Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Vacation Pictures

Bryan and I spent most of the past few weeks traveling. First we went to Rothenburg, Germany for a night on our way to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. We wanted to take advantage of the great deal that Edelweiss Lodge and Resort offers for soldiers on R&R or just back from a deployment.
After returning home and repacking, we went to the Canary Islands of Spain for a few days before Christmas. Here is a slideshow I made of our trips.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

All About Christmas!

Welcome to the 2006 Holiday Edition of Getting to Know
Your Friends!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the
tree?
He just sits them under the tree

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White - This is an ongoing debate in our home

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, but I was tempted to buy some in Trier last weekend

5. When do you put your decorations up?
This year it was immediately after Thanksgiving

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
I'm going to be a rebel and still pick dessert! Mama's red velvet cake is a favorite

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
The WHOLE family coming to our house on Christmas day!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Mama always said that as long as you believe Santa will still come and I still believe!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
I have, but it's not a regular thing

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
We have a hodge podge of decorations. My parents hosted a Christmas engagement party for Bryan and I, and every guest brought an ornament. Those are really special to us now because they remind us of particular friends and family. We have other random decorations that we have gotten since we've been married - including a lot from Germany! We also have white and multi colored lights as a compromise b/c I like white but Bryan likes colored.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
It's great as long as I don't have to leave my house.

12. Can you ice skate?
I try

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Our trampoline was the most fun to get, but my Richie bear was special too

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Spending time with friends and/or family

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
I enjoy Mama's red velvet cake

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Every year right before we go to bed, Mama reads 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

17. What tops your tree?
a star

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
Giving, but everybody knows receiving is fun too!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Thistlehair the Christmas Bear

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
Yum.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Then & Now

This would be funny if it weren't so true.

School Policy - Then And Now

Scenario 1: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.
1973 - Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his to show Jack.
2006 - School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.
1973 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. Nobody goes to jail, nobody arrested, nobody expelled.
2006 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark.
Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.
1973 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by Principal.
Sits still in class.
2006 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie.
School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario 4: Billy breaks a window in his father's car and his Dad gives him a whipping.
1973 - Billy is told to be more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college,
and becomes a successful businessman.
2006 - Billy's Dad is arrested for child abuse.
Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang.
Billy's sister is told by state psychologist that she remembers being abused herself.
Their Dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario 5: Mark gets a headache and takes some headache medicine to school.
1973 - Mark shares headache medicine with Principal out on the smoking dock.
2006 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations.
Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 6: Mary turns up pregnant.
1973 - 5 High School Boys leave town. Mary does her senior year at a special school for expectant mothers.
2006 - Middle School Counselor calls Planned Parenthood, who notifies the ACLU.
Mary is driven to the next state over and gets an abortion without her parent's consent or knowledge.
Mary given condoms and told to be more careful next time.

Scenario 7: Pedro fails high school English.
1973 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2006 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state democratic party.
Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English
as a requirement for graduation is racist.
ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher.
English banned from core curriculum.
Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he can't speak English.

Scenario 8: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the 4th of July,
puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, and blows up a red ant bed.
1973 - Ants die.
2006 - BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with
domestic terrorism,
FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated,
Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 9: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee.
He is found crying by his teacher, Mary, who hugs him to comfort him.
1973 - In a short time Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2006 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job.
She faces 3 years in State Prison.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The latest

On Friday I was going to post an update, but I thought the article about Walter Reed was more important so I posted it. The last true update I posted was on 20 November so I'll try to remember what all has been going on since then.
Bryan and I are both still working. He is now doing double duty for his battery. He's still technically in his old job as a platoon leader, but he is also now the Executive Officer. The new lieutenants have not arrived to the battery yet, but when they do he will be the XO.
We hosted Thanksgiving at our home and it was a lot of fun. We had 2 other couples and 5 single guys. We had a ton of food that was all great, but the best part was using our new dining room table. All 11 of us were able to sit at it once we added the extension!
Bryan has been very eager for the Christmas season to begin so we HAD to get a Christmas tree on the weekend following Thanksgiving. Our home has been totally decorated since then.
On Saturday evening we attended the 2006 St Barbara's Ball. St Barbara was the patron saint of the field artillery and every year, units everywhere attend this ball. Ours was at Ramstein and all the artillery units in Germany come. Here is one of our pictures:
Tonight we are attending a Hail and Farewell. We will welcome all the soldiers/families that have arrived to the battalion over the past year and say goodbye to those that are leaving. These are normally held once a month so I'm a little scared of how long it's going to last since there hasn't been one in over 12 months!
Tomorrow is the big welcome home celebration for our community. Everything on post will basically close down so everyone can participate in the festivities. Lately the weather has been typical Baumholder (cool and rainy), but tomorrow will be fun regardless!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Personal products needed for wounded servicemembers at Walter Reed

Personal products needed for wounded servicemembers at Walter Reed

Stars and Stripes

Officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are seeking donations for wounded troops who are forced to leave behind personal belongings when medically evacuated from war zones.

Many of the troops “arrive with nothing,” said officials from the hospital’s Family Assistance Center. Because of the speed with which the most serious wounded are evacuated from Iraq or Afghanistan, their belongings are often left behind and don’t catch up.

So the center is looking for everything from shoes, gloves and winter jackets to postage stamps, prepaid phone cards and razors.

The Family Assistance Center requests that no cash or used items be donated. Among some of the more specialized needs are weightlifting gloves (for use by wheelchair patients); trousers with snaps or zips along the legs; umbrellas; and prepaid gas or grocery cards.

The center also helps patients file claims for personal belongings that were left behind during a medical evacuation. Loss or damage to items can be reimbursed through the system.

Donations can be sent to:

Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Medical Family Assistance Center
Bldg. 2, 3rd Floor, Room 3E01
6900 Georgia Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 2001

More information on the donation programs and the medical center can be found at: http://wramc.army.mil/Soldiers/MedFac1/index2.htm

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

Normalcy

We're finally getting into a routine that is a little more normal. Reintegration is over for both of us. Bryan is still only working short days, but as of today I'm back at my office all day, every day.
When we went furniture shopping a couple of weeks ago, we actually ended up buying a few things. We got an antique china cabinet that was made in France in 1880. We also bought a new dining room table and chairs. It all was delivered on Friday and we love it!
We also had Bryan's platoon cookout that same weekend. The soldiers had a good time. That was our main goal so it was a success in our eyes.
On the 9th, Bryan has his official "pinning" ceremony for his promotion to Captain. We were lucky to have pleasant weather that day so it was a nice ceremony at the batallion. Afterwards we hosted a little promotion party which was attended by some of the other officers and their wives.
On Veteran's Day weekend we went to the Normandy region of France. We visited the beaches that the American soldiers landed on on D-Day and other historic places in the area. It was a very interesting and informative trip. Bryan & I enjoyed just being able to travel together again.
This past Friday I attended another fitness certification workshop. This one was to be a group fitness instructor which means I could teach classes. I'm more interested in personal training, but I thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and test for this one since a lot of the information was the same as the personal training workshop.
I uploaded many new pictures to our fotopic site. Here is the link for all of our November pictures so far:
http://cristin.fotopic.net/c1140145.html

Friday, November 10, 2006

Combat Hospital

This weekend, watch this special.

Combat Hospital

It will air on CNN Saturday and Sunday night at 8pm.
Just a sidenote, LT Watson and CPL Owens are both from Baumholder.

Friday, November 03, 2006

It's good to be together again

Bryan and I are really enjoying being together again, but it feels like we just picked up where we left off. He has completed his first 3 days of reintegration and I'm back and forth between working at reintegration and my regular office.
On Wednesday night Bryan was craving a steak so we went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in town. It was just dinner, but we had so much fun with one another.
Last night we went running after I got off of work and we had spaghetti for dinner which if probably Bryan's most requested meal. Tonight is going to be more of the same - we'll go to the gym and then just relax at home.
After Bryan does his reintegration tomorrow we're going to ride over to K-town. There is a furniture store there that I love and they are having an anniversary sale so we're going to see if they have anything that we like. Our whole apartment is furnished with Army furniture and hand-me-downs so we're ready to start getting some nicer things. We're also going to go to a bazaar that is being held on one of the military posts in K-town.
On Sunday morning Bryan and I both have to work. That afternoon we're going to host a cookout for his platoon. We're really looking forward to just having a good time with all Bryan's soldiers and their families!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

HAPPY Halloween!


Bryan finally made it home last night! They didn't get back until about 10:30pm so it was a late night. It was sooo worth it though! I am back at work today and he had to go start the 7 day reintegration process so we haven't really had any time to relax and enjoy being together again. Just knowing that he is here and safe is enough for me to be very happy though.

As of today, Bryan is also promoted to the rank of Captain. His battalion commander won't be home from Iraq until next week so the ceremony will be then.

Here are more pictures from last night!

Bryan's Homecoming

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

345

100 soldiers come marching home to Baumholder

By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — One wife surprised her husband by wearing a T-shirt that announced she was pregnant.

Another wrote a heartfelt poem that was waiting at home for her husband. And many others were simply relieved to have their husbands home safe.

About 100 soldiers arrived home to Baumholder on Monday evening, making it the first group of some 3,400 soldiers deployed with the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade to return from Iraq.

