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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wreaths Across America - VOLUNTEER!

photo by James Varhegyi

On Saturday, December 13, 2008, Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company, Harrington, Maine, will again donate over 10,000 Maine balsam fir holiday wreaths to be placed on graves at the Arlington National Cemetery.

This will be the 17th consecutive year that Mr. Worcester has donated wreaths at Arlington. Cemetery officials have assigned us Section 12 within the Cemetery for these wreaths to be placed. For those of you who helped last year, Section 12 is just to the left of the Section we did last year. There will be a welcome and briefing of all volunteers at 8:30am on that Saturday at the McClellan Arch (same place as last year). We will start placing wreaths at approximately 9:00am. There will a special wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Noontime which we hope the volunteers will stay to attend. A full schedule of events is listed on under the Locations tab then click on Arlington. Click here for a complete list of participating locations.

Last December we had approximately 3,000 volunteers helping in this tribute to our fallen American Heroes. Based on the calls and e-mails I have received, I expect the number of volunteers to be even larger this year. Due to the large number of volunteers expected, and the limited parking spaces available, we encourage everyone who can to please use the Metro Rail system (Blue Line) to get to Arlington National Cemetery. Parking will be available in the Cemetery’s Employee and Administrative Parking lots and along specific roads located to the East of Eisenhower Drive (King Drive, Leahy Drive, McClellan Drive and Halsey Drive). There will be signs posted to direct you to these locations. To help with the traffic bottleneck problems encountered last year, the Cemetery has agreed to open a Service Entrance Gate located at the South end of the Cemetery near the intersection of South Joyce Street and Columbia Pike. If you must drive, please check out this entrance as an alternate to the main entrance to the Cemetery. I look forward to seeing you all there. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Please remember those who will not be home to share in this holiday with their families.

Wayne Hanson
Maine State Society of Washington DC
Arlington Wreath Project Coordinator

Monday, October 27, 2008

Attorney General: count all absentee military ballots

Absentee ballots from overseas military voters lacking the name and address of a witness must be counted, according to a formal opinion from Attorney General Bob McDonnell.

The opinion affirms that federal law preempts state law, a news release from McDonnell’s office says.

At issue is a state requirement that the completed federal ballot provide the name and address of a witness to the absentee vote – unless the voter has also requested a separate, state-furnished ballot. The federal form, used for voting in all 50 states, does not provide a space for the address and does not specify which states, such as Virginia, require it.

If the Virginia law were upheld, it threatened to invalidate some of the thousands of absentee votes being cast by military members and other Virginians overseas.
The federal write-in absentee ballot is most commonly used by members of the military who are stationed overseas and have not received a state absentee ballot, the Attorney General’s news (Read more...)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Law Threatens Thousands of Military Votes

Get your dialing fingers ready folks and have at it. This cannot be allowed to happen to our military, not now, not ever. ......


The Fairfax County Registrar—and possibly other Registrars in Virginia—is rejecting most Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots (FWAB) cast by our men and women in uniform.

The FWAB is a federally mandated write-in ballot that allows military servicemembers and their dependents to cast an absentee ballot when they have
not received a ballot before the election. It is a safety net that allows a servicemember to vote even if the mail truck hasn't reached his or her remote
base in Iraq or Afghanistan in time to cast a regular absentee ballot.

Why is the Fairfax Registrar rejecting these ballots? The Registrar states that the witness who signs the envelope containing the FWAB must include his or her address—but most of the ballots don't include the witness' address.

Virginia law does not require a witness address for any other type of absentee ballot. So, for example, a Virginia resident attending college out of state does not need to include her witness' address on her absentee ballot envelope. But the Fairfax County Registrar is holding servicemembers, including those currently defending their country in war zones, to a much more exacting standard, requiring the witnesses who sign their FWABs to include their address.

To make matters worse, the Federal form (SF-186A) that is used for the FWAB
does not have a space for witnesses to include their address. And the Department
of Defense's official Voting Assistance Guide, which it provides to servicemembers as an instruction manual for casting votes while overseas, does not tell servicemembers that they must include an address for their witness. The servicemember would thus have no way of knowing of this requirement.

