News You Can Use: Jun. 7, 2004

   June 7, 2004, Volume 2,
Issue 5

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

Army Plan Aims to Keep Soldiers on Duty

Wars Put Strain On National Guard; Fire,
Flood Relief Efforts Threatened

Army Recruitment Going Strong Despite


DEPLOYMENT…………………………………………………………………………………………… 10

Nearly 700 Troops Called Up For Possible
Iraq Duty

National Guard Heads to Sea Island


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

Western N.C.
National Guard Unit Returning From Iraq


BENEFITS………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 12

Guardsmen Could Get Federal Help to Pay for Medical Expenses

Access to Military Health
Care For Reservists Is Backed

GUARD IN IRAQ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 13

‘Family’ Unit Sees Combat Firsthand



You Were Out





TRIBUTE TO OUR FALLEN HEROES………………………………………………………… 22

Amid War, A Day of Remembrance

Soldiers Remembered for Their Humor, Intelligence and

4 Guardsmen From Same New Jersey Unit Die
in Iraq


GENERAL…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 27

DOD Postal Service Announce Ballot Initiative

Families Organize To Assist Troops;  Funds Will Aid Communication to U.S.

Sold-out Event Salutes Rhode Island




National Guard Family
Program Online Communities for families and youth:



TRICARE website for information on health



Civilian Employment Information (CEI) Program Registration for
Army and Air National Guard, Air Force, and Coast Guard Reserve (Note to those viewing this page in
Word or PDF format:
You must copy the address and paste it
into your browser’s address window.)



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



Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC)
contains links and information about schooling, distance education,
scholarships, and organizations devoted to the military family is a
website that helps military children with transition and deployment
issues.  It has some great features
for kids, parents, special needs families, school educators, and more—even
safe chat rooms for kids.



Disabled Soldiers Initiative (DS3):This
website provides information on the new DS3 program.  Through DS3, the Army provides its most
severely disabled Soldiers and their families with a system of advocacy and

Have 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].




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Army Plan
Aims to Keep Soldiers on Duty


Associated Press

June 3, 2004

By John J.


Thousands of
soldiers who had expected to retire or otherwise leave the military will be
required to stay if their units are ordered to Iraq or Afghanistan.

announcement Wednesday, an expansion of a program called
“stop-loss,” affects units that are 90 days or less from deploying,
said Lt. Gen. Frank L. “Buster” Hagenbeck, the Army’s deputy chief
of staff for personnel.

can make exceptions for soldiers with special circumstances. Otherwise,
soldiers won’t be able to leave the service or transfer from their units
until they return to their home bases after their deployments end.

The Army is
struggling to find fresh units to continue the occupation of Iraq. Almost every
combat unit has faced or will face duty there or in Afghanistan, and
increased violence has forced the deployment of an additional 20,000 troops
to the Iraq region, straining units even further.

The move
allows the Army to keep units together as they deploy, Hagenbeck said. Units
with new recruits or recently transferred soldiers would not perform as well
because the troops would not have had time to work together.

rationale is to have cohesive, trained units going to war together,”
Hagenbeck said.

Since the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, every Army unit ordered to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan
and nearby countries has faced a similar rule, although it has been applied
in a piecemeal fashion. Army officials portrayed Wednesday’s announcement as
an administrative change that would serve as a catchall for every unit that
deploys to those combat areas in the future.

the expanded order will affect several units about to go to Iraq: most of the
2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, from Fort Drum, N.Y.; the 265th
Infantry Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard; the 116th Armored
Brigade of the Idaho National Guard; the 278th Armored Cavalry
Regiment of the Tennessee National Guard, and the 42nd Infantry
Division’s headquarters staff, from the New York National Guard.

The 2nd
Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, a South Korea-based unit, is expected
to deploy later this summer and will be subject to the expanded stop-loss
program as well, officials said.

There has
been criticism of the program as contrary to the concept of an all-volunteer
military force. Soldiers planning to retire and get on with their lives now
face more months away from their families and homes.

In an
opinion piece in Wednesday’s New York Times, Andrew Exum, a former Army
captain who served under Hagenbeck in the 10th Mountain Division in
Afghanistan, called the treatment “shameful.”

if not most, of the soldiers in this latest Iraq-bound wave are already
veterans of several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he wrote. “They
have honorably completed their active duty obligations. But like draftees,
they have been conscripted to meet the additional needs in Iraq.”

said the stop-loss move is necessary only because the Army is also undergoing
a major reorganization that requires some units to be taken off-line while
they are restructured.

had no numbers on how many soldiers would be affected. The stop-loss
expansion is indefinite, officials said.

turnover requires an average division to replace about a quarter of its
strength – perhaps 4,000 soldiers – over an 18-month period, an Army
spokeswoman said.





Wars Put Strain On National Guard;
Fire, Flood Relief Efforts Threatened

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The Washington Post

June 6, 2004

By Thomas E. Ricks

With almost 40,000 troops serving in
the unexpectedly violent and difficult occupation of Iraq, the National
is beginning to show the strain of duty there, according to
interviews and e-mail exchanges with 23 state Guard commanders from
California to Maine.

The Iraq mission is placing new stress
on the active-duty Army as it leans more heavily than it has in decades on
the Guard — which, with 350,000 troops, rivals the active force in size.
That new reliance, in turn, is raising concerns about the Guard’s long-term
ability to recruit and retain troops, and it is provoking more immediate
worries in states that rely on the Guard to deal with fires, floods,
hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.

Some Guard commanders are beginning to
say they simply can’t deploy any more troops. “As far as New Hampshire
goes, we’re tapped,” said Maj. Gen. John E. Blair, that state’s adjutant
general, or Guard commander. Of his 1,700 Army National Guard troops,
more than 1,000 are in Iraq, Afghanistan or Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or on alert
for deployment. And to get units fully manned to head overseas, he said,
“we’ve had to break other units.”  

Blair, who piloted a medical evacuation
helicopter in the Vietnam War, said he informed the Pentagon’s National
Bureau two weeks ago that “before you call us again, you’ve
got to know that we are at our limit.” 

Earlier this year, 60 percent of
Maine’s 2,300 Army Guard troops were deployed. “The current pace isn’t
sustainable,” said the state commander, Brig. Gen. John W. Libby, who
said that pace appears to be damaging his efforts to raise manpower.
“Our recruiting is down significantly from last year, and our retention
rates are down also,” he said. The biggest problem, he said, is that
parents are discouraging their children from joining. “We’ve got a level
of reluctance with parents this year that we haven’t seen in the

Some soldiers in West Virginia’s 1092nd
Engineering Battalion got home in April from 14 months of duty in Iraq —
only to be activated in the past few days for weeks of flood-relief work in
Mingo County and other southwestern parts of the state. One soldier told the
state commander, Maj. Gen. Allen E. Tackett, that he had been back to
his  civilian job for exactly one day.
“The spouses and the employers are raising hell with me,” the
general said.

 Tackett said he is especially worried that his most seasoned
soldiers are getting out. “A lot of my experienced people are coming
back from deployments and retiring,” he said. “They’ve paid their

It isn’t just the Guard that is feeling
the pinch. In Montana, the Guard, facing an alert for deployment, has
withdrawn its Black Hawk helicopters from the job of being the first
responder to small fires that can flare into forest fires. With that system,
“last year, we caught a lot of fires that we wouldn’t have
otherwise,” Montana State Forester Bob Harrington said Friday from his
office in Missoula. 

Now, with the start of the fire season
just a month away, Harrington is scrambling to contract for commercial
choppers to fill that quick-reaction job. Their payloads are less than half
that of the powerful Black Hawks, which can tote 600 gallons of water. 

