Tuesday, February 28, 2006

100

This makes me sick and sad all at the same time.
We live just 20 minutes down the road from Landstuhl. Bryan and I have been to the hospital many times and it is a very difficult thing to see all the injured soldiers who are there. We have seen the ambulances speeding on the road between Ramstein and Landstuhl which means that some soldiers have been medevaced in from dowrange. You can only imagine what has happened there and what injuries these soldiers have suffered. I can't believe this woman has the audacity to come here to a HOSPITAL to "protest". I guess I shouldn't be surprised though. She has disgraced her son since his death, so why wouldn't she do the same to the heroes here who are trying to recover.
There are a few things in this article that shows just how crazy Sheehan and the people involved with her are.
They say they want Germany to stop letting the US use their bases for illegal wars. First of all, the US has already begun to downsizes the forces here. The effect that this is going to have on Germany economically will be significant. Baumholder is supposedly one of the posts scheduled to close. The American business is what makes this community run. When we're not here anymore, the economy is going to suffer greatly. Let's see how the members of AVA like that then.
They're "camping" to pay tribute to the people who have died. What about all the soldiers at Landstuhl who are still alive and fighting to recover? Apparently, they mean nothing to her and this group.
Let's do bring the troops home as she wants. Apparently in her mind, the direct result will be "peace on earth". Ok, Cindy, we'll bring the troops home and then send you to Iraq to see how peaceful it is there.
I love how she says she knows nothing about the visit. Why in the world would someone participate in something they know nothing about?! This basically proves the theory that she is using the loss of her son for all the wrong reasons - to get attention, make money, and travel the world! Once again - she doesn't need to miss out on a vacation to Iraq!
The protesters claim they want to visit the soldiers in the hospital and take them gifts. How interesting that the hospital has not received a request for a visit or donations.
I'm almost glad I'm going to be back in the states when she comes here. Our soldiers deserve so much better than this and so does the late SPC Casey Sheehan, a soldier who enlisted in the Army, REENLISTED in 2004, and VOLUNTEERED for the mission in which he was killed.


Sheehan to protest at U.S. posts in Germany in March

By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, February 23, 2006

RAMSTEIN, Germany — Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier killed in Iraq and the woman who protested the war last summer outside President Bush’s Texas ranch, is scheduled to bring her anti-war message to U.S. military installations in Germany next month.

“[We’ve already heard] that Cindy Sheehan is like Hanoi Jane [Fonda] coming here,” said Elsa Rassbach, an event organizer with American Voices Abroad, which is supporting Sheehan’s trip.

But, she said, “We’re here to just democratically talk about U.S. policy.”

On March 11, protesters plan to walk from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to a parking lot just outside Ramstein Air Base, where Sheehan will be at a “camp,” paying tribute to those who have died in the Iraq war.

“Cindy will be with us at Camp Casey Landstuhl/Ramstein to call attention to the fact that Germany is Europe’s logistical hub for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and others threatening Iran and the Middle East,” according to an event flier. “Germany has the power to stop the further use of U.S. bases in Germany for illegal wars and criminal methods of warfare — the power and the right to just say no!”

Organizers are hoping to erect the camp — known as Camp Casey for Sheehan’s son — in a parking lot outside Ramstein Air Base’s west gate. The parking lot is under German jurisdiction, said Erin Zagursky, an Air Force spokeswoman at the base. Protest organizers are meeting with city officials in Ramstein and Landstuhl to gain permission for their event.

Sheehan’s goals are to bring the troops home and have peace on earth, she said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

Her son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, 24, was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Sheehan said in an e-mail she was too busy for a phone interview with Stars and Stripes.

“I don’t know anything about the visit,” she wrote. “It is being arranged by some people in Germany.”

With the Kaiserslautern military community home to more than 50,000 Americans with military ties, Sheehan could face a rough welcome. When asked for comment Wednesday on Sheehan’s upcoming visit, several soldiers in Kaiserslautern asked if they could be quoted anonymously.

One soldier, who recently returned from Iraq, did give his name but didn’t have much to say about Sheehan.