More soldiers are set to return to Baumholder in the coming weeks, capping off the brigade’s second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

For a community that has coped with the loss of about two dozen soldiers during the past 12 months, Baumholder basked in a flood of positive emotions Monday night.

As the soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, marched into the Baumholder gym, tears of relief and joy streamed down faces in the stands. The soldiers returning Monday were part of Task Force 1-35 that served in the particularly dangerous western Iraq outpost of Ramadi.

“It’s just a blessing,” said Emma Donaldson, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Donaldson.

“They’ve been through so much. To see them return in one piece, it’s such a blessing.”

It’s a blessing that Emma Donaldson’s been waiting to rejoice in.

About five or 10 times during her husband’s deployment, she has gone in her bedroom, looked at her husband’s picture and listened to Mariah Carey’s “Hero.”

To welcome her husband, Emma wrote a poem on a bedsheet and hung it in their residence:

“You and I are connected in this world for a reason.
Even though the distance — 1,000+ miles,
Even though the time — a year,
It only brought us closer together.
I love you so much, that’s why I miss you. Welcome home.”

She wanted it to be the first thing her husband saw when he entered. “I want to pamper him,” she said. “He’s my best friend, not only my husband.”

Elizabeth Cornett’s pink T-shirt read “Preggo,” and her 3-year-old son Isaac’s shirt said, “I’m the big brother.”

She’s been pregnant for a few weeks, after her husband’s visit home about a month ago. Elizabeth Cornett was going to surprise her husband with the news.

Despite the clothing clues, it took Capt. Jonathan Cornett with HHC, 1-35, about 10 minutes to figure out that his wife was pregnant.

“It didn’t register at all at first, but I’m so excited,” he said. “It’s awesome.”

Sitting in the Baumholder Hall of Champions gym before the soldiers’ arrival, Angie Poore was just glad to know that her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Poore with Company B, 2-6, was safe in Germany after his second deployment.

“I can wait here as long as it takes,” she said. “He’s safe. That’s all that matters.”

Angie Poore guaranteed she would cry upon embracing her husband.

Sure enough, as soon as the soldiers’ formation was dismissed, Angie Poore, Raymond Poore and their two children hugged together as a family. And her tears flowed.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

340

I'm about to head to Heidelberg for my personal fitness trainer certification workshop. I've been studying really hard but I'm still very nervous because some of the material is challenging. I'll be in class all day on Friday and Saturday, and we will test on Sunday. Please say a little prayer for me that it will be a successful weekend!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

338

One more look at the donut....

Friday, October 20, 2006

334

Baumholder community honors two fallen soldiers

By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes


BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Soldiers, family members and friends filled the Good Samaritan Chapel on Wednesday afternoon to pay their respects to a pair of fallen warriors.

The hundreds in attendance honored Staff Sgt. Jose A. Lanzarin and Pfc. Shane R. Austin.

Lanzarin, 28, of Del Rio, Texas, was killed in Ramadi, Iraq, on Sept. 26, when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle during combat operations, according to a Department of Defense news release. Lanzarin was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment out of Baumholder.

Austin, 19, of Edgerton, Kan., died Oct. 8 in Ramadi from injuries suffered by enemy grenade fire, according to a DOD news release. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, also out of Baumholder.

In addition to a memorable smile, Lanzarin will be remembered for his motivation and care for others shining through his tough exterior, said Capt. Marvin King, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment rear detachment commander.

“[Lanzarin] would share with you his life, the love he had for his wife or the little things that he enjoyed — from his car to cooking,” King said. “He knew how to break through any personality and talk straight from the heart — to relate to how you could be grateful for all the great things in your life by telling you about what he was grateful for in his.”

Austin enlisted in January, following a family tradition of military service. He was assigned to Baumholder after basic and advanced individual training. He arrived in Iraq in August following completion of individual readiness training.

“Shane was a quiet, unassuming man who worked hard — whether it was cutting grass in rear detachment or conducting maintenance on his tank,” said Capt. Daniel Costin, 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment rear detachment commander. “Shane was a soldier. He wore his uniform with pride because he knew what it meant to be a soldier. He knew that this uniform represented something good and that he was part of a legacy of men and women who have protected what is good and right in this world.”

The memorial ceremony marked 24 soldiers from Baumholder who have perished during the 1st Armored Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s current deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Whatever the future holds, the current Baumholder community will always be bound by a common thread that knows both good and bad times, said Maj. Jeanine White, 2nd BCT rear detachment commander.

“It is not for me to say or define my thoughts of what is good or bad, just to note that the one thread which will always bind us are the memories we have of Baumholder and the fallen heroes we honor as a community,” she said.

Lanzarin, a soldier since 1997, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and the Army Good Conduct Medal, which was his fourth. Lanzarin is survived by his wife, Sandra, of Idar-Oberstein, Germany; his parents, Antonio and Sylvia; two sisters and a brother.

Austin was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon and the Combat Action Badge. He is survived by his parents, Terrance and Debra; and two brothers.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

333


That's what today is! Overnight, Bryan completed his last combat mission! It is a great feeling and huge relief for both of us that he will now be relatively safe until he makes it home.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

332

Nothing new or unusual to report. Still studying for my workshop and preparing for Bryan's return.
Here is our new car though!

Friday, October 13, 2006

327

Baumholder community bids final farewell to a friend and hero

By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes


BAUMHOLDER, Germany — The unanswered roll call. The firing of volleys. The playing of taps.

Once again, those somber sounds fell upon the Baumholder community.

On Thursday afternoon, the tight-knit community that is home to the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team bid farewell to Army Cpl. Luis E. Tejeda in a memorial ceremony.

Tejeda, a Bradley fighting vehicle driver with the Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, died Sept. 30 from injuries received during a roadside bomb blast in Hit, Iraq.

The native of Lynwood, Calif., passed away almost a month before he turned 21.

Known as “TJ,” Tejeda will be remembered for his infectious smile, his friends said. Pfc. Dannie C. Cooper, a one-time roommate of Tejeda, expressed condolences to the fallen soldier’s family.

“His youth, his love of life, his laughter and smile were taken from them, from us — his friends, his comrades,” Cooper said. “TJ will always be missed and remembered as a hero and a friend.”

While living together, Cooper and Tejeda would often talk fondly about their families and going home.

“He wanted to go back home to California,” Cooper said. “TJ, you’re finally home.”

A roadside bomb struck Tejeda’s Bradley while he was traveling to relieve fellow soldiers at a checkpoint. The mission Tejeda was on gave Iraqi and American forces the opportunity to search for weapons, contraband and insurgents.

The enemy targets Bradley fighting vehicles because they know what the armored machine can do in battle, said Cpt. Tony L. Thornton, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, rear detachment commander.

“I honor Corporal Tejeda for his competence and courage to drive and be responsible for such a target,” Thornton said. “On 30 September 2006, Corporal Tejeda paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country, his unit and his brothers-in-arms.”

Tejeda was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He is survived by his wife, Alondra, and his parents, Sergio Zuniga and Liliana Tejeda.

Baumholder has held about a dozen memorial ceremonies this year as its soldiers have been serving in Iraq, and the Baumholder soldiers are nearing the end of their deployment. Maj. Jeanine White, 2nd Brigade rear detachment commander, spoke directly to the community that has had to deal with the losses this year.

“Our soldiers are a remarkable lot,” she said. “… We must continue to be strong until they are safely home.”

Thursday, October 12, 2006

326

I'm here! Shelleigh picked at me a little, so I knew I had to get on here and post something. I've been doing a lot of studying for my workshop in 2 weeks. It is scary how soon that is!
This past weekend was a long one for me because of the holiday. On Monday night I was still running around crazy trying to get things taken care of before the work week started. I am getting things accomplished though. I got my hair cut, found supplies to make some welcome home signs with, and cleaned the Explorer really good. I have someone who wants to buy it because I am getting our new car today!! I have an appointment at 4pm to get it and I'm so excited. I really wish Bryan could be with me to get it, since it's our first new car. I'm going to work really hard to keep it in it's brand new condition until he gets home though. I'm going to take pictures when I pick it up today, so hopefully I can post one tomorrow!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

320

I've gotten really bad about posting on here sporadically. I keep trying to get back to doing it regularly, but I'm not quite succeeding!
Things continue to be busy, busy! At the end of the month I am going to attend a workshop to earn my certification to be a personal trainer. I am really excited about it, but I am having to do a lot of studying to prepare!
In addition to my studying, I am also trying to work out really hard for the last month before Bryan comes home. My regular schedule is spinning on Monday evening, weights on Tuesday and Thursday, running on Wednesday morning and yoga that night, and a long run on Friday morning. I would also like to work in about an hour of cardio once on the weekend if possible.
On top of all of this, there are homecoming preparations!! I'm trying to find something nice to wear and figure out how I'm going to make some welcome home signs. People hang big signs all over post when the guys come back so of course I want to have a few for Bryan and his soldiers. This would be so much easier if I had a Walmart! I'll get it figured out though.
I'm getting off work early so I've got to go home and get a little rest. We're having a girls night out tonight!