Federal law does not allow this type of disparate treatment of servicemembers. The Uniform and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (UOCAVA), 42 U.S.C. § 1973ff-2, requires states to process FWABs "in the manner provided by law for absentee ballots in the State involved." (emphasis added). In other words, the FWAB must be treated like any other absentee ballot under state law and may not be subject to more restrictive requirements. Yet that is precisely what is being done here.

Express your feelings to the state directly:

Virginia State Board of Elections

Suite 101, 200 North 9th Street,

Richmond,Virginia 23219-3485

Telephone: 804 864-8901

Toll Free: 800 552-9745

FAX: 804 371-0194

Also read here...http://www. military. com/news/article/law-threatens-thousands-of-military-votes. html?col=1186032310810

GO! NOW! This cannot stand. Thank you.

Friday, October 24, 2008


What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to.
- Hansell B. Duckett

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Sunday morning was like a holiday. It was the only day of the week when the Marines could sleep in, the only day they got hot food, remembers retired Master Gunnery Sgt. John Nash.

"We really looked forward to that Sunday morning, and the terrorists knew that," Nash said.

At 6:22 the morning of Oct. 23, 1983, Nash was lying in his cot, talking to a fellow corporal about whether they should go to the chow hall for breakfast. Suddenly, the conversation was interrupted by a boom Nash called "totally indescribable."

"It blew us all out of our racks," Nash said. The men lay on the ground for 30 or 40 minutes, afraid to move.

"If I had done anything else that morning, I wouldn't be here today," Nash said.

Nash, who was on the first floor of the Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment building that morning, was one of the lucky ones. A suicide bomber had detonated a five-ton truck full of explosives inside the four-story building, causing the headquarters to implode and crumble into a pile of rubble.

While Nash suffered a concussion and shoulder injuries, 241 others -- 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers -- were killed.

"Welcome to terrorism. Beirut, Lebanon, 1983, Oct. 23rd," Nash said. (Read more... )

‘I Just Gave John McCain My Purple Heart’

At John McCain’s rallies these days, the talk is of taxes and Joe the Plumber and the financial crisis and mortgage relief and an end to wasteful federal spending. Those are all perfectly fine things for a campaign to emphasize; polls show voters of all stripes are overwhelmingly concerned about the economy. But at McCain’s events, you’ll also find people who’ve come for another reason, one that is slipping in the polls of voters’ concerns but is deeply personal to them: the war in Iraq.

“I just gave John McCain my Purple Heart,” Marine Sgt. Jack Eubanks told me a few minutes after McCain finished a speech at a campaign rally in Woodbridge, Virginia Saturday. “I said, ‘I want to give this to you, sir, as a reminder that we want you to keep your promise to bring us home in victory and honor, so it (Read more...)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Great Photo

A Naval officer e-mails today’s photo of the day and writes: “I obviously can’t speak for all the troops, but I can definitely speak for one - I am a Naval officer currently deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom…The Taliban and al Qaeda don’t scare me nearly as bad as this election does…We’ll take care of things over here, but we’re counting on you and others like you to fight the fight back home, even after the election, whichever way it goes. [...] Read more....

Article orginally posted at

Monday, October 20, 2008

Holiday Mailing Deadlines

The 2008 Christmas holiday mailing deadlines have just been announced. If you want your cards, letters, and packages to arrive to a military member overseas, or deployed on a Navy ship by Christmas, be sure to mail them by the following dates:

For military mail addressed to APO/FPO AE zips090-098 (except 093); AA zips 340; and AP zips 962-966:
* Express Mail: Dec. 18
* First-Class Mail (letters/cards and priority mail): Dec. 11
* Parcel Airlift Mail: Dec. 4
* Parcel Post: Nov. 13

For military mail addressed to APO/FPO AE ZIP 093:
* Express mail Military Service: N/A
* First-Class Letters/Cards/Priority Mail: Dec. 4
* Parcel Airlift Mail: Dec. 1
* Space Available Mail: Nov. 21
* Parcel Post: Nov. 13

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Slain Soldier explained why he served

Army Specialist and blogger Stephen Fortunato was killed earlier this week in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was riding in was s truck by a roadside bomb. His mother shared a blog entry with the Boston Globe, which Stephen had written in August. According to "He was killed on his first day back on patrol after a 19-day leave in Massachusetts. Fortunato was in the 26th Infantry Regiment and served as a gunner in back of a Humvee. He had served in Afghanistan since July."

