You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Military’ category.

I spent my early days in the Radio/TV business, and have always resisted promoting any commercial entity without being paid for it. I even remove the car dealer’s stickers when I buy a new car! If they want to pay me to promote them, they are welcome to, otherwise their material comes off my property.

So, it isn’t lightly that I add today’s post promoting shopping at Sears. However, this company is exhibiting a level of patriotism I find lacking in most of our country today, and feel that Sears deserves a pat on the back.

I think you will be impressed with what Sears is doing for their employees who are called to active duty.  This isn’t internet gossip, I confirmed it at Snopes.com (http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/sears.asp).

Sears treats its employees who are called up for military duty in a most honorable way. By law, they are required to hold the jobs open and available for the servicemen and women,but nothing more. Usually, those employees have to take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being called to active duty.

Sears, however, is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries between military pay and what the employee would have been earning back home, and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years.

This makes Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen in my book, and they should be recognized for this policy. I suggest we all shop Sears for at least one item this Christmas season, and be sure to find a manager to tell them why we are there so the company gets the positive reinforcement it well deserves.

The note below is from family friends of 30 years, and their son Kevin is currently on active duty with the US Army.

“We can also verify this (Sear’s policy) as Kevin was a part-time employee for Sears when his Reserve Unit was activated and then deployed to Iraq.  Sears continues to include him in the employee promotional programs and just the other day he received an employee award (mailed home) even though he is deployed.  He is expected home this month and Sears has taken the initiative to offer him his old job or a full-time job.

Nice to see that some firms stand behind their words!
Mike”

I needed this reminder since Sears isn’t always my first choice, although I have been a customer for decades.  They need to be recognized for this outstanding contribution and we need to show them, as Americans, we do appreciate what they are doing for our military! I will make a special effort to purchase at least one of my Christmas gifts from them this year. I hope you will too.

Advertisements

On September 11th an American flag should be displayed outside every home, apartment, office, and store in the United States . Every individual should make it their duty to display an American flag on this anniversary of one our country’s worst tragedies in 2001. We do this to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11, their families, friends and loved ones who continue to endure the pain and those who today are fighting at home and abroad to preserve our cherished freedoms.

In the days, weeks and months following 9/11, our country was bathed in American flags as citizens mourned the incredible losses and stood shoulder-to-shoulder against terrorism, and prayed for God’s healing grace.  Sadly, those flags have all but disappeared over the years.

Our patriotism pulled us through some tough times on and after 9/11, and it shouldn’t take another attack to galvanize us in solidarity. Our American flag is the fabric of our country and together we can prevail over terrorism of all kinds

Action Plan:

So, here’s what we need you to do ..

(1) Take a moment to think back to how you felt on 9/11 and let those sentiments guide you.
(2) Fly an American flag of any size on 9/11. Honestly, Americans should fly the flag year-round, but if you don’t, then at least make it a priority on this day.

Thank you for your participation.  God Bless You and God Bless  America !

‘You Ain’t Gonna Like Losing.’
Author unknown

President Bush did make a bad mistake in the war on terrorism. But the mistake was not his decision to go to war in Iraq.

Bush’s mistake came in his belief that this country is the same one his father fought for in WWII. It is not.

Back then, they had just come out of a vicious depression. The country was steeled by the hardship of that depression, but they still believed fervently in this country. They knew that the people had elected their leaders, so it was the people’s duty to back those leaders.

Therefore, when the war broke out the people came together, rallied behind, and stuck with their leaders, whether they had voted for them or not or whether the war was going badly or not.

And war was just as distasteful and the anguish just as great then as it is today. Often there were more casualties in one day in WWII than we have had in the entire Iraq war. But that did not matter. The people stuck with the President because it was their patriotic duty. Americans put aside their differences in WWII and worked together to win that war.

Everyone from every strata of society, from young to old pitched in. Small children pulled little wagons around to gather scrap metal for the war effort. Grade school students saved their pennies to buy stamps for war bonds to help the effort.

Men who were too old or medically 4F lied about their age or condition trying their best to join the military. Women doubled their work to keep things going at home. Harsh rationing of everything from gasoline to soap, to butter was imposed, yet there was very little complaining.

