News You Can Use: Apr. 6, 2004

April 6, Volume 1, Issue 55

Index of Articles

Note: Topics below
are now bookmarked! Click on the underlined topic below to link to the pages on
that topic.


READINESS………………………………………………………………………………………. 3

S.C. Bases Take Central Role in New Defense

He Helped Guard Answer the Call

DEPLOYMENT………………………………………………………………………………….. 8

Reserve Component Civilian
Employment Information Program Begins

National Guard and Reserve Mobilized
as of March 31, 2004

Troop Rotation to Iraq Continues, Units Assuming Control

REUNION………………………………………………………………………………………… 11

200th Engineers Receive
Grand Homecoming

Arizona Army Guard Returns Home

National Guard Unit
Returns Home

600 Welcome Return Of Guard’s 1555th Quartermaster Detachment

Guard’s Medical Battalion
Returns Home

GUARD IN IRAQ……………………………………………………………………………… 14

Two New Hampshire
Soldiers Injured in Iraq

Vermont National Guard Settles In in Iraq


Guard Accepting Applications for

Mom in Labor;
Dad on Phone


HEALTH ISSUES……………………………………………………………………………… 18


Demand to Know Health Risks

BENEFITS………………………………………………………………………………………… 23

The Common Denominator

National Guard
Tuition Aid Fall Short

Official Urges More Balanced Treatment for Reserve Components


Operation Freedom Lodging Offers 1,000 Nights to Returning

For Divorced
Troops Abroad, a Little Backup at Home

TRIBUTE TO OUR FALLEN HEROES……………………………………………… 30

Honoring Florida’s Fallen

Doctor Presents Portraits of Fallen Soldiers to

Army National Guard Soldier from Maine Killed in Iraq

GENERAL………………………………………………………………………………………… 34

Hutchison: Deal Close on Military Units’ Move to Ellington

National Guard Recruits Enlist on Historic Anniversary

National Guard Counter-Drug Support Program



Guard Family Program Online Communities for families and youth:

TRICARE website for information
on health benefits:

Civilian Employment Information
(CEI) Program Registration for Army and Air National Guard, Air Force, and
Coast Guard Reserve:

Cumulative roster of all National
Guard and Reserve who are currently on active duty:


an 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].


The State (Columbia, SC)

March 29, 2004 Monday

S.C. Bases Take Central Role in New Defense


South Carolina air bases
are playing a key role in trying to prevent future terrorist attacks like those
on New York and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001.

F-16 fighters at Shaw Air
Force Base, including a detachment from the Vermont Air National Guard, are flying air combat patrols over the Eastern
seaboard, officials said.

Meanwhile, pilots at the
McEntire Air National Guard Station,
east of Columbia, have been called on to back up Sumter pilots as well as fly patrols.

The role of S.C. airmen is
part of the Air Force’s effort to revamp its homeland defense mission.

On Sept. 11, 2001, al
Qaeda terrorists hijacked three airliners, crashing them into the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked airliner crashed in a Pennsylvania

How the military responded
to the hijackings has been roundly criticized by the 9/11 Commission, which
held public hearings last week and will do so again in April. The panel said
Air Force jets were too slow in responding to the emergency because of a lack
of communication between civilian and military authorities.

The commission also found
the United States was ill-prepared to defend against any attack within its
borders. For example, military commanders adhered to federal noise-control
rules that require fighters to fly at slow speeds over land rather than racing
interceptors to cities under attack.

Since 9/11, the North
American Aerospace Defense Command, which is responsible for air defenses over
the United States and Canada, has more fighters patrolling U.S. skies and other
planes on alert.

“There are pilots in
a number of locations sitting there ready to jump into their aircraft and
scramble,” said Canadian Army Maj. Douglas Martin, a command spokesman.
(The Colorado-headquartered command is staffed by members of the U.S. and
Canadian military.)

In addition, pilots are
being trained several times a week on how to handle hijacked airliners.

The training scenarios
include the possibility of pilots having to shoot down an airliner.

Martin declined to discuss
how many missions are flown from individual bases or how many planes may be
involved in the patrols.

But Air Force magazine
reported the Air Force keeps a minimum of 35 fighters, eight refueling tankers
and a pair of E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft ready to respond
to a threat. Before 9/11, only 14 fighters and no tankers or warning aircraft
were kept on alert.

Eighteen bases around the
country also have fighters sitting on their runways that can be airborne within
five minutes. That’s more than double the seven installations that were
“alert bases” prior to 9/11.

Since 9/11, planes on
North American Aerospace Defense Command missions have flown 35,000 sorties.
More than 1,700 times they either have diverted patrols or scrambled to check
out a suspect aircraft, Martin said.

While the Air National
Guard is in charge of the command’s homeland defense mission, active-duty units
such as those at Shaw also have been called on to patrol the skies.

Shaw, home of the 20th
Fighter Wing, recently got some help from the Vermont Air National Guard.

The “Green Mountain
Boys,” as the Vermont Guard calls itself, have deployed four F-16s and
about 50 airmen to the Sumter base to fly patrols over the southeastern United

S.C. Air National Guard
jets, based at McEntire some 20 miles west of Shaw, have flown a handful of
homeland defense patrols and pilots occasionally have been on alert, said a
McEntire spokesman.

The North American
Aerospace Defense Command also has taken steps to speed up any alert in the
future, Martin said.

During 9/11 civilian
Federal Aviation Administration controllers had to pick up the phone to alert
the military the hijacked airliners had strayed from their course.

Now, Martin said, the
command monitors all FAA communications and would be notified immediately if
there was a problem. Also, FAA officials work at command headquarters and could
give an immediate approval to military commanders if interceptors needed to
violate any noise-restriction rules.

“The FAA is still in
control of the airspace but NORAD fighters will respond appropriately,”
Martin said.

Reach Crumbo at
(803) 771-8503 or [email protected]

Boston Globe

March 25, 2004

He Helped Guard Answer the Call

Keefe came out of retirement to
boost morale of force once ranked last in nation in readiness

When Major General George W. Keefe stepped out of retirement five years
ago at age 60 to take over the Massachusetts National Guard, he inherited a
military force mired in scandal and suffering historically low morale.

The Army side of the guard was ranked 54th, dead last, in overall
performance among state and territory Guard units. Only about 20 percent of
guardsmen could pass fitness tests needed for mobilization.

The Guard was also contending with an Army investigation of Keefe’s
predecessor, Raymond A. Vezina, who, among other things, was found to have used
a military plane to travel to his vacation home in Maine. Later, Keefe told
Vezina he was being fired from the Guard for donning a major general’s uniform
at a Worcester Veterans’ Day parade, although he was only an Army colonel.

”I came here in a very rocky time,” Keefe said in a recent interview
at the Guard’s Milford headquarters. ”The image of the Guard was at a pretty
good low.”

Much has changed since. Since Sept. 11, the Massachusetts Guard under
Keefe has mobilized more soldiers and air personnel than at any time since
World War II. Roughly 7,000 Guard soldiers from Massachusetts have served on
active duty following the terrorist attacks.

F-15 fighter jets from the 102d Fighter Wing from Otis Air National Guard
Base on Cape Cod were the first to respond to the World Trade Center attack.

And thousands of Massachusetts National Guard soldiers continue to serve
overseas, in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While
combat continues, many soldiers are making their way home, and several hundred
are preparing for upcoming peacekeeping missions.

Those conditions led Governor Mitt Romney to file legislation that would
allow Keefe, a Northampton resident, to serve another year, even though the
general is about to reach the mandatory retirement age for National Guard
officers. Next month, on April 24, Keefe celebrates his 65th birthday.

”He said goodbye to them, and I want him to have the right and
responsibility to say hello to them,” Romney said in an interview earlier
this week. ”He’s the person who knows them, who sent them out, who knows what
they’re capable of.”

Keefe said he is more than willing to answer the governor’s call, adding
that he takes great pride in serving the country and the state during these
times of uncertainty.

He has never served in combat himself; it’s one of his deepest regrets. He
thought he was close during the Vietnam War. But only about 400 Massachusetts
National Guard soldiers were mobilized, and he wasn’t one of them.

”Everybody kind of had an empty feeling, because you are not part of that
first team,” he said. ”You really felt bad.”

Now, Keefe takes great pride sending soldiers into battle, soldiers he has
visited in such places as Iraq, Kuwait, and Guantanamo Bay. He feels great pain
when they don’t return.

”When you take a 19- or 20-year-old that’s about to get married or is
married and look at their little kids and their families and the
grief-stricken, it really tears your guts out,” he said.

Keefe isn’t just sending other parents’ children to war; he’s sending his

Three of his four sons are members of the Massachusetts National Guard.
Gary, 40, and Jim, 38, a lieutenant colonel and major, respectively, with the
104th Fighter Wing of Westfield, each served in Iraq. And Patrick, 36, a member
of the 42d Division Artillery out of Rehoboth, previously served in Bosnia and
is scheduled for deployment to Iraq later this spring. His youngest son, Tim,
is a police officer in Dover.

Friends and colleagues say there is nothing more important to Keefe than
the Guard and his family. His corner office is a testament to that.

Photos of his sons, along with their military honors, line the shelves.
His own have been stuffed inside drawers.