“Anything I would have to say about her, you couldn’t print,” Army Staff Sgt. Mark Genthner said.

Beginning March 9, Sheehan’s European visit will take her to Frankfurt, Aachen, Landstuhl and Ramstein in Germany. On March 13, Sheehan is scheduled to have a news conference in Paris, and the following day will address the European Union parliament in Strasbourg, France.

A protest organizer in Landstuhl said he was asked by others, including some of the 732 members of the European Union parliament, to arrange the protest involving Sheehan.

“The meeting with Cindy Sheehan is coming to us by an offer of members of the European Union in Strasbourg,” said Detlev Besier, a Protestant reverend in Landstuhl. “They asked whether it was possible or not to visit Ramstein Air Base and the hospital. It was not our idea. We were asked whether it was possible or not.”

On March 11, protesters would like to bring gifts, such as books, flowers and homemade goods, to the wounded troops at Landstuhl to show “solidarity to the soldiers wounded in the Iraq War,” according to the event flier.

“We want to make it very clear to soldiers and staff there, we are glad that there is a good medical facility for the wounded,” Rassbach said. “We just want less wounded troops and for this to go away.”

Officials at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center have received no requests for the group to visit the hospital or make donations, said Marie Shaw, hospital spokeswoman.

Rassbach said she did not know what response servicemembers would have to Sheehan’s appearance outside Ramstein Air Base.

“Some press and some opponents say that Cindy is coming as their enemy,” Rassbach said. “Our message is ‘support our soldiers, bring them home, take care of them.’ That’s what we’re about.”

Cindy Sheehan’s itinerary
March 9: News conference in Frankfurt; panel discussion in Aachen
March 10: Reception of the mayor and news conference in Aachen
March 11-12: “Camp Casey” events at Landstuhl/Ramstein
March 13: Press conference and various events in Paris
March 14: News conference and hearing with European Union parliament in Strasbourg, France
March 15: News conference and various events in Berlin
Source: American Voices Abroad flier

Monday, February 27, 2006

99

Another weekend has come and gone.
On Friday night I had practice and they almost made me pull my hair out yet again.
On Saturday I went to the bazaar that was held here this weekend. I bought a lot of wine, a cute little americana shelf, and some other little knick knacks. After the bazaar we had our last game and the girls won 38-20. It wasn't their best game by any means but it was a win. We finished our regular seaon 7-1. That night I went to eat chinese with my friend Stacie. I can't wait to eat at Peking when I go back to the states though!
Yesterday I got up and went to church and then of course ran all my regular weekend errands. I also did my laundry. I started feeling bad again yesterday so as soon as the laundry was done I laid down. I actually dozed off for a little while which shows me that I really am a little sick. I am never able to sleep during the day!
Yesterday was also my mom's birthday so I had to call her and wish her a happy one before I went to sleep!
I don't want to tell anyone else's business on here, but someone very important to me is having surgery today. Please say a little prayer that the results of the surgery are what we are wishing for!

Friday, February 24, 2006

96

Got this one from Dale

The Church Phone
A man in Topeka, Kansas, decided to write a book about churches around the country.

He started by flying to San Francisco, and started working east from there. Going to a very large church, he began taking photographs and making notes. He spotted a golden telephone on the vestibule wall, and was intrigued with a sign, which read, "$10,000 per minute"

Seeking out the pastor, he asked about the phone and the sign. The pastor answered that the golden phone is, in fact, a direct line to Heaven, and if he pays the price, he can talk directly to God.

The man thanked the pastor and continued on his way.
As he continued to visit churches in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago, Milwaukee, and around the United States, he found more such phones, with the
same sign, and the same explanation from each pastor Finally, the man arrived in the lovely state of Tennessee. Upon entering a church, behold: he saw the usual golden telephone. But THIS time, the sign read: "Calls: 25 cents"!

Fascinated, the man asked to speak with the pastor.
"Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country and in each church I have found this golden telephone, and have been told it is a direct line to Heaven, and that I could use it to talk to God. But in 20 other churches, the cost was $10,000 per minute. Your sign says 25 cents per call why is that?


