24 April 2015

Aeromedical Evacuation out of Bagram Air Base


U.S. Air Force Capt. Maria Vazquez, 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse, tests an oxygen mask in preparation for an AE mission April 19, 2015 at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. The Aeromedical Evacuation team had traveled to Kandahar Airfield on April 19 to provide in-flight medical care to three service members.The U.S. Army Soldiers sustained multiple injuries when their mine resistant ambush protected vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device during a mission in the Central Command area of responsibility. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz/released.

Read more about this team here.

23 April 2015

War Heroes return to Afghanistan for 'Proper Exit'



From the Army Times.
Five wounded service members, including two Medal of Honor recipients and last year's Army Times Soldier of the Year, visited Afghanistan Wednesday as part of Operation Proper Exit. 
...
The troops who returned to Afghanistan were retired Master Sgt. Leroy Petry, retired Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, Sgt. Tom Block, retired Sgt. Ralph Cacciapaglia and retired Cpl. Steve Martin. 
Petry received the Medal of Honor for his actions on May 26, 2008. He is credited with saving the lives of his fellow Rangers when he picked up a grenade and threw it away from them during a fierce fight in Paktya province. Petry was then on his seventh deployment and assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. He received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, on July 12, 2011. He retired last summer. 
Carpenter was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in February 2010. Carpenter, was part of the Marine assault in Marjah in southern Afghanistan. He was honored for throwing himself on a grenade to shield a friend and fellow Marine from the blast. 
Block was the 2014 Army Times Soldier of the Year. Block, of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, was wounded Oct. 5, 2013, during a raid in southern Afghanistan. Block and his fellow Rangers were on a mission to root out insurgents who had been planning suicide bombing attacks in the area when a suicide bomber — either woman or a man dressed as a woman — detonated. Block was thrown 35 feet into a minefield, severely wounded. Four other soldiers died on that mission, and nearly two dozen others were wounded. "This trip for me came to a head when we visited Craig Medical Center," Block said, according to a news release from U.S. military officials in Afghanistan. "They showed me the bed that I stayed in. That kind of came full circle for me." 
Martin, of the National Guard, was wounded in September 2008 in Logar province, according to the news release. He now works as a trooper with the Arizona Highway Patrol. Since he lost his legs, Martin has participated in 29 half marathons and five full marathons, according to the news release. "I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today without the service members that helped get us through there," he said. "It's just neat to see a sea of green out here today. Going back into Craig [Hospital] this morning was huge. It was a big emotional moment for me because the last time I [arrived] was unfortunately via a Black Hawk ride on a stretcher. I was pretty banged up. They took great care of me. They took great care of my team when we were hit and rolled us out of there about four days later. It's a huge honor to be back here today and to see everybody. I just didn't think I'd get back over here to see it." 
Caccipaglia, of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, was wounded February 2012 in Helmand province. Four months after being shot through the leg by a 7.62mm round, he tried out for and made the 2012 All-Army Rugby Team. He's currently working on his master's degree in business administration at Boston College.

16 April 2015

Wounded Warrior Receives New Home




"It's been a rough road, but I can't thank the American people enough on their dedication to give back to the soldiers and just pay it forward," said Staff Sgt. Timothy Payne.

The 32-year-old Army veteran lost both his legs and severely injured his left hand in 2011 when an improvised explosive device detonated under him during a combat mission in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province.

He was transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center where he spent a year and a half recovering. After more than 100 surgeries his spirit remains unbreakable.

Payne will get the keys to his new home when it is finished sometime in June, according to ABC News in Raleigh, NC.

13 April 2015

Must-see Interview with Michael Schlitz






Fantastic interview with Michael Schlitz by Chuck Williams of the Ledger-Enquirer. Must-watch!

You probably don't know Michael Schlitz.

But you should.

Eight years ago, Schlitz -- a U.S. Army sergeant assigned to the 10th Mountain Division in Baghdad -- almost died in a roadside attack.

He was burned beyond recognition, lost both hands and partial sight. The three soldiers in the vehicle with him were killed.

Today, Schlitz lives in southern Harris County and travels the country telling his story of service and survival.

He can talk candidly about suicide because he has contemplated it. He can talk about pain after 83 surgeries.

He recently sat down with Ledger-Enquirer reporter Chuck Williams and shared his remarkable story.

30 March 2015

Former Navy SEAL who was shot 27 times to compete in half-Ironman for fellow vets



From the UK's Mail Online:

A Navy SEAL who was shot 27 times and still managed to pull out his handgun and kill two enemy fighters is now training to run a half-Ironman triathlon in honor of his fellow veterans.

Mike Day is representing Dallas-based Carrick Brain Centers, where he was treated for PTSD eight years after he survived a gunfight while serving in Iraq.

In 2007 Day was hit 27 times by enemy fire after he was the first of his SEAL team to enter a room where four enemy fighters were waiting and quickly shot the rifle out of his hand.

Day managed to kill two enemy fighters with his pistol before he was knocked unconscious by a grenade that exploded less than 10-feet away from him.
Eleven shots hit Day's body armor while the other 16 wounded him, according to WTKR.

When Day woke up a minute later in the midst of a firefight, he grabbed his handgun and shot down two enemy fighters before the gunfire ceased.

The tough SEAL then got up and walked himself to the medical helicopter.

