News You Can Use: Sep. 28, 2004

Index of Articles

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



Guard Gets Ready For Ivan

Calls; Louisiana National Guardsmen are Training Furiously In California,
Preparing For The Front Lines of Iraq.

On Guard – Idaho National Guard Members Train For
Their Turn In Iraq

Training Base Plan Gets Kudos; Security Experts
Praise Effort to Convert Muscatatuck Facility

Drill Aids Guard Team



Rell, Families Give Troops Send-Off

Kentucky Guard Unit Leaves For Iraq;
Family, Friends Give 24 Troops A Tearful Goodbye

Guard Soldiers Bound for Afghanistan Get Send-Off



Air Guard
Members Return From Iraq

North Dakota National Guard: Many Happy
Returns; Mayville Community Honors National Guard Unit Back Home



Legislators Approve Tax
Break For Citizen Soldiers

Cost; GAO Down
On Lower Reserve Retirement Age


The Role Of A Guardsman’s Wife

Profit, Pay Sacrificed
For War

Schools Handle Iraq War At

Counts Down to Husband’s Return; Soldier Called to Active Duty After Only Six
Months Together



Some War Wounded
Recover Far From Home

From Patrols In Iraq To Making It To Class On Time; Troops Called To
War Try To Adjust To Routine Of Life On OSU Campus



Small Town Mourns Loss Of Two Soldiers In Iraq

North Dakota Guardsman Killed By Bomb In Iraq

Oregon Guardsman Killed in
Roadside Explosion



Indiana Trade Unions Join Together To Help Veterans Find

Brown Proposes Bonuses To
Veterans Of Current Conflicts

Fund Aims to Pay Way For
Soldiers; Group Raising Airfare For Idaho Guardsmen To Fly Home On Leave

Out-of-State Residents, Soldiers Get Ballots

Relief Funds To Be Available For
Guardsmen, Reservists




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 may
have to 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 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
[email protected].




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Guard Gets Ready For Ivan


Biloxi Sun

September 12, 2004

By Patrick


of Tennessee and Mississippi National
will sit tight at Camp Shelby if a hurricane threatens South

When the
storm clears, they will resume their training for service in Iraq, while
other Mississippi National Guard units provide storm assistance.

“We’re no
longer an evacuation center,” said Maj. Doril Sanders, spokesman for Camp
Shelby. “Our plans are not to evacuate, unless higher headquarters told us

Camp Shelby has traditionally been used to house hurricane evacuees, the
barracks are now otherwise occupied.

facilities are being used to house and train troops,” said Sanders.

Half the state’s
National Guardsmen, nearly 5,000 troops, are mobilized and under the
command of the U.S. Army, not the state of Mississippi. However, the
remaining 5,000 troops are adequate to respond to a hurricane threat, said
Lt. Col. Tim Powell, spokesman for the state National Guard.

Hurricane Ivan, or any other storm, threatens South Mississippi, the state National
would set up a command post in Gulfport before the storm arrives.

from North Mississippi would be called on to help in the south.

“We will
not have to rely on troops from Camp Shelby for hurricane support,” Powell
said. “We’ve got two engineer battalions within our reach within hours.”

The 225th
Engineer Battalion, based in north Mississippi, will be called to come south
for the storm.

“We will
have forces down there pre-landfall,” Powell said.

The 890th
Engineer Battalion, based in South Mississippi, will not be called up for
hurricane duty because its members must care for their own homes and




Duty Calls; Louisiana National
Guardsmen are Training Furiously In California, Preparing For The Front Lines
of Iraq.

Back to Table of Contents

Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

September 12, 2004 Sunday

Brian Thevenot, Staff writer

Fort Irwin, Calif. — Sgt. Matthew
Comeaux, an uncommonly sentimental soldier who brags that his new fiancée
calls him “Puddin’,” was lying in his bed at his parents’ Kenner home in
March, cell phone to his ear, trying to talk a fellow soldier down from a
cliff of anxiety.

The friend, a National Guardsman in
Comeaux’s battalion, had just gotten The Call: the notice to report for
active duty in Iraq.

This can’t be happening, the friend
kept saying. He had a new baby. He was due to leave the National Guard
in a month.

“I don’t know how to do this,” he told
Comeaux. “I don’t want to go — and I don’t want you to go, either.”

Comeaux, 24, a forklift operator with
his own plans to start a family, counseled his friend to calm down and wait
for more information. Comeaux himself was due to get out that same month.

As they talked, another call came in on
Comeaux’s phone.

This time The Call was for Comeaux. He
had prepared for it and decided he wouldn’t bail out even if he could. Still,
the prospect had never seemed real. His hands began to tremble.

“Are you f—ing kidding me?” he asked.

“This is not a joke,” the voice on the
phone assured.

When Comeaux reported to his next drill
at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, his friend didn’t show. AWOL. Eventually,
he got out of going to war, somehow. If Comeaux had second thoughts about his
own orders to re-up, they didn’t last long. The Pentagon had already made the
decision for him with its controversial “stop-loss” order, preventing all
reservist soldiers from leaving the military.

So Puddin’ is going to war, along with
the rest of the Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Infantry
Brigade, about 3,700 part-time soldiers, including the nearly 400 that serve
in the 1/141st Artillery Battalion, stationed at Jackson Barracks
in New Orleans. They will ship out to Baghdad next month, making them one of
the first brigades to be deployed under a new push to put more Guard soldiers
in front-line combat roles, replacing the exhausted ranks of active-duty
troops. In Comeaux’s battery, by conservative estimates, a third of about 200
soldiers would be home now if not for the stop-loss order, which some
politicians have blasted as a “back-door draft.” Comeaux said nobody had to
force him to go.

“I want everybody to come back,” he
said. “I’ve been here for six years. You get close to these people.”

Learning the art of war

The soldiers of the 256th
are expected to be deployed in Iraq for a year, and not just in tasks well
behind the lines that have been the traditional province of Guardsmen. In
anticipation of patrol and combat duty, they have trained nearly around the
clock for four months. Three weeks ago, they started a month of intense war
games at the Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., near
Death Valley. For three months before that, they drilled on urban warfare at
Fort Hood, Texas.

At Fort Irwin, Louisiana soldiers faced
mock terrorist attacks, homemade bombs and land mines, random mortar fire,
bilateral negotiations with Arabic-speaking village mayors and clerics, and
house- and mosque-clearing raids in mock villages where friend and foe were
nearly indistinguishable. As in a game of laser tag, they got “killed” or
“wounded” electronically when enemy fire hit their battery-powered vests.
Their machine guns are loaded with blanks to simulate live fire.

To 1st Sgt. Darrell Graf,
the day-to-day supervisor of Comeaux’s battery, the tactical drills are
important but secondary. Graf was looking for something far more profound
from his troops, something he calls “finalization” — by which he means the unequivocal
embrace of warfare and its grave seriousness, the realization that medical
loopholes and hoped-for political salvation are no more. From that embrace
comes unit cohesion more difficult to build in the Guard than in the
active-duty Army. And with cohesion comes survival.

Most soldiers at Fort Irwin said they
believe they’re ready. They have their quiet moments of fear and depression,
but morale is generally high. They’ve done the math, and they’re at peace
with their odds: Just more than 1,000 dead among the more than 400,000
soldiers who have served so far in Iraq.

But Mogadishu was supposed to be
simple, too, said Kevin Roger, 39, of Lafayette. One of a fair number of
former active-duty soldiers now in the 141st, Roger was in Somalia
in 1993 when the Blackhawk helicopter went down, the one they made the movie
about. His unit fought through a hail of enemy fire to rescue pinned-down
Army Rangers.

“It was hell, that’s the only way I can
explain it. It took me 10 years to even say that much,” Roger said while
waiting to start a simulated combat raid. “My best friend was killed right
next to me.”

Asked if he believed that his National
brethren had grasped the enormity of their task, Roger said: “No.
Not even close. I hear a lot of guys talking about how they’re going to do
this, do that. They don’t have a clue. I know for a fact that I’ve killed two
kids,” he said, harking back to his service in Somalia. “I didn’t have a

A challenging task

The men of the 141st’s
headquarters battery, called the HHB, will be led into combat by Graf, 33, a
veteran of three combat tours, including the 1991 Persian Gulf War. A
disciplinarian who has elevated the profane tongue-lashing to an art form,
Graf also knows when a pat on the back or a kiss on the forehead will get
more out of a soldier.

A month ago, he chose Comeaux as the
driver of his Humvee and fought fiercely to keep him when another task force
made off with all the soldiers in his unit with Comeaux’s job classification.
“He’s a natural,” Graf said of Comeaux. “He sees what needs to be done and
does it.”

The headquarters battery is a
complicated beast. Its individual platoons are trained in targeting,
meteorology, radar, communications, medicine, ballistics and tactical
command. But at any given time, one or several of these platoons will be on
loan to other units, leaving Graf to make do until their return. It’s a
situation akin to constantly taking apart an old Chevy and then trying to put
it back together again.

It only complicates Graf’s task of taking
part-time soldiers who until four months ago were scattered civilians and
cementing them into one solid block of brute force. At the same time, he must
imbue them with the split-second reflexes to hold their fire and limit
civilian casualties, a potentially deadly constraint when fighting the often
unseen enemies in Iraq.

“That’s the hardest thing for the Army
to achieve: You train a guy to kill, and then you tell him to go hand out
water and not to shoot anybody unless he’s shot at,” Graf said.

And there’s a wild card: the Iraqi
elections, the culmination of the Bush administration’s stated aim to convert
dictatorship to democracy, scheduled for Jan. 31. “We’re going to be there at
one of the worst times,” Graf said. “There will be a lull, troops will get
complacent, and then all hell’s going to break loose.”


The home fires

In addition to Comeaux, the sergeants
Graf commands include Sgt. Theo Johnson, 31, from Gentilly, who joined the
military at 21 to support his daughter and her mother and did combat tours in
Iraq and Bosnia as an active-duty Army soldier; Keith Bonnet, an articulate
25-year-old from Eastern New Orleans with an as-yet-unquenched urge to lead
soldiers and untangle the Army’s organizational quirks; and Brian Toomer, 28,
a cool-headed gourmet food salesman from Metairie.

Activation has already taken a heavy
toll on their home lives. Riding around the desert base in a Humvee on the
first day of training at Fort Irwin, Johnson and Bonnet started talking about
the inadequacy of their cell phone plans when the conversation drifted to

“Me and my girl are fighting right now
anyway, so I don’t need to talk to her,” Bonnet said.

“I’m telling you, man, you got to let
her miss you. You talk to her too much and there’s nothing to talk about, and
then all you do is fight,” Johnson said.

But the downturn is more serious.
Bonnet’s girlfriend, Allison, is heading to art school, and she hates the
Army. “We’ve been together almost two years, so we’re practically engaged,
but now she’s saying she’s not sure she can wait,” he said.

Within a few days Bonnet started
calling her his ex-girlfriend, even before it was official. Unless she could
commit to him fully, he told her, he had to concentrate on keeping people
from getting killed.

When Graf heard about Bonnet’s
girlfriend, he grabbed the 130-pound soldier and pulled him close, helmet to

“You OK?”

Bonnet nodded. Women aside, his deeper
problem was the sense that as a driver for the battery commander — Graf’s
boss, Capt. Vaughn Leatherwood — Bonnet was on the sidelines. He’d found
himself fighting boredom in his first few days in the desert, parked in
Leatherwood’s Humvee while his buddies participated in mock battles. And it
drove him nuts.

