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!