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On Dr. Charles Stanley’s Sunday program “In Touch”, the guest speaker was more of a historian than a Biblical speaker, but he is very famous for his knowledge of historical facts as well as Biblical truths.

Dr. David Barton is his name. He is an expert on the subject of whether or not the United States was founded as a Christian Nation.

Dr. David Barton – on Obama

“Respect the Office?  Yes.  Respect the Man in the Office? No, I am sorry to say.

I have noted that many elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans, called upon America to unite behind Obama.

Well, I want to make it clear to all who will listen that I AM NOT uniting behind Obama!

I will respect the Office which he holds, and I will acknowledge his abilities as an orator and wordsmith and pray for him, BUT that is it.

I have begun today to see what I can do to make sure that he is a one-term President!

Why am I doing this?  It is because:

   – I do not share Obama’s vision or value system for America ;

   – I do not share his Abortion beliefs;

   – I do not share his radical Marxist’s concept of re-distributing wealth;

   – I do not share his stated views on raising taxes on those who make $150,000+  (the ceiling has been changed three times since August);

   – I do not share his view that America is Arrogant;

   – I do not share his view that America is not a Christian Nation;

   – I do not share his view that the military should be reduced by 25%;

   – I do not share his view of amnesty and giving more to illegals than our American Citizens who need help;

   – I do not share his views on homosexuality and his definition of marriage;

   – I do not share his views that Radical Islam is our friend and Israel is our enemy who should give up any land;

   – I do not share his spiritual beliefs (at least the ones he has made public);

   – I do not share his beliefs on how to re-work the healthcare system in America ;

   – I do not share his Strategic views of the Middle East ; and

   – I certainly do not share his plan to sit down with terrorist regimes such as Iran .

Bottom line: my America is vastly different from Obama’s, and I have a higher obligation to my Country and my GOD to do what is Right!

For eight (8) years, the Liberals in our Society, led by numerous entertainers who would have no platform and no real credibility but for their celebrity status, have attacked President Bush, his family, and his spiritual beliefs! They have not moved toward the center in their beliefs and their philosophies, and they never came together nor compromised their personal beliefs for the betterment of our Country!

They have portrayed my America as a land where everything is tolerated except being intolerant!

They have been a vocal and irreverent minority for years!

They have mocked and attacked the very core values so important to the founding and growth of our Country!

They have made every effort to remove the name of GOD or Jesus Christ from our Society!

They have challenged capital punishment, the right to bear firearms, and the most basic principles of our criminal code!

They have attacked one of the most fundamental of all Freedoms, the right of free speech!

Unite behind Obama? Never ! ! !

I am sure many of you who read this think that I am going overboard, but I refuse to retreat one more inch in favor of those whom I believe are the embodiment of Evil!

PRESIDENT BUSH made many mistakes during his Presidency, and I am not sure how history will judge him. However, I believe that he weighed his decisions in light of the long established Judeo-Christian principles of our Founding Fathers!!!

Majority rules in America , and I will honor the concept; however, I will fight with all of my power to be a voice in opposition to Obama and his “goals for America .”

I am going to be a thorn in the side of those who, if left unchecked, will destroy our Country! ! Any more compromise is more defeat!

I pray that the results of this election will wake up many who have sat on the sidelines and allowed the Socialist-Marxist anti-GOD crowd to slowly change so much of what has been good in America !

“Error of Opinion may be tolerated where Reason is left free to combat it.”
– Thomas Jefferson

GOD bless you and GOD bless our Country ! ! !”

If we ever forget that we’re one nation under GOD, then we will be a nation gone under.” – Ronald Reagan

I WANT THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE BACK….. In GOD We Trust ! !   PLEASE SHARE – Be ready to vote in the Nov. 2, 2010 ELECTIONS

Hard to believe we are already down to a little over 5 weeks.  I am sure Amanda wouldn’t agree but for me the time has gone by fairly quickly. 

I took charge of the crew two weeks ago after Dave left.  With two LT’s and two Staff Sergeants and below we are by far are the most junior crew here at Ramstein.  Two of our crewmembers deployed across the runway from the Ramstein AE squadron and are here for only a month.  Nice for them however unfortunately for us it means another change out here in a couple of weeks. All in all they are good flyers, eager to learn and the experience will come with time. 

