Sunday, October 30, 2005

House becomes a home for (Iraq war) hero

By VICKI BERRY, C-T Lifestyle Editor

He received a hero’s welcome when he returned to his newly renovated home Wednesday, however, Bobby Isaacs does not refer to himself in that manner at all.

"I was just doing what I was told," he said, matter-of-factly.

Retired Cpl. Bobby Isaacs, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky. was initially given an imminent death retirement because he wasn’t expected to recover from injuries he received while serving in Iraq.

And just as understatedly, the Roxboro resident was prompted to join the armed forces following the 9/11 tragedy.

Isaacs said he had tossed around the idea of joining the Army prior to the 9/11 attacks. "That gave me the push," he said.

In March of 2003 Isaacs was deployed to Iraq. After serving in several Iraqi cities, events led to an occurrence that would change the young man’s life forever.

Isaacs recently recalled the events of that day near Mosul. Isaacs and others in his division were part of a convoy. He explained that he was standing behind his staff sergeant who was sitting in the passenger’s seat. The convoy was ambushed with small arms fire and a roadside bomb that shattered the bones in both of Isaacs’ legs and severed the femoral artery.

"My staff sergeant was killed," he said.

Isaacs too, came very close to losing his life. "I was resuscitated three times," he said.

Following a few days in a field hospital, Isaacs was taken to Germany before being sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the U.S. There, he spent the next year, lost both legs and underwent 39 operations. While it doesn’t sound like fun, Isaacs said he was happy to be there.

"I was just glad I was in a hospital and not in a body bag," he said.

During his stint in the hospital and through a fellow patient, Isaacs fatefully met John Gonsalves, founder of Homes for Our Troops. Although Isaacs was not aware of it at the time, that meeting was the first of several to follow that would have a positive impact and outcome.

Isaacs left Walter Reed Hospital and moved back to Roxboro to live with his mother, Pat Isaacs, and although he was out of the hospital, he was not finished with the medical visits. It was necessary for Isaacs to go to Veterans Hospital in Durham for his prosthesis and follow-up care. And that is when Isaacs had another fateful encounter.

He met Charlotte Riggle, who works as a technician with the Center for Orthotic and Prosthetics at Duke University.

"She makes the legs," he said.

That was then. Now, together, plans are being laid for a wedding ceremony for the two on July 1.

Future plans for Isaacs include returning to school in the spring, probably at a local community college, he said. From there, he is considering a career as a physician’s assistant.

However, his plans do not involve moving.

When Isaacs left Walter Reed Medical Center to come back to Person County, he was told by Gonsalves to begin looking for a house and, if possible, Homes for Our Troops would buy and adapt the house to meet his special needs.

This past June, he found the house and Homes for Our Troops made the purchase along with plans to renovate the structure so that Isaacs could move in by December.

That move-in date was stepped-up a notch when Homes for Our Troops combined forces with the ABC network television show Extreme Makeover Home Edition and, in a blitz-like fashion, the house was adapted, renovated, furnished and ready for its new occupant in 48 hours.

On Wednesday, amidst television fanfare, Gonsalves handed Isaacs the key and the deed to his new home – a charitable act from Homes for Our Troops to help the veteran achieve his future dreams.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Business as Usual

Just a quick passage from a recent Time Magazine article:

It was then that Lt. Nelson took the decision that could jeopardize his service career. "We decided to burn the bodies," one soldier recounts, "because they were bloated and they stank." News of this cremation may have remained on these scorching hills of southern Afghanistan, had the gruesome act not been recorded on film by an Australian photojournalist, Stephen Dupont. Instead, when the footage aired on Australian TV on Wednesday, it unleashed world outrage. A Pentagon spokesman described the incident as "repugnant" and said that the army was launching a criminal investigation into the alleged desecration of the corpses, which is in violation of the Geneva Convention on human rights.

I'll say this once- if the American media machine continues to drag our military through the mud with all of our "violations of the Geneva Convention," we will lose this war. That's not a guess on my part- it is a fact.

Nice job, Newsweek. Let's not talk about cutting the heads off of living human beings. Forget about blowing up dozens of young children as they attempt to collect candy from U.S. soldiers- that stuff just happens and so who cares, right?

Literally hundreds of U.S. soldiers have risked their own lives in order to save the lives of fellow soldiers, innocent civilians, and even enemy terrorists who were only minutes earlier trying to kill them- and you see fit to report...none of it. Nada. Zip. It's boooor-ing. So last century. But when U.S. troops decide to burn a couple of already-dead terrorists- stop the presses! It's almost as big a deal as when they put underwear on someone's head!