Day described the extent of his numerous injuries on his half-Ironman fundraiser page, writing that he was shot in both legs and arms, as well as the buttocks and scrotum. He said a shot to his abdomen also left him with a colostomy bag for a year, and his left thumb was almost amputated. Day's ribs were also fractured and he suffered contusions to his lungs after his body armor was hit so many times, but the bullets missed all his vital organs.

'This was a single gunfight at an ordinary day at the office,' he wrote on the page.

Day, who spent 20 years with the SEALs and is also a Silver and Bronze Star recipient, said his life's mission is now to 'care for and lead my wounded brothers and sisters'.




19 March 2015

On this Day in 2003 - Operation Iraqi Freedom Begins



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 12 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.

27 February 2015

Jump Salute


A U.S. Soldier salutes his fellow Soldiers while jumping from a C-130 Hercules aircraft over a drop zone in Germany, Feb. 24, 2015. The Soldier is assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group. U.S. Army photo by Jason Johnston.

13 February 2015

R.E.D. Friday - Remember Everyone Deployed!


Tech. Sgt. Travis Egger, 89th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, directs a bus of wounded warriors from the 86th Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility at Ramstein Air Base toward a 445th Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III bound for Joint Base Andrews, Maryland Jan. 4, 2015. U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Elizabeth Caraway

08 February 2015

Army Approves Awards for Victims of 2009 Fort Hood Attack

Secretary of the Army John McHugh has approved awarding the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart, the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, to victims of the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, following a change in the medals’ eligibility criteria mandated by Congress.

Among those killed was a former Landstuhl staff member, Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, 55 of Pittsburgh.

Lt. Col. Warman served a year at Landstuhl as a certified psychiatric nurse practitioner, where she regularly volunteered for round-trip flights between downrange and Germany, as well as between Germany and the US in order to care for her patients during transition. An expert in post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, Lt. Col. Warman's military career spanned 25 years in active duty and Army reserves. In 2006, she was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for her meritorious service at Landstuhl.

Warman had been at Fort Hood for only 24 hours to be processed for duty in Iraq, a deployment for which she had volunteered.

The Department of Defense has a long history of awarding Purple Hearts to victims of both domestic and foreign terrorist attacks including the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia of 1996, and the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.



IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: NR-040-15
February 06, 2015
Army Approves Awards for Victims of 2009 Fort Hood Attack

Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced today that he has approved awarding the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart, the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, to victims of a 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, following a change in the medals’ eligibility criteria mandated by Congress. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded in the attack by Major Nidal Hasan, who was convicted in August, 2013, of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.

“The Purple Heart’s strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood,” McHugh explained. “Now that Congress has changed the criteria, we believe there is sufficient reason to allow these men and women to be awarded and recognized with either the Purple Heart or, in the case of civilians, the Defense of Freedom medal. It’s an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice.”

Under a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, Congress expanded the eligibility for the Purple Heart by re-defining what should be considered an attack by a “foreign terrorist organization” for purposes of determining eligibility for the Purple Heart. The legislation states that an event should now be considered an attack by a foreign terrorist organization if the perpetrator of the attack “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack” and “the attack was inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.”

In a review of the Fort Hood incident and the new provisions of law, the Army determined that there was sufficient evidence to conclude Hasan “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack,” and that his radicalization and subsequent acts could reasonably be considered to have been “inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.” Previous criteria required a finding that Hasan had been acting at the direction of a foreign terrorist organization.

McHugh directed Army officials to identify soldiers and civilians now eligible for the awards as soon as possible, and to contact them about presentation of the awards. Soldiers receiving the Purple Heart automatically qualify for combat-related special compensation upon retirement. Recipients are also eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
Following his 2013 conviction, Hasan was sentenced to death by a general court-martial. He is incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, while post-trial and appellate processes continue.

For additional information regarding this announcement, please contact Lt. Col. Ben Garret at 703-614-5302 or my email at: benjamin.l.garrett4.mil@mail.mil.

01 February 2015

The Bonds That Will Never Be Broken



Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis previously deployed to Iraq, from April 2008 to May 2009, and to Afghanistan, from June 2010 to May 2011. Ollis deployed with his unit to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in January 2013, and was killed Aug. 28, 2013, defending Forward Operating Base Ghazni. (Photo courtesy of Fort Drum Public Affairs)


On August 28, 2013, 24-year old Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis of the 10th Mountain Division deliberately placed himself between a suicide bomber and Polish Soldier Lt. Karol Cierpica, saving Lt. Cierpa's life. SSG Ollis was killed when the bomb exploded. His actions that day have earned him a Silver Star and a Polish Armed Forces Gold Medal.

And now, he has a namesake.

Earlier this month, the Polish soldier became the proud father of a baby boy he named in honor of Ollis.

Robert Ollis and his wife, Linda, called the tribute to their son "unexpected" and "wonderful."

"I thought of the baby as a grandson," Ollis Sr. said "We are very happy and honored."

To thank Cierpica and his wife, the Ollis family sent the couple a teddy bear they had specially made out of their son's Army fatigues.


Newborn baby Michael Cierpica lies with a teddy bear made from the Army fatigues of Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, the soldier from New Dorp who sacrificed his life saving the infant's father during an attack in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Ollis family, via silive.com)

The Ollis family are hoping to meet "Little Michael" in person some day soon. The families have become close, and last year the Ollises traveled to Poland where they visited with the Cierpicas as well as the other Polish soldiers who served at the same base in Afghanistan.


H/t This Ain't Hell.