You never heard prominent people on the radio belittling the President. Interestingly enough in those days there were no fat cat actors and entertainers who ran off to visit and fawn over dictators of hostile countries and complain to them about our President. Instead, they made upbeat films and entertained our troops to help the troops’ morale. And a bunch even enlisted.

And imagine this: Teachers in schools actually started the day off with a Pledge of Allegiance and with prayers for our country and our troops!

Back then, no newspaper would have dared point out certain weak spots in our cities where bombs could be set off to cause the maximum damage. No newspaper would have dared complain about what we were doing to catch spies.

A newspaper would have been laughed out of existence if it had complained that German or Japanese soldiers were being ‘tortured’ by being forced to wear women’s underwear, or subjected to interrogation by a woman, or being scared by a dog or did not have air conditioning.

There were a lot of things different back then. We were not subjected to a constant bombardment of pornography, perversion and promiscuity in movies or on radio. We did not have legions of crack heads, dope pushers and armed gangs roaming our streets.

No, President Bush did not make a mistake in his handling of terrorism. He made the mistake of believing that we still had the courage and fortitude of our fathers. He believed that this was still the country that our fathers fought so dearly to preserve.

It is not the same country. It is now a cross between Sodom and Gomorrah and the Land of Oz We did unite for a short while after 9/11, but our attitude changed when we found out that defending our country would require some sacrifices.

We are in great danger. The terrorists are fanatic Muslims. They believe that it is okay, even their duty to kill anyone who will not convert to Islam. It has been estimated that about one third or over three hundred million Muslims are sympathetic to the terrorists cause…Hitler and Tojo combined did not have nearly that many potential recruits.

God help us…we either win it – or lose it – and I don’t like the thought of losing

I might be one of those bad Americans the politicians are talking about . . . the Liberal-Progressives’ worst nightmare.

I believe I’m in touch with my feelings and I like what I am . . . a former Boy Scout who still honors family, God and country.
I believe “illegal” is illegal no matter how the lawyers manipulate the language.
I believe you should shut up about slavery, already. I wasn’t involved!
I believe professional wrestling is fake and I don’t waste my time watching or arguing about it.

I believe everyone has a right to pray to God when and where they want to. I tolerate those who don’t recognize that there is only one true God, and that His son, Jesus Christ, was sacrificed to save us from sin.
I believe in angels and miracles.
I believe the American flag should be the only country’s flag allowed to fly on American soil!
I believe those who desecrate the American flag should be severely punished.

I believe we owe a great debt of gratitude to those who have honorably served in our armed forces.
I believe it is good to remember that Jane Fonda became a traitor to this country years ago and refuse to support her.
I believe it’s good to have my face shown on my drivers license, and my personal identity should be absolutely verified.
I believe it is proper to have “God” written, stamped or embossed on my money and public buildings.

I believe that it only takes two good parents to properly raise a child, not a whole village.
I believe the money I make belongs to me and my family, and my taxes should not be given away to support people who are in this country illegally!
I believe being a minority does not automatically make you noble or victimized, and does not entitle you to anything special.
I believe that if you are going to live here you should learn our language. It was here before you were.

I believe that if you were born here and don’t like it, you are welcome to move to any other country that will have you.
I believe if you are too challenged to know how a ballot works, I don’t want you deciding who should be elected.
I believe those people begging at the intersections should be run off by the police. Let’s find other ways to help them.
I believe profiling of terrorists is a good thing, and random searching at airports is a senseless waste.

I believe people kill people. Owning a gun doesn’t necessarily make you a killer.
I believe the cops are right to pull you over if you’re breaking the law, regardless of what color you are.
I believe the cops have every right to shoot your sorry butt if you’re running from them.
I believe this country has to get some of its old, conservative, values back. We need God back in America!

If this makes me a BAD American, so be it.

I am joining the Gratitude Campaign, started last September as a way for people to say “thank you” quickly and easily to our troops without even having to approach them.  This suggestion makes it easy.  So, don’t hesitate – just say “Thanks.”

We thank God for answering our prayers for Chris’ safety, and for Amanda’s well being. In this most recent note he shares some touching reflections and a happy surprise. Welcome home, Chris (and crew).