Earlier, Johnson related a different
family concern. His 9-year-old daughter is old enough to understand his job
might get him killed but not to comprehend fully why he does it. “She’ll be
asking questions you don’t want to answer. The other day she told me, ‘I feel
like I’m losing my best friend,’ “ he said. “She watches the news, and she
says, ‘Dad, are they going to cut your head off?’ “

War can wreck the home life of any
soldier, but it’s a particular sore spot for the reservist. Unlike regular
soldiers, Guard families don’t have the social structure that active-duty
families rely on for support. Ensconced in their civilian lives, Guard
families often don’t even know one another. It only adds to the stress on
family relationships.

“In my unit alone, I guarantee you
there’ll be a 20-to-30 percent divorce rate, and that’s conservative,” Graf
said, noting he has seen many soldiers get married on pre-combat leaves only
to get divorced before they return.

Comeaux knows this, but he insists it
won’t happen to him. After less than a year of dating and several years of
friendship, he proposed to his girlfriend, Erin, on his last leave, in July,
and plans are in place to marry before he ships out to Iraq. He’s not the
only soldier getting married just ahead of a combat tour.

“Some guys are doing it for the money,”
Comeaux said, referring to the extra “separation pay” that combat-zone
soldiers with wives and children collect, “or because they were afraid of
losing them, or they just want a piece of home. But we were trying to have
children even before I went on alert.”

If his honeymoon leads to a pregnancy,
he figures the Army will let him return at least briefly for the birth.

Toomer had planned to start having
children this year, too, and to move to Charlotte, N.C., where his wife, who
just graduated from LSU Medical School — Toomer missed the ceremony because
of training — will be spending the next three years as a resident. “My wife
and I had a lot of plans for this year,” he said.

Under fire

The National Training Center sits on an
expanse of lifeless desert that baked with temperatures as high as 110
degrees during training. The aim is to put soldiers through conditions and
battle scenarios harsher than they will face in combat, with the obvious
exception of live enemy fire. Sweat more now, bleed less later, the theory

The conditions at Fort Irwin — soldiers
packed like sardines in circus tents, eating meals out of a plastic bag,
sleeping on cots, going without showers — are far cruder than what’s provided
in Iraq. According to the latest rumor in the headquarters battery, soldiers
in Baghdad watch big-screen televisions and eat steak and lobster every
Friday night. They also sleep on real beds in air-conditioned trailers. At
Fort Hood, the soldiers learned battle skills individually in repetitive
drills. They are expected to put those skills together in war games.

Their work in Medina Wasl, a fictitious
Iraqi town consisting of trailers populated by Arab-speaking actors, started
uneventfully. On the battery’s first trip, their commander, Leatherwood,
negotiated through translators with the town’s mayor, two clerics, the police
chief and a lawyer. He tentatively agreed with town leaders to fix buildings
damaged in war and to compensate farmers for land used for the Army base. As
his men worked security, civilian shouting and one bomb scare caused tension
but no violence. Day two went even smoother, with town leaders agreeing to
help them root out insurgents and find weapons caches.

But that night, just after the soldiers
left, the mayor was assassinated. The next day the troops were assigned a
combat patrol, but intelligence still indicated little resistance — until a
half-hour before the soldiers were to start the patrol.

“Line up!” yelled Graf, by this time
strung tighter than a piano wire. “The town’s now red — it’s hostile.”

On the fly, he changed the plan from
one that called for different platoons to advance into different sections.
Instead they were to march through the center of town together. “If you
receive fire, you return fire. And then you get the f— out!” he barked.

When the convoy of Humvees pulled into
Medina Wasl, Toomer, designated as a squad leader, got out and lined up his
six men. Outside Medina Wasl, the village police chief came to meet
Leatherwood. The police chief promised to take the Americans to see the new
mayor and other leaders. Then, just as three squads moved into the town
square, the city erupted in gunfire and bomb blasts.

Pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop! BOOM!

Toomer and his men dropped to one knee.
Some fired their machine guns. Others scanned furiously for legitimate
targets, holding their fire so as not to kill civilians.

Spc. Jesse Bautista was one of them.
Kneeling 2 feet from Toomer, he dropped to the ground, wounded, as signified
by the beeping war game gear on his chest. He never fired a shot.

“Medic! Medic!”

Toomer returned fire into the second
story of the building in front of him.


His chest heaved. Sweat poured from his

“Watch out! There’s civilians on the
first floor!” he cautioned.

He called for his men to retreat:
“Let’s go! Let’s go!”

Toomer’s men darted toward the
outskirts of town, helped by cover fire from another squad. He ducked behind
the only piece of cover in the square, a small white trailer, looking to
provide fire to cover others. Enemy fire accelerated. Toomer popped off a
round — and then his gun jammed, at the worst possible time, just like in the

Let’s go!” somebody screamed.

“I’m reloading! I’ve got a jam!” Toomer

“Don’t worry about it, we got you


Toomer got out in a hurry, struggling
to find his team on the way. The battle ended with a mob of civilians
shouting “America, go home!” and other taunts in Arabic, delivered with
shaken fists inches from the soldiers’ faces. An angry police chief followed
Leatherwood to the edge of town, chastising him for not finishing the job.

“You’re responsible for all of that!
Now go back in there and finish the job!” the police chief yelled in Arabic,
shaking his fist. “Why do we have to die every day because of you? You can’t
pull back and leave us! There’s 60 people in the village with guns! We have
children and families!”

Leatherwood initially refused to bring
his men back into the town, but he changed his mind when he determined the
police chief was truthful in saying the insurgents came from another town.
They had a meeting. Town leaders apologized. They conducted a quick patrol
through buildings, led by the police chief, to ensure that the enemy fighters
were gone.


The soldiers killed five Iraqi
insurgents and made progress in rebuilding the fractured relationship with
the town. No civilians died.

As war games go, the tallies spelled
success and drew praise from training center coaches. The same numbers
reported from Iraq would have read this way: one U.S. soldier dead, one

“People will die for me”

Despite the public relations from National
brass, Johnson, the former active-duty soldier, said early in
training that there’s still a “pretty good distance” between the capabilities
of most reservists compared to full-time soldiers. But in his own battery, he
has been surprised at the tremendous progress during training. “We’re getting
stronger and stronger and stronger,” he said. “I know a lot of people will
die for me here.”

Bonnet remained frustrated at being on
the sidelines of some training opportunities, but while out on a routine
patrol he did get the chance to charge up a hill with another soldier and
took an insurgent out of the game with a barrage of gunfire. And he volunteered
for guard shifts, in addition to his other duties.

The game at the training center wasn’t
limited to specific missions. Soldiers had to respond to random attacks at
all hours of the day and night. Mortars boomed outside the tent. Terrorists
set off a bomb at the front gate, turning Johnson, on guard at the time, into
the game’s first casualty. At one point, the command center was overrun.

One night, Comeaux and Toomer were
smoking Marlboros by the tent opening next to their bunks when Toomer spotted
two dark figures coming over the protective sand berm surrounding the base,
their silhouettes lit only by the bright orange desert moon.


Comeaux snatched his flack jacket and
M-16 just in time to kneel with Graf and another soldier, who cranked off
rounds until the insurgents put up their hands, signaling under the rules of
the game that they were dead.

Meanwhile, a soldier dropped a piece of
mail on Comeaux’s bunk.

It was from a 17-year-old niece Comeaux
had helped through some personal troubles last year. He started to read, then
put it down.

“I can’t read it,” he said, starting to
tear up just slightly. “I’ll read it later.”

It said: “Hey, I know I haven’t written
you. I didn’t know how to say what I wanted to say or if you’d care to hear
what I have to say. Matthew, I love you. Not because you are my family but
because you were there for me. My friend. I’m very proud of the man you’ve
become. You’re an awesome role model.”

If there is an upside to impending war
for Comeaux, it’s that it has made meaningful all of the relationships in his
life, from his fiancée to his family to his battle comrades to the AWOL
soldier Comeaux defended even after he fled the battery. Even the father from
whom he had always yearned for more affection and approval.

“My family’s not that open about their
feelings, so all this has been overwhelming,” Comeaux said. “My dad, in his
first letter, said, ‘I know I never told you, but you’ve become a great man.
Not only because you’re a soldier, but because you’re doing what you believe

“Just to hear that from him, after 24
years . . .”

With such support, Comeaux has gained
the courage to wage war and the faith that a fuller life awaits him at home.




Guard – Idaho National Guard
Members Train For Their Turn In Iraq

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Idaho Falls Post Register (Idaho Falls,

September 19,

By Ben Botkin, [email protected]

Editor’s note: Reporter Ben Botkin and
photographer Randy Hayes flew to Texas on a C-130 transporter last week to
observe local National Guard members training for deployment to Iraq.
This is their report.

Fort Bliss, Texas – Spc. Kyle Fielding
trains 12 hours a day in a blistering desert of sagebrush, sand and soldiers
preparing for duty in Iraq.

The Idaho Army National Guard
member welcomes it.

Every morning, he and his fellow troops
rise from barrack beds before 6 a.m. After an hour of push-ups and running,
they’ll eat breakfast. Then they drill: how to deal with unstable crowds; how
to clear a building of enemies; how to tell combatants from peaceful Iraqis.
Dinner at 6 p.m. Lights out at 10.

So it goes every day, unless the
soldiers pull a two-hour shift of guard duty in the wee hours of the morning.

“They are just throwing the worst at us
here,” the 21-year-old Idaho Falls native said.

But Fielding is glad his superiors at
Fort Bliss, Texas, are grinding him down every day, preparing him to fight in
the streets of Iraq. Fielding said it’s difficult to imagine combat
situations more dangerous than those already taught to troops But until
reaching Iraq, he won’t fully know what to expect. Although the Middle East
is two continents and thousands of miles away, Iraq is just over the horizon
for Fielding.

He is one of 4,310 soldiers drawn from
units across the nation to prepare for a yearlong tour in Iraq as part of the
116th Cavalry Brigade.

The Idaho Guard members departed by
plane July 3 for Fort Bliss, a place where they are yanked from their quiet civilian
ways into fighting form for the gritty combat of Iraq.

Fort Bliss is in a dusty desert near El
Paso, Texas. It’s a sea of sand and soldiers that stretches along the border
of New Mexico and into the horizon. In August, the average high is 93 degrees,
dropping only three degrees by the end of September.

These soldiers are a nationwide force,
but eastern Idaho has a large stake in the 116th Cavalry Brigade.
About 1,600 troops are from the Idaho Army National Guard, and some
500 of those are from eastern Idaho.

So far, there have been just more than
1,000 U.S. troops killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. More than 7,000 other
soldiers have been wounded.

“We don’t want them kinda sorta good,”
says Col. Barry Nigh, one of the top commanders in charge of the trainees.
“Kinda sorta good doesn’t come home. We train them until they get it right.”

Risking life for freedom

Of course, in a war, even the
best-trained soldiers are at risk.

Eastern Idaho trainees know Pvt.
Jerrick Petty of Idaho Falls left for Iraq the day after Thanksgiving and
arrived in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Dec. 8 last year. Two days
later, while guarding a gas station for Iraqi citizens, he was shot and

So they train, with one eye on that

On Monday, amid the piercing shriek of
an air raid siren and cries for help, combat medics treat victims of a rocket
round that tore into a mess hall. It’s only a drill, but the noise and chaos
are real.

In other drills, soldiers learn how to
quickly defuse a threat and kill insurgents if necessary – without shooting
innocent bystanders. While driving convoy trucks with passengers, they evade
a hostile enemy firing guns from behind the thorny mesquite bushes of a
desert training ground.