Our first mission was a nightmarish 28 hour day with a plane loaded almost to the maximum capability.  On the trip down to Bagram we were loaded with Cargo and had another 4 crews returning with us.  Normally we try to sleep on the way down however with very limited room it was difficult to say the least and with so many people on board it was anything but quiet. 

Once we arrived in Bagram we were notified our load would have 24 litter patients and 24 ambulatory.  Unloading the cargo took over an hour and setting up took just as long.  Loading all of those patients went as smooth as it could.  We usually have large loads like this when we fly back to the States but I haven’t seen anything like this since Iraq was in full speed. 

Unfortunately for us after we were loaded and closed up one of the engines wouldn’t start.  I felt my heart sink.  Just as we were considering off-loading all of the patients and finding a place to sleep due to our crew duty day the plane was fixed and we took off.  The 7 hour trip back to Germany was uneventful however I was more than ready for a quick shower and a nap by the time I got back to my room.

The 3 weeks prior that had been busy for our crew so it was a nice surprise to have two days off in a row.  Well of course something always happens so it was nice to have one day off after everything was sorted out. 

Axel, one of our friends for the past many years who works at one of the vineyards that we frequent invited us to join him for the Germany World Cup opener.  He lives in GroBkarlbach which is about 40 minutes east of Ramstein.  It is small village of about 500 people and I was amazed that the house he lives in was built in 1580.  While obviously it has been renovated and modernized I was awed in how good of condition it has remained in over the past 430 years. 

After meeting his girlfriend and visiting for a few hours we walked 2 Km to the nearby village of Bissersheim where the village volunteer fire department was having a fund raiser Barbeque complete with a beer tent.  This village as well only has 500 residents so I was surprised when there were at least 200 people in the town square for the match which was being broadcast on a large screen T.V.  Germany won the match 4-0 much to the liking of the locals. 

We decided to grab one more beverage for the walk back and that is where things took a turn for the worse.  It was then when the firefighters running the beer tent found out that Kevin is a firefighter from Boston.  After a few t-shirts were swapped and much more beer was served we finally left some 4 hours after the end of the match.  Have to love firefighters. 

Unfortunately we flew during the next game since the vineyard Axel works at, Weingut Knipser was hosting a private party to which we were invited.  Maybe it is a good thing we flew.  The fire department did enjoy it so much that they did ask Axel if we could come back tomorrow night for the game.  Only in the name international diplomacy we will attend.  I wouldn’t want to ruin any American-Germany relations.
 
Well that is it for now.  We are on the front end of a Balad mission and I hope to send this off in the morning.  Happy 4th Anniversary to my wonderful wife.  Staying home with an almost 2 year old, a German Sheppard and moving into a new home, she is the true hero.  Talk to you all soon.  Chris.

For being deployed this past week has been a good one.  We were scheduled to fly on Memorial Day however that mission was scrapped after we were alerted and unfortunately were released too late to do anything that day.  In its place we flew a mission down to Bagram on Wednesday. 

Upon our arrival we were greeted by the majority of our Westover contingent including much to our surprise some of the day shift.  We had a longer than normal ground time and they were gracious enough to take us to the nearby chow hall.  I am amazed how much things have changed since 2004 when I was stationed there. 

On our way to chow hall we walked by our old C-Hut where Paul and I lived for a long 5 month deployment at that time.  The paint on the wood has long since faded and the plywood building is really starting to show its age.   I still don’t miss it.  No surprise the chow hall in a deployed warzone is better than the one in Ramstein and after a very good but quick meal with friends we loaded up the plane and headed back to Germany.

     After a short 24 hours on the ground at Ramstein we were back in the air, this time to Andrews down in D.C.  Prior to taking off I was surprised to come across an old Hartford Hospital acquaintance.  As one of the patient buses pulled up to the tail of the aircraft Col Robert Gross, one of our previous Trauma Surgeons who has since moved on to Bay State walked out.  I have seen him on a few occasions when we drop patients off at Bay State and I knew he was in the military however you never expect to cross paths.  After a brief catching up we loaded up the plane and were back in the air once again.  

 The Ramstein to Andrews run has been one of my personal favorites.  Even though one of the longest flights sometimes exceeding 10 hours it is a big step home for the patients that we transport.  All are being moved on to care that they need and you can see the relief of most once we are back on good old U.S. soil.  After flying 22 of the previous 48 hours I was relieved myself. 