The last time the U.S. military engaged
in sustained ground combat, during the Vietnam War, it could rely on a draft
to provide new personnel. Now, lacking conscription, the Pentagon is relying
on other tools to find enough soldiers to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. It
has imposed controls such as “stop-loss” to keep active-duty troops
from leaving. It has extended the tours of duty in Iraq for some soldiers
from a planned year to a possible 15 months. It is reorganizing itself to
create more units that can be deployed. 

But most of all, it is looking to the
Guard. As active-duty troops leave Iraq after tours of a year or more, they
are often replaced by Guard troops, with the result that almost one-third of
the 125,000 Army troops now in Iraq are from the Guard. Eighty-one  Guard soldiers have died in Iraq, 29 of
them in the upsurge in violence in April and May. For some states, those were
the first combat deaths suffered by the Guard since the Korean War. 

Parts of the Guard are beginning to
stagger under the burden. Nearly three years into the post-Sept. 11,
2001,  world, Guard commanders said
they have shed the “weekend warrior” image their force once had.
But several said they are deeply worried about how the citizen-soldiers will
react to the repeated deployments into combat zones that they now are facing
— and even more about the responses of the families and employers.

 Since Sept. 11, North Dakota’s Maj. Gen. Michael J. Haugen said,
his state has mobilized as many troops as were called up during World War II.
Five of the state’s Guard members have died in Iraq. While Haugen supports
the Iraq mission and his troops like it, he said “we will eventually hit
the wall,” probably in a couple of years, and be unable to deploy
overseas. For certain specialized units, such as engineers, he added,
“I’m almost there.” 

Concerns about the new load being
placed on the Guard were aired in mid-May at a meeting in Colorado Springs
attended by most of the 54 Guard commanders, who come from all 50 states,
Guam, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

Idaho, a small-population state that
faces a big fire threat, was kind of a poster child for officers at the
meeting. Out of 3,200 people in the Idaho Army Guard, about 2,000 are members
of the 116th Cavalry Brigade, which is expected to deploy to Iraq later this
year. Their departure poses the question of who will be ready to deal with
the state’s natural disasters.

Lt. Col. Tim Marsano, a spokesman for
the Idaho Guard, said, “I think everybody in the western states is
concerned that it could be a very significant fire season.” But he said
the Idaho Guard is confident that it will have sufficient personnel on hand,
in part by tapping members of the Air National Guard if

Some commanders from the Southeast
likewise worry about hurricane season. After a big storm, there is high
demand for precisely the sort of troops that have been deployed most heavily
— military police to keep order and engineers to clear debris. 

“It’s not just how many, it’s who,
and what kind of skill sets they have,” said Maj. Gen. David B.
Poythress, Georgia’s commander. “When both my MP companies are gone, I
don’t have any MPs to put on the street.”

In Mississippi, the unit designated as
“first responders” to repair hurricane damage, the 223rd Engineer
Battalion, was deployed for the past year to Iraq. It has come home, said
Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross. But, he added, “they left the equipment in
Iraq.” He has been told that by hurricane season he will be given the
gear belonging to another unit being deployed. He also noted that he has sent
21 helicopters to Iraq, leaving  just
five for post-storm rescues and transport of cargo and troops. 

The brigade the North Carolina Guard
now has in Iraq came from the southeastern and southern parts of the state,
the area that tends to bear the brunt of hurricanes. “We’re a little
short people in those areas,” said Maj. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr.,
commander of the North Carolina Guard. In order to ensure that he can serve
those areas after a disaster, he said, he will have to mobilize more-distant  troops sooner, which will make it more
expensive for the state. 

As Ingram spoke, he almost seemed to be
mentally crossing his fingers. “We’re stretched, to a degree, but we’re
certainly not at the breaking point,” he said. “If we can get
through this year, we’ll be in pretty good shape for next year’s hurricane

Not all state commanders are sending up
the alarm.

“We’re an adaptive force,”
said Florida’s Maj. Gen. Douglas Burnett. The new demands, he said, are
“just part of the leadership challenge.” Even at his peak level of
deployment of 5,200 troops, he said, “I could still do about a hurricane
and a half” with the  remaining
7,000.  “You’re not going to see
me jump up and say, ‘We can’t do this.’ ”

Rather, Burnett’s complaint is money:
“We’re proud to be in the fight, but we’ve got to be funded.” 

Similarly, Ohio’s commander, Maj. Gen.
John H. Smith, warned, “We will soon be a hollow force without
replenishment dollars to replace what is being consumed or lost.”
Commanders from the biggest states generally seem most optimistic. Maj. Gen.
Wayne D. Marty of Texas said he expects to send 3,000 soldiers to Iraq later
this year. But he has a total force of about 19,000. “We’re busy, but
we’re not stressed,” he said. Morale also appears to be high, with
reenlistment rates at a 10-year high, he said. 

Even so, Marty said, he could see a
point when the current pace will no longer be sustainable. “There will
be a time when we reach diminishing returns, if this thing keeps going with
the op [operational] tempo we have now,” he said.

Another big-state commander, Michigan’s
Maj. Gen. Thomas G. Cutler, also said he saw problems on the horizon.
“We’re concerned,” he said. “Everybody has a certain level of
concern about how long-term this will be.” 

The Pentagon says there are solutions
to all the potential shortfalls.

Brig. Gen. Frank Grass, deputy director
of the Army National Guard, said he envisions states supporting one
another with troops, aircraft and other equipment. “In any state where
we may be short assets to respond to a homeland mission, whether it’s a
tornado in a town or a fire, we can cross state lines with just a phone call
or two,” he said.

For example, he said, if Montana is
short on helicopters this summer, it could borrow from Wyoming or other
states. (A spokeswoman for the Wyoming National Guard said that state
has eight Black Hawks, half of which are deployed to the Middle East.)
Overall, Grass said that he isn’t aware of any state commanders who have
informed his office that they cannot contribute any more troops. But he said
he does know that “certain types of units have been used up — MPs,
security forces, military intelligence.” The answer, he said, is to
convert to those skills some less-used units, such as artillery and chemical
protection forces.

Guard commanders agreed that sharing is
the answer, at least in the short run. “Until the aviation picture gets
fixed, that’s what we’re going to have to do,” said Texas’s Marty.
“We’re not going to stand there and watch another state burn.” 





Army Recruitment Going Strong Despite

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June 5, 2004

By Edward

The Army is
taking casualties almost daily in Iraq and Afghanistan. And a new policy – affecting
units designated for overseas deployment – promises to delay some soldiers’
plans to leave the service.

But the Army
is having no trouble finding recruits, and has been ahead of recruiting goals
each month this year, officials said yesterday.

About 7,477
soldiers were signed up last month for the active Army – 262 more than the
targeted number; 2,399 troops were recruited for the Army Reserve – 172 more
than the goal.

whole range of factors impinge on recruitment,” said S. Douglas Smith, a
spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky. “The
economy, employment, deployments… it’s affected by many things.

“All I
know is we’re doing very well. We’re coming in ahead of mission.”

So far this
year, about 49,000 of the targeted annual goal of 77,000 enlistees have been
recruited for the active Army, Smith said. Nearly 12,000 of the 21,200
soldiers needed for the Army Reserve have been signed up.

The active
and Reserve forces also have exceeded annual recruiting needs over the last
four years.

At the same time, some state National
have seen the number of recruits drop off slightly, in part,
because fewer active-duty members are moving over to the Guard.

In New
Jersey, the number of active-duty troops who usually sign up for the Guard
has been cut in half. The state has lost scores of prospective recruits who
have been deployed in the war on terrorism or needed in the active service at

been affected by this for the past two years,” said Lt. Col. Dennis
Devery of the New Jersey Army National Guard. “The active
component makes up about one-third of our recruits. The people we get from
there are trained and immediately ready.”

