Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sunday Sightings: Local War News and Views

Today I will begin a new tradition for the blog and that is to highlight local news related to the war on terrorist Islamists, our soldiers and their families every Sunday. If the well runs a little dry, you may see more national news, though I plan to include things from Centcom when applicable.

So, without further ado, local war news and views.

Soldiers and Supporters

First brought to our attention byBlackfive, a follow up report on the funeral of Sgt. Dominic Sacco of Topeka, KS - Soldier's Widow Encourages People to Stand Against Phelps; 500 Veterans and Supporters Stage Counter Protest:

December 3, 2005 Topeka — More than 500 veterans and supporters lined a downtown Topeka avenue Friday to show their support for the family of Sgt. Dominic Sacco and their disdain for anti-homosexual pastor Fred Phelps’ protest of his funeral.

Waving flags, carrying signs and revving motorcycles, the supporters honored Sacco at the request of his widow. [snip]

Sacco, 32, of Albany, N.Y., was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 13th Armor at Fort Riley as a tanker. He was killed in combat Nov. 20 in Iraq. His family lived in Topeka during his deployment. Two other soldiers from the same unit — Spc. Jerry Mills Jr., of Arkansas City, Kan., and Spc. Donald Hasse, of Wichita Falls, Texas — died Tuesday.

Brandy Sacco said Thursday she wanted people to take a stand against Phelps, and she went on the radio to encourage a strong turnout.

Tonganoxie Supports Troops At Christmas Tree Lighting

Another indicator of the start of the season -- and one that I prefer to the overwhelming of my mailbox and the inane ads on television -- is the annual Mayor's Tree Lighting ceremony. This year, the event is set for Thursday night, at 6:30, in Tonganoxie's VFW Park.[snip]

Mayor Dave Taylor has asked Kelly Frantz, whose husband, Lucas, was killed in October in Mosul, Iraq, to light the tree and say a few words to those gathered in the park. It's a nice honor, and it's one that's fitting for a young woman who has conducted herself with dignity and honor during these recent, extremely difficult weeks.

You may recall that Phelps and his crew tried to mess up Frantz's funeral, too.

The Lansing Current has a Service Member Gallery where you can submit your local service members information and picture or find out who's serving from the area.

Specialist 4 Angela Klein. Currently serving with 1908 Med Det (Topeka) in Iraq. Graduate of Lansing High School. Wife of Josh Klein (Leavenworth), daughter-in-law of Marty and Janet Klein (Lansing), daughter of Jim & LeAnn Enderle (Lansing).

Lt. Col. Carl Williams Jr. is currently activated with the 326th Area Support Group out of Kansas City, Kan. He is director of logistics for the group, which is in suport of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit in Al Asad, Iraq. His wife, DeLois, lives in Lansing and works at the Veterans Affairs Hopsital in Leavenworth.

See more local heroes and read their stories here

Nor Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor IEDs Could Keep This Soldier From Delivering the Mail

Staff Sgt. Hobart Hopkins, garrison administrative NCOIC, was presented the Bronze Star Medal by Garrison Commander Col. John Towers, who thanked the sergeant and his wife for their service.

From February 2004 through February 2005, Hopkins served in Iraq as the postal supervisor and NCOIC for 30 forward operating bases north of Baghdad. He, along with 23 other Soldiers and a handful of reservists, received, sorted and shipped more than 14 million pounds of mail in a single year.[snip]

Despite having the responsibility of sorting and dispatching the correspondence of the entire 1st Infantry Division, Hopkins said he was encouraged by letters he received from his wife so he understood what letters from home meant to Soldiers.

"It made me feel good to know I was doing my job; it made me feel good that my wife was standing behind me sending me my own mail," Hopkins said. "Just to get a letter from her on a day was great, so I know how Soldiers felt when they got theirs."

Don't forget, if you haven't signed up yet, you can give a soldier, sailor or marine a lift in spirits by joining a number of support groups. Winds of Change has a great list. Also my favorites Any Soldier; Soldiers' Angels; Sgt Missick's Web of Support

Fort Leavenworth

Fort Leavenworth Holiday Drives

In the spirit of generosity, a number of organizations around the installation are assisting needy families during the holiday season. The following is a small sampling of drives and events and how the community can help.

The Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Angel Tree provides toys for needy children on post. The tree will be in the Post Exchange lobby and is expected to be up by Friday.

The tree will be decorated with labels listing children's age, gender, unit affiliation and a small wish list for Christmas. Adoptive patrons can take labels, purchase gifts and return them wrapped or unwrapped with the labels attached, to a drop box next to the Angel Tree.

"It's a great program that benefits many children on the installation," said BOSS President Cpl. Brian Page.

Others are listed, but we shouldn't forget that the families of soldiers also serve.

Fort Riley

Ft. Riley Recovering From Tornado

FORT RILEY, Kan. - Although no injuries were reported, the tornado that struck Fort Riley Sunday displaced 17 military families and damaged 33 sets of quarters to the point they were uninhabitable, post officials said.

Fort Riley Operation Santa Clause

War on Terror

Counterterrorism Official Cites Al Qaidas Lack of Power in the US

Washington — U.S. counterterrorism agencies have not detected a significant al-Qaida operational capability in the United States since the 2003 arrest of a truck driver who was in the early stages of plotting to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge.

Nevertheless, al-Qaida’s capabilities aren’t clear and the group remains dangerous, the new deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Kevin Brock, said in an Associated Press interview.

Leavenworth World Journal cites a report from the Associated Press that continues to perpetuate a fallacy - FBI Reopens Inquiry Into Forgery Leading to Iraq War.

Wasps could replace bomb and drug sniffing dogs

Tifton, Ga. — Trained wasps could someday replace dogs for sniffing out drugs, bombs and bodies.

Scientists say a species of non-stinging wasps can be trained in only five minutes and are just as sensitive to odors as man’s best friend, which can require up to six months of training at a cost of about $15,000 per dog.[snip]

The “Wasp Hound” research by Lewis and University of Georgia agricultural engineer Glen Rains is part of a larger government project to determine whether insects and even reptiles or crustaceans could be recruited for defense work. That project has already resulted in scientists refining the use of bees as land-mine detectors.

Note In Bathroom Forces Landing at KCI

December 2 Kansas City, Mo. (AP) -- An America West Airbus jet made an emergency landing Thursday at Kansas City International Airport after someone left a note in the plane's bathroom that said: "Taliban is Here."

Other News

Bomb Squad Called to Douglas Lake

Sheriff's deputies were called to Douglas County State Lake about 4 p.m. Wednesday after someone saw a footlong pipe bomb floating on a piece of driftwood.

War History

Black Jack Battle Field and Nature Park

Work continues at the Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park east of Baldwin as volunteers scurry to meet the deadline of its dedication on June 2, 2006, the 150th anniversary of the battle which sparked the Civil War.[snip]

The site also includes the Robert Hall Pearson home, which has received spot on the Register of Historic Places in Kansas. The Battlefield Foundation hopes to restore it as a museum where the story of the Battle of Black Jack can be told.

Pearson fought at the Battle of Black Jack and also served in the Union Army during the Civil War. After many travels, he returned to the site, purchased the land, built the house, farmed and raised cattle.[snip]

Pearson joined forces with the infamous John Brown and other anti-slavery proponents in 1856 to fight slave-state intruders in the Battle of Black Jack, which is just now becoming accepted as the first real battle of the Civil War, which didn't "officially" start until April 12, 1861 when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter.

Well, that might be a little revisionist history, but go read the rest of the article for a more complete history of Black Jack Battle Field.

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