     Unfortunately with Amanda closing on our new house next week it was a little too close for her to load up Cam and come down for another visit which provided me with an opportunity to catch up with our Westover contingent deployed to Andrews.  Much to our surprise one our crews deployed to Travis AFB in CA was prepositioned for a mission the following day. 

It amazes me in two days I can see almost every deployed 439th AES person even though geographically separated by over 10,000 miles.  D.C. was a very hot and humid 90+ degrees when we landed.  A far cry from the low 70’s I have become accustomed to in Ramstein with barely any humidity.  After a very well needed shower a few of us went out for a quick dinner and I think I remember my head hitting the pillow but that very well may have been a dream.  After a day of lounging around, our recuperated crew boarded my favorite plane in the whole world, my beloved KC-135 for an 8 hour voyage back to Germany. 

     Our return to Germany was bitter sweet to say the least.  Through rotation and attrition I have become the new OIC of our crew.  In a career field with such a high number of Majors and LTC’s I never expected to assume that role but truly appreciate the trust and confidence of our leadership. 

With the current transition we lost 2 very good flyers and a bunch of experience.  Both flyers are from Pope (Active Duty) and much to my surprise were very down to earth, exceptional flyers and over the past two months have become good friends.  Dave will soon leave for Pope for a position at AMC Stan Eval and Joe will continue to search for an assignment closer to his Son who lives in Portsmouth NH.  I wish them both the best of luck. 

We met the new replacements on Monday morning during lunch.  They are both stationed here at Ramstein and are on a 30 day loan you could say.  We have another 1LT and TSgt.  The LT is new and has never flown down range and the TSgt hasn’t been downrange in some time. 

     As if I didn’t already miss home enough on Friday Amanda sold our house and closed on our dream home on the north side of town.  Just a little over a mile from where I grew up it will be a nice change and even though it is a little more out in the woods than most of the town it will be worth. 

Thanks to everyone who took the time to help Amanda and Cam on the big move.  I truly appreciate it.  The most enjoyable part is that the house is only 4 years old and that means no projects, well at least for a while.  I am sure I will come up with something as time goes on and I get board. 

That is it for this session.  I hope all is well as usual and will talk to you soon.  Chris.

Well we are finally approaching the half way point of this deployment. It is hard to believe I left Bradley 8 weeks ago today and I truly hope the 2nd half goes as quickly as the 1st half passed. 

We have a very busy week ahead of us with 3 missions scheduled totaling almost 46 hours of flight time alone.  By the 60 day mark we will have already accumulated over 140 flight hours and 12 missions.  Not bad considering that Operation Ash Tray I and II kept us grounded for almost two weeks combined and cost us at least 5 flights. 

Last week we a flew a mission to Kuwait, Balad and then back to Ramstein.  We were told we would be picking up a VIP in Balad and they weren’t joking.  Upon our arrival in Balad we picked up the Air Force Surgeon General, LTG Green.  A very nice individual and probably one of the most personable General Officers I have ever met.  He took time to talk to all of the patients on board and then took time to visit with every member of the crew one by one. 

I wish he had told me at the beginning  that he participated on the workgroup that decided to utilize the KC-135 (Refueler) for Air Evac mission before he asked me what I thought of the airframe.  I provided  my insights from my numerous operational missions and then he pulled the rug out from underneath me. 

Much to my surprise he appreciated the candid feedback and we continued to talk for another 15 minutes or so on the topic.  I was a little disappointed we didn’t get any coins however his Executive Officer took a picture with everyone but we are still waiting for them to be emailed. 

We are slated for another Andrews mission next weekend and it will be nice to get back to the States even if just for a day.   Unfortunately it comes a week before Amanda closes on the new house and it would be much too chaotic for her to try and pack Cam up again for another visit down to DC. 

It will be nice to see and catch up with our Westover folks deployed down there.  I know that I can’t wait to eat real  American food and would do anything to see a real TV commercial.  AFN (Armed Forces Network) is our only T.V. provider and they cannot show commercials and therefore make a very rude attempt to fill the normal commercial times with idiotic safety messages, public announcements and of course short peep talks from various individuals.  I think by this point I would prefer watching and listening to static than the same messages over and over and over again.  

I was notified yesterday that I will become the Officer in Charge of our crew next week after my colleague Dave heads home.  We are getting another Lieutenant for his replacement.  Through simple attrition Kevin is in charge of all of the enlisted and having a qualified leader and experienced flyer will make my job a whole lot easier. 