The Army’s
stop-loss/movement policy also has some impact on National Guard
recruitment. The policy prevents active-duty soldiers from leaving the
service or retiring if their unit is within 90 days of being deployed.

The active
Army had instituted a service-wide stop-loss policy last year in the months
leading up to the start of the Iraq war, then lifted it when it found that
recruitment and retention goals were being exceeded.

This week,
it began an automatic unit-by-unit stop-loss policy, mirroring similar
policies that have been in effect in the National Guard and Reserve
since November 2002.

“It was
not about numbers,” said Lt. Col. Diane Battaglia, an Army spokeswoman
on personnel issues. “It’s about a unit’s stability and cohesion. You
don’t want the platoon leader to leave just before you’re deployed.”

Pennsylvania, Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania National
said that previous stop-loss policies had little impact on the
state’s efforts to fill the ranks.

He said a
few Guard members would leave the service because of the Army’s increased
commitment around the world, but he added that there would “still be a
large number of people stepping forward…. We will continue to do well with

Some of
those who stepped forward have come from Pemberton High School in Pemberton,
Burlington County, which has lost two alumni in Iraq, both from the same

Now, another
generation of students – many of them from military families serving at Fort
Dix and McGuire Air Force Base – are beginning their paths toward service
careers in the school’s Junior ROTC.

some JROTC members said they were undeterred by the military’s high profile
around the world or stop-loss policies.

“If my
commander in chief says I have to stay in the Army to defend my country, all
I can say is, ‘Yes, sir,’ and carry it out,” said Jason Di Domenico, 18,
a Pemberton High School senior and Pemberton resident who plans to finish
college and serve 20 years in the Army.

death of the students here only makes me want to stay in the military
more,” said Di Domenico, whose father and grandfather served in the
military. “They were regular people – like me – who put their lives down
to preserve our freedom.”

Johnson, 18, a Pemberton High School senior who lives in Browns Mills, said
she is not concerned by the military’s commitments around the world – and
looks forward to serving in other countries.

“I’m a
military brat and used to the military life,” said Johnson, whose mother
is an Army sergeant who plans to retire in January. “The older soldiers
don’t need to be deployed. Some are up for retirement and it’s not fair to

I’m planning to be in 20 years. Stop loss doesn’t bother me at all.”






Back to Table of Contents



Nearly 700 Troops Called Up For Possible
Iraq Duty


The Associated Press

June 2, 2004

Helena, Mont.

Nearly 700 soldiers in the Montana Army
National Guard will mobilize for possible duty in Iraq, the largest
call-up of Montana troops since World War II, military officials said

Most are in the 1-163rd Infantry
Battalion, which is under a brigade of the Idaho National Guard. The
infantry battalion is based in Belgrade, with units in Anaconda, Billings,
Great Falls, Hamilton, Livingston and Missoula.

Military officials said Troop E, based
in Helena and Missoula, is being mobilized, as well.

The soldiers will gather at armories
late this month. Soon afterward they will go to Fort Bliss, Texas, and
receive special training to prepare for duty in Iraq. Their proficiency will
be “validated” by personnel at Fort Polk, La., sometime in
November, the Guard said in a news release.

Maj. Gen. Gene Prendergast, commander
of Montana’s National Guard, said the troops have “been through
the National Training Center and Bosnia and have shined on every

The Montana Army National Guard
has about 60 percent of its 2,500 soldiers mobilized or on alert in support
of homeland security, the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. Two units
have served in Iraq and returned to Montana.

The 1-163rd Infantry Battalion is under
the Idaho National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade.

The brigade’s full mobilization is the
Idaho National Guard’s largest call-up for overseas military
deployment in the state’s history.

A partial mobilization order came on
May 8. The full order involves 4,300 citizen soldiers from seven states,
2,000 of them from Idaho.

Besides Montana, soldiers will be drawn
from Oregon, Utah, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.





National Guard Heads To Sea Island

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More South
Georgians are headed to the coast to help secure the upcoming G-8 Summit.

Army National Guard
unit left
for Sea Island this morning, where they’ll help protect tens of thousands of
people from all over the world. “We’ve been preparing for about six
months,” said Captain Marc Belscamper.

prepared to provide strict security at one of the biggest events this state
will ever see. “We’ll be doing some traffic control points, checking
their credentials, actually shaking down vehicles and personnel,” said
Staff Sergeant Thomas North.

And they’re
ready to face whatever problems may arise. “We’re expecting pretty much
what you’ve seen in the media, lots of protesters,” said Belscamper.
“I’m prepared for it to run smoothly but I’m also prepared for the
worst, we’ll deal with whatever happens,” said North.

This will be
the unit’s first major mission since deploying to Bosnia three years ago.
They say the experiences from that peacekeeping assignment helped them
prepare for next week. “Everything we did to prepare for Bosnia is the
same kind of stuff we did for this and half of the guys in my patoon went
with us so they’re already experienced in that portion of it and we’re good
to go,” said North.

The group
will stop at Ft. Stewart for inprocessing, then head to Sea Island this






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Western N.C. National Guard Unit
Returning From Iraq


Press State

June 5, 2004

Sylva, N.C.

A National
unit based in western North Carolina returned to the United States
on Friday after spending 15 months in Iraq.

The 95
soldiers of the 210th Military Police Company landed at Fort Dix in New
Jersey. They are expected to spend a few days at the Army post for medical
screenings and to return equipment, and could return to North Carolina as
early as Thursday, said Spec. Robert Jordan of the North Carolina National
in Raleigh.

feels very, very good,” said Kim Johnson of Murphy, wife of unit Staff
Sgt. John Johnson. “I am trying to detain myself from going to New
Jersey. I guess what’s keeping me here is the fact that I have a lot of work
to do before he gets home.”

The unit
deployed in March 2003 and was assigned to patrol Baghdad and train the fledgling
Iraq police force. The unit was expected home after a one-year stint, but the
Army extended tours for National Guard soldiers and reservists by 120
days as violence escalated in Iraq.

The 210th
lost one soldier. Sgt. Bobby Franklin, 38, of Mineral Bluff, Ga., died in
August when a homemade bomb ripped through the door of his Humvee. Murphy
Mayor Bill Hughes said some soldiers wanted to have a memorial service for
Franklin upon their return.

The unit has
detachments in Sylva, Franklin and Murphy. Homecoming plans were still
developing Friday, but they are expected to include a parade route and a
catered barbecue dinner in Sylva.

Once home,
the soldiers will have 30 days of leave but will still be under federal
orders. After that, they will be back under the command of the state’s National
Jordan said.

Hughes said
210th soldiers based in his Cherokee County town requested to spend time with
family before a homecoming celebration. He said the soldiers’ wishes would be
respected, but that local residents also want to show their appreciation.

absolutely delighted,” he said. “It’s so good to have them home




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National Guardsmen Could Get Federal Help
to Pay for Medical Expenses



June 1, 2004

By Chris Rees

Columbia, S.C.

More than 10,000 South Carolinians are
enlisted in the National Guard, and they could soon get some federal
help for civilian life.

US Senator Lindsey Graham and South
Carolina Adjutant General Stan Spears are expected to announce a new package
of health care benefits for Guardsmen during a Tuesday news conference.

The military’s medical program
currently doesn’t extend to them.

The South Carolina National Guard says many of its
troops are self-employed, so they don’t have adequate health insurance. When
they suffer health problems during deployment, they’re usually forced to foot
the bill.




Access to Military Health Care For Reservists Is Backed


June 3, 2004; Page A09

The Senate voted 70 to 25 yesterday to
allow 300,000 National Guard and Reserve members not on active duty to
buy health care coverage for themselves and their families through the
federally subsidized military health system.