The soldiers must learn the
multitasking skills that will save lives. In training, they guard checkpoints
and may face three challenges at once: A pregnant woman seeking medical help,
an unstable mob and insurgents firing on them from a distance.

At Fort Bliss, 90 degrees is a cool day
and rattlesnakes are the greatest danger.

But just over the horizon of the
southwest desert is Iraq.

“They’re going into a very, very tough
environment,” Nigh said. “There is no off-time in Iraq. There are no weekends
off. There’s no bar they’re going to on Saturday night.”

On the home front

Trish Fielding of Idaho Falls hears
from her son every week. Kyle calls her and writes letters from Fort Bliss.
Iraq is on the near horizon.

A two-week leave is customary before
the soldiers leave, but the mother may not see him before he leaves.

Kyle has volunteered to stay on base so
others with spouses and children can make the trip.

He may still return to Idaho Falls – no
one knows for sure now.

She may have two sons in Iraq by

Travis, 23, is a reservist in Fort
Lewis, Wash., awaiting orders to depart for the Middle East.

“They both told me, ‘If something
happens and we don’t come back, it’s OK, Mom,’ “ she said. “If this is where
God wants us and he takes us, what better way to go than when serving our

And she asks only one thing of the
eastern Idahoans watching history unfold far beyond the horizon: “Just pray
for our troops.”

When training ends

Civilian plans that were once clearly
in reach fade into the distant horizon.

Before the deployment began, Kyle
Fielding was a citizen soldier in the Guard while he earned a law-enforcement
certificate at Idaho State University.

Then came the call-up. He will patrol
the streets of distant cities.

His friend, Spc. Cesar Salgado, 19, of
Idaho Falls, had taken a semester of architecture training. The rest of his
schooling will wait while he carries out President George W. Bush’s campaign
to rebuild Iraq’s ruined infrastructure and introduce democracy where
dictatorships and fear once flourished.

The troops leave later this month for
Fort Polk, La. From there, they will depart for the Middle East at an unknown

Though both soldiers realize the need
for preparation, they will be glad when the training ends and the real work

“We just want to get out there and do
our jobs,” Salgado said.

Once they arrive in Kuwait and prepare
for the march into Iraq, the soldiers will grasp their mission, Salgado said.

“I don’t think it will set in until we
set foot in Kuwait,” he said.

For now, they practice for the war that
awaits them, thousands of miles away, but just over the horizon.

The Associated Press contributed to
this report. Bingham and Jefferson counties reporter Ben Botkin can be
reached at 542-6742.




Training Base Plan Gets Kudos; Security Experts
Praise Effort to Convert Muscatatuck Facility

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By Kevin Corcoran

20, 2004

Ind. –  The state’s plan to turn a soon-to-be
closed mental institution into a homeland security training base is getting
some early positive reviews.

the initiative will draw the federal support needed to make it a regional or
national training center, however, remains unclear.

By next
summer, Gov. Joe Kernan’s administration intends to convert the roughly
10-square-block heart of southern Indiana’s Muscatatuck State Developmental
Center into an Indiana National Guard-run
outpost to train soldiers from Indiana and elsewhere to operate in unstable
urban areas.

center also would help military and civilian rescue workers respond together
to mock terrorist attacks in a one-of-a-kind, small-city setting that
features a school, a hospital, high-rise buildings, underground tunnels, a
power plant and a reservoir.

“It’s a
great idea,” said David Silverberg, editor of HSToday, a magazine for homeland
security officials. “There is a real need out there. I have not heard of
anything else like this.”

development center, a sprawling facility that four decades ago housed more
than 2,300 residents, is scheduled to close Jan. 1. As of earlier this month,
it was home to just 74 patients.

officials said they intend to seek federal money for the project, which they
hope will win support from military and homeland security officials. U.S.
Department of Homeland Security officials did not return phone calls for

spokesman for the National Guard
Bureau in Washington said top Guard officials would have no immediate

talked to a lot of people, and they’ve all said, ‘You’ve got something
special there,’ “ said Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, Indiana’s adjutant general.
“We’ve tried not to embellish or create false expectations, but there’s
clearly a need for this type of facility. This is an area where the Army is
looking to put its money.”

The Guard
has briefed U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and his staff on the proposal.
The soonest any federal money would be available would be in the 2006 federal
budget, Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said.

hasn’t endorsed the Guard’s plan for Muscatatuck, but his aides will help
Guard leaders secure appointments to make their pitches to military and
homeland security officials, Fisher said.

“This is
a big, new proposal that probably needs continued vetting,” he said, “but
we’re trying to be as helpful as we can be.”

Jennings County facility would offer exactly the kind of training soldiers,
police and firefighters around the country should be getting but often
aren’t, said James Carafano, a homeland security and post-conflict military
operations expert with The Heritage Foundation, a conservative
Washington-based think tank.

Michigan and New Mexico also have special training centers, according to
homeland security experts. But Carafano said Indiana’s proposed use of
Muscatatuck’s sprawling grounds is more ambitious than anything he’s heard

more potential there than reality, but it’s really a brilliant idea,”
Carafano said. “There are bits and pieces of programs like this around the
country, but the Department of Defense hasn’t been very forward looking.”

innovative ideas are bubbling up from individual states. For instance, West
Virginia boasts The Center for National Response, a federally funded training
facility based near a former turnpike tunnel.

August, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge toured the center, which has
trained members of the West Virginia National
, U.S. infantry and special forces, subway officials from Atlanta,
and officials with the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Environmental
Protection Agency.

addition to the highway tunnel, the West Virginia center has 10,000 acres of
rugged land featuring mock chemical, biological and drug laboratories; a cave
and bunker complex; a subway train and station; a highway hazardous-materials
accident site; and a disaster recovery site littered with rubble.

Chaturvedi, director of Purdue University’s Homeland Security Institute, said
he’s confident that Indiana’s urban-response initiative for the Muscatatuck
campus will attract regional and federal support.

“Having a
center like this at Muscatatuck gives military and law-enforcement agencies
an opportunity to work together,” he said. “It is not New York City, where
you have skyscrapers. But it is a good start.”

said Purdue’s institute will work closely with Guard officials to practice
responding to disasters that can later be modeled using computer software to
adjust for different circumstances.

you can’t have a full-fledged city with its own power supply, its own water
supply to practice in,” he said. “If you experimented with releasing a gas
plume in a real neighborhood, you’d have people contacting their congressman.
We envision this becoming a living laboratory.”

Some U.S.
Army bases include urban training sites, but civilian emergency personnel
don’t have access to them.

That’s an
advantage of Indiana’s proposal, said Jim Gass, plans and special projects
officer for the Oklahoma City-based National Memorial Institute for the
Prevention of Terrorism, a federally funded nonprofit.

don’t buy training facilities like that,” the retired Army colonel said. “The
only drawback of a fixed geographic location is that it’s just hard for large
numbers of emergency personnel from a jurisdiction to pick up and leave that
jurisdiction for training.”

officials are optimistic, though. Umbarger said he sought the opinions of
national military leaders before approaching Kernan to ask for permission to
use the Muscatatuck grounds.

Umbarger saw it, state officials were thinking about spending $35 million to
tear down 66 buildings worth $150 million that the Guard could really use.

officials estimate it will cost $2.6 million to maintain the center’s grounds
during the first year of operation. Initially, 30 members of the Guard will
be stationed there to protect and keep the grounds.

provides a ready-made, first-of-its kind training center,” Kernan said
earlier this summer when the Guard’s plans were announced.

Indiana National Guard is used to
such large-scale operations. With military personnel shipping out for Iraq,
Afghanistan and other far-flung countries in the biggest mobilization since
the Korean War, Camp Atterbury in Bartholomew County has trained thousands of
soldiers from 25 states in such tactics as thwarting convoy attacks and avoiding
suicide bombings.

said the Guard intends to work with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane
Division, in southwestern Indiana to test new equipment and technology
designed to protect against terrorist attacks.

Guard’s proposal is a good one, said Lois Clark McCoy, president of the Santa
Barbara, Calif.-based National Institute for Urban Search and Rescue.

should certainly have a place to train for terrorist attacks,” she said.

the training area would have broader appeal remains to be seen, she said.
States like to go it alone, but McCoy said the Indiana center could be an
appealing training site for states that don’t have access to the equivalent
of a small city insulated by 850 acres of woods or that cannot afford to build

Associated Press contributed to this report.




Chemical Drill Aids
Guard Team

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Times Free Press (Tennessee)

September 23, 2004

By Beth
Rucker; Staff Writer

Members of
the Tennessee National Guard’s 45th Civil Support Team,
dressed in blue hazardous materials suits, inspected the former Mary Ann
Garber Elementary School in Avondale for dangerous chemical agents Wednesday.

inspection was just a drill, but such exercises prepare soldiers to help
local emergency management agencies in the event of an attack with weapons of
mass destruction, said Sgt. 1st Class Randy Harris, spokesman for
the Tennessee National Guard.

“It gets
everyone familiar with faces and names,” he said. “We’re able to feel
comfortable with what (resources) they have, and they are able to feel
comfortable with what we have.”

Lt. Col.
Chuck Tilton, commander of the 45th Civil Support Team, received
the “call” at 4 a.m. that visitors to the school had become sickened by an
unidentified chemical agent. Members of the team then drove from their base
in Smyrna, Tenn., to Chattanooga with a fully equipped mobile lab,
communications equipment and hazardous material decontamination equipment.

Hamilton County Emergency Services mobile command unit was waiting for the
team, as well as Chattanooga firefighters who “responded” to the scene first.

the trigger point – when the local people don’t understand what made them
sick,” Lt. Col. Tilton said. “We help rule certain things out. Right now, I’m
leaning toward mustard gas and radiation.”

The 1st
U.S. Army’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Division conducts drills and helps
train the team.

“We drive
the exercise so the commander doesn’t have to drive the exercise,” said Maj.
Dave Cooley, with the Weapons of Mass Destruction Division.

arriving, team members sealed off the contamination area, set up equipment
and entered the building. Some soldiers remained at the Hardy Elementary
School parking lot across the street from the Garber site with the mobile lab
and decontamination area, prepared for the others to return.

“The unit
is structured like a local incident response unit, with medical people,
communications people, fire people,” Lt. Col. Tilton said. “Each person has a

hosing down the soldiers who entered the school, other soldiers inspected a
chemical sample recovered from the school to determine what it might be.

“Then we
can tell the hospital, ‘It’s not this thing or that thing,’” Lt. Col. Tilton





Back to Table of Contents


Rell, Families Give Troops Send-Off


The Associated Press State & Local

September 9, 2004, Thursday, BC cycle

By Laura Walsh, Associated Press Writer

Windsor Locks, Conn.

Beyond the waving American flags and
the tiny yellow ribbons that adorned mothers’ sweaters were 50 guardsmen who
said Wednesday that they were ready for war.

“It’s sad that we have to leave our
family, but we’re definitely doing something worthwhile and it’s just
something that needs to be done,” said Chief Warrant Officer James McLain, a
departing member of the 189th Aviation Regiment. “The Army gave us
the opportunity to do it and we’re proud to do it.”

The 189th will be the latest
unit of the Connecticut Army National Guard to be deployed to Iraq.

The guardsmen, who fly and maintain
helicopters, were scheduled to leave Thursday for their mobilization station
at Fort Sill, Okla., Thursday before heading to Iraq. The troops are expected
to return home after an 18-month deployment in the spring of 2006, said Maj.
John Whitford, a state Guard spokesman.

