Guard soldier to die in military combat in 60 years.
Assigned to the Army
military police, she was stationed in Baghdad.
Rachel Witmer also
served in the 32nd, which was sent overseas last May. Charity was sent to Iraq
late last year as a medic with Company B of the Wisconsin Guard’s 118th Medical
Speakers at the service
included Gov. Jim Doyle and Brig. Gen. Kerry Denson, commander of the Wisconsin
Denson quoted an e-mail
from Sgt. Nate Olson, who was in the Humvee with Michelle when they came under
fire. He said Michelle was attempting to return fire when she was hit.
“For her quick
reactions, she undoubtedly is the reason I am here today. Thank you,
Michelle,” Denson quoted Olson as writing.
Michelle’s parents read
from their daughter’s e-mails, in which she described her volunteer work at an
was when I was holding one of these children that I realized I have so much to
be thankful for,” she wrote in an e-mail read by her father, John.
Lori, had to take a moment to compose herself before she told the crowd that
she wished she could keep everyone there for three days to talk about her
“I feel so
privileged to be her mother,” she said.
Outside the church
auditorium, large floral arrangements and collages of snapshots of Witmer and
her family and friends were displayed.
The 2nd Platoon of her
company sent flowers with a card that read: “Michelle, you’re always one
of us in our hearts and minds.”
policy allows soldiers from the family of someone who dies while serving in a
hostile area to request an exemption from serving in such an area.
For Guard Unit’s Kin, No End to the Grieving
First came word of a
soldier’s death. Then families learned that troops’ Iraq duty had been extended
By Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer
OCONOMOWOC, Wis. — The soldiers had already started sending
home their DVD players, decks of cards and extra deodorant. The National
Guard had organized a party so kids could paint welcome-home banners.
mood here in southeastern Wisconsin was almost festive: After an endless year
in Iraq, the 157 soldiers of the 32nd Military Police Company were coming home.
But last Friday, phones began ringing in the homes of the
soldiers’ spouses, parents and siblings. Spc. Michelle Witmer, one of their
own, had been killed when her Humvee came under fire on a routine patrol
through Baghdad. Shaken, the families of the 32nd reminded one another that the
rest of the troops were already packing.
Then the phones rang again.
On Easter Sunday, the soldiers of the 32nd had learned that
they would not be coming home next month as planned.
The Pentagon had promised American forces in Iraq that they
would spend no more than 365 days in hostile territory. But this week,
officials said they would order more than 10,000 troops to stay on beyond their
yearlong tour. The 32nd was one of the first to get that order.
“We were so close to getting them home intact. Then to
rip our hopes away like that…. We were devastated,” said Krista Sorenson
of Waterloo, Wis.
Her husband, Sgt. Denis Sorenson, had planned to be home by
May 10 for their daughter’s eighth birthday. He had missed her seventh.
“I have felt and thought of every terrible emotion you
can think of,” the sergeant wrote his wife, hours after learning that he
would not make it home for Justine’s birthday. “We were so close. I never
saw this coming.”
News of the 120-day extension angered families already
strained with grief over Witmer’s death.
Many of the soldiers’ relatives felt they knew the long-haired
20-year-old from New Berlin. She and her older sister, Rachel, both served in
the 32nd. Her identical twin, Charity, was also in Iraq, with a medical
battalion. The soldier-sisters, who joined the Guard to help pay for college,
had been featured several times on local TV and in the papers.
Their parents even posted the girls’ letters online:
Michelle’s description of the filthy Iraqi police station where she worked the
night shift; photos of the disabled children she cuddled at a Baghdad
orphanage; her request for a care package of lemonade mix, flip-flops and
“anything that is frivolous … [to make me] feel like a girl again.”
“We’d gotten to know the sisters through all the coverage
of the family. We were grieving,” said Janet Gatlin, who lives in this
lakeside town midway between Milwaukee and Madison. “Then to get the news
of the extension. It was like, ‘This can’t be happening.’ We’re living a
Her husband, 2nd Lt. Anthony Gatlin, broke down when he told
his wife that she would be alone for another summer.
Several officers from the 32nd had been boarding a plane for
Kuwait to plan the unit’s demobilization when the extension order arrived,
Gatlin told her in a phone call. The officers were pulled off the plane. They
were told not only that they’d be staying in Iraq, but that they’d also be
redeployed south of Baghdad.
It had taken months for the soldiers to turn a bombed-out
palace into a comfortable base. Using their civilian skills in plumbing,
construction and engineering, they had restored electricity and water. They
even set up a microwave, in which they tried — not very successfully — to make
pizza. Now they face moving, most likely to a tent camp, without air
conditioning or e-mail access.
“That’s the first time,” Janet Gatlin said,
“that my husband has ever cried to me on the phone.”
When the 32nd was activated on March 15, 2003, their orders
called for a year of active duty.