Dependents of National Guard and
Reserve members called to active service would also be eligible for help from
the Defense Department in paying premiums on private health care plans to
ensure no break in their coverage. The government already picks up all health
care costs of active-duty personnel.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) noted
that the annual cost of $1 billion over the next five years would be less
than that of some bridges in a pending highway bill. Final approval is not
assured, because the House-passed defense bill does not include the insurance




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A ‘Family’
Unit Sees Combat Firsthand

Transportation Duties Put D.C. Guard
Soldiers in Harm’s Way


Washington Post

June 3, 2004

By Clarence

Sgt. Anthony
Williamson led a convoy of tankers along a dark two-lane road near Baghdad
last October, his truck loaded with makeshift armor of sandbags and a mounted
machine gun. Suddenly, in a dirt alley between mud houses, he spotted a man
taking aim with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

“It was
like a blue flash of light and it made a loud noise, BOOM!” recalled
Williamson, 33. He floored it and the grenade exploded harmlessly in his

For 12
harrowing months, such became a new and unexpected routine for the 547th
Transportation Unit of the D.C. National Guard. The collection of
electricians, computer specialists, law enforcement officers, civil servants
and ex-active duty soldiers had trained at home to drive supplies and
maintain trucks. In Iraq, they found themselves regular targets of insurgent

The mission
of hauling the necessities of war is a tradition for the Capitol Guard. The
547th traces its lineage to the all-black 715th Transportation Truck Company
in the 1940s and through eight campaigns including the Korean War and
Operation Desert Storm. 

But Iraq was
high-stress duty for a unit whose motto is “You Call, We Haul,” and
it took a heavy toll. 

When the
547th arrived, many members of the Guard “didn’t know what the hell an
RPG [rocket propelled grenade] or IED [Improvised Explosive Device]
was,” said Capt. Malik Freeman, the unit commander. “People thought
[the attacks on convoys were] just random acts.”

The outfit,
which historically has served away from direct combat, quickly learned

Of the 145
troops who arrived in the Middle East last May, fewer than two-thirds stayed
in Iraq for the unit’s full tour, which ended last month. One was killed,
about 20 were wounded or injured and another 20 went home with heart problems,
hypertension or breathing difficulties. About 10 others returned on family
hardship leaves. 

active-duty soldiers, National Guardsmen typically stay in one location and
can spend their entire military careers in one unit, which is the rule rather
than the exception for the 547th. Many have met their spouses in the guard,
as Williamson did, or serve with graduates of their former high schools.
About 70 percent are from the Washington area. 

The unit has
built family ties, continues to be almost entirely black and is widely proud
of its heritage.

 “It’s more of a family, community-type
organization,” Freeman said. “It was a force multiplier for the
unit and the military.”

The 547th
hangs onto its soldiers, and, for many, home has become the 547th. 

For Sgt.
Stephen Bloodworth, 48, the first shock hit him as he stepped off a military
plane into the 120-degree Kuwaiti heat. The next shock came weeks later when
his unit crossed the border into Iraq and he saw tanks blown up and buildings
blown apart.

is a war. It’s no more games, it’s time to get real,” recalled
Bloodworth, a D.C. Department of Public Works heavy machinery mechanic who
lives in Hillcrest. “You have to get a whole new mindset.”

Attacks on
convoys intensified after less than a month in the country, so sandbags and a
high-caliber machine gun were loaded onto 30 of the unit’s 72 trucks.
Traditionally, the unit’s concerns had been about drivers getting enough rest
or soldiers falling asleep at the wheel. In Iraq, the concern was about being

Spec. Darryl
T. Dent, 21, and a District resident, boarded a five-ton truck at Baghdad
International Airport on Aug. 26. He was on a security detail for the mail
run. The truck struck a remote-controlled explosive device 16 miles north of
Baghdad. Dent was killed and Specs. Vincent Short and Kevin Lockard were

 “We just kind of felt invisible in the
beginning. Until Dent got hit,” said First Sgt. Linda Todd, a Southeast
Washington native who lives in Clinton.

As the unit
continued to transport ammunition, food, water, Iraqi bigwigs and Army brass,
the drivers found that the most commonplace items could be wired to explode.
A Coke can, a water bottle or a paint can by the side of the road were to be
avoided. A passing motorcyclist could lob a grenade.

didn’t know if a guy was going to work or trying to blow you up,” said
Freeman, who came to the 547th five years ago after college ROTC training and
service in the Illinois National Guard.

Even the
climate posed challenges to Freeman’s command, and the unit’s veterans of the
Gulf War taught their colleagues lessons the military manuals don’t

They knew
that the hot and sandy conditions would require more frequent filter and oil
changes and that tires would wear out faster on scorching roads. 

worked to fixed broken generators in the moonlight so cooks could put
breakfast on the mess table. A nurse in the 547th enabled the unit to open a
first aid station, where other commanders sent troops for diagnosis and
treatment. A D.C. police detective and other officers provided expertise when
the mission changed from pure transportation to security escort service.

Freeman said
the presence of so many veteran members boosted morale. 

Most of all,
the veterans offered stability in the field. “Sometimes when mortars
came in, my veterans would say ‘that’s about three miles away.’ That built
confidence, that someone knew what was going on,” Freeman said.

was not a substitute for dexterity, or a young person’s physical

The unit’s
attrition rate is unusually high, according to a National Guard
spokesman who checked with comparable outfits, but it reflects some of the
difficulties of a unit whose members are older than most active-duty soldiers
and are doing hazardous duty in a punishing climate. 

The median
age in the 547th is 40, about 15 years older than the average full-time
soldier in Iraq. The unit is made up of native Washingtonians and transients,
holders of graduate degrees and GEDs. It has a D.C. police detective, a nurse
and even a cable company employee who figured out how to connect satellite
television in the desert.

A third of
those who served last year are also veterans of the Gulf War. Twenty-five
percent of the 547th are women and 97 percent are black.

the stuff hit the fan,” Freeman said, his unit got the job done. When
colonels went out the gate, they wanted the 547th to take them, he said. 

were known all over as the rough riders,” Freeman said. “The
[soldiers] were aggressive. They didn’t abuse anybody, but they didn’t play
games either.”

Command Sergeant Major Arthur J. Williamson spent his nearly 20 years in the
547th under conditions very different from 
those his son endured in Iraq. 

dealt with urban warfare. We dealt with straight-up desert combat,” said
Arthur Williamson, 52, a veteran of Desert Storm and father of Anthony. 

segregated Washington in the 1950s, Arthur Williamson had held his mother’s
hand on a street corner and dreamed of driving big rigs. But at age 14, he
was an expectant father and dropped out of the eighth grade at Backus Middle
School. He spent about 10 years working at a car wash, washing dishes and
doing construction and delivery jobs before enlisting. 

The elder Sgt.
Williamson signed up in the mid-’70s, toward the end of the Vietnam War.
“The National Guard was an out for me. It was a career builder
for me,” Arthur Williamson recalled. His enlistment led to a GED and a
bachelor of arts degree; he is working on a master’s degree.

The training
transformed Williamson family life as Arthur began waking his boys early to
make their beds with military corners. By the time Anthony Williamson
enlisted in 1989, drill sergeants found he had been used to military
discipline “since ’76.” The elder Williamson met his wife through
the Guard. 

 He married Sgt. Major Patricia Williamson,
the Guard’s personnel manager. His son married Spec. Octavia Williamson after
meeting her in the 547th. She now serves as a paralegal for another Guard

The early
days of the 547th were filled with camaraderie and dedication, Arthur
Williamson said, with members working weekends without pay to take care of
equipment. Those members had dreams of emulating the famed “Red Ball
Express,” the all-black unit credited with supplying General George S.
Patton’s 3rd Army during its drive across Europe to close World War II,
Arthur Williamson said. 