(I just love this part!)


The pastor, smiling benignly, replied: "Son, you're in the South now, and it's a local call.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

By the way.......


Today is Bryan's 25th Birthday!
His present from me was the laptop I got him last month. I also sent him Hummingbird cake on Monday though. It usually takes 3 days for him to get my packages so I expected him to get it a day late. He got it today though - so he was able to have a birthday cake!
Please send him some Happy Birthday wishes!!

95


This is why I love sports!









Beyond Rudy: Athena Senior Inspires
by Jim Aroune
courtesy: Greece Central School Dist.
Published Feb 17, 2006
http://www.rnews.com/Story_2004.cfm?ID=35044&rnews_story_type=18&category=10

They may never stop talking about what they witnessed Wednesday at Greece Athena's final home boys varsity basketball game of the season.

And that would be a good thing.

Some in attendance at Athena's game against Spencerport will say it played out like a Hollywood script; like "Rudy," or "Radio;" stories about a long-shot and a waterboy who inspired their teams by not letting their shortcomings stop them from giving their all.

In what Jason McElwain did during the waning moments of the "Senior Night" at Athena, there may be much more.

Jason is the trainer for the Athena varsity team. So dedicated is Jason, he has not missed a game or practice in the three years he's served the team.

Wednesday for "Senior Night," Athena coach Jim Johnson had Jason suit up for the game. He sat excitedly on the bench in his school colors, number 52; an acknowledgement of Jason's commitment to the program.

Athena moved to a comfortable 20-point lead against Spencerport. With the home crowd calling and classmates waving signs of support, Johnson called down the bench to number 52. Jason, headband and all, headed out onto the court.

"I just wanted to score a basket," McElwain said.

"I"m just sitting there saying `Let him score just one point,'" his mom, Deb said.

With the help of his teammates, Jason stared down a shot from the corner. The entire Athena bench, and every person in the gym rose.

Jason missed.. by six feet.

Moments later, Jason grabbed another pass and let it rain. The shot, from beyond the three-point arc, swished straight through. In unison, those in the gym screamed.

In the game's final four minutes, Jason shot five more times from behind the three-point arc. He made them all. Each time, teammates on the bench would hold their heads and scream, fans would stomp, tears would flow.

Jason scored 20 points. He set an Athena record with a half-dozen three-pointers. His teammates and friends stormed the court. They raised him on their shoulders... wide-eyed and in awe of what they had seen. They asked Jason for his autograph.

" I was focused on the game. You gotta be focused on the game. Not anything else," Jason said.

What made Jason being "in the zone" Wednesday not just another shooting streak is that he is autistic.

What his example will do for others with autism is a story yet to be told. Justin's mother believes it will mean great things for her son.

"Once the severe autistic child can break through, they can live in this world. Just like anyone else," Deb McElwain said.

As for Justin, whose teammates gave him the nickname "J-Mac" (as in Syracuse University guard Gerry "G-Mac" McNamara), his senior moment may continue to move his teammates in their pursuit of a post-season title. Coach Johnson hopes so.

"It was truly the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

94

I came across the following link posted by CPT Z/Chuck on his Blog.
Go here: MOAA Legislative Action Center to send an email to your legislators encouraging them to oppose this plan.
A few things that I read that jumped out at me:
"Currently serving members who will spend a career in the military stand to lose the most on this issue, because they would pay more years of increased fees than any other group - despite the extraordinary personal and family sacrifices they're already enduring for our country."
From the National Military Family Association: "However, NMFA is concerned that DoD’s proposed tiering of the fee increases may be too arbitrary and impose inappropriate charges on some of our most vulnerable beneficiaries, especially survivors and wounded servicemembers who were medically retired. For example, under the DoD proposal, the recent widow of an 0-2 killed in Iraq would face an enrollment fee of $700 per year by FY 2008—the same as the fee paid by a retired General Officer with thirty years of service, simply because her deceased spouse happened to be an officer."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

