The President Without A Country, By Pat Boone

“We’re no longer a Christian nation.” – President Barack Obama, June 2009
“America has been arrogant.” – President Barack Obama
“After 9/11, America didn’t always live up to her ideals.”- President Barack Obama
“You might say that America is a Muslim nation.”- President Barack Obama, Egypt 2009

Thinking about these and other statements made by the man who wears the title of president. I keep wondering what country he believes he’s president of.

In one of my very favorite stories, Edward Everett Hale’s “The Man without a Country,” a young Army lieutenant named Philip Nolan stands condemned for treason during the Revolutionary War, having come under the influence of Aaron Burr. When the judge asks him if he wishes to say anything before sentence is passed, young Nolan defiantly exclaims, “Damn the United States! I wish I might never hear of the United States again!”

 The stunned silence in the courtroom is palpable, pulsing. After a long pause, the judge soberly says to the angry lieutenant: “You have just pronounced your own sentence. You will never hear of the United States again.. I sentence you to spend the rest of your life at sea, on one or another of this country’s naval vessels – under strict orders that no one will ever speak to you again about the country you have just cursed.”

And so it was. Philip Nolan was taken away and spent the next 40 years at sea, never hearing anything but an occasional slip of the tongue about America. The last few pages of the story, recounting Nolan’s dying hours in his small stateroom – now turned into a shrine to the country he foreswore – never fail to bring me to tears. And I find my own love for this dream, this miracle called America, refreshed and renewed.

I know how blessed and unique we are. But reading and hearing the audacious, shocking statements of the man who was recently elected our president – a young black man living the impossible dream of millions of young Americans, past and present, black and white – I want to ask him, “Just what country do you think you’re president of?” You surely can’t be referring to the United States of America, can you?

America is emphatically a Christian nation, and has been from its inception! Seventy percent of her citizens identify themselves as Christian. The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were framed, written and ratified by Christians. It’s because this was, and is, a nation built on and guided by Judeo-Christian biblical principles that you, sir, have had the inestimable privilege of being elected her president.

You studied law at Harvard, didn’t you, sir? You taught constitutional law in Chicago? Did you not ever read the statement of John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and an author of the landmark “Federalist Papers”: ” Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers – and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation – to select and prefer Christians for their rulers”?

In your studies, you surely must have read the decision of the Supreme Court in 1892: “Our lives and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.” Did your professors have you skip over all the high-court decisions right up till the mid 1900’s that echoed and reinforced these views and intentions?

Did you pick up the history of American jurisprudence only in 1947, when for the first time a phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson about a “wall of separation between church and state” was used to deny some specific religious expression – contrary to Jefferson ‘s intent with that statement? Or, wait a minute: were your ideas about America’s Christianity formed during the 20 years you were a member of the TrinityUnited Church of Christ under your pastor, Jeremiah Wright? Is that where you got the idea that “America is no longer a Christian nation”?

Is this where you, even as you came to call yourself a Christian, formed the belief that “America has been arrogant”? Even if that’s the understandable explanation of your damning of your country and accusing the whole nation (not just a few military officials trying their best to keep more Americans from being murdered by jihadists) of “not always living up to her ideals,” how did you come up with the ridiculous, alarming notion that we might be “considered a Muslim nation”?

Is it because there are some 2 million or more Muslims living here, trying to be good Americans? Out of a current population of over 300 million, 70 percent of whom are Christians? Does that make us, by any rational definition, a “Muslim nation”? Why are we not, then, a “Chinese nation”? A “Korean nation”? Even a “Vietnamese nation”? There are even more of these distinct groups in America than Muslims. And if the distinction you’re trying to make is a religious one, why is America not “a Jewish nation”?

There’s actually a case to be made for the latter, because our Constitution – and the success of our Revolution and founding – owe a deep debt to our Jewish brothers. Have you stopped to think what an actual Muslim America would be like? Have you ever really spent much time in Iran? Even in Egypt? You, having been instructed in Islam as a kid at a Muslim school in Indonesia and saying you still love the call to evening prayers, can surely picture our nation founded on the Quran, not the Judeo-Christian Bible, and living under Shariah law. Can’t you? You do recall Muhammad’s directives [Surah 9:5,73] to “break the cross” and “kill the infidel”?

It seems increasingly and painfully obvious that you are more influenced by your upbringing and questionable education than most suspected. If you consider yourself the president of a people who are “no longer Christian,” who have “failed to live up to our ideals,” who “have been arrogant,” and might even be “considered Muslim” – you are president of a country most Americans don’t recognize. Could it be you are a president without a country?

You can click on the following link to “Snopes” which verifies that this is an actual, very well written, letter written by Pat Boone:
http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/patboone.asp
Lord Jesus, God and Saviour, please bless America! HELP!