“Hello one last time from the air on our way into Iraq. We are headed to Balad on our final mission before heading home tomorrow. We were hoping that our relief would have been in place to fly however the crew was slightly delayed and couldn’t get spun up in time to fly tonight’s mission. Actually despite the long hours and little sleep I am glad we are flying one last time as a crew. Friday morning we will board a C-17 on our way to Andrews AFB and finish our journey by vehicle on our way back up to New England.

By the time we get to DC we will have flown 175 hours (over one week), travelled over 80,000 miles (3 times around the world) and transported over 350 patients, plus tonight’s load in just 14 missions. Not a bad pace when you consider when I was in Afghanistan for 140 days we flew 8 more missions and we thought that we were busy back then. Efficiency has kicked in and now we are able to do more with fewer flight crews having to be deployed, sounds very reasonable to me.

My thoughts and memories from this deployment will be very different from my previous deployments however they will be cherished just the same. On one of our previous flights back to Andrews AFB we had the chance to meet two Medal of Honor recipients, thePresident/CEO of the USO and John Ratzenberger from Cheers and Gary Sinise known to most as LT Dan. It was nice of them to take time from their busy schedules to come overseas and visit with the troops. Unfortunately we were trying to take off on time so there wasn’t an opportunity to take a picture or to get any autographs.

While over here in Germany I was fortunate in being able to maximize our limited down time with some very memorable trips to Normandy, Bastogne and Remagen. Perhaps the most moving of all and forever unforgettable were the American Cemeteries at St Avold, Luxembourg and Normandy. With meticulous precision and detail if the perfect lines in which the crosses sit were not enough to move you the sheer magnitude of the number will leave anyone in awe, they truly were the Greatest Generation. Much as before I still hope at the end of this life that in the deepest recesses of my mind that my final thoughts will be those of my family and the life experiences that this job has shared with me.

From being on the ground during the first elections in Afghanistan history back in 2004, to seeing the drastic reduction in casualties
over the past 3 years it is comforting to know that the personal sacrifices made by all of those who serve this great country have not been in vein. In the past 3 years since I have last deployed I have seen flights with anywhere from 10-15 battle casualties andsometimes even more reduced to a handful, 3 maybe 4 on an average flight. Unless something changes before we land tonight we have no scheduled combat related injuries and that is simply amazing to me, this is Iraq after all.

Of course all of the improvements made through the years will never get passed along to those back home. For some reason the media feels compelled to sensationalize all of the bad news while very rarely reporting on the good stories. While a change in our current policy may seem to be a great vote getter for some, I fear what the eventual consequences will cost. It is my true hope thatsacrifices made today will make the world safer for our children and can only pray that the battles that we have waged over past 5 years will mean that they will never have to.

In closing a special thank you must go out to our friends and neighbors back home. All of the help they have given Amanda with dump runs, snow blowing the driveway and bringing in wood can never be measured. It made this separation just a little easier knowing that while she was pregnant (surprise) and home alone that she was still being taken care of which in turn enabled me to take care of my mission over here. All too often I think we neglect the commitment and dedication that is required to be the spouse of someone who is in the military, especially when that loved one is deployed.

It is easy to think of and thank those who go overseas and serve but they are only half of the equation. This being the first time I have deployed since Amanda and I got married I can say that it takes two to go overseas and the support from friends, family and co-workers will be forever remembered. Thank you to all from the bottom of my heart and I will see everybody soon. Chris”

I just received an update from our friend Chris, who is on active duty making medical flights into Iraq and Afghanistan to evacuate wounded and sick Americans. In this latest note he describes a nostalgic trip to the beaches of France made hallowed ground during World War Two. His narrative, below, gave me chills:

“Greetings once again from somewhere over Turkey, It is hard to believe that we are already less than 4 weeks from heading home. Our replacements are due in sometime around the 12th of next month, give them a few days to get oriented and spun up and I would anticipate heading home sometime around the 15th or so. We are currently on our 10th mission and are on pace for 16 before it is all said and done.

The patient loads remain relatively small and much to my surprise the number of trauma related patients is down even in the last month we have been here. Of course we still have our share of medical patients, usually contractors who don’t have the best health to begin with. I truly believe that the health screen used by some contract companies is: Have you ever died from a heart attack? Anything more in-depth they might actually discover the uncontrolled diabetes, CHF or even a heart attack that they did survive. None the less it keeps us busy on the flights.