I was hoping that being a Captain would keep me under the radar but that plan sure didn’t work out all that well and with only a few Majors in-coming for the next rotation I could see the writing on the wall and wasn’t that surprised.  We were recently assigned two newer flyers and our new nurse is coming with limited experience.  Should keep us busy and on our toes.
    

That is all for this letter.  I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend.  Connecticut has had a tough year and perhaps the inscription on the base of the monument located at the American Cemetery in Normandy best sums it up.  “To those we owe the high resolve, that the cause for which they died shall live.”

Chris Watkins

Week 5 started off great.  Immediately after returning from our Andrews mission our Commander pulled us aside and informed us that he was reassigning our OIC to another crew.  It is not that he was a bad leader, he just wasn’t a good one.  Numerous poor decisions and a few other incidents eventually lead to his removal and not one of us was sorry to see him go.  In turn we got back the Captain whom we flew with when we first got here and a newly assigned Lieutenant from Wyoming.  As if we weren’t already feeling lucky enough, two other crewmembers with similar altered team dynamics were scheduled to leave within 24 hours of us returning to Germany.  On a crew that was weighed down with 3 who never seemed to pull their own weight the change was welcome.  If those who left were new flyers I could perhaps understand however these 3 had almost 2500 flying hours combined.  Some things I will never get.
     With the new crew ready we were eager for our first mission which came a few days later.  We call it the Triangle, a stop at Ali Al Salem, Balad AB and then return to Germany.  The previous time we ran the mission was the day that almost lasted 24 hours.  This time we were back in 17 and 2 hours ahead of schedule.  We always knew our previous crew had weak links however we made excuses for them and pulled their weight, we had to.  To compare the two crews is night and day and will make the next 3 months a little easier to say the least. 
     Sunday morning bright and early the phone rang.  “Operation Ash Tray II” was in effect.  Evidently the volcano had sent another ash cloud toward Europe and had Ramstein in its sights.  As you can see by the photos, it was a mad dash to get everyone and all of our equipment out of Ramstein and off to an alternate location.  First we were heading downrange (dessert) which quickly changed to Rota Spain, a Navy base which means it is near water.  I liked that idea.  Unfortunately after we had rushed to get out of Dodge nobody told the ash cloud and it was too late.  We never took off.  After sitting on a C-17 for the better part of 6 hours we unloaded and waited for further instructions.  Those instructions didn’t take long, we were going to bus to a location 5 hours away and meet another C-17 there however before the buses arrived that plan was scrubbed too.  Finally at 10pm, 14 hours after I first left my room, I opened my door, showered and went to bed to try again the following day. 
     Monday morning we all met at 8 am for plan 3 and by 9 am everything was cancelled all together.  The ash cloud was expected to clear within 24 hours and the decision was made to keep us in place.  Once again, nobody informed the ash cloud and it wouldn’t be until Wednesday that a few flights finally took off.  For the second time in 6 short weeks we were grounded and out of play, I wasn’t very happy at the thoughts of sitting around once again but there was little I could do about it. 
     We used some of our downtime to take out our frustration at a local go-kart track 20 minutes from base.  I had never been there before but had heard numerous stories about the place.  It didn’t disappoint.  After being strapped in and fitted for a helmet we hit the track.  These karts go about 45 mph and after 30 minutes of driving my arms were shaking we I climbed out.  After sending Joe, Kevin and a few other into the wall I felt a whole lot better and we were back in the following Friday night. 

That’s it for this installment.  Hope all well and I will talk to you soon.  Chris.

President Obama:

Today I read of your administrations’ plan to re-define September 11 as a National Service Day.  Sir, it’s time we had a talk.

During your campaign, Americans watched as you  made mockery of our tradition of standing and crossing your heart when the Pledge of Allegiance was spoken. You, out of four people on the stage, were the only one not honoring our tradition.

YES, “We noticed.”

During one of your many speeches, Americans heard you say that you intended to visit all 57 states. Islam, not America, has 57 states.

YES, “We noticed.”

When President Bush leaned over at Ground Zero and gently placed a flower on the memorial,  you nonchalantly  tossed your flower onto the pile without leaning over.

YES, “We noticed.”