93

We have now passed the 3 month mark since Bryan left. There needs to be more short months like February. He now has internet in his room, so although it is pretty slow, he's connected to the rest of the world now!
A couple of soldiers from Baumholder who are actually in Iraq with another brigade were recently injured. PFC "L" had to have his leg amputated and also lost a few fingers. He is currently at Walter Reed in D.C. Sgt "H" was also injured but not as severely. Please keep these soldiers and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
My team had another game on Friday night. We won something like 32-7 and now our record is 6-1. Our last regular season game is this weekend and then we play in the KMC league tournament next week. The team we "randomly" (yeah right!) drew in the first round of the tournament just happens to be the one team we barely beat. How ironic since there are 5 others that we stomped. The team we lost to is the one that is hosting the tournament and did the drawings so of course we're not playing them in the first round. This is the 2nd year in a row that they have done this to us. I hope we win the tournament with ease just to spite them.
I did laundry all day on Saturday. That night my neighbors and I ordered delivery from Portofino (little Italian restaurant in town) and watched Dancing with the Stars and then the movie In Her Shoes. If you haven't seen In Her Shoes, you really should!
Sunday I went to church and then did all my shopping errands for the day. That night Laura peer pressured me into ordering out again and we got pizza from Sunshine Grill. Then we of course watched Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy.
Yesterday I was unsuccessful at sleeping in so I went to the gym and did an hour on the elliptical which claimed I burnt 700+ calories. After that I picked up a few more things I needed from the PX and german grocery store, and went to the tanning bed. Then I spent the whole rest of the day baking! I made some Double Peanut Butter Cookies for some of Bryan's soldiers and a surprise for him since Thursday is his birthday. I was exhausted again by the time I went to bed last night.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

89

Read this!

or

This

if the first one doesn't work.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

88


"The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink, and somebody to love you."
– Brendan Behan
I couldn't help but love this quote when I saw it! Last night I (along with Pam and Laura) went to a Valentine's Day Celebration here on post called Bringing Hearts Together. It was a really nice event. I am partial though because my friend Sarah had a large part in putting it together. We had finger foods, music, raffles, and most importantly messages from our husbands. The guys had emailed their messages to ACS and they were put into a slide show that was shown during the event. Bryan's was short and sweet and I loved it. I also won an Outdoor Recreation trip to Tulip time in Holland. I was planning on going this year anyway so this is even better! Yesterday I also received a card from Bryan's grandparents (Thanks!), a package from my parents (Thanks again!) and a few "gifts" from Shelleigh (Thank you!).
Bryan was in the field all day yesterday so we really didn't get to talk. He called me as I was walking out the door to go to the party so we were really only able to say hey and bye. We had already planned on today being our Valentine's Day though! He called a little while ago and I opened my present from him which were some cute pink pajamas from Victoria's Secret. The highlight may have been the card though. The Alpha battery wives collected cards to send downrange for the guys. The guys could go through the box of new cards and pick one to send back to their families. Each card was different. Out of all the cards Bryan could have picked, he chose the one that I had bought. As they say, great minds think alike!
Bryan got a card and letter from me and he's probably reading it about right now. I hope he loves it as much as I love him! *wink!*

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

87

After much chaos, confusion, and stress, Bryan and I had our first video teleconference (VTC) last night. Our time slot was right in the middle of my girls basketball practice and I didn't find that out until about an hour and a half before practice. I ended up having to leave practice, go do the VTC, and then go back to practice. We hadn't heard the greatest reviews on VTCs but we wanted to at least try it for ourselves. I went into a conference room and sat in front of a large screen. Bryan entered another conference room at about the same time. He said he could see me pretty well but he was just a blur to me. There was also a delay in our conversation. We were only given 7 minutes for the VTC so we really didn't get much said before our time was up. I doubt we'll do it again, but at least we gave it a shot.