Flags line the walls. More flags lie folded in specially decorated boxes
that detail the places they were flown. Almost every knickknack is dressed in
camouflage, including his Bible and a teddy bear given to him by his
girlfriend, Geri, who works at the Department of Correction. Next to a photo of
him with Romney is an epaulet from the uniform of a two-star Iraqi general, a
gift from a soldier.

Keefe’s wife of 41 years, Kathleen, died in October 2000 after a four-year
battle with cancer. When she went blind three months before her death, he said,
he decided to quit to help her full-time.

Keefe, who survived his own battle against colon cancer in 1992, told colleagues
he was leaving, but they wouldn’t let him go, deciding instead to take on much
of his duties.

”It was a total team effort,” he said.

Keefe joined the Guard with six friends as a 17-year-old in 1956. He
aspired to be a war pilot, although he quickly realized the Guard would not let
him fly because of a 6-inch scar from an appendectomy. At the time, such scars
could not be more than 2 inches, out of fear that air pressure would rupture
the wound.

The day after his commencement at Northampton High School, he and his
friends were shipped off to a Cape Cod military base as classmates celebrated
their graduation.

”We couldn’t even party that night,” said Richard Turban, a
Northampton classmate who joined the Guard with Keefe.

After serving 12 years as an enlisted member with the 104th Tactical
Fighter Group, based in Westfield, Keefe said, he accepted his wife’s counsel
that he needed more education if he was ever going to make officer.

She was right, it seems. Two years after receiving a business degree from
Holyoke Community College, he was promoted to first lieutenant at the 104th
Combat Support Squadron. In 1987, he was named deputy commander, eventually
taking the helm at the Air National Guard in 1995.

It was only days after his retirement in 1999 that then-governor Paul
Cellucci called him back from a vacation on a South Yarmouth beach to offer him
the job of adjutant general for the joint force. He would be the first air
guardsman to take over the joint force since its formation in Salem.

The first thing Keefe sought to do was rid any members with the ”weekend
warrior” mindset, those who signed on with the Guard believing that their
commitment would be minimal. He restructured command roles from the top down.

Calling the Guard a ”nursing home,” he enforced a strict physical
health policy, starting with the generals.

”I cleaned house,” he said. ”We had people hiding in closets, but I
found them.”

State Senator-elect Scott Brown, a Wrentham Republican and a major in the
Army National Guard, said Keefe was ”a breath of fresh air.”

”Throughout all of that,” Brown said, ”he was right here working
and committed to making the Guard the best it can be.”

Today, Keefe proudly states that the Massachusetts National Guard has the
highest rate nationwide of Guard soldiers ready for combat.

It’s not just self-promotion: Colonel Emory R. Helton, garrison commander
of Fort Drum in New York, said his experience with Massachusetts units shows
that they are as prepared for mobilization as his active-duty Army units.

”When George Keefe returned integrity to our business, that was what was
necessary at that time, and I’m delighted that he did that,” said
Brigadier General Donald Quenneville, commander of the Massachusetts Air
National Guard.

Quenneville said Keefe’s success is due in large part to his ability to
respect a soldier, regardless of his or her rank.

Keefe said that he had been urging Romney for the better part of last year
to find a successor, but that the governor never really responded. Romney then
called asking him to remain.

”When the governor asks you, you don’t say no. You say, ‘You bet your
life; I’d love to,’ ” Keefe said.

The governor’s legislation that would allow Keefe to serve past age 65 now
sits in the Joint Committee on Public Service. The chairman of the committee,
Senator Steven A. Tolman, a Brighton Democrat, said he hoped to hold a public
hearing within the next few weeks. On its surface, he said, it appeared to be a
noncontroversial issue.

Keefe said he’s more than happy to stay and has several things he wants to
see through. Noting that more people are leaving the Guard than joining it, he
wants to develop a more formal deployment schedule to give soldiers, their
families, and their employers a clearer sense of when they will be needed.

But he promises his 65th year will be his last.

”If I’m cleared, I’ll gladly stay for another year,” he said, adding
with a smile, ”But that’s it. I’m retiring.”


Reserve Component Civilian Employment Information Program

By Master Sgt. Bob Haskell, USA

Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2004 – A new Defense Department reporting system has
begun so members of all seven reserve components can register their employers.

DoD decision-makers need to know the civilian employers and government
agencies of the department’s approximately 1.2 million National Guardsmen and
reservists, officials explained. The database will, among other things, give
officials a better idea of who should, and should not, be mobilized for national
emergencies, they said.

The database is called the Civilian Employment Information Program, and it
is the way for all Guard and Reserve members to comply with the law that
requires them to inform DoD of who employs them and how they are employed when
not performing their military duties.

“This program will make it possible for defense officials, including
those responsible for mobilizing our traditional Guard and Reserve members, to
know who can be called up for active military duty without jeopardizing the
civilian forces responsible for safeguarding our country,” explained David
Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

Members of the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve
and Navy Individual Ready Reserve can now enter their employment data on the
new  Defense Manpower Data Center Web
site. Members of the Army Reserve, Navy Selected Reserve, Marine Reserve and
Coast Guard Reserve will be able to enter their employment data on their
existing personnel reporting systems.

To register their CEI information, reserve component members
should go to their respective service’s CEI program Web sites, officials said.

Guardsmen and reservists must register 10 specific data fields
concerning their civilian employers and job skills to meet three requirements
mandated by law.

Chu said the Defense Department must:

Give consideration to civilian workers — including
emergency responders such as police officers, firefighters and medical
personnel — necessary to maintain the national health, safety and interests
when considering which Guard and Reserve members should be called to active

Ensure more members with critical civilian jobs and
skills are not retained in the reserve components than are necessary to respond
to emergencies.

Inform the reservists’ civilian employers of their
rights and responsibilities under the 1994 Uniformed Services Employment and
Reemployment Rights Act.

The information could be another tool to help determine which
units or members of the Ready Reserve should be mobilized, defense officials

Information about full-time employers also would make it
possible for DoD officials to enhance employer support for the Guard and
Reserve, officials said.

“The goal is to maintain a 95 percent accurate data base
for the Selected Reserve,” explained Thomas Hall, assistant secretary of
defense for reserve affairs, “and to maintain 75 percent accuracy for the
Individual Ready Reserve database. The department is required by law to
maintain adequate and current personnel records on members of the reserve
components, including each member’s civilian occupational skills.”

The law also requires all members of reserve components to
notify appropriate defense officials about any changes in their civilian

Officials said the Defense Department knows 13 percent of the
Guard and Reserve work for the federal government, and that half of those are
federal military technicians.

Surveys have told DoD officials the general sectors of the
economy in which the other 87 percent of reserve component members work: About
60 percent work in private-sector firms, 20 percent work for state or local
governments, and less than 7 percent are self-employed.

Employees are considered full time for Civilian Employment
Information Program purposes if their employer considers them to be employed
full time. Self-employed personnel are considered full time if they work for
themselves for an average of at least 30 hours per week.

Defense officials do not currently know the specific skills
these members possess, or specifically who the employers are. Nor does the
Defense Department know which members of the Ready Reserve are employed in the
professions related to maintaining the national health, safety and interest,
officials pointed out.

The Civilian Employment Information Program, Chu explained,
will require all Guard and Reserve members to list on the database their
employment status, their employer’s names, their employer’s complete mailing
addresses, their civilian job titles, and their total number of years in their
current civilian occupations.

The requirement on the part of the guardsman or reservist to
provide CEI data is not a violation of the Privacy Act, added Hall. CEI is the
extension of existing personnel data records, and is covered under previous
Privacy Act systems notices, he said.

Unlike previous military service efforts to voluntarily gather
employer data, registering employer data in the CEI program is mandatory. Guard
and Reserve members who knowingly fail or refuse to provide that information,
or who knowingly provide false employment-related information, may be subject
to administrative action or punishment, officials said.

CEI Registration Site
for the Army and Air National Guard, Air Force and Coast Guard Reserve


IMMEDIATE RELEASE         March 31, 2004

National Guard and Reserve Mobilized as of March 31, 2004

This week the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps each report
decreases in the number of reservists on active duty in support of the partial
mobilization. The Navy reports a slight increase. The net collective result is
626 fewer 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
151,745; Naval Reserve 2,680; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 14,329;
Marine Corps Reserve, 5,115; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 1,607. This brings
the total National Guard and Reserve on active duty to 175,476 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

Troop Rotation to Iraq
Continues, Units Assuming Control

By Jim Garamone

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2004 – The largest rotation of U.S.
forces since World War II continues in Iraq, Defense Department officials said

In all more than 250,000 U.S. service members are affected.

Planning for the rotation began months ago. New units worked
with units in Iraq to learn their new missions and to plan the movement. In
December, new units began flowing into the region, and in January, they began
the relief-in-place process.

Officials expect the rotation to continue through May, when
110,000 U.S. service members will be in place. They will replace the 130,000
Americans who have been serving in the region. When the rotation is complete,
about 80,000 soldiers, 25,000 Marines and 5,000 Air Force and Navy personnel
will be in Iraq. Fourteen brigades will have replaced 17 brigades.

To date, about 95 percent of the service members deploying to
Iraq have arrived in the region. More than 90 percent of the cargo has arrived,
and more than 60 percent of the personnel due to return to home stations have
done so.

Some moves already have occurred. Task Force Olympia has
relieved the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul. The largest unit in
Task Force Olympia is the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (called
the Stryker Brigade) from Fort Lewis, Wash. The 101st has returned to Fort
Campbell, Ky.