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As Christians, we often wonder what the purpose of suffering is in our daily walk. It’s all around us. We struggle as best we can through our own difficulties, hold firmly our faith in the knowledge that this, too, is a part of God’s plan for our lives. We also make it a part of our lives to show compassion, and lend a hand, to those less fortunate than ourselves. Still, it is just beyond our power to understand many situations we encounter. 

I recently had included in my prayers a two-and-a-half year old boy who had been diagnosed with cancer.  He has undergone many struggles for survival, and was just recently sent home from the hospital with no hope of recovery. The doctors told his mother that he will most likey pass before Thanksgiving, a mere three weeks away.  How horrible for her! I can only imagine the pain and agony she is going through! And, although she has received great support from friends, family, her church, and others who supported from afar, nothing could be more heart rendering than the loss of a child. 

It can be pretty tough to understand why certain sweet souls have to undergo such battles, but a close friend of this mother sent a wonderfully uplifting message to her upon learning of the child’s prognosis. The heart-broken mother was so touched by the message she wanted to share with all who had uplifted her son in prayer or helped out with medical costs. It also gave me a new, brighter, perspective on suffering. I don’t know who the author of the email is,  but this message is so powerfully moving, it can help many of us as we face our own trials. I feel the writer will forgive me for not giving due credit.

A Little Soul

“Not too long ago in Heaven, there was a little soul who took wonder in observing the world. He especially enjoyed the love he saw there, and often expressed this joy with God. One day however, the little soul was sad, for this day he saw suffering in the world. He approached God and sadly asked ‘Why do bad things happen, why is there suffering in the world?’
 
God paused for a moment and replied, ‘Little soul, do not be sad, for the suffering you see unlocks the love in people’s hearts.’ The little soul was confused. ‘What do you mean?’ he asked. God replied, ‘Have you not noticed the goodness and love that is the offspring of that suffering? Look at how people come together, drop their differences, and show their love and compassion for those who suffer. All their motivations disappear and they become motivated by love alone.’
 
The little soul began to understand and listened attentively as God continued. ‘The suffering soul unlocks the love in people’s hearts much like the sun and rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this – it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer to unlock this love – to create this miracle – for the good of all humanity.’
 
Just then the little soul got a wonderful idea and could hardly contain himself. With his wings, fluttering, bouncing up and down, the little soul excitedly replied, ‘I am brave, let me go. I would like to go into this world and suffer so that I can unlock the goodness and love in people’s hearts! I want to create that miracle!’
 
God smiled and said, ‘You are a brave soul I know, and thus I will grant your request. But even though you are very brave, you will not be able to do this alone. I have known since the beginning of time that you would ask for this, so I have carefully selected many souls to care for you on your journey. These souls will help you create your miracle, however they will also share in your suffering. Two of these souls are most special and they will care for you, help you and suffer along with you, far beyond the others. They have already chosen a name for you. Caleb Andrew.’
 
God and the brave little soul shared a smile, and then embraced. In parting, God said, ‘Do not forget Caleb that I will be with you always. Although you have agreed to bear the pain, you will do so through my strength. And if the time should come when you feel you have suffered enough, just say the word, think the thought and, I will bring you home.’
 
Thus at that moment, the brave little soul was born into the world and through his suffering and God’s strength, he unlocked the goodness and love in people’s hearts. For so many people dropped their differences and came together to show their love. Priorities became properly aligned. People gave from their hearts. Those who were always too busy, found time. Many began new spiritual journeys – some regained lost faith – many came back to God. Parents hugged their children tighter. Friends and family grew closer. Old friends got together and new friendships were made. Distant families reunited and every family spent more time together. Everyone prayed. Peace and love reigned. Lives were changed forever. It was good. The world was a better place. The miracle happened!

Father God, please be with this little boy in his few remaining days, letting him know that he is being brought home to eternal happiness. Keep your hand, Lord, in the lives of those who love him, or have been touched by his trials here on Earth, and provide them with peace, understanding, and Your grace to comfort them through all their days. In the name of our almightly savior, Jesus Christ, we ask these things. Amen.

I have just received this heartfelt missive from a U.S. military officer currently deployed in the Middle East, and was moved by his passionate writing of his experience in honoring the heroes making their final journey home. God, bless this writer and all those in harm’s way. Amen.

“Family & Friends,
 
I just returned from a ceremony.  At 10 o’clock this morning, I experienced a paradox that penetrated my heart.  On the one hand, it was the greatest honor I could bestow on another Soldier.  Yet, on the other hand, it was the heaviest burden I could carry for him.  I swelled up with pride one moment as I saw each American flag, but had to suppress anger as I considered what happened to the warrior beneath it.  I thanked God for the ultimate sacrifice of each brave volunteer, but mourned deeply for the families who would receive them.
 
