26 November 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Soldiers of 10th Mountain Division celebrated Thanksgiving holiday at the TB Gamberi dining facility Nov. 26, 2015. The staff of TB Gamberi DFAC gave the Soldiers a special Thanksgiving holiday d├ęcor along with a top-notch six-course meal that consisted of traditional holiday feast and varieties of ambrosial irresistible desserts. Maj. Somnuk served the Soldiers. Photo by U.S. Army Maj. Asha Cooper.

Like all Americans, this year we will be giving thanks for our families, our freedoms, and the blessings of liberty that are secured by those who proudly wear our Nation's uniform. Across our country, thousands of families have an empty space at the table because a loved one is far away from home answering the call of duty. And although they are far away, they are in the forefront of our minds and prayers today.

Today, and every day, we thank those who fight for our freedom.

Wishing you and your families a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

11 November 2015

Because of the Brave

To our Veterans past and present - you have served at home, and in far away lands. You have kept your fellow Americans safe and free at home, and you have freed millions throughout the world from tyranny. You represent the legacy of those throughout our nation's history who know the ugly of war, but who believe there are things even uglier than war. For you, the words DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY are a way of life. Thank you for your courage and for your sacrifices. Thank you for your service. God bless you all, and God bless America.

"We believe in fighting to keep all people safe and free to be themselves, because it is the right thing to do."
- Linda Ferrara

10 November 2015

Happy 240th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps!

Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And have never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

Happy birthday to the United States Marine Corps!

09 November 2015

Well Done, We Love You

Captain Matthew Charles Ferrara
14 October 1983 - 9 November 2007

On November 9, 2007, 1st Platoon, Chosen Company, 2/503, 173rd ABCT, was ambushed by an overwhelming enemy force as they returned to Combat Outpost Bella following a meeting with tribal elders in the nearby village of Aranas.

Five Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and one Marine from the Mountain Warfare Training Center were killed. Eight more paratroopers and 11 Afghan National Army soldiers were wounded. Despite the heavy casualties taken during the opening minutes of the ambush, with nearly every man either killed or wounded, the patrol was ultimately able to repel their attackers and call in support.

Ammunition was dropped to the survivors by the arriving Apache helicopters, and eight separate air crews subsequently conducted what was to become a combined 31-hour MEDEVAC and recovery mission involving multiple lifts.

Our love, thoughts, and prayers are with Matt's family and the families of his brothers-in-arms who gave their lives for each other, their loved ones, and their country on 9 November 2007. We will remember them always.

* * *

Im Memoriam:

1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara, 24, of Torrance, Calif.
SGT Jeffrey S. Mersman, 23, of Parker, Kansas
SPC Sean K.A. Langevin, 23, of Walnut Creek, California
SPC Lester G. Roque, 23, of Torrance, California
PFC Joseph M. Lancour, 21, of Swartz Creek, Michigan
all of Chosen Company, 2-503rd PIR, 173rd ABCT, and
Marine Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks, 28, of Troy, Michigan

* * *

With gratitude to the MEDEVAC crews for their professionalism, selfless service and dedication to duty during our Heroes' final hours and to the AH-64 crews not only for their protection, but whose gun cameras documented this mission.

Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look.

- Ronald Reagan

29 October 2015

Air Med, Always Ready

A medical evacuation crew prepares to take off for a training mission Oct. 22, on Camp Beuhring, Kuwait. When a medevac call comes in Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 137th Aviation Regiment are ready to respond with in a moments notice. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Bunn, 19th Public Affairs Detachment, U.S. Army Central Public Affairs Office)

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – On the battlefield, an air medical helicopter can mean the difference between life and death for an injured Soldier.

Getting to an injured Soldier in what is known as “the golden hour” after an injury greatly improves that Soldier’s odds. This requires a well-trained team of medics, pilots and crew chiefs who are ready to respond at a moments notice.

When a medical emergency that requires an air evacuation arises in the U.S. Army Central area of operations, Soldiers rely on medics and aircrews stationed at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

Story here.

28 October 2015

Prince Harry tells US wounded veterans: 'Afghanistan changed my life'

"I am in no doubt that my two deployments to Afghanistan changed the direction of my life. There is very little that can truly prepare you for the reality of war.
The experiences can be stark and long lasting."

The Prince went on: "Returning to the UK after my first deployment, I shared the flight home with three critically injured British soldiers, all in induced comas, and the body of a Danish soldier, killed in action.

"It hit me then that this flight was one of many, carrying home men and women whose lives would be changed forever, and some who had made the ultimate sacrifice. From that moment, I knew I had a responsibility to help all veterans."

- Prince Harry at an event to promote the 2016 Invictus Games at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

The second Invictus Games will be held in Orlando, Florida in May next year. At the inaugural games in London last year more than 400 athletes competed over five days in front of 65,000 people.

The rest of the story and more photos here.