Other units leaving the region are the 82nd Airborne Division
from Fort Bragg, N.C.; the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo.;
the 1st Armored Division based in Germany and Fort Riley, Kansas; the 173rd
Airborne Brigade from Vicenza, Italy; and the 4th Infantry Division based at
both Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Carson.

Arriving Army units include the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort
Hood. The division also will command the 39th Brigade Combat Team from the
Arkansas National Guard. The division will relieve the 1st Armored Division in
Baghdad, and is due to take over responsibility April 15.

The 1st Infantry Division from Wurzburg, Germany, and Fort
Riley, Kansas, has relieved the 4th Infantry Division and the 173rd Airborne
Brigade in Tikrit and Kirkuk, respectively. The 30th Brigade Combat Team of the
North Carolina National Guard also is part of the 1st Infantry.

Last week, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp
Pendleton, Calif., relieved the 82nd Airborne Division and the 3rd Armored
Cavalry Regiment in the hotspots of Fallujah, Ramadi and the western part of
Iraq. The 1st MEF also will command the 1st Brigade of the 1st Infantry
Division from Fort Riley and the 81st Armored Brigade of the
Washington State National Guard.

While the number of American forces is dropping, Iraqi assets
will more than make up the cut. A new Iraqi army brigade should be operational
by the time the coalition returns sovereignty to an Iraqi government June 30.
In addition, units of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps will work with the units.
Baghdad officials said more than 210,000 Iraqis are involved in security work
in the country.


Aberdeen American News (South Dakota)

March 30, 2004 Tuesday

200th Engineers Receive Grand Homecoming

By Russ Keen; American News Writer


They returned from war unscathed, but were blown away by the
homecoming they received on Monday. “It’s absolutely amazing,” said
Spc. Josh Guthmiller, 23, Selby, a member of the Mobridge-based Detachment 2 of
the 200th Engineer Co., South Dakota National Guard. “It is much more than I ever expected. I
really underestimated this.”

Associated Press

March 30, 2004

Army Guard Returns Home

Phoenix –
Members of the Arizona Army National
855th military police company return to Phoenix tomorrow afternoon.

The officers were called up to active duty and served in Iraq
for a year.

The guard is scheduled to arrive at the 52nd Street Armory in
east Phoenix between 2:30 and 4:30 tomorrow afternoon.

While on duty, the 855th military police unit designed,
constructed and managed two enemy prisoner of war holding areas in support of
the Army’s advance on Baghdad.

The unit also had responsibility for hiring, training and
equipping local Iraqi police.

Associated Press

March 31, 2004

National Guard Unit Returns Home

Waterford-AP, Mar. 31, 2004

The Connecticut National Guard’s 143rd
Military Police are on their way home from Iraq.

The 150-member unit is scheduled to arrive at Fort Drum in New
York tomorrow, the first stop on its way home Connecticut after a nearly
year-long deployment in Iraq.

Thirteen members of the West Hartford-based unit have earned
the Purple Heart for wounds from hostile enemy action, the highest percentage
of war-related injuries suffered by any of the Connecticut Guard units deployed
in Iraq.

The unit will remain at Ft. Drum over the weekend and return
to Connecticut next week.

The 143rd is the second Connecticut National Guard unit to
return from the war. They join the 1109th, who returned home last month.

Four more units activated last year will be returning over the
next four months.

The New London-based 247th Engineering Detachment and
Norwich-based 248th Engineering Company are scheduled to return home next

The Associated Press

April 1, 2004

600 Welcome Return of Guard’s 1555th Quartermaster Detachment


More than 600 people welcomed home 40 soldiers of the Iowa
National Guard’s 1555th
Quartermaster Detachment Wednesday afternoon at Dubuque’s National Guard Armory.

“It’s great to have you back,” National Guard Adjutant General Ron
Dardis said of the unit that processed 60 million gallons of potable water
during their deployment to Iraq. He thanked the soldiers for their
“willingness to serve.”

Families and friends welcomed the soldiers with hugs, tears
and cheers.

“We’ve been floating for days,” said Tim Biedermann,
the father of Spc. Laura Biedermann, of Dubuque. “It’s tough to sleep.
It’s unreal. We’ve been waiting for this all year and we can’t wait to get her

Biedermann went home in style, along with fellow 1555th
soldier Nathan Miller, thanks to her friend Tiffany Bollinger.

Bollinger rented a 16-passenger Lincoln Navigator from Miracle
Limousine of Dubuque.

“We just wanted to show her a good time,” Bollinger
said. “We told her when she left we were going to pick her up in a Lincoln
Navigator limo, so we got it. She didn’t believe it.”

Michael Lopez thought so, too, as he was met by his wife
Theresa and their three children, Heather 11, Christopher 9, and Nathan 5.

Lopez, a California native, spent 17 years in the military.
The family decided to settle in Iowa, and Michael would enlist in the Army National Guard for three years and
earn retirement benefits. In October 2002, the family moved to Epworth from

Theresa found a job with Mercy Medical Center-Dubuque’s Child
Development Center.

“We thought that’s a really good sign, so we moved
here,” Theresa said. “We really took a chance.”

Michael joined the 1555th – his first drill was in January
2003. Less than a month later, the 1555th received deployment orders.

The limo that picked up Biedermann was stocked with a cooler
of beer and soft drinks.

“We’re ready to rock,” said Bollinger.

So was Biedermann.

“I feel the weight of the world is off my
shoulders,” she said. “It was the worst experience. I never want to
do it again. Each day you never knew if you were going to live or die. It’s
great to be back.”

The Associated Press

April 2, 2004

Guard’s Medical Battalion Returns Home


A 12-year-old celebrated his birthday Thursday, looking for
his dad among the 200 Iowa National
soldiers marching into the Coral Ridge Mall ice arena after spending
more than 14 months on active duty.

“That’s him, that’s him,” screamed Alex Dlouhy of
Mason City, who was having difficulty identifying his father, Spc. Jim Dlouhy,
through the tears blurring his vision. “This is the best birthday present
of my life.”

After serving an extended term in Iraq, the for Operation
Iraqi Freedom, 150 men and women of the 109th Medical Battalion’s Headquarters
and Support Company and about 60 members of the battalion’s Company A returned
home to their families.

“The definition of hero is the 109th Medical
Battalion,” said Gov. Tom Vilsack, who was one of several state, community
and military dignitaries to speak at the event. Vilsack kept his address to
less than a minute, expediting long-awaited reunions.

“God bless each and every one of you, and God bless the
USA,” Vilsack said.

The Headquarters and Support Company, which provides medical
care, was activated Jan. 24 and left for Fort McCoy, Wis., for two months of
training before shipping out to the Middle East. Company A, working below the
Headquarters and Support Company, followed a month later.

Families initially expected the battalion to be gone one year
but learned in September that the troops’ stay had been extended through March
– about three months longer than anticipated.

“This is the end of a nightmare,” said Roxanne
Delany, 45, who waited with her 16-year-old son Matt for her husband Jim
Delany. “I was worried he would be safe.”

Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, said the battalion
suffered no fatalities or injuries.

“They were all brought home safe that’s outstanding
leadership,” he said.

Dardis said that during their service, the battalion treated
more than 100,000 patients, evacuated more than 3,400 people during emergencies
and provided command and control for 10 subordinate units of about 400

About 20 soldiers with the 109th Medical Battalion remain in
Kuwait to ensure equipment is safely transferred to American soil. Dardis said
that, in the next four to six weeks, more than 2,000 Iowa soldiers will return

“We have been very highly tasked because we have
outstanding units,” he said. “They were in high demand because of
their performance and readiness.”


The Associated Press

March 31, 2004, Tuesday, BC cycle

Two New Hampshire
Soldiers Injured in Iraq


Two New Hampshire Army National Guardsmen have been injured during a
firefight in northern Iraq.

Sgt. Jason Weaver, 30, of
Franklin, was shot in the left leg, and Spec. Gerard Lamson, 26, of Ashland,
suffered shrapnel wounds to both hands when their police patrol was attacked in
Mosul on Sunday.

They were injured during a
firefight with four insurgents, whose vehicle they stopped because it matched
the description of one used in an earlier drive-by shooting at U.S. forces in
the city, a military statement said.

Earlier in the day, Weaver
and Lamson were part of a three-vehicle patrol that had been fired upon by a
passing truck.

When the patrol returned
to the area of the attack later, the soldiers spotted what they believed to be
the same truck approaching from the opposite direction. The patrol blocked the
truck’s route, ordered the insurgents out of the truck, and killed the rebels
when they began firing.

Inside the vehicle,
soldiers found assault rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and other
weapons. U.S. and Iraqi security forces were investigating to see whether the
rebels “were involved in any of the recent attacks against Iraqi government
officials, Iraqi security forces or coalition soldiers,” the statement

Weaver and Lamson are
members of the 2nd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery, Bravo Battery, based in
Plymouth. They are the third and fourth members of the New Hampshire Army National Guard stationed in Iraq to be injured
in the last week by insurgents.