The unit
also was inspired by the 715th Transportation Truck Company, a District National
unit that earned a presidential citation from the Republic of Korea
for its service during the Korean War. That unit was disbanded in 1954.

The 547th
would practice convoy maneuvers on drives to bases in Virginia and Maryland,
such as Fort A.P. Hill and Fort Meade. The guard would coordinate with D.C.
police, and when 50 or 60 trucks would roll from their Alabama Avenue depot
with a police escort, Southeast neighbors would stop and wave.

“It was
like electricity. You felt important,” Arthur Williamson recalled. 

After the
unit was deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1990, during the buildup to the Persian
Gulf War, it logged more than a million miles hauling “beams, bullets,
blankets and bodies,” Arthur Williamson recalled. 

The members
of the unit supported the soldiers of the 82nd and 101 Airborne divisions,
the 1st and 3rd Army Calvary. Other troops called them modern-day
“Buffalo Soldiers,” referring to black units that fought heavily on
the Western frontier. The only white officer was the unit’s EEO officer,
Arthur Williamson said.

Williamson’s eyes still cloud with tears when he thinks of putting his
soldiers in harm’s way. His unit performed an operation the Iraq veterans did
not: transporting the caskets of soldiers who died in the Gulf War. 

experienced the aftermath of combat,” Arthur Williamson said. 

The 547th is
home now.

has chopped down a dead tree in his Pennsylvania Avenue yard and attended his
daughter’s graduate school graduation from the University of South Carolina,
after missing her undergraduate ceremony last May. 

He made a
“marriage investment” by taking his wife on a cruise last month, he

After 15
years in the Marine Corps , the Wilmington, N.C., native joined the 547th in
1999 to finish his 20-year retirement package. He said he will stay on now,
although he doesn’t think he would go again. “This is best tour I’ve
ever had spiritually,” he said. 

Freeman had
a homecoming party with his in-laws in Chicago and is getting reacquainted
with his wife and 2-year-old daughter. But his thoughts remain with the six
or seven soldiers who he said are in Walter Reed Army Hospital and about 30
others still trying to recuperate from injuries and mental stress suffered in

Williamson has spent most of his time catching up on sleep — at least when
his twin 5-year-old girls, Arjazenia and Allaiha, let him rest in their
Severn home. He bought a 2004 Nissan Maxima and a lot of new clothes after
losing weight in Iraq.

The 547th
has been his life, and it will continue to be so.

got a lot of stuff in the 547th — you got life, love. Everybody loves each
other in that company,” Anthony Williamson said. “That’s my





Back to Table of Contents


While You
Were Out;

Many soldiers in the National Guard or
Reserves find leaving their civilian jobs creates financial hardship, but
there are several programs that attempt to ease the transition


(New Orleans)

June 6, 2004

By Rebecca

Jerald James
Jr., a New Orleans audiologist who runs a small hearing aid firm, faced an
important business decision last year: what to do with his company after his
Army Reserve unit was called to active duty.

James works
as a sole practitioner, and because there was no one to run the Beltone
Hearing Center in his absence, he was forced to close up shop in order to
serve in the military. He paid dearly for the year he spent on active duty at
Fort Polk. His business lost its ability to pay off recent investments in
medical equipment, creditors weren’t sympathetic, and his wife and two young
children lost their primary source of income.

“I like
being a soldier; I really do. What we do as a unit and what I do is very
important,” James said. “The other side is that it set our family
back financially.”

James is one
of about 370,000 National Guard and Reserve soldiers nationwide who
have been mobilized in connection with U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan
or Iraq. Together, Guard and Reserve forces make up 46 percent of the United
States’ “go to war” force, the highest level since World War II.
But the absence of these soliders from the civilian work force means
employers are helping to shoulder the burden of U.S. military campaigns

Few states
may feel the effect of the call-ups more keenly than in Louisiana, which has
22,200 residents in the National Guard and Reserve, giving it one of
the highest number of reservists per capita in the country.

And stories
told by James and other reservists from across the Pelican State illustrate
the magnitude of the challenge small businesses face when employees   
or the proprietors    are called into military service.

you’re a small employer, if you’ve only got five or six employees and one or
two of them have happened to be in the Reserves, it can put you in a
bind,” said Charlie Hodson, Louisiana director for the National
Federation of Independent Business, a small-business lobbying group.

Short notice

In James’
case, short notice and uncertainty about how long he would serve made it
especially difficult for him to make a contingency plan for his business.

He was given
just five days to report to Fort Polk, and there wasn’t time to notify
customers or find another audiologist to cover his caseload. He was reluctant
to have someone else try to contact his clients, because there was a chance
he’d be home in three months. He ended up serving for a year.

Some of his
mostly elderly clients had appointments to get their hearing tested. Others
were trying out hearing aids and awaiting follow-up appointments. When he did
return, some of his longtime customers told him they didn’t use their hearing
aids for a year because they needed to be cleaned or adjusted and they didn’t
know where else to go.

didn’t really get to tell my patients goodbye,” said James, who joined
the Reserves when he was in school to earn money. “I’m sure it seemed
not so cordial to them. I just shut down.”

landlord let him out of his lease on his business, which has since relocated
to Elysian Fields Avenue from Canal Boulevard, and James hurriedly stowed his
equipment in a spare room at home and at his mother-in-law’s house.

rules that enabled him to get out of his lease also provided for a reduction
in interest rates on business loans, James said. But as a sole practitioner,
he had difficulty getting creditors to give him a break. Matters were
complicated by the fact that when he started the business, he had bought much
of his medical equipment on credit cards, some of which were in his wife’s
name. “She got all the phone calls,” James said.

His family
would have been eligible to switch from their regular health insurance plan
to the military’s plan. But with the uncertain time frame of his active duty
service, they were afraid to switch in case James got discharged before the
insurance enrollment period for Jefferson Parish, where James’ wife works as
an administrative assistant. If James had finished his military duty and was
bounced off the military health plan before the open enrollment period for
insurance at his wife’s job, the family would have gone without health
insurance. They ended up paying insurance out of pocket while the business
bills piled up.

Another sole
practitioner, Tom Acosta, a colonel with the Army Reserve’s 377th Theatre
Support Command, had to shut down his Port Allen law practice for two years
while he served in Kuwait.

It’s not the
first time Acosta has had to shut down his small-town law practice. Acosta
was mobilized in 1991 during the first Gulf War and had to close his practice
for about six months.

While he was
away this time, a woman who used to work for him answered phone messages and
e-mails, while Acosta’s wife paid the bills out of their savings.

Attempts to
provide legal counsel by e-mail didn’t work out so well, and Acosta lost many
of his clients while he was away. “I tried once to revise a lease for
someone by e-mail, but my attentions were obviously on what I was doing over
there,” Acosta said.

the business has been slow. “My cashflow has not improved to the point
of being able to hire someone. Business is picking up, but I had a couple of
good tax write-off years,” Acosta said.

Despite the
personal sacrifices he has had to make, James says he’ll stay in the reserves
for at least another five years to reach 20 years of service and qualify for
a pension. Acosta is stoic about his years of service.

been a soldier for 26 years,” he said. “If you stay in the
reserves, that’s kind of the risk you take. It’s been a personal and professional
business sacrifice, but that’s not much of a sacrifice for freedom. A lot of
people have sacrificed their lives.”

SBA program

for reservists that are trying to run businesses, the federal Small Business
Administration has a new loan program designed to help firms that have
suffered as a result of having a key employee called for military service.

