Monday, May 22, 2006

Things Military in the Heartland

Soldier Returns for R&R, Buffalo, Missouri (registration required):

BUFFALO-Sergeant Danon Weatherd is happy to be back in Dallas County, even if it's only for 15 days. The Iraqi War veteran arrived at the Springfield Airport Saturday afternoon, and he and his wife Rachel and two children have been staying at the Comfort Inn in Buffalo since that time.

Danon, a 1994 graduate of Buffalo High School, is shop foreman for the 584th maintenance company, which repairs and tows vehicles that have either broken down or have been damaged by enemy fire, particularly improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

"We're the AAA of the military," said Weatherd, who has been in Iraq since October.

In Iraq, there are two maintenance teams at Danon's location, and his team is on call every other day for 24 hours.

"Some days nothing happens, and other days we may handle two or three missions," he said.

When the call comes, his unit, which always has protection by gun trucks called quick reaction teams, drives to the area where a certain vehicle has broken down or has been hit by enemy fire. Sometimes they repair the vehicle right on the spot while other times they tow the vehicle back to headquarters.

He has 11 soldiers in his squad and shop, and the unit includes a tow truck, Hemmit wrecker and a Het trailer, which is used to haul large and heavy disabled vehicles, such as tanks.

He said there has been only one time for sure when his truck and unit came under enemy fire.

"There have been other times when we heard shots," he said, "but it's so loud inside the truck, it's hard to know where the sounds came from."

Danon is confident in his crew and believes in the mission.

"We have a good game plan and know how to respond," he said.

His wife added:

Rachel, a homemaker, obviously thinks about the danger involved with his job, but takes the approach, "If it wasn't my husband doing it, it would be somebody else's husband."

The Phelps group protests in a ditch:

Shumway, Ill. — Five anti-gay demonstrators stood in a small roped-off piece of ditch here Friday in their group’s first gathering at a fallen soldier’s funeral since Illinois’ new “Let Them Rest in Peace” law was signed earlier this week.

The demonstrators are followers of the Rev. Fred Phelps, who claims soldiers have died because they fought for a country that condones homosexuality.

The group obeyed the law by staying more than 200 feet from Faith Lutheran Church, where the funeral of Army pilot Christopher Donaldson was held. Donaldson was killed while serving in Afghanistan.

Across Illinois Route 33 stood a crowd of more than 200 flag-waving supporters of Donaldson, many representing motorcycle groups that included the American Legion Riders, Patriot Guard and the Christian Motorcyclists Assn. That group turned its back on the anti-gay demonstrators, and no words were exchanged between the two groups.[snip]

“They’re kind of disgusting,” said Cherie Ryan, of Beecher City, a friend of Donaldson’s family, before she entered the church. “It’s extremely disrespectful.”

Johnathan Phelps said he had no intention of breaking the law during his protest and was not concerned that his group was outnumbered 40 to 1. He said his group would work to change the law governing protests at funerals “because if that soldier died for any righteous cause, it was for the First Amendment.”

The only thing intelligent that any Phelps has said.

In the mean time, they get a rougher reception down near Dodge City:

SEAFORD, Del. — Five people face criminal charges after a weekend confrontation with members of a Kansas group that believes U.S. casualties in Iraq are God's retribution for America's support of homosexuality, authorities said Monday.

Members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., protested in Seaford Sunday for a protest in conjunction with the funeral of Marine Cpl. Cory Palmer, who died earlier this month from injuries suffered in Iraq.

The Kansas group, carrying signs reading "God Hates Fags," "Fags Doom Nations" and "Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the Lord," was met by a crowd of about 1,000 angry counter-demonstrators shouting "USA! USA!" as well as various taunts and obscenities.

Passing motorists honked their horns and hundreds of motorcycle riders revved their engines in an attempt to drown out the church members' shouts. Some counter-demonstrators hurled eggs, stones and water bottles.

State troopers and Seaford police officers were between the two factions, but authorities say a Bridgeville man broke through the police line and began assaulting two of the Westboro protesters before the demonstration ended.[snip]

A 16-year-old Seaford boy was charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct after a tire on the Westboro group's rented van was slashed. He was being held at a detention center Monday in lieu of $1,000 bond.

Christopher Daudt, 19; Stephen Carson, 19; and Allen Dunn, 56, all of Seaford, also were charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct after several counter-demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at a fire department vehicle carrying the Westboro protesters away from the scene, breaking several windows. Each was released on $1,000 bond.

"Tempers got very high," said Stephanie Hansen, an attorney for the city. "The city provided plenty of police protection and did everything in its power to protect the members of Westboro Baptist Church as they exercised their First Amendment rights."

Despite the violence, police department spokesman Capt. Gary Flood said he believed area residents showed "good restraint."

Church members plan to return to Seaford on Wednesday to picket the funeral of Lance Cpl. Richard James.

Teaching the blind to be patriotic (now if it was only that easy with everyone):

Wichita — How do you explain the “Stars and Stripes” to children who cannot distinguish one from the other, or talk about the “Red, White and Blue” to someone whose world has always been black?

That’s the challenge facing the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute, a nonprofit group based in Wichita.

The two organizations are teaming to help blind and visually impaired children across the country learn more about the American flag, its meaning and its history.

The Braille Transcription Institute plans to produce nearly 1 million posters featuring an embossed U.S. flag that children will be able to feel with their fingers, president Randolph Cabral said. The posters, which will also include the Pledge of Allegiance in large print and Braille, will be distributed to DAR chapters nationwide.