On March 22, Sgt. Douglas
Stone, 38, of Antrim, was cut on his ear, and Spec. Joshua Nadeau, 24, of
Vernon, Vt., received a minor concussion when their tractor trailer was hit by an
explosion. They are members of the Hillsboro-based 744th Transportation

Associated Press

March 31, 2004

Vermont National Guard Settles In in Iraq

By Wilson Ring


MONTPELIER – The 200 Vermont National Guard members who
arrived in Iraq earlier this month for a year-long stay are getting settled in.

Some have begun the convoy protection duties they were trained
to accomplish while others are helping protect the U.S. base at Baghdad
International Airport, said Vermont National Guard spokesman Lt. Veronica

But mostly the soldiers from the Williston-based 1st Battalion
of the 86th Field Artillery Regiment, which is drawn from armories across
northern Vermont, are still learning their way around.

The Vermonters are working with the soldiers they are
replacing to learn their duties, Saffo said.

“They are making the transition,” Saffo said.
“They will be going into their permanent quarters relatively soon.”

Each of the soldiers has been issued high-tech ceramic body
armor, which can stop bullets and shrapnel. The armor has been in short supply,
prompting some soldiers or their families to buy it privately.

Attacks against U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq have
increased in the last week. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said in Baghdad that there
has been an average of 26 attacks daily, an increase of about six from recent

On Tuesday one U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded in
a roadside bombing near Ramadi, west of Baghdad, Kimmitt said.

To date, none of the Vermonters have faced hostile fire.

“So far there have been no reports of anything like
that,” Saffo said.

But the unit has already experienced a loss. Sgt. William
Normandy, 42, of East Barre, died March 14 of a heart attack while the unit was
training in Iraq.


Gazette (West Virginia)

April 3, 2004, Saturday

Accepting Applications for Camp

The West Virginia National
is accepting applications from eligible high school students for the
38th Annual Youth Leaders Camp to be held June 19-25 at Camp Dawson in

The camp will expose students in grades 10-12 to military life
through character-building and leadership-development opportunities, which will
include hands-on experience with military equipment, organized athletic events
and supervised social activities.

The cost of the camp is $ 150 per camper. The funds provide
the camper with medical coverage (as a secondary carrier), a hat, T-shirts, and
meals and lodging. The National Guard
will attempt to obtain sponsors for those campers unable to pay the fee.
Scholarships may be available.

Military buses and vans will provide transportation to and
from the camp. Transportation will be available in major cities and along major
roadways, and a schedule will be provided once the number of campers attending
is determined.

Applications may be obtained at the Charleston armory on
Coonskin Drive or from a guidance counselor at any high school. Applications
must be returned, complete with general release, participation agreement and
medical certificate, to West Virginia National
Youth Leaders Camp, ATTN: Maj. Kristine Wood, 1703 Coonskin Dr.,
Charleston, WV 25311.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

April 4, 2004

Mom in
Labor; Dad on Phone

Guardsman stationed in
Iraq listens while his wife gives birth to son

By Will Jones, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

Anne Timberlake pushed twice before the phone rang in her
hospital room.

Her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Timberlake, was calling from
Iraq for news about the birth of the couple’s second child.

He stayed on the line while his wife pushed twice more. Then,
at 1:16 p.m. Monday, Asher Davis Timberlake was born, a healthy 7 pounds, 14

“He was asking what it was,” Anne recalled last week
at her home in Powhatan County. “I told him it was a boy.”

Jamie asked if his skin was as perfect as 17-month-old son
Trey’s had been.

told him it was and described how Asher had a surprising amount of dark hair,
even a hint of sideburns.

“I don’t remember the whole conversation,” said Anne,
a 28-year-old teacher at Powhatan Elementary School. “We were basically
just crying.”

Anne and Jamie, who have been married four years, knew he
would probably miss the birth when they got word last November that he had been
called to active service for the Army
National Guard.
Jamie,  30, works as
the zoning administrator for Powhatan.

After a few delays, he finally reported for duty in early
January and is currently stationed near Mosul.

Because Anne Timberlake wanted to videotape the birth for
Jamie, her doctor agreed to induce labor while she was working last Monday at
the Johnston-Willis campus of CJW Medical Center.

Anne had detailed the plan in an e-mail and hoped Jamie would
be able to call the hospital sometime that day. He did at 8:30 a.m., before
Anne had gotten her shot of Pitocin to induce labor.   She suggested he try again in a few hours.

Anne received an epidural shot at noon to numb her for labor
and was ready to push 50 minutes later.

“Things got real busy really fast,” Jamie’s mother,
Gail Timberlake, wrote in a journal detailing Asher’s birth. “We prayed it
would be 3 pushes instead of 3 hours.”

As it turned out, Asher needed four pushes.

called right when Anne was pushing to deliver! He stayed on the phone the
entire time of delivery. I believe in miracles,” Gail Timberlake wrote.

Anne’s mother, Betty Mason, agreed. “Divine intervention
is what we’re calling it,” she said. “It was wonderful – tears of joy
– that he could be part of it by phone.”

Jamie stayed on the line for five to 10 minutes after Asher’s
birth. “He could hear him [cry] even without the phone up to his
mouth,” Anne said.

The teary nurses quickly weighed and measured Asher in the
room so Jamie could get all the details.

While she’s grateful Jamie was able to experience the birth in
some way, Anne said it was difficult not having him by her side.

“It’s hardest for me thinking of him because he can’t see
the baby,” she said, her eyes filling with tears.

family plans to send a DVD copy of Asher’s birth to Jamie so he can watch it on
his laptop computer. Photographs have already been sent in e-mails.

At home last week, Anne said she will be OK with the support
of so many family members and friends. At one point, Asher rested in her arms,
while Trey rode horsy-style on her foot.

Anne plans to take about seven weeks before returning to the
classroom. She’s not sure when she’ll see Jamie again. His activation order was
for two years.

“I told him we’d try for a girl when he came home,”
she said.


New York Daily News 

4, 2004


Shocking report reveals
local troops may be victims of America’s high-tech weapons

By Juan Gonzalez, Daily News Staff Writer

Four soldiers from a New
York Army National Guard
company serving in Iraq are contaminated with radiation
likely caused by dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops, a
Daily News investigation has found.

are among several members of the same company, the 442nd Military Police, who
say they have been battling persistent physical ailments that began last summer
in the Iraqi town of Samawah.

“I got sick instantly in June,” said Staff Sgt. Ray
Ramos, a Brooklyn housing cop. “My health kept going downhill with daily
headaches, constant numbness in my hands and rashes on my stomach.”

A nuclear medicine expert who examined and tested nine
soldiers from the company says that four “almost certainly” inhaled
radioactive dust from exploded American shells manufactured with depleted

tests conducted at the request of The News revealed traces of two manmade forms
of uranium in urine samples from four of the soldiers.

If so, the men – Sgt. Hector Vega, Sgt. Ray Ramos, Sgt.
Agustin Matos and Cpl. Anthony Yonnone – are the first confirmed cases of
inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict.

The 442nd, made up for the most part of New York cops,
firefighters and correction officers, is based in Orangeburg, Rockland County.
Dispatched to Iraq last Easter, the unit’s members have been providing guard
duty for convoys, running jails and training Iraqi police. The entire company
is due to return home later this month.

“These are amazing results, especially since these
soldiers were military police not exposed to the heat of battle,” said Dr.
Asaf Duracovic, who examined the G.I.s and performed the testing that was
funded by The News.

“Other American soldiers who were in combat must have
more depleted uranium exposure,” said Duracovic, a colonel in the Army
Reserves who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

While working at a military hospital in Delaware, he was one
of the first doctors to discover unusual radiation levels in Gulf War veterans.
He has since become a leading critic of the use of depleted uranium in warfare.

Depleted uranium, a waste product of the uranium enrichment
process, has been used by the U.S. and 
British military for more than 15 years in some artillery shells and as
armor plating for tanks. It is twice as heavy as lead.

Because of its density, “It is the superior heavy metal
for armor to protect tanks and to penetrate armor,” Pentagon spokesman
Michael Kilpatrick said.

The Army and Air Force fired at least 127 tons of depleted
uranium shells in Iraq last year, Kilpatrick said. No figures have yet been
released for how much the Marines fired.

Kilpatrick said about 1,000 G.I.s back from the war have been
tested by the Pentagon for depleted uranium and only three have come up
positive – all as a result of shrapnel from DU shells.

But the test results for the New York guardsmen – four of nine positives for DU – suggest the
potential for more extensive radiation exposure among coalition troops and
Iraqi civilians.

Several Army studies in recent years have concluded that the
low-level radiation emitted when shells containing DU explode poses no
significant dangers. But some independent scientists and a few of the ­Army’s
own reports indicate otherwise.

a result, depleted uranium weapons have sparked increasing controversy around
the world. In January 2003, the ­European Parliament called for a moratorium on
their use after reports of an unusual number of leukemia deaths among Italian
soldiers who served in Kosovo, where DU weapons were used.

I keep
getting weaker. What is happening to me?

The Army says that only soldiers wounded by depleted uranium
shrapnel or who are inside tanks during an explosion face measurable radiation

But as far back as 1979, Leonard Dietz, a physicist at the
Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory upstate, discovered that DU-contaminated dust
could travel for long distances.

Dietz, who pioneered the technology to isolate uranium
isotopes, accidentally discovered that air filters with which he was
experimenting had collected radioactive dust from a National Lead Industries
Plant that was producing DU 26 miles away. His discovery led to a shutdown of
the plant.