Muslims traditionally bury their dead, and as one Kabul cleric Mohammed Omar told newsmen, "The burning of these bodies is an offense against Muslims every where. Bodies are burned only in Hell."

That's a great point you make there, cleric guy- but where do people typically get their heads cut off? Is there a place in Hell for that? Did the Newsweek reporter ask you that question? When an American gets his/her head sawed off by one of your fellow faithful, is that an offense against Americans everywhere?

Al Jazeera does a swell job of making Americans out to be the "real" terrorists- but Newsweek and the rest of America's MSM are really giving them a run for their money. I have a challenge for somebody out there. I'd do it myself, but I'm just way too busy these days. Find out how many "Abu Ghraib-type" stories graced the front page of the New York Times, and then chalk up the number of times they fronted stories about American heroism and valor. I think the results will be stunning. Or not.

I'm not asking for flag-waving and apple pie.

I'm not seeking fame and glory for myself or anyone else.

I just think we'd better stop treating our own people worse than we treat head-chopping, baby-bombing terrorists. That's not so much to ask...

If you haven't read LTC Tim Ryan's assessment yet- read it.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Holy Bush-Bashing, Batman!

The AP really went all out with their latest assault on the current administration and anyone even remotely associated with it. Deb Reichmann's latest masterpiece managed to slime the President, the Pentagon, and of course- the soldiers! I'm not quite sure what soldiers ever did to the AP (unless you believe Eason Jordan's assertion that American troops systematically slaughter journalists), but Deb really seems to go out of her way to make these troops look stupid:

A brief rehearsal ensued.

"OK, so let's just walk through this," Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?"

"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.

"Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?" she asked.

"Captain Kennedy," the soldier replied.

And so it went.

Duhhhh...and my name is Bob and I'm really stoopid! I can't think for myself and I need Allison Barber to tell me what to think and what to say and who to hand the microphone to and- uh oh! I went poopie in my poopiepants!

Nice work, Deb- I'm sure the soldiers appreciate all the blood sweat and tears you poured into making them look like a bunch of diaper-clad thumb-sucking idiots.

And what about the Iraqi soldier? Let's pass him off as a lovestruck groopie!

The president also got praise from the Iraqi soldier who was part of the chat.

"Thank you very much for everything," he gushed. "I like you."

Are you kidding me??? He gushed????? Who in the wide world of sports wrote this garbage? A valley girl?

And here's my favorite insult- some yahoo named Paul Rieckhoff fancies himself as a "support the troops" kinda guy:

Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as a "carefully scripted publicity stunt." Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said.

"If he wants the real opinions of the troops, he can't do it in a nationally televised teleconference," Rieckhoff said. "He needs to be talking to the boots on the ground and that's not a bunch of captains."

Well said, Paul. Tell you what- send me an email and let's arrange a meeting. I'd like to give you the opportunity to tell me to my face that I haven't earned the right to give a legitimate opinion about what I saw and what I experienced over there.

I want you to tell me to my face that my opinion isn't "real" because of the rank I held while I was over there.

I want you to tell me that my "Captain" friends who died while fighting for something they believed in are somehow less important than soldiers who carry a different rank.

I want to see just how much courage you really have, Paul.

Go ahead- send me an email. Let's set up the meeting, and let's find out how completely and pathetically gutless you really are.

Thanks for bringing this joke of a man to my attention, Deb. Now go back to doing what the AP pays you for- but please stop insulting our intelligence by trying to pass off your poorly written slop as "news."

For all you folks out there who would like to read an honest account of what happened at that "staged" teleconference, I give you Sergeant Ron Long :

Yesterday, I was chosen to be among a small group of soldiers assigned to the 42ID’s Task Force Liberty that would speak to President Bush, our Commander-in-Chief. The interview went well, but I would like to respond to what most of the mass-media has dubbed as, “A Staged Event.”

First of all, we were told that we would be speaking with the President of the United States, our Commander-in-Chief, President Bush, so I believe that it would have been totally irresponsible for us NOT to prepare some ideas, facts or comments that we wanted to share with the President.

We were given an idea as to what topics he may discuss with us, but it’s the President of the United States; He will choose which way his conversation with us may go.

We practiced passing the microphone around to one another, so we wouldn’t choke someone on live TV. We had an idea as to who we thought should answer what types of questions, unless President Bush called on one of us specifically.

President Bush told us, during his closing, that the American people were behind us. I know that we are fighting here, not only to preserve our own freedoms, but to establish those same freedoms for the people of Iraq. It makes my stomach ache to think that we are helping to preserve free speech in the US, while the media uses that freedom to try to RIP DOWN the President and our morale, as US Soldiers. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are tearing the country apart. Worthless!