Monday, February 13, 2006

86

Laura, Tally, and I got back from Wurzburg late yesterday afternoon. It was a nice little weekend excursion. Wurzburg is a pretty cool town. When we first got there it seemed pretty big, but I soon realized that most everything you would want to see is within walking distance of one another.
We stayed with Laura's good friend, Anastasia, her husband, Brady, and their cat, Ernie. Brady used to be stationed in Baumholder but he transferred over to Wurzburg. We just laid low on Friday night and Anastasia cooked dinner for us.
On Saturday the first place we went to was the Fortress Marienberg. It is a castle that overlooks the river and city. This picture was taken from the edge of the castle grounds overlooking the city.
After the castle we had lunch and then went to the famous Residence. This used to be another royal palace but it's in the middle of the city. Later that night we went to a German restaurant that is over 500 years old. The food was really good but they must be doing something right since they've been around so long!
This week is going to be another busy one for me but next weekend is a long one. I'm already looking forward to it!

Friday, February 10, 2006

83

The other day the snow was coming down probably as hard as I've ever seen it. Here is a picture that I took from my living room window. I had just come home for my lunch break, and I'm surprised I made it the 1/2 mile from my office. My explorer was sliding all over the roads. It's cleared up a lot today. I hope it stays that way over the weekend. I'm going with Laura and baby Tally to Wuerzburg to visit one of Laura's friends for the weekend. This is the only weekend of the basketball season that we don't have a game so I'm trying to take advantage of it.
Tschuss!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

New look!

My blog has a new look so come check it out!
http://redlegwife.blogspot.com/

81

I was beginning to think that the winter weather was going away but we got more snow today. It was coming down hard this morning but now the sun is out. That's Baumholder for you!
I mailed Bryan's Valentine's Day package today. He's getting a card and a letter. I worked on the letter most of the day yesterday. That's one of the hardest things I've done in a while. It was emotionally taxing but I know that Bryan will appreciate it - probably more than any baked goods or other cheap gifts I would have sent him.
Erin sent me this Yankee-Rebel Quiz.
I've done it a few times but I've never posted it on here.
Here's the score it gave me: 81% Dixie. Do you still use Confederate money?
By the way, do y'all actually call the road along an interstate anything?? I don't.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

80

Bryan never does these things and he actually did this one so I'm definitely going to do it.
I'll post his answers and then my own since he answered some of them for me - but then claimed he was just joking!

WELCOME TO THE 2006 EDITION OF GETTING TO KNOW YOU'RE FRIENDS.
1. WHAT TIME DID YOU GET UP THIS MORNING?
Bryan: 0930 (got to sleep-in b/c of the Super Bowl)
Cristin: 0600 (I slept through the alarm clock going off for 15 minutes!)

2. DIAMONDS OR PEARLS?
Bryan: Cristin likes pearls
Cristin: Yeah right, gimme the bling bling - diamonds!

3. WHAT WAS THE LAST FILM YOU SAW AT THE CINEMA?
B: Elizabethtown
C: Elizabethtown

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOW?
B: haven't seen a tv show in months, but my favorite TV show on DVD is Seinfeld
C: The Real World even though they don't show that here

5. WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST?
B: nothing, I woke up too late to make the dining facility
C: Cocoa Crispies

6. WHAT IS YOUR MIDDLE NAME?
B: Geoffrey
C: Smith, although my mom will insist that it's Ailene

7. FAVORITE CUISINE?
B: American BBQ
C: chinese

8. WHAT FOODS DO YOU DISLIKE?
B: onions
C: tomato

9. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHIP FLAVOR?
B: KC Masterpiece
C: honey barbeque

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CD AT THE MOMENT?
B: Zack Brown - Home Grown
C: Zac Brown is currently in my cd player. I'm also loving Carrie Underwood's cd.

11. WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU DRIVE?
B: I don't drive, but my driver drives me in a M1026 HMMWV with wench
C: 1996 White Ford Explorer

12. FAVORITE SANDWICH?
B: Subway Seafood Delight
C: chicken salad

13. WHAT CHARACTERISTIC DO YOU DESPISE?
B: stealing
C: hypocrisy

14. FAVORITE ITEM OF CLOTHING?
B: ACU's (Army Combat Uniform)
C: my fleece sweat pants

15. IF YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD ON VACATION, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
B: anywhere except the desert, probably London or Scotland, seen most of Europe
C: Australia

16. FAVORITE BRAND OF CLOTHING?
B: whoever makes ACU's
C: Ann Taylor or The Limited

17. TO WHERE WOULD YOU RETIRE?
B: Greene/Wilkes county area
C: Greensboro

18. WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE BIRTHDAY?
B: 23, in Lawton, OK
C: either my 21st or this last one since it was my first without family

19. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH?
B: college football
C: UGA football, high school or college basketball

20. FURTHEST PLACE YOU ARE SENDING THIS?
B: Georiga, U.S
C: whoever the furthest person is that reads my blog

21. WHO DO YOU LEAST EXPECT TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU?
B: ??
C: I doubt anyone will

22. PERSON YOU EXPECT TO SEND IT BACK FIRST?
B:
C: Once again, I doubt anyone will.

23. GOAL YOU HAVE FOR YOURSELF?
B: to not go crazy here in Kuwait
C: to make the best of this deployment if that's possible

24 . WHEN IS YOUR BIRTHDAY?
B: Feb. 23, 1981
C: Dec 21, 1980 - yep Bryan likes the older women!

25. WHEN IS YOUR ANNIVERSARY?
B: July 19, 2003
C: July 19 - what a coincidence

26. ARE YOU A MORNING PERSON OR A NIGHT PERSON?
B: the Army makes me a morning person
C: morning

28. PETS?
B: Pekingnese - Misha
C: Pekingese - Misha

29. ANY NEW AND EXCITING NEWS YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH US?
B: in the middle of March, the commanding general of Iraq will let us know if my unit is staying or leaving Kuwait to go back to Germany or to Iraq
C: i've lost 8 pounds since Bryan left!

30. WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE LITTLE?
B: a professional baseball player
C: the first girl to play in the NBA

31. HOW ARE YOU TODAY?
B: somewhat bored, but good
C: tired and ready to get off work in 33 minutes

32. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CANDY?
B: if I have to choose, Snickers
C: i LOVE sugar so it's hard to pick one - gummy bears, jelly beans, truffles....

33. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FLOWER?
B: gerber daisies, thats what Cristin likes
C: it's a tie between gerber daisies and roses

Monday, February 06, 2006

79



I had a pretty productive weekend.

On Friday I took off work to go to a basket factory with my FRG. They had every kind of basket you could think of at this place. I only got one because I couldn't come up with a specific need that I had for any. It was a pretty quick trip and we were back by lunch time. That afternoon I decided to go get our taxes done. I'm very glad to have that over with. We're having to pay the lovely state of Georgia but we are getting a refund from our federal return.

On Friday night I went out for a little while with some friends. I had a bit cold so I'm glad we didn't stay out too late. I enjoyed the little bit of social time that we did share though.

On Saturday my basketball team had yet another game. This time we won 30-4. Again, I felt bad that we beat a team by so much but there really wasn't anything I could do. I told my best players they couldn't shoot once it got to a certain point. Five of my seven players scored though and I was happy for them.

Sunday after church I promised Laura that I would help her put together a book case. When I told her I would do it I didn't realize just how big it was. The picture above is of the monstrous thing. It was hard work but we sure were proud of ourselves after we finished it and put it up. I don't think I'm going to assemble any more furniture for a while though!

Last night Laura made a Chicken & Broccoli Braid for us for dinner and we all watched Desperate Housewives. I was able to webcam with Bryan again last night. I was at Laura's house at the time so he was able to see Tally and Victoria (the new babies) for the first time.

I haven't seen the Super Bowl yet because they showed it here in the middle of the night. I did record it though and plan to watch at least some of it. I want to see the messages our FRG taped more than the actual game though. I was pleased to see that Hines Ward (a former University of Georgia player) was named the MVP.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

75

The following is a true story written by a friend of ours who is deployed with Bryan. It's long but good.

