News You Can Use: Aug. 3, 2004

   August 3, 2004, Volume 2,
Issue 13

Index of Articles

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





Drills Full of Deadly Urgency; Florida National Guard Truck Drivers Are
Learning Safety Tactics qt Fort Bragg, N.C., This Week Before They Ship Out for
Iraq, Where Convoys Are Prime Targets for Ambushes and Roadside Bombings

TSoldiers’ Combat Fitness DebatedT



Connecticut National Guard Expected to
Deploy More Troops in Iraq

Guard Troops Receive Orders to Mobilize to

TPlan to Extend National Guard Duty Denied

to Call Up 5,600 IRR Soldiers



Airmen Return After Deployment in Europe

Word Handed
Down that Some in 39th Going Home

A Very Happy
Landing for Local National Guard Crew; Well-Wishers Greet Members of The 146th
Airlift Wing as They Return to Their Base Near Oxnard from a Tour of Duty in
the Middle East



Few Troops Get Disability Pay

Reimbursement Available for R&R Leave

Labor Department Grants
of Nearly $380,000 to Help Job-Seeking Veterans in Florida, Oregon and



S.C. Soldiers Stay Positive in War; Many
Note Good Work Being Done to Benefit Iraqis

Road-Building Takes Troops into Danger



Pull Together as Iraq War Pulls Them Apart; Prolonged Deployment Weighs Heavily
On Children



A Life Redeemed, Then Cut Short; Soldier Killed in Iraq Had
Become Role Model After Troubled Teen Years in Alexandria



Volunteers Link Soldiers, Relatives with Donated Computers

Fund-Raiser Planned for Kosovo Event

DOD Looks to Directed Energy Weapons

Army Lends Aid to Hollywood




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

TU (Note to those viewing this page in
Word or PDF format:
You must copy this 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

TU 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 follow-up.




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
TU[email protected]UT.




TUBack to
Table of Contents


Iraq Drills Full of Deadly
Urgency; Florida National Guard Truck Drivers Are Learning Safety Tactics qt
Fort Bragg, N.C., This Week Before They Ship Out for Iraq, Where Convoys Are
Prime Targets for Ambushes and Roadside Bombings

The Miami Herald

July 30, 2004

By Phil Long

Fort Bragg, N.C.

Jose Pajon squatted on hard sandbags in
the back of a five-ton Army cargo truck and checked the M-16 rifle cradled on
his knees.

Up front, Sgt. James Doyle scanned the
horizon for danger as the truck lurched over the hard clay road that cuts
through the North Carolina scrub hills.

The two men, both from Miami, are in
the last phase of intensive truck-driver training — a life-and-death course
in defensive driving.

They are among 150 Florida National
soldiers of the 144th Transportation Battalion from Mariana who
have been at Fort Bragg training since late June.

Next month, they are off to one of the
most hazardous jobs in the military — driving convoy trucks in Iraq, hauling
food, water, supplies and sometimes soldiers. Many of the trucks lack heavy
armor plating.

This month alone, at least three
transport-unit soldiers from other states have been killed in Iraq.

Being a military truck driver is
”probably the second most dangerous” duty in Iraq, said Lt. Arthur Gaines,
a soldier in the 144th and a planner/management analyst with the Florida
Department of Emergency Management. The most dangerous task, he said, is
going house to house looking for insurgents.

The 144th was called to duty last year,
assigned to Fort Stewart, Ga., but was sent home after nearly five months
without going to Iraq. The only Florida National Guard unit to be called up
twice, it is at the beginning of an 18-month assignment. The next stop is
Kuwait, for three weeks of even harder driving-security training, then on to

These days the soldiers of the 144th
are practicing, over and over, what to do in the event of an ambush, car
bomb, roadblock or roadside explosion.


In this week’s practice, soldiers were
piled into three trucks and two Humvees that traveled a seven-mile course
through the hills.

The convoy was about 10 minutes into
the drive the other day when there was a thundering boom.

”IED! First truck!” the sergeant
yelled. ”Go!”

IED is short for ”improvised explosive
device” — commonly in Iraq the roadside bomb.

Jamie Glass, 20, of Marianna, who is
studying to be a kindergarten teacher, leapt off the truck, raced 30 yards
and threw herself flat in the grass, her rifle pointed straight ahead, part
of a protective group of soldiers ringing the convoy that had been hit.

In two drills, one for explosions and
the other for roadblocks, soldiers scramble out of the truck and take up
defensive positions to protect the rest of the convoy and to aid the wounded.
Spread out, they are less of a target.

In another drill, soldiers concentrated
on driving fast to avoid stopping at all. Truckers drive through urban
settings maintaining a speed of 45 mph, the vehicles no more than 50 meters
apart, with weapons pointed out the windows and soldiers eyeing every

”When trucks stop, they are sitting
prey,” Gaines, the lieutenant, said.

In yet another drill, they learned how
to isolate and approach suspicious vehicles, gatherings and roadblocks. After
soldiers from the convoy’s security detail assess the problem, they can call
in the military equivalent of a SWAT team, or sometimes they just push the
obstacle off the road.

Soon after the truck stopped for the
roadside bomb, the all-clear sign came. Glass, one of several women in the
transportation unit, started back to the truck.

Not far down the road, an ambush.

”Red! Red!” a sergeant yelled,
warning of danger as the truck bucked to a halt.

Pajon and the other soldiers instantly
hoisted their weapons into firing position.

The air crackled with rifle fire and
machine-gun bursts as soldiers fired blanks at mannequins that popped up 50
yards away.

The figures with white-and-green shirts
represented bad guys armed with rifles and rocket-propelled-grenade
launchers. Mannequins in solid-green shirts were civilians. In a split second
before firing, the soldiers had to recognize which was which.

The training ”really is realistic,”
said Pajon, 20, who was studying to be a paramedic before he was called up.

At another ambush farther along the
road, real soldiers, posing as attackers, fired blanks at the 144th convoy,
and the transportation soldiers fired back.

Why the heavy training for this

Insurgents hesitate to take on infantry
squads because they shoot back, so convoys are popular targets, said Doyle,
21, the sergeant who plans to become a Broward sheriff’s deputy when he gets
home in the fall of 2005.

”It is a lot easier for them to take
out a truck than take out a squad of infantry,” Doyle said.


The list of hazards, Doyle said, ranges
from mines and roadside bombs ”to ambushes to sniper fire off a building when
you drive through town. It is just everywhere.”

Helping train his fellow soldiers in
the 144th is William Worden, a Guardsman who volunteered to drive trucks for
four months in Iraq last year. Still on active duty back on the base, he
offered advice to Guard members preparing for duty overseas.

”The threat is actually real. You
always have to be on the lookout for everything,” Worden told a small group
of soldiers as they waited to climb into the truck. ”You don’t know where
the enemy’s coming from.”


Soldiers’ Combat Fitness Debated

TAssociated Press TT

July 30, 2004

N.Y. – The National Guard and Reserves will soon account for nearly half of
the 140,000 U.S. soldiers in
Iraq, kindling debate about whether older
part-timers are best suited to the war zone.

Some veterans
argue that the younger, active duty soldier is in better physical condition,
more able to withstand the pace of an extended combat tour. These 18- to
21-year-olds are also often undistracted by such things as wives, children,
mortgages and careers.

But others
maintain that with age comes maturity and greater calm. And almost half the
Guard members and Reservists have plenty of experience under fire, themselves
active duty veterans.

In New York,
which already sent 2,500 Guard and Reserve soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan
and has hundreds more mobilized, Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette has lobbied the
military to keep them at home where they can protect land and sea borders
from terrorists.

put people there who can’t roll, can’t lie, can’t jump as well as people 18,
20, 19 years old,” said Lafayette, who served in the Army and National
Guard. “That’s the perfect soldier: well-trained, that age, without
something at the back of your mind – what’s happening to your job, what’s happening
to your wife, what’s happening to your kids.”

73-year-old Queens Democrat suggests using active infantries from Korea,
Germany and elsewhere to fill combat assignments, with Guard members and
Reserves filling the gaps. Sending soldiers in their 50s to Iraq is
unacceptable, he said.

Guard and Reserve troops will comprise 42 percent or 43 percent of the force
in Iraq later this year, defense officials have told Congress. That compares
with a 39 percent share currently and 25 percent last year.