PFC Leland Taylor Krich graduates from Marine boot camp May 17 and goes on to infantry school.

Hutchinson News, Kansas says "Kansas Loses an American 'Hero'":

LIBERAL - Lance Cpl. Jose Marin-Dominguez left Kansas to serve his country, and the U.S. Marine, killed a week ago in Iraq, received accolades Sunday back on his home turf for making the ultimate sacrifice.

"Jose Marin died, died like a hero," said Jorge Gutierrez, pastor of the Maranatha Church of Christ here, which Marin-Dominguez attended. "We are standing before a hero. That's the truth."

The exclamation, made at Marin-Dominguez's funeral ceremony, generated thunderous applause among the 400 or so friends, family and others in attendance. Outside on North Pershing Avenue, many more, including hundreds of members of the pro-military Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group, waved U.S. flags and lined a stretch of the roadway to pay homage.

"This is honoring a fallen soldier," said Joe Enterkin, a tattooed former U.S. Army soldier who was on hand. "He's just one of our children who gave his life for our country."[snip]

Perhaps more significantly, Gutierrez recalled a young man who was deeply moved by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Though born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Marin-Dominguez, a naturalized U.S citizen, grew up in Liberal and felt passionately about the United States.

"He felt strongly about what happened to the Twin Towers," Gutierrez said. "He felt his own home was being attacked."[snip]

The ceremony at Restlawn Cemetery, north of Liberal, was more subdued. Friends and family released colored balloons into the air while U.S. Marine Col. Greg Boyle presented Marin-Dominguez's family with the Purple Heart the Marine earned posthumously. Boyle, regimental commander at the Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, base that Marin-Dominguez served out of, traveled here for Sunday's ceremonies.

"Jose is a great young man, he's a great Marine," Boyle said. "He's a great American and, as the pastor said, he's a great American hero."

Terrorists see Iraq as "one front in a global war they hope to provoke" says US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad:

In an interview with the Associated Press one day after the seating of the new leadership, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad outlined the immediate challenges facing the government of national unity and said the next six months will be "truly critical."

Al-Maliki was meeting Sunday with the security chiefs of the police and military to underline his immediate priorities, Khalilzad said.

The government "will be faced immediately with challenges because the terrorists are not going to go away, they are going to persist in the effort to promote sectarian conflict," Khalilzad said. "They want Iraq to fail, but Iraq in itself is not important for them. Iraq is one theater in a global war that they want to provoke, a war of civilization."

Soldier's remains recovered 63 years later:

ST. JOSEPH — Finally, the son can bury the father he never knew.

More than 60 years after going missing in action in World War II, David Bauman’s father will be put to rest in Missouri soil. With the burial of the serviceman’s remains, many old anxieties will be set away even as the event stirs some thoughts anew.

“It’s not happy or sad,” Bauman said. “It just is.”

Bauman’s mother was pregnant with him in 1943 when her husband, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, disappeared on a mission in the South Pacific.

When the war was over and the crew from the missing B-24 hadn’t been found, the Army stopped sending paychecks to their families and cashed out insurance packages. The government declared the men dead in January 1946 and pronounced their remains “unrecoverable.”

Then, in 2000, a hunter in Papua New Guinea wandered upon some plane wreckage and walked out of the jungle with a few bones and the dog tags of Lt. David R. Eppright — Bauman’s father.

Two years went by before the hunter passed that evidence on to the U.S. embassy. Another year would pass before Bauman’s wife, Peggy, would stumble across something on the Internet suggesting the military might have found the long-lost plane. It took yet another year to find a relative on the maternal side of Eppright’s family who could give a DNA sample.

60 Missouri Guard Prepare for Deployment to Iraq

The Missouri Army National Guard is planning a deployment ceremony for about 60 soldiers deploying to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The ceremony will be Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center.

Members of Headquarters Supply Company of the 935th Aviation Support Battalion will deploy and support the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade located at Fort Hood, Texas.

The soldiers are reporting to their home station in Springfield today to continue preparations for the deployment.

Boeing unveils new light-weight bomb fit for urban combat (ie, Air Force wants to be part of the new "war paradigm" of guerilla urban warfare, not just invasion bombing and individual augmentee)

ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) -- Boeing Co. on Monday unveiled a line of small, lightweight bombs that the U.S. Air Force will use in urban combat situations like the war in Iraq.

The small-diameter bombs weigh 250 pounds and can be used by all Air Force bombers, according to Boeing. By using the smaller bombs, planes can carry about four times as many of these weapons and fire them from farther away. A B-2 Stealth bomber can carry as many as 80 of the small-diameter bombs.

The bombs will also help limit civilian casualties during airstrikes in urban areas, according to the military news Web site Boeing said its own tests show the bombs hit within 4 feet of their target.

"Our crews will be at less risk while defeating more targets with less collateral damage," Air Force Col. Richard Justice said.

It's almost Memorial Day and the Eugora VFW offers some flag ettiquette reminders:

Memorial Day is May 29. Guidelines from the Veterans of Foreign Wars for displaying the United States flag are as follows:
• A flag displayed on a car should be fastened to the right side bumper, antenna or to the window.
• If displaying a flag on a wall, the blue field should be in the upper left corner, and it should never touch the ground.
• When displaying an all-weather flag outdoors 24 hours a day, there should be a light near it at night so it is not in complete darkness.
• When the flag becomes worn, replace it.
For additional flag etiquette information, visit the VFW Web site at or contact a local post commander.

Cross Posted at the Castle

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