But last summer, the Pentagon set out a new policy: A year of
active duty meant a year of “boots on the ground” in hostile
territory. The two months the 32nd had spent mobilizing, training and deploying
to Iraq did not count. Anxious relatives back home circled a new date on their
calendars: May 9. That would mark precisely one year since the 32nd had touched
down in the Middle East.
The boots-on-the-ground policy had been designed to boost
troop morale by setting a fixed date for homecomings. For the men and women of
the 32nd, it seemed to work. As their one-year deadline approached this spring,
the soldiers excitedly told their families to stop sending mail. They’d soon be
back to hear all the news in person.
“The concentration of the unit has shifted to packing
up,” one soldier noted in a dispatch for a family newsletter.
“As we start to count down the days, the excitement can
be heard in voices behind tired and tested eyes,” another wrote.
Michelle Witmer was no less buoyant. For months, she had been
working 12-hour shifts in a police station that often resembled an emergency
ward, with bloodied Iraqis staggering in seeking first aid for gunshots, stab
wounds and broken bones. Patrolling a treacherous neighborhood, she had several
close calls with improvised explosive devices. Members of her unit had earned
more than 20 Purple Hearts for combat injuries.
“Time does not fly,” she wrote her dad.
Last month, however,
Michelle’s mood brightened as she began planning for her homecoming. “There is finally a light at the end
of the tunnel!” she e-mailed.
Back in Wisconsin, soldiers’ relatives booked summer trips to
Disneyland or planned long-delayed honeymoons. They debated what to bring when
they met the troops’ plane: Pizza? McDonald’s? Cheesecake?
Justine Sorenson came up with a long list of all she wanted to
do with her dad: Show him how well she could read. Show him how she’d learned
to hit a softball. Show him her American Girl doll. Hug him.
“I just want to
see him come off that plane,” she said.
Amid the frenzy, a few families managed to hold their excitement
“I’ve been a military wife for 20 years,” said
Keleen Soldner of Racine. “I know to plan for the worst.” But few
listened to her warnings.
Jessica Lopez, for
one, was too busy planning her wedding. She had married Staff Sgt. Agustin Lopez in a hasty courthouse ceremony just
before he deployed. Now they wanted a formal church wedding. Lopez reserved a
date: June 12. She bought her dress, hired a florist, ordered a cake. She
mailed the invitations.
Then she learned of Witmer’s death.
Then she learned of the extension.
And now she’s calling caterers, asking for refunds — all the
while holding a running conversation with God.
“If I make it through the next 120 days without
him,” Lopez begs, “if I stay strong, if I give up however many thousands
we spent on the wedding, will you please, please bring him back alive?”
Like other family members, Lopez says she’s proud of her
husband, believes in his mission and supports him — and the military action in
Iraq — 100%. Then she thinks of the Witmers.
She believes Michelle would still be alive if the 32nd had
returned home in March at the end of its original one-year tour. She wonders
whether this second extension is a bad omen. She fears another phone call.
Adding to the stress is the uncertainty. The 32nd has not
received a written order that confirms the extension. And no one’s sure how to
interpret the verbal command that came down over the weekend. Do the 120 days
start now, or after the first year of duty is up May 9? Will the Army count
only days on the ground in Iraq, or will the soldiers get credit for the
several weeks it can take to travel home? Is 120 days a maximum? Or could the
tour of duty be extended yet again?
On the unlikely chance that there’s still time to reverse the
order before it’s sent in writing, relatives have bombarded local politicians
with pleas for the unit’s return this spring.
“We want our
husbands home,” Gatlin said. “I don’t think that’s too much to
But she’s not letting herself hope. “I can’t bear to be
Guard Deployment Could Cause Firefighter Shortage
The war in Iraq may leave the state short of resources to
battle forest fires, especially in drought-stricken eastern Oregon.
By May 1, an estimated 40 percent of personnel in Iraq will be
Guardsmen and reservists, officials said.
That poses a serious risk to every state in terms of fire
management given that one of the National Guards main duties is
providing disaster relief, said Mike Hartwell, fire management officer for the
U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Vale.
“There could be big fires in Oregon, Idaho or Washington,
all three, or none this year. We just don’t know,” Hartwell said.
U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley said she is concerned the deployment will leave a hole
in Oregon’s security. Kathie Eastman, spokeswoman for Oregon U.S. Rep. Earl
Blumenauer, said the congressman has similar concerns.
But Oregon National Guard spokesman Maj. Arnold Strong
dismissed the risk, pointing out that the largest state deployment of the National
Guard since World War II occurred during the summer of 2002, when wildfires
in the southwestern part of the state drained available resources.
Then, Oregon had more National Guard in Iraq per capita
than any other state. But even so, there were still an estimated 60 percent of
Oregon Guardsmen left to deal with state security matters, Strong said.