“The contamination was so heavy that they had to remove
the topsoil from 52 properties around the plant,” Dietz said.

All humans have at least tiny amounts of natural uranium in
their bodies because it is found in water and in the food supply, Dietz said.
But natural uranium is quickly and harmlessly excreted by the body.

Uranium oxide dust, which lodges in the lungs once inhaled and
is not very soluble, can emit radiation to the body for years.

“Anybody, civilian or soldier, who breathes these
particles has a permanent dose, and it’s not going to decrease very much over
time,” said Dietz, who retired in 1983 after 33 years as nuclear
physicist. “In the long run … veterans exposed to ceramic uranium oxide
have a major problem.”

Critics of DU have noted that the Army’s view of its dangers
has changed over time.

Before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, a 1990 Army report noted
that depleted uranium is “linked to cancer when exposures are internal,
[and] chemical toxicity causing kidney damage.”

It was during the Gulf War that U.S. A-10 Warthog “tank
buster” planes and Abrams tanks first used DU artillery on a mass scale.
The Pentagon says it fired about 320 tons of DU in that war and that smaller
amounts were also used in the Serbian province of Kosovo.

In the Gulf War, Army brass did not warn soldiers about any
risks from exploding DU shells. An unknown number of G.I.s were exposed by
shrapnel, inhalation or handling battlefield debris.

Some veterans groups blame DU contamination as a factor in
Gulf War syndrome, the term for a host of ailments that afflicted thousands of
vets from that war.

Under pressure from veterans groups, the Pentagon commissioned
several new studies. One of those, published in 2000, concluded that DU, as a
heavy metal, “could pose a chemical hazard” but that Gulf War
veterans “did not experience intakes high enough to affect their

Pentagon spokesman Michael Kilpatrick said Army followup
studies of 70 DU-contaminated Gulf War veterans have not shown serious health

“For any heavy metal, there is no such thing as
safe,” Kilpatrick said. “There is an issue of chemical toxicity, and
for DU it is raised as radiological toxicity as well.”

But he said “the overwhelming conclusion” from
studies of those who work with uranium “show it has not produced any
increase in cancers.”

Several European studies, however, have linked DU to
chromosome damage and birth defects in mice. Many scientists say we still don’t
know enough about the long-range effects of low-level radiation on the body to
say any amount is safe.

Britain’s national science academy, the Royal Society, has
called for identifying where DU was used and is urging a cleanup of all
contaminated areas.

“A large number of American soldiers [in Iraq] may have
had significant exposure to uranium oxide dust,” said Dr. Thomas Fasey, a
pathologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center and an expert on depleted uranium.
“And the health impact is worrisome for the future.”

As for the soldiers of the 442nd, they’re sick, frustrated and
confused. They say when they arrived in Iraq no one warned them about depleted
uranium and no one gave them dust masks.

behind News probe

As part of the investigation by the Daily News, Dr. Asaf
Duracovic, a nuclear medicine expert who has conducted extensive research on
depleted uranium, examined the nine soldiers from the 442nd Military Police in
late December and collected urine specimens from each.

Another member of his team, Prof. Axel Gerdes, a geologist at
Goethe University in Frankfurt who specializes in analyzing uranium isotopes,
performed repeated tests on the samples over a week-long ­period. He used a
state-of-the art procedure called multiple collector inductively coupled
plasma-mass spectrometry.

Only about 100 laboratories worldwide have the same capability
to identify and measure various uranium isotopes in minute quantities, Gerdes

Gerdes concluded that four of the men had depleted uranium in
their bodies. Depleted uranium, which does not occur in nature, is created as a
waste product of uranium enrichment when some of the highly radioactive
isotopes in natural uranium, U-235 and U-234, are extracted.

Several of the men, according to Duracovic, also had minute
traces of another uranium isotope, U-236, that is produced only in a nuclear
reaction process.

“These men were almost certainly exposed to radioactive
weapons on the battlefield,” Duracovic said.

He and Gerdes plan to issue a scientific paper on their study
of the soldiers at the annual meeting of the European Association of Nuclear
Medicine in Finland this year.

When DU shells explode, they permanently contaminate their
target and the area immediately around it with low-level radioactivity.

New York Daily News

April 4, 2004

Demand to Know Health Risks

By Juan Gonzalez, Daily News Staff Writer

Doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center recently told Staff
Sgt. Ray Ramos that a biopsy revealed his rash comes from leishmaniasis, a
disease spread by sandflies and contracted by hundreds of G.I.s in Iraq.

Until last week, however, Army doctors refused requests by
Ramos and a few others in the 442nd Military Police to have their urine
analyzed for depleted uranium, a procedure that can cost up to $1,000.

Three of the nine tested in the Daily News investigation —
Sgt. Herbert Reed, Spec. William Ruiz, and Spec. Anthony Phillip – also were
tested by the Army in November. But the results were withheld for months
despite repeated inquiries.

Last week, after Army officials received press inquiries about
the 442nd and discovered that a group from the company had sought independent
testing, an administrator at Walter Reed told Reed and Phillip that their tests
from November had come back negative for depleted uranium.

The News’ tests also showed negative results for Reed and
Phillip, but Ramos tested positive. The soldiers of the 442nd are not the only
ones to raise questions about depleted uranium in Samawah.

In August, a contingent of Dutch soldiers arrived in the town
to replace the Americans. Press reports in the Netherlands revealed that Dutch
authorities questioned the U.S. beforehand about the possible use of DU
ammunition in Samawah. According to Sgt. Juan Vega, senior medic for the 442nd,
the Dutch swept the area around the train depot with Geiger counters and their
medics confided to him they had found high radiation levels. The Dutch unit
refused to stay in the depot, Vega said, and pitched camp in the desert

And in February, after Japanese troops moved into the same
town, a Japanese journalist equipped with a Geiger counter reported finding
radiation readings 300 times higher than background levels.

“There’d been a lot of fighting in Samawah before we got
there,” said Staff Sgt. Ray Ramos, 41.   
“The place was dusty as hell, and the sandstorms were hitting us
pretty good.”

Felled at first by what he thought was the sweltering Iraqi
heat, Ramos expected to recover quickly.

“My health just kept getting worse,” he said.
“I tried to work out each day to get through it but I kept getting weaker.
A numbing sensation hit my hands and my face, and the migraine headaches became
constant. I was afraid I was having a stroke.”

He was sent first to a Baghdad hospital for treatment, but
with no neurologist available, he was shipped out to Germany and eventually to
the U.S.

“I had rashes on my stomach for four months,” Ramos
said. “And now, whenever I [lie] down, my hands fall asleep.”

Doctors at Walter Reed have been stumped. They’ve given Ramos
braces to wear on his arms at night to try to prevent his hands from falling
asleep, and they’ve prescribed a host of muscle relaxants and painkillers, but
nothing seems to work.

“I have four kids. What happens to them now if I can’t
work?” said Ramos, who was looking forward to a transfer from the NYPD
Housing Bureau to the robbery unit in Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct once he returns
from active duty. “I need them to investigate what’s going on with my

Cpl. Anthony Yonnone, 35, a cop with the Veterans
Administration in Fishkill, N.Y., has the highest DU levels of the four soldiers
who tested positive, said Dr. Asaf Duracovic, who performed the testing funded
by The News.

Yonnone said his nausea, skin rashes and migraines began in
Samawah. “The headaches are constant and they don’t want to stop,” he
said. “The rashes seem to come and go.

“We were always passing blownout tanks when we were out
doing patrols.”

He recalled that American units in the town burned trash and
waste each night in big drums near the train depot. “The combination of
smoke and sand when we lit those fires covered everybody,” he said.

Evacuated from Iraq in August for minor surgery, Yonnone was
sent first to Germany.

gave us a questionnaire. I marked that I wasn’t exposed to depleted uranium
because nobody had even told us what it was back in Iraq,” he said.


The Common Denominator

March 25, 2004

Norton Seeks College Aid for D.C. National Guard

The District’s delegate to Congress is proposing that D.C. National Guard
members serving in Iraq be given college tuition assistance similar to benefits
provided for regular military members under the federal G.I. Bill.

“Many states, including Maryland and Virginia, already are providing
college financial aid to members of the military,” Delegate Eleanor Holmes
Norton said in a statement issued today by her office.

She said the D.C. National Guard College Access Act, which was
co-introduced by House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee member Dave Hobson,
R-Ohio, would provide up to $2,500 in tuition assistance per year for members
of the D.C. Army and D.C. Air National Guard.

Norton said families of D.C. National Guard members who are serving in
Iraq face heavy financial burdens as a result of their absence from home and
the federal assistance would make it “easier for them to meet escalating
college expenses” when they return.

“These hard-pressed residents have been precipitously torn from their
families and jobs to serve without a vote [in Congress],” said Norton, who
is elected to represent D.C. residents in the House of Representatives but is
not permitted to cast a vote.

“At the very least, they deserve every opportunity available to other
members of the armed forces at a time when they face financial hardship arising
from war,” she said.

Norton described the proposed aid as similar to the assistance provided to
D.C. high school graduates under the D.C. College Access Act through the D.C.
Tuition Assistance Grant program. Under that program’s first five years, more
than 6,000 D.C. students have received annual grants of up to $2,500 to attend
private colleges or out-of-state colleges at lower in-state tuition rates.