Every time you apologized to other countries for America ‘s position on an issue we have wondered why you don’t share our pride in this great country.  When you have heard foreign leaders  berate our country and our beliefs, you have not defended us. In  fact, you insulted the British Crown beyond belief.

YES, “We noticed.”

When your pastor of 20 years, “God-damned” America and said  that 9/11 was ” America ‘s chickens coming home to roost,” and you denied having heard recriminations of that nature, we  wondered how that could be. You later disassociated yourself  from that church and Pastor Wright because it was politically expedient to do so.

YES, “We noticed.”

When you announced that you would transform America, we wondered why. With all her faults, America is the  greatest country on earth.

Sir, KEEP THIS IN MIND, “if not for  America and the people who built her, you wouldn’t be sitting in  the White House now.” Prior to your election to the highest office in this Country, you were a senator from Illinois and  from what we can glean from the records available, not a very remarkable one.

YES, “We noticed.”

All through your campaign and even now, you have surrounded yourself with individuals who are basically unqualified for the positions for which you appointed them. Worse than that, the  majority of them are people who, like you, bear no special allegiance, respect, or affection for this country and her traditions.

YES, “We noticed.”

You are 14 months into your term and every morning millions of Americans wake up to a new horror heaped on us by you. You seek to saddle working Americans with a health care/insurance  reform package that, along with cap and trade, will bankrupt this nation.

YES, “We noticed.”

We seek, by protesting, to let our representatives know that we are not in favor of these crippling expenditures and we are labeled “un-American”, “racist”, “mob”.  We wonder how we are supposed  to let you know how frustrated we are. You have attempted to make our protests seem isolated and insignificant. Until your appointment, Americans had the right to speak out.

YES, “We noticed.”

On September 11, 2001 there were no Republicans or Democrats, only Americans. And we all grieved together and  helped each other in whatever way we could. The attack on 9/11 was carried out because we are Americans.

And YES, “We noticed.”

There were many of us who prayed that as a black president you could help unite this nation. In six months you have done  more to destroy this nation than the attack on 9/11. You have failed us.

YES, “We noticed.”

September 11 is a day of remembrance for all  Americans. You propose to make 9/11 a “National Service Day”.  While we know that you don’t share our reverence for 9/11, we  pray that history will report your proposal as what it is, a disgrace.

YES, “We noticed.”

You have made a mockery of  our Constitution and the office that you hold. You have  embarrassed and slighted us in foreign visits and policy.

 
YES, “We noticed.”

We have noticed all these things. We will deal with you. When Americans come together again, it will be to remove you from office. Take notice.

Faye Parrish
Bunnell, Florida
August 2009

Heavenly Father, You are the real foundation of nations, raising them up to serve and care for the people dwelling in their boundaries. I thank You for making me a citizen of this land of freedom
and unlimited opportunity—which are the result of its Christian base. Send forth your Spirit to this country and make it a source of wisdom and strength, order and integrity throughout the world.

Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe, look with mercy on those who rule over us. Grant to our President and his administration the grace to know and do your will. Let them serve all their subjects in truth and righteousness. Inspire our Congressmen with the courage to make laws for the good of all rather than the few. Give our Judges your Spirit of wisdom and understanding that they may discern the truth and impartially administer the law. And let all the people pitch in to make our way of government  continue to work.  Amen.

It is hard to believe that we are already ¼ through our deployment.  I took last week’s letter off if you will since there was absolutely nothing to write about during “Operation Ash Tray.”  The decision to keep us on the ground that early morning essentially took us out of play for 8 days so needless to say we were eager to get back in the air. 

You would think with more than 7 years of experience at this I would know that you should always watch what ask for.  We were teed up for a Balad – Ali Al Salem – Ramstein run on a C-17.  Since I would end up with calluses on my fingertips if I thoroughly described all of the events of that mission let’s just say that if there was a theoretical possibility of something going wrong it did. 

What was scheduled to be a 17 hour day took almost 25 and by the time we reached our rooms at 4 pm in the afternoon most of us opted to just stay up.  It was one of the longest and most aggravating days I can remember.

Kevin and I were finally moved into the same building area as the rest of our crew.  Since I feel compelled to only say nice things in these letters I am afraid I will have nothing to say about Ramstein Lodging.   That’s kind of humorous; I didn’t have anything to say about them during my last trip here as well. 