Friday, September 29, 2006

314

Thank you to those of you who replied to my last post. If there are any others that read this that didn't reply to the last message, I would like to know who you are too!
Below is an article about the memorial ceremony that was held Wednesday for 3 more of the soldiers from our community.
This week the DoD also announced that another brigade here in Germany would have their deployment extended. One company from Baumholder is with that brigade, so it has been a hard week for those families. Please continue to pray for the families of all the soldiers we have lost, the families of the soldiers who have been extended, and for the soldiers of both brigades that are still downrange to have the strength to push through to the end of this deployment. They need the motivation now more than ever.


Baumholder remembers three soldiers killed in Iraq

By Matt Millham, Stars and Stripes

Three casualties of the war in Iraq were remembered at Baumholder on Wednesday in a ceremony that hinted there are few safe places to be or jobs to have in Iraq.

The soldiers, from different units under the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, were killed in three separate incidents in two different cities within eight days.

Sgt. Aaron A. Smith, 31, of Killeen, Texas, died in Baghdad Sept. 14 when a dump truck loaded with explosives and covered by sand exploded near a West Baghdad power substation he was guarding. Smith was a member of the 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment.

Sgt. Allan R. Bevington, 22, of Beaver Falls, Pa., died in Ramadi on Sept.21, when a makeshift bomb detonated near him during combat operations. Bevington was assigned to the 40th Engineer Battalion.

Pfc. Jeffrey P. Shaffer, 21, died Sept. 13 in Ramadi when a roadside bomb hit his Bradley fighting vehicle. Shaffer was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment.

Capt. Eduardo D. Rodriguez, rear detachment commander of the 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, said at the ceremony that Smith was the soldier that every unit has: “Everyone’s favorite.”

Rodriguez said Smith, who was born in Ghana, “was also one of the best tower guards in the power plant.”

“Although Sgt. Smith loved his job and his friends, he loved his family most. While deployed, he would always take the time to call and talk to his wife, Fran, as often as possible,” Rodriguez said. “Sgt. Smith would constantly brag to everyone about AJ, his 14-month-old son.”

One of Bevington’s old supervisors, 1st Sgt. Orville Wilson, said his former troop was “a real go-getter.”

“I mean, there wasn’t a mission he wouldn’t go out and do,” Wilson said. Bevington, who Wilson described as “happy-go-lucky” was a popular soldier who had recently been promoted to sergeant before his death.

“We took it pretty hard, because there were a lot of (noncommissioned officers) back here that had worked with him,” Wilson said. “He was one of those guys you love to have around.”

Capt. Marvin L. King III, the rear detachment commander for the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, said at the ceremony that Shaffer had recently told his mother of his decision to re-enlist.

King said Shaffer told his mother, “I think the Army’s been good for me.”

Shaffer “joined the Army because of 9/11 and the fact he wanted to protect his daughter and family from any more terrorist attacks,” King said.

According to King, Shaffer told his father he didn’t want his two brothers, Stephen and Addrin, to have to fight in Iraq, “So I will stay here until this job is done.”

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

311 - Who's Out There?

I would REALLY like to know who is reading my blog. Please leave a comment letting me know that you are. All you have to do is click where it says " 0 (it may say another number) Comments" under my post. I know most of you probably don't have Blogger Id's, so you can choose "Other" and enter your name there. You can also choose "Anonymous", but if you do, please put your name in the message!
You don't have to leave an actual message, just your name!
PLEASE do this for me!
Even if you read this late, please still do it!

PS - Bryan and Shelleigh you are both exempt from this request, because I know y'all are regular readers! ;)

Monday, September 25, 2006

310


Another busy week has passed, and I'm glad it's over!
Monday night I had an FRG meeting, Wednesday night we had a Redeployment Spouse Brief (yay!), Thursday night I went to a free concert by Carly Goodwin (check her out at
www.CarlyGoodwin.com - she's really talented!), Saturday I took a CPR/First Aid class all day, and yesterday I participated in the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure for the 2nd year in a row. The run was held in Frankfurt and the picture above is of me and my friend Jenny after the race.
This upcoming week and weekend will hopefully be uneventful. I need some R&R!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

305


Look at all the green!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

304

Slain Baumholder soldier had a bright smile, good humor

By Geoff Ziezulewicz, Stars and Stripes

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — To hear his loved ones tell it, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Loa was constantly smiling and lifting the morale of everyone around him. He was as adept with a joke as he was with his skills as a tank commander for the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment.

But underneath that smile and good humor was a deep and thoughtful man who loved his family, his soldiers and his country, friends and family said. The Baumholder community remembered Loa during an emotional ceremony Friday at Smith Barracks.

Loa, 32, died Aug. 16 of injuries suffered when a makeshift bomb detonated while he was on foot patrol in Ramadi, Iraq.

It’s been a rough year for the families and soldiers of Baumholder. The community has lost 18 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade in Iraq since April.

On Friday, Loa was celebrated for his life and his sacrifice.

Loa, a native of American Samoa, was not only a hero for the way he died, but also for the way he lived, said Sgt. 1st Class Eduardo Ramos. Fighting back tears, Ramos recalled Loa as one of the most dedicated noncommissioned officers he had ever known.

“He would always make the best of a situation, and come up with a joke to make his comrades smile,” Ramos said. “Let us be strong because of him.”

Loa left his small community back home for the small community of Baumholder, and his selflessness should be remembered, said Capt. Daniel Costin, the battalion’s rear detachment commander.

“We celebrate the life of another fallen soldier,” Costin said to a full chapel audience. “He seemed to always be enjoying himself, even in the most mundane of tasks.”

Sorrow and joy are two inevitable parts of life, said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Frank Hudson.

“I’m sure his family feels as if the light has been taken out of their lives,” Hudson said. “If we live long enough in this world, all of us will experience some sort of sorrow.”

Loa considered Waianae, Hawaii, his second home, and his two brothers and stepbrother were all in the Army, according to reports from the Honolulu Advertiser.

Loa was in the Army for about nine years, and married his wife, Mary, in March of last year.

Loa also is survived by his father, Duke Loa; his sister, Tanya Bishop; brothers Sgt. Monty Loa and Spc. Jason Loa; and stepbrother Sgt. Lloyd Mageo.

“This world is not our home, we are just passing through,” Hudson said before Loa’s final roll call was announced. “I believe joy will come to the Loas again.”

Monday, September 18, 2006

303

From what I understand this was on the news in the states. Another battery in Bryan's batallion was significantly affected by this attack. The battery suffered 1 fatality and there were 21 soldiers wounded. Please pray for the family of the solider we lost and the wounded soldiers and their families as they recover. A large section of the building they were living in was also destroyed and soldiers lost many of their personal items too.
http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/09/14/iraq.main/index.html

Friday, September 15, 2006

300

Over R&R Bryan and I had some family pictures taken. Now I have a lot of prints that I want to get rid of. I uploaded all the pictures and the sizes and quanitities I have of each one. Some of them are ok, but some of them I really dislike. As I've said before, you can't expect much from our little shop here on post though.
Here are all the pictures. Please let me know if you'd like one!
http://cristin.fotopic.net/c1083545.html
The sizes are listed underneath the pictures with the quantities I have of each one in parentheses. For all but 2 poses, I only have one 3.5 by 5. Some of the pictures also look off center, but the actual prints are correct and look better.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

298


Things are starting to get back to normal for me again.
Mama and Dale arrived on the 31st and I went to the airport to pick them up. I came back to work for a few hours, but then my boss let everyone go home early that day. On Friday I drove us to Brugge, Belgium. We spent the night there and left just before noon on Saturday. From Brugge we went to Brussels and spent the night there also. We came back to Baumholder on Sunday to get a little rest before venturing out again.
On Monday I drove us up the Rhine River and back down the Mosel River. Along the way we stopped at Bacharach, St. Goar, Burg Eltz, and Bernkastel-Kues for their annual wine fest.
I worked again Tuesday through Thursday. On Tuesday Mama and Dale walked around downtown Baumholder and on Wednesday and Thursday they went to nearby Idar-Oberstein on a bus themselves. Thursday evening we also went to a family day event that was hosted by Bryan's battalion.
Friday we went to Heidelberg for the day and Saturday we went to Trier.
Of course we enjoyed eating a lot of good German food while they were here!
Sunday morning I took them to the airport for their long flight back to the states.
Monday I resumed my daily work and workout routine. After work that day I went to spinning. Yesterday I did my early morning weight lifting before work. This evening I'm going to attend my 2nd yoga class ever!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

284

I've been busy lately getting ready for the arrival of my mom and aunt tomorrow! I've been planning our traveling, cleaning the house (again!), getting a little work done at my office, and even planning for some trips Bryan and I are going to take when he gets back. Woohoo!
Here's an interesting article I just found on the Stars and Stripes website.

Spouses say community helping Baumholder cope
War and separations have strained 1st AD families

By Terry Boyd, Stars and Stripes

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Most people soldier on.

But three years of war, long separations from family and fallen friends are starting to take a toll on the home front. Add a lack of information and communication, fears of an extension, base budget cuts and ongoing transformation, you’d think you’d have a perfect storm of angst at this Army base.

Yet, even the most dissatisfied say a sense of community — often missing other places — seems to hold this 1st Armored Division post together.

Jennifer Sewell laid out her philosophy: Life is still good for spouses with friends, activities and reasonable expectations.