The military
reservist economic injury disaster loan program, which started in August
2001, allows businesses that have endured financial harm because a key
employee has been mobilized to borrow as much as $1.5 million for working
capital to keep them afloat.

the Small Business Administration has approved 176 of the loans for a
combined $15.6 million. In Louisiana, the Small Business Administration has
approved seven applications for Reserve disaster loans for a total of about

James said
the program helped him stay afloat in the year he was away, but it took him a
while to get approved, and the loan doesn’t cover expenses to restart the
business. To reopen his business in April, James needed to rent a new office
and buy new computers, because new hearing aids don’t communicate with the
Windows 2000 operating software he had on his old machines.

Another New
Orleans reservist, Azemar King, who is now a U.S. Marine Corps staff sergeant
at the Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, said an SBA loan
was essential to keeping his rock-climbing gymnasium, Climb-Max, in

King was
activated for seven months in 2003 and went to Iraq and Kuwait as a
maintenance chief for his battalion. He recently was called up again for
service with a different unit. His wife, Lauren, who gave birth to their son
just two weeks before King was called to duty in 2003, was forced to take
over Climb-Max. “She had never run the business before. It was
basically, ‘Here’s your new business, and here’s your new baby,’ ” King

King had heard about the SBA program before he left and filled out the
paperwork in case they needed help. His wife used the money to pay herself to
run the business and hire extra employees to help. Still, it wasn’t easy for
Lauren to operate the rock gym and learn the tricks overnight that King had
learned in eight years.

wife’s intentions were great, but she’d never run the business before.
There’s a learning curve,” King said.

Having a

and Guard members say that having a plan or getting lucky helps in balancing
the responsibilities of civilian jobs and military duty.

Richard Wisecarver,
who served for seven months after the September 11 terrorist attacks with the
159th Fighter Wing Division of the Air National Guard in Belle Chasse,
says he got lucky.

had been working as chief financial officer at his family’s industrial and
institutional cleaning products company, Wechem Inc., which is located in
Elmwood. During the summer of 2001, Wisecarver decided to switch jobs at the
company, and start doing new business development for Wechem and hired an
accountant that August to take over most of his duties.

Although the
accountant was still in training at the time of the terrorist attacks, her
hire eased the business shock of Wisecarver’s call-up at the 50-person
company. Still, the demands of the business meant that Wisecarver would
frequently go to work at Wechem at night after a day of work on the base.

“A lot
of times at the end of the duty day, I’d go straight to work and to do
another three to four hours worth of work and then go home,” said
Wisecarver, who’s been in the military for almost 22 years. “You’ve got
to do what you’ve got to do while on active duty to keep the business

Alvendia, a New Orleans personal injury lawyer who started his own firm two
years ago, reported to Fort Hood in Texas for Army National Guard duty
in May.

who joined the Army National Guard in college 14 years ago, had been
called up for the first Gulf War and again during Hurricane Andrew, so he
decided to make some changes in his small law firm just in case he was
activated again.

accelerated the promotion of one of his staff attorneys to partner so that he
could manage the firm if Alvendia were called away. Alvendia also hired
another lawyer to take over his duties at the firm and to expand and organize
the business. Alvendia & Kelly now has four attorneys and ten staff.

So far,
Alvendia has been keeping in touch by e-mail, but is confident that his
associates will do great on their own when he goes to Iraq. “I’m
grateful that I had two months to plan. Had they called me two weeks before
and told me, it would have been devastating,” Alvendia said.

Law protects

Of the National
and Reserve soldiers that get mobilized, about one-third suffer
financial harm, one-third experience no change in their financial well-being,
and one-third prosper, according to surveys by a liaison group called
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. Many of the people who make more
money than before are students, because active duty is more lucrative than

That so many
people suffer financial harm while serving their country is a troubling
national security issue, said Lt. Col. Bill Dupont, spokesman for ESGR.

national security is tied to our economic security,” Dupont said.
“If we don’t take care of them, they’re not going to re-enlist.”

reservists ultimately view their military experience may be determined by
their experience going back to work. Although many reservists now face
extended tours of duty, the maximum call-up time remains at two years.
Reservists who were called up in the months following the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks are now beginning to return to work at their civilians jobs, where
they’ll confront the reality of having left.

anxiety is, ‘What does my boss think of me now that I’ve been gone for 18
months? What do my co-workers think of me?’ ” said John Goheen, director
of communications at the National Guard Association of the United
States. “There’s no other way to look at this: It’s a long time to be
away from home, from work and from your employer.”

To help
employer-reservist relations remain smooth, ESGR advises both sides on their
rights and obligations under a 1994 law called the Uniformed Services
Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The law protects the rights of
Reserve and National Guard members by requiring their employers to
hold their jobs for them while they’re on active duty.

The lion’s
share of ESGR’s 2,000 calls each month are requests for information about
USERRA rights and obligations.

But about 25
percent require some form of mediation between employer and reservist or
Guard member, and another 5 percent of the calls require formal mediation of
a serious employment conflict.

Not all
employer-reservist relations are rocky. Many companies go above and beyond
the requirements of USERRA in dealing with employees who are in the Guard or
Reserve. Bollinger Shipyards, Whitney Bank and Northrup Grumman Ship Systems
have all won awards from ESGR for their support of employees on active duty,
said Tom Fierke, general counsel for Lockheed-Martin Space Systems at the
Michoud plant in eastern New Orleans and volunteer state chairman of ESGR.

Sen. Mary
Landrieu, D-La., got an amendment attached to a jobs bill that would give
employers tax credits for making up the differential between a soldier’s
civilian pay and active duty military pay. The bill has passed the Senate,
but is still in the legislative process.

To help with
military preparedness and to lessen the burden on employers, ESGR is
surveying reservists to find out what they do for civilian employment. The
hope is that the information will help the military to better tailor the
call-ups to what skill sets are needed, which would help employers anticipate
when key employees might leave so they can hire a temporary worker or cross-train
another employee.

way, when you are called on AD (active duty), there’s a plan in place,”
Dupont said.




Back to Table of Contents


Amid War, A Day of Remembrance

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The Baltimore Sun

June 1, 2004 Tuesday

 Ceremony: The governor and a mother who lost her son in Iraq
are among those who gather to honor the memory of America’s fallen soldiers.

By Tricia Bishop

There was nothing Beverly Fabri could
have done to talk her 19-year-old Chestertown son out of going to Iraq, even
though she was certain he wouldn’t return.

“He was too gung-ho and ready to
go and give his all over there,” Fabri said yesterday before the annual
Memorial Day ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium.
“But I knew when he left I would never see him again, I just knew it. I
knew in my heart.”

Pvt. Bryan Nicholas Spry died on
Valentine’s Day in Iraq after a bridge collapsed, flipping the Humvee he was
driving and trapping him underwater.

His memory and the memory of other
Marylanders who recently gave their lives for their country – including
33-year-old Army Sgt. Jeffery C. Walker from Havre de Grace, who was killed
in January after his helicopter was shot down – added an air of somber
urgency to yesterday’s services.

served in the military and I wanted to bring my children so they understand
what it means,” said Dave Carmack, an Air Force lieutenant colonel from
Baltimore. His 10-year-old daughter, Mary, and her friend Emily Toler both
wore American flag bandanas and explained they were there to “honor the
people that died for our country.”

That’s what Memorial Day is about,
speakers reminded the shivering audience yesterday – not having crab feasts
or barbecues or beach trips, but “taking a few moments to reflect on why
you can do those things,” said Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the
U.S. National Guard Bureau
, in charge of policies and programs affecting
Army and Air National Guard recruits.

The reason, Blum said, is that
soldiers have given America those freedoms.

American troops need public support
more than ever, Blum said, adding that there are people out there who want to
“kill you, kill your children” and “destroy this

He cautioned the crowd to not let media
reports sour their perceptions and to “stand solid behind these

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. told the
crowd of about 100 people who braved the wet, windy weather that the concerns
of veterans “are foremost in my mind” these days.