Standing next to McLain was his
8-year-old nephew, Jesse, who came to Wednesday’s send-off ceremony at the
Army Aviation Support Facility in Windsor Locks dressed in his uncle’s old
flight suit. He made a few alterations by rolling up the oversized pant legs
and pushing back the sleeves.

“I like wearing it because I like
supporting my country and my uncle,” said Jesse McLain, of Tolland.

The 189th includes pilots
and maintenance specialists for the National Guard’s Black Hawk
helicopters. The guardsmen are with the 1st Battalion of the
regiment, which is based in Montana.

About half the Connecticut troops will
fly UH-60 Black Hawks and the other half will help maintain them. The
helicopters are able to ferry cargo, transport personnel, aid in rescues and
offer combat support.

Kathy Cassidy said she’s prepared to
say goodbye to her husband, Staff Sgt. Will Cassidy, and hopes the deployment
won’t be longer than a year. She packed her husband’s bag with a laptop
computer, plenty of phone cards and a family portrait that was done just in
time for the trip.

“The hardest part is not knowing where
they are going and for how long,” said Kathy Cassidy, a 48-year-old pediatric
nurse practitioner who lives in West Springfield, Mass. “It’s the unknown.
That’s the hardest part.”

During the send-off ceremony, Gov. M.
Jodi Rell, along with Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Secretary of
the State Susan Bysiewicz, thanked the troops for their support in the war
against terror. They also promised to take care of the families who sat
quietly before them.

“As someone who has been at war, let me
say this: Take care of each other because you have to,” said Veterans Affairs
Commissioner Linda Schwartz, a disabled veteran who was an Air Force nurse
during the Vietnam War.

There are currently two Connecticut
Army National Guard units stationed in Iraq. The 118th
Medical Battalion of Newington and part of the 102nd Infantry
Battalion of Bristol are expected home in March, Whitford said.

An additional 130 soldiers from another
Newington-based unit are also scheduled to depart in two weeks. That group
will bring the total number of Connecticut National Guardsmen serving
overseas to about 300.

One member of the Newington-based 143rd
Area Support Group is John Wiltse, Rell’s deputy press secretary. The
governor said Wednesday that saying goodbye to Wiltse, along with the other
soldiers, has been both difficult and emotional.

“I think John is exactly the classic
(soldier) and he’s just like every man and woman who was here in uniform
today,” Rell said. “While I get choked up about him leaving us for any time,
it’s that kind of person that makes up today’s military.”




 Kentucky Guard Unit Leaves For Iraq;
Family, Friends Give 24 Troops A Tearful Goodbye

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Lexington Herald Leader (Kentucky)

September 9, 2004 Thursday

By Jack Brammer;


Krystal Albers didn’t want to let go.

“I have to go,” whispered her husband,
Sgt. Phillip Albers.

Their son Kaleb, 3, waved a small flag
and hugged his father’s leg. Another son, Dale, 9, was in school, but
daughters Savannah, 1, and Madalyn, 11 months, were in the arms of family
members at a departure ceremony yesterday for their daddy and for 23 other National
members, all bound for Iraq.

The children will be 18 months older
when their father is due to return.

“I’ve told them I love them. I’ve told
them to be strong,” said a teary-eyed Albers.

Ceremonies such as the one held
yesterday in a cavernous hangar and attended by a couple of hundred people at
the Boone National Guard Center always are emotional, state Adjutant
General Donald Storm said.

“The families, the loved ones – you can
see the uncertainly in their eyes, and that ties your stomach in knots,” he

Storm said 689 Kentucky Guard members
and airmen are mobilized in support of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan or in
the United States, or in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and

The unit that left yesterday,
Detachment 1, Company B, 1st Battalion, 189th Aviation,
was headed for Fort Sill, Okla., for training and then to Iraq. The five
UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters that took the unit to Oklahoma are also headed
for Iraq, Storm said.

Their mission, he said, includes a
variety of “tactical airlift support operations.”

The departure comes just as the number
of U.S. deaths in the Iraq campaign has passed 1,000, a fact that was not
lost on the soldiers.

“That is very significant to those
soldiers’ friends and families,” said Chief Warrant Officer Mike Dandaneau of
Richmond, the only soldier in the unit who has served in Iraq. “In Vietnam,
we lost 1,000 soldiers a month. The bottom line is that we need to finish the
job in Iraq, and that’s what we are going to do.”




Guard Soldiers Bound
for Afghanistan Get Send-Off

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Associated Press State & Local Wire

13, 2004, Monday, BC cycle

N.D. – Eight North Dakota Army National Guard pilots who are bound for
Afghanistan received an official send-off Monday at the airport here, and
said they were anxious to begin their mission after months of training.

“We’re ready
to go and get the job started so we can get on the process of getting back to
Bismarck,” said Chief Warrant Officer Terry Nelson, a member of Detachment

The group,
based at the Army Aviation Support Facility at the Bismarck airport, operates
eight-passenger C-12 aircraft – a military version of the Beechcraft King Air
twin engine turboprop. The pilots also fly the state airplane. In
Afghanistan, they will fly personnel and cargo, the Guard said.

The soldiers
were put on alert in late June and went on active duty Sunday. They are
scheduled to head to Fort Bliss, Texas, on Saturday, and then go to
Afghanistan for up to six months.

“I think
it’s going to be an interesting experience, everybody adjusting to the desert
environment,” Nelson said. “It’s going to be wintertime over there. Being
from North Dakota, we’re certainly well-versed in the cold weather

Maj. Gen.
Michael Haugen, commander of the North Dakota National Guard, said the
Army Guard’s aviation section has flown more than 100,000 hours without the
loss of an aircraft or crew member. The streak dates back to 1958. The
milestone was reached during a training flight on March 30.

“I don’t
worry about these individuals,” he said. “I don’t worry about their
capabilities, because there is no one more capable to represent the state of
North Dakota and the United States, and to fly soldiers around … in

“Just get
home quickly, would you?” he told the pilots.

Gov. John
Hoeven gave the soldiers a North Dakota flag to take with them. Guard
spokesman Rob Keller said the unit will fly it over their command post. More
than 470 members with the Grand Forks-based Battery F, of the Guard’s 188th
Air Defense Artillery, are at Fort Bliss preparing for a year of duty in
Afghanistan. Keller said they are expected to head overseas in October or

soldiers with the Valley City-based 141st Engineer Combat
Battalion currently are serving in Iraq. They left for the Middle East in


Back to Table of Contents


Air Guard Members Return
From Iraq


Associated Press State & Local Wire

September 12, 2004,
Sunday, BC cycle


About 30
members of the Wyoming Air National Guard returned home Saturday
following a three-month deployment to the Middle East.

reunions were evident everywhere on the tarmac of the Wyoming Air National
Base. The families were especially eager for the airmen’s arrival,
since the group had experienced several delays due to mechanical problems
with the airplane.

Kari Snell
waited with her five children in anticipation of the arrival of her husband,
Tech Sgt. William Snell. She said the delays were difficult for the kids to

definitely makes the hours longer,” she said.

The family
plans a trip to Disneyland to celebrate being together again.

The troop
rotation is part of the Wyoming Air Guard’s two-year commitment in support of
Operation Iraqi Freedom.

deployed, the airmen of the 153rd Airlift Wing provide airlift
support for U.S. forces in Iraq. The 30 returning soldiers are part of the
153rd Maintenance and Operations squadrons.

Vice Wing
Cmdr. Col. Dennie Grunstad said the rotation schedule makes the deployments
easier on the troops and their families.

go, and people come back and get to see their families. The impact is not as
great. It’s hard to be gone a long time,” he said.

the airmen were not stationed in a combat zone within Iraq, Grunstad said
that doesn’t mean they didn’t fly into dangerous areas during their

still a war zone and people are still getting killed there,” he said.




North Dakota National Guard: Many Happy Returns;
Mayville Community Honors National
Unit Back Home

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Grand Forks

September 19, 2004

By Susanne
Nadeau; Herald Staff Writer

One by one,
soldiers of the 142nd Engineer Battalion stepped forward to wave
to the crowds gathered at the Farmers Bowl football game Saturday afternoon
at Mayville State University in Mayville, N.D.

They were
greeted by cheers, shouts, whistles, and endless clapping from both Mayville
State University and South Dakota Tech fans who stood in the bleachers to
honor the Detachment 2, Company A National Guard unit based in

“It is
awesome it kind of gives you goosebumps” said Mayville resident, Cheryl
Angen. “This is something we need to do, especially for our younger kids, so
they know how important it is to honor and respect these guys and girls for
what they are doing for us.”

The Mayville
National Guard unit was deployed in April 2003, arriving overseas in
May. They returned to the United States in three different groups throughout
March and April of this year. This weekend has been the soldier’s first drill
weekend since returning to their homes.

“We had the
summer off,” laughed SFC Chris Rath, a 15-year member of the Mayville guard
unit. “I guess that was a nice way of letting families get back together and

He said that
the small, tight-knit group was busy overseas. The 34 soldiers assigned to

unit of the National Guard were stationed at Logistical Support Area
Anaconda near Balad and at Objective Redskin near Fallujah in Iraq. The group
worked on repairing various structures while overseas, said Rath.

Saturday, the 142nd led the Farmer’s Bowl parade and then joined
many community members for the “corn and dogs” annual lunch before the
football game.

Members of
the unit were glad to see the support from the community.

“It’s really
nice to get recognized here,” said Rath. “It makes us feel pretty good about
the things we’ve done. It’s a treat and an honor we weren’t expecting.”

were coordinated in part through the cities of Mayville and Portland and the
university, as well as through the efforts of Staff Sgt. Eric Binstock, who
is stationed full time in Mayville.

His 7-year
old son, Kaleb, who joined Binstock at the football game, could not stop
grinning proudly at his father. Kaleb said that he was glad to be able to
spend time with his dad, fishing and watching football games.

celebration continued Saturday evening, as members of the unit with their
families and people from the community gathered to eat and share stories.

“Our unit
has people from all over the region in it, and we haven’t been here since we
returned,” said Rath. “This is a very important day for our group. We have
the opportunity to be involved with the community again.”

community is happy to see them back and proud of all that they have
accomplished over the past 1 years.

“Every time
I see one of these guys, I am the happiest person,” said Rudy Sandeen,
Mayville. “They are a great bunch of people, and our hearts are with them
wherever they go. When we have a celebration like today, we are saying ‘we
recognize and appreciate all that you’ve done.’”

The group
will be honored again today during a public ceremony from 1 to 3 p.m. in the
Mayville State University Field House. The 188th Army National
band of Fargo will provide the music, and North Dakota National
Commander in Chief Gov. John Hoeven and Adjutant General, Major
General Michael Haugen, will both be present at the ceremony.

“I don’t
think anybody can look at life the same since being back. There’s a whole new
appreciation for life. It’s wonderful to be back,” Rath said.





Back to Table of Contents


Legislators Approve
Tax Break For Citizen Soldiers


Associated Press State & Local Wire

September 16, 2004,
Thursday, BC cycle

Salt Lake
City – Legislators meeting in special session agreed on spending more than
$8.7 million, mostly to give tax breaks to members of National Guard
and reserve units serving over seas.

soldiers’ exemption from paying state income taxes on their military earnings
will cost the state about $5.5 million. Full-time military personnel will not
get the tax break.

In their
three-hour special session Wednesday, the legislators approved $3.1 million
for work at the state prison at Point of the Mountain, much of it to expand
housing for women inmates.

agreed to spend $152,000 to protect the archaeological finds at the state’s
recently acquired at Range Creek 130 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

Legislature also approved technical change to legislation passed last session
that dealt with bank trustees.