Her husband may be one of the few not deployed, but he’s spent 100 days in the field this year, said Sewell, 23, who arrived in 2004 during the division’s first Iraq deployment. Despite the tough times, she hasn’t heard much complaining.

People have frustrations here, but she said she hasn’t sensed anger on a large scale: “Maybe one of 20 people is upset.”

Medical personnel tend to agree. With slightly more than two months before about 4,000 troops are scheduled to return, the community is coping reasonably well, they say.

Since April, 17 Baumholder-based soldiers have died in Iraq.

Though there are those struggling, “it’s a normal reaction to an abnormal situation,’” said one medical expert, who like others did not want to be named. Those same experts add that they’re seeing rising doubts about the Iraq mission. Yet most interviewed for this article were more interested in the personal, rather than the political.

While most spouses were willing to speak on the record, all but one asked that their husbands’ names not be used because they were giving their own opinions.

If there is a common issue at Baumholder, it’s the perceived lack of information and contact with soldiers — not just while they’re in Iraq, but through a series of months-long separations that began well before the November 2005 deployment. Baumholder units under the 2nd Brigade Combat Team did two full training cycles at Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels.

Many Baumholder soldiers are fighting in insurgent-held Ramadi. In Ramadi, 1st AD soldiers and Marines are setting up small combat outposts, driving into the 450,000-population city, trying to isolate the enemy in the center. At the small outposts, there are no communications.

During her husband’s first Iraq deployment, they talked or e-mailed every day, said Leslie Pineto, newly arrived from the 1st AD’s 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment at Fort Riley, Kan. Not this time.

At one point, Amanda Garcia said she was terrified because she hadn’t heard from her husband for two weeks.

Her only information came from a May 21 story in Stars and Stripes that quoted Pentagon officials as saying some 2nd Brigade soldiers were going north. Her Family Readiness Group leader responded with an e-mail stating the article was wrong, she said.

“Then they confirmed (the information) a week later … It’ll make you crazy.”

Another spouse who asked not to be identified said after the move to Iraq, her 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment FRG called a meeting. “We had the impression we were going to get hard information,” she said. Instead, meeting topics turned out to be Afghan sales and bake sales, she said. “Everyone left that meeting so frustrated.”

“Everyone says, ‘That’s the Army.’ But it’s not the Army,” Garcia said. When she and her husband were at Fort Carson, Colo., command and FRGs kept them up to date, she said. At Baumholder, her frustration with her FRG and what she describes as a failure to communicate “makes everything seem worse.”

Maj. Jeanine White, 2nd Brigade rear detachment commander, reiterated that information in Stars and Stripes has been inaccurate, but did not elaborate.

“Until I can give them a fact, I can give no information,” White said. Acknowledging troop movements “could put thousands of lives in danger,” she said, adding that she can’t release information until the movement is complete.

In mid-August, White said the deployment orders remain “365 days, or until mission complete.” Most people interviewed assume there will be an extension. That would mean crossing a fundamental psychological barrier, many spouses told Stars and Stripes.

Kristin DeLuca’s husband, Capt. Sean Frerking, has told her to prepare for the possibility of an extension and that he’ll miss another Christmas with his family. In nine years, first as an enlisted soldier, then as an officer, his deployments have become longer and more frequent, DeLuca said.

Her husband has been gone so much that he’s missed much of his life with her and daughter, Shoshanna, 4, DeLuca said.

He could leave the Army on April 30, 2007. “I don’t see him staying in,” she said.

Alison Errington, an FRG leader with Battery C, 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, doesn’t disagree that deployments and training have taken officers and soldiers away from families. Of the 3½ years the family has spent at Baumholder, her husband has been home a total of only about one year because of deployments or training.

But her husband loves his job, “and he’s good at it,” she said. To support him, it’s her job as battery FRG leader to try to bring spouses together to develop friendships so they aren’t burdening their husbands with all their troubles, she said.

If his soldiers aren’t stressing about the home front, “that’s going to make my husband’s job easier. The more focused his soldiers are, the safer my husband is going to be,” Errington said.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Story about Jae

Sierra sent out this link to a news story about Jae.
Under "Featured Videos" click on "Soldier with Ties to Scottsboro Injured"

http://www.whnt.com/Global/category.asp?C=6020&nav=menu108_2

279


2-6's Melvin remembered as a tough leader

By Terry Boyd, Stars and Stripes


BAUMHOLDER, Germany — When Staff Sgt. Tracy Melvin was asked whether he was prepared for his E-7 promotion board, he shook his head no, Staff Sgt. Guadalupe Gonzalez said.

“He said, ‘I don’t want to be promoted just yet. I love being a squad leader,’” Gonzalez said.

During a memorial Wednesday, Melvin, a 31-year-old career soldier from the 1st Armored Division’s hard-hit Company A, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment who was killed in action in Iraq, was remembered as an accomplished, highly decorated mentor to his men.

“Tough, rough around the edges ... intimidating in stature, demanding as a leader,” Gonzalez said.

Melvin showed his soldiers that “leadership is more than being tough,” said Capt. Marvin King III, rear-detachment battalion commander. Real leadership “is teaching your soldiers all you can,” said King, who gave one of the tributes.

Melvin, a Seattle native, died Aug. 6 after his unit was hit by an improvised bomb during combat in Ramadi, where 2-6 is one of the units pushing into the insurgent stronghold. He was the 16th Baumholder-based soldier to die during this deployment, noted Maj. Jeanine White, the 2nd Brigade rear-detachment commander.

Melvin, who was on his second Iraq deployment, was from a solid military background. His father, Bill Swindle, was in the Navy and his brother, Michael Swindle, is in the Marines. Melvin’s stepson, Spc. Michael Garcia, also is in 2-6, and was serving with him when he was killed.

Melvin was so thoroughly military, said Chaplain (Col.) James Brown, that Brown wasn’t surprised to learn he had served in the 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, or Old Guard.

The spit and polish soldiers in the Old Guard, part of the Army’s oldest active regiment, have many ceremonial duties, including guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns, as well as combat missions.

In Seattle, Melvin was remembered as a serious military historian. His ex-wife, Sheri Washington, told the Seattle Times that when they were in high school together, Melvin watched The History Channel and read military books while the other kids were hanging out.

The shy teen could recite military history and famous battles from World War II to Vietnam, and even helped a teacher prepare a lecture on the Vietnam War, Washington said.

“I was proud of him,” she said.

Melvin’s death brought yet another day of grieving to Baumholder. As she prepared for the service, White said, she thought about what she could say to encourage people to “stay in the race when things look bleak.”

Finally, she decided she didn’t have to say anything about that.

“Your presence speaks volumes about how the community is bonding … with the strength to fill the chapel for each fallen soldier,” she said. “The community is strong.”

Melvin’s military awards include the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Expert Infantryman Badge. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.

Melvin is survived by his wife of one year, Mary Melvin; three stepchildren, including Spc. Michael Garcia; his parents, William and Janice Swindle; and his brothers, Michael Swindle and Michael Melvin.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

277

Last night I found out that one of Bryan's friends from college was injured in Afghanistan. His name is Jae, and his wife, Sierra, is due to have their first baby next week. I have been keeping in touch with Sierra recently, so when I found out this happened I was very upset. Here is part of the message that she sent out:

On Saturday the 19th, Jae was in a convoy that was ambushed and hit by an IED. There were 5 people in his humvee, two were killed instantly, one died 5 hours later, and one was thrown from the vehicle and sustained serious burns. Jae is burned on a little more than 35% of his body (which is actually a smaller amount than they had originally thought) Most of the burns are 3rd degree burns, and the worst part of his injuries were on his left arm. The remainder of the burns are on the back of legs and back around to his chest. He inhaled some of it, so he does have burns in his esophagus. Fortunately, his lungs are in good condition along with all of his other internal organs, and eyes. He is being transported to Brooks Army Medical Center, which is considered to be the premiere burn center in the world.
He is sedated for the pain, and has been intubated because of the burns, but hopefully they will remove that when he gets to Texas. His mom says he has responded a little by moving his fingers and toes, but will probably, and hopefully not remember anything up until this point.
I, on the other hand, am just trying to get this little baby out, so that we can get to San Antonio as soon as humanly possible. They tried to induce me twice Saturday night and Sunday night, with no success. I am probably going to go back in for another induction on Thursday, so we will see. I am hoping to not have to have a c-section, seeing that that would put me a couple more weeks out on getting to San Antonio.


Please pray for Jae, Sierra, and the baby. Sierra is in Georgia right now and until she has the baby, she won't be able to get to San Antonio to be with Jae. The families of the soldiers that were killed also need our prayers. As terrible as this attack was, it is such a blessing that Jae survived.
Bryan has had 2 soldiers injured downrange and we have lost too many members of our community, but this hits home in a different way. Since North Georgia is a military college, almost all of Bryan's friends from school are active duty Army. Jae is the first one we know of to suffer serious injuries, and as I always say, I also hope he is the last.