These precious souls.
All of them sons.
Some of them husbands and fathers.
Some of them brothers and uncles.
All of them heroes.
 
You see, I stood among 200 fellow warriors on the tarmac just moments ago as we welcomed seven of our courageous brothers who “gave the last full measure of devotion.”  This, their last stop before they fly home to America for a heart-wrenching reunion, not the way their loved ones imagined.  Grieving families who must now endure indescribable pain.
 
I couldn’t help but notice the irony of the moment.  The sky was as blue as I’ve ever seen it.  Clear, not a cloud.   Hot, but no humidity, and a cool breeze.  This very spot where I stood today is one of the most desired points in this war-torn region because this is where you catch the “Freedom Bird” as we call it—the plane that takes you home to embrace your loved ones.  But today’s bird could hardly be called “Freedom.”  I couldn’t keep from picturing the wives and children, the mothers and fathers, the friends and loved ones.
 
We collectively saluted each American Hero as he was gently and slowly loaded onto the aircraft with precision and grace.  The chaplain offered a prayer of gratitude for the price these men paid in service to our country, and he pleaded for God’s comfort for those left behind.  Then, each flag-draped casket disappeared into the plane’s belly of darkness.  It was a moving tribute that brought the reality of war squarely into focus.
 
Sadly, these ceremonies are not uncommon.  So I ask you to petition God on behalf of these men and the many others who stand courageously in the fight even as you read this.  While I did not know a single one of these heroes, their presence brought a wellspring of emotion as I prayed for their families and the brothers who fought beside them on the battlefield.  I don’t know where their hearts were, but I do know that the remaining harvest is plenty and there is no time to waste.  So, again, I ask that you pray for God to move in the hearts of our Nation’s warriors so they can personally receive God’s grace and have the assurance that this brief visit here on earth is only the beginning of an eternal love affair with Jesus.
 
We can’t choose how we start this race called life, but we all must make the choice as to how we are going to finish it.  The only true “Freedom Bird” chose three nails, and He took our place on the cross so that we could have a place in Heaven.
 
Finish Strong!
Kevin Bouren

P.S. I asked God to give me peace and He drew me to His Word—Romans 5:1-10—maybe you’ll find comfort there as well.”

Romans 5: 1-11    Peace and Joy

 1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 
 
 6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
 
 9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

A few months ago I was invited to review the newly published book by John and Stasi Eldredge entitled Love and War . . . Finding the Marriage You’ve Dreamed Of.  The cover flap states, “What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men and Captivating did for women, Love & War will do for married couples everywhere.”
 
Being a veteran of well over 40 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart, I was intrigued by the potential wisdom I might share based on my own life experience. Being married is hard! It takes work, compassion and compromise.
 
Lea and I were teens when we married in the mid-60s, and many friends and family members speculated, “It’ll never last.” Only one out of five U.S. marriages lasts for 50 years and about 50% of marriages end in divorce. Teen marriages are thought to have an even higher rate of failure, maybe approaching 60%. But, against all odds, through the grace of God, we’re still in love.
 
So, when I sat down to read through the book, I anticipated much less true wisdom and straight talk from this younger couple than I happily found neatly tucked into its pages.
 
In Chapter One, John and Stasi had been married for nearly three years. They were very involved with their church. John was on staff with the church and also leading a small theater company. Stasi was reaching out to troubled teens through an active Christian ministry.  They were both devoted to their work, and kept very busy. They had wisely taken the right steps before marriage by getting premarital counseling, they attended a marriage seminar, and were now active in a weekly married couples group. And, yet, their marriage was in trouble.
 
Stasi and John relate their innermost feelings and reveal much more of themselves than most folks would be comfortable divulging to their life partners, let alone to the public. And, perhaps, that’s where the real gutsy value of this book lies. This is real. It isn’t idealism or theory. This is about who they were, what they thought and experienced, and how far they have come through personal growth and maturation as a couple. It offers great insight into the battles a couple faces in marriage. Even those who are walking in faith.
 
So what happened to this couple? Why did they approach divorce twice during their marriage? What secrets did they discover to work themselves through the horrors of impending divorce?  What do they share from their experience that can help others in trouble? They offer simple, clearly stated, helpful treasures that can literally rescue the two of you and get your marriage back on track. Oh, and did I mention the chapter on sex?

John and Stasi open their hearts and share their personal journey to disclose one of the most courageous, straight-forward, discussions of sexuality within a Christian marriage that you’ll find. This often taboo topic is clearly and frankly discussed, and will help many couples better understand that sexual intimacy in marriage is not only okay, it’s what God intended from the very beginning. Sex, like fine wine, really can get better with time!
 