All of the
measures passed easily.

had been raised about the military tax-break proposal, with critics say it
possibly could be challenged as discriminating against full-time military

legislators approved language spelling out that the tax break was aimed at
the part-time soldiers whose lives have been disrupted because they’ve been
called up to serve overseas.

“This is
in no way disrespecting the full-time military personnel,” said the bill’s
sponsor, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo.

Bramble said
the tax break would amount to as much as $2,500 for a Utah family. The
exemption is for this year only, but legislators will consider making it
permanent at their 2005 session.

Rep. Scott
Daniels, D-Salt Lake and a former 3rd District judge, urged approval
of the corrections spending, saying the growth in the number of female
inmates has been “almost shockingly dramatic.”

also said that if lawmakers keep adopting policies that put people behind
bars for longer periods of time, “the state is going to go bankrupt in a
couple of years.”

The Range
Creek proposal was approve 72-0 in the House and 25-2 in the Senate, with
Republican Sens. Thomas Hatch of Panguitch and Bill Wright of Tooele.

earlier had disagreed over how much money to set aside to protect the
4,200-acre ranch, which the state bought in June. The bill’s sponsor, Rep.
Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley, said he would tinker with the language to
accommodate those who felt too much money was being spent at the site, which
contains thousands of artifacts in pristine condition and has been called a
national treasure.

Instead of
taking all $152,000 from the state’s $110 million surplus, Bigelow’s revised
bill took $102,000 from the surplus. It took the remaining $50,000 away from
the $200,000 lawmakers had given the University of Utah to study and catalog
the site.




Cost; GAO Down On Lower Reserve Retirement

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Biloxi Sun

September 25, 2004

numerous bills before Congress to drop the reserve retirement age to 55 or
younger, lawmakers in 2002 directed GAO to review reserve retirement, assess
the need for change, and weigh the costs of granting annuities earlier
against the benefits of retaining more reservists.

The report,
released this month, concludes that the Department of Defense doesn’t collect
attrition data in a way to determine whether the services are keeping enough
reserve and National Guard members for 20 years or more. DoD also
lacks data to show whether offering earlier annuities would even improve
personnel retention rates.


Yet the
report gives five reasons for Congress to move cautiously, or perhaps not at
all, to change reserve retirement. They are:


retirement fund expense to lower the age at which reserve annuities start
would range from a low of more than $5 billion over 10 years to a high of
more than $34 billion. The totals include the cost of providing, at age 55 or
earlier, both annuities and health benefits.

few gain

Because only
one of four reservists serves long enough to retire, a change in law to start
annuities earlier won’t benefit most reservists who served or are now
deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the other
hand, it would raise the value of retirement for many reservists who might
not ever deploy in the war on terrorism.


The services
have more efficient ways to raise compensation of deployed reservists. They
include hazardous duty pay, family separation allowances and a new, still
unused special allowance for military personnel who endure frequent or long


Department of Defense is shifting skills previously concentrated in the
Reserve and National Guard to active duty forces. This should relieve
operational stress on high-demand reserve occupations and soften the argument
for changing reserve retirement.


reserve retirement could have unintended negative consequences for keeping
active duty forces. For example, says GAO, if reserve retirement is changed
to provide immediate annuities after 20 years of service, some personnel who
planned to remain on active duty until retirement might leave and serve their
remaining time in a reserve component.

Rep. Jim
Saxton (R-N.J.) introduced HR 742, the most popular reserve retirement bill
now on Capitol Hill. It would lower the age threshold to 55. So far, it has
190 co-sponsors, a balance of Republicans and Democrats.

report, Saxton said in a phone interview, hasn’t shaken his support for the
bill. In fact, he is encouraged that GAO’s 10-year cost estimate for his bill
is $13.6 billion, lower than the $16 billion estimate from the Congressional
Budget Office or $19 billion from the White House’s Office of Management and
Budget. OMB, Saxton confirmed, opposes the bill.

The notion
that most deployed reservists won’t benefit “may or may not, be true,” said
Saxton. But what’s clear, he said, “is that we have come to rely on Reserve
and National Guard personnel more than ever. Therefore, we need to try
to make policy that will encourage people to join and stay.”

Almost every
reservist he has talked to views the bill as a timely benefit boost, a
deserved narrowing of the difference in value between reserve and active duty

predicts this bill, or some less expensive alternative, will be approved as
early as next year. More and more lawmakers are learning, he said, “that
reserve component personnel are the greatest personnel bargain we have in the

No reserve
retirement changes made it into either the House or Senate version of the
2005 defense authorization bill, now in final negotiations.

To qualify
for an annuity at age 60, reservists must have at least 20 years of
creditable service, which means a minimum of 50 retirement points earned each
year from monthly drills, yearly training or mobilization. The more points
earned, the higher the annuity.

In fiscal
1992, reservists earned an average 64 retirement points. By fiscal 2001, that
average was up to 138. Despite a higher pace of deployments, GAO said,
reserve retention rates have remained relatively stable since 1991, the first
Persian Gulf War.

In a small
nod to advocates for change, GAO noted that the age-60 threshold was set in
1948 when federal civilian employees had to work until 60 to qualify for

In 1967, the
minimum federal civilian retirement age was lowered to 55 for employees with
30 or more years of federal service.





Back to Table of Contents


The Role Of A Guardsman’s Wife


Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

September 11, 2004
Saturday Final Edition

My story
is the story of an Air National Guardsman’s

actually began the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. As the country watched news coverage
of the destruction of the Twin Towers and the invasion of terrorists on our
home turf, I was already at work.

My husband
Jim called after the first tower was hit to tell me what was happening. Like
thousands of other Americans, I watched in horror as another plane crashed
into the second tower.

understand my reaction, you should know that my husband had just retired
after 28 years with the Memphis Fire Department. He is a master sergeant with
30-plus years’ experience in the 164th Tennessee Air National
Reserves unit.

I left
work in tears and drove way too fast on the way home. I couldn’t wait to tell
my husband to go to the TANG base and retire from his Reserves duty before
the government could restrict Guardsmen from getting out. I didn’t want to
take the chance that he’d be deployed for active service and we’d be

back on that morning, it is kind of amusing. When I ran into the house and
frantically told Jim to get out of the Reserves, he looked at me as if I had
two heads.

He very
calmly told me that was not going to happen. He said he was proud of his
service and ready to do whatever he could for this great nation. His attitude
was hard for me to understand. At the time, I took it to mean that he cared
more for the Guard and the nation than he did for me.

three years went by without Jim being called up. I considered myself very
fortunate – especially when I think of the thousands of other families across
our country whose loved ones have been sent to duty in Iraq.

All that
changed, however, on June 20 – Father’s Day. Jim had just returned from his
annual two weeks of active duty at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota
the day before, and we had celebrated his return that night.

As we
drank our coffee together on our back porch that Sunday morning, he informed
me he would be going to Iraq sometime in August or September.

How I did
it, I’ll never know. I know how he must have dreaded telling me. But I
listened carefully (no tears) and then told him I supported him totally.

He could
handle anything, Jim said, as long as I was OK. I assured him I would be

Jim was
grateful for the way I handled the news, but he still had the next-hardest
thing to do: to tell his three children, including a 27-year-old son who is
expecting his first child in October, that Jim wouldn’t be there for his
grandchild’s birth.

handled it well, though. Life went on, and we were all grateful that at least
we had a couple of months to get things in order before Jim had to leave.

I stayed
strong for him until Aug. 23, the day he had to leave. I had held back the
tears – at least, when I was around him – until the last 10 minutes before he
drove away. When I finally let them flow, Jim remained strong on the surface
but we both knew our separation was killing him inside.

Only his
responsibility as a leader for the other men in his unit kept him strong. We
weren’t the only ones saying goodbye that day. He had to help his men cope
with the painful separations from their families as well.

“I have
got to take care of my men,” Jim said to me repeatedly during the last week
we were together. Once again, I couldn’t help but feel left out: Where did I
fit into this picture?

I write
this now because I finally know where I fit. After Jim left and I had an
opportunity to reflect on our situation, I came to realize that my part is to
remain strong and support my husband, the Guard, our country and its leaders.

Four days
after he left home, Jim arrived in northern Iraq. I don’t know how long he’ll
be there. I do know that Jim and all the other U.S. troops are there for each
and every one of us, to make sure that we and our descendants continue to
enjoy the freedom Americans treasure.

families at home may have a difficult time coping with their absence, but we
still enjoy all the comforts of life in our great country. Our loved ones on
duty are the ones who are making the sacrifice of being far away from home in
a strange land, without the conveniences we take for granted, enduring
intense heat and the constant threat of violence.

I am proud
to say I finally understand my part in this effort. I am an Air National Guardsman’s wife, and I will stand strong.

columnist Vickie Carroll of Olive Branch, Miss., is the proud wife of Master
Sgt. Jim Carroll of the 164th Tennessee Air National Guard.




Profit, Pay Sacrificed For War

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Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service 

The Orange County Register

September 14, 2004, Tuesday

By Catrine Johansson

SANTA ANA, Calif. _ The war in Iraq
costs Benefit Partners in Newport Beach, Calif., $21,000 per month in lost

That’s how much Steve Lathrop, the
chief financial officer, would contribute in revenue to the company were he
still working. But since January, Lathrop, a military reservist, has been on
active duty loading ships in Kuwait.

“The financial-reporting process can be
done by others,” said Michael Stockwell, president, “but the biggest
challenge is that (Lathrop) generates a good chunk of revenue.”

About $250,000 per year, Stockwell

Benefit Partners is an example of how
the war on terrorism is hitting home through lost revenue, increased overtime
expenses and heavier workloads for companies with employees who have military
reservists on active duty.

Nobody keeps track of how many
companies are affected, but the Department of Defense’s Employer Support of
the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) estimates that there are about 92,000 National
Guardsmen and reserves in California. About 23,000 of them have been
mobilized since Sept. 11, and about 9,000 are mobilized right now.

About 40 percent of the forces in Iraq
are reservists or guardsmen.

The ESGR has 4,500 volunteers around
the country who help companies deal with losing an employee to active duty.

“(The reservists) tend to be key people
in the companies,” said David Janes, national chair for ESGR and a resident
of Newport Beach. “Their military training makes them excellent candidates
for key positions.”

Early on in the war on terrorism,
employers got as little as two days’ warning that an employee was leaving,
Janes said. That created a difficult situation as employers tried to make
arrangements to fill the void of a crucial employee. Complaints from
employers through ESGR prompted the Department of Defense to improve its
communications. Now, the notice is about 90 days, Janes said.

The employer has to allow the employee
to perform his or her military duties, Janes said. In rare cases _ about 300
since 9/11 _ the deployment can be deferred if the job is deemed too crucial.
It can be a doctor who is the only heart surgeon for miles, or prison guards
at small prisons, Janes said.

The employer also has to offer a job
with equal pay and benefits to the employees when they return.

But the employer does not have to pay a
salary or benefits while the employee is mobilized.

“About one-third of reservists and
National Guardsmen take a drastic cut in pay when they are mobilized,” Janes

Take a corporate analyst at an
investment firm, making $100,000 per year. As a corporal in the National
that same person would make about $22,000 per year.

Trying to finance the $100,000
lifestyle on a quarter of that money “spells trouble,” Janes said.

But mobilization can work the other
way, too. About one-third of reservists get more money when they are

Take a high school math teacher making
about $40,000 per year who has reached the rank of major in the National
He gets paid $60,000 per year while mobilized.

For the remaining third, the pay is a wash,
Janes said.