With the
shifting deployments comes a change in who are among the some 900 American
troops dead and the 5,000 wounded in action since last year’s invasion.

In June, half
the U.S. military deaths – 21 of 42 – were members of the National Guard or
Reserve. In May, the breakdown was 22 out of 80 deaths, and in April it was
17 of 136.

At 59, Staff
Sgt. William D. Chaney of the Illinois Army National Guard became the oldest
Iraq casualty. The Pentagon said he died in May from surgical complications from
a non-combat condition he developed in the war zone.

The average
age in the Army National Guard is 32, and 46 percent have active duty
experience, according to the National Guard Bureau.

Command Sgt.
Maj. Dick Fearnside said the age dropped from 41 over the past seven years as
Guard units got busier and older soldiers finished their commitments.

“I think
in some areas, maturity and experience can make up for youth and
energy,” said the 49-year-old Fearnside, top enlisted man for the
National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division that will send 4,300 troops to Iraq
later this year. He recently returned from an advance visit.

however, said age is an issue with stamina, especially in nonstop operations
during a year’s assignment to Iraq. “The longer (it) goes, I think it
gets harder and harder for the older soldiers,” he said.

New York has
more than 21,000 Guard and militia members, with about 5,000 now on active
duty, including 1,500 in Iraq. Another 1,200 recently mobilized New York
members of the 42nd are at Fort Drum training for Iraq.

Soldiers can
overcome some of the challenges by taking care of themselves and staying fit.
The 42nd soldiers were tested in the first 25 days of predeployment training
and broken into ability groups, “gradually ramping them up to the same
level of fitness,” Fearnside said.

If physical
issues came up in the first 25 days, soldiers can be relieved from active
duty. After that, they may be sent to schools for training in specialized
areas such as computer technology, he said.

The 42nd
Infantry is also being trained in live-fire convoy exercises and identifying
and responding to roadside bombs, a frequent cause of death for U.S. soldiers
in Iraq.

The state
also has more than 9,000 soldiers in Army Reserve units, with about 900 from
the 77th Regional Readiness Command now on active duty in Iraq and

Last month,
as 3,000 soldiers from the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment in east Tennessee
were preparing to deploy, Lt. Col. Wayne Honeycutt said older soldiers aren’t
as fit, but they are more seasoned.

not as apt to get excited as a young person when things get exciting,”
said Honeycutt, who was a sailor in Vietnam.

Sgt. Andrew
Ciepiela, 31, served in the first Gulf War when he was just 18. Now a member
of New York’s 42nd Infantry guard unit, he was calm as he left for training,
despite lingering concerns about custody of his 5-year-old son.

“I feel
fine. I’m not nervous about going over,” he said.



TUBack to Table
of Contents


Connecticut National Guard
Expected to Deploy More Troops in Iraq

Associated Press State & Local Wire

July 27,


The Connecticut
Army National Guard
expects to deploy 50 more soldiers in the Iraq war,
with the possibility of hundreds more being called up, military officials
said Monday.

The latest
deployment includes pilots and maintenance specialists for the National
Guard’s Black Hawk helicopters, The Hartford Courant reported Tuesday.

The military
is handing down similar orders nationwide to prepare troops months in advance
for the next big rotation of forces to the war.

want to provide predictability for the soldiers and their families,”
said Lt. Col. Christopher Rodney, an Army spokesman based at the Pentagon.

The 50
guardsmen from Connecticut are with the 1st Battalion, 189th Aviation
Regiment based in Montana. About half the troops are from Company B and the
other half are from Detachment 1 of Company D.

Company B
flies the UH-60 Black Hawks, while Company D maintains them. The helicopters
are able to ferry cargo, transport personnel, aid in rescues and offer combat

Maj. John
Whitford, a state Guard spokesman, said the soldiers are expected to report
to Fort Lewis, Wash., in September.

“A few
hundred” more members of the 189th Aviation Regiment may soon be called
up, said Maj. Gen. William Cugno, head of the state’s Guard.

The U.S.
military has sent two major rotations of troops to serve in “Operation
Iraqi Freedom.” The new deployments represent the third rotation –
though the second is barely half over.

It has been
almost eight months since the 118th Medical Battalion and part of the 102nd
Infantry left Connecticut in the second rotation. Both units, totaling about
155 soldiers, were told to expect 18-month tours.

The 102nd is
working on the outskirts of Baghdad, where it lost Sgt. Felix Del Greco Jr.
of Simsbury in its first days there. He was the first Connecticut guardsman
to die in the war. The 118th is scattered across the country.

The soldiers
of the 189th Aviation were alerted some time ago, Cugno said. Other units got
the same alerts and may now be expecting mobilization, though he wouldn’t say
which ones.

Rodney said
the Army has been gradually sending out alerts, but actual overseas deployments
aren’t expected until “later in the fall.”

had about 1,700 soldiers and airmen overseas in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait
at the height of recent deployments, representing about a third of the
state’s Guard.


Guard Troops Receive Orders to
Mobilize to Iraq

Associated Press State & Local Wire

July 28,
2004, Wednesday

Topeka, Kan.

Topeka, Kan.
(AP) – An additional 1,100 Kansas Army National Guard troops
have received orders to mobilize for at least 15 months’ worth of active
duty, including up to a year in Iraq.

The soldiers
were put on alert for a possible mobilization in April and now represent the
largest mobilization of Kansas Guard soldiers since 1,500 soldiers were
mobilized in 2002 for peacekeeping duties in Bosnia-Herzegovinia.

Ordered to
report within the next 30 days are the 74th Quartermaster Company of Topeka;
891st Engineer Battalion, headquartered in Iola with companies in Pittsburg,
Coffeyville, Cherryvale, Fort Scott and Chanute; 137th Transportation
Company, headquartered in Olathe, with a detachment in St. Marys, and Battery
E, 161st Field Artillery, headquartered in Larned with a detachment in Great

The Adjutant
General’s Department did not have a timeline for when the soldiers would
deploy, but the troops are expected to be sent somewhere in Iraq.

Tuesday’s announcement, 1,690 Kansas Army National Guard soldiers are either
mobilized or deployed, or about 31 percent of the state’s strength, said
spokeswoman Joy Moser.

need to assure people that we still have enough people to take care of the
people at home,” Moser said. “That’s not going to be a


Plan to Extend National Guard Duty Denied

TAssociated Press T

July 22, 2004

– Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday he has no plan to
extend the mobilization of
National Guard soldiers whose active-duty commitments
are about to expire, but other officials said it was under consideration for
about 450 Guardsmen from Arkansas.

was asked about a Los Angeles Times report that David Chu, the Pentagon’s
personnel chief, was considering waiving the 24-month mobilization limit for
certain Arkansas Guardsmen in Iraq.

we don’t plan at the moment to extend people beyond the 24 months,”
Rumsfeld said, then quickly added: “Although one should never say never.
And we are at war.”

an appearance before the House Armed Services Committee, Gen. Peter
Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, seemed to indicate that the matter was
about to be resolved.

decision is in progress,” Schoomaker said, adding that it was up to

Times reported that the decision would affect about 450 soldiers of the
Arkansas National Guard who have been in Iraq with the 39th Brigade Combat
Team since April. The soldiers were first mobilized after the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks and sent to the Sinai Peninsula on a peacekeeping rotation.

Pentagon’s policy is to not keep members of the National Guard and Reserve on
active duty for more than 24 months, although Rumsfeld noted in his remarks
Wednesday that the law defines the limitation as 24 consecutive months,
whereas the Pentagon’s practice has been to limit it to 24 cumulative months.
The cumulative total for the Arkansas Guardsmen in Iraq will reach 24 in
September, although they will not have been on active duty for 24 consecutive

related Pentagon policy is to limit all troops’ time inside Iraq to 12
months, although that limit was exceeded this spring and summer by thousands
of 1st Armored Division and 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment soldiers who were
kept there in response to a surge in anti-occupation violence.

said he believes the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq is winning the
battle against an insurgency that has begun focusing attacks more on Iraqi
civilians and Iraqi infrastructure.

new strategy is proving them, very visibly, to be enemies of the Iraqi
people. And they’re losing,” he said. “They’re losing because hope
is spreading and progress is continuing.”

added, however, that he could not rule out putting even more American forces
into Iraq.

going to see this through,” he said. “And if it takes additional
force, it will take additional forces. If we’re able to pass off more and
more responsibility, as we believe we ought to be able to, to the Iraqis,
then it’ll take less.”