The rooms are not much bigger if any however they are much more functional.  Before we were forced to put our food items such as snacks and cereals on our television stand or tucked away in a night stand.  We now have a little cupboard space along with a counter, a full desk and television and microwave that do not look to be from the 1980’s. 

Best of all, we now have our own bathroom!  How I will miss the early morning wake-ups of my neighbor taking a shower.  Of course it is hard is to complain too much when there are a lot of people who have it much worse that I do. 

The highlight of the past week was finally a trip to Andrews and the opportunity to see Amanda and Cam while in D.C.  Of course with my luck it couldn’t go off without a hitch.  We were originally slated for the mission early in the week and Amanda, Cam and Robin, Kevin’s girlfriend made their travel arrangements. 

Late Thursday evening we were notified that the mission had been extended and that we were scheduled to fly onto San Antonio after dropping our patients off in Andrews.  Once again, hours before leaving I had to make the dreaded phone call to Amanda to tell her that we would not be coming once again.  Like a true champion, she took the news well and went along with her day at work.

Friday morning we were alerted for the mission on time, did our normal pre-mission routine and ended up at the Detachment 15 minutes early.  Three of took the time to take our personal luggage out and an undisclosed amount of German beverages out to the plane. 

As the loading of the above mentioned items was occurring I mentioned that I planned on escorting the medical equipment back from San Antonio as the remainder of crew would normally fly back to Germany on a commercial carrier.  One of the individuals on the plane informed us that SA leg had been dropped and we were only flying to Andrews.  It was a mad dash back to the Detachment.  This time as the phone rang at 4 am back in the States with the good news.

After an hour and a half delay that seemed like forever we were finally on our way and shortly before 8 pm EST we made it to the hotel.  Amanda had found a small flag for Cameron to carry and he was easy to make as we drove across the parking lot. 

Kevin was first out of the truck and immediately caught Cameron’s attention.  The look on his face was that of utter disappointment, I know you have the same green suit but you are not who I thought you were.  Then after a few seconds he looked around Kevin, said “Da-Da” and ran over.  After demanding “Up” and a quick kiss it was on to assaulting the Velcro patches as he always does.  It was truly awesome to see him and Amanda.

The downside of the trip was that we only had 24 hours off before we had to fly back to Germany.  After a mid-morning breakfast it was off to Arlington.  I can’t count the number of times I have been there but there is always something special about taking someone there for the first time.  Perhaps it is the sheer magnitude of the size, the precisely laid out grave markers or the peaceful quiet. 

We made it just in time for a changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown.  Amanda had never seen it before so as Cam got a little restless he and I went for a short walk.  From there we made our way Section 60.  Called by many the “Saddest acre in America,” it is the final resting place for many of those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Walking there with Amanda and Cam I realized that you can never rationalize with an almost two year old why his Dad has to leave, but you are reminded why do it.

 We enjoyed the remainder of our time that afternoon and evening however despite all of the prayers of the aircraft breaking or the mission being cancelled, we made our way back to Germany.  We have a few flights this week that will keep us busy and before too long we will be talking about the ½ mark.

 That is it for this letter.  I hope you are all well and Happy Mother’s Day if happens to apply.  Talk to you soon.  Chris.

Week 2,

     Well “Operation Ash Tray” has brought everything here to a screeching halt.  In my 7 years of flying AE I have never seen anything like this.  We were the alert crew Thursday night when the phone rang around 10pm, first we were going to a base in the desert, next we were going to Andrews, then back to the desert and finally told to just pack tan and green flight suits.  It was rather comical looking back on it.  At the time however, with all of 25 minutes to get packed, repack, repack again and then be ready to be picked up I didn’t find it was all that humorous at the time.  Finally a few hours later we were mere minutes away from flying to Andrews Friday morning and even got as far a closing up the ramp on the C-17 before the mission was scrubbed.  No comment. 

For Kevin and me it was a huge disappointment since Amanda and his girlfriend Robin had already made plans to drive down to D.C. later that morning to stay with us for the anticipated 4 to 6 days we would be there.  I know it has only been two weeks but I will take any opportunity I can to see Amanda and Cam that I can get and I returned to my room 12 hours after I originally left with no flight hours logged and a heavy heart.  Mission first I always say and when you compare with some of those I have the privilege to help on their journey home my temporary disappointment is trivial when you see what they are going through. 