Here`s an excerpt from the blog entry that was shared with the Boston Globe:

If I may …

I'd like to say something....Just to get it out there so it is clear.To all the pampered and protected Americans who feel it is their duty to inform me that I am not fighting for their freedom, and that i am a pawn in Bush's agenda of greed and oil acquisition: Noted, and [expletive deleted] You.

I am not a robot. i am not blind or ignorant to the state of the world or the implications of the "war on terrorism." i know that our leaders have made mistakes in the handling of a very sensitive situation, but do not for one second think that you can make me lose faith in what we, meaning America's sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers in uniform are doing.

I am doing my part in fighting a very real enemy of the United States, i.e. Taliban, Al Qaida, and various other radical sects of Islam that have declared war on our way of life. Unless you believe the events of 9/11 were the result of a government conspiracy, which by the way would make you a MORON, there is no reasonable argument you can make against there being a true and dangerous threat that needs to be dealt with. i don't care if there are corporations leaching off the war effort to make money, and i don't care if you don't think our freedom within America's borders is actually at stake. i just want to kill those who would harm my family and friends. it is that simple. Even if this is just a war for profit or to assert America's power, so what? Someone has to be on top and I want it to be us. There's nothing wrong with wishing prosperity for your side.

You can read the entire story here.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Amy Galvez Is Off To Boot Camp

(pictures courtesy of They Have Names)

Amy Galvez is a Gold Star Mother. Like so many Gold Star Mothers, she honours her son - Adam - by serving and supporting troops still fighting on. I found this post on "You Served" which is a blog I read from time to time. I thought I would share her latest project.

October 1, 2008 By CJ

For those have known me for any amount of time know that I’ve worked hard on They Have Names to ensure that our fallen Soldiers have a name and that their story is told. One of the stories I told was that of Marine Corporal Adam Galvez. I was able to tell his story mainly through interviews with his mother, Amy.

Well, since Adam’s death, Amy has been very busy about the business of supporting other Marines and troops. She was instrumental in getting a street named Adam in their hometown in spite of the opposition to the war by their mayor. And now, she’s working to raise money for the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund by putting herself through Marine Corps bootcamp…sort of.

We are going to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot to run the obstacle course
used only by Marine Recruits. This is three mile course dotted with 17 obstacles
including trenches, fox holes, wall climbs, tunnels, push ups, just to name a
few, all with Drill Instructors hot on our heels to “encourage” us through the

BUT WHY?To benefit injured Marines returning from Iraq and Afghanistan
by raising money for the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund. IMSFF is an awesome
organization that has given over 8,000 grants totaling more than 22 million
dollars to injured Marines and their families.
Our goal is to raise $7,500.
With 15 team members each raising $500 we will easily meet our goal. I am asking
you to make a donation to support my participation in Boot Camp Challenge to
benefit injured Marines. Donations will be accepted through
Following the event, a check will be present to Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund.
100% of the money raised will be given to IMSFF. All team members are traveling
and participating at their own expense. For more information and to make a
donation go to

Amy is an awesome Gold Star Mom who has put her heart and soul into everything she does since losing her son to benefit our troops. She spends hours with care packages and other awareness projects and does so quietly, without fanfare or a lot of attention. But, I’m the one bringing attention to this because she can’t do it alone!

Please spread this as far and wide as possible to help Amy meet her goal for a worthy cause.

Go to They Have Names and read about this remarkable family. Then, do what YOU can to help Amy on this one. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Letter From Afghanistan

Published in The Daily Triplicate: September 22, 2008
Editor's note: This is the unedited version of the letter emailed to Triplicate reporter Adam Madison on Sept. 11 from Afghanistan by Capt. Bruno de Solenni of Crescent City. Bruno
died from an IED a week after The Daily Triplicate published this letter the first time.