There are now
about 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and about 20,000 from other coalition


Army to Call Up
5,600 IRR Soldiers

TBy Joe Burlas T

TArmy News Service T

TJuly 01, 2004T


— The Army plans to order 5,600 Soldier in the Individual Ready Reserve to
active duty for possible deployment with the next Operations Iraqi Freedom
and Enduring Freedom rotations.

notifying those Soldiers to expect mobilization orders within a week could
hit their mailboxes as early as July 6, according to officials who announced
the measure in Pentagon press briefing June 30.

Soldiers called up will have 30 days from the date the orders were issued to
take care of personal business before having to report to a mobilization
site, officials said. The orders call for 18 months of active duty, but that
could be extended for a total of 24 months if needed, they said.

IRR call-up does not impact retired Soldiers, contrary to several civilian
media reports on the subject that appeared on television and newspapers June
29 and 30.

dipping into an available manpower pool,” said Robert Smiley, principal
assistant for Training, Readiness and Mobilization, Office of the Assistant
Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. “This is just
good personnel management.”

IRR primarily consists of Soldiers who have served their contracted time on
active duty or in an Army Reserve Troop Program Unit, but still have a
military service obligation to fulfill, said Col. Debra Cook, commander for
Human Resources Command – St. Louis, the Reserve’s personnel management

mandates under Title 10 of the U.S. Code that all services have an IRR.

Soldier, enlisted or commissioned, has an eight-year military service
obligation when he or she joins the Army, Cook said. Often, that commitment
is divided between active duty or a TPU assignment and the IRR.

might have one Soldier sign up for four years on active duty, who then has a
four-year IRR commitment, and another Soldier who signs up to serve with a
Ready Reserve unit for six years and two years in the IRR — both have IRR
commitments to meet their military service obligations,” Cook said.
“The enlistment contract spells out exactly what the division is between
how long they serve on active duty or a Ready Reserve unit and how long in
the IRR.”

is not the first time the Army has used the IRR to fill its manpower needs.
During the Gulf War, more than 20,000 IRR Soldiers were mobilized and
deployed. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Army has called
up more than 2,500 IRR Soldiers — the majority through IRR volunteers,
though some have been involuntary call-ups.

main purpose of this IRR call-up is to fill personnel shortfalls in a number
Reserve and National Guard
units that have been tagged to deploy
overseas as part of the OIF 3 and OEF 6 rotations planned for late fall,
Smiley said. Many of the personnel shortfalls are for Soldiers already
assigned to the deploying units who are not deployable due to medical, family
or legal issues, he said.

actual mobilization and deployment requirement is for about 4,400 Soldiers,
but personnel officials expect to find some of the IRR Soldiers with similar
medical, family and legal issues that may keep them from being deployable.

speaking, the Army needs to mobilize about 13 IRR Soldiers to get 10
deployable Soldiers, said Raymond Robinson, G1 chief of Operations.

called-up IRR Soldiers will spend about 30 days at a mobilization
installation, getting checks to see if they are qualified for deployment,
getting individual weapons qualification, conducting Common Task Testing and
receiving training in a number of warrior tasks that reflect the realities of
today’s operating environment, including how to recognize an improvised
explosive devise and reacting to an ambush.

who do not pass the readiness muster at the mobilization installation for
reasons including anything from medical and legal reasons to physical
challenges may be disqualified and sent home, Robinson said. Those who pass
the muster will be sent on to military occupational specialty schools to get
refresher training, normally lasting between two to four weeks. The final
stop is joining the deploying unit at least 30 days before deployment for
collective training as a unit.

the specific jobs the called-up Soldiers will fill are varied, Cook said the
heaviest requirements include truck drivers, mechanics, logistics personnel and
administrative specialists.

will not deploy any Soldier who is not trained or ready,” said Bernard
Oliphant, deputy for the Army Operations Center’s Mobilization Division, G3.

of June 22, the IRR contained slightly more than 111,000 Soldiers.




TUBack to Table
of Contents


Kentucky Airmen Return After
Deployment in Europe

Associated Press State & Local Wire

July 26, 2004,
Monday, BC cycle


Kentucky Air National Guard troops returned home Sunday after
spending anywhere from a month to three months flying supplies from Germany
to forces operating in Bosnia and other parts of Europe.

soldiers, part of the guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, were greeted by about 40
family and friends.

Mary Leighty
of Crestwood hadn’t seen her son, Senior Airman James Thuss, in 30 days.

wanted a cookout when he came home,” she said. “We’re grilling out
for him.”

The airmen
were working on Operation Joint Forge and are home for a 30-day break.

About 100
members of the Kentucky Air Guard remain on federal active duty to support
missions at home and various places around the world, said Capt. Dale Greer,
a spokesman for the Guard.

For some,
waiting for loved ones to come home has become a common occurrence.

Leigh Ann
Campbell of Lanesville, Ind., said that even though her husband, Staff Sgt.
James Campbell, has been deployed many times, it’s never easy on her for him
to be away.

emotionally not having him with you is hard,” she said. “He’s my
best friend.”

For Thuss,
having nothing in particular to do sounded good.

“I just
want to play horseshoes and just hang out,” he said.


Word Handed Down that Some in 39th Going Home

Associated Press State & Local Wire

July 28, 2004, Wednesday, BC cycle


More than
400 soldiers with Arkansas’ 39th Infantry Brigade have gotten word that they
will be going home this fall, a newspaper reported.

The fate of
the soldiers, who served in the Sinai Peninsula in 2002 and who represent the
largest group to have served in missions prior to Iraq, has been up in the

Last week,
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he had no plan to extend their
tour, but Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, said a decision
was “in progress” and added that it was up to Rumsfeld.

Brig. Gen.
Ron Chastain, commander of the 39th, said Tuesday that Army officials
“are not going to extend them (the soldiers’ tour),” the Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette, whose reporter Amy Schlesing is embedded with the brigade,
reported Wednesday.

The plan
that they would leave earlier than the rest of the brigade has not been
submitted in writing but has been orally passed down from the Pentagon, the
newspaper said.

There was no
immediate timetable for their return to Arkansas nor a plan for their
replacements, but the soldiers were expected to return home in late November
or early December in accordance with the Department of the Army policy.

The plan
affects 274 soldiers in the brigade’s 3rd Battalion and about 150 more from
the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment of Oregon’s National
which is attached to the 39th. About 2,800 Arkansas Guard troops
currently are serving with the 39th.

Federal law
states that National Guard and Reserve soldiers are to serve no more than 24 consecutive
months, which wouldn’t affect any of the soldiers of the brigade. But
according to Army policy, Guard and Reserve forces are not to serve on the
same active-duty mission for more than 24 cumulative months.

The policy
will affect the 424 soldiers who participated in a multi-national force two
years ago enforcing the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. They returned
home, then were sent overseas again to Iraq.

The soldiers
can volunteer to stay for the rest of the battalion’s yearlong tour, which is
expected to end by March.

don’t know at what level, but somewhere in Washington they’re looking at
incentives for those who choose to stay,” Chastain said.


A Very Happy Landing for
Local National Guard Crew; Well-Wishers Greet Members of The 146th Airlift
Wing as They Return to Their Base Near Oxnard from a Tour of Duty in the
Middle East

Los Angeles Times

July 30, 2004 Friday 

Ventura County Edition

By Gregory W. Griggs, Times Staff Writer

After spending five days flying home
from the Middle East, Maj. David Bakos couldn’t resist a little flourish
Thursday as he steered a C-130 transport plane on its final approach to Channel
Islands Air National Guard Station
near Oxnard.

At 1:30 p.m., with more than 70
friends, family members and other Guard personnel standing at the tarmac’s
edge, Bakos flew low above the crowd, banked and dipped the wing of the

“That was kind of a salute to
everyone, a way to say, ‘We’re back. Mission accomplished,’ ” said the
38-year-old pilot, who was returning home with 15 others after completing
their tour of duty about 36 miles south of the Iraq border, in Kuwait. Eleven
other members returned Monday on commercial aircraft.

Since operations Iraqi Freedom and
Enduring Freedom began in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 146th Airlift Wing has
sent about 1,100 people and five cargo planes to the Middle East. Maj. Brian
Kelly said 72 people from the wing, mostly flight nurses and security
personnel, remained in the region.

