19 March 2014

Operation Iraqi Freedom - 11 Years Ago Today

Sgt. Matthew LeVart carries injured Cpl. Barry Lange off the battlefield as members of India Co., 3rd Batt., 7th Marine Division engage Iraqi soldiers in battle at the headquarters of the Iraqi 51st and 37th mechanized infantry divisions near Az Bayer, Iraq on March 21, 2003, the first day of the ground war. Photo: Laura Rauch.

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

The air operations of Operation Iraqi Freedom began 11 years ago today, followed by the official start of ground operations 2 days later. We will always remember the courage and the bravery of our troops, and we will never forget our debt of gratitude to all of you, especially the wounded and the Fallen. We pray for you and your families every day. May God bless you all.

07 February 2014

K9 Team reunited at Landstuhl after being wounded in Afghanistan

Corky shows his affection for Sgt. Eric Goldenthal on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. They both received gunshot wounds to the leg while deployed to Afghanistan. Photo: Joshua L. Demotts, Stars and Stripes.

Great story at Stars and Stripes about a joyful reunion at Landstuhl last week:

At Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., they were members of an engineer battalion. In Afghanistan, though, they were assigned to augment an already-tight-knit Special Forces “Alpha” team in a remote part of the country’s east. There, away from people they knew, their bond grew stronger.

“I think he was probably my best friend down there,” [Sgt. Eric] Goldenthal said of Corky. “I saw him every day. He slept in my room every day, woke up with me every day.”

Then, on Jan. 19, they were both shot.

Goldenthal, Corky and the Green Berets were four days into a 10-day mission to rout out Taliban militants in Kapisa province, an area of the country where few coalition forces are based.

The team had spent days pushing up a valley that had just one way in and one way out, Goldenthal said. They’d gotten into numerous firefights along the way.


“And that’s when me and him got hit, pretty much the exact same time,” Goldenthal said. “I just felt it hit the back of my leg and then I heard him crying.”

Goldenthal threw a tourniquet on his own leg and a team medic attended to Corky, who was shot in the foot.

After pushing to the valley’s mouth, dog and handler were whisked away to Bagram Air Field on a medical helicopter.

Two days later, they both underwent surgery in Germany — Goldenthal at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Corky at the Army’s Dog Center Europe, about a 20-minute drive away.

They got to visit Monday at Landstuhl, where Corky jumped up on his handler to bathe his face in wet dog kisses.

“It’s only been a couple days,” Goldenthal laughed.

Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Collins, 67th Engineer Detachment kennel master, leads Corky, while Sgt. Eric Goldenthal, 67th Eng. Det. is accompanied by Capt. Chad Sparks, Engineer Canine Company commander, Friday at Forney Field. Corky and Goldenthal returned home after both were wounded in Afghanistan. Photo: Melissa Buckley, GUIDON staff.

Last Friday, according to myGuidon.com, they both returned home to Fort Leonard Wood.

Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Collins, 67th Engineer Detachment kennel master, credits Sgt. Goldenthal and Corky for keeping the rest of the team safe that day.

“That day’s events speaks volumes. That was actually the third incident on that day within a few hours. They had already found multiple explosive devices, thankfully nobody was injured by those devices. It took three ambushes in order to stop them. Our job is important because nobody was killed that day, not one person,” Collins said.

Goldenthal said was pleased with the care he and his dog had received since they were shot, and even though they weren’t ready to come home, he is glad to be on Fort Leonard Wood.

“I’ve been treated so well. A lot of the medics and nurses have been so nice to us both,” Goldenthal said.

“I am looking forward to being back with my Family.”

Well done and welcome home!

11 January 2014

Wounded warrior J.R. Salzman describes moving encounter with Iraqi cab driver in Dallas

"I can't look at you and your arm or I will start crying. I am forever grateful for what you have done for us."

Please read the rest of this incredible, short story.

I'm so happy JR had this experience. Wish every OIF/OEF vet could. So many lives have been touched in a positive way by all who served there. Never forget that.

If you don't know J.R.'s story, here's a good place to start.

10 January 2014

Follow-up: "Wounded Ranger renders salute seen around the world"

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Army Ranger Joshua Hargis lay braced, tangled and constrained by tubing in his hospital bed. Yet bound by duty, he managed to raise his hand in full salute as his commander awarded him the Purple Heart. 
"At that point, I knew what I was supposed to do," Hargis said as recounted the moment to NBC News. "So I hold my arm up. It felt stuck a little bit, so I started tuggin' on it and I pulled it all the way up and, you know, presented my salute as best as I could." 
The moment made grown men at his hospital bedside weep and it instantly became viral after Hargis’ wife, Taylor, shared the photo on her Facebook page.

Three months later, Josh and his wife Taylor give this must-see interview.

Previous: Ranger delivers salute seen around the world.

31 December 2013

Auld Lang Syne

To friends and loved ones who can't be with us; and to those who are no longer with us.

You are always in our hearts.

Auld Lang Syne (to days gone by)... farewell 2013.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy 2014.

25 December 2013

For God So Loved The World

[This is an annual post.]

It was late evening when I walked by and looked into the room.

Both legs gone, way up. The rest covered with bandages and surgical draping, even his face. What was left of his arms, post-op, was on boards out to both sides.

My body felt like lead. So heavy I was afraid the floor might give way beneath me. And I thought, this must be like the pain - and the love - Mary felt watching her son die for us.

Then, a voice in my head, saying over and over, “For God so loved the world, for God so loved the world... ”

I asked his nurse if I could gown up and go in.

It was Christmas Eve.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

24 December 2013

Santa's Helpers

U.S. soldiers, dressed for the holiday as Santa Claus and an elf, watch the Afghanistan countryside from the tail of an aircraft after delivering bundles containing care packages, Christmas stockings and mail to soldiers stationed at a remote base in eastern Afghanistan, Dec. 24, 2013. The soldiers are assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Thomas Cieslak.

28 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Soldiers enjoy a Thanksgiving meal on Combat Outpost McClain, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Roland Hale.

We're thankful for so many things - for the blessings that come with being citizens of our great nation, for those who defend our freedoms, for those who care for our wounded, and for generous and patriotic Americans who support them. THANK YOU to all of our donors for caring about our warriors here at Landstuhl hospital!

We hope you and your family have a warm and happy Thanksgiving and reflect on the many blessings that we share as Americans. We ask that you remember the families of our Fallen who will have an empty place at their Thanksgiving tables.

17 November 2013

429 Blankets of Hope and Counting!

Since 2010, the Ladies of Our Lady of Perpetual Help #2206 of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas have been meeting monthly at St. Jerome Catholic Church in Newport News, VA to make blankets for the patients at Landstuhl.

"Of course the Army has blankets", said Christine Hyatt. "But these are special. They are made by someone from home, with love."

Thank you Christine and the rest of the Ladies for your dedication to our wounded warriors who have given so much for all of us!

See more in this article about the group (including a note from a recipient of one of their blankets) on page 10 of CDA Share magazine.

Students Mobilize Community to Build Home for Wounded Warrior

When Jerral Hancock came home from Iraq missing an arm and in a wheelchair, he found he couldn't get around his tiny mobile home. This is an incredible story about local high school students who decided to build him a better home. They have raised over $260,000 so far and are still going strong...

More on Jerral and the students here, with lots of photos.

Jerral, you are so loved!