Although they don’t have to, many
employers will pay the difference between the civilian and military salary
for at least part of the time. The “record holder,” Janes said, is American
Express. They will pay the difference for up to five years for mobilized

“We don’t try to tell companies what to
do,” Janes said. “We let their patriotism guide them to what to do.”

About 20 percent of reservists are
first responders, Janes said, working as police or firefighters or in
hospitals, leaving those organizations particularly vulnerable to holes in

In Orange County, Calif., that problem
seems to be under control. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has 12 of
4,500 employees on military leave. The Orange County Fire Department has two
of its 761 firefighters on active military duty. Both organizations pay the
difference in salary and benefits for the employee and their families.

In Buena Park, which has its own police
department, the city paid $10,920to make up the difference in pay for Steven
Craig when he was mobilized last year.

On top of that, the police officers put
dry wall in the Craig family’s garage and sent care packages while he was
gone. They even took a picture of Craig with them to meetings and training

“It’s a good feeling to know that your
city and your colleagues support you,” said Capt. Rod Natale, acting chief of
police in Buena Park. “It’s a secure feeling.”

At Benefit Partners, the 13 employees
have pitched in similarly. Three people split Lathrop’s duties, adding about
10 hours per week to their normal workloads.

Other companies help with Lathrop’s
clients if they need the kind of expert advice Lathrop used to give them
about retirement plans and insurance policies.

The company pays Lathrop the difference
in his salary – about $3,000 per month.

“It is the least we can do,” Stockwell
said. “He and his family are sacrificing a lot more than we are.”

For Linda Lathrop, Steve’s wife, the
money means that she can stay on budget and continue to pay for her
children’s activities, such as gymnastics. The couple have two children, 8
and 12 years old.

“It keeps the children active,” Linda
Lathrop said, “so they don’t miss their dad as much.”

As important as the money is the note
that arrives in the letter with the check every two weeks. Written by the
employees at Benefit Partners, it reminds Linda Lathrop that they are there
if she needs anything.

For example, Steve Lathrop’s secretary
will drive the family to the airport at 4:45 a.m. Thursday, as the Lathrops go
on vacation.

“That’s going above and beyond the call
of a secretary,” Linda Lathrop said. “She’s a friend.”

Those gestures help Linda Lathrop
though the separation from her husband.

“It’s a good group of people that work
there,” she said.





Schools Handle Iraq War At Home

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Times Free Press (Tennessee)

September 19, 2004

By Michael
Davis; Staff Writer

Tenn. – Tyler Smith’s dad will soon leave for Army duty in Iraq, and the second-grader
said he already misses his father, who is training in Camp Shelby, Miss.

“When I feel
sad, I write him a letter,” said the Blythe-Bower Elementary School pupil.

Amy Hicks,
Tyler’s guidance counselor at Blythe-Bower, said writing letters and drawing
pictures are two methods she encourages children to use to vent their

across the region are dealing with war’s ripple effects, as pupils and
families witness their loved ones depart for training or overseas deployment.

Ms. Hicks said
she has ordered a book that tackles the issues from a child’s perspective,
with topics ranging from training to overseas deployment, and hopes to start
a small group with children of military families.

She said
although students are aware of the harsh reality of war, she tries to shift
the focus toward pride and patriotism.

“With kids,
the whole war is scary. They see on the TV all the killing and the negative
of it,” she said. “It’s a difficult thing to talk about.”

Millsaps, a teacher and coach at Sequatchie County High School, went to Saudi
Arabia for Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Dunlap-based 212th Engineer Unit of the National Guard went
to Fort Campbell, Ky., in early 2003, and although they were not called
overseas, he corresponds with former students who are currently serving in
some capacity.

“I guess
I’ve got 10 or 15 addresses hanging on my bulletin board right now,” he said.
“It’s hard to sit back and see these kids go.”

Mr. Millsaps
said some students interested in the military often ask him about his
experiences, but added it is difficult for them to comprehend war until they
are personally in that position.

“I don’t
think you understand the full reality until later on,” he said.

Elementary School teacher Donna Cagle, who also serves as president of Athens
Family Readiness, an organization made up of military families and friends,
said the war is sometimes discussed in class.

While she
tried to apply foreign nations like Iraq to geography lessons in last year’s
fifth-grade social studies class, she said more difficult themes emerged from

“One of them
was so afraid that his daddy was going to forget what he looked like,” she

Pierce, interim director of McMinn County Schools, is filling in for director
John Forgety, who is training with the 278th Armored Cavalry
Regiment in Camp Shelby, Miss. The unit is expected to leave Nov. 11 for
Iraq, Mr. Pierce said.




Woman Counts Down to Husband’s Return;
Soldier Called to Active Duty After Only Six Months Together

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The Argus (Fremont, CA)

September 25,

By Melissa Evans, STAFF WRITER

Fremont, Cal. – Just 222 hours. Or

13,320 minutes. Roughly 799,000

For someone in love, it seems like

Janelle Zumwalt admits it’s a little
childish to count the seconds until she is reunited with her new husband,
Michael, who is serving with the Army National Guard in Kuwait.

Then again, she’s never felt quite like

“It’s almost unexplainable,” the
36-year-old said.

She and her husband, who have each been
divorced, met a little more than a year ago through a family member.

They chatted online and by phone, and
five days later, she flew from Texas to California to meet him. It was
instant love.

“I just knew,” she said.

Two months later, she moved to Fremont,
leaving her close-knit family and friends in what she calls the bravest move
of her life. Six months later, Michael, an accountant, was called up for
active duty.

They scrapped plans for a long,
romantic courtship and big wedding, and

instead flew to Reno with a small group
of friends and family to marry before he left. Zumwalt, who works for a San
Jose computer company, says she’s gotten a taste of how young brides in the
1940s must have felt sending their husbands off to war.

It’s been a tortuous romance mixed with
giddy bliss.

And it’s contagious.

Zumwalt’s best friend, Karene
Dougherty, met an Army captain stationed in Afghanistan through her
friendship with Michael.

“[Michael and Janelle] are surrounded
in this fairy tale,” Dougherty said.

“I wasn’t dating anyone, and, it
started as a joke, but I told Michael to send me a pen pal. … Send me the
name of one of your friends.”

The two have never seen each other, but
talk on the phone almost daily and chat through e-mail and Instant Messenger.

Dougherty at least has the advantage of
advanced technology. It took six months for her grandfather to receive a
letter from her grandmother telling him Dougherty’s mother had been conceived
the night before he was deployed overseas.

Dougherty will be able to see her
boyfriend for the first time in January, when he visits the Bay Area.

“It started as a way to pass the time,”
she said. “But [love] really does happen.”

As for Michael and Janelle, she will
visit him next month for one week. They each installed time trackers on their
computers to give constant updates of how long before they’ll be reunited.

The two likely will see the sights
abroad, but, “The thing I’m most excited about is being able to sit in the
same room with him and hold his hand.”

Then they will say goodbye again – for
at least six months. His tour was supposed to last one year, but many
soldiers are being asked to stay longer.

She will continue to send him weekly
packages with candy, coffee, T-shirts and pictures of her dog, Emma, whom she
adopted to keep her company. She’s even sent menus of restaurants where she’s
eaten, “just to keep him involved in what’s going on in my life,” she said.

And both she and Dougherty pray their
fairy tales have a happy ending.





Back to Table of Contents


Some War Wounded Recover Far From Home


Press Online

14, 2004 Tuesday

By Andrew
Kramer; Associated Press Writer

Fort Lewis,
Wash – National Guard Sgt. Rick Harvey, who injured his spine in Iraq,
has doctor’s appointments twice a week, but otherwise has nothing to do while
he recovers at a military base some 300 miles away from his family in Oregon.

“I just want
to go home. I want to be demobilized,” Harvey, 46, of Milton-Freewater, Ore.
He has been living in the barracks at the base for the past nine months.

Harvey is
one of nearly 5,000 sick or wounded National Guard and Army Reserve
soldiers around the country receiving medical care at Army bases far from
their homes and families.

Regular Army
soldiers usually recuperate at their home bases, with their families living
on base or nearby. But as the Army prepared for war – plans in which Reserve
and Guard troops figured prominently – it never worked up a policy to allow
the part-time soldiers to convalesce near their homes.

“The system
is evolving,” said Jaime Cavazos, spokesman for the Army Medical Command in
San Antonio.

Guard and
Reserve soldiers on medical hold can choose to resign active duty status to
return home while recovering, but they lose their military pay if they do.
Leaving base also can delay their consideration for permanent disability

Sgt. Garth
Leighton of Bend, Ore., is recovering at Fort Lewis from a broken back. In a
recent meeting with his commanding general, Leighton complained that he
cannot return home because his family relies on his military pay.

“I want out
of here, I can hardly stand it,” he said. “When I did this thing, I put
myself at risk. I accepted the potential for death. I did not sign up to put
my family at risk.”

Concerns on
the part of Oregon Guardsmen prompted Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Rep. Darlene
Hooley, D-Ore., to ask the Pentagon to explain its policy.

Army Medical
Command spokesman Cavazos said Army doctors prefer to retain soldiers on base
to ensure the best treatment possible, but said Army policies for wounded
Guard members are in flux.

Fort Lewis spokesman Jeff Young said options are improving for wounded Guard
soldiers recovering at the base. He said some soldiers are released when they
can be treated safely at local hospitals and when the demands of duty allow.

In recent
months, the National Guard has begun sending troops back to their home
states for treatment. Under the Community Based Health Care Initiative,
soldiers are provided with a job suited to their injuries at a National
armory and offered treatment at a Veterans Affairs clinic or with
private doctors.

In the
meantime, Harvey – whose back was injured when he fell from a fuel truck –
said that he is so frustrated he loses his temper.

“They gear
and train to go to war, but they don’t have any clue what will happen when we
come back,” he said.





From Patrols In Iraq To Making It To
Class On Time;Troops Called To War Try To Adjust To Routine Of Life On OSU

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Dispatch (Ohio)

September 25, 2004

By Jeb

McEnroe, a sophomore nursing major at Ohio State University, still has the
old instinct. Even walking around campus, he’s checking people’s hands for

As a rifle
company and communications sergeant with the Army’s 101st Airborne
Division, that instinct helped keep him alive for six months in Iraq.

It seemed to
matter less while he took notes during Nursing 301 on Wednesday, Ohio State’s
first day of classes.

The frequent
attacks on his patrols led him to think that school was a better idea than
signing up for another hitch.

“I thought
I’d be in the Army for 20 years, but after being over there, I really didn’t
want to pull the trigger again,” said McEnroe, 27. “After being in some close
calls, you don’t want to tempt fate anymore.”

But even on
campus he still gets the feeling that someone in a crowd of students is
carrying a gun.

About 60 OSU
students in the military have been sent on active duty the past few years,
according to the school’s veterans-affairs office. McEnroe was an active-duty
Army soldier before he enrolled; most others were called up in Reserve or National
units after they started classes.

Most are
back in school again. Some, like McEnroe, are still adjusting after several
months in classes. Others, such as Senior Airman Jordan Burke, are just
returning from active duty and having to adapt again to student life.

adjustment isn’t terribly hard, they said. But they always feel there’s a
part of them that’s a little different from their classmates, maybe being
more disciplined, more worldly-wise; something, anyway, more military.

others see it too.

“Oh gosh
yes, he’s disciplined,” said Allison Henschen, 19, McEnroe’s girlfriend. “He
irons his jeans.”

But mostly,
the military doesn’t come up in conversations with others, said Burke, 21,
because he doesn’t want it to.