24 October 2015

Marine Lance Corporal Ricky Slocum - Forever in our Hearts

This is Kay Slocum’s favorite picture of her son Ricky, taken the last time they saw each other before he deployed to Iraq with the 1/3 Marines out of Hawaii.

Always a "tough guy," Ricky viewed the military as a way to serve his country while gaining new skills and discipline, his father, Robert, said after his death.

"Ricky felt the Marines would make a man of him," he said. "It definitely did."

Ricky was just 19 when he was killed eleven years ago today.

Marine LCpl Ricky Slocum
2/2/85 - 10/24/04

My thoughts and prayers are with Kay, Bob, and all of Ricky’s family and friends as they celebrate his life today during the annual candlelight vigil at their home. I promise to remember him always.

Ricky will be forever in my heart.

23 October 2015

Army’s Top Nurse Commissions Therapy Dog

Maj. Gen. Jimmie Keenan, deputy commanding general (operations) of the U.S. Army Medical Command and chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, commissions Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's (WRNMMC) newest facility dog, Annie Fox, to First Lieutenant. The canine was named after the WWII heroine who was the first woman to receive the PUrple Heart for combat. Photo: Bernard S. Little.

First Lt. Annie G. Fox, of the Army Nurse Corps, was the first woman to receive the Purple Heart for combat. She earned the medal for “outstanding performance of duty, meritorious acts of extraordinary fidelity and essential service” during the attack on Hickam Field, Dec. 7, 1941. At that time, the awarding of the Purple Heart did not require the recipient to be wounded in action.

As chief nurse at Hickam Field, Hawaii, Fox cared for patients during the heaviest bombardment of Pearl Harbor. She “administered anesthesia, assisted in dressing the wounded, taught civilian volunteer nurses to make dressings, and worked ceaselessly with coolness and efficiency, [setting a] fine example of calmness, courage and leadership of great benefit to the morale of all with whom she came in contact,” states her Purple Heart citation.

In honor of Fox and her heroics, a canine in the dog therapy program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) bears her name. Army Maj. Gen. Jimmie Keenan commissioned the mix-breed Labrador and golden retriever to first lieutenant Oct. 15 in front of the historic Tower on Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB). Keenan is deputy commanding general for operations at the U.S. Army Medical Command and chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

Canines in the dog therapy program provide comfort, support, hope and “unconditional love” to wounded, ill and injured patients, as well as to staff at WRNMMC and NSAB, according to Keenan. The dogs can also assist with retrieving objects, providing balance for some beneficiaries, pulling wheelchairs, opening and closing doors, and turning lights on and off. All bolster the healing process, Keenan explained.

Read more here.

13 October 2015

Remembering Staff Sergeant Brian Cowdrey

This is a repost from 2011 in memory of a friend and Hero, Brian Cowdrey. Always loved, always remembered.

Prior stories about Brian:
All-American DUSTOFF (II)
All American DUSTOFF
The Gypsies
‘No one dies in my aircraft’

We are deeply saddened to learn that Staff Sergeant Robert 'Brian' Cowdrey was killed on October 13 while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. According to his wife Jill, he was on a mission treating patients when he came under enemy fire.

In the above photo taken in February of 2010, Brian was captured by AP photographer Brennan Linsley while comforting a patient aboard his MEDEVAC helicopter during Operation Mushtarak in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. As Brian himself said about the photo, "this picture sums it all up".

Brian can also be seen in action during his 2009/2010 Afghanistan deployment here, and another article about his unit can be found here.

Brian was serving his fourth deployment in a combat zone. Prior deployments were Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004/2005, Operation Enduring Freedom 2007/2008, and Operation Enduring Freedom 2009/2010.

He loved his job, and he loved his family. To say he impacted the lives of countless people is an understatement. To some, he swooped down from the sky to rescue them on the worst day of their lives. To others, he provided inspiration through his career of compassionate and courageous dedication. One of his three sons has followed in his father's footsteps and is currently serving in Germany. To all three of them, he has been a Dad - and a Hero. To his friends, his faith, enthusiasm and caring nature were a joy. And to his wife, he was a loving partner and best friend.

Brian's shadow and that of his DUSTOFF helicopter as he goes down the hoist to treat the patients seen at the lower left in September 2011. Like many other MEDEVAC missions, it was carried out under enemy fire. Photo courtesy Brian Cowdrey.

This is how we will always remember Brian - his Dedicated Unhesitating Service To Our Fighting Forces. Our love, prayers, and deepest condolences are with his family.


Update: Others honoring Brian include Assoluta Tranquillita and Blackfive. Brian had just finished conducting this first of what was to be a series of interviews with War on Terror News when he was killed.

Members of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade held a memorial service in Afghanistan for Brian yesterday. The moving photographs can be seen here. And here is the Dignified Transfer at Dover Air Force Base.