During our down time over the past two weeks I had the opportunity to take two very interesting and moving road trips. Our first took us to Bastogne, known to most as the Battle of the Bulge. (NOTE: The battle lasted from mid-December 1944 to January 1945). To see it on TV has always been inspiring but to actually go there and walk through the same woods and small villages and to see the monuments was truly great.

Over the course of a month back in 1945-6 over 19,000 Americans were killed and another 40,000 wounded, it is truly sacred ground. Our second trip took us to 450 miles to the Northwest corner of France, Normandy. The entire region is so rich in history that it does not take long to realize the prices paid by the “Greatest Generation,” and the toll of blood they shed some 53 years ago.

Our first stop was a small village called Saint Lo. My Grandfather’s brother fought in the same town during July 1945 to liberate it. We went on to visit Carentan, the first objective for the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, the Church at Saint Mere Eglise then on to the beaches. First stop was Utah Beach. It had been raining steadily all day since we set out from Saint Lo, buy the time we reached the beach it was torrential down pour. Realizing we still had two more stops we opted to cut this visit short and made our way to Pointe de Hoc.

Here the Rangers were tasked with defending the western side of the units that was going to attack Omaha Beach. I have read of some of the ordeals of the Rangers and have seen on TV the cliffs they had to scale just to get up to fight the Germans. That is nothing compared to seeing it in person. Relatively untouched since D-Day, the craters from the initial bombardment, some reaching 10 feet deep, riddle the ledge to this day. Destroyed bunkers and old fighting positions are strewn throughout the ¼ mile long area.

From there we headed up the road maybe 4 miles to our ultimate objective, the American Cemetery and Memorial at Omaha Beach. There is a very nice museum located there complete with memorabilia from years past, video accounts of the battle from General Eisenhower and much more. A small hallway connects two exhibition rooms and as you walk through there is a reading of the names of those killed and still missing from the invasions on D-Day.

It takes almost an entire day to read through the list.

While I was\hoping deep down that the rain would subside for the hour of so we spent inside the memorial it wouldn’t be. Having wanted to make this trip for many years I resolved myself to getting soaked in order to live this moment.

As you walk from the museum to edge of the cemetery you come across a statue, “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves”, looking up toward the sky. The inscription on the back reads, “TO THOSE WE OWE THE HIGHEST RESOLVE, FOR THE CAUSE FOR WHICH THEY DIED SHALL LIVE”. For anyone who has been so blessed to visit these 750 acres of hallowedground, they would agree that it not a question of if you will cry, rather when you cry and how many times.

Just past the statue are the graves of 9,387 Americans. A generation past who did not know the meaning of fear, defines courage and whose bravery defies common sense.

The only bad thing about Normandy is of course that it is in France. The people of Normandy are very friendly, out going and still extremely thankful of what our Fathers or Grandfathers did for them years ago. The rest of France on the other hand, well that is best suited for another email at some other time.

In closing thank you for the number of request to donate to our unit fund (to prepare cookies and other snacks for wounded soldiers on the long flight home). I am sorry it has taken so long to get back to you so I will give it to everybody. Donations can be sent to: Treats for Troops, PSC 2, Box 50,000, APO AE 09094. I will talk to you soon. Chris”

Chris’ description brought to memory the many tales of that war that my family recalls. World War II spread to America when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. The United States declared war on Germany, Italy and Japan on December 11,1941 and on Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary the following June. My father enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve while a high school senior, and was ordered to the St Louis Military Recruiting Station on November 26, 1942 to be shipped to San Diego Recruit Depot for basic training.

eugene-vaughn-enlistment-article_cu.jpg

He was honorably discharged only a few days later, on Dec 18, 1942, due to a severe allergic condition known as hay fever, or rhinitis, which is caused by pollens of seasonal plants. A person with rhinitis is not well suited for any type of combat duty where exposure to pollens, or dust, could trigger an allergic reaction and subsequent sneezing, which could give away an entire unit’s position, and the only treatment back then was mentholated inhalers, which were not very effective.

He returned to his young wife in Hannibal, Missouri and worked as a silk screen press operator at Hannibal Outdoor Advertising, and volunteered for duty with the Missouri State Guard as a radio operator. Many of my early memories about him are from his service with the State Guard and, later, with the National Guard.