Strong did concede that with the drought in eastern Oregon, a
potential does exists for a particularly severe fire season.
Eastern Oregon’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade,
headquartered in La Grande, was placed on alert in March for a possible
April 16, 2004
Tours in Iraq Dash Hopes and Raise Fears Among Troops’ Families
By Andrew Jacobs; Ariel Hart in Atlanta, Eric Schmitt in
Washington and Abby Goodnough in Pensacola, Fla., contributed reporting for
POLK, La., April 15
The triumphant display of fighter jets over the nearby town of
Leesville has been postponed. So, too, has the celebratory parade down Third
Street and the floats featuring decorated veterans and musicians playing big
band music. At the Landmark Hotel, just up the road from the entrance to this
expansive Army base, the military wives who had traveled cross-country for
promised reunions with their husbands are packing their bags and heading home.
For Eboni Abrams, the “welcome home” signs and the
march of red, white and blue ribbons up and
down Colony Boulevard feel like cruel taunts, now that her husband,
Specialist Roy L. Abrams, is spending an extra three months in Iraq along with
2,800 other troops who were supposed to return to Fort Polk in the coming
“I feel bad, real
bad, like I have a hole in my heart,” said Ms. Abrams, 25, who was
planning a surprise vacation to Disney World for her husband this weekend.
Across the country, thousands of military families who
expected joyous reunions in the coming weeks are now trying to grapple with
dashed hopes and renewed fears that their loved ones will have to face several
more months of perilous duty in Iraq.
In Utah, family members whose relatives are in the 1457th
engineer battalion of the Utah National
Guard had expected them home within days. They were told at a tense meeting
in Spanish Fork on Thursday that after 14 months in Iraq the battalion’s tour
would be prolonged.
In announcing the extended tours of duty, Defense Secretary
Donald H. Rumsfeld said the 20,000
troops who are to remain in Iraq for up to three months were needed to
quell the latest surge in violence and to protect supply convoys that have come
under increasing attack in the past two weeks. Gen. John P. Abiziad, the top
American officer in the Middle East, said earlier this week that he needed an
additional two brigades of troops to keep the number of American troops in Iraq
at about 130,000.
The extension effectively cancels the Pentagon’s plans for
reducing troop levels to about 115,000, or lower, this spring, and breaks a
department commitment last fall to limit troops’ time to 12 months.
“We regret having to extend those individuals,” Mr.
Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon. “But the country is at war and we
need to do what is necessary to succeed.”
The Pentagon’s order affects a wide range of troops, including
infantry, helicopter crews, military police and logistics specialists, in both
Iraq and Kuwait. The extensions affect about 11,000 soldiers from the First
Armored Division, based in Germany, 3,200 troops from the Second Armored
Cavalry Regiment and an unspecified number of soldiers from other posts.
Lt. Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for
operations, told reporters that about 6,000 Reserve and National Guard soldiers from 20 states will have their tours
extended, raising concerns among some military personnel experts.
Maj. Ron Elliott, a spokesman at Fort Polk, said the extension
had come in the middle of the Second
Armored Cavalry regiment’s “flowing” back home, with about 700
servicemen having arrived at Fort Polk and 2,800 still in the Iraq or Kuwait,
all of whom were expected to be back by May 11.
“In part, it’s because of their expertise and their
combat experience” that they were chosen to stay, he said. Some had
already reached Kuwait for the journey home and were turned around before they
could board planes.
In Leesville, the homecoming party, billed as the Louisiana
Homefront Celebration, was scheduled for June 19 and had been in the works
since the fall. Mayors from across central Louisiana and the area’s
Congressional delegation had been involved in planning for the series of
events, which were expected to draw tens of thousands of people to downtown
Leesville, a town of 7,000 people whose livelihoods are integrally linked to
Paula Schlag, a community relations officer at the base, said
the event was to be inspired by the joyous victory day celebrations that
followed the end of World War II but with a modern twist. Fighter jets would
screech across the sky, marching bands would parade through town and at least
one unnamed Nascar celebrity was expected to join the festivities.
“Imagine a joint color guard and marching units from all
the services, with vehicles from a horse to modern transport to show the
transformation of the Army,” she said. Like many others here, she did her
best to find a silver lining in the disheartening news. “We’re going to
use the extra time to enhance an already phenomenal event,” Ms. Schlag
Jessica Halverson, whose husband, a second lieutenant, has been
in Iraq for more than a year, said it was important not to complain. “I
was disappointed, of course, but you give yourself a few hours to feel sorry
for yourself, but then you put on your good face for everybody else and just
keep on,” Ms. Halverson said. “You’ve got to have a lot of strength
to be a military wife, and how you react affects the other wives.”
Forced to cancel a planned family holiday at the beach, Ms.