The question I was most asked while I was home on leave in June was, “So...What’s REALLY going on over there?” Does that not tell you something?! Who has confidence in the media to tell the WHOLE STORY? It’s like they WANT this to turn into another Vietnam. I hate to break it to them, but it’s not.

Tomorrow morning, the Iraqi people will vote on their constitution. The success of our mission or the mission of the Iraqi security forces is not defined by the outcome of that vote. If the people of Iraq vote this constitution down, that only means that the FREE, DEMOCRATIC PROCESS is at work in Iraq. They are learning to voice their opinions in the polling stations, not through violence. If it is voted down, they will have the chance to draft an even better version; One that may better serve the people of Iraq. This is up to them. It is history in the making and I will not let the media or anyone else (who has not spent more than two weeks here) tell me otherwise. I have been here for almost a year. I have seen the progress made in so many ways from January’s elections to this referendum. Don’t tell me what the Iraqi people can or can’t do. They will tell you with their VOTES!

If you would like to see our interview with President Bush, you may get it HERE.

Nice try, AP...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

101st Airborne Getting Ready to Return to Iraq

By Ryan Lenz

The Associated Press

FORT CAMPBELL - Combat soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division will begin deploying to Iraq in the next week, two years after the division helped topple Saddam Hussein, Army officials said Thursday.

The Army is processing nearly 1,000 soldiers a day at Fort Campbell. The 3rd Brigade is preparing to be among the division's first combat units to replace the Army's 42nd Infantry Division. It operates out of Tikrit, in north central Iraq.

For many, it's a moment filled with nervous excitement despite having been to the battlefield before. For others, it is a sobering dose of reality to wait in long lines to check everything from vaccinations to mental health.

About 3,600 troops from Fort Campbell are already in Iraq, including hospital and artillery forces. The departure of units from the 3rd Brigade, known as the Rakkasans, marks the beginning of a deployment many had expected.

"It's easy going over there," said Sgt. Jeff Desrosier, 34, of Grand Forks, N.D., as he laughed and told jokes with fellow soldiers. "But what's hard is when I'm in the kitchen and my son comes up crying and hugging me."

On Thursday, soldiers filed into an old gym at Fort Campbell to update personal records including contact information for next of kin, personal information to help officials identify them if captured, even details for the type of funeral they'd like to have.

"I'm just ready to go to Iraq and get it over with," said Sgt. Sheroda McLendon, 27, of Macon, Ga., after receiving one of several shots that the Army requires of soldiers going to Iraq.

About 19,000 soldiers from the division deployed to Iraq in 2003. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the division was assigned to the Mosul area of northern Iraq.

The nature of the conflict has changed since then, said Maj. John Calahan, the brigade's executive officer. He was waiting in line with enlisted soldiers to receive one of the many medical checks. But the Rakkasans are ready, he said.
"The entire time we were there last year, the enemy was constantly evolving. And they've continued to evolve," he said. "But on the same token, we have also evolved."

For those soldiers deploying for the first time, finalizing their affairs all at once drove home the coming deployment.

"It really made me step back and ask what is it that's worth leaving my family for," said Staff Sgt. Jesse Riggin, 24, of Middletown, Del. "It basically comes down to waking up every morning and having a purpose."

The movement of the 101st and 159th Aviation Brigades and the division's four combat brigades - more than 20,000 troops - will be carried out in stages, possibly through November, Army officials said.

Monday, October 10, 2005

No Better Friend...

October 10, 2005

Release Number: 05-10-32



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A United States Air Force C-17 delivered the first relief supplies here within 48 hours of the devastating earthquake that has left thousands dead and thousands more injured and displaced.

The aircraft and its crew from the 7th Airlift Squadron, McChord Air Force Base, Wash., delivered 12 pallets -- weighing almost 90,000 pounds -- of food, water, medicine and blankets from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

With only a few hours notice, Airmen and soldiers at Bagram, successfully worked to palletize the humanitarian relief supplies and prepare them for the flight. Three aerial port specialists were also on the flight to coordinate and manage the cargo once it arrived at Islamabad.

"This was a total team effort," said Col. Mike Isherwood, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Vice Commander. "Our hearts go out to all those affected by the earthquake and we are thankful we were able to help out."

Pakistan Army Brig. Gen. Imtiaz Sherazi, director of logistics, is coordinating the relief efforts as supplies arrive and ensuring rapid distribution of assistance to areas that need it most.

Said General Sherazi, "These items are very valuable to us because there are lots of people in great distress."

As relief efforts are ongoing worldwide, United States Central Command will continue to identify and provide additional capabilities for airborne reconnaissance, heavy lift ground equipment, medical support, shelters, rations and water to aid and assist the people of Pakistan.