My grandfather, William Thomas Vaughn, who later became a Baptist minister, served in France during World War I. My father had the photograph below in his personal collection, and was passed on to me by my mother. It shows my grandfather’s battalion posing in front of a building, somewhere in France during World War I.

william-thomas-vaughn-in-france_small.jpg

Above: U.S. Expeditionary Forces’ 84th Division, 325th Machine Gun Battalion, posing while posted to France during World War I. William Thomas Vaughn is front row, kneeling, fifth from the right edge of the photo. Date unknown – Larry Vaughn Collection

Below: I received this photograph from my Aunt Ruth’s (dad’s sister) collection, of Company A, 325th Machine Gun Battalion, in Place de la Concorde, Paris. I have no information on the occasion, but notice the different uniforms the troops are wearing, from combat helmets to headquarters uniforms. My grandfather is in the back row, just to the right of the fountain. Date unknown – Sharon Walley Collection

co-a-325th-machine-gun-company-place-de-la-concorde-paris_small.jpg

Thanks to Chris for his notes on his trip to France. It brought back the reality of the sense of pride we have in all those men and women who have served our country in peace and war, today, and in times gone by. Their names are recorded in history forever. They will never be forgotten.

If you are able, could you send a dollar or two, or at least a note, to the address Chris gives above, to provide a little comfort for our sick and wounded troops as they are being transported to Germany for medical treatment? Our prayers remain with Chris and his team for a safe conclusion to their tour of duty and a safe return home to their loved ones.

Lea and I received the message below from our dear friend, Chris, who was one of Lea’s nurses in the Cardiac Acute Care Unit at Hartford Hospital in 2005. He is now on active duty as a flight nurse, caring for wounded soldiers being flown out of Iraq and Afghanistan. To catch up on his current tour of duty, see his writings in our Christmas time post, https://godswoodshed.com/2007/12/26/christmas-prayer/, in which we passed on two notes from Chris.

Here is his first note of the new year:

Greetings this week are from FL 330 somewhere over Turkey,

It is hard to believe that we are already on our 6th mission in only 20 days. Six missions almost 100 patients, over 55 hours of flight time and 30,000 miles flown so far. I can’t wait to cash in all of my frequent flyer miles. Since I can’t send this email until we get back to Germany early tomorrow morning I suppose there is no harm in saying that we are currently on our way home from Balad, Iraq.

Take off got a little sketchy but the rest of the flight has been fine. We are currently cooking up some hot dogs and corn dogs (sorry, no picture this time) for the troops. As soon as we get out of Iraq and obviously if the mission permits we cook up a hot meal for all of the patients. All of the food is purchased by our unit fund and help is always appreciated and needless to say it goes to a great cause. If anyone would like to make a donation please let me know.

dustoff010608a.jpg
The picture this week is from our version of Red Light district, somewhere near Mosul on our way down into Balad. Once we enter Iraq or Afghanistan airspace everyone puts on their armor, the lights turn red and helmets find their way onto our heads.

We have been averaging a mission every three to four days so when you consider the long days and trying to adjust your sleep schedule there isn’t a lot of down time. Free time usually consists of going to the gym and studying for a military course I am trying to get finished up while I am away. For a short time today we almost had two days off in a row however an unexpected urgent mission came up and in the end it will bump us up a day in the rotation.

If we can manage more than a day off I would like to make it to Normandy however that is at least an 8 hour drive so one day just wouldn’t cut it. New Year’s was spent much like Christmas in fun filled Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. It is incredible to see how much it has changed in the 3 years since I was stationed there. Instead of tents and buildings made of plywood there is actually a solid Hospital building complete with ED, ICU’s, OR and many of the services one would expect back in the States.

The food still stinks and so does the garbage burning but you can’t win them all. I can’t really say that I miss it all that much and besides the beer is a whole lot better in Germany. Well I should probably get back over to my hot dogs before I smoke up the cabin, I hope you all had a Happy New Year and I will talk to you soon. Chris

Lord, please keep a shield of protection around Chris and his team, and give peace and comfort to their families. Amen.

