Saturday, April 19, 2008

We Few.... We Proud.....

We Band Of Sisters!

Most of you know that my cousin, Tori, has been in Iraq for over a year now. She still has another 3-4 months left in her 18 month deployment. She's a Blackhawk pilot who has spent the past 15 months running medevac missions, including one that resulted in Bronze Stars with Valor for three of her crew members. That story was picked up all over, including Blackfive. As the pilot on the ground who called in the Apache's, Tori was not one of those who received the Bronze Star, but in my mind, her actions directly resulted in the ability of the medics to escape with their patients.

Anyway.... she's back in the news again.

The Savannah Morning News wrote an excellent article about women in combat positions in the current war, with Tori starting off the story. The first part cracked me up:

"I was talking to my grandparents, trying to tell my grandmother what I was going to be doing," said the chief warrant officer with the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Aviation Brigade. "And my grandfather said, 'Don't worry, they won't put her out in combat. She'll be fine.'

"All I could think is: I'm a medevac pilot. If someone is hurt, I go to the place where they are hurt."

That's my Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Harrol she's talking about- Paw-Paw to her. He's a BIG guy. Quiet. Rough. All Southern Man.... so it made me laugh to realize that he truly believed that Tori wouldn't be in any danger in Iraq simply because she's a gurl. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Our female soldiers are in harms way day in and day out. True, we have had less women than men killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are more men in the military in general, and women do not hold positions in the infantry or other traditional front-line battle positions, but they are out there. We have women MP's and women on patrol, to handle the Iraqi and Afghan women. We have women in civil and public affairs, going out into the towns meeting the locals and covering events. We have women performing many jobs that put them outside the wire, every day.

And they're performing admirably.

I wonder how long it will be before men like Uncle Harrol/Paw-Paw realize that.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rumble in the Jungle

An earthquake hit about 200 miles from here about 5:30 this morning. Some people around Cincinnati, including where I live, reported feeling and hearing the shaking. They described it as a rumble of thunder without the thunderstorm.

Personally, I slept right through it and so did the kids. Although.. it may have contributed to the weird-ass dream I was having when the alarm went off at 6am. In the dream, I was watching a parade with the kids. Perhaps the earthquake rumble was translated into the pounding of marching band drums and feet??? Who knows; but I am happy to report that so far, no injuries or major damages have been reported as a result of my dream- or the earthquake.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lightbulb Moment

That's what I call it when something that previously made NO sense at all, suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, becomes crystal clear.
That happened today at The Castle.

How a perfectly good Iraqi Air Force pilot can make a fatal mistake:

"In American helicopters, the little airplane stays still and the artificial horizon moves up and down and sideways. It is opposite with Russian artificial horizon -- the horizon stays still and the little airplane moves up and down and sideways.

"The Mi-17 has *Russian* artificial horizon."

They're being trained on American helicopters. No wonder this happened. What a tragedy...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Iraqi Army "Brilliant"

Richard Butler, the CBS journalist rescued by Iraqi soldiers in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Monday, described a quick escape and "brilliant" military work that ended his two long months of captivity.

"The Iraqi army stormed the house and overcame the guards and burst through the door and I had my hood on, which I had to have on the whole time. And they shouted something at me and I pulled my hood off," Butler told TV cameras. "And they ran me down the road."

First of all, let me be clear: I am THRILLED to hear about Richard Butler's safe return. Those of us who have been watching Matt Maupin's story know all too well what can happen when people disappear in Iraq.

Secondly... I have to tell you. Hearing him say that the Iraqi Army was "brilliant" in finding him- during a routine raid unconnected to any tips that the kidnapped journalist may be present- warms my heart. Our government gets bashed day in and day out about how little the Iraqi's are doing to stand on their own two feet. No one seems to pay attention to how far they have come. Today's rescue is one such example.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

We wait

"We wait not until our loved ones walk back through our door; now we wait until we walk through heaven's door, to be reunited."

I can't say I got it right word for word, but the Chaplain at the Matt Maupin Scholarship Dinner prayed with all of the Gold Star families, which now includes Matt's parents, and said something like that. It's so true. So true I had to write it down.

We cry.
We mourn.
We praise.
We ache.
We honor.
We remember.

We wait.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Tears and Laughter

Batavia and the Maupin family lost Matt to the GWOT four years ago. He's been found, and will be brought home and laid to rest soon. As you probably know, I've met the Maupin's on a few occassions since Matt's disappearance. They won't remember me- they've probably met hundreds of thousands of people since Matt disappeared, but the impression they left on me will never leave. They never gave up. Never. Never stopped sending packages with Matt's picture in them; never stopped contacting the Army and the President for updates on the search; never stopped praying. Simply put... they never stopped. Perhaps after Matt is laid to rest, they can at least pause and reflect on the tremendous impact they and their son have had on the lives of so many- myself included.

Colerain Township lost two firefighters over the weekend. Captain Robin Broxterman and Firefighter Brian Schira entered a burning house on Friday, starting the assault on the fire. One other firefighter accompanied them. Although they entered from the first floor, the two were later found in the basement, covered in rubble; their unmanned firehose on the first floor above them. Broxterman leaves behind two young children, and a fiance, who, ironically, is a firefighter who also responded to the scene of the fire which took Robin's life. Schira, 29, was unmarried, without children, but with a family full of pride and grief. Ironically, the son of the last Colerain Township firefighter killed in the line of duty was also at Friday's fire. Since 1990, 2,248 firefighters have been killed in the line of duty, including 64 females.

The sadness and grief in Cincinnati continues. Please keep the Maupin, Broxterman, and Schira families, as well as their respective service units, in your thoughts and prayers. I plan on attending Maupin's public service, and Broxterman and Schira's too- I owe them so much more than my thanks and admiration after death, but that is all I have to offer. Events like this remind me that we do not offer our thanks to our public servants often enough, nor are they paid enough to give up their lives in such violent ways.

In this world of death, and loss... I thought we could all use something light-hearted and fun.
I present to you... the Dancing Wild Bears