Hi Adam, my name is Capt. Bruno de Solenni and I am writing you in regards to your article that I finally was able to read online.
I really wasn't sure what to expect, especially nowadays with some of the crap that you read in the news. I will say that I was surprised and pleased that it wasn't over-sensationalized and you kept a good theme on the topic.
I guess the main reason I am writing you is to thank you for your support and the point of view that you took on the article. I know that sometimes it is difficult to actually print something without being biased and taking just one side. But I will tell you the truth and give you an honest opinion about my life in the National Guard, about the war over here and many of the decisions leading to my third tour in the Middle East.
First off, when I first joined the National Guard, back in 1996, I had no idea that I would be here today. I do remember making the decision on Christmas Day when I was about 20 years old and felt like I was going nowhere with my life and needed to take a new direction. As my father and mother had stated earlier, I was always fascinated with history and the military, and was amazed at some of the hardships my grandfather endured in both WWI and WWII.
So the following Monday on the 26th I called a recruiter, and took the asvab test on the 27th in Eureka. Three days later I was down at the Oakland Meps station getting sworn in as a 62E (heavy equipment operator). When they asked when I wanted to go to Basic, I told them, "how about next week?" and they kind of laughed at me and explained that the soonest they could get me in was 30 days. On the 29th I boarded a plane and my life was forever changed, without me even knowing what lay ahead.
Eventually, a few years after joining, I did decided to go back to college at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Ore., where there was a GOLD (Guard Officer Leadership Development) program that allowed me to earn a federal commission as an Army officer while I continued to work toward my degree (which the National Guard also paid for).
In a sense, I was doing exactly what the National Guard said I could do if I joined ... Finally, on May 11, 2001, I received my commission as a young, immature, 2nd lieutenant full of piss and vinegar still not knowing exactly what I was getting into.
When Sept. 11 happened, it was then that I realized that things were going to be very different for me and the rest of this country. One month later our battalion received the alert order that we would mobilize the following year to fill in on the current MFO (Multi National Force and Observers) mission in Sinai, Egypt. After returning from Egypt, I was home for eight months before volunteering again to go to Iraq for OIF II. It was there I truly (became) an infantry officer and learned a lot about myself and people in general.
Upon my return from Iraq, I was positive about what was going on there but very resentful at the way the media was covering the war over there. In my own view, I personally feel that some of the media deliberately fueled that war based on their own biased political views and I still hold them accountable for their actions.
Something that still upsets me is the fact that they exploited some of the crimes soldiers committed over there as a reflective view to the rest of the world of what our armies stood for. I am not saying that we didn't make mistakes, we did make them and we have painfully corrected them.
After returning from Iraq I took a break and just stuck to the one weekend a month traditional Guard and used my experiences from Iraq to lead a recon/sniper platoon out of the Grants Pass Armory for about 2.5 years. Then I received the opportunity to come to Afghanistan and work as an Embedded Trainer with the Afghanistan Army.
Some of the biggest dilemmas that I think we have faced here are mostly the fact that Afghanistan seems to have been put on the back burner up until a few months ago when the casualties here began to exceed those in Iraq where there are four times as many soldiers. Our true problems here are definitely reflective of the Pakistani border and the lack of troops covering it, which has been an issue for years and is being exploited by the Taliban as they train freely in Pakistan, unopposed by anyone.
In my opinion, Afghanistan does need a troop surge of American soldiers as well, otherwise we will only be able to sustain combat operations with minimal effect of containing Taliban insurgents. As I speak about this, these are only my views and opinions based on my experiences.
Even though I am now recuperating in the rear and doing fine, much of my time along with other teammates has been spent in the Helmand Province working with a handful of British soldiers in small isolated FOBs conducting offensive operations with the Afghan National Army. Our task is to mentor them during combat operations and to provide both air support and indirect fire support, which seems to sometimes be a daily necessity over here.
The good days over here are when we are truly sticking it to the Taliban in a firefight that is in our favor and you just dropped 130 105mm rounds on their position. Or when a ... hot F-15 pilot flies over your head strafing the Taliban with his Vulcan cannons.