     Day two of “Operation Ash Tray” we found ourselves off for the entire day.  The day started with a quick morning swim and then came an urgent mission to assault two vineyards located the Phalz region near the Rhine river.  Our two targets, Dr. Burklen-Wolf and Rudy Ruttger were successfully visited without incident and numerous prisoners were taken into custody.   Anything I can do to maintain international relations.   As for today I did find some humor when last night we were put into crew rest so we could sit in Bravo “Stand-by” today.  Here is my disclaimer.  To avoid any potential “Operational Security” issues I won’t discuss our current situation.  However if you Google “Stars Stripes Ramstein,” Stars and Stripes will and you will find the following article: http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=69398 .  Not much has changed but I am sure once we can start flying again I think it will get pretty busy.  Until then I will enjoy the down knowing there is a price for everything. 

     Down time has continued to be filled with running, swimming and biking.  Running here is fantastic and I try to set 2 days a week.  I am already back up to 12 miles and if I can keep up this pace might even entertain running the entire Hartford Marathon this coming October.  I am still split on what to run for.  Honor Flight is a great charity and the debt we owe WWII Veterans will never be repaid.  However my first flight we flew back some CT Guard members, two of whom were seriously injured.  It would be nice to do something for them as well.  Luckily I have a few more months to make up my mind. 

     In my previous update I totally forgot to mention and thank the support staff from our home unit in Westover.  Our full-time staff, recently thinned by staff reductions did a superb job in getting Kevin and I out the door.  While it may not have always been pretty we arrived to our deployed location with all equipment (maybe a little more than we needed), our paperwork was in line and we were ready to go.  It speaks volumes that 36 hours after our arrival we were mission ready and flying our first mission down-range the other night we were prepared to redeploy anywhere in the World.   Thanks to Lt Cols Z & D, Wayne, Rich and Vikki for all of their help.

That is it for this installment.  Hopefully this quagmire ends soon and we can resume our mission.  Talk to you soon, Chris.

Chris, the flight nurse that we came to appreciate so much while Lea was hospitalized in Hartford, is currently deployed to Germany, where his team is making flights into Afganistan and Iraq to treat and transport injured military personnel. Below is the first note from this deployment.

     Well I guess you can say here we go again, beginning my final tour, 120 days at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.   Kevin (from my Westover unit) and I were placed on the same crew which we appreciated.  It is hard to believe we are already through Day 7; time at least for me is flying.  Our first week was fairly hectic.  We flew from Dulles in Washington D.C. to Frankfurt on United.  I would like to personally thank that wonderful airline for charging me $250 in excessive baggage fees.  They somehow thought I could pack 4 months of supplies, 8 uniforms with boots and some other military gear in 3 bags.  I had to laugh at first since I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t.  While I will be reimbursed when I file my first travel voucher, it is the point of it all.  Didn’t the government bailout United not too terribly long ago?

     Our schedule is much different than it was two years ago.  We are in Bravo (Stand-by) for 24 hours, off for a day and then assigned a mission after 12 hours of pre-departure crew rest.  Our first two missions have both been to Afghanistan.  If everything goes to plan it makes for a 22 hour day, if something goes wrong it only gets longer.  So far, so good and I would like to keep it that way.   One of our missions had a few fellow Nutmegers aboard which made for a very sad beginning of this deployment.  Ironic that I traveled ½ way around the world and was blessed with the opportunity help some of my neighbor’s home on their long journeys.  So far in the first week we have racked up over 27 flight hours.  If you add in our trip from the States last Friday we have been in the air over 35 hours this past week.  I can’t wait to cash in my frequent flyer miles on this one. 

     Tomorrow is our first true down day since we got here and in true German fashion I feel obligated to uphold international relations and visit some of the local retailers especially those specializing in wine production.  While I have two vineyards I really like and have visited for years some of those on our crew suggested another vineyard that overlooks the Rhine river.  The owner is American and loves service members so it should be interesting.  Any request?  Kevin and I hope visit Rudy Ruttgar and my personal favorite MD, Dr. Burklen-wolf in the next few weeks. 

     My quarters are much like they were two years ago, just a little nicer (no mold and carpet).  The room is humble, has a fridge and microwave and while be it painfully slow, we finally have internet in our rooms. Welcome 2010 AF lodging! All in all I can’t complain too much, it could always be worse.   As for the food here…um….uh… No comment.  A salad alone the other day cost me $2.75 and that was with a discount from the lunch lady.  We are currently working on our Per Diem issue. 