Monday, August 21, 2006

275


The last time I blogged was Tuesday.
On Wednesday I worked then went to spinning. On Thursday I worked then attended a coffee. Friday was just work. Saturday consisted of some of my normal weekend errands, then I made Mandarin Chicken for dinner (YUM!), and later went bowling with some of my friends for the rest of the night. Sunday was church, then the rest of my weekend chores, and then I baked some Lemon Blossoms.
For the next couple of days I'm going to be working on my resume/application for another job that I'm interested in. Since my unit is deactivating, this would ensure that I would be employed the rest of our time here. I would love to get the job, but I'll survive just the same if I don't.
As of this weekend we are within 90 days of redeployment!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

269

Like I said, Bryan's been REALLY busy lately:

ISF, MND-B forces push ‘Operation Together Forward’ into western Baghdad
By Multi-National Division – Baghdad
Aug 13, 2006, 19:50

Blackanthem Military News, BAGHDAD, Iraq –
Iraqi Security Forces, supported by Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers, continued their combined effort today in western Baghdad’s Shula and Ameriyah neighborhoods in support of Operation Together Forward.

The combined operations on simultaneous objectives are led by the soldiers of 1st and 5th Brigades from the 6th Iraqi Army Division, and policemen from 5th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National Police Division, supported by Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

The operations are designed to reduce the level of murders, kidnappings, assassinations, terrorism and sectarian violence in northwest Baghdad and to reinforce the Iraqi government’s control in Iraq’s capital city.

Soldiers from 1st and 5th Bde., 6th IAD, along with Soldiers from 2nd BCT, 1st Arm. Div., began an operation today to search approximately 4,000 homes and businesses in the Ameriyah neighborhood.

“Security in Baghdad is the top priority for everyone working in Operation Together Forward. We continue to work very closely with Iraqi Security Forces in a major effort to clear this area of terrorists and death squads. Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces are working side by side every day to increase security in Baghdad and help the Iraqi people return to a more normal domestic life,” said Col. Robert Scurlock, commander of the 2nd BCT, 1st Armor Div.

Policemen from 5th Bde., 2nd INP Div., and 1st Bde., 6th IAD, along with Soldiers from 172nd SBCT, began a simultaneous operation today to search homes and businesses in the Shula neighborhood.

Monday, August 14, 2006

268

This weekend wore me out! Baumholder had it’s annual Aldstadtfest in town this weekend. I went down there with a group of my friends on Friday night. We enjoyed the food, drinks, and bands. After we left the fest we also went dancing. We stayed up way too late, but we had a good time so it was worth it!
I was lazy most of the day Saturday, and then we went back down to the fest that night. There was a really good band called Groovin that played. There were some Germans that were having way too much fun and got out of control. Watching them was entertaining for us though!
I slept in on Sunday so that I could be at home when Bryan called. He’s been extremely busy the past few days and will continue to be for the coming week. They are working right now to try to calm down some of the craziness in Baghdad.
I spent the rest of the day on Sunday doing my usual errands and baking for Bryan’s weekly care package. I didn’t get it packed last night so that’s what I’ll spend tonight doing.
There are now less than 100 days until the deployment is over! We are in double digits!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

263


1st AD remember remember good soldier, ‘nicest guy’
Iraq bomb victim recalled in Baumholder service

By Terry Boyd, Stars and Stripes


BAUMHOLDER, Germany — For Sgt. James Moneypenny, the death of Spc. Hai Ming Hsia was doubly hard to take. Not only was Hsia a fine soldier, but he was so genuinely nice that you couldn’t not like him, Moneypenny said.

It’s easy to call someone a nice guy out of politeness rather than conviction, he said.

“But the truth was, you only had to be around Hsia for 15 or 20 minutes, and you knew how completely innocent he was, and that he was a completely good man,” Moneypenny said.

In platoons, it’s not uncommon for little groups and cliques to form, he said.

“But there was not one person who did not like the guy. That’s why when it happened, when we found out, I thought, ‘Of all the people … the nicest guy in the platoon. The guy giving 100 percent.’ ”

Hai Ming Hsia died Aug. 1 in Ramadi, killed when a roadside bomb hit his convoy. He was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, and was the 10th 2-6 soldier to die since the unit moved into Iraq earlier this year from Kuwait.

During the memorial Tuesday at Good Samaritan Chapel in Baumholder, Staff Sgt. Guadalupe Gonzalez remembered Hsia as a complicated man who didn’t open up easily. Once he did, Gonzalez said, Hsia talked about his family.

“Pictures of his son (Brandon) were treasures for him,” he said. “When he talked about the family waiting for him back home was to see happiness in his eyes.”

At 37, Hsia was an older soldier, “a renaissance man,” knowledgeable on many subjects from politics to medicine, said Capt. Marvin King III, battalion rear-detachment commander.

In an interview, Moneypenny said that although he’s from Cincinnati and Hsia from New York City, common elements brought them together. Hsia had a 3-year-old son, Brandon, and Moneypenny has a 2-year-old daughter, Savannah. Both were older soldiers, Moneypenny coming back in the Army at 28 after a hiatus, and Hsia joining late at 34.

Both were team leaders.

As more mature men, they’d joke about the younger guys and the mistakes or poor decisions that were really just part of being immature, Moneypenny said.

“We’d see ’em, and we knew. We’d just laugh.”

Maturity — along with phenomenal shooting skills — made his friend a very good soldier, Moneypenny said.

“He was an amazing shot. Everyone knew that in the whole company,” he said, with Hsia once shooting 40 out of 40 possible points while qualifying in “black” conditions — nearly total darkness.

“I saw all my buddies around me, and most failed it. It was the last day, so a lot of people were impatient,” Moneypenny said. “His being a little older, he decided he wasn’t going to do what those guys did. He was going to do it right.”

Most of all, Moneymaker said, he admired Hsia for making it to his mid-30s without being corrupted, “to still be able to say, ‘I am a good man.’ He wasn’t cocky about it. He was just that kind of guy.”

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

262

This weekend did turn out to be pretty fun!
I went to a cookout at a friends house on Friday night, and another group of us went dancing on Saturday night. We went dancing at a country club in K-town. I really didn't have a clue what I was doing, but we were all over the floor all night anyway. My hips were even sore for 2 days!
Last night I went to my first spinning class. I've been wanting to go for a while but I knew how hard spinning was. I finally broke down yesterday and decided to give it a shot. It was quite a workout, but it was cool to do something fun and different. It is hard to sit down today after being on a bike for an hour though.
There's not anything going on this week so I'm trying to figure out some busy work to do to help the time pass.....

Friday, August 04, 2006

258

I've been doing quite a bit of work this week, so my blog time has been limited.

Check out the good looking guy on page 5 of this newsletter!

http://www.1ad.army.mil/2ndBde/newsletter/striker%20torch%2026th%20edition.pdf

I'm off to begin what should be a pretty fun weekend!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

255

25 SIGNS YOU HAVE GROWN UP


1. Your houseplants are alive, and you can't smoke any of them.

2. Having sex in a twin bed is out of the question.

3. You keep more food than beer in the fridge.

4. 6:00 AM is when you get up, not when you go to bed.

5. You hear your favorite song in an elevator.

6. You watch the Weather Channel.

7. Your friends marry and divorce instead of "hook up" and "break up."

8. You go from 130 days of vacation time to 14.

9. Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as "dressed up."

10. You're the one calling the police because those %&@# kids next door won't turn down the stereo.

11. Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.

12. You don't know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.

13. Your car insurance goes down and your car payments go up.

14. You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonald's leftovers.

15. Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.

16. You take naps.

17. Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.

18. Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 AM would severely upset, rather than settle, your stomach.

19. You go to the drug store for ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and pregnancy tests.

20. A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer "pretty good shit."

21. You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.

22. "I just can't drink the way I used to" replaces "I'm never going to drink that much again."

23. 90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.

24. You drink at home to save money before going to a bar.

25. When you find out your friend is pregnant you congratulate them instead of asking "Oh shit what the hell happened?"


Bonus:

26: You read this entire list looking desperately for one sign that doesn't apply to you and can't find one to save your sorry old butt.

Monday, July 31, 2006

254

Soldier's fast rise through the ranks was ended by a sniper's bullet
Staff sergeant mourned in Baumholder ceremony

By Terry Boyd, Stars and Stripes

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Being a career soldier meant Staff Sgt. Chris Swanson had made the eight-man squad he led his family.

And because they were his family, Swanson would do anything for those eight men, including give his life for them, Staff Sgt. Joshua Tucker told mourners gathered Friday for Swanson’s memorial.

Swanson, of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, died July 22, shot by a sniper while leading that squad during a combat patrol in Ramadi.

It was the third Iraq tour for Swanson, a 25-year-old native of Rose Haven, Md.

He wasn’t just an able soldier, said those who saluted him Friday at H.D. Smith Barracks. It was hard to see any limits on Chris Swanson’s Army career.

In the 82nd Airborne before he came to the 1st Armored Division, it took him only 18 months to rise from specialist to E-6. He was chosen last year to lead a squad in a live-fire demonstration at Grafenwöhr Training Area for Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey, said Capt. Marvin King III, 2-6 battalion rear-detachment commander.

His friend knew if he could make E-7 and go to master gunner school, “he was well on his way,” Tucker said. But Swanson knew what he was getting into.

“When we parted two months ago, one going one way, one going another, I embraced him like a brother,” Tucker said during the memorial. “He looked at me and said, ‘I got it!’ We both understood.”