“I was able to grow up with peace
and prosperity because of the sacrifices of those who have gone before
me,” said Ehrlich, who gave Walker’s brother and Spry’s parents plaques
honoring the men’s military service and sacrifice.

Ehrlich asked that as the listeners
resume their daily routine, they pause to appreciate their ability to travel,
vote, shop, argue politics, attend Little League baseball games, practice
religion freely and visit with family and friends. And then, Ehrlich
suggested, they should “thank the soldier.”

Yesterday’s ceremony took place at the
cemetery’s Circle of the Immortals, a monument built in 1967 and dedicated to
Marylanders killed in military action. Buried within the circle are 28
Maryland residents who died in Vietnam.

Spry’s mother said her son always had
wanted to join the military. He decorated his high school notebooks with Army
stickers and as a boy used military hand signals he picked up from his two
grandfathers, who fought in World War II.

“(Spry) died doing what he wanted
to do,” Fabri said. “I’ve never seen a prouder soldier.”

At the time of the incident in which he
was killed, the private in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division had already
survived being shot and a roadside-bomb explosion.

“He really loved going out on missions,
especially dangerous ones,” Fabri said.

Stories like Spry’s don’t scare
Christopher Dixon – they inspire him.

17-year-old Elkridge resident is counting the days until he graduates from
high school next year and can join the Marines. He’s a member of the Historic
Elkridge Young Marines, a group that helps prepare youths for the military.

“I think the cause is right,”
Dixon said. “Everything we’re doing over there – there’s a purpose for




Soldiers Remembered For Their Humor,
Intelligence and Bravery

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Associated Press

June 6, 2004


The shock
was still being felt Sunday as family and friends remembered three Oregon National
soldiers killed in Iraq on Friday.

1st Lt. Erik
McCrae, 25, and Spec. Justin Linden, 23, both of Portland and Sgt. Justin
Eyerly, 23, of Salem were killed Friday after responding to a roadside bomb
striking a National Guard unit from New Jersey.

Sgt. Nathan
Melton, 25, Eyerly’s friend from South Salem High School, was injured in the

were great citizens, great human beings and fabulous kids,” Col. Mike
Caldwell told the (Salem) Statesman-Journal. “We’re hurting real bad.
It’s a real serious hurt.”

Soldiers and
Guard staff comforted family members during Sunday’s briefing at the armory
in Woodburn and offered any support possible.

Maj. Arnold
Strong updated the families on how the attack occurred. He said after the New
Jersey Guard unit was struck, McCrae responded to the blast in his Humvee,
which also carried Linden, Eyerly and Melton. As Linden and Eyerly exited the
truck to secure the blast site, a second explosive device was detonated.

soldiers did their job with discipline and elan,” Strong said. “It
takes a lot of gumption and steely resolve in doing what they were

McCrae’s father is Col. Scott McCrae, the Oregon Guard’s chief of personnel.
A 4.0 graduate of Tigard High school and a 2000 graduate of Linfield College
with dual degrees in math and applied physics, McCrae worked as a mechanical
engineer at FEI in Hillsboro.

Besides his
engineering career, McCrae served as a cavalry scout with the E/82 Calvary
Troop based in Woodburn and volunteered as a reserve deputy with the
Washington County sheriff’s office.

The year
before he was deployed to Iraq, he met his wife Heather. They married in Fort
Polk, La., before the unit’s departure.

he’d call me from Iraq, he’s always mention how they talked with school
children and handed out soccer balls,” Heather McCrae said.

enjoyed learning about the culture and talked about all the beautiful
buildings and the mosques,” she added. “And a lot of people really
were thankful they were there, cleaning up the neighborhoods and fixing up
the sewer systems.”

Eyerly worked in Web design as an intern for the Portland Trail Blazers. A
1999 graduate of South Salem High and a student at Portland State University,
Eyerly wanted to work in the music industry or produce video games.

His sister,
Stacia Eyerly Hatfield, said Justin always had a joke and could laugh at

he’d call from Iraq he’d say, ‘the food isn’t so bad here,”‘ Hatfield

She said the
family is comforted knowing Melton is doing better. Justin was the best man
at Melton’s wedding.

Justin Linden
met his future wife, Sarah, while working at a KFC in Portland. Sarah said
Justin never missed a chance to brighten a shift.

“He was
in the back singing (the Tim McGraw song) ‘I Like It, I Love It,”‘ she
said. “He made everybody laugh.”

Linden went on to become manager of KFC restaurants in Portland, but wanted a
career in law enforcement, or possibly acting.

tell me on the phone to tell everyone to send him lots of food because he
wanted to get fat,” Sarah Linden said.

Like Erik
and Heather McCrae, Sarah and Justin Linden were married in Fort Polk, La.

“I miss
everything about him,” Sarah Linden said. “It’s been hard because I
had gotten used to him being gone (in Iraq), but its tough when you know he
won’t be coming back.”

Plans for
memorial services are still pending, according to the National Guard.




4 Guardsmen From Same New Jersey Unit Die
in Iraq

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The New York

June 6, 2004

By Patrick
Healy; John Holl in Carlstadt and Lawrenceville, N.J., and Matthew C. McCue
in Brick contributed reporting for this article.

Two families
were mourning the first New Jersey National Guardsmen killed in the Iraq war,
and Guard officials were describing their deaths when an announcement arrived
yesterday afternoon from Baghdad: Two more guardsmen from the same unit had
been killed in a separate attack.

 The tally of four New Jersey guardsmen
killed in one weekend was a grim one-two punch, said Brig. Gen. Glenn K.
Rieth, the leader of New Jersey’s Department of Military and Veterans
Affairs. The soldiers were killed in roadside bombings in Baghdad, military
officials said.

devastating,” General Rieth said yesterday. ”I was called this morning very
early. I was like: Is this a dream? Please don’t tell me that two more of
ours have paid the ultimate price.”

identified the soldiers killed in Friday’s bombing as Sgt. Frank Carvill, 51,
of Carlstadt, N.J., and Specialist Christopher M. Duffy, 26, of Brick, N.J.
Military officials would not release the identities or hometowns of the
guardsmen killed in yesterday’s bombing.

Carvill, a 20-year member of the Guard, had also worked at the World Trade
Center and on Sept. 11, 2001 left for a meeting just before the first plane
hit, family members said.

All four
guardsmen were members of the Third Battalion of the 112th Field Artillery, a
unit that was dispatched to Iraq in February. Members of the unit are part of
Task Force Baghdad and drive through the city on security details, military
officials said.

As news of
the deaths rippled across New Jersey yesterday, flags were lowered to
half-staff and politicians provided words of mourning. About 300 members of
New Jersey’s National Guard are stationed in Baghdad.

”Four National
Guardsmen offering the supreme sacrifice on the eve of the anniversary of
D-Day provides for a poignant lesson of the impact of war,” Gov. James
McGreevey said in a telephone interview. ”When you speak to these families,
one begins to understand the fullness of the human dimension the sacrifice,
the loss the fundamental change in their lives.”

Carvill and Specialist Duffy were killed at about 1 p.m. Friday after their
convoy was ambushed as it traveled through a Shiite enclave in Sadr City,
according to military officials and The Associated Press. A roadside bomb
exploded followed by a volley of fire from rocket-propelled grenades. Three
other soldiers were killed and five were wounded.

Three of the
wounded were New Jersey guardsmen, but all were expected to live, National
officials said. They were identified as Specialist Gregory Brown,
34, of Newark; Sgt. Carl Oliver, 38, of Trenton; and Specialist Timothy
Brosnan, 33, of East Brunswick.

 At 9:30 a.m. yesterday, a vehicle carrying the
two unidentified guardsmen was traveling through northeastern Baghdad when a
bomb exploded, flipping the vehicle, military officials said. Two other
soldiers were wounded in Saturday’s bombing, military officials in Baghdad

afternoon, family members and friends of Sergeant Carvill and Specialist
Duffy held news conferences in their hometowns to remember their lives.