During a hearing today before the House Government Reform Committee,
Norton called for permanent reauthorization by Congress of the D.C. College
Access Act grants and increased funding for the program.

The Associated Press 

April 4, 2004

National Guard Tuition Aid Fall Short


National Guardsmen returning from duty in Iraq are finding
that the funds promised them for tuition reimbursement are in short supply.

The federal program that is supposed to defray up to 75
percent of their college expenses is short of funds, and until recently had no
new funds in sight.

National Guard Col.
Mike Caldwell said money recently was found for spring and summer students but
that the fund remains about $180,000 short for fall term.

That’s put Oregon National
leadership in an awkward position, as soldiers were promised the 75
percent tuition deferral, up to a maximum of $4,000 per soldier per fiscal
year, as an enlistment incentive.

The benefit is described in National Guard literature, and new enlistees are still being
promised this benefit when they sign up.

“This could not have happened at a more critical
juncture,” wrote Brig. General Raymond C. Byrne Jr. in a March 22 letter
to Army National Guard Director
Roger Schultz.

“Presently we have 380 soldiers receiving funding from
this program without the addition of the returning soldiers mentioned above,
many of which plan on re-entering college this term.”

He went on to say that the recent return of B Company, 52nd
Engineers, from their deployment in Iraq, and the pending return this month of
three more units – 1st Battalion, 162nd Infantry; the 1249th Engineer Battalion
and the 82nd Rear Operations Center – were likely to stress the fund.

“With a large number of mobilizations from the State of
Oregon, we find ourselves in a crisis situation of not being able to keep our
commitments to our members due to funding restraints from the National Guard Bureau,” Byrne

Three-quarters of the tuition assistance fund is financed by
federal dollars, with state funds making up the balance.

This fiscal year, the fund was allocated a total of $625,000.

Col. Cameron Crawford said that if the shortfall in the
tuition program goes unfixed, it could impact the Guard’s ability to retain
experienced troops.

“It’s fair to say that we have a grave concern that many
of our folks will choose not to re-enlist. Long term, that’s not healthy. These
are the people we want to re-enlist, because they have the most experience and
training,” Crawford said. “It just affects our overall ability to
stay viable. By not keeping this promise to our soldiers, it sends a real
negative message.”

Official Urges More Balanced
Treatment for Reserve Components


By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2004 — With Reserve and National Guard
forces now critical elements in the global war on terrorism, the Defense
Department’s senior reserve affairs adviser told a Senate subcommittee here
today that the country must do more to care for Reserve and Guard members and
their families.

Thomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve
affairs, addressed separate sessions of the Senate Personnel Subcommittee and
the House Total Force Subcommittee today. He went to Capitol Hill to provide
the reserve affairs fiscal 2005 posture statement and to detail the
department’s budget request.

“While we ask our people to do more, we must never lose
sight of the need to balance their commitment to country with their commitment
to family and to their civilian employer,” Hall said in prepared
statements to both bodies. “That is why rebalancing of the force is so
critical, the continuum of service is so crucial, and relieving the stress on
the force is absolutely essential.”

He said that although “morale is high” among Reserve
and Guard members, increased mobilizations, longer deployments and the war on
terrorism are affecting the force.

“We are in the midst of one of the longest periods of
mobilization in our history,” Hall told lawmakers. “However, one
certainty remains: that when called upon, the men and women of the National
Guard and Reserve will respond promptly and perform their duty.”

Reserve components perform 46 percent of military operations,
ranging from homeland defense and the global war on terrorism to peacekeeping,
humanitarian relief, small-scale contingencies and major crises, he said. And
the balance of capabilities in the active Army and Reserve components is
“not the best for the future.” 
“There is a need for rebalancing to improve the responsiveness of
the force and to help ease stress on units and individuals with skills in high
demand,” he said. “Repeated mobilizations are not a major

Hall said that for DoD to achieve its policy goals of assuring
allies, dissuading military competition, deterring threats against U.S.
interests and decisively defeating adversaries, it must maintain integrated
capabilities of the “Total Force.”

“Only a well-balanced, seamlessly integrated military
force is capable of dominating opponents across the full range of military
operations,” he said.

Hall explained that from Sept. 11, 2001, through December
2003, 319,193 reserve component personnel were mobilized for duty in the global
war on terror. He said that as of Dec. 31, 181,459 were on active duty.

“They are providing a very broad range of capabilities,
from special operations and civil affairs to personnel and finance
support,” he said.

Tour lengths for reserve components have increased for every
operation since Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the early 1990s,
when tour lengths averaged 156 days, Hall said. For operations in Bosnia,
Kosovo and Southwest Asia, that average was about 200 days, and current
contingency operations have averaged about 320 days, he added.

However, Hall said DoD is monitoring high-demand reserve
components closely, and is identifying actions to reduce that demand.
Increasing international military participation in Iraq, developing Iraqi
capacity to conduct police and security tasks, and increasing actionable
intelligence to disrupt threats to stability in Iraq are among the steps being
taken, he said.

Other options, Hall added, call for rebalancing the active and
reserve force mix and capabilities, and identifying some 100,000 manpower
positions for possible restructuring over the next several years. He also said
the Pentagon is hoping to “civilianize” more than 300,000 military

“All these actions are high priorities for the
department, since they will provide greater stability and predictability for
reservists, their families and employers, and will optimize the forces
available over what is anticipated to be a long war,” he said.

The assistant secretary also spoke on the need for better compensation
for Reserve and Guard members and their families. “The compensation system
must be equitable to support the current employment of the reserve force, and
it must be flexible enough to respond to any emerging or future trends that
result from the increased use of the Guard and Reserve,” he said.

“We strongly believe that pay and benefits must be
focused on those members who are bearing the burden of mobilization and
deployment,” he continued, “and that the department must have the
tools to respond quickly and decisively with a compensation and benefits
package that supports our mobilized and deployed troops.”

Hall vowed the department would continue to address areas of
the compensation system that work against reservists, such as differences in
housing allowances, which are generally lower for reservists on active duty for
less than 140 days.

“The bottom line is that we must compensate our Guard and
Reserve members fairly, ensuring comparability—that is, equal pay for equal
work—for those who are currently sustaining the burdens of reserve

Hall said taking care of Guard and Reserve members and their
families continues to be a top priority for the department, adding that the
department is constantly examining its policies and programs to ensure that
reservists do not feel “disenfranchised” and that family-support
systems are in place.

“We are constantly looking for opportunities to improve
the support that our Guard and Reserve members and their families need and
deserve,” he said. “We expect the best from them, and they should
expect and get no less from us.”

One improvement the department has implemented is better
health care access and benefits.

He said the military’s Tricare Prime health care system has
been made available to the families of reservists ordered to active duty for
more than 30 days, a significant improvement over the previous 179-day
threshold. At the same time, Hall added, reserve component eligibility for
Tricare Prime Remote has been expanded to include eligible family members who
lived with the reserve member before mobilization and deployment.

Also, he said, reserve members may now be eligible for Tricare
upon receipt of a “delayed effective date active duty order” of
greater than 30 days in support of a contingency, or 90 days prior to
mobilization, whichever date is later.

The period of transitional medical assistance for reserve
members separated from active duty of more than 30 days in support of a
contingency operation—previously 60 or 120 days—has been extended to 180 days.

Detailing the 2005 reserve affairs budget request, which is
set at $33.3 billion — about 2.8 percent more than the last fiscal year —
Hall told the House and Senate subcommittees that Congress the country would be
making a good investment.

The funding will cover reserve component personnel, operations
and maintenance, military construction, and procurement accounts. Included also
are increases to support about 870,900 full-time and part-time personnel, as
well as sustainment of operations.

“Significantly, this is only 8.3 percent of the overall
DoD budget, which represents a great return on investment,” he said,
citing the size of the reserve components’ contributions to military

Other key components of the Reserve and Guard budget include:

$1.6 billion for equipment such as multiple-launch
rocket systems for the Army and aircraft modifications for the Air National
Guard and Air Force Reserve F-16 fighter jets, C-5 and C-130 airlift transports
and HH-60 helicopters. The Naval Reserve would get additional funding for its
C-40 aircraft, while the Marine Corps Reserve would invest in high-mobility
artillery rocket system, night-vision equipment, and amphibious assault

$590 million for military construction affecting all
reserve components, about 6.2 percent of DoD’s overall military construction
and family housing request of $9.4 billion.

$950 million for facility sustainment, restoration and

$253.6 million for environmental programs, including
$125.2 million for environmentalcompliance requirements.

$81.2 million for civil military programs.

Hall told the lawmakers his “acid test” for the
Guard and Reserve remains unchanged:

“Ensure that the Guard and Reserve are assigned the right mission;
have the right training; possess the right equipment; are positioned in and
with the correct infrastructure; are physically, medically and operationally
ready to accomplish the assigned tasks; are fully integrated within the active
component; and are there in the right numbers required to help fight and win
any conflict.”

Operation Freedom Lodging
Offers 1,000 Nights to Returning Troops

Release Date:
3/29/2004 4:29:00 PM

From North American
Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs

BASE, Colo. (NNS) — Vail Resorts in Colorado is offering 1,000 free nights to
service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as part of “Operation
Freedom Lodging.”

Members from any
branch of service who served for 30 or more days in these countries are eligible
for up to three consecutive nights of lodging at Vail Resorts-owned and
-operated hotels in Breckenridge and Keystone.