As career soldiers, both understood what Swanson was in for, going to Ramadi, Tucker said in an interview. He was going to combat. “I knew what he was getting into. He knew it too.” Swanson already had earned the Purple Heart. It took 25 stitches to sew up a shrapnel wound from an improvised bomb two weeks ago, according to media reports.

But if ever there was a soldier prepared for combat, it was Swanson. Swanson was from a family of public servants who served in the police, military and the FBI. For the time they’d known each other, Tucker watched Swanson “evolve from a good friend into a great soldier,” he said. Ambitious, aggressive, determined, energetic and most of all competent were the adjectives those who knew him used.

Swanson was also incredibly competitive, on duty and off, King and Tucker said.

If anyone said his squad or even his platoon were better, “he’d stop you on the spot and challenge you to a competition,” King said. “He had no worries. He knew his men were the best.”

Swanson was adept at forming close, long-lasting friendships, friendships that extended to locals. He still can visualize Swanson off duty, relaxing in the nearby old Roman city of Trier, surrounded by his German friends, Tucker said.

“I will never be able to express in words the impact he had on my life, or on the soldiers he leaves in the wake of his legacy,” he said.

Swanson is survived by his father and mother, Gary and Kelly Swanson, and a brother, Kenny.

Swanson was one of three 1st AD soldier to die this week. Capt. Jason M. West, 28, of Pittsburgh, Pa., died July 24 in Ramadi, when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire. West was assigned to the Friedberg-based 1st Brigade.

Another 1st Brigade soldier died the same day in a separate attack, but neither the Department of Defense nor the division has yet released his name.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

250

This should be required reading for all Americans!

Navy Captain Dan Ouimette's speech to the Pensacola Civitan Club on February 19th, 2003:

America WAKE UP!


That's what we think we heard on the 11th of September 2001 and maybe it
was, but I think it should have been "Get Out of Bed!" In fact, I think
the alarm clock has been buzzing since 1979 and we have continued to hit
the snooze button and roll over for a few more minutes of peaceful sleep
since then.

It was a cool fall day in November 1979 in a country going through a
religious and political upheaval when a group of Iranian students
attacked and seized the American Embassy in Tehran. This seizure was an
outright attack on American soil; it was an attack that held the world's
most powerful country hostage and paralyzed a Presidency. The attack on
this sovereign US embassy set the stage for the events to follow for the
next 23 years.

America was still reeling from the aftermath of the Viet Nam experience
and had a serious threat from the Soviet Union when then, President
Carter, had to do something. He chose to conduct a clandestine raid in
the desert. The ill-fated mission ended in ruin, but stood as a symbol
of America's inability to deal with terrorism. America's military had
been decimated and downsized / right sized since the end of the Viet Nam
war. A poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly organized military was
called on to execute a complex mission that was doomed from the start.

Shortly after the Tehran experience, Americans began to be kidnapped and
killed throughout the Middle East. America could do little to protect
her citizens living and working abroad. The attacks against US soil
continued. In April of 1983 a large vehicle packed with high explosives
was driven into the US Embassy compound in Beirut. When it explodes, it
kills 63 people. The alarm went off again and America hit the Snooze
Button once more. Then just six short months later a large truck heavily
laden down with over 2500 pounds of TNT smashed through the main gate of
the US Marine Corps headquarters in Beirut. 241 US servicemen are
killed. America mourns her dead and hit the Snooze Button once more.
Two months later in December 1983, another truck loaded with explosives
is driven into the US Embassy in Kuwait, and America continues her
slumber. The following year, in September 1984, another van was driven
into the gates of the US Embassy in Beirut and America slept.

Soon the terrorism spreads to Europe. In April 1985 a bomb explodes in a
restaurant frequented by US soldiers in Madrid. Then in August a
Volkswagen loaded with explosives is driven into the main gate of the US
Air Force Base at Rhein-Main, 22 are killed and the Snooze Alarm is
buzzing louder and louder as US soil is continually attacked. Fifty-nine
days later a cruise ship, the Achille Lauro is hijacked and we watched as
an American in a wheelchair is singled out of the passenger list and
executed. The terrorists then shift their tactics to bombing civilian
airliners when they bomb TWA Flight 840 in April of 1986 that killed 4
and the most tragic bombing, Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland
in 1988, killing 259. America wants to treat these terrorist acts as
crimes; in fact we are still trying to bring these people to trial.
These are acts of war...the Wake Up alarm is louder and louder.

The terrorists decide to bring the fight to America. In January 1993,
two CIA agents are shot and killed as they enter CIA headquarters in
Langley, Virginia. The following month, February 1993, a group of
terrorists are arrested after a rented van packed with explosives is
driven into the underground parking garage of the World Trade Center in
New York City. Six people are killed and over 1000 are injured. Still
this is a crime and not an act of war? The Snooze alarm is depressed
again.

Then in November 1995 a car bomb explodes at a US military complex in
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killing seven service men and women. A few months
later in June of 1996, another truck bomb explodes only 35 yards from the
US military compound in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It destroys the Khobar
Towers, a US Air Force barracks, killing 19 and injuring over 500.

The terrorists are getting braver and smarter as they see that America
does not respond decisively. They move to coordinate their attacks in a
simultaneous attack on two US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These
attacks were planned with precision, they kill 224. America responds
with cruise missile attacks and goes back to sleep.

The USS Cole was docked in the port of Aden, Yemen for refueling on 12
October 2000, when a small craft pulled along side the ship and exploded
killing 17 US Navy Sailors. Attacking a US War Ship is an act of war,
but we sent the FBI to investigate the crime and went back to sleep.

And of course you know the events of 11 September 2001. Most Americans
think this was the first attack against US soil or in America. How wrong
they are. America has been under a constant attack since 1979 and we
chose to hit the snooze alarm and roll over and go back to sleep.


In the news lately we have seen lots of finger pointing from every high
official in government over what they knew and what they didn't know.
But if you've read the papers and paid a little attention I think you can
see exactly what they knew. You don't have to be in the FBI or CIA or on
the National Security Council to see the pattern that has been developing
since 1979. The President is right on when he says we are engaged in a
war. I think we have been in a war for the past 23 years and it will
continue until we as a people decide enough is enough.

America has to "Get out of Bed" and act decisively now. America has
changed forever. We have to be ready to pay the price and make the
sacrifice to ensure our way of life continues. We cannot afford to hit
the Snooze Button again and roll over and go back to sleep. We have to
make the terrorists know that in the words of Admiral Yamamoto after the
attack on Pearl Harbor "that all they have done is to awaken a sleeping
giant.

Thank you very much.

Dan Ouimette
Pensacola Civitan
19 Feb 2003

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

249

Baumholder mourns another 2nd BCT soldier killed in Iraq

By Terry Boyd, Stars and Stripes


BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Spc. Manuel J. Holguin liked to show the world his tough side. And he was a tough soldier, says his friend, Staff Sgt. Nathan Holtgrewe, 26, from Phoenix.

But if you knew him — really knew him — you’d see the real Manuel Holguin, “who had a joyous heart,” said Cindy Salas.

Holtgrewe and Salas were among a group of Holguin’s friends quietly grieving after Holguin’s memorial at Good Samaritan Chapel in Baumholder. Holguin, 21, of Woodlake, Calif., died July 15 when his foot patrol was hit by a roadside bomb and small-arms fire in Baghdad. About 300 people packed the chapel Friday on a hot afternoon to pay tribute to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s 13th fallen soldier since March.

In her remarks, Maj. Jeanine White, 2nd Brigade rear detachment commander, noted the losses and their collective effect on this 1st Armored Division base.

“What makes us so unique, so special to each other, is the way we live,” White said. Soldiers in U.S. Army Europe communities “live for each other”: work and play together, from the spouse working in the shoppette to the captain volunteering as a T-ball coach.

“And today, we mourn all together, all of us, in our own way, but together,” White said. In such communities, people become close and know each other well.

Holguin was one of those soldiers “you don’t have to tell to keep working,” said Holtgrewe, his fellow soldier in Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment. “He kept working till the job was done.”

His friend did two Iraq deployments without going home on leave. He came from a military family, and his cousin, Ian Holguin, is a first lieutenant with the 3rd Infantry Division, Holtgrewe said.

Get past the tough soldier, and you found a California guy “through and through. He was lighthearted, always smiling,” Holtgrewe said. His friend loved cars and owned an old Chevy Impala and a Silverado truck. “But when he saw someone was going to take a picture, he put on that tough face. That’s not how he was. He was like a little kid.”

Salas said losing Holguin was especially tough for her family. Her husband, Sgt. Castulo Salas, and Holguin had served in Iraq together during the 1st AD’s first Iraq rotation. She knew a soldier so close to his parents that he was always talking to them by phone. She knew a soldier who, instead of ignoring her 6-year-old daughter, Yasarah, became a favorite friend.

“He was my daughter’s big brother,” said Cindy Salas. “That’s why it’s so heartbreaking.”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

248



Baumholder community honors soldier killed in Iraq
California flags ordered flown at half-staff in honor of Pfc. Ryan J. Clark

By Terry Boyd, Stars and Stripes


BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Baumholder has suffered another tough loss, this one made that much tougher by how Pfc. Ryan J. Clark fought to live.