The transport planes, named for the
cities of Camarillo, Fillmore, Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Thousand Oaks, have
returned to the Guard station until the next deployment, which could come as
early as December.

Bakos, a 1983 graduate of Westlake High
School, said the journey home began Saturday and included stops in Romania,
Ireland, Newfoundland and Minnesota.

As the last of the operations and
maintenance crew taxied out of Kuwait, he said, “There was a collective
scream. There’s some stress that builds up. To know you’re leaving for good,
it gives you a great feeling.”

Operating in an area where planes
regularly come under fire kept the crew alert and focused, he said.

Bakos, who has been with the 146th for
18 years, has seen action before, including stints during the invasion of
Panama and during the Gulf War. In October he was sent to the Middle East,
where he dropped off Marines, jeeps and supplies in Baghdad and other areas
while working 14- to 16-hour days. He went again three weeks ago, to replace
another pilot who needed to return home early.

“I gave up the good life for
this,” joked Bakos, on leave from American Airlines, where his regular
commercial route takes him from Los Angeles International Airport to four
Hawaiian islands. “Trust me, you won’t mistake downtown Honolulu for

Along with family members from Westlake
Village and Thousand Oaks — Bakos’ parents, an aunt, uncle, cousin and niece
— was his girlfriend, Susan Taylor.

“I’m overjoyed,” said his
mother, Susan Hamilton, before snapping another photo. “But I want them
all home safe, not just my son.”

Kaci Pennington, 23, drove down from
Fresno to pick up her fiancé, Capt. Christopher Lutz, 32, and brought him a
colorful bouquet.

“An outstanding surprise. Usually
it’s the other way around,” Lutz said of the flowers while hugging his
future wife, who flies Blackhawk helicopters for the Army National Guard.

“Most people can’t believe
it,” Lutz said of having two pilots in the family. “It’s easy going
home and talk shop.”

The couple plan to marry Aug. 15 in
Avila Beach, but won’t have long to honeymoon. Pennington has orders to ship
out Sept. 11 for a one-year deployment to Iraq.


TUBack to Table
of Contents


Few Troops Get
Disability Pay

TAssociated Press

August 2,

– Nearly one-third of the
National Guard and Reserve troops returning from war
with illnesses or injuries are forced to wait more than four months to learn
whether they’ll be compensated under the military’s disability system.

only one problem in a compensation system that can be as unforgiving as the
battlefield. Fewer than one in 10 applicants receives the long-term
disability payments they request.

Army knows the troops are
unhappy. But military officials say soldiers do not understand that their
disability system measures fitness for duty, not the degree of one’s

soldiers applying for disability pay – 56 percent in the Army’s case – are
leaving service with a one-time, lump-sum payment some say is inadequate.

Oliveras, a chief warrant officer in an Augusta, Ga., reserve unit, was among
those ordered back to duty without compensation.

said doctors wrote on his records that he had a hearing loss. He contends
they gave little recognition to his real problems: debilitating back and shoulder
injuries. Despite those injuries, the maintenance technician volunteered for
service in Iraq.

times I felt lousy, as a second-class citizen, especially coming from a war
zone,” Oliveras said. “They sent us to fight an enemy and when we
returned, we had to fight another enemy – us.”

said he accepted the fit-for-duty ruling because he is eligible for regular
military retirement in three years.

military’s disability system resembles workers’ compensation and long-term
disability in the private sector. It pays people when they have illnesses and
injuries that are job-related.

military, however, looks at a much narrower set of circumstances than
insurers or the Department of Veterans Affairs. It only evaluates ailments
that make a soldier unfit for duty in his or her specialty. For example, can
an infantryman still run?

more generous VA compensation system considers all service-connected medical

who receive disability compensation from the military also can apply to the
VA for disability pay. The military compensation is needed, however, to tide
a soldier over while waiting for the VA. The department recently was
averaging 171 days to make initial disability decisions.

the VA’s disability compensation kicks in, it usually replaces military pay.
Recipients cannot benefit from both systems at the same time.

the military system, the Army says, many soldiers misunderstand that pain by
itself won’t win them compensation.

can’t be retired on pain claims alone,” said Dennis Brower, legal
adviser to the Army Disability Agency. “Pain is unmeasurable. It’s

Army does not keep statistics on the dollar amounts of disability payouts
because they are based on a formula that includes a percentage assigned to
each soldier’s disability. But it does maintain records on how many
applicants for long-term disability receive compensation.

majority, 56.1 percent, were given a one-time, lump-sum payment in 2003.
Seventeen percent received nothing because they either were declared fit for
duty or determined to suffer injuries unrelated to their service or due to

additional 17.1 percent received temporary disability payments that can be
reviewed within five years. And just 9.8 percent won long-term disability pay
that lasts for life.

Anderson of Ninety-Six, S.C., said she suffered a life-altering injury to her
back while under fire in Iraq last year. In constant pain, she was jolted
anew when the Army calculated her compensation for medical retirement at

feel I was treated very unfairly,” said Anderson, who did not return to
her prewar job as a dialysis technician and is raising her 4-year-old
daughter. “I didn’t get adequate care. I feel like I’m useless most of
the time.”

the lawyer for the Army disability agency, said, “You can’t give higher
disability ratings to soldiers who you feel emotionally deserve it. It would
be nice to give every soldier 100 percent (disability), but as a taxpayer,
you might not like that.”

particularly National Guard and Reserve members, also complain about long
delays in medical diagnosis and treatment before they can receive a
determination of disability.

Michael Deaton of the Army surgeon general’s office said that as of late
June, 32 percent of the activated Guard and Reserve members were in a medical
holdover status more than 120 days. That compares with 41 percent in

program that allows soldiers to be treated near where they live has helped to
reduce waiting times for medical care, he said.

John Ramsey, a deputy sheriff in Orange County, Fla., had medical bills in
the thousands of dollars and was dogged by creditors. Meanwhile, the state
and federal governments fought over responsibility for his shoulder injuries
suffered in Iraq.

wife and I and two kids were put through hell because of this,” Ramsey

John Beard of Jacksonville, Fla., who returned from Iraq with shrapnel wounds
in his back, legs and face, said he painfully waited in long lines for
processing. On one occasion, confronting an irritable soldier handling pay
records, Beard said, “I snatched my orders out of his hands and

Sgt. Dwayne Fitzpatrick of Orlando, Fla., won his appeal of an initial offer
of a one-time, $23,000 severance payment. He qualified instead for a
disability payment of $1,300 a month.

“They dangle some money in your
face, so many soldiers will take it and run,” he said. “They
low-ball everybody. I’m looking at the long term.”


Retroactive Reimbursement Available for
R&R Leave

Service members who traveled on rest and recuperation
leave while deployed supporting operations Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom
between Sept. 25 and Dec. 18, may be eligible for reimbursement of airline
costs. Reimbursement for airline costs is retroactive for those people who
paid for commercial airline tickets from the port they flew into from
overseas, such as Baltimore-Washington International Airport, to their final
leave destination. According to records, about 40,000 service members
traveled during the period. More information is available at


Labor Department Grants of
Nearly $380,000 to Help Job-Seeking Veterans in Florida, Oregon and

WASHINGTON—U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao today announced
three grants totaling $377, 677 that will provide training and employment
services to veterans in Florida, Oregon and Washington.

“These grants
provide support for veterans looking for good jobs,” said Secretary of Labor
Chao. “These men and women served their country proudly. President Bush and I
are committed to ensuring that every veteran who wants a job can find one,
and that no veteran is left behind.”

The grantees
are First Coast Workforce Development, Inc., of Orange Park, Fla., receiving
$85,800; County of Clackamus, Marylhurst, Ore., receiving $195,609; and State
of Washington, Department of Veterans Affairs, Olympia, Wash., receiving

The Department
of Labor’s (DOL) Veterans Employment and Training Services is awarding these
grants through the Workforce Investment Act’s Veterans’ Workforce Investment
Program (VWIP).

veterans include those recently separated, those who served in a military
campaign or war, and those who sustained an injury while on active duty. Also
included are veterans identified as having significant barriers to
employment, including ex-offenders and the homeless. At the local level,
officials may expand the definition of significant barriers to include
veterans who are older, female or Native American.