Burke’s been
activated three times in support of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,
although he’s never been sent to either country. He’s been to England, Spain
and Turkey with the National Guard’s 121st Air Refueling
Wing repairing airplanes. The engineering major got back Sept. 14 from his
latest activation in New Hampshire.

He gets the
sense, he said, that students don’t want to hear about his military

“I’m kind of
embarrassed to tell people,” he said. “There’s not a lot of military kids
going to college. . . . You definitely get more appreciation from people
older than you.”

He said it
might come from some students’ liberalism and their objection to the war in

“There’s a
lot of it at OSU,” he said.

hasn’t had quite the same experience. Most people seem respectful when they
learn he was a soldier, he said. But most don’t learn it. So the differences
he feels are mostly walking around in his own skin, not talking to other
people about it.

For one
thing, he’s disciplined now, he said. Originally from Wisconsin, he had a
year of college there before joining the Army. He was a little wild then.

During his
first quarter at Ohio State after he left active duty about 10 months ago, he
had a 3.7 grade-point average. That wouldn’t have happened before, he said.

And he’s a
habitual user of the reverse plan, something he picked up in the military. If
he has some goal at 7 p.m., say meeting up with his girlfriend, he plans his
day backward from then. It helps him realize he has to complete a series of
tasks before he gets to a reward.

As for the
lack of discipline that he sees in the younger college kids having fun, it
makes him happy: “It’s because of us (the military) that they’re able to do

Burke, a
2000 graduate of Franklin Heights High School, said that when coming back
from deployments in the past, he found it no problem to slip back into the
college attitude.

“If you
don’t show up for a job in the military . . . you don’t want to do that,” he
said. “If you don’t show up for a class, there are no consequences.”

So maybe,
once or twice, he hasn’t made a lecture.

Ohio State
tries to make sure the soldier-to-student transition is a smooth one, said
Bill Hospodar, director of the school’s veterans-affairs office.

The office
sends out regular e-mails about counseling options and holds a monthly
veterans lunch. The office sends soldiers’ enrollments, course loads and
grades to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to make sure they receive
benefits from the GI Bill.

And they
help out on any number of smaller issues; for example, helping a returning
soldier who missed the deadline to apply for football tickets.

“They get
the runaround from some people who don’t know what’s going on,” Hospodar
said. “We intervene.”

McEnroe said
the office has helped him several times, and he really feels that he’s a
student now. But he remains a soldier too, he said, in fact – he’s in the
Ohio National Guard – and in sentiment.

“You can’t
stop thinking about your friends over there sometimes,” he said.



Back to Table of Contents


Small Town Mourns Loss Of Two Soldiers In


The Associated Press State & Local

September 8, 2004, Wednesday, BC cycle

By Jim Paul, Associated Press Writer

Paris, Ill.

War has intruded again in this eastern
Illinois town of 9,000 people.It has intruded before; when the 177 members of
the Illinois National Guard’s 1544th Transportation Co. left late
last year for duty in Iraq and when two unit members from other Illinois
towns were killed in explosions two months apartthis spring.

But this time, the war has taken the
life of a native daughter, Sgt. Shawna Morrison, and one of her comrades,
Spc. Charles Lamb, from nearby Martinsville. “The 1544th is housed
here. This is their home base, so this is the kind of news that we had been
dreading since they left,” said Mayor Craig Smith. “You hear about the mortar
attacks, you hear about the suicide bombers and you keep thinking, ‘Is it
going to happen to our kids?’ Now it has.”

Morrison, 26, and Lamb, 23, died Sunday
when mortar rounds struck their base on the western outskirts of Baghdad, the
military said. Fifteen other soldiers from the unit were injured, one of them

“It’s the price we pay for democracy,
really,” said Jack Kerrick, a Vietnam veteran and former commander of the
local American Legion post. “You hate to lose anybody’s life. Democracy is

Morrison, who handled computer and
satellite communications for the unit, died after sustaining shrapnel wounds
to her head, said her father, Rick Morrison of Paris.

“She was super. She had a bubbly
personality,” he said. “She was a person you always wanted to be around. She
wore her heart on her sleeve.” A sign outside the McDonald’s restaurant where
her mother worked read: “In memory of Shawna. You will be missed.”

Lamb’s father, Tom Lamb of
Martinsville, said his son was a mechanic and had joined the National Guard
after graduating from high school six years ago. He is survived by his
parents and wife, Erin.

“He was proud of what he was doing,”
Tom Lamb said.

Paris has strongly supported the
members of the 1544th, Smith said. Placards bearing names of unit
members line the city’s downtown streets, and other banners, reading “Paris
supports our troops” hang from lampposts. Wanda Ciulla left a basket of
purple mums adorned with an American flag underthe sign bearing Morrison’s
name Tuesday evening.

“I wanted to help in whatever small way
that I can,” said Ciulla, whose own son, Satya, is a former member of the
1544th now serving with another unit in Iraq. “I’m sure I would be
feeling a sense of comfort if someone did little things for us.”

But Ciulla said she and other parents
want to know when the troops will come home.

“In spite of the fact that we all
support the troops in every little way that we can, we want them back as soon
as possible,” she said.

Two other members of the 1544th
— Sgt. Ivory Phipps of Chicago and Spc. Jeremy L. Ridlen of Maroa — were
killed in separate incidents earlier this year. Smith said those deaths were
difficult to bear, but Morrison’s will be even tougher because she was from

“My children knew Shawna,” he said. So
did Don Furry, who owns a convenience store where Morrison was working when
she joined the National Guard eight years ago. He said her death and Lamb’s
“makes us pay attention.”

“Four’s a lot of people, but other
units have lost a lot more,” he said.

“Obviously everybody is sad. But it’s
something that’s expected, and Shawna certainly knew going in that there was
always a chance” that she could be killed.

Three other members of the unit were
seriously hurt in Sunday’s attack, and a dozen more suffered minor injuries,
said National Guard public information officer Bud Roberts in Springfield.

Roberts had no other information about
the injured, but one was identified by family members as Aaron Wernz of
Marshall, which is about 15 miles south of Paris. He was in critical
condition at an Army hospital in Germany, suffering from shrapnel wounds to
his face, chest and abdomen, said his father, Albert Wernz.

“One of his best buddies picked him up
and took him straight to the hospital,” Wernz said. “That may have saved his
life, right there.

“I feel terrible for the two who lost
their lives,” he said. “They’re heroes. The 1544th has a lot of
heroes and they’re doing a great job.”

A prayer service for the troops’
families was planned Wednesday evening at the First United Methodist Church
in Marshall, Wernz said. Smith, the Paris mayor, said a tribute to Morrison
and Lamb would be planned “once the families have had a chance to grieve.”

“We’re not used to this,” he said.
“This is a National Guard unit, and I’m sure none of their parents envisioned
… their children would be in harm’s wayin a war.”





North Dakota Guardsman Killed By Bomb In

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Associated Press State & Local Wire

23, 2004

By Curt
Woodward, Associated Press Writer

Bismark, N.D
– Lance Koenig’s brother remembered the soldier killed in Iraq as a loving husband
and father who “knew exactly where his priorties where at.”

Koenig, a
former All-American wrestler for North Dakota State University, was killed by
a bomb while on National Guard patrol in Iraq on Wednesday.

Les Koenig,
of Aberdeen, S.D., told WDAY-TV that his brother “understood his
responsibility as far as why he was over there.” Lance Koenig, of Fargo, was
33, the station reported.

Rob Keller said the soldier died while on patrol near the Iraqi city of
Tikrit. Guard officials did not immediately release his name. NDSU wrestling
coach Bucky Maughan said former Bison wrestlers called him from around the
country Wednesday after hearing the news. “Everybody liked Lance,” Maughan
said. “He was just one of those nice, easy going guys.”

finished second in the NCAA Division II national tournament as a sophomore
and sixth as a junior. Maughan said Koenig joined the National Guard
to help pay for college expenses. The school did not offer full scholarships
to wrestlers.

coach talked with Koenig while he was home on leave in July.

“He was all
excited that he got to come home,” Maughan said. “He said it’s the worst
place in the world you could be … desolate and hot. He was dreading the
thought of going back.”

Koenig is survived
by his wife and two daughters, NDSU officials said.

“He was
completely devoted to his family,” Maughan said. “Those two little girls
meant the world to him.”

Koenig, a
three-sport standout at Carrington High School, was a gifted athlete who
didn’t take himself seriously, said former NDSU teammate Joel Vettel.

“That was
part of his appeal,” Vettel said. “He wasn’t very flamboyant or outgoing. He
would rather sit at home and play Nintendo games than go out.”

Koenig was
assigned to the Jamestown-based Company B of the Guard’s 141st
Engineer Combat Battalion. Military officials in Iraq said Wednesday that a
soldier killed by a bomb near Tikrit was in a vehicle when he spotted a
suspicious object at the side of the road.

It turned
out to be a bomb, which detonated and killed the soldier, said Maj. Neal
O’Brien, spokesman for the Army’s 1st Infantry Division. O’Brien
did not identify the soldier.


Keller said
North Dakota Guard officials knew of no other soldiers with serious injuries
in the incident.

death brings to six the number of North Dakota National Guardsmen killed in

About 475
members of the 141st are stationed there. The started arriving in
Kuwait on Feb. 15 and were expected to serve about a year.

The soldiers
are in three primary locations – near Balad and Baqubah, which are just north
of Baghdad, and near Tikrit, the home town of former Iraqi dictator Saddam
Hussein. Tikrit is about 100 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Two other
members of the unit were killed in May. They were Spc. Philip Brown, 21, of
Jamestown, and Spc. James Holmes, 28, of East Grand Forks, Minn. About 19
have been wounded.

Press Fargo Correspondent Dave Kolpack contributed to this story.



Oregon Guardsman
Killed in Roadside Explosion

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Associated Press State & Local Wire

September 27, 2004

Ore. – A soldier from the Portland area was killed in a roadside explosion in
Iraq, said Maj. Arnold Strong of the Oregon Army National Guard.

Sgt. David
Wayne Johnson, 37, of Sandy died on Saturday morning northwest of Baghdad. He
was a gunner on a Humvee, the last in a convoy, Strong said.

Two other
guardsmen suffered minor injuries in the explosion and returned to duty,
Strong said.

Johnson, who
was posthumously promoted from specialist, joined the Guard following the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Strong said Johnson was an amateur
motorcycle racer who, before enlisting, had orange dreadlocks flowing down
his back.

Johnson was
initially a cook in the Guard, but retrained as a gunner. He was a volunteer
with the 2nd Battalion, 218th Artillery assigned to the
headquarters company of the 2nd Battalion, 162nd

“This was a
dyed-orange dreadlocked racer who suddenly said ‘this is something I have to
do,” Strong said. “His age was kind of late for an enlistment.”

Strong said
Johnson kept his interest in motor sports while in the Guard, racing during
recruiting trips at the Portland International Raceway.

family declined interview requests late Sunday.

Johnson, who
was scheduled to return home next spring, was the third Oregon National
soldier to die in two weeks and the eighth in less than four
months. He was the oldest of those killed.

Staff Sgt.
David Weisenburg, 26, of Portland and Specialist Benjamin Isenberg, 27, of
Sheridan were killed Sept. 13 while on a daily patrol mission near Taji,
Iraq. Insurgents detonated a bomb and then attacked the patrol with small
arms fire.

Roughly 750
members of the Oregon National Guard are stationed in Iraq. The number
will increase to about 1,400 in two months, Strong said.

Oregon Gov.
Ted Kulongoski asked that all flags at public institutions be flown at
half-staff on Tuesday in memory of Johnson.