“We all wanted this 19-year-old to pull though,” said Capt. Catherine Carlson, rear detachment commander for the 40th Engineer (Combat) Battalion, 1st Armored Division, during Clark’s memorial Friday. “He fought to get home to family and friends,” Carlson said. The young soldier won that fight, his family and friends with him when he passed away, she said.

Clark died June 29 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He was wounded June 17 in Ramadi when a roadside bomb hit his Humvee during a patrol. Two other 40th Engineer soldiers — Sgt. Reyes Ramirez and Cpl. Robert L. Jones — died instantly in the attack.

Clark was badly hurt in the explosion, “but was up walking around,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Best, who was in the Humvee just behind Clark, Ramirez and Jones. “The medic and I went to get him, and we radioed to base. (Clark) was talking … all the way back. He was in shock, but he was talking,” said Best, platoon sergeant for Clark’s unit, 2nd Platoon, Company C.

Best and speakers at his memorial remembered Clark, a .50 cal gunner, as an ardent baseball fan.

“He loved baseball. They were right on the money about that,” Best said. When the 40th Engineer Battalion was in Kuwait from November 2005 to last May before deploying to Iraq, Clark was always ready for a pick-up softball game. “He was very athletic,” the platoon sergeant said. “He played shortstop.”

Clark was also devoted to his Jewish faith, Best said.

The Lancaster, Calif., native “loved his family, baseball and hanging out at Chili’s (Restaurant) at Ramstein,” said Sgt. John Goodrow, who gave one of the memorial tributes. Clark was funny and spontaneous, Goodrow said. When a new soldier came in to the squad, Clark went up and introduced himself: “He said, ‘I don’t know you, but I really like you because now I don’t have to carry the SAW anymore,’” Goodrow said, referring to the squad automatic weapon, much heavier than an M-4 carbine.

Ryan Clark is survived by his parents, Pennie and Keith J. Clark, and his brothers, Sean and Justin Clark.

Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered flags flown at half-staff Thursday at the capitol building in Sacramento, according to a state news release. “Today Maria and I join all Californians in expressing our sadness over the loss of (Pfc.) Clark,” Schwarzenegger was quoted as saying in the release. “We wish to extend our heartfelt sympathies to Ryan’s family. Every person willing to sacrifice their life for this country and our freedoms deserves our utmost respect and gratitude.”

Monday, July 24, 2006

247

Baumholder lost some more soldiers since June. My next few posts will be about them.




Baumholder-based soldier remembered as loyal, reassuring

By Terry Boyd, Stars and Stripes


BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Spc. Michael Potocki was a guy who would do anything for you — for his fellow soldiers and for his friends.

“He’d give you the shirt off his back,” said Pfc. Matthew Stern, his friend.

Potocki, 21, with the Baumholder-based 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, was shot June 26 during a firefight in Hit, northwest of Baghdad. He died later at a U.S. Army medical facility at al-Asad Air Base.

The Baltimore native was the first 1-6 soldier killed in this deployment, the unit’s second Iraq rotation since 2003.

Stern’s remembrances and news stories paint a portrait of an exceptional soldier and human being.

A Marine Corps News story about his Iraq memorial quoted Potocki’s team leader, Cpl. William McCoy, as calling Potocki “a helluva person,” a new breed of infantryman he’d like to show other countries as an example of an American.

Potocki made a big impression on him, Stern said.

“He was the first person I met when I first arrived in Baumholder,” the Houston native wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes. “He was there to show me around post, and there to make Germany feel as much like home as possible.”

Potocki was also there when he needed him most, Stern said in an interview. After Stern collapsed with a seizure last month in Iraq, “I don’t really remember anything except him. Just his hand on my shoulder. Just his voice reassuring me everything was going to be OK.

“He never left my side as they were loading me on the [helicopter] to be evacuated,” Stern said. “Loyalty is something that cannot be taught. Specialist Potocki was loyal.”

Potocki was on his second Iraq deployment, having spent five months in 2004 during the 1st Armored Division’s first rotation. He joined the Army in March of 2003, just before graduating from Patterson Senior High School that June.

He was awarded posthumously the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He had already been awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge and other medals and citations. He is survived by his mother, Debra Potocki, his father, Joseph Munn, and his brother, Kevin Potocki.

Potocki loved his country and loved being a soldier in the U.S. Army, Stern wrote.

“He once said to me that birth and death are the two noblest expressions of bravery.”

Potocki’s memorial was held June 30 in Baumholder. The Department of Defense didn’t announce his death until that day.

Friday, July 21, 2006

244 - All about R&R!

I’m back again. Bryan left on Wednesday morning and I came right to work that afternoon. Here’s how the previous two weeks went though.
He arrived on the morning of the 3rd. I got up at around 3:30 that morning so I could get ready and look nice for him. I left for Frankfurt around 5am and was a nervous wreck the whole way there. I found what I thought would be where he arrived and waited not very patiently for him to walk through the door. Everytime the door opened and someone walked through, we (all of the people obviously waiting on soldiers from downrange) would all strain to try to see if we could spot our loved one back there somewhere. I wasn’t sure how I would react when I finally saw Bryan. I always thought I would cry, but the closer it got to seeing him, I decided that I would be too excited to cry. Well, I was wrong! Seeing him walk through that door after 8 months was a very surreal experience for both of us. I casually walked toward him, but when we hugged it all came out - eight months’ worth of emotions all in one moment. We couldn’t stop saying to one another how surreal it was to be together again.
Bryan’s main goal was to just spend time together and relax over the 2 weeks so that’s what we mostly did. We did want to celebrate the 4th in some way though. Bryan had never been to the lake near Baumholder so we decided to invite our friends and go there. Our friends from home, Josh and Erin, came down from K-town and brought a friend of theirs. Laura and Tally and Vanessa and Victoria also joined us. We had a nice afternoon and I’m really glad Bryan got to spend some time with one of his guy friends since there’s obviously nothing in Baumholder but our female friends!
That first week we ate at a few of the restaurants that Bryan had been missing.
On the 10th, we packed our bags and headed to the Bavaria region of Germany. There is a “military resort” in Garmisch called Edelweiss. They offer special packages for soldiers who are on their R&R leave or have just returned from a deployment. We paid $60 a day for our room, breakfast, and dinner. It was such a great deal and I’m so thankful that they do something so nice for the servicemembers.
On Tuesday we drove to the Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Palace. I have been wanting to see these since we first came to Germany. They were beautiful and we had a lot of fun traveling on our own that day. After we got back to Garmisch, Bryan wanted to check out the golf course. He ended up being able to play for free as one of the R&R package perks. That may be the prettiest setting he'll ever play golf in.
On Wednesday we took a trip with Edelweiss to Berchtesgaden and the Eagle’s Nest. The Eagle’s Nest was really interesting and the scenery from up there was amazing.
Thursday on our way home, we visited the Dachau Concentration Camp outside of Munich.
Friday afternoon we went to K-town and pre-ordered our first new car! We ordered a 2007 BMW 3-Series through a military car sales program. We won’t actually get the car until around November but we are so excited!!
Saturday we went to the little photo shop on post and had our pictures taken. They were fine, but you can’t expect much more since our resources are so limited here. Tomorrow I’m going to pick up the prints that we ordered and the disc with all the pictures on it. I’ll put them online next week.
Monday we took Misha to the vet to have a biopsy on a spot on her back. The vet thinks there is a chance that she may have skin cancer. She didn’t like one bit of the procedure but she was such a trooper. I’m taking her next week to have her stitches removed and the vet hopes they’ll have her results back then.
On Tuesday Bryan and I celebrated our anniversary since we really wouldn’t be able to on Wednesday. We watched our wedding video and I think Bryan enjoyed it more than me! He kept rewinding it and re-watching some of the funny parts. He gave me some clothes and jewelry that I had wanted and I gave him an engraved compass. We also went to dinner at a restaurant in town and to the eis café for dessert.
We left Baumholder around 7 on Wednesday morning to go back to the airport. We hung out for a little while at the airport and said goodbye around 10am so Bryan could go to his gate. He actually just called to let me know that he has made it back to his camp in Baghdad okay.
Overall, we had a great time together. Both of us said it was just what we needed to motivate us to make it through these last four months. Hopefully they are nothing compared to the 8 that we’ve already been through. I definitely feel like we are on the downhill side of the deployment though. Even though the halfway mark was 2 months ago, it really feels like it now.
I put our pictures from the 2 weeks online. They are under the July section at:
cristin.fotopic.net.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Friday, June 30, 2006

223



I can't wait to do that!
<----------------------

Just a few random things..
Coming to work this morning, I passed a dump truck on my street. It was a Mercedes-Benz truck. Only in Europe would you see a automobile full of trash that is a Mercedes.

If you live in or around Greene County, pick up this week's Lake Oconee News. You may see someone you know on the front!

As of today, there is officially one year left until we leave Germany. We are scheduled to return by 30 June 2007. I better get to doing more traveling!