These grants
are designed to help veterans overcome employment barriers and ease their
transition into unsubsidized employment. Training and placement programs are
developed and operated by an entity designated by the governor of each state
receiving a grant.

Through these
programs, veterans will have access to skills assessment, individual job
counseling, labor market information, classroom or on-the-job training,
skills upgrading and retraining, and placement services. Veterans receiving
assistance under VWIP may also be eligible for services under other Workforce
Investment Act programs that serve economically disadvantaged or dislocated

For more information on DOL’s unemployment and
re-employment programs, go to



TUBack to Table
of Contents


S.C. Soldiers Stay Positive
in War; Many Note Good Work Being Done to Benefit Iraqis

The Myrtle
Beach Sun-News

July 26, 2004

By Chuck
Crumbo; Knight Ridder


convoys have been attacked. Their camps have been mortared. And a few have
been wounded.

Still, there
is a feeling among the 1,600 citizen-soldiers from South Carolina – members
of the S.C. National Guard and Army Reserve – that the Iraq war
is going well.

commanders see evidence that the vast majority of Iraqis want freedom and
want the United States to succeed in Iraq, they said in e-mail interviews.

recently saw a report in which an artist in Baghdad had done art protesting
the treatment of prisoners,” said Lt. Col. Butch Jacobs, commander of
the S.C. National Guard’s Florence-based 51st Rear Area Operations Center.
“Two years ago, there was no freedom of expression.”

Army Reserve
Maj. Ricky Smith, commander of the 175th Maintenance Company, is convinced
the war is being fought for a just cause. His troops believe they are making
life safer for the families, friends and neighbors they have left behind, he

soldiers have given their lives to save our country from terrorists bringing
war to our doorstep,” said Smith, whose 220-soldier unit is based at
Fort Jackson. “We [must] remember this is a real war.”

against U.S. troops are being launched by an Iraqi minority, the commanders
said. The average Iraqi, they say, is trying to get by and take care of his

“I feel
the locals welcome the Americans,” said National Guard Lt. Jon Alexander,
commander of Kingstree’s 1052nd Transportation Company. “They know that
we are not here to oppress them, as was the case under the Saddam regime.

understand that our primary mission is to provide a safe and secure
environment in which they can work and live.”


Iraq today
is a dangerous place for U.S. soldiers, just as it was in the initial weeks
of the war, which started in spring 2003.

Troops –
even those stationed in Kuwait – are not allowed off their bases unless they
are on a mission. They travel in fast-moving convoys.

Kingstree unit hauls food, water, ammunition and spare parts throughout Iraq
and Kuwait.

time I send convoys out, I pray that God would cover them with his protection
until they safely return to camp,” he said.

To better
protect convoys, the Army has reincarnated gun trucks, similar to those used
in the Vietnam War, Alexander said.

gun trucks help ensure that each convoy makes it to its destination,”
said Alexander, whose unit is based in the Sunni Triangle, 60 miles from

Taking the

The biggest
adjustment the S.C. soldiers face is dealing with the heat, commanders said.

heat is a constant threat, more so than enemy contact,” said Alexander,
27, a real estate appraiser from Cheraw. “Right now, the average
temperature in the morning is 80-85 [degrees] spiking at 115 in the

Most of the
guard and reserve units from South Carolina have completed five months of
their yearlong deployment to the Persian Gulf.

Most camps
have exercise rooms and a place to watch movies, and the troops take part in
barbecues. They keep in touch with home via e-mail and occasional phone

Morale is
good, the commanders said, and troops are beginning to take two-week leaves
to visit their families.


Road-Building Takes Troops into Danger

28, 2004

By Jon R. Anderson,

and Stripes

European Edition

OPERATING BASE TIGER, Afghanistan — The road from Kandahar to Tarin Kowt
snakes its way through
Afghanistan’s southern badlands like a desert viper
— long, dusty and dangerous.

small contingent of soldiers, however, has come to tame the snake.

mostly from the
and New York National Guard
, a combat engineer task force has staked out
a new bare-bones outpost about an hour north of Kandahar. Afghan crews
already have started building the two-lane highway that will mark the first
leg out of Kandahar. The Guardsmen will take it the rest of the way.

places little more than a goat trail, the tire-shredding, bone-jarring
75-mile stretch of road is currently a full day’s marathon in only the most
hardy four-wheel drive vehicle.

over narrow, mile-high mountain passes, through ancient medieval villages and
across rocky desert moonscapes covered in inches of thick dust, the road runs
through territory that is treacherous in more ways than one.

the United States invaded Afghanistan three years ago and put Kandahar under
siege, most of the Taliban’s top leaders fled to Tarin Kowt.

remote capital of the Uruzgan province, Tarin Kowt is the birthplace of
Mullah Omar, the regime’s founding leader. The village and its surrounding
mountains are also among the places U.S. intelligence suspect Osama bin Laden
may be hiding.


military leaders still openly cede the area as a Taliban stronghold. A few
hundred National Guard engineers will now build a road straight into the
Taliban heartland.

going through some pretty rough country,” said project manager Capt. Chuck
Hudson, from his new command post scratched out of the desert floor earlier
this month and dubbed Forward Operating Base Tiger.

the bulk of the task force coming from the Louisiana National Guard’s 528th
Combat Engineer Battalion, FOB Tiger is named in honor of the Louisiana State
University mascot.

Spartan camp offers few comforts: no phones, e-mail or air conditioning, and
showers only run when the 100-gallon water tank has been filled.

the outpost hasn’t been attacked yet, leaders say it’s only a matter of time.

probably jump the FOB six or seven times,” said Hudson of the camp that will
follow the construction. And with each jump, they’ll move deeper into Taliban

why combat engineers got this job, Hudson said.

civilian aid groups have been putting in most of Afghanistan’s new roads,
this is an area few dare tread.

one else will do it,” Hudson said.

hope the road will bring new stability to the region.

did the Romans tame the empire?” asked Col. Richard Pedersen, commander of
the 25th Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade and Task Force Bronco, which
oversees Afghanistan’s southern front.


as those roads allowed quicker supply and reinforcement of legionnaire
outposts, they also ushered in improved trade routes. Pedersen said this road
should help Afghanistan’s central government extend its influence while
offering new economic opportunities for those who live there.

are the key,” Pedersen said. “And this one is pretty damn important.”

completed by the end of next year, assuming the project proceeds as planned,
the new highway will cut the drive between the two cities from 12 hours to
less than three.


local Afghan militia forces, a contingent of Humvee-mounted scouts and OH-58
Kiowa Warrior helicopters from the 25th ID’s 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry
Regiment have been enlisted to help provide security. The troops say they are
prepared for what could be a running gun battle as construction moves north.

always nervous, any way you look at it,” said Staff Sgt. Paul Vance, a heavy
equipment operator. In addition to the lurking Taliban fighters who have been
increasingly harassing convoys and patrols in the area, he worried the
militia units providing security could just as easily have turned in black
Taliban turbans for the black ball caps they now wear.

don’t really know where their loyalties are,” he said. Regardless, he added,
“the bad guys are out there — somewhere.”

“it’s a job, someone’s gotta do it.”

said they’d welcome a fight.

’em on,” said task force civil engineer Capt. Stephen Harper, as a team of
his surveyors, Cpl. Jarrod McNeal and Staff Sgt. James Dearman, plot out the
first stretch of highway in withering, early-morning heat last week.

can take whatever they want to try and dish out,” he said.


real fight, said Harper, a Rockwell, Texas, construction manager in civilian
life, will be one of logistics.

single biggest challenge is going to be water,” he said. “You can’t build a
road without water, lots of water.”

can be hard to find during southern Afghanistan’s blistering summer months
where temperatures routinely top 100 degrees.

a project this size, crews need to spray 40,000 gallons of water a day to

materials to compact properly under heavy, earth-rattling rollers.

had thought a reservoir from a nearby dam would provide an ample supply. But
that was before the summer drought drained most of it.

teams are exploring ways to tap what’s left without bogging tankers down in
the mudflats, Afghan drillers have been contracted to try and bore into
underground aquifers.

the Guardsmen are battling on a second logistics front.

equipment has been here since May 2002,” Harper said. “And most of it was
antiquated before it ever got here.” He knows because he brought over most of
it during his first deployment to Afghanistan.