Halverson said she took her 3-year-old daughter, Emma Kate, to the zoo and the
movies to distract her from the disappointment. “It’s kind of like a
blanket of sadness for the first couple days,” she said.
Others were not so ready to hide their emotions. Angela
Macarini, whose husband, Henry, is in Kuwait with an Air Force Special
Operations unit out of Hurlburt Field, near Pensacola, said she and her husband
were both losing faith in the war effort. “Sometimes I think we did the
right thing and sometimes I think we didn’t,” said Ms. Macarini, a
waitress who was shopping at the Winn-Dixie in Navarre, Fla., on Thursday
afternoon. “It’s getting more and more scary. I feel like the Iraqi people
are not prepared for democracy and it’s not the Americans’ place to go fix the
situation for them.”
She said she had been worried about the possibility of soldiers
having to stay longer than they had planned, adding, “Hopefully my husband
won’t be one of them.”
Over at the Hairport in Leesville, a beauty salon near the
base entrance, the disappointment was palpable. Ms. Abrams, who works as a
hairdresser, grew tearful as she described the phone call from her husband last
week to tell her about his delayed return. He was already in Kuwait, on his way
back home, and he was weeping. “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard him
cry since we began dating in high school,” she said.
Ms. Abrams had been living in South Carolina since January,
but she returned to the base in anticipation of the reunion, loading her car
with a few of Specialist Abrams’s favorite things: boxes of Little Debbie
cakes, new jeans and four pairs of Timberland boots she found on sale.
Soldiers: Army Ignores Illness Complaints
By Verena Dobnik
NEW YORK (AP) - Six soldiers who have fallen ill since their return from Iraq said Friday that the Army ignored their complaints about uranium poisoning from U.S. weapons fired during combat.
They also said they were denied testing for the radioactive substance.
``We were all healthy when we left home. Now, I suffer from headaches, fatigue, dizziness, blood in the urine, unexplained rashes,'' said Sgt. Jerry Ojeda, 28, who was stationed south of Baghdad with other National Guard members of the 442nd Military Police Company.
He said symptoms also include shortness of breath, migraines and nausea.
Sgt. Herbert Reed, 50, said that when a dozen soldiers asked for treatment last fall, they initially were turned away.
Three of them persisted and were tested in December, said Reed, who has yet to receive his results.
The soldiers held a news conference at Ojeda's home, joined by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who said he would work to get the victims extended health benefits after they are discharged.
Five of the men said they also were recently tested independently by Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a former Army doctor and nuclear medicine expert, who found traces of depleted uranium in their bloodstream, with four registering high levels.
After their return from Iraq, ``the Army was unfortunately not cooperative when they asked for testing,'' Schumer said.
In Washington, an Army spokeswoman, Cynthia Smith, said that the military would test any soldier who expressed concerns about uranium exposure.
The men said that Army officials are now testing urine samples they supplied. Results are expected in about three weeks.
Since the start of the Iraq war, U.S. forces reportedly have fired at least 120 tons of shells packed with depleted uranium.
Depleted uranium, which is left over from the process of enriching uranium for use as nuclear fuel, is an extremely dense material that the U.S. and British militaries use for tank armor and armor-piercing weapons. It is far less radioactive than natural uranium.
Veterans started reporting health problems as a result of depleted uranium shells in 1991, after the first Gulf War.
Guard Video Honors Sacrifices in War on Terror
By Master Sgt. Bob Haskell, USA
ARLINGTON, Va., April 15, 2004 – Jeffrey Wershow died in Iraq in July. A year after the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Wershow became a National Guard icon.
Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, is telling everyone he can about the 22-year-old infantry specialist from the Florida Army National Guard.
Blum tells Wershow's story while showing a video about what National Guard soldiers and airmen have contributed to the global war against terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001.
The 3-minute, 37-second video is a collage of film clips and still photos set to the Toby Keith song "American Soldier," which was No. 1 on the country music charts as the first year of the war in Iraq was coming to a close.
Veteran members of the National Guard Bureau's public affairs team produced two videos to pay tribute to the fallen Guard members.
One is grounded in Toby Keith's hit song "American Soldier." It shows National Guard troops performing their duties in Afghanistan, Iraq and supporting homeland efforts.
The other is a memorial to the Guard members who have been killed during the war against terrorism. Their names are displayed against an American flag that is waving in the breeze. "Taps" is the mournful musical score. The 3-minute,
17-second video ends with the sobering message, "All Gave Some; Some Gave All." Army Guard Sgts. 1st Class Paul Mouilleseaux and Tom Roberts shot most of footage and photographs and produced the videos that are being distributed to National Guard personnel throughout the country.
Blum presented the award-winning military journalists with Air Force Achievement Medals for their poignant portrayals of the National Guard at war.