     With our time in between missions Kevin and I have been keeping busy running (not Kevin), biking and swimming.  I found a very nice 6 mile long running path not too far from my room.  Some of the Westover folks deployed to Andrews were nice enough to take my bike with them and placed it on a mission over here to Germany.  They were also nice enough to decorate it with a bright pink Easter basket, tassels, a horn and completed it off with a personalized California license plate with my name on it and playing cards in front and rear spokes.  At least they were nice enough to fill the Easter basket with Girl Scout cookies to help with the humility.  Kevin purchased a bike later that same day and we have pretty much rode everywhere since.  It is nice to not have to rely on a vehicle shared by 7 people if you want to go somewhere and with hundreds of kilometers of trails around the base we will put them to good use. 

     Many people have asked if they can send me a package.  The simple answer is no.  I am blessed with living on one of the largest U.S. bases in Europe.  I have access to a grocery store, a mall, a movie theater, a gym and a pool.  While we pay for these amenities in very long flights down range many people have it much worse than I.  With that said, they would love packages and support from home.  While I am touched by all of the kind thoughts there are many more deserving service members than I.  I will however be more than happy to deliver any packages anyone may want to send and I will ensure they get out to those who need it most.  Coffee, canned fruits, non-perishable sweets and of course baby-wipes are always fan favorites. 

      That is all for this weekly installment.  Please tune in next week for another thrilling episode.  I hope everyone is well and I will talk to you soon.  Chris.

Full Scale Working Replica of Noah’s  Ark  Opened In SCHAGEN,  Netherlands

Dutch creationist Johan Huibers built a biblically correct replica of  Noah’s  Ark  constructed to accurate measurements given in scripture. Genesis states that Noah kept seven pairs of most domesticated animals and one breeding pair of all other creatures, plus his wife, three sons and three daughters-in-law together on the boat for almost a year while the world was deluged.

 Johan’s Ark is designed to be able to pass narrowly under every bridge on his planned sailing route through Netherlands’ interior waters to the country’s big cities. The massive central door in the side of Noah’s Ark was thrown open, you could say, for the first time in 4,000 years, drawing a crowd of curious pilgrims and townsfolk to behold the wonder and reality of what Noah crafted. 

The replica, started in May 2005, is 150 cubits long, 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide. That’s two-thirds the length of a football field and as high as a three-story house. Still, Noah’s Ark as described in the Bible was five times larger than Johan’s Ark!   Huibers did the work mostly with his own hands, using modern tools and with occasional help from his son Roy.

  Huibers built the replica as a testament to his faith in the literal truth of the Bible. A contractor by trade, he chose to build the ark of American cedar and Norwegian pine rather than the “Gopher” wood described in scripture. Scholars still debate what Gopher wood would have been.

 Life-size models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, zebras, bison and other animals greet visitors as they arrive in the main hold. 

Exhibits on the third level show ancient tools and old-fashioned barrels, exotic stuffed animals, and a wax model of an exhausted Noah reclining on a bed in the forecastle.

A 50-seat film theater in the keel allows kids to watch the segment of the Disney film “Fantasia” that tells the story of Noah.

 Exhibit designs are by Bianca, Huibers wife. Visitors are often amazed by the replica saying it’s beyond comprehension. The size of the replica is driven home when you see the life size statues of animals displayed, and the biblical arc was five times larger than this!” Huibers’ vision is to stock his ark with horses, lambs, chickens and rabbits – mostly baby animals to save space.

 On the uncovered top deck , which was not quite ready in time for the opening, will come a petting zoo, with baby lambs and chickens, and goats, and one camel. Huibers says of the arc that he hopes it will renew interest in Christianity in the  Netherlands , where church membership has fallen dramatically in the past 50 years.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be just under $1.2 million. For more information on Johan Huibers and the Ark project, see www.arkvannoach.com (site is in Dutch, with some videos in English).

Now that I am old and gray…give me the time to tell this new generation about all your mighty miracles.  Psalm 71:18

ABOUT HARTFORD LETTERS

Experience the Miraculous Healing and Recovery of Lea Vaughn, and the incredible spiritual journey of her husband during 180 days in Hartford Hospital. Read his original daily emails in "Hartford Letters" above. ____________________________

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