“I extend my
heartfelt condolences to his family and wish them strength in this time of
great loss,” the governor said in a statement.





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Indiana Trade Unions Join Together To
Help Veterans Find Work


 The Associated Press State
& Local Wire

9, 2004, Thursday, BC cycle


trade unions have banded together to give military veterans priority
consideration on slots in apprenticeship training programs that could lead to
associate degrees at Ivy Tech State College.

The Helmets
to Hardhats program announced Wednesday makes Indiana the first state to have
all its trade unions come together to help military veterans in this way,
organizers said.

“They are
putting their lives on the line for this country. This is what they deserve,”
said retired Marine Maj. Gen. Matthew P. Caulfield, executive director of the
national Helmets to Hardhats program.

Under the
program, veterans will bypass the normal interview process and be given
direct entry into the degree-track apprentice programs that train plumbers,
electricians, carpenters and other trade workers.

It applies
to all military veterans and members of the National Guard and

Rimsans, associate director of the Indiana State Building and Construction
Trades Council, said the program could mean trades jobs for about 500 Indiana
veterans a year. The council represents more than 65,000 Indiana workers in
15 construction unions.

Veterans use
a Web site – – to learn
about possible careers in the construction trades and to post resumes.
Companies and unions then contact the veterans.

40 percent of the construction industry work force is set to retire over the
next decade. And not just young veterans can benefit from the program.

Rick Burge,
50, spent 18 ½ years in the Marines and Navy. He was laid off in 2002 and
tapped into the Helmets to Hardhats program this spring.

Based on the
Greenwood man’s previous pipefitting, welding and other military training and
experience, Burge was bumped ahead and started as a fourth-year apprentice
through Local 440. He now works for BMW Construction.

“There is no
more job hunting,” said the father of two. “I found a home.”

Caulfield said
the program does not mandate hiring of veterans over other candidates but
just puts them “at the head of the line.”

“No one is
giving them anything but a level playing field,” he said.


Brown Proposes Bonuses To Veterans Of Current

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Associated Press State & Local Wire

September 14, 2004,
Tuesday, BC cycle

By Staff

Mont. – Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Brown is proposing the state
pay bonuses to Montanans involved in recent military conflicts, calling it an
appropriate way for the state to recognize their service.

“When the
tour of duty is over and our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Guardsmen
and reservists come home, it is incumbent upon us as individuals and as a
state to recognize those who have served on our behalf,” Brown, a Navy
veteran, said Monday during a service to honor prisoners of war and soldiers
missing in action.

Brown, the
current secretary of state, said that if he is elected governor, he’ll ask
the 2005 Legislature to appropriate money for bonuses of at least $750 per
veteran, with the amount increasing depending on the length of service.

estimated his proposal would cost about $1.2 million, but acknowledged it was
difficult to be certain of the cost.

last paid bonuses to Vietnam War veterans on June 30, 1977. The maximum bonus
then was $750 per person, depending on length of service in the combat
theaters of military operations.

Brown’s plan, members of the Montana National
and reservists would be eligible for the bonus, along with
Montanans serving in the regular branches of the military.

qualify, one would have to serve or have served in the conflicts in the
Balkans, the Gulf War or current theaters of operation in and around Iraq and

Brown also
said he would authorize the state Veterans Affairs Division to hire more
people to serve growing populations in urban communities more effectively.

He pledged
to appoint a Veterans Affairs Division staff member as a governor’s policy
adviser and to strengthen communications between the state and federal
government on veterans’ issues. These changes could be made without any
additional cost to Montana taxpayers, Brown said.

Lawson, a spokesman for Brown’s Democratic opponent, Brian Schweitzer, said
Brown’s proposal “might be a good start” toward renewing a commitment to
Montana’s veterans, but added: “the next governor needs to do more to provide
them with quality health care, the health care they were promised.”

The best
health care is that provided closest to home, Lawson told Lee Newspapers.

veteran should be put on a bus to Salt Lake City to get care that should be
available here in Montana,” he said.

is recovering from gall bladder surgery and wasn’t immediately available for




Fund Aims to Pay Way For Soldiers; Group Raising
Airfare For Idaho Guardsmen To Fly Home On Leave

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Review (Spokane, WA)

September 21, 2004

By Betsy Z.
Russell Staff writer

When Iraq-bound members of the Idaho National Guard finish their
training in Texas and Louisiana this fall, they’ll get about two weeks’ leave
before they head off to war – but no plane ticket home to see families in Idaho.

government doesn’t pay for it,” said Jack Friesz, a retired construction
supervisor with a grandson in the Guard. “So I just thought it would be
a good gesture and show of patriotism to try to raise funds so these people
can come home.”

 Friesz’ idea has become the “Call to
Duty Fund,” with volunteers around the state trying to raise money for
soldiers’ plane tickets. The project got a boost over the weekend when U.S.
Sen. Mike Crapo donated $10,000 from his leadership PAC, the “Freedom
Fund,” toward the effort.

 “Sen. Crapo feels very strongly about
the effort that Call to Duty is assisting with, that is helping defray the
cost of plane tickets for those who may have some financial hardship in
coming home for one last leave before being deployed to Iraq,” said
Crapo’s spokeswoman, Susan Wheeler.

 Crapo has more than $1 million in his
campaign fund – though his only opponent in his re-election bid is a write-in
– plus about $80,000 in the Freedom Fund. He opted to draw the contribution
from the Freedom Fund, Wheeler said, because, “The money that’s donated
there is expected to be used for a wide range of things. Generally, it’s used
for supporting other candidates.”

 With Crapo’s donation, Friesz said the Call
to Duty Fund is up to about $50,000, but it still has a long way to go. It
would cost at least $300,000 to buy plane tickets for every needy Guard
member, he said, and the goal is $600,000.

 When Friesz first broached the fund-raising
idea in a letter to the editor of the Boise newspaper in July, he got about
150 phone calls in the next three days. “My phone was busy all the
time,” he said.

 Now the fund drive has become a full-time
project for the 74-year-old retiree. “You should see some of the e-mails
I get. It just about brings tears to your eyes,” he said.

 He read from one, in which a mother of
three said her soldier husband told her to borrow the money and buy the plane
ticket home now, before it got any more expensive.

 “As you probably know, we can’t afford
the ticket,” she wrote. “We are using bill money to do all this
because I figured it was really important for the kids to see their dad, and
we’ll figure the bills out later.”

 “Day after day, we get these type of
requests,” Friesz said. “If the public could read all this we’re
getting, this fund would be over the top in two days.”

Gov. Dirk
Kempthorne has signed an official state proclamation declaring Oct. 8 to be
“Call to Duty Fund Day.”

 Friesz said his group is hoping to get
cities and counties around the state to issue similar proclamations, and hold
fund-raisers for the project on Oct. 8. So far, fund-raisers have included a
dunk tank at a Wal-Mart, a movie screening, a radio station live broadcast, a
shooting range benefit, a club breakfast and donation buckets at businesses.

 “Over in Pocatello there’s a group
that’s working on a potato supper,” Friesz said. “Two businesses by
midweek are going to donate $1,000 apiece.”

 Donations to the Call to Duty Fund can be
made at any U.S. Bank branch.

  “A lot of it has just been small donations
from individual people,” Friesz said. “And they’re still coming in
all the time.”

 About 1,600 Idaho Guard members are
training in Texas, where they’re part of a 4,300-member combat brigade.
They’ve been training there since early July, said Lt. Col. Tim Marsano,
public affairs officer for the Idaho National Guard. Leave will be
scheduled in November or December.

 “Generally speaking, this will be the
first opportunity that they’ve had en masse to take leave,” Marsano

 Marsano said the Guard applauds the Call to
Duty effort. “It’s a wonderful grass-roots effort to help our soldiers,
and we think that’s wonderful,” he said.

 Friesz recalled when he was 11 years old
and World War II broke out.

 “I sure remember the patriotism,”
he said. “People that didn’t live then just can’t comprehend what this
country did. Everybody was on the bandwagon. They had scrap drives and I
don’t think you could find a rusty nail anyplace in the United States.”

 He’s hoping people can feel that same sense
of patriotism by helping fly Idaho soldiers home for a last visit before they
head off to combat.




Out-of-State Residents, Soldiers Get Ballots

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Times Free Press (Tennessee)

September 25, 2004

Beth Rucker; Staff Writer

Tennessee residents temporarily living in countries such as Canada, Germany,
Mexico, Thailand, France and China have requested ballots for the Nov. 2
election, according to area election officials.

election commissions also have sent many ballots to soldiers in the Tennessee
Army National Guard’s 278th Regimental Combat Team, who are training
at Camp Shelby in Mississippi.

“I know
Camp Shelby’s address by heart,” said Kris Williams, administrative
assistant at the McMinn County Election Commission.

Ms. Williams
said the commission has mailed 124 ballots to people temporarily out of the
state. That includes about 30 ballots to Camp Shelby.

The Bradley
County Election Commission also has sent as many as 40 ballots to soldiers at
Camp Shelby and 342 absentee ballots total, said Assistant Director Fran

voters may cast absentee ballots if they will be outside their home county
during early voting times and on Election Day, or if they are physically
disabled, out of the country or a member of the military.

Early voting
will begin Oct. 13 and will run through Oct. 28. Tennessee residents may
request applications for absentee ballots until Oct. 26, according to
information from the Tennessee Division of Elections. Call the county
election commission for more information.

Sliger, administrator of elections in McMinn County, said there is a
difference between requesting an application for a ballot and requesting an
actual ballot. The last day to request an actual ballot is Oct. 28.

“If the
application request has all the significant information on it, we’ll go ahead
and send them a ballot,” she said. “Otherwise, we’ll send them an
application to request a ballot.”

The Rhea
County Election Commission has sent 140 absentee ballots, said Cathy Lauer,
Rhea County administrator of elections.

Shelby’s had a lot of them,” she said.

E-mail Beth
Rucker at [email protected]

How to
request an absentee ballot

To request
an absentee ballot without requesting a ballot application, the county
election commission needs to know:

  • Name
  • Permanent
  • Birth
  • Social
    Security number
  • Election
  • Mailing
    address for ballot
  • Reason
    for voting absentee
  • Signature
    with date




Relief Funds To Be Available For Guardsmen,

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The State
(Columbia, SC)

September 26, 2004

By Jeff
Stensland; Staff Writer

Families of National
members and reservists called to active duty since Sept. 11, 2001,
soon will be eligible for state aid to help pay for groceries, rent and

The Military
Family Relief Fund, signed into law by Gov. Mark Sanford earlier this month,
will provide money to families through a special account funded by taxpayer

will be able to donate to the fund by checking off a box when they fill out
their state income taxes. Businesses and individuals also can make
tax-deductible contributions directly to the fund.

The fund,
approved by the General Assembly in June, is patterned after a similar one in

you’ve got folks risking their lives to protect us back here at the home
front, gestures like this are very important,” said Sanford spokesman
Will Folks.

To be
eligible, a family must prove a Guard member’s or reservist’s active-duty
military pay is at least 30 percent less than his or her civilian wages. The
amount of aid a family can receive will be based on need.

Ann Smith,
president of the Blue Star Families of South Carolina, said the help is
needed desperately.

are hurting, and we’ve seen people come close to losing their homes,”
Smith said. “A lot of families, especially people in the Guard and
Reserves, have been forgotten. They’ve given as much as anyone, and some have
made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Families can
begin applying for the money in January. However, money likely won’t be able
available until the spring.

The fund
will be administered through the Division of Veterans’ Affairs in the
governor’s office.

Stensland at (803) 771-8358 or [email protected]


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