"What the National Guard does and means was the message we tried to convey in the Toby Keith video," said Mouilleseaux, who also has two Emmy Awards. He was a staff photographer on news teams for a Louisville, Ky., commercial television station, WHAS-TV, which won Midwestern regional Emmy Awards in 1994 and 2000.
"With the memorial video, we wanted to inject some honor and pride and emotion into the sacrifices that these Guard soldiers and airmen have made to make sure they are never forgotten," Mouilleseaux added.
Wershow, who went to war with the 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry, appears twice in that National Guard video that also speaks to the sacrifices that Guard soldiers and airmen have made during the war. Wershow is seen in the green haze of a night-vision lens, planting the American and Florida flags beside a breach in a defensive wall in northern Iraq.
Florida Army Guard and active Army soldiers invaded Iraq, Blum explains, in the dead of a night before coalition forces actually launched Operation Iraqi Freedom on the night of March 19, 2003.
Wershow did not have long to savor that moment, Blum relates a little later during the video as a casket covered with Old Glory is carried onto an Air National Guard plane. He was shot in the head and killed in Baghdad while buying a can of soda on July 6.
"Jeffrey Wershow was one of our Guard members who went into the fight before the fighting officially started," Blum has observed. "And Jeffrey Wershow was one of the people who made the ultimate sacrifice."
There have been many Jeffrey Wershows during the past year, as the National Guard has paid a dear price in blood and tears while holding up its end of the fight against tyranny and terrorism, against those who would do this country harm.
Sixty-five Guard members have died because they have been willing to go into harm's way.
Fifty-five Army Guard soldiers and one Air National Guard officer had given their lives during the first year of operations against Iraq by March 20, according to Defense Department casualty reports.
That was the day that California Army Guard 1st Lt. Michael Vega, 41, died at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington from injuries suffered when his vehicle rolled over during a firefight in Iraq on March 11.
Another eight Guard soldiers and an airman have died while taking part in Operation Enduring Freedom, in which terrorists based in Afghanistan have been the focus of attention since April 2002.
Twenty-seven of the Iraqi casualties have been killed in action or have died of combat wounds, according to DoD reports. Three have been killed in action in Afghanistan.
Many others have been wounded and lost limbs and have begun coming to grips at places like Walter Reed with the reality of resuming their lives, which have been forever altered by warfare.
They will be remembered in many places. The 56 who have died during Operation Iraqi Freedom came from 25 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, based on Defense Department casualty reports.
Five belonged to Army Guard units in Iowa, the state that has been hardest hit.
California and Alabama have each lost four Guard soldiers. Indiana has lost three Guard soldiers engaged in Operation Iraqi Freedom and another during Operation Enduring Freedom.
July and November were the deadliest months during the first year of the Iraqi War. Eight Guard Soldiers perished during each month. Seven more died during August, September and December.
Improvised explosive devices have taken many of the lives that will again be remembered with tears and "Taps" during Memorial Day observances in late May.
But the sacrifices have been made in many ways.
Illinois 1st Lt. Brian Slavenas and Iowa Chief Warrant Officer Bruce Smith and Sgt. Paul Fisher were killed when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in Fallujah, Iraq, on Nov. 2.
Ohio Spec. Todd Bates drowned south of Baghdad on Dec. 10 after diving into the Tigris River to try to save his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Aaron Reese, who fell overboard during a river patrol. Both men with the 135th Military Police Company died.
And many people now know the story of Florida Spc. Jeffrey Wershow because the chief of the National Guard Bureau is telling everyone he can how the college student and aspiring politician left his Florida home to put his life on the line, as so many National Guard people have done when their country has called.
National Guard Casualties, War Against Terrorism
Following are the names of those who have died while participating in Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom operations. The list includes their ages, states or territories in which their Guard units are based, and the dates and countries of their deaths. KIA indicates they were killed in action. DOW indicates they died of wounds. All were members of the Army National Guard except for two who belonged to the Air National Guard, indicated by asterisks.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
1st Lt. Michael Vega, 41, California, March 20, Washington, DC.
Sgt. Ivory Phipps, 44, Illinois, March 17, Iraq, KIA.
Master Sgt. Thomas Thigpen Sr., 52, South Carolina, March 16, Kuwait.
Sgt. William Normandy, 42, Vermont, March 15, Kuwait.
Spc. Jocelyn Carrasquillo, 28, North Carolina, March 13, Iraq, KIA.
Spc. Christopher Taylor, 25, Alabama, Feb. 16, Iraq, KIA.
Spc. Eric Ramirez, 31, California, Feb. 12, Iraq, KIA.
Spc. Elijah Wong, 42, Arizona, Feb. 9, Iraq.
Spc. Joshua Knowles, 23, Iowa, Feb. 5, Iraq, KIA.
Sgt. Keith Smette, 25, North Dakota, Jan. 24, Iraq, KIA.
Staff Sgt. Kenneth Hendrickson, 41, North Dakota, Jan. 24, Iraq, KIA.