The (bad) days are when you are covering up your your sergeant major from being exposed to the dust-out of a Chinook helicopter that is landing to medivac him out. At the same time he cries because he doesn't want to leave his team as he lies there half paralyzed with shrapnel in him, while fluids are coming out of his eyes and ears signifying severe brain trauma, (meaning we cant give him morphine).
The bad days are when you put your buddy in a body bag and you don't even recognize him because his limbs are missing and there holes in him everywhere. The miracles are when his last words are, "tell my wife and kids I love them," before he dies in his best friend's arms after struggling for several agonizing minutes to get the words out because there is a fist-size hole in his head.
And last but not least, the best days are when an Afghan comes up to you thanking you for everything that you have done to help them and for making their (home) a better place now that the Taliban are gone.
If anything, this is probably the biggest reason why I proudly enjoy being over here. I can't explain it to anyone and there is no description of what it feels like, but it was the same feeling I got when I was in Iraq as well. And I am sure it's the same feeling that generations of American soldiers before me have gotten as they fought and sacrificed their lives for the freedoms that we enjoy today.
Perhaps the biggest thing that has made being over here much more bearable, is the amount of public support that we have received from people. Getting a care package or a letter of support when you are out in the middle of nowhere from a complete stranger, thanking you, does make the day seem a little better.
I would especially like to thank my Aunt Jan Martin, and The local Troop Support organization who have provided care packages to soldiers serving overseas and have volunteered endless hours of their time and energy making our lives easier. The British soldiers (who don't get anything) are extremely grateful as well.
Along with this, I would especially like to thank the members of the VFW who donated several hundred dollars of G.I. shirts to the company of Afghans that I have been mentoring. You have all truly made my life and my job easier. Without your support, life would not be as pleasant.
Last but not least I would truly like to thank everyone who has supported the soldiers and the efforts toward supporting these wars even when there wasn't an end in sight. Until about 6 months ago there wasn't a news outlet that was saying that the Iraq war was winnable and that this was another vietnam in the making. Had we let the politicians get ahold of this war it would have been.
Fortunately our president (who is not perfect) has stood his ground against the naysayers who deliberately exploited the death of American soldiers for their own political gain, showing no regard to their families and loved ones who are still mourning them to this day.
I can understand what it was like for Vietnam veterans who returned from the war and were spat upon for wearing their uniform and standing up for what they believed in. Unfortunately this is still all-too-true for many of the British soldiers returning home to their own country. There are even certain ethnic religious neighborhoods where they cannot even wear their uniforms because they will be beat up in their own country.
I pray to God we never come to that and thank the fact that what has changed drastically between Vietnam and now is that even if the public doesn't support the war, they still support troops which makes a huge difference. This is especially comforting if you are one of those soldiers walking through the airport wearing your uniform and coming home on leave or returning from a deployment.
Once again, I cannot thank everyone enough for their support and all that they have done ...

Capt. Bruno de Solenni

Debbi's note: Please keep the family & friends of Capt. Bruno de Solenni in your prayers. He was a true Hero & should not be forgotten. For more information & to leave your respects you may do so on the Family Blog.

Support for Soldiers Angels - Please Vote!

Help Needed: Click This, Help Soldiers

It’s this simple. Click here. Scroll down and pick Soldier’s Angels. Enter.

You just gave Soldier’s Angels $2. That’s it. And it didn’t cost you a dime! decided they have $80,000 to give to charity, so they’re letting people vote on which charity to give to. One vote = $2 until all the money is given away or until Oct. 15th when voting ends.

No gimmicks. They didn’t even ask for an e-mail so they could spam you later. If they don’t get 40,000 people to vote they’ll just divide the money up proportionally.

Please pass this along to other bloggers, friends, and family members.

UPDATE: Come on people, click. If not for the good feeling you get for helping our brave soldiers, then for the evil yet surprisingly satisfying feeling that you’ll get knowing that your helping put the #2 charity in the race farther and farther behind.