Carvill worked as a paralegal for the Port Authority of New York and New
Jersey and spent hours reading books about Ireland, military equipment and
cars, his sister, Peggy A. Liguori, said.

Carvill lived in a red-brick house built by his father that has views of
Midtown Manhattan and a American flag hanging in a front window. He had been
living in New York City, but moved back to New Jersey in 1996 to take care of
his widowed mother, family members said.

He joined
the National Guard 20 years ago, hungry for a feeling of camaraderie,
Ms. Liguori said, and had not served overseas until he was sent to Iraq.

Duffy grew up in Brick near the Jersey Shore and joined the New Jersey National
in 2000, family friends said. A first baseman on his high school
baseball team, Specialist Duffy played softball and drove a van that
transported senior citizens, said Mike Hogan, 25, a neighbor.

He and his
wife, Casey, have an 8-month-old son, family friends said. ”He always wanted
to be a father,” said Doreen Mielish, 49, a neighbor.

said neither of the men had strong political leanings, but family members and
friends said they supported the war. In a letter in November 2001 to The New
York Times, Sergeant Carvill said a military victory in Afghanistan was
crucial to United States national security.

respect to casualties, we have a choice,” he wrote, ”uniformed personnel
doing their jobs or civilians killed in subsequent attacks on a country
unwilling to defend itself.”

Sergeant Carvill’s brother, Daniel, stood outside Sergeant Carvill’s home.

”It’s very
upsetting, the violence, the death,” Daniel Carvill said. ”My brother — my
brother, he died.”





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DOD Postal Service Announce Ballot


United States Department of Defense

Department of Defense and the U. S. Postal Service are launching a series of
initiatives intended to expedite the delivery of absentee ballots to U. S.
military personnel abroad for this year’s general election.

employees at the local level will contact each of the approximately 3,000
county election offices throughout the country to coordinate the mailing of
absentee ballots. County election officials are currently accepting voter
registrations and requests for absentee ballots. Once ballots are prepared
for mailing, local post offices will facilitate the initial mailings of
ballots via overnight Express Mail to the three military gateways (San
Francisco, Miami and New York). This will take place approximately 30 to 45
days prior to Election Day.

the initial ballot mailings, remaining ballots will be expedited on a daily
basis from local post offices to military gateways. USPS will determine the
number of ballots per location at the gateways, sort by destination, and then
place in specially marked containers providing visibility to give the highest
priority while being transported to their destination.

Military Postal System will then take over to ensure that ballots are given
priority handling at overseas destinations and will make every attempt to
deliver as expeditiously as possible. The MPS is a division of the DoD and
operated as an extension of the USPS.

MPS will ensure each completed ballot is given a proper, legible postmark at
the time of mailing and will also place balloting materials in easily
identifiable containers to ensure they are given priority in transportation
back to the USPS gateways. The ballots will then be given priority processing
for delivery back to county election officials.

This ambitious initiative is intended
to give every service member the opportunity to vote so that his or her
ballot can be counted.





Families Organize To Assist
Troops;  Funds Will Aid Communication
to U.S.

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Washington Post

June 3, 2004

By Susan

Even though
Suzanne Mauris was seven months pregnant, she understood that her husband,
Stephen, had to go to Iraq with his Maryland National Guard unit when
it was deployed for 18 months in January.

what he’s trained for,” she said. “I fully support him in what he’s

But since
then, Mauris’s resolve sometimes has given way to anxiety as Iraqi insurgents
have launched sporadic rocket attacks at Camp Cooke, where her husband’s unit
is assigned, along with thousands of other soldiers. 

soldiers with the 39th Brigade Combat Team at the camp, 15 miles north of
Baghdad, have been killed in the past two months, according to the National
Mauris and others who have family members there worry about their
loved ones walking through the sprawling camp and standing in long lines to
call or e-mail home.

felt that made them a target,” said Jill Reese, a College Park resident
whose brother-in-law serves with the 629th Military Intelligence Battalion,
which is headquartered in Laurel and draws soldiers from Maryland, Northern
Virginia and the District.

Though they
are half a world away, Mauris, Reese and other family members have formed a
nonprofit group to raise money to help purchase more telecommunications
equipment for the unit’s 19 soldiers based at Camp Cooke.

we wanted to set up for them was more for the families’ benefit,” said
Mauris, who spoke at her Fulton home while she doled out treats to her
23-month-old son, Alex, and Reese held the Maurises’ 2-month-old daughter,
Emily. “They haven’t heard from loved ones as much as they wanted to. It
makes it harder for families to function without knowing if their soldiers
are safe.”

The unit’s
18 men and one woman work as analysts for the 39th Brigade Combat Team at
Camp Cooke, trying to assess weaknesses that would make coalition forces
vulnerable to attack, said Maj. Charles S. Kohler, public affairs officer for
the Maryland National Guard. 

In the last
few months, Camp Cooke has grown from about 2,000 to 10,000 soldiers,
according Capt. Kristine Munn, speaking for the National Guard.

workers are rushing to install more telecommunications facilities, she said,
they have not kept up with the camp’s rapid expansion.




Sold-out Event Salutes Rhode Island

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Press State

June 6, 2004

By Lisa


Thousands of
Rhode Island residents joined elected officials Sunday in honoring men and
women in uniform with a thank-you bash that included a downtown parade and
ceremony thrown by their home state.

The event,
called “Rhode Island Salutes Her Troops,” started Sunday afternoon
with a parade of thousands of troops and veterans who marched in a half-mile
parade as thousands more people braved a cold drizzle to watch and cheer.

Veteran John
Burns, of East Providence, held a sign aloft that read, “Thank you for
your service to our country.” He said he didn’t have any relatives in
the armed services – he just wanted to show his support.

“Way to
go, guys and girls,” he cheered as the parade passed him.

soldiers, veterans and supporters then filled up the Dunkin’ Donuts Center
for a ceremony that did include music by Pershing’s Own U.S. Army Band,
speeches, awards and videotaped celebrity messages.

Gov. Donald
Carcieri told the troops that they made their fellow Rhode Island residents
“incredibly proud,” and asked for remembrance of the 11 people in
Rhode Island military units who have been killed in Iraq in the past year.

“We remember
their courage, their valor, their willingness to put themselves in harms’ way
for each and every one of us,” he said.


The salute
honored the more than 4,000 Rhode Island soldiers who have deployed since the
war on terror began. The soldiers are serving in the various branches of the
military, including the Rhode Island National Guard, the Army Reserve,
the Marine Corps Reserve, the Naval Reserve and the Coast Guard Reserve.

Mayor David Cicilline said the event was intended “to show our
gratitude” to troops.

wanted to give the rest of the state an opportunity to say thank you,”
he said.

The event
was created by the governor, Rhode Island National Guard Maj. Gen.
Reginald Centracchio, and their staffs, according to Lt. Col. Michael McNamara,
a R.I. National Guard spokesman.

is a fantastic way for all of us to thank not only these troops, but also
their families and employers for all the sacrifices they have been asked to
make over the past few years,” Centracchio said in a statement.

A small
group of about 20 protesters across the street from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center
demonstrated against the war and urged that U.S. troops return. Vietnam
Veteran Paul Forte, of Wakefield, R.I., carried his combat record with him in
a folder as he protested.

criticized President Bush for equating the 1944 allied invasion of France
with the war in Iraq, saying the current conflict is not about liberation
“and never was.”

out here because I think we should withdraw the troops from Iraq as soon as
possible,” he said. “I know the cost of war and suffering.”

After the
event, a barbecue for soldiers and their families was held at the Fleet
Skating Arena in Kennedy Plaza.




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