Lea and I shared a wonderful Christmas day with our grandson and his extended family, were able to do a webcam visit with our granddaughters and their parents in Hawaii, and had a joyous day filled with His bounty of gifts, affection, great food, reverence, and carefree light heartedness. Lea is in reasonably good health, it seems, and our quality of life just keeps getting better little by little. And, yet, there was a part of my thoughts that kept drifting to those who were so dear to us, but too far away to be together.

I had sent an email containing a link to the video I posted of Lea giving our grandson a bath a few days before Christmas to many of these loved ones, as a way to help them see how well Lea has progressed in the last two years, after miraculously surviving a deadly sudden illness. One of the persons I had sent the link to was one of the nurses who tended her during the 180 days she was in Hartford Hospital.

This particular nurse was one of the special ones to us. . . he was the first nurse who took Lea outside after four months in the hospital. It was cold in Hartford. Lea was still on life support. She wasn’t strong enough to sit up in a regular wheelchair. She had already had over two dozen surgical procedures. She was on constant tranquilizer and anti-depressent IV drips. Her vital signs had to be continuously monitored.

This nurse, Chris, and Danielle, a patient care assistant studying to become a nurse, moved Lea into a cardiac chair (at home we call these recliners), attached remote monitoring gear, portable oxygen and medications, and took her outside the hospital for her first breath of fresh air in months. The hospital has a nice garden area with a gazebo that worked perfectly for this little outing, and I snapped this photo on our way to the garden.

Outside HH 2005

Needless to say, Chris’ willingness to take her outside was an additional burden for him during already difficult work days, and our appreciation for this, and many other kindnesses he bestowed upon us, knows no bounds. Chris, by the way, is also in the reserves, and has been called to active duty a number of times. Shortly after this trip outside, he was called to active duty to assist with medical support, as a flight nurse, during hurricane Katrina. When he returned to work at Hartford Hospital, he continued caring for Lea as though nothing special had happened. He even stopped in to check on her after she had been moved out of the Critical Care Unit. He, and fiance Amanda, drove us to the airport to fly home, so we wouldn’t have to take a taxi.

He will always hold a special place in our hearts. And, my thoughts were on him during this Christmas day, because I had gotten an email from him Christmas eve, stating that he was back on active duty; this time in Germany, where his medical team flew into Iraq and Afghanistan to tend injured soldiers being flown back for treatment. I was humbled by his letter, and asked for special prayer for him and his unit at the Christmas eve service at church. I was also a bit ashamed that I get so caught up in my own day to day concerns I forget what others are going through.

Pasted below is Chris’ email letter, received mid-afternoon Christmas eve:

“Merry Christmas to all from cold and foggy Ramstein, Germany. We have had over a week to get settled into our routines and get our lives as normal as you can. Much to my surprise there seems to be a regular flight schedule which allows for a day of recovery, a day of standby alert and then a mission. We fly every 3rd day and get a true day off once every 10 days or so. My crew and I have been to Balad, Iraq twice already and our flight time is quickly adding up. We obviously land in total darkness and try to minimize our ground time which I am all for.

While I haven’t been officially tested for it I think I am extremely allergic to mortars, shrapnel and anything that might have missile like characteristics. The attached picture is three of us from Westover shortly after we entered Iraq on our first mission. It’s hard to see with the lighting but you have to take what you can get.

Chris in Iraq

The other picture is of me cooking up some cookies shortly before we landed back in Ramstein. I think they were pretty tasty but it is hard to mess it up when they are already made for you.

Chris bakes in flight

Our unit uses donations to purchase sweets for us to cook up when we get a chance and after seeing how much of a hit they were it is totally worth it. The days are extremely long and depending on mission location the duty time can easily approach 24 hours long. The crew I am with, especially the enlisted are truly awesome. On our last mission our patient load almost doubled, we had 3 vented patients added at the last minute and had to fly with equipment that I haven’t seen since flight school over 4 years ago. Without missing a beat the aircraft was totally re-configured and within 30 minutes we were ready to accept patients. Not bad considering that for most of them that was only their 2nd or 3rd live mission.

Our holiday today consisted of shopping earlier and dinner at Chili’s. We will try not to over do it. Christmas Eve and Christmas are huge over hear and there is nothing open off base. With another mission tomorrow nobody was up for a late night anyway. Our Christmas will be spent in the festive colors of tan and black, flying for over 16 hours and getting back sometime the following day. In all honesty if I have to be away for the holiday there is nothing more rewarding than flying wounded troops home on Christmas.