Love and War provides wonderful insight into how wild and powerful sex is in the Christian marriage. “Drink your fill, O lovers,” (Song of Songs 5:1). Putting sex into context within the marriage requires a true, compassionate, enduring respect for your life partner, and the ability to unselfishly share your innermost self with that person.
 
Love says, “I accept you as you are, care when you hurt, desire only what’s best for you, and forgive all offenses.” God-based love refuses to look for ways to run, and opts for working things through. Love and War can help you find the marriage you’ve dreamed of, even if you’re already walking the path, and fear you’ve taken a wrong turn.

     So I figured after a 4 week hiatus I should probably get off my rear and get back to writing on occasion.  In all actuality we have been pretty busy the past month which for me at least made the last half of June and the first half of this month pass by fairly quickly.  In addition to flying the OIC duties have been keeping me busy with evaluations and recommendation for awards and such. 

     We swapped out two flyers at the beginning of the month and they were replaced by two new flyers from the AE squadron here in Ramstein.  After a month of fairly easy sailing I finally have a problem child who to be blunt is a huge pain in my ass.  I wouldn’t mind so much but he is a Captain as well and after the Chief Nurse refused to reassign him due to him leaving in two weeks we had a “little” closed door discussion. So far so good but time will tell.

     Our flight schedule has been quite hectic which also helped pass the time. In the last month and half we have flown 13 missions which is just over two missions a week.  It may not sound too bad however when you consider those are two 24 hours days per week and then you add in the time that we spend in “stand-by” alert, the time starts to add up. 

     We were blessed with a 3 day break this past weekend in Jackson Mississippi.  For once I was actually glad Amanda and Cam didn’t attempt to make the trip down to D.C. as we were only there for 3 hours and then flew onto San Antonio and then to Jackson.  We had the opportunity with fly with a film crew from CNN and I was interviewed by Barbra Starr, the Pentagon Correspondent.  The crew was documenting the increased number of casualties coming out of the Afghanistan Theater of Operations after the recent troop surge. They actually got a good taste of what we do on a daily basis. 

     Barbara and the camera crew flew from Ramstein to Bagram on Thursday afternoon, returned to Ramstein Friday morning and then jumped on our mission Friday afternoon back to the States.  We had a fairly large patient load leaving Germany and she was very impressed by how busy we were during the 9 hour flight.  Unfortunately I was the Medical Crew Director on the flight and even though I thought I had escaped the inevitable interview with about an hour left in our mission and Boston out the right side window I was asked to say a few words. 

     I was surprised by how laid back she was and the 5 minutes seemed to pass very quickly.  Hopefully this won’t be a repeat of the “courage under fire” crap that idiot from Fox 61 pulled when he flew with us a few years ago.  Regardless the interview should be a 3 part documentary and should start airing the last week of July or the first week of August. 

     The World Cup also provided numerous opportunities to pass some of the time.  For all but one of the Germany matches we met our friend Axel in the small town of Bissersshiem and watch the game with the local volunteer fire department.  With plenty of beer on tap, a fire truck and Jaggermeister (which is awful by the way) there was always a good time to had by all.  It was disappointing when the German national team lost in the semi-finals as I think it would have been pretty cool to be present in a country that won a World Cup. 

     During the 3rd place match we were all given polo shirts from the fire department as a token of friendship and we passed along some of our unit patches which they promptly put on display in the “social” area of the department (aka bar).  Kevin was graciously given a signed fire helmet from the department that they asked be placed in the firehouse he works at and I was given a signed, Germany World Cup Burger King crown to add to my in-flight kit.  I am sure anyone who has ever flown with me can’t wait to see the new addition. 

     Next Thursday night the fire department wants to celebrate Kevin and I going home so they invited us to what they call an after-work party.  Only in Germany would they celebrate getting out of work by throwing a party, and on a Thursday night even.  Anything for a gathering I guess but if it is fun perhaps I will bring the tradition back to the States.  I do think Kevin is in for a big surprise however.  During a previous visit he half-heartedly invited the guys the firehouse over to visit Boston whenever they wanted.  According to Axel that will be early next spring and 6 of them are already making plans and may have already reserved the time off.  I may have to take a road trip to Boston just to watch this event.

     Well that is all for this next to last installment.  Today after we get back to Ramstein I hope to go to the travel office and reserve my ticket home.  Looks like August 6th will be the big day.  My replacement gets in on July 31st however we have a scheduled mission right around that time and there is a very good chance I will have to fly even though he is present. 

     Replacement, now that sure is a great word.  Let’s say it again, replacement :-).  As normal, pray for world peace, the safety of our troops

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

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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