13 September 2014

"...our Flag was still there."




200 years ago today, The Battle at Fort McHenry (9/13-9/14 1814) – Perhaps the greatest moment in our flag's history is the one which inspired our national anthem. After witnessing Fort McHenry being attacked by British warships the night of Sept.13, 1814, from a neighboring ship, Francis Scott Key woke up the next morning to see through "the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there” - intact and waving proudly.




In the summer of 1813, Mary Pickersgill (1776–1857) was contracted to sew two flags for Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. The one that became the Star-Spangled Banner was a 30 x 42–foot garrison flag. After the Battle of Fort McHenry, the flag became a keepsake of the family of Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead, Fort McHenry's commander.

The flag remained the private property of Lieutenant Colonel Armistead's widow, Louisa Armistead, his daughter Georgiana Armistead Appleton, and his grandson Eben Appleton for 90 years. The publicity that it had received in the 1870s had transformed it into a national treasure, and Appleton received many requests to lend it for patriotic occasions. He permitted it to go to Baltimore for that city's sesquicentennial celebration in 1880. After that his concern for the flag's deteriorating condition led him to keep it in a safe-deposit vault in New York.

In 1907 he lent the Star-Spangled Banner to the Smithsonian Institution, and in 1912 he converted the loan to a gift.

Source: Smithsonian.

11 September 2014

Sorrow and Resolve




Like all Americans, my memories of that day are vivid: The unbelievable sight of the burning towers, the horror and despair of the jumpers, the shock of realization when the Pentagon was hit: America is under attack.

And as the towers fell – first one, then the other – time seemed to stop as I slumped forward in my chair and felt the cries of a thousand souls from a black void.

Then something else swelled up: Fury. They finally got what they wanted; what they've wanted since 1993.

Over time, it became clear to me that until then I’d been living in what now seems like my own little world, concerned with my own petty little problems. I’d taken so much for granted. In particular, I realized I’d never fully understood what it meant to be an American. I had no personal experience with the concept that our country was something worth living – and dying – for. It was a kind of Pinocchio moment: "Now I know I'm a real boy, because I can feel my heart breaking."

What I didn't know then is that a heart can break a thousand times.

Although 9/11 is often called ‘the day the world changed’, the fact is that for most Americans, our lives since then have changed in what are essentially inconsequential ways. But for almost 3,000 families – killed in an act of terror simply because they went to work that day, or because they responded to help their fellow citizens – every minute of every day for the past 13 years has been lived with the painful loss of a loved one.

And as the global war on terror that began as a result of 9/11 started, brave men and women stepped up to risk their lives to protect America and prevent future acts of terrorism. Their families stepped up with them, enduring long, multiple deployments filled with challenges, loneliness, and worry.

Over 45,000 warriors have sustained life-altering physical injuries, and many more suffer from invisible wounds. Close to 7,000 made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and another 7000 more families joined the original 3,000 in suffering every day from their indescribable loss.

For all of them, the world truly did change after 9/11.

It is said there is no greater love than that of someone who is willing to lay down his life for another. As a volunteer at Landstuhl, I have had the privilege to be in the company of Heroes, for whom the words Duty, Honor, Country are a way of life.

Thirteen years later, each and every time I see a Wounded Warrior, my heart still breaks with sorrow - and swells with pride and resolve.

“Today is a day to be proud to be American!” cried a warrior from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

September 11, 2014 is a an even prouder day to be American.



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

02 September 2014

Flight over Kandahar


U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Misheff flies the American flag from the back of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter over southern Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Aug. 24, 2014. Misheff is a crew chief assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade. The pilots and crew chiefs fly American flags to present with certificates to service members as part of aviation tradition. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Lewis.

27 August 2014

Refueling Over Iraq



A U.S. F-18 fighter jet refuels from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft over northern Iraq, Aug. 21, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel.

16 August 2014

Remembering Mike Stokely



SGT Mike Stokely
KIA 16 AUG 2005 near Yusufiyah Iraq
USA E 108 CAV 48th BCT GAARNG


My thoughts are with you and your family today, Robert. We'll always love and remember Mike.




Part of Mike's legacy - Hughes, Ark., native, Staff Sgt. James Robinson, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, hands out school materials donated by the Mike Stokely Foundation at a school in Mullah Fayad, March 27, 2008. (U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Tony M. Lindback)

13 August 2014

Survivors of Battle of Wanat Find Closure at Medal of Honor Ceremony


Dr. Justin Madill served on a medevac helicopter in Afghanistan. Madill recently received the Air Medal with “V” device for valor. Photo: Courtesy of Justin Madill.

Another unsung Hero of the Battle of Wanat, MEDEVAC Flight Surgeon Dr. Justin Madill. In 2008, Madill was the 2-17 Cavalry, Task Force Flight Surgeon in the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade and was also the medical director for the C6-101 Helicopter Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) Platoon and the Pathfinder Combat Search and Rescue Team. During that deployment, Madill flew and supervised missions for 479 patients, personally transported 143 patients, and extracted 49 patients from the battlefield.


In the early hours of July 13, 2008, a battle was raging in Wanat, Afghanistan.