80 bulldozers, scrapers, graders, dump trucks and other heavy equipment
critical for project “have been eaten up over here.”

he said, can take weeks to arrive. “And if that’s for a piece of prime
equipment, that’s a long time to wait,” he said.

are becoming a huge deal,” he added. No fewer than five tires blew out in a
single day of construction last week.

solve these problems,” brigade commander Pedersen told the engineers during a
visit to the construction site last week.

road will go through, he promised. The viper will be tamed.



TUBack to Table
of Contents


Families Pull Together as
Iraq War Pulls Them Apart; Prolonged Deployment Weighs Heavily On Children


July 28, 2004

By Marilyn

Rowan Callahan’s
festive fifth birthday party Sunday had everything a little boy could want
for the celebration — except his daddy.

As Rowan,
his friends and family enjoyed the party at a Bellevue, Wash., park, his
father, Jake Callahan, was at a base in Iraq that’s under constant threat.
Callahan, 39, a telecommunications executive called up for National Guard
duty in November, won’t return until next spring.

Rowan has
been clingy at preschool, he’s wanted to sleep with his mom at times
“and there are days when he just wants to cuddle and cry,” says his
mother, Kathleen Callahan. His sister, Meghan, 2, “asks for daddy all
the time. She’ll come up to me looking sad, point to her heart and say
‘Mommy, daddy in my heart,’ because that’s what I’ve told her. But if she sees
people in uniform, she just runs toward them, screaming ‘Daddy, daddy!’
” Kathleen Callahan says.

reactions are normal, psychologists say. The Callahans aren’t alone in their
challenges: 174,800 kids under 18 have been left behind by U.S. soldiers
deployed to Iraq.

will report on how the families of deployed soldiers are faring at the
American Psychological Association meeting in Honolulu, starting today.

seeing a lot of anxiety and worry in these kids,” says Army Maj. Ingrid
Jurich, chief of child and adolescent psychology at Brooke Army Medical
Center in San Antonio. Although the majority seem to be coping reasonably
well, nightmares, disobedience, refusal to attend school and sadness are
common, she adds.

problems vary by age. Preschoolers often feel abandoned, says school
psychologist Lance Garrison of Dallas. Also, they lack verbal skills to
express their emotions, so anxiety may lead to regression — clinginess and
behaviors they’d outgrown.

school kids understand concepts better and can be reassured by adults,
Garrison says. But since they also realize the dangers, they can suffer from
anxieties or depression, he says. Teens may become defiant.

matters, too. Boys are more likely to act out, while girls become sullen and
withdrawn, says Army Col. Thomas Hardaway, a child psychiatrist and chief of
behavioral medicine at Brooke Army Medical Center.

The military
provides support groups and counseling for families, says Delores Johnson,
director of family programs for the Army. Another benefit: Partnerships with
Boys and Girls Clubs allow military kids to enjoy activities off base. And
consultants hired by the military are training school counselors in how to
help kids with deployment-related troubles.

programs work best for families living on or near bases, says Julia Pfaff,
executive director of the National Military Family Association (NMFA), an
advocacy and support group. For many reservists and National Guard soldiers
called up, especially those far from large cities, “the density of
support is just not there,” she says.

Sudden duty
extensions of up to 18 months, along with redeployments after a return, also
have been rough on kids, Pfaff says.

expectations are key for a good adjustment, and many military couples have
outdated expectations, says Army Col. Lyle Carlson, psychology chief at
Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu.

In recent
decades, adults often enlisted for educational benefits or adventure
“and never expected to go to war,” Carlson says. But after 9/11
“service people must expect to be deployed about 50% of their
careers,” he says.

wives feel they didn’t sign up for that.” Carlson says his son’s unit in
Iraq has an 80% divorce rate.”

With yo-yo
deployments, kids need a stable caregiver, Pfaff says.

McDonald, 37, has tried to be that for her sister’s child, 5-year-old Mya
Hawkins. Mya’s mom, Army Staff Sgt. Demetria Hawkins, is a single mother who
was sent to Iraq last year, returned to Georgia in January and is going back
to Iraq this fall.

McDonald, a
single woman, works full time and lives in a one-bedroom apartment in
Hyattsville, Md. just outside Washington. She took Mya to live with her last
year after the first deployment, then returned her to her mom in January. But
Mya is back with her aunt as her mother prepares to deploy again.

missed her mom terribly at first, and now it’s a little better, though she
still wants her mother . . . It wasn’t easy for either of us, I mean I was
happy to be an auntie but never figured I would have this
responsibility,” McDonald says.

Her night
social life is basically shut down. “Well, I love my sister very, very
much, and I love Mya.” She doesn’t regret stepping up. “I have
learned patience,” she adds.

who’s juggling two preschoolers and a full-time job since the departure of
her husband, Jake, tries to keep things in perspective. “I think of Word
War II, when women didn’t see or hear from their husbands for years, and they
didn’t have professional training like we do, and had to go out and be Rosie
the Riveter.”

Still, even
though she’s in two support groups, Callahan thinks she could benefit from
counseling but has no time for it. Jake calls once or twice a week, so that’s
how she knows about the constant dangers he is facing.

“I try
to keep myself together and take good care of the kids,” she says,
“but the truth is, I’m very frightened.”



TUBack to Table
of Contents


A Life Redeemed, Then Cut
Short; Soldier Killed in Iraq Had Become Role Model After Troubled Teen Years
in Alexandria

Washington Post

30, 2004 Friday 


S. Mitra Kalita, Washington Post Staff Writer

DeForest L.
Talbert entered the alternative education program at T.C. Williams High
School the way a lot of students do — full of resentment. 

He was
raised by a single mother in a public housing complex in north Old Town
Alexandria. He spent much of his freshman year skipping class and talking
back to teachers. He was bright, athletic and good-looking — and he knew it,
recalled Carolyn Lewis, principal of the Secondary Training and Education
Program, which supports students who aren’t doing as well as they could.  

“He was
really in trouble in the streets,” Lewis said. 

Talbert was
supposed to try the program for a year — and stayed for three, thriving. By
senior year, he was a star running back on the football team, known to
teammates and fans as “Touchdown Talbert.” He became a mentor to
children from low-income families at a nearby preschool. Then he went to West
Virginia State College on a military scholarship and joined the Army National
dividing his time between service and school.

On Tuesday,
Talbert, 22, was killed in Baladruc, Iraq, when a bomb exploded near his
vehicle during a routine patrol with other members of the Guard’s 1st
Battalion, 150th Armor Regiment, based in Dunbar, W.Va. Department of Defense
officials said yesterday that the incident is under investigation.

Years after
he left Alexandria, teachers, police officers and children on the streets
still marveled at the transformation of “Dee,” as he was called,
from a tough-talking, troubled teenager to football star, responsible father
and Army sergeant. 

this kid who went through so many hurdles growing up in the inner city,”
said Jill Lingle, a George Washington Middle School resource police officer
who knows Talbert’s family. “Even the younger boys I know at the school
would talk about him. They’d say, ‘Did you see what Dee did?’ Everyone knew
he’d gone on to college. He was definitely a role model for these young kids
growing up in the same way.”

former teachers and mentors have crowded the Alexandria home of his mother,
Gloria Nesbitt, this week to offer condolences and support. 

girlfriend, Frances Hamilett, 22, said she had spent much of Monday at the
home she shared with him in Charleston, W.Va., trading instant messages with
him over the Internet. As always, he asked about their son, Deontae, who
turned 3 last week. 

were having regular conversation,” she said. “He didn’t want to go
on patrol. He kept saying he loved us and we would see him in August. I think
he felt something might happen. He kept saying, ‘Don’t get off the computer.’
It was like he knew something was going to happen.”

Wednesday, two Army officers arrived at Hamilett’s home and told her Talbert
was dead. She said she fell to her knees crying. 

They were
talking about marriage, she said, but no wedding date was set. They had had a
hard time in recent years, both emotionally and financially. They were
college freshmen when Hamilett became pregnant, and they feared that one or
both of them might have to drop out of school. Hamilett wants to be a social
worker; Talbert was studying communications. 

“It was
a struggle, but we overcame it,” Hamilett said. “While I was in
class, he would watch our son, and we went back and forth like that.”