The Strange Story of Range 17

The desert in Kuwait is a barren and desolate place. If you take the time to stand in the middle of it, you could look around in all directions and see nothing surrounding you but sand and sky. The feeling is comparable to being on a deep sea fishing trip; the girth of absolute solitude wears on the mind and as the winds shift the sand like waves. It's nearly impossible to track where you are, where you've been, or even where you're going. This foreboding place is where the 2nd Platoon Roughnecks call home.
This platoon of 33 infantry soldiers fall under the leadership of myself, 1LT Martin, and SFC Rainer, their platoon sergeant. The boys, as I like to call them, all come from vastly different backgrounds, and to the casual observer appear to be the perfect manifestation of the great American melting pot. Upon more thorough inspection, it becomes apparent what all of these young men have in common; joining the Army was, more often than not, their last and best option. 30% of the platoon is Hispanic and hails from such infamous locals as Watts, Compton, South Central, and Long Beach. To this 30% or so, life in the Army couldn't possibly be more dangerous than life back home. They have mixed emotions reading emails about their friends back home being locked up, dying in gang violence, or even worse, dying inside as a result of drug addiction. There are others too, a couple from the industrial complexes of New Jersey, who joined the Army as jobs were out-sourced to India and other places. They joke about the out-sourcing potential of Iraq when we're done there. There's one African-American soldier, a transplant from the Navy, no doubt a product of the Navy downsizing its enlisted force. Overall, they're just normal people in other than ordinary circumstances. Irregardless of the circumstances surrounding them being here, the "Roughnecks" of 2nd Platoon perform their jobs admirably and excel at whatever task they are given. As a leader of men, I could not ask for a better group of guys.
It is not a surprise given 2nd Platoon's record for mission accomplishment that we were tasked with planning and conducting a battalion-wide M16/M4 marksmanship competition. This is no doubt an odd tasking for an Infantry Rifle Platoon, however, the battalion commander considered this range a high priority, and in my humble opinion, selected the right guys for the job.
SFC Rainer came up with a plan, and once it was approved, we were prepared to execute. We left out of the gate of our compound to head to the range to start setting it up. I was in the lead of a small convoy of 3 vehicles: a HMMWV (HummVee to civilians), which I was in, a bus, and a LMTV, a large ungainly truck, the cab of which is covered in thick steel armor. With my map and radio in hand, the convoy stabbed out into the dry heart of the desert. We moved along seemingly lost trails and deeply rutted improvised roads for about 26 or so miles before finally arriving at our destination. By nightfall the range was set up and ready for business. We all at our MREs and went to bed, knowing we would have an early morning ahead of us. The morning came, the sun announcing its arrival through the comfy confines of my black sleeping bag with the visual audacity of a cannon blast.
As I shed my sleeping bag and asserted myself into the cold desert air, I observed the soldiers preparing themselves for the long day ahead. 4 bus loads of soldiers arrived shortly after and after a range orientation and a safety briefing, we were ready to begin. Before shooting it is policy to conduct a "downrange sweep" of the area you plan to be firing in to ensure no animals or people are located in that area. While conducting our sweep, we noticed a large herd of camels. It is an idiosyncrasy of this region that camels roam around everywhere. These camels are not wild. They have a shepard who tends to them similarly to how cows were herded in America's wild west. Unfortunately for the shepards and the camels, the best grazing areas here are the locations set aside for US Forces to test and train with their various weapons. Hundreds of thousands of bullets and bombs are dropped or fired into this grazing area. Interestingly, none of the herders themselves are Kuwaitis. They are all poor immigrants who herd the camels and/or sheep for wealthy Kuwaiti owners. The herders make less than 10 U.S. dollars a day. Upon learning this, I immediately formed parallels in my mind to the immigrant experience in the U.S. I guess every country has its Mexicans, and your success in life is widely determined by where and to whom you are born. I digress.
Camels on our range, regardless of why they were there, was a problem, so we began herding them with the HMMWV. One large camel we pulled up to was sitting on its haunches. SFC Rainer leaned out of the window and yelled to the camel, "Get up, Private!" through his megaphone. We all laughed to each other as SFC Rainer flashed back to his days as a drill sergeant. Our laughter soon ceased as the beast complied and stood up.
SSG Tucker was first to speak about what we all saw. "He's taking a dump!" he said. I was second to speak as I reached across the cab and touched his arm. "She's having a baby!" I said. We all fell silent, our jubilation replaced by the shame that comes with blatant insensitivity. I immediately went to get the herder and inform him of the good news. Once we told him, I told SSG Tucker to slowly take us near the female camel who by then had resettled herself. We slowly crept up and found her lying on her side. We all exited the truck and waited for her caretaker to arrive. When the shepard arrived, he misunderstood our intent and began to strike the soon-to-be mother with his staff. She reluctantly stood with her little one's legs and head sticking out. We shouted and waved for him to stop, and soon the camel was lying down again. All of us 5 who were present there have kids, and I can't speak for the others, but the torment of that poor camel while she was giving birth made me feel a deep sense of sympathy for her pain, and it took me back in my mind's eye to the birth of my daughter.
The herder removed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. He grasped the calf by his legs and neck and, with a tug and a push from momma, he was out. The baby was small, skinny, and helpless. While the mother looked on trepidly, the shepard rubbed the calf down with sand to help dry off his fur. We offered the shepard a bottle of water to wash his hands, and he thankfully obliged. He then took the empty water bottle and filled it with fresh milk from the mother camel. The herder then fed the milk to the young calf. We all stood there silent for a moment, five warriors lost in the universal power of birth and life. It had been there all along as we trained other how to kill and how to use instruments of death. Life found a way and continued on, as it has forever. We named the little guy Jared Brown after a soldier in our platoon, snapped some photos, waved at the herder, and then as quickly as we had come, we were gone, off to continue our mission.
Training went well that day and that night. With soldiers firing around me and tracer rounds streaking across the sky from a distant range, I found myself looking upward. A huge full moon burned brightly in the otherwise black sky. The moon had rings of color around it, blue, yellow, and orange, and red, and it was covered with a delicate lace of thin, patchy clouds. SSG Tucker joined me, smoking as stared at the same glowing orb, and he remarked, "It would be perfect if I was looking at it with my wife." Lost in thought, all I could say was, "Yeah." In my head I tucked my daughter in and gave her a kiss goodnight. I turned and yelled for the next firing order.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