Spc. Michael Mihalakis, 18, California, Dec. 26, Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Michael Sutter, 28, Michigan, Dec. 26, Iraq, KIA.
Spc. Nathan Nakis, 19, Oregon, Dec. 16, Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Aaron Reese, 31, Ohio, Dec. 10, Iraq.
Spc. Todd Bates, 20, Ohio, Dec. 10, Iraq.
Spc. Raphael Davis, 24, Mississippi, Dec. 2, Iraq, KIA.
Spc. Aaron Sissel, 22, Iowa, Nov. 29, Iraq, KIA.
Cpl. Darrell Smith, 28, Indiana, Nov. 23, Iraq.
Spc. Robert Wise, 21, Florida, Nov. 12, Iraq, KIA.
Staff Sgt. Nathan Bailey, 46, Tennessee, Nov. 12, Kuwait.
Sgt. Paul Fisher, 39, Iowa, Nov. 6, Germany, DOW.
Spc. James Chance III, 25, Mississippi, Nov. 6, Iraq, KIA.
1st Lt. Brian Slavenas, 30, Illinois, Nov. 2, Iraq, KIA.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bruce Smith, 41, Iowa, Nov. 2, Iraq, DOW.
Pvt. Algernon Adams, 36, South Carolina, Oct. 28, Iraq.
Sgt. Aubrey Bell, 33, Alabama, Oct. 27, Iraq, KIA.
Pfc. Paul Bueche, 19, Alabama, Oct. 21, Iraq.
Spc. Michael Williams, 46, New York, Oct. 17, Iraq, KIA.
Sgt. Darrin Potter, 24, Kentucky, Sept. 29, Iraq.
Sgt. 1st Class Robert Rooney, 43, Massachusetts, Sept. 25, Kuwait.
Capt. Robert Lucero, 34, Wyoming, Sept. 25, Iraq, KIA.
Spc. Michael Andrade, 28, Rhode Island, Sept. 24, Iraq.
Sgt. Charles Caldwell, 38, Rhode Island, Sept. 1, Iraq, KIA.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Camara, 40, Rhode Island, Sept. 1, Iraq, KIA.
Spc. Darryl Dent, 21, District of Columbia, Aug. 26, Iraq, KIA.
Staff Sgt. Bobby Franklin, 38, North Carolina, Aug. 20, Iraq, KIA.
Pfc. David Kirchoff, 31, Iowa, Aug. 14, Germany.
Staff Sgt. David Perry, 36, California, Aug. 10, Iraq, KIA.
Sgt. Floyd Knighten Jr., 55, Louisiana, Aug. 9, Iraq.
Pfc. Brandon Ramsey, 21, Illinois, Aug. 8, Iraq.
Staff Sgt. David Lloyd, 44, Tennessee, Aug. 5, Kuwait.
Sgt. Heath McMillin, 29, New York, July 27, Iraq, KIA.
Spc. Jon Fettig, 30, North Dakota, July 22, Iraq, KIA.
Sgt.1st Class Christopher Willoughby, 29, Georgia, July 20, Iraq.
Spc. Joshua Neusche, 20, Missouri, July 12, Germany.
Sgt. Roger Rowe, 54, Tennessee, July 9, Iraq, KIA.
Sgt. 1st Class Craig Boling, 38, Indiana, July 8, Kuwait.
Spc. Jeffrey Wershow, 22, Florida, July 6, Iraq, KIA.
Spc. Richard Orengo, 32, Puerto Rico, June 26, Iraq.
Cpl. John Rivero, 23, Florida, April 17, Kuwait.
Spc. Richard Goward, 32, Michigan, April 14, Iraq.
Spc. William Jeffries, 39, Indiana, March 26, Spain.
*Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, Idaho, March 25, Kuwait.
Staff Sgt. Harold Best, 47, North Carolina, Oct. 7, 2003, Fort Stewart, Ga.
Spc. Jeremy Loveless, 22, Alabama, April 28, 2003, Fort Benning, Ga.
Operation Enduring Freedom
Sgt. Roy Wood, 47, Florida, Jan. 9, Afghanistan.
Sgt. Theodore Perreault, 33, Massachusetts, Dec. 23, Cuba.
Pfc. Kristian Parker, 23, Louisiana, Sept. 29, Qatar.
Sgt. Christopher Geiger, 38, Pennsylvania, July 9, Afghanistan.
*Staff Sgt. Jacob Frazier, 24, Illinois, March 29, Afghanistan, KIA
Spc. Brian Clemens, 19, Indiana, Feb. 7, Kuwait.
Sgt. Michael Barry, 29, Missouri, Feb. 1, Qatar.