 Deployed in February, Talbert kept in
frequent touch with his family, complaining of Iraq’s intense heat and
promising his son that he would be home to watch the next Dallas Cowboys
game. Hamilett said Talbert was not particularly patriotic or political but
had enrolled in the Army so they could stay in school and he could provide
for Deontae. 

“He wanted
to make sure he had money for our son,” Hamilett said. “The reason
he signed up was to have money to pay for school. It was a job. I don’t think
he ever thought he was going to war.” 

During the
last year, T.C. Williams students sent Talbert letters and care packages, and
Talbert wrote them back thanking them for their thoughts — and for making
him the envy of his fellow soldiers.

said he was the only one who got a lot of mail because we always wrote to
him,” Lewis said. 

Lewis said
Talbert never forgot his friends in Alexandria and reached out to them often
through the computer and telephone. His messages, she said, were filled with
humor and gratitude. 

“We are
a smaller learning community rather than a mainstream school,” Lewis
said. “We were his family.”

Lewis said
she received an e-mail from Talbert on Tuesday and regrets deeply that she
didn’t save it. 

want you to know that I’m fine,” it said. “It’s still hot.”



TUBack to Table
of Contents


Volunteers Link Soldiers,
Relatives with Donated Computers

The Associated Press State & Local

July 28, 2004, Wednesday, BC cycle

By Jordan Schrader, Des Moines Register

Waterloo, Iowa

If there’s one thing that can ease the
pain of separation for a couple who fell in love online, married and then
were split apart by war, it’s a computer.

But her computer was just what Bobby
Cones had to get rid of after she found out her husband, Paul, was off to

Cones, 22, whose first words to her
husband were written on an instant-messaging screen, could not afford the
luxury of a computer anymore with her husband away, college to pay for and
two children to take care of.

That made her the perfect candidate for
a program called Operation Noble E-mail.

Volunteers in Waterloo have made it
their mission to find computers for Iowa’s military families so they can
communicate more often with loved ones overseas. They distributed the first
batch of Internet-ready machines last week to families of National Guard
and Army Reserve soldiers.

It’s often
easier and cheaper to find an Internet terminal than a phone on military
bases abroad, said Staff Sgt. Sean Sejkora, who is helping to coordinate the
donation drive.

“A lot
of people have said, ‘I can get on the computer, but there’s a long line to
get to the phones, or it’ll cost me $5 to call home,”‘ Sejkora said.

He said he
hopes to distribute a couple of computers each week to families. Applications
so far have mostly come from National Guard and Reserve families in the Waterloo
area, but anyone who has a family member serving in the military overseas and
lacks a computer is eligible.

governments, colleges and businesses have donated more than 100 computers so
far. More than 30 of the usable machines have been repaired, outfitted with
Windows 98 and a modem, and readied for Internet access.

were distributed Wednesday, including one to Paul Cones’ wife and one to his
mother, Linda.

Bobby Cones
plans to e-mail her husband every night as soon as he and other members of
the Army Reserve’s 445th Transportation Company from Waterloo get to Iraq,
even if she cannot be sure how often he’ll be able to get online.

got a Web cam because we’ve had a computer before, and I’m going to try to
get it so he can see his kids,” she said.

photo updates, Paul Cones, 28, may hardly recognize 2-year-old Danny and
3-week-old Sarah when he comes home. He’s set to be in Iraq for 18 months,
said his wife, who already is counting the days until his return.

be married two years and 21 days when he comes home – and I’ve spent five
months with him,” she said.

The Cones
were just the type of family Lee Paradine of Waterloo had in mind when he
began the effort to wire Iowa’s military families.

68, founder of Citizens for Family Support of the Guard and Reserve, heard
last year that Chicago-area families were getting free computers. “I
thought, ‘Why can’t Iowa do that?”‘ he said.

Soon he
found out that many Iowans – such as those at Central College in Pella, the
American Institute of Business in Des Moines and the city of Waterloo – would
respond to his call.

employees at VGM Forbin in Waterloo heard about Paradine’s project. The
telecommunications firm offered to provide Internet access to the families in
its service area that received free computers.

cautioned families that Operation Noble E-mail volunteers will not offer
technical support.

they leave the premises, the computer is theirs,” he said.


Fund-Raiser Planned for Kosovo Event

Saint Paul
Pioneer Press (Minnesota)

July 28,
2004 Wednesday

donors have stepped forward with free beef and complimentary airline tickets.
Now a group of St. Paulites planning to serve a steak dinner to Minnesota
soldiers in Kosovo next month is seeking cash donations to help defray costs.

To that end,
organizers are hosting a fund-raising event from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. today at
Mancini’s Char House, 531 W. Seventh St.

Funds raised
will help pay to ship more than a ton of beef to Kosovo, a Serbian province
where more than 800 Minnesota Army National Guard troops are
serving as part of a NATO-led peacekeeping force.

The money
also will help pay transportation costs for a 16-member delegation that is
planning to prepare and serve the dinner Aug. 8. Northwest Airlines donated
round-trip tickets from the Twin Cities to Amsterdam, but the group is paying
for the rest of the journey.

So far, the
value of donated goods and services for the trip has topped $30,000,
organizers said. U.S. Foodservice donated the beef, and Ecolab has given

More than 40
restaurants and businesses also have promised to provide food for a noontime
meal at Xcel Energy Center for relatives of the Guard troops.

Among those
organizing the Kosovo dinner and the Xcel event are City Council Member Pat
Harris, restaurateur John Mancini, Peter Skinner of Skinner’s Pub and Eatery,
Dave Cossetta of Cossetta’s Italian Market and Dan O’Gara of O’Gara’s Bar
& Grill.


DOD Looks to
Directed Energy Weapons

Associated Press

August 2,

few months from now, Peter Anthony Schlesinger hopes to zap a laser beam at a
couple of chickens or other animals in a cage a few dozen yards away. If all
goes as planned, the chickens will be frozen in mid-cluck, their leg and wing
muscles paralyzed by an electrical charge created by the beam, even as their
heart and lungs function normally.

those most interested in the outcome will be officials at the Pentagon, who
helped fund Schlesinger’s work and are looking at this type of device to do a
lot more than just zap the cluck out of a chicken. Devices like these, known
as directed-energy weapons, could be used to fight wars in coming years.

you can do things at the speed of light, all sorts of new capabilities are
there,” said Delores Etter, a former undersecretary of defense for
science and technology and an advocate of directed-energy weapons.

energy could bring numerous advantages to the battlefield in places like Iraq
and Afghanistan, where U.S.
troops have had to deal with hostile but unarmed crowds as well as dangerous

from paralyzing potential attackers or noncombatants like a long-range stun
gun, directed-energy weapons could fry the electronics of missiles and
roadside bombs, developers say, or even disable a vehicle in a high-speed

most ambitious program is the Air Force’s Airborne Laser, a plan to mount a
laser on a modified Boeing 747 and use it to shoot down missiles.

the same Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico, researchers working
with Raytheon Co. have developed a weapon called the Active Denial System,
which repels adversaries by heating the water molecules in their skin with
microwave energy. The pain is so great that people flee immediately.

just feels like your skin is on fire,” said Rich Garcia, a spokesman for
the laboratory who, as a test subject, has felt the Active Denial System’s
heat. “When you get out of the path of the beam, or shut off the beam,
everything goes back to normal. There’s no residual pain.”

Humvee-mounted Active Denial weapon is expected to be given to all services
by the end of this year for evaluation, with a decision about deployment
expected by the end of 2005.

the idea of using directed energy against humans is creating debate fueled by
deaths allegedly caused by Taser stun guns and the alleged abuse of Iraqi
prisoners – which put the military’s respect for human rights under a

experts believe the use of directed energy will be limited by international
law and treaties.

it seems like it would be more desirable to disable rather than to kill them,
the problem is there are all sorts of treaties in place that limit how you
can disable noncombatants,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington
Institute, a defense think tank. “It’s kind of perverse, but sometimes
the backlog of old laws can get in the way of being humane.”

officials believe the intended uses of the Active Denial System do not
violate any international laws or treaties and do not cause any permanent
health problems.

can rest assured that with this system, when it finally is deployed, we will
be very, very clear about what the intended uses are and what is clearly
outside of bounds,” said Marine Corps Capt. Daniel McSweeney, spokesman
for the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. “It’s not intended to be
used as a torture device. That goes against all the design intentions and

into side effects of weaponized directed energy began in the late 1990s at
the Air Force’s Brooks City-Base in San Antonio. Researchers began by
reviewing studies of radio-frequency energy involved in military
communications, radar and other technologies, officials say.

testing of the Active Denial System began after researchers concluded it
could be used without permanent harm. More than 200 volunteers – including
some in their 70s – from various military branches and government agencies
were zapped with the system, on average about three times each.

results showed no lingering health problems, officials say.

type of device doesn’t penetrate very far,” said Lt. Col. William Roach,
chief of the radio frequency branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory.

the fact that studies on directed energy’s human effects haven’t been
released to the public has some outside the government worried.