In the final hours of the battle, a medevac helicopter flew in, navigating through heavy fire from enemy and U.S. forces to rescue the injured.

Dr. Justin Madill, 39, was the doctor on that helicopter. The Billings native now lives in Great Falls and is an emergency room physician at Benefis Health System. His parents, Cecil and Linda Madill, also live in Great Falls.

"There was really no good place to land," Madill said. "I thought for sure I was going to die."
...


Madill and other medics had to climb down farming terraces and through razor wire to reach the troops and then help them back up to the helicopter.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts was one of the troops Madill pulled out that day.
...

Last month, Pitts was awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House for his actions during the battle.

Madill and the other troops involved attended the ceremony.

It was the first time they were all together again, in a calm and safe situation, Madill said.

At the ceremony, he also met family members of those killed during his deployment, including Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Kahler, for whom the outpost at Wanat was named.

Kahler was Pitt's platoon sergeant who was killed in January 2008 and was Madill's first medevac mission in Afghanistan.

"It gave everyone a sense of closure," Madill said. "It was a bigger deal than I thought it was going to be."

For his actions at Wanat, Madill received the Air Medal with "V" device for valor.

07 August 2014

Purple Heart Day



On Aug. 7, 1782, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, created the Badge for Military Merit. It consisted of a purple heart-shaped piece of silk edged with a narrow binding of silver with the word “Merit” stitched across the face in silver. The badge was presented to Soldiers for any singular meritorious action.

Now, the Purple Heart, which is the oldest American military decoration for military merit, is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who have been killed or wounded in action against an enemy. It is also awarded to soldiers who have suffered maltreatment as prisoners of war.

Purple Heart day is dedicated to honoring service members, past and present, who have received the Purple Heart medal.

Read more at DVIDS.

21 July 2014

Former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts receives Medal of Honor for Battle of Wanat


From the Army Times.
Former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts received the Medal of Honor on Monday for his heroism during the Battle of Wanat in 2008, one of deadliest clashes of the Afghanistan War. 
As President Obama draped the nation’s highest award for valor around Pitts’ neck at a White House ceremony, the former infantryman said his mind was on his nine “brothers” who fought beside him and died in that battle. 
“Standing there, I thought of these incredible men, and those present here today, especially our brothers who fell,” Pitts said in a brief statement after the ceremony. “Valor was everywhere that day, and the real heroes are those who made the ultimate sacrifice so the rest of us could return home.” 
... 
Bolstered by four soldiers who braved gunfire to help hold the position, Pitts called for air support that helped repel the attack and prevented the enemy from taking the remains of his fellow soldiers who had been killed. 
... 
1st Lt. Jonathan P. Brostrom, 24
Sgt. Israel Garcia, 24
Cpl. Jonathan R. Ayers, 24
Cpl. Jason M. Bogar, 25
Cpl. Jason D. Hovater, 24
Cpl. Matthew B. Phillips, 27
Cpl. Pruitt A. Rainey, 22
Cpl. Gunnar W. Zwilling, 20 
Spc. Sergio S. Abad, 21
In an Army Times interview weeks earlier, then-Capt. Matthew Myer, the company commander who was at VPB Kahler that day, said Pitts, who continued to fight and radio in information despite his injuries, was the “linchpin that held that ground.” 
An Army statement lauds Pitts’ “incredible toughness, determination, and ability to communicate with leadership while under fire” for allowing “U.S. forces to hold the observation post and turn the tide of the battle.” 
Pitts separated from the Army on October 27, 2009, from Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He has since begun work in business development for the computer software industry.
He is the ninth living service member to receive the nation’s highest award for valor for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. Seven troops have received the medal posthumously for their actions in those wars. Pitts is also the third soldier from 2/503 to receive the MoH for actions during the unit’s 2007-2008 deployment to Afghanistan. Former Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta was the first living service member to be honored for his actions in Iraq or Afghanistan; before Pitts, Sgt. Kyle White had been the most recent, in May. All three men deployed together in the same battalion in May 2007 for a 15-month tour in some of the toughest parts of eastern Afghanistan.

20 July 2014

Study: Change in transfusion protocol cuts troop death rate


Medical staff at a U.S. military field hospital tend to an Afghan soldier wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack. In 2006, doctors in combat hospitals implemented a protocol known as "damage control resuscitation," which called for a change in the ratios of blood components given to hemorrhaging patients, such as red-blood cells, plasma and platelets. The change resulted in fewer deaths from the battlefield, according to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Photo: Joshua L. DeMotts, Stars and Stripes.



Interesting study results from the Journal of the American Medical Association, via Stars and Stripes.

Fewer warfighters have died from bleeding complications in forward-based hospitals since 2006, when the military changed its protocol of blood transfusions used for such cases, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
...

The DCR ["damage control resuscitation"] protocol is now widely used in civilian trauma centers, said Dr. John B. Holcomb, a surgeon with the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston who retired from the Army in 2008 after serving 23 years.

“Everybody says that the silver lining that comes out war is improved trauma care, and I think this war is no exception,” Holcomb said.

There's much more at the link.