Freedom Lodging is a gesture of our appreciation for the courageous men and
women who have been serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said
Tony Piringer, vice president of hospitality for Vail Resorts.

Qualified service
members wishing to make reservations for Operation Freedom Lodging can call:
Breckenridge at 1-800 832-3694, and Keystone at 1-800 270-4690.

After making
reservations, service members must verify their status by faxing a copy of
their orders or a letter from their commander or senior enlisted supervisor to
Fort Carson Morale, Welfare and Recreation at DSN 691-9453 or (719) 526-9453.
Documents may be sent via e-mail to [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>.

For more information
on the verification process, call Fort Carson Morale, Welfare and Recreation at
DSN 691-2083 or (719) 526-2083.

more information on the NORAD and USNORTHCOM, visit <> and

Dallas Morning News

4, 2004

Divorced Troops Abroad, a Little Backup at Home

Officials aim to ease
custody disputes, child support for civilians

By Associated Press

NEW YORK – While the aftermath of divorce can be difficult for
any parent, those called up from civilian life for military duty in Iraq or
elsewhere often face extra headaches ranging from long-distance custody
disputes to more onerous child-support burdens.

Those concerns aren’t always a priority in the military’s many
family-support programs, but federal and state officials are trying to help.
Specifically, some states are streamlining the process though which activated
military personnel – facing a cut in pay compared with civilian wages – can
request a temporary reduction in child-support payments.

“We’re not going to send a soldier into harm’s way with
this nagging, pesky problem hanging over him,” said Nick Young, a former
Army colonel who heads Virginia’s child-support enforcement division.
“We’re going to send him with the knowledge that the right things are
happening back home.”

Roughly 175,000 National
and Reserve personnel are now on active duty, part of the biggest
overall civilian call-up since World War II. No official figures show how many
are divorced parents, but almost certainly there are thousands.

Calhoun of the National Military Family Association said the military is
confronting an increasing array of divorce-related problems because of its
extensive use of citizen-soldiers in their 30s and 40s.

“The last time we had such big call-ups, you didn’t have
as many divorces,” she said.

Ms. Calhoun  said she
knew of situations in which an ex-spouse had sued to gain custody of children
that an activated parent was forced to leave behind.

And custody disputes figured in two notable cases last year:

• Spc. Simone Holcomb was released from active Army duty
after she refused to return to Iraq so she could care for her children in
Colorado. She and her husband had both been deployed in Iraq but returned home
to settle a custody dispute involving the husband’s ex-wife.

• In Nevada, James Denson II temporarily lost custody of his
child when he missed a court hearing after being called up for Navy duty in

“Divorced men have their challenges anyway. You add being
on active duty, and you’re doubling those problems,” said Dianna Thompson
of the National Family Justice Association, which advocates on behalf of
noncustodial parents.

say a widespread problem involves child-support payments owed by activated
personnel whose military pay is less than their civilian pay.

“Once a soldier or airman gets deployed, trying to get
the child-support order changed is not easy,” said Michael Cline,
executive director of Enlisted
of the National Guard
of the United States. “You can’t be there to run down to the court.”

are no mechanisms for automatically reducing court-ordered support payments in
such cases; activated troops must request temporary reductions and file
paperwork to support their claims.

Paula Roberts, an attorney with the Washington-based Center
for Law and Social Policy, said the difficulties faced by some citizen-soldiers
were linked to broader shortcomings with the child-support system.

“People get caught in this web and can’t make the quick
changes they need,” she said.



St. Petersburg Times (Florida)

March 26, 2004 Friday

Honoring Florida’s Fallen

Even though major combat in Iraq ended on May 1, the death
toll continues to climb for U.S. soldiers. More than 580 American service men
and women have died in the struggle. Twenty-five of them were from Florida. As
part of the continuing coverage of the first anniversary of the war’s start, we
pay tribute today to those Floridians.

Army Spc. Jeffrey M. Wershow was shot during an ambush
on July 6, 2003, in Baghdad.

Wershow, of Gainesville, joined the Army and served for three
years before going to community college and joining the Florida National Guard.
He was deployed to the Mideast in late January 2003.

Even as a boy, Wershow displayed great passion for the
military. Friends said he often eschewed schoolwork in favor of military
history books and became a self-taught military historian.

He was 22.

Army Sgt. Mason Douglas Whetstone was shot in a
non-combat incident July 17,2003, in Baghdad.

Whetstone, of Jacksonville, was serving as an air traffic controller
at the Baghdad airport.

Whetstone grew up in Alaska and graduated from high school in
Anchorage in 1990. He immediately enlisted in the Army and served in Desert
Storm before leaving the military in 1994. He re-enlisted in the Army in 1999.
While attending college in Daytona Beach and serving in the Florida National
Guard, Mason met and married Heather Curatolo.   Whetstone was cremated and his ashes scattered over a favorite
part of Alaska.

He was 30.

Army Spc. Robert A. Wise was killed by a roadside bomb
on Nov. 12, 2003, in Baghdad.

The National Guardsman was based in Tallahassee, his hometown.
Wise’s unit was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in February.

Even as a Junior ROTC cadet in high school, Wise stood out
among his peers, becoming the student commander of his unit.

“He was the person who would show up one hour early, and
stay three hours late to do whatever needed to be done,” said Senior
Master Sgt. Stephen Sullivan.

He was 21.

The Associated Press

March 30, 2004

Doctor Presents
Portraits of Fallen Soldiers to Families

By LAURA WALSH, Associated Press Writer


Dr. Stuart Calle said it has been important for him to put a
face to the name of each Connecticut serviceman who has died in Iraq and

The Coventry man is an emergency room physician at Mount
Vernon Hospital in Westchester, N.Y. But he’s also an artist and photo

In a memorial ceremony at the state Capitol on Monday, Calle
presented portraits he engraved in black marble to the families of 10 soldiers
and Marines who have died while on duty in southeast Asia.

“It gives this all more meaning and makes them live
forever,” Calle said.

For Steven D’Agostino, it is another way to remember his son.
Army Pfc. Anthony D’Agostino, of Waterbury, died in November when a helicopter
he was in was shot down over Iraq.

“It’s also a way to meet some of the other parents who
lost soldiers,” he said. “It’s comforting to know we’re all going
through the same thing. We can go through it together.”

The gathering was the first opportunity for families to meet
and talk, said Maj. Gen. William Cugno, adjutant general of the Connecticut
National Guard. Cugno presented the
families with coins that are given to service members for exceptional service.

While some family members swapped stories and phone numbers,
others chose to sit quietly by themselves and admire the memorials.

“This is just still very emotional for me,” said
Debbie Granahan, Anthony D’Agostino’s mother.

Army Staff Sgt. Richard Eaton Jr., of Guilford, died of an
illness in August while stationed in Iraq. His mother, Sharon Eaton, said it’s
particularly hard for her right now because her son’s battalion is returning
home this week.

“That’s difficult,” she said softly. “But, you
know, we’ve received a lot of letters from the soldiers who knew him and they
tell us stories. That always helps.”

A number of scholarships and memorial funds have been created
in memory of the servicemen. A scholarship at Norwalk High School was set up in
honor of Army Pfc. Wilfredo Perez Jr., and a fund for a children’s orphanage in
Honduras was established in Army Pfc. Jeff Braun’s name.

“Sometimes I forget and I think he’s still there working,
doing his job,” said Kemapasse Chanawongse, whose brother, Marine Cpl.
Kemaphoom Chanawongse, of Waterford, was killed in Iraq a year ago. “He’s
still with me though. I think about him everyday.”

Eleven servicemen with ties to the state have died since the
start of the war. Calle has made portraits for 10 of them and is in the process
of finishing a memorial for Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Chapman of Windsor Locks,
who was killed in Afghanistan in March 2003.

The Associated Press

April 1, 2004

Army National Guard Soldier from Maine Killed in Iraq

By JERRY HARKAVY, Associated Press Writer


A New Hampshire Army
National Guard
soldier was killed in an explosion in Iraq when his
vehicle ran over a roadside bomb.

Spc. E-4 Jeremiah Holmes, 27, a member of the New
Hampshire Army National Guard 744th
Transportation Company, was killed Monday while driving a truck in Ramadi, the
Department of Defense said Wednesday.

Holmes, of North Berwisk, was in a convoy west of Baghdad when
the bomb detonated, knocking the tractor-trailer he was traveling in off a
bridge, New Hampshire Gov. Craig Benson’s office said in a news release. The
death was first reported by Foster’s Daily Democrat.

The military notified family members of his death early
Tuesday afternoon.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jeremiah’s entire
family,” Benson said. “These tragic events should remind us to thank
the soldiers serving abroad.”

Another New Hampshire soldier from the 744th , Sgt. Randal S.
Frotton, 41, of Newmarket, suffered injuries to his ribs and ankle, the news
release said.

The 744th has 150 members and is headquartered in Hillsboro,
N.H., with detachments in Claremont and Somersworth, N.H.

The unit was deployed for training in late December, and sent
to Iraq in February for 18 months to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. Two other
members of the unit were wounded in a similar incident about a week before
Holmes was killed.

During the departure ceremony two weeks before Christmas,
Holmes’ wife, Kimberly, held their infant son, Kaleb. When asked how she felt
about his deployment, she told the newspaper, “Not good. I feel bad for
the baby.”