I hope that all of you and your families have a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year (just in case I am lazy and don’t write before then.) Remember to keep those in Afghanistan and Iraq in your prayers and world peace is one of my personal favorites when you are making your wish list. Talk to you soon, Chris”

Needless to say, Chris’ letter touched me, and reminded me how self centered we become, even when we think we are reaching out, and consciously seeking His will for our lives. So, I was already sensitized when I went to my email the morning after Christmas and found another email letter from Chris. This one brought reality crashing in, and I felt led to share this with you.

“December 25th, 2007.
Ramstein Air Base, Germany
Our mission was scheduled to leave within 90 minutes and our crew of 7 was sitting in a van waiting anxiously to get the day started and wondering what in the world we could be waiting on. Our mission was to take us to Bagram Afghanistan aboard a KC-135R, a 16 hour day and that is if everything goes according to plan. The earlier we get going the earlier we get back which will be sometime early tomorrow morning if we are lucky.

One distinct disadvantage to using this aircraft is that we need a specialized piece of equipment called a K-Loader in order to lift all of our equipment up so we can load it into the aircraft. With the lifter already 30 minutes late we sat and we waited and waited, and… Then going down the middle of the tarmac was not only one lifter but two! It was finally our turn, however the trucks never stopped, they just kept on going.

This sequence of events brought some curiosity on my part which quickly changed back into our meaningless conversations we
were having all along. I watched the loaders pull up behind a C-17 that had just landed and had parked only a few spaces from where we were. Like clockwork people prepared the aircraft after arrival, chalking the wheels, lowering the ramp, and moving vehicles.

After a few minutes I looked over again and was surprised to notice that everyone around the aircraft had suddenly stopped working. All of those people who moments earlier were hard at a work around the plane had gathered near the rear ramp and now they
were standing at attention, then they saluted. I now knew why we were waiting. Somewhere back home maybe a few hours before this, a family got the news that no family ever wants to receive; their loved one will not be coming home.

After a few more minutes, a slow moving blue truck with a blinking yellow light appeared from behind the C-17 followed by one of the
loaders we had seen earlier. On it was a single flag draped coffin, a hero heading home. As the small convoy drove the length of the tarmac other vehicles it would pass would come to a complete stop and turn off their lights, those who were working on the ground would stop what they were doing and render the time honored salute given to those on their final voyage home.

Waiting was no longer important anymore. Out of respect, the DOD and the Air Force strictly forbid taking pictures of these events and rightfully so. So, this is my experience to share with you.”

I am so ashamed of my selfishness! Oh, dear heavenly Father, forgive me my shallowness and self centeredness. Please give peace and comfort to those who are not as richly blessed as You have chosen to make me. Father, my heart goes out to those who have sick and injured loved ones on their minds, and particularly that family that received the horrible news of the loss of their loved one on Christmas Day. I pray for their comfort, Lord, and that You will hold them in the palm of Your loving hand, as they struggle to overcome their grief at this tragic loss.

Father, I pray, too, for those You have chosen to be our care givers. Bless them, Lord, as they go about tending to the needs of those sick and injured in their care. Tend to their own hearts and minds, that they might receive gratification from what they do to help others. Guide their hands that they might be steady and true. I pray for a circle of protection to be put around Chris and his team as they continue to be put in harm’s way to help those who need medical attention. I pray for all our troops, Father, wherever they might be; that You will always be present in their hearts and minds. Bring them home safely to their families to share a glorious day of celebration.

Continue to bless this Christmas season, Lord, protect it from those who would diminish its importance. Give each of us the moral strength to stand by, and fight for, the right to publicly declare our gratitude for the sacrifice made by Your son, Jesus Christ, that we might have eternal life. It is in the name of Jesus, my saviour, that I humbly lift up this prayer. Amen!

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. ____________________________

In “Prayer,” above:

For Dave
Praise: Lea
For Bill and Jane
For Megan
For Charlotte
For Marnita
Praise: Gary
Praise: fellowship
For Herb
Praise: Joe
For Lea
For Unnamed

Archives

Flickr Photos

Blog Stats

  • 42,838 hits
Advertisements