Sgt. Gene Vance Jr., 38, West Virginia, May 19, Afghanistan, KIA
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Romero, 31, Colorado, April 15, Afghanistan, KIA
Va., April 13, 2004 – A new, landmark alliance between the Kingdom of Jordan
and the Colorado National Guard may be one more step toward bringing peace and
stability to the Middle East.
is what Prince Feisal Ibn al-Hussein, a member of Jordan’s royal family and
commander of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, said he hoped for while visiting
the National Guard Bureau’s joint headquarters April 1 to endorse the new State
Partnership Program between his country and the Centennial State.
the first time the National Guard’s 11-year-old State Partnership Program has
formed an alliance with a Middle Eastern country to exchange military, civil
and cultural ideas.
Jordan-Colorado partnership is the 45th affiliation between states and
countries since January 1993. Previous partnerships have been forged with
Eastern European nations that were former members of the Warsaw Pact, 13
countries in Latin America and the Philippines.
State Partnership Program aligns states with nations around the world to help
them develop modern military forces, learn the concept of civilian control of
the military, and establish civil-military relationships that benefit the
public during civil emergencies.
part of the world is quite often misunderstood. Understanding can’t but help
(lead to) greater stability, greater security and a greater opportunity for
peace,” said Feisal following a breakfast meeting with Lt. Gen. Daniel
James III, director of the Air National Guard, and Air Guard Maj. Gen.
Mason Whitney, Colorado’s adjutant general.
we come from different cultures, we all face very, very similar challenges in
life. Being able to work together, to be able to address issues together and
understand each other is to the benefit of everybody,” said Feisal, the
younger brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah II. “You don’t lose out from
being able to understand each other and work together,” added Feisal, a
two-star general, who has flown military helicopters and jet fighter planes.
wore a lapel pin of the U.S. and Jordanian flags on his gray suit to signify
his support for the partnership.
40, has learned much about the American culture, because he was educated at
prep schools in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., and earned an electronic
engineering degree from Brown University in Rhode Island in 1985.
asked to participate in the State Partnership Program last December and asked
to be affiliated with Colorado.
Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, recommended
that partnership to the commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. John
Abizaid, on March 23. Central Command is expected to endorse Blum’s
are building on a friendship that already exists between our two countries,
(and) between Jordan and Colorado,” James observed.
“We already had a good relationship with Colorado from previous
exercises,” he said. “When we looked at the Guard assets in Colorado,
(we saw) there is actually a very, very good fit between what we have in
Jordan, whether it is in the air force and army, and what there is available in
partnership will encompass civil defense and disaster response issues as well
as the more traditional military relationships, predicted Feisal. “I think
there is a lot that both sides can learn,” he said.
strategic interests in the Middle East are enormous, and we have seen by virtue
of the State Partnership Program that we can open a lot of doors in terms of
common interests,” Whitney observed. “We feel it’s a great learning
opportunity for our United States military, not only the Colorado National
Guard, to be involved in relationships with Middle Eastern cultures similar to
he pointed out, has maintained a partnership with Slovenia since 1993.
feel that has been a great success for Slovenia and for the Colorado
National Guard. We’re looking forward to having that similar success with
Jordan,” Whitney said.
was admitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with six other countries
on March 29, three days before Whitney met Feisal to discuss the new
partnership between Jordan and Colorado.
fly the F-16 and Jordan flies the F-16. We feel that our Air National Guard
has similar interests with similar missions,” Whitney added. “We have
special forces in the Army National Guard. We have aviation in the Army
National Guard. Jordan also has those missions within their military
organizations. We feel there there’s going to be a great opportunity to
has already asked that two of its Army helicopter pilots train at the Colorado Army
Guard’s High Altitude Army Aviation Training Site, the only one like it in
the world, at Eagle County Airport, Whitney said.
is also familiar with the Air National Guard, because of its exchanges
with the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz.
Jordanian pilots were trained to fly F-16s in Tucson in 1997 and about 50
Jordanian troops received maintenance training there in 1998. Pilots in the
162nd delivered the first F-16s that Jordan purchased from the United States to
the Middle East nation in January 2003.
signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and is now considered to be one of
the countries promoting peace and stability in that part of the world.
Feisal said he hopes that participating in the State Partnership Program will
wish that this would be the solution to the Arab-Israeli problem and to all of
our problems in the Middle East,” he said. “In a small way, maybe it
can help. We will not know until we try it.”
by Gary Sheftick
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April
13, 2004) -- The last class of the Combined Arms and Services Staff School at
Fort Leavenworth, Kan., will graduate May 19.
CAS3 will be consolidated into the various branch officer advance
courses, Army officials said. A one-week combined arms exercise will be
added to those advance courses, which now last 18-20 weeks, depending on the
The one-week exercise, officials said, will provide captains
attending the branch schools with much of the combined-arms experience critical
to CAS3, which now lasts just over five weeks.