We're having a work cookout this afternoon at 2. I'm very glad that I don't have to spend the afternoon sitting in this office bored out of my mind. Everyone is supposed to bring their family. Since I don't have any here, Laura & Tally are going to go with me.
The next time I post on here, I'll either be updating Bryan's travel status or saying he's home!!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

222

Bryan made the first part of his trek home yesterday. It was a short trip, but it was the most dangerous so I'm glad it's done. He still has a long way to go. He's on his way though!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

221

Baumholder remembers two of its fallen soldiers
Ceremony honors comrades killed in Iraq by roadside bomb

By Matt Millham, Stars and Stripes


Two soldiers whose names were called during a roll call at Baumholder, Germany, Tuesday weren’t there to give a reply. The soldiers, members of the Baumholder-based 40th Engineer (Combat) Battalion, had been killed in Iraq earlier this month and were memorialized during a service at their home base.

Sgt. Reyes Ramirez and Cpl. Robert L. Jones died instantly when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle in Ramadi on June 17.

Hundreds of people filled Baumholder’s Good Samaritan Chapel on Tuesday to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers, both of whom were in Iraq for their second tours.

One of Jones’ comrades, Sgt. John P. Goodrow, remembered the Milwaukie, Ore., native as a joker with a compassionate side.

“Even if he had personal issues, he’d put them aside to help you out,” Goodrow said of the 22-year-old Jones.

During their first stint in Iraq with the 40th Engineer Battalion, part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Jones was known for his candor and practical jokes. Goodrow said that if you slept next to Jones, you could expect to come back to your rack to find everything you had turned upside down.

When the unit was called back for a second trip to the desert, Jones thought he had already seen enough of Iraq. Goodrow told the hundreds of people who gathered at the memorial service how some of the unit’s new troops couldn’t wait to get to the war. Jones was less enthusiastic about the prospect of heading back.

“With him, he had already been there,” Goodrow said. “He knew what it was all about. He didn’t want to go back to it.”

Jones made it a point to set the new soldiers straight. War wasn’t fun and games.

When the 40th was told that it was going to provide theater support from Iraq’s relatively innocuous neighbor Kuwait, Jones wasn’t upset. He and many of his comrades were hopeful rumors that the deployment would last just six months were true.

But he was shocked and disappointed when, after almost half a year in Kuwait, the 40th was given the order to head north into Iraq, Goodrow said.

Ramirez, a 23-year-old native of Willis, Texas, also had a lighter side and joked around a lot, but he will most likely be remembered for his strong leadership, Staff Sgt. Michael J. Stewart said. He had known Ramirez since the unit’s first Iraq rotation, and watched Ramirez grow from a regular soldier into a professional noncommissioned officer, he said.

Before the unit headed to Iraq, Ramirez’s skills as a leader were on display when his squad won the Sapper Stakes, a competition that tests the skill and ingenuity of Army engineers, commonly referred to as “sappers.”

“You get lucky and get a great bunch of guys, but he was a great leader, too, and a great teacher,” Goodrow said of Ramirez.

Ramirez was also a family man. While on leave in February he married his girlfriend of a year, Sy, a sergeant who is also a member of the 40th Engineers.

Sy Ramirez is expecting the couple’s first child, a daughter.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

220

I have 4 matching tires on my car again! Yesterday on my lunch break, I finally went to the German shop where Bryan bought our tires when we got here. The older man who owns the shop was so nice. He came out and looked at my tires and then went to the back to see what he could find. He came out with one of my exact tires. I asked him if I should make an appointment to get it put on, but he offered to do it right then. It turned out that I needed to go on post to get some cash though. He went ahead and took the bad tire out from under my car so he could get the new one ready to put on while I was gone. I went home and got my VAT form (which would save me the 16% tax) and some cash, and went back to the tire shop. I pulled right in and he went to work. He took off my spare and put it back under my car, and then he put the new tire on. All this was done in less than an hour, and I was back to lunch before 1pm. Now I just wish I would have gone there first. Hindsight is always 20/20 though!

Monday, June 26, 2006

219


So much for cleaning. I was hardly at home this weekend, so I didn't get much accomplished in that department. First thing Saturday morning I went to the gym and did an hour on the elliptical. Later on, myself, Pam, Laura, & Tally all went to the lake near Baumholder. I knew it was there, but I had never actually been there. We had a really nice afternoon there and I look forward to going back soon. I told Bryan that I may try to coerce him into going while he's here. I figured he may not be too excited about experiencing the sun and sand. Then he reminded me that if it's 80 degrees here, then that's about 40 degrees less than what he's living in right now! He may be cold if he goes out in just a swimsuit! Anyway, we had fun introducing Tally to the lake. We took the picture above when I finally got brave enough to get all the way in the water.
Sunday I went to church and then spent most of the afternoon at my friend Sara's house. Our other friend Sarah had her 1st wedding anniversary but obviously she wasn't able to celebrate it with her husband. We had lunch and then looked at one another's wedding albums. As we were looking at my album, I was thinking how I can't believe it's already been almost 3 years since Bryan and I were married. I guess time flies when you're having fun! Married life in the Army isn't what most people would consider ideal, but we definitely do the best we can with what we've got. I hope we were able to make Sarah's anniversary special for her and that this will be the only one she has to celebrate separate from her husband.
After I left Sara's I did my weekly trips to the commissary, PX, and Powerzone. Last night was the usual Sunday night dinner and tv at Laura's. I eventually made my way back up to our home and finally to bed!

Friday, June 23, 2006

216

I really hope it's ok if I post this!

In my eyes, my cousin Casey is someone who deserves to have her 'happily ever after'. I recently found out that she is another step closer to that! You could say that it's been a "challenge" for her to get pregnant. She couldn't get me on the phone because of my trip, so I had an email waiting on me when I got to work Monday morning. Casey informed me that she is almost 2 months pregnant!!! As I sat at my computer and read her email, I began to tear up. I can't say how happy I am for her and Mike and how excited I am to have a new cousin (Although I do think I may want to be "Aunt" Cristin!). Bryan and I have been hoping and doing a lot of praying for them. Congratulations to the grandmother to be too!
Casey & Mike ~ I hope everything about this pregnancy and this baby are amazing and wonderful. I know that y'all will be awesome parents!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

214

Baumholder remembers two soldiers killed in Iraq
By Terry Boyd, Stars and Stripes

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — In Baumholder, the 1st Armored Division community was in mourning once again, remembering Monday two men from Company D, 2nd Brigade, 6th Infantry unit killed last week in Iraq.

“The grief bucket is full,” said Chaplain (Col.) James Brown, during the ceremony, the third in 12 days for Baumholder-based soldiers.

First Lt. Scott McLean Love, 32, of Huntsville, Ala., and Spc. David “Nick” Crombie, 19, of Winnemucca, Nev., were killed Wednesday when a roadside bomb hit their patrol in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

In Love, the Army lost an accomplished, seasoned leader and an Arabic-speaking officer, said those who saluted him. Joining the Army after earning a bachelor’s degree in film at Florida State University, Love attended the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, Calif., as a noncommissioned officer. Love could read, write and speak Arabic fluently, said 2nd Lt. Joshua Adelman, 2-6 rear detachment commander, who gave his eulogy.

“Quick to laugh, slow to anger,” the former enlisted soldier had the complete trust and confidence of his NCOs and soldiers, said Adelman. Love was a distinguished honor graduate in his NCO Academy class and went on to get his commission in 2003. As an officer, Love was the kind of leader to be “the first down with the boys breaking track,” working on Abrams fighting vehicles, Adelman said.

In an interview after the ceremony, Adelman quoted Sgt. Jason Welsh, who was wounded in the attack that killed Love and Crombie, and was treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

“I was chatting with [Welsh] at Landstuhl, and he was reminiscing about times with the platoon leader,” Adelman said. “There was this one time where everything was just going crazy and he was starting to lose it, and he looks over and sees the PL, who is totally calm. And he says, ‘OK, I can be calm too!’”

Crombie, a medic, had spent only a brief time with Company D downrange in Kuwait before being called up in the reserve force to Iraq. But his medic skills had been specifically requested for the mission by Love, “a patrol (Crombie) could have sat out,” said Capt. Daniel Costin, who gave the soldier’s eulogy. “He died knowing we could depend on him.”

“Remember,” Costin concluded, “he was there for [his country] when you needed him most.”

After deploying to Iraq, Crombie sent a letter to his mother, Jennifer Laybourn, explaining how he had saved the life of an Iraqi soldier who had been shot, according to a Yuma (Ariz.) Sun newspaper report. “He admitted he was scared, but it didn’t stop him,” Laybourn was quoted as saying.

The memorial was attended by several hundred people including Maj. Gen, Fred Robinson, 1st AD commander, and Brig. Gen. Michael Tucker, 1st AD assistant division commander-support.

Love is survived by his daughter, Vina Love, and his parents, Robert and Lydia Love, of Huntsville.

Crombie is survived by his mother; his stepfather, Dennis Laybourn; and brother Jason Laybourn, 13, all of Winnemucca, Nev. He is also survived by brother Dan Crombie, 23, of Tucson, Ariz.; and grandparents Lannes and Mary Brock of Yuma.

Crombie will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

The units listed in the article are incorrect. 1LT Love was assigned to B Company, 2-6 IN, and PV2 Crombie was assigned to HHC 1-35 AR.
Here are more articles about them.

PV2 "Nick" Crombie
1LT Scott Love