74

Venezuela Dictator Vows To Bring Down U.S. Government
Venezuela government is sole owner of Citgo gasoline company

Venezuela Dictator Hugo Chavez has vowed to bring down the U.S. government. Chavez, president of Venezuela, told a TV audience (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10704025/): "Enough of imperialist aggression; we must tell the world: down with the U.S. empire. We have to bury imperialism this century."
The guest on his television program, beamed across Venezuela, was Cindy Sheehan, the antiwar activist. Chavez recently had as his guest Harry Belafonte, who called President Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world."
Chavez is pushing a socialist revolution and has a close alliance with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Regardless of your feelings about the war in Iraq, the issue here is that we have a socialist dictator vowing to bring down the government of the U.S. And he is using our money to achieve his goal!
The Venezuela government, run by dictator Chavez, is the sole owner of Citgo ( http://www.citgo.com/AboutCITGO.jsp) gas company. Sales of products at Citgo stations send money back to Chavez to help him in his vow to bring down our government.
Take Action
Send an email to Chavez and to Citgo that you will not be shopping at a Citgo station. Why should U.S. citizens who love freedom be financing a dictator who has vowed to take down our government?
Click Here To Send Your Email Letter Now: https://secure.afa.net/afa/afapetition/takeaction.asp?id=182
Very important. Please forward this to your friends and family. Most of them don't know that Citgo is owned by the Venezuela government.

I couldn't find anything online that would lead me to believe this isn't true. If you do find something, let me know. Otherwise, we need to stick it to Citgo and Hugo Chavez!!