Holmes, a 1994 graduate of Noble High School, was no stranger
to tragedy. He was 13 when his mother, Sheila Holmes, 31, of Barrington, N.H.,
was murdered in Dover, N.H., in 1990.

Her death broke up the family, he said, and Holmes was raised
by his grandparents in North Berwick. His four brothers and sisters went to two
other families.

Holmes never gave up hope that his mother’s killer would be

“I’d like to see a little bit of closure for us,” he
said two years ago. “You’re not going to forget about your mother, you’re
not going to forget about your sister. You’re not going to forget the 12 years
or how many other years it takes to find a conviction. Nothing will ever be
closed totally.”

Holmes served on active duty from 1994 to 1999, when he joined
the New Hampshire Guard.

A couple of years ago, Holmes and his wife bought a duplex a
few houses down the street from his grandparents. Family members did not wish
to talk to reporters, but neighbors expressed shock and sadness at his death.

“Jay was just a wonderful individual, a keeper,”
said Patsy Koelker, using the name everyone knew him by. “He was kind and
caring,” she said, and if there was an errand to be done, he was “at
the head of the line.”

Koelker and her husband Tom, who have seven children, were
like surrogate parents to Holmes when he moved onto their street, she said.

“Jay was number eight. He was always here. Things we did,
if we could fit him in the car, he went,” she said.

Koelker said everyone was thrilled when Holmes and his wife
moved back to the neighborhood.

“He was so happy to be back on this street,” she
said. His life was going well, and he enjoyed his job as a manufacturer’s
representative that involved some day travel but allowed him to go home each
night to the family he loved, Koelker said.

In addition, Holmes was reunited with all four of his siblings
at a wedding a year or two ago, she said, and they had gotten to know each

Holmes and his wife had been selected by Foster’s Sunday Citizen
for a series of stories showing how one family copes with a military

“I’m worried about losing my best friend and not being
able to see the person I’ve spent every day with for a year and a half,”
Kimberly Holmes told the Dover newspaper in January. The day before her
husband’s death, she was in the process of setting up a second interview.

Holmes is the sixth soldier with Maine ties to die during the
Iraq conflict.

Saffo didn’t know the precise location where the Vermonters
will be stationed for their year tour in Iraq, but she said it’s in the
vicinity of Baghdad.

The year the United States has occupied Iraq has given the
military time to set up quarters for the American soldiers. The Vermonters get
to take advantage of the improvements.

“The accommodations are quite good. They have air
conditioning. They have showers, they have flushing toilets,” Saffo said.

Within the next few weeks the Vermonters
will have more regular access to computers and telephones, which will enable
them to e-mail or call home more frequently.



The Coventry Courier (RI)

April 2, 2004

National Guard
Counter-Drug Support Program

COVENTRY – The Rhode Island National
Counter-Drug Support Program offers the LifeSkills Program to public
and private middle schools in Rhode Island. The LifeSkills Training program is
a uniquely designed substance abuse prevention program, in that its tenets are
grounded in science. LifeSkills combats the primary underlying cause of
substance abuse use by covering three critical domains found to promote drug
use. The three critical components covered are drug resistance skills, personal
self-management skills, and general social skills. This year more than 30
students at the Flat River Middle School, in Coventry, have completed this
15-unit course.

Lt. Col. Jeffery Coons, Counter-Drug
Coordinator, explained just what this program is all about.

“This year two members of the
RI National Guard Counter-Drug/Drug Demand Reduction Program along with
teachers from Flat River Middle School have been teaching selected sixth,
seventh, and eighth graders classes about LifeSkills,” he said. “The
LifeSkills Training program is based on statistics and research complied over
the years. The program instructs the students about three different areas: drug
resistance, personal self-management, and general social skills.”

Coons added, “For the past 16
weeks Sergeants Robbie Vale and Thomas Aubee have been instructing students
here at Flat River Middle School about the dangers and how to make intelligent
decisions, not just with drugs but with life too. These two sergeants answer
questions the students might have. This program is different from other drug
prevention programs because it is based on solely on proven methods and
scientific facts.”

Alan Yanku, Principal of Flat River
Middle School, explained he feels that the Counter-Drug Support Program is a
wonderful way to teach students about the negative impact drugs can have on
their lives.

“Two years ago, the National
Guard contacted me and asked me if the school would be interested in
participating in the Counter-Drug Support Program. Our first year, the class
was small with only 15 students, this year we have more than double that,”
Yanku said. “I feel this program is very worthwhile because it could
impact these kids for the rest of their lives. The things that they are taught
in this course they will able to utilize for many years to come. I just think
it’s a wonderful program and I’m glad that we are affiliated with the Rhode
Island National Guard in this way.”

Today the 36 participants of this
year’s Counter-Drug Support Program graduated in a ceremony held in the
Auditorium of Flat River Middle School. Col. Charles Walsh gave a speech and
presented the certificates to each of the graduating students.

For more information on the LifeSkills Program, contact Sgt. Robbie Vale
at 392-0832, or visit

The Associated Press

April 1, 2004, Thursday

Hutchison: Deal Close on Military Units’ Move to Ellington


Military reservists based near a research hospital would be
moved to historic Ellington Field, where President Bush enlisted in the National Guard, protecting the military
base from possible closure and making room for the health institution’s planned

Army, Navy and Marines reserve units totaling about 2,300
troops would move to 30 acres owned by the city of Houston at Ellington. The
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, one of the world’s top cancer
research institutes, would acquire the city land, appraised at about $980,000,
and transfer it to the military, said Harry Holmes, hospital vice president for
governmental relations.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, chairwoman of the Senate military
construction appropriations subcommittee, plans to meet Monday with Mayor Bill
White in Houston to discuss its details.

“We have a basic agreement from all the (reserve) units –
Army, Navy and Marines,” Hutchison told the Houston Chronicle in Thursday’s
editions. “It’s a huge boon for Houston and, of course, for Texas.”

The proposed deal, also involving the U.S. Department of
Defense, calls for the hospital to buy about 18 acres occupied by the reserve
units on Old Spanish Trail, said Holmes. The land has been appraised at about
$19.3 million.

Moving the military units to Ellington would take several
years, consolidating military operations as well as making the field a
joint-use facility, key to protecting it to from possible closure by the
federal government to save money, Hutchison said. She said having the reserves
at the field would also help coordinate homeland security in the Gulf Coast

“Clearly, Ellington became a choice for everyone because
we want it to be more viable,” said Hutchison.

The plan would allow M.D. Anderson to expand its 125-acre
research park and potentially attract private businesses for developing medical
technologies and treatments. M.D. Anderson officials say there their facilities
now are overcrowded.

“It would be important for the economic development here
on OST as well as to keep Ellington opened for security reasons,” said

Bush enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard at Ellington Air Force Base in May 1968 and spent
much of his service time based near Houston.

The 147th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard, a Coast Guard
search-and-rescue unit, a Texas Army National
helicopter unit and Johnson Space Center’s aircraft operations are
based at the airfield, which contributes about $350 million annually to the
area’s economy, said Marie McDermott, chairwoman of the Ellington Field Task
Force, a coalition of businesses and residents devoted to preserving the base.

Telegraph, IL

April 1, 2004

National Guard Recruits Enlist on Historic Anniversary

WOOD RIVER — Crystal LeMaire stood
at attention Wednesday morning as she took the oath of enlistment into the Illinois Army National Guard — 200
years to the day after Lewis and Clark enlisted their Corps of Discovery.

LeMaire, 17, of Raymond in Montgomery
County, standing only in a short-sleeved cotton T-shirt and blue jeans, raised
her right hand and solemnly swore to be honest and faithful and support and
defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and
domestic. She promised her allegiance and that she would obey the orders of
those above her.
“So help me God,” she said.

LeMaire took the official oath along
with 20 other Illinois and Missouri Army National Guard recruits and the Lewis
and Clark Discovery Expedition, the national re-enactors for the bicentennial
celebration. The event marked the 200th anniversary of the day the original
corps members were selected by Capt. William Clark to go on the journey.

Clark evaluated soldiers and
volunteers who wintered at Camp Dubois and swore the individuals into service
on March 31, 1804. Today, a similar evaluation process takes place for
pre-military personnel and includes the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude
Battery and physical exams prior to enlistment.

As recruits stood in the 40-degree
weather, Brig. Gen. George Shull, adjutant general of Missouri, took off his
camouflage Gore-Tex jacket and handed it to an assistant.

“If those soldiers can take it,
so can I,” Shull said.

Shull told the recruits, along with
a crowd of more than 75 people, about the importance of the day.

“Two hundred years ago, young
people did the same thing as you are today,” he said. “They
volunteered for their country. It is wonderful to still have young people
committed to doing the same thing today.”

“Hooah,” yelled several
National Guard members standing in the crowd.

Shull told the recruits how proud he
was of them and how proud they should be of themselves.

“God bless you for raising your
right hand,” he said.

LaMaire, who is still a junior in
high school, was one of three women who took the oath. She said it was pretty
remarkable to enlist on the anniversary of such a memorable event.

Clint Hilligoss, 21, of
Edwardsville, said he was excited about enlisting. He is in the Reserve Officer
Training Corps program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

“I am
looking forward to being in the military,” he said. “I know it will
be an experience.