Over the past 22 years, some instruction such as problem-solving
or military decision-making has become part of the curriculum at both the
advance courses and CAS3, said Col. David Thompson, CAS3 director at Fort
Leavenworth. He said decision-making is then stressed again at a higher
echelon at the Command and General Staff College.
"Some repetition may be good," Thompson said, for the
learning process. "What we're trying to do is eliminate any redundancy in
Eliminating redundancy was a suggestion resulting from the Army
Training and Leadership Development Panel study, known as ATLDP, completed in
May 2001. It was also examined under the Officer Personnel Management
System XXI study about six years ago.
"This is not a knee-jerk reaction," said Lt. Col. Dennis
Harrington, the G1 Officer Education System liaison at the Pentagon. "This
has been considered for years."
The change, planned as part of the Officer Education System
transformation, was originally scheduled for fiscal year 2005, but is being
moved up for operational reasons, Army officials said.
"With the Army at war, captains need to get back to their
units," Thompson said, and the change will get them back to units almost
four weeks earlier.
The change will affect about 3,100 captains annually. Fort
Leavenworth has been conducting seven classes per year with about 450 students
each. Active-duty captains have been attending the five-week CAS3 course
at Leavenworth immediately after finishing advance course at their branch
school. In recent years, most captains have gone to their advance course
as a permanent-change-of-station move. In the future, they will go in a
temporary-duty status and return to their units officials said. They
added this will be part of Force Stabilization.
Army National Guard and Army Reserve captains may continue taking CAS3 at Reserve
Forces Schools at least through the end of the fiscal year when existing
courses finish. The reserve-component officer advance courses are shorter
and do not include much combined arms curriculum, said Maj. Larry Mosely, a
training officer at the U.S. Army Reserve Command in Atlanta, Ga.
Thompson said he envisions what is now the two-week resident phase
of the Reserve Forces CAS3 becoming very similar to the combined arms exercise
for active-duty captains. Mosely
said the officer advance course for reservists
may adapt into a two-week phase at a branch school, then a distance-learning
course, followed by a combined arms exercise.
A one-week pilot for the combined arms exercise is planned for
this summer at Fort Leavenworth. Then the exercise may move to the combat
arms branch schools, Thompson said.
"It's a compact course," Thompson said about the
exercise being planned, adding that many important elements of the current
CAS3, such as problem-solving, staff interaction and briefings will be
part of the program.
"Many written requirements will fall to the wayside,"
Thompson said, such as formal memo assignments. "I don't think a captain
in today's Army needs to know how many spaces to indent," he said.
The combined arms instruction will include either
computer-simulated exercises, Thompson said, or scenarios with staff injects.
"My job here is to ensure we don't hinder the education of
our captains," Thompson said. "I think we have a great answer."
CAS3 traces its origins to the Army's 1978 Review of Education and
Training of Officers Study, which recommended establishing a course to teach
staff skills. Planning for CAS3 began in 1979, with the first class graduating
in 1981. CAS3 began full operations in 1982 with a nine-week program of
instruction. In October 1996, the class format changed to a five-week program
as part of the Training and Doctrine Command's effort to better integrate
Captains Professional Military Education across the branches and schools.
The decision to establish a Reserve Component CAS3 was made in 1984.
The first classes were taught in U.S. Army Reserve Forces Schools in 1986, and
the program was fully implemented in 1991.
Now as part of OES transformation and changes to officer
Intermediate-Level Education, CAS3 will be combined with the officer advance
"There should be little difference," Thompson said,
between the knowledge base of CAS3 graduates and those who complete the new
officer advance course with the additional combined-arms exercise.
Bush Fulfills Vow to Injured GI
Jogs with soldier who
lost his leg in Afghanistan
By Associated Press
Bush, fulfilling a 15-month-old promise, jogged around the South Lawn yesterday
with a soldier who had been badly wounded in Afghanistan.
During a Jan. 17, 2003, visit to Walter Reed Army Medical
Center, Mr. Bush met Staff Sgt. Michael McNaughton of Denham Springs, La.
On Jan. 8, Sgt. McNaughton, a member of the Louisiana National
Guard, had stepped on a land mine 30 miles north of Kabul. His right leg had to
be removed above the knee, he lost two fingers on his right hand and he
suffered shrapnel wounds in his left leg.
The president and Sgt. McNaughton had talked about running,
and Mr. Bush promised to run with the soldier when he was “fully recovered
and able to run with his prosthetic leg,” said White House spokesman Scott
Mr. Bush has been plagued by knee troubles but has been doing
light running in recent weeks, Mr. McClellan said. “He’s following his
doctor’s advice to just do it as he can,” Mr. McClellan said.
The president has been doing more bicycling, and went on some
bicycle rides while at his Crawford, Texas, ranch last week, Mr. McClellan
The track on the South Lawn, installed by President Clinton
and upgraded during Mr. Bush’s term, is covered by a shock-absorbing material.