Loye of the International Committee of the Red Cross has pleaded for more
disclosure of directed-energy research and independent investigation into
possible side effects.

energy may cause “new types of injuries we’re not aware of and may not
be capable of taking care of,” Loye said. “The message we try to
put across is: `We understand some companies are investing money, so maybe it
will be worthwhile for you to start the investigation as early as possible
and not to invest millions and millions and then 10 years down the line find
out your weapon will be illegal.'”

weapons’ developers, on the other hand, pitch them for their lifesaving

pinpoint accuracy of a laser could eliminate collateral damage caused by
missile explosions, the argument goes, and stun gun-like weapons could save
lives in hostage or bomb-threat situations. Directed energy also has the
potential to explode roadside bombs or mines from a distance.

dealing with the ability to pre-detonate the majority of improvised
explosives that are used right now,” said Pete Bitar, president of
Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems, an Anderson, Ind., company that is
developing a rifle-sized directed-energy gun for the Marines.

device works by creating an electrical charge through a stream of ionized
gas, or plasma.

says it could be tuned to target the electronics of a vehicle or explosive
device, or tuned to temporarily paralyze voluntary muscles, such as those
that control arms and legs. The involuntary muscles, like heart and lungs,
operate at a different frequency.

far, this and a handful of similar weapons are only in the prototype stage.
Production models, if approved by the military, would not be ready for a few

device being developed by Schlesinger’s company, HSV Technologies Inc. of San
Diego, will operate similarly to Bitar’s, except the electrical charge will
be created by an ultraviolet laser beam, rather than plasma. He, too, says
the device is designed for non-lethal purposes only.

on, as certain agencies or law enforcement gets involved in this, and they
see the need for lethality, I’m sure that can be developed later,”
Schlesinger said. “It could induce cardiac arrest, for example. But that
is not our patent, and not our intent.”

that potential is sure to make opponents of directed energy skeptical.

encouraging that the U.S. is searching for more humane weapons,” said
the Lexington Institute’s Thompson. “But it’s very hard to convince
other countries that our goals are ethical.”


Army Lends Aid to Hollywood

By Jacqueline

Army News Service

July 30, 2004

— When
moviemakers have a military angle in the plot, they often come to the Army
for help.

The Army has lent its services to
box-office hits such as “Clear and Present Danger,” “Air Force
One,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “We Were Soldiers,”
“The Sum of All Fears,” “Black Hawk Down” and most
recently this year’s “The Day After Tomorrow.”

Writer and director Roland Emmerich
of “The Day After Tomorrow” wanted the Army to help out in a movie
that showed the Army as a force for good. The turn of the plot would be
impossible without the Army coming in for a rescue, he said.

“We jumped on the opportunity,
went through the script with the producer and writer to help develop
scenarios, and then recommended some necessary changes for the Army’s
portrayal to keep things as accurate as possible for such a clearly
fantasy-based picture,” said Maj. Todd Breasseale, an Army liaison
officer to the entertainment industry, Office of the Chief of Public
Affairs-Los Angeles’ Office.

The Army does not accept every
project sent their way. OCPA-LA reviews each script, determines with the
production company exactly what level of support is requested, and recommends
disposition of the project to the Army’s chief of Public Affairs.

Once the Army has sent an official
request for permission to support a major production to the DoD, the special
assistant to the Secretary of Defense for audio/visual, if he concurs with
the Army’s assessment, will approve official support.

The Army also works routinely to
support television series. Recent support has included “The West
Wing,” “ER,” “Boston Public,” and “JAG.”
It also helps with made-for-TV-movies, most recently “Saving Jessica
Lynch,” which was the highest rated television movie for NBC in nearly
12 years.

“The Day After Tomorrow,”
which was released in May, dealt with a possible impact of the greenhouse
effect and global warming. The movie scenario included a worldwide disaster.
The plot had tornados, tidal waves and floods resulting in the beginning of a
new Ice Age.

The Arizona
and Texas Army National Guard

provided support for “The Day After Tomorrow” rescue scenes and
disaster-assistance segments shot on the Texas/Mexican boarder and the 10th
Mountain Division provided support for those scenes shot in Montreal, Canada.
The Army often finds units to help support production, but sometimes the
needed equipment has limited availability, leaving a small period of time for
shooting scenes. Production teams will juggle and redo their production
schedule to accommodate the Army.

Desert scenes in “The Day After
Tomorrow” were shot in El Paso, Texas, near Fort Bliss. Some Bradley
Fighting Vehicles and tanks were used to guard the movie’s
“embassy” in a scene built to replicate Mexico in Texas. Being able
to feature actual Army vehicles in scenes adds depth and helps make scenes
more interesting and realistic, Breasseale said.

“It becomes visually rich when
you add things to a scene in a movie that you would otherwise see if you were
in a real world situation,” Breasseale said.

For “The Day After
Tomorrow,” a fleet of Chinooks was requested for certain scenes to be
shot in Montreal, Canada. Because most of the Army’s domestic stocks of
Chinooks were committed globally, all but one of the Chinooks featured on
screen were computer generated.

Often rescue scenes are shot in
front of a blue screen, with background added later, saving a production time
and money.

In the case of “The Day After
Tomorrow,” the Army, with assistance from Fort Drum’s safety and risk
assessment office and the 10th Mountain Division’s A Co., 2-10 Aviation
Regiment, helped take a Black Hawk apart to fit in front of a blue screen on
an indoor set, which enabled the film crew to shoot scenes of the helicopter
from a variety of angles without actually having to move it around in the

Two Black Hawks were on standby
outside so that the minute filming wrapped indoors, they would be ready to
shoot during the critical time in order to capture the take off and landing
sequences necessary for the rescue scenes.

The hour before sunset where the
light takes on an orange glow is called “magic hour.” When looked
at through the camera lens, that light more closely resembles the light that
is falsely generated on a set, Breasseale said, making the hour before sunset
the most crucial time to shoot outside scenes.

The Army pulled support from the
Texas and Arizona National Guard for “The Day After Tomorrow.”
Soldiers from nearby Fort Bliss and Soldiers recently out of basic training
were contacted by their drill sergeant and asked to volunteer on their
weekend off to help out in some of the scenes and the majority of these
Soldiers ended up being used as extras in the movie.

“Even though it may not be
exactly how we would perform the operation, you have to keep in mind what the
camera sees and what a director’s vision is for what he wants to be on
screen. For instance, our Soldiers are usually spread out tactically in
further intervals in real operations than they are usually portrayed in many
scenes. In order to get all the men to fit in a camera frame, they bunch them
up,” said Breasseale.

Working with Soldiers from 2-10 Aviation
Regiment, Breasseale explained to the film’s script writer how helicopters
would conduct an aerial evacuation. They also explained how a refugee camp
could be run if the Army was in charge.

“Any chance we get to sit with
a writer and educate them, we take, because they are just trying to get the
script right for an increasingly sophisticated audience,” said

Common mistakes writers make include
military ribbons out of order on uniforms, qualifications a character could
not have received given her branch or gender, or ranks that are impossible to
attain in the Army for a character’s age.

“We tend to hear the Hollywood
version of military-speak on the radio that is wildly different than what we
actually hear in real life or even teach our Soldiers in school. There is a
lot of Hollywood “roger that’ and “over and out,’ which are two of
my pet peeves,'” Breasseale said.

“A movie that can portray our
Army as it truly is – as a positive force for good – or even a picture that
can further educate America about a particular aspect of the history of its
Army can do a lot to help bolster America’s understanding of its Army. If
parents with no military background view a well-done accurate movie about the
Army, they might consider the Army a good option for their child when she is
at an appropriate age,” Breasseale said.

TUBack to Table
of Contents